No not the TAG Heuer watch manufacturers, this is Technical Audio Group NZ, otherwise known as TAG, the company that brings in ATC speakers and electronics, along with Martin Audio professional loudspeakers (amongst other things).
My primary reason for shooting out West was to collect a review unit of the Zero DAC that TAG’s Rob Jodd has been telling me about, but when have I been known to pass up the chance to hear or see AV gear in action? Never! So I had to have a listen to some of the bits and bobs in the big demo room, along with Steel and Pearce, who just happened to tag along, attracted by the smell of coffee no doubt.
The Zero DAC is an interesting wee beastie. Unlike much of its ilk, it uses a proper internal power supply, not a wall-wart. It’s also upgradeable by replacing internal op-amps with optional HDAM modules. Set up in an ATC system (SCM 40 floorstanders and SIA2 150 integrated amplifier), the sound of the $399 Zero DAC was compared to the analogue outputs of the gorgeous Marantz sa-7s1 SACD player (approx $15K when new). As Rob predicted, there’s a difference in favour of the Marazntz but it’s small, very small and it’s certainly not in line with the almost forty fold price differential. I offered him $399 for the Marantz but he wasn’t keen for some reason…
I can’t wait to get the Zero DAC up and running, although I’ve currently got a Micromega Airstream streamer, Simaudio Moon 300D DAC, Firestone Audio Fubar 2 and 3 DACs, Project Dock Box Fi plus a Qsonix 205 music server in house with a Project DAC Box FL filterless DAC enroute. Talk about an abundance of digital riches.
The beast bolted to the roof in a mount fit for a fifty caliber Browning machine gun grabbed my attention. It’s a Digital Projection twin-lamp TITAN 1080p-500 projector. This is around a hundred grand worth of 1080p 3-chip DLP technology that cranks out 6,000 ANSI lumens. It’s aimed at huge theatre venues, so it’s running in idle here and the 1080p trailers we saw looked amazing. They sounded even better thanks to a 4kW sound system using Martin Audio commercial cinema speakers – loud, fast, tight
and effortlessly dynamic without any of the boom common to home theatre systems. Best sound I’ve heard in a theatre in ages and that includes some of the cinemas around Auckland.
We’ll be heading back to cover the TAG gear in more detail. The Zero DAC review is in the works, with a forthcoming review of the active ATC speakers that are on the water right now.