Konus Audio Digitale 2000: HiFi DAC of the year for 2023!
Updated: Sep 30
Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Neighborhood! I really appreciate you joining me today to take a look at a very special item that was sent to the channel for review and evaluation. The Konus Audio Digitale 2000, which was provided to the channel by Gestalt Audio Design. Let’s get inToit!
So, the Digitale 2000 has a pretty simple design. It’s essentially a small metal box, with a small red power indicator on the top, three small feet on the bottom, a selector switch on the front, two possible inputs on the back, and one set of single-ended RCA outputs on the back as well. It uses the same metal chassis that all the Konus products seem to use and measures 7.5 by 7.5 by 3 inches tall. By the way I was sent the Konus integrated speaker amplifier and phono as well, which I am also in the process of testing and will review in the future. But we’ll focus only on the Digitale 2000 for now.
Anyhow, this DAC only accepts USB and coaxial S/PDIF, so it’s not going to work for those that want a bit more flexibility. It also only outputs 16-bit PCM. I was told that it would only do Redbook, or 16/44.1, but Roon was able to down convert to 352.8 kHz on some tracks (at least over USB), so it seems that it is capable of higher sample rates, just within the 16-bit spectrum. So, this is a simple DAC for people that don’t mind this type of approach. It also was a design choice by the manufacturer to optimize for the best sound for one particular codec. I’m a bit internally conflicted by this really, as I tend to prefer to be able to have all the codec options rather than being limited to only a few; or in this particular instance, one bitrate. But, in the case of the Konus Audio Digitale, I find myself willing to give it a pass for this, as it is impeccably implemented, and sounds insane!
Seriously, this may be my new favorite DAC! In terms of its sound, it’s got musicality and flow for days. Listening to it, my brain just turns off and accepts whatever it feeds me, and I want more, more, and more. Its detailed, and delicate where it counts, but appropriately dynamic when called upon to be so. It is not a DAC that wows one with overaccentuated artificial precision, but instead it has an accurate amount of detail. If anything, it sacrifices a small amount of ultimate resolution for realism. Instruments feel like they’re in the room with you, as if you could close your eyes and see the live performance straight in front of you. If it’s not the most natural sounding DAC that I’ve heard, it’s definitely one of them! Moreover, I found the Digtale 2000 to be agreeable with practically every device I paired it with, and it excelled with virtually every genre of music.
The stage has a really good depth and dimension to it, and the overall presentation is rather holographic. Like other Konus Audio products, it’s a solid stat device, but almost sounds like sophisticated high-end tube product. From this standpoint, one might consider that acquiring a Konus product is like obtaining an analog tube sound without any of the fuss.
Like I’ve already mentioned briefly, in addition to the Digitale 2000, I also have the Vinyle 1000MC Mark III phono stage and Integrale 2000 integrated amp in for review as well. And I won’t spoil those reviews other than to say that Konus Audio has a rather detailed, but analog feel to its house sound, and each device punches well above its weight, size, and price. Its MSRP in the US is about $4300 dollars, and even at that high of a price tag it’s still a relative value in terms of its sound and performance. There’s also a DIgitale 1000 that’s $1000 dollars cheaper that I hope to review and compare one day as well.
But the 2000, is Konus Audio’s flagship level DAC, and you can tell from the way it sounds. But nothing is perfect, so I do have a few critiques. One is that on some tracks the treble can come across as a bit soft, but then I play a different track and think “I wouldn’t want any more top-end than this…” So, this is somewhat of a non-criticism as well, as I wouldn’t want a high-end DAC to ever go overboard in harshness or sibilance.
My other major critique, is that the Konus isn’t the most resolving out there for its amount of money. My Gold Note DS-10 Plus, with its external PSU-10 power supply, does best it from the standpoint of ultimate resolve, and has a bit more of a leading edge to it compared to the Konus as well, but the Konus is also more than resolving enough for its price, and has enough resolution still to wow its listener while still accomplishing its other tasks. With that said, the Konus’ resolution probably beats the Gold Note’s without its separate power supply, which also tacks a hefty price onto the cost of the DS-10; bringing it close to the cost of the Konus.
A final minor criticism is that it has two sounds, a sound from its USB circuit and a sound from its coaxial input; which does sound slightly different. This is because there are basically two DACs housed in one Digitale; consisting of two physically and electrically separate pathways- intentionality constructed in this manner to optimize the sound for each input. Overall, the SPDIF/Coaxial Input is a touch leaner, airier, less direct, sweeter and more mellow compared to the USB input. While this does provide some sonic flexibility, in the event you’re only using one of the inputs in a given system, the other DAC is basically going unused. This seems like a bit of a waste to me, and I’d rather buy a Digitale with only the USB if it could save me some. Perhaps that could be an option for Konus to consider for the consumer’s wallet in the future? Although, with that said, including the coaxial input does kind of future proof the purchase in the event USB ever becomes obsolete for some reason. So, there’s that.
In the end, the Konus Audio Digitale 2000 is a fabulous DAC. It’s simple in its design, but sophisticated and nuanced in its sound. Given that it’s basically two DACs in one, you can tell that the sound designer really cares about signal purity and the integrity of his circuits. While I struggle to accept that it operates at only one bitrate, I also understand that it performs one task and does it exceptionally well. I really like that the DAC’s designer has chosen to intuitionally limit the number of tasks that it is responsible for and done so for one singular purpose, to produce the best sound possible.
I’m seriously tempted to get a Konus, and save a monthly charge by dropping Tidal HIFI Plus for Tidal HiFi which only streams in 16/44.1. At a savings of only $9 dollars a month, it would take a while to justify the cost of it the Konus, but its also relatively future proof, so it seems to be a sensible decision... at least in my mind… Am I right? Should I join the Redbook only crowd? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!
*Thanks to Gestalt Audio Design for sending the Konus Audio Digitale 2000 in for review!
Their products can be found at: https://shop.gestalt.audio/
Link to the Konus Audio Digitale 2000!
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