Review of Altmann Attraction DAC as seen on :

Model: Altmann Attraction DAC
Category: DAC Processors
Suggested Retail Price: EUR 750,-
Description: non-oversampling, battery operated DAC up to 192kHz
Manufacturer URL: Altmann, Germany
Model Picture: View

Review by Chuck (A) on November 29, 2006 at 11:31:42
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for the Altmann Attraction DAC


Last night, after an extended listening session, I said, "I've just got to post a review of this fabulous dac." So here it is. I've had the Altmann Attraction for two months. It is easily the most detailed, musical, and satisfying digital source that I've heard. Someone once wrote that a good vinyl system combines a dynamism, tonal richness, and elegance of fine detail that digital reproduction can't match -- and I always thought that to be fundamentally true until I got the Attraction dac. This thing is just stunning. I can't claim to have heard everything out there, and I have not heard the really high-end contenders. But it is better than my previous dacs (heavily modded Art DI/O, Ack Dac 1.3, Ack Dac 2.0), and it is better than any digital front end that I've heard in audio shops while auditioning amps and preamps over the last several years.

How is it better? In several ways: timing, detail retrieval, dynamics, extension, and purity of tone. In terms of timing and PRAT generally, the Altmann dac is punchy, with a great sense of real musical timing -- as one user reported here, you really can hear musicians playing off against each other in ways not typical of digital gear.

The Altmann's detail retrieval is amazing: I'm hearing subtle details far beyond what I've heard before from familiar recordings.

The dac also is remarkably dynamic: big orchestral swings and dynamic punches in rock almost slap one in the face. Everything -- everything! -- sounds more dynamic and alive through this dac.

Finally, the Altmann dac produces a purity and richness of tone that I had thought impossible in a digital front end. It approaches the musical tonality of my Grado Sonata cartridge (but isn't quite as good on tonality as that cartridge is with good vinyl). Female vocals are amazingly pure and without the minor hints of digital grunge that the wonderful Ack Dac still lets through.

With this dac, I've stopped looking for a digital upgrade.

Additional thoughts: 1) The JISCO (jitter reduction) circuit really works wonders. I have three modest digital cables (Bolder, DH-Labs D75, Ack Dac cable) and always could tell clear, even big differences between them with my other dacs. With the JISCO circuit on, I can't tell the difference between them. 2) The Altmann benefits from vibration isolation; I have ended up using sorbothane dots under the wood footers, and these on a sandbox, and the sandbox on felt pads on a good rack. 3) Purchasing a good car battery (Yellow-top) and charger added about $200 to the overall cost of the dac. 4) Charles Altmann excels not only at digital design but also at customer service: he responded to my every question very helpfully and with patience.

Finally, how does the Altmann compare to the Ack Dac 2.0? Although the Altmann is clearly better, there is a family resemblance of sorts; both are battery-powered NOS dacs, and thus both are exceptionally quiet, with details emerging from a black background. Both have that NOS timing & musicality thing down. The Altmann is clearly better in the areas of detail retrieval, PRAT, dynamics, and tonal richness. I won't go back, but I can also say that if I was forced to, I could very happily live with the Ack Dac 2.0. It is remarkably good for the price, and shares many of the qualities of the Altmann -- but just not to the Altmann's level.


Product Weakness: It is a bare circuit board on a piece of wood -- at risk of damage from children, etc. But Altmann says the design is a key to the dac's musicality, and, if so, I say you gotta take the bitter with the sweet.
Product Strengths: Detail, PRAT, tonal richness, elegance of musical expression
Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Nuforce 8.02 monos, input impedance modded (increased) to accommodate the tube pre
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Don Allen custom tube pre
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Vecteur D-2, Altmann Attraction Dac
Speakers: GR-Research Paradox 3's
Cables/Interconnects: Analog: DIY silver; digital: various -- see review
Music Used (Genre/Selections): jazz; folk; classical; some rock
Room Size (LxWxH): 24 x 14 x 9
Time Period/Length of Audition: 2 months
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): PS Audio UPC-200; Jon Risch digital iso filter
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner


This is a review of the Altmann BYOB Amplifier, Attraction DAC, Creation ADC, Altmann Phono Stage, , BYOB Speaker System, Altmann Acoustic Panel, Altmann UPCI (Ultra Precision Clock Injector) or Altmann JISCO (Jitter Scrambling Decorrelator).