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New Gieseler Klein III DAC with Jensen output transformers

Discussion in 'DACs' started by pete_mac, Nov 9, 2018 at 11:43 PM.

  1. pete_mac

    pete_mac Super Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Howdy all,

    A few years back I posted about the Klein DAC which I have thoroughly enjoyed for the past three years:


    Prior to the Klein, I was firmly entrenched in audio-gd DAC land, and the original Klein was the new-kid-on-the-block.

    Five months later, I finally managed to buy a Klein and hear it for myself vs my much beloved PCM1704UK-equipped audio-gd... I ate my hat and the DAC19 was sold shortly thereafter, and the Klein remained in my system from then onward. Along with my speakers, it remained the 'core' of my system as I experimented with interconnects cables, different amps, amp restorations and tweaks, DIY USB cables. Many an enjoyable hour was spent with the Klein.

    When Clay announced the Klein III was intrigued, especially as I am a USB-only user, and the optical and coaxial inputs on the original Klein were never used. The inclusion of output transformers vs an active output stage (i.e. like the upper-spec Gieseler Fein and Gross DACs) excited me, especially at this price point. After some discussions back and forth, a Klein III was on its way down for back-to-back comparison against its older sibling.

    I encountered one minor hurdle with the Klein III when it arrived - the Amanero 384 Combo firmware didn't like my Squeezebox Touch with EDO applet installed for asynchronous USB output. Clay quickly remedied this by sending me the reflashing instructions for the Amanero, and five minutes later, an earlier firmware version had everything sorted. 95% of people won't have this issue - it appears to be only Squeezebox related.

    Once she was fired-up and communicating with the Squeezebox, it was time for serious listening.

    Now... as noted above, I know the original Klein very well. The Klein III clearly shares the same bloodlines as the original - you pick it straight away as a member of the Gieseler clan. However, it's the more intelligent, more articulate younger sibling, who just seems to do everything a little bit better than its older brother.

    I find the biggest difference to be the rhythm/pace/speed of how the Klein III makes music. Dare I use the term PRaT? <the audiophile Gods nod in approval> It seems to me that the Klein III is a 'quicker' than the original, and that it gives a better account of the attack and decay of components of the music. This results in what I perceive to be a more accurate sound, but importantly it's not accuracy or detail via a tilted-up treble response and razor-sharp top end (as was the case when many of the first ES9018 DACs came onto the scene) or a lack of body. The resolution comes via the perception of speed and agility, a lower noise floor/blacker background, and more space and separation between the instruments.

    The tonal and timbral characteristics of any DAC are important to me, and importantly the Klein III carries on the goodness of the original in this regard. Very believable and fleshed-out.

    The simplified circuitry, different DAC chip (still from the AKM camp), tweaked power supply, and those lovely Jensen output transformers on the output stage of the DAC are doing something right!

    Now, to be clear, the original Klein remains a brilliant-sounding and versatile proposition and fantastic value for money. I would have happily held onto it... if not for undertaking the back-to-back comparisons in my own rig and hearing the improvement in the new design for myself.

    That said... make no mistake... the Klein III is a sonic step-up and should be firmly on your radar. The sound quality is more polished overall and is a stone-cold bargain at this price point - hence why I bought the Klein III and moved my beloved original on to the next lucky owner.

    The DAC is $AUD650 which is around $USD470. I'm not sure what international shipping would cost, but hopefully this may pique the interest of some Australian members of AK.


    Lastly... because I can't help myself... some nudies showing those lovely Jensen output transformers, the Amanero 384 Combo USB board, the nice regulators, Elna Silmic II and Nichicon Fine Gold caps, and the AK4495EQ DAC chip at the heart of this beast!

    K3 1.jpg K3 2.jpg K3 3.jpg k3 4.jpg k3 5.jpg k3 6.jpg k3 7.jpg k3 8.jpg


    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018 at 11:59 PM
    I LIKE MUSIC, sberger and OnTheBlitz like this.


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  2. OnTheBlitz

    OnTheBlitz ->"There's nothing I won't eat, including YOU!" Subscriber

    -27.125817, -109.276726
    Nice setup. Interesting DAC too.
  3. pete_mac

    pete_mac Super Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks mate - many a late evening is spent enjoying it!


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