Consonance Don Curzio DSD DAC Review
The Consonance Don Curzio is a small form factor Digital Analogue Convertor with a specification sheet that would fit comfortably in the $5,000 plus category.
One of the HiFi manufacturing success stories to come out of China, Opera Audio and their Consonance brand have earned a reputation for delivering high quality products at very affordable pricing.
Osborn Loudspeakers, well known themselves around the globe, handle local distribution of the Consonance range of products in Australia, and the Don Curzio is well priced at $880 RRP.
The Don Curzio features native DSD handling without PCM conversion, volume control, three inputs (USB, coaxial and optical), both RCA and XLR outputs and three digital filter choices are packed into an 8.5cm (h) x 24.5cm (w) x 26cm (d) box.
At such a competitive price point, this fully featured DAC also sounds terrific, tending to the smooth and sweet signature rather than the laser etched approach so often adopted by DACs in this price bracket.
The Don Curzio handles Redbook specification very nicely, which is important as despite being a 24Bit/192kHz DSD128 (Double DSD) USB DAC, the bulk of most people’s must libraries is going to be at more traditional sampling rates. Pleasingly, it is excellent with DSD, a matter I comment on because I have heard several DSD capable DACS that are wonderful with PCM but markedly drop off when handling DSD. Not a problem with the Don Curzio, so throw the highest resolutions you have at it.
Against higher end converters the Don Curzio sounds a little brittle and lacking in sparkle, but that is only against more expensive competition. At its price point, it is sweet without being treacly and detailed without being scratchy. It doesn’t present the strongest sound stage, but it nonetheless has pleasing heftiness. It is a DAC that hasn’t focussed on doing one thing to the detriment of others and its balanced presentation makes it pleasant to listen to for extended sessions.
The volume control is best left alone, as in all but the simplest set ups your preamp or integrated is likely to handle this task better. However, having built in volume adjustment gives flexibility and the option of running a very simple set up using the Don Curzio as a DAC/pre.
Over about six months of on and off use the Don Curzio has performed flawlessly with zero operating errors. Not once did it need a reboot, or fail to recognise the USB input. This was despite much chopping and changing of cables and sources. The only operating peccadillo was that its remote volume controller operates on the same frequency as my Dartzeel preamp… a problem resolved by placing a small piece of black tape over the remote input sensor.
I have been a long-time fan of Consonance, ever since Greg Osborne introduced me to their wonderful M100 EL34 integrated amplifier and giant-killing Droplet CD 5.0 disc spinner in the nascent years of the 21st Century. The Don Curzio lives up to Consanance’s tradition of delivering outstanding sonics, nipping at the heels of high end, at a fraction of the cost.
Consonance is distributed in Australia by Osborn Loudspeakers.