Wadia 151 PowerDAC Amp/DAC Reviewed

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The Downside
The Wadia 151PowerDAC mini is an impressive piece of kit, but it is limited in power so it will require pairing with efficient speakers and simply isn't designed to power a large room unless you have truly sick (100+ dB) efficient speakers.

One of the things that makes this piece so unique is that it keeps the signal in the digital domain until the final output stages, which is kind of a downside as this design will not allow for an analog input. If you need one or more analog inputs, the PowerDAC isn't going to work for you.

The remote is typical of audiophile gear. The buttons are aligned in two vertical rows and there is no way to tacitly feel which button you need, plus the remote isn't backlit. Physically, the remote is solid enough to use for home defense should you need to. I could see somebody using a Pronto or Harmony with this unit.

Conclusion
The Wadia 151PowerDAC mini is a really cool piece of gear that has a lot of applications in the modern digital world. I can see this as the center of a dorm, or apartment system based around a computer for audio but it can also work with cable or satellite TV and a gaming system or two thanks to all of its digital inputs. The sound of the unit is smooth and pleasant and thanks to Wadia's experience with digital, is never harsh.

The limited power output of the amplifier section will require you to mate the PowerDAC with efficient speakers or use it in a small room, or for nearfield listening as I did for much of my time with it. For me the biggest plus to this piece is the size of the unit itself. The 151 PowerDAC mini sat under my monitor connected to my computer and it took up almost no desk space, yet made a huge improvement in my desktop audio system. After I used it in my main rig I returned it to my computer and this time rested it atop my Mac Pro tower. Not only did it fit perfectly, it matched the aesthetics of the Mac tower and allowed me to further clean up my desk. I have speakers around my pool and the wires come into the house in a strange place where a full sized component would be odd, yet I easily could live with the PowerDAC on a shelf and most people wouldn't even notice it there.

I spend a lot of time at my computer, so the addition of a new DAC/amplifier to my desk was a welcome change. I have had a multitude of computer speakers over the years, but it was nice to step up to a more conventional system for my desktop and the improvement in performance was huge. What really impressed me most about this piece was just how well it handled bass, whether on my computer desk or in my reference rig. The bottom end was clean and tight, handling the lower registers extremely well given its power rating. The use of high-resolution recordings further elevated the performance of the 151PowerDAC mini and gave exceptional sound for such a small piece. I really enjoyed my time with this piece and was so happy with it I bought it when the review was over and now enjoy my computer system more than ever.

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HTR Product Rating for Wadia 151 PowerDAC Amp/DAC

Criteria Rating

Performance

4

Value

4.5

Overall

4.5

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