|John Kenny Ciunas USB DAC Review|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers Stereo Preamps|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Monday, 14 October 2013|
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I then moved the Ciunas into my main system, where a Bryston BDA-1 DAC usually resides with a CIAudio PLC-1 MKII passive controller and a Rogue ST 100 tube amp driving Thiel CS2.4 speakers. Cabling was Transparent and the same DH Labs USB cable. I used my HP Windows 7 laptop running Jriver 19. All that was needed was to download and install the device driver from the supplied link. Getting everything running was painless and took less than 5 minutes.
As good as the Ciunas sounded with the Squeezebox Touch, it sounded even better with the laptop. The transparency, quiet backgrounds, and tonal quality went to another level. One can say the Ciunas will sound better the higher quality the source you feed it.
19-year-old U.K. singer-songwriter Jake Bugg’s terrific self-titled debut album was a sheer joy to listen to via the Ciunas. Bugg mines pre-1966 British sounds, at times leaning towards Donovan, the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and even our own Bob Dylan. Having seen him live recently, I can confirm the recording, which even emulates classic 60s analog, is a good representation of Bugg’s talent. The Ciunas did a great job of uncovering recorded detail, and creating a whole, coherent picture, and it spotlight the smart, uncluttered arrangements.
The Ciunas managed to sound big and bold, yet nuanced and delicate, depending on what each recording brought to the table. On Gordon Lightfoot’s early acoustic take of his classic "The Way I Feel", from The United Artists Collection, the Ciunas conveyed all the deep emotion in Lightfoot’s singing and playing. The stable imaging really shone through here, and artifacts of the recording such as tape hiss were not smoothed over.
The Ciunas handled all sample rates up to 192 Khz as advertised. I streamed a healthy dose of high-resolution albums in 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192 Khz with no issues. Also, in operation, the Ciunas was flawless. It never failed to charge or be recognized by the source devices. We are talking plug-and-play. Readers know my usual knit pick is the lack of a sample rate indicator, but at this price point, that is certainly rare to find. I had to stretch here to find something to complain about, as you can see.
The John Kenny Ciunas DAC, at roughly $750, is a terrific sounding USB DAC that will fit into any space. It features a proprietary battery power scheme that works very well and, to my mind, clearly gives it an edge over similarly priced products. Kenny also makes USB converters as well that uses similar technology. All products are available via his website.