The new Beresford TC-7510 MKIII Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) is an integrated powerhouse in the most compact form. Combining a classy finish, amazing sound layering with multiple inputs/outputs, the Beresford stands proud as one of the true competitors in the high-end market for bang-for-the-buck dedicated DACs.
Construction (9 /10)
The TC7510 was extremely well packed and was double boxed in 2 white boxes. Opening the box reveals a neatly packaged DAC with the power unit. The dac feels extremely solid and compact. One of the reasons why i purchased the Beresford over the Zhaolu is because of its size. Measuring only 12cm x 25cm x 4cm, the Beresford was the only option over the Zhaolu in its price range since i needed a desktop equipment. All the edges and corners are well rounded and smooth, and the gaps are seemless. On the front panel, there are 5 shiny little buttons with a LED that displays GREEN when on and RED when standby. It never actually shuts off unless you take out the power. To the right is the headphone jack and its volume control. In the back, there are 2 sets of RCA output, and 2 sets of optical and coaxial input (total of 4). In all, the look and feel of the DAC gives me a very professional feeling.
Line-out Sound - always in price-to-sound ratio - (8.5 /10)
I tested the line-out through an optical connection. In this review, I will cross-reference with my currently owned Creative Audigy 2 ZS Notebook Soundcard (not the PCI version, their sounds are very different, the Notebook version is more superior). After 50+ hours of burn-in, three methods of testing the sound of this DAC were commenced.
First, a [RCA male to 6.25mm female jack] adapter was used to directly connect the line-out to my headphone. By doing this, I am able to skip the amp's influence and directly test the sound coming from the Beresford. For headphones, I used a 50ohm Sennheiser HD595. The HD595 is famous for its revealing character. As such, any bad recording or bad equipment will negatively reflect to the listening experience. The impression of line-out sound is extremely positive. The sound appeared very detailed and transparent. Each note was very accurate throughout the frequency scale. Bass notes were also very accurate and clean. However, I'd like to see the bass hit lower. Although leaning a bit to the warm side, the TC-7510 appeared rather neutural: neither bass-oriented nor trebly bright. Any defect in the recording was immediately noticed. The soundstage was also very decent, much larger and fuller than my Audigy2 ZS Notebook. However, because of its neutral quality, sounding neither dark nor bright, it conveyed a sense of dullness. Perhaps that is what people are looking for in a DAC? Neutrality could mean bad for some, while meaning very good for others. So, it depends on how you see it. What I would like to see, however, is for the low mids to become more apparent. That was the only thing i believe, to make the TC-7510 a truly exceptional DAC.
Second, a generic male RCA to RCA cable was used to connect the DAC's line-out to the line-in of a tube amp: Little Dot II++. That was when magic happened. When I hit the play button, all i could say was WOW. The sound suddenly became much fuller. The soundstage got even wider. Details also improved, while forming extremely accurate percussions. With some Sovtek 6C19Pi tubes installed, the bass hits extended much lower. The most important of all, however, was the improvement in the mids department. Because the LD2++ is a very warm amp with liquid-like mids, it filled up the rather flat TC-7510. It totally changed the HD595 experience.
Last but not least was a generic gold-plated RCA connection to Meier Audio's Corda Headfive solid-state amplifier. Although the last method tested, I'm the most impressed with the result of its sound. I must be in heaven, because there is no other way to describe the sound of which I was hearing. Again, the soundstage was incredible, coupled with an amazing reproduction of the frequency scale. Great bass, fantastic mid-range, and non-piercing but crystal highs. Coupled with the Sennheiser HD595, not only did the percussions sounded accurate, but there was simply an extremely pleasant balance of upper and lower mid-range. The bass was neither overpowering nor underwhelming. Low notes hit fast and deep; in another word, clean. In all, although geared a bit towards the warm side, the entire frequency scale was very accurately portrayed.
Headphone Internal Amp/Jack - always in price-to-sound ratio - (7 /10)
Comparing to conventional headphone jacks from CD players or laptops, the headphone jack provided a much fuller sound, with a emphasis on bass. Comparing to the sound coming from the two amps, however, it appeared less refined and less detailed. The biggest fault of this headphone jack is the extremely high noise floor. I could hear considerable hiss through both the HD595 and the HD580, but not the high-current needed AKG K501 headphones. The noise did not increase as the volume pot was turned up. However, adding an in-line attenuator has made the hiss disappeared. Nonetheless, the internal headphone amp design still needs further improvement, even if that is not the main purposed function of a DAC. If this part can be improved, I'm sure that the TC-7510 will become an extremely popular desktop DAC/headphone amp integrated combo.
Conclusion ( 8 / 10)
In all, I'm extremely impressed with the TC-7510. Besides the high noise level in the headphone jack, the Beresford proved itself to be an extremely competent DAC. Its compact size, solid construction, and portability goes very well with anyone seeking a more mobile setup. What is more, with a very full, detailed, and accurate sound, it is able to handle pretty much whatever i throw at it. However, at some areas of several songs I listened to without being amped, I could notice a tiny bit of congestion. If you have listened to the Beresford TC-7510 MKIII, you would never want to part with your dedicated DAC again.
Beresford is a small Hi-Fi company established in the UK, but the unit is manufactured in Taiwan. MSRP of the MKIII is 99 Pounds.
This review is written by Cecil L, completed on the published date.