Spec Corporation is an artisanal Japanese hi-fi manufacturer based in Tokyo, co-founded by lifelong audio enthusiast Mr Shirokazu Yazaki following his several decades spent with Teac and Pioneer.
Spec products are easily identified by the characteristic integration of wood into their Designer Audio products, and are notable for their Class D amplifiers. SPEC Corp’s slogan is Real-Sound, meaning they aim to provide the ability to reproduce music as faithfully and as close to ‘live’ as possible.
The use of wood bases and feet is reflected in this philosophy. Spruce (in the base) and maple and hickory (both used in the footers) are claimed by the company to vibrate with music signals – in a manner similar to that of musical instruments, violin, et cetera – to reproduce “rich tone and energy”.
I would hate to see Reddit discussions on this topic but I prefer to keep an open mind.
Besides the wood, they use a carefully selected and blended range of internal components, including their HIBIKIICHI capacitors, developed with fellow Japanese company Nichicon to be as natural sounding as possible. Sole New Zealand importer of Spec products, Neil Young from Auckland’s Turned On Audio, kindly lent me his personal DAC3EX for review.
Build and Features
The RMP-DAC3EX is a two-box affair, with the analogue power supply – which uses the HIBIKIICHI capacitors – housed in the larger case and connected via an umbilical cable to the smaller DAC unit.
The DAC section – which converts a digital signal consisting of 1s and 0s into an analogue signal for sending to an amplifier or powered speakers – uses an AK4497EQ chip, is DSD compatible and has a maximum sample rate of 32-bit/384kHz.
Along with the HIBIKIICHI cap, the DAC3 utilises an additional, smaller version – the MR56 – which was designed specifically for it.
Located on the rear are one of each coaxial, optical, USB A and AES/EBU inputs as well as balanced and single-ended outputs.
There is also a USB B input which uses a ground-isolating circuit and ultra-low noise constant voltage IC to eliminate any incoming noise when using a computer as a source.
Finally, there is a handy switch for changing the RCA output between fixed and variable.
The dimensions of the two units are 215mm x 80mm x 299mm (w, h, d) for the DAC and 215mm x 120mm x 273mm for the power supply.
They look very attractive and assumed a rather unique focal point sitting in my hi-fi rack.
The power supply has the on/off switch on the back and just the Spec emblem on the front which lights up an attractive yellow/amber when in use.
The DAC features the same emblem, similarly located in the centre of the front panel, which lights up according to the input sample rate – red, green, blue, purple and white. Also located on the front panel are an input selector knob and a volume adjustment knob