Beresford Media and Electronics is a 'small family business' and the TC-7510 DAC is its main product.

At this impressively attractive price it's clearly got its applications and we'd already heard some suggestions that it works rather well, so we were naturally inquisitive.

It's usefully featured with four digital inputs (two of each S/PDIF flavour) and both fixed and variable analogue outputs. You even get a headphone output thrown in.

Old design

Although the case design is basic, the internal construction is perfectly respectable, with familiar integrated circuits looking after the input decoding, conversion and output buffering.

Actually we noticed that the receiver and converter chips are rather long in the tooth as designs, but they're both decent components and were used in expensive, high-grade equipment not so many years ago. They are now available cheaply and we absolutely can't fault Beresford for using last year's technology to get 90 per cent of this year's performance for a lot less than 90 per cent of the price.

Sample rates up to 96kHz are catered for and word lengths to 24 bits, so this is still a modern design in a practical sense. Since it's hardly likely to sell into ultra-high-end systems the absence of 192kHz input capability, or fancy upsampling, is hardly a big problem. The power supply is a little plug-top affair, switch-mode and compatible with any mains supply voltage.

Involving sound

Cheap it may be, but the sound of the Beresford TC-7510 seems to need no special pleading. Indeed, one of our listeners (by his comments) seems to have found this one of the most satisfying listens of the day, on grounds principally of involvement and timing. Another listener found it less arresting and pointed to a degree of blandness in some of the tracks. Both may have a point...

It's true that the attack on sharp transients can occasionally be less startling than some of the DACs provided. At the same time, the very pleasant tonal balance and good, clear detail make for very relaxed listening.

As a result, this will tend to be one of those products that divides opinion depending on what you look for in sound. If ultimate impact isn't a prerequisite for you, there is still plenty of life in a slightly less overt kind of way and it's easy to find a foot tapping or finger wagging in time with the music.

Strong imaging

In terms of detail, Beresford has managed to wring a good deal out of the digital data and while we have heard greater levels of resolution, the limitations on it don't draw attention to themselves – one never feels that more detail is struggling to get out. The lack only becomes apparent in direct comparisons with other kit and it's by no means a serious lack anyway.

At the same time, stereo imaging is very good, particularly laterally, with very good extension of the soundstage to, and slightly beyond, the loudspeakers.

Tonality is barely behind the standards of the competition – if indeed at all. We felt the treble was just a shade constricted compared with some and a couple of listening panel comments on harshness point the same way, but bass is extended and weighty with just a little less precision and tunefulness than dearer models achieved. In the all-important midrange, though, there's really nothing to quibble over.

Great DAC achievement

At this kind of price it's impressive that a small manufacturer can make a DAC at all: to make one this good is an admirable achievement.

This could be just the fillip an ageing CD player needs and it's a fine way to integrate multiple digital sources.