The strong engineering heritage shows in the Lavry Engineering DA-10 in various ways, including the feature set, which includes slightly arcane features such as stereo/mono switching (useful for mastering engineers) and a switch marked 'PLL' (Phase-Locked Loop) with choices Wide, Narrow and Crystal: in principle Crystal should be lowest jitter, but the practical differences seem very small.
There's also a digital volume control, giving 1dB steps up to 12 volts maximum output. That's in balanced mode and although the DA-10 only has balanced outputs they can be configured via internal jumpers to feed unbalanced cables via standard XLR-RCA adaptors, with outputs up to 6 volts.
The input provision is one each of phono, Toslink and XLR, while the power input at the rear is a mains connector: this unit does include its own power supply, a universal voltage switch-mode type.
That occupies a little over a quarter of the internal area, the rest being pretty well-filled with the latest and greatest in receiver, convertor and op-amp chips. Build quality is very good throughout.
It seems that our listeners respected this DAC a little more than they loved it: in other words, they had plenty of praise for its detailed performance, but ended up suprisingly unmoved by the music it made. As always, it's the reasons they gave for this that are most interesting.
Perhaps most striking is the number of comments on the treble. This clearly gave superb extension and clarity and was a little ruthless in the way it revealed the chosen test recordings, which are not all entirely without their own quirks in this area.
In fact, it may be that the DA-10's treble registered as slightly excessive, which would explain why one listener found it just slightly harsh, while another complained of lack of bass – small subjective imbalances across the frequency range can have widely differing interpretations according to the ears that hear them.
Nothing, but praise from our listeners for the Lavry. Stereo imaging is closely related to detail and was felt to be very good if, at times, a little forward overall (that prominent treble at work again?). There is a very good sense of space around the sound and images are rock-steady, irrespective of how loud the music is or how many instruments are playing.
Bass divided opinion markedly. Apart from the comment noted above of light bass, there was praise for its extension and precision. It certainly does go low and if it doesn't seem to have quite the weight and impact of some, it makes up for this with immaculate control (and again this isn't everyone's idea of fun) and very good tuning.
It isn't what one would call 'party bass', though, and if rhythm and timing are very much your thing it may seem underwhelming. Overall, the Lavry Engineering DA-10 may simply be one of those hi-fi products that are too pure for some tastes.