Eversolo A6 Streamer DAC REVIEW
This is a review written by Terry Ellis December 2023.
For my video review please see my YouTube channel link here
What a year it has been
I think we can agree that the most talked about HiFi product of 2023 has been the Eversolo A6 and its also naturally been the most hyped product of 2023. The situation around the A6 definitely made me sceptical, and I decided to wait for the hype to die down to do my review because by now there are enough owners to know whats the truth and whats been hype.
But I can see why audiophiles have been excited by the Eversolo A6, its like a mini HiFi Rose, with an almost carbon copy like design just smaller and a lot more affordable. It’s the price tag that stands out, £759 for whats on the outside atleast is very impressive because the case work, the aesthetic styling and build quality with of course the very bright, very clear, high resolution touch screen display very much stands, The very Auralic like illuminated surround of the control knob is also very nice, and very familiar but not at this price point.
To me the price makes the A6 appeal to newcomers to HiFi more than products from Auralic and HiFi Rose as they cost a lot more, so that means the competition for the A6 comes from products that I think look very plain by comparison without the same high end flair of design, that usually costs more. Maybe die hard audiophiles will this all shouldn’t matter, only the sound quality but of course it matters and I think especially to newcomers to HiFi.
I have the other most talked about product in 2023 here also the WiiM Pro Plus and I have been comparing them because the WiiM costs a lot less money, but does a lot of the same and as we all know the kicker when it comes to audio products is if the beauty is only skin deep it wont be deep enough. Looking inside the A6 it has a nice layout of power supply on one side, the analogue section the other side and all our streaming and digital bits in the middle, mostly all hidden under a big heat sink. In a way it’s a shame that its hard to see many of the technical highlight features such as the dual ESS Sabre 9038 Q2M DAC chips used in a double differential quadruple setup to supposedly improve dynamic range and lower noise. The Preamplifier circuit we can see and it’s a fully balanced design said to improve noise and performance, I think I could also see the dual clocks said to improve digital file sampling and reduce jitter. I am no engineer so I can’t assess the merits of a circuit design but I also cant fault the A6 for being well built, especially the aluminium casework. Its much thicker than you think it will be based on the units weight so that was impressive although be careful what you use the clean it, I use a screen cleaner from 3m to clean everything but it seems like its left a slight mark on the top of this one, so be careful what you use, I would recommend just a slightly damp microfibre if you need anything.
Now lets talk about the bit that’s probably the most exciting to most people the 6 inch LCD touchscreen that’s very bright, very clear, extremely high resolution with great colours and this reminds me of the screen in the NAD M10 V2 only I think its nicer and even higher quality. I personally am not a fan of touchscreens on HiFi products because I don’t want finger prints all over it but I do like this screen and I really like the animations when you power the A6 on. I think some will of course really like the digital VU meters it can display because its a nice feature and VU meters are always cool, I preferred the spectrum display purely because it was easier for me to see sat a distance away and that is the reality here of this screen, its a very nice feature but its not big enough to be anymore than a nice feature for me because I couldn’t see it clearly enough sat in my listening seat 3+ metres away. Of course I could see it, just not well enough to appreciate the really fine detail of the screen. I preferred the screen to change over to the screensaver and then It just shows the time and date with a cool animation where the date and time swop places every so often. So the screen alone wouldn’t be enough for me to buy the A6 despite me liking and appreciating it a lot but your milage may well vary on this of course. I do really like the illuminated ring around the volume wheel, it’s a minor thing but I think its looks really nice and I value it as much as I do the screen for the aesthetic appeal of the design.
I must say I have been very impressed with the connection options and their quality, yes the aerials for Bluetooth and WiFi are external but they are styled nicely and not the standard black plastic ones I hate seeing on HiFi products. There are is a good selection of digital inputs and outputs that I think will cover most bases for most people, but not all though as there is no HDMI input for EARC and the HDMI output is not I2S. It can support multi channel sound from SACD which I don’t fully understand why we would want that here but that’s just because I don’t listen to that format of music.
For functionality there is a huge amount of support here for all different types of music file playback stored in different places. I am not going over it all in this review, I am going to focus purely on what stood out to me. First is the ability for the customer to install an NVME hard drive to store their own music internally. This is easy to do, you simply remove a panel from the underside of the A6 using the included screwdriver and install the NVME drive of your choice, I think up to 4Tb. I really like this idea and if this was a long term thing for me it would have been the first thing I did but I am quite lazy these days and generally stream a lot of music from Tidal. A recent firmware update meant the A6 is Tidal MAX supported which is great on paper at least, not sure if there is any difference in sound quality yet from this Tidal change but the support is there which is great
Controlling the A6 is done most easily from the Eversolo Control app which is a very good app and its available on both IOS and Android. I have found it to be a little cumbersome in use, but it was rock solid with no main issues after the recent updates. Its visually a very nice app and that definitely appeals to me and stands out. I think in the main its simple to use such as selecting what source we want to play music from and what output we want to essentially send our music too with a quick access to important parameters for that output. The settings overall do feel a little cumbersome I think because there are so many options in one long list that can require a lot of back and fourth at times.
The display settings are all very straight forward and I like being able to adjust not only the screen brightness but also the volume wheel ring brightness. We can select from different VU meter and different spectrum “looks” but I do wish there was a little more customisation here such as being able to select the colours we want to use for each look. Maybe that’s asking too much from a HiFi product its not a phone after all.
The audio settings are pretty straight forward except for some of the terminology used such as what options to choose for DSD. I think these would be overwhelming for a beginner. My advice would be if you don’t know what the options do just leave them as they are. If your going to use the A6 as a music streamer and DAC then definitely pay attention to the XLR/RCA audio settings as you can adjust between 7 different DAC filter modes that change the sound presentation a little bit, allowing for some sound tuning. This is all pretty standard stuff, I preferred the brick wall filter, it seemed to be the best balance between good bass and a not too over exuberant mids and highs without losing the musics energy but at the sacrifice of a little bit of obvious crispy detail.
A couple of settings to pay attention to would be volume passthrough that sets the output volume to maximum for when you are using another volume control device in the system like an integrated or preamplifier, don’t turn this option on if your connecting straight to a power amplifier. Another would be sampling rate because I found this could be used a little bit like a tone control which is useful and I will talk more about this shortly.
In the main for the £759 asking price I haven’t got too much to grumble about and have been impressed with the A6, it ticks most of the important boxes, but its definitely not perfect and we can’t expect that.
I have been testing it in a very high end HiFi system playing direct to the Gryphon Essence Stereo Pure class a power amplifier into the Mission 770 speakers but also using the Bespoke Audio Passive Preamplifier too which acts like a beauty filter to the music but I also think it better separates the left and right channels for much more clarity in the sound stage. These are uber expensive components for sure but they easily allow me to hear what the A6 is and is not doing. The Mission speakers are transparent enough but not too demanding on the gear to sound good so they are a nice compromise. I also tested the A6 purely as a streamer feeding into the Chord Electronics Hugo TT 2 as the DAC to see what the difference might be and of course the sound got a lot better, there is no need to deep dive this just know its possible to use a better DAC to get better sound from the A6.
Looking at the Eversolo A6 in isolation I think it’s a good sounding product overall, the general balance between the treble mid range and bass is good and the bass quality and impact is also good. The overall tonality of vocals are good and the rhythm and tempo of the music is good. I think what stood out to me as being better than good was the presentation of small details especially in the treble, the treble presence is a stand out thing but the treble details were always present but balanced well with the rest of the frequencies as I mentioned before. However this is maybe something to consider depending on your speakers, other gear and room. My room is extensively acoustically treated so a lot less reverberant and Mission 770 are quite relaxed in the treble so some treble presence with them I saw as more of a pro than a con, but maybe with different speakers in a room thats more reverberant it could be seen as bright. What also stood out to me would be the timing of the music and the sound stage that is created as a result, there is good separation of instruments or music elements with some very good sound stage width outside the speakers and beyond the speakers, or with depth at times with the right music.
I found I was enjoying music played pretty loud as I do for about 2 hours maybe and then I was fatiguing some and I think because the overall balance treble mids and bass is good but there is a bit of zinginess or glassiness to the sound and I noticed this with the fast percussive guitar in the new album from Jonjan Kavlagalu called Strings Attached. It’s a very well recored album you should give it a listen I think the fatigue was because the a6 has quite an exuberant or quite forward presentation so the better than good details start off being a good thing but it forces you into an always active listen demeanour more than a relaxed demeanour that becomes tiring because there is not enough refinement there to balance the sound. I found with some music the A6’s presentation was quite analytical of that music and then it seemed to punish that music for being less than stellar in quality or me for selecting it, not terribly but enough for me to notice and want to move on to something else a little more smooth sounding. But all of these things are me being very critical because in isolation there is a lot to like here about how the A6 sounds and you could build a system around it to best maximise its strengths and minimise its short comings. You can happily use it as a streamer and a DAC and preamplifier, I didn’t notice a drop in sound quality using it as a preamplifier so that could save you some money. I need to clarify it didn’t sound as clear or as open and as refined without going through the Bespoke passive preamp but straight into the big Gryphon power amplifier the sound was a bit more compacted together so less open and spacious but a little bolder and warmer sounding so again you could build the system around it at the core of the system with speakers and an amplifier to balance the sound to your taste.
Who will WiiM?
Then I compared it to the peoples champion streaming DAC the WiiM Pro Plus and this to me is a very interesting comparison because its quite clear the Eversolo as a product is a much nicer more lovely thing to look at and interact with and offers better connections, but the WiiM goes toe to toe for features at a lot less money so if your choice between them is purely based on sound quality or if your considering upgrading to the A6 from the WiiM what do I think about that.
Straight out of the box, testing both as a streaming DAC the Eversolo sounds significantly better than the WiiM its not even close, the WiiM sounds more subdued, smaller in scale, leaner in the bass, duller in treble, less expansive and just not nearly as good in any area at all which I think we should expect with a price delta of 3x as much for the Eversolo.
But here is where things get more interesting, I have already worked out how to massively improve the sound of the WiiM using the graphic equaliser so using my settings the gap between the two comes down to nit picks. I preferred the WiiM in ways because its sound was then more full solid and bass rich and warm, the vocals had a stronger tone and overall it’s a more relaxed easy going pleasing listen. However its not as treble present and the timing is not as good as from the Eversolo.. The Eversolo is still the technically better sounding of the two but I don’t care about techncial’s. which would I prefer to listen to loud all day it probably would be the WiiM. .
There is a huge but here though, the fact I am having to apply quite an extreme equaliser is not a good thing and in some songs I have noticed some audible anomalies which could be clipping of the WiiM’s digital headroom, I am not sure. So this is not ideal but the sound is so much better than with the equaliser off its still worth doing in my opinion because most music is fine.
What I think this shows is what the Eversolo is missing, it doesn’t have any sound tailoring options that could be as simple as warm, neutral and bright modes or much better would be some manual control of the sound or much better again would be Dirac Live room correction. So to me as much as the Eversolo offers lots of flexibility and features there are some that I think are missing or could be added to the benefit of the product and the Eversolo infrastructure.
Not really the end
I did find it was possible to close the sonic gap between the more relaxed full sound of the WiiM with my equaliser being used by using the upsampling in the Eversolo ap. I found the 176.4khz to be about the sweet spot for a more full bodied sound which was a little less analytical and a little more warm and pleasing, however the exuberant sound of the Eversolo remained so it’s a small tweak thing and I would still prefer more sound tailoring options, but its worth experimenting with if you own one.
I think some of the hype surrounding the Evwersolo A6 has been legitimate. The A6 is a very lovely thing, the overall build quality, the connections quality, the screen quality especially, for the price I don’t think you can ask for much more and even in regards to the sound yes of course it wont please everyone but likely within its own sound design parameters its probably ticked all the intended boxes. It might tick all your sound preference boxes too, then again it may well not so definitely don’t see the A6 as an all conquering product, its definitely not that but it is very nice and very well thought out and supported and its probably shaking up the industry, helping to set a new standard for what modern hifi products should be like and what should be expected at this price point.
An Essential Audition Award is granted in recognition of a products high performance but with a certain uniqueness that makes auditioning even more essential.
For the full specification of the Eversolo A6 please see their website linked here