Sorry, Not, Sorry
Before I start this review please let me apologize. No!… Not to you, to your wallet. Its time to get it out and throw it at the screen again. The ENOG2 could be your DAC endgame.
I know, I know. I just told you to get the Archel 2 Pro, and you absolutely should. The Archel 2 Pro has been trading blows with my THX 888 Sp200 amplifier. So much so I can’t advise one over the other (unless you need a balanced output or more power).
The ENOG2 , however, has completely slaughtered my previous DAC the Schiit Modi 3. I have a hard time calling the Modi 3 bad because it really isn’t at the $99 price point. I think it competes well in that space. However, If you’re willing to add another $80 you’ll have a transcendent experience.
Welcome to the review of the Geshelli Labs ENOG2. Probably all the DAC you’ll ever need.
Disclaimer: I was sent the ENOG2 by Geshelli Labs but as you all know by now that doesn’t affect my review. The thoughts that you read here are my own and were not submitted for preview. As with the Archel 2 Pro review, Geshelli Labs will see the review at the same time as our readers.
Let’s Get This Party Started
As always let’s check out what you get in the packaging. Just like most amps, you don’t get much, but Geshelli does throw in a few extras. The first item is, of course, the ENOG2 . Next is the power supply that is very small, but the DAC doesn’t need much power. Also included are a premium Geshelli vinyl sticker, a cleaning cloth, and an instruction manual.
The first thing you need to know is this is probably the only DAC that you’ll ever need. I’ve never said that about amps. I’ve hinted around it with a few amplifiers but I’ve never said it outright. ( That might change soon)
Let’s take a closer look and see why I think the ENOG2 could be the end game DAC for most people.
TL;DR – Not only is the ENOG2 well built, available in a plexi-glass chassis, it’s also one of if not the cheapest fully balanced DAC. The icing on the cake to me though is the ability to select 3 levels of voltage output (gain) that’s huge. Sonically, I find it amazingly transparent and clean just like the Geshelli Labs amps. Finally, did I mention you get all of those features for only $179.
Starting on the front left you will find a button… But not just any button! This is the button when pressed will swap between the 2 inputs. Coaxial or SPDIF(Optical). When the button is held for 3 seconds is where things become interesting. You have 3 levels of voltage output (gain).
While I’m on the subject of the multiple gain levels lets dig into it further. I know some of you might not fully understand the value of the gain adjustment on the DAC so allow me to explain. Geshelli understands that not all amps need high voltage inputs. Sure some amps definitely benefit from more power but in many cases providing less power is more beneficial.
3 Output Voltages, But Why?
I guess you’re wondering how can that be. Let me give you just a few examples where less is more. Amps like the Geshelli Archel 2 Pro, and the Liquid Spark both like the 2nd gain setting. It provides them enough power to fully utilized the volume dial and volume levels way above what most would consider comfortable. It also means they sound cleaner, and reduces possible distortion at higher volume levels.
The next example is using ENOG2 Pro with the newest THX AAA amplifier, the S.M.S.L SP200. One of the downsides to the SP200 vs the Drop 789 and other THX amps is the SP200 only has 2 levels of gain. The reason 2 levels of gain is a problem is due to the high power output of the amp. Most reviews of the SP200 mention the lack of a low gain setting which makes listening to IEM( in-ear monitors) a task. This is because the amp has so much power the volume knob acts more like an on-off switch when it comes to IEM. Setting the ENOG2 to a lower gain level easily allows the SP200 to be used with sensitive IEM. Basically, the ENOG2 gives you 5 levels of gain control with the SP200.
The ability to adjust the gain level is enough to justify the ENOG 2 price alone. I told you that the button wasn’t just your average button.
The DAC Journey Continues
Now let’s continue our overview of the front panel. Again there are the coaxial and SPDIF (optical) inputs. No USB inputs on this device, which is okay, but not ideal. Most desktop PC, game console and blue ray players have SPDIF (optical) outputs, but they do make USB to SPDIF converters if necessary. Next to that is the bright power LED and finally the power input. Keep in mind that this is the front panel. (more about this later)
Moving around to the rear of the unit it’s really minimal and clean. Similar to the Archel 2 Pro. You have the XLR balanced output and RCA single-ended output that is it. Simple, beautiful and functional.
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. The sound. I won’t beat around the bush. The sound is transparent, clean, and just plain fantastic. I’ve been comparing amps lately and it takes a bit of back and forth listening before some of the differences are noticeable. Not the case with the ENOG2, the difference in sound was instantly noticeable no matter which amp I connected to it. I found the ENOG2 to have more resolution and the treble had more life compared to the Schiit Modi3.
Final Thoughts, DAC Endgame
Overall in every area, I found the ENOG2 to be better when compared to Modi 3 except for one.
I did say that we would be revisiting the front panel again. If you recall above, all the inputs including the power are located on the front panel. This might work out depending on your setup, but for many that “stack” amps and DAC the front inputs will make it harder when compared to Modi 3. All of the Modi3 inputs and outputs are located in the rear. The only thing that interrupts the front is a clean switch that is used to change inputs. “If” I had to knock the ENOG2 at all it would be having the inputs on the front.
Summing it all up. Geshelli Labs has another hit on its hands with the ENOG2 Pro. It has multiple voltage outputs, it has a balanced output, and it just simply sounds fantastic. I really do think the ENOG2 Pro is an endgame DAC. If you’re looking for what may be the last DAC you ever need to buy look no further.