The Comet Plus is a DAC, a preamplifier and it also features a side mounted headphone socket. Connectivity is comprehensive with a neat little surprise in the form of an analogue input – for a phono stage perhaps? Pre-amp functionality can easily be bypassed if it is not required (if you connect to an integrated amp, for example).
The most commonly used socket is the asynchronous USB type B connection which used to connect something like Melco Digital Music Library or a Mac/PC. This USB socket will playback all sample rates up to and including 32/384 kHz and DSD64 and DSD128.
There is also AES/EBU XLR digital input and SPDIF on a BNC connector which supports playback up 24/192 kHz, the Toslink input supports up to 24/96 kHz.
There are both single ended RCA outputs and XLR outputs and as mentioned above a 1/4 inch headphone output as well.
The Exonet connections you can see on the rear panel are a specific Exogal connection designed to connect to the brilliant Ion Power Amplifier (more on that to come!)
The Comet comes supplied with a very basic credit card style remote control which offers input switching and volume control. No one uses it. The reason for this is simple, there is a brilliant app available which communicates with the Comet via Bluetooth (for control only) as seen below. The app offers everything every user could possibly want.
The Comet can be used in a number of ways. It can connect to an integrated amplifier or pre-amplifier and be used as a conventional DAC. However, as mentioned above, the Comet features an excellent pre-amplifier as well, so it can connect directly to a power amplifier and you simply use the onboard volume control.
Performance is, for the money, outstanding. It is effortlessly musical, smooth and unfatiguing and you can play it for hours on end without feeling the need for a break. The longer you play it the better it gets. Harmonics and timbre are frighteningly realistic, more so than some other DACs costing a lot more money. I’ve had a couple of clients part exchange DACs and CD players which originally cost significantly more than a Comet does. It get incredibly close to the upper echelon of “true high end” DAC designs costing upwards of £7000/£8000.
The natural partner for a Comet is of course a Melco Digital Music Library; they really do work so well together! That said, great success has been achieved using JRiver on a conventional computer connected via USB. Also using the Comet with Bluesound Node 2 works way better than the modest price of the Node 2 would suggest. Although if you are wanting to hear your music played back to the very highest of standards a Melco would be the primary recommendation.
Please note: This is the Plus version of the Comet, which comes included with an upgraded off-board power supply which enhances performance