Super Best Audio Friends
The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists
I'll start first with how it sounds and keep it short and sweet. The first thing I noticed about the Phono3 is how clear and free of veil it sounded compared to practically all other phonostage unless they were super high-end or special custom jobs designed for a specific use case. iFi says the Phono3 is direct coupled design, and it certainly sounds like it. Most phono stages will have several caps in the signal path, even disregarding the caps...
if you love music, and i mean really love it, not just as background noise - why are you still bothering with D/S converters? I feel as though there has been an increase in discussions and interest regarding D/S DACs on this forum in the past two years. I attribute this mainly to two things:
1) PRO AUDIO MEMES FOTM (AKA 50 SHADES OF GREY)
my perspective after 4 years
I know all of this has been hashed out to some extent one way or another before, but i feel like an honest and stark refresher is in order. i know there are several community members who had similar experiences to me, and i would like to ask anyone who messed around with D/S converters in the past and settled on R2R as the righteous path to share their experience.
These latest discussions are why I am super hesitant about getting folks into TTs. It's going down the rabbit hole that either leads to wonderful or severely messed-up results. It's Lucy in Sky with Diamonds and Are You Experienced. You have absolutely no idea what kind of trip it's going to be.
ON VINTAGE OR USED GEAR ... THE PHONOSTAGE ... ALL TOO EASY TO SAY VINYL IS AWESOME ... FREE IMPROVEMENTS - 10000 ADJUSTMENTS ... PHONO CARTS ... IMPERMANENCE AND OTHER CRAP
First off, this is one of the few solid state amps out there that synergizes well with HD800. no joke, even the stock HD800 was sort of listenable which really surprised me. What was even more surprising for me was that it wasn't a warmpoo amp trying to mask all the flaws of HD800, rather play to its strengths without messing up the FR too much.
The quick takeaway is that the Motu Ultralite mk4 is the bees-knees best-thing-since-sliced-bread at an affordable price point of $700. It does everything we can possibly imagine and more. It serves as an excellent DAC for the price point.
- Employs es9016s 8 channel DAC
- Excellent performance, especially considering price and size
- Dynamic Range > 130 dB This surprised me as Motu specifies 120 dB
- Gain Linearity tight to -110 dBFS then less than ± 1 dB to -130 dBFS
- Channel Crosstalk is exceptionally low with separation > 145 dB Bal and > 128 SE
- Possibly highest performance / price ratio pro audio interface existing at the time of this post
- Has earned duty in my pro audio setup replacing RME Fireface UC for most lab and studio functions
I didn't think this possible, but from the Modius' balanced outs, this Velvet Sound stuff is no longer. Or at least none of the disadvantages of the Velvet Sound (murky lows, recessed mids, soft attacks, raised last octave) but with all its advantages (resolution and expansive soundstage). Holy cow, this actually sounds like the older Modi 2 or other AKM4399, 4495 based DACs with the crisp attacks, evident mids, more palatable highs, bass textures, punchy bass even! After what seems like years, it's so nice hearing the E and A notes on a guitar not sound as they've been processed through a blender.
THD+N (db) vs Amplitude (dbFS) at 1kHz. GRN = SE, RED = BAL
Take the Sennheiser HD650, but correct all its shortcomings, make it into an IEM and we get the Ara. The Ara retains the HD650's slightly thick lows and mid-bass emphasis, but removes the veil, extends the bass fully to 20Hz, and brings about super articulation that only a BA driver can achieve. Other defining characteristics of the HD650, such as narrow emphasis in the upper mids that gives that a bit of smack and edge, and its sedate and smooth highs, are present. In terms of IEMs, I don't know how many of you guys remember the Orion (which was another one of my favorites and one I recently recommended to a friend with a modest budget) - but another way to look at the Ara is to see it as souped up Orion. Like super-souped up.
What's disturbing is that the Modi 3 uses the AKM4490, which is only a -112db part! Schiit is actually getting superior results with a far inferior chip (the 4490 is two levels down from the 4497), and only a single chip! Never mind my subjective impressions where I felt the D70 sounded cooler, more "digital", and less resolving than the Modi 3. Scientifically speaking, if you believe in the idea of SINAD being the major indicator of sound quality, you are much better off with Modi 3 at $99. It's not that the D70 is bad; however, bottom line is that that Schiit saves you from overpriced Chinese designed and Chinese made gear.
- Employs es9038q2m IC contrasted with es9038pro used in Matrix XSP
- Decent performance, especially considering price and size, but don't expect a giant killer
- Dynamic Range > 125 dB on USB ASIO input, rather impressive for a microcontroller shield product
- Gain Linearity tight to -110 dBFS then less than ± 1 dB to -130 dBFS on USB ASIO input
- While less than ± 0.1 dB there is an odd ripple in the frequency response