AKM's "VELVET SOUND"

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Psalmanazar, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,307
    Dislikes Received:
    80
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I am severely disappointed in all the DACs I've heard with AKM's AK4490 chip. DACs with the previous generation AK 4396 and 4399 sounded great to me compared to older AKM chips (some of the audio interfaces I've heard with these are horrible); they were almost like what a Sabre should be but so often fails miserably at due to ESS's ridiculousness: Very neutral, lean, and mean with little glare while being great at replicating instrumental tone and timbre.

    The AK 4490 increased the detail, staging, and is definitely less out-of-phase. However AKM adopted some ridiculous Japanese audiophile Engrish coined "VELVET SOUND" philosophy that combines Chi-fi and Japan-fi tuning with a thick bass, blooming into the lower mids and "enhanced" highs as heard in the old Modi 2U vs the nu-Modi 2U which share the same analog section. The Grace M9XX and Bifrost 4990 were the same despite the Bifrost 4490 having a lot more detail than the smaller units.

    Considerable guitar detail was masked by the bloom of all three compared to vinyl, many CD players, DACs with older sigma-delta chips (AK4396, 4399, ESS Sabre 9018, AD1955, etc), the Yggdrasil, and even the Bifrost Multibit. What gives in AKM making their new technically better performing but tonally less high-fidelity? Audiofool market pressure? Adding both warmth and crispness to today's over-mixed, sample-replaced, and hyper-compressed ProTools productions?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2016
    taisserroots, Torq, Cellist88 and 2 others like this.
  2. bixby

    bixby Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,353
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I am hearing some of what you describe as well. Personally I am not sure I would want to go back to the old modi2u though. That had no bass and was bright as all get out on my setup. But I do hear the soft bloom in the lower mids. And a bit of velvety veiled breathiness on vocals as compared with some other dacs.

    I am hoping burn in may alleviate. I did find USB cables to be fairly large contributors on the m2u4490 for example and can change the tonal balance quite a bit.
     
  3. RedFuneral

    RedFuneral Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    Likes Received:
    28
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Crispness is not a word I'd usually associate with 'velvet.' And here I was standing back because I thought they'd be smoothed over..
     
  4. Rex Aeterna

    Rex Aeterna Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    256
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Cinnaminson, nj
    pro tools? i take offense good sir! actually naw...windows fl studio guy mostly. dabbled into cubase but, it pee'ed me off a lot.

    i never heard any of the newer ak offerings before. was gonna get a Yggdrasil or something but, might as well stick to my echo audiofire 2 then cause so far it might have old 4620 dac in it, it's still one interface i find to not have that digital grain to it. lot of circus logic dacs though i experienced through some pretty pricey cd players,receivers and couple of interfaces had that weird ''velvet'' or overly smooth warmness too it... only other thing i really like is my sony dvp-s7000 dvd player as cd player but, have no idea what dac it uses inside but heard the cd player is basically a higher end ES cd put into a dvd player chassis so it might a pcm converter or something.
     
  5. wonderbrah

    wonderbrah Rando

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    8
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    is this sound present on the Fulla 2?
     
  6. SSL

    SSL Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,051
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    93
    I dunno. But while I hear what @Psalmanazar is saying about the 4490 sound signature, I also don't mind admitting that I like it, at least in the Bifrost. I wouldn't let it scare you off of the Fulla 2, which is a high value regardless.
     
  7. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,307
    Dislikes Received:
    80
    Trophy Points:
    113
    If Fulla 2 is all you can afford and you have headphones that actually need amplification, then get it. There's nothing else for a hundred bucks really.
     
    taisserroots and a44100Hz like this.
  8. Minbeo

    Minbeo Rando

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    15
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Hanoi, Vietnam
    i agree that 4490 dac is not neutral, it's a little tubey sounding, still much more pleasant than bad Sabre dacs.
     
    Psalmanazar likes this.
  9. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    8,336
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    My general experiences with the 4490 very closely match those of @Psalmanazar. Be it with the Bifrost 4490, A&K 300 series DAPs, the Bryston BDA-3 or the Hegel HD30 the "Velvet Sound" thing seems to be largely in evidence. Now, this is a bit less pronounced in the Hegel HD30 than with the other units, but it's still something you don't have to try particularly hard to hear.

    This has been rather disappointing given the other, rather good, specs for this particular IC.

    So it was with extreme trepidation that I first listened to Linn's latest Klimax DSM unit. Previous Linn DS players have been based on the Wolfson 8741 converters but using Linn's completely custom oversampling and filter implementations. The latest generation, using Linn's "Katalyst" architecture, are using the AKM 4497. And the 4497 is still embroiled in the "Velvet Sound" nonsense ... so I was very concerned that this would fuck up an otherwise excellent sounding player.

    I should have had more faith ...

    Linn have opted to implement the 4497 in "psycho bastard" mode. By which I mean they're taking advantage of the ability to feed the 4497 with all five discrete power-supplies it can accept (and some other externalizable features), and they're sticking to using their own, custom, FPGA-implemented, oversampling and filtering implementations.

    And I'm happy to be able to report that, at least when implemented this way, there is NO HINT of "Velvet Sound" in the reproduction of the Linn DSM.

    Which means that, it is as least possible to use the 4497 and not wind up saddled with this less-than-desirable "tuning".

    Now, I've NOT heard a "pure 4497" implementation yet. And by "pure" I mean a DAC that's using the 4497 for all of the digital processing tasks from the input to the raw analog output, with all filters, oversampling, etc. used being those implemented directly in the chip. So it's possible that less comprehensively over-engineered 4497-based converters may also not be subject to the "Velvet Sound" artifacts that rob the 4490 of greatness. I'm not going to hold my breath on that ... but I am encouraged that, at least, Linn managed to do it ...
     
    Priidik, slankoe, FlySweep and 3 others like this.
  10. Dino

    Dino Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    3,496
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I've wondered why a lot of people here seem to like the 4490 in the Fulla 2 but tend to dislike the 4490(s) in the Jotunheim. Any theories?
    (I've never heard either of these, btw.)
     
  11. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,307
    Dislikes Received:
    80
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Cheap vs expensive. Combo with a worse than Modi DAC for 500 bucks? What?
     
    Baten likes this.
  12. Dino

    Dino Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    3,496
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I thought about that @Psalmanazar then I thought the DAC module in the Jotunheim is only $100 more. But yeah, if I thought I was getting mediocre sound out a DAC/amp that cost $100 it would seem quite different than one that cost $500.
     
  13. Minbeo

    Minbeo Rando

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    15
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Hanoi, Vietnam
    I dont think it's that bad, i haven't heard Jotunheim yet but i got an Aune S16 which use a AKM4495seg and prefer it to AKM4399 dacs(Bifrost, modi 2 uber etc), it's cleary technically better and make lesser quality records sound more lively, the worst thing i can say about it is it's overpriced.
    "Velvet Sound" is like ketchup, it has its place and is good as long as you don't call it "Awesome sauce" and put it on sushi
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  14. MikeW

    MikeW Shitbag

    Executed
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2017
    Likes Received:
    15
    Dislikes Received:
    43
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    dumbassville
    I'll say My JOT's dac improved significantly with the addition of a reclocker (W4S Recovery) in this case. The dac seems particularly vulnerable to USB ground noise. Or it could just be my setup, but my PC uses pretty high end parts and a good power supply.

    But yes, it would have been a better idea to skip the JOT dac option and the W4S and just get a Modi Multibit at about the same cost. Though, I know i'd end up with a Device like recovery/regen/'wyrd either way.

    Came across a good deal on the Recovery, and knew i'd want one for whatever dac I get next anyways, so it was easy to justify.
     

Share This Page