Dangerous Music Convert-2 DAC Review - Stream of Consciousness

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. Collusion

    Collusion Almost "Made"

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    Convert-2 in the house. Startling dynamics, I haven't got used to this kind of slam. Will be writing some notes vs. Yggdrasil A2 after more listening.

    Current setup: Desktop PC -> RME HDSPe AIO -> AES/EBU -> Convert-2 -> XLR -> SPL Phonitor 2 -> Hifiman Sundara

    Is the USB input worth checking out?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The USB is good. Worthy of checking out to see if it will simplify your chain.
     
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  3. skem

    skem Friend

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    Will be very interested to see how you feel about the sense of drive and energy in both the mid-treble (4-8K) and upper-treble (>16K) regions when giving your comparison to Yggdrasil A2.
     
  4. Koth Ganesh

    Koth Ganesh Friend

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    I have the Convert 2 feeding the Phonitor 2 directly. From my Yggdrasil days, I had the Lynx AES 16e card. I find that I do not need to use it and simply use the USB in the Convert 2. As Marv says, the USB implementation is good and it simplifies the chain.
     
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  5. Collusion

    Collusion Almost "Made"

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    Ok, I think I've listened enough now to give some very initial impressions of my DM Convert-2. Compared to an Yggdrasil A2, unless otherwise stated. Unfortunately I don't have the Yggdrasil anymore (sold 3 weeks ago), but my memories of it are still recent enough. Setup is the same as stated last time, but I've now switched to USB. More natural timbre, I think - something about the RME HDSPe AIO as aes/ebu transport reminded me of a ADI-2 DAC. This didn't manifest itself with Yggdrasil though, so who knows, maybe I am just delusional...

    I try to focus on couple of things that were immediately obvious once powering the unit:

    Tonal balance
    I find Convert-2 more neutral than Yggdrasil. I never got fully in terms with how "unfolded" Yggdrasil sounded in the midrange/lower treble. Let me explain: for example, the upper octaves of female voices had a wonderful amount of resolution and bite, but then at the same time lower octaves sounded a tad thin or soft. And sometimes I could detech a very tiny amount of stridency on the upper midrange/lower treble too, but it was barely noticeable anyway. If I closed my eyes and imagined the singer being in front of me, sometimes depending on the recording it sounded wonderful, but sometimes it sounded a bit artificial, or sharp, having more energy on the upper octaves of midrange than it should. YMMV.

    Convert-2 on the other hand doesn't seem to have this kind of effect. Everything seems flat, but not lifeless. Works "against" the Convert-2 in classical pieces, where the average tone of violins and pianos happens to be in Yggdrasil's sweet spot. YMMV.

    Where the Convert-2 really shines, is artificial sound stages. Those of generated with computers and especially rendered in real time, like soundscapes of various video games. I do occasionally play CS:GO and with Convert-2 everything is super easy to pinpoint just by listening. With Yggdrasil it is harder, even if it occasionally feels Yggdrasil brings more detail to the table, but then botches the placement process somehow. From time to time I felt it somehow managed to sound a little diffuse. YMMV.

    Now, that is perhaps the most prominent difference I can think of, regarding tonal balance. Like others, I also noticed the amount of sub bass. I feel Convert-2 brings more to the table, but I'd hardly describe Yggdrasil's bottom end to be lacking. I detect zero sibilance on the upper treble of Convert-2. Very similar to Yggdrasil in that regard. Listening continues. I won't be able to make any final judgements until I hook up my Genelec 8030b's with a passive preamp into the setup. In a slightly acoustically treated near field setup they manage to dig in deeper into the recordings.

    And now that I think of it, DM Convert-2 is probably the most closest sounding thing to the MSB Signature DAC IV Plus, which I owned a while ago. Save some money and buy the Convert-2, I say. More on this later.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  6. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    Here we go - been a while since I've formally reviewed anything, so bear with me (is this even the right thread?). Dont be mad at me for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, blame the education system that failed me. I was part of the SBAF loaner tour of the Convert2, and after hearing about several friends all trying it out, and swearing by its greatness - I realized I needed to see if they were all idiots with poor hearing or if the hype was real.

    Setup - PC w/ Jriver FLAC or qobuz or tidal -> RME THunderbolt PCI Interface card with AES Out -> Convert2 -> Jensen ISOMAX BAL to SE -> Passive preamp - Pass XA25 - Klipsch Forte. I only tested this with speakers - only have THX789 for headphone amp and thought it would be a silly pair. Musical preferences - Rock, indie, jazz, 2000s rap - roughly in that order. (note: @furiousipaduser uses an upgraded word clock module with this and says it improves body all around, so convert owners can improve even further if their heart desires).

    Convert 2 is pro audio - XLR hot outputs only. I was warned ahead of time - that it would clip Jensen iso box ahead of time, so I settled in on about 50% on the level knob and -18db on the calibration selector - no problems everything worked as it should. So many lights, blinkers, gauges etc. Would give a man a seizure is he looks directly into it. Useful tools for pros, too much blinking for easily distracted 30 somethings hobbiests. Wide and slim - meant for rack mounting. Sample rate switching did not bother me - might others.

    So immediately when I turned it on - I hear this extremely clean and clear sound. I've had this epiphany once before - when I first switched from Gungnir Multibit (rev A) to Soekris. Like putting a pair of glasses on and everything is clearly in focus. Tight bass, almost zero boom or bloom, sharp transients, road runner (meep meep!) fast, sharp and realistic treble. This is a clean mean FLAC through putting machine. I don't feel like it was adding anything not in the original recording - or taking much away. Just rock out. Do not question why, just rock with Convert2, that's it's job jabroni. I did experience a bit of listening fatigue while I had this for a week. After and hour of listening or so I would take a short break. This is likely brain break in, same thing that happened to me when I first bought hd800. I didn't necessarily hear or notice the "veil" that a few others have mentioned, might be my lack of experience, only testing with speakers, or different setup overall.

    Stage was smaller and more forward that I was used to, but it might be more correct for most. Image was crystal clear, each musician could easily be placed within soundstage. My smaller soundstage comment might just be coming front the more forward presentation, but I didn't feel the same blown out 3d effects I liked with Gungnir Multibit and Soekris. Again, this is probably more realistic and true to the original recording, but I've grown to love the goosebumps that big expansive live concert recordings produce.

    After being enamored for a couple of days, decided to switch back to the Soekris 1541 and compare. Soekris was closer than I thought it would be, my mind had played a few tricks on me with what I was hearing with Convert and mentally comparing to what I thought the Soekris sounded like. As mentioned above - I felt like the Soekris was taller/ deeper/ wider - but not as good at localizing each instrument. Soekris is more relaxed and laid back. No longer term listening fatigue on soekris, but everythind sounded a tick slower. Soekris excelled at black background, and Convert excelled here too. This might sound weird, but even though Soekris was a bit slower and a bit more veiled, I didn't discern a noticeable difference in detail, fine detail was all still there - just a bit sharper edges, less rounded, with the Convert2.

    In conclusion - am I going to sell my audiophool hifi and go pro? Nah. I get why some are. Convert sounded great, and might even be the nicest dac I've had in house for testing. It will probably even spawn a Bachelorette spin off - DAChelorette (BOOOOOO THIS MAN, sorry) where I see if I can find a DAC that is closer to the technicalities of my turntable. Also, with a fully single ended amp and pre amp - balanced only into a transformer is not the best long term solution for my system. In the past, Ive associated "pro audio" with a dryer, flat, boring sound that was supposed to represent what the average teenager or music geek was listening to. Headphones marketed toward pros were meant to used to master, not to reach the 69th level of audio nirvana. I was pleasantly surprised that something could sound to right (tonally and technically) while still keeping a certain sweetness to the music, while not killing all the fun lively aspects. I could (and did) get lost in the music while listening to this dac. Keep this on the short list of recommendations for those looking to take the next step past $1000 dacs, as long as they know and can accept the differences between pro and consumer audio.
     
  7. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    Greetings all. Recently had the DM Convert-2 in my stack thanks to the loaner tour and wanted to share some thoughts. I won't write too much here as my thoughts echo most of those that have already been shared here.

    BLUF* = very high quality DAC with great transparency, imaging, speed and plankton, but almost too much of a good thing in those regards, causing some listening fatigue (and not a good fit for those who like things more on the "dark" side). Really like it, but not yet sure if I love it.

    *(BLUF = Bottom-Line Up Front, kind of like TL;DR, often used in military circles)

    Anyway, Here are some of my listening notes from my time with the C2:

    Notes on C2:
    - Very clear - transients, attacks, details – it’s all there, some more plankton
    - Not so much glare as being really clear
    - Not warm or rounded
    - Agree it’s a bit much to get used to – can feel some fatigue
    - Good bass texture but not bloated
    - Clinical? No, just really revealing and not warm/dark
    - No one-note bass here – really good texture and tone at the bottom end
    - Could see how pro-audio types would really like this as it lets you see all that is there, good, bad and funky
    - So resolving – like seeing a celebrity without their makeup – nothing to hide.
    - Walking outside into full sunlight – it’s not overly bright, but the change can be sudden and not always comfortable.
    - Resolution example - The sustain on the last notes of “Magdalene Laundries” (from the Chieftain's album Tears of Stone) is sick – probably a good 2 seconds longer than I had noticed before.
    - Maybe add some tubes in the path? Could put the Freya back in the path?
    - Added Freya in and used the tube gain stage - seems to be a bit more palatable, but honestly since I've had it a number of days now maybe I'm just getting used to it?
    - A/B'd with my Holo Spring L3 and the difference in sound-stage depth and instrument placement is the first thing I noticed. Can imagine how this would show up much more in speakers than HPs (wish I had my 2-channel setup working currently!)


    Also, I did have some issues with sample rate alignment when I was using the USB connection – somehow got out of sync and then I had to reinstall the driver and restart my computer for JRMC to recognize the C2 again – kind of a pain, although I might have done something wrong to cause the issue - not sure. Switched over from USB to AES (through my Singxer SU-1) and didn't have any further issues.

    Equipment = PC running JRMC--->Singxer SU-1--->DM C2--->Schiit Freya--->Cavalli LAu--->MS Ether C 1.1
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  8. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    Difference in favor of the Holo Springs or the DM C2?
     
  9. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I had read a few impressions prior but I would say it did not prepare me for what I ultimately thought about the Convert-2. Setup was as follows: PC -> RDL-SF2 (AES) -> DM Convert-2/NAD C510 -> EC Aficionado (WE396A/EML 2A3 Mesh/stock 5AR4, no feedback, Jupiter caps) -> Focal Clear/modded 6xx/HD800S (roughly in that amount of head time). USB was not attempted, since the Dante device allowed me to swap between the CV2 and the C510 fairly quickly.

    I'll just start with the punchline, I had a really hard time telling the two DACs apart; they are far more similar than different with the CV2 having similar strengths and weaknesses to the C510. I would say my impressions of the CV2 line up mostly with what's been said prior (great transients, volume bypass sounds better, master clock mode helps, etc.) and really only differ from the C510 in the follow areas: the CV2's is slightly wetter and fuller in the bass, attacks ever so slightly better (especially due to the bass being fuller), does plankton a touch better, images a tad more clearly, and has a slightly less bright and less glary treble than the C510. Fully aware of the bad juju of promoting different gear within a thread, I will still say that this speaks to how good the C510 is (particularly at transients) if could largely keep up with the CV2 at a little over half the price.

    In comparison to the Emotiva DC-1, the differences are much more stark, the staging on the CV2 is much less closed in and better placed as well as far less colored (in the warm and bloomy way, but some similarity in terms of the color itself) than its more affordable AD1955 brethren. Additionally, there's a significant resolution advantage, but not on the level of AKM4490 devices and doesn't quite do microdynamics or the sustain/decay part of the transient as well as the Gungnir Multibit A1.

    I've offered to loan my DAC before in jest, but after hearing the CV2, I would like to more seriously offer the C510 on a loaner tour in hopes that I haven't gone completely mad with regards to my impressions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
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  10. skem

    skem Friend

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    That’s quite a statement. I for one would be very curious to hear C510 in view of @famish99 ’s impressions. Granted, my view of Convert-2 was to find it impressive but ultimately a novelty device in that it seemed too unnatural/enhanced. But my experience with NAD M51 DAC (which I used for three years) is the opposite—not offensive at all but a bit lacking in detail/resolution/attack. If C510 did convert2-like detail without the grating/fatiguing macrodynamic enhancement, I’d be impressed.

    EDIT: I see the C510 is basically the same as the M51, so that answers my question.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
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  11. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    Ehh I wouldn't keep your hopes up. If the Convert-2 was a 10 at slam, the C510 is like a 9.5 or 9 at the worst. It could be why I was so fatigued by the Auteur.
     
  12. Collusion

    Collusion Almost "Made"

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    I've now had some time to listen to the DM Convert-2 with speakers too. I did replace my old Genelec 8030b's with Genelec G3's mainly for aesthetic reasons. This "unfortunately" happened at the same time I purchased the Convert-2, so I had make some back-to-back comparisons between the speakers to actually confirm what I was hearing was actually the DAC and not the speakers. Suffice to say, they are more similar than different and the sound characteristics of DM C2 are clearly audible via both.

    If you are considering the same combo as I have here, audition before you buy. There is so much slam/energy in the upper frequencies, that you do not want to listen this combo when tired. I wouldn't call it sibilant, but Convert-2 really shoves everything into your face if it feels like it. This thing is like the exact opposite to Soekris dac1541, which has this ultra clean and polished type sound, especially in the highs. Convert-2 is more dry in the highs, but has some sweetness in the midrange. I had to switch my passive preamp to SPL Phonitor 2 to soothe things out a bit.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
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  13. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I may add that use of the level trim was required to compare the DACs back to back, so obviously there's a bit of transparency loss there. I would say without a doubt that I like the CV2 better, but not enough to pay that much to upgrade to it. I don't dismiss that I could be at the limits of my chain especially in regards to attack. I also did not get the chance to connect it to my speaker setup since I'm in the middle of a move.
     
  14. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

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    Genelec uses metal tweeters. Typical metal tweeters with their attack and painful resonances are not for SBAFs unveiled. Cymbals on the legendary 103Xa series would hit SBAFs like bullets to the skull. Such socialist products with their socialist drivers bought for looks and reputation won't have the German precision of Sennheiser HD 650 for most SBAFs. Modern professional gear built to just work and show you what was compressed to sound in your face will not allow you to tweak for that without going full johnjen as it isn't a turntable. Feeding Genelec and Yamaha workhorses such gear will break the enveloping musical spell of the Eagles. Most SBAFs, Steve Hoffman, and loudness inquisitors should stick to thoroughbred gear made with advanced patented technologies, discrete parts, facts, and knowledge.
     
  15. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I have to confess that I'm currently searching for something that can replace my convert-2.

    Am I finally bored with cv2? Not really. At least I believe not.

    It's "still" the closest to my very preference. My take didn't change much from the previous impressions though -- from day 1 to today, I couldn't find it "honest" (in timbre, dynamics, and tonality). It exaggerates many things in very refined ways. Maybe slightly too artificial (reminded me of amoled displays and some photos taken by legacy leica) for some tracks.. but tastefully done. Bottom line, I don't think any of those as negatives -- but can't see why this dac is categorized as "pro use" haha.

    Then why do I consider changing? Because of two non-sonic reasons:
    1. Blinking word clock lamp in master clock mode.
    2. Need to manually change locking freqs -- 44.1khz mostly ok but 48 or 96khz sometimes.

    The thing is that my dac journey this time around has not been successful so far. I want a dac that costs equal or less AND doesn't feel "downgraded". The below are (some of) the recent auditions:
    • NAD M51: thought I liked it years ago. But this time, it just failed to satisfy me. The biggest disappointment was due to lacking micro (particularly dynamics) and lazier transience. Still good level of cleanness though.
    • SMSL D1: Impressive in black-ground and resolution. Marginally less veiled than cv2. But not at the level of "top league" in attacks/timbre/intensity. <1k price seems shockingly good for the sound..
    • ES9038Q2Ms: Didn't expect much with these because of big price deltas (mostly ranged $300-500). But interestingly different from 9038pros (note d1=9038pro). Bad digital behaviors were heard easily and commonly, possibly due to crappier powers/parts? My previous bad experience with sabre 9038s also came from non-pro 9038s. I'd oversimplify 9038pro > good akm 449x > 9038q2m or others (sorted by preference).
    In this regard, I am a bit looking forward to hearing matrix 9038 loaner soon, as I've seen a good potential from 9038pro.

    PS. I also want something that sounds sufficiently good right after power-on. Schiits (and other multibits/r2rs) automatically excluded.
     
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  16. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    I have been hearing some good things about iFi Pro iDSD from a couple of people I trust. @gbeast posted his review of the iDSD on earphiles.org and I remember seeing a mention of the Convert 2 in the review.
     
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  17. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Maybe @iFi audio can set us up with a loaner? I've been pleasantly surprised with their latest stuff, most which I have only been able to hear in passing without dedicated time.
     
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  18. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    @EagleWings Thanks for the suggestion. Didn't even think of it -- its name ("dsd huh?") was enough for me to look elsewhere lol. Price sounds a bit tough though (I'm not shopping AIOs).

    I am also very positive regarding the loaner opportunity. Hope more senior friends to get their ears on it -- let alone my personal desire to hear it by myself.
     
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  19. Sonorus

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    Have you thought of trying another AD1955 implementation?
    I have auditioned Cambridge 851C and after that i sold my Gungnir Multibit A1 for it.
    (Same sound as 851D and 851N)
    Very natural sounding , great dynamics , highly resolving and transparent.
    It's very true to the source without adding or subtracting anything of it's own.
    No sign's of digital glare or harshness.
    I am using it with mjolnir 2 + HD800s and my 2 channel set up.
    (The usb in is crap but as i know they fixed it at the N & D models)
     
  20. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    How many people are actually interested?
     
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