Dangerous Music Convert-2 DAC Review - Stream of Consciousness

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

  1. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    When corporate priority isn't absorbing my time, then family time and recreational listening also compete for measurement time. Systems such as these two peg my personal preference happy meter for recreational listening, making it difficult to tear myself away and go measure.
     
  2. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    That's why I like Amir much better: his measurements take at most 15 minutes and his Topping DAC probably push him to go measure instead of recreational listening!
     
  3. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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  4. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    Thank you for doing this, really curious to see how the Convert2 vs Solaris vs ADI-2 Pro measurements look.

    I had the change to demo both the Convert2 and Solaris and loved both, but couldn't justify the price difference between them and the RME ADI DAC2. That said, I did not demo them with my own gear and while I love my little RME unit, measurements/impressions on the Convert2/Solaris might push me to upgrade...
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Whoa! Hold your horses!

    The Convert-2 and Solaris are almost opposites to how they render sound. Don't let the measurements decide for you as long as the measurements indicate "not shit / nothing wrong" per the criteria mentioned in this post:

    A HEALTHY APPROACH TO MEASUREMENTS - A REBUKE TO THE MEASUREMENT EXTREMISTS

    BTW, so long as measurements are better than say 0.05% THD+N, which is about 66db SINAD. (0.01% if you want to be totally sure, then let your ears decide.) Heck, do a level matched blind test! This is a totally subjective hobby and many aspects of sound are not explained by one or two measurements.

    FWIW, after the point where measurements are "good enough", I tend to prefer gear that measures relatively worse. This is because opamps or any other gear that uses massive amounts of feedback always measures great!

    Now "measuring relatively worse" on an AP-555 or AverLAB, but still better than 0.05% THD+N, does not mean the gear measures badly. Just because high end measurement gear can pick up all sorts of stuff that wasn't possible 20 years ago doesn't mean audio gear with 0.05% THD+N is suddenly bad.

    BTW, none of this directed specifically at you. This is just my fight again Sauron's disinformation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  6. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    I have fairly thick skin, dont worry about hurting my feelings ;)

    I demo'd both, in very different circumstances (completely different speaker setups for each) and both sounded great but its hard for me to tell without putting a piece of gear in my own system, I dont have enough experience listening to various gear, especially DACs. I dont think the fairly short time I spent listening to both really made it obvious which of the two I liked best or would fit best with what I already own.

    Unfortunately I'm not sure there really is another way for me to decide without buying one, spending a month with it, selling it, then buying the other and spending another month with it. Thats been my experience with most gear, I need to run them through the paces, my headphones, my speakers, my music, before I can feel confident one way or the other.

    Read a LOT of opinions on GS/HF about these two which is what got me curious about them, so you could say I've done my homework on these, but ultimately I wont know until I buy them and spend time with them. Measurements will just help me decide which one I buy first.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'll get you some Convert-2 measurements tonight.
     
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  8. Dzerh

    Dzerh Friend

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    What is the problem then? Sounds like an upgrade itch to me :)
     
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  9. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I am 85% sure that rme adi-2 dac will measure better than both solaris or convert-2, in terms of d2-3 harmonic levels, noise floor, and possibly j-test results.

    Well, in short, I ended up with selling rme and got convert-2 -- and didn't regret it at all. Also I can confidently say that solaris is at least a couple of tiers above rme in real performance that matters (particularly as an AIO).

    As always, this hobby can be sometime frustrating. Not so simple, either.

    You can have your own mileage. That's fine. Just don't rely on what you can't perfectly understand.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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  11. PTS

    PTS Friend

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    I agree. I own the RME ADI-2 and have spent a good deal of time listening to the Convert-2 and Solaris. In my opinion, as standalone DACs, there's not a huge difference between them, and it just comes down to flavor. The RME has the advantage of being more versatile in terms of options and tweaking. Some may disagree, but I feel most people (barring SBAFers with golden ears) would have a hard time telling the difference in a blind test. They're all well designed, good sounding DACs. Maybe spend that thousand dollars you'd need to upgrade on a component that would make a bigger impact? I've personally got more mileage from switching amps or speakers/headphones.

    Edit: I Just want to add, if you're looking for an AIO, I'll agree with Vtory that the Solaris is definitely the best option. The headamp on the RME isn't that great, and the Convert-2 isn't an AIO design.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
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  12. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    Youre a prince amongst men. Thank you!

    Well.. maybe :)

    Right on. I was looking at the Convert2 and Solaris before I bought the RME - I went for it because its a lot cheaper and I really love the programmable EQ, and didn't care about the head amp. Now that Ive played with it plenty, I barely ever use the EQ. I dont need an AIO, just a great sounding DAC that will pair well with a tube amp.

    Thanks again, really appreciate you taking the time.

    Flavor matters! I am happy headphone/speaker wise, and amp upgrade will come later once I've had some time to build the Bottlehead Crack + speedball kit I just bought and played around with it some. For now, I think a DAC on the bright side to pair up with the MPX3 may be more worthwhile. I'm in no rush though, Ill take my time and weigh the pros and cons. I appreciate all the opinions and knowledge found on SBAF, I've only lurked here for a few weeks and definitely learned more than I have anywhere else. Its a really nice change to see conflicting opinions and people not hesitate to tell it like it is.
     
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  13. Collusion

    Collusion Almost "Made"

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    Switched dacs with a friend of mine for a couple of days - gave him my Convert-2 and got an Yggdrasil A2 in return. I got new headphones, Focal Clears, and new active speakers, Genelec G Three B's after I sold my Yggdrasil A2, which left me with second thoughts. My earlier impressions of both dacs are still very valid, I think. Both speakers and headphones are still driven by the same old SPL Phonitor 2.

    Yggdrasil sounds more relaxed, perhaps even slightly hazy compared to CV2. Wouldn't still say it's any less detailed (it might be even more detailed), but the detail is organized differently spatially and dynamically (speaking of volume levels). This means more airy sound but less shock factor during fast volume level changes. This is by far the most prominent difference between the two dacs. Another one is sound stage, which I actually find to be more to my liking with Yggdrasil. Both units are slightly sweet sounding, perhaps Yggdrasil having more sweetness in the upper midrange and CV2 in the lower.

    Yggdrasil tends to favour easy or casual listening. CV2 gets your attention no matter what. I think in the end they are too different to recommend over each other. Both are very capable, but on different sides of "neutrality" (whatever that is...)

    Sorry for the rambling unrelated to today's topic. I had a change to reinvestigate the RME ADI-2 DAC too a month back, with same setup as now. More relaxed sound compared to CV2 and maybe more spatial cues in the midrange. Some recordings, most of them with singing women, seemed to breathe better. But always after 30 minutes, if not sooner, I started to feel there is something wrong with the upper midrange and/or treble. Had to give up listening. Not very invigorating experience, unlike the CV2.
     
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  14. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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  15. porkfriedpork

    porkfriedpork Friend

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    Wrong thread, oops.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2019
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  16. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    Well, my RME's USB input crapped out last night. Tried a couple cables, 3 different computers, but none of them detect the unit and USB shows disconnected on it no matter what I try.

    Just as I start thinking I want a Convert2 the RME dies... Is it a sign?
     
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  17. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    The Convert-2 came in earlier today from @cskippy and i find it very intriguing. Some initial impressions for now. There is some amps that can be described as "fast" and that is exactly how I would describe the Convert-2. Weird that I get this sense from a dac. To my ears it makes music sound a little thin, nothing wrong with it just a different sensation than I was expecting. Timbre, dynamics, impact, resolution, sound stage and imaging are all there but they are just coming at you fast. I am a little impressed by its control of the treble. Brittle but not piercing. I think if I connected it to a 90s Adcom like the GFA 545 or 555 it could cut through glass.

    Overall it has very fast and tight sound that is going to be fun to pair with equipment. Currently connected to the Cavalli LAu and I have found that it has great synergy with a fuller body headphone like the ZMF Atticus. This weekend I am looking forward to connecting it to tube amp as I believe it will be significantly effected.
     
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  18. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    Very interested to get your thoughts on the Convert-2 + tube amp.
     
  19. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    Normally I would hold off giving final impressions of a piece of audio equipment, especially something that can be subjective as a dac, but this dac is anything but subtle (atleast for headphones). It was obvious to me what the differences were when compared to my Mytek Liberty or Emotiva XDA-2 gen 2. This is one brittle freaking dac. For most music with the right headphone (such as ZMF Atticus or Ori and to an extent the Eikon) this not an issue and can be quite the opposite.

    General impression out of the way first because I want to make this review simple and straight to the point with not too much audio jargon or fluff. So lets start this 5 minute review. Dynamics, soundstage, imaging and separation are nuts. Not going to describe them because it will different for everyone and normally I am broken with my ears/brain not being able to create stereo imaging/soundstage with headphones. But I do not have this issue with the Convert-2. Sometimes it would startle me because I thought I was hearing something in my room and have to take my headphones off to confirm nothing was there. And good dynamics and separation are self explanatory.

    For electronic and MODERN recorded orchestral music this dac sounds amazing. Connected to the Cavalli LAu it becomes the king of electronic music (sorry for the hyperbole). Dangerous Music should have called it the Tightness-2. The control and impact this has across the entire frequency range is amazing. While listening to Dance with the Dead and Carpenter Brut, I couldn't stop doing the office chair shimmy.

    Connected to the ZMF Pendant (updated ampandsound LeeLoo) it really helps calm down the brittleness. It also slows it down enough to give it great timbre. Strings and especially horns sound like they are in room with you. With the Convert-2, I have never heard the soundtrack to Jurassic Park sound so good.

    But now for the caveats. I capitalized modern earlier because this is an unforgiving dac. If it is not a good recording then this dac is going to emphasize every error. I couldn't listen to older tracks from James Brown, The Temptations, The Shrilles, or Marlena Shaw. The grain and imperfections from those recordings were too piercing. I believe this dac requires good pairing with other equipment or it can be too damn brittle. I would highly recommend a warmer solid state amp or tube amp or a darker headphone. WIth the right pairing, this amp is a treat for the ears.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
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  20. Collusion

    Collusion Almost "Made"

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    Something I found out:

    I think Convert-2 sounds better when output level is set at -14 dBFs. This was something that I used initially, but switched to -18 dBFs when I familiarized myself with Atomicbob's great measurements. -18 dBFs showed better results for dynamic range, but IMO the treble sounds more glarey and the timbre takes a turn into worse. Less sweet sound overall.

    Try out for yourself, if you have a change. It might also be this is system dependant. Maybe SPL Phonitor 2 mishandles hotter signals.
     
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