Dangerous Music Convert-2 DAC Review - Stream of Consciousness

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

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Sounds like the output level calibration is tied to the amount of gain or negative feedback used in the output opamps.

    More gain / less feedback sounds more open and lively, but sometimes at the expense of nasties.

    Less gain / more feedback sounds more controlled, maybe duller, but measures better.
     
  2. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better gear impressions than you

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    @DEATHxMACHINE loaned me his Convert 2 and while I'm still settling in with it and will give it a few days before jotting down serious thoughts, I'm flabbergasted.

    I've never heard anything like this.

    It's about as close to "live" I've heard on any setup. And I was at famish's house the other day listening to his Aficionado/Gungnir Multibit setup.

    Just crazy dynamics in both directions. Quicksilver transients. Pop is a revelation. Classical... it's like I'm there in the concert hall.

    I want one. Badly.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Really nice tone and timbre too.
     
  4. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    There's one for sale in the classifieds at an extremely attractive price... I can't jump on it for a few months myself, but would if I could ;)
     
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  5. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better gear impressions than you

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    Thanks again to @DEATHxMACHINE for being so generous with his gear.

    Unfortunately my time with the Convert 2 was alot shorter than I wanted. An explanation....

    New toy syndrome has a way of clouding the mind. A bit like busting a nut... once the initial euphoria wears off, the aftermath can be sobering. I like metaphors, so I'll say experiencing the Convert 2 is a little like a crazy night on the town with that really hyper but super hot girl who's idea of a good date is one that starts with walking your tab at a restaurant and ends with bungie jumping off a bridge... while doing coke. With unprotected sex as a capper. Adrenaline fueled and exciting, but ultimately dangerous. Maybe that's why this DAC is named as such.

    At the end of the day, Convert 2 was too much for me. But I'm glad I got to demo it, as there was a valuable takeway. Less the desire to own it and more the realization that I was seriously missing those last few percentages in my music. The Gungnir Multibit got me most of the way there, but I feel it's probably time to step up to an Yggdrasil. A used A2 is a little out of my reach, as $1400 is probably my top end, and that's exactly what A1's seem to be going for on the used market. Or would I be better served with Gungnir Multibit A2? Is Yggdrasil A1 still technically superior to both iterations of Gungnir Multibit? I am super super curious about Yggdrasil at this point. My short time with it years ago is too hazy for any valuable recollection. Any advice here is welcome.

    Listening was done using my maxxed Torpedo 3/HD600/(@DEATHxMACHINE 's) ZMF Auteur, DAC fed by Onkyo C7030 CD player.

    Convert 2 is grand, ballsy, and in your face about it. Lines are extremely fast, clean and stop on a dime. The tone is pretty neutral with a hint of smoothness. I feel like there is a bit of upper mid emphasis, which I think is part of where the aggressiveness lives, being exacerbated by the super fast transients. This was a liability using the 600s because of that headphone's similar slight upper mid emphasis. But the Convert's treble is smooth and extended. Mids (beside the upper mids) are lovely. Bass is extremely clean and hard hitting. Goes quite low. This DAC really loves pop music. Pop was extremely vivid and involving. Classical felt "real", but the slight lack of room acoustics (relative to say, Gungnir Multibit), made the experience uninvolving for me over time. Also, I'm pretty used to the more "organic" tone of the schiit multibit stuff and feel those are hard to beat with that genre.

    Initially I was using the optical out from my Onkyo C7030 CD player, which sounded great, but a bit strident. I had an RCA/XLR adapter cable laying around so I decided to give the AES input a go and the difference was noticeable. Sound was smoother, less strident and a bit more holographic, with better microdynamics. But there was still something a little too aggressive for my taste.

    Ultimately I feel like the Convert might be better for speakers if I were to own it, because it was tiring on headphones over extended periods. Even on a euphonic, slightly lush tube amp like the T3. I don't even wanna imagine what sonic horrors a SS amp would introduce. Maybe we're talking different tolerance levels or something, because I don't want to suggest this is all a truism across the board. And I'm certainly not trying to suggest anyone is wrong for enjoying it. It is what it is, but YMMV. It's a TOTL DAC across the board and certainly worthy of all the attention it's getting. It just may not be for everybody. Neither is the Schiit stuff.

    I apologize if my initial euphoria was misleading. But new toy syndrome can be a motherfucker.
     
  6. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    I've read this entire thread front to back, again, and did so with the understanding that I just plunked down the change to buy JK47's unit from the Classifieds here. I also have a Bifrost Multibit on the way, so that'll be some kind of comparison... which I'll probably avoid any direct comparisons. I've no expectations which I'll end up preferring.

    I used to have a Jay's transport + Yggdrasil A2. Loved it, should have kept it. But I got caught up in a car hobby that I'm walking back a little bit now, preferring not to have the best of one thing, but maybe trying to find some balance in good things across hobbies, if not superlative pieces (for my budget).

    That said, I like my food sharp and spicy, I like my cars fast and direct-feeling, and my taste in music and audio gear is the sum of the former two desires. So I am hoping me and CV2 will be a good pairing. I listen to a lot of rock, some pop, some electronic, a lot of movie scores and just generally dynamic, soul-gripping music. I do not want it to be overcooked and artificial - that's my main fear here but I can't answer that without hearing it for myself - but I do want energy and drive and aggression.

    Will be pairing it with a modded Stratos amp driving Dyn box speakers, fed by an OG Saga tube, Jensen XLR transformer (1:1), Tascam transport with AES/EBU out and one of those pi HATs they cooked up in another thread here. I'll be spinning discs and chewing bits.

    And then I'll see what Bifrost MB A2 is all about. If CV2 is too much of a good thing, I'll fall back to Bifrost Multibit until I can save up more coin for another Yggdrasil A2.
     
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  7. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better gear impressions than you

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    I subsequently tried the USB input, and it did well to shave some of the edge off the sound. It wasn't quite enough to completely remedy the fatigue issue, but the biggest revelation came when I switched on the sonarworks HD600 profile. I had toyed with this in the past, and it didn't offer much in the way of improvement, as the 600 is already pretty close to neutral. But HOLY SHIT the bass. Really the entire headphone kind of transformed into a super 600 or something, as if the upper mid spike was masking resolution or something. I've never heard the kick drum on the opening track of Jeff Buckley's "Grace" hit so fucking hard, cleanly and with a sense of three dimensionality. It was one of those "pinch me" audio moments that are so rare. But double edged sword and all, since this added fidelity continued to be part of the problem with regard to fatigue. But man, I've never heard the 600 sound that good.
     
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  8. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better gear impressions than you

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    Spent another week listening to this on and off. On a whim I hooked it up to my Panasonic UB820 4K Bluray player and surprise surprise, it's a better CD transport than my Onkyo. A boost in technicalities aside, the tone hasn't really changed, but it's a bit smoother, less one note, easier to listen to. Or maybe I've just grown accustomed to it. It's easy to forget how important the stuff feeding your DAC is.

    The biggest eye opener is that my HD600 keeps scaling and scaling with these TOTL upgrades... pretty good for $200.
     
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  9. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    So my used Convert came in and I've put a few CDs through it. Eric Clapton Unplugged, Hans Zimmer Live in Prague, and Master of Puppets. Each of these I know very well for very different reasons.

    Holy shit. I was prepared for this. I studied. I knew how it was going to sound. And then it STILL exceeded my expectations. And honestly? It's a bit much. It really is. It's bold, that's for sure. I think for me, it's worst attribute is that I can't seem to not want to turn it up. It just has this tone, this ferocity to it even at low volumes that just makes me want to crank it.

    I could compare it to Yggdrasil Analog 2, but I won't, except to say two things: Yggdrasil is like Muhammad Ali and DM CV2 is Mike Tyson. Both exceptionally good, but for different reasons. Lastly, Yggdrasil is the DAC you bring your audiophile friends over and show off how great it sounds and the sonic picture it creates. DM CV2 is the DAC you bring your drunk neighbors and rocker friends over and just blast the shit out of the stereo and love every minute of it (though to be fair, the former scenario I'd also love every minute of, YMMV).

    It's still very early but I can say this DAC has kinda shown me that when it's feasible, it just might make sense to own 2 DACs.

    Don't get it twisted - I really, really enjoy this thing. I can't fault it for clarity, how it untangles complex passages and makes it still sound musical, it's pace and for lack of a better word the "density" it seems to pack onto each string or horn. It feels real. But my next bit will to see how I get along with it after 2-3 hours of listening. I'm not so sure how that's going to go but I also know I'll acclimate to it a bit.

    I have found that I'm using passive mode on my OG Saga instead of tube mode and I've got a really good tube in it. It just doesn't need any further gain and passive mode lets it breathe a bit better, imaging seems better to me as well.

    Master of Puppets was honestly impressive. I've heard MoP from very expensive vinyl setups playing AAA 45 RPM versions of it, hi-rez versions, the Hoffman Gold disc, and my OG CD press just kicked all their asses. It sounded like I've never heard it before. It was angry. Yet, I could trace Cliff's bass lines better throughout multiple songs than even on Yggdrasil or on those vinyl cuts. That's what is so cool - it rocks your ass off, yet it still maintains composure and a sort grace despite it's strength.

    Really, really cool piece of gear. Certain sounds are, as others have said, startlingly realistic sounding.

    More to come, but that's where I'm at after a few hours. And as I tried to sit down and sort of evaluate it? I found it hard because I just couldn't help but get into the music and forget about how it sounded.
     
  10. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    So I'm a couple hours in now and I'd say any sense of fatigue prior to now was just me being overly optimistic on the volume control. But, it's so damn compelling, I just want to turn it up.

    I've been playing mostly hard rock and metal tonight. I really feel like this is a great DAC for such genres. It's forward without being forward, if that makes sense. It definitely ups the listening ante on something like Gojira Enfante de Sauvage but even on that album, I listened at sane levels and loved it.

    Now I'm listening to Tool - Lateralus and the Convert's ability to pluck out and lay bare details while remaining forecful is really cool. It will absolutely not sugarcoat a recording, though. And that's fine, I don't want warmed over sonic pictures.

    It's not a staging and imaging champ, at least not in my setup. It's also missing the slightest bit of lowend slam like I had with Yggdrasil. No matter, I clicked each sub up one notch on the gain control and I'm basically at par in that respect.

    It's hard to give a better compliment to a piece of gear than saying I just want to pull out a bunch of shit from my collection and hear how it reacts. I simply don't have the time or the liver, tonight, to bear that out completely. But I'm having fun and that's really all that matters I suppose. Can't wait to hear what this all sounds like with Freya S and a few Aegirs motivating the Dynaudios.
     
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  11. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    Thanks for the review @toddrhodes it sounds more and more like I wasn't mistaken thinking this DAC is exactly what I am looking for. Glad to hear such positive things said by sometime with a very similar setup!
     
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  12. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better gear impressions than you

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    One thing about these Yggdrasil level/TOTL DACs I'm still getting used to is the complete reorientation of the musical structure. How different parts of the music will have its own timing and rythm independent of the whole. I experienced this slightly with the Gungnir Multibit, but never to this extent.

    It is almost as if before, the music had one rythm that it was easy to jam with, head bobbing, etc... now I am continually thrown off about which musical line to follow, since they are all sort of doing their own thing in their own space with ever so slightly different timing (moreso with live or studio acoustic music).

    It really gives more of an impression of humans playing instruments or singing, with their imperfect timings and different cadence. It was almost depressing for a bit, like you'd forgotten (non electronic) music actually existed in a real space at one point and you'd been listening wrong for years.
     
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  13. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Friend

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    I had a really good night again last night. It's like this DAC was made for metal CDs, in a good way. Excellent clarity, a real bite to instruments that should have bite, yet with all of its technicality, it is still musically proper. I listened to one of the most emotional songs I know, to me, a little diddy called To Live is to Die from ...And Justice for All. I know that song extremely well. The bridge solo in the middle is just heartbreaking, as it is a tribute to Cliff Burton. Anyway, it was a confusing yet awesome experience last night.

    That piece gets very busy and is filled with drums and loud, crunching guitars but it starts with a sudden stop to the melody, then a soft guitar continues on and builds and builds. Most DACs - even Yggdrasil 2A in my experience - just sort of blend the climax into one mass of noise. As we all know, the mix on this album is somewhere between bad and awful so I've never felt a piece of gear could "fix" that. On the other DACs I've had (Yggdrasil 2A, Gungnir D/S, Aqua La Voce S2, Modi 2 Uber) you can still follow lines but they aren't distinct, but the "better" DACs untangled the mess better than the lesser ones. Convert did an amazing job of keeping James' main solo front and center. I could SEE it. I heard notes as a melody rather than just parts of a whole. Honestly. Yet everything else was still just raging behind it. I was so taken aback by how well it was rendered, I sort of forgot to get emotional about it. I'm not kidding, I think I drooled because my jaw was just wide open. It was bliss, and I truly mean that. I can't wait to listen again, now that I'm prepared for how it will sound.

    Also played In Absentia and it was just so easy to sit back and enjoy it. Wasn't critiquing anything, just tapping my foot and having fun.

    And all this was on a night where I christened a new-to-me turntable and was super excited about spinning vinyl again. I played a few records but couldn't resist switching over to digital thanks to this DAC.
     
  14. Jozurr

    Jozurr Almost "Made"

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    Has anyone noticed degradation in the SQ when you use the volume control on the Convert 2 vs full volume (so knob isnt activated) DAC only mode?
     
  15. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Pretty sure this has been mentioned. You're not crazy.
     
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  16. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    It's a bit of a bummer that the pot is so noticeably resolution capping things. I run the convert 2 straight to my EC studio with the pot bipassed. When i go to switch it to powered monitors (have to physically swap the XLR cables) I have to turn the pot down to about 9am, else i'm pretty sure the adams would blow up above 12oclock. Turning the speakers down seems to be even worse sounding.
    I don't really want to run a pre-amp into the studio but I can't think of a better solution other than maybe a convert 8?
     
  17. Collusion

    Collusion Friend

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    I am pretty sure you can run Convert-2 straight into your Adams with the volume trim bypassed. Also, Adam audio quotes input sensitivity of -∞ to +14 dB (meaning it is adjustable, so one I'd think they accept a wide range of voltage levels). They are professional monitors, so I'd be very surpised if they'd be incompatible with the Convert-2.

    EDIT: But how would you be controlling the volume if you do not want a pre-amp?
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2019
  18. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    I can run the convert 2 without* trim straight into the a77x, BUT I would only have about 1-2mm of movement on the speaker volume before it was over 100db. I tend to leave the adams at 0db and just trim with the pot because it's really hard to balance the channels of the speakers individually. I was thing of getting another dac with a built in pre-amp and using the pass through of the convert 2 so I could switch to speakers more easily.
    As this current arrangement has me not bothering to use speakers much.
     
  19. bilboda

    bilboda Friend

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    xlr splitter for EC studio/speakers and a jbl control or nobsound, goldpoint, freya for speaker volume should work, no?,
     
  20. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    I wasn't game to run a splitter because of the potential impedance and grounding issues.
     

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