Hands's Non-Oversampling DAC Comparison Master List

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Hands, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. willsw

    willsw Friend

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    I have the DAC3 and have access to and extensive listening experience with the Border Patrol DAC, in its un-upgraded and upgraded versions through having it at my workplace. I also have another TDA1543 DAC, as mentioned before, the Wavelength Brick. The DAC3, while fine for its price and size (I picked mine up for $130ish, I think) and I would also probably recommend it for someone just wanting the flavor of things, it is nowhere near the performance of the others. The Border Patrol also manages to get strong, controlled bass in a way that the others do not. It is interesting that a company with amps that start at $10,000 make their reference DAC for $1000 with the fully upgraded version around $1850. The designer is a no-bullshit kind of guy, so I guess that's what can happen.
     
  2. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I am without a great DAC right now because of a money situation that we've finally recovered from.

    I have a Starting Point Systems DAC 3 at work and an ESI [email protected] XTe at home.

    MHDT recently released the Orchid, which is a NOS tube DAC using the Phillips TDA1541A.

    I have one on the way and will be picking up a better version of the chip than the R1 as well.
     
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  3. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I can't remember which MHDT DAC of yours I heard, but if the Orchid sounds at all similar to that, dont assume you're hearing the 1541 to anywhere near it's full potential!
     
  4. willsw

    willsw Friend

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    I do know they are using the same output implementation as was used in the Audial Model-S. I had an Orchid for a few weeks but something was up and I was getting distortion. I sent it back and assume they've figured out what the problem was, though I just got a refund and not a replacement.
     
  5. FredM

    FredM Rando

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    New Metrum DAC's ahead: the Onix and Jade. Regarding the Onix, the following is available:

    Translated: "The Onix is a fully balanced dac and uses 4 DAC TWO modules. In addition to the standard coax, optical and USB input, this dac also has a professional AES / EBU input. The output is simultaneously available through balanced and single ended outputs. The input sources can also be controlled via the supplied remote control."
     
  6. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    Thanks for the detailed info on NOS dacs, @Hands .

    I'm curious on how the Metrum Musette and Spring compare to Gungnir Multibit?
     
  7. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Much in the same way apples compare to oranges. Scratch the Musette and Menuet. Try Amethyst. I found the Spring to lack nuances the more I listened, like a brute force approach that covered up the little details floating around.

    But, seriously, you just need to sit down with a good NOS and OS DAC yourself and A/B them to hear the differences. Try with headphones and speakers. It's hard to put into words that make sense for those that have never heard NOS. Otherwise you say meaningless things like, "NAWS sounds moar anolog."
     
  8. ctrlm

    ctrlm Rando

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    Wow! It's been forever since I visited this site, I need to catch up. Very nice writeup @Hands - it's hard to believe it's been 18 months since I was seeking your advice on NOS dacs.

    I've had my Pavane for 18 months now and I'm still in love with it.
     
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  9. luximal

    luximal Almost "Made"

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    I bought hand's audial model S mk2, and you can count me as one that likes the NOS sound.

    Tone: Slightly soft and warm. I find the Gungnir Multibit softer sounding, the sfd-1 is not as soft as the audial but sounds a tad warmer. This also makes the bass not quite as tight as the sfd-1.

    Dynamics: good micro and great macro. The sfd-1 hits harder though.

    Contrast: Blacker background than both the Gungnir Multibit and sf-1 for sure. This makes the sound on the audial more vivid and pop more.

    Resolution/extension: Fantastic, better than the sfd-1 and far more airy than it with more extension both ways vs the sfd. Not sure if it matches the Gungnir Multibit tho but I think it's on the same playing field or close to it.

    Imaging: Solid, but i think the Gungnir Multibit and sfd out preforms it here. But not by much. Same for layering and stage size. It's still quite good, but I could use a little bit more in this department. But it still sounds 3d and holographic and with it's resolution makes location and movement of instruments in the soundstage easy to notice.

    Clarity: better than sfd-1, competitive with Gungnir Multibit.

    Overall, I love how this dac sounds but I can see why some people don't like nos dacs.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
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  10. RanocchiO

    RanocchiO Acquaintance

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    Hi friends,
    in the next days I'll listen to this Goldmund JOB DA96, I think it's a NOS dac, but I'm not sure; do someone has ever heard or has informations about it?

    Thanks
    Lorenzo
     
  11. Iggy

    Iggy Rando

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    I owned an Audial Model S DAC from 2011 to 2014. It was the model with black gate capacitors. I compared it to several other R2R DACs that I still have (all use oversampling) as well as a Twisted Pear Buffalo Sabre DAC. I remember very well the first time i compared it to the Sabre DAC....the music from the Audial just seemed to flow and was very cohesive and coherent as when i hear and listen to live music, everyone plays together. The Twisted pear dac sounded all chopped up, and spread out on a platter, its strange thats the only way i can describe it. I had owned the Twisted Pear for a year by that point so I think i was decently familiar with it. I sold the Twisted Pear DAC a few weeks later. i sold the Audial eventually to raise funds for another DAC. If there was one shortcoming for me in my room and setup it was that the Audial didn't do the lowest notes well enough, and by that i mean it didn't plum the depths as well as other DACs did. Perhaps there was a mismatch between it and my preamp.

    I still use a small inexpensive NOS 1543 DAC with DIR9001 input receiver for my computer system, and for headphone listening. It is pleasant with enough detail and harmonic rightness to keep it and not think about upgrading it.
     
  12. richard51

    richard51 Mr. Sorbothane

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    I dont know where the law of diminushing returns begin to apply, but i have bought a nos battery dac2 1543 of Christophe Mariac, and compared to my Bushmaster dac, it is like hearing music for the first time on my system.... I dont know what kind of details will be added by some very more costly other NOs dac, but in my system this dac has the same level of details that my bushmaster , but impart in the first place a flowing natural character to the music, and each instrument seems to live in his own space, hence i have perfect imaging....

    My system is a SAnsui AU-7700 + Mission Cyrus speakers, each element of my systems is damped from the central electrical panel to the speakers. At the end i cannot upgrade this french dac, because it is very good and i cannot pay more than a thousand dollars for a dac that will be used in my vintage system that cost 300 bucks all included....

    My message for the beginner is try it (i bid it for 20 bucks, yes, i am lucky) try it before investing so much money for a little upgrading effect....In my system i cannot fault this dac on any level, nor imaging, nor lack of details....
     
  13. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    That's the Starting Point Systems DAC. It's great fun. It gets better, but it's an excellent deal and very musical.
     
  14. richard51

    richard51 Mr. Sorbothane

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    Yes it is it, i think that if someone already have a low cost system like mine it is perfect....I think that perhaps in a very expansive system, other more costly NOS dac will be a possibility to contemplate, but for an audiophile vintage low cost system like mine, any possible NOS dac upgrade has no great appeal because of the cost ....The returns in the investment are not great...

    The most important thing i have bought for my system is room treatment, damping tape for all cables , damping materials for all pieces of gear,and some methods of my own design to eliminate some EMI at low cost... After that i can assure you that this minimum design french dac2 (starting point systems) has no fault that i can point to, compared to my other dac experiences, it is not the perfect one in the absolute, but the ratio quality/cost is way up to the roof, with this dac the sound of my system convey the music ....For sure this dac in a non damped system, in a non treated room, will not give his full potential to listen to... My speakers for example not damped has not the same great sound i have now that i have damped them , nor my amplifier, if not damped....If some element in your system has not been damped, that will introduce noise in the system, and this dac will appear muddier than it is in reality... It is not possible to review some new product in the absolute, all review is made from a particular system and in a particular room .... Taste and particular ears are other factors...

    Many people always search for a one buy- and- plug solution, but treating a room, damping a system , and eliminating some EMI is often more upgrading effects than simply buying another amplifier or dac, particularly if you have already some good one and if you begin your audio journey....

    All that said, i must say that going back to another dac that will not be a NOS one is impossible for me now and at the end this interest here for NOS dac is clear for me now, thanks to all reviewers of NOS dac here and on other forums, particularly Hands.... I want to listen to the music and music i have now, thanks to you all...

    P.S. I want to say to the unknown moderator that impose to me the nickname Mr. Sorbothane, that i damp my system with many other materials also, then i would like to be nicknamed Mr. Damp... It will be more truthfull....:)
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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  15. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    I have a 4 x TDA1543 NOS if you want to hear what multiple of those chips in parallel sound like.

    Still the same wooly house sound, but it is more "in focus". It is an improvement but still a loss in fine details. To me, it just gets closer to an NOS TDS1541. The passive resistor I/V in this Chinese unit also limits the potential of this configuration.
     
  16. Erikdayo

    Erikdayo Friend

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    Now that I have an Amethyst and finding myself really enjoying the NOS sound it makes me wonder if I should be saving my pennies for a Pavane level 3 or Adagio. That's a lot of pennies at over 4x the cost. :eek:

    Thanks for these write ups. I found this thread very useful when I was deciding on my next DAC purchase.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  17. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Even a level 1 Pavane is a big step up from Amethyst. Well worth it if you have the budget. Just be sure NOS is what you want.
     
  18. sacredgates

    sacredgates Audio-Technica's high priest

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    There is also the Onyx and Jade, which are in between Pavane and Amethyst quality and budget wise. I was impressed with those, which I can ´t wholeheartedly say about the Amethyst. I heard the Onyx and Jade in show conditions though... I am still looking forward to Hands getting his hands on them, so they can be included in his overview one day...
     
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  19. Erikdayo

    Erikdayo Friend

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    I know about the Onyx and Jade. While they are significantly cheaper they are priced high enough that I feel like I might as well go 'all in' and get a Pavane or Adagio at that point. Perhaps that sentiment will change. Likely not going to consider an upgrade until much later this year if at all.

    Edit: Having read more impressions on the Onyx now I think I'm warming up to the idea of considering that over their top models.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
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  20. FredM

    FredM Rando

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    Tip: there's are Onyx for sale at computeraudiophile! The owner has had several DAC's lately: Pavane, Yggdrasil, Chord Hugo, .. Quite a chance, you won't lose any money on it
     
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