Not a lot of DAC talk on here...

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by The Alchemist, Oct 10, 2015.

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  1. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    One way to check if unsure is to try various software settings and other configurations and take square wave or impulse measurements. That usually offers up clues. But it probably does OS.

    That was one thing I was worried about when looking at 1541-based DACs. Too many people saying they were polite, mid-centric, and so on. I think this primarily comes down to implementation. The 1541 DAC I ended up getting, aside from the usual, very slight treble roll-off from being non-oversampling, has great extension, great dynamics, and plenty of slam even when I compared it against the Theta Gen Va. But I don't doubt most implementations don't have this.
     
  2. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I don't know if you'll really find an equivalent. I've found maybe one or two cheap non-oversampling DACs that are pretty unrefined but might help a listener get a sense what NOS is all about, then you have stuff like the Metrum Musette in the mid $1K that might be pretty competent in its price range (maybe, haven't heard it myself), then you really need to look at the big buck DACs costing well over $2K if you want to find a NOS DAC that starts to get competitive with other TOTL DACs. Slim pickings. Usually if you're a NOS guy, you have to pay more to get "competitive" sound and good implementations, IME.

    I've also noticed that most NOS DACs, especially the cheaper ones, but sometimes the pricey ones too, use chips like the TDA1543 or similar where you'll maybe be lucky to get 13 or 14 ENOB (effective number of bits in terms of performance). Or they use the 1704, which is good on paper, but not as good subjectively as the older multibit chips I've heard.
     
  3. Zed Bopp

    Zed Bopp Friend

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    Just something I would like to know....

    What are the measurable differences of a 100-200 bucks DAC versus a 1-2k one? Since there are so many semi-pro DAC's for little money and some for much more, what's the catch really - is there less distortion, flatter FR-curve etc? Do they bring a big difference in SQ?
     
  4. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    900-1800 bucks...
    Measurements are not 1 to 1 with what we hear. They can tell you if something has been engineered well (or poorly), but there aren't measurements that I know of for things like timbre or heck, even soundstage. These are obvious things that we hear, but we have a hard enough time describing them to each other, much less come up with an objective way to measure them.

    At this point, you can get good, accurate conversion from digital to analog for very little money. That is thanks to engineering advances and objectivity. Once you get beyond the basics, you are on the path of the audiophile, where much of the art and subjectivity lie.

    Just decide what you are comfortable spending, find the best equipment in that range, and then do whatever you need to do to convince yourself it is good enough.
     
  5. Zed Bopp

    Zed Bopp Friend

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    Thanks, that is a very good answer.

    But, I think there should be a measurable reason for some DAC's to have better soundstage than others. Even if it's difficult to quantify, it should be in there, somewhere. I'm a bit rusty here, but I guess the basic measurements of (digital) sound are distortions and the FR. Jitter etc. too? Are there some things still we just cannot measure in a DAC?
     
  6. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    You logical thinking will not serve you so well in audiophilia. ;) Yes, one should be able to point to a measurement of something to show us differences we hear with our ears. But alas, if it were so, we could look at a spec sheet and decide from there. I won't go down the car analogy path nor the both pianos show they are playing middle c but sound different. It just is.

    The sooner you accept this, the more serene your mind will become. :p Then you will be able to enjoy the beauty of music through whatever your favorite piece of equipment is at the moment.

    Failure to do so, will turn you into a grumpy old fart |\/| that will chase any and all sorts of numbers and graphs to prove one sound preference over the other.

    At the end of the day, I would say YES, there are things we cannot measure in a dac.
     
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  7. Zed Bopp

    Zed Bopp Friend

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    That's one great answer, thank you bixby!

    I guess you're right. I have this thing called "logical thinking", yeah :headbang: It's gonna veer me off of these over-priced DAC's, that don't do any good in SQ-terms. I'm just jaded, I guess.
     
  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Come to enough meets with us and we'll convert you. :)
     
  9. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Some of us can be grumpy old farts without even understanding the maths and the charts

    :bow:
     
  10. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
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  11. 8man

    8man Acquaintance

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    @Zed Bopp I can only say the more pragmatic you get in this domain, the harder you bang your head against walls :D, and to be honest there's actually no real justification to go overboard on throwing a lot of money on a single device, but that's how hobbies work, and this is a hobby just like the others. I think if you get that combo that suits your tastes in the end that's all that makes it worth it to not look back. Oh and if you're looking for "the best bang for the buck" DAC, don't worry, it's just the beginning of a long and exhausting journey !
     
  12. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I started with the "bang for your buck" mentality. Part of me still has it. But if I were REALLY in bang for my buck mode, I'd stop where I am right now. Geek Out V2, Vali 2, 400S, HD600 and Oppo PM-3 incoming (and the combo of those two incoming headphones might prompt me to unload the 400S, we'll see). Get some balanced cables for when I want to output straight out of the GOV2, and be done with it. That was actually my intention, I didn't expect to go higher end than the GOV2 for DAC or amp.

    But then I got further into things and discovered that while I may have found a great bang for the buck system, I actually wanted more. And once you move up, you have to pay to play. Thankfully, with Schiit in the game doing their multibit DACs, pay to play might mean spending $2-3K on a high quality DAC/amp combo, not $8-$15k. My current rig will do me just fine until I can move up on my DAC and amp. And by then I'll need to replace my source too, my computer's getting a little long in the tooth as it is.

    And then I'm going to pretend that a Gungnir Multibit and Black Widow are the absolute pinnacle of sonic achievement that has ever been created so I don't feel the urge to go into those more expensive realms. :)
     
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  13. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Anyone have some experience with the Monarchy MN24 dac? Uses 1704 ladder dac.
     
  14. TinCanEar

    TinCanEar Rando

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    I'm still relatively new on the desktop scene, so far I have NAD D1050 and a Burson Soloist running an Ether. A lot of mixed opinions of which to upgrade first but I see a lot of people saying that above $500 would probably give a very small performance gain. I don't know whether this is the right place to ask but which should I upgrade first? I'm planning to stick with my Ether and thinking of buying a multibit Gungnir Multibit.
     
  15. Koth Ganesh

    Koth Ganesh Friend

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    FWIW, I own the Gungnir Multibit and the Soloist. The Gungnir Multibit can be an end-game DAC if you like the multibit sound, period. Some prefer the D-S smoothness so you may need to make up your mind. The Soloist was an expensive mistake for me. If you can buy only one piece of equipment now, I would get the Gungnir Multibit and then save for something like the Black Widow. Now that's a winning combo, IMO.
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    What Koth said. Upgrade Soloist first since it's the weakest link in your chain. The NAD DAC you have is probably decent and DACs sound closer to each other than not. Gungnir Multibit after amp in this case.
     
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  17. TinCanEar

    TinCanEar Rando

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    I've been reading about diminishing return of DAC and wasn't so sure and need a second opinion. I really want to utilize the balanced out of this NAD DAC, I guess I gotta go do my research now, that Black Widow sure look tantalizing but I'm not really keen on importing, I'd rather hand carry my stuff when I go abroad because of customs reasons. Any suggestions for amps around $800-1500? Be visiting both coast of the US this June, I can't get into tube sound and always end up with solid state. I was thinking of Mjolnir 2 with LISST tube, would it be a sidegrade to Burson? Any other better amp for that price range?
     
  18. tyan

    tyan Friend

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    @Hands: Hi I just wondered if you could name the best nos dac's you know about. I'm especially curious if you remember a good TDA1541 implementation. ;) I have an Arcam cd player with Black Gates and TDA1541 that I could get nos modded, but that has no spdif input ofcourse. Who knows what it would sound like in the end anyway... :(
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2016
  19. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    For what headphones. I wouldn't use the mjolnir 2 with LiSST. Tubes bring out the best in that amp.
     
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  20. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Audial Model S is probably the best non-oversampled TDA1541A DAC around.

    The newer Metrum DACs might have potential. Haven't heard one yet. Hoping to try a Musette soon, but it doesn't have the FPGA like Menuet or Pavane, which really has me curious.
     
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