Rockna Wavelight DAC - Thoughts/Experiences

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by exocer, Jun 1, 2020.

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  1. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Any updates on if new Pi2AES fixed this?
     
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  2. Clemmaster

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    Haven't received it, yet.
     
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  3. ogodei

    ogodei Headphone Heaven Gatekeeper

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  4. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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  5. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    The real question is : how long does it take for the listener to be drawn in the music and start singing along?

    Not long...
     
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  6. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    I've read quite a few of Terry's more recent reviews (especially on Coda gear, some that I now own). His reviews have become less useful since he left Home Theater Review and went to Stereotimes. I assume much of this is due to the site's editor / leadership. This observation holds with the Wavelight review, especially as Terry very recently reviewed the Bricasti M3 (http://v2.stereotimes.com/post/bricasti-design-m3-dac-by-terry-london/) but there are no comparisons to it in the Wavelight review even though the Bricasti is listed in his "Associated Equipment" source list and was cited in the tagline of the Bricasti review as "Terry's New Reference!".

    He's often more candid on Audiogon. Here's the relevant thread: https://forum.audiogon.com/discussi...wavelight-pre-dac-just-went-up-on-stereo-tim/.

    As far as the overall performance of the Wavelight and the M3 both are superlative at making music. The Wavelight for my taste is very slightly warmer sounding with a touch more "meat on the bones" imaging. However, some listener's would say the M3 is slightly more accurate at how it presents the music. Which do you like better, great solid state or tubes? Neither is right or wrong it depends on personal taste and system synergy. Both have killer analog volume controls that allow you to drive your amp directly and save a bundle not needing a preamplifier.

    Rockna Audio does not believe in having a streaming device in the same chassis as its DACs. The M3's new streaming board is world class, yes it costs you an upgrade if you order the M3 with the built-in streamer, but still is less costly then Rockna Audio's Wavelight plus their separate streamer. If you only stream the M3 might be a better choice for you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
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  7. beemerphile

    beemerphile Friend

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    Terry loses some credibility with me (ok, a lot) when he says on one hand that high end DACs of completely different topologies are very close to each other in performance, and then he shills a grounding gadget, AC cord, or high zoot mounting pad with titanium rollers as making a dramatic improvement to a component's sound.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
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  8. pavi

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    to my ears, the wavelight is definitely a class above my other dacs — hugo tt2+m-scaler, convert-2, yggdrasil a2 — in soundstage, micro detail, and an inexpressible sense of reality. i was startled when i began listening to it...
     
  9. exocer

    exocer Rando

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    What about "slam"?
     
  10. pavi

    pavi Facebook Friend

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    slam isn't as accented as with the convert-2, but i have no complaints there.
     
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  11. skem

    skem Friend

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    Has anybody compared Rockna to Adagio/Pavane on balanced out?
     
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  12. saint.panda

    saint.panda Friend

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    Don't have a Pavane but the Sonnet Morpheus which is supposed to be similar. The Wavedream XLR is better on most dimensions (but also costs 4x at list price which hopefully nobody pays...), especially on microdetails, soundstage and the way it makes music sound very effortless / liquid (but not wet if that makes sense). With the filter turned off, the Wavedream sounds closer the Morpheus: denser, less extended / bit rolled on top, smaller soundstage. I used to have the Yggdrasil A2 before and the Wavedream almost combines the best of both worlds, which results in an open, detailed, impactful, extended yet smooth and analogue sound.

    Curious / hoping that the Wavelight can achieve the same at 80/20 performance/price. Especially with its analogue volume attenuation, sounds like the perfect speaker DAC on paper.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
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  13. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    I had a borrowed Wavelight for about 2 weeks. I also ordered some splitters to be able to augment my usual listening with some fast switches.
    --
    Micro-impressions from usual listening:
    WL a bit more refined overall than BF2 in just about every dimension. The smoothness, effortlessness, and liquidity as a special characteristic was apparent. It made me curious about how the DAC would sound with the Rockna transport.

    Micro-impressions from fast switching:
    Everything that seemed refined compared to the BF2 faded away and now seemed identical. The only difference that stood its ground and wouldn't recede into homogeneity was greater extension in the bass.
    --
    So I took the WL and my splitters to a Friend's house who had a pair of Spatial M3s and a Yggdrasil A2, partially to change some of the variables in this little equation, and to see if a big boi Schiit DAC with full PS would provide the same extension. Here, fast switching revealed total homogeneity.

    I do think the smoothness and perhaps even refinement are things only apparent over long term listening. I'm more convinced about the smoothness than any technicality though. I think it's a great DAC at a used price of say, $3.5Kish, a price point I think it'll hit regularly in the coming years. The $1Kish premium you pay over a new Yggdrasil nets a very usable preamp and dat smoothness. I had the fortune of doing this listening with a capable enough autoformer preamp that either equals or surpasses the WL preamp, so that's a significant factor in these impressions. Also the WL's preamp was super handy in being able to level match the DACs. All listening was done through SE so that's another factor. Interestingly, WL consistently had better bass extension than my very capable vinyl rig, which ratcheted up enjoyment with any music that made use of it.

    And speaking of that type of music, here's a video of Hans Zimmer talking about why he makes music for films: because he likes big speakers and later in the video (1:41) talking about how they weren't able to cut LFs onto vinyl for Dark Knight.
     
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  14. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    @sphinxvc Thanks for sharing your experiments and thoughts. Did you happen to test dac-ABing for other products? I am wondering if the homogeneity you found with fast switching is only for this specific comparison, or more like a general matter. My personal experience was in line with the latter though.
     
  15. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    Not for other DACs but I did it recently with two different phono pres. Had a similar outcome so I'm starting to think that's the general effect. But even so, I'm finding it a useful method to incorporate into comparisons. Take for example that finding about the bass extension that refused to stand out less.

    In early November we'll be trying something similar with two power amps, the SIT-3 and Aegir.
     
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  16. Blake

    Blake Acquaintance

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    It is a little bit surprising to me, looking at Hifishark, sold listings for the WL, how many WL owners have already sold their unit. Particularly given how new the WL is on the market. Small sample size admittedly.
     
  17. skem

    skem Friend

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    Yup! There's been like 15 Wavelights sold this year and only 3 Pavane. Now Pavane is a touch more expensive. That's why I'm curious about a direct comparison. I don't think the Morpheus is a good comparison. Those who have heard Morpheus vs. Pavane seem to say the Morpheus has the same vision but is highly compromised from a technical perspective.
     
  18. EagleWings

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    Here are the reasons why I chose to get a Wavelight over a Pavane:

    - I heard from 2 people that the Pavane doesn’t stage that well on speakers, particularly in terms of depth and layering. Whereas, depth and layering is one of Wavelight’s key strengths is what I keep hearing.
    - Pavane apparently requires a longer warm up time to reach its optimal performance. While it isn’t as bad as a Yggdrasil, it seems to benefit from being kept turned on. Based on a post here, Wavelight only needs 30mins.
    - The delta in sound quality/performance between XLR and SE on the Pavane is greater (with the XLR being the better one). From what I heard, SE on the Wavelight is not that far behind its XLR.

    Also, I couldn’t find a good deal on a 230V Pavane that would have been easy to import. Was I only into headphones and got a great deal locally, I think I would be perfectly happy with a Pavane.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  19. skem

    skem Friend

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    Although it doesn't show in my signature, I only listen to 2ch now. I have Adagio, not Pavane, but same DAC inside. Adagio does indeed stage well—very well, in fact—when fed from balanced; but it's poor out of SE. The only DAC I've heard that stages better was CS Solaris, although in some respects Adagio/Pavane still won. My notes here.

    Pavane sounds good from cold, it sounds better after a day. I find I don't need to wait longer than that.

    Still, I don't doubt Wavelight could be excellent or better than Pavane/Adagio. I’ve only found one comparison but they fed every DAC from USB, and the (third party) USB implementation used in Pavane/Adagio blows hard! So as yet, no comparisons of value.

    As for the high volume of Wavelight re-sells might simply be because it's new and twitchers had to taste it, and not because it's bad.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  20. neo_the_one

    neo_the_one Rando

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    @skem - rather noob question - A amp with only SE input can only be fed from the SE output of a DAC? I have an amp that only has SE input as well.
     

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