SBAF DAC Talk II

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Maxx134, Jul 22, 2018.

  1. wbass

    wbass Friend

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    Hey @neogeosnk how’d you get along with the GUSTARD R26? Or anyone else spend time with it?

    The SMSL D1se2 is a solid little DAC, but perhaps a bit bright/lean for Ferrum Oor/Hypsos into Sus.
     
  2. neogeosnk

    neogeosnk Friend

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    @wbass I really liked the Gustard R26. It think it sounds better than the Yggdrasil or anything topping/smsl has to offer. There is no real digititist that I could hear and it does Roon natively. Topping and Smsl are basically the same. They measure incredible, but not very musical. I do think the Gustard R26 is highly underrated and should be discussed here a lot more. But I understand that a lot of us have been burned by chinese dacs that measure well and sound boring. This is not the case with the Gustard R26. I did end up selling it because I have a 1bit dac already (Audiobyte) and a May. Does it sound as good as the Audiobyte that cost 6k for the whole setup? I think it's real close, like 97%. Hope that helps!
     
  3. wbass

    wbass Friend

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    Thanks! How did you hear it tonally? Warm? Neutral? How’s it do with bass heft?

    Also curious if you had a chance to use it as a pre/volume control? And how’d you rate the built-in streamer (if used)? Thanks again!
     
  4. neogeosnk

    neogeosnk Friend

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    Neutral but done right. It has 3 filter settings that accentuate the bass somewhat including a NOS setting that is very bassy. The screen is super small though. This doesn't put everything on the same plain like the toppings do, meaning everything just kinda sounds at the same level instead of being dynamic like a schiit dac. I never used pre-amp and volume control but the wheel is very touchy. The built in streamer I would rate about 7.5 as it does everything you need it to do but is not an upgrade over a Pi2aes or Holo Red.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2023
  5. loplop

    loplop Acquaintance

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    Well, I found a demo Pasithea and thought I’d take a chance on it. It arrived today.

    I also have some DAC3 modules coming for my Amethyst. They sat in customs for a week, but just got released.

    With my Metrum, I usually find at least 48 hours are required for optimal sonics. But of course I couldn’t resist a quick listen to the Pasithea after it was on 2 hours and again at 6 hours. First impressions aren’t universally positive; it isn’t all that radically different sounding from my Amethyst, which is on some levels good (because I’ve really enjoyed my amethyst) but also somewhat disappointing for the cash outlay. I expected more of a difference for the intervening years and price. I’d say the difference is like regular vanilla vs French vanilla ice cream (ie very close), whereas I expected.. bourbon pecan. Or something with more tonal flavor etc.

    Pasithea does dig out a little more detail, and it definitely knits the soundstage better with connective ether, but it also isn’t as weighty tonally, and sounds a bit too edge defined/fast decay to me (vs real instruments in real rooms). It isn’t as natural sounding, and sounds more overtly digital. I can even hear this from the next room while cooking. I switched back to the amethyst (both are installed, I moved the amethyst over to inferior toslink and a different/lower set of interconnects, so it’s at a disadvantage also).

    I’ll of course let this settle in for some days, and I have the Hermes coming later this week to try, also. Right now I’m feeding it locally stored music and Qobuz from a bluesound node (newest model) and spdif coax. Will try Hermes/I2S, also.

    Currently disappointed, though.
     
  6. George Hincapie

    George Hincapie New

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    I have a full Metrum chain for my speaker system: Ambre, Adagio and Forte.

    Have also owned Musette and Onyx.

    The mid-tier is best performance/cost proposition. I can't say I got a huge leap in performance terms buying Adagio. It's excellent, but you just get the same sound really with a lower noise floor.

    Give the Pavane some time.
     
  7. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    This is exactly what I heard on @weicheheck Abbas DAC. Very different from the other NOS DACs I’ve heard (Holo Spring/May, some MHDT DAC).

    Took me by complete surprise and it was hard to get my bearings. Did not listen long enough to come to any conclusion. Stage was more compact that OS but also more arranged in a 3D/chessboard kind of way hard to describe, but more cramped and not a lot of space between instruments. Music also seemed more analog and less digital than what I’m used to hearing with OS. Definitely a weird sound that threw me off. Would like to have a longer session to acclimate to it.
     
  8. weicheheck

    weicheheck Almost "Made"

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    The Abbas only had music running through it for about 10 minutes or so total in the time you listened to it. I had it on from before but I find that the sound needs to settle in with actual signal passing through it. Although I am not sure of this applies more to the Abbas or to the Kenzie since I always use them together.

    I would Agree the Abbas has more 3D staging when compared to the Yggdrasil, but I actually find the Yggdrasil to be more in your face than the Abbas as well, Although potentially it is also a bit more extreme both on the inner and outer edge of the staging.

    This could be part of what makes the Abbas stage feel more cohesive to me. I also have this issue on the Yggdrasil where it seems like the center stage gets veered slightly off center when I use my He-6 4 screw, it drives me crazy. It does not happen when I use dynamic headphones though, but I know it's not the He6 causing the issue because the presentation and center stage are very cohesive on the Abbas.

    After reading a post here about Holo Spring DAC where time domain issues related to upsampling was mentioned, I have figured that maybe that is what is going on in the case of the Yggdrasil with the He-6, although I can't be sure.

    This is using a PI Mercury Streamer AES output to the Yggdrasil, while using a SPDIF out for the Abbas. I haven't tried using the SPDIF on the Yggdrasil to see if that changes anything.

    One of the downsides to the Abbas though is that it doesn't support files above 48Khz as far as I can tell from trying them out on Roon.
     
  9. aljordan

    aljordan New

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    I recently purchased an S5. I also own an Yggdrasil LIM which used to be an A2. Once I have a couple of weeks on the S5 I can compare them for you if interested.
     
  10. Taguro

    Taguro Almost "Made"

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    Thank you. This will be helpful. I liked the NOS sound of the Holo May but it's just too big on my desk. The Audial looks to be big, but at least I can fit it on my desk since it's around the same size as the Yggdrasil. I will wait for your impressions so I can make an informed decision before buying.
     
  11. aljordan

    aljordan New

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    Hi Taguro,

    Unfortunately I've never heard the Holo May, so I can't say how the Audial S5 may differ. I've been listening to the S5 via speakers, so if you are listening mainly to headphones, let me know and I'll take some time to listen via my headphone rig. Most of the gear in my system I've built myself (other peoples designs), so listing the other components probably won't be meaningful.

    In addition to the S5, I've owned a few other filterless NOS DACs over the years - Wavelength Cosecant, MHDT Havana, and a DIY AudioSector DAC. Up until this point, the AudioSector has been my favorite NOS DAC. The other filtterless NOS DACs I've had sound very good on certain types of music, but tended to roll off the frequency extremes, and sound closed in and jumbled up when music became complex. I don't get the sense that the S5 is rolling off anything at the frequency extremes, and it unravels complex music extremely well. It has the really good dynamic shadings of a filterless NOS DAC, but sounds more extended in frequency than those other's that I've had in my system.

    I mentioned in an earlier post that I own the Yggdrasil. I have the A1, A2 and LIM boards. Of the three, my preferences point definitively to the LIM boards. I am only mentioning this so others who have heard both sets of boards will know where my preferences are; compared to the A2 boards I find the the LIM more coherent through the frequency range, and I find the treble in particular more natural and less fatiguing. So even though the LIM sounds a little less exciting than the A2, I find it more listenable long term. Those who prefer the A2 over the Less is More boards may also prefer the A2 to the S5.

    The S5 output is 0.7 dB louder than the LIM, and my preamp volume steps are 0.5 dB so I can't exactly match volume, but the following traits were consistent whether each DAC was a little softer or louder than the other.

    The S5 is extremely close in tonal balance to the Yggdrasil LIM. On good recordings, compared to the LIM, the S5 sounded a little more revealing of small dynamic changes, a hair more three dimensional in width and depth, and a little less congested when music becomes complex. This last aspect is somewhat surprising to me, because I expected the Yggdrasil to do better in this regarding. I also expected the Yggdrasil to feel like it digs deeper into the bass, but I think the S5 has the edge here. Both DACs are very similar sounding, but the S5 sounds a little bit more resolved which leads to a very slightly richer sound with better spatial cues. Small dynamic shades come through a little better on the S5.

    The two DACs are close enough in sound that I have to be pretty relaxed and my room has to be very quiet for the differences to be apparent, but I do think music sounds a bit more beautiful, or sweeter, via the S5, and a teensy bit more exciting. If I didn't have them right next to each other to compare, I probably wouldn't be able to note the differences between them, and I generally think the Yggdrasil LIM sounds quite a bit different than most of the other DACs I've purchased over the years (and never got around to selling).

    So, If you've ever had the chance to compare the Yggdrasil LIM and the Yggdrasil A2, and you like the A2 better, then I wouldn't recommend the S5. In fact, if you own the Yggdrasil A2, and you haven't heard the LIM boards, it would be a lot less expensive to buy the boards if you don't mind taking the DAC apart to do the swap. I do think the S5 sounds a little better than the Yggdrasil LIM, and even more so than the Yggdrasil A2 (my preferences only), but the LIM sounds very good, and I don't think the S5 sounds better to the point that it justifies the cost of an entirely new DAC over the LIM. That said, I am still happy that I purchased it, and if I were to sell one of them it would be the Yggdrasil. At this point I will probably swap the A2 boards back into the Yggdrasil, because it doesn't make sense to have two DACs that sound so similar.

    I hope this makes some sense to you and helps a bit.
     
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  12. caute

    caute Lana Del Gayer than you

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    Which one do you have again? 2.3SE? How was it when you ran it through Erro's CDT? Did it change at all vs your Mercury?

    I've heard that Abbas + CDT is a must lol.
     
  13. Taguro

    Taguro Almost "Made"

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    Thank you for the detailed impressions. I am listening mainly to headphones lately as I haven't had the time to focus on my speaker setup due to various reasons. I have a better idea of the S5 sound now based on your impressions. I will have to think about it as I really like the exciting nature of the A2 and it might be a better match for the genres I normally listen to. That being said, the S5 is quite intriguing and it seems to have a lot of the characteristics I am looking for. I just have to weigh right now if I am willing to give up some aspects I really like about the Yggdrasil.

    If you have more impressions with headphones, please do let me know too. Thank you :D
     
  14. weicheheck

    weicheheck Almost "Made"

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    It didn't even occur to me to listen to my rig at the meet, I did not think about the difference the CDT would have made and now I'm sad I didn't try it out :(. I can say that I do really enjoy the Abbas on my system using the Mercury Streamer though I would not be able to give any comparisons. @ColtMrFire got to hear both systems but he only listened for a very short time on the Mercury streamer and it was not very ideal conditions
     
  15. caute

    caute Lana Del Gayer than you

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    Makes total sense tho, I would have been glued to Erro's Moth setup aha.

    Nice, yeah, I read Colt's short impressions, kinda taken aback, wasn't he? Then again, as polarizing as they are, I've always heard, try before you buy when it comes to Abbas anything.

    How many DACs did you go thru before you found the very special take Abbas has on TDAs and BB PCMs (not sure which model you have, so just covering my bases lol)?
     
  16. George Hincapie

    George Hincapie New

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    Hello Clem.

    My S5 just arrived. I have capacitor coupled RCA and transformer coupled XLR outputs. Waiting for Magna to get the Holo Red back in stock. My chain will be:

    Holo Audio Red (USB) > Audial S5 (Capacitor Output) > LTA MZ3 > ZMF (Atrium, VC or Aeolus)
     
  17. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    After considering a new vinyl rig and deciding that I don't have proper space for it, I'm looking at a Holo spring 3 (level 1, can't push more than that), Pontus ii, or even the Gustard R26. I've owned multi-Bit in the form of the Gungnir A1 and A2, and Bifrost 2, but have never tried a R2R dac and think I'd like to go in that direction. Any input on the above options would be appreciated in terms of advantages/ disadvantages. For an amp I am running the singxer SA-1 (which I thoroughly enjoy).
     
  18. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Multibit/R2R DACs and particularly NOS (non-oversampling) multibit DACs completely changed my whole relationship with digital audio. I started messing with CDs and digital nearly 40 years ago, but never liked the sound. Back when I had a quality TT setup, there was simply no comparison between digital and vinyl. Years later I started using delta-sigma DACS in my home office's desktop audio system, and still found digital sound oppressive in certain ways. But after multibit and NOS digital came into my system(s) ~8 years ago, digital is totally fine. I'll never go back to delta-sigma.

    Having said all that, I've read a great deal about the 3 DACs you mention but never actually heard any of them. So can't give you specific feedback there. I also can't tell what DAC you're using at the moment. Still, I encourage you to investigate multibit and NOS DACs. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that certain subliminal sonic annoyances of digital (things you simply tolerated, maybe without being consciously aware of them) are gone when you use multibit or NOS DACs.

    FWIW, I've always used DACs in this home office with both headphones and speakers + sub systems, all of which frequently changed over the years as I experiments and upgraded. So I'm not just hearing these beneficial effects only just one type of transducer. I get these beneficial effects on all transducers...
     
  19. Mithrandir41

    Mithrandir41 Friend

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    I've been running an SMSL SU 9 as a stop gap for a couple years. As far as ESS dacs go, is pretty competent and non- glarey for about 500 bucks. It's just time to get a little more serious about the source again.
     
  20. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    My vote is for Holo Spring iii
     

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