Soekris "dac1541": DAC/Amp - Stream of Consciousness Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Torq, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. captkirk

    captkirk Khan's BFF

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    +1 on a loaner @soekris

    I’d love an opportunity to listen th this bad mama jama.

    Edit: My bad. I guess it would be a round #2 opportunity.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  2. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I thought we already had a loaner tour?
     
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  3. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Well I missed it. :(

    It would be cool to have another even if another member was gracious enough to loan theirs out for a bit.
     
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  4. soekris

    soekris MOT - Soekris Engineering

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    Well, if enough are interested in another tour, then I could make another unit available.... But it won't be for a couple of weeks, I'm almost out of stock, more are of course being made.
     
  5. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    I'd sign up for a loaner.
     
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  6. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    Same here! Have heard his earlier stuff as well. Would be cool to see what the new TOTL sounds like from Soren. Cheers
     
  7. RedFuneral

    RedFuneral Rando

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    I participated in the groupbuy and just finalized the sale on my DAC1321, want to leave a few impressions while the sound is still fresh on my mind. I circa 25hrs of listening considering I took a fall shortly after delivery and wasn't on my computer for a few weeks.

    [​IMG]

    Setup
    Listening was done with an Apex Sangaku amplifier and Beyerdynamic T70 headphones. I kept the Soekris in my system most of the time doing minor A/B testing with my JDS Labs OL DAC over the last few days. Likewise I ran it a few times through my speaker system: Apex Sangaku -> crusty old Sherwood -> FAL Supreme S widebanders. The DAC had been plugged in & switched on for two weeks by the time I got to it. All testing was done with the USB input and volume control disabled.

    Functionality
    Very little to say. DAC is easy to setup & ports are clearly labelled. It ran fine without USB drivers on Win 10 Creators and just the same after I installed them. On the '2' setting. Switching filters is simple and I appreciate the instantaneous switching unlike some other DACs which fade out and back in or mute for a few seconds. I'm a fan of the 'just bright enough' green LEDs, they're bedroom friendly. That was something that made me hesitate going in knowing you're supposed to leave DACs like this on 24/7.
    The volume control is my only concern as far as ease of use goes. I'd like to have some marking of when its 0db solely for peace of mind. Truth be told it isn't a real problem, any situation I can imagine where you'd be using this volume exclusively(say driving a power amp) you won't have it at 0db. I'd propose as a solution that the LED switches off with the volume disabled which solves the question of how that is set and gives the peace of mind for 0db usage.

    [​IMG]

    Expectations
    My reason for purchasing the DAC1321 was to sample an OS R2R DAC considering all my prior experiences were either with NOS R2R or Sigma-Delta. The two sounds are divergent and I was left wondering if the main factor at play was NOS v OS or R2R v SD. I wanted to see if Soekris would split the difference or which camp it would fall more toward.
    I've found each technology favors different genres of music, or at least instrumentation & mastering. The transient response of NOS as well as its thickening effect I value highly for acoustic music and many genres of rock/metal. The clean sound of SD however I find better with electronic & experimental music. My guess is that the later is more likely to be computer generated or run through modern digital processing negating much of the NOS advantage.

    Sound
    Right off the bat I preferred the Soekris for my headphones and the OL DAC for my speakers. The OL comes off with a V shaped tuning, AKM Velvet Sound perhaps, which gives the frequency limited widebanders a needed boost. The Beyers appreciate the more neutral Soekris for leaving the already problematic treble alone. A few days ago I took delivery of lambskin earpads for the Beyers which reversed my preference, I prefer a fun tuning so long as it doesn't include distracting nasties.

    To describe Soekris on its own: I'm hearing a neutral DAC without overt character. Its consistent across the frequency range. I hear a full extension from bass through treble. Subtle thickening of harmonics. Not a transient focused DAC, there is what I consider above average decays. I'm liking that for more melancholic metal where it gets my pick on both speakers & headphone. Atmosphere and sound staging are done well but I don't hear much air or showmanship. I didn't pay much attention as to how detailed it was until I was playing a game and realized I could understand more of the background dialog than I could with other DACs. I'm not sure how much of my impressions relate to the DAC itself vs the Sangaku, considering my impressions seem to match the later more than the former. Makes me think the Soekris was for the most part playing hands off and doing its job well. Or alternatively its character matches that of the Sangaku.

    Despite my positive impressions I feel that the OL DAC is playing busy electronic music to a higher quality. It also feels like it has a cleaner background despite an incomplete removal of EMI(no problem for the Soekris.) I'm struggling to pin down a reason for my preference here other than the fact it exists. It comes down to hearing more differentiation between albums on the OL vs the Soekris. This became my reason for sale as I started to find these albums more fatiguing. It should be noted I'm talking experimental music from Bandcamp which crosses in and out of the 'noise' and 'ambient' genres, we're not talking studio quality production values.

    In conclusion, I prefer whats being offered flavor wise with the JDS OL & the quality of the Soekris. These DACs are not playing in the same class and let's not pretend they are. I'll be looking to try out a higher end SD DAC over the next few months.

    Filters

    I expected I'd prefer the red based on previous experiences with linear & minimum phase filtering and ended up preferring green & black. The four filters on offer here are all quite good, they don't chase me back to NOS like a trial of a Questyle & Exogal DAC have done in the past. There's no obvious phase shift or transient smearing which I was able to hear. All I can really say is that red sounds 'louder' or somewhat emphasized, green sounds natural/normal, orange is a half-way between the two maybe lacking some coherence, and black is similar to green with a tad lower treble(subtle enough to be imagined.) I wouldn't mind being stuck with any one of them, they don't bring any surprises or grand differences.
     
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  8. mocenigo

    mocenigo Rando

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    The Soekris DAC IS sensitive to quality of power lines, and to noise there. I have a bit of noise even though the Soekris is by far the most silent thing I have had at home. Replacing the mains cable first with an Ölflex CY110 3G2.5 and then with an EUPEN LP/GNLM 3g2 5 made improvements. The EUPEN in particular almost made me think I suddenly had a different DAC. Since the Soekris does not have an input RF/EMI filter, the EUPEN may have cleaned the power from switching noise spit back by the device into the local grid. Not a huge thing, if a cable can fix it, but the power supply part seems to be one of the two weak points of an otherwise astonishing DAC.

    Now, if I only could figure out how to change the filters using an OS X machine...

     
  9. I_want_all_the_tacos

    I_want_all_the_tacos Almost "Made"

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    So my top DAC/amp choices right now are the 1541 and the RME ADI-2 DAC. I've asked this in the RME thread as well, but I'm hoping there's someone out there who has heard both DAC/amps? I know this is R2R vs DS but since 1541 impressions say it leans more analytical it seems like it would be in a similar sound signature as the RME. Any comparisons of both units, DAC sections or amp sections, would be greatly appreciated.
     
  10. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

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    I have the ADI2-Pro and 1541. For me, the 1541 is slightly more resolving, with a touch larger stage. I listened to both quite a lot, and ended up choosing the 1541 as my DAC.
     
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  11. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    Everyone keeps saying 1541, and keep thinking the TDA1541 Phillips chip.

    Was this the thought when designing this DAC I wonder?
     
  12. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Just going to say I'd be interested in a loaner too. Just got a balanced amp and would be interested to try a balanced source.
     
  13. soekris

    soekris MOT - Soekris Engineering

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    Me following my numbering system and not thinking about old Philips chips, not that I don't know it, having being around for a long time....
     
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  14. captkirk

    captkirk Khan's BFF

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    Just a heads up y’all, I picked up @RedFuneral ’s 1321 and have offered it up for an SBAF loaner. I know it’s not the big mack daddy, but it might at least let you have a taste of the Soekris sound.

    I’ll be loading it up with @Cellist88 ’s filter pack recommendations and including a SYS for convenience.

    DAC1321 loaner.
     
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  15. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Afraid someone will shit on his opinions

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    actually captkirk....keep it in stock. I think people who don't like the NOS sound might be off put. I like the butterworth OS filter from Soekris so I think you should keep it. :)
     
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  16. I_want_all_the_tacos

    I_want_all_the_tacos Almost "Made"

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    Thank you for the impressions. I figured 1541 would probably edge out the RME ADI-2, but it sounds like it isn't by a huge margin. Guess it just comes down to prioritizing sound vs features set.
     
  17. Soups

    Soups Sadomasochistic cat

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    I'm a little late to the Soekris party, but is there still a Feb. group buy happening on the 1541? If so, any chance of still getting in on that? I saw that @PacoTaco was looking for someone else to manage it but not sure who to contact.
     
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  18. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    I too would be interested in a group buy. Well, unless there is going to be a loaner, I would wait until I heard it...unless the price is like the Christmas special. :cool:
     
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  19. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    I'd be interested in another 1541 group buy too. I heard one at the last NY meet and was quite impressed with the sound and features for such a compact unit.
     
  20. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Friend

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    As I listen to mine (with MrSpeakers Æon headphones) it keeps growing on me, especially with the soft Butterworth filter (LED off). Mainly acoustic jazz and classical. My other DACs are very convincing in their own ways (Yggdrasil, Holo Spring KTE 3), but at their prices they should be, and they are paired with substantial amps and transducers. The dac1541>Æon pairing is outstanding value comparatively, it never grates, and it often delights. Yesterday I was listening to a remastered reissue of Dave Holland's double bass solo "Ones All" that I had just bought. I've heard Holland live many times, so I'm a bit picky about how a recording of his work should sound. I was not disappointed, very rich, detailed, with all those subtle touches of fingers, strings, and instrument body.
     
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