Soncoz SGD1 DAC Review

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Bill-P, Apr 23, 2021.

  1. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    MOD ADD: SGD1 measurement here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ncoz-sgd1-vs-geshelli-jnog.10955/#post-347268

    If you have to ask... I was curious. Got this to compare against Modius and see if it can replace Modius in a less expensive rig.

    TL;DR: I don't think I'm hearing the SGD1 as like a "superior" take over Schiit Modius. It's more "different" if anything. SGD1 is brighter, with slightly more grain in the treble region, and less bass impact. Modius is warmer, darker, with markedly smoother (but still kinda grainy?) treble and more bass impact.

    Listening gears:
    DAC: Schiit Modius or Soncoz SGD1
    Amp: Eddie Current Zana Deux #73 or THX AAA 789 (Zana Deux uses ISO-MAX for balanced input)
    Headphone: HD800 s/n 00348 (if that matters?) or HD650

    Songs:

    Get Lucky - Daft Punk (digital version): this one shows a pretty marked difference in bass impact and texture to me. Modius does have much more impact and texture here. It's almost... amazing. SGD1 sounds a bit thin and lifeless here. Modius just sounds... "right" with this song.

    Dreams - Bazzi: the sibilance in this song is just a tad bit more obvious on SGD1. Also, for some reason, SGD1 sounds more... forward, more in-yo-face to me? Modius is obviously more laid-back and again, more impactful. Soundstage is deeper with Modius to me, while SGD1 sounds wider.

    Diamond On The Soles Of Her Shoes - Paul Simon: holy sibilance batman! This is bordering on unlistenable with HD800 to me. HD650... yeah, I can manage it. Again, Modius is more laid-back, and SGD1 is more forward. Modius has deeper soundstage and SGD1 sounds wider. For this particular track, I feel like Modius has better macrodynamic overall. SGD1 sounds... okay, but it's a bit thin, glassy, and kinda... wimpy?

    Raindrops Keeps Fallin' on My Head - Emilie-Claire Barlow: with SGD1, Emilie's voice lacks body here, plus the bass lacks... force. Going to Modius is almost a revelation; Emilie calms down, her voice loses 6dB of sibilance, and the bass is more palpable, more impactful overall. Interesting enough, on this one song, I can hear that Modius is more veiled than SGD1 with HD650. There's like a sheen of "something" on top. I couldn't hear the "veil" with HD800 on the first listen, but I start to notice it after that. The effect is more subtle with HD800 than with HD650.

    Jack Sparrow - Hans Zimmer (Dead Man's Chest soundtrack): this is so compressed I can hear the compression artifact no matter which version I purchase. But this is a song that definitely favors the SGD1: the soundscape is generally darker in the mix and requires a bit of a "lift", width is more important than depth, and the bass is already kind of... one-note-ish. HD800 + SGD1, despite my misgivings with all of the above songs, is the "right" combo here. Worst here would be HD650 + Modius. But to be fair, this is more down to "tone" and the way this song wants more "brightness", rather than because SGD1 is "better" than Modius in any way. I don't think I'm hearing more details with SGD1 than Modius here.

    Bonus round: I swapped out the stock Zana Deux tube (green letter Philips) for brown-base Fivre. I know the Fivre tube will make the amp sound warmer, more syrupy, and fuller overall. Well, it did... alright. Now the "tone" is "okay-ish" but that sibilance remains. I guess I have been so spoiled by Schiit DACs now that pretty much anything and everything else sounds more sibilant. Even a tube amp can't help the SGD1 here. THX AAA 789 + SGD1 combo is... okay-ish with HD650, but really, Modius + Zana Deux will still handily spank that combo in everything.

    So in conclusion, I think the SGD1 is... okay. It's probably not the most offensive D-S DAC I have heard, but it's also not... amazing either. I was hoping it would spank Modius handily in most areas, considering the price point and how much some folks have been raving about it. But I don't think that's the case here. In fact, Modius still has better bass than SGD1 by a large margin: more impact, more body, more texture, more bass details, while everything else (mid and treble and soundstage) are just kind of "different" on SGD1 without being "better". On some songs, I can tell SGD1 may be preferable to Modius with HD650, but I'd much rather have Modius in the chain with HD800, even if I'm using a tube amp.

    Perhaps measurements are not everything then. And hey, seriously, the SGD1 is not a bad DAC. Modius is just an amazing DAC IMHO.

    Edit: also, I tried all of the filters on SGD1. I think... SLL is my favorite. It's linear-phase slow roll-off, I think? The default is some apodizing filter and sounds even thinner. Not my cup of tea.

    Edit 2: size comparison and stuffs:
    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2021 at 9:30 PM
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Which one is the SGD1, the top one or bottom one?
     
  3. Brubaker

    Brubaker Rando

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    It's the bottom one.
     
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  4. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    The bottom one. I expected more from the size to be honest.
     
  5. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Thanks for the review, Mr. P. My guess from triangulation of all I had heard from others was that this was just another over-hyped and -priced dac from Asia. Nothing in your experience has made me think otherwise. The measurements cult will love it.
     
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  6. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Well. It is a ESS9038Q2M DAC after all. Only good ones I heard with that particular mobile grade Sabre chip are the Burson ones like the Swing dac/pre-amp (already discontinued) or the Conductor series. Those sound pretty good, being Sabre...

    I wonder how schiit's new delta sigma DACs will hold up once they have to move from AKM :/
     
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  7. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Nice review. Thanks @Bill-P

    Some thoughts below.
    • Recently watched a rave review of sgd1 dac -- over Modius -- posted on Youtube (by one of the forum member; link not attached). And he also seems very enthusiastic with Chords (Qutest, Dave, and M-Scaler) and RME. The contrast between these sgd1 reviews may be telling some interesting characterization.
    • My experience with 9038q2m dacs from Topping and SMSL was generally a lot worse. If I use Modius as a baseline, my description could a little more hostile. Assuming Bill is more nitpicking than myself, my triangulation suggests SGD1 could be actually good for those who want such sounding.
    • Also just adding I generally found 9038pro products more pleasing than 9038 q2m ones. Could be attributable to a lot of confounders. But hugely suspecting chip-level difference (post-adjustments using multi ch output included) could play a meaningful role.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
  8. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yeah, I think I am pretty particular with regards to the "tone" of a device. That's like #1 priority to me. Details, layering, and soundstage be damned.

    And that's just because I know exactly what I like/dislike. It doesn't mean the SGD1 is a bad device at all. Live @Vtory said, someone who likes a brighter and less "dull"-sounding DAC than Modius will most likely enjoy this better.

    Also, the "negative" aspects of the SGD1 like sibilance were very "slight" in comparison to Modius. The brightness lift did help with certain songs that I own as well, so it's not like it's not a good contender. Plus it has a ton of other features: supports DSD decoding, Bluetooth 5.0, and it has a remote control, on top of the knob thing being multi-function, and it can double as a preamp. In comparison, Modius is really just a DAC, and I'll need to purchase a separate preamp if I need that feature.
     
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  9. Gazny

    Gazny Almost "Made"

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    Thanks for the impressions @Bill-P
    This tone seems like it isn't for me, and I greatly appreciate your opinions on this. I don't often listen to female vocals as 90% of my listening experience but if I did this might be a good choice given all of its features.

    I don't think this is the right dac for me as I listen to Jazz Trios, Stoner rock, or the occasional indie/prog rock thrown in :punk:
     
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    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    @Bill-P, would you be willing to send this over to me? I'm curious how this would compare against the Geshelli JNOG. Unlike the Modius, where the balanced output sounds noteable better than the SE, the JNOG outputs seem to sound the same or very close. The JNOG is a different spin, leaner, less phat but not necessarily brighter than Modius in SE. Modius balanced out may edge out JNOG in that it has less of that "velvet" mushy sound, but this could be a matter of taste.
     
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  11. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Oh yeah, I'd be happy to! Actually, there's the personal loaner thread so I can just push it to you first and you can dissect it.
     
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