The DAC Advice Thread

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by señorhifi, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    One of the worst sounding DACs ever at any price.
     
  3. wadec22

    wadec22 Almost "Made"

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    I have pretty limited experience, but as a very general rule for me the BB chips peaked at 1792. I know they are not popular around here but I for me it's really the number chasing to 32bit with the 1795 on that these really started to sound like a step in the wrong direction..
     
  4. señorhifi

    señorhifi Friend

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    This is pretty interesting. For some reason I always assumed the Teac UD501 sounded the same as the UD301, but appearently not. The UD301 is a very easy, undetailed (sub Modi 3 standards here), and spacious listen, until the treble hits. BAM, then its SABRE galore! All of this despite it being a BB chip based DAC.

    What a shame, I liked the form factor a lot. They all look awesome on the outside. The inside on my UD301 was rather meh though (kinda like your UD501: cramped cables, a few of them pressed hard on a bunch of caps).

    Time to shill the Zen Dac Sig again: if anyone wants a good BB chip experience at a low price, Zen Dac Sig is where it's at.
     
  5. MaxBuck

    MaxBuck Rando

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    Just wanted to check in to say my new Topping D30Pro operates wonderfully as a combo DAC and preamp, accepting digital out from my Bluesound NODE and sending balanced signal out to the power amp. Really nice display (blue would've been better, since all the other lights in my system are blue), simple and easily operated remote with all the important functions. Sound quality is unimpeachable, to my ears. Idagio Advent calendar selections are currently playing.

    Separate note: the NODE can be controlled to a large extent using my new Samsung Watch4 Classic when I'm running the Bluesound app on my phone. Really great experience; I can mute or turn system volume way down the minute I hear my wife opening the garage door. Helps to maintain domestic tranquility. :cool:
     
  6. PsiPhi

    PsiPhi Rando

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    Hi everyone,

    First post here (after my introduction, of course) so I expect a proper hazing.

    Recently, I have been considering a DAC upgrade. An acquaintance of mine mentioned this site, and it's resulted in many late nights of reading through the DAC subforum. The volume of information here is really staggering! Thanks for the high quality and contextual observations!

    I've been trying to warm my partner up to this idea of a new DAC. She really appreciates our two channel system, which broadcasts music through our house. It's always on, and has become a big part of our life.

    We love how music can be playing at a low volume and be completely intelligible, yet we can carry on a casual conversation. There is a certain coherence to the sound. Well that is, until last week when the USB on our Ayre Codex stopped working.

    I know the Codex is not a great reference point - it is not a common DAC, but we like(d) it. Its ability to convey timbres, is remarkable, but if I were to nit-pjck, a murkyness lingers in the lower mids. Maybe a congestion of sorts? Electric guitars sound GREAT, but cellos can take on a bit of a 'soggy' quality at times. Not the final word on 'ambience', or maybe 'plankton'. Reverb tails can get lost, and microdetail might have a sense of saturation about it... But an oboe sounds like a oboe, and a sax sounds like a sax, and we like that!

    I own (and have owned) a ton of different AKM based converters. I'm interested in going a different direction, and modern R2R seems to be trending, so I am curious about the Yggdrasil LIM and Holo Audio Spring (L2?). There are some great reviews here and I get the sense that the Spring might be a bit 'lush'.

    Comparatively, I get the sense that the LIM might sit somewhere between the Spring and the Rockna Wavelight in terms of character. The Wavelight is intriguing, but if I am honest, is out of the budget.

    So, the Yggdrasil LIM is under consideration. Even if it doesn't synergize well with our system, will provide a good data point moving forward.

    I have talked to a couple of people who rave about the new SPL products. I was pretty excited to see a new 'spin' (120v rails!) on the old AD1955 chip in the original Director, but Director mkii features Velvetsound®, so I am out.

    So, I should get a LIM then, right?

    There are two other options I am considering;

    1. Exasound E62 (or E32 used, preferably)
    -they are Canadian, I am Canadian, so that's a nice thing

    -i like oddball stuff and tend to resist FOTM

    -impossible to find used

    -might need to be veto'd simply because it supports MQA


    2. Ayre QB9-twenty

    -solid upgrade on the Codex, hopefully maintaining and improving upon the flavor we have come to know and love.

    -USB input only! Yes, that's kind of a downer, but it's a *really good* USB input (asynchronous and galvanically isolated, or so I have read).


    I've done a fair amount of research, but if I have missed something in the $3k USD kind of price range, I would love to hear about it.

    Also, I can't believe I'm looking for a high quality USB DAC. The irony in that is not lost on me, so please have at it!

    To be clear, we seek a PCM DAC (24/96) with a USB in and balanced outs. Looking forward to any thoughts on the matter.


    The rest of our humble chain is;

    Sony TA-E90ES > Ayre V3MKII > Ascend Sierra II's
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2021
  7. Noodlz

    Noodlz Almost "Made"

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    So as I look into the mystery of the Burr-Brown chip implementation of the ifi Nano BL, it seems that its some sort of hybrid DS+MultiBit. I'm finding that i really like the liveliness & punch, without it being sharp, even if its kinda colour'd and a bit synthetic. The only problem is maybe because its a mobile unit, it's quite flat / single note /one dimensional, and there's not much texture / plankton, dynamics or soundstage when compared to a desktop amp. I do like this "Fun" sound that it has tho.

    Are there other DAC technologies that would bring forth a layered / improved level of this sound type? Something punchy, rounded, dynamic, slightly liquidly but not syrup'd, yet textured sound? Clean sounding without being sharp, maybe slightly synthetic but works really well with modern pop/rap recordings that tends to be a bit hot on the gain? Is this hybrid approach unique to the BB chips implementations on the IFI DACs? are there options beyond the IFI Zen Dac Sig for a desktop version?

    In short, i like this "fun" sound for modern pop music. Where do i get more / next levels up?



    ==============================================
    For Reference, my understandings & experiences are as follows (please excuse my descriptions if they seem non-sensical but from memory that's how they generally feel to me)

    • Delta Sigma (Sabre etc)
      • i.e. GeekOutV2
      • sounded great but definitely had this sharpened, ultra-real-too-real-that-its-definitely-fake resolution feel to it. like lots of triangles / prisms./
    • AKM
      • i.e. Modius/Schiit AK4490 DAC card
      • It's like with a bunch of ice cube/crystals. it sounds good, but if you listen close it sorta glistens, like high quality sweet&low. but not real sugar. Can be kinda sharp still, i dont feel cut but i can feel the edges.
    • Schiit MultiBit
      • Theta Dacs; Modi Multibit
      • Dark Thick textured bass with slam. but dark overall
      • Feels like cinema shot on film, i can feel the texture and its quite nice, it doesnt distract at all, but its dark and definite doesnt "pop"
    • Solid State R2R
      • have a Soekris 1321 in-bound. haven't heard it yet but this class of DACs are supposed to be very musical & real sounding
    • Vintage Tube R2R
      • SFD-1mk2 - rich and textured, organic and musical. Very close to "Real", nearly perfect to me but sometimes I want just a hint/touch of synthetic "gloss", which brings me to...
    • BurrBrown Hybrid?
      • I've only heard this from the IFI Nano BL
      • This seems to check the box of what i'd want for a DAC when i want to listen to just modern "Hot" recordings of pop / rap music.
     
  8. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Since you specifically like the ifi BB sound, why not go up the ladder of their DACs?
     
  9. Noodlz

    Noodlz Almost "Made"

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    ah so that’s definitely an option. i guess im more curious to see if there are other similar options beyond that, and also what type of chip/ implementation make it sound that way

    then again you might be right, maybe i just like the ifi house sound. in which case i’d probably look at their zen dac signature v2, or maybe even the tubes pro idsd signature with the 5670 tubes
     
  10. minimus

    minimus Rando

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    I was hoping for a bit of DAC advice. I haven't bought any new audio equipment in a while, so the DAC in my headphone setup for many years has been a PS Audio Perfect Wave, Mk1 that I upgraded to Mk2.

    My question to anyone who might vaguely remember or know about the Perfect Wave: Would new DACs in the sub-$2,500 price range offer a significant upgrade in sound quality, while also remaining non-fatiguing?

    As background, I primarily listen to the HD800 through an Apex Teton and various IEMs like the 7Hz Timeless and JH Audio Roxanne through an EC 4-45. My source is less than state-of-the-art: an iPad running the Roon or Qobuz IOS app connected via an Apple Camera Connection Kit to a Schiit Eitr USB-SPDIF converter.

    I know the Yggdrasil is highly regarded, but I'm concerned it might not be compatible with the EC 4-45 or that it might be a bit fatiguing. The other DAC I'm wondering about is a Denafrips Pontus.

    Would either of these DACs or others I haven't mentioned in the sub-$2,500 price range offer a significant upgrade to the PW DAC? Any advice would be much appreciated.
     
  11. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Redacted.
     
  12. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    Has anybody around here tried out the Pro iDSD Signature? Loaner tour, maybe?
     
  13. PsiPhi

    PsiPhi Rando

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    I've never cared much for looks, but damn that Pro Signature is a special kind of ugly
     
    • Respectively Disagree Respectively Disagree x 2
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  14. Yoshimitsu

    Yoshimitsu Rando

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    Has anybody listened to the Gustard x18 to the x26PRO? Is the difference big? is it worth the premium price?

    Gustard x18 can be found for $746 the x26pro costs almost twice as much around $1350-1400.
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    The x26 Pro is nice, much better than the X18. I think the modest increase in cost is worth it. The main difference is that the X26 has some custom touches instead of a cookie-cutter design. Note that the X26 measures worse than the X18 and anything from Topping because discrete components are used. Generally, you can't mess up an ESS 9038 based DAC. However, the extra design work that Gustard puts in has real results.

    I steer away from Topping because they design purely by specs and not by listening. Even if Topping found a part that sounded better but was 1-2db worse in AmirNAD, they would not use it because then they would not win the Excel bar graph contest at ASR. Topping's schitck is to win at that one single measurement that ASR presents as the yardstick, the litmus test.

    The X26 was received positively here and from the review, seemed very similar to the X-Sabre Pro which was also highly regarded. https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ard-dac-x26-impressions-and-discussions.7654/

    The Topping D90SE was not received positively: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...hile-dom-w-a-topping-d90se-mini-review.11358/

    In fact, the no Topping DAC has received a good review here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/topping-dacs-part-deux.10296/
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2022
  16. Yoshimitsu

    Yoshimitsu Rando

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    Thank you for sharing this. I am glad I refrained myself from buying the D90SE. x26PRO seems like a great choice.

    And yeah I agree with measurements, obviously a terrible measuring DAC isn't very encouraging to purchase. But I am running a headphone tube amplifier and I couldn't be happier with it... and I have no idea how it would measure.
     
  17. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Facebook Friend

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  18. Baten

    Baten Friend

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  19. etherealsound

    etherealsound Rando

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    So I've been happily chugging along with my Matrix XSP and wanted to try something new and was hoping to get some insight here. I'm mainly looking at trying out the Dangerous Convert 2. I've read a lot about it and it sounds like something that I would enjoy as one of the things I've been craving out of my setup is a bit more dynamics, engagement and slam in the lower registers. I know that people have said it's not the final word in resolution or air but I was wondering if anyone more experienced might be able to chime in if I'd be giving up detail by going from the XSP to the Convert 2.

    For reference, my main listening rig is out of the Susvara powered by the SuSy Dynahi.
     
  20. Yoshimitsu

    Yoshimitsu Rando

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    Dumb question:

    I am confused about Vtory's review of the Gustard x26. He mentiones "I am feeling that my Matrix XSP loaner evaluation will be a thorough shootout between two capable Chinese dual-9038pro dacs."

    Correct me if I am wrong but the XSP doesn't use 2x 9039pro chips and the Gustard x26 doesn't either. The Gustard x26Pro does but he didn't mention "pro" anywhere.

    Is his review based on the x26 or the x26Pro?
     

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