Upcoming Texas mini-meet

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by Erroneous, Apr 28, 2024.

  1. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    So the day of the meet has arrived, but we're also on day 3 of the meet unofficially. We've had meals and fun together on Friday and Saturday. Today is the DAC shootout.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. mitochondrium

    mitochondrium Friend

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    Seems like you guys have/had lots of fun - good on you

    @purr1n

    once you have checked out nice places to eat in SA let us know I visit SA from time to time and I am always up for good food
     
  3. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    After 9 hours back across west Texas to home, I just for now want to thank @Erroneous & @famish99 for planning and hosting a really nice couple of days. I will say more about the gear in next few days, but the tacos, BBQ, tacos, machete's, tacos, champagne, and more taco's made for a really good time. Yesterday famish was quite literally the man behind the curtain (really, there was a curtain), handling gear/cable/source swap & computer software duties like a pro - only one dac was out of phase and that for only a short period of time ;)
     
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    Last edited: May 27, 2024
  4. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    Also shoutout to @noisyscott for hosting as well! We definitely learned something about the viability of stadium seating arrangement that night.

    More impressions to come but off the cuff I would say the surprise standouts (audio related anyway) were the ETA Ada and the Weiss 204. The non-audio surprises were @Vansen and I have surprisingly similar tastes in coffee, music, and spirits and you'd be surprised how quickly 7 dudes will heat up a room.
     
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  5. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    I have to say thanks to @Erroneous for hosting and @famish99 for switching sources back and forth. It was fun meeting other audio fanatics. Thanks to everyone for their help unloading and loading up the car. @crenca Hope you have fun with the Supernaut. It's simply a fantastic amplifier. Hell I'm thinking of buying one. @ColtMrFire Was enjoying his time trying out different amp and headphones.

    Also, I felt like a quesadilla myself at the taco spot. Hot as heck but worth it all. Fun times and next time I'll stay just a tad longer.
     
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Dang, next time for sure.
     
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  7. internethandle

    internethandle Almost "Made"

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  8. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    OK so quick initial impressions. First off, I think we're left with more questions than answers for now. Secondly, y'all are awesome and it was great fun hanging out with everyone.

    So Friday night was just @Pocomo and @Vansen and I chowing down on some Machetes and enjoying listening to some good music on speakers at my place.

    Saturday I had to work until later, but some folks met up for coffee and then went to @famish99's house to listen to his stereo and have a fun hang. Then we all went to a different machete place and absolutely pigged out. We ordered so much food that the owner of the taco truck took pictures of our packed table then had someone bring us out a couple of quesabirria tortas on the house. After that we jammed into Scott's listening room and got to hear what he's been creating in there. Sounds excellent!

    Sunday started with us going to Terry Black's barbecue where thankfully as expected the long line moved quickly and we all ate more than we should have under any circumstance. Very tasty stuff.

    After barbecue, we drove to my house and got the party started. Thankfully @Phantaminum and @ColtMrFire put the headphone area (upstairs) together and did an awesome job of it. Really came together nicely.

    @famish99 and @noisyscott took over the speakers area (downstairs) and got everything hooked up. It was @famish99's birthday that day and he chose to spend it with us, generously handling the heavy lifting of making all the A/Bing happen. What a bro.

    The main system in the speakers area was Holo Red running Diretta and lord knows what other kind of digital wizardry @famish99 installed onto the Red. HQPlayer was available for use when needed or wanted. Dacs were: Holo May KTE (my reference for going on 3 years now), Allnic D-5000 DHT DAC, Weiss 204, Holo Cyan 2 (thanks @crenca!), and modded PSAudio Directstream MkI (VOCM mod and APS Audio nickel output transformers). I think that's all. It was too much to tackle in 1 day for sure. We tried. Had to take a cigar break and a taco break though. Priorities and such.

    So I was really looking forward to May VS Cyan because I like rooting for the underdog and I want Cyan to be a value king. We hooked up May via I2S and Cyan via USB and did some PCM upsampling, and the May handily trounced the Cyan in a blind test. Then we hooked the May up to USB and the Cyan to I2S and did some DSD upsampling.
    (Update: Cyan was always i2s on both DSD and PCM comparison. I have been corrected.)
    In a blind test, the Cyan actually beat the pants off the May much to everyone's amazement. (We may have actually done more than just these 2 rounds. It all kind of bleeds together after so much back and forth.)

    So the working theory right now is that the USB actually isn't the best input for the Holo DACs. I've just been using USB all this time with May, happy to leave USB nervosa behind and just enjoy the music. In my May VS Allnic comparisons moving forward, I'm using I2S into May and AES into Allnic. This whole shebang kinda happened because I bought the Allnic thinking maybe it'll oust the May. I've been a HoloBro for awhile now but I'm not against switching teams if another DAC is both a) better and b) not ORFAS money.

    As for the modded PSAudio Directstream Mk1, it got booted early for sounding like ass. We were using I2S into it. According to @Azimuth who so graciously swapped the transformers in it, the I2S input just kinda sounds ass. According to other PS DS people though, I2S is the jam. So we're not sure what exactly is going on with that but once again, further research is required. Maybe PS DS is great compared to mid-type DACs but doesn't play well with stuff that's further up the ladder, or maybe there is actually something wrong with this specific unit.

    Regarding the Weiss, I think it's very input-sensitive. Before the meet when I was testing DACs I had to use my pi2aes because the Red was off with Famish so he could work his mad scientist voodoo shit with it. When fed by the pi2aes it was meh. I didn't spend much time with it because I had the Allnic and May, and both were very immediately audibly better and more fun to listen to. However, at the meet with the Holo Red with whatever crazy people software Famish installed, it was on par with the Allnic and the crowd verdict was half and half between them.

    We didn't do a lot of May vs other DAC comparisons because IIRC we had 3 different DACs on 1 AVC pre we had, and the Holo May and Cyan on another AVC pre (both Pres are Ic0n 4 autoformer volume control).

    I could be misremembering some of this because I had a house full of people and a meet to preside over. THANK YOU to everyone who helped put this together and manage. I could not have done it alone. It only went as well as it did because everyone showed up with a positive attitude and worked together to make everything happen. Y'all the real MVPs.

    I didn't spend much time in headphoneland because I was super into trying to pick a favorite DAC downstairs in speakerland0, I knew we had a TON to try to get through in one day, and I wanted to get through as much of it as possible. I did make sure that people heard stock Supernaut (I love that Marv called this Superman), then heard it with tubes fully rolled and hopefully with my OGJAR650. I don't know what DACs they had it with but when I had that combo with the Allnic DAC it was basically a panty-dropper.

    I still want to spend time with the Ada that ETA so graciously sent in. I keep reading such good things about it. Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest times of the year at my job, so I've been balancing the meet along with insanity at work and I think tomorrow will get some headphone time for the next 5 days so I'm hoping to hear it then.

    TL;DR: We couldn't pick a favorite, so many people were heroes and really stepped up, most of the shit sounded amazing, I have a ton more work to do with the DACs, we're probably going to need to do another meet once I have put in much more work. Drop the pi2aes, buy yourself a Red, and ask Famish what kind of voodoo shit he installed on mine. Shit be sounding good, y'all.

    Thank you to everyone who came, everyone who pitched in by helping manage this, @Pocomo for buying everyone Dinner Saturday night and for the beer, everyone who drove or flew in from far away, thank you to @famish99 for all the work you did on your birthday.

    Thank y'all for your enthusiasm. This was so much fun. Let's do it again a bunch of times.
     
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    Last edited: May 30, 2024
  9. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    PCM: May (USB) > Cyan 2 (I2S)
    DSD: May (I2S) > Cyan 2 (I2S) > May (USB)

    Thank you @EagleWings
     
  10. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Excellent summary @Erroneous! I will add some thoughts:

    On May vs Cyan 2 face off:

    Wild in that round when we all choose the (I2S) DSD fed Cyan 2 over the (USB) DSD fed May. We had a second round where it was more even (even though May was still USB fed), and when we switched the May to I2S it was clear that it had an extra edge of refinement - I noticed mostly in the resolution of the bass, but others noted the treble was better as well.

    With PCM, the May had a unambiguous advantage over the Cyan 2. Getting home and listening to the Cyan 2 PCM vs DSD in a headphone situation (Cyan > Supernaut) the delta is not as large, but that merely confirms what we know about dac qualities in a headphone vs. speaker environment.

    I'm sort of bumed as now I will probably $explore$ an I2S solution to Cyan, as my Pi + HAT does not stream I2S other than at 192 PCM / DSD 64 rates. There is the Holo Red obviously, but what else are folks using out there (I want an I2S solution that will do DSD 256)? Is there a software solution in Linux that will allow HQPlayer to stream out over a PC's built in HDMI port?

    On Allnic D-5000 DHT DAC & Weiss 204:

    These two dac's were the "surprise" for me of this meet, the Weiss in particular given my expectations from the reviews here. I only heard them both in the speaker environment, so I wonder how they translate into a headphone rig (particularly the Allnic's forwardness), but they definitely have me curious. I think I preferred them both over the optimized (i.e. I2S/DSD) May, I know I did with some recordings (though my usual classical/jazz genre's would probably benefit more from a May/DSD setup optimized).

    Given that all Holo dac's are "half a dac" as @SoupRKnowva puts it, meaning that unless you are committed to their particular NOS (i.e. non-upsampled 44/48 fed) sound you are combining them with a software/hardware upsampling/re-sampling solution, I can easily understand why someone would choose them over the Holo's in a speaker environment.

    In the end however I am still fairly certain I would still choose @famish99 Wavedream over it all ;)

    edit: A belated shout out to @noisyscott for hosting us Saturday as well, I forgot to mention that in my post upstream! His DSP optimized, 4 sub's plus large speakers in a smallish room is an example to us all of how bass can and should be done...
     
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    Last edited: May 29, 2024
  11. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Nice meet, guys. Red does handily unseat pi2aes but at a price. Knowing Fammy, he probably ditched the Red OS, loaded and configured GentooPlayer endpoint with the Chad approved kernel. CLTO kernels, ridiculously are licensed and worse, expire yearly. Non-CLTO gets you to the promised land though. CLTO is just the cherry on top.

    Will work for tacos
     
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  12. internethandle

    internethandle Almost "Made"

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    Thread is definitely making me consider doing some Holo Red nervosa. Would be cool to ditch this dinosaur Audio PC rig with a JCAT card and OS shenanigans I’m running and get a smaller box, especially if I can mess around with Diretta - Audio PC would be too much of a pain to get that situated as it is.
     
  13. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    Side note about the PS Audio Direct Stream:

    The stock transformers in this are trash. This is blatantly obvious when I swapped with the APS output transformers. Much higher output that did not sound like muted mush. That being said, there is an issue with these transformers and the I2S grounding or something. With AES and SPDIF it was fine and dandy. Unfortunately they did not feed the PS DS with that at the meet because they know that the I2S upsamples to DSD264 (vs upsampling to DSD64 on the other inputs) in that DAC, but really, it is a funky and quirky box.

    Now why in the world the OPT would have such an issue on the I2S input, I am not sure. But for whatever reason, if you have 16/44.1 in, it sounds very dark and no high end.
     
  14. Pocomo

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    Massive thanks to @Erroneous for calling and ”producing” the meet; you're a superstar for hosting such a great event despite being swamped at work. It was amazing to meet folks f2f; some very, very interesting people here with incredible stories to share. @famish99 gets the silver star, working the blind test sherpa role on his birthday weekend and sharing bottles from his extensive wine collection including a 36yo (!) Sauternes. @Phantaminum ran the headphone room with aplomb, including all of the upstairs amp schlepping. I learned a ton and drew inspiration from @noisyscott. His speaker system sounds incredible, far beyond what most people will ever experience in their own home. And it’s such an improbable combination of modded Tektons driven by 2A3s. You wouldn’t believe the level of rock this thing can command but also the delicacy and staging on tap – a perfect blend of power and finesse. It gave me insight into what “the next level” can mean without needing to get into ORFAS gigabucks territory.

    I really enjoyed my time in Austin, the food, the camaraderie and great conversations with @Vansen, @crenca, @SoupRKnowva and @ColtMrFire. You guys have something special going in the ATX. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Not having a lot of A/B listening experience I was surprised how easy it was to hear differences among the DACs. As @Erroneous quoted “comparison is the thief of joy”; I could be happy with any of them *except* the PCM-driven Cyan (DSD was another story) and the PS Audio DS Mk 1. Those 2 did not have a good showing. Also, for me, I would want something that doesn’t need HQPlayer DSD upsampling with a specific convolution filter to sound great; that setup seemed kinda finicky and troublesome. Convenience and reliability mean a lot in the end ;)
     
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  15. AdvanTech

    AdvanTech Friend

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    Alternatively, I find it really brings home how important proper A/B sessions are for separating the wheat from the chaff. It's where I learn the most the fastest.
     
  16. noisyscott

    noisyscott New

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    Thanks so much @Erroneous for makin it all happen, and helping us all peel back yet another layer of the audio onion (which we then threw right into a plate of tacos). Lookin forward to round 2 in the great DAC showdown.

    Big takeaways for me: I am now Holo Red curious, impressed that the Cyan 2 is within spittin distance of the May if you can do high-rate dsd, am also now Weiss curious, and that I need more Sauternes in my life -- thanks @famish99.

    Super-huge shoutout to all of you who traveled to our humble hifi Austin town - @Pocomo @crenca @Vansen @Phantaminum - was a deep pleasure to meet up and share some great music.
     
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  17. noisyscott

    noisyscott New

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  18. Pocomo

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    P.P.S. Forgot to mention I ordered a Holo Audio Red based on many discussions this weekend. Never would have considered it before the meet!
     
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  19. Bowmoreman

    Bowmoreman Almost "Made"

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    Dayammmm. Naturally I move AWAY from ATX *before* this type of event happens! Figures. And, all y’all had Sauternes!

    I would have brought some of my “sweeties” (got some 82 and 85 Sauternes - Rieussec, and a mix of 1976 TrockenBeeren Auslesen, and ice wines. Didn’t think ANYONE else liked them!

    Maybe I should host a New England meet up sometime; I’ve got the space. It would be rather more challenging wrt: truly local eateries (all the good ones are at least 40 minutes away). But I could sort it.

    Looking forward to hearing the Weiss when it moves down the line to me…
     
  20. famish99

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    I did too.

    For the record, it was a half bottle '88 Suduiraut. I honestly didn't expect so many people to enjoy it otherwise I would have brought a full bottle.

    I would like to try the DS again but feeding it AES or something non-I2S because I would say it did not match what I've heard from the multiple experiences I've had with the DS (admittedly mk2 instead of mk1). The Weiss was power off a noise nuked supply of some sort, but I found it surprisingly inoffensive. I would say it was the leanest in the 3 way comparison, but I found it had nice spaciousness to the stage and pleasant row 20-30 image presentation vs the overly aggressive row 5-10 and somewhat flat depth presentation of the Allnic. I also found the Allnic to have this exaggerated upper midrange that I couldn't get over even though it came with a nice fullness to it. The Weiss had a good amount of decay to it relative to the Allnic, but it probably lines up closer to the WD (which made me kinda wish I signed up for the Weiss loaner to compare it at home), and not as nice as WL or Schitt levels of decay.

    Since I was running the Cyan/May comparison, I will withhold from comments since I didn't get to listen as closely as the others since I was sighted, but the biggest takeaway for me was that even as touted as the Holo May's internal USB implementation was, that the Red via I2S was so noticeably nicer.

    Excruciatingly painfully detailed setup info: Red was running GentooPlayer v8.60 with the 6.7.6 ULTRA-RCU-TEST kernel, Profile 2, with all audio and system apps uninstalled except for NAA and Diretta Target, no ramsystem set. We used Diretta Host ASIO 1.123 and fed it from Roon directly for the 3 way comparison and via HQPlayer upsampled to 768k for PCM (I believe it was some poly-sinc- something short filter) and DSD256 via Sinc-L and ASDM7EC through Diretta ASIO for the Holo Cyan/May comparison.
     
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