Yggdrasil A2/og VS. Audial Aya 5 DAC-off

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by rhythmdevils, Oct 27, 2022.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Yggdrasil A2/og VS. Audial Aya 5 DAC-off

    The Audial Aya 5 is a TDA1541A based non- oversampling DAC. More info can be found on the Audial website here.

    [​IMG]

    There is a huge price discrepancy here so it’s not exactly a fair fight, the Yggdrasil A2 sells for $2.5k and the Aya 5 sells for about $1k but can be built by a DIYer for less. But I’ve heard great things about the Aya 5 from multiple people and if it could better my Yggdrasil at under $1k that would be awesome. I have heard DACs that do some things better than the Yggdrasil A2, like more resolution, blacker background, more 3 dimensionality, more realism in micro tonality and timbre. But I have yet to hear any DAC that as a whole package beats the Yggdrasil A2 and makes me want it over the Yggdrasil. They all, despite when they beat the Yggdrasil in certain ways, have deal breaking problems for me that the Yggdrasil does not have. The Yggdrasil sounds good to me, there is nothing that stands out as a problem. The only thing I want out of pure lust is moar resolution and a blacker background. But the presentation of neither of these things bother me about the Yggdrasil.

    So could the Aya 5 bring it alll together and beat the Yggdrasil in technical abilities?

    Yggdrasil
    More resolving - more "grit" along the edges of notes
    Flatter sounding

    Aya 5
    Smoother
    More depth
    Blacker background
    Less resolving, less "grit"
    Seems a bit too smooth to the point I feel it sounds wrong and smoothed over like a filter is applied like noise reduction in photography

    To continue the photography analogy, the Yggdrasil has more background noise but more detail while the Aya 5 has too much noise reduction applied and looses detail and winds up with an overly smooth artificial tone but has less of this background noise

    Interesting Observation:
    The added depth and blacker background of the Aya 5 sometimes makes it more clear and easier to hear distinct notes despite having less fine detail. The Yggdrasil sounds kind of compressed and flat when going back and forth and comparing the two. With the Aya 5, there is this beautiful space between instruments and soiunds that, along with the blacker background, really makes them pop out and easier to hear all the different sounds separate and coming together to form the whole musical piece, wheras the Yggdrasil is more all mushed together. And the Yggdrasil is pretty famous for it's soundstage so this is no small feat for the little Aya 5.

    I really wish I could have a DAC that combined the strengths of these two DACs. The grit and resolution of the Yggdrasil with the blacker background and added depth of the Aya 5.

    Conclusion
    Ultimately, the overly smooth tonality of the Aya 5 bothered me, and when switching back to the Yggdrasil from this, everything sounded more natural with much more textural information and spacial cues and fine detail along the edges of notes. The Aya 5 only sounded better when first switching from thie Yggdrasil and that black background, added depth really stood out. But when listening for a longer time the overly smooth tone always started to sound artificial and fake, as if entire sections of instrument's tonality were merged into one tone instead of millions of shades of different tones like on the Yggdrasil. To continue the photography analogy, it could also be described as too much compression, where portions of an image with similar color are merged into one giant pixel rather than various subtle differences in shades in that area. When I went back to the Yggdrasil from this I was relived, finding it more natural sounding and realistic. When listening for longer periods with the Yggdrasil, nothing bothers me at all.

    How much of what I heard from the Aya 5 is simply due to it being a NOS DAC and now much is from the TDA1541A chips or the architecture I don't know, I'm not that familiar with NOS DACs.

    So once again I have heard another DAC that beats the Yggdrasil in a few areas, but as a whole, I prefer the sound of the Yggdrasil.

    Since I also prefer the Yggdrasil as a whole over the Holo MAY, Wavelight, and Wavedream Edition (I have not heard the Signature) it seems like it might be my endgame DAC unless something else comes out that is better and doesn’t cost $10k. This is honestly kind of a relief because I keep thinking I need to somehow budget for a better DAC.

    From memory I would take both the Airist R2R DAC and Gungnir A1 over the Aya 5 as well due to this bothersome over smoothing the Aya 5 has.

    Here are links to my review comparisons of the Yggdrasil A2/og vs the Wavedream Edition SE and the Holo MAY:

    Yggdrasil A2/og vs Holo MAY

    Yggdrasil A2/og vs Rockna Wavedream Edition
     
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    Last edited: Oct 27, 2022
  2. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    To some degree this kind of sounds like the difference between old school NOS and OS.
     
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  3. nithhoggr

    nithhoggr Author of the best selling novel Digital Jesus

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    Along those lines, I wonder how the Aya would fare with software oversampling, e.g. from HQP or Roon. That's a pretty common use case for NOS DACs these days.
     
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  4. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    I have an Aya II and I'll never part with it, yes it sounds over smoothed but some days that's just the kind of buttery sound you want IMO. Also if you have the transformer-based XLR output option I think it adds a little bit of solidness to the sound but that might as well be placebo.. :)
     
  5. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    NOS + transformer coupling seems like and interesting build. Like transformer does a bit of filtering on its own
     
  6. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Facebook Friend

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    Holo DACs without some software upsampling also sound over smoothened to me, almost unlistenable IMHO. With software upsampling though it's really quite good. I think the Spring 3 KTE is at least one level above Yggdrasil A1 in terms of technical performance. Also sounds more neutral and "normal" to me compared to Yggdrasil.

    I have not heard Yggdrasil A2 before but A1 sounds like it is quite flavoured, seems to have this bass boost function built in and everything sounds upfront. Also quite grey sounding. I think it's a fun DAC but I'm not sure if it will work well if you use it with brighter amps and/or headphone.
     
  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I'm definitely guilty of not using HQplayer when evaluating the Holo MAY and Aya 5. I'm not very computer literate and it took me so long to get MOode working on my Pi2AES I just could not put in that kind of effort to evaluate a DAC. I also feel Iike, and others will disagree with this, but that it's a problem with the DAC if it needs this obscure niche software running on an obscure niche DDC to sound right.

    But I definitely did not hear the Holo MAY as smooth at all without HQplayer. It was dry and lacked proper decay to my ears, truncating the ends of notes. The Aya 5 did not do this at all. So I'm not sure either problem was HQplayer related unless it just fixes whatever happens to be wrong. :)

    The Yggdrasil A2 sounds very different from the A! and should not be compared, at least judging by what I have read and my impressions of the Gungnir A1 and A2 which are supposed to have very similar differences to the Yggdrasil A2 and A1. I hear no bass boost or upfront tone/FR on the A2.
     
  8. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Technicalities aside - which I agree the Gungnir MB and Yggdrasil got a similar improvement going from A1 to A2 - the tonality actually changed in a different way: the Yggrdasil A2 became warmer, less upfront. The Gungnir A2 became (a lot) cooler sounding, which is the reason I sold mine and kept the A1 for a while.
     
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  9. nithhoggr

    nithhoggr Author of the best selling novel Digital Jesus

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    I don't blame you for not wanting to set up HQP just for a review...it's really not the easiest software to configure, and figuring out what filters and shapers you like is a pretty major investment of time in and of itself.

    I wasn't thinking so much of needing HQP to fix the DAC so much as software oversampling being a potential use case someone might be considering a NOS DAC for. I.e., not so much "you should get this DAC because it might be better with HQP" but rather "if you use HQP anyway would this DAC be a reasonable pairing". I mean, IIRC, the Spring 3 dropped the hardware OS mode that was in the earlier Springs and the May because Holo figured their users were mostly using software to oversample anyway (at least, I think I remember hearing that), so it's not impossible that HQP could've figured into the design of the DAC to begin with.
     
  10. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    Yeah they went in reverse directions, but the Gungnir A1 and Yggdrasil A2 have very similar tone IMO (I own both) and similar impressions have been written about the Gungnir A2 and Yggdrasil A1.

    I was just saying that you can't judge the Yggdrasil A2 based off of the A1, they sound different (I can say this with quite a bit of confidence based on hearing the Ya2, Ga1, Ga2 and reading between the lines)
     
  11. exocer

    exocer Acquaintance

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    @rhythmdevils awesome write up! Fwiw, you may find pggb.io interesting for use with NOS dacs. I’ve heard really good things. You would choose the highest sample rate your dac accepts and the appropriate bit depth. You wont need to worry about hqplayer configuration since the file is pre-processed.
     
  12. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Thanks for sharing. These impressions remind me of what you said when comparing Yggdrasil LIM to the Analog 2 as well.
     
  13. Johnny Opps

    Johnny Opps Facebook Friend

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    Thanks for sharing.
    Did I miss it, or did you sometime do a comparison of Yggdrasil/Gungnir Multibit to the Denafrips Ares II (which is now confusingly going to be called Enyo? The warmpoo descriptions are rife, but so are the fanz and I don’t know how their R2R approach fits into your NOS/OS framework.
     
  14. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    No, I haven't. I would write a review if someone sends me one to borrow though! :)
     

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