Audio-GD Singularity 19 DAC - Comprehensive Review and Impressions

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Hands, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    orchestrating a Free scavenger hunt on HF, by posting a new clue/hint each day would be superb.
    leading fanboys to a hidden GPS lat/long coordinate (inch by inch) toward the hidden/wrapped geocache.
    i'd be in favor of moving the geocache destination if HF gets too close/too fast.... eventually maybe Jood's porch in dee-troit or similar.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Hahahahaha. That would be awesome. Make a post of HF and tell them they can have it.

    EDIT: Scavenger hunt notice at HF would be hilarious. Maybe a geo-cache thing. We should film it.
     
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  3. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    It would be even better if they had to climb a mountain or something to get it. Frost bite builds character.
     
  4. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    In my proposed version, once they'd gotten to the appropriate GPS coordinates (lat/long), which would, in itself, require a boat or PWC, they'd then be faced with a underwater excursion down to a depth of about 115 feet in water that's about 50-55 degrees and with about 15 feet of visibility on a good day.

    Whether the S19 is involved or not, the next time I am down there, I think I'm going to add a pair of headphones to him anyway. The question is ... Koss Portapros (as an "in" joke) or the Axent Cat-Ear jobbies? A sign that says "These don't sound right, maybe I have water in my ears." And maybe a canister with a custom T-shirt in it that reads "I dived the Alki Buddha, and all I got was this lousy DAC."

    I will, of course, film it if/when it happens.
     
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  5. mscott58

    mscott58 Friend

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    There's a joke in there somewhere about it being "low-fi" (even below sea level)...
     
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  6. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    below-fi?

    maybe just blow-fi.
     
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Ok. I'm burying the Parasound A23 in the hiking hills of Calabasas, behind Craig's house.
     
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  8. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    Few centuries later confused archaeologists attribute the Parasound as part of a religious artefact a human called Craig partook in.
     
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  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    And the remains of a HF'er or AGD fanboy who died from dehydration and a rattlesnake bite. It's been my experience that city folk tend to be pretty stupid in nature.
     
  10. Priidik

    Priidik MOT: Estelon

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    Ghosts of SS will haunt the poor guy for dedicating his life work to tubes.
     
  11. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Well, it's here ... it's in the rack warming up and ... well, we'll see ... (and I suppose I should go peruse the Audio-GD site and see what the big "setting" button on the front does and what the jumpers configure). This is physically quite a bit bigger than I expected. And while it is all metal, it doesn't feel that substantial for it's size. Switch gear feels cheap and notchy.

    Audio-GD.jpg
     
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  12. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I took a quick listen …

    Just to try and head off any expectation bias here, particularly following it’s initial reception, I have all three DACs connected to the same amplifier for the start of this. I grouped them all in Roon, set them playing (per above), asked my fiancé to choose an input at random (she wouldn’t know what was connected where), and as luck would have it was the Audio-GD Singularity 19 that was selected.

    This was immediately apparent as it sounds nothing like either Yggdrasil or the Spring DAC.

    You know things are not off to a promising start when, just to get the warm-up started and make sure things are working, you hit “shuffle”, the first song that comes up is “The Very Thought of You” and your immediate reaction is “I didn’t know I had a cover of this in my library.”

    So, you look … and you see it’s actually an original Nat King Cole recording … only here he sounds like a pitchy white boy.

    With an elastic band around his willy.

    Next “Baby I’m a Fool “ (Melody Gardot) comes up …

    Brushes gently caressing brass?

    More like sandpaper harshly caressing my bollocks. Or, at least, the resultant caterwauling … but I imagine the face I pulled to this was about what it would be if I did let someone at my dangly bits with a coarse-grit sander.

    A very nice needle drop of Joni Mitchell’s “California” was next up. You know, I could of sworn she was playing a dulcimer (the Appalachian variation) in this. The S19 makes it sound like a very worn guitar badly in need of new strings and a serious tuning.

    When “Trawlerman’s Song” (Knopfler) starts exhibiting what is best described as sibilance and the overall tone seems to keep shifting … well, it’s clear that, at a minimum, this thing needs to be left to warm up for a while before I do any serious listening. So, I’ll let it sit for a bit, and check back in a few hours from now, and then it can have a couple or three days for warm-up “just in case”, but first impressions are, well:

    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
  13. cizx.6

    cizx.6 Just couldn't stay away...

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    ^^^ my new favorite review of anything.

    Plus we have exactly the same shelf.
     
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  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    @Torq's (and my) impressions have been a bit anti-climatic since @Hands' comprehensive review. Not to mention this is by far the worse measuring DAC I've ever seen from @Hands' and my measurements. Will be interesting to see @atomicbob's measurements. I'd hate people to say that these measurements were "off" because we didn't have an AP or dScope. (This is the noob argument. Measurements like this are difficult, and any issues with them more likely lie with the person doing them or environmental factors).

    I believe someone asked in an earlier post what's the big deal, it's a $300 DAC right? Well nope, this DAC cost, with included some upgrades, cost us near $800 shipped.

    This is the kind of stuff that pisses me off. An external DAC for near $800 that sounds and measures worse than the output of my laptop. After the dust settles, I will seriously consider spending some time editorializing the content of this thread into a single easier to read article. People need to know.
     
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  15. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    @Hands review is pretty much spot-on - and a stunning example of "the art of brevity". Okay, sure, we could argue over the precise tint of the turds involved, or how high they were piled, but we'd still be talking about a pile of shit.

    I listened a bit more at the 8-hour mark (the next stop will be at 24 hours and then we'll hit 96-100). There's perhaps a very slight (i.e. barely detectable) change in sound. I'd hesitate to call it an "improvement", but it didn't get worse ... at best it is a tiny bit less harsh than at power on ... but there was so much harshness on hand to being with that it's a bit like taking a teaspoon's worth of water out of the Pacific and saying "See, the water level dropped?!".

    Tonality is still all over the place - and I mean it literally seems to shift even within the same song. Instrumental separation is very poor which, combined with some significant timbral issues, means it's actually hard to tell similar instruments apart. Yesterday it was making a dulcimer sound like a guitar, in the early hours of this morning it was fucking up the violin family (in fairness, it STILL is). Is that a viola? No, it's a violin! Wait, NO, it's actually a cello!

    After half an hour I'd had all I could take ... and decided to play with different inputs. This was an uncharted frontier for me ... seemingly every time I changed input it seemed to sound worse than the last one. Going from COAX to USB ... sounded worse ... going from USB to TOSLINK, sounded worse again ... and then returning to COAX it still managed to sound worse! I'm sure that last part is just down to listening fatigue (which sets in faster than I've ever experienced ... mere minutes) and I'll have to test in a different fashion, or from fresh, to make any real determination about which input actually sounds the worse (there's no point in seeing which sounds "best").

    It'd still be a major affront to both one's senses and their wallet at $300. I wish I was exaggerating when I said that this thing is horrific. And I wish I was joking in saying that even the $9 lighting-to-3.5mm Apple DAC/amp sounds more coherent and correct than the Audio-GD S19. But I'm not in either case. It really is just that bad.

    It's really hard to know what to make of the S19, and even harder to find suitable ways to convey it. At best, if I was extremely charitable and assumed there was HUGE unit-to-unit variation, then maybe a really good copy of it might approach listenability and could, at a stretch, perhaps be considered as a misguided, failed, attempt to come up with a quick replacement for the 1704. I don't believe that for a moment though. Right now you'd have a VERY hard time convincing me it's not just a half-assed, cynical, sonically unpleasant, me-too attempt at capturing some of the "discrete R2R" hype.

    I'd take a look at those posting high-praise for this abortion over on Head-Fi, make a note of their usernames, and make sure you never take anything they say seriously. They are either a lying, a shill, deaf, or mentally ill. Maybe more than one.
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    My warm-up experience was similar to yours. Some DACs like the Schiit multibits and the Holo are congested and unresolving when cold, but tighten up considerably within hours, and reach their ideal state after a few days (these two DACs also start off cold much better than the S19!) The warm-up process of the S19 only seemed to address the sharpness / sandy treble timbre. I would surmise that another day more might almost fully address this; but there will be no other improvements.

    I too found the S19 to be all over the place. The S19 was rather acceptable with simplistic arrangements of unamplified instruments or parts of songs which were more sparse. However, busy passages, even slightly busy (say any rock or pop song that wasn't a ballad from the last 35 years), resulted in the S19 completely falling apart to a congested state.

    The S19's sound is confusing. At best being merely acceptable, at worst a congested low-fidelity mess.

    I wish I was still on HF so I could post in that thread: "Are you guys nuts? This DAC sounds like shit".

    BTW, my wife made the same face when I switched the Gungnir Multibit out with the S19.

    Kind of curious how A-GD got those measurements of theirs showing much better performance. I am assuming defective design, not defective product. Not feeling the need to expend resources to investigate, but anyone else with an S19 can feel free to send theirs in to one of the measurement guys to validate or invalidate my assumption of bad design. We'll pay for shipping both ways.
     
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  17. landroni

    landroni Friend

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    Like this?

     
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  18. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Assuming no radical change in the next 72 hours (and I'm assuming there'll be nothing of the sort), then I'm likely to do just that! The write-up to go in the "Lay" thread should be interesting (which I don't plan to post to HF ... I consider that version of the thread dead). This steamer deserves thorough treatment - even if only to serve as a warning to others.

    I am too - I don't hear anything that suggests its actually broken in anyway - it just sounds lousy.

    Oh no ... with that you can easily tell it's a clarinet being "played"; with the S19 you'd be a lot less sure ...
     
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  19. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    They can all go on the list, underneath xRELICx, Evolvist and Music Alchemist.. and a few others.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Those guys just are excitable. Even GUTB is harmless.
     

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