Cheap DAC OFF: Topping D30, SDAC, Modi Multibit, JDS EL DAC, iFi Nano BL

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, May 16, 2018.

  1. donunus

    donunus Friend

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    I can slso see where I may like the measure mode more depending on what headphone is being used. As of now, I'm leaving it on GTO
     
  2. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    In most cases I enjoy GTO. Recently one customer sent me his early serial no. HD800 and ifi's latest took some of the edge off, or at least that's how I've heard it and similar thing happened with "vintage" Etymotics some days later.
     
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  3. mykeldg

    mykeldg Rando

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    Hi I currently have the Modi Multibit on loan. Would you care to share your impressions of the Modi Multibit vs d50 after now having lived with both of them for a year? Would you say the modi multibit is still the better sounding dac between the 2? I've seen the d50's measurements and while that is very much enticing, I find the Modi Multibit quite musical. I used to have the d30 and modi 3 but without a direct AB, its quite hard to judge. TIA
     
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  4. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Facebook Friend

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    I also had the Topping D30 back in the day and was very disappointed by it. It somehow sounded flat, unengaging and yet overly harsh at the same time. There was also some kind of grain or glare in the treble I didnt enjoy,

    I wonder how much of this is due to the Cirrus Logic dac chip? I assume Topping used one of their reference designs as that seems to be what they do. I have personally never heard a Cirrus Logic based dac that I thought was any good. They always have grainy, low quality sounding treble to me.

    I know its always said the implementation matters most but I am just curious if there are actually any good Cirrus logic based dacs out there? I have seen them used in some extremely expensive stuff which always puzzles me.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It's 90% the Cirrus Logic chip. It's very well known to sound "boring". It does have good points with sounding airy. Some of the HeadRoom DACs used this chip back in the day, as well as fairly recent entry level Marantz CDPs. The Hilo Lynx is probably still the best implementation of it. The "implementation that matters more than chip" thing is slightly bullshit. The DA circuit is the driver in the car. No matter how good the car is, it's going to be limited by the driver.

    Not making this stuff up. I wrote about a list of chips and their sound characteristics on HF of CS many years ago.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
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  6. mykeldg

    mykeldg Rando

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    I also used to own the d30. This pretty much sums up how I remember it as well.
     
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  7. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Absolute bullshit. The chip is not 90% of the sound nor can the dac be totally defined by the chip. I've owned the topping, spent time with Marantz gear with the cs4398 and have heard the HiLo. The HiLo was nicest, Marantz about the same as lots of mid priced Shiit and topping total shit. I do agree that in many lower end implementations where the designers may have used shitty power supplies, poor usb implementations and poor analog stages that yes, the 4398 can sound pretty poor.

    I use a Prism Lyra as my main dac in my speaker setup. Out of the dozens of dacs that has been through my speaker systems over the years, it is my favorite. Schiit, Metrum, Lavry, vintage R2R and others were not as enjoyable for me. I have also heard the Prism Callia at length in another very good speaker setup. Another excellent dac. YMMV

    Do not get on the simpleton train and call every cs4398 based dac crap, you then stoop to the level of some other poular forum contributors.
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Personally I dislike the cs4398 because I don't really care for its sound, its presentation, it's delivery. And it does have a sound signature that will not be mistaken for other chips, among all the gear I've heard that uses this chip. No amount of building from this chip will change certain aspects of its presentation. That means that I won't use a Hilo (which I would glady recommend for other people if I knew they liked this kind of sound) even if it were given to me for free. The Marantz 6 series CDP I have sounds absolutely dreadful and far worse than Modi 1. Maybe one step above D30, maybe worse. The CDP however serves as a great transport after massloading and pulling power to unnecessary parts.

    But in the context of affordable DACs, I guarantee you the cirrus logic stuff will sound like ass.

    But mainly what I am addressing is that people thinking that a chip is 5% of its sound, and that someone can take a Cirrus DAC chip and get a Convert-2 or X-Sabre Pro sound out of it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
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  9. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    CL chips sound dull and lifeless with a constant taste of metal on everything, but so far I haven't heard a device with it that is in any way irritating.
    Sins of omissions in spades. Perhaps why some might like it.
    Personally I will take cheap dull over cheap resolving that tries to cut my skull open, any day.
     
  10. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    The latest Cirrus chips may not sound this way. Sound Blaster G6 has one of these, though I forget the exact model number, and sounds, hm, maybe more like the Gamma 2.

    I think the DAC IC or otherwise itself matters, but so do the other stages. Input can noticeably change things, output stages can change things.

    I mean, I didn't find Unison vs SPDIF differences particularly subtle on Bifrost 2. It was enough to sway my preferences vs other totally different DACs. I guess I can still say the core of the sound was the same, but that's only part of the picture.

    Then there's how the Gamma 2 sounded wildly different from the Mousai DAC, years ago. I would never have guessed they both had Wolfson in them. Same for the first gen PS Audio...I forget the model, predecessor to DS.

    Been messing around with IV opamps on a few DACs lately, and that's interesting too. Not quite as noticeable as different digital inputs and all that, but important nonetheless. (Ruling out variables like using opamps that aren't really suited for IV duties.)

    I don't buy into the whole notion that it's all about power delivery, or output stage, or parallelism, or clocking, or jitter, or blah blah blah. I think some DAC ICs are just not as good sounding as others, or at least different. But I'm also not going to turn my nose up at a DAC just because I assume how the IC itself might sound.

    Leaving power out of the equation, I estimate it's 45% DAC, 30% digital input stage (including custom, external oversampling, if available), 25% output stage(s), including IV. Any one of those, if done poorly, is enough to fuck shit up.
     
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  11. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I'll agree lots of "manufacturers reference or datasheet" designs with lots of dac chips can sound rather the same. At a time when I had my Matrix dac lots of the ess chipped competition sounded way worse,yet similar. the outliers to my ears were things like the Ayre qb9 after they jettisoned TI for ess and the Resonessence Invicta. Neither of those sounded like run of the mill ess chipped dacs.

    Some dac chips can make a dac character that is hard to differentiate from all the other dacs using the same chip like the AKM 4490. Almost everyone uses the most soft and warm filter offered out of the 5 that can be implemented. The "velvet sound" is the slowest most rolled off warm poo filter out of the bunch, yet that is what a lot of folks use.

    As for hating the sound of a dac chip, I can understand that. I pretty much hate all the first 3 gens of usb implementations on any Schiit dac, but some like it. And this is how we differ I suppose. Are all my 4 dacs in various systems using the same or other CS chip. Nope. None of the others do.

    I guess this is why we have so many dacs to choose from!
     
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  12. Raimei Templar

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    The G6 uses the CS43131 which if i am not mistaken is their newest flagship and highest end chip. Pretty surprising considering how cheap the g6 is. I tried it as well but its hard to judge the CS43131 based on it as I had the creative DSP thing going almost all the time as direct mode was wonky on the one I tried. Ended up returning it due to random noises in right channel, so cant really judge based on that unit. I would say from memory it was better than the D30 though, so maybe CS is improving. I would personally recommend avoiding their older chips for the most part unless its a really well designed unit.

    I never tried the Marantz HD-DAc1 but that uses CS4398 and is supposed to be excellent based on what I have seen. Certianly looks cool! I might have to try it someday just to find out if it is possible for me to like a CS4398 based dac.
     
  13. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Forgive me if I missed this in this thread I couldn’t read it all. But how does the Nano iFi black label compare to the Dragonfly Cobalt? The dragonfly has much superior form factor for portable use.
    But a review of the dragonfly red calling it U shaped scares the shit out of me.

    any new small dac/amps on the market that beat these? No cold lifeless Kevin Gilmore bullshit
     
  14. Elmer Danilovich

    Elmer Danilovich MShenay trying to pretend to be an old man

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    A bit dated now but yea EL Dac's USB is not my favorite... as in I avoid it at pretty much all costs. When I listen to mine I use it with the Schiit Etir and feed COAX in which I find results in a better and more even overall performance. But EL Dac isn't really relevant these days... and iFi iDSD Nano BL is imo a better product overall. Built in amp stage with a similar tonality but FAR superior USB implementation!

    Ok so yea! I really enjoy'd iDSD BL when I had it and I simply did NOT enjoy Dragonfly Cobalt... so maybe I'm bias to how consistent iFi products sound and perform but... I'd avoid DF Cobalt. It measures pretty horridly and I personally had some serious functionality issues with DF Cobalt out of my LG V20.

    Particularly, I got both some clipping in the top end with my HE 4XX on Cobalt as well as a problem with it... defaulting to LINE OUT levels with both Neutron and USB Audio Player Pro... on my V20.

    iFi Nano BL on the other hand worked wonderfully with literally everything I own and sounded more even and resolving to my ears. Tonally Cobalt is super warm and rolled off when it's driving headphones within it's limits, so HD 600 and Grados, Nano BL on the other hand can drive my 4XX nicely.
     
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  15. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Can't comment on the Cobalt, but Ifi's own Hip Dac might be another to consider. Similar footprint but a lot thinner than the Nano, reportedly not quite as warm and smooth.

    Here's jexby on the Hip Dac:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...pt-secret-the-hip-dac.8908/page-4#post-292285

    And a side-by-side with the Nano:

    https://www.audioreviews.org/ifi-hip-dac-review-jk/

    Might depend on what you want to drive - lots of power from the Hip Dac but possible hiss with very sensitive things.
     
  16. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    I believe Cobalt to be horribly overpriced and not in any way a solid improvement to the older Dragonfly Red :/
     
  17. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Yeah I’ll be driving iem’s possibly some CA iem’s so the iFi Nano seems appealing except for the warm signature.

    I’m not sure I want the hassle of a dac/amp I might just stick with my iPod touch but it’s tempting!

    thank you for the tips! Saved me from a dragonfly unit!
     
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  18. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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  19. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    What about stretching to YMOs Sony ZX2?
     
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  20. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    if Bluetooth paring the DAC to a phone/table/computer is a (convenient) need, try the Shanling UP4 2.5mm BAL jack with CA IEMs. less warm than iFi nano / xDSD.

    as a cabled USB DAC to a PC/Mac, the UP4 USB s limited to 16/48 only IIRC.
     

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