Dangerous Music Convert-2 DAC Review - Stream of Consciousness

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
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    Agreed. What sounds like "good staging" wearing headphones ≠ what sounds high fidelity with on-axis speakers in an equilateral triangle in a good room. "Headstage depth" might really be blobby distant band 50 feet away trash while wide open beyond your head could be diffuse garbage. To preempt all audiofool whining: No recording worth listening to extensively is mixed binaurally for headphones anyway. Those that are are gimmicky cash grabs like those 5.1 home theater remixes of classic rock.
     
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  2. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Afraid someone will shit on his opinions

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    Oh the tease ><. I hope it beats the Yggdrasil out on homeground! Specifically in blackground and nonforward staging and less mushy transients. Sounds like the perfect dac for me if it manages to fix those aspects while keeping up in other areas.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    BACKGROUND - SPEAKER TEST

    My speakers are Oris horns using Lowther DX-3s and mated on the bottom with Eminence Beta 15s. The Lowthers do some things very well. They have big magnets, are super efficient, and quite resolving. That's about it. I hate everything else about them. The paper cones are not molded paper cones, but cutouts where the edges are folded upon themselves to form a cone. The ghetto DIY folded paper dodecahedron phase plug covers only suits these cheesy horribly constructed drivers. The tolerances and alignments of the voice coil, etc. are typical old fashioned British (think Jaguar of the 90s where every part slowly fell off the car). The Lowther is the anti-Voxativ. However, I was able to get these drivers to work. The DIY folded paper dodecahedron phase plug helps dispersion (off-axis response) while taming (but not eliminating) some nasty +168db narrow peaks in the highs. One day I will buy Voxativ. Actually, at the prices they are asking, I won't. I'd rather get pro-audio Beryllium compression drivers, the more resolving 16-ohm versions, and attach them to an Altec 511B horn. And have two years left of gas money for my car which gets 15.3 mpg, even when I am trying to be light on the pedal.

    IMG_20181027_115417.jpg

    The flea powered 2 x 45 tube per channel SET amp feeds the Oris / Lowther horns. The output from the amp goes into a partially broken Behringer DCX2496 (should have been replaced with something better a long time ago), which performs crossover duties and in turn feeds the inputs of a Vidar power amp and subwoofer plate amp. A cheap Hsu STU series subwoofer is used for the region between 25-48Hz with a steep 48db / octave slope. This was the only way to get the performance that I wanted. The STU series seems to work better for music than the more expensive HT models, which are boomy. I need to get off my ass and finish a subwoofer with the Focal 15" subwoofer driver that is sitting in my garage. My main concern is that the box for this sub needs to be huge for it to sound good. Finally, the Vidar feeds 15" Eminence Betas monuted on 2' x 2' open baffle. The Eminence Alphas have more suitable Qts for OB duties, but at 1.5 Qts, they sound too uncontrolled for my tastes. The special edition Eminence from PAP may be ideal, but ultimately, I stuck with the 0.5 Qts Betas. The upside is better control and tighter bass (and efficiency). The downside is a need for a sub.

    Here is an RTA 1/6 octave at the listening position. There are two dips at 1.1kHz and 3.3kHz. These are horn "artifacts". Move the microphone a little bit, and the locations of the dips change. I don't fully understand it, but I've seen them before while measuring JBL CD horns.

    ORIS+OB FR 1-3.png

    There are no nasty dips in the bass. Going OB / open baffle greatly helps with lessening the effects of the room. There are two peaks in the highs, one at 7kHz and 9kHz. Nothing I can do about this. The Fostex supertweeters are not efficient enough to keep up with the horns. I will need an upgrade here because I do not want to pad the horns down. The horns are probably about 115db / W efficient.

    The design priorities were efficiency, lack of compression, resolution, fast transients, moderately high SPL capability, and low distortion. This isn't a pretty tower speaker with a column of small woofers visibly moving in and out - making absolutely no sound at 44Hz, but a shitload of distortion at 88Hz and 132Hz instead*. Those speakers are for girly-men and only require girly-men sources.

    * Seriously, I've seen this crap at audio shows. They weren't even playing that loud.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I will answer this directly because not much elaboration is required. It does all that. Now I will elaborate.

    On blackground / greyness: While the Analog 2 improved this aspect, it's still there. I remember reading on HF one guy adamantly defending the Yggdrasil against others' claims of "greyness" (it's funny how many people read stuff here and re-used the vocabulary there). His explanation was that the "greyness" was a result of Yggdrasil's resolving nature. The little microdetails, the low-level information, the "plankton" that got lost with other DACs, were now being faithfully reproduced, and thus gave the impression that Yggdrasil's sound canvas wasn't fully black. The next few posts turned into a minor shit show. Personally, I think that guy was maybe 30% right. There is merit to this argument. For example, an inverse case: the Holo DAC's inky black background is partly because it can't do microdynamics and microdetail all that well. Getting back to what I wanted to assert: the Yggdrasil's background is grey (or a darker shade of grey with Analog 2), no matter how we cut it.

    Schiit is overdue for an analog output stage overhaul. The recent analog board upgrades were evolutionary, not revolutionary. Part of the reason is that they are limited by the D to A chips that they use. They are voltage output only, which means the I-V conversion is inside the chip, and they have no control over the design elements of that. Also, the voltage output from the chips is kind of high, so that puts constraints on the design. What Schiit really needs to make their own mechanism for D to A conversion since they like to take the off beaten path.

    On transients: This is going to be one of personal taste. Here's my take on it. Speedy and clean lines are desirable, but only if they do not cause massive overshoot and ringing. There are two grouped aspects (I'm talking experienced phenomena here, not measurements): acceleration / velocity and braking / transition. No piece of audio gear that I have heard properly renders the acceleration / velocity aspect of real-life sounds - and ones that get close exhibited the horrible side effects of bad braking / transitions (the car ran off the track). Let me get to the point: the Convert-2's lines are extremely fast, the fastest I've heard (comparable to good MC carts), and this is done with normal transients without excess overshooting, ringing, etc. The Yggdrasil was no slouch in this area, in truth better than many other DACs near its price point, but it is soundly beaten here by the Convert-2. The Convert-2 imparts a better sense of realism because of its transients (and a few others things too which I have not yet mentioned). However much I hate to say this, the Convert-2 does Moffat bass better than the Yggdrasil Analog 2.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
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  5. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    Many of the impressions of the Convert 2 mirror what I've heard from the Theta Gen V.

    I wonder how they compare. I always thought the Gen V was one of the more robust and dynamic of the R2Rs I've heard.
     
  6. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    Cool to see this bit of gear getting some positive feedback. My friend has one in his studio along with a Benchmark DAC2 and I always thought the Convert 2 was the better of the pair. I never owned one but have used their compressor quite a bit and it is a good bit of gear as well.

    They just seem to make well designed gear that sounds good. Job done.
     
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  7. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Afraid someone will shit on his opinions

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    Thx! @purr1n Looks like my Yggdrasil will be up for sale soon haha. Was looking for exactly what you described. Yggdrasil with its greyness always felt slightly muffled somehow. Also made it feel a bit subdued at top with stronger bass. @cskippy mentioned this, and I feel the same way. The greyness brings the detail forward but also feels like it reduces the dynamics a bit...making it feel slightly muffled, but loud.
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The Theta Gen V that I had for while sounded thick. It was dynamic in the bass because of its bass emphasis, but OG Yggdrasil was more dynamic from the mids and highs. Gen V was also slightly veiled again Yggdrasil, but yet a the same time having a less grey background. The analog stage of the Gen V was pretty kick ass. The PCM63 chips weren't all that resolving, but using four of them helped.

    It's hard to say, there were variants of the Gen V, incremental improvements, some with Teflon PCBs that sounded better but impossible to repair.
     
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  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    On the greyness and slightly muffled sound: using the balanced outputs greatly mitigates this on the Yggdrasil. It's better, but Convert-2 still wins.
     
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  10. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Are we talking about the AK4490 they use? Because I just finished reading the datasheet for one of the R2R chips(AD5547) and it's definitely a current output requiring an external I-V stage.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    SOUNDSTAGE

    This is where there will be differences from headphone listeners, but allow me to explain. It all makes sense. I went through a lot of tracks to figure this out because stereo effects and sound engineer intent vary so much from recording to recording.

    With Yggdrasil Analog 2, I am sitting between row 1 and row 5. The stage is rectangular. The stage is perceived as having depth - we are up close after all. Performers and instruments can be localized on the stage in terms of front to back and left to right.

    On the Convert-2, I am sitting around row 15*. The stage is U-shaped with the sides coming in closer to the listener than the center. Also, the stereo separation seems greater - that is instruments which are off-center are pushed wider to the side than on the Yggdrasil. The center image is not as stable. Localization of instruments is not as pinpoint as that of the Yggdrasil.

    For this contest, Yggdrasil wins, although the farther stage placement and peculiarities of the Convert-2 might suit headphones more. Again, I personally didn't give a crap either way during my evaluation yesterday using headphones. Hopefully, people who can make sense of or translate these speakers soundstage impressions to headphone headstage.

    * As an aside and for reference: row 25 for the AGD Master 7 using i2s from the OR5, but stage depth was 2D flat as a wall. Maybe row 30 for the SFD-1, depending upon tube.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
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  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    AD5791. They don't use a chip designed for audio. It's a medical / aerospace chip. You know, to move fins on missiles.
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The first question you need to ask is how do you feel about the higher-line Schiit DACs? These Schiit DACs don't sound at all like the classic R2R or discrete chips. They sound like something in between the old R2R DACs and modern sigma-delta DACs. Now throw this into the equation: the Convert-2 doesn't sound like the old sigma-delta DACs with that nasty rasp, last octave "sssssss", deadly stridency, hardass glare, or Michael Bay's Megatron voice processing.

    If the answer is already no to the Yggdrasil or Gungnir because they are too incisive or not relaxed enough, then, by all means, avoid the Convert-2. The Convert-2 does get exhausting after a few hours (I am about to take a break because of this). Now for those who have the Yggdrasil and are wondering about the Convert-2: the Yggdrasil, I can listen to hours and hours without getting tired. The Convert-2 is almost an assault on the senses. It's intense. A lot may depend upon the kind of listener that you are. Do you casually listen to stuff throughout the day or do you visit your temple of sound for a few hours with concentrated intent? There is absolutely nothing wrong with preferring a more easygoing sound.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
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  14. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    What do you know. I thought they were all current output chips at this level.
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I was thinking HF, Jude, and that Chesky Binaural compilation album. If any of you guys are wondering, don't buy that Chesky. It's garbage.

    There are only a handful of decent binaural albums, and even then... (dated info): https://www.head-fi.org/threads/awesome-binaural-albums.511850/
     
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  16. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    This sounds exactly as the impressions from the gearslutz thread.
     
  17. PTS

    PTS Friend

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    Great review so far. As a former Convert-2 owner, I now feel it should've been given more of a chance. At the time I didn't hear a big difference between it and the Source in a back-to-back comparison, but that was possibly due to using a pre-lawsuit Odyssey Stratos, which I'd lump firmly within the mid-fi camp. I'd like to revisit The Convert-2 now that I have this insanely good Balanced Audio Technology VK-3000SE integrated amp.

    Very much looking forward to the Convert-2 / Crane Song Solaris shootout.
     
  18. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Non Voting Friend

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
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    Yeah I was thinking of the covers one and the "ultimate headphone test" disc. They're so bad. There's also that one headfier who uses a female jazz chanteuse trying to cover Led Zeppelin as "Actual Led Zeppelin is so compressed." as if LZ was about the guy who couldn't really sing trying to sing
     
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  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    LOL. Is what I hear true? That people are already selling their Yggdrasil Analog 2 DACs or asking for a trade with Convert-2?

    I'm not quite done yet. Need to listen to classical too, and then write down thoughts on plankton, microdynamics, and presentation related to these aspects. These elements are huge.
     
  20. SoupRKnowva

    SoupRKnowva Official SBAF South Korean Ambassador - Friend

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    Choo choo! All aboard the new hype train!
     

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