Help pick a dac - Matrix XSP, Prism Lyra or Yggdrasil A1

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by mokobigbro, Sep 3, 2020.

?

Which dac would be best categorized as monitoring dac?

  1. Matrix XSP (non mqa)

    2 vote(s)
    8.7%
  2. Prism Lyra 1

    1 vote(s)
    4.3%
  3. Schiit Yggdrasil A1

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Better speakers

    20 vote(s)
    87.0%
  1. mokobigbro

    mokobigbro Acquaintance

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    Hi Friends,

    I think I've outgrown my Forssell Dac for monitoring purpose.

    I found that I tend to cut too much low mid from it (too warm).

    I want a cleaner, more transparent dac.

    I picked those 3 above since they are available used in my area.

    I mix and master mostly on headphones. I use Neumann NDH20 for mixing and Audeze LCD4 for mastering.

    Which out of these 3 would you consider a monitoring dac (linear, transparent, revealing)?

    Thank you in advance for your advices.
     
  2. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Dude. Buy better speakers. Headphones suck. They especially suck for what you want to do. Buy three way speakers and treat your room. There are only a handful of two ways speakers I would recommend for mastering and all but one needs a sub. And they will all destroy contemporary recordings and mixes. Your dac isn’t your issue. To talk about transparency when your own speakers and headphones are super far from transparent is ridiculous.
     
  3. PTS

    PTS Friend

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    Agree with the above statement, plus aside from maybe the Prism, the dacs you listed wouldn't be considered suitable for a mixing and mastering environment. If you feel you really have to upgrade your dac, it's probably a good idea to go for studio approved brands such as Crane Song, Burl, RME, Dangerous, Lynx, etc.
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Better speakers option added.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    This "studio approved brand" stuff makes no sense because most of the stuff on that approved list sound wildly different from each other, like four corners of the earth different. And the OP's existing DAC is already a Forssell. Also, I know of at least an Yggdrasil A1 being used in the biz. And I've never ever seen a Prizm Lyra or Callia or X-Sabre on a rack.

    Don't be swayed by hitmanfluffy's reference DAC bullshit. All these DACs sound different yet these differences are so incredibly minor compared to the amp and speakers.

    I wouldn't master with an LCD4. Would rather opt for cheap JBL monitors and xover high with two "subs". Heck, HD600 with worn pads even.

    Most mixing in M&E is done via Avid / Digidesign stuff for D to A. Gets the job done despite it being not very good sounding compared to any of the above DACs from an audiophile POV.

    If Forrsell is too warm, I recommend Topping D70.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
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  6. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    There's a local audio engineer that I chat with sometimes, and he uses the Senn HD650 for work when not on speakers. He says if he ever upgrades, it will be either the LCD-X or LCD-4 based on all the experts and reviews he's read (I have no idea who he reads though). I dunno, I don't work in the field but I dabble enough and I would never use the LCD-X for mastering. The LCD-4 maybe... but for that kind of money I'd get some slick monitors, room treatment, a new desk, groceries for the month, and still have enough leftover to get an LCD-2 which frankly gets me most of the way there.

    I've owned the Forssell (MDAC-2a) and still have my Lyra. I kept the Lyra because I needed an ADC. I'm not sure if I would have kept a MADA-2 simply due to the cost. I would give the Forssell the edge in staging and depth. You can criticize the Forssell for being warm, I can criticize the Lyra for being airy. Frankly we're all picking nits at this point and when you consider where your dollars are going, is the dac really the weakest link?

    What system are you listening on to determine that your mixes are too lean? I would think that's a pretty good reference point there if you notice right away. Can you solidly quantify this difference? Have you tried applying a compensation to your work to offset this difference? Can you afford to have two dacs at the same time to evaluate your work on multiple chains?
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
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  7. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Among 3-way speakers that don’t require a sub, which ones might be a good place to start? Now that I finally bought my own house I’m seriously considering going into 2-channel territory. I know stuff like vintage JBL and PAP Trio 15 are well received here, but I would like something that is not OOP or DIY.
     
  8. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Some sense of phase coherency is super important. Phase coherency and no metal drivers or low headroom bullshit. I am unimpressed by all the line array tower shit. Most of it is subjectively bleh. You can master on it but will you enjoy doing so?

    Bass extension mostly depends on placement. Most third party subs are crap and don’t mate timbre or phase wise at all to the woofer.

    All of these are far above the op’s pay grade. He wants to master on headphones and thinks a forsell isn’t good enough. Smh.

    The current avid HDX converters are rebranded DAD. Quite good.

    you can pretty much master on anything that’s not entry level or 1 note bass colored bullshit. Even a topping or rme is fine to slam shit and fix the low end on.

    now if you’re ultra precise tweaking and not slamming shit into any of the handful of great digital limiters or mastering stems and can’t slam it, you might want something with proper timbre and dynamics. Pretty much anything again can work but a dead inside RME or Topping or something very colored and hifi might have issues. Any of the decent multichannel converters (MOTU, Apogee, Lynx, UAD, Focusrite Rednet, SPL, DAD) can work. Then again lots of classical music is done all RME with Octamics. They can’t hear the distortion. Better classical is done with better stuff.

    If your analog mastering, the converter just has to sound good. I’d break out Lavry/Burl/Prism/Dangerous/awesome sauce makes it sound better Schiit because it has to sound awesome and enough idiots have to pay out the ass for all of the cool overpriced toys so it better sound awesome. “Mastering grade” EQs with TL072s
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
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  9. mokobigbro

    mokobigbro Acquaintance

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    Hi friends,

    I will reply to the questions separately in another post.

    Thank you for the advices. I realize I need to give some background info on the journey to my discovery.

    About 5 years ago, I started mixing at home (the studio is a shared space and used more for recording nowadays.). I used to own a 3 room studios with a mastering studio using analog gears.

    I've moved away from all those and really liking the results I get working 90% with headphones now. That is also when I realize I hear so much more in my monitoring chain; how i've been tricked by avid io's dac (sounding really good but way off in terms of translation).

    I do have a studio with speakers (ATC SCM50asl with subs, ns10, barefoot mm27 & neumann kh120).

    I started trying many headphones, amps, and dac in my apartment (i tried different speakers too). Upgrading speakers is definitely not an option since there is too much noise (road noise, outdoor a/c noise beside my working area, kitchen fan). I realise that when I turned everything off, the clarity I hear is insane but it is just impossible to only work after midnight.

    I'm really open to trying any dac brands but those 3 are what is available on the used market in my region after I filter the selections.
     
  10. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    I'd go for the Prism if you want to swing it. Sounds the coolest imo and has detail. Yggdrasil 1 was cool but the staging is compact. I don't like the Yggdrasil 2. Lynx Hilo and Aurora N are the flattest cleanest things I've heard that still sound good.
     
  11. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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  12. mokobigbro

    mokobigbro Acquaintance

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    My point of reference has been your review of Dangerous Convert, Solaris in comparison to the Matrix XSP and yggdrasil. That gave me the boldness to try "non reference" stuff.

    In terms of linearity, which unit would you have picked? Matrix XSP, yggdrasil or Lyra?

    That's why I'm really curious on the yggdrasil after reading your post and it sits on top of everything else.

    I have a questyle cma400 given to me by a friend. I now use it as a usb transport (Forssell doesn't have a USB input). Topping somehow after reading a few reviews, sound like that.


    @Armaegis I read your comparison review and it is very helpful. It made me consider the prism lyra. We have an old prism orpheus and I really like it. Except for the fact that it is firewire400.

    As for the LCD4, I used to despise it when I tried it at the headphone store. I guess the synergy was not what I was looking for. I tried it at home in my setup and I found that it sounded closest to the ATC. I previously use HD800s and HD820.

    As for the system that I listen to that determine my mix is too lean?
    I was listening in my studio with ATC and Bricasti and after comparing with major releases and mine, I find that I've scooped the low mids area too often. I see that as a trend/habit due to what I hear made me commit to that action. A few clients during revision have asked me to add some 'body' to the masters, or add a bit of 'warmth'. This has happened in the past 1 year. I see that it is all correlated. A good engineer would compensate that somehow and move on. I've done this and psychologically, I second guessed my decision most of the time now rather than being confident with what I hear.

    I can probably use both forssell and a new dac so that I can evaluate on the multiple chains. I think I'll definitely do that in the beginning but eventually, I'll pick one.
     
  13. mokobigbro

    mokobigbro Acquaintance

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    Can we have this option removed please.
    Better speakers should not be an option since the poll is about picking a dac. I tried removing it but it's not possible.
     
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  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    If that’s the situation with the Forssell and you and your customers want your end mixes and masters to have more body And warmth, I’d go Crane Song Solaris or Topping D70/90 if you want to be cheap. These leaner DACs will compliment your existing monitors and headphones.

    But really, it seems the main issue is likely to be the LCD4. Just EQ it to be more neutral.

    Really, the poll is dumb. Your are inviting every random idiot to vote and giving them equal weight.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
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  15. mokobigbro

    mokobigbro Acquaintance

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    Solaris is on the top of my choice. Just not willing to fork out the cash for a new unit for now.
    I'll try eq'ing the LCD4. For now, I'm trying their Reveal plugin eq.

    One thing I haven't done and now to think of it, I should just EQ my monitoring path.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2020
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  16. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    I was just going to suggest EQ like SonarWorks or just manual compensation to even out your mixes.
     
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  17. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf Prohibited from acting as an MOT until year 2050

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    Get Reference 4, use it on all your stuff but the ns10's. If it doesn't do the trick, send it back for a full refund.
     
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