How is Chord Dave?

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by mtoc, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

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    I talked to Mark at length at the show. He is a nice guy, knowledgable and helpful. He immediately understood why I asked for the HD650 rather than the Ether Flow to test the Jotun.

    I have bought my Schiit from Sonority Audio (Schiit Europe) as they have a 5 year warranty rather than 3 year Electromod offers. They have been super helpful these past few weeks as both my Rag and Yggdrasil needed repair. Never had any issues with them too.

    Schiit look like they choose wisely their distributors in other parts of the world.
     
  2. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Don't get me wrong, he's often quite helpful- just a little misleading when he describes himself as "Schiit UK", and has occasionally made some rather bullish assertions that would severely test my limited resources of diplomacy if I didn't let them go without engaging too closely with them.

    For all that, I think he generally takes care of you if you buy from him- which is the main thing.

    However, we're getting way off topic- he didn't have a spare Jot up his sleeve so we could make Audiosanctuary's DAVE sound better- that's how we got here. It was a truly underwhelming sound directly driving an HEK V2. A shame, as the HFM "house sound" is a guilty pleasure of mine.
     
  3. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

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    That's interesting , the one time I tried to buy from Sorority they said that they could not sell to me as Mark was the Schiit distributor in the UK.... I guess it worked out for the best as I would rather not have to pay for shipping to the Netherlands in case something goes wrong.
     
  4. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    I have bought directly from Schiit in the states a couple of times, as the items I wanted simply weren't available from Electromod, also. Prior to the brexit-induced currency crash, it was a great deal cheaper, too, even factoring in the more expensive fast FedEx option.

    Still, dammit, the DAVE. "Focus focus focus" :)
     
  5. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Back on DAVE for a moment ...

    At the time I auditioned it, as part of my search for another DAC to go along side Yggdrasil, I thought DAVE was the best DAC I'd heard. My original write-up on it reads a bit more enthusiastically than I'd like, however. For me it just edged out Yggdrasil, and was the first DAC I'd heard capable of doing so. The differences in any area were not, by any means, big - hell, even taken overall we might be talking low-single-digit percentages. But part of the over-enthusiasm I feel is in my original comments comes from having listened to a long-line of supposedly high-end DACs to that point and found pretty much all of them rather wanting.

    Things have changed a bit since those impressions were written and I've since removed DAVE from my short-list of "final" DACs to audition. I'd have to do another proper back-to-back comparison to want to get into specifics, but the couple of times I've heard DAVE since my original multi-day audition, have been a lot less impressive. That's not, specifically, why I pulled it from my list - again I'd want to re-audition it properly, rather than rely on months-old audio-memory and my notes, to re-write that ... but there's stuff that I'd definitely want to revisit that does not strike me the way I remember it doing.

    This is aside from maintaining the position that it's an ugly bastard of a thing, is outrageously overpriced, ergonomically challenged, doesn't sit well in a rack, has unresolved issues with OS X when playing multi-rate DSD, and, in my opinion, really needs an amp to drive much more than something like the HD800S (and even then it's more just making them loud rather than feeling like it has truly authoritative drive). Even at the time I first auditioned it, I preferred an amp with it for my Abyss or LCD-4.

    --

    Now, going further, my impressions of Chord's Mojo for the near-year I've owned it, have also shifted. At the time, and until very recently, I'd have said it was one of the better DACs I've heard, and possibly in contention for being one of the two-best at it's price (and even a couple of levels higher). While it remains the best fully-portable DAC I've heard that doesn't require a laptop, or excessive twatting about, to drive/use it, the rose-colored tint that I'd been viewing, or hearing it, though has waned.

    At this point, I definitely wouldn't recommend it for use as a pure desktop/fixed DAC. If you're not going to take advantage of it's mobile features I'd say pass it by and stick with the Modi Multibit or Bifrost Multibit. And if you do want one, buy it used - they're all over the place.

    I'll wind up formally re-visiting my prior impressions in that trio of combinations sometime soon (too many audio-related projects on the go, including the big AOIP/streamer comparisons, which got extended a bit this weekend with the addition of another unit, and so on). I just mention the shift in my Mojo impressions, since the same thing happened with DAVE (my impressions of Aries remained consistent, as they did with the Direct Stream Junior ... I just got enough time with them to eliminate them).

    Perhaps it' s a "Chord" thing or, more likely, it's a function of refining/improving one's auditioning skills, as one hopes to do with every unit auditioned and every, sensible, additional commentary one gets to compare with.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
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  6. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Hah, NOW YOU TELL ME. I have a Mojo, having been intending to use it mobile and on the desktop, but found it so annoying in the latter use case that I picked up a (much cheaper) Modi Multibit. I still enjoy using the Mojo as a mobile/travel unit with IEMs, as it leaves the output of my phone for dead- but on the desktop? Modi Multibit almost every time.
     
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  7. EVOLVIST

    EVOLVIST Rob Watt's Fluffer

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    Well, the measurements are out there for the DAVE. They aren't all that difficult to find, but I'm not sure you're going to get the folks at Berkeley, MSB, dCS and TotalDAC to verify, or even comment, so a pure peer review is out of the question. I don't think the amount of taps, and the talk of measurable noise floor modulation (or the lack thereof) is any sort of hokum, and I'm not saying that because I own a DAVE. It's very evident why it's a turn off to a number of ears because it gives as close as you can get to the unvarnished truth in any given recording to date. In that sense, it is an unmusical DAC, yes? On the other hand, though, it's extremely musical DAC given the right music...or let me put it another way, the listener has to take the good with the bad. I can be moved by a poor recording, within certain limits, just as I can be moved by something that was recorded very well, again, within limits. A lot of people go into the DAVE thinking that everything is going to move them. Well, it might if said person is open to hearing the flubs, missed notes, tape hiss, etc., without dismissing the recording altogether when it sounds different than they are used to.

    Now, I'm not saying any of this in the defense of the DAVE. After all, I don't care who owns one, and I have no stock in the company, nor have I ever met anyone from Chord. I say it from experience. I also say it because once you've spent some real time with the DAVE, as opposed to a few hours listening to your grandmother's, it begins to reveal itself as exactly what Rob says it is. Outside of a DAC chip, Chord's technology makes the most sense to me, i.e. Let's get back to the original signal before the ADC chopped it up, and this a way it can be done. Nobody else is even trying for that goal.
     
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  8. landroni

    landroni Friend

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    Well... I know of at least one folk from Schiit who will unceremoniously disagree with the above...
     
  9. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    Now I know why you didn't post on HF about this. It would have gotten you banned. (And made that one guy on your Yggdrasil thread cry like a baby.)
     
  10. Madaboutaudio

    Madaboutaudio Friend

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    Is Rob Watts trying to do some kind of Error Correction/Signal Processing after the ADC's LSB errors and Microphone distortion?


    lsb error:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog-to-digital_converter

    See part on Correction of distortion:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distortion

    How does Chord know what is the varying types of ADC or Microphone(& Cable) that was used to record the very music source that is being played at the moment. As in each type of ADC/Microphone has it's own unqiue LSB/Added Distortion error in output. How does DAVE determine how much LSB compensation to apply? Is it -0.7 or +0.5 or +1.4???

    I feel like that's trying to apply photoshop sharpening or unsharpening effects after the photograph has been taken or scanned from a film photo. It may make things look better or worse. It reminds me of what BBE sound tried to do here: http://www.bbesound.com/reviews/ResidentialSystems/

    Frankly these types of signal processing either works brilliantly or fuck things up pretty badly depending on the music and the playback chain. I feel that that's something a DAC should not be doing since it does not really know what the downstream audio system is or the methodology of how digital music input to the dac had been recorded by what kind of signal chain.

    IMHO, a dac should technically just do it's specific job of accurately converting binary numbers into accurate output and not play god.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
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  11. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Hah, when I suggested that the Mojo overheating in use could be a downside, the Chord chorus almost lost its mind. When I suggested that better DACs existed for the price, that xRELICx guy started banging on about how it was "many times more powerful" than competitors, and validated its quality on the basis of his "many years of experience as an audiophile".

    God only knows what sort of modageddon would be unleashed if you re-asserted that DAVE isn't the best thing since sliced bread, as the Chord chorus butthurt seems to scale with price.

    I mean, it's ugly, weird and the amp seems crappy, but it sounds OK as a DAC.. but not £8000 good. If someone were to buy me one, I'd use it (with an amp) until a suitable Yggdrasil dropped into my lap- don't get me wrong. However, I think you can get a lot more DAC and amp for the price, if you're sensible.

    I suspect that a lot of owners get rather defensive about their choices when buying into something like that, because a bit of them suspect that they've been had, and they don't like to admit it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
  12. Hekeli

    Hekeli Almost "Made"

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    Isn't the point of DAVE that there is no amp? It's pretty much direct from DAC. Either one finds that advantageous for most pure sound, or craves something more euphonic whatever that is.

    It could be that Romaz is simply a planted shill, but he certainly seems a lot more experienced, intelligent and articulate than most around. And he cracked the Innerfidelity blind test too? Your comment is pretty stupid to me. Personally I never feel that I've been "had", and I don't think people buy a £8000 DAC simply because someone is talking out of their ass on forums.
     
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  13. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

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    Listening to Chord Dave driving headphones directly was a no go to me. Too anaemic sounding with HE1000 V2.

    After listening to Chord Mojo several times I note a sound similar in character to Dave - smooth sounding without the bite I am used to with R2R.

    I would not want to trade my Yggdrasil with a Dave from what I have heard. More listens via my Rag connected to Dave might change my point of view though.
     
  14. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    No:

    According to Chord:

    "DAVE is a highly advanced reference-grade DAC, digital preamp and headphone amplifier."

    Before ranting and calling people names, you might try becoming at least minimally informed.
     
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  15. Hekeli

    Hekeli Almost "Made"

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    I suggest you maybe dig into head-fi dave thread to know how the apparatus actually works. The analog path is intentionally pure with only a single opamp in the whole chain. It has no "headphone amp" per se. Just direct output from the DAC for 6 volts maximum.

    There's no ranting or name calling in saying that your comment is stupid, as that's what it is, basic "boohoo they've been had and they know it" anti-audiophoolery. Btw I wasn't referring to you talking from your ass, but generally on the stuff that goes on in forums. Personally I trust no one except my own hearing.
     
  16. landroni

    landroni Friend

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    (Almost) all DACs have an analogue gain stage, even if minimal. With an opamp in its midst, how pure is the analogue path anyway? Isn't the opamp like, err, an amp?
     
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  17. Hekeli

    Hekeli Almost "Made"

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    Hey it's actually some discrete stuff according to Rob.. but I could be talking out of my ass. ;)

    (Again, if someone is actually interested in the inner workings, there's plenty of details on head-fi on the pulse array stuff etc. Just look for Rob's posts.. I find all that stuff very interesting and making sense. I think the measurements prove the effort behind it too. Of course it could sound like ass, but I doubt I'll have a chance to hear it. Than again I wouldn't go claiming it sounds ass if I had only a few minutes with it on some random headphone with random music in a meet.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
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  18. EVOLVIST

    EVOLVIST Rob Watt's Fluffer

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    The approaches are vastly different. Schiit makes a helluva product, but they really haven't implemented anything new, except for in advertising. That is, what is Schiit doing that TotalDac isn't doing better, or Metrum with their R2R DACs? Take a little here, give a little there, but it's the same technology going back 20+ years. Maybe not now, but eventually, manufacturers will hit a brick wall with R2R implementation, just as the off-the-shelf DAC chips have already hit a wall, yet people still buy into them because of affordability...just as I suspect that the affordability of the pulse array, FPGA DACs will one day level out. That's the way technology rolls.

    I had to read this a few times, but I believe I know what you're saying now, and I can pretty confidently say that no, that is not what Rob is trying to do, primarily because the music we listen to is already in a mixed and mastered format, not single instruments. Even if it was single instruments, the object is to fully translate the data that's in the format. There's no amount of technology that will error correct what's inherent to the CD. We could go back to the multitrack tapes, sure, and covert them to digital better (see Chord's upcoming explorations into ADCs, i.e. "Davina."), but even then, microphonics, or a poor room, or whatever, will still always be there.

    Whether Rob is right or wrong, I don't know. I think the folks at Chord will still admit that it's very much a work in progress (well, maybe John Franks wouldn't tell you that, but Rob sure would).

    I do think what Chord is on the way to proving (at least with the measurable that we have so far) that getting an accurate reproduction of sound, even 16bit. is way more involved than merely "converting binary numbers."
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    OK, you aren't making any sense. How does the technology in DAVE go back to the ADC and before? And how does Robb Watts have a monopoly on this concept? I'm pretty sure Sony and Philips were on to this way before Chord.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
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  20. EVOLVIST

    EVOLVIST Rob Watt's Fluffer

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    Well, the method employed by Chord makes the most sense to me from a technological standpoint, but the fundamental principle of getting back to the original signal, yes, is not something new at all.

    You know, I know, we all know that there are literally thousands DAC implementations. Some are cookie cutter, off-the-shelf designs, trying to make a quick buck, yet most DAC manufacturers are really trying, mostly with good results. Some, like some recent ventures from AMR/iFi are even taking cues from much older designs in their topology.

    But like I said above, the only thing that separates Chord, right now at least, is the point that their technology hasn't the limits of R2R or basic delta-sigma with their inherent problems, like distortion and/or noise floor modulation. That is, typical DAC implementation, as I stated above, is pretty close to the brickwall about now. See TotalDac, arguably the best R2R implementation in the planet. Not so with the technology from Chord. They just need bigger internal computers (to simplify the answer).

    That's all I'm saying. Chord isn't the only cult I belong to, should I come off as too fanboyish. I'm also a big fan of Metrum and AMR. But each to their own purpose. Having spent enough time with Yggdrasil, DAVE, AMR and MSB, I can very much say that I prefer the DAVE over them all, though. There's just a certain chill factor that my body gets when the distance between the microphone and the cathedral organ is almost palpable. Or even with Metallica's "Battery," I could tell that with the layered guitars that some guitars were mic'ed close and some a little further, which gave a totally new experience from Mozart to Metallica.
     
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