Marvey's DAC Chart of Awesomeness

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by The Alchemist, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. Trinity

    Trinity Rando

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    I didn't see that anywhere, but surely, don't call me Shirley, it rates a spot on the list... if not, I think the list is, how would I say it... I am new, so I will be gentle and call bullshit! :) I am mostly kidding as I know both Marvey and Torqs' opinions are both well respected and not biased. I have heard a few nice stacks and not including the Spring, IMHO is remiss.

    Trin
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  2. sfoclt

    sfoclt Friend

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    The thread and chart are no longer being updated so newer products aren't being added. See the first post.
     
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  3. Trinity

    Trinity Rando

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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I wouldn't say I didn't like it. I preferred some aspects (blackness and sweetness) of it over Gungnir Multibit, but preferred Gungnir Multibit overall. Part of this is the OS vs NOS sound. I am the opposite of @Hands and prefer OS DACs. It will all be moot give another two, three, maybe six months anyway.
     
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  5. jowls

    jowls Never shitposts (please) - Friend

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    [​IMG]
     
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  6. landroni

    landroni Friend

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  7. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    Oh no, is this another teaser?! Please elaborate if possible.
     
  8. SSL

    SSL Friend

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    Please don't. I value every month of peace from mouth-foaming speculation and upgradeitis.
     
  9. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    Perfectwave DAC MK1->MK2

    [​IMG]

    Note: Not my image, just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. Also note, I'm not that experienced with DAC's. I've owned a small amount and heard quite a few, but I'm just a guy that likes music and headphones, I'm not an expert by any means. Take my opinions with a grain of salt :)

    I thought I would post some impressions of my PWD, which I think might be relevant as if you can get a decent deal on it, as I did, I think it might be a good contender for a desktop DAC in the $1300USD price range. I've chosen to post this in this thread, as it is an older DAC now (and is a member of the original post,) and probably not relevant in the "Life of Yggdrasil" thread. Its older brother, the Directstream, might be more relevant there.

    For reference, the DAC's I have owned are:

    -Resonessence Labs Concero HD
    -LH Labs GOV2 ->GO2A
    -Chord Mojo
    -iFi Micro iDSD BL
    -Aqua Acoustic La Voce S2

    I spent just over a year searching for a desktop DAC that I thought works well with my set up. My main amp is a Wells Audio Headtrip, which is not well received around here. All of my listening with the PWD was done with the Headtrip, so my impressions are constant.

    I knew I didn't want a Sabre based DAC. I felt I had owned two fairly good representations of the "classic Sabre sound" in the Concero HD from Resonessence Labs, and the GO2A from LH Labs. Its not that I don't like the Sabre sound, I think it is a great baseline to judge other DAC implementations from, but I wanted something different, a change. I didn't care if it was multi-bit, R2R, NOS etc...I just wanted a DAC that I felt worked in my system and I enjoyed listening to.

    My PWD came as a MK1, with the upgrade kit to MK2. After quite a bit of fiddling to get the top of the DAC off (it was a bugger to be honest) an hour later I had the PWD working in MK2 configuration. The biggest thing to note is the MK2 implements what PS Audio call the "Digital Lense" and the "NativeX" setting. These two comprise of technical speak I don't fully understand, so I should just say

    The MK2 sounds better.

    The MK1 was, I have to be honest, wholly unremarkable. It produced sound. Thats it. I didn't have any "wow" moments, and I didn't notice anything in particular about it. It sat in my system and played music, but I didn't notice it doing anything that I enjoyed over other DAC's I have heard. The MK2, with its "NativeX" and "Digital Lense" changed this.

    I noticed three things immediately about the MK2. The Treble seemed to sparkle more than most other DAC's I have heard, yet it wasn't harsh or overbearing. It extended well, and produced an impressive amount of detail. The leading edge of notes seemed to be fast and hard, if that makes sense. They have good impact and a sense of purpose. This works especially well with percussive elements of music, something I listen to closely as a drummer. The Treble is not rolled off, as I found it was a bit in the Aqua La Voce S2. Piano strikes struck hard, and the treble in general had great dynamics.

    The mids of the PWD MK2 are not overly warm. This works well with the Headtrip, which is a warmer amp. I think the Schiit Gungnir Multibit that I spent a good amount of time with was a warmer DAC, which is what I wanted to avoid, given the warm nature of the Headtrip, and the LCD-4 being one of my headphones of choice. I like warmth, but when it gets a bit overly sweet and gooey, and you start to sacrifice detail, thats where I draw the line. With all that being said, the MK2 is not a cold and clinical DAC, like I found the Mytek Brooklyn to be. Perhaps "Analog" sounding is a good way to describe it.

    Bass. The bass of the PWD MK2 is not that large in quantity compared to some other DAC's. It hits fairly well, and again, is quite percussive, but there isn't a whole lot of it. This suits me, as the LCD-4 and Abyss Phi, my main headphones, are both bass heavy cans. I Love Bass. I don't find the somewhat leaner nature of the MK2 to be a problem in my set up, due to the Headtrip and my headphones of choice. If I get in an excessively bass-y mood, I can always put on a bit of EQ and have my own personal rave in my bedroom. No problem.

    Macro dynamics, and micro dynamics, are both good. I think I'm using those terms correctly, but I might not be, so again, take my opinions with a grain of salt. This is a fairly hard hitting DAC, its not weak and lacking in terms of Dynamics.

    Now. Is it as detailed as a "classic" Sabre implementation. I think so. However, it is more akin to my Micro iDSD BL, than it is to either of the Sabre DAC's I have owned.

    Build quality wise, it is a bit of a tank. Its heavy, and seems to be well built. I'm not an electrical engineer, but doing the MK2 upgrade and looking at the internals, everything seemed well put together and cohesive, in comparison to some other DAC's I have seen.

    CONS

    -The lack of bass, and somewhat leaner nature, might be a problem in some systems.
    -Its big. Don't buy this DAC if you are limited on space.
    -If you want a warmer presentation to combine with a brighter amp, this is probably not the DAC for you.

    Other than that, I can thoroughly recommend the PWD MK1, upgraded to MK2. I have not heard a stock MK2 from the factory, but it appears they may not sound as good as an upgraded MK1 unit. The used market seems to have a wealth of MK1->MK2 units, so this shouldn't be a problem.

    At its price range on the used market currently, if you are smart and patient, I would say go for it if you need a new DAC, and want something a bit different. Sure its not the freshest thing on the block, but sometimes older TOTL pieces are worth it over a new piece of gear at a similar price. Between this and the Gungnir Multibit, which are similar in terms of price, I would go for the Perfectwave. Between this and the Mytek Brooklyn which is more expensive, unless you need all the Brooklyns features, I would go for the Perfectwave used.

    All in all, I'm pretty happy with my choice. I didn't have to spend a ridiculous amount of money (to my wallet), I stayed within my budget, and I got a sound I really enjoy :)

    That all turned out longer than I anticipated. Apologies, I'm bored. I hope this helps someone on the hunt for a new (used) DAC!
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
  10. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    What's the firmware version on your PWD?
     
  11. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    Whatever the firmware is that came with the MK2 upgrade kit (2.something.) I haven't had a chance to update it yet, but will do when I return home.
     
  12. Lou Casadonte

    Lou Casadonte Friend

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    I love my hilo and there are deals under 2k new on the usb model.
     
  13. Decomo

    Decomo Almost "Made"

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    I just started reading this thread and may not be able to read whole 27 pages...
    I see the Bitfrost as well as Bifrost Multibit on the chart on page 1 but could not see Modi Multibit.
    I used to have Modi Multibit and quite liked it but did not like AC adapter which is somehow keep cracking.. hence sold it and thinking to get Bitfrost non-multibit version. Would it be downgrade or Bitfrost will compete well with Modi Multibit?
    Thank you. :)
     
  14. bengo

    bengo Friend

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  15. Decomo

    Decomo Almost "Made"

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    No worries. I will continue reading past posts before asking questions.
     
  16. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    If you liked the Modi Multibit then I would consider just to buy another one. Some people such as @Marvey feel it is more cohesive than the Bifrost Multibit. There really isn't any better DAC anywhere near this price IMHO. If you can stretch to it then it's well worth saving for a Gungnir Multibit also. (I personally owned both Modi Multibit and Yggdrasil. The Gungnir Multibit is apparently very close to Yggdrasil)

    Schiit has good support and would send you a new AC adapter if you need one, there's also the Cthulu which would be more robust.

    Soekris also has some good value options, you'll find info here about the DAC1541 but not many have heard the lower priced models yet.
     
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  17. Decomo

    Decomo Almost "Made"

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    Thank you so much for sharing. It is very helpful.

    New Toy syndrome got me and ordered Bitfrost earlier today and cannot cancel it. I will give it a go and might sell it and get Modi Multibit again. When I had Modi Multibit, the AC adapter cracked two times. When I get Modi Multibit again this time, I might hunt for better quality 3rd party PSU instead.

    Cthulu is USA only and sadly cannot be used in UK or AU unless using step-down transformer which is not ideal.

    Currently using Cambridge Audio Streasm Magic 6 interim which has Twin Wolfson WM8740 DACs. I thought that Wolfson dac usually has warm tone to it but it is not the case. It is quite brighter than Modi Multibit and sounds closer to typical Sabre Dac.

    Again, thank you for your feedback and might stay Modi Multibit until I save cash to get Gungnir Multibit.
     
  18. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    You can always upgrade the Bifrost with Multibit later, it's probably more cost-effective. Also there were hints from @baldr about a Bifrost update eventually.
     
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  19. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    The Yggdrasil is more.. precise and detailed by a hair, yes- but this often also manifests as a matter of flavour. I had a dilemma, having to choose between a new Gungnir Multibit and a used Yggdrasil at similar prices. I ended up up going with a Gungnir Multibit, as I suspect that I enjoy the slightly more laid-back sound.

    Yggdrasil is an amazing DAC, bringing the fight to units many times its price, but it can be a little unsparing. It's really worth hearing both, if you're playing in a price bracket where you can stretch to both- it's enough of a difference to be worth considering. If you're a fan of "relaxed-neutral"* (like wot I am), it's a valid choice.

    The other thing worth mentioning (yet again, sorry), regarding the Modi Multibit, it's incredibly sensitive to input quality. The on-board USB isn't very good, and the S/PDIF needs a clean signal to really let the DAC live up to its potential. Adding an Eitr, or a suitably-hatted Pi helps in a very obvious and audible manner. Jitter in the time domain gives you frequency smearing (sidebands) in the frequency domain. You'll get better instrument separation, timbre and attacks with a clear source. It's worth factoring the cost and clutter/hassle of a clean source in to any Modi Multibit/Bifrost Multibit compara. Modern Bifrost Multibit units have the Gen 5 USB out of the box, which is really surprisingly good.

    All else aside though, if you can wangle a clean source, the Modi Multibit is a lovely and listenable DAC for a very good price. Far be it from me to talk it down.

    (Eitr->Modi Multibit->Vali 2 with a good tube is a micro-marvel of chilled-out desktop bliss.)


    * I know, I know, not sure what else to call it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
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  20. Decomo

    Decomo Almost "Made"

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    I just wish that upgrade can be done by user but it just be done by Schiit or their authorised agent and it is very expensive to upgrade from Bitfrost to Bifrost Multibit in AU. (Just over US$400 to upgrade). :(
     

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