MHDT Labs R-2R NOS Tube DACs

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Luckbad, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    MHDT Labs Atlantis
    Realistic yet Natural Sounding DAC

    Non-Oversampling (NOS) R-2R Resistor Ladder DAC using the legendary Analog Devices AD1862N-J chip (2x)

    Technical specifications

    • Digital Receiver CS8416
    • D/A converter AD1862N-J
    • Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz (± 2dB)
    • Output impedance: 32 ohms
    • Output level: 3.0 Vrms
    • USB input 16, 24 bits 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz and 192 kHz; drivers required
    • USB inputs are all in asynchronous operation.
    • All other inputs (SPDIF) 16, 24 bits 32 kHz up to 192 kHz
    • Dimensions clear (W x D X H) 276 x 150 x 60 mm
    • Dimensions w/ socket (W x D X H) 295 x 170 x 60 mm
    • Weight 2 kg
    Oh my goodness this is lovely! 15 minutes in and the MHDT Labs Atlantis is already delivering beautiful euphony directly to my soul. Instruments sound downright real, timbre is excellent, detail is not at all wanting.

    It's feeding my Master-11 with absolute authority. There's nothing like R-2R, and a well-implemented NOS dac is to die for. This thing is already blowing my mind a little bit.

    I dare say this NOS implementation is superior to the Audio-GD Master-11 in NOS mode. Perhaps not equal to it in its stock 8x oversampling setup, but the jury is out. I haven't changed the tube to the Western Electric JW 396A/2C51 D-getters I picked up yet.

    More impressions later tonight after I get several hours of warm-up and listening in.

    Wow... The AD1862N-J chip is seriously great. I'd never heard a DAC with these chips before.

    This thing is positively diminutive compared to the Audio-GD DACs/Amps I've been using lately, which frankly is a great thing because I'm pairing it with a Garage1217 Project Sunrise III at work. The Audio-GD NFB-2.32 I had previously was quite excellent but was rather large.

    I actually downloaded Schiit's latest Gen 2 drivers for Windows 10. They're the same chipset (CM6631A) and appear to be newer than what is provided on the MHDT Labs website (which doesn't list Win 10 on any of its drivers).

    Plug and Play. Using ASIO successfully from JRiver right now.

    I just listened to Good Mystery in 96kHz, Blagutten in 192kHz, and Blue Eyes Blue in 44.1kHz. All sounded great.

    Oh frick... Yours Truly by Andrew Luce is just killin' it in the bass department.

    New toy syndrome GO! You'll know in a few weeks if I still own this if it's as good as my mind is saying it is right now.

    IMG_2251_zpsdhsofsff.jpg IMG_2252_zpsbuosmx8j.jpg IMG_2253_zpsv6yrwmmv.jpg IMG_2254_zpsoibx8bvi.jpg st02.jpg st07.jpg Atlantis_2c51.jpg
     

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    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
  2. Barra

    Barra Rando

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    Congratulations on the new toy. These MDHT DACs are really special. They are very versatile too being able to adjust the tube to match new amps or new HPs for optimized results. If you have the tube inventory, you can even optimize for genre or down to a special sound or two.

    Have fun.
     
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  3. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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  4. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    The work stack: MHDT Labs Atlantis -> Garage1217 Project Sunrise III -> JVC HA-DX2000

    Electro-Harmonix 12BH7 Gold Pin in the Amp, Western Electric JW 2C51 D-Getter in the DAC.

    20160212_131712.jpg
     
  5. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    To comment briefly on listening impressions:

    Liquid, organic, yet detailed. Slightly warm sound with amazing bass delivery and perfectly silky smooth treble. Mids are of course really lovely given the tubes and the headphones I'm using.

    Zero grain. It's the first setup I've had at work that has anywhere near as little grain as my Audio-GD Master-11 at home. I hate grain. I also hate harsh treble and roughness in general. This setup doesn't have any of that.
     
  6. munch

    munch Friend

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    looks very nice!

    I have not had the chance to hear any higher end NOS DAC so I really have no clue what to expect but this one sounds like something I might enjoy. a little skeptical to tubes in a DAC due to previous experiences but I dont know designs well enough to say anything :p
     
  7. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I like it enough that I'm getting a second one... one for work, one for home.
     
  8. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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  9. munch

    munch Friend

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    cool! is it supposed to be as good as the Atlantis? or just different?
    I'm unfortunately not in a position to buy this one, as I am in need of new computer parts first and foremost, and then saving :p
    and, Canadian dollar is so bad right now, coupled with really high USD... yeah. not going to be buying from the US for a while :(
     
  10. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I don't if it's better, worse, or different yet. I'll probably get to hear one in a month or two though.
     
  11. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    The PCM-56's specs seem kinda poor next to the Atlantis's AD1862 (which is more in line with the PCM-63k specs).

    Now, how that actually translate into sound quality is a different story.

    I'd be interested to compare the Atlantis to my vintage DACs (which cover the PCM-63, PCM1702 and UltraAnalog range).
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Wfojas likes this.
  13. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Once I get my second one in, I'll probably do a couple of targeted DAC swaps with folks like you and @Hands so others can hear it. I might wait until the tube is theoretically fully burned in.

    @purrin I'd be happy to contact him if you want to use SBAF funds to start a tour of the Stockholm.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Hmm, might want to hold off. We might have to allocate a significant portion to pay for a lost item.
     
  15. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Doh! Too bad. The Atlantis is gorgeous. I can't let mine go for long enough to do a tour, but locals are welcome to hear it as well as particularly trustworthy folks who can swap DACs with me.
     
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  16. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I bet, with those chips and a tube output buffer.
     
  17. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    I'm in.
    The contenders:
    • Theta DSPro Basic IIIa (quad PCM-1702, Super Burrito® filter, balanced)
    • Theta DSpro Gen V (quad PCM-63K, Super Burrito® filter, balanced. Limited to 44.1kHz :confused:)
    • EAD DSP 7000mkIII (dual PCM-63K, Digital Flywheel® re-clocking, single ended).
    • PS Audio UltraLink II (UltraAnalog based DAC, single ended w/ XLR output)
    • Proceed AVP (quad PCM-1702, ML re-clocking, great stereo pre-amp, lots of input/outputs) (*)
    (*) I can't swap the Proceed AVP with the Atlantis, as it is the center of my desktop and Hifi setups (pre-amp). Could swap it for the Master-11, however.
     
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  18. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Happen to have an extra USB to S/PDIF? Mine are all gone.
     
  19. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Yes. SOtM thingy.
     
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  20. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Master-11 sold... Still can't believe I sold it. I'll need to get another someday, either used or the successor.

    That means my new home setup is going to be an MHDT Labs Atlantis + Garage1217 Project Ember II, at least for now. I'd like to delve into the world of big boy tube amps someday, but not sure when that'll happen.

    MHDT Labs Atlantis + Garage1217 Project Sunrise III all day at work today. I swapped a CNC aluminum chassis onto it.

    I also decided to try out a 6N6p / 6H6pi tube more seriously. I didn't love that tube last time I tried it (I think with the Emotiva Big Ego) and I've been using the Electro-Harmonix 12BH7 ever since. Really enjoyed the tube with the MHDT Atlantis using Western Electric a 396A tube.

    I was worried that piling on more smoothness on top of the DAC would maybe be too much, but it just became even more liquid and musical.

    As I wait for Atlantis #2 to arrive, I am using a backup setup. AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2 + iFi iCAN Micro SE. First off, the amp is pretty solid. No complaints there. But holy crap using a Dragonfly after the Master-11 for a few months at home and the Audio-GD NFB-2.32 then MHDT Atlantis at work...

    Dragonfly: Thin, tinny, pitchy, no impact, no musicality, grainy, unresolving, inorganic, lifeless, imitation
    MHDT Labs Atlantis: Liquid, smooth, detailed, organic, realistic, musical, impactful, dynamic

    I know people say that amplifiers make more of a difference than DACs, but I'm finding that the DAC is the backbone, the foundation upon which musical enjoyment stems. Without a good DAC, anything else in the chain hardly matters, second only to the headphones or speakers themselves.

    Yeah, the amplifier can directly influence the sound more than the DAC will, but the DAC is almost more important.

    With a great dac, good amp, and very good headphones, I'm happy to listen to 320Kbps streams. With a mediocre dac, good amp, and very good headphones, even FLAC files are making me want to take back several more shots of whiskey.

    I hope this Atlantis doesn't hang out in customs limbo for a week. Some people were getting theirs in 3 days. It took about 10 for the first to get to me. This one doesn't look like it has found its way out of Taiwan yet after more than 24 hours. Boo!
     
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