Resonessence Invicta DAC (USB) Tidbit

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Much has been said about the close relationship and between Resonnessence Labs and ESS (the maker of the DAC chip in the Invicta). When I first powered the Invicta up and listened to it, I was like "Wow, this is kind of nice. Instruments and vocals have a great sense of body. This is totally unlike anything SABRE." However, it didn't take long for me to realize the Invcita has some serious shortcomings. Despite the voicing of this DAC to provide a fuller bodied sound, the SABRE treble is still there in the form of stridency. (You can't fool us!) This effect is much more muted compared to the poorer SABRE implementations of course. The extra body comes with some baggage: the bass sound slow. Complex passages sound congested and muddy. Some could say in the attempt to tame the SABRE-esque qualities of the DAC, it crushes the soul of your music. At least gear synergy would not be a problem anymore (that is finding a warm system to pair up with a lean SABRE DAC). Congestion, lack of air, and soft transient response are notable issues. Soundstage placement is deep, but depth is poor. The SD card sounds better than USB (cleaner and clearer). I can't recommend this for $4995 USD.

    Associated Equipment: Schiit Mjolnir (tweaked) -> Madisound Fostex BK-21 kit with Fostex T90a Super Tweeters. JRiver MC/Windows 7/USB. PWD1 upgraded to 2 running 2.03 firmware was used as the reference DAC. All DACs were left on for at least 48 hours before evaluation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
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  2. borrego

    borrego Incessant Audio-GD #1 Fan Boy

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    Early SABRE DAC implementation with 80MHz XO (limited to 192kHz playback) sound more natural. Current SABRE DAC implementations all use 100MHz XO (so the DAC can play 384kHz) sound worse for 16bit 44kHz material.

    SABRE DAC is very sensitive to the quality to the XO used. It might have to do with its chip built in jitter reduction technology. If the XO is of so so quality, the jitter reduction trick does more harm than good.
     
  3. Judeus

    Judeus Almost "Made"

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    Marketing us so dumb, who honestly has 384 music they like listening too
     
  4. Dot

    Dot Friend

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    We have a number of DACs here for review. The INVICTA was returned a few weeks ago after spending a few months with it.

    I tested it with a pair of brutally revealing Lipinski L-70 powered monitors, as well as cables—USB, interconnects, and AC power—by Wireworld, Straight Wire, Audience, and the KingRex USB cable. The L-70s play well with anything we've ever thrown at them.

    We ran every type of music through the INVICTA. Classical/Legit, Jazz, EDM, Rock, Electronica, Heavy Metal, Acoustic/Folk... Played on all types of files. High-res, 44.1, MP3's, YouTube videos, di.fm streaming.

    Honestly, we were underwhelmed. I've seen lots of reviews about the INVICTA and how it was the best DAC many of the reviewers had ever used.

    What it does really well: Big, big sound. Huge soundstage. It plays well with slower music and some jazz. Steely Dan, James Taylor, Miles Davis "Kind of Blue." The sound is noticeably very relaxed. The overall build quality was one of the best we've seen.

    What is doesn't do well: Any music that has any punch, drive, and energy, and the INVICTA just sits there. And this part is telling, because it's not allowing the air to move. The slew rate is just too slow.

    The sound is adulterated. It's Frosted Flakes compared to more natural Corn Flakes. It's a big California Syrah-infused Pinot Noir compared to a more natural and mature Oregon Pinot Noir. It's a processed sound that spends too much time announcing itself, "Hey, look at how big and sweet I am." and not enough of letting the dynamics and depth of various genres of music come through.

    I've seen the filters mentioned in reviews, but no one has had—yet that I've seen—the knockers to at least attempt to describe the differences. Here's my shot at it:

    Steely Dan "Gaucho"
    Linear phase Apodizing: Crispier, Air, compressed mids, less bass
    Linear phase Fast roll-off, more relaxed, less jagged, smoother, smaller soundstage
    Linear phase - slow roll off: more natural, more pronounced kick and body of snare, instruments/voices more defined
    Sabre Fast roll off: more highs, forward high-mids, less lows, especially @800Hz, a bit more open overall
    Sabre slow roll off: less body in kick, a bit strained, blurry imagery,
    Minimum phase IIR: fuller bass, rounder, soundstage more spread horizontally
    Minmum phase Slow roll-off: forward mids, harsh highs and cymbals, bass in background

    James Taylor "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight"
    Linear phase Apodizing: more open on top, air,
    Linear phase Fast roll-off bass more forward, pronounced mids, less depth in soundstage, intimate,
    Linear phase - slow roll off: natural, deeper soundstage, sustain of acoustic gtr more pronounced, more texture in voice
    Sabre Fast roll off: glare, JT 's and voice mids cut, less saw wave, hi mids on el gtr and piano jump fprward unnaturally
    Sabre slow roll off: Rounder bass, JT voice relaxed, congas more body, sax more mellow
    Minimum phase IIR: Bass less defined, closer, more intimate sound, upper mids clearer @3K,
    Minmum phase Slow roll-off, bass smoother, sax sharper in tone, more low mids in voice

    John Coltrane "Giant Steps"
    Linear phase Apodizing: Sax more forward, fuller bass, more overall room
    Linear phase Fast roll-off: high mids cut in sax, wider room
    Linear phase - slow roll off: drums and cymbals more natural and forward, soundstage more forward
    Sabre Fast roll off: harsh, pingy cymbals, snappier snare,
    Sabre slow roll off: sax more relaxed, natural, closer sound, cymbals smoother,
    Minimum phase IIR: piano more forward, good overall blend, more pronounced mids, piano attacks cut through
    Minmum phase Slow roll-off:, crispier hat, sax a bit glaring, overall harsh

    I've got a full review I'm preparing, but these are some thoughts.

    The INVICTA is more hat than cattle.
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yeah, that reminds of Tracy Chapman's Fast Car where during the chorus crescendo, the Invicta fell flat and got confused and congested. We were like looking at each other going WTF?
     
  6. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    On the DCoA (DAC Chart of Awe), it's only a notch above Modi 2. Is that for reals?
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yes. That position was not given lightly or without some deliberation or consideration. While I can see some people liking the Invicta's sound (my initial impression was positive, until I heard more), the Invicta's technicalities or lack thereof ultimately sank it to that position.
     
  8. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    The orange coloration might have been generous then, lol.
     
  9. Azteca

    Azteca Friend

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    Reviewers love their played-to-death audiophile trade-show standards. In my experience, neutral can seem underwhelming to people used to having part of the sound very hyped or exaggerated. Your description of spacious and relaxed sounds like audiophile press all the way.
     

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