Rockna Wavedream DAC: Awesomesauce

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. crenca

    crenca Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    3,096
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Southern New Mexico
    Can you put that IMD result in context? Is it typical for the design, how does it compare to DS dacs (if such a generalization is possible), etc.
     
  2. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,679
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Or simply hitting the bandwidth limit of the test device.
     
  3. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    762
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    England
    Im thinking this is most likely.

    This was done with a 2.5mhz sample rate though and by a quick count (am on my phone atm) I think the ringing is at about 800khz so Im not sure if it's that.

    Ill check though and will grab a higher bandwidth oscilloscope if needed to check
     
  4. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,679
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You could test with a lower frequency square wave, otherwise?
     
  5. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    2,523
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SouthernCA
    ^Actual technical musings and discussion


    BUT CAN YOU DEFEAT MY PINK PANTHER MEASUREMENTS WITH BIGGERER NUMBERS AND BETTERER GRAPHS AND GIVE PEOPLE THE ANSWER THEY WANT TO HEAR IN 5 MINUTES??? Was going to grab some screenshots and graphs but I felt like my brain was already imploding within 20 seconds of wading through the content so I left.

    @GoldenOne In all seriousness now, and please don't jump through hoops or too much time/money to make this happen - after hearing the 2 different versions of the WD within a relatively short period of time, I'm curious how much the measurements (and which measurements, if any) will differ by between the two versions.

    I'm requesting this as this would be a decently direct way to compare / contrast results that can help paint a picture of what commonly used measurements may or may not be good for, show or don't show, or whatever else. This isn't to "convert anyone" or get into a pee-pee contest - just to maybe help lay the groundwork for better and more telling measurement suites in the future.

    I'm only choosing the WD in particular here given that the DAC seems to measure well enough on it's own, has multiple modes / filters, both versions actually sound good but still sound different, will have solid BOMs (less/no random component issues), and they're hopefully similar enough in terms of both hardware and software. All of this should help rule out multiple extraneous factors. This doesn't have to be done with the WD either if you have other candidates that would meet the above criteria.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
  6. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    762
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    England
    If there is someone in the UK with the 'edition' Wavedream I'd be more than happy to test it. I'm always happy to test anything anyone wants to send.

    At present from an objective standpoint the May is the best performing R2R dac in a few areas.
    I've got a terminator plus on the way so I'll test that once it arrives. Subjective reviews of the WD and Termi will be posted too of course.
     
  7. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    762
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    England
    Ok just retested.
    Raw files for 1khz and 300hz -6dBfs square waves plus 44.1khz impulse response, recorded at 2.5mhz sample rate here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1y1JYxrUweG54ZQ2sXyRko1jL5SC-ZdTq?usp=sharing

    Recorded with filter off, dither off (and no dither on the input data)

    upload_2021-9-3_22-13-50.png
    This COULD be ringing from the analyzer filter as from a quick ballpark count it seems like it might be around 1.2mhz. I'll count the freq manually once I finish dinner.
    EDIT: Just counted and it seems that the ringing is at most 28x the sample freq, so is likely not analyzer filter ringing. But don't want to rule it out given the somewhat complex nature of how some analyzers (including the APx555) combine different ADC readings to create the final digital result

    The FFT shows small spurs at 28x and 27x the input sample freq.

    On the square wave the FFT shows a small spur at 768khz

    CNr5CwKWGD.png
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
  8. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    762
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    England
    20210905_005644.jpg

    The wavedream is certainly gorgeous on the inside!
     
  9. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

    Friend Banned
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2016
    Likes Received:
    3,962
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    United kingdomland of fish and chips
    My stack reviewed, overall I do agree. I'll have to throw some DHT tube amps at @GoldenOne to satisfy that tube hunger and perhaps review his timbre concerns to an extent.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Epic Epic x 3
    • List
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2021
  10. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    79,429
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Padre Island CC TX
    Well, at least it's not showing linear phase filter behavior (pre-ringing).
     
  11. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    762
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    England
    I'd love to hear this with tubes. I can imagine it'd be a match made in heaven.
    Hopefully I can come visit and hear one of yours!
     
  12. neo_the_one

    neo_the_one Acquaintance

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2020
    Likes Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Seattle
    How do you compare the Single Ended output to balanced output. Is the sound difference enough to justify the price difference?
     
  13. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    762
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    England
    I did not spend too much time listening to the single ended output so can't really say unfortunately.
     
  14. pavi

    pavi Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    May 17, 2017
    Likes Received:
    266
    Trophy Points:
    53
    Location:
    usa
    it does sound wonderful with the 300B ec aficionado
     
  15. Saleh84

    Saleh84 Rando

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2020
    Likes Received:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    13
    Location:
    Dubai, UAE
    Nice review
    In my system lately I have been using it with Passlabs XP-22 preamp (simply phenomenal pre) and switching between a firstwatt SIT-3 and SIT-2 amps. Can't ask for more!
     
  16. Cappy

    Cappy Rando

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2017
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    Hi Saleh, Thanks for all your interesting posts.

    So it sounds like you are using the XP-22 preamp with XLR balanced in from the Wavedream, and then single ended out to one of your First Watt Amps?

    I am wondering how the Pass Labs XP-22 does the balanced to single ended conversion. Does it combine both legs of the balanced signal or just use one leg?
     
  17. Saleh84

    Saleh84 Rando

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2020
    Likes Received:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    13
    Location:
    Dubai, UAE
    Hi Cappy,

    Actually the XP-22 doesn't offer any sort of balanced to single ended conversion. I did ask that question to the good people at pass, apparently the previous gen did that, XP-20, but not the 22. I think they still can do that for you as a special request, but they won't recommend it. Its less "pure" of an approach.
    So, I'm actually single ended all the way. Feel a bit strange about using "half" of my dac/pre, but those SITs are worth it - the sound is glorious. I have migrated to them from an LM845 premium integrated. The XP-22 with SITs wins without any doubt on my cube nenuphar speakers.
    The pass pre has 9 db gain balanced, 6db gain on single ended. But i never actually needed the pre gain! I'm rarely above step 89, which is unity gain, even on the SIT-3 which is just 11.5 db gain (very rare low gain for an amp).
    Wish there was a non SQ sacrificial solution to be balanced all the way to the amp, but introducing a transformer is something I think will have more cons than pros.
    If time goes back probably will get the WD single ended. But being future balanced proof is not a bad thing either!
     
  18. famish99

    famish99 Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,559
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    No, there's very little difference between the outputs since there's no conversion being done for the SE output, just get the model that matches what your amp needs. I've yet to hear any trafo based balanced to se converters that sound better than the direct SE output.
     
  19. Fortee

    Fortee Rando

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2020
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Canada
    If the rest of your gear is not fully balanced, just get the Rockna SE version.
    However, if your system is fully balanced, the Rockna balanced is a better fit with audible improvements.
     
  20. SoupRKnowva

    SoupRKnowva Official SBAF South Korean Ambassador - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,472
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    IMG_1782.JPG


    I’ve had the Wavedream Signature Balanced for almost a week now so I figured it was time to write up some impressions of this beast instead of just posting some thoughts in my profile posts.


    First up my preferences, as many of you will know I favor a very energetic sound. I first learned this on the Gungnir DS loaner back in the day, and have had a Gungnir ever since for this reason. The only other DAC I have heard that I thought was an upgrade to that was the Convert 2, but at the time, on headphones, I did not think the upgrade was worth the money. This is probably due to my favored music genres being metal of all varieties. I’m not entirely sure what first order effects lead to this energetic sound, macro-dynamics are clearly part of the equation but are definitely not the only ingredient. Outside of that, the things I probaby care about most are staging/imaging/separation. Much of the music I listen to has a great deal going on at any given time, and isn’t mastered particularly well, so being able to make sense of the mix is crucial to my enjoyment.


    So what made me get the Wavedream in the first place? I’ve been interested in the brand since mid 2013, I actually nearly bought a Wavedream back then, but I got orders to Korea, so that didnt end up happening. Fast forward to late 2020 and I snagged a used Wavelight, thinking I would be able to get the Rockna sound for less money. But the Wavelight actually left me a little dissapointed. Sure it was good, but I didnt think it was worth the upgrade over my Gungnir.

    This is how I have felt about many of the DACs I have heard in the intervening years. Some of them were good, some not, but I didn’t really think any of them were worth the money over my Gungnir, given my preferences especially. But shortly after I got the Wavelight, I had the chance to go hear @famish99 's Wavedream, and I’ll be honest, it basically blew my mind from the moment we switched it into his rig, for reasons I'll go into below, as they are things I will go into about my unit. It didnt quite have the energy I wanted, but as far as technicalities went, it was a step function increase over anything else I had ever heard which very much made me want one, even if the evergy/drive I wanted wasn’t present.

    This leads to @animus impressions of the Wavedream Signature. Once he said that it had more energy than the Edition model, I knew that was the one I had to get. All of the technicalities of the Edition, but even more, along with some of the intensity I want out of my DAC. So after a month of haggling with an incompetent dealer I got a Wavedream Signature Balanced in.



    What follows isn’t what I would call review, as I don’t have any equipment worth comparing it to, but is more an attempt to describe in what ways this DAC is superior to every other I have heard, the things it excels at to an absolute degree. Maybe down the road me and @famish99 can get together to do some Edition vs Signature comparisons of our own. All impressions that follow are using the Benchmark AHB2 to amplify my Acoustic Zen Adagio speakers, either using the built in volume control connected directly to the AHB2 or with a Goldpoint SA1X in between with the Wavedream being fed by a pi2aes via i2s over HDMI.


    The first thing that hit me that first time I heard Wavedream at @famish99 's place is the incredible separation and depth that it renders. One of my go to test tracks is Elegy by Fleshgod Apocaylpse, it is truly a hellish gauntlet for any piece of audio equipment to endure, and many have not come out the other side victorious. In the past I thought I had heard what I considered excellent separation rendering of the different players/instruments in this track, but what the Wavedream manages to accomplish here is exemplary and downright magical. The ability to separate every instrument into its own space and not get congested, no matter how compressed or busy/hectic the song is is astounding. This is honestly the leading attribute the Wavedream offers to me. It essentially never gets congested or falls apart due to complicated tracks, it always manages to render everything in its own space, to allow the listener to focus on any given portion of the music as they please and to hear them all together as they should be portrayed, without playing over each other.

    There are some other things I have noticed actually having the Wavedream Signature in my own rig longer term though. I made a comment on my status the other day that the Wavedream makes everything else I listen to sound fake in comparison. This is not to say that the Wavedream Signature sounds real, it's just closer to that goal than anything else I have ever heard, notably so, such that other things sound more fake.

    Let me try to unpack why I think this is because this “realness” comes from many other first order effects. Wavedream excels at microdetail, but I think more importantly it excels at microdynamics as well. Sounds have an ability to explode out of seemingly nothing, not just loud sounds, but even soft ones, but not in a “cranked to 11 all the time” kind of way like the convert 2. Explosive is maybe the wrong word, but it’s the one that fits to me. I think @Marvey would describe this as the ability to change volume levels at a very low level and very smoothly, I think this is what he means by microdynamics. This is what leads to this sort of “explosive” ability for the sound to me, the ability to smoothly transition from any sound to any other, be that a voice coming out of nothing, or a drum hit amidst the rest of the a busy track, the sounds are formed, from not existing, to existing, in such a natural way that its like they are exploding onto the music canvas. I know this may sound weird, but it seems the most natural to me to explain it in such a way. This I think along with excellent micro detail rendering lead to this extreme level of “realness” that the Wavedream Signature has. It also isn’t something I noticed right away, it took time to unpack this sound and realize what it was doing, and how it was making everything else I listen on sound in comparison.


    I said earlier that one of the things I care most about is an energetic sound, the DAC needs to have what I would call drive. The Wavedream Edition doesn’t really have this, the Wavedream Signature does. Not to the level of the Convert 2 or even the Gungnir, but maybe like 80% of the way, and to be honest, I think it is better for it. This DAC can boogie and headbang when it is called upon to do so, but doesn't force that energetic sound into tracks that don't want or need it. It is not sacrificing delicacy to achieve it. Macro dynamics here are incredibly well represented, and I think the microdynamic rendering I described above is the foundation upon which these macro dynamics are formed. Listen to a track like Chocolate Chip Trip by Tool and the drums are unreal, in both their imaging and their sounds exploding out of the speakers. I will say this is an incredible DAC for a metal head.


    Is it perfect at everything? I will say it is probably the closest to perfect at everything I have heard, especially when my preferences are taken into account. To say that I dont think I could imagine better...well, I cant, but i also never expected something like the Wavedream that first time at @famish99 's place to begin with so who knows. One small quibble I would make is with the digital volume control. When using the DAC direct into the AHB2 all of the above qualities seem to remain, but there is a sort of pressure that develops on your ear drum when listening, like a slight tightening. I am actually torn about this, I kinda of like it, but I know others will not. @EagleWings was the first one to mention this sound to me, and I now know what he is referring to, though I don't dislike it to the degree he does. I am sure it is caused by the digital volume control though, as using the DAC with the Goldpoint in the path as passive pre removes this sensation completely.


    In conclusion...these impression almost certainly sound gushy, and that is because they are, but more importantly I believe they are deserved. I spent many years thinking I would never find a DAC that I thought was worth upgrading to. They were better, but not better enough. Is the Wavedream Signature obnoxiously expensive? Yes it is. Does it for the first time in my life, make it harder to appreciate music on other equipment? Yes it does. But when I am sitting on front of my speakers listening to the music I love, I am incredibly happy I have it. It might be expensive, but it is an upgrade worth getting though maybe not worth the price paid in absolute terms. As @famish99 called it earlier in this thread, this is most definitely "audio jewelry", but at least it is also better than anything else I've heard.



    Footnote: I struggle a lot with attempting to describe what I hear, as I'm sure many of you do as well, so if you have questions about what I've said, I am happy to try to elaborate, though I can't promise the elaboration will actually be any better

    Edit 1: All listening was done with dither off, local clock mode and the linear filter
     
    • Like Like x 28
    • Epic Epic x 13
    • List
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021

Share This Page