Rockna Wavedream DAC: Awesomesauce

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

  1. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    Have you tried using the aes from the aries. It's a pretty great little unit but I had a lot of issues with it crashing.
    The wavelight server is making progress. perhaps wait for that?
     
  2. Miracle1980

    Miracle1980 Acquaintance

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    Since I replaced the wifi board into the Aries I didn't have a single crash anymore. I have tried AES/EBU connection and, compared to the Usb, felt darker/smoother...while USB a bit more revealing/hard.
    Wavelight server is way more expensive (I'm planning to use an Allo Shanti linear psu with the HUB) and I don't need the server/ssd part, as I use my own server already.
     
  3. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I can see why you preferred hybrid then. I used to run WD+INT25 combo, it does help kind of wake up the sleepy sound of the amp, but when I switched to Elekit, it was a bit more revealing of some of the phase fuckery and was noticeably more fatiguing.
     
  4. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Wavedream Edition SE vs Yggdrasil A2/og

    I've been able to compare the Wavedream Edition SE to my Yggdrasil A2 for the last couple weeks.

    This is the first DAC I've heard that sounds better to me than the Yggdrasil, including the Wavelight, the Holo May and the Soerkis 2541. And it sounded better in almost every way. But surprisingly not every single way, and it doesn't sound that much better. I was expecting a huge difference but it's, well I wouldn't' say its subtle, but it's more subtle than I was expecting given the gushing reviews and the price tag.

    I have the SE Wavedream Edition, so I plugged it into my Liquid Gold X's RCA inputs directly and the Yggdrasil into the balanced inputs directly. Using the same cables for both. This has it's advantages because there's no other parts in the signal for either DAC, but the balanced input on the Liquid Gold X is probably better. I havent compared them, but I used the SE inputs for a long time and thought it sounded great. So I know they are at least very close to each other if not identical sounding. But this enabled me to just switch inputs on the amp to change DAC's. I know the SE input on the LauX did not cause the things I didn't like about the Wavedream but it could have held back a bit of the goodness. But I got to hear this well enough, so I think the comparison is pretty fair, or at least useful. Plus, the Wavedream got I2s while the Yggdrasil got AES so advantage goes to the Wavedream there.

    Gear
    Pi2AES ->
    AES -> Yggdrasil A2 -> XLR -> LauX
    I2s -> Wavedream -> SE -> LauX

    -> modded Audeze orthos, mostly the LCD-4z


    Better than Yggdrasil
    • More resolving of low level information by a noticeable amount with resolving headphones
    • More depth to the sound. When switching to the Wavedream, all instruments are spaced out more and the soundscape moves way out in all directions.
    • Notes have more 3 dimensional quality to them, with more defined edges leading back away from you rather than more flat images on the Yggdrasil
    • Great tone, neither warm nor cold or sterile. Proper decay to notes.
    • There is a sense of realism that it has over the Yggdrasil that was my favorite thing and probably caused by a culmination of different factors but everything just sounds more real, more natural, more analog on the Wavedream. It goes from sounding like a really good rig to sounding eerily real. And I don't know all the descriptors to define why.
    • Background is also blacker, switching to the Yggdrasil that gray hash in the background is apparent. Notes come out of nothingness on the Wavedream.
    • The Yggdrasil has a bit of digital etch in comparison. I don't hear this when I'm just listening to the Yggdrasil but I hear it in comparison
    • The Yggdrasil also sounds a bit dull and lifeless by comparison. Flatter, less resolving, less real, that gray hash background.

    Different than Yggdrasil but not necessarily worse or better
    • the Wavedream actually has substantially more bass than the Yggdrasil, which surprised me the most because of how often the Yggdraisil A2 is described as slightly V shaped at the extremes (I don't hear this, it sounds natural to me, but I haven't heard that many DAC's). It's significantly more bass such that orthos I found bass light on the Yggdrasil sounded better on the Wavedream and I felt less need to re-tune them for more bass quantity.
    • There is also a tiny bit more treble presence on the Wavedream. Though the quality is very good of course, I didn't notice a big difference in the treble smoothness, but the iWavedream is more natural sounding throughout the spectrum including the treble.
    • And the Wavedream sounds significantly richer though the midrange to lower midrange, with a thicker, meatier tone. I liked the meatier tone, but did not like the lower midrange, bass or treble emphasis. The meatier tone in the lower mids contributed to the sense of naturalness I think but was only one of many factors..

    Not so great
    • Vocals are noticeably back in the mix vs Yggdrasil, though they are not smeared or blurred or hazy on their own, when compared to the Ygdrasil, the Yggdrasil has a more clear sounding , more upfront vocal range. It's very apparent switching between them, vocals pop out more and are more easily separated from the rest of the instruments.
    • This was ultimately the biggest deal breaker for me. This DAC just could not be used as a reference to tune or make headphones. I would wind up with bass light headphones when they were used with other DAC's. It really was that significant. And vocal integrity is very important to me despite all the things the Wavedream does better.

    The Wavedream is still a better DAC in every way technically and musically, but it's V shaped response with slightly hazed over vocals was too much for me to be able to own one even if I could. Too bad because it is otherwise absolutely gorgeous.

    I'm still surprised by this because I haven't read this anywhere and would not have recommended this DAC to my parents if I knew it was this V shaped in response. I'm hoping they don't notice, but hear all the good stuff instead.

    Still, despite all the things the Wavedream does better, when I just listen to the Yggdrasil, I like it and don't feel I am missing anything. The 2 DAC's are not that far from each other. Diminishing returns really sets in here. But that last 5% is definitely quite something. "Gorgeous" and "musical" is how I would describe the sound of the Wavedream aside from the V shaped response. It's truly a work of art, though one with a distinct flavor that I don't want added to my music. It's a pretty colored DAC IME with it. And at 6k I guess I expect it to be very neutral, but maybe at this price it's more about musicality or flavors I don't know.

    Also synergy is important and your preferences. I'm really picky about vocals, it's the most important thing to me in a headphone rig's performance. I would ultimately choose the Yggdrasil A2 over the Wavedream if they were both $2.5k because of it's more linear response and sounding very very close to just as good in every way.
     
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  5. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    I think sharing the same source could create ground loop issues between the 2 DACs that kinda “evens out” their sound.

    Also, did you set the Wavedream’s clock to Local? It clearly benefits the WD’s with lesser* sources.

    The usual effects include a tightening of the bass and a reduction in bloat, at the expense of a somewhat brighter/more incisive sound. This could be what you’re after?

    (*) mostly sources with lesser clocks than what’s inside the WD. That includes the Pi2AES (however good it is, especially for the price)
     
  6. Michael Kelly

    Michael Kelly MOT: Pi 2 Design

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    what measurements are you using to declare the PI2AES as a “lesser” source? I get very defensive when someone calls my baby ugly or even just not awesomely beautiful!
     
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  7. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Really? Using two outputs at once creates issues? The Pi2AES outputs a signal from all outputs at once, and its just a digital signal it seems odd that it would have any affect to have 2 hooked up at once.

    I did set the clock to local.

    I also have a NoiseNuke attached to my Pi2AES so it's a it better than a stock unit.

    I don't think any of this could cause the V shaped response, but I imagine if anything, I would just hear more of the good things I described, which were already very good.
     
  8. Beefy

    Beefy Almost "Made"

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    Surely any DAC we are talking about here, in this price range, has galvanic isolation on SPDIF and AES inputs.
     
  9. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Do HDMI cables need to be really short? I think the one I used was 1 meter.
     
  10. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    Galvanic isolation or not, I've found connecting both AES and SPDIF simultaneously from the PI2AES to the Yggdrasil makes the sound (more) spitty and prickly. Similarly for connecting AES and I2S simultaneously into Wavedream. But I don't think this is in any way going to cause noticeable swings in tonal balance.

    1m HDMI cable is fine. Changing clock mode isn't going to radically change anything. I honestly don't think there's a problem to be diagnosed here, it's just synergy and preferences. Wavedream is clearly different in the mid-upper bass than Yggdrasil, and it does stand out more when you listen to it. I hear this effect as more articulate rather than more pronounced, but this seems like a blue dress/gold dress thing. (Doubtless if you measure both they will be completely flat). Would be interesting to try the comparison also on your parents' speaker rig!
     
  11. Miracle1980

    Miracle1980 Acquaintance

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    Which filter did you use with Wavedream? Any upsampling on the digital player?
     
  12. Andrew7777777

    Andrew7777777 Rando

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    Does the Wavedream get warm/hot at all? Is it stackable?
     
  13. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I used a Pi2AES with I2s and the linear filter and the direct option, not the stream option. I think it was called direct. Whatever the opposite setting of stream is.
     
  14. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    If it's a ground loop gremlin, that bastard can drive you mad. The evilness of ground loops is not just hums, they wreck your ground reference so your supposed zero reference point is no longer a zero, and after that who knows wtf can happen.

    For almost all cables, shorter is better in order to reduce not just potential pickup of interference, but to minimize your cable effects from resistance, inductance, etc. There's some rare instances where too short is a problem, but that shouldn't be an issue here. If it's for i2s, I do believe that one in particular wants to be as short as possible. But meh, the quality of the termination of oftentimes just as important but oft overlooked anyways.
     
  15. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Local :)
     
  16. Wobbletits

    Wobbletits Acquaintance

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    Too short is really only an issue w/ hdmi 2.1(or possibly 2.0 with a 2" cable or something) 12ghz signaling frequency. You will never even get close to 12ghz doing i2s... Rocna Wavedream says i2s input can accept 384khz (* 2 channels * 32 bit ) i2s which is only around 24.5mhz.

    1m cable is probably fine, though we do chase minutiae so technically shorter is better I guess.
     
  17. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

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    WaveDream SE Impressions
    (mostly compared with L3 Pavane)

    Thank you @rhythmdevils (really his parents, this DAC is theirs) for this super generous loaner. I've had it a longer than expected due to going to a conference and getting sick upon return (fortunately not COVID, just the normal post conference crud) and everyone has been very understanding and patient.

    It's very rare that I try a DAC for the first time and immediate think, "holy crap, this is good". It's usually, "pretty good, not quite to my taste" and then I have to compare for a while to fully understand what that means. Not with the WaveDream, I immediately fell in love. I don't know if the Signature Edition is worth the (large) extra cost, I hope to try one someday to determine how nuts I should go.

    Put simply, the WaveDream is better at virtually everything. I do agree with RD's comment about vocals being recessed in comparison to the Pavane but that's the only drawback. And it's a large step up in every other way, most definitely another level of awesome. I don't think the vocals are too recessed for it to be a problem, RD is pretty vocal obsessed. ;)

    Chain
    Roon (Qobuz/Redbook) -> Ambre ->
    XLR -> WaveDream SE
    I2S -> Pavane L3

    Most comparison listening was done with the LauX and LCD-4 (RD modded). Classical music was with the Stratus and HD 800 (SDR). Pavane XLR converted to SE using the A&S converter for the Pavane, direct XLR for the LauX.

    Comparison

    WaveDream
    • Staging sounds more clear and cohesive
    • Big step up in resolution and detail retrieval
    • Clearer separation of instruments and voices
    • More crisp
    • Snappier percussion
    • Air a bit better
    • A bit more edge to the sound, this can be a smidge fatiguing at times
    Pavane
    • Voices more forward
    • More elevated bass (usually not in a good way, feels exaggerated in comparison) can cause fatigue
    • Instruments can sound mushed together in comparison
    I enjoy the tone and timbre on both. The WD is like the SFD-1 MK II in this way, while not as thick and rich as the Pavane I don't feel like I'm missing anything in the tone. And, like the SFD, staging is better. Unfortunately the SFD is way behind on resolution and clarity.

    One interesting observation, I think the elevated bass helps the Pavane with classical music, that's probably a reason why I like it so much. I never realized classical tends to be mixed for a thin sound (read the last paragraph in the linked post) but that makes a lot of sense. I also agree with Marv that being thin is crappy and not accurate to what I've heard in live performances. So the Pavane bass being inaccurate/exaggerated compensates for this shortcoming. I may need a Lokius or something for classical music when I finally replace my Pavane with the WD. Still, the Pavane wasn't always more pleasing for classical, it varied depending on the piece. Many times the extra resolution, clarity, separation, and air of the WD won out over the benefit of exaggerated bass. Perhaps not all my favorite classical pieces have thin mastering and don't need the bass boost.

    For every other genre there is no competition, the WD wins easily. Switching between the WaveDream and Pavane, there is so much more coming from the WaveDream. Instruments have so much more detail and realism, it's very noticeable.

    Final Thoughts
    It may not be clear from this comparison, but I still really like the Pavane and will stay with it for now. Prior to the WD, everything I've tried has either been tonally unsatisfying, fatiguing, or just too far behind on resolution and clarity (such as the SFD). The WD has it all, I see why it is so popular here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2022
  18. GoldenOne

    GoldenOne Friend

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    So this is currently at Munich.
    Nicolae says it's still a little while out and far from final but they've got some nice upgrades in the pipeline.

    It looks really really good in person too.

    Can't wait to hear this!

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

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    Yup, saw that one at the MOC and it looks very good IRL indeed.
     
  20. 9suns

    9suns [insert unearned title here]

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    Looks amazing! Any idea about how much will it cost?
     

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