SBAF DAC Talk II

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Maxx134, Jul 22, 2018.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    In 2019, it's about the same between DS and R2R in terms of low level information retrieval, with one cavaet: discrete R2R is all over the place, with Far East stuff generally being craptastic when it comes to plankton. Also, when it comes to entry level stuff, DS > R2R still.

    The ESS 9038 stuff can potentially be good. A little too square for my tastes, but it's good. Everything else below or before from ESS sucks balls.

    If you go Soekris, go for their higher-end stuff. The cost differential isn't huge.

    Nothing beats Yggdrasil A2 or even Gungnir A2 when it comes to plankton. If it does, then you are referring to gross detail or your system isn't good enough. ESS 9038 and the latest AKMs get close enough though.

    Audio-GD will never be able to make a great DAC until they redo their output stages and maybe their power supply. Don't let their weight, the unnecessarily complex power filtering, mention of their use of Never caps (never heard of those), and their x3 R-core transformers fool you. The designs are incredibly unoriginal. All their low priced stuff is shit. Their high priced stuff is now near unaffordable. It's incredibly telling when A-GD fan boys tell us we are wrong, and then suddenly 8 months later, they don't have A-GD gear anymore. Hmmmmm, I think to myself.

    In terms of soundstage, the best are from brands that write their own custom digital filters, Crane Song, Schiit, etc. ESS 9038 and new AKM chip are also good here.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  2. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    Interesting stuff. I agree about the Kitsune tweaks, I have no idea if they would make an appreciable difference. Only reason I was thinking about it was that the LVL 1 seems to go for pretty decent prices used. I'll keep thinking. Thanks!
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Azur 851D should be on our list to evaluate. I think their DacNotMagic series scared everyone away from their brand for seven years.
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Y'all listen to @Hands. I agree with him 100%.
     
  5. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I am mostly with you.

    Just a few thoughts from my side:

    1. R2r inherently gives more freedom to developers. So it can go to either way.
    2. #1 means that skilled but not excellent makers can make passable ds, but more likely to fail in r2r. I am feeling oversimplified when saying "r2r" as a whole. Much prefer to mention makers one by one.
    3. Beyond a certain point, lowering thd is not a free lunch imo. Measurable gain comes with perceptual loss. The easiest example might be nfb and dc servo. Not necessarily bad per se. But again, too low thd = overusing some techs.
    4. Naturalness is one ultimate deciding factor imo among great dacs. Do not overlook.
    5. If having no idea or being confused, get yggdrasil 2 (or gungnir 2 by extension, depending on the budget) today. Everybody SHOULD own or seriously hear at some point of dac journey. Those dacs TEACH you how dacs SHOULD sound. Maybe not end-game dac for everybody, but maximum learning experience.


    100% agreed. Thought kingwa only sucked r2r. But recent experience let me think he goes to a completely wrong direction. Older pcm M7 fed by good transports is better than any of current agd dacs no matter r2r or sabre I've ever heard, although even m7 is a borderline passable at best in the context of "capable" dacs (and 2019 standards).
     
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  6. Sonorus

    Sonorus Almost "Made"

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    Now is discontinued but 851N and 851C still in production.
    Same dac's - filters and output stages.
     
  7. 7seven

    7seven Rando

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  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    The funny thing is this old ass, cheap Woodson DAC I have from Audio GD is really pretty decent. I dunno where he fucked up so back over time.
     
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  9. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    Converting from PCM to DSD is not using no dac. You're just shoving the complexities of pre-delta-sigma digital to analog conversion like resistor accuracy and matching into the digital domain, where they can be "fixed" with noise shaping/digital-to-digital conversion (some call noise shaping digital feedback but thats like calling class D amps digital amps so I'd refrain from that generalization). This turns the digital to analog conversion part to essentially flipping a switch on and off very quickly and the analog stage after it into just a low-pass filter theoretically, so "simple" in analog terms. Its what PS audio does for their DACs. Theres no guarantee that the d-d conversion itself incurs less loss than the analog stage of the multibit conversion process outside of in-band, static sine-wave measurements which are unfortunately the industry norm. Both are complex af, and anyone telling you otherwise is probably BS-ing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
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  10. 7seven

    7seven Rando

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    well you arent using a dedicated DAC chip which is the ''no dac'' part, but yeah, I think the recent gen DAC chips already have* this internally while still having seamless PCM support, digital volume control, jitter reduction and other useful things.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It's a neat proof of concept. The nature of PWM or DSD allows the stream to be converted to analog with just a LPF. Think about it. It actually does work.

    Just need a cap and resistor. Or in this case, a transformer was used. Of course other things need to be worked out: digital filters, noise, power, distortion, output levels, etc. for a viable robust solution. Of course by the time we are done with engineering the details, we end up with a full "DAC" circuit. Haha.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
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  12. supertransformingdhruv

    supertransformingdhruv Almost "Made"

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    ...And if you move the PCM-> DSD conversion he's doing off the PC and into the box... then maybe since you want to fiddle with the design a bunch, toss all the logic on an FPGA...

    Congratulations, you've just built one of those $6k PS Audio DACs.
     
  13. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Onyx is the one I'm looking for (gently used). I own an NOS DAC & a multibit DAC, both by Audio GD. Not unhappy w/the sound, but have that nagging feeling I can ride the digital rocket even higher/faster.
     
  14. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    So I just need to feel like bitching today. Was at my local audio club meet today, heard the following in Meet Conditions:

    Overprice setup:

    VPI Avenger with JMW-12 Fatboy arm x2 with one Windfield TI cart and one Cadenza Mono cart from Oftofon.
    Chord DAVE (Fing gross)
    Dynamic Sounds Associates Phono II Phone Pre-Amp
    Plinius Audio SA-101 Amp
    Vienna Acoustics "Liszt" speakers
    Oppo UDP-203

    So long story short, the analog end was leagues better than the digital end. Amazing analog that I heard in years. The Chord DAVE at least in Meet Conditions was nothing special. Music from the DAVE didn't move me, kind of blah sound delivery that didn't sound musical to me at least. Almost had a heartattack when I was told the $12k price. For that price I would put a down payment on a car and go take a vacation with it. The speakers were actually good, I just thought there was a little too much low end info for my taste.

    If you were curious, no, the Oppo was not hooked up to the DAVE. We were doing A/B test from an album that I forgot, where the CD was playing from the Oppo internally and the same album on the turntable. I don't miss the Oppos.
     
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  15. Xecuter

    Xecuter Brush and floss your amp twice a day

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    Dave is for headphone exclusive listeners who enjoy flexing.

    Decent speakers will expose the staging issues. HMF had it right when he reviewed it, "flatter than Keira Knightley".
     
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  16. Tachikoma

    Tachikoma Acquaintance

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    Speaking of overpriced DACs, I had a short audition with the sony dmp-z1 a couple days ago with the ier-z1r. The resolution was certainly better than what I got with my iPad, but on the interstellar OST, the subbass rumble simply overwhelmed the rest of the track - it was like a 2.1 setup with the subwoofer being set to 2x the volume of the bookshelves.

    Also tried my modded t50rp on the z1. It sounded like a very limp dick, but to be fair, so has everything except the pioneer m22.
     
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  17. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    I'm having a heart attack pricing out the analog side:

    VPI Avenger $10,000
    VPI Fatboy Tonearm x2 $8,000 ($4,000 x2)
    Ortofon Windfield Ti cartridge $4,390
    Ortofon Cadenza Mono cartridge $1,280
    Dynamic Sounds Associates Phono II phono preamplifier $13,500
    Total over $37K.
     
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  18. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    SPL Director Mk2 is coming next month.

    https://spl.audio/professional-fidelity/director-mk2/?lang=en

    Same price as the old one but has AK4490, full preamp functionality, and some other neat stuff.

    The tape return is cool. You could throw a tube pre in there for flavor.

    The main questions I'd have: is their USB implementation good? There's no mention of what they use.

    Why the AK4490 for something you're launching in 2019?
     
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  19. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Pity the Direct out and Tape loop are single ended. This is clearly a consumer device, so maybe they went with a known quantity on the DAC chip that would be warmer/more appealing than the prior gen which was (reputedly) unengaging.
     
  20. Josh358

    Josh358 Almost "Made"

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    I just compared a 9038 Pro DAC (the Exasound e38 Mk II) with a Gungnir A2, and my sense was that the e38 had more plankton. In fact, I thought it had too much plankton, perhaps because ESS intentionally underdamps its filters so it "sounds good" (ouch). I also found the upper mids/ lower highs of the 9038 Pro glarey and unlistenable, though the highs are much improved from earlier ESS DAC's like my e28 Mk II, which uses the notorious ES9018. Whereas the Gungnir is eminently listenable.

    After that, I got a Yggdrasil A2 in and have been comparing it to the Gungnir. DAC heaven! It has the detail of the Exasound without the glare or the exaggerated transients. (But that's preliminary, I haven't done a level-matched comparison yet and won't until it's had a few days to warm up.)

    (Of course, I just could just have followed Torq's advice and gotten the Yggdrasil in the first place. :) But I'm triamped with digital filters and needed more channels. So I just bought an AES16e on Ebay, and I'm going to try using more than one DAC, clocked via SPDIF or AES/EBU. In any case, I'm ecstatic over the Yggdrasil -- after years of trying to tame delta-sigma glare it's like leaving DAC hell.)
     
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