Soekris dac1421

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Vtory, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    [​IMG]

    DAC1421 in the house. Not mine though (the loaner program).

    A little bigger than my adi-2, but still very cute. I love this level of small sizes -- office/desktop-friendly.

    Right after turning it on, the sound is a little lean and harsh-ish on trebles. Not as severe as day 1 of Gungnir Multibit though. I know I know multi-bit needs time to be stabilized...

    Will have a shootout party with adi-2 dac prol on Sunday or so. Hope 1421 gets warm enough until then.

    P.S. I assume this thread is also for 1421, because presumably 1421 and 1521 share lots of sonic characteristics, as described in Soekris webpage.
     
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  2. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Several notes on day 2
    • Stabilization of 1421 is much faster than expected. OG Gungnir Multibit needed at least 3-6 days after power on. 1421 already seems to be there (or 95% there) just after 30 hrs of warm-up. A bit surprised -- really. Maybe is this because of discrete ladders (as opposed to IC-based multibit)? idk.
    • Soft minimum phase filter (filter lamp off) worked best for me compared to the others, by a big margin. I will use this filter in my evaluations.
    • Built-in hp amp is decent but surely it failed to address major issues of hd800. Didn't like it with elex, either. So, I will mainly look at this unit as a dac, not as a dac-amp.
    • The sound of 1421 so far is clean, pure, and honest-ish. Very impressively so.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Day 4, shoot-out -- DAC1421 (abbreviated as 1421) vs ADI-2 DAC (abbreviated as adi2)

    Associated gears
    • Headphones: HD800 (wo mods) and Elex were mainly used, because these two have the resolving ability needed to this kind of dac comparison.
    • Head amp: Black Widow 2
    • Speakers: JBL LSR 308, I don't think my pairs or lsr308 aren't as resolving as my headphones. So, these are only used to investigate (regular) stereo images and stages, in addition to head-stage and head-image tests.
    • All the active gears were powered via PPP ac re-generator.
    Setting notes
    • 1421 with soft minimum-phase filter, adi2 with short-delay sharp (aka steeper minimum-phase) filter, mainly because these settings maximized my overall listening pleasure.
    • Adi2's digital attenuation was bypassed.
    • 0.5 db of software attenuation was applied via foobar2000 to prevent potential clipping
    Observations and findings
    • I kinda categorize these two dacs into the same domain: Both dacs are far from rich tones and meaty bodies -- particularly compared with og Gungnir Multibit or qutest. Also, both (1421 and adi2) are rather on the clinical/analytical side, at least to my ears.
    • Tonality-wise, 1421 is brighter and stronger on trebles and tops than a tad bright adi2 (note: my previous dac before adi2 was og Gungnir Multibit). Not sure whether or not this is an appropriate expression, but 1421 sounds like "sabre done right". Downstream tonality may be a big decision factor if you consider 1421 in your rig. To me, hd800+bw2 with 1421 was nearly on the borderline between "acceptable" and "intolerable". Tubes and darker/warmer gears will benefit 1421 for sure. I am suspecting if previous high praises of 1421/1521 came mostly from hd650 or zmf.
    • Blacker background, super clarity, and cleaner sound are where 1421 really shines. Indeed, 1421 outperforms all the dacs I previously owned or auditioned in this aspect, with only exception of Dave. By contrast, adi2 sounds like having better resolution with more relaxed and less proactive presentations. This is funny, because I felt nearly the same way when I compared og Gungnir Multibit and adi2 (i.e., adi2's role was the opposite).
    • Micro and macro dynamics of 1421 are very good, but not as delicate as adi2 to my ears. Possibly because of more polite presentations of adi2, which helped me to focus on small details of music. If this is the major priority, I think going for Schiit dacs is a better choice because og Gungnir Multibit already destroys these two dacs.
    • Transient responses were great with both. Quite moving and authoritative with equally fast decays. What mostly differs is the softness of attacks. 1421 hits harder while adi2 does softer (and more rounded). I don't think one is superior to the other in this regard -- just a matter of preference and/or downstream synergy.
    • Staging and imaging are good. But a bit strangely, 1421 behaves more like DS implementations. When testing with speakers, 1421 reproduces a bit smaller stages. Also it's more upfront (i.e., I am sitting in front rows). Switching to adi2, stages are a little wider and deeper with more separation among instruments. Feel like I sit in row 7-8 or so. Headphone tests nearly mirror that experience except stage depths. 1421 renders stronger and more vivid (thus more realistic) center images. As a result, I prefer to use adi2 for classical works, symphonies and large-scale jazzes (e.g., "Live in Zürich" by Aruan Ortiz Trio) while 1421 is more pleasing with female vocal works (e.g., "Little Crimes" by Melissa Menago) and small chamber musics. This preference was consistent regardless of either headphones or speakers.
    Other things to be considered
    • 1421 can be better with later-added custom filters, which I couldn't test because this is a loaner unit.
    • Adi2 handles usb input signals superbly even when they are somewhat contaminated and dirty. So, it is likely that 1421 gets (relatively) better off with a careful choice of decrapifiers such as reclockers.
    Closing thoughts
    • For its asking price of $985 (as an aside, it's very encouraging for US customers to have a place to buy Soekris products handily), 1421 is really a solid performer. It doesn't have rich set of features like adi2, but has a number of meaningful strengths hardly bested by other alternatives. But at the same time, I found it very difficult to call one is overall superior to the others. All-time conclusion still applies to this case -- a matter of preference and synergy.
    • Practically, I once considered to switch to 1421. But at the end of the day, I found my preferred headphones (hd800 for now) favor adi2 more [1]. I will get a loaner auteur sometime next week or so, and have ether 2 prol around the end of this month. These two headphones may draw very different conclusion regarding adi2 vs 1421. It will be interesting, but not available for now. I have to send this unit to the next person next week. Feel a bit sad.
    Footnotes
    [1] With my current upstream gears, I have nearly zero motivation for modding my hd800 (maybe this is also partly helped by potential running changes of high serial numbers? -- mine is 4xxxx). But if 1421 is my dac, I will be probably eager to apply SDR and Vader mods (or equivalent ones).
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  4. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master 2.0

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    @Vtory and friends, I moved this out of the dac1541 thread and into its own thread since one did not exist.
     
  5. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Cool. I was hesitant to do so (staring a new thread) because some 1421 talks were already in the 1541 thread.. Totally fine with this movement. Thanks!
     
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  6. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master 2.0

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    I'll scroll through that thread this weekend and move any other relevant posts here.
     
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  7. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    My gut feeling was right.

    I am shortly confirming these by myself. 1421-BW2-Auteur is fucking fantastic.. Auteur's forgiving, polite, yet resolving bio-cellulose sound seems to pull most out of 1421 dac in a very pleasing way -- way higher level of synergy than RME. Will detail impressions and thoughts when I post about Auteur.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  8. sacredgates

    sacredgates Audio-Technica's high priest

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    Similar conclusion here with 1421’s big brother dac1541 and Auteur. Somewhat dry, etched presentation with deftness to each note of Soekris dac goes well with the bio-cellulose driver of the Auteur. But you still have to put a fitting amp in between...
     

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