Soekris "dac1541": DAC/Amp - Stream of Consciousness Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Torq, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    I wouldn't worry too much about that U shape. Torq can likely pick up a gnats fart in a thunderstorm and even he just has a vague impression of a possibility right now.

    I'm one of those heathens who deosn't mind a bit of EQ, though, so bumping the mids a bit is no big deal to me vs the aspects like staging that are harder to change.
     
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  2. Dackzy

    Dackzy Rando

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    you see I am also kinda like that. This seems so far like a really good deal for a combo that cost the same as a Gungnir Multibit (at least in EU), though personally I am getting a 1421, simply because I am a student so the extra cash is a lot for me and unbalanced is probably fine for me
     
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  3. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I like it better than the Chord Hugo, though bear in mind that I've never been fan of the Hugo.

    I've noticed some occasional, and slight, edginess/sibilance with some of the more shrill female vocals on a couple of my audition tracks, but this goes away after the unit has been powered on for a few minutes. I doubt this is down to the DAC side of the unit, incidentally (I can retest it when I'm done with the rest of my audition). But if you're the type to keep it powered on all the time then it's a non-factor anyway.

    I'm fairly sure, at this point, that the focus I am finding on the highest and lowest registers are not anything to do with FR specifically. Why it's happening I am not sure, but there's enough right in terms of overall tonality that I don't think it's FR that's the cause.

    Your apparently-random use of apostrophes makes it hard to know what you're actually talking about.

    Based on my listening so far, the standard HD800 is NOT a headphone I would pair with the dac1541. That says more about the regular HD800 than it does the dac1541; I don't care for unmodded HD800 with any source. A properly modified pair of HD800 would be fine, I'm sure.

    Have you actually heard one of these units in order to make that sort of appraisal? Since a value judgement would have to include an understanding of performance in order to be meaningful.

    You might want to read more closely. And I would not make any decisions based on this thread, ahead of me finishing my listening. There are several caveats to this effect in the original post. SoC-type impressions tend to evolve over time.
     
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  4. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I took pause to run some native DSD content through the dac1541 - which is a mix of single and multi-rate content.

    As is common, you'll be raising your volume setting when playing DSD content as it usually requires boosting by about 6 dB to match the listening level of typical PCM content. This isn't a big factor, but with a playlist of mixed content it can result in some unwelcome surprises when you suddenly wind up switching from a quieter DSD track to a louder PCM one. Not a unique situation here, at all, but one to be aware of.

    I did not note any changes in performance or signature with DSD vs. PCM with the dac1541. This is not surprising as it handles DSD material by internally converting it to PCM first ahead of the remainder of the conversion process. As a result, I would consider DSD support on the dac1541 to be a convenience rather than a strength or weakness. In other words, if you're comparing it to a DAC that doesn't "support" DSD then you're missing the point, as you get the same audible results as if you ran the DAC in PCM mode and had your player software convert your DSD content to PCM before ever sending it to the DAC. And all PCM DACs can be driven that way.

    This means that if you have a source that cannot do DSD to PCM conversion on the fly then the DSD feature of the dac1541 might be useful, otherwise it's not terribly relevant. And the advantage of doing the conversion in your player software (e.g. Audirvana) is that it will handle the 6 dB boost for DSD content on a track-by-track basis rather you having to do it with the volume dial.
     
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  5. Collusion

    Collusion Friend

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    Well this is certainly encouraging, since I sold my Hugo few weeks back and went to look something better. I hope my dac1541 arrives this week.
     
  6. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    While it's still too early to say anything definitive, as I'm only just switching to formal auditioning using the line-outs into an external amplifier, I'd say they're very good on both counts. Though I am finding that micro-dynamic texture is more convincing and apparent in "DAC" mode (i.e. line-outs @ 0 dB on the volume control and feeding an external amplifier). This is quite apparent in Cohen's "Show Me the Place" with the gravel in his voice.

    Whether this is due to the digital volume control (that's at -20 dB or so) or something else in the circuit for headphone output is hard to say. I could run the headphone output into an amplifier and use that at 0 dB to compare, I suppose.

    Macro dynamics also yield more impact into my external amplifiers. I'm not terribly surprised by this - both of those cost more than the entire dac1541 in the first place, but the dynamic performance is still very good. They are less impacted here though - macro dynamics that is - than the micro dynamic elements, when using the built-in head-amp/volume control.
     
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  7. sacredgates

    sacredgates Audio-Technica's high priest

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    @Torq: thanks so much! I took the plunge this morning and will hear for myself soon. I will use the Soekris as a pure dac mostly. l have a TRAFOMATIC Head 2 tube amplifier and finally found a nos tube choice which I'm happy with. I bought a Modi multibit as a temporary solution, but I feel the Soekris might fit better for the ZMF Eikons. Still, while the Soekris is so small, it can act as a second transportable system when I want to listen elsewhere in the house or even when travelling, so the built in amplifier is a real plus for me. Also the crossfeed might come in handy for some hard panned Indian classical recordings. I would have been even more happy if it would have been possible to route the crossfeed to the line output as well...
    Looking forward to your further comments and full assesment....
     
  8. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Slight deviation from the normal program here ... but on the subject of dynamics ...

    Piddling around some to get back into the "groove" post sailing-in-abstentia, Infected Mushroom - "The Rat" - while not imbued with the broadest dynamic range possible, it's still decent for a modern electronic piece (Roon puts it at "11"), though it has significant "slam-factor"*, is less visceral* through the dac1541 than through Yggdrasil, Gungnir MB or DirectStream DAC.

    And that's about the order I'd put those four DACs in in terms of overall macro-dynamic capability right now.

    -

    Be careful here ... I'm not saying that the dac1541 has issues with macro dynamics ... look at the company it is keeping ... just that it's not quite matching them on this particular track.

    --

    *Yes, I know what "visceral" means. This is the best description I have of the effects at work here.
     
  9. Dackzy

    Dackzy Rando

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    there is no random there, it is just grammar, it is not my fault that Sennheiser made a HD 800 and HD 800s

    The only information I have been able to get is what I have heard people I know say and then what you are saying and out from that I think they/he hit the sweet spot for the pricing, ofc this is only an opinion. Furthermore, I like the price range they/he put it in. Once I get the HD 800's I only plan on doing the french mod.
    I still think this is a very interesting product
     
  10. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Bad grammar, which becomes confusing since the only time there should be an apostrophe around the names of HD800 or HD800S is if you're talking about their properties (it indicates the possessive). Pluralization doesn't involve apostrophes. Well, unless you're a farmer.

    Are you talking about @sorrodje's mod?

    Me too.

    But even having been listening to it for several days, I think it's premature to be making statements about where it sits value-wise vis-á-vis its most immediate competition.
     
  11. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    @Dackzy I'm not sure grammar is your strong point :)
    I guess English is not your first language, so let's leave it there.

    Please try to resist posting unless you have a question or something useful to add. This is not Head-Fi. Go read the new members thread and/or do some "lurking" in the meantime.
     
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  12. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I'm aware that my comments are not necessarily "glowing" to this point, though if you're reading them as dismissive or negative then that's not right either. I try not to descend into hyperbole, particularly in SoC postings, as it does no one any favors. But at the same time, it tends to put a potentially negative spin on something that's not really being interpreted, by me, as being negative. At this point things "just are". I'd be more concerned if I was super-enthusiastic at the outset and then that trailed off over more involved listening - that rarely ends well.

    Anyway, properly involved musical appreciation is where the rubber will really meet the road. A good example is the upcoming afternoon listening to "Carmen" (Bizet/Seiji Ozawa/Jessye Norman) ... THAT will be rather telling. More so than comparing individual tracks.

    The dac1541 has a full week+ of power-on/play time at this point, so it's "ready to go" as far as I'm concerned. Any product that needs more than that to get going needs to be run in by the factory in my opinion (nonsensical Audio-GD fanboys claiming 1,500+ hours of burn-in is necessary only have themselves to blame). That @soekris makes it quite plain that no burn-in is necessary is very much appreciated here - but I do like to keep things consistent.

    Detail/resolution and separation remain very obvious, positive, traits. It's quite a treat with small ensembles of proper acoustic instruments. By no means the only place it is enjoyable. But those two particular traits tend to be particularly well exploited by well recorded/master small-ensemble chamber music.
     
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  13. Dackzy

    Dackzy Rando

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    I have just learned that if the word ends on an s it is most likely s' and not 's. Yes, that's the mod. ( I have learned British English)
    Have you had time to test the unbalanced?
     
  14. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I'm British ...

    Apostrophes indicate either contractions (e.g. it is to it's) or possession (e.g. the HD800's treble is a bit peaky), but never pluralization.

    A little A/B testing into the Pro iCAN.

    Principle differences seem to be in dynamics (better via balanced), but I am not sure that'd be noticeable in normal listening. That's a quick, dirty and early evaluation, but as with most DACs ... other than potential dynamic resolution benefits (typically an addition bit of resolution for balanced operation) you'd have to listen in "audition mode" to tell the difference between balanced and SE for any reasonably competent DAC.
     
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  15. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    "Along this Road: Kono Michi (Yv)" (One Guitar) - Ottmar Leibert ... definitely plays to the strengths of the dac1541. Fast attack, eloquent decay ... pure tone, ambiance ...
     
  16. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Resolution/detail and separation/layering remain the "stand out" aspects of what I'm hearing here so far. These are overt aspects of dac1541's performance and are not "missable" in comparison to anything else. Not that they're necessarily exceeding my current references, but these particular traits are more noticeable than anything else about the Soekris unit.

    On to Carmen ... which is a bit of musical/vocal "torture test". While perhaps not obvious, more DACs either fail, or distinguish themselves, here than at any other single point in my evaluation.
     
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  17. Ole Bjørn Hessen

    Ole Bjørn Hessen Rando

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    Filters on Soekris DAC had significant impact on sound (ref filter brewing on diyaudio). Would be interesting to
    see if 44.1k upsampled to 352.k (which bypasses FIR1 filters) sounds very different to stock filters.
     
  18. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Buy one, and test it.

    Among numerous DACs, I have never found that upsampling prior to sending the data to the DAC has resulted in any discernible improvement.

    Very, barely, discernible differences, sometimes, maybe, but improvements ... not so far.

    I know that between Head-Fi, Computer Audiophile, and the veritable "legions" that worship at the foot of the mountain of excessive-oversampling with HQPlayer (and it's ilk), there are lots of people that find useful "improvements" doing this. But I've yet to hear such for myself. I mean no disrespect to HQPlayer or it's author(s). I find it a useful tool in many respects. But I just don't find improvements in musical enjoyment using it to oversample content ahead of having my DAC(s) do their "thing".
     
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  19. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Soekris' dac1541 survived my "Carmen" test ... perhaps not quite as gripping as I find that particular performance when rendered via Yggdrasil, Gungnir MB or my Spring DAC L3/KTE (in that order), but excellent nonetheless.

    So far I'm finding the dac1541 to be more "technical/analytic" than "musical" ... which is mostly about preferences. There are definite markets for both types of presentation. I am, personally, on the "musical" side of things.

    Very hard to place it among the hierarchy of DACs that I've heard so far, both from performance and value perspectives, though of course I have several days more listening ahead before I make any "final pronouncements" (you should most definitely audition these things for yourself).

    And onto something a little bit different:

    And whosoever shall be found
    Without the soul for getting down
    Must stand and face the hounds of hell
    And rot inside a corpse's shell​

    Very nice.
     
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  20. soekris

    soekris MOT - Soekris Engineering

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    Just a quick questions, you are trying the different filters, right ? You might find the "Soft Minimum Phase filter" more musical....
     

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