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

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

  1. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I settled on the "off" setting (soft minimum phase/soft "Butterworth" filter) quite quickly as my personal preference.

    So, "yes".

    Unlike some DACs I could mention, there are clear, and useful, differences in the filter options on the dac1541. This is a GOOD thing.
     
  2. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Thanks for these impressions, as usual, they were very well written.
     
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  3. Luge

    Luge Acquaintance

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    Hi

    Thank you Torq for the work you are doing for us! Your impressions are very well written are greatly helpful for me.

    I know that the main goal of your LaY review is to compare the Soekris to Yggdrasil and to a lesser degree to Gungir MB and other DACs but when I take into account the pricing of Soekris and that it is coming with integrated amp, it is more comparable to Bifrost MB + Lyr 2 (with tubes + LYSSTs) (at least in EU).

    So for the sake of price / value assessment, would you please mind to compare the dac1541 to Bifrost MB* and Bifrost MB + Lyr 2 combo**? Thank you very much.

    _______________
    * I know there are material differences between the Biforst MB and dac1541 (i.e. balanced output) but I believe it is still possible to compare the SE output of Bifrost MB to balanced output of dac1541 based on simple scale of which sounds better.
    ** Well it might get trickier here as the Lyr 2 offers much greater flexibility thanks to its ability to operate as tube amp and SS amp.
     
  4. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    @Torq Thank you for the stream of consciousness reporting. It is fantastic! One question: When you compare the dac1541 to Yiggy, what amp are you using?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  5. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I can do something very rough there, when I'm done with everything else, but since I no longer have either a Bifrost MB nor a Lyr 2 it won't be a back-to-back comparison which makes it of rather questionable reliability.

    I generally use the following, and I tend to call it out specifically in the main "LaY" postings:
    • Woo Audio WA5-LE Mk2 (with all upgrade options and running Takatsuki 274B & 300B, and Sylvania 6SN7GT tubes).
    • Schiit Ragnarok
    • iFi Pro iCAN
     
  6. willsw

    willsw Friend

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    These impressions seem very promising for OEM use of the module. It seems very possible to have a $2000-$2500 option appear based on the new boards that can equal or better the Spring Lvl. 3 or Yggdrasil.
     
  7. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I'm not sure how you're getting that from my comments, so far. I think that's a premature pronouncement, unless it's based on your own listening and opinions (in which case it's probably a good idea to point that out).

    The two posts in which I've made specific comparisons to those DACs, so far, put the dac1541 behind both of those units. Not necessarily very far behind, but behind nonetheless. Particularly in terms of involvement/emotion. Which isn't an unreasonable situation by any means, particularly with price in mind, but is hardly a basis for broader assumptions either. Too early to say, at least for me ...
     
  8. Asgeir101

    Asgeir101 Rando

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    I received my Soekris 1541 DAC earlier today and I have briefly compared it to my Geek Pulse Xfi.

    I have previously compared my Geek Pulse to the Gungnir Multibit and ended up selling the Gungnir Multibit (I was using USB) as I didn't feel there were sufficed difference on my amp (Cavalli liquid Crimson) at the time.

    I am now comparing on a Liquid Glass with Russian MELZ 6N8S tubes using single ended and USB connection.

    I would say the sound of the soekris is more open and detailed, both in macro and micro details. A/B across familiar tracks also shows wider and slightly more intimate soundstage.

    It is not the most exciting or in your face DAC, but it lays the the music bare in a wide, effortless and quite holistic way. Furthermore I am not expericing a U shape on it.

    YMMV and it might by new toy syndrome, but so far I really like it

    More to come. . .
     
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  9. Collusion

    Collusion Friend

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    How exactly is the OEM module supposed to be better? I looked at the specifications, but the only difference I was able to spot is 0.01% resistors for every bit, not just for the most significant ones. I wonder if this constitutes to the sound quality at all.

    On a different note, I emailed soekris.dk and asked about the single-ended outputs:

    Question: When using the unbalanced headphone output or RCA outputs, is the
    signal "de-balanced" from the internal balanced configuration? Or is
    the other channel from the balanced configuration just discarded? I
    am asking because I don't have balanced headphones but I would to
    still benefit from the internal balanced configuration.


    Answer: The output buffer is a true balanced type, so even the single ended output take full advantage of all the R-2R networks.

    I have seen designs which just discard the another channel when using single-ended outputs, so I thought it was better to clarify this out.
     
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  10. Asgeir101

    Asgeir101 Rando

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    @Torq have you had time to compare inputs on the Soekris? If not will you do so for the full write up?

    Best,

    Ásgeir
     
  11. Collusion

    Collusion Friend

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    Sorry for the OT, but when did you order yours? Did you get a tracking number? I am still waiting for a dispatch confirmation...
     
  12. Asgeir101

    Asgeir101 Rando

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    I live in Denmark so it was picked up at the manufacturer :)
     
  13. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Yes.

    This happens early in my auditioning so I can determine which input I prefer (to the extent that there's a discernible difference), and then stick with that for the remainder of the listening period (I check back in occasionally just to see if anything has changed).

    In this case, it's a bit of a toss-up.

    AES via the Aries or COAX S/PDIF via Eitr or Aries or AES via the Eitr and a balun, are essentially indistinguishable. USB still yields what I consider to be a slightly "harder" (not hard, just harder), sound, regardless of whether it's driven straight off a computer or via the USB output on the Aries. The difference isn't huge, and others may have different preferences, but I'm pretty much sticking to AES for PCM content (which is a convenience call vs. using Eitr w/ COAX S/PDIF).

    In other words, for me, in my system ...

    AES >= COAX S/PDIF > USB​
     
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  14. Collusion

    Collusion Friend

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    I forgot everything is within a walking distance in Denmark :D

    I'll post some impressions as soon I get the unit too. Currently I don't have any other device to compare it with, but I had a MSB Diamond V with Galacy Clock at home demo not that long time ago. Not exactly a fair comparison, but alongside the Analog Dac it is the only R-2R DAC I've tested at home.
     
  15. Asgeir101

    Asgeir101 Rando

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    The more comparison the merrier ;)
     
  16. Asgeir101

    Asgeir101 Rando

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    I guess I will be adding an Eitr to my collection :D
     
  17. soekris

    soekris MOT - Soekris Engineering

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    In my opinion, using any reclocking or isolating device with the dac1541 would be redundant, all digital inputs are fully isolated and goes though the same reclocking fifo buffer....
     
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  18. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    True of other DACs too, but still people find audible differences.

    Does it make any sense? Not necessarily. Though if I put my engineering hat, and relax my beliefs (or assumptions) a little bit, I'm still suspicious of all the spurious radiated switching noise that USB chipsets (or the equivalent switching behavior in some other interface implementation) have a nasty habit of emitting getting into other things. I've yanked the USB boards in some DACs and found that, even though it wasn't being used in the first place, the unit has sounded different (not always better, oddly enough), with it removed.

    Regardless, doing as blind a test (which I'd describe as blind-ish) as I can right now, it takes me less than half a minute to pick up on the difference between USB vs. the other inputs (with 16/44.1 content).
     
  19. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I should also say that I am not suggesting that the USB input sounds poor here. Where as with something like the Holo Audio Spring DAC I would choose a different DAC entirely rather than use it via USB. That's not the case here - just a slight edge/hardness to the sound.

    Given a choice, I'd run it off one of the other inputs, and since I have that choice I took it. That's not to say that I'd necessarily go spend more money just to use those inputs in this case. That's a personal call. Definitely worth it in the case of the Spring DAC, not so much here.
     
  20. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Sweet baby Christ on a cracker
     
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