Soekris DAC2541 Review And Measurements

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Nov 11, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I have so much gear in the queue that I decided that I would do a stream of consciousness review to get you the goods on the DAC2541 as I go along instead of making everyone wait. I know that there is a lot of interest here.

    dac2541_front_1200.jpg
    dac2541_rear_1200.jpg

    After a day of warm-up, the DAC2541 is ungodly good. Those who want an oversampling DAC with a modicum of inherent warmth, but no outright warmpoo; an honest, but smooth and not-in-your-face top-end; and microdynamics and PRaT that grabs your very soul by the balls, then this is it. I had some idea of how this DAC may have sounded like given my experience with Soekris' prior generation of DACs, but my expectations have been exceeded.

    1100 EUR? Wow, just wow.

    To be continued.


    MEASUREMENTS: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.10137/page-4#post-326090
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
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  2. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Could this work with something like a Starlett?

    Edit: Sounds best with XLR-Outputs?
     
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  3. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    @purr1n are you reviewing this initially as just a DAC only? Or using the HP outs?
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    DAC only into my Studio 45 Custom. Scales like mad with Sennheisers. Amazing synergy - could have been lucky in this sense. Currently using with XLR outs, will try SE outs later. HP out as an AIO would be easy enough to assess. I'm still getting a feel for the sound of the DAC. TBH, it's very hard to describe, which IMO is good thing.

    @insidious meme knows a secret about me: if it sounds good, I get glued. If it sounds like shit, headphones get ripped off within seconds. I was glued last night to Eva Cassidy's Nightbird, all 33 tracks from beginning to end. The DAC2541 is less about itself and more about the engagement, hence lack of descriptors at this time.
     
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  5. Soups

    Soups Sadomasochistic cat

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    It might be early, but how would you say the DAC2541 fares in terms of detail/plankton retrieval?
     
  6. Collusion

    Collusion Friend

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    For us europeans this might be the closest competitor to a Schiit Bifrost 2 (~850€) + Jotunheim (~475€) combination. I wonder how these two compare.
     
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  7. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    I wonder how this would stack up against the Matrix X-Sabre Pro. The price is in a damn good spot and you also get a headphone out with it.
     
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  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @purr1n I can't recall, but did you ever hear the DAC1541? I remember it having a good tone, smooth timbre, black background, and overall sounding refined.

    What I didn't like so much was that it at times felt as if contrast was set to high to the point some fine details got lost. Or maybe it was that the timbre was just a little too smooth. And it could have been a bit more dynamic for my tastes. But I did find it a big step up from one of the lower end models from the same generation.

    I also don't recall liking the HP out on the 1541. I might be misremembering.
     
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  9. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    I was curious about the same thing. I'm thinking of eventually upgrading to a 1541, and some people I know seem to think the 2541 and 1541 are too similar to merit really desiring one over the other. But they could very well be wrong, and in that case it would be important to pick the right one!
     
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Only in passing, other people's systems, hence why I never commented much on it other than I felt the DAC1541 was significantly ahead of the lower line Soekris DACs, all of which I felt had a little wart here or there. Obviously with different gear, but my sense is that the DAC2541 does macrodynamics marginally better than the 1541, is less high-contrasty (Convert 2 contrasty), and significantly more nuanced in microdynamics, and a bit more resolving.

    The decay on the DAC2541 is quick and controlled, while the attacks aren't necessarily fast, but more normal and average (not a bad thing). I think if one wanted a highly dynamic slammin' DAC, like the Schiit or Dangerous Music DACs, then the DAC2541 isn't the one. Plankton is about on the level of Bifrost 2, which shows how far the discrete resistor designs have come in terms of performance to price. As I mentioned, the DAC2541 isn't a DAC that draws attention to itself, e.g., looky how slammin' I am, or how I can reproduce the types of noise grains on the tape, or how zippy and fast on the transients I am, or how warm, inviting, and lush I am, or how I can reproduce all that air and shimmer, or how I render with magikal R2R tone density, etc.

    In these respects, it reminds me of the Lavry DA11, one of the least "digital" sounding sigma-delta DACs I've heard - except a much better version of it without the Lavry's murky lows. The rendering of textures and pitch differentiation in the bass is phenomenal. I'd almost say that the bass articulation is amazing, but this would almost imply something that I don't want to. That's maybe the only thing that stood out.

    The prior DAC1541, from my limited experience seemed to get almost everything right, missing just that intangible quality that would have tipped it over to being superb. The DAC2541 gets those intangibles. It's like the difference between Payton Manning, the best regular season QB evar vs. Joe Montana or Tom Brady. However, this could be that I hit upon a magical synergy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    This happens a lot. How well a source will perform vary depending upon downstream gear. For example, take a 120db SINAD amp with the TPA6120 chip like the Magnius paired with a Sennheiser HD560S, and it really doesn't matter what source is driving it since such setup will homogenize the sound from any source.

    Voldemort used to say something to the effect that if you can't hear the difference, then your downstream components suck. My add to that is that downstream components can also include people. I don't like staying stuff like this because it can sound offensive and elitist. All I can say is that I'm sure Soekris didn't release a DAC 2541 for it to be 2% better than the DAC1541.
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I've secretly been waiting for the DAC2541 for a while. The Bifrost is great. Easy recommendation. However, it doesn't work in all of my setups. Bifrost is too bassy warm tonally to pair with my custom EC Studio 45 (very close to the Studio B, just a tad less 300B) and HD650, HD600, and Grado (TTVJ pads). There's a reason why I run the relatively unpopular Gungnir MB A2 with this system.

    The DAC2541 is a viable alterative here that isn't so outright bassy and warm like the Bifrost 2. It's more accessible to people in the EU. People in the USA shouldn't have a problem obtaining one either once production ramps up.
     
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  13. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Just let us know how much of a downgrade the SE outputs are. :p
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Built in headamp output, check.
    SE outputs, check.

    Will explore these tonight.
     
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  15. Cellist88

    Cellist88 Afraid someone will shit on his opinions

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    Excited about this new dac and the improvements. Still miss the dac1541, but felt the biggest letdown for me was the slightly edgy bite, resolving a tad too quickly, giving it a clean editorialized feeling, and the slightly thin tonality. Of the convert2, ifi idsd pro loaners, I prefered the 1541, and the Yggdrasil while better in most areas, lost in tonal balance, blackground, and natural cleanliness. I think if those were addressed, probably my next dac. @soekris I checked modhouse, but they don't seem to be updated with the products. Are we still expected to order from there when the time comes?
     
  16. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    I still own a dac1541. Your description is right on the money. The internal HP out is serviceable, but a good external amp makes a big difference. I've been (re)listening to mine again recently with a 2nd Af I just got for a 2nd location. What I miss relative to the Yggdrasil A2 I have with my other Af is a bit of grit, edge, mid-high complexity (I listen to a lot of small ensemble jazz). OTOH, blackground and refinement are unimpeachable. All of this with ZMF Verité Closed monkeyopd.

    When I had a different (Hegel H360+KEF Reference 1) speaker system, I put the dac1541 in while my Yggdrasil was being upgraded to A2. It sounded clean and balanced, but it lacked the in-your-face dynamics and detailed rendering of instrument character that makes Yggdrasil so realistic for well-recorded acoustic music.
     
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  17. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    I was hoping this wouldn't be a 2% thing, so this impression is enough to bite. I'll order one and do a side-by-side. I've had my 1541 since the first batch was released so I know it really well. There are a couple little niggles I hope are sorted oin this one (blurry center stage on Bal out vs SE, hum on Bal out I could never quite squash, a little sterility I 'cure' with a plugin).
     
  18. Tachikoma

    Tachikoma Facebook Friend

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    How is the USB in?
     
  19. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    DAC1541 used XMOS isolated and is very good, looks like 2541 is the same. It should be no worse.
     
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It's definitely not a minor tweak. Some significant differences here.

    DAC2541
    2541.jpg

    DAC1541
    1541.jpg
     

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