The DAC Advice Thread

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by seƱorhifi, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. RomanLis

    RomanLis Rando

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    Hi guys,
    I'm new to this forum, but I enjoy reading discussions here.

    I have a NuPrime DAC-10, which is a very nice piece of gear. Bought it because my supplier told me it would be good. It's a very good sounding DAC after all, that's a shame not having any info on it. No discussions or comparisons.

    I personally compared it to:
    ADI-2 DAC FS
    GoldNote DS10-PLUS
    In both cases, NuPrime was WAY ahead in realism and engagement.

    I'm always looking to try something new, and I don't think DAC-10 is the best DAC out there. But as I don't find any comparisons, I would really appreciate hearing your personal opinions and comparisons.

    The gear I have:
    DAC: NuPrime DAC-10
    AMP: Flux FA-10 (soon to be changed with Niimbus US-5. I know it's overpriced. Don't tell me that :)
    HP: Hifiman Susvara

    I'm currently looking at:
    Holo Spring 3 or May (but heard very different opinions)
    PS Audio DirectStream Sr (again, some people say it's great, some say it's a piece of crap. Hard to tell who is right)
    Yggdrasil LIM (heard mostly good things)
    Anything else you would suggest here?

    My priorities in sound?
    I find it a little too bright for me currently. Maybe too analytical, but actually I enjoy all the details my system shows.
    So if it was a tad warmer - I wouldn't mind that.

    I cannot hear them before buying, as there is nothing available in Cyprus to try.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2021
  2. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    @RomanLis
    Just curious, does your supplier have the NuPrime EVO dac? It might be interesting to move up the ladder within the same brand (and is within the ballpark of the other options you're looking at)
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

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    Generally the chips used will determine a lot of their sound. Anyone who says that how a DAC sounds like will be completely different depending upon implementation is deaf.

    The DAC-10 is a ESS9018 based chip. Some implementations are better than others. Generally, this line can sound a bit crispy, bright, edgy. It's probably not the most resolving of fine detail. It's got good outer detail, doesn't smooth things over, and does most things right.

    That you disliked the ADI-2 and DS-10 is very informative. Both of these use AKM4493. There are going to sound a certain way which has been derided here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/akms-velvet-sound.2356/

    I would take the "hate" in that thread as informative. (Many newcomers don't get us - we don't have a problem ripping apart stuff that we use ourselves). The bottom line is that the AKM 4491/3 can sound a certain way.

    -

    Holo 3 I would steer you away from simply because it sounds best in NOS mode, and I think NOS is too much of a risk if you don't know for sure if you really want NOS. Personally, I detest NOS. However many people love it. It's too different from standard oversampling DACs.

    The DirectStream could be interesting. Smooth sound. I haven't heard the latest firmware editions, but one I heard many moons ago was good. Not $6000 good though. Hence that's the problem. For sure buy used. New PS Audio gear instantly loses 60% of its value after purchase. Depending upon firmware, it can be a bit bright, neutral, overly smooth, or not so much overly smooth. Depending upon your point of view, this is a nice feature, or a confusing pain in the ass.

    Yggdrasil LIM could be too dark for you. Understandable if you find the ESS9018 a tad too bright and analytical as most implementations are. The LIM could very well be too much the other way. It's not just like that tonally, but also that R2R is a different sound with respect to timbre.


    I would get the Nimbus amp in first. Synergy matters more than anything else. It's the totality of the dish.

    I'm actually thinking you may like the Burl B2 Bomber, given that you've gravitated toward the ESS sound, but also find it too analytical. The B2 remains energetic (not Velvety like the AKM4491/93) and muscular, but not analytical at all. It's based on AKM too, but their older generation chip AKM4399 which was their best IMO.

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-bomber-dac-review-holy-sh-this-is-good.9575/

    Again, too hard to say for sure without knowing your system and your preferences.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 19, 2021
  4. RomanLis

    RomanLis Rando

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    Yes, but he said that it's not so fun to listen to, and he likes DAC10 more.

    Three things to consider here:
    1) He was more interested to sell me the GoldNote, which I ended up not liking, but I have no chance to send it back. You may have your own conclusion out of it.
    2) Nuprime has NO information about it's products. No discussions. No trustworthy reviews. Only some adverising materials. So I don't know if I want to pay some premium without any idea how it would turn out.
    3) The support of the company doesn't know what filter the DAC chip uses. I found the manual and it says it's configurable. But they say it's "default". Well, funny enough for a newely 2kilobuck product.
    4) The controls are not perfect. So I'm not sure I want to continue with NuPrime.
     
  5. RomanLis

    RomanLis Rando

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    Wow. That's a lot of well structured info to think about.

    I really appreciate it.

    There's a problem with B2 Bomber that it's too big to fit in my place. Rack option is not convenient here. Anyways, I got the point to take a look at AKM4399.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2021
  6. Womaz

    Womaz Rando

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    I will watch this thread with interest as I also have a Niimbus US5 Pro on order.
    This is the first time I have went for separates on my headphone system. The Niimbus will replace the Burson Conductor 3XR which is an all in one. As I dont have a standalone DAC I have been given a Qutest to try. So I have put the Qutest in operation with my Burson and it is quite an improvement. I was not expecting this.
    So I am waiting for my Niimbus, the Qutest might stay I dont know.
    Like you I am averse to that bright sound , but I like the detail, I need to find a healthy balance.
    The qutest is here at present and the others I am considering are the Pontus 2 and the Sonnet Morpheus.
    Like you its difficult to audition so I read and reread a lot of reviews to get some ideas.
     
  7. RomanLis

    RomanLis Rando

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    It would be very interesting to try Chord DACs. There are very controversial reviews about them, many say they are heavily overpriced. But at the same time many just love them. Anyway, it's hard to choose the right one.
    Some say you should go up the line (let's say I might consider Hugo2 TT), but others say it's a piece of crap and even Mojo is better. Well, that's hard to digest :D.

    About your choices - I don't consider any NOS DAC before I try one. And Denafrips - I found more bad comments regarding the company than good ones. I'm not completely in that, but it worries me a lot. Anyway, I'll read more on Pontus II to find out more.
     
  8. Womaz

    Womaz Rando

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    I am a novice at all of this so all I can do is compare to what I have . I was sceptical about whether an external DAC would make that much difference. The Qutest was quite a step up. Everything was so much clearer to me, with an improvement in the bass too.
    So I wait for the Niimbus and see what I think. So I really like the sound of the Qutest but then like I say I dont have a lot to compare it too.
    I am also tempted to go for a Holo Spring 3 level 1 DAC.......I wont be able to audition, so it would be a leap into the unknown.
     
  9. mitochondrium

    mitochondrium Friend

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    sorry for the trunctuated quote. There is always the possibility to oversample upstream of the DAC in your player software. If I were to buy a NOS dac, that is how I would use it. It gives you the freedom to use filters you like instead of being stuck with the ones the chip manufacturer has implemented. Never tried it, so I do not know how a Holo Spring 3 would sound in this configuration. If I remember well @GoldenOne commented on this in his video about the Spring 3.
     
  10. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    The first time I heard the Chord Dave, I liked it. I asked the owner "this is good... I'm guessing around $4k? (CAD)"... oh how wrong I was.
     
  11. RomanLis

    RomanLis Rando

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    I think I need to find a Qutest to try somewhere. I heard too much about it, this makes me curious. I recalled that there was one dealer around me, so I'll try to take my new amp when it comes and audition it along with the other options they may have.
    Just out of curiosity, why isn't auditioning an option for you? Isn't there a Hi-Fi audio shop in England, maybe even in a different town?


    It would take a lot of processing power, wouldn't it? I use Intel NUC as a Roon endpoint, and I think it wouldn't be enough. Having the main computer on every time I want to listen to my music wouldn't be comfortable. Otherwise, it sounds like a great option.

    At the time I don't believe anything should cost that much. Almost insane, especially if you take their upsampler into consideration.
    Anyway, if you made a comparison, what would you say is similar to Dave for less cash?
     
  12. Womaz

    Womaz Rando

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    Yes there is a dealer but they are like 350miles away so I am just not prepared to travel that far there and back.
    Also for me I cannot make instant comparisons , I need time to hear the gear in my chain and I am not sure that can be done in an hour or so. Well that is what works for me.
    The Qutest was a pleasant surprise, I was not expecting it to be that much better than the DAC in the Burson, but it beat it by quite a margin. Also I noticed this improvement almost immediately .....which of course contradicts what I have just said above :)
     
  13. RomanLis

    RomanLis Rando

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    I have also read your impressions on Matrix Sabre Pro MQA, and it looks like a good option too.
    Would you say going from ESS9018 to ESS9038Pro would make a considerable difference?
     
  14. schnesim

    schnesim Rando

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    On the contrary, even a Raspi4 has enough power for upsampling. Check out this thread https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...on-a-pi4-invigorate-your-digital-audio.11231/
     
  15. RomanLis

    RomanLis Rando

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  16. schnesim

    schnesim Rando

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    In this case two filter's aren't a bad thing. Imagine it like this, whether you're feeding the DAC a 384kHz file or 44.1kHz file upsampled to 384kHz via HQPlayer doesn't make a difference from the DAC's perspective.
    So you should buy a NOS DAC if you like the performance of this DAC and not because you intend to upsample.
     
  17. RomanLis

    RomanLis Rando

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    As filters do add some ripple in their pass band (pre and post ringing), won't it be added two times and hurt the sound?

    Sorry if I misused the terms. Any corrections are very welcome :)
     
  18. schnesim

    schnesim Rando

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    I remember Rob Watts once saying that the ripples only occur because these test signals are illegal signals according to sampling theory (only one half above the pass band and none below) and won't show in actual music signals.

    But I'm definitely no expert on the subject. If you're curious I suggest asking Rob Watts himself. He has a blog where he answers questions (among others on reconstruction filters) over at headfi: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/watts-up.800264/
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

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    The frequency of the ripple is above the human range of hearing. However, theory doesn't always translate into what we hear. Different filters will sound different. However, so will the "no filter" with NOS which means high frequencies can get aliased down (badly in some cases) depending upon the reconstruction (anti-alias / low pass analog filter). In some cases, there's no analog filter, so any anti-aliasing is reliant upon the bandwidth limitations of the amp or transducer.

    In other words, the signal is fucked one way or the another. Theoretically pure NOS get fucked more, especially with today's NOS DACs where with most implementations, there isn't an analog reconstruction filter for the audio band. The notion that NOS, especially at 44.1kHz which is barely above Nyquist, is the purest mathematically is utter bullshit.

    What is comes down to is whatever you prefer.

    Getting an NOS DAC and then associated software like HQ Player where you can choose your poison (filter) is an option. However, I dislike giving this kind of advice to people who are asking for advice. It's just another rabbit hole in an neurotic hobby with way too many already.

    I'd rather go hmm and hum with hundreds of dollars of a good pinots and bourbons than with audio gear. With audio gear, I'd rather just plug in stuff without dicking with it and enjoy the music according to the vision of the designer of the DAC. I don't have enough time to fuck with dozens of digital filters (upscaling / oversampling functions) or tubes these days.

    Listen to music, not DACs, not tubes, and not digital filters.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 20, 2021
  20. purr1n

    purr1n On vacation

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    The depends upon the oversampling of the DAC. If we know a DAC runs internally at x8 oversampling, feeding it an x8 sampling rate signal should completely override any internal filter. If not, then we would end up with a hybrid scenario. For example, feeding an Yggdrasil LIM and x4 (I think it will only take x4 at input) which is x8 oversampling, we would end up with a hybrid of both the Schiit megacomboburrito filter and whatever filter we selected with HQplayer. The result isn't additive and in such cases we actually get a sound that is a combination of both filters.

    Note that results with filters will vary greatly depending upon headphone or speaker use and also personal preferences. I like filters that push back the headstage with headphones, but I dislike this effect when it comes to speakers.
     

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