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Grado/DAC forwardness?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi, all.

I have been using this setup: Rotel CDP > Rotel DAC > Kimber Silver Streaks > RA-1 > RS-1s.

I got pissed with the thin sound of it all, so I plugged the interconnects directly from the CDP to the > RA-1 > RS-1s (basically bypassing the DAC). Nice, I could turn it up.

To cut a long discovery story short, the friggin' first combo above has a very pronounced upper midrange which is often painful if the singer or an instrument goes off into loud-loud-land. Naturally, my response is to turn the volume down on the amp. This gives the rest of the "regular" music a thinner sound. SHEESH!

Everything sounded better at first with the second mentioned setup, but I quickly realized it was at the expense of just about everything: frequency extension, 3D imaging, detail, the whole nine frickin'-frackin' yards. BUT, the upper mid range was more pleasantly tamed!

My suspicion is that the problem is the DAC, being too forward in certain ranges or whatever. In my experience, albeit a limited one, I find my basic amp-wires-cans combo very revealing. Can anyone verify this?

Furthermore, what is the deal at the moment with DVD-A and/or SACD transports with outboard DACs? Is this a reality or a future possibility or is this being squashed right now by the copyright protection boys?

- Matt
post #2 of 8
Interesting, I get the same results using my MSB Link DAC, there is more upper midrange and so voices are vertically higher in acoustic space. It doesn't bother me that much since my etys do not give me pain but it does slightly bother me... without the DAC the upper midrange is tamed but everything else sucks... maybe it was supposed to be this way?

I guess an equalizer might be needed...
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

I am desperately trying...

...to avoid any sort of equalization stage. I find that slight things like micro-detail, those small things which make all the difference, take a crap when you add anything to the chain (lest it have a blindingly high price).

That's interesting, all right. What you said about vocals is spot on and for me the same thing happens with vocal-range instruments as well, such as electric geetar, etc.

- Matt
post #4 of 8
Try a different connector, Silver cables tends to be bright. Which is why the upper mid are sharp and hurt your ears, try Van Del Hul i/c, they are warmer, may be they'll work better. Try getting a pair on home demo for a week to see it it solve the problem.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm actually...

...very impressed, personally, with the cables. I know they are bright, but I think what I mean is something different and I am pretty sure it has to do with the source DAC.

The "force" I'm describing is just that: a force, and my instinct tells me (based on relatively extensive cable experience) that cables couldn't really be "the" problem. I think it's more a source thing...

Speaking of that, I am going to post a DVD-A/SACD DAC post in the accessories forum. Check it out if you know anything about this.

- Matt
post #6 of 8
Grado headphone and silver cables? *shudder*

Actually, though, it really depends on the design of the cable. Not all silver cables are by default "bright."

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

What I...

...like about the Silver Streaks is that they have a top-end frequency extension which is just so nice to me. Compared to other cables I previously thought were nice, these have so many more beauties about them than I care to list. That upper-freq. extension really helps me with realism and it's very magical, especially with instruments with lots of harmonics, such as trumpets, cymbals, synthesizers (!), etc.

They're very revealing and I think that's my problem right now. I know what you mean, though, about the bright silver plus bright Grados equals ? It's just that in my case, I haven't solidly found a non-silver cable that I could make long-term friends with. These I definitely could.

- Matt
post #8 of 8
I don't think the issue is with the cable, rather just the DAC (switching the dac on/off proves this). Even with my Cardas 300Bs (and ratshacks) the upper midrange is emphasized more, and the Cardas 300Bs are known to be dark and calm down bright systems.

I'd like to get my hands on another DAC to try this though... but I've heard this same issue 3 different times.
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