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Behringer SRC2496 vs Entech Number Cruncher 203.2

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
I have had the Entech for several days now and it should be broken in good enough to conduct an informal test. First, I know this is not an ABX formal test with results from several people in a pristine environment. Therefore, if you are a Hydrogen Forum alumni , you may want to skip over this informal test result.

The purpose of this test was to determine if I wanted to keep the Number Cruncher 203.2 in my main system or the SRC2496. The "loser" will go to my bedroom.

First off, I decided the music I wanted to use for the test. It consisted of Norah Jones "Come Away with Me" (mainly for female vocals in a mid-tempo setting), Pink Floyd "Comfortably Numb" (for guitar, ambiance, etc..), Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun" (bass and male vocals), and Van Morrison (Horns, vocals, and ambiance). After my personal tests, I picked a song that I thought would bring out a big difference in the performance in these DACs), Bob Dylan "Standing In The Doorway".

For the test, I used my Sony Vaio WMC PC with Sigma Tel soundcard. The digital optical out feeds the SRC2496 and the digital coax output feeds the Entech. I have switched them around and I could not make out any difference. The SRC 2496 has XLRs. Therefore, I used adapters to connect them to the analog inputs on my Denon AVR3300 receiver. I fed the RCA analog outputs on the Entech to my receiver. The RCA cables were the same brand (AR).

I used all WMA Lossless files out of Foobar2000 at 44.1Khz.

My girlfriend was not around during my earlier tests, but when she arrived, I had the following list for her to know what I was looking for:

1. Separation of instruments - I explained that I was looking for an idea of which "A" or "B" sounded more open, less noise floor, with more room for each instrument to breathe.

2. Sounds truer to the sound of the instrument - A piano should sound like a piano, etc..

3. Imaging - did the speakers disappear? Was it like a band in the room or did it sound more like two speakers where she could pinpoint the exact location of the speaker when hearing the music?

4. More detailed bass - punch, does it sound muffled, etc..

5. Vocals - do they sound true?

6. Musical - which is a better presentation with all of the above combined - which sounds better in the bigger picture?


These choices were my own invention and are in no way scientific. However, I knew what I wanted answered by her more technical ear (she plays several instruments ranging from the piano to the drums). I did not tell her what I was testing, but that it did not matter which one she chose because it was a "win-win" situation regardless of her decision.

I set up an SPL meter before she got there to determine if there was a difference in the volume. There was, so I adjusted to the correct volume before switching. In other words, I would put the receiver on a "dead" input to adjust volume so one would not stick out based on it being louder.

In nearly every case, the Behringer was better overall. The one exception was with the Norah Jones track which actually worked better overall with the Entech.

My girlfriend had the exact same results, for the same reasons, that I had. The Entech seems to really pull out the vocals. However, it does so with the loss of ambiance. The reason I added the Dylan tune was because it has a lot of ambiance in the background and with the Entech it was buried too deeply behind the vocals. This was also the case with all of the other tracks (other than Norah).

For me, once again, the Behringer was the clear all around winner. The Entech still sounded good and I feel that I got my money's worth ($50), but it will be heading to my bedroom to be played in my other system (which is still pretty good and now because of the Entech will be even better).

Added later : The Behringer costs $129 compared to the $50 or so for the Entech (however, the Entech debuted at much more). The Behringer has a lot more options that I think explain the difference in price. It has the ability to accept several sources and upsample to several different choices. It also has ADC and can be used to carry a coax signal into an optical source and visa vera... There is also an led array and a headphone output. I think the $80 difference can easily be explained by all the extras you get with the Behringer. Therefore, I tested them on their merits of sound quality alone. I have no knowledge of other DACs, so if anyone wants to write about how it compares to the 205.2 or anything else, feel free. Like I mentioned, I have these two DACs and this was a comparison of sound quality only. Price was irrelevant to my comparison because the Berhinger is much more sophisticated in every single way.
post #2 of 34
Nice review! I'm really interested in the SRC. I have have the DEQ2496 that i use for room correction and sound tweaking. I believe it has the same DAC as the SRC. I was using it as a DAC but now run digital (room corrected) to my Panny xr55 digital receiver which i think does a better job as a DAC (high power DAC if you will). Anyway, i was thinking about using the SRC in front of the DEQ to upsample to 96/24bit.

Do you notice any difference when switching to 96/24bit on the SRC?
post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 
I will test it tomorrow and get back to you. I have had it upsampling to 24/96 since I hooked it up.

There is a huge article (although I do not know the person that posted it) on the combination of the DEQ with the SRC.

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze4c5pt/id11.html

Here is the main point you would be interested in from the article:

Running an SRC in front of your DEQ2496 will make another gigantic improvement as upsampling really pays off. I haven't had the lid off of the SRC2496 to see what makes it tick yet but it sounds great on all counts and the analog out is even better than the DEQ.
post #4 of 34
Yes, I will be curious on how upsampling makes and improvement. I do know that my Panny 8x upsamples, but will also take up to 192 khz if you can feed it that. Ofcourse it all comes down to how well they upsample and the SRC may do a better job than the Panny. Also, upsampling to 96/24 bit may be something that the DEQ may be more effective at digitally EQ'n - mathmatically speaker. Not really sure though. One of the best things about the SRC is that you can feed it an consumer level analog signal and you can boost this up to a decent level and ADC it to feed the DEQ. I may try this for my SACD analog out. I hope this jabbering makes sense.

BTW, if you ever decide to do room correction or any other type of EQ, i would highly recommend the DEQ.
post #5 of 34
Nice review, very down to earth and informative at the same time, kudos. You might want to mention that the Behringer SRC2496 costs twice that of the Entech 203 and is more in the league of the 203's big brother Entech 205, which has better voltage regulation than the 203 and sound better for it.
post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dept_of_Alchemy
Nice review, very down to earth and informative at the same time, kudos. You might want to mention that the Behringer SRC2496 costs twice that of the Entech 203 and is more in the league of the 203's big brother Entech 205, which has better voltage regulation than the 203 and sound better for it.
I amended my review... feel free to compare anything you want to anything else you want. I have the 203.2 and the SRC2496, so that is what I tested. I explain why the price was not the issue above.

The Entech is good for a $50 DAC or I would have just sold it on eBay. However, it was not good enough for my main system. I wish it was, because now I need a switcher for my bedroom system. The Behringer would have been perfect. I have analog and digital sources in the bedroom I could have sent to it. So now I need a switch and I am looking, but the one I read good things about is $73.5+6 S&H...about the same difference between the DACs I compared above.

Of course, it does not have a headphone jack, so that would be more if I needed it...

My point being (like I explained above), there are good reasons besides sound quality for the price difference.

BTW, thanks for the compliment on the part you enjoyed.


Max, I did not get around to testing it because I went out after work. I will give it a listen tomorrow.
post #7 of 34
Thanks for your review uofmtiger. I'm looking for an DAC for my sound card (and my cd player) and I found what it seems to be the the old version of the SRC2496: the SRC2000. Do you know something about it? It's quite cheap at 60EUR and I don't need a sky high quality considering my audio chain.

EDIT: I found the answer my self, the SRC2000 lacks of RCA outputs -.-
post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max F
Nice review! I'm really interested in the SRC. I have have the DEQ2496 that i use for room correction and sound tweaking. I believe it has the same DAC as the SRC. I was using it as a DAC but now run digital (room corrected) to my Panny xr55 digital receiver which i think does a better job as a DAC (high power DAC if you will). Anyway, i was thinking about using the SRC in front of the DEQ to upsample to 96/24bit.

Do you notice any difference when switching to 96/24bit on the SRC?
I had a chance to test the difference today. This was not a blind test, just so you know, and I had to use my Grado SR60s to conduct the test. There was no way for me to test with speakers because there is no way to change the settings remotely. Also, it would be testing my girlfriends patience to ask her to do another test on the back of the one I did earlier.

I used the same playlist to conduct this test.

In short, there was not much difference at all on low volumes between 16/44 and 24/96. The main differences were heard at high volumes. The 24/96 showed a bit more separation (less muddled) than the 16/44. Similarly, it sounded cleaner with less noise.

I am not sure I would pay $129 for only this subtle difference on my system. However, it may pair with the DEQ better and feeding it a subtly cleaner signal may make a difference as described in the link I posted earlier. As it is, I am going to upsample everything to 24/96 because of the small differences that I heard.... Your results may vary. There are tons of posts of people that hear huge differences while others hear no difference at all with any upsampling methods.
post #9 of 34
Thanks so much for trying that out! I'm really thinking about getting one since they are pretty cheap. Even if i used it for analog only that may be worth it since i can feed that to my DEQ. Likely try out the digital in and try it upsampled. I'll let you know if i do get one. I'll probably have to hide this little piece of eq (and more cables) from my wife, but i can set it, hide it, and forget about it. Thanks again!
post #10 of 34
Hi,

Is it possible on the SRC2496 to choose indepedently between any digital and analog inputs and choose any of the digital or analog outputs?

let's say I have an airport express connected to the optical input, a DVD player connected to the electrical digital input and whatever connected to the analog inputs... can I choose to route any of these signal to the headphone output or to a digital ouptut (very unlikely) or to the analog output (requiring an XLR to RCA cable I guess) depending on my mood?

thanks for your answer!
post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbb
Hi,

Is it possible on the SRC2496 to choose indepedently between any digital and analog inputs and choose any of the digital or analog outputs?

let's say I have an airport express connected to the optical input, a DVD player connected to the electrical digital input and whatever connected to the analog inputs... can I choose to route any of these signal to the headphone output or to a digital ouptut (very unlikely) or to the analog output (requiring an XLR to RCA cable I guess) depending on my mood?

thanks for your answer!
The input is selectable and all outputs are active for whichever input you choose. In other words, you cannot feed the headphone and the receiver two separate signals. You can feed one signal to separate places at the same time, though.
post #12 of 34
that's exactly what I want to do...
thanks for the answer!

I was heading for the entech and, thanks to you thread, I realized I could get this nice device for a little more, that would enable me to connect 3 different sources (without needing to buy an input selector, cause I have only self powered monitor speakers with one input), use a not too bad A/D conversion and benefit from a good D/AC and plenty of other features... wow, that's a lot to play and some money spared (at least, I was not planning initially to get an entech or a Behringer now lol) thanks!
post #13 of 34
Thread Starter 
I ended up buying the little $75 switchbox that I mentioned above for the entech. I think the Behinger is a better value with all the extra options....not to mention better sound quality!

Let me know how you like it.
post #14 of 34
The Behringer costs $130 and is a modern day DAC, whereas the Entech is ~$50 and was developed some time ago. A much more fair comparison would be a stock DAC-Ah vs. the SRC2496, IMO. The Number Cruncher is really just something cheap that is better than even a nice sound card and a stock cd player DAC.

The shallow side of me would buy the Entech over the Behringer for its looks alone.
post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmirza
The Behringer costs $130 and is a modern day DAC, whereas the Entech is ~$50 and was developed some time ago. A much more fair comparison would be a stock DAC-Ah vs. the SRC2496, IMO. The Number Cruncher is really just something cheap that is better than even a nice sound card and a stock cd player DAC.

The shallow side of me would buy the Entech over the Behringer for its looks alone.
Well, I rarely buy equipment for looks. That's just me, but I know there are people that will not add anything black in their audio collections, so you are not alone in caring about aesthetics. I usually can only see the lights from my sitting position, so at least the LED array gives me something purty to look at.

In fairness, here is my comparison of the DAC-Ah with the Berhinger:

1. Headphone output - Winner - Behringer...the DAC-ah is not equipped with one*

2. LED array - Behringer - see above*

3. Sample rate converter - winner - Behringer -see above*

4. ADC - winner - Behringer - see above*

5. Selectable dither control - Winner - Behringer - see above*

6. jitter control - Winner - Behringer - see above*

7. simultaneaous output via coax, optical and XLRs - winner - Behringer - see above*

8. selectible inputs of 3 sources (coax, optical, and analog) - winner - Behringer - see above*

I cannot test the sound quality, but for the price I would rather have the flexibility of the Behringer (which is why I bought it instead of the DAC-ah). If you want to mail me a DAC-ah or 205.2 you think I should test, send it on over. Like I mentioned above, I only tested the two for the purpose of keeping one in the living room and moving the other to the bedroom. With the added cost of the switchbox (not to mention a headphone amp), the Entech would be in the same price range. The DAC-ah would not be.
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