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MHDT Havana DAC - Page 4

post #46 of 2474

no luck for me...

I have had a mixed experience with the Havana...

The good part: MHDT Lab. I do not think I have ever gotten better customer support than with Lin-Li and Jiun-Hsien.

How it started: I expressed some interest for the Havana through email exchange with MHDT Lab. Next thing I knew, a package from China was knocking at my door. I HAD NOT EVEN PAID FOR THE UNIT!! Actually, I believe that part was a mistake, but Lin-Li did not freak out or anything, he was patient.

Meanwhile, the bad part of the story comes... Unlucky me, I happen to have several audio tracks that just did not sound right with the Havana. To cut the story short, I would hear significant hiss and "crackle" on the right channel when the music balance was toward the left channel (thus right channel supposed to be quieter).

We worked through various potential culprits like a bad tube (fortunately I had a spare TungSol, and it exhibit the same issue), computer related issue (but this happened regardless of the input and on both my imac and PC laptop), faulty DAC (I flipped the left and right channel DACs but that did not solve / flip the problem).

Next big surprise, I receive a SECOND unit by mail (I still haven't even paid for the first one)! Talk about no compromise customer support! Unfortunately, this time, the noise was on the left channel.

I finally sent both unit backs to MHDT lab, sadly because apart from this issue, I actually truly love the sound of the DAC (it beats the cr*p out of my Black Cube Linear built-in DAC). Very detailed, smooth, deep soundstage, honest bass, dynamic, basically lifelike.

Now comes my 2 cents question to you Havana owners... If you happen to have any of the following audio tracks, do you notice anything like I did?

1. "Touch" from Christopher Hardy on "This is K2 HD Sound": the opening bell sounds highly distorted on the right channel (like it's going through a guitar distortion unit or something!).

2. Beginning of "Monsoon" on Jack Johnson's "Sleep through the static": the hiss and "crackeling" noise is clearly present on the right channel and modulated by the left channel signal (intermittent keyboard).

3. I have a few others but that's an old french audio test CD so nobody is going to have that... I can provide the wav files to anyone who wants them though...

Note that I created "flipped version of the tracks" with left and right channels inverted. I thought that maybe that would make the hiss / distortion switch to the left channel. But that was not the case, still the problem is heard on the right channel (with the original DAC unit they sent).

When I sent the units back to MHDT (and they reimbursed me the shipping fees by paypal! Kudos MHDT), I included and audio CD with the above excerpts. I haven't heard from them (I feel for them though, as they spent so much time for my case already).

My conclusion at this time, is that unfortunately, there might be a flaw in the design philosophy of the DAC... In particular, I can imagine you can have a more transparent signal by including the minimum amount of processing after the D/A conversion, such as skipping low pass filtering. But in my experience with the Havana, I have a feeling the low level distortion / noise heard on the right channel (or left depending on the unit somehow) might be an illustration of the spurious noise not filtered by the DAC. But man, I would be curious to see measuremements on the DAC because I could CLEARLY hear the problem, so we're not talking -80dB noise here, maybe -20dB at most!

Anyhow, Havana owners, I am hoping to hear your experience!

Arnaud.
post #47 of 2474
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post
illustration of the spurious noise not filtered by the DAC. But man, I would be curious to see measuremements on the DAC because I could CLEARLY hear the problem, so we're not talking -80dB noise here, maybe -20dB at most!

Anyhow, Havana owners, I am hoping to hear your experience!

Arnaud.
That's so wierd.

Wonder if any Havanah owners could chime in regarding that anomaly.

I've practically begged Mouse to send me a Havanah for demo but he' never responded.

My Paradisea+, which obviously shares a very similar architecture to the Havanah, certainly has no distortion in either channel. And I'm about as clinically nit picky as it gets.

Thanks for the info.
post #48 of 2474
Did you tried it with the Coax input instead of USB ?! Maybe the USB input is faulty.
post #49 of 2474
My first Havana had static in the right channel (which is what I based my initial impressions off of). It was funny, because that was the channel that I noticed huge improvements over the Paradisea+ (a very big difference between the two)!

I received a second unit that did not have the static, but it also didn't sound as revealing out of that channel. I wasn't sure what to make of it, and I'm still not sure. I think it is what you have experienced Arnaud.

Either way though, I use my Havana as my main DAC, though the second unit (static free) sounds similar to my Paradisea+. I've been very very busy now that I started graduate school, so I have not had enough time to compare the two using my speakers, but on headphones any differences (if any) are very subtle.

I love the way the Havana sounds. It has that beautiful and luscious mid range which I've come to associate with MHDT labs!
post #50 of 2474
Quote:
Originally Posted by Killercrush View Post
Did you tried it with the Coax input instead of USB ?! Maybe the USB input is faulty.
Yes indeed, it was one of the first comments of MHDT Lab. I actually tried both USB and optical out of the imac. Then tried USB out of laptop PC. Finally used coaxial from M-Audio FireWire Solo soundcard. Same problem in all the configurations and regardless of the source sample rate...

Quote:
Originally Posted by s1rrah View Post
That's so wierd.

Wonder if any Havanah owners could chime in regarding that anomaly.

I've practically begged Mouse to send me a Havanah for demo but he' never responded.

My Paradisea+, which obviously shares a very similar architecture to the Havanah, certainly has no distortion in either channel. And I'm about as clinically nit picky as it gets.

Thanks for the info.
I can send ftp links to sample files to any MHDT owner who sends me a p.m. I created 30sec sample for "Monsoon" (5MB wav file) and 1min sample for "Touch" (10MB wav file). If you want to check with your Paradisea, let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Towert7 View Post
I received a second unit that did not have the static, but it also didn't sound as revealing out of that channel. I wasn't sure what to make of it, and I'm still not sure. I think it is what you have experienced Arnaud.

Either way though, I use my Havana as my main DAC, though the second unit (static free) sounds similar to my Paradisea+. I've been very very busy now that I started graduate school, so I have not had enough time to compare the two using my speakers, but on headphones any differences (if any) are very subtle.

I love the way the Havana sounds. It has that beautiful and luscious mid range which I've come to associate with MHDT labs!
Looks like you got lucky. Unfortunately, second unit had the static on the left channel for me... I concur with the midrange of the Havana, it's really hard to go back to Lehmann DAC or the M-audio Firewire Solo... Both these sound identical to me, there's no much magic going in, it sounds dry compared to the Havana.
post #51 of 2474
PM sent. I can test it with my Havana. Mine's been doing great. Compared it with my paradisea+ (before changing BB opamp), and it was more dynamic and fluid. I love it.
post #52 of 2474
Meh... that makes me quite sceptical. I ordered a Havana some days ago and wanted to pay it tomorrow.
post #53 of 2474
Btbluesky, there actually is another non-OS DAC that doesn't use an op-amp: USB Monica uses the Rudolf Broertjes' SS I/V Gain Stage. It's a lovely DAC - warm and musical - and at about $350 including Super E black gates, it's also excellent value.

(Edit: Monica 3 is the coaxial version.)
post #54 of 2474

Havana DAC Static

I have been listening critically through my WA 6 and HD 600's today. I don't hear any static issues however I don't hear much difference between the Havana DAC being fed by my Rega Apollo and the analog outputs of my Apollo. I have tried some tube rolling and still not much difference between the Havana and the Apollo CD player even through my Melody I880 integrated amp and my Gallo Ref 3's.

In comparison, a number of years ago when I got a Perpetual Technologies P3A and had it modded by Dan Wright (Modwright)- it totally blew away the sound compared to my Pioneer PD-65 CD player.

Just my opinion for now. Unless the Havana needs more break in time, I don't see it as a giant killer - either that or the Rega Apollo is the real giant killer considering I bought it new when it first came out for $995 and the Havana was $799.
post #55 of 2474
Quote:
Originally Posted by rad212 View Post
a giant killer
Rad, what are the giants?
In addition, do you own any of the giants you will list?
post #56 of 2474
Quote:
Originally Posted by Towert7 View Post
Rad, what are the giants?
In addition, do you own any of the giants you will list?
Giant Killers are pieces of gear that cost a little $$ and sound better than much more expensive $$$ pieces of gear ie, a DAC that cost $800 sounding as good as those costing $2000. Like the statements in this review of the Paradisea:

mhdt paradisea


Just like I said in my post- for my money the Rega Apollo is a far better value to me than the Havana. I really thought the Havana, a dedicated NOS tube DAC with no Op Amps and no digital filters at $800 would trounce a CD player like the Apollo costing $995....
post #57 of 2474
Quote:
Originally Posted by rad212 View Post
Giant Killers are pieces of gear that cost a little $$ and sound better than much more expensive $$$ pieces of gear ie, a DAC that cost $800 sounding as good as those costing $2000. Like the statements in this review of the Paradisea:

mhdt paradisea


Just like I said in my post- for my money the Rega Apollo is a far better value to me than the Havana. I really thought the Havana, a dedicated NOS tube DAC with no Op Amps and no digital filters at $800 would trounce a CD player like the Apollo costing $995....
Nono, I know what a Giant killer is.
I'm asking you what you consider the Giants are.
If the Havana will be a Giant killer, which Giants are they killing?

And, do you own any of the giants you will list?
post #58 of 2474
Quote:
Originally Posted by rad212 View Post
I have been listening critically through my WA 6 and HD 600's today. I don't hear any static issues however I don't hear much difference between the Havana DAC being fed by my Rega Apollo and the analog outputs of my Apollo..
If the Havana and the Rega Apollo sound the same (as you say) and you think the Rega Apollo is a giant-killer, I don't see how you can think that the cheaper Havana is not equally a giant-killer... ... Maybe you were expecting too much from it?
post #59 of 2474
I had a Rega Apollo for a short time (yes it was burned in) and could not get by the steely highs and sold it. Not trying to dump on the Rega but there are documented operational problems where they do strange things, Doug Schneider a reviewer with an on-line mag. documented problems with 6 consecutive Rega players, not my idea of a giant killer.

Phill
post #60 of 2474
I've just tested the 4 files, 30 secs, and 1 mins. They're all okay with my Havana. Seems you were just unlucky.
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