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Sound signatures of Esoteric vs. EMM Labs - Page 2

post #16 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2deadeyes View Post
I was able to find APL's site and it seems they just announced that effective immediately, all mods to the Transporter will be discontinued. Not sure how credible this is as it is the 1st of April.
Maybe this is because the Modwright Transporter got such a glowing review at 6moons recently. He even compared it favorably to the NWO 3.0 in some cases.

With my EMM stack and the ES-2/HE90 i have been struggling to get rid of glare at the high end of the spectrum. I am currently listening with my RME 9632 as the transport, running aes to the DCC2 SE. Now i did not do blind tests, but IMO, i got the computer transport to sound very close to the CDSD SE using samplitude as the software player. Fooobar doesn't have the same resolution/clarity, but it cuts down on the glare a bit, so i am using it for now. The ES-2 may need to be tweaked for the glare issue, maybe more tube rolling.

With the RME and DCC2 i am using an atomic clock, so this does influence things a lot. Makes it all sound more real. Using the internal DCC2 clock has slightly better soundstage, but tonality suffers.

andy
post #17 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chesebert View Post
Please try the FW40 before your upgrade, the new firmware completely changed the sound signature of the TP.

TP has this nice Xilinx FPGA that is used to control the operation of the DAC (actually mostly filters IIRC); and that is the key to possible continual improvements in sound quality as evidenced by the significant increase in fidelity with the new FW40 firmware.
I will give the new firmware a try. I read that it gave some problems since it's still beta - have you encountered any?

Quote:
Originally Posted by blubliss View Post
Maybe this is because the Modwright Transporter got such a glowing review at 6moons recently. He even compared it favorably to the NWO 3.0 in some cases.

With my EMM stack and the ES-2/HE90 i have been struggling to get rid of glare at the high end of the spectrum. I am currently listening with my RME 9632 as the transport, running aes to the DCC2 SE. Now i did not do blind tests, but IMO, i got the computer transport to sound very close to the CDSD SE using samplitude as the software player. Fooobar doesn't have the same resolution/clarity, but it cuts down on the glare a bit, so i am using it for now. The ES-2 may need to be tweaked for the glare issue, maybe more tube rolling.

With the RME and DCC2 i am using an atomic clock, so this does influence things a lot. Makes it all sound more real. Using the internal DCC2 clock has slightly better soundstage, but tonality suffers.

andy
Thanks for your impressions - it certainly adds a few more perspectives.
post #18 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by chesebert View Post
Please try the FW40 before your upgrade, the new firmware completely changed the sound signature of the TP.

TP has this nice Xilinx FPGA that is used to control the operation of the DAC (actually mostly filters IIRC); and that is the key to possible continual improvements in sound quality as evidenced by the significant increase in fidelity with the new FW40 firmware.
Quoted for truth. I'm not sure why a firmware upgrade would produce a change in sound, especially when the creator (Sean Adams) states that all firmware revisions should sound the same. My ears tell me that FW40 sounds way better than FW36 so upgrade and see what you think then. TP becomes less analytical and much warmer.
post #19 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2deadeyes View Post
I will give the new firmware a try. I read that it gave some problems since it's still beta - have you encountered any?
digital volume broken; but who cares
post #20 of 60
I was showing David the difference in DAC's by running the analog output of the TP into my McIntosh pre through a speaker setup, also running the digital out of the TP using an AES/BEU XLR into the PCM digital input of the DAC6e.
The difference is significant, but the Emm Labs output is louder (into the balanced inputs into the McIntosh) so it's hard to volume match.

Comparing my DV-50 to the Emm Labs is less of a difference than the TP, but the Meitner setup definitely beats out the Esoteric.
post #21 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by blubliss View Post
Fooobar doesn't have the same resolution/clarity, but it cuts down on the glare a bit,
How much is Samplitude?

Anyway, which version of Foobar with which output (ASIO version?) are you using?
post #22 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon L View Post
How much is Samplitude?

Anyway, which version of Foobar with which output (ASIO version?) are you using?
I use the free demo of samplitude, 24 bit, asio.

Foobar is v.0.9.5 beta 3, asio 1.2.5. I haven't experimented with others yet.
post #23 of 60
Don't you have to eventually pay for Samplitude?
post #24 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by ted betley View Post
Don't you have to eventually pay for Samplitude?
No, it just has reduced features. Quite inconvenient too, no playlists.
post #25 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post
I agree with Icarium's assessment. I've heard the DV-60 and his UX-1 and both seemed to share a relatively cool sound.



I might attribute your observation to the fact that the DA220 MKII uses the AK4395 for the D/A conversion and the Transporter uses the AK4396. This DAC seems to be fairly well-regarded but you can do significantly better with the EMM Labs equipment.

Also remember most of the Esoteric equipment doesn't have true-balanced output...
Sorry, I missed this and just noticed it.

Your comment regarding balanced output on Esoteric units - I'm curious as to why you believe it's not true-balanced. Is it due to the use of op-amps in the output stage?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chesebert View Post
Please try the FW40 before your upgrade, the new firmware completely changed the sound signature of the TP.

TP has this nice Xilinx FPGA that is used to control the operation of the DAC (actually mostly filters IIRC); and that is the key to possible continual improvements in sound quality as evidenced by the significant increase in fidelity with the new FW40 firmware.
I downloaded Squeezecenter 7.1 last night and upgraded the firmware to v40. I loaded a few reference tracks and listened to some repeatedly, but couldn't find any changes in sound compared to v36.
post #26 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2deadeyes View Post
Sorry, I missed this and just noticed it.

Your comment regarding balanced output on Esoteric units - I'm curious as to why you believe it's not true-balanced. Is it due to the use of op-amps in the output stage?
The Esoteric sources tend to not be dual differential, a requirement for true-balanced output. There's a thread on the subject in this forum somewhere, I forgot which thread though. Also there's a DSD/PCM issue with Esoteric that I forgot to mention earlier, you can read more about it here: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f7/new...d-05-a-260855/
post #27 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2deadeyes View Post
In my search for a higher-end DAC, I've taken interest in offerings from both Esoteric and EMM Labs. Would appreciate any comments from anyone that has heard both, particularly the seprate transport/DAC units or the DAC fed by a different transport, comparing their general sound signatures.

I'm currently eyeing the Esoteric D05 but for around the same price, I may be able to land an EMM DCC2 SE (if someone is willing to sell separately) used on Audiogon.

TIA
The Esoteric equipment, in my experience anyhow (DV60, UX1, DV50, some other thing; I forget the model No.) maybe has what people call "analytical" sound. I'm not sure since I'm not certain what this term means. Likewise, I'm not sure what to call the DCC2 since it was also highly detailed and I had very little trouble picking out various elements of the music with precision. However, it was still balanced and very pleasant to listen to; moreso than the Esoteric gear I've used.

From a design standpoint, the EMM gear (at least what I've used) is also considerably more interesting, to me at least. EMM uses ovenized discrete d/a converters and discrete output stages, along with what are apparently in-house developed algorithms for sampling and filtering. Several of the Esoteric products are more or less fairly standard converter + op-amp output stages with off-the-shelf filters, receivers etc. and, while they sound good, are not particularly novel or superlative in the broad scheme of things. I'm not sure if the DCC2 was the best thing I've ever heard, but it is certainly one of the best I've heard (thanks to foo_me's very gracious sharing of it at a meet, and very friendly attitude towards letting people have at it).

With respect to the D-05 specifically, for me at least, I'd take the DCC2 over it without much worry. The D-05 uses the AK4397 which, while the "32 BITS!" sounds neat, it just means it'll take a 32 bit word length and not much else. The dynamic performance isn't even up to par with the best of the 24 bit delta sigma ICs out there (AD1955) and you're going to be limited by the performance of the SCF (switched capacitor filter) that's stuck on the output of the chip. If this were me making the decision, I think I'd favour the more novel and, in my opinion anyhow, likely to be higher performance approach of the DCC2. At the very least, I'd say the DCC2 poses a pretty low risk of sounding less than very good to excellent, especially if you like that type of presentation, and it has a higher coolness factor ^_^
post #28 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Filburt View Post
The Esoteric equipment, in my experience anyhow (DV60, UX1, DV50, some other thing; I forget the model No.) maybe has what people call "analytical" sound. I'm not sure since I'm not certain what this term means. Likewise, I'm not sure what to call the DCC2 since it was also highly detailed and I had very little trouble picking out various elements of the music with precision. However, it was still balanced and very pleasant to listen to; moreso than the Esoteric gear I've used.

From a design standpoint, the EMM gear (at least what I've used) is also considerably more interesting, to me at least. EMM uses ovenized discrete d/a converters and discrete output stages, along with what are apparently in-house developed algorithms for sampling and filtering. Several of the Esoteric products are more or less fairly standard converter + op-amp output stages with off-the-shelf filters, receivers etc. and, while they sound good, are not particularly novel or superlative in the broad scheme of things. I'm not sure if the DCC2 was the best thing I've ever heard, but it is certainly one of the best I've heard (thanks to foo_me's very gracious sharing of it at a meet, and very friendly attitude towards letting people have at it).

With respect to the D-05 specifically, for me at least, I'd take the DCC2 over it without much worry. The D-05 uses the AK4397 which, while the "32 BITS!" sounds neat, it just means it'll take a 32 bit word length and not much else. The dynamic performance isn't even up to par with the best of the 24 bit delta sigma ICs out there (AD1955) and you're going to be limited by the performance of the SCF (switched capacitor filter) that's stuck on the output of the chip. If this were me making the decision, I think I'd favour the more novel and, in my opinion anyhow, likely to be higher performance approach of the DCC2. At the very least, I'd say the DCC2 poses a pretty low risk of sounding less than very good to excellent, especially if you like that type of presentation, and it has a higher coolness factor ^_^
Many thanks for this informative post.

So it would be safe to say that the majority of people who has heard both Esoteric & EMM prefer the latter?
post #29 of 60
I, personally prefer the latter, but I could live on a desert island (with electricity) with either one.
The Esoteric DV-50 costs approx $6K and the Emm Labs CDSD and DAC 6e cost $19k MSRP, but $11K realistically.
The thing that makes my DV-50 seriously valuable is that it also plays my DVD-Audio and DVD-Video, which the Meitner gear doesn't. They have different assignments in my stable.
post #30 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by blubliss View Post
Foobar is v.0.9.5 beta 3, asio 1.2.5. I haven't experimented with others yet.
That combo *is* pretty soft and bland sounding. Try to find Foobar v0.8.3 AND Otachan ASIO version 47a. This is the most resolving AND musical combo I've been able to come up with, which I FAR prefer over any Foobar version after that with any other ASIO version.
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