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MHDT Paradisea(+) Owners Club - Page 2

post #16 of 329
Well, I welcome myself to the club!

I took advantage of the Microsoft Live 25% rebate offer, and bought a Paradisea+ today. It wasn't exactly this thread that convinced me to pull the trigger, but it sure didn't hurt either.

I should have it in a few days, and then I will be able to post some fairly newbie impressions. This will be my first home DAC, and I only have my experience with the Predator DAC to compare. However, I can certainly comment on the improvements going from a portable amp/dac to a home unit, and perhaps that will be of value to people who are considering taking the plunge into a home rig themselves.

Off to troll eBay for a power cable... please refrain from bidding on these for a day or two.
post #17 of 329
Thread Starter 
Just a little update ...

I've been listening to a new Audio Arts Power 1 power cord (w/ Furtech plugs) and it's really sounding great with the Paradisea:

...



...

It's noticeably better than the Zu Birth I traditionally use, but just by a few degrees. In this case, though ... it's a few degrees towards my personal preferences, so I'll most likely keep it in my system ... even though I'd initially purchased the $150.00 cord to simply test and then send back.

The Zu Birth is also quite nice with the Paradisea, head and shoulders better than a plain jane cord for sure ... but the Power 1 edges it out in the areas of detail and sound stage.

For now, I'm using the Zu on my power amp and the Power 1 on the Paradisea.

To be honest, I really have a hard time hearing any differences when switching cords on my power amp ... but when swapping out cords on the DAC, it's really pretty dramatic.

FYI.

post #18 of 329
So do you think the interconnects or the power cable makes the most difference for the Paradisea?
post #19 of 329
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXII View Post
So do you think the interconnects or the power cable makes the most difference for the Paradisea?
I'd say interconnects first and power cables running a very very close second.
post #20 of 329

New owner impressions. WARNING: word limit exceeded!

I received my MHDT Labs Paradisea+ yesterday, and I am really impressed! Before I provide more details on the sound, please bear with me while I describe my previous lack of experience and current listening environment.

I had not heard a dedicated stand-alone home DAC before this one. My previous DAC experience has been limited to CD player internal chips, various iPods, and my Predator via USB. Since I don’t have much of a background to draw comparisons, I can only comment on what I heard with this unit vs. my previous stone knives and tablets. Your mileage may vary.

In addition, I am using a Yamaha vintage integrated amp running in Class A mode rather than a headphone amp. That’s not so relevant for me, since my comparison is made using the same unit, but it is worth noting given all of the recent discussion about the quality of hi-fi component headphone jacks. It is a very low distortion unit that has recently been cleaned, and my personal feeling is that it drives high-impedance HD600’s quite well. But your amp might be much better and more demanding of a DAC. If you have nothing, I’d say mine is better.

Finally, for reference, here is the complete system that I am using on either side of the Paradisea+: Sony SCD-CE595 CD transport via a Monster optical cable or iTunes Apple Lossless files via the stock USB cable, and then analog out via Zu Oxyfuel interconnects to the Yamaha powering my HD600 headphones. I am using a Volex 17604 power cable on the DAC. The tube is the stock 5670. None of this equipment has any significant burn-in time yet… well, except for my 25-year old Yamaha amp. It’s pretty mature.

My primary purpose for this DAC was to bring my CD home system up to a level that would make me prefer it over my portable rig. Now that may not sound like a tall order to you, but my portable rig is pretty good and my home system was the remnants of a decent stereo without the speakers. My CD player/Yamaha did not sound as comfortable (read: musical and relaxing) as the iPod/Predator did driving my HD600’s, even with the latter rig being handicapped with compressed files. So I often found myself listening to the portable rig with my Westone UM2’s because the synergy was so good. I knew the HD600’s had much more to offer and I needed to upgrade at least the DAC to get there. I chose the NOS tube Paradisea+ because I wanted a more “musical” system. You can read “colored” or “distorted” if you wish, but I had heard enough digital irritation ™ and wanted to just sit back and enjoy the music. I was not disappointed.

I started out with a very familiar album, U2’s “Achtung Baby”. This CD is one of my favorites and also a prime candidate for improvement as the CD player’s DAC routinely distorted the guitar work or gave it an unnatural edge (no pun intended). As I listened to this selection, I had to keep reminding myself to make notes. The music was taking over and I couldn’t make myself listen to the equipment. The bass was very controlled and tight. The guitar tonal quality was exactly as I expected it to sound. The separation of the instruments was vastly improved. By the time I got to “The Fly” and “Mysterious Ways”, the Paradisea's tube was probably sufficiently warmed up and the wow factor began to take over. The attack of the percussion and screaming of the guitar riffs were particularly well presented without a hint of the digital sound that plagued me in the past. Wonderful!

Next, I listened to The Beatles’ “Love”. I skipped through the early part of the CD but after a while I listened to every track because I was just so blown away by the clarity and precise way the instruments were presented. The acoustic version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was particularly revealing. I never realized that George and his guitar were featured in the center while the strings were below him and to the sides as if in an orchestra pit. It gave the selection a completely different feel for me – my notes said it was like comparing a live performance to an AM car radio but probably not quite that dramatic.

I moved on to David Gray’s “White Ladder”. This CD was pure torture on my Sony CE595’s internal DAC. Certain parts of this CD would actually vibrate my bad (read: old and deteriorated) left ear in a painful way, so I always chose to listen to this on my portable rig. The Paradisea+ gave me a new appreciation for this fine album, eliminating all of the distortion and poor resolution of my CD's DAC. David’s vocals sounded very natural and musical (there’s that word again). The guitar and percussion were crisp and bright, without being sharp and sibilant. The dynamic range was certainly better than my portable rig driving the HD600’s, and the music was more alive. (Perhaps I should credit the amp for this.) On “Sail Away”, I heard some bass under the main instruments that I had never noticed before. At this point, I was in a blissful trance (might have been the wine) and I had to fight the urge to stay up all night listening to the rest of my CD collection.

I listened to a couple of these selections via USB, and I didn’t find it to be as good as the CD. It sounded very similar to my Predator USB DAC, which is not to say bad but lacking the wow factor that I got from the optical CD input. I agree with s1rrah’s impression earlier in this thread – it sounded “bland” compared to the optical input. I used the Windows XP drivers (not ASIO) and a basic USB cable, so I might be able to improve on this performance. I wasn’t really focused on getting better sound from my PC at that moment, so I didn’t spend much time analyzing it.

So this is a lot of blabbering about this DAC… what does it all mean for you? It is certainly a high-quality product with a unique design and excellent construction. If you are looking for a non-oversampling DAC that provides a warm tube sound quality to mellow out the digital edge of your other components, the Paradisea+ certainly deserves your careful consideration.

From a newbie perspective, if you are listening to a sound card DAC or an entry-level product, I dare say that a whole new world awaits you if you can afford the investment to move to a better unit. I was amazed at just how much difference this component made over a “throw-in” DAC.

From a Head-Fi perspective, I am now wondering just how much better my system could sound with a headphone amp instead of my integrated, and which amp would synergize the best, and what different headphones could do for me, and what tube and/or op-amp rolling would do for the sound, and when my Zu Birth power cable will be delivered, and how much limit I have left on my credit cards before the next billing cycle.
post #21 of 329
Thanks for your impressions Orcin! I have just received my Paradisea and will be posting some impressions eventually.
post #22 of 329
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXII View Post
Thanks for your impressions Orcin! I have just received my Paradisea and will be posting some impressions eventually.
Welcome to the club, bro!



I'm heading into my fifth hour of listening at the moment ...

It's what Saturday nights are for, after all ...



...



...

Enjoy your first listen.

Looking forward to your impressions.

...

BTW: a friend from another forum just purchased an MHDT Constantine, the non-tube version of the Paradisea.

We're going to do a one week trade in the next few months so as to compare.

Word around the intrawebz is that the Constantine is a tad more detailed than the Paradisea ... though most reviewers still prefer the uber smooth image that the tube driven Paradisea provides.

Should be a fun week of listening.

post #23 of 329
Thread Starter 
Here's some careful words from the Paradisea builders.

This is pulled from one of the more prominent Paradisea+ reviews online:

...

"Lin-Li told me, "We were music lovers and very hard working people with decent jobs and good incomes here in Taiwan.

We liked to enjoy a Hi-Fi music massage after working long hours every day.

We went through the age of vinyl and then were attacked by the digital revolution.

The first generation of the digital revolution was ok and it was very convenient, but we were not satisfied with the performance. During this time we stopped listening to and enjoying music for a number of years due to the very long hours we were working every day.

When we came back to music we found the digital age had "upgraded" to Delta-Sigma DACs and a digital signal processing (DSP) approach, but we found the music didn't have the same level of feeling that we remembered from before.

We decided the modern DACs did not sound musical to us and that we needed to drag ourselves back to the experience of music with feeling, so Mouse designed our first DAC which we called the "Digital Password", because it was our password back into music with feeling. Later we offered the Digital Password for sale to those like us who wanted the feeling restored to the music."


Read more, Here.
...

Love the "digital password" bit.

So appropriate when considering how the DAC renders digital music.

post #24 of 329
Could someone comment on the transports being used with the paradisea, from what I understand being a NOS dac the transport is very important. I would guess that a DVD player as a transport would lead to less than stellar results.

Phill
post #25 of 329
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tubes View Post
Could someone comment on the transports being used with the paradisea, from what I understand being a NOS dac the transport is very important. I would guess that a DVD player as a transport would lead to less than stellar results.

Phill
I listen equally via a Sony CDP-C650D cd/dvd player via TOSLINK and my computer/soundcard via coaxial.

They sound identical to my ear, and they both sound really good feeding the Paradisea.

See my first post for some details on cable types and sound impressions.

Also, as previously mentioned, I've found that USB as a transport does not sound nearly as nice as TOSLINK or coaxial ...
post #26 of 329
Just wondering why none of you guys went for the Havana? Purely a price issue?
post #27 of 329
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdh View Post
Just wondering why none of you guys went for the Havana? Purely a price issue?
For myself ... yes .. a price issue.

Plus ... it's my first dive into standalone DACS and as with anything else, I tend to work my way up the food chain as I become better informed.



The Havana DAC is constantly rattling around in my brain.

I'll end up getting one I'm sure ...

But not for some time.

I have to admit, though ... I'm totally intrigued at what the sonic differences could be; the Havana being OPAMPless and all.

Otherwise ... looking at the general PCB layout and component pool ... and dismissing the different DAC chips ... it looks rather like the Paradisea.

Any Havana owners want to mail me your DAC for a 1 week review session?

post #28 of 329
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdh View Post
Just wondering why none of you guys went for the Havana? Purely a price issue?
I kind of regret not going for the Havana as well.

Partly it's money: the Havana new costs double the price I paid for my (second hand) Paradisea+ and they hardly ever appear used FS.

Another part is that if get a $900 DAC there will be nowhere to go after that (unless I spend several thousand).
post #29 of 329
x3

This issue for me was money and reaching a point of diminishing returns. This was my entry into the world of DAC's, and I wanted to get some experience with a NOS/tube product before I invested that much money. At the price I paid for the Paradisea+, I felt that I could recover most of my investment pretty easily if I didn't like it. There would be a smaller resale market for a Havana because of the price.

The Havana certainly looks attractive, and I might be tempted to upgrade at some point. But I am very happy with Paradisea+ now, and I don't have any urge to move up yet.
post #30 of 329
Some more comparisons of the Paradisea to other DACs of various "styles" in its price range would be very helpful in aiding my decision on whether to get one. Thanks, bye.
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