Preliminary impressions using COAX inout and SE outputs
A few things strike me as I spin discs from Classical to trip hop. Organic, highly detailed and very musical, the RE1 is also refined, balanced and will project the space of the recording or man made ambiance (post production effects etc) like nothing I've ever heard before. Beyond 3D it would seem..... the speakers and my listening room have vanished with high quality recordings (even lesser quality MT stuff is well presented in these terms in a fairly convincing manner). Bad recordings are still bad but not made even more unpleasant (which is always good ) but great recordings are a revelation of sorts. I'm tempering my comments somewhat (although it may not seem that I am) because it's also very apparent this DAC is nowhere near done burning in. Bass is light but easily extends to the sub sonic region. Mid range is smooth detailed. Need more time to really evaluate the critical mid and treble ranges. What is there is is very good to say the least.
Early impressions these are (and subject to change), but tonal qualities are spot on dead neutral, just the way I like it. Piano is the standout instrument that almost always will tell you if a piece of gear has the right stuff more often than not, regardless of burn in ( for the most part, there are however some notable high priced exceptions to this rule but not in the RE1's sub 1.4K US price range).
Currawong is going to LOVE this DAC because it portrays piano as the real thing should sound. No brittle edge to upper registers when played with authority nor does the same register played delicately collapse into a tinkly toy piano like quality that red book could almost be counted on to sound like years ago (and even today with lesser DAC designs) , the piano's woody tone is in correct balance with that almost bell like clarity unique to the instrument's harmonic complexities. It just sounds right with no compression at all,no glare, no packing up when multiple tones are being deftly and expertly played.....brass instruments, wood winds, strings all sound like the real things. Instrument separation and ambiance is superb. This unit is so much better than my old MSB Gold Link P1000 PSU combo it's hard to put into words. In it's day the MSB combo was considered well above average but not SOTA. Female vocals are stunning and should only get better. I can only imagine what's to come over the following weeks and months as this DAC settles in.
Some drawbacks, there are few and don't effect what is important (build quality,reliability and above all else, sound quality). It's heavy ( I like heavy though) and too big for my Lovan Classic II gear rack, the IEC socket (in the center of the RE1 back panel, the most logical spot for it due to the circuit layout) is right where the back pillar of the rack goes to the floor spikes. Other than that I really can't think of a negative where it actually counts right now. I've also used this unit with the COAX Digital input and the SE outs knowing that these choices are the worst performing connections of what's available (BNC and CAST would be ideal)....tomorrow I will mod my Transport to use the much preferred BNC digital input. The end of the week my parts come in for some Vampire DIY XLR cables. Once that is done I can test the CAST/XLR outs to the C-2C balanced?CAST inputs.
Oh yeah the other drawback (besides being big and heavy which is plus in my mind but a negative in others) is....burn in time.......1000 hours (thanks Tyson for the heads up in that regard) is a looooooonnnng time but I'll do my best to get those hours on it as fast as I can.
I can deal with these drawbacks happily, for this kind of SQ. This unit is an obvious outstanding value for those on a budget.....well time to get back to some listening before getting some sleep !!!
Hmm seems lime a lot of words for just a little preliminary report. I'm just passing on what I heard today....
There goes the electric bill for April and May
PS Right now the DSP1 chip is setup in the Default config which is
PLL Active (can be disabled)
Stop band Attenuation -130 db (other choices are -50db and - 90db)
Oversampling 8X (can be set to NOS, 1X 2X,4X and 8X)
Dithering - Off
DT - Active ( I forget what this abbreviation means)
CLKS Output to PCM1704 ON, Output to TDA1541 (off)
Output bit rate set 24 (with 16 and 20 available)
TDA1541 chips are not used in the RE1. Thanks Kingwa for the clarification.EDIT Update: Reminder to self - check the obvious first -
I had stated last evening the DAC seemed bass shy. Definitely not is the actual case today. Low level listening last evening gave the impression of such but today after I went behind the sub tower to double check things I noticed the level on one sub was set way to low. I must have bumped it with my pant leg when I did reset the levels a couple of weeks back...it wasn't much ( a 1/4 inch) but enough when the difference of a mm or two upsets the delicate balance between the 2 subs rather dramatically (504 W x 2 is very difficult to dial in without many trips back and forth to the sweet spot to check the SPL meter). This DAC has loads of deep bass not out of contrast to the other frequency ranges. I now know I have to reset the EQ and levels yet again (minor tweaks) because of the qualities the RE1 is bringing to the experience. Stuff like this is typical when a new piece of kit enters the signal chain...especially so when it's a critical part of the main source I use. The RE1/Vanguard combo is a great match thus far, regardless of genre and to me that's exactly how it should be. Well at least I caught the mistake early on.