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Wavelength Proton USB DAC/headamp review

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Review here - Wavelength's cheapest async USB DAC with inbuilt headamp (but not suitable for some IEMs) - who's going to bite?
post #2 of 18
decur has one & likes it very much...

i returned mine before giving it much of a shot (the black gates hadn't even settled) because i had some issues with it...

it certainly beats the snot out of a usb to spdif converter/diverter for around the same price...
post #3 of 18
what issues, if you don't mind?
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by geremy View Post
what issues, if you don't mind?
pm sent...nothing major...
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by emelius View Post
decur has one & likes it very much...

i returned mine before giving it much of a shot (the black gates hadn't even settled) because i had some issues with it...

it certainly beats the snot out of a usb to spdif converter/diverter for around the same price...
out of curiosity did you try the diverter and with what dac?
post #6 of 18
you caught me...i'm one of those that believes that even if it does a brilliant job of what it claims, it's still not worth that amount...

i'm certain it's great, really...but if you could secure government funding for, say, a mouse trap i'm sure you could design a $1200 trap that is head and shoulders above the others...at the end of the day, though, that would be all it does...trap mice...

i, myself, have bought many an over-priced gadget...it's my right to do so...and if you want to buy the diverter for whatever reason, that's your right as a consumer to do so...

but please don't try to bestow upon it mystical properties...it does the same thing as the others...and some of the others do more and are able to retain a much lower price tag...

sorry to thread crap...and when i read of someone i trust saying it's the best investment in audio they've ever made, i'll be prepared to eat my words...
post #7 of 18
oh i re-read my earlier post...i see where you're coming from...

i meant as far as what you're getting -- the proton brings more to the table...if you say the diverter is more than a $900 improvement in the sound and outweighs the additional benefits of the proton then i defer to your experience...
post #8 of 18
im using my proton with my alo/rwa amphora amp for complete "off the grid"
music! i really love the proton dac very much! one very important thing to note is that the proton needs alot of time on it to burn in! id say around 300-500 hours! my proton is is night and day difference between the day i bought it, and as it stands right now! the mundorf pio and blackgates take a looong time!! the proton is a "discrete" design and blows away some of the opamp based dacs(similarly priced or more$$) that i have owned!
it is just so "natural" in sound. no harshness what so ever.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by emelius View Post
oh i re-read my earlier post...i see where you're coming from...

i meant as far as what you're getting -- the proton brings more to the table...if you say the diverter is more than a $900 improvement in the sound and outweighs the additional benefits of the proton then i defer to your experience...
I don't know how the diverter sounds as I did not get to hear it while at CanJam. I did own a wavelength cosecant and I have reservations regarding the line up after my experience. Sonically it was ok but was outclassed by the apogee duet ($495) IMHO as well as another member here who did the same switch around the same time. To me it was no where near $3500 worth of sound, maybe the proton is different. When several folks examined the guts at a meet several of the DIY guys were less than impressed and were shocked at the $3500 price tag.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by decur View Post
im using my proton with my alo/rwa amphora amp for complete "off the grid"
music! i really love the proton dac very much! one very important thing to note is that the proton needs alot of time on it to burn in! id say around 300-500 hours! my proton is is night and day difference between the day i bought it, and as it stands right now! the mundorf pio and blackgates take a looong time!! the proton is a "discrete" design and blows away some of the opamp based dacs(similarly priced or more$$) that i have owned!
it is just so "natural" in sound. no harshness what so ever.
I would agree that the wavelength line is smooth and I am glad you are liking you dac. My issue is overall extension top to bottom , the cosecant felt rolled off on both ends and transients did not have much of any snap. But I guess that's why Baskin and Robbins has 32 flavors.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp11801 View Post
I don't know how the diverter sounds as I did not get to hear it while at CanJam. I did own a wavelength cosecant and I have reservations regarding the line up after my experience. Sonically it was ok but was outclassed by the apogee duet ($495) IMHO as well as another member here who did the same switch around the same time. To me it was no where near $3500 worth of sound, maybe the proton is different. When several folks examined the guts at a meet several of the DIY guys were less than impressed and were shocked at the $3500 price tag.
one thing i have learned with this hobby is that we all hear differently and there is no such thing as the perfect dac,amp,headphone etc. i currently own the wavelength cosecant(latest version) the proton,and ayre qb9 dacs!
all hooked up to different hp amps. what i look for and i especially like with my wavelength gear is how "non fatiguing" and "natural sounding" they are!
i think alot of this has to do with the tas1020b/streamlength chip/software implementation. its funny,i used to own the apogee duet (with a 30 day money back guarantee) and i returned it after 2 weeks! my ears are very sensitive to noise and "jitter" and the duet had noise and jitter in spades! i could only listen for 15 minutes before i became overly fatigued!
i will say that the duet was very detailed and extremely transparent!
and i do agree that the cosecant is slightly rolled off at the highs and is not as hard hitting as many other dacs out there! but for me,its many strengths out weighs its negatives.
post #12 of 18
Just curious did you measure the jitter/noise with some device or tool or did you attempt to measure jitter by ear? I have not seen a published independent study on the jitter and noise in the duet yet and would be surprised as it has been generally spoken of well in the pro world. Certainly not up to the standard of top flight in studio gear but well received in its class. Anything is possible though.

Glad you like the wavelength stuff, we sound like we like opposite things in that I am much more a dynamics, leading edge transients, extension and tone guy, (the wavelength stuff does tone well). Gordon is doing great work and his new code is very cool, I love the QB-9 from ayre that uses his code.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp11801 View Post
Just curious did you measure the jitter/noise with some device or tool or did you attempt to measure jitter by ear? I have not seen a published independent study on the jitter and noise in the duet yet and would be surprised as it has been generally spoken of well in the pro world. Certainly not up to the standard of top flight in studio gear but well received in its class. Anything is possible though.

Glad you like the wavelength stuff, we sound like we like opposite things in that I am much more a dynamics, leading edge transients, extension and tone guy, (the wavelength stuff does tone well). Gordon is doing great work and his new code is very cool, I love the QB-9 from ayre that uses his code.
no measurements,only what my specific ears are telling me!
i have had other high quality dacs (previously) in my stable
such as the stello da220 mkII and headroom max amp w/max dac,and when i would plug directly from my macbook "directly" via usb or toslink to each of these dacs,my ears would detect the same noise or jitter! it wasnt untill i purchased a empirical audio offrampII and then the offrampIII for these 2 combos (usb to spdif converters) to intercept my macbook to dac connection. once these converters were installed,the stello and max dax became much more enjoyable,and in a big way!!
to me,the duet is no different than my max dac or stello dac! all 3 being great dacs! its the usb conversion,that has been a killer for me!
post #14 of 18
FireWire audio transfer is pretty different from USB, the reason I called out the jitter comment is in reality neither you nor I can reasonable state that we can or can not hear jitter. This is not to say that the duet jitter level is any more or less another dac, I don't know as I lack the resources to measure it.

You may be hearing something you do not like but it could be any number of things (placebo included, I admit it's a killer for sometimes) but to designate it as jitter is misleading.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp11801 View Post
FireWire audio transfer is pretty different from USB, the reason I called out the jitter comment is in reality neither you nor I can reasonable state that we can or can not hear jitter. This is not to say that the duet jitter level is any more or less another dac, I don't know as I lack the resources to measure it.

You may be hearing something you do not like but it could be any number of things (placebo included, I admit it's a killer for sometimes) but to designate it as jitter is misleading.
yes! i found the firewire connection of the duet to have the same results as usb or toslink connections. i have always understood that jitter and noise are one in the same(in general terms) all i know,is that when i had inserted my empirical converters(tas1020b chip/centrance firmware) imbetween my macbook and the stello&headroom dacs,i was able to go from fatigue to non fatigue listening experience. i am not a computer audio electrical engineer,no far from it! but what i hear is not placebo!
"we all hear differently"
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