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Review of Audio-GD DAC-19MK3 - Page 4

post #46 of 695
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
the important thing from recabling is to replace the stock pro 900 cable which turns low-end detail into boominess.
Really? FWIR, the Pro 900 don't improve very much with a recable. Maybe I'll have to research a recable once I actually have money to spend again, I already had to drag my wallet kicking and screaming to buy the DAC19MK3.
post #47 of 695
Opinions vary a lot on recabling pro 900. Since you aren't bothered by the bass anymore I'd say don't get a recable, because imo it has the drawback of making flaws even more transparent. Another way to fix the bass on the pro 900 is to rein it in with cotton and felt pads.
post #48 of 695

HDCD decode -- performance impressions?

has anyone had an opportunity to listen to the DAC-19MK3 (using the PMD100 configuration) specifically wrt HDCD playback decode performance, ie in comparison with any CD players having integrated HDCD decoding (such as oppo and other units)?

there are very few standalone DAC products providing integrated HDCD decoding, the DAC-19MK3 could be a great bargain for upgraded HDCD playback. it's certainly cheaper than a USD5000 Berkeley alpha DAC (although a very different system topology), and somewhat simpler than stripping decoded HDCD from HDMI of an oppo...
post #49 of 695
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
Just IMO, if the pro 900 are the headphones that are sounding muddy, I'd say it's going to remain pretty muddy until you replace the stock pro 900 cable. The dac19mk3 has complex bass but when I tried using the stock pro 900 cable it just made things really stuffy, in which case you might actually prefer the dac19mk3 to have less bass detail. Maybe slim.a can test his HD650 with stock cable instead of the blue dragon and see if he can vouche for my opinion. Most DIY cables are probably just as good as the blue dragon so you don't have to spend a lot of money either, the important thing from recabling is to replace the stock pro 900 cable which turns low-end detail into boominess.

Oh I see it's not bothering you anymore . If it does though you could pretty cheaply hijack the neutrik on one of your two pro 900 cables and make a hardwire cable to see if you like the difference.
The bass muddiness can be explained by many variables. One of them might be the cables. Indeed, the dac-19mk3 is very sensitive to the cables that are used (rca interconnects, digital interconnects and power cables).
When I switch back to the stock cable of the sennheiser hd-650 most of the "magic" of the system is gone : the soundstage collapses, the low bass disappears, and there is muddiness throughout the spectrum. The sound is warmer but all low level details are gone.

I have no idea how is the quality of the pro 900 cables but it might benefit from an upgrade.
Also, I have found that while the audio-gd sharkwire interconnect are very good (for the money) they are still holding back the dac-19mk3. I had great results with these interconnects.

Also, the muddiness can also come from the support over which you put the dac on. I replaced the stock plastic footers with vibapod supports and vibrapod cones, which work great.
2 days ago, I had 2 sandboxes made (for the dac and head amp), I filled them with dried sand then put over the sand one carbon fiber sheet over one acrylic sheet over 2cm thick plywood sheet... and the sound became absolutely brilliant. The sound became clearer, the bass faster and the soundstage got deeper and with better focus.
post #50 of 695
Are you trying to compete with patrick82 for most hilarious audiophile tweaks?

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/em...5/#post5555250

Someday I might try a sandbox but I am worried I'll spill it over .
post #51 of 695
Thread Starter 
I haven't tried massloading yet ... I guess there is still room for improvement in my system

I took a quick picture of the sandbox with the camera of my mobile phone (see below).
LL
post #52 of 695
I'll write a very short comparison between Bel Canto DAC3 and Audio GD DAC19Mk3. I'm not that good in writing long reviews so I'll skip it. I'll just briefly tell about the differences I hear between them. You can see my equipment chain listed in my signature. I did my comparisons mainly with my speaker rig.

About DAC19Mk3:

When I first heard Audio GD DAC19Mk3, I owned Audionemesis DC-1 DAC. DC-1 has very smooth and analog like sound which you couldn't believe coming from DAC and ultimately from computer. Anyways it's even too mellow and smooth sounding and when you'd miss that aggressiveness and attack, it might not be there. Audio GD greatly improved on details, clarity and sounded overall better than DC-1. Audio GD brought energy and excitement to the music but still stayed on the warm and natural side. IMO Kingwa's description of "monitor like sound" is pretty much rubbish. Monitor like sound is what Benchmark DAC1 (and in some sense, Bel Canto DAC3) produces. Utterly neutral sound with sharp high end and superb details.

DAC19Mk3 is IMO slightly on the warm side and is very easy to listen to. Pleasant and smooth sound signature overall. Usually warmth is related to unextended highs and poor bass performance (loose basses etc.). With DAC19Mk3 bass stays in great control and extends pretty nicely. High end definitely isn't as energetic as it could be. I can hear that and it was also measured by slim.a earlier in this thread. I clearly can hear this now when I have DAC3 to compare. But this is what makes the DAC so nice to listen to. You just can't get fatigued with this DAC.

About DAC3:

Well then my Bel Canto DAC3 arrived. I was full of excitement when I picked it up from our local customs office and finally got home and plugged it in. The sound was completely different from DAC19Mk3. What struck me first was the insane amount of details and separation which was really something quite astonishing. The difference was much bigger between DAC3 and DAC19 than it was between DC-1 and DAC19Mk3. I could once again hear new things on my recordings. I even checked my cell phone couple of times through the test session because I thought it was ringing but instead the new sounds I was hearing were on the track.

The soundstage was more "spot on". What I mean is that the instruments were more clearly on their own places. Very clear soundstage, which was also very deep. With many test tracks, I could clearly hear that the vocalist stood in front of the band and the instruments actually are behind the vocalist. You could also call this "more upfront" sound maybe? Soundstage width was pretty much the same with both DACs.

Bass performance with DAC3 is stunning. Very fast and extremely deep bass. It surpasses DAC19Mk3 bass performance being more extended and having more slam.

Overall the sound coming drom DAC3 is more dynamic and toe tapping than it is with DAC19Mk3. Though DAC19Mk3 takes you in to the music very well also but it doesn't sound as dynamic as DAC3.

And then of course the high end. It clearly extends more with DAC3. It measures a flat frequency response which might explain it to some extent. But anyway, now the cymbals were much more prominent on many tracks I tried. Now this might sound like very positive thing but to me it always isn't. I have now got used to the easy sound with not that extended high end with my previous DACs. Now when I can truly hear the energy of the highs, it can get annoying every now and then. My ProAc speakers are extremely revealing and fast sounding speakers so they will play everything that comes out of DAC3.

This makes me uncomfortable every now and then. The amount of details and separation is so insane that it doesn't always sound good. Changing from my silver IC cable to copper cable helped this a lot though.

Conclusion:

DAC3 sounds slightly more hifi with all the details, separation etc. but at the same time it doesn't sound harsh or anything else like that which usually comes with details and extended highs, when we're talking about some lower priced DACs. DAC3 still keeps things musical. I would pair this DAC with setup that is slightly on the warm side.

DAC19Mk3's sound signature is on the warm side of neutral. It's very easy and fun to listen to and definitely a great DAC. Extremely good value for the money.

I still haven't decided between the two. I'm waiting to receive my new speaker cables from Enigma Audio and only after that I'll make my final decision.
post #53 of 695
Woot nice review ^^ finally someone compared the dac19mk3 to a high end dac. I agree dac19mk3 is kinda warm sounding, I think it's the sound signature of the pmd100. Df1704 has more of a highs focus if you really need more highs, but for my setup I prefer mode A.
post #54 of 695
Interesting review Patu! How do you connect your DACs to the computer?

I nominate Bel Canto DAC3 against Audio-GD Reference 1.
post #55 of 695
Patu, Thanks for the interesting review.

I myself found the DAC19SE on the warmer side of neutral, I guess its the A-GD signature, but this isn't the case with REF1 and it took me no time choosing between both. The fact that you still haven't decided between the two does say a lot about the DAC19MK3.

Edit - I think I misread Gevorg, thus I edited my comment. (sorry) .. in fact Bel Canto DAC3 Vs A-GD REF1 would be very interesting.
post #56 of 695
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the interesting comparison Patu.

Your findings confirm what I was suspecting, that is the dac19mk3 is rather smooth sounding unless it is paired with "revealing" interconnects and power cords. Kingwa should probably change the description of the sound of the dac on its website which might be misleading.

Buy the way, Patu, what transport are you using with your DACs ? I have found that the dac19mk3 is very sensitive to incoming jitter (musiland vs emu 0404 for example). I am guessing that the superior jitter rejection rejection circuitry of the Bel Canto dac3 explains to some extent why it sounds superior to the dac19mk3.
post #57 of 695
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post
Woot nice review ^^ finally someone compared the dac19mk3 to a high end dac. I agree dac19mk3 is kinda warm sounding, I think it's the sound signature of the pmd100. Df1704 has more of a highs focus if you really need more highs, but for my setup I prefer mode A.
Well I kinda like the smooth high end with DAC19Mk3 but now when I have compared it to DAC3, something is certainly missing there. I should try the DF1704 also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gevorg View Post
Interesting review Patu! How do you connect your DACs to the computer?

I nominate Bel Canto DAC3 against Audio-GD Reference 1.
I used optical connection when comparing the DACs. Yeah I know that this might not be the best option in your opinion but I have tried to find differences between different transport methods and I'm having hard time hearing any. My sound card is ESI Juli@ which as native ASIO support and the optical cable is high quality Atlas Optic Fibre.

DAC3 vs. Ref1 would be interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandchak View Post
Patu, Thanks for the interesting review.

I myself found the DAC19SE on the warmer side of neutral, I guess its the A-GD signature, but this isn't the case with REF1 and it took me no time choosing between both. The fact that you still haven't decided between the two does say a lot about the DAC19MK3.

Edit - I think I misread Gevorg, thus I edited my comment. (sorry) .. in fact Bel Canto DAC3 Vs A-GD REF1 would be very interesting.
Well the reason why I haven't decided yet is that I've been waiting for my speaker cables for almost a month now. It has taken much longer than I expected. Also the DAC3 is something I've been dying to try for about two years now. Since I got my integrated amp (Bel Canto s300iu), DAC3 has been in my dreams. Now when I finally got it, I don't want to make hasty decisions. But yes, DAC19Mk3 definitely performs strong against it. It's just very different sound it produces.

In objective point of view, DAC3 is definitely a better DAC. It does more things right than DAC19Mk3. DAC19Mk3 is the colored one between these two. What I try to decide now is that does the DAC3 sound signature fit my current speaker system. I've been also considering about changing my integrated amp instead of DAC or maybe even changing the speakers, which is very unlikely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Thanks for the interesting comparison Patu.

Your findings confirm what I was suspecting, that is the dac19mk3 is rather smooth sounding unless it is paired with "revealing" interconnects and power cords. Kingwa should probably change the description of the sound of the dac on its website which might be misleading.

Buy the way, Patu, what transport are you using with your DACs ? I have found that the dac19mk3 is very sensitive to incoming jitter (musiland vs emu 0404 for example). I am guessing that the superior jitter rejection rejection circuitry of the Bel Canto dac3 explains to some extent why it sounds superior to the dac19mk3.
I now have QED Silver Spiral IC cables, which work great with DAC19Mk3 but not so great with DAC3. They're very detailed and revealing cables. DAC3 needs something slightly smoother. I haven't really compared power cords between the two, at least not yet. Now I have Transparent Music Link connected between DAC3 and s300iu. I borrowed some cables from my local dealer and I think that Transparent is a keeper.

Transport I listed in the earlier paragraph.

When reading DAC3 white paper, I really don't have much concerns about jitter with it. DAC3 should totally crush that nasty little thing.

Could you tell me more about Musiland vs. 0404? I've been wanting to try out the Musiland and I just might do it when I get my next paycheck.
post #58 of 695
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patu View Post
Could you tell me more about Musiland vs. 0404? I've been wanting to try out the Musiland and I just might do it when I get my next paycheck.
Comparing both the EMU 0404 usb and the Musiland Monitor 01 USD as transports I found out that the Musiland was consistently better than the EMU.
The Musiland has more clarity and better extension at the frequency extremes. The soundstage is also a little bit deeper.
It is also easier to get the most out of the musiland while the sound of emu-0404 usb is much more dependant on the software used, and the latency settings. The emu-0404 usb sounds its best only when used with foobar 0.8.3 and with asio latency set very low (2ms).

On paper, the Musiland should be superior to most usb to spdif converters since it uses async protocol and has a XILINX dsp that "kills" jitter. However, I found out that it still benefits from a high grade usb cable (I am using it with the Wireworld ultraviolet usb cable). It is probably affected by the quality of the cable because it is powered from the USB port.

Anyway, I think that USB converters, from the general consensus, still fall short of the performance of the best PCI sound cards. I would be surprised if the musiland outperformed a professional sound card such as the ESI Julia or better a Lynx sound card.
post #59 of 695
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Anyway, I think that USB converters, from the general consensus, still fall short of the performance of the best PCI sound cards. I would be surprised if the musiland outperformed a professional sound card such as the ESI Julia or better a Lynx sound card.
Well shouldn't your 0404 pretty much be on par with ESI Juli@? Though it is external sound card but still the same 0404 which is available as PCI-version.
post #60 of 695
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patu View Post
Well shouldn't your 0404 pretty much be on par with ESI Juli@? Though it is external sound card but still the same 0404 which is available as PCI-version.
From what I understand going with usb generates a lot of jitter (more than with pci).
For example, Stereophile did some measurement of the emu 0404 usb, the m-audio transit and the bel canto link 24/96 and according to their findings the jitter of the emu 0404 is 4 times more than the 2 other usb to spdif tested at that time. See here. In fact comparing with an old test of the RME Digi96/8 Pro PCI sound card, jitter rejection is much better (here).

Anyway, the Musiland is better (as a transport) than the emu 0404 usb (in my system) and who knows, it might just have closed the gap with the pci sound cards by using the async protocol.
Perhaps that by replacing the clock in the Musiland with a low jitter clock, it might just turn out to be a better than internal soundcards.
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