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AMB Gamma2 DAC sound impressions? - Page 2

post #16 of 185
Unfortunately I'm not the best with words so I'll have to leave that comparison to someone else.
Additionally although I have both on my buff I have only used it balanced... any comparison would be a bit suss.

I think John posted somewhere about his impressions/comparison of the pico and buff32 un-balanced on a wa6se, maybe he could direct you to them.
post #17 of 185

I received my y2 today. I'm using it with a Rockhopper M^3 + Sigma-11 --> HD650.
I'll update the thread with more impressions as it burns in, but for now I'll say it sounds excellent. The soundstage is accurate with excellent imaging and depth, the bass is hard-hitting but tight and not overblown. It's also very smooth but without losing high-end detail; very non-fatiguing. I also found tiny differences among the 3 filters.

I think the overall sound of this DAC is smooth and warm. The frequency response graph on AMB's website doesn't tell the whole story.

I don't have much to compare to since it is the best source I've ever heard. It's better than any of my current and past sources (mostly soundcards...everything's in my profile).


Edited by Shahrose - 5/27/10 at 9:24pm
post #18 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by nattonrice View Post
I think John posted somewhere about his impressions/comparison of the pico and buff32 un-balanced on a wa6se, maybe he could direct you to them.
more comparisons here.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f5/mat...-6-dac-454630/

I haven’t had first hand experience comparing the Y2 to the Pico, but from all accounts that I’ve read and heard they seem very close. But I have compared the Pico to the Buffalo Sabre32 DAC through a W6SE, that’s were similarities end.
The Sabre32 has a lot more liveliness and is more revealing, the Pico in contrast is subdued and smoother – and glosses over. An example would be Tom Waits album, Mule Variations, Toms voice has had a good close shave with the Pico, with Buffalo Sabre32 he’s got his totally gruff warts and all vocals back. Acoustic guitar has more snap and attack via the Sabre32, and overall focus is tighter. I found dynamics were improved using the Sabre32, micro dynamics and subtle reflections were better rendered and resolved as well.
All in all I found the differences profound, the Buffalo Sabre32 DAC is a very worthy DAC no doubt about it, the Pico does nothing wrong it’s sound signature is very appealing but it has limitations – the Buffalo Sabre32 DAC lets you know just what those limitations are.
post #19 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwmclean View Post
more comparisons here.

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f5/mat...-6-dac-454630/

I haven’t had first hand experience comparing the Y2 to the Pico, but from all accounts that I’ve read and heard they seem very close. But I have compared the Pico to the Buffalo Sabre32 DAC through a W6SE, that’s were similarities end.
The Sabre32 has a lot more liveliness and is more revealing, the Pico in contrast is subdued and smoother – and glosses over. An example would be Tom Waits album, Mule Variations, Toms voice has had a good close shave with the Pico, with Buffalo Sabre32 he’s got his totally gruff warts and all vocals back. Acoustic guitar has more snap and attack via the Sabre32, and overall focus is tighter. I found dynamics were improved using the Sabre32, micro dynamics and subtle reflections were better rendered and resolved as well.
All in all I found the differences profound, the Buffalo Sabre32 DAC is a very worthy DAC no doubt about it, the Pico does nothing wrong it’s sound signature is very appealing but it has limitations – the Buffalo Sabre32 DAC lets you know just what those limitations are.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
I received my y2 today. I'm using it with a Rockhopper M^3 + Sigma-11.
I'll update the thread with more impressions as it burns in, but for now I'll say it sounds excellent. The soundstage is large and holographic, the bass is quite hard-hitting but tight and not overblown. It's also extremely smooth but without losing high-end detail; very non-fatiguing. I also, surprisingly, found a difference among the 3 filters, which I didn't expect. IMO, filter A sounds best. The main difference is in transient response (mostly in the bass) and ambience/decay.

I think the overall sound of this DAC is smooth and warm. The frequency response graph on AMB's website doesn't tell the whole story.

I don't have much to compare to since it is the best source I've ever heard. It's better than any of my current and past sources (mostly soundcards...everything's in my profile). Oh and from the 15-20 minutes I auditioned the Pico DAC/amp, I think the y2 is better. I don't think this comparison should be taken with too much conviction though as I heard the Pico last year.
I wonder whether this smoothness is the characteristics of the Wolfson WM874x chips employed in both Gamma2 and Pico?
post #20 of 185
What cans are you guys using with the y2?

I am using the y1 with Senn HD600's. I could detect some improvement in resolution when I switched from my laptop's DAC to the AMB, but it was by no means extraordinary. So I am left wondering if I would need electrostats or other super hi-end cans to hear the "gobs" of extra musical data that an upgrade to the y2 would provide. Thanks for any input.
post #21 of 185
IMHO for mid-fi level, amplification is more important than the source especially more so, if you use a computer-based transport.
post #22 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashtray9 View Post
What cans are you guys using with the y2?

I am using the y1 with Senn HD600's. I could detect some improvement in resolution when I switched from my laptop's DAC to the AMB, but it was by no means extraordinary. So I am left wondering if I would need electrostats or other super hi-end cans to hear the "gobs" of extra musical data that an upgrade to the y2 would provide. Thanks for any input.
Well for me I could hear a distinct difference between the y2 and the y1 using my Grado 225 and a mini3 amp. Heck just the reduced noise floor alone was a big enough improvement. Considering that if you are a DIY, upgrading to the y2 if you have a y1 is possible to reuse the y1 which saves you a good bit. You can probably do the "upgrade" for about $100. I did however build a new y1 because I wanted to keep my first y1 for work use.
post #23 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
I received my y2 today. I'm using it with a Rockhopper M^3 + Sigma-11 --> HD650.
I'll update the thread with more impressions as it burns in, but for now I'll say it sounds excellent. The soundstage is large and holographic, the bass is quite hard-hitting but tight and not overblown. It's also extremely smooth but without losing high-end detail; very non-fatiguing. I also, surprisingly, found a difference among the 3 filters, which I didn't expect. IMO, filter A sounds best. The main difference is in transient response (mostly in the bass) and ambience/decay.

I think the overall sound of this DAC is smooth and warm. The frequency response graph on AMB's website doesn't tell the whole story.
? do you know what parts were used in your gamma2? Opamp? Coupling Cap, bypass cap (was bypass used?) I assume you got the ASRC installed?

Lots of options when building a gamma2 so it would be best to note those.
post #24 of 185

It has all the options included. ASRC is the SRC4192, DAC is WM8741. Opamps are OPA2365. It's a MisterX build and looks identical to the black one shown on AMB's main y2 page. I'm also using a 5V adapter that he included with the build.

I don't know about the rest. You'd have to ask Marshall himself. I'm assuming he followed the standard BOM for the other parts.

I'd like to give people a general idea of the positives and negatives of this DAC. Overall, the y2 is great and still the best source I've heard, but not the best in every single regard. First of all, the y2 is more mid-centric and balanced than the STX. I prefer the more aggressive treble/upper midrange of the STX (3xLME49720) on some recordings as well as its leaner bass representation, but for most tracks the smooth, non-fatiguing sound of the y2 is preferable. As for the soundstage, the STX with the 49720s produces a large image for every recording that's spaced out but the imaging is sharper with the y2 and the soundstage size is more variable (re accurate) and can expand or shrink relative to the STX's soundstage. The STX is better at placing instruments in front and farther away from the listener while the y2 confines the soundstage more to the left-right directions (x-axis).

In terms of detail, the y2 clearly wins over the STX and it really is noticeable. The midrange detail is especially astounding. The bass also has more depth and force than the STX. The dynamics of both DACs are comparable but I think the more aggressive and brighter sound of the STX accentuates dynamics a bit more on some recordings that rely on treble-centric percussion; the opposite is true for midrange-centric songs.

I find the treble detail isn't compromised by the smooth nature of the DAC. It's all there, just not grating at your ears. In fact, it has this wonderfully unique quality of being forgiving and detailed at the same time. It really makes a lot of the badly recorded tracks enjoyable.
All these are with my setup and YMMV. The headphones will obviously influence impressions a great deal. I'm using the HD650s with the Double Helix Blackout Cable.


Edited by Shahrose - 5/27/10 at 9:27pm
post #25 of 185
I wonder if swapping out certain parts like the caps at the coupling output can help in this regard?
post #26 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by m1abrams View Post
snip...
edit: I can tell you that I can not hear ANY difference between the 3 filter modes, so if I were to build another I would just hardwire it to B and forget about it. That switch costs like $7!
I've only tried the gamma2 with my Logitech Z5500 system, yet, but "I think" I hear that filter A has a bit more air than filter C, which is warmer, and filter B is somewhere in between. The difference is VERY subtle though, but I believe it could make a difference on harsh recordings where filter C might be more enjoyable. On my Z5500 I enjoy filter A the most.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
snip...
I feel the DAC can be a bit too smooth for my taste on some recordings and it feels like some high end detail is being pushed into the background making it harder to pick up. Also, I think the lack of upper treble snap and the warmth in the lower midrange contribute to the perception of a slightly thicker (sometimes perceived a bit slow) bass than what I'd consider natural.
What you describe is exactly how I would describe sound of HD650. Maybe gamma2 and HD650 is not the best pair? It will be interesting to try the gamma2 with my Grados, which I think it will match well.
post #27 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Henmyr View Post
What you describe is exactly how I would describe sound of HD650. Maybe gamma2 and HD650 is not the best pair? It will be interesting to try the gamma2 with my Grados, which I think it will match well.

I do share your opinion with regards to the stock HD650 and of the Grado and y2 match though. I think the latter two would go well together. Other cans I think would benefit from the y2's sound signature are the DT880/990 and the HD600s.

Also, I edited my comments quite a bit before you posted to reflect my latest impressions. I don't find those problems as apparent anymore. I think something may have changed from burn-in or I adjusted to the sound, but when I went back to the STX, I felt a lot of songs were produced with harsh treble but without more detail. This was good for a few songs that were recorded dark, but for the vast majority of tracks, I preferred the (relatively) smooth and detailed presentation of the y2. I also tested using sine waves and found the y2 produced a much more even and extended frequency response on both ends of the spectrum with less peaks and dips.

There's one difference which I've been hearing for a while but haven't been able to articulate up until now; the STX has a more pronounced and sharper attack, which I feel is a strong point of its sound. That's not to say the y2 lacks in this regard, but the STX really accentuates the attack which makes for an aggressive, fast sound (that can be fatiguing in the long haul).


Edited by Shahrose - 5/27/10 at 9:30pm
post #28 of 185

Just wanted to update the thread quickly. I switched over to coaxial from USB, expecting no change in sound (since that's what Ti/AMB told me would likely be the case) but instead I got a noticeable improvement in soundstage, attack and high end detail.

Update: I bought a new transport (before I was using the mobo coax out and direct USB) and the y2 has improved considerably. So much, in fact, that it almost sounds like I got a new DAC. So, lesson here is to not skimp on the transport! It makes a bigger difference than you think.


Edited by Shahrose - 5/27/10 at 9:31pm
post #29 of 185
I have build the y2 and powered it whit sigma 11. I think its far better than xonar essence whit any tweeks. I also have a nod TDA1541 and the y2 is far more neutral and the bass is just perfect, I question how much better can be the bass performance!
Its a very good DAC. It would be interesting to compare it to some commercial DACs out there. But in area of price/performace its a clear winner over all other!)
post #30 of 185
Wow, you guys make me want to finish my Gamma2 as soon as possible...

Sigma11 for Gamma2 sounds like a good plan though I'm leaning more to either TREAD or Sigma25 to match with Gamma2's small footprint.
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