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Review of the Audio-GD FUN - A modular Dac / Headphone amp / Preamp

post #1 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Review of the Audio-GD FUN - A modular Dac / Headphone amp / Preamp



IPreamble


The Audio-GD FUN:

The Audio-GD FUN is the replacement of the Compass which has been extensively described here by Currawong, so I won't go into the details.

Like the Compass, it is a DAC / pre-amp / headphone amp in one enclosure. But the novelty here is that has a modular design that lets even the unskilled user to replace different modules to tailor the sound of the FUN accordingly.

The modules that can be replaced by the user are : the USB module, the Digital receiver module, the DAC, the Opamp, The Gain module, The output module. Well, almost everything seems to be replaceable except for the power supply!

Here is a link to the Audio-gd web page with the full list of modules: н¨ÍøÒ³ 1


Quick note on my current setup:

I have been listening and tweaking for months now to the dac19Mk3+C2C combo with my silver cabled Sennheiser. This set-up is both revealing and enjoyable to listen to it. So whenever, I mention a comparison to my reference system, keep in mind that the total cost of the components, cables and power filter are almost 10 times the price of the Audio-gd FUN.


My review method:

When reviewing or trying to assess a new component, I usually let it burn-in for quite some time (with minimal listening to it during that period), and then I prefer to do long listening sessions to get a good feel of the new component. It is only at the end that I do some A/B tests with my reference set-up to check if my impressions are correct.



IIReview of the A version (DIR9001 +AD1852 + ACSS + Diamond Buffer)


1Set-up & Musical selection

I did my review using a “best case scenario” in my system:

Foobar v1.0 –> Kernel Streaming –> m2tech Hiface –> Oyaide DB-510 –> Audio-gd FUN –> Artisan Silver Dream Cable –> Sennheiser HD-650

Opamp used : LME49720 HA TO-99 (metal can version)

Power cord : Hifi Cables & Cie Powertrans Plus cord
Power filter : BADA LB-5600 (with Hifi Cables & Cie SimplePower Cord)
Vibration control : Herbie’s Audio Tenderfoot, Yamamoto footers, Maple Platform, Sand Box
Usb cable : Wireworld Ultraviolet USB


Some of the music used for this review:

MOZART Violin Concertos - Marianne Thorsen – 2L – 24/96
Sol Gabetta - Schostakowitsch Cellokonzert Nr. 2/Cello
Mahler - Symphony n 5 - Decca
Natalie Dessay - Italian Opera Arias - Emi Classics
Puccini - La Boheme - Decca
Glenn Gould – The Goldberg Variations 1981
Hans Zimmer - Gladiator Soundtrack
The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five
Soundrama - "The Pulse" (Test CD)
The World's Greatest Audiophile Vocal Recordings – Chesky – 24/96
Patrici Barber – Café Blue – HDTracks download
Diana Krall - Live in Paris
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me



2DAC / Headphone amp combo

First, let me tell you a little anecdote: while reviewing the unit, and in order to keep the conditions similar to what I am used to in my reference set-up, I would usually swap the FUN with either the dac19mk3 or the C2C. After listening for quite a while to the FUN sitting in place of the C2C, I thought that the tonal balance was clear. Then I put it where the dac19mK3 usually sits and the sound was darker (but still on the clear side). I was very puzzled until I remembered that the power cord of the C2C was plugged in the unfiltered socket of my bada filter, while the dac19mK3 was plugged in the filtered socket (both units use the same power cords).
So while reading my review, keep in mind that the audio-gd FUN but also its interaction with the rest of my playback chain.


Timbre and tonal balance:

The version A (ACSS) is tonally very well balanced from top to bottom. Its midrange is very clear and effortless. It is only when compared to the dac19mK3+C2C combo that it is apparent that the audio-gd FUN lacks timbre refinement and the ultimate extension at the deep bass and extreme highs. However, I really like the neutral balance of the FUN because it is not trying to emphasize the mid-bass or mid-treble to fake the extension at the frequency extremes. Many entry level product are plagued with mid bass bloat (to give impression of warmth) or mid treble sharpness (to give the impression of a high definition sound) and while it can be pleasing in the sort run, I personally find it annoying in the long run.

By the way, I first thought that it had a slight metallic timbre when I listened to it fresh out of the box, but it smoothed out with burn-in (I used the Isotek Burn-in CD for the burn-in period).


Dynamics:

The dynamics are good without compression but there is nothing exceptional going on with the Sennheiser hd-650 which are notoriously known to be picky about amplification.


Soundstage and imaging:

The soundstage/headstage was surprisingly good. It is not the widest I have heard, but it has excellent depth. With the Silver cables Sennheiser, the soundstage extends beyond the head.
It also has pinpoint imaging. Listening to large scale orchestras, you get a good feeling where the instruments are positioned in both depth and width, and the resolution is good enough that you can still recognize the tonal signature of similar instruments playing next to each other inside the soundstage


Transparency:

The transparency to the recording is actually very good. Version A (with ACSS) has the least coloration of any other combination I tried. It lets you hear a good differentiation from one recording to another. Other combinations can be more pleasing on a particular recording but you get stuck with that coloration on every recording which may be more suitable for other set-ups and personal tastes, but it is not a match for my system and personal preferences.
In fact, the audio-gd FUN is very picky about the quality of the recordings (mastering and encoding). My recommendation is that it shouldn’t be use with mp3s of less than 320kbps, and it would be preferably used with lossless or high rez files.


3Dac/preamp section



When using the DAC out and using the C2C as an external amp, the soundstage grew a little bigger, mostly in width. There was also better three-dimensional palpability to the sound. The C2C reached deeper in the bass and had a fuller sound (higher tonal density).
Overall the sound (in comparison with the FUN alone) was more effortless, more relaxed and perhaps slightly warmer sounding. However, in this configuration, the increase in performance is subtle and considering the cost of the pair of interconnects, headamp and extra power cord, it is not worth it by any standards.

However, the big surprise came when I used the DAC with its line out. The soundstage was much bigger and three-dimensional. The sound was more refined. The level of details increased a lot. This was counterintuitive and I wasn’t exactly expecting improvement when I tried it. In fact, the reason I tried the variable line out was to see how much transparency was lost with the use of the extra buffer stage and volume. However, it is the opposite: the FUN is a much better DAC from the variable line out.
I went back and looked at the internal of the FUN and those of the Compass, and it seems that the FUN is lacking a buffer section unlike the Compass. Besides the need of a fixed volume output, I see no reason why the dac out has been offered as an option.

Anyway, I am happy to have discovered that the FUN has an excellent preamp section. The other preamps I have on hand, the audio-gd st-3 and little dot mk3 are more colored and are definitely not as transparent.


4Headphone amp section

To assess the quality of the headphone amp section, I used the dac19mk3 as an external dac (using the Artisan Cables "Ultimate Silver Dream" interconnects) into the line input of the FUN.
The first thing that stroke me was the size of the soundstage, it was much bigger in all directions (width, height and depth) compared to its internal dac.
The second thing that attracted my attention was the level of details which was much higher through the dac19mk3 + headamp section of the FUN.
Finally, the sound was more analog like, more natural with less edginess.

Overall, I found the headphone amp quite satisfying on its own even if it didn’t drive the Sennheiser as the C2C headamp does.


5“Tweaks”

The Audio-gd FUN responds very well to tweaks. However, given its selling price, I don’t think it is wise recommending to future buyers sticking high priced power cords and digital cables to it. Anyway, one thing is for sure, it behaves like a “high-end” component and its sound can clearly be improved with good power filtration and interconnects.


6Overall

The performance of the Version A (DIR9001 +AD1852 + ACSS + Diamond Buffer) is quite impressive for the price. Used a dac/headamp combo, the sound is quite good. Used a DAC with a variable output or as a Headphone amplifier the performance is excellent (given the price).



IIIReview of different modules


1Digital receivers

CS8416

The CS8416 is rather warm and fuzzy sounding and it is not very detailed. Also, when I compared it to the usb input there was little sonic improvement over it.


DIR9001

The DIR9001 is definitely better sounding, the portrayed images are a lot clearer (less fuzziness) and it has more bass weight. Overall, there is a lot more going on and the low level details (room ambiance, echoes and reverbs, …) that were masked with the CS8416 reappeared with the DIR9001.


Usb vs. spdif

I was very surprised by the quality of the usb input. Compared to the dac-100 and dac-19mk3, there is a definite improvement in performance. Using the Wireworld ultraviolet cable, the sound is not bad at all with the USB input but you just get more of everything when switching to the spdif input.


Overall

Unless you own a huge library of recordings at 24/192, I would recommend sticking with the stock digital receiver 24/96.
The difference was apparent in my current system using the m2tech hiface + Oyaide or the Sobek digital cables. It could very well be less or more noticeable in other systems depending on the interaction of those components.


What I would like to see in future versions

I really would to see future digital input modules with low jitter (like the DIR9001) and 24/192 support (CS8416).
Also, I wonder if there is a way to put an SRC board along with DIR.


2USB

For now there is only one choice, the PCM2706. For the future, it would be interesting to have a 24/96 capable usb module, maybe something based on the Tenor chip?


3DACs

AD1852

The AD1852 offers a good amount of details compared to the WM8740 and it offers a well defined soundstage (deep and large). It is also more dynamic than the Wolfson DAC but it is a lot more forward and aggressive sounding. The leading edges of the notes are overemphasized which makes it a little bit “digital” sounding.


WM8740

In comparison to the AD1852, the WM8740 has a flatter soundstage. It has richer mids (with a bit of mid bass bloat ?). Overall, it is less detailed, less transparent to the recording. It has slowed transients with a perceived rolled off highs which give it a more analog like sound (but still not as good as what you get with pcm1704 based DACs)


Upsampling

When using SoX upsampling (44.1 -> 88.2) it removed some of the digitis from both DA chips and especially the AD1852. When using 24/96 material, there is of course no need to using upsampling.
By the way, my ears have become more sensitive to the digital edginess of dela-sigma DA chips since the time I have been listening to the dac19mk3 which is one of the most analog sounding dacs I have heard to date (along with the Audiomat Tempo DAC 2.5) which is using PCM1704uk chips.
Anyway, with both DACs (AD1852, WM8740), the sound is much more enjoyable than the emu 0404 usb (which uses AK4397) and the less detailed and older dac-100.


Overall

My favorite is the ad1852. It is very transparent which means that people should not use it with low bitrate mp3 or poorly mastered recordings. For that kind of files, the WM8740 is more suited as it would smooth over the leading edges notes of those low quality files and make the listening more bearable.


What I would like to see in future versions

While the AD1852 was my favorite of the two, I can’t help but wonder if the WM8741 would do a better job than the WM8740. Ideally, I would like to see Audio-gd offer upgrade modules with the PCM1704 but I don’t know if that is even technically possible given the available space on the DAC board. Other DACs that come to mind are the AD1955, CS4398, AK4397 and PCM1794.


4Opamps

I haven’t spent much time comparing opamps for this review, and I settled on the LM49720HA TO-99 (metal can version) because they are simply the best opamps I have heard to date. Some other opamps I had on hand were the Earth hdam, OPA627 (on adaptor), LM4562.


5Gain Modules

ACSS

Compared to the Neutral module, the soundstage is bigger and most interestingly, it is pushed further back. The imaging is more three dimensional.
The sound can be best described as smooth and relaxed.
The smoothness is not due to a roll off in the highs but to the natural balance of the sound and to the effortless portrayal of details and resolution.
The sound is very fast and clear yet it remains natural. There is no emphasis or substraction of anything. This means that if the recording is warm, you will hear warmth, and if the recording is dry you will hear it unfiltered and unprocessed.
Those looking for a neutral piece of equipment should probably get version A (ACSS) instead of Version B which uses regular voltage gain modules.


Neutral

While the Neural module might be “more neutral” than the other voltage modules, it is definitely warmer sounding and colored in comparison with the ACSS module.
It seems less extended on top and has more mid-bass content. It has richer harmonics, and is “tubey” sounding compared to the ACSS.
It is not bad, and in fact it is very good on its own, but when it is compared to the ACSS module, it lacks details and seems to do more effort to get there.
It is however more forgiving. And I am sure better suited for people who like tubes but not too much coloration at the same time. This module avoids the midrange dryness that some solid state amps unfortunately have.


Musical
(This part will be updated later)


Dynamic
(This part will be updated later)


Overall

Personally, I like the ACSS module. Its effortless yet very detailed portrayal of the sound is very addictive. It is neutral and also the closest sounding to the C2C headphone amp that I absolutely love and that uses the same current gain technology.
I have to admit that I only have about 100 hours of burn-in (using the Isotek burn-in CD) on the Neutral module while I had about 100 hours (+whatever burn-in it got in the factory) on the ACSS module. However, I highly doubt any amount of burn-in will get it the Neutral to the level of transparency of the ACSS module which is probably why most of the higher end audio-gd products use the ACSS technology.
I have yet to try the musical and dynamic module, and I will update my findings later.

What I would like to see in future versions

I wish to see future ACSS modules with different flavors. It is nice to have the Neutral/Musical/Dynamic modules, but I would like to see the same choice for the ACSS modules.


6Buffer modules

Diamond output module

The Diamond output module is linear (good balance between the mids, highs and lows) but rather clear sounding (less tonally dense than the FET module).
You get to see deeper into the soundstage and it has more air and better instrument separation than the FET module.
Also, there seems to be more low level details and transients are faster.
Finally, it seemed to me that it had higher upper harmonics content when listening to instruments such as violins for example.
However, if I had to be picky, I would say that it lacks the “fullness” of the sound that you get with the FET module or when using the C2C headphone amp for example.

FET module output module

The FET module is warmer and fuller sounding. It is tonally richer in the mids and overall more forgiving about the quality of the recording. The slowed transients make it seem like the top end is a little bit rolled off.
With the Sennheiser hd-650, it seemed to me that it had less drive capability than the Diamond output module. However, I don’t know if it is really a drive issue or more of the way I perceived dynamics between the two modules.

Overall

The differences are rather subtle between the 2 modules. It doesn't alter dramatically the sound of the FUN unit but it allows to fine tune the sound of the system between the more linear and detailed Diamond and the warmer sounding FET module.
I perceived more differences between the two DACs (AD1852, WM8740) but unlike the added sharpness and edginess I heard when switching from the WM8740 to the AD1852, the Diamond module just seemed more linear without any emphasis on the leading edges of the notes one might expect from a clearer sounding design.
While I preferred the Diamond module with my silver cabled Sennheiser hd-650 when doing short listening sessions, I am not sure if I would settle on it on the long run. HD-650 owners that are still using them with the stock cable (or a smooth cable like the Moon Audio Blue Dragon) will probably go for the Diamond Module. Those using brighter cans or cables, would probably favor the FET module.


IVConclusion

To sum up, I had a great time listening and trying to the Audio-gd FUN. It is a refreshing little unit that helped many things I have asking myself for a long time: are DAC chips audible, what about voltage vs. current gain, FET vs. other buffer topologies…?

It was also a reality check. I have spent so much time listening critically to my reference system that my mind was only able to focus tracking weaknesses. I had to use different tweaks to get the perfect tonal balance. The FUN, on the other hand, is a lot more versatile and easier to set-up in order to hit the perfect balance.

Finally, and as far as I could tell, the Audio-GD FUN offers excellent performance for the money. It is a versatile and modular little unit. It also has an excellent preamp section and very good DAC and headphone amp sections. In fact, this little unit is so good that I wonder if Audio-gd could make some of their higher end units with the same modularity as the FUN.



Follow-up 01/02/10:

AD1852 DAC:
After 300 hours+ of burn-in, some of the harshness I first noticed with the AD1852 is now gone. It still not as “sophisticated” and rich sounding as the dac19mk3 but I am comparing a unit that can work as a DAC/preamp/headphone with a pure DAC that is almost twice its price. Overall, I would say that I am very impressed with the sound of the AD1852 module.
One thing I failed to notice in my initial review it the jumpers in the AD1852 module (Kingwa, who read the review, e-mailed me to tell me I could try the second position of the jumper).
The result was subtle but audible. On the second jumper mode, I noticed that the sound became less processed, more airy and that the soundstage was pushed a little bit deeper. It is not a huge difference but every owner of the FUN should try both modes. Personally, I preferred the second position of the jumper but it is more of a matter of taste than superiority vs. inferiority in the two jumper modes.


The Musical Module:
In my opinion, the musical gain module is much more interesting than the Neutral gain module. As described by Audio-gd, it is warm sounding, with a rich mid-bass and a rolled off upper register. It is probably what people expect from tubes before they listen to them; at least it was what I imagined tubes would sound like before I bought the little dot MKIII.
Overall, the sound is smooth and syrupy whatever music is played with no hint of aggressiveness. It is a little bit too much for my taste but some people could be looking for that sound or it could be a good match with some bright sounding cans.
The sound signature of the Musical module is the same whether the FUN is used as a headphone amp or as a DAC from the preamp output.

The DAC/preamp out mode and the ACSS gain module:
After trying the Musical Module for a while as a DAC/headphone amp, I wanted to try the FUN as DAC (from its preamp output) and use the C2C as a headphone amp. The outcome was very disappointing: the soundstage was bigger than the internal amp but the sound was more diffused and lacked impact and density. Given the additional price of the C2C amp, silver wires, and the extra power cord, I think it is really not worth it to use the FUN with the voltage gain modules with an external amp.
However, it was a totally different story when I put back the ACSS gain modules. The sound improvement was such that I found the FUN in the ACSS mode alone outperformed the FUN+C2C or the FUN alone with the musical mode.
Putting back the ACSS gain modules brought a new level of low level details, extension throughout the frequency extremes and refinement over the voltage gain modules. The sound was smooth not because it rolls the highs like the musical gain module but because it has less distortion.
Those improvements were noticeable with the FUN used as a headphone amp as well as a DAC/preamp. In fact, when I paired the FUN with the C2C headphone amp I thought for a moment that the sound was as good as I had with the dac19mk3. When I did some A/B comparisons it was apparent that the dac19mk3 still had the edge but I was impressed about how good the FUN was sounding. If I didn’t have a better DAC to compare it with, it would be hard to find weaknesses listening to the FUN alone.
post #2 of 1242
A nice in depth review, well done there.
post #3 of 1242
Great thorough review slim.a, thanks for the time and effort, much appreciated.
post #4 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcoops16 View Post
A nice in depth review, well done there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosgr63 View Post
Great thorough review slim.a, thanks for the time and effort, much appreciated.
thanks guys
post #5 of 1242
I echo the others sentiments ....I feel I already know what to expect before ever laying hands on the dac/amp (Les and Curra having made valuable contributions to date with more to come as well).

That IMO is highest compliment one can pay to a fellow member for his no nonsense, informative, and highly readable approach.

Looks like the only thing that won't be covered by the time mine arrives are the footers on the FUN chassis...self tapping screw or bolted on ?

Well done !

Peete.
post #6 of 1242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pricklely Peete View Post
I echo the others sentiments ....I feel I already know what to expect before ever laying hands on the dac/amp (Les and Curra having made valuable contributions to date with more to come as well).

That IMO is highest compliment one can pay to a fellow member for his no nonsense, informative, and highly readable approach.

Looks like the only thing that won't be covered by the time mine arrives are the footers on the FUN chassis...self tapping screw or bolted on ?

Well done !

Peete.
What about glued on footers? *hides behind his chair*

Great write up slim.a, I really like it. You're not making my decisions easier though, now I also want to try a FUN and I had pretty much just decided to go with the DAC-19 + C-2 combo. It would be a little hard to get both.
post #7 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pricklely Peete View Post
I echo the others sentiments ....I feel I already know what to expect before ever laying hands on the dac/amp (Les and Curra having made valuable contributions to date with more to come as well).

That IMO is highest compliment one can pay to a fellow member for his no nonsense, informative, and highly readable approach.

Looks like the only thing that won't be covered by the time mine arrives are the footers on the FUN chassis...self tapping screw or bolted on ?

Well done !

Peete.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmore View Post
What about glued on footers? *hides behind his chair*

Great write up slim.a, I really like it. You're not making my decisions easier though, now I also want to try a FUN and I had pretty much just decided to go with the DAC-19 + C-2 combo. It would be a little hard to get both.
Thanks guys for the comments.

Actually, I tried different footers under the FUN and I ended up preferring the Yamamoto PB-9 footers (see picture of the footers here)

Helmore, as for the dac19 + C2 I would suggest to go for it if you can afford it. As good as the FUN is for its price class, it will probably be sonically outperformed by the dac19 + C2 but you won't have as many modules to play with ... it is a hard choice I guess
post #8 of 1242
As usual, you've written a useful write-up with many good points. I think one of the things lacking in the Compass which the FUN has made up for is that if you wanted a $350 DAC, with the Compass you were getting a bit of a compromise. If the FUN works unusually well using the pre-amp outputs as a DAC output as well, then that will make it good as a very flexible standalone DAC as well.
post #9 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
As usual, you've written a useful write-up with many good points. I think one of the things lacking in the Compass which the FUN has made up for is that if you wanted a $350 DAC, with the Compass you were getting a bit of a compromise. If the FUN works unusually well using the pre-amp outputs as a DAC output as well, then that will make it good as a very flexible standalone DAC as well.
Thanks. I really feel that the FUN is an excellent DAC. Using the Line out ouput, it clearly pulls ahead from the DAC-100 and EMU 0404 usb. I guess that those extra gain and buffer stages really benefit the sound.

This reminds me of what people have reported using the Burson Buffer between their dacs and amps. Even if it is counterintuitive, adding a buffer between the DAC and the amp really improves the transparency, dynamics and soundstage.

Also, the fact, that the volume control doesn't decrease the resolution is really impressive. Speaker users can probably build minimalistic systems around the FUN by using power amps or even powered speakers.

@ Currawong and Pricklely Peete: I am most interested in your findings about the DAC/preamp function as well as your findings about the unit in general. My review is just one point of view. Getting different perspectives from experienced listener would be most interesting and instructive.
post #10 of 1242
Thread Starter 

DAC out vs. Line out

A little update on the DAC out vs Line Out :

I have just received an email from Kingwa explaining to me the difference between the two outputs.

When he first built the DAC100 (the dac section of the Compass), he was supposing that most people would be using them with IC chips (opa2134, ...) so he built an extra FET buffer stage following the opamp.

When he built the FUN, he assumed that most people would use the FUN with one of his opamps. According to Kingwa his opamps have alread FET output buffers built inside. So he built the DAC without that extra buffer stage.

From what I understand, the Earth, Moon and Sun HDAMs will probably work better from the DAC out than the LM49720HA (metal can version) I tried on the DAC.

However, when I used the line out (with ACSS gain and Diamond buffer), the sound was much much better than any opamp I got on the older DAC100 (whether using the Earth hdam or IC opamps). Personally, I prefer to use the neutral and very detailed LM49720HA as an opamp and adjust the sound with different gain and buffer modules (I have yet to try the ACSS + Fet module on the Line Out and the Musical + Diamond combination ...) rather than use a colored opamp. Overall, there seems to be countless possiblities ... This little unit is very time consuming and addictive !
post #11 of 1242
Thanks slim.a

You've raised some key aspects that I can certainly give much useful test time to and try to answer the questions raised (preamp/volume DAC function I can run straight into my XOver) and from there distro'd to the 4 power amps that comprise the ref system's muscle and then on to the planar/ribbon/sub arrays. Having a reference marker to compare the FUN against will make my job easier this time around.

Don't sell yourself short slim.a you've got a great/solid grip on the fundamentals of evaluating gear (from both the aural and the technical aspects of the obsession and I think without some dedication to the 2 sides of that same coin the proper conclusions are much harder to make). However I feel you have that down pat.... Ultimately we are only limited by the gear we are exposed to and a key element to growth as a reviewer and general fan of music/gear/tech IMO is that willingness to absorb as much info as possible, which is something that even old farts like myself have to contend with on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to try and keep current with the torrid pace of advancement in thought, concept, and execution of said obsession pieces.

EDIT: Got rid of pointless statement

Peete.


PS: It seems that having that tooth pulled last Sat has uncorked a literary log jam in my brain. Although ADD still gives me some trouble from....Hey Look ! a chicken ----->
post #12 of 1242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pricklely Peete View Post
*snip*I suppose you could say that audio gear and the science behind it is likely the most re-invented wheel in the history of the 20th/21st century ....cable tech alone no doubt.

Peete.*snip, not need for distractions *
That seems a pretty big statement to make. What about the food, cosmetics, computers, cars, TVs, mobile phones, watches/clocks and many many other industries?

I'm not saying you're wrong, you could very likely be right. I don't think your intention was to make a conclusion, but more of a statement and that makes my nitpicking a anal though. I don't want to be anal, but I guess can be a bit finicky most of the time .

I'm getting off topic though. Let's just have some more FUN in this thread.
post #13 of 1242

Jumpers for sound favor

Slim.a,

Thank you for the informative review.

Going through the FUN webpage, I realize that user can configure combination of four jumpers located in input buffer stage for sound favor: Neutral, Soft1, Soft2 and Soft3.

With default configuration of version A and OPA2134 opamp replaced by OPA-Earth HDAM module in DAC output stage, I suspect the sound will become overwhelmingly neutral. So I guess I can tweak the sound with jumpers mentioned above.

Do you think following combination is a good compromise for sound coloration?

FUN version A:
Default DIR9001 receiver, DA1852 DAC, ACSS Gain, Diamound Output.
OPA-Earth module in DAC output stage.

Favor jumper setting:
Soft1 (J6L and J6R on and J7L and J7R off).

I don't quite convinced on using interconnect/power cables to achieve sound coloration while maintaining neutral sound for FUN DAC/amplifier as suggested by Kingwa in his Audio-GD website.

Thanks in advance.


Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
A little update on the DAC out vs Line Out :

From what I understand, the Earth, Moon and Sun HDAMs will probably work better from the DAC out than the LM49720HA (metal can version) I tried on the DAC.

However, when I used the line out (with ACSS gain and Diamond buffer), the sound was much much better than any opamp I got on the older DAC100 (whether using the Earth hdam or IC opamps). Personally, I prefer to use the neutral and very detailed LM49720HA as an opamp and adjust the sound with different gain and buffer modules (I have yet to try the ACSS + Fet module on the Line Out and the Musical + Diamond combination ...) rather than use a colored opamp. Overall, there seems to be countless possiblities ... This little unit is very time consuming and addictive !
post #14 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by littletree76 View Post
Slim.a,

Thank you for the informative review.

Going through the FUN webpage, I realize that user can configure combination of four jumpers located in input buffer stage for sound favor: Neutral, Soft1, Soft2 and Soft3.

With default configuration of version A and OPA2134 opamp replaced by OPA-Earth HDAM module in DAC output stage, I suspect the sound will become overwhelmingly neutral. So I guess I can tweak the sound with jumpers mentioned above.

Do you think following combination is a good compromise for sound coloration?

FUN version A:
Default DIR9001 receiver, DA1852 DAC, ACSS Gain, Diamound Output.
OPA-Earth module in DAC output stage.

Favor jumper setting:
Soft1 (J6L and J6R on and J7L and J7R off).

I don't quite convinced on using interconnect/power cables to achieve sound coloration while maintaining neutral sound for FUN DAC/amplifier as suggested by Kingwa in his Audio-GD website.

Thanks in advance.
Hi littletree76,

I have to admit that there was so many things to try that I didn't play around yet with the jumbers because they could have involved even more burn-in before the sound settled.

As for recommending a specific setting, it will depend on both the cans you are using and your personal taste. By the way, what headphones will you be using ?

Concerning the FUN, I found it neutral but not sterile. Neutral doesn't necessarily mean it is boring. It just means that it has less coloration than other gear. It means that you listen more to the music itself than to your equipment.

However, if I had to give an advice, I would advice you to first try it with Neutral jumper settings and only after that try the softer settings if you feel the highs are too hot for your cans.
post #15 of 1242
I will be using my favorite headphone Denon D5000 (mod with Beyerdynamic DT880 pad to tighten the bass) with the headphone amplifier. As for speakers, I will be using Virtue Audio's Virtue ONE class T amplifier to drive a pair of Klipsch RB-51 satellite speaker and an active Boston Acoustic XB4 subwoofer. Probably Line Output (rather than DAC Output) of FUN will be used to feed line input of the Virtue ONE power amplifier.


Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
As for recommending a specific setting, it will depend on both the cans you are using and your personal taste. By the way, what headphones will you be using ?

Concerning the FUN, I found it neutral but not sterile. Neutral doesn't necessarily mean it is boring. It just means that it has less coloration than other gear. It means that you listen more to the music itself than to your equipment.

However, if I had to give an advice, I would advice you to first try it with Neutral jumper settings and only after that try the softer settings if you feel the highs are too hot for your cans.
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