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Review of the Audio-GD FUN - A modular Dac / Headphone amp / Preamp - Page 2

post #16 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by littletree76 View Post
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.
I didn't try the Denon d5000 in the FUN, but if I had to guess, I would say that it should work fine with the default setting and Earth HDAM. I don't think it would be necessary to use the soft settings unless you are using some very bright headphones.

On another subject, I asked Kingwa if they were planning to add new modules and he said that he might add in the future the PCM1704UK dac module if there is enough demand for the FUN. The only weakness I found in the DAC is the slight "digitis" that is common to all delta sigma dac chips I have listened to (cd players and dacs costing to up to $5000). If he can provide the PCM1704UK chip in an entry level it would be very very interesting.
post #17 of 1242
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmore View Post
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.
I think we may have a slight misunderstanding here (PM me if you want a detailed explanation behind why I feel that way)......I'll remove the remark.

Peete.
post #18 of 1242
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
The only weakness I found in the DAC is the slight "digitis" that is common to all delta sigma dac chips I have listened to (cd players and dacs costing to up to $5000). If he can provide the PCM1704UK chip in an entry level it would be very very interesting.
I suspect some harshness may be related to the power supply. To get real smoothness, if my understanding is correct, you need a very high quality power supply. After listening with the Ref 1/Phoenix, any other SS gear tends to sound harsh or dull. The default "A" set-up is a bit harsh to me with bright headphones, so I have to switch to the Wolfson DAC, FET modules etc. to counter that. With other headphones I don't need to.
post #19 of 1242
Just out of curiosity, did anyone try out the FUN with Kingwa's power cable?

I remembered on the Compass, the change in sound quality from switching the stock power cord to Kingwa's is quite noticeable. It sounded like the instruments gained an additional wieght oof tone and body, and everything sounded clearer. Not sure how to put it since I am still learning how to evaluate all these sound quality changes....Just my experience with Kingwa's stuff....although it might be pretty expensive to get his cable just for the FUN..
post #20 of 1242
Deleted...double post....
post #21 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
I suspect some harshness may be related to the power supply. To get real smoothness, if my understanding is correct, you need a very high quality power supply. After listening with the Ref 1/Phoenix, any other SS gear tends to sound harsh or dull. The default "A" set-up is a bit harsh to me with bright headphones, so I have to switch to the Wolfson DAC, FET modules etc. to counter that. With other headphones I don't need to.
Agreed, high quality power is what gets you real smoothness. In my testing of the FUN, I found out that using power filtration can definitely reduce the harshness.
However, I think it also due to the digital filtering at 16/44.1. When I upsampled to 24/88.2 or played native 24/96 files, that slight harshness was reduced.
I noticed the harshness because I was picky and also because I had a better DAC to compare it with. In more general comparisons, the FUN is a lot smoother and natural sounding than the EMU 0404 usb or some mid level CD/DVD players I have listened to.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmic_impulse View Post
Just out of curiosity, did anyone try out the FUN with Kingwa's power cable?

I remembered on the Compass, the change in sound quality from switching the stock power cord to Kingwa's is quite noticeable. It sounded like the instruments gained an additional wieght oof tone and body, and everything sounded clearer. Not sure how to put it since I am still learning how to evaluate all these sound quality changes....Just my experience with Kingwa's stuff....although it might be pretty expensive to get his cable just for the FUN..
Switching power cords changes the sound noticeably. I don't have the Audio-gd power cord so I can't comment on it. During my testing I tried it with two aftermarket power cords : an Olflex (35€) and PowertransPlus (180€/meter). The Olflex brought a slight improvement over the stock cord (it sounded clearer and less fuzzy). The PowertransPlus on the other hand, brought a huge improvement in low level details, naturalness of tone, size and layering of the soundstage and bass depth.
So yes, the power cord will change the sound but I have no idea if the audio-gd power cord is a good value or not and if it is worth buying. But in my experience with audio-gd gear, it is always worth it to spend a little bit on power cords and interconnects. If you use the FUN with regular power cords and interconnects, it will sound very good but it would be only a fraction of what it could sound with a proper power cord and interconnects.
post #22 of 1242
i'm sold on your comparisons between power trans plus and olflex, but i'm still using a regular APC power surge, plus i'm kinda short on cash, so i'm thinking of buying 2 olflex cords for the 19mk3 and c2c, is this the cable you were talking about ?

2m Absolute High End Netzkabel Lapp Ölflex Power Cable (aukcja 370167021587) - aukcje eBay.pl | Zakupy bez granic!
post #23 of 1242
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmic_impulse View Post
Just out of curiosity, did anyone try out the FUN with Kingwa's power cable?

I remembered on the Compass, the change in sound quality from switching the stock power cord to Kingwa's is quite noticeable. It sounded like the instruments gained an additional wieght oof tone and body, and everything sounded clearer. Not sure how to put it since I am still learning how to evaluate all these sound quality changes....Just my experience with Kingwa's stuff....although it might be pretty expensive to get his cable just for the FUN..
The SoniKLEER cord synergizes much, much better with the Compass than Audio-gd's own power cord (and it's cheaper), so I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same with the FUN. Many more of those little sonic benefits to be had from the SoniKLEER.
post #24 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoFGR View Post
i'm sold on your comparisons between power trans plus and olflex, but i'm still using a regular APC power surge, plus i'm kinda short on cash, so i'm thinking of buying 2 olflex cords for the 19mk3 and c2c, is this the cable you were talking about ?

2m Absolute High End Netzkabel Lapp Ölflex Power Cable (aukcja 370167021587) - aukcje eBay.pl | Zakupy bez granic!
The Olflex I tried in my system was this one : 2m Basic High End Lapp Ölflex Netzkabel Power Cable en vente sur eBay.fr (fin le 22-févr.-10 08:27:46 Paris)
The one you found is a slightly improved version. So I guess it should work as well too.

By the way, I have found that entry level power surge/filters (such as the Belkin PureAV that I have) can in fact degrade the sound quality of hi-fi gear and especially the Audio-gd gear. Before I bought the (filterless) Supra jentech Mains Block and later the BADA filter, I preferred using a €10 mains multiplier (like this one) instead of plugging my gear to the Belkin PureAV.
post #25 of 1242
Thread Starter 

Foll-up 01/02/10

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 #26 of 1242
The FUN ("A" version, AD1852,ACSS stages, Neutral output stages,DIR9001 receiver module) was well received at the mini meet I attended this past Saturday (even though it wasn't fully burned in). The concept was tough to explain but once the idea behind it sunk in that became a point of great interest and a definite plus. A number of attendees had/have Compass units with the general consensus nearly unanimous that the FUN is a worthy successor to the Compass. I agree. How much better is it ? That's yet to be determined but I will put the units head to head in a couple of weeks to see where the areas of improvement lie.

As far as current discussion is concerned I have always believed in the concept of a decent mains cable making a difference....the hard part is finding the right one at the right price.

Peete.

PS: Interesting follow up notes slim.a I need to look at the AD1852 module for that jumper you speak of and give er a try. Thanks for the tip. As a side note the AD1852 is one of the better sigma delta chips made which is why it continues to have a solid following despite many iterations or generations having been made since it's introduction a few years back. I think 1998 it was first offered but I can't sure of that.
post #27 of 1242
I think the ACSS is the best companion over other voltage gain module in Fun.
post #28 of 1242

Jumper setting for DAC

I have finally received version A of FUN DAC/amplifier with OPA-Earth HDAM and it has gone through 300 hours of burn-in (100 hours in factory and 200 hours at installation site). After the burn-in and using jumpers to set sound favor to Soft1 (jumpers J6L/J6R on and jumpers J7L/J7R off) and hardware sampling rate to 96KHz instead of default 192KHz on DA1852 DAC module, I am really pleased with sound stage and instrument separation.

According to data sheet of AD1852, jumper settings on DA1852 DAC module are meant for selecting hardware sampling rate through pin 7 (192KHz/48KHz) and pin 10 (96KHz/48KHz) of AD1852 chip. When jumper is on, the pin will be pulled to low logic level whereas when jumper is off, the pin will be pulled to high logic level. So when the jumper is moved from pin 10 to pin 7 as suggested by Slim.a (recommended by Kingwa), effectively hardware sampling rate is reduced from 192KHz to 96KHz.

How change of hardware sampling rate of AD1852 can affect sound stage is beyond my knowledge, perhaps Kingwa has something to add and correct me if there is any error in above description (it is solely based on AD1852 data sheet and DAC module's circuit topology without any verification).
post #29 of 1242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by littletree76 View Post
I have finally received version A of FUN DAC/amplifier with OPA-Earth HDAM and it has gone through 300 hours of burn-in (100 hours in factory and 200 hours at installation site). After the burn-in and using jumpers to set sound favor to Soft1 (jumpers J6L/J6R on and jumpers J7L/J7R off) and hardware sampling rate to 96KHz instead of default 192KHz on DA1852 DAC module, I am really pleased with sound stage and instrument separation.

According to data sheet of AD1852, jumper settings on DA1852 DAC module are meant for selecting hardware sampling rate through pin 7 (192KHz/48KHz) and pin 10 (96KHz/48KHz) of AD1852 chip. When jumper is on, the pin will be pulled to low logic level whereas when jumper is off, the pin will be pulled to high logic level. So when the jumper is moved from pin 10 to pin 7 as suggested by Slim.a (recommended by Kingwa), effectively hardware sampling rate is reduced from 192KHz to 96KHz.

How change of hardware sampling rate of AD1852 can affect sound stage is beyond my knowledge, perhaps Kingwa has something to add and correct me if there is any error in above description (it is solely based on AD1852 data sheet and DAC module's circuit topology without any verification).
Thanks for the explanation. Kingwa told me to try both modes without giving me any precision. I will email him about the digital filtering in both modes and I will report back.
post #30 of 1242
thanks for the review!! It confirmed my belief that the DAC19 was the one I really wanted.
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