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Audio-gd DAC 19 (MKIV) - Page 10

post #136 of 148

There is weight, body and smoothness in the dac19, but it won't be overemphasized unless you go overboard with warm sounding gear synergy. Can be underemphasized with certain gear synergy and songs. If you aren't particularly looking for a sound that first and foremost attempts to allow a recording's original emotions to come through, you may prefer one of audio-gd's musical dac's, which will move you emotionally more easily but not completely emotionally faithful.

post #137 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stimer View Post

I just ordered the DF version of the DAC-19.  I really debated going for the DSP filter, but in the end I couldn't justify the price for the possible upgrade.  Is the jury definitely out that the DSP is a superior filter?

 

Could  the DF and DSP filters be swapped?

 

Could the unit I bought be modified to swap in the PMD-100 HDCD filter if I had my own chip?

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by noinimod View Post



As far as i can tell, the DSP and DF board are inter-changeable. I don't think you can swap the pmd100 in, however.

Hmm, the thing is, you're not going to find many people who have heard BOTH the DSP and DF, so that's difficult to say.

I don't think the DAC19 is going to give you that sort of sound you're looking for - they are not a terribly warm sounding DAC. It's slightly warm but not too much. That said, i believe you'll be very happy with it even if the sound's not what you're expecting


I have listened to both the DSP digital filter and the DF and I can say that the difference is really BIG.

 

When I had the dac19mk3, I could hear quite easily the sonic characteristics of both digital filters (DF1704 and PMD100). What I came to realize is that on the dac19mk3, the digital filter was the weakest link and the analog stage, which was more transparent, kept highlighting the shortcomings of both filters.

When I listened the dac19-dsp for the first time, it was like a revelation. It combined the strengths of both digital filters (DF1704 and PMD100) and had none of their shortcomings. Overall, it was not only more realistic sounding but also had the benefit of being less sensitive to the quality of the transport.

 

Since it is not possible to swap the digital filters, I highly recommed to anyone considering the DAC19 to get the DSP version, especially for those who don't have a high performance transport.

In my experience the dac19 dsp from the usb input gave me a better sound than what I used to get with the Hiface+oyaide digital cable+dac19mk3 (with DF1704). For more details about the sound of the DSP filter, you can check my review here: http://new.head-fi.org/forum/thread/483899/review-of-the-audio-gd-dac19dsp-c2-amp-the-acss-connection

post #138 of 148

slim.a: The DF/PMD100 you had was in the dac19mk3; the DSP1 chip was in the DAC19 (mkIV). So that's not really a fair comparison of the filter chips by themselves.

post #139 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by noinimod View Post

slim.a: The DF/PMD100 you had was in the dac19mk3; the DSP1 chip was in the DAC19 (mkIV). So that's not really a fair comparison of the filter chips by themselves.


noinimod,

 

Given that I have spent months comparing both the DF1704 and PMD100 digital filters on the dac19mk3, I got pretty familiar with their sonic signature. Both the DF1704 and the PMD100 had strengths and weaknesses. The DF1704 was fast and dynamic but it lacked the timber accuracy and refinement of the PMD100 which was warmer sounding.
People who have listened to both these digital filters on different DACs will probably confirm those findings. Some people preferred the PMD100 and others the DF1704. It was more a matter of taste and gear synergy rather than inferiority vs. superiority because both of them were "flawed". At least the analog output stage of the dac19mk3 was more transparent than its digital filter.

The reason Kingwa moved from the DAC19mk3 to the Dac19 (mkIV) was not because he wanted to improve things but rather because the PMD100 (his favorite over the DF1704) was discontinued. Instead of leaving the users only with one choice (the DF1704), he rebuilt slightly the DAC19 in order to accept the DSP-1 and to add the ACSS outputs. Adding the ACSS outputs was pretty simply since he only needed to bypass the I/V section and output buffer and add ACSS connectors (he used to do that for the dac19mk3 on custom orders). The main modifications were done to the power supply in order to get the specific voltage regulation for the DSP-1. There was no main change to the rest (same ACSS outputs, same PCM1704uk, ...). According to Kingwa himself, he said to me that there was only a slight difference between the dac19mk3 (with the DF1704) and the dac19 DF.

Again, if you ask him he will tell you the same: the DSP-1 is a far superior digital filter than the DF (regardless of the DAC being used). More over, if you compare the following:

a/ cheap transport (or usb) + DSP-1

b/ excellent transport + DF1704

Solution a/ will always sound better than solution b/

And with a better transport, the DSP-1 scale pretty well.

 

I know that you are skeptic about the DSP-1. But trust me, I have enough listening experience with different modules inside the same DACs to tell you that there is a pretty big increase in performance going from the DF1704 to the DSP-1.

post #140 of 148

Believe me, i'm no skeptic. Kingwa himself told me that if you're comparing the dac19 DF vs DSP, the difference will not be USD150 more. This is considering the base price of the dac 19 DF which is USD480; a USD150 top up for the DSP1 (and WIMA) is a substantial amount percentage-wise.

 

If anyone has the money to shoot for the DSP1, i'd say go for it. But for those who don't have USD630 to spare for the DSP1 and USD480 is all they can muster w/o going overboard on their spending, then the DAC19 DF will still serve him well.

post #141 of 148

A very interesting discussion, slim.a and noinimod.

 

When I began researching the DAC19 mkIV a few months ago, there was even less comparative discussion of the two models than there is now. In reading everything I could find and corresponding several times with Kingwa, I came to the following conclusions:

 

1. If your transport is cheap or (especially) if you use USB, then going with DSP-1 is almost mandatory.

 

2. If you have a better transport or use coax or toslink, then the differences between DF and DSP-1 are largely (but not entirely) mitigated, and the question of whether or not the DSP-1 represents $150 worth of improvement is almost entirely subjective.

 

I have what I consider to be moderately good transports (MacBook Pro via Toslink and a Marantz DV-7001 via coax), so in the end I went DF. There has been (as a memorable Bloom County comic strip put it about 25 years ago) "the occasional second thought" about that decision. But in the end, since the DAC19DF is far and away the best DAC I've owned, I don't feel that I've shorted myself too badly.

 

Anyway, my C2 just arrived this afternoon, so now the wonders of ACSS have revealed themselves to me. Even despite a small problem with the Shark cable provided, my HD650s have never sounded more alive.

post #142 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olias of Sunhillow View Post

A very interesting discussion, slim.a and noinimod.

 

When I began researching the DAC19 mkIV a few months ago, there was even less comparative discussion of the two models than there is now. In reading everything I could find and corresponding several times with Kingwa, I came to the following conclusions:

 

1. If your transport is cheap or (especially) if you use USB, then going with DSP-1 is almost mandatory.

 

2. If you have a better transport or use coax or toslink, then the differences between DF and DSP-1 are largely (but not entirely) mitigated, and the question of whether or not the DSP-1 represents $150 worth of improvement is almost entirely subjective.

 

I have what I consider to be moderately good transports (MacBook Pro via Toslink and a Marantz DV-7001 via coax), so in the end I went DF. There has been (as a memorable Bloom County comic strip put it about 25 years ago) "the occasional second thought" about that decision. But in the end, since the DAC19DF is far and away the best DAC I've owned, I don't feel that I've shorted myself too badly.

 

Anyway, my C2 just arrived this afternoon, so now the wonders of ACSS have revealed themselves to me. Even despite a small problem with the Shark cable provided, my HD650s have never sounded more alive.


While I totally agree with point 1/, point 2/ doesn't reflect what I tried to say. Maybe if I used numbers, I could be more explicit.

In my experience, using different quality transports, I had the following results:

1/ DF1704 filter: the sound could be rated from 40 to 70

2/ DSP-1 filter: the sound could be rated from 80 to 100

 

What I tried to say is that with a low end transport, the difference between the 2 filters is huge. And with a high-end transport, the difference is still big and not only a matter of taste.

 

At the end, I am not saying that the DF version is bad. It is better than many DACs out there. Back when I had the dac19mk3, I compared the DF1704 directly to a €3000 Audiomat DAC and it won the comparison in many aspects. However, by listening to the PMD100 on the dac19mk3, I became aware of the shortcomings of the DF1704.

So for those who have never listened to a DAC that uses the PMD100 filter or the DSP-1, it is a good thing as they won't probably to pick up on any faults on the DF1704 (which is better than most digital filters out there). However, for those who want to make a future-proof purchase decision, it is better to get the DSP version from the start as it will be hard upgrade later on. Personally, I have tried all sorts of tweaks (cables, transports, vibration support, power filtration, ...) and there is no single $150 investment that will provide the kind of improvement that going from the DF1704 to the DSP-1 will.

post #143 of 148

I think it also depends on how good the rest of your gear is. If you have good cables and additional power filtering, the difference between df1704 and DSP-1 may become greater, and after a threshold, will be worth it. I agree there's a lot to learn by swapping pmd100 and df1704, they both have distinct sounds, strengths and weaknesses.

post #144 of 148

Another option if you want to save a buck is to buy a PMD100 and have AudioGd build the DAC19 configured for it.Like anything else we all have our preferences,  some people like the PMD200 more than the PMD100.  I mention the PMD200 because its the only other DSP filter I've seen to get better reviews than SIC filters.   So the DSP must be one heck of an accomplishment for AudioGD,   I still have my hopes that they will get HDCD code programmed into before I buy one,  then we have best of both worlds.

post #145 of 148


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post

While I totally agree with point 1/, point 2/ doesn't reflect what I tried to say. Maybe if I used numbers, I could be more explicit.

In my experience, using different quality transports, I had the following results:

1/ DF1704 filter: the sound could be rated from 40 to 70

2/ DSP-1 filter: the sound could be rated from 80 to 100

 

What I tried to say is that with a low end transport, the difference between the 2 filters is huge. And with a high-end transport, the difference is still big and not only a matter of taste.


Actually, I understood your point very well. What I was saying is at the time I made my purchase (approx. 2 months ago), no comparison of this value was available -- or, at least, I hadn't found it. I've now seen enough discussion to believe that the DSP-1 is indeed worth the extra $150, and while if I were making the purchase today I'd go with the more expensive DAC, my satisfaction with the DF means I'm in no hurry to undo that "mistake."

 

Sorry if that wasn't clear.

post #146 of 148

Thanks for the additional comments, guys.  I just have to set a limit, and I have set my limit to $500 per piece of equipment.  I usually buy used, but I haven't seen a Dac-19 for sale for a while.  I wish I would have been looking when someone got rid of their MKIII with both filters, but that's life.  There's always something bigger, better, faster, etc. and my philosophy has always been to stay a few years behind the curve.  I mean it was just a few years ago that Sonic Frontier was offering the DF1704 as a $50 upgrade/replacement for the PMD-100.  At least 1 other individual I read online preferred the DF-1704 to the PMD-100 although I realize this opinion was the exception. Slim.... I value and appreciate your opinion on the digital filters.  My thinking was that I could always have the DSP-1 installed into my DAC-19DF if I was really unhappy with it, but maybe I'll be satisfied with the cheaper option, so why not start there first.  I also try very hard to not get sucked into tweakville, which is very difficult for me, but I find when I tweak less I enjoy more.  Just trying to get to a place where I don't question sound quality too much.  It should be about the music.

 

I can still cancel my order with Pacific Valve, and order the DSP through Kingwa.  HMMMMMMMMMMMM????

post #147 of 148

Quote:

Originally Posted by 1stimer View Post

 

I can still cancel my order with Pacific Valve, and order the DSP through Kingwa.  HMMMMMMMMMMMM????


LOL.  Oh, the temptation!

post #148 of 148

Well....my DF has shipped.  Will post impressions compared to my Zhaolu after listening for a little while.

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