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Review: Audinst HUD-mx1 USB DAC/amp - Page 6

post #76 of 86

You used Shai Hulud in an audiophile review?

 

Brilliant.jpg

 

I'm gonna have to tell them

post #77 of 86
Thread Starter 
Well yeah, I don't think it is very realistic to only use audiophile fodder like Diana Krall, Jazz at the Pawn Shop, and those types. I mean - yes, I enjoy those too, but I like to play a broad range of music that I actually enjoy... Not just good recordings. I think many audiophile type reviews miss out on that aspect. If a headphone or other component only sounds good playing some Stereophile demo disc, and you don't even like that music, then what's the point? 
post #78 of 86

Very true. I can go from listening to traditional Cantonese to Miles Davis' early period to slam death metal and then to Frank Zappa and back to chamber music then to black metal and hardcore punk (like Shai Hulud and Slapshot). Having audio equipment that can do all this is pretty important so that there aren't stacks of wasted space and money all around the room.

 

Edit: Well that sounded pretentious as hell, name dropping for days!

post #79 of 86

For those few of us who seek equipment that least colors the signal and best reproduces it accurately, I don't think it is realistic to review a DAC, speaker, etc. primarily on the basis of any music, listening experience or audition by others.  I don't care or put much credence on you finding the unit "musical", if the "bass is dry" or if you think there's a lot of "air between the instruments".  There are far too many variables for your subjective findings to be replicable elsewhere, elsewhat, elsehow and elsewho.

 

I would much prefer "reviews" where hard measurements of the equipment are taken (frequency response, distortion, SNR/dynamic range, etc.).  Then I, myself, can audition with my own ears (and biases) those units that pass technical muster.  Yes, I realize very few of us have the equipment and know-how to measure. Nevertheles. I've never been a religious man, and I am not about to start having religious experiences with audio equipment.  I'm just trying to keep it real, folks...


Edited by Mauricio - 3/20/12 at 7:54pm
post #80 of 86

Is this dac/amp good to use with custom iems? Specifically with Heir 4.A... What about hiss, detail, and volume? Thanks for every experience!

post #81 of 86

Project86,  Great review and I have had this item a little while.  I'd like to share some general conclusions and then some comparisons with other equipment and the Audinst paired with them.

 

The Audinst HUD-mx1 at about $175 is indeed a great value for its function:  a portable external DAC and headphone amp ideal for use with a laptop when traveling.  I actually have been using it with a desk top iMac, though. Phones are Audeze LCD-2 and VSonic 07 IEM's.  The Audinst headphone output, using USB as power source for the mx1, is plenty adequate to drive either phones to uncomfortable levels.  The sound is quite detailed and accurate.  Soundstage is very nice if not the very best, but again, for the price it's hard to beat.  There are no disappointments in presentation of bass, midrange, and treble in any music I've listened to, including jazz, blues, orchestral, female and male vocals, light rock, heavy rock, etc.  There are some better sounding alternatives if your budget allows, but for the price point and portability and versatility, I agree 100% with Project86 that this is a great buy.

 

Some A/B comparisons, using the following:

 

Alternate DAC:                                 Cambridge Audio DacMagic                       ($350)

Alternate portable headphone amp:     C&C BH                                                     ($99)

Desk headphone amp:                       Matrix M-Line with dual OPA 627A mod      ($285)

Desk amp w/ headphone out:             Audioengine N22                                       ($199)

 

Here's how I'd rank the different combinations I've listened to with tracks representing good recordings of the different types mentioned above.  All A/B was done with the Audeze LCD-2 phones;  I didn't use the VSonic GR07's except intermittently:

 

#1   DacMagic--->Matrix M-Line  ($635 total)

 

              With opamp tweak (obtained from TAM Audio.com for $35, dual OPA 627A wired for class A operation), this combination resulted in one of the most realistic, immersive, and just plain gorgeous musical experiences I've had.  It was though I was experiencing the live performance, with huge sound stage, absolutely accurate, detailed, and whatever adjective gets tossed around.  The opamp modification was well worth the money.  With the stock opamp, I say this combo is also great and very, very satisfying listening.  After the mod,well, I just could not stop listening even after hours when the LCD-2's started to physically wear on me (comfortable wear is definitely not their strength.)  In interest of full disclosure, almost 100% of my experience is with high-end stereo systems, so that is my reference point.  There surely must be other DAC/amp/phone combinations at much greater cost that are superior but I could be in love with these for a long time.  Realizing how subjective listening tastes are, I would just say I don't think many would rate something above this combination for the money,  $1630 including the LCD-2's.

 

 

 

#2   DacMagic--->C&C HB  ($449 total)

             

             This combination  is also very detailed and engaging, with nice, big sound stage, ample power.  It's just a little less so in all respects than #1.  I only list it because it shows what a serious little bargain the C&C BH is at $99.  I see the C&C BH as a remarkable upgrade for portable media such as iPod or iPad.  Also for pairing with the Audinst.  More on that later.

 

#3   Audinst HUD-mx1--->Audioengine N22  ($374 total)

             

              The N22 is a speaker amp that has a headphone amp output.  I include here as a reference point for the comparison that comes next.  This combo sounds very good, with a slightly warm mid-range presentation, reminding me of a tubed amp.  But this combo doesn't offer any useful advantages as it lacks portability due to the N22.

 

#4   Audinst--->C&C HB  ($274 total)

 

             Here is the winning combination for  sonic qualities, portability, and price amongst these particular items.  Use the Audinst line out RCA jacks to 1/8" input stereo jack and Audinst switched to line out on its front panel.  The sound quality is only a shade behind #3 and it's only with a direct A/B comparison I'd rate #3 ahead with just a tad more detail and warmth.  I'm certain many would prefer this combo; it's a matter of personal taste after all.  The C&C HB is smaller that a deck of cards, has selectable gain and equalization, two phone output jacks, ample power, a smooth noiseless volume pot, long battery life, and really good sound.  Only con was the need to use a relatively large RCA plug pair- to -1/8" stereo plug adaptor to plug into the C&C HB front panel.  It's wider than the thickness of the amp, and with the headphone plugged in, I can't lay the amp flat.  Maybe there exists a cable without need for the adaptor; I didn't do a thorough search.  No other cons I can see for this price ($99).

 

#5  Audinst, only  ($175)

 

             For entry level this would be my recommendation.  The DAC stage is second to the DacMagic in these A/B comparisons, but still very, very good.  With the built-in amp it offers a bargain price pairing with portable sources (mainly lap tops) having a USB output.  Obviously, most people would rather a small DAC to take along on trips, preferably powered through the USB connection, and this fits the bill very well.  The sound quality via the amp output is very good, just not superior to any of the above, in my opinion.  Without A/B'ing, just on an absolute rating basis, the Audinst alone would be very satisfying.  For portable applications, I'd want to opt for the Audinst with C&C HB amp combination for a reasonable amount more money.

 

#6  Audinst---> Matrix M-Line

 

            This combination surprised me in that I had expected it to rank second or even first perhaps.  But there must be some peculiar interaction between these two pieces that I can't explain.  The sound is duller, more veiled.  The bass is a little less controlled and is a little blurred.  I can no longer easily pick out individual background vocalists and instruments don't separate into proper positions as well as other combinations.   It's not bad sounding and I don't have a harsh opinion at all;  it's just not what I had hoped for.  After all the A/B'ing, I came back and had the same experience as when I started with all these combinations.  I double checked that the 96,000 kHz sample rate and 24 bit 2-Ch out for USB were selected.  So I am at a loss why this happened.  I had hoped to pair these two and return the DacMagic to it's home in my stereo system.  I probably will go with #3 at the computer, and for the gym, use iPod with C&C BH with the VSonic GR07's.  If anyone else tries the Audinst-Matrix M-Line combination and has a more favorable experience, I'd be interested.  Perhaps the iMac enters the equation somehow, but it was the same source for all the A/B's.

 

 

 

Don't know how much this helps those who may be thinking about employing the Audinst either stand-alone or in combinations.  It was my intent to share my experience with different mixes I had available.

post #82 of 86

Mauricio,

 

Were you aware of a equipment reviewer named Julian Hirsch, deceased, who used to work for Stereo Review and had a lot of readers in the 60's and 70's?  Your opinion sounds much like his. He used to derisively dismiss his critics as "golden ears."   He said that as long as the lab measurements were close, there was no difference between amp A and amp B regardless of cost.  He didn't listen to them, or at least never said more than they sounded good to him.  No A/B listening was needed; he had his data.

 

I'd submit that he was all wet.  Progress has been made only because designers started doing critical listening and studying interactions between source, amplifiers, and transducers while trying to find measurements that quantify what they hear, good or bad.  Listening drove the measurements needed, not vice versa.

 

You're right in that most of spend time listening and reporting as best we can what we hear, not buying and using test equipment.  Guess you're going to remain disappointed for the most part.

post #83 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiofan4life View Post

#4   Audinst--->C&C HB  ($274 total)

 

             Here is the winning combination for  sonic qualities, portability, and price amongst these particular items.  Use the Audinst line out RCA jacks to 1/8" input stereo jack and Audinst switched to line out on its front panel.  The sound quality is only a shade behind #3 and it's only with a direct A/B comparison I'd rate #3 ahead with just a tad more detail and warmth.  I'm certain many would prefer this combo; it's a matter of personal taste after all.  The C&C HB is smaller that a deck of cards, has selectable gain and equalization, two phone output jacks, ample power, a smooth noiseless volume pot, long battery life, and really good sound.  Only con was the need to use a relatively large RCA plug pair- to -1/8" stereo plug adaptor to plug into the C&C HB front panel.  It's wider than the thickness of the amp, and with the headphone plugged in, I can't lay the amp flat.  Maybe there exists a cable without need for the adaptor; I didn't do a thorough search.  No other cons I can see for this price ($99).

 

#5  Audinst, only  ($175)

 

             For entry level this would be my recommendation.  The DAC stage is second to the DacMagic in these A/B comparisons, but still very, very good.  With the built-in amp it offers a bargain price pairing with portable sources (mainly lap tops) having a USB output.  Obviously, most people would rather a small DAC to take along on trips, preferably powered through the USB connection, and this fits the bill very well.  The sound quality via the amp output is very good, just not superior to any of the above, in my opinion.  Without A/B'ing, just on an absolute rating basis, the Audinst alone would be very satisfying.  For portable applications, I'd want to opt for the Audinst with C&C HB amp combination for a reasonable amount more money.

 


 

 

Don't know how much this helps those who may be thinking about employing the Audinst either stand-alone or in combinations.  It was my intent to share my experience with different mixes I had available.

 

 

 

I am looking to upgrade my E7/E9 combo to something better, as I feel the E7 is bottlenecking my sound setup. I am seriously considering the Audinist HUD-MX1, perhaps paired with the C&C HB. The only other DAC I am considering is the Audioengine D1. Does anyone here have any experience with the two? The Audioengine uses a AK4396 chip and is a newer product, but I dont know if this means it will have better sound quality than the Audinist which contains a WM8740 chip and is an older product. My laptop doesnt have any optical outputs, so I guess it will be mainly USB which I will use, even though it seems optical output has less distortion compared to USB. The headphones I will be using this with are the Shure SRH 940, Sennheiser HD 598 and Audio Technica M50. Any input would be appreciated.

post #84 of 86

Has anyone listened this DAC with Senns HD558? I have mx1 and HD228 but that headphones arent good enough for that DAC/Amp.

What do you think about mx1/HD558 combo?

post #85 of 86

the price of the mx-1 was too good to pass off so i went along and got one of ebay, direct from audinst.

 

out cold of the box it was a poor first impression - crackly, light and tinny - but after three days it managed to "wake up" and I am driving on AC power with my d700, HD800, LCDs with it...with nothing but respect for the little thing. Not saying its a world beater, but for the price it really did still manage to bring out the music, not the best, but still competently presented in my view.

 

the M50 does sing with the mx-1 and that's a great match for anyone looking to take the first step down the rabbit hole. my hd650 is in cold storage at the moment but I'd say the Audinst veers slightly on the side of warmish.

 

- USB works perfectly for me but I can't get optical working (gets light pumping through the cable but the mx1 cannot engage)

- AC is plugged in and on all the time, when the PC is off the MX-1 shuts down

- when working for 12 hours straight its warm and not hot to touch

 

i started out of curiousity, but i'm now intrigued and hooked on this little box and just plumped down an order for the Mx2!

 

but for those who are looking for an outboard PC card - the output swich (headphones to speakers) is a godsend ! no more plugging headphones in/out or hitting that on/off button on the speakers. plus the added versatility of portability and reduced gain (usb power) for iems - and that price - highly recommended!

post #86 of 86

hi guys I'd like to be conscoius of pros and cons of this DAC. I'll use it with a TPA 3116 amplifier and a pair of Indiana Line tesi 260.

 

thanks

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