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Audio-gd Reference 7 Loaner Program (USA) - Page 9

post #121 of 370
Originally Posted by Yikes View Post

Don't you already own one? There's a fine line between just being enthusiastic, an advocate, a Fanboy, or a Shill. Be careful where you might fall.


I'm just saying.


I am looking forward to my time with the Ref 7. I will make every effort at posting cogent impressions and opinions, but don't expect a War and Peace like effort.


Yes, I do own one and I already know my feelings on it.  But I would also like to know how it compares to other models out there.  Having adequate reviews (no one has asked for a 5 page synopsis), whether positive or negative, for people who don't own one can help them to make an informed decision.  That was, after all, a good part of the reason this loaner program was started.  A few sentences posted as a review doesn't really help to paint a picture of how the unit performs or compares to other DACs.  It would just be nice (and appreciated by all who read the thread) if the reviews could be a little more thorough.

Edited by IPodPJ - 10/18/10 at 12:44pm
post #122 of 370

lol--this place is unbelievable.  Only one person has had it for a full period so far--someone correct me if I'm wrong.  I'm the second one in line and have not finished my time with it yet.  What exactly were you expecting?  Minute-to-minute listening impressions are useless (and absurd). 


My advice to you is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful, beautiful music.

post #123 of 370
Thread Starter 

What The Monkey said.  No need for anyone to get their nickers in a knot. It was just a gentle comment since Guy hasn't provided us with as much as we would have hoped. 

post #124 of 370

I thought Guy did a good job.

post #125 of 370

Just fyi, I'm finding that the Annie & the Beekeepers track from the Becnhmark/Elias Gwinn Masters From Their Day project makes for a nice test track, both regular and high rez.

post #126 of 370

Will there be an upgrade module (V5) for the loaner unit?

post #127 of 370

I asked Currawong the same thing, and he said he's going to ask Kingwa.  It would be advisable, since the v5 module changes the DAC in a drastic way; it sounds like an entirely different (and better) unit.

post #128 of 370
I received the loaner Ref 7 at about 8 am this morning (Fedex Sat delivery is also a Saturday morning wakeup service). It was installed in my system and playing by 8:45. It has been on and playing ever since. I didn't start listening until after the unit had been powered up and playing for well over 10 hours.

It's big (actually Huge), and heavy. It does feel well made. Cosmetically it is reminiscent of 80's Levinson or Krell, solid but kind of crude, utilitarian aptly describes the cosmetics.

I am auditioning it in my 2 channel speaker rig. Most of my listening is speaker based (98%). I will be comparing it to my PS Audio PWD and my Exemplar XD-1. If I have time I may compare it to my Exemplar modified Music Hall 25.2 I'll list the system setup and such more in depth when I post my thoughts.
post #129 of 370



good news! PWD and REF7 are in my list, another are ECD-1, AR DAC7, CA 840C.

post #130 of 370

Hello, Leo, funny meet you here. I´m Mario (counterparts) from HTF.



post #131 of 370

System context Round One:


Speakers: Usher BE-20 on top of Symposium RollerBlock Jr’s

Amplifiers: Parasound JC-1 Mono Block Amplifiers each on Symposium RollerBlock Jr’s on their own dedicated Symposium Ultra Platform.

Preamplifier: Parasound JC-2 on top of Symposium RollerBlock Series 2+ on my Symposium Acoustics Isis rack.

Power: DAC’s and Preamp fed from a PS Audio Power Plant Premier on its own dedicated 20 amp line. Each JC-1 Mono amp plugs into its own PS Audio Duet fed by a dedicated 20 amp line.

Cabling: All balanced Siltech 770i for the DAC’s and SQ-88B G3’s for the long run to the mono amps. Digital cable for the Ref 7 is a Siltech Golden Ridge II SPDIF RCA-RCA. Power cables are all Siltech power Cables (SPX-300’s for the DAC’s and Ruby Hill II’s for the Preamp and Amps). Speaker cables are Siltech Royal Signature Kings.


Notes: I’m a huge proponent of Vibration Control, so my PWD normally sits on top of a set of Symposium RollerBlock Series 2+’s. Since RollerBlock’s and Cones tend to leave marks on the bottom of components and the Ref 7 isn’t mine I decided to remove my normal vibration control devices from both DAC’s. IMHO both DAC’s would benefit from the use of my RollerBlocks but omitting them puts both DAC’s on an even footing.


Round One

Round One will compare 44.1/16 CD derived files being fed by my best source for each DAC. This means that the Ref 7 is being fed from my Exemplar Audio Music Server (A dedicated 1.5TB purpose built PC running foobar2000 and using an M-Audio Audiophile 192 soundcard for SPDIF RCA output) full resolution WAV files via a Siltech Golden Ridge II 1.5 meter RCA digital cable. My PS Audio Perfect Wave Dac is utilizing its Network Bridge being fed theoretically identical FLAC files across my wired network (From a different PC with a 4TB RAID 5 array). Both PC’s are controlled via my iPad.


Music used:

Tin Hat Trio – Rodeo Eroded

One of my favorite demo discs. It is an eclectic acoustic chamber music recording that emphasizes naturalness of tone and sound-staging/imaging.

Holy Cole Trio – Don’t Smoke in Bed

Excellent female jazz vocal recording, also emphasizing naturalness of tone and imaging.

Johnny Cash – American Recordings

Great gritty male vocal (dare I say Country) recording

Janos Starker and London Symphony Orchestra – Schumann Cello Concerto.

Outstanding recording of my 2nd favorite Cello Concerto (my favorite being Elgar’s, but there aren’t any great Sonic recording of it) Excellent test of imaging and micro and macro dynamics of the full orchestra as well as the lead cello. As well as being a virtuoso performance.

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut

One of the great underappreciated PF recordings. The Final Cut is a wonderful test of dynamics and bass slam, as well as throwing a huge soundstage.


Round One:

I was going to break it down by recording, but my impressions were very consistent across all of the recordings that I used for my listening tests.


The REF 7 and PS Audio were nearly Identical tonally (the PS Audio was set to Native and Auto for the Filter). So far as tested both are exceedingly musical performers. The REF 7 seems to have slightly muted leading edge dynamics. What the heck does that mean? The initial attack of notes (the leading edge of the waveforms) from the PWD seem faster and more realistic. The difference is small, but due to this the PWD seems to have slightly better low level detail retrieval. This slight edge in detail definitely gives the PWD an edge in the Soundstage and imaging departments. A small edge, but the PWD consistently portrays a more 3 - dimensional soundstage and more precise images.


Due to this leading edge dynamics difference the PWD also gets the nod in the dynamics department (especially micro). I however really want to emphasize how small the difference is, it is a Very Small difference. It manifests itself most noticeably in the Imaging and Soundstage departments. I doubt that this would be apparent during headphone use, but with a decent speaker based rig the difference was small but it was consistently noticeable.


Round One results – PWD wins by a small but noticeable margin. Is it really a surprise that the $3,750 (Retail) PWD/Network Bridge bested (by a very small margin) the $1750+shipping REF 7? Not really. What is a surprise is how close it really is. If you’re on a tight budget and or you don’t need or want all of the fancy features (I do want these features) that the PWD offers the REF 7 is an extremely attractive bargain.


Upcoming Round Two – I’ll be comparing the REF 7 and PWD being fed  by my Exemplar Audio Modified Oppo BDP-83SE. I’ll compare both CD’s and DVD-Audio 24/96 (The PWD can also decode 24/192 DVD-Audio –Advantage PWD). This will be the relevant comparison for those not interested in the PWD’s Network Bridge.

post #132 of 370

Sorry about the large font. I wrote it in Word and didn't bother changing the font when I pasted the text.

post #133 of 370

The PS Audio is a seriously fancy piece of gear!


It is definitely the "I'm bringing sexy back" to DACs!

post #134 of 370

Thanks for the review, Yikes.


Currawong, did you find out from Kingwa which version of the DSP-1 is in the loaner unit?

post #135 of 370

Thanks for the review Yikes.  From your round one test, it seem that if you weren't critically listening and looking for differences, you might not notice them.  I look forward to reading more when you compare them using your Oppo as a transport.

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