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New ESS Sabre32 (ES9018) based DAC from Audio-gd....the NFB-1 - Page 40

post #586 of 607


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by borrego View Post


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pautinqch View Post

Offtopic:

Is 680 € (Audiotubesis) norm price for Eastern Electric Minimax Tube Dac in Europe (shipping included) or I better prefer the NFB-1ES ?

 

The ES9018 chip requires a good power supply for its 80MHz clock, it works best in current mode (using opamp amp as I/V would immediately cut at least 8db of SNR). It is also a 8 channel DAC chip so balanced output configuration would better utilize it.

 

IMO, the Minimax's basic power section, NE5532 opamp I/V stage, and RCA only output stage are suffocating the ES9018 chip. I can't help but wonder the tube is just there to cover up all the design weaknesses. The strengths of the ES9018 are its high dynamic and revealing power. The Minimax implementation is like lowering the suspensions, putting spoilers and low profile tyres to a Land Rover SUV. 

 

If you order the NFB-1ES, ask Kingwa if he still has the 1ppm 80MHz TCXO as upgrade.


I'm not questioning your comment  and I haven't heard any GD DACs with the ES9018 chip but I do know that despite its "flawed design" the Minimax  does deliver the goods soundwise. I would really like to hear what a "well designed" 750$ DAC that doesn't suffocate the ES9018 chip sounds like.  

post #587 of 607

I keep hearing impressions that that MiniMAX DAC is a tad too bright.

 

Now I've heard the Buffalo II which uses a similar ESS9018 and I don't think it's edgy but it has an unnatural timbre. 

post #588 of 607


If you buy the Minimax thinking it will add some of that romantic "tube warmth" to a bright system you'd probably be better off looking towards a NOS DAC(Paradisea, Havana, etc)

In a neutral system it will be just that...neutral. Without being harsh or bright it will deliver the music with much more detail and PRAT than any NOS DAC I've ever heard.

As with any component there will always be compromises to make -  at this and any price level. You just need to decide where/how you want to make them.

post #589 of 607
I'm not questioning your comment  and I haven't heard any GD DACs with the ES9018 chip but I do know that despite its "flawed design" the Minimax  does deliver the goods soundwise. I would really like to hear what a "well designed" 750$ DAC that doesn't suffocate the ES9018 chip sounds like.  


I have heard the Minimax (they are a HK company afterall) and to me its sound is no different from any off the shelf PCM1792/WM8741/AD1955 DAC connecting to a tube preamp. It just does not have that unique ES9018 "flavour" that my NFB-1 has. Like Turn&cough mentioned, you are better off buying a good NOS or PCM1792/WM8741/AD1955 DAC. The ES9018 does have its issues (USB I2S). There is no point spending US700+ buying a ES9018 DAC  and have all its strengths suffocated.

 

If you are still after Audio-gd, then may be the NFB-1WM is a better choice. It could sound better than the ES version if using USB input.

 

If you want to know how the NE5532 opamp sounds like,  you can try audition the Yamaha CD-S2000, which has the probably the best implementation of the PCM1792/NE5532 combo. I tried it when I bought my A-S2000 amp and I didn't consider it an upgrade to my 15 years old Philips CD950 (bitstream DAC) with a broken drawer.

post #590 of 607

I did the 1ppm 80MHz TCXO upgrade to my NFB-1 this morning (involve de-soldering and resoldering of  the XO and 12 wires from the digital board). After the upgrade, it makes the NFB-1 sound warmer and thicker. I am not sure if I like the sound better after the upgrade.

 

The TCXO upgrade would make the DAC more thermo stable. It is not absolutely necessary if one does not experience drop out with the stock XO.

 

Not sure Audio-gd will make the 1ppm TCXO standard on all of their ES9018 DAC.

post #591 of 607

I just picked up the NFB-1 WM - is there no thread set up for the -WM?


Edited by tme110 - 1/20/12 at 6:40pm
post #592 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by tme110 View Post

Does anyone get a quick but sharp and loud noise when you turn the selector switch? 

 

thanks!


No selector noise on my ES version. Mine is also one the  early production units as I owned it since last Oct. 

 

post #593 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by tme110 View Post

Does anyone get a quick but sharp and loud noise when you turn the selector switch?  I just picked up the NFB-1 WM and that's something I notice so far.  Also the #1,2,3 on the enclosure don't match up with the switch position (I very minor thing but this was an expensive DAC).

 

Also, I can play 24/172 files over optical from my laptop without issue but I can't play the files off the original disc from my OPPO-93 over optical or coax.  If I go into the settings and limit the OPPO output to 24/92 it works fine.

 

There wasn't any thread for the WM version that I could find.  I may start one once I get my all figured out.

 

thanks!




hmm...very interesting. I think you are one of the first nfb-1wm owners on here. With those complaints in mind, would you recommend this unit?

post #594 of 607

Wow, I didn't know that - I didn't intentionally become an early adapter!  I did spend hours on here looking for info in my DAC without finding anything - only a few people stating that they were going to get it but none of them have checked back in with it yet.

No, no one should make a decision based on initial questions I have on a DAC that I have owned for 3 days now.  I was just hoping someone on here knew something first.  Also note that I contacted the company with these questions and they said that it didn't make any sense and that I had to call them.  I haven't yet because of the weekend and that I wanted to check on here first but note that I haven't given the company a fair chance to say anything yet.

I'm also not really capable of giving a good review because I just don't know how.

I just discovered something else interesting though and it makes me wonder if there is something up with the oppo.  I just played the same exact file from my laptop and the oppo, going over the same exact optical cable to the AGD and they sounded different - I'm not sure how that's possible - it's the same file played on the same dac (and same amp), only the file location is changed. The difference was pretty substantial (and not audiophile substantial where no one else can tell the difference).

But the DAC is quite nice.  I hooked it up and initially didn't hear anything different at all (I''m talking just sound here) and was initally dissappointed but then I realized that it was just so neutral that you couldn't even tell it was there.  I went back to my music streamer and it sounded kind of fuzy in compairson - but it's something I would have never noticed without going to something better.  I'm still confused about a lot of what I've heard so far.  Some instruments are in different places than what I heard on my other DACs.  Some songs I hear a lot different, some sound exactly the same but have more presence or a larger sound stage and a lot of songs make no difference what so ever.  But not only have I heard heard 'something' I never heard before but I've heard entire instruments (prominent instruments) that do not appear with my other DACs - I did not expect that.  And this wasn't even a high-res file it was a normal 'unplugged' CD.  I also just spent the afternnon comparing it with someone's Anedio D1 DAC that quite a few people are going crazy over right now and I didn't notice anything about it that would make me want to sell my AGD.  I would like to try a good tube amp.  And I would really like something that told me what the actual bitrate was that is getting to the DAC (why isn't that a bigger thing?) - but so far this is a great DAC.

Also, the sharp sound on the switch has substantially subsided.  I don't think it is an electrical static or shorting sound anymore.  It only happens when information is being fed to both positions that you are switching between and I think it's the DAC getting momentarily 'confused' about what data it is getting. It was a huge issue to me ( a deal breaker actually) but it's just something I hear now.  And I may find something out about it once I make the phone calls. 

Also, I had no idea how large this DAC was - it is huge and very heavy.  This is good but I thing it's going to give my MAD Ear+ HD a complex.

I'm also more amazed at the value and sound of my HRT MS2+ esp when you consider that the NFB1 has 20 pounds worth of power supply and the HRT effectively has none.  Yes there is a noticeable difference and yes you may miss an instrument or 2 but you have to spend almost $1000 to figure that out!


Edited by tme110 - 1/20/12 at 6:43pm
post #595 of 607
Quote:
Originally Posted by tme110 View Post

I just discovered something else interesting though and it makes me wonder if there is something up with the oppo.  I just played the same exact file from my laptop and the oppo, going over the same exact optical cable to the AGD and they sounded different - I'm not sure how that's possible - it's the same file played on the same dac (and same amp), only the file location is changed. The difference was pretty substantial (and not audiophile substantial where no one else can tell the difference).


That's the transport at work. If you play a CD in a $50 Toshiba DVD player and a $20K MBL CD player, same disc, same cable, same DAC, same amp - the sound will be quite different. No DAC is immune to differences between transports.

post #596 of 607

Anybody here also heard the DACPort?  Sounded remarkably similar to the Sabre DAC in overall signature to my ears.

post #597 of 607

Can someone summarize the NFB-1ES's sound characteristics regarding soundstage/3D-capabilities for me, please? (probably compared to the WM-DACs or even an R-5)

 

Finding the information in the long/various threads is not easy. And maybe experience has undergone a certain development meanwhile.

And Information is inconsistent: some say 3D-capabilities of the ES-DACs are impressing, others say the soundstage is a bit congested and flatter compared to 8741 or 1704.

 

Thanks!

post #598 of 607

I think it matters quite a bit what amp the DAC is hooked up to. From what I have read that the ES9018 synergises well with a nice euphonic tube amp like a WA22 because it has a very detailed almost clinical sound, while the WM8741 is more musical and forgiving and would be better suited for a neutral sounding SS amp.


Edited by grokit - 6/4/11 at 9:03am
post #599 of 607

Well, in my case its a KT88-tubeamp...

 

Its hard for me to imagine what "clinical" really means. Can it come to the point where detail damages the sound?

 

What about soundstage/3D...?

post #600 of 607

Just going by what I have read on the Woo thread about the 9018 complimenting tube amps; as for 3D I think that depends on the individual tube or tube combination's characteristics, as well as the general design of the amplifier and the quality of it's components at least as much as it does on the DAC's characteristics. As far as clinical goes, Audio-GD's description seems to sum it up:

 

"DAC NFB-1 has extremely high fidelity; its sound signature is neutral. It can show how good or how bad a recording is. If you are looking for a DAC which can always deliver quite warm or tube sound, the NFB-1 is maybe not your cup of tea. Maybe the NFB-1WM will be better"

 

I definitely agree that much of this equation is dependent upon the quality of the recording.


Edited by grokit - 6/4/11 at 10:26am
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