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Looking for a good SE dac

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I currently own a Audio-GD Ref.5, but I'm selling my balanced rig (just sold the HE-5 and I'm selling my Roc) and I'm currently listening through the warm, soft, musical (and dynamic) Earmax tube amp with HD650.

 

Should I be better off buying a good SE dac, or keeping the Reference 5, though I'm using just half of it?

Any recommendation? The DAC 19 comes obviously to my mind, but is there anything else?

What about the Minimax dac?

post #2 of 18

You would have to ask yourself what would you feel needs to be improved on by getting a new dac. The ref5 is suppose to be a good dac and if you enjoy the combo right now, why do you want to upgrade?

post #3 of 18

phase combining transformers :)

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

Actually would be a downgrade :-) 

I like the sound, even using the SE output...maybe better dynamics?

post #5 of 18

the assemblage 2.6 that's in the FS forums right now... if it's not gone already

post #6 of 18

Keep the Ref-5.  IIRC, the Ref-5 has RCA, XLR and ACSS outputs.  Let's suppose in the future you want to try going solid state again, just to give it a whirl without selling your tube goodness.  You can use the XLR outputs for SE amps and you won't have to unplug anything and you'll have both with the same DAC... Or maybe you want to try the C-2, let's just say in the future, well you're ready to roll with the ACSS.  Many options with that DAC and imo a keeper.


Edited by HeatFan12 - 8/20/10 at 2:23pm
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by realmassy View Post

I currently own a Audio-GD Ref.5, but I'm selling my balanced rig (just sold the HE-5 and I'm selling my Roc) and I'm currently listening through the warm, soft, musical (and dynamic) Earmax tube amp with HD650.

 

Should I be better off buying a good SE dac, or keeping the Reference 5, though I'm using just half of it?

Any recommendation? The DAC 19 comes obviously to my mind, but is there anything else?

What about the Minimax dac?


Tubes can be a good thing, and they can also be too much of a good thing.

 

Yin/Yang is the key....Balance.

yin_yang.png

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi HeatFan, you're absolutely right. If I think about future there's no reason to change it.

Thing is, I've just found out I prefer a warm, relaxed, tubey sound though all my life I thought I was a solid state guy :-)

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynobot View Post




Tubes can be a good thing, and they can also be too much of a good thing.

 

Yin/Yang is the key....Balance.

yin_yang.png

LOL

Bingo Dynobot!

I wrote SE, but my my heart was thinking "tube" 

Probably you're right, the Earmax is pleasantly warm, and so the HD650, maybe it's not a good idea adding more tubes
 

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by realmassy View Post

Hi HeatFan, you're absolutely right. If I think about future there's no reason to change it.

Thing is, I've just found out I prefer a warm, relaxed, tubey sound though all my life I thought I was a solid state guy :-)



Hi Massi.  I know exactly what you mean.  IMO, that DAC has options and FWIR (was going to buy one myself) it sounds very good.  You might get other phones, amps etc. and you'll be ready.  Example for SE goodness with that DAC- Just imagine your Earmax on the RCAs, a C-2 on the ACSS and a tube hybrid on the XLRs w/ adapters.  Three types of love with the same Ref-5.  I'd say that's a party...lol..........Future proof...

post #11 of 18

I talked a bit about NFB-1 with Kingwa and we talked a little about how much circuit is used with rca out of their balanced dacs, and I think MAYBE you are fully using the dac chips in the ref 5 when you use rca out. This is true of the NFB-1 dac, but I'm not sure about pcm1704 dac's, you should ask Kingwa if you want to know for certain.

 

Better power cables give better dynamics, doesn't have to be expensive, I have made $5-10 14 awg power cables that sound decent, but I would recommend ~12 awg. Power filter also, but I'd be careful which power filter you get, some of them impart their own sound signature in a big way.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks haloxt.

I'll ask Kingwa about the chips, if the RCA output uses all of them then I can't see any reason to change it. And i just sent an email asking if he has any plan to release a musical version on the DAC 19.

 

As for dynamics, I'm using the Audio-GD power cable and the filter: the change has been noticeable on the dac, less on the roc.

 

As an alternative to the Ref.5, what do you think of the DAC-3SE? It should be musical...maybe with a richer sound?

post #13 of 18

I too have found that the Ref5 will sound different easily with different power cords.  I tried a couple of Silver power cords I had which really softened up the sound, not to my liking.  I then tried a VH Audio Flavor 1 power cord, which to me sounds about the same as the stock cord...maybe just a tad different.  I also tried a couple of home brew power cords with Furutech ends, both 12 ga.....yuck.  I think the Ref5 likes a thinner gauge cord.

 

To my ears the Ref5 also seems to soften up with Silver digital cables.  I am using a Silver ribbon coax cable with excellent results, smooth as silk and very clean sound.

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

I don't want the sound to be more transparent, I'd like better dynamics and more body.

I'm probably asking too much for a $1000 dac though :-)

post #15 of 18

Speakers with big subwoofer= a lot of body :P.

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