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Audio GD NFB- 7 Sabre32 ES9018 DAC Opinion & Reviews - Page 2

post #16 of 72

Alternatively, you can use the $500 to buy the NFB-11 + DT880/K701 to have another setup in your office/bedroom.

post #17 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac03 View Post

There is over a 60% increase in price from the nfb-1 to the nfb-7. Are you telling me that it is worth it when the majority of the dac remains unchanged? This is a hypothetical question and please rerfrain form answering because we know that the value in one man's eyes may be vastly different from another man's. I'm just putting it in perspective.


 

Actually I wasn't responding to this argument, but rather your other argument where you seemed to imply that REF7 was worth the extra cost over the REF5 because of the extra chips you get whereas the NFB-7 wasn't worth the extra cost because you didn't get any more chips but just a better power supply.

 

Now the NFB-7 is $500 more than the NFB-1 but the REF7 is $940 more than the REF5.  So that would mean Audio-gd considers a PS upgrade worth about $500 and the extra 4 x PCM1704s worth $440.

 

I could pose the same "hypothetical" argument back to you but this time in number of DAC chips: Are the extra 4 DAC chips on the REF7 worth $440 more to you? If not, the single ended REF9 at $1170 is probably the way to go.

 

Finally I wouldn't discount the effects of a beefed up power supply (you seem to take the stance that the additional number of fancy DAC chips outweighs a better power supply.) The effects of improved power can actually be on par or even surpass the number or quality of DAC chips in an implementation. Easily up to 50% of any amp or DAC design (especially for DAC) is power supply. This is based on my own observations in building and modifying a few amps or DACs. There's a reason why the stuff like Gilmore GS-X, Headroom Ultra, and B22 have beefy dedicated power supplies.

 

Finally, a lot of people don't understand this, but the power supply is the signal upon which the [DAC, tubes, transistors, etc.] act as the spigot to regulate the flow of.


Edited by purrin - 10/21/10 at 10:13am
post #18 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View PostThere's a reason why the stuff like Gilmore GS-X, Headroom Ultra, and B22 have beefy dedicated power supplies.


 

How do the psu's of the nfb1 and ref5 compare to other manufacturers? From what I understand, these a-gd units have damn good psu's for being mid level offerings. Please remember the principle of diminishing returns.

 

Please don't take my posts the wrong way. I am only attempting to highlight the value of the nfb-1, rather than take away from the nfb-7. To be honest, I hate the upgrade bug caused from having second tier equipment and plan to purchase the nfb-7 over the nfb-1 come tax return season (assuming positive reviews and that a-gd is no longer offering the reference series). There's likely a significant benefit to purchasing the nfb-7, but I am only posting in response to an early statement that more nfb-1 have been sold relative to the nfb-7. As great as the nfb-7 may be, I think the nfb-1 is a steal for the money.


Edited by dmac03 - 10/21/10 at 12:07pm
post #19 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac03 View Post

 To be honest, I hate the upgrade bug caused from having second tier equipment and plan to purchase the nfb-7 over the nfb-1 come tax return season (assuming positive reviews and that a-gd is no longer offering the reference series). There's likely a significant benefit to purchasing the nfb-7, but I am only posting in response to an early statement that more nfb-1 have been sold relative to the nfb-7. As great as the nfb-7 may be, I think the nfb-1 is a steal for the money.


LOL, totally agree on the upgrade bug thing.

 

Yes the NFB-1s are selling well. I think the lack of sales with NFB-7 is that there are already three other flagships with the REF7, REF8, and REF9 (for single-ended). Once you starting going over a grand, then folks are going to be more careful or conservative. The lack of reviews on NFB-7 isn't helping much either. And finally, how dare the newcomer ESS attempt to dethrone the mighty PCM1704UK! 

 

But I think their best seller the DAC19 is the best deal for the money!  or maybe NFB-11 now?


Edited by purrin - 10/21/10 at 12:46pm
post #20 of 72

That is why a-gd is so great  - regardless where you look in the line-up. He seems to offer such value compared to many competitors. The thought of that nfb-11 is downright scary. How he offered to cram so much in that little box is beyond me.

 

Sorry for derailing this thread a bit - it should be about nfb-7 impressions. Please come soon!

post #21 of 72
Thread Starter 

Just hope Audio GD isn't taking 2 steps backwards by discontinuing the PCM1704UK with the ESS DAC's .. Going by the NFB-1 v REF5 tread , the same is going to happen with the NFB-7 vs REF7 it would seem . Sounds like the NFB-7 won't be as good as the REF7 but different sounding ..

 

Anyway eagerly awaiting some reviews on the NFB-7 to see how it stacks up .

post #22 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by gavszero View Post

Just hope Audio GD isn't taking 2 steps backwards by discontinuing the PCM1704UK with the ESS DAC's .. Going by the NFB-1 v REF5 tread , the same is going to happen with the NFB-7 vs REF7 it would seem . Sounds like the NFB-7 won't be as good as the REF7 but different sounding ..

 

Anyway eagerly awaiting some reviews on the NFB-7 to see how it stacks up .


I think all this talk about the ESS being inferior or going backwards is nonsense. In the NFB-1 thread, Macrog (who has both REF7 and NFB7) seem to imply they are on the same level with the NFB7/ESS implementation being more detailed, dynamic, and analytical and the REF7/PCM1704UK being more musical and forgiving of bad recordings. My personal preference would be to keep the DAC as neutral and detailed as possible with the amp doing the rest (tubes for musical, SS for analytical). If you start with a "musical" DAC, it's harder to go "backwards" to analytical.

 

This would be consistent with the supposed statement (which some people are reading way way too much into) from Kingwa that female vocals sound "younger". But Chinese to English translations are very difficult. My wife always tries to have me translate what my parents are saying in Chinese, but I just can't - too many nuances and meanings in context - whereas English can be very precise. When my mom speaks in English, she always manages to somehow insult my wife because Chinese to English is very very hard using only one English word to substitute for a Chinese word (or usually word-pair).

 

It's obvious that Kingwa has been fudging around with the ESS chip for a while and I doubt he would release an inferior product. This is probably why we don't see the Wolfson DAC implementations with the REF7/8/9 power supplies from him - the Wolfson DACs probably weren't good enough to benefit from them. Now what would be interesting is if he implemented his "musical" diamond buffer differential output with the ESS chip, sort of like an NFB-8??? (to REF8)

 

I'm probably going to pull the trigger soon on the NFB-7 since no one else will (unfortunately I'm so overdue for a better DAC that I don't personally own anything else that can compare to it). I think there is a little bit of that "Oh no! Limited time offer! Supplies limited! In a few more months, the best DAC chip in the whole-wide-world will no longer be available in an implementation for less than ~$1500."


Edited by purrin - 11/29/10 at 9:13pm
post #23 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac03 View Post

How do the psu's of the nfb1 and ref5 compare to other manufacturers? From what I understand, these a-gd units have damn good psu's for being mid level offerings. Please remember the principle of diminishing returns.


Nobody else offers power supplies like Audio-GD for anywhere near the money, but I agree that the NFB-7 shouldn't be discounted as "just" a power supply upgrade. Look at what Esoteric charges $4800 for - a single R-core and an AKM 4397.

 

d-07-02_GALLERY.jpg

post #24 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post

I think all this talk about the ESS being inferior or going backwards is nonsense. In the NFB-1 thread, Macrog (who has both REF7 and NFB7) seem to imply they are on the same level with the NFB7/ESS implementation being more detailed, dynamic, and analytical and the REF7/PCM1704UK being more musical and forgiving of bad recordings. My personal preference would be to keep the DAC as neutral and detailed as possible with the amp doing the rest (tubes for musical, SS for analytical). If you start with a "musical" DAC, it's harder to go "backwards" to analytical.


My only concern is going too far in the "analytical" direction leads to sound that is dry, clinical, and sterile, and ultimately unpleasant (see Benchmark).

post #25 of 72


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post


Nobody else offers power supplies like Audio-GD for anywhere near the money, but I agree that the NFB-7 shouldn't be discounted as "just" a power supply upgrade...

 

 

on that thought:

 

NFB73.jpgNFB-16.jpg

 

Doesn't look like "just" a PS upgrade. BTW, what are those black box thingies? ACSS modules? I would assume the ACSS modules on the NFB-1 are dual modules and those on the NFB-single are single.


Edited by purrin - 10/21/10 at 7:28pm
post #26 of 72

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post



My only concern is going too far in the "analytical" direction leads to sound that is dry, clinical, and sterile, and ultimately unpleasant (see Benchmark).


LOL, I getcha with the Benchmark comparison  The Benchmark versions with the LM4562 aren't that horrible, but not well priced. If that's the case with the NFB-7, then I promise you I will dedicate a website to how stupid Audio-gd is with their latest TOTL ESS based product (but probably not before hundreds of other Chinese Audio-gd customers hit the China forums saying what a crap product it is.)

 

Dry, clinical, sterile - all these imply a high sound floor and/or lack of ability to resolve the most subtle harmonic structures, which hardly fits others' descriptions of the Audio-gd stuff. At this level, I'm betting that the differences are minor and subtle (which Kingwa has gone on record as saying), sort of like how some have remarked that the "neutral" REF7 and "musical" REF8 sound more alike than different.


Edited by purrin - 10/21/10 at 7:37pm
post #27 of 72
Originally Posted by purrin View Post

Doesn't look like "just" a PS upgrade. BTW, what are those black box thingies? ACSS modules? I would assume the ACSS modules on the NFB-1 are dual modules and those on the NFB-single are single.


Those are ACSS gain modules, and they should be (give or take few resistor and/or cap values) pretty much the same between NFB-1 and NFB-7.

 

The "missing two" NFB-1 ACSS modules should be under NFB-1's ESS chip board.

post #28 of 72

Heh Purrin, very often people speaking the same language aren't on the same page. As for the es9018 vs pcm1704 comparison translation I tried to do, it shouldn't be that bad since I speak Chinese (but can't read) and had a few Chinese readers critique my editing. "Younger" works fine, but I did make a mistake and thought Kingwa meant es9018 sounded contemporary (like architecture tongue.gif), when he meant sounded similar to modern/current sigma-delta dac chips, but without harshness or artificial sound signature.

post #29 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post

Heh Purrin, very often people speaking the same language aren't on the same page. As for the es9018 vs pcm1704 comparison translation I tried to do, it shouldn't be that bad since I speak Chinese (but can't read) and had a few Chinese readers critique my editing. "Younger" works fine, but I did make a mistake and thought Kingwa meant es9018 sounded contemporary (like architecture tongue.gif), when he meant sounded similar to modern/current sigma-delta dac chips, but without harshness or artificial sound signature.


Hahaha! LOL! I'm not even on the same page with my parents when we speak in Chinese! That language is soooo dependent upon context.

 

Well if you think about it, "contemporary" (meaning current, modern, etc.) still isn't too bad of a description in the context of sigma-delta being contemporary and R2R being less current. Maybe we can pretend that it can be one of those Chinese terms with multiple meaning when used here.

 

There's already an established "audiophile" speak in English (both UK and USA). Imagine how hard it would be for a non-english speaker to translate descriptions of sound quality from Chinese into English "audiophile" terms. This is probably why we see so little description of such on the Audio-gd site - and for good reason too - given some irrational fears, mostly based on a few key words, of the NFB-7 massively departing from the Audio-gd house sound, somehow sounding like screechy crap, or being substandard to PCM1704UK. (Geez, don't folks even now understand that two-thirds of a DAC is the power supply and output stage?)

 

I think Kingwa said it best, and I'm paraphrasing here, about a equipment designer being like a cook, and how the final result in how a dish tastes like is determined by the chef.


Edited by purrin - 10/22/10 at 10:47am
post #30 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post


 

 

I think Kingwa said it best, and I'm paraphrasing here, about a equipment designer being like a cook, and how the final result in how a dish tastes like is determined by the chef.



And to my background that statement makes no sense or is just plain marketing, unless he is using the reconstruction filter as eq which he shouldn't be.

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