Originally Posted by DaveBSC
Originally Posted by purrin
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).
I loved the DAC1 when I had it, and it served me well for a few years, but the problem with the Benchmark reference is that it sounds sterile and dry not because it is neutral, but because of its horrible power supply, op-amp used in the output stage, and cheap ASRC. With Audio GD, we avoid all of that poison.
Also, I agree with Purrin about going as "neutral and faithful" (Kingwa's words) when selecting the source. My tube pre-amp and amps can add flavors before and after the fact.
After doing extensive research about the Neko, PS Audio PerfectWave (just the DAC and bridge), W4S DAC-2, Tranquility, and endless others, I have put the NFB-7 at the top of my list.
It is a tough decision between the NFB-7, the REF-7, PerfectWave, and Space Tech Lab's entry DAC. There are no Canadian GD dealers, while Space Tech is a short drive from my place. Plus, I've actually heard the STL in my system, and it is the only digital source that has ever almost tempted me to part with my vinyl set-up. That is how good it is. However, its extremely limited input compatibility - only 44.1 and 48KHz - is a dead end for the future.
I hope that I will like the NFB-7 because plenty of people over on other forums castigate Audio GD as nothing but FotM stuff, although most of their cynical and really immature snipes were directed at lower priced Audio GD headphone amps, not DACs. On principle, there is so much to love about the NFB-7. The only thing that is it missing (and I assume that it is missing it) is an upsampling bypass switch like the PerfectWave, so that I can run the original sampling rate natively.