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"DIAMOND" vs. "NEUTRAL" Audio-GD DACs - who has COMPARED? Or are DSP1 - REVISIONS more crucial?

post #1 of 158
Thread Starter 

Dear all !

ONE SIMPLE QUESTION:

Who has actually compared and auditioned Audio-gd's DACs, featuring the same DAC-Chips, or who knows where to find a comprehensive comparison:

"Musical with diamond differential output circuits" VERSUS "Neutral flavors" ???

Concretely:

Reference 7 (diamond) versus Reference 8 (neutral)

OR

Reference (diamond) versus RE 5 (
neutral) (or DAC19 DSP, neutral too, but cheaper)

???

- How DO they sound?

- Where are the differences?

- Does "Diamond" bring an improvement, if using only a RCA/Chinch preamp?

- Or does "Diamond" add a non-natural "flavor"?

I surfed through this and other forums, but I have not found any clear answer to the above questions.

On a theoretical level (without having auditioned the DACs), I have considered two most important arguments, and one advocates FOR a "Diamond" - type DAC - the other one advocates AGAINST a "Diamond" - type DAC.

Argument for "musical, diamond" DAC: I guess, most of us use a preamp that has normal Chinch inputs. So do I. So, all the investment made into a ACSS and a balanced analog DAC output would not be for nothing. Therefore, one of those musical DACs seems more convenient at first sight.

Argument against "musical diamond" DAC and for "natural DAC": The "musical Flavour" DACs apply a special analog output stage, that audio-gd calls "Diamond differential output". Audio-gd declares, that this stage "flavours" the sound. I don't want a DAC to give music a "flavour" (personally, I would not like own tube DAC for exactly that reason). A DAC shall, in my oppinion, reproduce, what is on the CD or in the file, bit by bit into every detail (flavouring can be made, if one wants, at the amplifier stages). However, audio-gd also declares, that their "Diamond differential output" retains every detail: "high analyzing ability".

 

So, what I need is no theoretical considerations, as on the audio-gd's website there are plenty plenty of arguments to buy any of those dacs......

What I wish to read here are actual comparisons based on auditions! Or links to comparisons, that have been made by others.

More details about the DAC types offered by audio-gd:

Comparison level 1:

Reference 8 (Diamond, 8xPCM1704, 1650$) - Reference 7 (natural, 8xPCM1704, 1790$)

Comparison level 2:

Reference 9 (Diamond, 4xPCM1704, 1170$) -  Reference 5 (Natural, 4xPCM1704, 1010$)

Comparison level "2 B": DAC 19 (Balanced, 2xPCM1704, 640$) - but there is no "Diamond" counterpart at a comparable, lower price level.

 

Not taken into account: NFB-7 (Balanced with 1xSabre32, 1350$), NFB-1 (Balanced with 1xSabre32, 850$).


Thanks for any helpful reply!!!


Edited by ursdiego - 10/25/10 at 5:58am
post #2 of 158
Quote:


Reference 8 (Diamond, 4xPCM1704, 1650$) - Reference 7 (natural, 4xPCM1704, 1790$)


Thanks for any helpful reply!!!


Correction:  those DAC have 8xPCM1704U-K.

post #3 of 158

As far as I know, there are already 2 people in head-fi who compared directly a "neutral" ACSS DAC vs. "musical" diamond DAC.

 

- regal compared the dac19mk3 (with PMD100) vs. DAC 3SE (with PMD100)

- oqvist compared the dac19dsp (with DSP v3) vs. Ref9 (with DSP1 v5)

 

So far, I have never a "direct" comparison with DACs that have everything else in common except for their ouptut stages. I too would be interested in having a feedback on neutral vs. musical. But I guess that there at least 2 factors that should be taken into account:

1. Most ACSS DACs give their best when connected in ACSS mode to an ACSS preamp/amp.

2. The "neutral" and "musical" are not to be taken in absolute terms but rather in comparison to each other. The FUN falls in the "neutral" cateogry and the Ref8 falls in the "musical" category. I bet that the Ref8 is much more precise, accurate than the FUN. It is just that in comparison to the Ref1/7, it might seem more musical.

post #4 of 158

I thought some Head-Fiers here mentioned that the Musical versions actually have a more prominent treble than the Neutral one. Very strange observation indeed... 

post #5 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by K3cT View Post

I thought some Head-Fiers here mentioned that the Musical versions actually have a more prominent treble than the Neutral one. Very strange observation indeed... 



 Yes go against KingWas description of the musical line. I can´t say I hear any treble roll off in the Ref9 either. And I don´t find it more forgiving as well which has been suggested.  Will be interesting when I put the DSP 5 in the DAC19 and DSP 3 in the Ref9 and see what happen. It´s just a straight switch I assume?

post #6 of 158

I would think so oqvist since the modules look similar. Since you're one of the few who own both neutral and musical Audio-gd DACs (although of a different tier), can you tell us more how they differ? So the musical DAC seems to have a more prominent treble, how about the presentation? Is it more forward or laid-back? 

post #7 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by K3cT View Post

I would think so oqvist since the modules look similar. Since you're one of the few who own both neutral and musical Audio-gd DACs (although of a different tier), can you tell us more how they differ? So the musical DAC seems to have a more prominent treble, how about the presentation? Is it more forward or laid-back? 



Will come back when I made the switch.

post #8 of 158
Thread Starter 

Hey Oqvist

 

Your comments convinced me. I ordered a Ref 9 and really hope that the sound is not "colored" (as Kingwa describes it).

 

I am however looking forward to your comparative observations between "neutral" DACs and "diamond" output stage DACs!

 

However, just one other question, you seem to have experience ordering with Kingwa... I posted my question about that ordering process here, and I would appreciate your feed-back on that!

 

Cheers!

post #9 of 158

Indeed, oqvist we're looking forward to your comparisons but though I have to admit that IF I were to order from Audio-gd, Reference 9 will be my first choice since I don't need balanced. 

post #10 of 158

They are both very similar (Ref8 and Ref1). Ref-1 has slightly more air and is slightly thinner sounding - this is in comparison to the Ref-8, the Ref-1 is not thin sounding on it's own. Both are amazing, detailed and real sounding. People who state that there are large differences between the two are looking too hard for differences. I feel the majority of the quality sound of all his DAC's are the quality power supplies.

 

Differences in sound signature are much more realized with amps and headphones rather than DAC's IMO.


Edited by tim3320070 - 11/3/10 at 10:07am
post #11 of 158

Interesting, tim3320070. Can you comment on the treble and presentation, like is the Reference 1 more laid-back or forward or similar? 

post #12 of 158

I can't say which, they were too similar at the time but I recall a slight more emphasis on treble with the Ref-1 but too small to matter to me. You will be happy with either. The only reason I sold the Ref-1 was to have the switching of the Ref-8.

If you are considering an all AGD system, I think you should go all ACSS throughout.


Edited by tim3320070 - 11/3/10 at 10:30am
post #13 of 158

Ref 8 costs more than ref 7 in china, don't know why ref7 sells for 100$ more than ref8 rest of the world. You may be wrong if judging the sq by the prices.

post #14 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by fdhfdy View Post

Ref 8 costs more than ref 7 in china, don't know why ref7 sells for 100$ more than ref8 rest of the world. You may be wrong if judging the sq by the prices.


Because the Ref 8 is their flagship,  it is the only PCM1704 DAC they sell without an IC opamp in the analog stage.  The diamond stage has all handmatched transistors giving no need for the ICopamp servo,  which some experts believe can be detrimental to SQ.  This makes it the Flagship top of their line,  (at least everywhere but Head-fi:)

 

I've had three AudioGd Dac's and rank them in this order as far as tonal accuracy and overal enjoyment:

 

#1  PMD100 3SE -  this is an amazing piece

#2  PMD100 DACk 19mk3 - great for the price

#3  Reference 1 DSp v2 -  disappointing,  hopefully correctable
 


Edited by regal - 11/3/10 at 11:07pm
post #15 of 158

Perhaps the REF9 is the true flagship?  The R9 has the exact same PSU circuitry as the R8 and R7.  The 7s and 8s have to share its PSU with 2 additional for a total of 4 channels whereas the 9 feeds all its power to only 2 channels...and there is still debate regarding the benefits of balanced.

 

Perhaps REF7 only makes sense if you want the best Audio GD has to offer up and down the chain - because ACSS is involved. 

 

Otherwise I'm inclined to go REF9 for mating to non Audio GD products.  I'd think I'd prefer the flagship PSUs to not share the load with two other channels...The ref9 can be be connected single ended to a balanced amp if the amp is able convert the single ended input into a balanced signal.

 

I think to myself that maybe I should have purchased the R9 instead of the R7?

 

What do you guys think of my hypothesis?


Edited by SP Wild - 11/4/10 at 12:15am
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