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"DIAMOND" vs. "NEUTRAL" Audio-GD DACs - who has COMPARED? Or are DSP1 - REVISIONS more crucial? - Page 9

post #121 of 158

I will eventually play around with the filter and OS on the 7.  Its not really comparable...I won't mention the price of my NOS dac for fear of being declared insane...but its as if the R7 (and other hi-end dacs) takes a CD signal and churns out a hi resolution pristine sound.  The NOS dac churns out a bit for bit mechanical representation - CDs sound decisively lower resolution, and unrefined, raw edged sound, although I still find it, subjectively, more "musical" and engaging than any delta sigma DAC I have heard.  Perhaps the transients aren't all that different and merely sounds smoother and more refined and influences the perception of transients in the 7, the NOS being raw and mechanical influencing my perception of its transients.  Both definitely have a finer edged transients than any delta sigma DAC I've heard.  

 

But there is no denying, I clearly prefer NOS over delta sigma...the Reference 7, has become my new benchmark, and I still cannot envision that a NOS dac can knock it off.  I will also never own a DAC with any  tubes in its output stage.  I still love the sound of tubes, that's for sure.  I believe its better at the amp stage.


Edited by SP Wild - 11/28/10 at 1:20am
post #122 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by realmassy View Post



 

Thanks for your impressions SP Wild

But I find a bit unfair comparing your NOS dac against the Ref.7. What I mean is, you're not comparing two dacs using different technology having roughly the same price.

If you want a fair comparison you should try a higher level NOS dac, like the Audio Note 3. Now, that would be interesting :-)


I have a more comprehensive impression of the Ref7 against the Bryston DAC in the Ref 7 thread, there is an initial impression and a few posts on, a verdict.  I'm fast out of resource for chasing the perfect source, for now, the Reference 7 is the one.  I will probably venture into modding the Chameleon DAC when time and finances allow - that's as far as I will go.  I need to look at amping now, that's where my priorities are at.

 

@ Regal:  I think you will love NOS Dacs - my NOS dac will fill out the lower harmonics of an E-guitar to your satisfaction...I feel like placing a guarantee on that statement.


Edited by SP Wild - 11/28/10 at 1:41am
post #123 of 158

I´d recommend checking out the Phoenix if you´re looking for an amp. It is a wonderful match (as expected) to the REF7, and you´ll get a fantastic preamp too. Not to mention you´ll get to run ACSS cables! Actually I´ve been listening more recently in pre-amp mode to two Genelec studio monitors. The Phoenix shares the "engineering overkill" philosophy of the REF series - rarely do you see a headphone amp that weighs close to 15 kg! Be warned though, ACSS gear is like Pokemon. You gotta catch them all! If you go for a Phoenix, soon you´ll be wondering about the CD7! :D

 

@ Regal: have you tried the different DSP-1 settings? If you take the filtering options/PLL off, I think you might just reach your audio nirvana when it comes to the electric guitar :) There are plenty of threads with comments on the different settings.


Edited by vrln - 11/28/10 at 1:55am
post #124 of 158

Just to get the argument back on track...it's clear to me that the "neutral" vs "musical" line in AGD's line is in reference to common hi-end DACS.  The R7 to me compared to typical industry sigma delta DACS is wam and slightly bright...in AGDs term "neutral" - any more lower midrange presence and fuller body...must be advertised as "musical" because their "neutral" series is not at all lean...compared to industry standard sigma delta dacs - to me its warmer, but superior ambient retrieval "neutalises" the presentation...also aided by its treble extension.

 

In relation to NOS dacs and front row presentations of live music...Regal has a point.  But to take on Regals assessment and advertise as such for the common market would lead to a lot of unhappy customers.

 

@VRLN

 

I hear you....it was my desire for a remote controlled Headphone amp that I find myself here conversing with you fine gentlemen.  Hehehe!  Any pointers with impressions of different DSP settings, the 7 is buried under a multiplayer...which is buried under a lot of crap...will take me a while to get to it.  Cheerios.


Edited by SP Wild - 11/28/10 at 2:04am
post #125 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by vrln View Post

 

@ Regal: have you tried the different DSP-1 settings? If you take the filtering options/PLL off, I think you might just reach your audio nirvana when it comes to the electric guitar :) There are plenty of threads with comments on the different settings.



I haven't and I haven't found much info on the settings.  With the bandpass setting I can't figure out if the factory setting is the slow-rolloff or the fast.

post #126 of 158

I once saved everything I could find about the DSP-1 settings on a word file for future reference. The problem is I seem to have accidentally deleted it at some point :D I´ll do the research again and report back ASAP!

 

EDIT: found the document after all! Will be posting it here very soon...

 

EDIT 2: OK, here it goes!

 

First of all, check this url about what the individual switches change: http://currawong.net/head-fi/DSP_settings.html

Earlier versions of the DSP-1 use switches, while new DSP-1 uses jumpers (apparently due to sound quality reasons, Kingwa is not a fan of switches), but the settings order is the same on both versions. 

 

None of what follows was written by me, I am just copypasting other posts from these forums from now on! These have been taken from various huge Audio-gd threads, no idea from where! I did A LOT of research and read almost everything posted about the REF7/DSP-1 when I was comtemplating placing an order. Glad to see some of that research will end up useful :-)

 

So let´s begin... *disclaimer* some of these posts talk about the same things, so there is double information inside all of this! Oh and don´t thank me, thank the people who did the testing :)

 

EDIT3: As this thread has turned into a general Audio-gd tweak/debate thread, I think this discussion is very suited here. I haven´t tried these settings yet, but will very soon I think :) Have fun experimenting! Oh and as you´ve already noticed from these settings, no the DSP-1 is not locked into any specific setting so if you want to almost turn it off and use the REF7 in NOS mode, feel free - Kingwa doesn´t restrict you. If you need jumpers, order something small from Audio-gd and ask for some. He included a small bag of jumpers as a gift on my CD7 box :)

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by FauDrei View Post (answering to a question about NOS mode on REF7)

Turn off pin 7 for NOS.

 

IMO, the default settings are pretty good, possibly the best. I preferred playing with attenuation (ambiance, focus) and dithering (details) settings. NOS was dull compared to 8x OS.

 

YMMV. Try for yourself.

 

NOTE: before switching DSP-1 dip swithces - turn your DAC off.

 

 

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Newk Yuler View Post (answering to a question about his experience with DSP-1 settings on REF7)

 

This is the same image that Currawong originally posted for the Reference 1 and what Kingwa is emailing for anyone who asks about the settings.  Vague at best and somewhat useless without further details.  Can anyone give proper explanations to the functions?

 

Normally all switches are in the off position (which is an active configuration for some settings) except the one that puts the DSP in line, which is switch 7.  According to Kingwa, if I interpreted him correctly, switching number 7 to off will bypass the DSP.

 

I'm going to stick my neck out and show my ignorance for the sake of someone correcting me and enlightening us all.  I know some of you are a lot smarter than I am.  (Hurt me!  )

 

Switch 1.  PLL.  Active by default and normally best active.  Signal buffering and jitter reduction.

 

Switches 2 and 3.  Stopband Attenuation.  This is a bandpass filter with selectable attenuation.  Default on the highest possible setting.  Anyone know the actual spec?

 

Switches 4 and 5.  Oversampling.  This is pretty straight forward.  Default is 8x which is probably the best.  Very curious about the 1x setting, though.  It appears to provide no oversampling while allowing the benefits of running the signal through the DSP instead of a complete bypass (switch 7).

 

Switch 6.  Data dithering.  Active by default.  Filtering quantization distortions.  This might be one for experimenting depending on how you feed the DAC19DSP.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dither#Digital_audio

 

Switch 7.  NOS.  DSP bypass to the PCM1704UK.  Actually eliminates DSP benefits instead of creating a simple NOS state.

 

Switch 9.  Output format.  PCM (Ref 1) and TDA1541 (Ref 2).  What is "Ref 1" and "Ref 2"?  PCM makes sense but what is TDA1541?  Is that a reference to the Philips DAC chip?

 

Switches 11 and 12.  Output bit.  Preset to the spec of the PCM1704UK.

 

Now I'm looking at this written out it really appears the switches are already at optimal settings for normal use.  Experimenting with the data dithering might be interesting.  Switching oversampling to 1x would allow the benefits of all the other active settings while delivering NOS to the PCM1704UK.  Unless I'm not really understanding 1x oversampling.

 

Some of you have said switching the DSP to NOS makes the DAC19DSP sound dull.  Can you elaborate on that?  The DSP is eliminating jitter from the input signal and switching to bypass would be allowing more jitter to pass to the PCM1704UK.  If you aren't using a sure low jitter source (such as a Hiface by SPDIF) the extra jitter should be much more apparent with the DSP out of line.  You also have to consider the jitter inherent to Kingwa's SPDIF circuit.  Higher jitter causes the sound field to collapse and focus/definition to disappear.  On the other hand, if you have a sure low jitter source, the affects shouldn't be as apparent.  The USB input on the DAC19 is a weak adaptive interface and not the best way to feed it, likely producing a high jitter input signal and poor performance with the DSP bypassed.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by FauDrei View Post (answering the previous post)

 

You pretty much got it right. I'd just add a couple of comments:

 

Switches 2 and 3.  Stopband Attenuation: how much "music energy" will slip out over stopband frequency. -130dB means almost nothing "gets away". OTOH, -90dB and -50dB are "letting some energy out" and in the process altering the balance of perceived audible focus and ambiance - lesser attenuations tend to have somewhat more "relaxed" sound. Worth experimenting.

 

Switches 4 and 5.  Oversampling: it's about upper frequencies (treble). Lower the OS - greater the treble rolloff and lower treble definition (details). Some would argue less OS or no OS at all sound more natural. IMO "more natural" in majority of the cases is euphemism for "filtering in my DAC sucks so no filtering sounds better" (please do not shoot - it is just IMO). A-GD DACs tend to do OS and filtering right and having full OS (8x) means you are having detailed, crystal clear, not at all harsh treble. Thus my "dull NOS" comment - you are missing so called "treble sparkle" (or treble at all). Again, just IMO.

 

Switch 6.  Data dithering: if you feed DSP-1 with 16 bit data and dithering is on, DSP-1 will "expand" 16 bits to 24 bits. This would be done not just by adding 8 zeroed bits, but 16 bit value will be relatively expanded to full 24 bit range. Dithering will be used to lower the relative error of such expansion. It should have no effect if DAC is fed with 24 bit data. Another setting worth experimenting with. Dithering slightly refines and "rounds" the sound, in certain cases no dithering can be perceived as more detailed. Try and decide for yourself.

 

Everything over dip 7 is DAC dependent and sets up DSP-1 module to work with it's host DAC.

 

FYI, Ref-1 is Reference One - first A-GD dac that had DSP-1 module. Ref-2 is Reference Two - discontinued twin brother of Ref-1 which used Philips TDA1541 DAC chips instead of PCM1704.

 

Hope this clarified DSP-1 a bit more.


Edited by vrln - 11/28/10 at 3:01am
post #127 of 158

*continued*

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by [I forgot to write this down, I suspect it is FauDrei, sorry @ the person who posted this!]  View Post(answering to a post on DSP-1 settings)
Hi ccschua,
Yes, I've been playing with DSP-1 settings for quite some time and used to report in DAC-19 thread because there was very little action in this RE-1 thread.
So basically, I can just repeat my findings from the other thread:
 activated dithering (pin6=off; default) pleasantly "rounds the edges" and can seem less detailed
 deactivated dithering (pin6=on) let "raw details" through and can seem to have "more sparkle"
 activated PLL (pin1=off; default) pictures "3D stage" in front of you; instruments are positioned not just left and right, but they seem to have height and depth dimension on the stage; depending on their "3D position" and "distance from the listener" instruments are quieter and seem less detailed
 deactivated PLL (pin1=on) is hyperdetailed and "in your face"; the stage is left, right and "inside your head" (or immediately in front of you); all instruments and details are louder; this setting is very dependent on transport quality
The "3D stage" price you have to pay to get "hyperdetails on a L/R plane" with deactivated PLL setting is not an option for me. If you are into hyperdetails, there is a compromise though: set the filter attenuation to -50dB (pin2=on; pin3=on). The details are there, you regain some staging, you loose some dynamics, energy and focus.
Personally, most of the time it is dithering=off (pin6=on) and PLL=on (pin1=off) for me. While it is fun altering the sound with those DSP-1 settings, ultimately I've found I'm always going back to default settings (with mood depending exception of activating/deactivating dithering) which is excellent.
As for removing RCA coax wires (as per Regal's advice), I'm waiting for an order with digital hook-up coax, some Caddock resistors and Mundorf caps to tackle DSP-1 and whole digital input board of my RE-1 more substantially. Also, sorry but I am not into complicating things inside RE-1 and will not compromise DSP-1 performance/stability with convenience of having external setting switches... kind of like RE-1's spartan simplicity.
But... just to put a bug in your ear ... there are some rumors that DSP-1's software is being updated, and that there are adjectives describing this update as: more balanced, deeper, wider, clearer...
Have fun ccschua

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Slim.a  View Post(answering to a post by FauDrei)

 

Hi FauDrei,

 

It is exactly what I heard trying different settings on the DSP-1 of the DAC19.

 

Regarding the dithering, I think it is done post-processing. I remember reading somewhere that the DSP-1 uses 32bits for processing (oversampling, passband...). Since the PCM1704uk accepts a maximum of 24bit word length the data (post filter) has to be converted from 32bits to 24bits. It can be done either by means of trucation or by dithering.

In theory, it shouldn't matter since 24bits (144 db) is well below the noise floor of the PCM1704uk(120db). But that is only theory ... as it seems that the dithering does indeed affect the sound (details) and we heard the same thing.

 

After having tried different settings, I personally returned back to the stock settings. But I suspect that with different headphones, I might prefer different passband settings.

post #128 of 158

Thanks much for the info.

 

 

Going to try the -50dB stopband,  this looks like the slow roll-off which in my experience with DAC filters is beneficial.

post #129 of 158

Thanks for the considerable effort in compiling and posting these findings, also thanks to the original posters.  Man, I never realised that the REF7 engaged in so much digital signal processing before the data is converted and headed to the analogue stages...I was under the impression the 7 reclocks, oversamples and filters and that was it...heck dithering is full on DSP and made dramatic changes in Foobar...the bit depth is changed, not just truncated but processed as in dithered...I didn't think the 7 touched the signal so much.  It really explains how the 7 has all the refinements and technicalities of modern DACs whilst retaining the full midrange of NOS dacs, and why my NOS dac sounds more mechanically precise, 2 dimensional and dry.

 

All the settings I believe are relevant - I am keen to experiment and report back when time permits...it would be wonderful if the 7 can serve dual purposes of being the best darned NOS dac I've ever heard and also the best darned hi-end dac I've ever heard as well...that's like 2 birds with one stone - 2 high end dacs for the price of one.  Lets find out.

post #130 of 158

That´s one of the reasons Audio-gd sometimes gets called a manufacturer of deliberately colored gear by some people coming from the "shorter signal path is the best/leave the signal alone" -tradition of audio philosophy. The REF7 indeed does tons of signal processing - actually even the CD7 does. It also has a full DSP-1 size DSP-3 inside that performs various operations on the signal before the digital signal is sent to the ACSS unit and from that to the actual socket. Even though it uses a vintage DAC chip, it´s technology is very modern. So with a CD7+REF7 combo it´s doing some hardcore processing on both ends. Probably one of the reasons it sounds like high definition vinyl even a hardened tube lover would like - I´m just listening to some Queen and it´s simply amazing!

 

Oh and needless to say, no wonder why he charges 150 dollars for a new DSP-1. The unit itself isn´t cheap (Altec chip is not outdated crap) and ordering the code from a third party can´t have been cheap either...


Edited by vrln - 11/28/10 at 8:51am
post #131 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by ursdiego View Post

Thanks Regal, for that reply!

 

For my part, Ref 9 gets better all the time. As far as sound is concerned, i am pretty assured to have taken the right choice. My goal was taking the logitech squeezebox to a higher level. That has been reached. And by the way, when I want it to be even better, I use the cd player again, connect it to the Ref 9, and all that gear together transforms my living room into a concert hall...

 

When comparing to the analog out of my Creek CD player, there are still a couple of characteristics of my Creek that I like better. It is some kind of a raw, naked directness and a tighter timing. Maybe this is the NOS-characteristics... I might try putting the DSP1 in Ref9 on NOS to see what happens. However, there are plenty of characteristics of the Ref9 with its default settings, that compensate entirely, like in particular sound stage, precision, location of instruments, very tight bass and percussion.

 

Either way, it is sufficient for me to just close my eyes and forget about the gear, that is what it is all about for me. And now I can do so with the convenience of a squeezebox touch (of course tuned according to "soudcheck's blog" (that is hopefully back on line soon... he took away all his mods and promised being back on 11/14/2010 - but that did not happen until now...).

 

Back to the topic:

My Ref 9 is a "Musical" Diamond output type of AGD dac. However, it is not forgiving at all, and not particularly warm either. I have never heard Aretha Franklin's old recordings that way. Her voice is just extremely shrill! Horrifying at first, had to lower the volume... But I guess, that is probably just like her voice sounded like! And closing the eyes, allowing myself to get into the music, her voice was just extremely loud, a bit intimidating, but very touching. Than I listened to a mediocre recording of the Forellenquintett (Shubert's trout). The violin was really extremely sharp. Now there I do not think that is how it is supposed to be... just no good recording. And the Ref9 reveals it without mercy.

 

Cheers, happy listening!


Nice impressions. We hear alike it seems. I have liked the GHP a lot with the LCD-2. But on the Ref9 it get as you mentioned just to revealing. It´s not good when you are just trying to enjoy music and not getting into old habits dissecting it. No matter how much it impresses technically. But luckily I have found the Head One growing instead and also getting great synergy out of my Yamaha Receiver out of my LCD-2 reference. I love this aspect of the LCD-2. It´s plays so nice on a wide range of amplifiers. 

 

If the Ref 7 is even more punishing I really made the right choice with the Ref9 I have to say. Would love to try the DSP 4 to see if it´s some kind of middle road between DSP 3 and DSP 5 though but I am done spending money here.

 

post #132 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by oqvist View Post


But on the Ref9 it get as you mentioned just to revealing. It´s not good when you are just trying to enjoy music and not getting into old habits dissecting it. No matter how much it impresses technically. But luckily I have found the Head One growing instead and also getting great synergy out of my Yamaha Receiver out of my LCD-2 reference. I love this aspect of the LCD-2. It´s plays so nice on a wide range of amplifiers. 

 

If the Ref 7 is even more punishing I really made the right choice with the Ref9 I have to say. Would love to try the DSP 4 to see if it´s some kind of middle road between DSP 3 and DSP 5 though but I am done spending money here.

 


Posts like these really confuse me... And you´re not the first who has noted the musical ones are very punishing... Could it really be that the musical and neutral series are exactly the other way around as regal has speculated? I used to have a NuForce Icon HDP and it was way, way more punishing than the CD7+REF7+Phoenix combo. Everything is still highly detailed, instrument separation is far superior and the layering is unbelievable. But the defining charasteristic is the smoothness - it´s not warm really, just very "liquid" -like and so very, very smooth. At least on my Genelec studio monitors that is, haven´t used this combo much with the HD 800 yet. But the Genelecs destroy any headphone when it comes to measured neutrality so they should simply show the source. I can hear errors in recordings, but they are definately not all that annoying. They just flow past. Too bad I´ve never heard any of the musical series ones. Actually I don´t even mind listening to badly recorded rap with this system, sounds good too. So to sum up my feelings, I don´t feel the ACSS line is all that unforgiving.

 

regal: what´s your view on the REF1 with DSP-V5 @ badly recorded CD´s?


Edited by vrln - 11/28/10 at 10:25am
post #133 of 158

I don't find that the Ref7 is punishing at all, less than perfect signals are re-assembled via its dithering and oversampling to sound more smoother and less "mechanical" - it is more analytical in a way in that there is an innate higher resolution than any other DAC I have heard...but the NOS dac is the punisher of poorly recoded signals it, especially noticeable in the trebles - when the recording is poor, there is no increasing of bit depth and dithering to smooth things out.

 

It occured to me as if the NOS had a "MP3" signature, while its subbass was so controlled and tight, the bass didn't have as much layering as in either Ref7/or Bryston.  Its bass reminded me of an MP3...its removal of ambient air, roughening of treble, flattening of sound stage, also reminded me of MP3...but with a higher resolution...bits, bytes, sampling whatever.  But when I hear the tone of piano or acoustic guitars, vocals and drums...the tone is "not wrong".

 

The 7 puts me with the audience...which takes readjusting - perhaps recordings are meant to sound this way? from the audiences perspective?  Because I am very familiar with the NOS presentation...on-stage, and upclose....I am not so sure which was recorded...but I know which I relate to.  Whereas, I have no idea where the Bryston put me.  I think it put me close, far and diagonally from the performance at the same time.  I still maintain, the 7 is amongst the most full-bodied, warm DAC from any other Delta sigma chip....without sounding dark, or laid back.  It also the brightest, airiest, most ambient of any other DAC I own...which brings it to "neutral"..definitely more "neutral" to me than the Bryston.  If the definition of neutral is neither warm, nor forward nor bright nor dark....I think the 7 is hard for me to catgeorise in this respect.


Edited by SP Wild - 11/28/10 at 5:57pm
post #134 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by vrln View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by oqvist View Post


But on the Ref9 it get as you mentioned just to revealing. It´s not good when you are just trying to enjoy music and not getting into old habits dissecting it. No matter how much it impresses technically. But luckily I have found the Head One growing instead and also getting great synergy out of my Yamaha Receiver out of my LCD-2 reference. I love this aspect of the LCD-2. It´s plays so nice on a wide range of amplifiers. 

 

If the Ref 7 is even more punishing I really made the right choice with the Ref9 I have to say. Would love to try the DSP 4 to see if it´s some kind of middle road between DSP 3 and DSP 5 though but I am done spending money here.

 


Posts like these really confuse me... And you´re not the first who has noted the musical ones are very punishing... Could it really be that the musical and neutral series are exactly the other way around as regal has speculated? I used to have a NuForce Icon HDP and it was way, way more punishing than the CD7+REF7+Phoenix combo. Everything is still highly detailed, instrument separation is far superior and the layering is unbelievable. But the defining charasteristic is the smoothness - it´s not warm really, just very "liquid" -like and so very, very smooth. At least on my Genelec studio monitors that is, haven´t used this combo much with the HD 800 yet. But the Genelecs destroy any headphone when it comes to measured neutrality so they should simply show the source. I can hear errors in recordings, but they are definately not all that annoying. They just flow past. Too bad I´ve never heard any of the musical series ones. Actually I don´t even mind listening to badly recorded rap with this system, sounds good too. So to sum up my feelings, I don´t feel the ACSS line is all that unforgiving.

 

regal: what´s your view on the REF1 with DSP-V5 @ badly recorded CD´s?

They might destroy your HD 800 in terms of neutrality... but that does not mean all headphones ;)...

 

I must say I have been so impressed with the Ref - 7 part of me (The greedy childish part) really wants to take the plunge on the Ref - 8 before its too late...

 

If I was every silly enough to do this I would certainly give feedback, but I would suspect they are much more the same then they are different.
 

post #135 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by sokolov91 View Post



 

They might destroy your HD 800 in terms of neutrality... but that does not mean all headphones ;)...

 

Not at all in my experience...For me, the 7 added much needed body and bass to the HD800...bringing the HD800 closer to the colorless ideal.  How can this be, when the 7 brings top-end, ambience and air to the LCD2s, very contradictory, I know.  The reason being....who's kidding who, I have no idea why that is?

 

It brings all my cans closer to the neutral ideal.  I theorise that because the LCD2s have so much body, that extra body is not as recognised as the extra top end.  The HD800s have so much ambience that any extra in the top end is just not registering as greater than the extra added to the bottom end...maybe a psychoacoustic phenomena?

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