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CEntrance DACmini DAC/Amplifier Official Thread

post #1 of 1143
Thread Starter 


Michael informed me tonight that my DACmini was shipped out today via FedEx as part of the initial shipment of his new desktop DAC/amp.  All the hardware & software issues that had caused the shipping delay have been successfully resolved. All of the units with fixed outputs were shipped out late Thursday or early Friday. Units like mine, requested with variable outputs were delayed because of a popping sound heard when the units were turned off.  However, he later informed me that that too has been resolved & my unit did go out late & the others requested with variable outputs will follow.



So all of you who, like me, had DACmini pre-orders should be getting a nice Thankgiving package from CEntrance sometime next week.  I don't know about anyone else, but given the truly excellent  sound quality Mr. Goodman & his staff were able to produce in the little portable DACport, I can't wait to try his newest creation which wlll be much more powerful & should easily be able to power my HE5LE & hopefully the HE6 I plan on ordering. 

If you haven't visited the CEntrance DACmini website, I suggest you do so.  Michael is going to eventually have 6 different versions of this dac/amp coming out with this initial unit designated the CX model.  I  am very interested in the upcoming KX model which will be a USB DAC + headphone out + power amp + dock (iphone/ipod). Now if I can just talk him into incluing a small remote with the KX, I will be set!

As folks receive their units, get them burned in & start listening to them, please post your impressions/reviews.  I for one am very anxious to hear what the other early adopter's think of their new miniCX.  I will post my own thoughts here too as I listen to it & compare it to my other dac/amp combo's including the Nuforce udac, CEntrance's own DACport, my Nuforce HDP, & finally my modded Benchmark HDR.
Edited by AustinHorn - 11/24/10 at 6:29pm
post #2 of 1143

Sounds like a good piece of equipment on paper.

 

I may look into this as an all-in-one solution.

 

I am awaiting your impressions,

 

Dave

post #3 of 1143

same here,

I've been waiting the arrival of the Dac mini for month, and I'm inpatient to read your feedbacks and listening impressino.

Does anyone have information about the dac part of the dacmini?

best regards.

quentin

post #4 of 1143
Thread Starter 


My guess is those shipped out 1st, the ones with the fixed outputs, will start being received on Monday. So if those that get them 1st will give everyone some initial impressions, we all will appreciate it.  I expect mine in by Wednesday (I hope or then it likely will be the following Monday due to the Thanksgiving holidays). As soon as I get mine, I'll start the 100 hour burn-in process that I think I read was recommended, but will also give some initial impressions as both a dac & dac/amp combo.  Since Michael swears it is better & a lot more powerful than the DACport, I have very, very high expectations. I have no problem playing most music using my HE5LEs through the DACport, but there are times I wish it had a little more headroom.



I love my Nuforce HDP as an all around unit & I think I remember Larry reporting that he thought it was just a little better than the DACport or at least had more headroom & I agree to a certain extent, but as a dac, despite it's input/output limitations, I find it to be outstanding with all my tube amps. So I expect the mini to be a big step up both as a dac & as an amp mainly because of the additional power & some preliminary reports from a few who heard the prototype recently said as much.
 
With luck, some will get them & have time to report early impressions this coming week, even though it is Thanksgiving. I hope so.
Edited by AustinHorn - 11/24/10 at 6:28pm
post #5 of 1143
Thread Starter 

I am sooooo ticked. FedEx which has delivered to my house many dozens of times, has never ever gotten hear before 2 p.m. - that is except today! So I was off running my Thanksgiving errands in the a.m. & what do I find, a tag on my door telling me they missed me & would try again tomorrow.  I was back at 10:30a & they'd been here at 9:00ish. I was & am so mad that I didn't get the amp today so I could start burning it in. 

 

Surely someone here on HeadFi got their mini's today or even yesterday.  I wish some of them would jump in here & give us some impressions. It was my understanding that all of CEntrance's initial run was pre-sold at the lower price & surely some of those folks are Headfier's. Even if they don't report here, maybe they can start a thread of their own so that those of us who are interested can get some feedback and very early comparisons to their other headphone gear.

 

I plan to stay at the house all day tomorrow but figure 1st on the truck means last off so I again may be back to normal & get my delivery very late in the day.  Time will tell.  Oh well.....

post #6 of 1143

I have received DACMini today. The sound quality is great over optical and coax, but unfortunately I have a problem with USB. I have tried it with several computers running Windows 7, Vista and XP and on all computers I get a "This USB  device cannot be recognized". DACMini is shown as "Unknown device" in Hardware Properties. I would be interested to know if anybody else has experienced a similar problem.

post #7 of 1143

I have used the DACmini with two laptops.  Both running XP.  Both computers accepted the new hardware.  But oddly, 1 of the 2 gave notice that a driver for the new hardware should be sought.  And then, at my ok,  proceeded to find and install the 'appropriate' driver.

Did you - darkroje - try restarting your computers with the DACmini attached?  That seemed to be necessary for one of my computers.

Also,

What should be obvious - but wasn't to me -  is that you need to go to Audio in Sounds and Audio Devices in the Control Panel and select the Centrance Dacmini as your default sound card.

I have gotten help from MIchael and David at Centrance.  Both by email and phone.  Suggest anyone having issues do the same.


Edited by haarvi - 11/24/10 at 1:22pm
post #8 of 1143

Anyone got a report on sound quality?

 

Im very interested in possibly picking one of these up

 

Dave

post #9 of 1143
Thread Starter 

I too finally got my mini from FedEx about an hour or 2 ago.  I've been running it from my PC thru the Bel Canto USB Link to coax & it sounds great. Using my HE5LEs I have the volume on about 2:30 for most songs.  The volume goes from off at about 7 to full on about 5.  So I have plenty of headroom. On my K702s I need to run at about 1 o'clock.  On the same song, I'm running my HD650s at 12:30.  So as Michael said, after RMAF & suggestions by Larry to up the gain some, they did just that.  Now all I need is for someone with a HE6 to tell me if the gain is high enough for it to play them at acceptable levels. 

 

I have not tried the USB connection but on both my PCs I was able to connect my usb Link device to the PCs & then to the coax & was good to go w/o needing to reboot. So at least with coax, it was plug & play.  One of my PCs is running XP & the other is Vista.

 

I agree with harrvi, that it is super important for all of us early adopters to report back to CEntrance regarding any issues with this version of the firmware/hardware.  Micheal is a great guy, as I'm sure David is, & has been very responsive to all of my issues & suggestions both regarding the DACport which I use daily with my iPad & also concerning prototype of the DACmini.  So please let them here from you.

 

I got an email from Micheal today in response to several questions I had & one thing he told me that since no tubes are involved, very little break-in will be needed.  He mentioned that running it in a couple of days ought to do it!  So that is exactly what I will do.  I've got a burn in disc that I use so by Saturday, the mini should be good to go. To my untrained ear it already sounds great.

 

Looking forward to hearing everyone elses experience & some reviews & comparisons as time goes on.  I have got several dacs, amps, & dac/amps that I plan to do some comparisons with & I'll report my findings. One thing I can already tell, it is a lot more powerful that the CEntrance DACport & I love that thing.  At least at the 2 hour mark, I'll give it 2 big thumbs up. So far so good though it does sound like Michael & Dave may have some firmware tweaking to do so it will be truly plug & play, at least on some Microsoft operating systems.  After dinner I'll try out the usb & see what problems I run into going straight from the PC to the mini.  I also have an M3Tech HiFace 192kHz digital audio interface I'll try via the coax connection. I initially had big problems with it so if I can get those 2 to work together, I assume that will mean that at least the coax link is good to go.


Edited by AustinHorn - 11/24/10 at 2:57pm
post #10 of 1143
Thread Starter 


Others can speak for themselves, but soundwise it so far exceeds my expectations, especially on my HE5LE. On the little DACport, which I think is a sonic & engineering marvel, there are times the port just didn't have enough juice to make the HE5LE open up on some songs.  The mini is way more powerful & it allows these phones to really open up.  Even though it is ss it seems to have a warm tube-like sound to my ear, especially in the mids. Anyway, I'm stoked that it will drive anything I own but I want to hear from someone with the HE6.  That is a headphone that I feel sure is in my future (before the price increases in Jan) so I want to make sure that with the increased gain Michael gave it that I can use it on the mini.



I don't think anyone has mentioned the build quality.  This thing seems to be built like a tank & I love the look & feel. The inputs & outputs seem to be very high quality. The only complaint I have is that the power supply sent out with my unit is a little small.. But Micheal warned me he hadn't received the shipment of power supplies from China intended for the long term production run.  I'll replace it at some point with a bigger one.  Still it has plenty of power as it is.

Now I have to get me an Apple mini & set up a music/Video server combo with my PC & Apple TV. ;-)
Edited by AustinHorn - 11/24/10 at 6:35pm
post #11 of 1143

Hey everyone, Michael here. Thanks for great comments. We are shipping a new unit out to Darco. It sounds like the USB input is not functioning correctly on his unit. Many apologies. This will be corrected at our expense.

 

Regarding installation on PC, normally this thing is plug-and-play. It's using the same USB section as DACport, so it should install the same way. On some machines the install would be quiet, on others, you would be prompted to say "yes" to a driver installation, but since Microsoft's native driver will be installed (and since it's already on the system) it should go very quick and smooth. On the mac - even simpler.

 

The customer with two laptops needed to reboot one of his machines and then DACmini worked fine. He'd mentioned some previous issues with that machine. The sound card on that laptop may have been "hard selected" as opposed to letting the OS auto-select, like it usually does. In any case, it would appear that both of his machines are now working well with the DACmini.

 

My favorite comment so far is "Great WAF". Believe it or not, I had to look it up. What a noob! LOL!

 

@ AustinHorn: The power supply we shipped is not a large one, but it was tested to provide sufficient juice. Still, if you want a larger one, I can ship it to you. Contact me privately.


Edited by mgoodman - 11/24/10 at 6:57pm
post #12 of 1143
Thread Starter 

Thanks Michael for taking the time to post.  It is greatly appreciated.

 

I've tested my mini using the USB on my netbook which is an XP machine & it loaded w/o any problems.  However I had the same exact problem as Darco when I 1st received my Nuforce HDP.  After some hair pulling, the problem turned out to be a faulty USB cable (mine, not the one Nuforce sent with the HDP). My point being that sometimes it isn't the hardware or software at all but can be a faulty cable or even a bad adapter.  It can drive you crazy & for me that is a very short trip.

 

Anyway I hope more folks will provide their impressions as they have the time.  Since it is Thanksgiving week, it may take some time. 

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

post #13 of 1143

Thank you all for your responses. I have tried another USB cable and two more computers and unfortunately the same problem. Michael has emailed me to send the unit back for replacement which I will do. Other than the USB problem, it looks great and the sound quality over optical to my HD 800 is really good. Hopefully I will get a replacement unit quickly.

post #14 of 1143

Mind comparing your listening experience on the dacmini to the HDP Austin?

 

I am really interested in one of these now.

 

Dave

post #15 of 1143
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by myinitialsaredac View Post

Mind comparing your listening experience on the dacmini to the HDP Austin?

 

I am really interested in one of these now.

 

Dave



I have yet to do a side by side comparison yet since the DACmini is burning in as we speak, but both, IMO, play way above their pay grade. Both have excellent dacs & both have at least very good amps & both have RCAs out to my powered speakers & the speakers sound really, really good from either.  My 1st comparison will be to compare these two against one another both as dacs, amps, & dac/amps over the weekend.  My gut tells me that the mini is a little better based on what I'm hearing out of my speakers, but given the price difference, it ought to be a little better.  I can tell you the HDP is one great piece of gear & it alone allowed me to get rid of 4 or 5 other dacs &/or amps I used to own.  I promise to report my own observations as I have a real chance to compare them. 

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