Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › CEntrance DACmini DAC/Amplifier Official Thread
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

CEntrance DACmini DAC/Amplifier Official Thread - Page 2

post #16 of 1155
Quote:
Originally Posted by AustinHorn View Post



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. 



Great I look forward to it as the 3 amp/dacs im trying to choose between are the DACMini, HDP and Burson HA160D. 

 

I have a gut feeling the dacmini may be the ticket as my source is going to be usb through my computer. 

 

IF anyone has heard the ha160 and the dacmini and wants to chime in id be interested also.

 

Dave

post #17 of 1155
Thread Starter 

Dave,

 

I personally haven't heard the HA160D but from the review 6moons recently gave it, it must be a giant killer.  I have heard the Weiss DAC 2 & it was on my wish list (or more likely "wouldn't it be nice" list) & according to the review the Burson is better as a dac. I was shocked.  So if your budget allows, my guess is that it wouldn't be much of a risk to buy it . Personally if you can. I'd recommend you wait until there are some pro reviews & HeadFi reviews of both units & make your decision from that, plus the existing reviews on the HDP..

 

Based on about 24 hours I can tell you the DACmini is sounding great to me. However, I don't have the ear of some of the senior review guys around here like Headphone Addict & Skylab plus some others. But I do know what I like, & I am really liking the sound of this unit & it is only supposed to get better over the next two days.

post #18 of 1155
Quote:
Originally Posted by AustinHorn View Post

Dave,

 

I personally haven't heard the HA160D but from the review 6moons recently gave it, it must be a giant killer.  I have heard the Weiss DAC 2 & it was on my wish list (or more likely "wouldn't it be nice" list) & according to the review the Burson is better as a dac. I was shocked.  So if your budget allows, my guess is that it wouldn't be much of a risk to buy it . Personally if you can. I'd recommend you wait until there are some pro reviews & HeadFi reviews of both units & make your decision from that, plus the existing reviews on the HDP..

 

Based on about 24 hours I can tell you the DACmini is sounding great to me. However, I don't have the ear of some of the senior review guys around here like Headphone Addict & Skylab plus some others. But I do know what I like, & I am really liking the sound of this unit & it is only supposed to get better over the next two days.

 

I plan to wait for reviews on those two units.

 

How does the DACMini sound vs the HDP?

 

Dave

 

post #19 of 1155
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by myinitialsaredac View Post



 

I plan to wait for reviews on those two units.

 

How does the DACMini sound vs the HDP?

 

Dave

 






I've actually have started comparing them this afternoon on various types of music & both are very,very good. It is a little early for me to make a final assessment but it appears the mini has a warmer feel w/o losing any of the details. I'd call it tube like, which for me is a +. So far I've only used my HD 650s but plan to try my HE5LEs, RS2s, my 600ohm Beyer 880s, & various IEMs I own.
post #20 of 1155

Too much suspens. are you all dead from audio orgasm????

looking forward for your impressions. 

respectfully

post #21 of 1155
Thread Starter 
OK, I've spent a lot of the weekend listening to my new DACmini & comparing it with my other gear, especially with the Newforce HDP ( also a combo dac/amp) & my other main desktop amp, the mighty Audio-GD Phoenix. All I can say is I'm very impressed by this mini. To be honest, I'm by nature a tube guy, so while I can really appreciate solid state gear, I tend to do most of my music listening via tube amps feeding either my speakers or, when the wife is home, via my headphones or IEMs.

Well, for headphones, that could change, I love the sound of the mini on all my full sized headphones but especially the HD 650s, to my untrained ear these two go to gather like coffee & donuts. After the short 2 day recommended by CEntrance, I really settled in & started listening to it. My setup for most of my sessions was using my pc to feed my M2 Tech HighFace USB to SPIDF feeding the coax connection on the DACmini. My music was via Media Monkey using flac files. Starting out I would listen to the DACmini for about 30 minutes & then I'd swishing & listen to the same songs with the same sets of headphones on the HDP. Going back & forth like that for most of 2 evenings, it became clear to me that on almost all the headphones, I preferred the mini. I found the Nuforce, for the 1st time, to sound slightly sterile compared to the DACmini. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought I was listening to a high end tube amp or hybrid. I find it a warm sound w/o benign colored in any way. I felt the base is very tight & the highs very extended & transparent. But it was the mids where I felt the mini bested the HDP to my ear. Not relying only on my headphones, I routed the music out to my PC speakers, the Audioengine 5s & that move only reinforced my opinion that this is a very special dac/amp combo. In fact last night I got so involved in what I was hearing that I totally forgot to do my switching back & forth, but spent over 2 hours just listening to the music.

Let me be clear, I love the Nuforce HDP a lot, but I'm not the first to say that it's main strength is it's dac rather than it's amp. I have used it for most of the time I've owned it as the dac I use to feed my tube amps. I love it's super small footprint & it's overall flexibility. Had I not heard the mini in a direct comparison, I would have said it was the very best ss dac/amp combo I've ever heard, certainly anywhere in it's price range. When I got the DACport , I did a similar comparison & found it to have much more power than the port so it was a better fit for my harder to drive headphones such as the HE5LE. Still I preferred the tone of the DACport to the HDP & it became & still is my preferred device to use as a portable with my IEMs or with my Grados or 840 headphones. I use it daily with my iPad. So as I've said before, I find the DACmini a DACport on steroids. It will drive all of my headphones including the K702s & HE5LEs to acceptable levels. The one headphone that I have that on a couple od songs I wished I had more headroom on are my new (to me) Beyerdynamic 880 600 ohm cans. With it, I sometimes felt I needed a bit more gain to hear a particular song the way I normally would listen to it. No I do like to listen to music louder than most of the rest of my family so this may not be a problem. However, I did talk to Micheal at CEntrance about it & we will discuss it with his folks. The gain issue is a tough one cause they want to be able to use the mini with IEMs as well as full size hard to drive headphones is a balancing act he said. This is the one area where I felt the HDP was a tiny bit better. To my ear it seemed to be able to play my hard-to-drive full-size headphones to a little higher levels than the mini. Buy 90% of the time, even on the Beyers or HE5LEs both amps played each song beyond even my comfortable listing levels. So I don't think it is a big issue. But since I plan to buy the HE 6, before the introductory price goes up, I must assume it won't be a good match for the DACmini at current gain levels.

I do plan to do a lot of listening this week with the DACmini using all my IEM, something I havent done. My expectation is that it will be a perfect match for my IEMs. I look forward to testing out that expectation. I also plan to do more testing of the mini as just a dac & just an amp driven by another of my dads, especially my new EE Minimax 32 bit tube dac. I will report back my findings( or really my opinions, which is what they really are). I'm still hoping more headfi early adopters will report their own thoughts on their own experiences with this new production model of the DACmini

Let me know if you have any questions. Ion now a by any means a practiced reviewer & my relatively short time with this unit means I've only just started my planned effort at seeing how it performs & explore it's main strengths or weaknesses. So far, I can say it is a keeper & will be with me for a long time.
Edited by AustinHorn - 11/30/10 at 2:28pm
post #22 of 1155

I received the DACmini today.  Sounds pretty good with the DT990 (600 ohm).  It definitely has more power than the DACport.  I listen with the volume control at about 10-11 o'clock positions.  I found that the treble is very smooth with good bass and midrange.  My initial impressions of it is similar to AustinHorn, especially the part about the sound of a hybrid tube amp. 

 

A few questions:

When using the USB input, what should the Windows Sound setting be set to?  24-bit 44000Hz or 24-bit 96000Hz?  Also, should the Windows volume control be automatically disabled?  I can still control the volume using the Windows volume control (the one next to the clock on the task bar). 

 

I've also noticed that there is a bit more clarity with the optical input compared to USB?  Is that possible since the USB input is supposed to be bit-perfect?  Or am I just imagining things?

 

By the way, I'm using iTunes (Quicktime set to Windows Audio Session) and Windows 7 (64-bit).

post #23 of 1155
Thread Starter 

Sorry for the delay in responding, but my wife has had a lot of Christmas prep related chores for me plus I've been working 14 hour days. I recommend you direct all those questions to Michael Goodman at CEntrance.  My DACmini installed auto"magically" so I didn't mess with any of the settings on the PCs.

 

I now have over 300 hours on my mini & I like it even more than my DACport & I love my DACport. However, after going through all of my headphones & many of my IEMs I have to say I really can't recommend it for either the Beyer 880/600 ohm headphones or any of the orthos which are as difficult to drive as either the HE5, my HE5LEs, or especially the HE6.  There is just no headroom on it, with those headphones.  However, it sounds great with the HD650, Shure SRH840, Grado 320si & RS2 plus all my IEMs.  I liked the tone more & more as time went on & felt the base tightened up & extended as time went on and the highs became cleaner & even more extended.  Sonically, I prefer it to the Nuforce as an all around ss dac/amp but it is very close.  However, if you want to use hard to drive full-size orthodynamic or 600 ohm headphones, I'd steer you towards the Nuforce HDP. It just has more headroom.  In fact, I prefer my DACport with my HE5LEs.  I got my DACmini with variable RCA out volume capability so I could use it with my powered PC speaker setup, & maybe that somehow impacted my overall headroom.  I'm still happy, 'cause I prefer my HE5LEs, 880s, & 702s running balanced from my Phoenix anyway, but it would have been nice if the mini was at least as powerful as the HDP & could drive them.  Michael told me in an e-mail that hey were worried about being able to use IEMs with the mini but in my opinion, most folks will tend to use the DACport more often with IEMs than the mini. I feel that CEntrance should have targeted the mini toward harder to drive phones or maybe put in a variable switch or knob.

 

So, I love the sound, especially with my HD 650s & IEMs, but it lacks power with harder to drive phones - IMO.  But I plan to keep it & use it with my new Xmas gift, an Apple mini.

post #24 of 1155
Thread Starter 
Man, I have to say I am very impressed with the CEntrance staff. After reading my comments regarding the inability of my DACmini to drive either my 600 ohm Beyers & my HE5LEs to acceptable levels, they've offered to send me a new DACmini tuned to drive both headphones to compare with my existing mini & I can then return the one I end up liking least. Now that is what I call great customer service! I would advise anyone wanting to buy the CEntrance DACmini to communicate with the CEntrance staff what headphone gear they're going to use with the mini so they can avoid this issue. I will report on my findings on the comparison of the two mini's.

In the mean time, I can't think of any vendor who I am more impressed with than I've been with this company! They are great people who produce very impressive products. I have way too many dacs & amps currently & plan to sell several of them in the near future, but I won't be selling either my DACport or DACmini anytime soon.
post #25 of 1155

That is awesome proactive customer service.

post #26 of 1155
Thread Starter 

Well, it is now Jan 7th & I've yet to receive the promised 2nd unit or even a shipping notice.  I will count it as primarily a holiday delay plus prepping for CES. Still, I'd expected them to follow through on their promises in a more timely manner than this.  I'll post it when/if I do receive the second unit.  Obviously, they don't have to do this, so if they do, it will be a super bonus to be able to compare the new unit on my harder to drive headphones & then keep the unit that works best with those headphones.  Also, I should receive my new Audeze LCD-2 headphones tomorrow so I'm hoping that second mini will show up soon too. I'd love to see how both DACminis work with it as well as with my 600 ohm 880s & my HE5LEs.  Of course, I already know the last 2 are not ideal companions for my current mini as stated above.  I've read the LCD-2 is easier to drive than HE5LE, so maybe it will work well with it. 

 

Oh well, time will tell whether CEntrance really does ever ship that promised second unit. Maybe after CES....confused_face_2.gif


Edited by AustinHorn - 1/7/11 at 12:44am
post #27 of 1155

Sorry for the delay. Its completely my fault. Our staff has been very busy prepping both DACmini PX (integrated power amp) and our MasterClass Coaxial speakers in order to show them at CES.

 

I should have communicated the shipping time line more accurately. In all honestly I was hoping we could have sent it out before CES. So again, my apologies.

 

In any event, it was delivered to FedEx yesterday and should arrive shortly and we are eagerly awaiting your feedback.

 

post #28 of 1155
Thread Starter 

 


Got it today & just hooked it up. I know ss amps aren't supposed to need a lot of burn-in but at least subjectively, I feel I noticed some auditory improvements in my mini over the 1st 30-50 hours. So although I plan to do an initial comparison on how each mini drives my hard-to-drive headphones, I want to wait until the 50 hour mark to start my overall comparison as to the relative sound & matching of each of these two mini's as to how they sound with all my full size headphones, as well as with my IEMs.

I did just get my Audes'e LCD-2s late last week & learned my 1st DACmini drive it very well. In fact, I found the two to be an excellent match. Though again I would have liked a little more headroom on some songs but hopefully this re-tuned mini will solve that issue with it & also with my HE5LEs & my 880s (600 ohm).

Again, I can't tell you how impressed I am for CEntrance to do this & do it w/o me even suggesting it. Given that I love their gear anyway, it makes it a slam dunk for me to recommend them to anyone who needs a great dac/amp combo. I have both the DACport & mini & love them both. I'm looking forward to their other models as they are produced, especially the preamp!

Regarding the delay, I completely understood. It was still the holiday season coupled with CES going on plus a backlog of orders on a new product. I only mentioned it in response to some pm's I'd received ask how the new unit sounded. Anyway, it's all good...
post #29 of 1155
Thread Starter 

Quick update:  I just did a 1 - 2 back & forth with the old mini & the new one on their ability to drive the HE5LE & the 600 ohm Beyer 880s & the new DACmini is at least 2-4 clicks louder.  The new amp has more headroom with both. There is no doubt their retuning gave this DACmini a comparable loudness on those headphones to the Nuforce HDP - a definite improvement in my book since I now can drive all the songs I've so far listened to  to more than acceptable levels. This was something I was unable to do with the original mini. The HDP will definitely drive those headphones to more acceptable levels. Even my wife, who hates loud music, thought my original mini needed more "omfh" with both the HE5LE & the Beyer.  It was fine with the K702s & HD650.  It was also a wonderful match with the Grado RS-2s & SR325is, something I hadn't expected 'cause I normally only like my Grado's on tube amps - too bright otherwise.  Not so on the DACmini.  Just for kicks, I tried my fav IEMs, the UE 3X10 & they were still great too.  No feedback or noise.  Still, as I said before, I use my IEMs mostly with my DACport with either my iPad or iPod Touch. Still it is nice to know that upping the volume level doesn't prevent one from using IEMs too. I know that was an issue Michael & I talked (argued) about more than once. I generally don't believe that the DACmini would be a target device for someone who favors IEMs as their primary ear speakers. 

 

Now I'm going to match up this new mini with a cd player & run it 50 hours straight playing my break-in disk set on repeat. After that, I'll pull out all of my headphone gear, including IEMs & compare both mini's to each other & to my Nuforce HDP.

post #30 of 1155

We're really excited you like the modification (so far)!!!

 

Looking forward to your full evaluation.

 

smily_headphones1.gif

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › CEntrance DACmini DAC/Amplifier Official Thread