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CEntrance DACmini DAC/Amplifier Official Thread - Page 12

post #166 of 1115

Hi,

I am considering getting the DACmini - serioulsy.  In the April issue of Stereophile there is a review of the Musical Fidelity V-Link USB-S/PDIF converter.  The main reason for using this device appears to be to reduce jitter from the USB port.  (there is a comment somewhere in the review about its benefits with "legacy DACs.)   I'm wondering if the DACmini would benefit from this device?  One of the big selling points for the DACmini is that it reduces to jitter to the point that it is not an issue.  Would the V-Link be like splitting hairs that have already been split?  Would one "really" hear any difference?

 

I'm also trying to create a system with the fewest links in the chain - computer/DAC/amp/speakers.  This would add another. 

Any thoughts on whether this is a good addition or rather something to muck up the chain?

 

Thanks.

Paul

post #167 of 1115
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcwang View Post

Sounds like another report of hiss.  Oh well, at least it sounds like the channel tracking is still better than average.

 

It'll be interesting to compare this to the HDP with the linear power supply.  I assume the power supply of the dacmini can be upgraded as well, though it sounds like they claim it won't really make a difference due to the internal regulation.  But it seems like changes in power supply always make a difference regardless of what manufacturers claim.

Centrance seems to pay a great deal of attention to the power supply design already.  It would be difficult to improve on what they've already done.
 

 

post #168 of 1115
Quote:
Originally Posted by lohma004 View Post

Hi,

I am considering getting the DACmini - serioulsy.  In the April issue of Stereophile there is a review of the Musical Fidelity V-Link USB-S/PDIF converter.  The main reason for using this device appears to be to reduce jitter from the USB port.  (there is a comment somewhere in the review about its benefits with "legacy DACs.)   I'm wondering if the DACmini would benefit from this device?  One of the big selling points for the DACmini is that it reduces to jitter to the point that it is not an issue.  Would the V-Link be like splitting hairs that have already been split?  Would one "really" hear any difference?

 

I'm also trying to create a system with the fewest links in the chain - computer/DAC/amp/speakers.  This would add another. 

Any thoughts on whether this is a good addition or rather something to muck up the chain?

 

Thanks.

Paul


The DACMini is not a legacy DAC, it already employs state of the art USB translation.  Using an external USB-S/PDIF converter would likely increase jitter not reduce it.  This means doing so, would likely sound worse.

 

post #169 of 1115
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post



Centrance seems to pay a great deal of attention to the power supply design already.  It would be difficult to improve on what they've already done.
 

 

It sounds like you are talking about the design of the internal power supply and regulation circuitry.  I'm talking about the external power supply feeding the DacMini.  The fact that they say:

 

"DACmini makes full use of external power, generating isolated +/-15V rails inside and feeding that to all internal analog circuitry. A full 30V of available power lowers the noise and reduces distortion. DACmini is also flexible with regard to the external power supply. This comes from our experience designing professional equipment for our broadcast customers, who don't always have the right power supply nearby, but the show must go on. DACmini can take any power supply with +5...12V DC and 1A of current giving you more flexibility and peace of mind. "
 

...leads me to believe they probably ship it with something inexpensive, not an all out low noise linear design.  This is the part I wonder if being replaced with a better unit would improve performance further.  Centrance seems to claim it won't make a difference....

 

post #170 of 1115
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcwang View Post

It sounds like you are talking about the design of the internal power supply and regulation circuitry.  I'm talking about the external power supply feeding the DacMini.  The fact that they say:

 

"DACmini makes full use of external power, generating isolated +/-15V rails inside and feeding that to all internal analog circuitry. A full 30V of available power lowers the noise and reduces distortion. DACmini is also flexible with regard to the external power supply. This comes from our experience designing professional equipment for our broadcast customers, who don't always have the right power supply nearby, but the show must go on. DACmini can take any power supply with +5...12V DC and 1A of current giving you more flexibility and peace of mind. "
 

...leads me to believe they probably ship it with something inexpensive, not an all out low noise linear design.  This is the part I wonder if being replaced with a better unit would improve performance further.  Centrance seems to claim it won't make a difference....

There's an obvious reason for that.  They put their engineering and quality where it makes the most difference...The regulation and filtering side of the power supply.
 

 

post #171 of 1115

Didn't know CEntrance offered this "1-ohm mod"... sounds interesting bigsmile_face.gif

 

Quote:
DACmini stock unit comes with 10 Ohm output impedance at the headphone output. We made a lot of experiments with various headphone models and arrived at this value on purpose. We feel that it offers the most musical sound. Users have described it as “warm” and “analog like”. However, we can make it 1 Ohm, if desired to achieve the flattest possible frequency response. Some people may prefer to have lower output impedance to get the best out of low-impedance headphones. This mod is currently performed for free, but in May, we start charging $99.95 for it. Hurry up to get this amazing value for free if you order before May 2011.

 

Source: http://centrance.com/blog/2011/04/20/dacmini-custom-mods/

post #172 of 1115
Quote:
Originally Posted by pekingduck View Post

Didn't know CEntrance offered this "1-ohm mod"... sounds interesting bigsmile_face.gif

 

 

Source: http://centrance.com/blog/2011/04/20/dacmini-custom-mods/


I was about to point out their spec page used to say 10 ohm output impedance, now it says 1 ohm.  I was wondering if I had remember wrong but maybe this has something to do with it.

 

I wonder if lowering the output impedance from 10 to 1 will raise hiss levels even more, or if they've made other adjustments to compensate, thus the $99 price for the mod.

 

post #173 of 1115

CEntrance Dacmini + Audeze LCD2: SPL Levels and Impressions

 

I decided to cross-post my SPL measurements from the head-fi.org 'Audeze LCD2 Orthos' thread, posts #11056 and #11096, and add some additional impressions. Here are the links:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/453116/audeze-lcd-2-orthos/11055

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/453116/audeze-lcd-2-orthos/11085

 

I received my Dacmini with stock gain just over one week ago (thank you, Michael and Jay, for a great piece of gear and excellent pre/post sales support!). The build quality is excellent. It is very flexible, providing RCA variable/fixed line level, Toslink, USB, and Coax inputs. It also has RCA line outputs for DAC/pre-amp duty and a single-ended 1/4" headphone jack.  

 

The Dacmini + LCD2 SQ is simply beautiful.  The Dacmini's DAC performs very close to my McIntosh MX-136 pre/pro's DAC performance and its noise floor is just as silent.  The Dacmini is fantastic paired with my Audeze LCD2's (thank you Alex, for excellent pre/post sales support!) as well as my Shure SE535, SE425, and Etymotic ER4P IEM's (I'm going to buy the Etymotic P to S impedance cable to see if the Ety ER4P's and Shure SE535's SQ is further improved with amplification). Volume tracking at low volume knob settings when listening to my IEM's is smooth, full, and equal from left to right.  Other features I would value in the Dacmini include balanced connections in/out, an on/off switch, and a remote control. Granted, XLR connections and a remote control would likely place the Dacmini's price point much higher than its current competitive price of $795, but an on/off switch should not significantly increase the price.

 

I love the Dacmini and Audeze LCD2 combination. The bass extension is deep, tight, fast, and musical. The LCD2's go deep and just keep on going without overpowering the mids and highs. The mids are lush, beautiful, full, and clear. Female vocals, piano, guitar, jazz, and classical rendition are superb.  I enjoy alternative, rock, indy, and chill just as much as my other favored musical genres. The highs are present, maybe a bit tamed/rolled off compared to other headphones, but the LCD2's treble is not "in your face" or fatiguing.  I have upper frequency hearing loss above 11k Hz so I typically EQ the treble for a little more prominence. If you favor quality/quantity in the bass to mid range, you will love this setup. If you favor a treble emphasis, consider other headphones or tweak the EQ like I do. The soundstage delivers good depth and very good instrument placement from left to right. Listening to this combination with eyes closed, I feel as if I am sitting front row, center.  The only modifications I want with my LCD2's are an attractive leather-covered headband, silver grills, and silver headband hardware which would make these phones truly eye-catching.  For an example, go here:  

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/453116/audeze-lcd-2-orthos/10995

 

I use my MX-136 RCA variable outputs that make use of the MX-136 DAC allowing me to use the MX-136 remote control or Harmony One to change the headphone volume. Alternatively, I can use the toslink or coax outs from my MX-136 to my Dacmini in order to utilize the Dacmini's DAC.  Another option I really like is the ability connect my Dacmini to my MacBook Pro via mini-toslink or USB for hifi listening at my office.

 

The Dacmini head amp has plenty of headroom.  I usually listen to my IEM's at 9 o'clock and with my LCD2's at 12 - 1 o'clock.  At full volume (5 o'clock), the Dacmini + LCD2's deliver 113 dB SPL which is way too loud!  (See SPL readings, below)

 

CEntrance Dacmini + Audeze LCD2 SPL Levels with 1k Hz Pink Noise

 

Signal Chain for Table 1, below:  MacBook Pro Toslink --> McIntosh MX-136 pre/pro Toslink/Coax --> Dacmini --> Audeze LCD2

 

I don't have a dummy head (except for the one between my ears, LOL), so I used my DIY headphone SPL adapter described in post #11056. I attached the adapter to my Radio Shack digital SPL meter set to C weighting and slow response. For the present measurements, I used a 1k Hz pink tone for 10 seconds with all Dacmini volume knob settings from 7 o'clock to 5 o'clock (clockwise positions as close to the same positions as possible for all 3 readings).  There are likely slight errors because I set the Dacmini's volume knob and positioned the SPL meter visually for all measurements.

 

I downloaded the UE iPhone SPL meter app from iTunes and "sandwiched" the iPhone microphone between both LCD2 ear cups.  I insured a tight seal all the way around with the iPhone UE SPL meter and with the Radio Shack SPL meter/DIY adapter. I used my iPhone 3G's default calibration.

 

Unscientific SPL Measurements:

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Table 1  Dacmini + Audeze LCD2 SPL Levels Using 1k Hz Pink Noise

 

                    iPhone/ UE SPL           Radio Shack SPL          Radio Shack SPL

                         app (dB)                Left ear cup (dB)           Right ear cup (dB)

 

7 o'clock                 41                                57                            58

8 o'clock                 57                                62                            62

9 o'clock                 68                                66                            67

10 o'clock               73                                74                             74

11 o'clock               76                                77                             77

12 o'clock               79                                79                             80  (Safe Zone?)

1 o'clock                 85                                87                             88

2 o'clock                 90                                93                             93

3 o'clock                 94                                97                             97

4 o'clock                 98                               101                           101

5 o'clock                 99                               104                           103

 

Note 1:  Dacmini factory stock gain

Note 2:  Approximate SPL measurements

Note 3:  YMMV

___________________________________________________________________

 

 

CEntrance Dacmini + Audeze LCD2 SPL Levels While Playing a CD

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/453116/audeze-lcd-2-orthos/11055

 

I cut the center hole of a standard CD clear plastic disc to the same diameter of a Radio Shack digital sound level meter's probe (Model 33-2055A).  I applied 5 layers of duct tape to the disc to secure it to the SPL meter probe and to seal any gaps.

 

I set the SPL meter to C weighted, slow response and put on Patricia Barber's CD 'Cafe Blue' and song: "Too Rich For My Blood."  I listened to this song at my favored volume setting of 2 o'clock and then played the same song with the SPL meter DIY adapter disc pressed and sealed against the LCD2's Left ear cushion. I was surprised to see that the SPL ranged from 81 to 97 dB.  That did not seem too loud to me for all but the loudest passages, but obviously it is too loud for extended listening.

 

Signal Chain, Settings, and Unscientific SPL level Measurements:

 

Denon 3800BDCI AudioQuest toslink --> McIntosh MX-136 AudioQuest Coax --> Dacmini --> LCD2.

 

Note 1: Dacmini factory stock gain.

Note 2: Approximate SPL readings.

Note 3: YMMV

 

Dacmini volume knob set to:

 

8 o'clock SPL readings: 59 to 72 dB - This is the next to lowest volume setting and too low for listening. For comparison, when using my Shure SE535 <impedance 36 ohms> the loudest volume setting I use is 9 to 10 o'clock  which is roughly equivalent to the LCD2's at 1 to 2 o'clock.

 

9 o'clock SPL readings: 63 to 77 dB - Too low to enjoy.

 

10 o'clock SPL readings: 64 to 79 dB - Cannot hear headphones 1 foot away; lowest level I would ever use and not loud enough for me.

 

11 o'clock SPL readings: 66 to 81 dB - Barely hear headphones 1 foot away; full low-level listening pleasure for me.

 

12 o'clock SPL readings: 70 to 86 dB - Pleasing and comfortable SPL's all the way through with very good SQ.

 

1 o'clock SPL readings: 75 to 90 dB - My sweet spot for safer SPL levels. May have to turn down at certain passages; easily hear headphones from 3 feet away.

 

2 o'clock SPL readings: 81 to 97 dB - Uncomfortable volume at musical peaks and crescendos; I have to turn it down for loudest passages; easily hear headphones from 6 feet away.

 

3 o'clock SPL readings: 86 to 101 dB - Too loud for more than 15 seconds; can hear headphones from 10 feet away.

 

4 o'clock SPL readings: 88 to 105 dB - Too loud for entire song; painful after a 30 seconds; can hear headphones in the next room.

 

5 o'clock SPL readings: 90 to 113 dB - This is the highest volume setting and Immediately Painful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by bluemonkeyflyer - 4/23/11 at 12:28pm
post #174 of 1115

Thanks for that info, I've got a DACmini on the way to be used with LCD-2's as well as some IEM's so this is some useful information.

 

In regards to the on/off switch I thought I read somewhere that if you turn the selector switch to the extreme right or left it will turn off the unit.

 

Also, I believe I'm responsible for the 1 ohm output impedance mod. After I ordered mine there was a post in the uDAC controversy thread in regards to higher output impedance possibly having a detrimental effect on the frequency response of some phones with low impedance IEM's being of particular concern. I've never paid much attention to output impedance but in the thread there was a specific mention of the DACport and DACmini's 10ohm output impedance, granted the post was in defense of the CEntrance products as not having any perceivable effect on the owners IEM's but I was a bit concerned nonetheless as my DACmini could potentially be used with a wide variety of phones. I talked to Jonathan about my concerns who said he would ask the design team about it. At the same time I did some research on my own and talked to a few people who's opinions I have a great deal of respect for and I kept coming to the conclusion that, at least in my situation, a lower output impedance would be preferable. After CEntrance discussed and tested the lower output impedance I was told that it works great. I had been under the impression that all new DACmini's would ship with the lower output impedance, hence I assume the change on the specs page but I guess they've since decided to offer it as a mod for some reason. I had also, possibly wrongly, been under the impression that there wasn't a detrimental effect to the sound.

 

I have to say, Jonathan has been great in dealing with all my questions and concerns, very responsive and it's impressive that they've listened to their customers and offer these mods, it makes ordering very flexible for the buyers needs.


Edited by elnero - 4/23/11 at 11:32am
post #175 of 1115

hi guys, between DACmini and Schiit Lyr to drive beyerT1/LCD2/K701 kinda phones, which would be a better buy for sonics and musicality alone?

DACmini seems like a better value due to DAC/preamp outs etc but I already have a decent DAC, just wondering if for pure sound driven from each dacmini vs schiit, any of you

with experience of the two can share your findings?

I have heard the Lyr twice but havent heard the DACmini before.

Thanks for sharing.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 

post #176 of 1115
Does the DACMini sound like the DACPort?
post #177 of 1115

Look back through the thread, you will see Headphone Addict posted a few links about the differences. He preferred the DACmini by a good amount for SQ.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by K3cT View Post

Does the DACMini sound like the DACPort?


 

post #178 of 1115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Townyj View Post

Look back through the thread, you will see Headphone Addict posted a few links about the differences. He preferred the DACmini by a good amount for SQ.

 



 


Ah, OK. Larry had mentioned that the DACMini shares a similar sound signature with the DACPort. I rather like the DACPort especially its form factor but it was obviously running out of juice when I tried the LCD2 with it. I also thought that it's not exactly neutral, a bit warm even. I honestly prefer a more neutral sound.

Now we wait for more comparisons between the DACMini and the Burson HA160D.
post #179 of 1115

einero,

 

I'm glad to hear you find this information helpful.  You are correct about the on/off.  By turning the source knob far left or far right, the Dacmini is put in standby; not completely off, though.

 

I emailed Michael about the headphone output impedance option and the on/off question.  Here's what he had to say yesterday (Saturday):

 

"To be completely honest with you, the difference between 1 Ohm and 10 Ohm is so slight, it's almost imperceptible. However, we had done some extended evaluations and noticed that 10 Ohms may sound slightly more musical overall. The funny thing is that it's less "correct" from the engineering standpoint, but as is often with the arts, "precision" may not be the same as "pleasurable".

 
"Yours most likely is a 10 Ohm unit. We only shipped a couple out with 1 Ohm (I know who they have gone to) before we got alerted to the difference. We  decided to go back pretty much immediately and keep 10 Ohm standard, offering 1 Ohm to those who need that ulimate engieering flatness. Customers have different tastes, you know..."
 
"Yes, DACmini will go to sleep if you turn the source selector past line or USB input. It's not totally off; more like a power saving mode."
 
 
I am very happy with stock gain of 8 which plays louder than I will ever go. I'm also happy with the output impedance of 10 ohms.  
 
FWIW:  My wife plays classical violin.  She has no idea what I'm talking about when I "speak that audiophile-electronics language."  She has no interest in learning the functions and comparative relationships of DAC's and amps, planar magnetic vs. dynamic drivers, or the inter-relationships of sensitivity, ohms, impedance, frequency response, etc.  She asked how much the Dacmini + LCD2 cost.  I told her I would tell her after she auditioned the setup and added that, "they're worth more to me than I paid."
 
She is listening to the MacBook Pro + Dacmini + LCD2 combination for the first time, right now:  Beethoven String Quartets in A Minor. She will play these quartets this summer during "chamber music 'camp" at Kent.  She is listening and reading the music. Periodically, she laughs with pleasure.  She's made a couple of comments while listening:  "This is incredible!...I'm hearing notes I've never heard before!...Oh, wow!...This will help me; I'm going to 'nail it!"  She's humming the music and smiling a lot. Next, she listened to Steely Dan Gold, Punch Brothers Antifogmatic, Patricia Barber Cafe Blue and Modern Cool, and Beethoven's 9th symphony.  More favorable sotto voce praises followed.
 
When finished, she  stated that this combination sounded as good, maybe better than, our McIntosh + B&W 800 series system.  She finally asked about the price.  I used the over-used ad line, "....priceless."  She said, "knowing you, you got the best."
 
Her guess for the Dacmini + LCD2  ---->  $3000.  
 
Now, for some lovely Diana Krall Live in Rio and Live in Paris DVD's.... Aaaahhhhhhh
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elnero View Post

Thanks for that info, I've got a DACmini on the way to be used with LCD-2's as well as some IEM's so this is some useful information.

 

In regards to the on/off switch I thought I read somewhere that if you turn the selector switch to the extreme right or left it will turn off the unit.

 

Also, I believe I'm responsible for the 1 ohm output impedance mod. After I ordered mine there was a post in the uDAC controversy thread in regards to higher output impedance possibly having a detrimental effect on the frequency response of some phones with low impedance IEM's being of particular concern. I've never paid much attention to output impedance but in the thread there was a specific mention of the DACport and DACmini's 10ohm output impedance, granted the post was in defense of the CEntrance products as not having any perceivable effect on the owners IEM's but I was a bit concerned nonetheless as my DACmini could potentially be used with a wide variety of phones. I talked to Jonathan about my concerns who said he would ask the design team about it. At the same time I did some research on my own and talked to a few people who's opinions I have a great deal of respect for and I kept coming to the conclusion that, at least in my situation, a lower output impedance would be preferable. After CEntrance discussed and tested the lower output impedance I was told that it works great. I had been under the impression that all new DACmini's would ship with the lower output impedance, hence I assume the change on the specs page but I guess they've since decided to offer it as a mod for some reason. I had also, possibly wrongly, been under the impression that there wasn't a detrimental effect to the sound.

 

I have to say, Jonathan has been great in dealing with all my questions and concerns, very responsive and it's impressive that they've listened to their customers and offer these mods, it makes ordering very flexible for the buyers needs.



 

post #180 of 1115
Quote:
Originally Posted by K3cT View Post

Does the DACMini sound like the DACPort?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Townyj View Post

Look back through the thread, you will see Headphone Addict posted a few links about the differences. He preferred the DACmini by a good amount for SQ.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by K3cT View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Townyj View Post

Look back through the thread, you will see Headphone Addict posted a few links about the differences. He preferred the DACmini by a good amount for SQ.
 


Ah, OK. Larry had mentioned that the DACMini shares a similar sound signature with the DACPort. I rather like the DACPort especially its form factor but it was obviously running out of juice when I tried the LCD2 with it. I also thought that it's not exactly neutral, a bit warm even. I honestly prefer a more neutral sound.

Now we wait for more comparisons between the DACMini and the Burson HA160D.


DACmini has a similar sound signature to the DACport, and you can tell there is a family resemblance.  But I think the DACmini has a little better treble presence which evens out the tonal balance a little more than the DACport - I do think the DACport is slightly warmer tinted than the DACmini.  I find that the DACmini adds better air, ambience and space to the performance than the DACport, and gives the impression of better micro-detail.  It's also noticeably more powerful than the DACport.

 

I haven't heard the HA160D, sorry.

 

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