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CEntrance DACmini DAC/Amplifier Official Thread - Page 52

post #766 of 1214

Hi RedBull,

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by RedBull View Post

I'm just wondering, if the 1 ohm mod is so good, why don't Centrance just make it factory default?
Anyone know what the 'side effect' of this mod? Eg. More hiss with IEM? Or?

 

The 1-Ohm mod works really well with the LCD-2 and no doubt with some other headphones, but the default 10-Ohm output impedance is surely the better way to go with still other headphones.  

 

I suspect that CEntrance decided to make the 10-Ohm impedance the default because they believe it would sound best with more headphones than would the 1-Ohm impedance.  So, even though 1-Ohm sounds GREAT with the LCD-2, in my opinion, it can't be great with every headphone and every person's taste.

 

In my case, I've never heard a DACmini CX with the 10-Ohm output impedance, but decided to order the 1-Ohm mod because I read that several LCD-2 owners prefer it -AND- CEntrance describes the 1-Ohm mod as being more neutral sounding - which is a trait I personally prefer.  Lastly, bluemonkeyflyer writes that the 1-Ohm mod sounds brighter than the 10-Ohm mod - again, a trait I prefer - I don't like "dark" chains.  

 

I've tried my DACmini CX with 1-Ohm mod using the Shure SE530, this evening, and I don't hear any hiss, by the way.

 

I hope that helps,

 

Mike


Edited by zilch0md - 9/20/12 at 12:59pm
post #767 of 1214
Thanks Mike. That surely helps. As I like more 'darker' sound, then I guess I should be liking the 10 ohms more.

Good to hear that DACmini don't hiss with SE530, which I like very much but notoriously hiss sensitive. My SE530 mostly hiss with my laptop headphone out.
post #768 of 1214

So my dacmini cx just arrived - loving the sound but there is one major problem - shielding is extremely poor. If I have a phone within 2 meters of the unit, buzzing goes off. This isnt a headphone problem as I have tried a few cans with the same result. Any thoughts are appreciated!

post #769 of 1214
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenobium View Post

So my dacmini cx just arrived - loving the sound but there is one major problem - shielding is extremely poor. If I have a phone within 2 meters of the unit, buzzing goes off. This isnt a headphone problem as I have tried a few cans with the same result. Any thoughts are appreciated!

 

I can listen within 1 foot without hum or buzz using LCD2, Shure 535, Ety ER4P, and modded T50RP.  Contact Michael Goodman. He will make it right, right now.

post #770 of 1214

It's taken longer than I expected it to take, but I've finally got a full review of the Centrance DACmini PX ADS system up at TouchMyApps. RMAA scores are here.

 

At first, I was just going to borrow for review, but the size, shape, sturdiness, and sound for the headphones I use most often, really played into a hankering. That and my wife has been bugging me to get an all-in-one system as she really wants to hear music again (we've not had a speaker system since late 2000's).

 

I'm impressed as much with the power amp portion as I am with the headphone amp, particularly because I had very low expectations from a bundled system. 

 

The MasterClass speakers, however, deliver the goods: very good bass resolution and space, decent mid range and good extension up high. There is some bunching up going on from time to time, but nothing adverse to listening. Again, very impressed. 

 

Who would have thought that such a black background could be had from an integrated system. Obviously, it's been around for a long time, so I have nothing new to bring to the table except a lot of respect. 

post #771 of 1214
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

It's taken longer than I expected it to take, but I've finally got a full review of the Centrance DACmini PX ADS system up at TouchMyApps. RMAA scores are here.

 

At first, I was just going to borrow for review, but the size, shape, sturdiness, and sound for the headphones I use most often, really played into a hankering. That and my wife has been bugging me to get an all-in-one system as she really wants to hear music again (we've not had a speaker system since late 2000's).

 

I'm impressed as much with the power amp portion as I am with the headphone amp, particularly because I had very low expectations from a bundled system. 

 

The MasterClass speakers, however, deliver the goods: very good bass resolution and space, decent mid range and good extension up high. There is some bunching up going on from time to time, but nothing adverse to listening. Again, very impressed. 

 

Who would have thought that such a black background could be had from an integrated system. Obviously, it's been around for a long time, so I have nothing new to bring to the table except a lot of respect. 


Excellent review Shigzeo! Thanks a lot for all the kind words! I am glad you (and your wife) are enjoying the system.

 

One small mistake I noticed is the mention of the output impedance mod. We offer a 1 ohm mod, not a 0 ohm.

 

Thanks again,

 

Kenny

post #772 of 1214

I have all my impressions spread out through this thread, and I really need to whip up the energy to consolidate it all into one review.  But I have so much data and notes on my computer that I don't know where to start.  

 

In summary, I just can't say enough good things about my DACmini CX - it compares quite well with my bedroom rig's Stello DA100 + maxed Woo WA6 that costs 2.5x as much for the combo.  I haven't turned on the Stello and Woo in ages now, except a few times to do some comparisons, and then it just sits there doing nothing the rest of the time.  I typically would use the Stello/Woo for HD800 and the DACmini for everything else like LCD-2, HE-500, D7000.  I have a Nuforce DAC-100 that's even better with HD800, and about as good with the others as the WA6, but the LCD-2, HE-500 and D7000 still perform best with the DACmini (in this price range).  

post #773 of 1214

RedBull,

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBull View Post

Thanks Mike. That surely helps. As I like more 'darker' sound, then I guess I should be liking the 10 ohms more.
Good to hear that DACmini don't hiss with SE530, which I like very much but notoriously hiss sensitive. My SE530 mostly hiss with my laptop headphone out.

 

Having previously said that there's no hiss to be heard with the DACmini CX (1-Ohm mod) -> SE530, I'm compelled to provide this update to my original assessment.

 

Mike

post #774 of 1214
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

RedBull,

 

 

Having previously said that there's no hiss to be heard with the DACmini CX (1-Ohm mod) -> SE530, I'm compelled to provide this update to my original assessment.

 

Mike

 

I suspected that might happen, and since the stock output impedance doesn't mess with IEM I'm glad I have it, but it sounds like the hiss is pretty minimal with yours and IEM. 

post #775 of 1214

Yes, the hiss is low enough that I had to do A/B comparison with the Stepdance to notice it, but to put things into perspective, on the one hand, the SE530 is known for being sensitive to hiss, and on the other, my ears begin to roll-off at about 12.5kHz.  So... buyer beware.  If I can hear hiss with the 1-Ohm DACmini CX -> SE530, YMMV.

 

I do still very much like the neutral, uncolored sound of the DACmini CX with 1-Ohm impedance mod.  I haven't heard the default 10-Ohm version, but going by CEntrance' description of the 1-Ohm mod, I feel as if their description is not at all misleading - keeping in mind that I listen primarily with the shelved highs of the LCD-2 rev.1, coupled with the shelved highs of my ears.  

 

rolleyes.gif

 

Quoting CEntrance:

 

"Headphone Linearity" Mod (1 Ohm output)

DACmini CX stock unit comes with 10 Ohm headphone output impedance. To our ears, it offers the most musical, transparent sound. Users have described it as "warm" and "analog-like". However we can lower the output impedance to 1 Ohm, if flattest possible frequency response is desired in your application. Customers have described the sound of this mod as "more clinical".

Tip: Use this mod to get the best out of low-impedance headphones.

 

Mike

post #776 of 1214
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

RedBull,

 

Having previously said that there's no hiss to be heard with the DACmini CX (1-Ohm mod) -> SE530, I'm compelled to provide this update to my original assessment.

 

Mike

 

Thanks for the update Mike.  I'll take note of that.

post #777 of 1214
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ksef10 View Post


Excellent review Shigzeo! Thanks a lot for all the kind words! I am glad you (and your wife) are enjoying the system.

 

One small mistake I noticed is the mention of the output impedance mod. We offer a 1 ohm mod, not a 0 ohm.

 

Thanks again,

 

Kenny

I still say the CEntrance ADS is the BEST desktop system bundle for the money, hands DOWN.

I listen to it every day in my home office.  There's ways to squeeze eve more performance out of it as well.

KILLER, just KILLER.  I wast most excited about this product when I worked there, cept maybe their upcoming HiFi-M8!!!!

post #778 of 1214

Ksef10

 

You guys a Sponsor of Head-fi now?!?!

Again, NICE.  I was screaming for that for months!

post #779 of 1214

DACport original and DACport LX compared to DACmini's built-in USB as source for the DACmini amp - I'm cross posting to the DACport thread:  

 

I borrowed a DACport LX from zilch0md to compare to my original DACport as a USB DAC.  He's been using LCD-2 and SE-530 to evaluate the gear, and he's been thrilled with his new DACmini driving the phones vs his old rig of DACport LX feeding an iBasso PB2 amp.  I started with LCD-2 rev1 and switched to the more resolving HD800 after a while.  

 

Here are my findings - The DACmini's built-in USB is a better source than either DACport, and which model of DACport comes closest the DACmini's performance seems to depend on what headphones you are using during the evaluation.

 

With the LCD-2 and Moon Audio Silver Dragon V3 cable the DACport LX feeding the DACmini holds up pretty well.  It's not a huge difference with the LCD-2 and I had to switch to my re-cabled HD800 to confirm what I was hearing.  With the HD800 and Locus-Design Hyperion cable I could hear the difference in DACs better, so let's talk about that first.

 

So far the biggest difference between the "DACport LX feeding the DACmini CX" and using the built-in USB of the DACmini alone is that the soundstage is a little deeper and more holographic by itself, while the DACport LX feeding the mini sounds a little more forward and a little flatter front to back, but sometimes it seemed a little wider.  The LX just didn't quite make the music sound as transparent and etherial with HD800 as the DACmini alone.  But it's pretty damn good.  With the HD800 the sound usually comes from everywhere except from those "little speakers" next to my ears, and when using the DACmini alone I was just a little less aware of the headphones being there in between me and the music.  

 

Secondly, there is the air and ambience which seems a little more present and available with the DACmini alone, while with the DACport LX the background between the notes seems a little blacker, as if something between the notes that should be there is missing or not heard.  But with the less resolving LCD-2 rev1 I couldn't really hear deep enough into the music to easily discern this "blackness" difference.  This "blackness" or missing air is also part of that lessened holographic soundstage I think.  However, the tiny decrease in treble detail (or increased blackness) also tended to take that slight edge off the HD800.  Unfortunately, with the DACport LX in the chain the music seemed to be slightly lacking in presence and body in exchange for less listener fatigue with long listening sessions.

 

Finally, the bass foundation with the DACmini's built-in USB is ever so slightly more solid feeling vs the DACport LX as source.  It's not such a big enough difference to matter much, although it did leave me the sense that the DACmini alone offers a little better body and weight with the HD800.  It's still the soundstage, micro-detail, air and treble that seems to improve more with the DACmini alone, more so than the bass.  And this is not by a huge amount, but I'm sure I could tell which source I was listening to mostly by the difference soundstage depth and size.

 

Hold onto your socks now.  Here is the part I didn't expect - when I am using the HD800 I prefer the original DACport with the volume set at about 95% (to volume match) over the DACport LX as source, despite it having a headphone out instead of a line-out.  Go figure. The original DACport + DACmini combo improves the bass foundation and weight (and maybe some extra), plus offers most but not all of the air and ambience of the DACmini alone, with only that small change in the soundstage that I also heard with the LX.  

 

I don't understand why this is so, but this was almost as good as the DACmini built-in USB in terms of performance, and falls between the DACmini alone and the DACmini with DACport LX.  So, basically the original DACport fed into DACmini makes the HD800 sound about as fun or enjoyable as the DACmini alone, or more fun because the bass is a little stronger, the mids are slightly warmer and fuller, and the treble less fatiguing, without seeming to sacrifice much (if any) detail - all things the HD800 need from a synergistic source and amp.  It still has that slightly flatter "less-deep but still wide" soundstage of the LX, but with improved warmth and improved ability to relax while listening with the HD800.  That's a big plus to me, especially since the HD800 soundstage is so big even with a more restrictive source.  I'd give up that little bit of final resolution for improved musicality and synergy with HD800.

 

And no surprises here - switching back to the LCD-2 r1 with the original DACport > DACmini combo then made the LCD-2 r1 feel a little Too Dark.  This was even after I spent some time acclimating to the change in sound from the HD800.  The LCD-2 rev1's recessed treble makes listening to this combo feel like there was also a bit less detail than with the HD800, maybe due to my 50 year old ears.  The DACport LX > DACMini is definitely better with the LCD-2 r1 than when using the original DACport as source, as it gives the LCD-2 good detail and sparkle that the original DACport > mini lacks with LCD-2.  With LCD-2, the DACport LX is not really a downgrade as a source, as the LCD-2 don't reveal the differences as well as the HD800 do.

 

Basically, adding the DACport LX back into the mix doesn't seem to make things worse if I'm using the LCD-2, and they retain the sparkle and detail that I expect from the DACmini amp, while the HD800 lose a just little body, warmth and depth with the LX.  Both the original DACport and the LX actually help with what I feel are recessed mids in the LCD-2 by bringing them more forward, but the LX preserves the crisp treble that the LCD-2 r1 really need out of a DAC and amp.  I did not have a problem becoming immersed in the music when using the DACport LX > DACmini > LCD-2 (or DACmini alone).  That was more of an issue with the HD800 with the LX, or the LCD-2 with the original DACport as source.

 

IN SUMMARY - with LCD-2 headphones the DACport LX is a much better choice for source than the original DACport, and with HD800 the original DACport is a better choice for source.  If I had to pick just one version of DACport to use with ALL headphones, I'd say the LX is more versatile.  Either way the DACmini seems to contain a little better USB DAC than it's brethren, where we all know only a 5-10% improvement can double the price in a rig.  While I've always maintained that the DACmini isn't perfect for the HD800, I think that the DACmini/HD800 is still very enjoyable although ruthless in revealing flaws in the recording.  However, I'd be happier listening to HD800's with the original DACport feeding the DACmini.  Note - neither my DACport nor DACmini have the 1 ohm mod. 

 

 

MORE NOTES - to me the LCD-2 are still less resolving than the HD800 even with my most synergistic gear, and that is why I thought there was less difference between the DACport LX and DACmini built-in DAC when I used the LCD-2.  The phones were the weakest link in the chain, and so the differences between the more resolving DACs was harder to discern.  Even with my HE-500 I could discern the differences better than with LCD-2, although not as easily as with the HD800.  However, while some details may be masked by the LCD-2 rev1, the frequency response differences can still be heard with the LCD-2, which is why the original DACport was the darkest with them, the LX was better, and the CX was even better.  Since the LCD-2 border at the edge of darkness to my ears, the original DACport is the straw that breaks the camel's back in terms of treble quantity.  

 

In contrast, since the HD800 are slightly tilted towards the treble with many amps, the original DACport doesn't make them feel dark.  But the DACmini CX at the other end of the spectrum can make them sound slightly fatiguing with the wrong music.  So, with the HD800 I could still pick out the details with the original DACport, because the HD800 don't hold anything back.  If I was only using the LCD-2 for this comparison then I would have agreed with Mike's (zilch0md) impressions that the LX performs almost the same as the DACmini, since the LX does seem more detailed and airy than the original DACport when used with darker sounding phones.

 

I believe that ambience, air and space is increased with (a) better micro-detail and (2) better treble extension, and it's more likely associated with the impression of "venue size" than soundstage depth, where the location where the recording takes place is more "live" or "dead", i.e. more "relective" or "absorptive".  Maybe soundstage depth is more closely related to phase coherence?  Regardless, a source, amp or phone with better detail (especially in the treble) is more likely to accurately portray a bigger "venue size" if it's in the recording, because the ambience, air and space resides in the little details hiding between the louder notes.  More detail or treble wont magically make a recording in a small venue sound big, but it wont mask the details that make a recording sound more live.  

 

It's pretty clear that the wrong combination of gear can subtract even more from what you hear than with using just one wrong component alone.  So the original DACport may have slightly less detail than the DACport LX, but it's magnified when combined with the wrong phones.

post #780 of 1214

 Bravo Larry!  L3000.gif

 

I just stumbled into this, knowing that it was in the works, and I'm thrilled to see how much effort you've put into describing all those combinations, logically, and articulately!  

 

You have filled a pretty large void in the information available to those who have tried to find solid information regarding what distinguishes these three CEntrance products.  Thank you!

 

Your conclusions are indeed surprising - especially that the DACport, feeding the DACmini's amp section, could offer better synergy with the HD800 than either the DACport LX or the DACmini's own DAC, through the DACmini's amp section.  But your explanations make a lot of sense as to why this is so.    

 

Another eyebrow-raising moment, for me, was your statement that (in the context of comparing rendered detail), the LCD-2 rev.1 could be the weakest link when used with either the DACport LX > DACmini amp, or the DACmini CX alone.  That's a huge compliment to the resolving power of the LX and DACmini DACs as well as to the DACmini's amp section, despite the LCD-2 falling short of some other, notable headphones, for resolution.

 

My profile reveals that I can actually carry all of my headphones with two hands, but the SE530 is among them, so I've long been aware that the LCD-2 rev.1 doesn't offer the ultimate in resolution.  With my recent acquisitions of the DACport LX and DACmini CX, however, that has become even more obvious, as the gap between SE530 detail and LCD-2 detail has widened using CEntrance gear.  

 

These CEntrance machines are indeed VERY resolving and there's an odd comfort in knowing that my LCD-2 is, at last, properly nourished!

 

Thanks again for your time and effort to perform these comparisons, Larry.

 

Mike

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