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CEntrance DACmini DAC/Amplifier Official Thread - Page 63

post #931 of 1211

Hey guys, do you know how the Dacport LX fairs up against the Dacmini CX, I am interested in purchasing the Dacmini Cx,  I will be using their awesome USB technology, along with the Hifiman He-500 and He-400. I currently own the Dacport LX, and it a wonderful pure DAC. I was wondering if the Dacmini CX would be a great upgrade.

 

 

Thankyou

post #932 of 1211

Hi Poetic,

 

If you're comparing the DACport LX to the DAC section of the DACmini CX, they are very similar with any given amplifier, but especially so when the USB port that's supplying power to the LX is "noise-free" and can supply the 500mA of current at 5 votls that's supposed to be available according to the USB 2.0 spec.

 

The DACmini's DAC section is far more consistent from one PC to the next, because it has very stable and clean power thanks to how it remanufacturs the power coming in from any DC supply of 9V to 19V with at least 2.5 Amps of current. 

 

In terms of sound signature, assuming the LX is not compromised by power quality, I personally can't hear much difference when I'm routing the output from the LX into the DACmini's amp section vs. using the DACmini by itself - except that my LX doesn't quite have as much air and micro detail as my DACmini's DAC - and that very subtle difference is only detectable with tracks that have a lot of blackness around a brush on cymbal, for example.  My noise floor is pitch black with both the LX and the DACmini (as long as I'm not using the LX on one of my laptops that has noisy power when its plugged into its AC charger).  But again, as long as power quality is ideal for the LX, it sounds pretty much the same as the DACmini's DAC - which is terrific! 

 

I'm just kidding, of course, but don't forget the DACmini CX has a great amp, too!

 

Are you going to jump on one of the B-stock DACmini CX units (for $550)?

 

Mike

post #933 of 1211

Hey I've got a (maybe) stupid question. My Dacmini is arriving tomorrow. Other than downloading the Centrance drivers, is there anything I should be doing to be sure the DAC is fully bypassing all the crummy windows stuff on my laptops? 

 

The other question, is there any kind of hardware related specs, etc. that would make one or the other laptop a more preferable source?  I know USB is just sending the digital signal out but I want to make sure my laptops aren't mucking my signal up at all on the way to the Dacmini. If one is a more preferable transport I'd like to know how to figure that out. BTW - one laptop is running XP, the other Win 7.

 

I have used my Leckerton UHA 6S MKII as USB DAC before, but only on occasion and I never really bothered to research if I had things really optimized. I want to make sure things are running at 100% for the Dacmini.

 

Thanks

post #934 of 1211
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

Hi Poetic,

 

If you're comparing the DACport LX to the DAC section of the DACmini CX, they are very similar with any given amplifier, but especially so when the USB port that's supplying power to the LX is "noise-free" and can supply the 500mA of current at 5 votls that's supposed to be available according to the USB 2.0 spec.

 

The DACmini's DAC section is far more consistent from one PC to the next, because it has very stable and clean power thanks to how it remanufacturs the power coming in from any DC supply of 9V to 19V with at least 2.5 Amps of current. 

 

In terms of sound signature, assuming the LX is not compromised by power quality, I personally can't hear much difference when I'm routing the output from the LX into the DACmini's amp section vs. using the DACmini by itself - except that my LX doesn't quite have as much air and micro detail as my DACmini's DAC - and that very subtle difference is only detectable with tracks that have a lot of blackness around a brush on cymbal, for example.  My noise floor is pitch black with both the LX and the DACmini (as long as I'm not using the LX on one of my laptops that has noisy power when its plugged into its AC charger).  But again, as long as power quality is ideal for the LX, it sounds pretty much the same as the DACmini's DAC - which is terrific! 

 

I'm just kidding, of course, but don't forget the DACmini CX has a great amp, too!

 

Are you going to jump on one of the B-stock DACmini CX units (for $550)?

 

 

Can the CX play 24BIt 192? my connection will be through USB, but I do plan to use other connections in the future

post #935 of 1211

USB only does 24/96 but SPDIF supports up to 24/192.

  

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poetic View Post

Can the CX play 24BIt 192? my connection will be through USB, but I do plan to use other connections in the future

post #936 of 1211

I must be losing my mind... after selling off a bunch off stuff I just took the plunge on a PX to see how it fares with my HE-6 from the speaker taps. I'll be writing up a review to compare it vs my Nuforce stack (Icon2 + HDP) as an all-in-one desktop solution for the HE-6. 

 

edit: will also compare vs the new Nuforce STA-100. 


Edited by Armaegis - 4/17/13 at 9:02pm
post #937 of 1211

I am excited to hear your results super interesting stuff!

post #938 of 1211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armaegis View Post

I must be losing my mind... after selling off a bunch off stuff I just took the plunge on a PX to see how it fares with my HE-6 from the speaker taps. I'll be writing up a review to compare it vs my Nuforce stack (Icon2 + HDP) as an all-in-one desktop solution for the HE-6. 

 

edit: will also compare vs the new Nuforce STA-100. 

 

I'll be comparing my Emotiva BDP-1 75-watt amp driving HE-6 and speakers to the Nuforce STA-100, so it should be interesting. 

post #939 of 1211

I have had my DACmini CX for about a week and a half now, and wanted to share some initial impressions. My CX has the “1 ohm” mod and the “black case” mod. My headphones are the LCD-2 latest revision (2.2?) and Heir Audio 4.A and 8.A CIEM’s.  

 

I’m using Foobar as my player, and have it setup to use either ASIO or WASAPI out via USB to the DAC and seems to be working quite well.

 

First off, the sound quality is just a tremendous jump up from anything else I have had to date. Until the DACmini, I have used all manner of iPods (including DIY iMods) and a Leckerton UHA-S6 MkII as my portable amp and computer DAC/amp. So it’s not like I have a huge arsenal of stuff to compare to, but the DACmini decisively takes a huge jump ahead. The aforementioned sources are not bad by any means, but CEntrance has ruined them for all me. And I’m okay with that.

 

The areas of improvement that jump out at me the most are: The pure blackness of the background, the clarity of and “3D” placement of each individual instrument, and the ease of picking up minor details in the sound.  And most importantly how the whole presentation melds together as a cohesive whole that sounds realistic and natural with just the right amount of warmth.

 

So I have had a taste of what a decent DAC can do for my listening enjoyment and wow, what a great improvement.

 

The DACmini/ LCD-2 combo does sound pretty fantastic. I am coming from pretty much only IEM’s and this is my first shot at a full size can setup. I won’t go into all the descriptions that have already been put out here about this combo (by those much more experienced than me) but I will say I am quite pleased. The combo only has about 50 hours or so of burn-in so perhaps there is a touch more refinement still to be had. I also have a replacement cable on order from Norse Audio so looking forward to that. But as it stands, the overall performance of the setup is really hard to fault. Also, there seems to be enough power on tap for any reasonable listening level. I can’t foresee any need to go past 2 O’clock on the dial without leaving straight away to the ear doctor afterwards. Usually much lower than that gets the job done, around 9 to 11 O’clock.

 

If I had to pick a shortcoming of the DACmini/LCD-2,  I guess at times I find myself wanting a bit more in the bass department....Now this is coming from my Heir 8.A’s which is a mallet whack of bass thark injected into your soul via the ear-holes. So take this into account. I may be coming from a skewed perspective.

 

On some tracks it seems the combo could have a bit more heft, a bit more grunt, a bit more something….then again on other tracks it is just spot-on. There is no question about the quality of the bass, the punch, details, and layering is fantastic. Just sometimes I am wishing for a bit more oomph. I do realize, however that more bass is a slippery slope. More bass is like adding more salt while cooking. You got to have enough, but if you add too much, you have ruined everything. For a large majority of tracks though, the bass quantity seems fine so this tells me that the setup is running right on the edge of the correct amount of “salt”…um, I mean bass.

 

Now switching over to the CIEM’s….The CIEM’s have never sounded better than through this DAC...'Nuff said.

 

One problem I have with the setup however is useable volume using the DACmini as DAC and amp. The 4.A’s get just a crack of the volume knob and that’s all they can really take. So for all purposes the 4.A’s have no volume control, just on and off. I can knock the volume slider in Foobar down a bit and that takes care of that but I’m not sure how I feel about digitally chopping my source down. The 8.A’s have a little more wiggle room but still not a lot. But I kind of expected this so it’s not a huge disappointment. Remember I mentioned the occasional want of a touch more bass with the LCD-2’s? Well that’s not an issue here. In addition to smooth, clear and just great sounding output there is gobs of bass on tap, probably on the cusp of a bit too much with the 8.A’s and a nicely balanced amount with the 4.A’s

 

So I have found that I can use the DAC section of the DACmini and run the line out to the analog line in of the UHA-6S and run the CIEM’s off that for the best possible setup. The headphone amp section on the UHA is hard to beat with the CIEM’s (and has rollable opamps for fine tuning) and pairing the DACmini DAC with that amp section is just pure awesomeness. I am unbelievably happy with this combo. Volume control still takes place pretty low on the UHA dial but it’s certainly an improvement. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten the variable output mod for this setup but I guess I can always pay to have it done later if need be.

 

Edit: I have spent a little more time with the CIEM's and have to change my opinion on something: The 8.A's do just fine out of the DACmini. The 4.A's I still prefer sending through the UHA amp section to get a little more wiggle room. The portable amp just matches them better. 8.A can plug right into the DACmini and sound fantastic. 

 

The drawback for this setup with the CIEM’s? Well…. it’s not portable. It just so happens that I am in the M8 pre-order group so that’s just the trick to scratch that itch. From what I am getting out of the DACmini…if the M8 is even 75% as good in the sound department I will be very pleased. I have a feeling however it will be much closer than that. Then throw in the variable output to address the volume issues with the CIEM…and the tone shaping …all looking very promising.

 

Enough rambling from me… Good job, CEntrance. The DACmini is just great. Thanks. 


Edited by thegrobe - 4/29/13 at 12:09pm
post #940 of 1211

It was really fun reading your ramblings!   I'm glad you like the DACmini.  It's a keeper!

 

biggrin.gif

 

Mike

post #941 of 1211
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

It was really fun reading your ramblings!   I'm glad you like the DACmini.  It's a keeper!

 

biggrin.gif

 

Mike

Thanks...rambling must be my strong point. Ha ha.

 

After a bit more time, I changed my mind on something and made an edit to the above post:

 

Edit: I have spent a little more time with the CIEM's and have to change my opinion on something: The 8.A's do just fine out of the DACmini. The 4.A's I still prefer sending through the UHA amp section to get a little more wiggle room. The portable amp just matches them better. 8.A can plug right into the DACmini and sound fantastic. 

post #942 of 1211

spdif is the way to go with high res files

post #943 of 1211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armaegis View Post

I must be losing my mind... after selling off a bunch off stuff I just took the plunge on a PX to see how it fares with my HE-6 from the speaker taps. I'll be writing up a review to compare it vs my Nuforce stack (Icon2 + HDP) as an all-in-one desktop solution for the HE-6. 

 

edit: will also compare vs the new Nuforce STA-100. 

 

So I've been listening and comparing over a week now. The PX is a fine fine unit, and does a great job as an all-in-one feeding the HE-6. If I had to pick a preference from these early impressions though, I think I'm still leaning towards my Nuforce stack (Icon2 + HDP + LPS). Granted, the PX trumps them all for size and feature set in a single unit, though I suppose if I were going for the smallest size possible I'd just wrangle the Icon2 by itself. 

 

I'll have more impressions in the near future, but some brief notes:

Icon2 only = amazing value, most compact (size of a book)

Icon2 + HDP + LPS = better dac and overall cleaner sound than above, but big added cost and complexity, most impact

DAC + HAP + STA-100 = most aggressive, most expensive, biggest featureset

Centrance PX = as a single unit it's better than Icon2 by itself, neutral sound, most compact after Icon2


Edited by Armaegis - 5/10/13 at 2:37pm
post #944 of 1211

I'm psyched to see this thread still going strong!

My DACmini (I kept a PX, in case I needed to drive small speakers for review) is still a vital part of my personal audio reference system at home.

 

I'm using it as the DAC ahead of my E.A.R HP4 tube headphone amp, and Ray Samuels The DarkStar balanced amp (getting better and better

as it settles and burns in).  I enjoy the sound of the CEntrance DACmini, when paired with those two headphone amps, more-so than I do my

dCs Delius or Sim Audio/Moon D100 (whose USB DAC is nothing great anyway)!  

 

I also realized just how much I love the damn thing, and why I'm so proud to have been on the CEntrance team, even if only for a little while!

Their products stand-up to stuff that costs a helluva lot more!  Why?  Simple - Michael Goodman has been providing technical solutions for 

many high end audio companies (even extremely pricey stuff like Playback Designs) for years!

 

Today I introduced the Bel Canto mLink into my desktop rig - because I wanted to try it.  The DACmini supports up to 192k at its SPDIF

input, but 96k at the USB end (perfectly fine for me) and I wanted to see how the mLink performed between the DACmini and my MacBook/Amarra

rig- giving me Async USB-to-SPDIF conversion, with support up to 192k...  This way I don't have to switch inputs to get 192k for some of my high rez stuff.

 

Well, compared to going straight into the DACmini PX via USB?

The DACmini's presentation is so much more engaging, dynamic, and open without anything in the signal path before it!!

So much for that review.

 

The Bel Canto works: It's a USB-SPDIF converter, so I'm not hating on the unit.

But it's another testament to the DACmini's quality.

 

I also go back to the DACmini constantly when trying out other headphone amps too.

I feel like an old school operator from the fifties sometimes, plugging and unplugging the 1/4" jacks!!

 

It's quality is still what I would consider to be "reference" level (to me that always means a component that gets the hell out of the way of the music, 

that seems to impart very little of itself onto the sound in terms of coloration/distortion, etc.).  

 

Another TIP OF THE HAT to Michael and his team at CEntrance for the DACmini.

I remember when it first came out and stacked on the old school MACmini's!  Brilliant...

 

post #945 of 1211
+1 to all of that Mike.

Until further notice, my favorite desktop combo is still the DACmini CX (with 1-Ohm output impedance mod) to my LCD-2 Rev1 via Toxic Cables' Silver Poison - using the USB input from WAV and Foobar 2000 with WASAPI. I prefer this to every possible combination I've tried with the following gear:

DACport LX

15V-powered Meier Stepdance (using either the DACport LX or the DACmini CX DAC section and Emotiva interconnects)

16V-powered iBasso PB2 with balanced output (using either the DACport LX or the DACmini CX DAC section and Emotiva interconnects)

Burson Soloist (using either the DACport LX or the DACmini CX DAC section and Emotiva interconnects)

AKG K550

Beyerdynamic DT1350

Beyerdynamic T1

Mix and match 'til I'm blue in the face, the DACmini CX (1-Ohm) with Silver Poison cables to LCD-2 rev. 1 just continues to come out on top. Everything I've purchased since discovering this combination a year ago has been a distraction rather than an improvement.

And, as with you, the DACmini CX has become my reference component.

:-)

Mike
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