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post #106 of 489

Mine's in silver and looks very nice.

post #107 of 489


X2 for the squeezebox touch!!  I love it!! Use it with an online streaming service. Fabolous

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dura View Post

Edit: about the USB spdif thing. You could also use a Squeezebox Touch. Very good digital outs, nice screen, touch or remote controlled.


 

post #108 of 489

After burning in for 5 days I had some serious listening sessions, and here are my impressions so far of the Rega DAC.

Keep in mind it is still too early to make a definite judgment, I need weeks, sometimes longer to get the feeling I know a component well, and even that may change later. It probably isn't burnt-in completely, (tough personally I have always found 3 days sufficient for everything I tried).

Also keep in mind I listen to a speaker based system (see sign).

 

Where I come from:

up until about 2 years ago I had the same system mentioned in my sign but with the Rega Apollo as a source. A system that sounds neutral, detailed yet never sharp and rather spacious, bass is not the deepest (intentionally, my room booms at ~35 hz).

Before that I had a lot of CD players from Sony, Arcam, Rotel, Rega (Planet2000) etc.

In short, I hated them all, and like almost everyone else around me that had switched to CD, almost lost interest in music, it just didn't sound like music.

Not even the Planet2000, which managed to sound 'analogue' only by applying a severe treble roll-of giving a dull grayish sound with a very small sound stage.

All this changed with the coming of the Apollo, finally a CDP I could enjoy and afford!

I loved that thing, voices were projected forward, conveying emotion, percussion had tension, piano gained a lovely tinkle etc. Sound stage was large and natural, sounds in front and behind the speakers, and also beside, above and around the speakers. It was not perfect, tonal balance seemed a little bit off, but I could listen to it all night. Finally, for the first time (besides the Sony DAPs I own(ed)) enjoyable digital sound.

Then, 2 years ago, progress hit hard.

One day I looked around in my man-cave and decided it was a mess; books, CDs and DVDs everywhere. That had to change! So in came a media player, book reader and a Squeezebox Classic. Out went a lot, a real lot of CDs,DVDs, books, the DVD player and the Apollo. It hurt me to see it go.

The room looks very tidy now, but the quest began all over again; on its own the Classic had a dull restrained sound like an AM radio.

So I needed a DAC.

Rega had no DAC, I sent them an email begging to correct this, something like an Apollo without CD tray would do just fine, but in the meantime...

I started with a Meier StageDAC; enormous sound stage, very 3D with pinpoint imaging and deep bass I didn't know my speakers were capable off, bags of detail, everything was magnified, like the Arcam CDP I once had. Tonality was weird, voices sounded unnatural, and not enjoyable at all, far too analytical. So back it went.

Next DAC was the complete opposite, the MHDT Havana, a NOS tube DAC. Extremely natural tonality, but rolled off treble, undynamic, and small sound stage all behind the speakers without any depth. Probably things were made worse because I left it on all the time, that seems to give the tube a dull sound. (Keep in mind this is still on a speaker based system, sound stage is different on headphones).

So I sold it, and in came the Audio- GD Reference 5 DSP.

Impressive machine, with 2x50 watt transformators, there are poweramps that use less. Good DAC, rather enjoyable, good tonality but still slightly mechanical, with a sound stage confined behind the speakers without much depth, albeit far wider then the Havana. I respected it, but didn't love it.

But it would still be here, were it not for the fact that Rega had finally released a DAC! (no doubt because of my emails, you're welcome :-) ).

First reports gave the impression it had exactly that magic quality the Apollo had, the ability to let the music flow effortlessly into the room so that the listener could let go off audiophile neurosis and instead relax and enjoy.

So out went the Audio-GD, a little too early so for a little while I listened to the Squeezebox Touch without DAC ( it had replaced the Classic a year ago. Much better on the digital out, and really listenable through the analogue outs, giving a admittedly unrefined but large and enthusiastic sound that is much more enjoyable the expected, especially on rock).

 

Then, after coming back from a journey to tropic isles (great way to break the long winter) last week, I found, with much trouble, a Rega DAC that had finally become available here, but were sold out almost immediately, except for this one that was reserved for a customer who was disappointed the DAC had no HDMI out. Some people...

Hopes were high, would this finally bring me back to the days of the Apollo?

To spoil the story; yes, it happened!

Mind you, this is not a magical device that makes bad music good or immediately relaxes your mind, but it is a very musical DAC, letting the music flow so easily that everything It shares with the Apollo the way in which it extracts the character (rather then the tonal color) of instruments and voices, sound stage is all in the room without pinpointing, instead the room is filled with music.

In comparison every device mentioned above sounds mechanical or dull, struggling to let some music come through.

It matches even the well respected audio-GD on all the audiophile qualities, and beats it k.o. in sheer musicality, even when the Audio-GD was connected balanced as opposed to the Rega's single ended only.

Where it differs from the Apollo mainly is in tonal balance, the DAC gives the sound more weight and sounds bassier. Tonally the Apollo was a little bit of, with an accent on the treble (extended yet smooth) and slightly less bass which gave it an airier sound, and projected voices more upfront, the DAC sounds more balanced with better tonal colors but both share that elusive quality of letting through the musical meaning, the flow, the emotions meant to be conveyed both vocal and instrumental.

The DAC's treble seems slightly less smooth, but not sharp. And who knows, this could also chance over time.

It is detailed enough, but the accent is on the whole, the flow of the music, although it is very easy to isolate and follow the contributing performers.

Compared to the Apollo the DAC is better in audiophile terms, but both are equally enjoyable musically, I would not automatically advice to add the DAC to the Apollo.

Anyway, I feel I'm in the beginning of a very long love relation with the DAC, and the search for an enjoyable digital source seems over.

This concludes my intentionally highly subjective description of the devices I tried lately, and of the Rega DAC, which turned out to be what I hoped for.

For a very reasonable price too. Not for analytical detail freaks, great for music lovers of all kinds; it can rock, swing, touch you, do electronic music, convey an orchestral sound stage etc.

 

A few remarks: I haven't tried out the filter settings yet, I leave that for a rainy day when I know the DAC on filter setting through and through.

The thing is ugly; the casing is decent enough, but the irregularly placed lights (in an arc) make it stand out like an ADHD kid in a monastery, compared to the Primare amp next to it. 

For sheer (hard)rock a device with dirtier treble like the Touch without DAC gives more drive then the refined DAC that seems to calm rock down.

For electronic music a device like the Meier StageDAC that accentuates the frequency extremes is more suitable IMO then the Rega DAC that accentuates the mid tones.


Edited by dura - 3/16/11 at 6:32am
post #109 of 489

dura,

Very nice review.  A couple months ago I was also considering the Rega DAC, but ended up with the StageDAC because of it's features (various filter and oversampling settings and crossfeed; I use headphones a lot).  After reading what you said about the StageDAC, I was wondering if I made the wrong choice going with the StageDAC.  Do you still have the StageDAC, or remember its sounds?  If so, can you give us a brief comparison between the StageDAC and the Rega DAC?

 

Looks like you also have a Primare amp and Dynaudio speakers.  I also have a Primare integrated amp, but the lower end model I21, and my speakers are the Dynaudio DM2/6. Sounds like the Rega DAC might pairs with my system. 

post #110 of 489


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lmf22 View Post

dura,

Very nice review.  A couple months ago I was also considering the Rega DAC, but ended up with the StageDAC because of it's features (various filter and oversampling settings and crossfeed; I use headphones a lot).  After reading what you said about the StageDAC, I was wondering if I made the wrong choice going with the StageDAC.  Do you still have the StageDAC, or remember its sounds?  If so, can you give us a brief comparison between the StageDAC and the Rega DAC?

 

Looks like you also have a Primare amp and Dynaudio speakers.  I also have a Primare integrated amp, but the lower end model I21, and my speakers are the Dynaudio DM2/6. Sounds like the Rega DAC might pairs with my system. 


Hi Imf22. I got rid of the StageDAC over a year ago, so no direct comparison.

The differences are in the post already, albeit all over the place: StageDAC, pinpoint image in a very wide and deep sound stage, deep deep bass, pronounced treble, great dynamics and detail giving the feeling things are magnified, tonality not natural (especially voices sounded 'off' I distinctly remember), analytical sound that gets in the way of the music IMO.

Rega: does everything right, sound stage and tonality, details and dynamics, but no obvious strong points.

Yet it has that strange quality that I have to call musicality; music flows effortlessly in the room and fills it. It has been called organical, undigital...I don't know...

But I respect the StageDAC, very good value for money though the myriad of settings are too subtle to be worthwhile (on a speaker based system at least); I can see people not allergic to digititis (whatever that exactly is I don't know, but I got it) or loving details or listening to electronic music mainly  might live very happy with this dac, while other who hold natural musicality above analytical values might prefer the Rega.

Your (very nice, dyns need powerful yet refined amps) system will work well with both dacs I suspect.

Your choice, depends on what you look for. (I'll spare you the go listen try before you buy, blablabla).

 

post #111 of 489
Quote:
Originally Posted by dura View Post

Hi Imf22. I got rid of the StageDAC over a year ago, so no direct comparison.

The differences are in the post already, albeit all over the place: StageDAC, pinpoint image in a very wide and deep sound stage, deep deep bass, pronounced treble, great dynamics and detail giving the feeling things are magnified, tonality not natural (especially voices sounded 'off' I distinctly remember), analytical sound that gets in the way of the music IMO.

Rega: does everything right, sound stage and tonality, details and dynamics, but no obvious strong points.

Yet it has that strange quality that I have to call musicality; music flows effortlessly in the room and fills it. It has been called organical, undigital...I don't know...

But I respect the StageDAC, very good value for money though the myriad of settings are too subtle to be worthwhile (on a speaker based system at least); I can see people not allergic to digititis (whatever that exactly is I don't know, but I got it) or loving details or listening to electronic music mainly  might live very happy with this dac, while other who hold natural musicality above analytical values might prefer the Rega.

Your (very nice, dyns need powerful yet refined amps) system will work well with both dacs I suspect.

Your choice, depends on what you look for. (I'll spare you the go listen try before you buy, blablabla).

 

dura,

Thanks for providing a more detailed comparison of the StageDAC and Rega DAC.  Although not a direct comparison, it is still valuable.  You are right that the filters are very subtle.  I just leave it at the setting that most people think is the best (filter at top position, 8X oversampling).  I do not listen to electronic music; I listen mainly to jazz, classical, country, and pop.  For me, "musicality" is more important than "details," especially with compressed modern country and pop music. 

 

I will be going to my audio dealer tomorrow to get some speaker cables.  I believe he has the Rega DAC.  I think I will get it home and give it a try. 

post #112 of 489
Thread Starter 

Told ya so ... wink.gif

 

Glad you are happy with it - I certainly still love mine

post #113 of 489

Fully agree with khollister with respect to the Rega's prowess (though have only owned it for ~2 weeks but definitely liking what I hear).

post #114 of 489

Where are you guys buying yours from? 

post #115 of 489
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by K3cT View Post

Where are you guys buying yours from? 



Got mine from Audio Advisor. Music Direct also sells them, but I'm not sure if either ships internationally.

post #116 of 489

I got one from a local dealer this afternoon.  This is an amazing DAC!  It has only 9 hours on it so far, but already sounds very good.  Vocals are very natural.  I won't get into the detail because my impressions reflect what most people have already said. 

 

By the way, which filter setting are you guys using?  I'm currently using Filter 2 (minimum phase soft-knee).

 

The power connector is the IEC C5 type, which is not the ones that most aftermarket power cards use.  Should I get an adapter ($20) and use my Iron Lung Jellyfish power cord.  Or is the included cable good enough?  (I use the Jellyfish power cord on my StageDAC.)  I wonder why Rega decided to use the IEC C5 connector.

post #117 of 489

I read somewhere there simply was no space inside to add the usual connector.

Hmm, I'm not sure powercables make a big difference with the DAC, since Rega explicitly states that they spent a lot of effort trying to make the powersupply as clean as possible.

 

But on my Apollo, adding a vd Hul mainsserver (filtering powercable, probably braided thin wires) made a huge difference sounding much cleaner....

post #118 of 489
Thread Starter 

I use filter #5 - minimum phase apodizing. I think there is a pretty clear difference in how the apodizing filters sound.

 

Driving this from a very low jitter source such as an Evo, Audiophilleo, Off-Ramp, Wavelink, etc. makes a big difference. I'm not so sure the marketing from Rega about the inputs being reclocked and immune to jitter is accurate. 

 

I'm using a Pangea AC14SE power cord with an IEC-to-C5 adapter

post #119 of 489
Quote:
Originally Posted by khollister View Post

I use filter #5 - minimum phase apodizing. I think there is a pretty clear difference in how the apodizing filters sound.

 

Driving this from a very low jitter source such as an Evo, Audiophilleo, Off-Ramp, Wavelink, etc. makes a big difference. I'm not so sure the marketing from Rega about the inputs being reclocked and immune to jitter is accurate. 

 

I'm using a Pangea AC14SE power cord with an IEC-to-C5 adapter

 

Have you tried the audiophilleo with it?  If yes, I'd be interested in knowing how it compares to the Evo or anything else you've tried.
 

 

post #120 of 489
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcwang View Post



 

Have you tried the audiophilleo with it?  If yes, I'd be interested in knowing how it compares to the Evo or anything else you've tried.
 

 

I haven't bought an Audiophilleo - thought about it though. The only other converter I tried was a base hiface (the dongle version) - the Evo is a lot better. There was a chap over on Computer Audiophile that did extensive comparisons between the Evo and Audiophilleo. As I recall, the Evo was slightly better until he patched in an external power supply to the Audiophilleo and then it pulled ahead.

 

The ultimate appears to be either a fully optioned Empirical Audio Off Ramp (big bucks) or a Sonicweld Diverter (also big bucks). 
 

 

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