Yeah... I was very confused about this too, since the E7 seems like such an obvious bottleneck. I thought the DACport would make an obvious/noticeable difference. I even burned in the DACport for several days, hoping the situation would improve (same with the MS, and MS+). I'm always mindful of expectation bias. I usually do blindfolded ABX testing with tracks I'm familiar with and then with materials I'm not familiar with. Always lossless of course. But honestly upgradig the DAC had very minimal impact on the sound quality. I'm using the Lyr, HE-500, HD650, Q701, D2000, and Telefunken 60s tubes for the rest of my chain. I was able to correctly identify DACs using tracks I was familiar with, I always knew which one was the E7 compared to the others like DACport, HDP, MS+, but on songs I did not know, it was difficult to say which was offering more sound quality, during the blindfold AB testing.
Just my experience with changing out a super low end DAC for several different mid-fi DACs. For me the money is better spent on tubes or saving up money for the Liquid Fire. I'm hoping I'll read something here that convinces me that the Bifrost will make a huge/immediate impact to my chain and that it will be so obvious I won't have to ABX test or anything like that. Kind of like when I upgrade tubes, amps or Headphones.
So the difference between your E7 and DACport was huge? like noticeable within 10 seconds for even songs you're not familiar with? Can I ask what the rest of your chain was?
The biggest difference is with the DACPort LX which is a step up over the non LX, but still the regular DACPort is better than the E7 for sure. I don't AB using tracks I don't know, only tracks I know intimately. That's how you discern between gear in an accurate and comprehensive fashion. I use the UERM and my Leckerton UHA6S comparing the E7 and DACPort LX via USB. Quite easy to discern the difference for me in that chain. Listening to music you don't know only proves you don't know the music not that there is no difference between DACs. I'm not sure what sort of expectation you would have by doing such a comparison.
Your bottleneck is the Lyr, it's powerful and can be nice sounding if you like it's signature but it has weak resolving power for an amp. Schiit even admitted that detail was not a priority in designing their amps, voicing was. BiFrost is different altogether though tone and voicing was definitely a priority, you can hear it, it is still quite resolving for the price as a DAC should be. I'm guessing you didn't try the 701 from the DACPort directly w/o the Lyr and the E7 also. That should be obvious in listening. The E7 is barely an amp at all, in fact it should have that attribute stripped from it's title IMO.
Edited by Anaxilus - 11/11/11 at 11:00am