Originally Posted by judmarc
Don't know how many of you are in a similar situation to mine, which is that I've been an audiophile for more than 30 years, have had much of my current equipment for around 20 years, and just fairly recently have begun to explore computers as audio sources. I have a 20 year old DAC that was a pretty fair piece of equipment for its day, but it is limited to 16/44.1 or 16/48 resolution. So when the designer of my old DAC (Mike Moffat) came out with a new one that could handle resolutions up to 24/192 at a very nice price point, I was interested, and soon ordered one. There's a 15-day money back guarantee, so the focus of my early listening has been to compare my older DAC to the Bifrost on 16/44.1 CD rips, which makes up virtually all of what I listen to these days. If anyone here has an older DAC and is considering the Bifrost, perhaps you'll be interested in my early listening impressions so far.
Details of my setup are in my sig. All listening was done with the Audirvana Plus audiophile player for Mac.
Still burning in and had only the briefest of listening opportunities Thursday night, then a bit longer session last night.
The USB input sounds better (clearer, hear more of the recording) than the optical input. Not light years difference, but noticeable. Both sound better than coax input through the V-Link.
Comparison with the Theta so far is interesting. Bifrost is so clear and unadorned that on some very plainly produced music it is almost in-your-face raw. For instance, on Silver Dagger from Gillian Welch's latest, The Harrow and The Harvest, there are two points - one where a harmonica enters and another where Welch gives a kind of "Hoo!" call - where the suddenness of the attack through the Bifrost is absolutely startling. Welch's voice is so plainly and clearly rendered it seems as if she's in the room singing, no mic, no amp.
The Theta, on the other hand, makes things (including Gillian's voice) sound prettier. But though the Theta is no slouch as far as clarity, there isn't quite the same absolute immediacy as with the Bifrost.
The sound of the Bifrost does seem to be getting more full and musical as it burns in, so I'll be very interested to see how it compares to the Theta once it has 100 hours or so of playing time.
Now after about 80 hours (should have been 96, but forgot to reconnect wall power for MacBook so battery ran down) the clarity and immediacy are still there. What's improved:
- Sound is far more full. When plugged in for the very first time there was a bit of a thin quality. That's completely gone.
- Sound is more integrated into a whole. In early listening there were individual instruments in a high, wide soundstage, but that soundstage wasn't a completely seamless illusion of musicians in a space, and it wasn't always evident how instruments were playing off each other. Now not just individual instrument locations and parts, but also the interplay between band members (e.g., of Alison Krauss's terrific band on Paper Airplane) is clear in the context of a full, solid soundstage.
- Sound is more musical. The beauty of Alison Krauss's voice is all there, while losing none of its clarity. My wife preferred the Theta at 48 hours because of its musicality. Now she prefers the Bifrost, and I agree. For $450, that's an accomplishment. Yes, the Theta is 20 years older. But it was a $2000 piece when purchased, then had an $800 upgrade. Even apart from the digital components, for which 20 years is an eon, there was a lot of analog goodness bought by that $2800, and the Theta heard by itself still sounds lovely. In spite of the years between them, for a unit 1/6 the price by the same designer to be so clearly superior does surprise me.
Frankly, I'm finding little or nothing to criticize in the Bifrost's sound, which is somewhat remarkable to me considering its price, the fact that it is still not completely burned in, and reasonably revealing associated equipment. Now I'm very much looking forward to beginning to explore some 24/96 material I've bought on DVD-A, as well as some high res downloads.