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post #4891 of 18011

Bright, to the extend of being slightly painful/unpleasant.

post #4892 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaine1711 View Post

Bright, to the extend of being slightly painful/unpleasant.

 

Ah right ill give that a miss then. Sometimes when people say "sheen" they mean it is smoothed in the treble.

post #4893 of 18011

Can anyone recommend me a Dac/amp combo?

 

I have a cambridge audio dacmagic at the moment and I want something that has a built in headphone amp which can power both IEM's and anything up to a HE500 decently. As cheap as possible under £400 / $600. I want a sound which is not bright or harsh and has good bass and mids. Need to be a decent DAC as well to output to my speaker amp which is a NAD 326Bee.

 

I will probably get a HE-400 and then maybe upgrade to a HE-500 in the future. I also want something for my IEM's which are currently IE8 and SE215. I am in the UK.

post #4894 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaine1711 View Post

No clue in that corner of the world, I don't think the Mdac sell as well in the US compared to the UK. However I'd look into other options too. Being in North America gives you a wide range of choice (for a good price too). The best dac in the price range comment is more for the UK market, where most things got like 30-50% mark up in price - hello "special offer" 2500 pounds PWD2!

 

Mdac and concero, quite close to each other, although I'd give the edge to the Mdac - mostly in the fuctionality and future proof department. Sound wise I think the Concero is hold back by the V-bus power, and the minimalistic design. It did sound quite balance and even - among the more pleasant sounding Sabre dac.

 

The funny thing about the Concero is that, it works better as a transport than a Dac. And I still have the Apple remote lying in the corner bigsmile_face.gif

 

PW2 for 2500 sounds amazing. I was just looking to get jumpstarted into some starting points for a decent DAC. So much has changed in the last 3 years. I remember wanting to get a DL III, but now they stopped making it and better things have come out.

 

I think I remember reading Teac 501 dac - it was supposed to sound really good with high res files but mediocre with typical 16 bit 44.1 files. Also the USB implementation wasn't good.

 

As far as M-DAC goes, for NA market, it's not the best value at $900 new and maybe cheaper with deals/used?

post #4895 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Can anyone recommend me a Dac/amp combo?

 

I have a cambridge audio dacmagic at the moment and I want something that has a built in headphone amp which can power both IEM's and anything up to a HE500 decently. As cheap as possible under £400 / $600. I want a sound which is not bright or harsh and has good bass and mids. Need to be a decent DAC as well to output to my speaker amp which is a NAD 326Bee.

 

I will probably get a HE-400 and then maybe upgrade to a HE-500 in the future. I also want something for my IEM's which are currently IE8 and SE215. I am in the UK.

Why not drive the 400 and 500 from the 326BEE speaker out :p. Quite punchy from my memory. You could ring up MCRU/Item audio to ask for a demo unit of the Mdac to try too. Other candidate is the iCan/iDac stack - Analog Seduction can give you a 14d trial, I get my old He-500 from them too.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoom25 View Post

 

PW2 for 2500 sounds amazing. I was just looking to get jumpstarted into some starting points for a decent DAC. So much has changed in the last 3 years. I remember wanting to get a DL III, but now they stopped making it and better things have come out.

 

I think I remember reading Teac 501 dac - it was supposed to sound really good with high res files but mediocre with typical 16 bit 44.1 files. Also the USB implementation wasn't good.

 

As far as M-DAC goes, for NA market, it's not the best value at $900 new and maybe cheaper with deals/used?

2500 pounds is near 4k USD fyi - while you can get lots of pwd2 on Agon for 2.5k tongue_smile.gif

 

900 is a weird place for dacs. They aren't that much of an upgrade compared to the 400-800 market (and even less if you buy used); and not quite there with the good dacs either. I'd suggest upping the budget and/or buying used :p (and don't get the Mdac new for 900 bucks). Since you're in Canada, maybe give Exasound a call to see if they can lend you one of their Dac for Demo, (Nad m51 too - iirc Nad is Canadian)


Edited by khaine1711 - 5/13/13 at 1:42pm
post #4896 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Can anyone recommend me a Dac/amp combo?

 

I have a cambridge audio dacmagic at the moment and I want something that has a built in headphone amp which can power both IEM's and anything up to a HE500 decently. As cheap as possible under £400 / $600. I want a sound which is not bright or harsh and has good bass and mids. Need to be a decent DAC as well to output to my speaker amp which is a NAD 326Bee.

 

I will probably get a HE-400 and then maybe upgrade to a HE-500 in the future. I also want something for my IEM's which are currently IE8 and SE215. I am in the UK.

Audio gd Compass 384 or Compass 2, Yulong D100 MKII

Or keep the dacmagic and get an amp (e.g. Lake people G109-S)

post #4897 of 18011
Do you have the compass 384? If so how does it differ to the compass 2 if it differs at all?
Quote:
Originally Posted by i019791 View Post

Audio gd Compass 384 or Compass 2, Yulong D100 MKII
Or keep the dacmagic and get an amp (e.g. Lake people G109-S)
post #4898 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by KamijoIsMyHero View Post

Do you have the compass 384? If so how does it differ to the compass 2 if it differs at all?

The Compass 384 was announced only some days ago, so it is likely that nobody has it yet.

post #4899 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaine1711 View Post

No clue in that corner of the world, I don't think the Mdac sell as well in the US compared to the UK. However I'd look into other options too. Being in North America gives you a wide range of choice (for a good price too). The best dac in the price range comment is more for the UK market, where most things got like 30-50% mark up in price - hello "special offer" 2500 pounds PWD2!

Mdac and concero, quite close to each other, although I'd give the edge to the Mdac - mostly in the fuctionality and future proof department. Sound wise I think the Concero is hold back by the V-bus power, and the minimalistic design. It did sound quite balance and even - among the more pleasant sounding Sabre dac.

The funny thing about the Concero is that, it works better as a transport than a Dac. And I still have the Apple remote lying in the corner bigsmile_face.gif

If the M-Dac and Concero are quite close to each other, I don't see how the Octave and the M-Dac could go toe to toe in the sonic department. My Quad was much better than the Concero in all aspects, IMO (even when fed by the Fostex HP-A3 optical out).
The Concero is an excellent transport, that for sure! A bit too bright for the 5LEs but should be about perfect for the 500s!
post #4900 of 18011

Different strokes for different folks. I really dislike the Concero on first day of listening (usb issue and other stuff). On the second day though, I learn that the Concero output lower voltage than industry standard. That prompts me to get a db meter and volume match. After matching they're really close (and I mean the Octave and Concero). The Concero gives the impression of better detailed, while the Octave is sweeter in timbre. Maybe the correct wording would be the Octave is more involving.  The Concero is still a decent dac, though I would get the Mdac used before the Concero =p.

 

 

 

 

I sort of nearly made the same mistake with the Chord vs the Octave too. The QuteHD kinda cheats (well not really since Chord's preamp requires high input) by having higher voltage than normal (3V me thinks). After volume matched again, they're really close (QuteHD vs AP1 + Octave).

 

Technicality wise, all of them are similar. The main difference lies in the presentation, and somewhat the tone/coloration. It did take me a while to get over what I called "the Metrum honeymoon". Still I would take the Octave over the Mdac/Concero/QuteHD, that should speak for something right? bigsmile_face.gif

post #4901 of 18011

You guys are bad bad people, upgraditis is setting back in, just kidding.  I was really after the Octave, especially at its promo price at 575 euros.  But the cost of shipping, customs taxes, and the need for a good usb/spdif to make it sound it's best was really pushing past the budget.  Whereas the M-dac was available locally for $750. 

 

Yes, the M-dac can be a little bright and can be a little cold at times (depending on the filter setting).  I had read about this before I purchased it.  But it has the ability where a person can tune the sound a little with the use of the filters.  It gives good details and the soundstage is also quite big (compared to my previous dac - HRT MS2).

 

But, when paired with a very warm tube amp (LF339 in my case), this is where the party starts.  The brightness gets tamed, the harshness is gone and is replaced with a more musical sound.  The sound is analogue, clear and very natural.  Hence, the rega wouldn't have paired well as the Rega is already analogue, slightly warm and musical. The soundstage gets even bigger and has more depth (5998 tubes).  Hifimanrookie, this is why I prefer using the 5693 tubes instead of the mesh plates, that added warmth is required for the M-dac.  The bigger soundstage width is in the league of the AKG K7xx line (I had a chance to listen to the AKG K701 at a local headphone store) and in depth, it clearly pulls away.  I use the Optimum Transient XD setting, D3E is unmodified and no oversampling setting on the M-dac.  It's like the two components which are slightly on the opposite sides, one slightly cold and analytical, the other warm and musical and bringing them together produces a nice natural sound and then feed it to the He500.  

 

Khaine, I totally agree with you, the PSU upgrade is not worth it for that little gain. For the same coin, a Octave Mk2 with USB can be acquired or even a second hand M51 from Australia.  But then, I would look to upgrade the amp and the He500 itself becomes the weak point.  One might as well then upgrade to the He6 or HD800.  Going off topic here, with the He6, I think it's an absolute steal.  The power requirements are almost a blessing in disguise.  $1100 for the headphones and spend about $350 on banana cables and a good vintage speaker amp.  So, for about $1500, you have a very good headphone and properly amped.  Upgraditis, forever knocking on our doors.

post #4902 of 18011

I'm getting sidegrade-tidis. Kept thinking about how a Hd800 will complement my He-6 nicely, or some Rega/Technics/Thoren Turntables, or some KEF/Genelec monitors ... blink.gif

 

About the value part, the He-6 is really a steal. When I tried it with with a budget vintage receiver - I almost feel bad that I spend thrice that amount (of the vintage) for my speaker amp. Sure it's better, but it cost 3x as much, and the price of a Quad 6550 NOS, coupled with pair of 12ax7, and quad 12au7 can buy me a few more vintage receivers even.

 

I really like Orthos in general - mostly for the tinkering factor. Flat impedance + resistive load means I can plug them into literally every speaker amplifier I can get my hands on bigsmile_face.gif. Also the flexibility in amping is welcomed. 


Edited by khaine1711 - 5/13/13 at 6:23pm
post #4903 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaine1711 View Post

900 is a weird place for dacs. They aren't that much of an upgrade compared to the 400-800 market (and even less if you buy used); and not quite there with the good dacs either. I'd suggest upping the budget and/or buying used :p (and don't get the Mdac new for 900 bucks). Since you're in Canada, maybe give Exasound a call to see if they can lend you one of their Dac for Demo, (Nad m51 too - iirc Nad is Canadian)

 

I checked out the Exasound...it was all fun and games until I checked the price for both E18 and E20. I am not up there at the $2500 budget. I checked up on NAD M51, looks interesting. Seeing prices range from $1500-2000. As I was thinking about a possible DAC upgrade or side upgrade, my budget jumped from around $500 mark to $1000 to a potential $1500. LOL what just happened. Also, I have decided not to get a Concero. I am hearing good reviews about it's sound, but the lack of balanced outputs is a no go for me. I plan to use the DAC I get not only for headphones but potentially also to connect to active monitor speakers (like Mackie HR824)...so the balanced outputs and pre-amp are needed. If I'm going to spend around $1000 or more, might as well get those functions as well. So any more suggestions? I keep hearing about the Octave. Where does the Octave fit in and what's the typical price of that?...Again, I'm a bit new to high end DAC realm and have been out of it for quite some time, so all help is appreciated and welcome.bigsmile_face.gif

 

EDIT: Also, for owners that have the Emotiva mini-x-a-100, how does that scale with high end DAC's? Am I going to get any significant results with the Emotiva?


Edited by Zoom25 - 5/13/13 at 8:06pm
post #4904 of 18011

The Octave, despite its flaws, have a really nice sound - among the best sub 1000 dac that I've owned. There's quirks though. It only have 1 single-ended output. It requires a decent (read: not expensive, more like synergistic) transport, if you went the used route, chance are you'll get an unit with 24/174khz max sample rate (instead of 24/192). The thing usually goes for 700 bucks used, coupled with a cheap Kingrex/JKSPDIF and you get yourself a very competent dac for 1k. If you're on a budget, you can even find a Metrum Quad with power supply for around 400-500 bucks.

 

M51 is a very good candidate. It has balance out, decent USB input, can be find used around 1.2k - 1.5k (again don't buy new unless you're Aussie). If you buy new, might as well go for the Lynx Hilo (not sure if the 1.8k deal is still there). Lots of stuff to tinker, balance in/out, XMOS usb - I'll receive mine next month. There's some other interesting stuff worth looking at: Calyx 24/192 (with the LNPS), Electrocompaniet ECD 1, Audio Synthesis DAX decade, Auralic Ark MX+ (find an ex-demo unit), dB lab tranquility, various old THETA/Sonic Frontier dac. I think Anedio just got some refurb D2 in stock too. Even the Benchmark Dac1 and Larvy DA10/DA11 if you're into that kind of sound.

 

About monitor, it's been a while (my last active was an Adam A7) - but you don't actually need XLR for monitors. They're there because most pro-gear got balance output - which is at the same time a monitor out with volume control - the built-in amp essentially is still a single ended design. Dac as pre-amp is a much discussed topic - personally I'm fine with variable output (as long as you don't drive cable too long) but not with digital attenuation (i.e M51). If you need volume control, put a passive attenuator between the source and your monitor - basically a volume pot with minimal affect on SQ if you do it right. Your local technical can put together one (with resistance of your choice) for you for like 50-100 bucks, depends on how fancy you want the case - there's also the LDR volume control kit for 130 bucks.

 

I only used the Emotiva with the Octave and the Chord QuteHD. I'm not impressed. Like I said before, an overbuilt T-amp is better at transparency and extension than the Emotiva. I'd replace the Emotiva for a good vintage amplifier (Pioneer SX/DX /Marantz 22xx/old PM line/Sansui dual mono) any time of the day, especially when NA is like the heaven of vintage stuff. It's not really fair since those stuff, back in their heyday cost like 2k+ if you take inflation into account. But if we're talking bang for buck, then going to your local dealers and ask "Dude, is there any good integrated amplifier in my price range, that the owner just throw away because he moved to Audio Note, or upgraded his bedroom/bathroom setup?" - you're going to get a much better bargain wink_face.gif. You can try before you buy, even bring it home to do you own listening, if you don't mind lugging 20kg of vintage goodness around.

post #4905 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaine1711 View Post

The Octave, despite its flaws, have a really nice sound - among the best sub 1000 dac that I've owned. There's quirks though. It only have 1 single-ended output. It requires a decent (read: not expensive, more like synergistic) transport, if you went the used route, chance are you'll get an unit with 24/174khz max sample rate (instead of 24/192). The thing usually goes for 700 bucks used, coupled with a cheap Kingrex/JKSPDIF and you get yourself a very competent dac for 1k. If you're on a budget, you can even find a Metrum Quad with power supply for around 400-500 bucks.

 

M51 is a very good candidate. It has balance out, decent USB input, can be find used around 1.2k - 1.5k (again don't buy new unless you're Aussie). If you buy new, might as well go for the Lynx Hilo (not sure if the 1.8k deal is still there). Lots of stuff to tinker, balance in/out, XMOS usb - I'll receive mine next month. There's some other interesting stuff worth looking at: Calyx 24/192 (with the LNPS), Electrocompaniet ECD 1, Audio Synthesis DAX decade, Auralic Ark MX+ (find an ex-demo unit), dB lab tranquility, various old THETA/Sonic Frontier dac. I think Anedio just got some refurb D2 in stock too. Even the Benchmark Dac1 and Larvy DA10/DA11 if you're into that kind of sound.

 

About monitor, it's been a while (my last active was an Adam A7) - but you don't actually need XLR for monitors. They're there because most pro-gear got balance output - which is at the same time a monitor out with volume control - the built-in amp essentially is still a single ended design. Dac as pre-amp is a much discussed topic - personally I'm fine with variable output (as long as you don't drive cable too long) but not with digital attenuation (i.e M51). If you need volume control, put a passive attenuator between the source and your monitor - basically a volume pot with minimal affect on SQ if you do it right. Your local technical can put together one (with resistance of your choice) for you for like 50-100 bucks, depends on how fancy you want the case - there's also the LDR volume control kit for 130 bucks.

 

I only used the Emotiva with the Octave and the Chord QuteHD. I'm not impressed. Like I said before, an overbuilt T-amp is better at transparency and extension than the Emotiva. I'd replace the Emotiva for a good vintage amplifier (Pioneer SX/DX /Marantz 22xx/old PM line/Sansui dual mono) any time of the day, especially when NA is like the heaven of vintage stuff. It's not really fair since those stuff, back in their heyday cost like 2k+ if you take inflation into account. But if we're talking bang for buck, then going to your local dealers and ask "Dude, is there any good integrated amplifier in my price range, that the owner just throw away because he moved to Audio Note, or upgraded his bedroom/bathroom setup?" - you're going to get a much better bargain wink_face.gif. You can try before you buy, even bring it home to do you own listening, if you don't mind lugging 20kg of vintage goodness around.

 

Passive attenuator have high output impedance that can alter the sound, even in powered monitors (with rather high input impedance for their integrated amp).

Digital attenuation done right (that is, with dithering and that still provide the typical dynamic range) is preferable to passive attenuator, whatever its cost (at a matched/reasonable price, of course).  With 35bits words, the M51 is very well suited for this!

 

On a side note: I remember a video where M. Mallinson (a senior engineer who developed the SABRE 9018 chip) said that digital attenuation was worse than analog one. That's pretty funny because:

1- The ES9018 achieves excellent figures which make it suited for digital attenuation more than any other DAC chip, short of the M51 that don't rely on a typical DAC for D/A conversion.

2- I can't imagine the price of the preamp featuring a volume control that bests what they can achieve with the ES9018! So, yes in theory, analog is preferable since it can achieve lower distortion,  but in real world, how expansive would it cost to make something with better figures than the ES9018? Probably much much more than the price of the M51...


Edited by Clemmaster - 5/14/13 at 9:21am
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