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Best DAC from $1500 to $2500 (or so) Can anything beat the Eastern Electric Minimax? - Page 4

post #46 of 256

The top of the line Audio Note DAC kit is only as good as the real Audio Note DAC 1 signature.  If you want an AN DAC you need to get a real one, the kits are not worth it IMO.  I've had both so take my advice for what it's worth.  The AN will be much lusher than your Anedio btw, if that's what you'd like.  I think you'll be very surprised how good music sounds and what you were missing coming from that DAC.  Anedio is nice, but not even close to AN.  The DA11 was very neutral when I tried it, almost boring, it didn't add any life to the recording.  I'd definitely agree with the benchmark sounds you've all described haha, that thing was just obscene.  

post #47 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by colinharding View Post

The top of the line Audio Note DAC kit is only as good as the real Audio Note DAC 1 signature.  If you want an AN DAC you need to get a real one, the kits are not worth it IMO.  I've had both so take my advice for what it's worth.  The AN will be much lusher than your Anedio btw, if that's what you'd like.  I think you'll be very surprised how good music sounds and what you were missing coming from that DAC.  Anedio is nice, but not even close to AN.  The DA11 was very neutral when I tried it, almost boring, it didn't add any life to the recording.  I'd definitely agree with the benchmark sounds you've all described haha, that thing was just obscene.  

You have crushed my goal. mad.gif

Oh well, I continue my quest.
post #48 of 256

I understand the AN DAC 2 is the sweet spot of the range, cost vs performance  ?

 

Surprised about your comments regarding the kits I thought they were supposed to eqivalent to their respective models in the manufactured range.

 

 I have been offered an original Audio Note 2 DAC from the 1997 Kondo period, but this uses the PCM63P-J, Burr-Brown / Texas Instruments, Collineare 20-bit 8X oversampling chip. Do you have any experience with this version? 

Quote:
Originally Posted by colinharding View Post

The top of the line Audio Note DAC kit is only as good as the real Audio Note DAC 1 signature.  If you want an AN DAC you need to get a real one, the kits are not worth it IMO.  I've had both so take my advice for what it's worth.  The AN will be much lusher than your Anedio btw, if that's what you'd like.  I think you'll be very surprised how good music sounds and what you were missing coming from that DAC.  Anedio is nice, but not even close to AN.  The DA11 was very neutral when I tried it, almost boring, it didn't add any life to the recording.  I'd definitely agree with the benchmark sounds you've all described haha, that thing was just obscene.  


Edited by complin - 9/5/12 at 11:13am
post #49 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post


You have crushed my goal. mad.gif
Oh well, I continue my quest.

 You should listen first. I had a commercial Audio Note DAC1.1 and now have a kit 2.1B. The kit 2.1 is a substantial improvement over the commercial 1.1. Down the road I'll upgrade the 2.1 to a 3.1. The 2.1 has a tube rectified and regulated power supply, I/V transformers, and tube outputs with PIO capacitors. The 3.1 adds digital input transformers and a 5687 analog section with output transformers. Try finding something similar at anywhere near the price. The kits are a bargain considering both the parts content and the level of performance.
 

post #50 of 256
from the looks of the 3.1sig. kit, it is mighty enticing. Problem is hearing one but isn't that the case in most of this hobby.
post #51 of 256

Here's an alternative to Benchmark and Lavry for those looking for a pro type DAC that has warm, rich, analog like sound. I haven't heard one personally yet, but that's been the impression that I've read everywhere about it. List price is $2500.

 

post #52 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

from the looks of the 3.1sig. kit, it is mighty enticing. Problem is hearing one but isn't that the case in most of this hobby.

 

Interesting... AudioNote gear always looks very underwhelming to the point of a bit ugly to me... For example, their top of the line DAC, the DAC 5 Signature, which costs US$50,000, looks like this:

 

 

But the sound.... Oh, so creamy........................................

post #53 of 256

Hi Frank 

I think you are something of a legend in the DIY community bigsmile_face.gif.  You seem to have created some of the most desirable amplification i've ever seen, (DIY or Manufactured) just a pity I live 4000 miles away.

 

So how easy would one of these be to build for someone who has only dabbled with DIY before?

 

So do you use the Audio Note as your main DAC?  Currently use a well regarded Italian upsamlipg dac that is supposed to have quite a rather analogue sound.

I'm particularly keen on a good but natural  sound stage, but fear I might find a NOS Dac like the Audio Note Dull. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankCooter View Post

 You should listen first. I had a commercial Audio Note DAC1.1 and now have a kit 2.1B. The kit 2.1 is a substantial improvement over the commercial 1.1. Down the road I'll upgrade the 2.1 to a 3.1. The 2.1 has a tube rectified and regulated power supply, I/V transformers, and tube outputs with PIO capacitors. The 3.1 adds digital input transformers and a 5687 analog section with output transformers. Try finding something similar at anywhere near the price. The kits are a bargain considering both the parts content and the level of performance.
 


Edited by complin - 9/6/12 at 2:50am
post #54 of 256

Never hard of this but worth investigating but may not be available in Europe

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post

Here's an alternative to Benchmark and Lavry for those looking for a pro type DAC that has warm, rich, analog like sound. I haven't heard one personally yet, but that's been the impression that I've read everywhere about it. List price is $2500.

 

post #55 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post

I understand the AN DAC 2 is the sweet spot of the range, cost vs performance  ?

 

Surprised about your comments regarding the kits I thought they were supposed to eqivalent to their respective models in the manufactured range.

 

 I have been offered an original Audio Note 2 DAC from the 1997 Kondo period, but this uses the PCM63P-J, Burr-Brown / Texas Instruments, Collineare 20-bit 8X oversampling chip. Do you have any experience with this version? 

The DAC 2 is very nice, it is used in some of their transports, unless you are going digital out of course.  I would certainly take the one you mentioned if you are not interested in spending any more, it is very nice.  I've heard it on more than one occasion and was never disappointed.  The older one has a fuller sound, not as technically proficient, but more heart than the newer version.  Think of the Quad ESL 57, very musical, lots of heart, but not as technically proficient as the newest Quad electrostat, but still unbelievably involving.  But at that price the Synthesis Matrix will handily best the DAC 2.  At 10k the DAC 3 is a real audio revelation and I would really recommend it.  That is unless you'd like to step up to the AN DAC 5 Sig, then everything else sound broken haha.

 

I've talked to Peter numerous times about the kits vs the real DACs and although it would seem he has a real bias toward his own gear it is not the case, he sells all the parts for either venture so he's vested in both fairly equally.  The kits DO have lower quality parts so they will never achieve the performance of their "real" counterparts.  Some of the parts aren't even close as Audio Note won't sell resistors and other smaller parts so cheaper replacements are used.  We performed extensive listening between the kits and the real DACs and I assure you the top of the line kit is no better than the DAC 1 signature even though both represent completely different topologies. After replacing pretty much everything in the DAC 4 kit with off the shelf AN stuff, only then did it sound like an actual DAC 4.

 

Complin you may have mentioned this earlier, but what DAC are you using right now?  May give me a better idea of where your sound tastes lie.

post #56 of 256

The seller is asking Euro 950 for the original Audio Note 2 DAC from the 1997 Kondo period which seems a bit steep for 15 year old digital kit.

I love the original Quad 57's but sadly don't have room these days for a pair, but are one of the greatest speakers ever designed

 

You mention the Synthesis Martix Dac which uses a Wolfson chip and tube output stage.  This looks and probably sounds very similar to the EAR Yoshino Acute/Dacute built in the UK  

The Audio Synthesis DAC's are also reputed to be very easy to listen to 

 

I'm currently using an Italian DAC and CD transport from Northstar Design http://www.northstar.it/english/Dac_Model_192.html.  I have used this for several years and it uses I2s connections between transport and DAC.  Many say its quite an analogue sounding combination, but interested in hearing if it can be improved upon at a reasonable cost

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by colinharding View Post

The DAC 2 is very nice, it is used in some of their transports, unless you are going digital out of course.  I would certainly take the one you mentioned if you are not interested in spending any more, it is very nice.  I've heard it on more than one occasion and was never disappointed.  The older one has a fuller sound, not as technically proficient, but more heart than the newer version.  Think of the Quad ESL 57, very musical, lots of heart, but not as technically proficient as the newest Quad electrostat, but still unbelievably involving.  But at that price the Synthesis Matrix will handily best the DAC 2.  At 10k the DAC 3 is a real audio revelation and I would really recommend it.  That is unless you'd like to step up to the AN DAC 5 Sig, then everything else sound broken haha.

 

I've talked to Peter numerous times about the kits vs the real DACs and although it would seem he has a real bias toward his own gear it is not the case, he sells all the parts for either venture so he's vested in both fairly equally.  The kits DO have lower quality parts so they will never achieve the performance of their "real" counterparts.  Some of the parts aren't even close as Audio Note won't sell resistors and other smaller parts so cheaper replacements are used.  We performed extensive listening between the kits and the real DACs and I assure you the top of the line kit is no better than the DAC 1 signature even though both represent completely different topologies. After replacing pretty much everything in the DAC 4 kit with off the shelf AN stuff, only then did it sound like an actual DAC 4.

 

Complin you may have mentioned this earlier, but what DAC are you using right now?  May give me a better idea of where your sound tastes lie.


Edited by complin - 9/6/12 at 6:16am
post #57 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by googleli View Post

Interesting... AudioNote gear always looks very underwhelming to the point of a bit ugly to me... For example, their top of the line DAC, the DAC 5 Signature, which costs US$50,000, looks like this:



But the sound.... Oh, so creamy........................................

I meant the parts list but the actual physical cabinet view is boring.
post #58 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post

The seller is asking Euro 950 for the original Audio Note 2 DAC from the 1997 Kondo period which seems a bit steep for 15 year old digital kit.

I love the original Quad 57's but sadly don't have room these days for a pair, but are one of the greatest speakers ever designed

 

You mention the Synthesis Martix Dac which uses a Wolfson chip and tube output stage.  This looks and probably sounds very similar to the EAR Yoshino Acute/Dacute built in the UK  

The Audio Synthesis DAC's are also reputed to be very easy to listen to 

 

I'm currently using an Italian DAC and CD transport from Northstar Design http://www.northstar.it/english/Dac_Model_192.html.  I have used this for several years and it uses I2s connections between transport and DAC.  Many say its quite an analogue sounding combination, but interested in hearing if it can be improved upon at a reasonable cost

 

I use the same dac and so far I didn't heard a more natural sounding dac. Sure the new big boys may have more micro details but..

post #59 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post

Never hard of this but worth investigating but may not be available in Europe

 


I definitely plan on taking one for a spin. I'm unsure of EU availability, but the pro shops here all carry it. The matching Burl B2 Bomber ADC is very popular with the pros. Interestingly the DAC seems tailored more to audiophiles than studio engineers. Burl could probably put it in a nice enclosure and sell it for $4K if they wanted to. The word clock I/O is also a nice feature at this price level.

post #60 of 256
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post

The seller is asking Euro 950 for the original Audio Note 2 DAC from the 1997 Kondo period which seems a bit steep for 15 year old digital kit.

I love the original Quad 57's but sadly don't have room these days for a pair, but are one of the greatest speakers ever designed

 

You mention the Synthesis Martix Dac which uses a Wolfson chip and tube output stage.  This looks and probably sounds very similar to the EAR Yoshino Acute/Dacute built in the UK  

The Audio Synthesis DAC's are also reputed to be very easy to listen to 

 

I'm currently using an Italian DAC and CD transport from Northstar Design http://www.northstar.it/english/Dac_Model_192.html.  I have used this for several years and it uses I2s connections between transport and DAC.  Many say its quite an analogue sounding combination, but interested in hearing if it can be improved upon at a reasonable cost

 

 

Audio Note really hold their value so I'm not surprised, a better chip is not necessarily better, just more expensive and newer lol.  The EAR is also a nice sounding DAC but is transformer coupled so a lot of the quality depends on those transformers.  I didn't think that it ousted the AN 2 or Synthesis DAC by any means.  On the other hand the Synthesis has two 2mF caps on the output so you can 'tune" the sound a bit to your liking, also uses the original Philbrick op amps as buffers.  It blows an AN 2 DAC out of the water in terms of musicality and tone.  I haven't heard the Audio Synthesis but it seems like a lot of technology mashed together in one box.  The Northstar was very nice when I tried it about a year ago, auditioned with AN and Synthesis.  The sound was quite HiFi for my tastes tho, great mids, great bass, great highs, but it made you listen to each intensely because they were so great.  It didn't let you enjoy the music in an emotional way like the other two DACs did.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BoogieWoogie View Post

I use the same dac and so far I didn't heard a more natural sounding dac. Sure the new big boys may have more micro details but..

 

Yep, that's exactly what I'm saying.  It has the heart and soul of music, maybe not the best technically performing DAC, but who cares?  It makes music, not spec sheets.

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