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NAD M51 Direct Digital DAC Impressions - Page 69

post #1021 of 1546

i prefer using the usb over the hdmi 

i use kernel  type driver with usb

post #1022 of 1546
Quote:
Originally Posted by screwdriver View Post
 

i prefer using the usb over the hdmi 

i use kernel  type driver with usb

Thanks for the input.  Is this from a PC? direct via "standard" USB cable?

 

Currently difficult for me to tell whether the differences I hear are due to HDMI/USB differences in the Audirvana software, Mac Pro hardware/software, cables or M51.

post #1023 of 1546
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDOz View Post
 

Thanks for the input.  Is this from a PC? direct via "standard" USB cable?

 

Currently difficult for me to tell whether the differences I hear are due to HDMI/USB differences in the Audirvana software, Mac Pro hardware/software, cables or M51.

it is from a pc using wireworld starlight 7 usb cable , i use jriver  player 

so its pc/jriver --> wireworld starlight usb cable --> nad m51 --> decware csp2+ as preamp --> alo studio six --> toxic silver poison cable , -->LCD x

post #1024 of 1546

btw i might try a ifi iusb and a yellowtec puc2  going to the nad from the PC

post #1025 of 1546

I've switched between usb and optical from my MBP for some time. I also run Audirvana+ and fwiw, use a Furutech Formula 2 usb cable and Silflex Glass toslink cable.

 

Audirvana+ settings have quite an affect on sq, particularly usb. Optimal settings IMO are Mode 1 Integer and priority set to extreme. Software does not change sample rate.

 

Usb has the warmest signature on my system, with Mode 1 lifting some of the mid range haze evident through Mode 2. Soundstage has width - more so than the other inputs. However the centre image is more compressed, less at arms length in front of the listener and almost in one's head depending on the recording. These two qualities in unison gives the impression of soundstage width that is, at times, exaggerated.

 

Optical in comparison is more coherent. Width of stage is less diffused and there's more depth front and centre. Imaging is more convincing as a result. The warmth of usb is replaced with seemingly more pronounced treble. This region is actually smoother through optical than usb. The slight grain and etch through usb is somewhat smothered by its weighty bass rendition but these qualities are evident through my chain and lead to fatigue at times. The seemingly more extended and smoother treble rendition of optical gives the impression of better clarity and resolve, though switching back to usb reveals the same details are present. The only concession over usb is that bass has less body.

 

Hdmi is an option that I've not used until recently. I run a generic mini display to hdmi cable from my MBP to M51 for when I require a secondary screen. The M51 passes video through to my 32" without fuss and allows me to listen to music through my desktop rig simultaneously. This is an awesome feature, but one that probably won't be appreciated until it's utilised.

 

In terms of sq though, hdmi initially seemed a compromise over optical and usb. Soundstage seemed retracted in all directions and dynamics (micro and macro) more compressed. Overall presentation appeared more foggy, with less space and separation of elements, nuance in details and deftness in dynamic presentation.

 

Strangely, that is no longer the case. Whether through "burn-in" of the hdmi input components, brain adjustment, or some other inexplicable mystery of the universe - I now find hdmi to present the best aspects of optical and usb. The weight and body of the lower regions (usb) is evident, as is the cohesion of the soundstage (optical) with that balance between width and depth. Hdmi maintains the warmth of usb and is a great match for my HD800. The most positive aspect of hdmi over usb though is the mitigation of that fatigue inducing grain in the upper mid to treble region. Though not as extended or "airy" in the upper registers as optical, there's a smoothness through hdmi that lends to a very fluid, natural and convincing rendition of music.

 

Now these differences may not be as pronounced for some but for me they are significant enough to anchor the HD800 in the Goldilocks Zone. I was already quite content with the presentation through optical and usb, but the utility and sound quality of hdmi is like introducing a new component in my chain - one that nudges everything into that sweet spot.

 

 

edit: this should go without saying but I'll qualify just in case - obviously this is IME and IMO, according to my preferences, and YMMV. I'm also uncertain whether these differences are inherent in the M51's inputs or my MBP's outputs. No doubt others will have different views, so it'll likely be the latter.


Edited by olor1n - 2/16/14 at 10:19pm
post #1026 of 1546
Quote:
Originally Posted by NZheadcase View Post
 

 

Been in this similar situation early into my time in the hobby. There was once upon a time when I considered returning my LCD 2.2's because I could not get the hang of the sound signature and thought that a pair of HD598's are close to it in sound quality.

 

Time came though - through lots of listening to favorite tracks and new ones - you learn to pick out the differences in soundstage, how the kick drums in specific passages sound, how further away the cello should be in relation to the piano, how much your adams apple wobbles when you get rocked by low notes and the like. It's come to the point where the same song is a totally different experience based on what gear you use. Totally enjoyable with different gear, but a different way of enjoying each time. I guess my long winded point is enjoy the journey and don't rush with fiddling too much that you neglect really listening to your treasured music through your gear. Instead of chasing improvements, chase experiences, then stick with the experiences you love the most. 

 

Oh and BTW, your gear is really cool. Wouldn't mind seeing a photo here.  


Sorry NZheadcase, been a very busy few days. Just has a bit of time last night to get back to some music. I totally agree, enjoying the music is much more important. Back to my issue the Ciunas converter I have came with an attenuator which I plugged in to try some time ago. I removed it to give it another try and in addition the converter has had many hours of burn in. The result is that the high details became much cleaner. A very noticeable difference and good improvement. I will try another spdif cable when I get some time and report back if there are anymore improvements with converter/spdif over usb.


Edited by skandy - 2/16/14 at 10:31pm
post #1027 of 1546

I am still wondering if this is a software based device. like the wadia 121 is. I don't mean anything by it I am just wondering. someone must know.

 

I just read the zetex spec sheet finally. apparently it is not software based. it is something entirely different than so called "dacs". such as ti,ess etc. there is an updatable firmware but the zetex is a pcm to pwm converter. a much different approach than other dac chips. also used in their digital amp. so they have employed a new use for this chip as a dac. I think they are the first to use it in this capacity. I imagine if 1 bit pwm is good 35 bit pwm must be very good. I have heard the m51 and it was good. I did not hear it for long though. I think what they have done is very interesting. I hope someone compares it to the usual suspects in the less than $2,500 range. those that have spent time with it, is it clearly superior to traditional dacs?


Edited by music_man - 2/16/14 at 10:36pm
post #1028 of 1546
Quote:
Originally Posted by olor1n View Post
 

I've switched between usb and optical from my MBP for some time. I also run Audirvana+ and fwiw, use a Furutech Formula 2 usb cable and Silflex Glass toslink cable.

 

Audirvana+ settings have quite an affect on sq, particularly usb. Optimal settings IMO are Mode 1 Integer and priority set to extreme. Software does not change sample rate.

 

Usb has the warmest signature on my system, with Mode 1 lifting some of the mid range haze evident through Mode 2. Soundstage has width - more so than the other inputs. However the centre image is more compressed, less at arms length in front of the listener and almost in one's head depending on the recording. These two qualities in unison gives the impression of soundstage width that is, at times, exaggerated.

 

Optical in comparison is more coherent. Width of stage is less diffused and there's more depth front and centre. Imaging is more convincing as a result. The warmth of usb is replaced with seemingly more pronounced treble. This region is actually smoother through optical than usb. The slight grain and etch through usb is somewhat smothered by its weighty bass rendition but these qualities are evident through my chain and lead to fatigue at times. The seemingly more extended and smoother treble rendition of optical gives the impression of better clarity and resolve, though switching back to usb reveals the same details are present. The only concession over usb is that bass has less body.

 

Hdmi is an option that I've not used until recently. I run a generic mini display to hdmi cable from my MBP to M51 for when I require a secondary screen. The M51 passes video through to my 32" without fuss and allows me to listen to music through my desktop rig simultaneously. This is an awesome feature, but one that probably won't be appreciated until it's utilised.

 

In terms of sq though, hdmi initially seemed a compromise over optical and usb. Soundstage seemed retracted in all directions and dynamics (micro and macro) more compressed. Overall presentation appeared more foggy, with less space and separation of elements, nuance in details and deftness in dynamic presentation.

 

Strangely, that is no longer the case. Whether through "burn-in" of the hdmi input components, brain adjustment, or some other inexplicable mystery of the universe - I now find hdmi to present the best aspects of optical and usb. The weight and body of the lower regions (usb) is evident, as is the cohesion of the soundstage (optical) with that balance between width and depth. Hdmi maintains the warmth of usb and is a great match for my HD800. The most positive aspect of hdmi over usb though is the mitigation of that fatigue inducing grain in the upper mid to treble region. Though not as extended or "airy" in the upper registers as optical, there's a smoothness through hdmi that lends to a very fluid, natural and convincing rendition of music.

 

Now these differences may not be as pronounced for some but for me they are significant enough to anchor the HD800 in the Goldilocks Zone. I was already quite content with the presentation through optical and usb, but the utility and sound quality of hdmi is like introducing a new component in my chain - one that nudges everything into that sweet spot.

 

 

edit: this should go without saying but I'll qualify just in case - obviously this is IME and IMO, according to my preferences, and YMMV. I'm also uncertain whether these differences are inherent in the M51's inputs or my MBP's outputs. No doubt others will have different views, so it'll likely be the latter.

Excellent review. Thanks muchly for that.

Yes, with audio it's all very subjective and equipment-dependent..usual disclaimers :-)  

I also find that what seems "best" during an A/B comparison involving only a few minutes of A vs. B is often not what sounds best for long-term listening.

You perfectly described what I was hearing in "The most positive aspect of hdmi over usb though is the mitigation of that fatigue inducing grain in the upper mid to treble region"

 

Sadly I couldn't test optical from MBP because I (stupidly) snapped off the MBP connector part of the cable before I could try.

 

I use the same settings in Audirvana+ that you described and have been wondering whether selecting HDMI changes anything in what that software is doing?

Cheers

post #1029 of 1546

From my MBP, integer mode is only via usb and hdmi is "limited" to 96/24 max. Not an issue for me as most of my flac library is red book and I don't allow Audirvana to up-sample.

post #1030 of 1546
Quote:
Originally Posted by olor1n View Post
 

From my MBP, integer mode is only via usb and hdmi is "limited" to 96/24 max. Not an issue for me as most of my flac library is red book and I don't allow Audirvana to up-sample.

Just checked my MBP (~1 yr old) and with HDMI, the INT light is not on. I suppose integer mode doesn't work with any HDMI device; or at least any connected to M51.

 

I do get 192/24 over HDMI, though; and I have "forced upsampling" set to never.

...this is the next extension of my quest for better SQ. Seems some people think oversampling helps and others don't.  Those who say it does help, either suggest exact doubling or multiples of 2x. That part makes sense.

Have you done a comparison with your redbook CD FLACs using Audirvana+ to double vs. no upsampling?

post #1031 of 1546

Hope you don't mind me drawing further on your experience. Also wondering if you have noticed any degradation of SQ when integrating A+ to itunes.

 

Getting some type of remote control (without a 15m cable) is what I'm mainly after.  Assuming itunes integration is the only option for that.

 

Thanks again.

post #1032 of 1546

I don't use iTunes integration anymore. When I did use it I went through the hassle of duplicating my favourite FLACs to ALAC - just so I could have the nice looking iTunes interface on top of the Audirvana engine. Didn't really perceive any difference in sq though. Now I just load my FLACs natively within Audirvana+ to keep the chain simple. The only thing I miss is the ability to control via the remote app from my iPhone. Not a big issue as I'm usually at my desk on the laptop when listening to tunes.

 

And no, I haven't extensively tested the effects of Audirvana up-sampling. The times I have played with it nothing significant jumped out. The NAD does internal conversion and up-sampling of PCM signal to 844Khz PWM. Software up-sampling before hardware conversion and up-sampling seems a bit redundant to me. I'd prefer to maintain the purity of the source as much as possible. 

post #1033 of 1546

Cheers.  I'll give the integration a try.  Upsampling tests might have to wait until I start converting all my CDs to FLAC. Not looking forward to that ...and still need to buy a disc drive and select the best program for doing it.  Currently, I have only a few HD FLACs and 30GB of lossy formats.

post #1034 of 1546

im thinking of buying an oppo 105 to integrate it in my system . I can play my music flac files from a external portable HD trhu the oppo  going to the nad m51n using a spdif coax cable  ( a good usb to spdif  converter and cable will cost close to an oppo 105  used ) , then I will also have the option to play native dsd thru the oppo directly to my amp .

post #1035 of 1546

I am asking a serious question because I don't know and would like to: is the m51 a lot better than the oppo 105? I am just guessing you are going parallel with that but I honestly have no idea.

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