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post #61 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

 

Very cool story!  Wow, it took a long time to sell one.  I seriously don't think many folks have bought into these. I'm looking forward to the experience.  Any DAC that can withstand HD800 scrutiny is a winner! rolleyes.gif  Not that I have room to talk, I'm pairing with HE-6 evil_smiley.gif

 

I have a Signal Cable MagicPower Digital Reference power cord on the way for it.  I don't really believe in power cords. Maybe if you're running into a device with a poor power supply and have a good power conditioner in front of it it makes sense, but otherwise, I fail to see how a good power cord can do much of anything since the real filtration happens in the unit itself.  But Jack doesn't include power cords supposedly, presumably to cater to the assumption that anyone buying a Woo wants prettier magical cabling....so I figured a cable also from NY and rather stately looking is befitting a DAC of this caliber.  wink.gif   The AES & RCA out are all BJC Belden 1800 and LC-1 though.  Like the DAC itself, elegant and understated....not flashy.  And it visually pairs well with my pro-audio rackmount gear in front of the DAC.  No nonsense, rugged, great value, and it all matches in color.  I looked at the Signal cable variants that also use Belden stock...prettier...but the blue splashiness of the digital and analog two wrappings just clash with the stately "black accents" Woo biggrin.gif

 

I should be about half-way or a little over half-way through the wait now... popcorn.gif

 Well, officially, the DAC went on sale as of the following Monday. And as the show in Montreal was the previous weekend, Jack could not have sold a DAC before. !!!!

Lucky me, I didn't have to pay the taxes, duties and shipping to Canada !!!!!

 

I did not compare the three DACs together and I do not have the intention of doing so (I am too lazy and I am not sure it's worth it). However, I may tell you this; this DAC (WDS-1) is great...really is....the music coloration or smoothness comes from the WA6SE....not from the DAC...it really reproduce the music in a pure way....at least, this is my perception. I am pretty sure that you will love it with the HE-6.

 

Let us know....

 

Denys

post #62 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denys View Post

 Well, officially, the DAC went on sale as of the following Monday. And as the show in Montreal was the previous weekend, Jack could not have sold a DAC before. !!!!

Lucky me, I didn't have to pay the taxes, duties and shipping to Canada !!!!!

 

I did not compare the three DACs together and I do not have the intention of doing so (I am too lazy and I am not sure it's worth it). However, I may tell you this; this DAC (WDS-1) is great...really is....the music coloration or smoothness comes from the WA6SE....not from the DAC...it really reproduce the music in a pure way....at least, this is my perception. I am pretty sure that you will love it with the HE-6.

 

Let us know....

 

Denys

 

Ahh, interesting, I thought they went on sale after CES and CanJam in January.  They must have just been announced with a prototype then but not up for sale yet.  They're newer than I thought! biggrin.gif

 

It's good to hear more favorable opinions.  There aren't many opinions out there on it yet, but of the handful I've heard, all of them from folks also owning other high-end DACs, not a single one has been short of favorable.  I'm looking forward to it!  It shouldn't be long now... biggrin.gif  One neat thing I can do is A/B it...only with Bifrost, but still, I can feed both DACs from my Behringer DEQ outputs, and feed both into my Marantz integrated I feed the HE-6 from and just A/B between the two sources.  Unbalanced of course on that amp.  It's no Reference 5 to compare against, but it's a comparison against a very popular (and much cheaper) DAC that should be interesting :)

post #63 of 84

Best DAC I have owned. Jack or his dad did a great job. I should know as I am an EE. It blows the Schitt Bifrost out of the water and many others. The build quality looks like a $3500 piece. I have owned the DAC since May and it continues to impress me.
 

post #64 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by HI-BIT View Post

Best DAC I have owned. Jack or his dad did a great job. I should know as I am an EE. It blows the Schitt Bifrost out of the water and many others. The build quality looks like a $3500 piece. I have owned the DAC since May and it continues to impress me.
 

Considering price (which I hate using as any kind of measure) It doesn't seem surprising. I'd be very interested in how in compares to a Metrum Octave.

 And for those of you that do own one, stop being so quiet about it!


Edited by paradoxper - 9/20/12 at 11:29pm
post #65 of 84

My WDS-1 has arrived! 

 

My initial impressions are a bit shorter than I thought they would be since instead of listening all night, I realized as I went to set it up that I had zero available room on a stable surface, so I began the lengthy process of moving the entire audio system to its permanent rack simply to give the WDS-1 an appropriate home. Such tasks are never quick ones and usually involve rummaging through parts bins looking for adapters and cables still sealed in packages that were sworn to be unnecessary years ago and inevitably discovering that you're short on cables when 20 minutes ago you and an abundance...  I'll break this into a few posts since it would be horribly long otherwise.

 

Initial impressions on receiving the box: Wow, when did Woo get custom printed boxes?  Looks good.  Maybe he's always had them but the last thing I got from Woo was some headphone stands that were bundled in a plain brown box labeled as a "WA-19" (a non-existent model at the moment...wonder what it was?) and expected the same.  Simple thing but a nice touch
.

Initial impressions removing it from the box: No question, I knew it from the pictures, but this is hands-down the most gorgeous DAC anywhere on the market.  Period.  The pictures don't do it justice, it's gorgeous.  It's actually more diminuitive in features than the pictures on the site could make you think...it's either bad nor good but the buttons, feet, screen etc have a more compact yet denser look to them in person.  It's a good look.  The 4 front buttons are solid aluminum, as is the clever little power switch that's hidden....it's actually built into the top left screw cap "ring" on the top (the upper 'foot').  I had to ask Jack where the switch was before I ordered since i didn't see one.  It's clearly labeled (or rather, engraved) on the button. (Take that, Wadia and your silly "you don't need a power switch, who would want to turn it off?" approach!) Buttons have that smooth but heavy feel of aluminum buttons in an aluminum socket....very solid feeling.  There's a bit of color unevenness on the top black surface (I got the black accents model to match my Woo headphone stands and the rest of my mostly black rig)  I suspect it's from the finishing process and will even out over time with cleaning and wiping and the like.  Even if it's from the anodizing, it's only visible in direct strong light and I suspect will blend in time.  Black anodizing isn't an exact science, and "made to order", it's newly treated metal. In either case, it's not significant, just worth pointing out if going over it with a fine tooth comb.

 

The serial number being stuck on the back as printed in the old style "Dymo" embossed labels is a fun old world "vintage product" touch for a decidedly new-world product like a DAC.  No doubt they've been using those stickers on vintage-style tube amps for a long time...and it's a fun thing for what is certainly the most stylistically ornate DAC chassis on the market.

 

The jacks on the back are all excellent quality, featuring Woo's custom RCA jacks (each engraved "Woo Audio" around the jack) that any Woo amp owner should be familiar with.  The XLR, IEC, USB, and Toslink jacks are the usual fare...not much room for difference there.

post #66 of 84

My setup is a bit complex so before I go into the listening impressions, a word about the connection.  This is an HE-6 rig, so it's more complex than the average headphone setup.  Since my new power conditioner doesn't have room for the Squeezebox Touch power brick between my amp and shelf until I get a power squid I'm temporarily using the Denon DNP720 as the digital transport, looped into the Behringer DEQ2496 EQ/Processor via Sonic Impact glass Toslink cable. From there I'm using a BJC Belden 1800F balanced cable for AES/EBU (AES3) into the WDS-1.  I don't have a balanced amp, so I'm using the unbalanced outs of the WDS-1 to go to the Marantz PM6004 integrated (using BJC LC-1 ICs.)  I mentioned before that Woo doesn't ship power cables.  Since a $1 Monoprice cable wouldn't affect the cost of the product, one can only assume Woo presumes folks are using exotic power cables.   While I don't really subscribe to the whole exotic power cables mess (isn't the DAC itself the power filter?) I figured if it was the intent of the DAC designer, I'd indulge my NY DAC with an NY power cable in the form of Signal Cable's MagicPower Digital Reference.  I admit, I changed two variables at once by supplying my integrated amp with the bulkier MagicPower 10awg amp cable.  The price was right, and I had a moment of weakness. Honestly I would be shocked if either of these cables made a difference over the $1 Monoprice variant that's far more flexible and workable.  And those massive IEC and hospital grade NEMA connectors are a beast to try to work with....shaping the rediculously stiff cables PRIOR to connecting them is essential so you don't end up tugging on the sockets.  But it's an impressive looking connection all the same what with a power cable slightly thicker than a garden hose snaking around itself before going into the amp.  Funny, my 15A power tools run just fine on a cable 1/3 the diameter at 30x the length....

 

So after I sorted all that out and left room in the rack for the one missing piece that will arrive in a month or so, it was finally time for a listening test!

 

Firing up the WDS-1 results in the satisfying click of the relays and the very pale illumination of the beautiful VFD display.  Compared to the gleaming lights of my amp, power conditioner, EQ/Processor, and even the OLED display of the transport, the WDS-1 screen seems barely visible.  Dim in an elegant and understated sort of way.  I like it!   Default setting was USB "No signal."  Cycling through the settings to dead last "AES/EBU" I didn't hear a perceptible click which surprised me, maybe because none of those inputs had a signal to lock.  Finally the screen displayed the beautiful "AES/EBU" then "44.1 kHz" remained on the screen.  I kept the digital volume at 80, where it was set out of the box.  This, plus the -15dB cut in 32-bit space on the processor resulted in me getting the Marantz volume pot up to about 11:00....right into the power curve and giving me a lot more play for adjusting my volume to taste than I previously had.  Ok, so I changed a third variable....but it's one that could change only as a result of the new DAC.  Ok...a forth variable too, the Bifrost was running optical (and previously coax) in...I switched to XLR AES on the WDS.  Probably doesn't make any difference, but it's another change.  But since the WDS has AES and the Bifrost does not, it's a change that goes with the upgrade.

post #67 of 84

This is the initial impressions, and I have not yet done a Bifrost A/B.  Party because in a fit of absent-mindedness I convinced myself I had too few LC-1 cables around since I had to take my Y-splitters off Bifrost to separate it from Lyr to fit the shelf.  It wasn't until this morning I realized that I indeed had all the cables I needed and somehow thought I had to connect Bifrost to the Lyr IN and Lyr OUT to the Marantz.  That would be bad. Glad I undid that before I fired up Lyr! So all the needed cables are around for A/B, which I'll do another day.

 

The album of choice was an unlikely one, but since it's one I've had glued in my mind since I did a lot of testing with my EQ using this album, it's the one I was most familiar with for a mental comparison for the moment: Bob Marley: Legend Remastered.  It's a good choice.  Classical may be more detailed but the extremes of dynamics make it hard to do DAC comarisons, and Jazz is often too L/R panned with too specific a freuqncy range at a time.  This gave some vocals and a good focused stage to work with.  A good choice for a simple memory comparison without A/B-ing yet.

 

As with all DAC changes versus amp changes, one can expect the differences to lie in subtlety over a certain level.  There was no sudden "wow this is different!" moment like a more powerful amp may present.  We're talking about two very well designed DACs with one being intended to surpass the other in the more difficult technical nuances, not in overall tonality.  The differences make themselves apparent over time with listening...few things are as subtle as DACs short of cables.

 

I can say that this DAC seems to be very neutral.  I can say the Bifrost is also neutral.   Earlier reports in this thread showed the WDS-1 to be "bright" or at least brighter than Bifrost.  I do not find this to be the case.  It seems very balanced and neutral.  Where one may get confused in that comparison, I think is that it is my opinion, so far, that the WDS has more control of the lower bass.  It may be perceived as leaning off the low-end and thus being bright, when in fact I think the Bifrost may have a slight weakness with low frequencies.  Bifrost is not bad in any way, but I think the WDS displays more control and detail in low frequency (below maybe 60-65Hz) where the Bifrost may allow some bloom to occur.  It's one of those things you don't notice until This is especially apparent with this album where the bass was so bloated the first time around I had to do a parametric -1.5dB cut at around 50-80 Hz to tame it.  Since then, for other albums that don't abuse the bass so much I droped that cut to -1.0dB which has been satisfying.  Playing this ablum with the mere -1.0dB  cut showed no bass bloat.  The difference there is the DAC (or the garden hose plugged into my amp to deliver the whopping 0.3A my power conditioner tells me I'm pulling.)  One could call it a reduction of bass, and maybe it is, but I suspect that more to the point it's reigning in bass that shouldn't have been there.  That's one of the biggest differences right there.

 

Second, one of the biggest differences that DACs generally provide me is in fatigue over time, especially at higher volume.  Bifrost solved a lot of fatigue issues for me that lesser DACs had.  It was worlds better.  But on HE-6 sometimes I was still picking up fatigue over the album, and bumping the volume down a little more as the album progressed to alleviate it.  I found I was glued to Marleys entire album without touching the volume pot more than once, which was only a micro adjustment between the first and second track.  Zero fatuge, at a relatively high volume.  Perhaps after a second album fatigue would have reared its head....but the idea is, I can listen longer at higher volume (not high volume, but at the volume I start with without a need to decrease it due to fatigue) due to whatever magic a DAC does that does or does not cause fatigue for me, the WDS-1 contains more of this magic

 

The next glaring difference to me was soundstage.  I've been playing a lot with the stereo imager on the DEQ.  I've generally settled into a range where it works well depending on the album.  The effect is obvious with HE-6 and varies depending on the mastering of the album.  More toward "1.0" (unchanged imaging) creates more L/R pan on HE-6 but also more "sound in the round" or "3D sound" (surround sound) effect on the HE-6.  More open, more instrument separation, but also more sound coming from where it should not be: behind me, without a focused center.  This is ideal for classical where, live, the sound does come from all around as it reverberates the hall.  It is not ideal for anyhing with vocals for my preference of a "speaker-like" presentation.  Moving the image narrower (to, say .6) closes in the openness of the sound, congesting it a little more, but also giving a more speaker-like center focus and distance. The first time through this ablum  had used .6 for the correct image.  Most other albums need only .7, and over-produced albums only .8.  This time though I found myself bumping it up to .5, which previously really closed in the image, it now, with the WDS-1 sounds still very alive and open, and I still have lots of sound coming from far L/R which simply did not happen at even .6 of the imager on the EQ on the Bifrost.  I'm almost afraid to see what no image change would have produced.  I would say stereo separation is significantly more separated on the WDS1, though that shouldn't be horribly surprising from a balanced DAC even in unbalanced operation.  This is probably the most overt jump going from an unbalanced to a balanced + summed DAC. For example I suspect this kind of difference would be true of Gungnir versus Bifrost as well. 

post #68 of 84

Aside from that though in addition to "more 3D soundstage with more separation" would be what I'd call a "more holographic" soundstage as well.  It's not holographic in the sense that certain tubes provide which is really a function of harmonic distortoin (Matsu PCC88 signal tubes are, for me truly holographic for example.) however there's a sense of holography to it in the sense that there are multiple layers of depth to the music.  Not just general distance of the 2-D arch around me, but that there are multiple distinct and seperate depths, where some things are one distance from me in an arch and others are farther from that at various points around the arch.  In words I'm making the effect sound more dramatic than it really is.  In reality it's a subtle layering, but it's definitively there and previously was not. 

 

Someone previously mentioned "treble harshness" of the Bifrost in comparison to the WDS-1.  I did not understand what they meant as I was unaware of treble harshness in the Bifrost.  At a few points in the recording, I realized what they meant and I believe it's also related to the fatigue factor.  At a few points Marley's voice was singing at a higher octave, and had a burst of extra volume.  I'm accustomed to cringing a little when I detect that happening when I'm listening at higher volumes, as though there's a sudden unnecessary burst of volume when it happens.  That did not happen.  I waited for it.  There was no sense of sudden volume burst associated with these more emotive passages.  I suspect it was never a volume burst but rather an instance of some treble harsheness when there's a louder passage at certain frequences.  Insignificant overall, but just the sort of thing one spends 4x more to get rid of a non-issue that's an issue to devout audiophiles :) It makes a difference!

 

And finally, the selectable "filter" (sharp or slow low-pass filter selection.)  I really have no idea what the specific differences are.  Jack even said that it might be hard to notice the difference, when I asked about it.  Honestly I think he just needed something to occupy an extra button so it was symmetric with the WTP-1 wink.gif   The difference however, with HE-6 is actually very easy to notice.  If I walked blind into a room I would have no idea what filter was in use.  If I knew the song very well and someone secretly changed my setting on me one day I may find the passage less engaging on "slow" than I previously did on "sharp".  I may not identify the filter as the cause, but I may just be less interested than usual in the track.  If I A/B the filter, the difference is immediate.  I prefer "sharp" and not by a small margin.  Maybe slow is good if you have an ultra-analytical SS amp, but with a tube amp or a "liquidy" SS amp such as a Marantz, the "sharp" mode sounds infinitely better, and is a significant contributor to that holographic sound mentioned above.  Perhaps it only matters on very fast speakers/headphones.  On slow it may sound a bit more "Bifrost-like" indicating Bifrost uses a "slow" type filter.  However when I get around to A/Bing, we'll see if it really does sound so similar. 

 

I could go on about all the detail and microdetail retrieval, and it may very well be presenting me with a lot more microdetail, but without a proper A/B, I'll refrain from comment on that.  That's not the level of difference one can compare with a memory based comparison.  I'll return to that after a proper A/B.

 

Two things that impress me about this comparison is just how good Bifrost is for the money.  To be able to compare a $450 DAC with a $1200 DAC with any sense of honesty is impressive.  That the $1200 DAC, so far, wins easily is unsurprising.  That a serous discussion can exist to compare the performance of both is a testamant to the Moffat school of design as much as it is to the Woo design. 

 

The other impressive element is just how good the Marantz PM6004 is at resolving detail and nuiance.  One would not expect a $700 (now $600) integrated to be able to keep up with the resolution of a DAC of this caliber.  Many would eschew it in favor of more exotic amps, and while I'm sure that the more exotic and powerful class-A amps are superior for HE-6 than the 6004, it's easy to overlook just how excellent a performer it is, and just how much it would probably cost if it were made by a boutique and not mass market.  An ice-cold discrete 45wpc integrated A-B or not, that can readily resolve the nuiances between the DAC's low pass filters on one of the top resolving headphones is a darned good amplifier that clearly gets closer to "wire with gain" than snob appeal would otherwise give credit for.  Is the DAC providing even more resolution that is going to waste?  Maybe.  But it's still an impressive show of detail and finesse that I could see selling for well over $1k were it to wear a badge saying "Cary" or "Pass."

post #69 of 84

Darn good impressions, IEM!

 

Either I need to get ahold of the Woo or you need to get a Gungnir. I'd love some impressions of these head to head. And overall I really think they'd share many 

of the same qualities. I feel Gungnir is very much better than Bifrost, but that doesn't detract from what a serious value it is as a DAC.

 

Looking forward to hearing more, once you've settled down, and spent some more time picking it apart. 

post #70 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by paradoxper View Post

Darn good impressions, IEM!

 

Either I need to get ahold of the Woo or you need to get a Gungnir. I'd love some impressions of these head to head. And overall I really think they'd share many 

of the same qualities. I feel Gungnir is very much better than Bifrost, but that doesn't detract from what a serious value it is as a DAC.

 

Looking forward to hearing more, once you've settled down, and spent some more time picking it apart. 

 

Thanks!  Definitely more impressions coming as time goes on and once I can do the A/B.  Yeah, I'd love to compare the Gungnir to it, though I don't see myself needing one for now :)  I'd be curious whether WDS-1 and Gungnir are direct competitors or if WDS-1 and Schiit statement are direct competitors. Or if it falls right in the middle along with its price.  I think at this level, there's probably more similarities than differences.  For use with the Behringer, IMO, the WDS-1 is the clear winner over Gungnir on account of the AES/EBU connection which is sort of the "native" format of the Behringer, even though it'll do Toslink too just as well.  Though the second set of unbalanced outs on the Gugnir would be handy biggrin.gif

post #71 of 84

Congrats on your new Woo IEMCrazy, you seem to be enjoying it!

beerchug.gif

post #72 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by grokit View Post

Congrats on your new Woo IEMCrazy, you seem to be enjoying it!

beerchug.gif


Thanks! biggrin.gif

post #73 of 84

Some more impressions.  Again, still early and not heavy-duty comparisons.

 

I decided to try some 16/44.1 redbook on it.  The Marley album was 24/96 and a good test of high-res recordings, but since the WDS-1 is intended as the "2-chassis D/A" portion of a $2,400 CDP when paired as intended with the WTP-1, I figure 16/44.1 is intended to be it's most "native" mode anyway, and that's where every bit really counts.  The album of choice was Poncho Sanchez "Psychadellic Blues".   It's a great recording of some great music on a modern album from a legend of Latin Jazz.  It's Latin, but with heavy emphasis on the jazz.  Think of it more as Latin 'Bop with a hint of chacha/samba.  It's what Miles would sound like in Cuba. Without the scratchy recording.

 

A DAC being as subtle a thing as it is, it was immediately striking to admire the sound of the system as a whole, but very easy to forget the presence of the new DAC.  I was lost in the music, enjoying the instruments, the melodies, the subtleties of the vocals in the two tracks featuring vocals, the blast of the trumpet, the slap of the hand drums, the piano tinkling, and the deep bass plucks.  This album features bass elements sound down to 20Hz and it shows. While I was busy admiring the sound of the system, being impressed by my modest amp, my HE-6, my EQ, and even the pretty scrolling of the Denon transport's OLED display, it was all too easy (and frequent) for me to forget that I was really auditioning the new DAC with the comparably dim VFD display.  Which is a good thing.  A DAC is best when it gets out of the way. Except this one is so pretty it's easy to want to notice it.  Of course, the garden hose pouring electrons into the amp is easier to notice...I hope it's big enough and isn't spilling any electrons on the floor or something....would that muddy the bass?   Do IEC plugs come with gaskets to prevent that?  Does the whole trumpet fit inside? It looks about 20% too small for that. These are the philosophical questions an audiophile needs answered.  One can never be too careful about their music hoses, especially when run at high pressure...

 

Back to the album, after the first track I bumped up the volume slightly.  That seldom happens.  But after that, while sounding appropriate in volume, something was bugging me.  I couldn't tell what but something that was presenting a sense of...not fatigue per-se...but especially with the trumpet it could be fatigue.  Brass on a headphone without rolled off treble can be fatiguing, because brass in real life can be fatiguing.  After a few tracks I figured out what it was: Too much R/L separation.  I switched to the stereo imager on DEQ and narrowed the soundstage another notch....much better.  But the intriguing part here was that I already had it on .7 which is as far as I've ever had a desire to push it before.  Now I'm pushing it to .6, and even curious about .5.  And I was still getting significant amounts of sound clearly to the right and left.  This is new and indicates a dramatic over time, but subtle on first blush shift in the soundstaging.   When adjusting the imager narrower, with the Bifrost one can perceive it as a congesting of sound in exchange for the better image.  I've noticed over both albums now when narrowing the image with the Woo that it doesn't give an image of any congesting, but simply moving the image a bit.  Even "fixing" it to correct the position from being out of position.  On the Bifrost, the feeling of widening it again created a sense of open air.  On the Woo it seems to create more a sense of breaking the soundstage, artificial surround sound (note I'd still use the "surround" for classical, as it should be.) These are the kind of differences you don't hear just sitting down and saying "hmm, sounds like a DAC", but over time with listening, and especially with processing adjustments you know you're getting something difference when you find yourself getting unexpected results from changing a setting and find yourself pushing the settings further and further.  Many people praise the HE-6's soundstage and call it speaker like.  I'm convinced these people are in need of a processor.  Once you hear an adjusted stereo image, unadjusted will never sound speaker-like again.  This is now especially true with the WDS-1.

 

So the big moment arrived.  I figured up Bifrost, now that I remembered what inputs need to be connected where.  The transport goes into the optical in of the DEQ, AES-EBU comes out to the Woo, optical out to the Bifrost.  All optical cables are glass. This means both DACs are getting identical signal with identical processing from identical transport.  The whole chain up to the DACs is shared except for the physical connection format of optical versus XLR. Both DACs are fed into the Marantz which conveniently as a pre/integrated has a number of jacks to switch between.  Also conveniently it doesn't even have a relay click when switching inputs, it's a smooth, instant switch between them...fantastic for A/B. 

 

Despite the Bifrost being rated at 2.0vrms, and the Woo at 2.2vrms, I found that my calculated 91 volume setting for volume matching was not correct...obviously volume control does not work at evenly divided portions of the output voltage, meaning it must bottom out somewhere above true zero. I found at 100% it was louder than the Bifrost, and at 99 it was just about right.  At first I was hard pressed to notice a distinct difference.  On one hand one would expect a DAC costing 4x more to have an immediate difference, but knowing audio as we do around here and knowing how good Bifrost is for the money, we know that's not how it works.  Both sounded very good as the music ramped up when switching back and forth.  Both were enjoyable.  However certain moments were much more obvious and displayed clear differences.  I now understand the Bifrost "treble harshness."  Cymbal crashes were edgy, harsh, splashy on the Bifrost, compared to the clean and crisp crash on the Woo.  The trumpet when it moved up the octaves got a little....edgy may not be the right word.  There was something "strained" about it compared to the Woo...A'Bing in vibrant trumpet sections showed an almost tonal correction in the trumpet...the timbre itself had a shift to the more real.  And I think this is related to the holography a bit.

 

Especially when the vocals kicked in I noticed a more stark contrast between the two.  The Bifrost, if you listen closely, seemed to have more of a "veil"....this could be noise floor or THD.  I think it's a little more than that in terms of presentation.  Veil is overused to mean too many different things.  In this case, things seemed more blurred together, or specifically much more one dimensional.  Things seemed more flat in texture....a clean painting but painted against a flat surface, while the Woo was a more three dimensional cutout, things had texture because they had depth to go with it.  The multi-layered holography.  Along with that goes detail resolution.  The WDS is simply better at data mining the recording and that filled in some of that texture.  Possibly a better amp could make even more use of it...though this one's doing a fine job on its own.  Also striking to me is at .6 on the stereo imager, all that sound that was coming from the L/R sides still collapsed more to the front/center with the Bifrost, implying it's already blending the two channels together more so there's less to work with.  Less R/L separation in the output.  More bleed-over.  Narrower soundstage.  No wonder I'm pushing the imaging farther front with the Woo, it's more separated to begin with and lets me move the sound even more to the front than before in processing!

 

Again, this underscores two things, the first is just what a good bargain the Bifrost is.  When scrutinized next to a DAC costing 4x its price it's weaknesses begin to be revealed.  This is to be expected, there was no doubt from the start that the Woo should be a much superior unit, and it is.  DAC differences are subtle, but the kinds of difference there are stacks up to be a major change over more listening.  But it's also amazing just how closely one must listen and evaluate to notice where the Bifrost's performance starts to fall off.  For the money it's astonishing and remains my defacto recommendation for those on a budget.  It also underscores where the high-end DAC segment does pick up advantages over it's cheaper cousins.  Soundstage/separation, detail resolution, and the mysterious depth/texture/holography that makes that jump from recording to live.  It's simply cleaner, with a blacker background and more nuiance and texture across the range, and less edge/harshness in the treble.  It also seems to handle midbass much more cleanly and with more detail and less bloom.  And yet, it's also amazing how well little Bifrost can compete against the bigger titans out there. 

 

Rarely would I ever agree with a 6Moons review, but I understand exactly what they were saying in their Bifrost review comparing it to an Eximus in a speaker rig.  Their conclusion was that in an A/B test the Eximus had more raw data mining and fine detail resolution, but the Bifrost had the basics of PRaT and tone covered, and in the absence of the Eximus, they could be happy with the Bifrost without really noticing the Eximus was gone.  I think this evaluation is quite true.  One can be very happy with the Bifrost in the absence of having something higher end that gets it just that last bit right to compare it to. 

 

The fact that that evaluation clicked so readily with me tells me both that the Bifrost is remarkable for its price tag, and also that the WDS-1 is remarkable for its price tag.  I arrived at the same evaluation between the Bifrost and the WDS-1 on my own that 6Moons did in their Bifrost review in comparing the Bifrost to the April Eximus.   The Eximus costs more than twice the WDS-1 and was my previous "dream DAC."

 

More impressions and comparisons to come...stay tuned! popcorn.gif


Edited by IEMCrazy - 9/27/12 at 8:35am
post #74 of 84

Great stuff IEMCrazy. These are seriously careful and well-considered impressions. Keep them coming.

 

BTW I can relate to all your findings about Bifrost (compared with Eastern Electric DAC and Stagedac), and I agree it's fantastic VFM.

post #75 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

Great stuff IEMCrazy. These are seriously careful and well-considered impressions. Keep them coming.

 

BTW I can relate to all your findings about Bifrost (compared with Eastern Electric DAC and Stagedac), and I agree it's fantastic VFM.


Thanks! 

 

A few more updates.  In terms of listening impressions, I'm afraid it's hard to offer anything more definitive than "it sounds fantastic!" after my prior observations.  The initial setup was the major direct comparison.  After that, I ripped the Bifrost out of the system for now and have listened exclusively to the WDS-1.  It has not, in any instance, failed to impress.   it also inspired me to open the wallet again and do some reconfiguring of my system.  So since the originial post I've upgraded the amp to a Marantz MM7025 140wpc power amplifier, and am now using the WDS-1 as the "preamp" via it's digital volume control. 

 

Huge kudos to the amp itself, it's a fantastic piece for the HE-6, and I'm very pleased with he improvement in overall noise, distortion, clarity, detail, and stereo separation.  But it further highlights just how good the separation of the WDS-1 is initially, as the amp was the bottleneck, and I've found another big jump in separation forcing me to move my stereo image one notch ahead on my DEQ.  The combined performance is exemplary.  For now I'm still running unbalanced, but the amp supports balanced, and my cables arrive by the end of the week, so I'll have a further update there in terms of running the WDS-1 over the balanced outputs.  Jack confirmed that the XLR outputs should be a little better since it's the "native" output of the chip, so if there's one more upgrade to be had out of this pair, I can't wait to hear it and compare!   The detail is impeccable, and while listening to Jimmy Cobb's "Cobb's Corner" (24/96)  the ring of the trumpet was stunningly lifelike, and the base was amazingly well controlled by the pair.  Sub-bass lacks nothing but the floor rumbling, well down to 20Hz and sounds very much like a real sub.  All that, unbalanced.

 

One note of a minor, not problem, but interesting thing of note only for certain setups is that while the WDS-1 does have a relay for startup/shutdown, as it should, it does not have a relay when switching clocks for a new sampling rate/input.  Nominally this is a non-issue since unlike power-on thumps this still goes through the regulated outputs, so the max it can send out is line level, and the preamp attenuates it with the rest of the signal.  However when using the WDS-1 as a preamp, if you're running an amplifier that's slightly overpowered into speakers that are somwhat sensitive, it can send a loud "click" into the speakers.  To give an idea, when using the PM6004 with its own attenuation, I didn't know it happened.  I had the cans on my head and the click I heard, I thought was a relay in the device, I hadn't realized it was in the headphones.  When I moved to the MM7025, the first time it happend the cans were on my head and I jumped sky high....that was a pretty darn loud click.  Not loud enough to damage the drivers, nor loud enough to damage my ears, but enough to make me jump by surprise of a sudden noise double the volume of where the music was set. If using real loudspeakers and using the WDS as a pre, I suppose it could be somewhat annoying, particularly if you have a huge playlist on shuffle and it contains a mix of sample rates.  Not that a relay click isn't annoying with that too, but depending on speaker sensitivity it could be extremely annoying.   It should be noted that running relayless for such things isn't unique to the WDS.  The PM6004 itself runs relayless when switching inputs and can present the same sort of issue, aside from it's attenuator. Given that, I think I'll be installing the HE-Adapter on the amp to curb the ear zap of the click, though I was planning to do this anyway for safety purposes and already had one on order before I discovered this.  Once the resistors are in place, it will again be an irrelevent issue. I'll hear it, but it won't be double the volume of the music, and it's a non issue if using a normal preamp or HP amp with its own attenuation.  It's only an issue if running straight into a power amp as its own pre, which effectively means "HE-6 owners and speaker separates users" and is only an issue there if the max power on the amp is way more than the speaker's limits and you're running without proper resistance on the circuit...rarely an issue for 8" cones.   Again, once I have my HE-Adapter resistors in the path, even the non-issue that it is will cease to exist.

 

Also, to make my WDS-1 a more proper preamp, I ordered the matching remote to go with it.   It's smaller than I expected.  A petite squarish affair, constructed out of aluminum, both the case and the buttons.   I wish it had a mute button, but that is not the case.  The buttons, especially the volume buttons at the bottom are extraordinarily loud.  It sounds like I'm using a stapler to change the volume.  And yet it's hard not to like the remote.  It has tons of detail, the buttons are easy to find, detailed in their ridges, and feel great.  It feels good in the hand, and has a great 80's retro hi-fi vibe about it that I like.  The catch is, I can't figure out how to change the batteries!  There's a plastic insert in the back that looks like it would be battery related, but I can find no way to open it.  I suspect the two Torx screws on the bottom of the remote may have something to do with it, but I'll see what Jack says.

 

For now, that's the latest updates until I'm running in full balanced and can comment on any differences between the unbalanced and balanced outs!

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