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REVIEW: Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 - Page 16

post #226 of 267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brother love View Post

Greetings,

 

I know some of you here as I have posted  on the audiokarma- Grant Fidelity forum (I generated the tube rolling spreadsheet for the TubeDAC-11).  Other than complimenting Project86 earlier in this thread for a fantastic review of the TD-11, I seldom post at head-fi since I have always been about my 2 channel main system.  Well, that is changing dramatically in a few months as we are moving to a downtown condo in a 1927 building.  Even with sound treatments in place, the main system will be reduced significantly loudness-wise.

 

So with that, I am ready to delve aggressively into the headphone world so I can “crank it up” when the mood strikes (which is often).  I have already chosen my closed cans for this journey: the new Mr. Speakers Alpha Dogs (heavily modified Fostex T50RP’s).  Rest of system is Mac Mini dedicated music server w/ J Keny USB/SPDIF converter, TubeDAC-11, “amp to be determined”, Alpha Dogs.

 

The Alpha Dogs have a 50 ohm impedance,. 250 mW  min & 1 w/ ch or greater recommended. Sensitivity is 94 dB/ mW.  With a Rat Shack SPL meter, I generally set volume to 82 dB or so w/ 85 dB peaks.

 

So I could use the headphone out of the TD-11 (I have some cheaper JVC HA-S400’s but wasn’t all that impressed).   I assume the Tube Out probably is too much for these cans since 300 ohm or greater is mentioned by Ian in his TD-11 specs.  Since these AD's are said to be harder to drive, does that allow the Tube Out to possibly be considered?  Does the TD-11 back panel Y adapter to Line Out or DAC out garner any improvements vs. the front panel headphone out ? I’ll be adding a better headphone amp later on, but just curious what TD-11 owners think.

 

 

For that situation I'd definitely stick with the front panel headphone jack. I mean, you certainly could try the tube out via adapter - it's not like it costs much for the splitter. But the damping factor will be inadequate imho. Planar magnetic designs like the Alpha Dogs are less sensitive to output impedance compared to dynamic designs, but there's still a limit. 

post #227 of 267

The tube out will drive my 32 ohm Grados to great effect IF I am listening to easy-going music, like a solo instrument without much bass (flute, violin, etc.) or maybe a vocalist and a guitar, but that's about it.  On the other 95% of the music I listen to, it falls apart. You know, it might be worth it to drive the new $99 Schiit headamp or some other solid state overperformer with the tube out and see what gives.  Anyone done that?

post #228 of 267

Agree with project86. The headphone output on the front is definitely better for most low impedance headphones.

 

A few pages back I measured the output impedance of the tube out around 150 ohms. This is too high for most low impedance headphones even if damping factor is not a issue ie. ortho drivers. The miss-match in output impedance will cause both a voltage drop and distortion.

 

Another consideration is that the tube out is also current limited. For current demanding headphone drivers with low sensitivity, you could end up with issues depending on volume and music choice.

 

My opinion is that the tube output is best used as a lineout or preamp connected to a solid state amp that can "buffer" the high output impedance and low current. Something like the Schiit $99 magni should work very well. Just be careful with the volume control since the output voltage from the tubedac-11 is capable of over driving the input stage of headphone amps if you push the volume dial too far.

 

Edit: I use a Yulong A100 connected to the tubeout with a Sylvania 6DJ8 tube inside the tubedac. If budget permits, I would suggest the A100 for a matching headphone amp. This combination is surprisingly good.


Edited by 2000impreza - 8/16/13 at 9:40am
post #229 of 267

Originally Posted by 2000impreza View Post

Agree with project86. The headphone output on the front is definitely better for most low impedance headphones.

 

A few pages back I measured the output impedance of the tube out around 150 ohms. This is too high for most low impedance headphones even if damping factor is not a issue ie. ortho drivers. The miss-match in output impedance will cause both a voltage drop and distortion.

 

Another consideration is that the tube out is also current limited. For current demanding headphone drivers with low sensitivity, you could end up with issues depending on volume and music choice.

 

My opinion is that the tube output is best used as a lineout or preamp connected to a solid state amp that can "buffer" the high output impedance and low current. Something like the Schiit $99 magni should work very well. Just be careful with the volume control since the output voltage from the tubedac-11 is capable of over driving the input stage of headphone amps if you push the volume dial too far.

 

Edit: I use a Yulong A100 connected to the tubeout with a Sylvania 6DJ8 tube inside the tubedac. If budget permits, I would suggest the A100 for a matching headphone amp. This combination is surprisingly good.

 

Sums it up perfectly.. I ran the TD-11's tube out to a Lake People G-109 (and later, the Violectric V200).. and it was terrific.  The Magni is an excellent suggestion.. especially if you're using (current-loving) orthos.. it's quite transparent and delivers over a watt into 32-50 ohms I think.  The one complaint some had with the Magni is that it lacks enough travel on the pot before the volume gets uncomfortably high.. but a pre-amp (TD-11) is the perfect remedy for this.

 

IME, the Magni sounds best with the pot around 11am-1pm.. so set it there and use the TD-11 pre to adjust the volume.  For $99, I can't think of anything better for orthos.. if you're willing to spend a little more, I definitely suggest looking into the Lake People/Violectric line of amps.. they sound sinfully good with everything.. but especially good with orthos (I've driven the T50RP Paradox, HE-400, and HE-500 off them and they've never sounded better).

 

Good luck brotherlove.. glad to see you pop in over here.. as we've had plenty of discussion over in the AK neck of the woods.


Edited by FlySweep - 8/16/13 at 11:02am
post #230 of 267
I use a Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11 with the Russian Rocket for my TV 2.0 set up and am very happy with it. I just got an email from massdrop.com that the amp's producer, Yulong, is allowing their D100 MKII Amp/Dac combo to be sold on their site at considerable discount (depends on the number of buyers). This is a heads up, not a classified ad, so if interested check it out at massdrop.com. They're legit. Appears to run until Aug 25.
Edited by highstream - 8/16/13 at 8:34pm
post #231 of 267

Thanks for the heads up, highstream.. man, that's so tempting.

 

:-o

post #232 of 267

after spending a small fortune on tubes before discovering the russian rockets affinity with the td11 and finally dropping a fast $250 bucks on 2 nos us amperex before the 2nd of those two proved to be my be-all tube for the hd800 and t1s i was using (signal going to an rsa hr2 solid state can amp); I have now reverted to using the DAC out for my digital source files and bypassing the td11 completely for my analog rig.   "how did this happen?"; one or two fellow headfier's may ask (since i have been such a strong proponent of the tubeout feeding the hr2). wellllllll..............

 

1st I finally was able to afford a used pair of lcd-3s. had to sell the t1s and a kidney to do so, but it was well worth it. the lcd3 is everything i'd hoped it might be after trying the lcd2 and finding them lacking compared to the hd800 and t1. the LCD-3 are the end all can for me for rock n roll, just as the hd800 are for classical and any recording requiring a wider soundstage or simply a different voicing/perspective from the LCD-3. i've reached the limit of my wallet with these, and can live with them permanently. the grado rs1 and rs1i covered me for rock for 20 years or more, so i'm serious about staying put now.

 

but i knew the hr2 wasn't engineered when any lcds existed; and was convinced by a friend here that i owed it to myself to try an amp more designed for the task (driving the lcd3s). So, being on a budget I ignored the $2000 + amp being recognized as the shazamm for lcd3's, and bought a used Burson Soloist after reading from many many lcd3 owners (and being told on the phone by people at Audeze) that the LCD3s love being driven by the Burson.

 

plugged in the burson and immediately knew i'd only been getting about 60% outta my lcd3s. after a few days i decided to try em without tubes. so reverted to the DAC OUT feeding the Soloist. KaPow!!!! Perfect (or near perfect) combination. the burson delivers ALL the killer qualities of my $150 amperex tube, but with far more authority. the td11 fed via a nuforce s/pdif / usb converter continues to give me great sonics. someday i'll try a more expensive DAC, but using the td11 is not exactly roughing it. for now the money i had aside for a dac went into my daughter's recording studio for an interface and a killer mic (audio technica 4047). gotta keep my priorities straight.    


Edited by analog'd - 8/16/13 at 8:23pm
post #233 of 267
Thanks for the good info everyone. I prefer using the TD-11 tube out to my main amp, so I decided to get a dedicated headphone amp with tubes for the new Alpha Dog modified Fostex T50RP's headphones. I picked up a used Schiit Lyr that produces 4w max/ ch for the 50 ohm impedance cans & uses 2 of the same tubes as the TD-11, so it's a win-win (particularly since the Alpha Dogs are neutral, more revealing; so hoping it's a good synergy w/ the Lyr). I'll use the TD-11 line out or dac out for headphone duty. My $850 headphone/ amp budget increased to $950 afer all is said & done, but I can live w/ that, haha.

analog'd,

Congrats on the LCD-3's & Burson combo. Mr. Speakers, Dan likes the Burson gear with his headphone line. Says that while higher wattage is normally preferred, the Burson Soloist has a beefy power supply that allows it to really sing with his products. Your line out connection success helps to validate the direction I wanted to purse. Thanks!
Edited by brother love - 8/17/13 at 4:06am
post #234 of 267

I have a question about the TubeDAC-11 and apologize if it was covered somewhere else - this is my first time on this forum. Can the DAC-11 be used to step up the output of a low output moving coil cartridge, then have the DAC-11 output that signal to a preamp & amp to a pair of speakers? I currently use only high output moving coil cartridges (never had the $ or the knowledge to buy a step-up unit)...so if this DAC can do that, it would push me into buying one.

post #235 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrEwing View Post
 

I have a question about the TubeDAC-11 and apologize if it was covered somewhere else - this is my first time on this forum. Can the DAC-11 be used to step up the output of a low output moving coil cartridge, then have the DAC-11 output that signal to a preamp & amp to a pair of speakers? I currently use only high output moving coil cartridges (never had the $ or the knowledge to buy a step-up unit)...so if this DAC can do that, it would push me into buying one.

i'm not clear on your setup or your needs. the td11 is a dac and a preamp with assorted ins and outs. however it is NOT a phono preamp.

 

i have used it with great success as my preamp for the signal coming out of my phono pre. it's flexibility allows using it with tube or solid state output for both an input analog signal (in this case from the phono pre) and from it's dac. can you describe your rig/signal path from turntablr to spkrs or headphones?

post #236 of 267

Right now my turntable connects via RCA cables to my preamp, and my preamp connects via RCA to my amp, and like I mentioned, I use a high output movign coil cartridge which has an output signal that has a high enough voltage that the preamp can handle it easily.

 

The DAC 11 will also connect to the preamp through RCA cables - I'm lucky that my preamp has multiple input connectors so I can plug BOTH the tube and solid state outputs from the DAC into my preamp (and I'll be able to instantly switch between the DAC outputs to listen to the differences)!

post #237 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by BradleyP View Post

The tube out will drive my 32 ohm Grados to great effect IF I am listening to easy-going music, like a solo instrument without much bass (flute, violin, etc.) or maybe a vocalist and a guitar, but that's about it.  On the other 95% of the music I listen to, it falls apart. You know, it might be worth it to drive the new $99 Schiit headamp or some other solid state overperformer with the tube out and see what gives.  Anyone done that?


That's what I do now, i run the tube out into the o2 amp, its clean, transparent and completely neutral. Zero coloration. I get that sweet tube sound with zero interference from an outside amp signature
Edited by Dutchi MerenGue - 9/6/13 at 8:02am
post #238 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by analog'd View Post
 

after spending a small fortune on tubes before discovering the russian rockets affinity with the td11 and finally dropping a fast $250 bucks on 2 nos us amperex before the 2nd of those two proved to be my be-all tube for the hd800 and t1s i was using (signal going to an rsa hr2 solid state can amp); I have now reverted to using the DAC out for my digital source files and bypassing the td11 completely for my analog rig.   "how did this happen?"; one or two fellow headfier's may ask (since i have been such a strong proponent of the tubeout feeding the hr2). wellllllll..............

 

1st I finally was able to afford a used pair of lcd-3s. had to sell the t1s and a kidney to do so, but it was well worth it. the lcd3 is everything i'd hoped it might be after trying the lcd2 and finding them lacking compared to the hd800 and t1. the LCD-3 are the end all can for me for rock n roll, just as the hd800 are for classical and any recording requiring a wider soundstage or simply a different voicing/perspective from the LCD-3. i've reached the limit of my wallet with these, and can live with them permanently. the grado rs1 and rs1i covered me for rock for 20 years or more, so i'm serious about staying put now.

 

but i knew the hr2 wasn't engineered when any lcds existed; and was convinced by a friend here that i owed it to myself to try an amp more designed for the task (driving the lcd3s). So, being on a budget I ignored the $2000 + amp being recognized as the shazamm for lcd3's, and bought a used Burson Soloist after reading from many many lcd3 owners (and being told on the phone by people at Audeze) that the LCD3s love being driven by the Burson.

 

plugged in the burson and immediately knew i'd only been getting about 60% outta my lcd3s. after a few days i decided to try em without tubes. so reverted to the DAC OUT feeding the Soloist. KaPow!!!! Perfect (or near perfect) combination. the burson delivers ALL the killer qualities of my $150 amperex tube, but with far more authority. the td11 fed via a nuforce s/pdif / usb converter continues to give me great sonics. someday i'll try a more expensive DAC, but using the td11 is not exactly roughing it. for now the money i had aside for a dac went into my daughter's recording studio for an interface and a killer mic (audio technica 4047). gotta keep my priorities straight.   

 

and this week i'm liking the tube output. go figure. the only difference I can swear to is there are a LOT more hours on my Soloist, but the "far more authority" via dac out is not holding true any longer. now, i've only compared a couple of recordings, then i swapped to the tube full time. some tube!!!

post #239 of 267
LOL!!!!! Mums the word 😜
post #240 of 267

Do you know what we lovers of worthy music and fine audio like best, analog'd?  We like variety.  Sometimes the tube does it, sometimes the transistors do.  Sometimes we like orthodynamic drivers, sometimes piston drivers, or open back, or closed back.  I listen to music via my td-11 with Audioengine A2s most of the time.  Sometimes I like the speakers at the back of my desk for a more distant, realistic soundstage.  Right now, I like them about six inches closer, which is less "realistic," but I can perceive more detail, a deeper soundstage, and a flatter frequency response.  It's half way between speaker fi and head fi, which is really cool for me...today.  That Russian Rocket you recommended ain't going anywhere, though. 

 

Say, do you use an upgraded power cord or any power conditioning on the TD-11?

 

FWIW, my TD-11 volume control got really crackly over the last few months.  It drove me nuts!  Finally, I bought a thumb-sized can of DeOxit Gold and gave the inside of the control one squirt.  Ninety percent of the problem was gone immediately.  Five percent more was gone in another day, and the rest resolved a couple of days after that.  It's been fine for two weeks, now.  I wonder if some of that stuff in the tube socket and on the pins might yield some benefit.

 

When I read the Plato quote at the end of your posts, I think you are fighting a battle to keep your headphone rig out of the five-figure range.  Good luck!  (Or not, as the case may be.)

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