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REVIEW: Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 - Page 3

post #31 of 267
Thread Starter 

I figured as much. Tube Out to an nice amp like M-Stage works great - especially with an upgraded tube in the mix like you have. 

post #32 of 267

The Grant Fidelity TubeDac-11 used as a dac and as a tube staging (tube processing) device (ie using the tube out) can actually be superb when placed in a stream with higher end gear.

 

I needed a USB DAC which prompted me to give it a try and I'm very happy with it's dac capabilities. Even happier with it's tube staging/tube out functionality with both 24/96 via it's DAC and a signal from a good phono stage as input. In my system the solid state line out and headphone jack out are not up to the task (ie the sonics go down hill when adding these to my rig in any configuration). However the "DAC out", which bypasses all processing post-DAC, is very good and the tube out is actually outstanding (unheard of in this price point really when considering it's flexability and DAC).

 

I have no doubt that rolling the tube from its quite fine and neutral stock tube to the right NOS Mullard or Bugle Boy is going to bring it to the level that I seek as a long term solution. The alternative path for me would be to "buy up" to a higher level solid state output DAC, but from what I'm hearing I think I would only break even with any Dac for $1,000 or under, and I would not be able to put my vinyl stream through it as I am doing with this (let alone do any further tube rolling)

 

What I am finding to be outstanding:

 

A) 24/96 via usb to the TUBEDAC-11 from an ancient pc  or B) VPI Aries turntable w/Benz Micro Ruby IIH cart > PASS AUDIO ALEPH ONO phone pre > analog input of TubeDac11 > > harmonic technologies rca interconnects from the TD11's tubeout > Ray Samuels Audio HR2 Headphone amp ) >to either A) Grado RS1i or Sennheiser HD580(/650 cord) > my aged ears. and/or > B) HT rca's to David Berning/ Audionics of Oregon tube power amp running at 40 watts with zero feedback> Kef 105.2 or DCM Time Window speakers > my aged ears.    

 

  

caveat: As a headphone amp it's just ok imo, but not in the same league as a really good dedicated headphone amp such as the RSA HR2.

that said, my stepson is using his TubeDac-11's headphone jack and finds it far better driving his Grado HF1's than the headphone jack of his NAD home theater receiver. so for his rig and experience this is the best hp amp he's had. Everything is relative.  

 

I have to revisit driving the Senns straight from the tube out but all my initial listening told me that providing the signal to the RSA HR2 was a huge improvement. Others are reporting that they are having very good results straight from the DAC11 tubeout to Senns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.   


Edited by analog'd - 5/5/12 at 6:01pm
post #33 of 267

i ordered a matrix m stage 2 days ago and am just waiting for delivery, im really looking forward to ab'ing the dac out with the tube out when i introduce a new headamp to the chain, i'll give impressions once i recieve it

 

 

and to analog'd i found the headphone out to be superb with all of my phones other than the notoriously hard to drive k601 which i have to max out volume to get decent sound, and even then it impresses, no distortion crackling or anything of that nature, just the same famous black background the tubedac 11 is known for

post #34 of 267

Just a FYI, I tested the TubeDAC-11 output impedance for both headphone and tube outputs (see below). The output impedance of 160 ohms for the tube out is quite high for driving most headphones. Probably best suited as a line out to a amp rather than driving headphones. The headphone output impedance is fairly acceptable at about 5 ohms.

 

Results:

Headphone out: 5.14 ohms

Tube out: 159.5 ohms

post #35 of 267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2000impreza View Post

Just a FYI, I tested the TubeDAC-11 output impedance for both headphone and tube outputs (see below). The output impedance of 160 ohms for the tube out is quite high for driving most headphones. Probably best suited as a line out to a amp rather than driving headphones. The headphone output impedance is fairly acceptable at about 5 ohms.

 

Results:

Headphone out: 5.14 ohms

Tube out: 159.5 ohms

 

Thanks for that info. The tube out does indeed vary quite a bit from one headphone to the next, in terms of how good or bad it sounds. Definitely a safer bet with 300 ohm Sennheisers and 600 ohm models like Beyers. Even with those you are somewhat under the ideal 1:8 ratio for damping, so no guarantees. But subjectively the results can be nice. 

post #36 of 267

Hi Project86 thanks for the great reviews as always, how does it compare to audinst? I'm thinking of upgrading from audinst, would this do or should i just go to the audiotrack dr dac2?

post #37 of 267

Everybody here really knows their head phones.  I know nothing in that dept but the TD11 remains the best non-used purchase I've made in my stereo, and I only use it's DAC output.  The tube appeal drew me in for the purchase (as well as the $275 pre-order rate), and I may have listened to the tube for all of one day, but I already have tubes upstream in my Conrad Johnson preamp+amp so the DAC output made for far better system matching with my ultra revealing speakers and silver cables.  The next time I do decide to give that tube a listen I won't be surprised if the thing is burned out.

A couple weeks ago I did a DAC compare with a $1600 nuforce DAC by plugging both units into separate USB ports in my netbook, ran the dacs into two separate inputs on my preamp, and then juggled the playback output mid-song in Fubar2000 (wasapi) by hitting ^P, switching the playback device in the dropdown, and then clicking the OK button at the same moment that I switched input on the preamp.  The difference in favor of the TD11 was so extreme that I thought the gains must be mismatched, or the TD11 my have some equalization circuitry (like BBE if anyone remembers that) that is making it's sound so much more brilliant and effervescent.  Again, the kind of difference that declares a winner in one second flat.  And this may have been the case because for me the TD11 USB driver isn't trouble free, and things didn't get better when I was juggling both drivers.  From my experience the TD11's ASIO driver did nothing to improve over what I heard using Window 7's plug-n-play driver in Foobar with and w/o WASAPI enabled.

Last night I was looking on Cirrus' site...
http://www.cirrus.com/en/products/cs4398.html

...and I saw that they have a "CDB4398 Evaluation Board Data Sheet" dated 7/2003.  Really?  I had attributed this great sound to recent advances in DAC processing -- that's clearly not the case.  And if you go here you'll see they are selling the chip for $10!
http://www.newark.com/cirrus-logic/cs4398-czz/ic-dac-24bit-192ksps-tssop-28/dp/88H6447?Ntt=cs4398

Even if you don't care about the tube, multiple inputs, and preamp, I think the TD11 is still a crazy bargain, relative to what the rest of the market is doing.  The fact that I haven't heard anything better at any price says I haven't listened to enough DACs to properly judge the TD11.  If you're trying to build the best sound at the best dollar I think the real savings lie in used hifi stuff that has recently fallen into the "vintage" category at mid-fi prices.  But that formula doesn't apply to DACs because that industry is still maturing.  Obama slapped China with a 31% export tariff on solar panels for selling below "far market value".  Let's hope that Chi-Fi doesn't make big enough waves to become the next Tariff target.

post #38 of 267

has anyone used the pc 1.5 power plug sold by gf on their td11? i'm just really curious to see if it really can make the sort of difference the testimonials on that site would have you believe, i was thinking about buying one and trying it or getting a pyramid power supply (the one most commonly used with the v dac) to see what all the fuss is about

 

 

 

in my eyes, it all just seems like one big ass placebo effect, not saying a cleaner electrical signal could'nt make some sort of difference but the scale of which some people claim is the part i'm having a hard time believing

post #39 of 267
Originally Posted by Dutchi MerenGue View Post

has anyone used the pc 1.5 power plug sold by gf on their td11? i'm just really curious to see if it really can make the sort of difference the testimonials on that site would have you believe, i was thinking about buying one and trying it or getting a pyramid power supply (the one most commonly used with the v dac) to see what all the fuss is about

 

in my eyes, it all just seems like one big ass placebo effect, not saying a cleaner electrical signal could'nt make some sort of difference but the scale of which some people claim is the part i'm having a hard time believing

I ordered the PC 1.5 cord along with the TD-11.  Surprisingly, I've never tried comparing it to the stock power cable cause I've never used one with the TD-11.  LOL.  I'll A/B it this weekend and get back to you.

 

BTW, there's a TD-11 mod (for sale) out now.. I'm going to research it a bit more and possibly have it done some time down the line.  I'm too darn happy with the TD-11 in it's current (stock) state.


Edited by FlySweep - 6/1/12 at 7:58pm
post #40 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

I ordered the PC 1.5 cord along with the TD-11.  Surprisingly, I've never tried comparing it to the stock power cable cause I've never used one with the TD-11.  LOL.  I'll A/B it this weekend and get back to you.

 

BTW, there's a TD-11 mod (for sale) out now.. I'm going to research it a bit more and possibly have it done some time down the line.  I'm too darn happy with the TD-11 in it's current (stock) state.

 

 

cool, thanks, i think we'd all look forward to your impressions on it, i wonder if gf would let me try it out myself for 30 days to see if i can hear any differences

post #41 of 267

This DAC better than a Bifrost by technical characteristics?

 

Which tube DAC can be better than TubeDAC-11 for about $800?  


Edited by danik97 - 6/13/12 at 8:09am
post #42 of 267

How the TubeDAC-11 compared to the Nuforce HDP?

post #43 of 267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by danik97 View Post

This DAC better than a Bifrost by technical characteristics?

 

Which tube DAC can be better than TubeDAC-11 for about $800?  

 

Depends on your philosophy about design. 

 

For $800 or less, the Yulong D100 MKII is better than the TubeDAC. So is their Sabre D18 DAC. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FOXY View Post

How the TubeDAC-11 compared to the Nuforce HDP?

 

 

Sorry, I have yet to hear the HDP for myself. 

post #44 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

 

Depends on your philosophy about design. 

 

For $800 or less, the Yulong D100 MKII is better than the TubeDAC. So is their Sabre D18 DAC. 

 

 

 

 

 

If comparing SS outputs and headphones then the D100 MKII is slightly better and the D18/A18 is better and quite the combo. But once you use the tube outs on the TubeDAC-11 the 11 is IMO better, especially after getting the tube that is just right for you, when using a $200+ CCA or pinched waste tube on the tube outs, SS at any price is likely going to take a back seat. If you have hard to drive headphones then the Yulong is a better bet, or you run the TubeDAC-11 tube outs into a dedicated headphone amp ( The A-18 :). The TubeDAC-11 has 3 different stock flavours of sound, tube rolling give you an almost endless supply of more flavours and unless you run the TubeDAC-11 with our PC-1.5 or a similar RF reduction based power cable design, you still haven't heard the TubeDAC-11 !

 

Cheers,

Ian

post #45 of 267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant Fidelity View Post

 

If comparing SS outputs and headphones then the D100 MKII is slightly better and the D18/A18 is better and quite the combo. But once you use the tube outs on the TubeDAC-11 the 11 is IMO better, especially after getting the tube that is just right for you, when using a $200+ CCA or pinched waste tube on the tube outs, SS at any price is likely going to take a back seat. If you have hard to drive headphones then the Yulong is a better bet, or you run the TubeDAC-11 tube outs into a dedicated headphone amp ( The A-18 :). The TubeDAC-11 has 3 different stock flavours of sound, tube rolling give you an almost endless supply of more flavours and unless you run the TubeDAC-11 with our PC-1.5 or a similar RF reduction based power cable design, you still haven't heard the TubeDAC-11 !

 

Cheers,

Ian

 

Good points Ian. I really do appreciate the "flavors" offered by the TubeDAC-11. It's like an audio chameleon, fitting into different systems in different ways. I just got my hands on a Genelex Gold Lion which sounds very nice in the TubeDAC, without costing too much. It's a big upgrade over the stock tube (which is already quite nice). 

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