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Schiit Gungnir DAC - Page 60

post #886 of 1629
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankty View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by judmarc View Post



Unfortunately the Mac minis and BookPro won't do S/PDIF > 96. It look like its time to build a PC to do the job - as much as I hate the idea.

 

 

Or you should be able to install windows on your Mac as the windows audio drivers I believe should allow 24/192. 

post #887 of 1629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erukian View Post

 

 

Or you should be able to install windows on your Mac as the windows audio drivers I believe should allow 24/192. 

Uh, no.  I can put together some piece of junk for cheap enough.  I run Win7, Linux, whatever, but only as virtual machines.  Not worth wasting my MacBook on this task.

If it really is the software in the OSX Kernel or a Driver, then I'll start hacking when I find time.

post #888 of 1629
If you're talking about optical out from Mac, 24/96 is a hardware limit, so don't waste your time.

And how'd you (or someone you quoted from) make it look like I was saying I'd build a Win machine? I already have one (run Linux and FreeBSD also), but my main rig with the Bifrost I run Mountain Lion on a MacBook Pro with Audirvana+ over USB, and that's not changing soon.
post #889 of 1629

There is so much misinformation out there.

 

The DAC chips in modern macs are completely capable of 24/192 but the optical output is limited under Mac OS X to 24/96. This has nothing to do with building a PC because it's more economical, that's not even relevant to this technical discussion.

 

If you don't believe me - install windows 8/7/Vista with the latest audio drivers on your mac in bootcamp and look for yourself. You can easily blow away the partition when you're done.

post #890 of 1629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erukian View Post

There is so much misinformation out there.

The DAC chips in modern macs are completely capable of 24/192 but the optical output is limited under Mac OS X to 24/96. This has nothing to do with building a PC because it's more economical, that's not even relevant to this technical discussion.

If you don't believe me - install windows 8/7/Vista with the latest audio drivers on your mac in bootcamp and look for yourself. You can easily blow away the partition when you're done.

Almost completely right. The 24/96 hardware limitation is not in the DAC chip, it is in the optical output hardware. So that's where I was saying not to waste time trying to get resolutions above 24/96 - from the optical SPDIF output. Other outputs are perfectly capable, as you say, of 24/192 (or over) to external DACs, or up to 24/192 using the internal DAC.
post #891 of 1629

I've been searching continuously for a way to get 24/196 (non-USB) out of a Mini or MacBook.  It looks like the only hope is Thunderbolt.  There is professional gear heading down that path.  A bit pricy when one could build a complete cheap PC to do the same.

 

Anyway, check this out:  64 channels of 24/192.  Maybe someone will take pity and give us just one channel of S/PDIF coax ..

http://apogeedigital.com/products/symphony-io.php#thunderbridge

 

At least this means the parts are probably available off the shelf.

 

Has anyone really/actually been successful at getting bootcamp to run the toslink @ 24/192 (with a decent cable at least), or has this all been speculation?

 

Cheers,

Frank

post #892 of 1629
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankty View Post

I've been searching continuously for a way to get 24/196 (non-USB) out of a Mini or MacBook.  It looks like the only hope is Thunderbolt.  There is professional gear heading down that path.  A bit pricy when one could build a complete cheap PC to do the same.

Anyway, check this out:  64 channels of 24/192.  Maybe someone will take pity and give us just one channel of S/PDIF coax ..
http://apogeedigital.com/products/symphony-io.php#thunderbridge

At least this means the parts are probably available off the shelf.

Has anyone really/actually been successful at getting bootcamp to run the toslink @ 24/192 (with a decent cable at least), or has this all been speculation?

Cheers,
Frank

I've run Boot Camp on my MBP to try out Windows players with the Bifrost. For Toslink on Mac, 24/96 is a hardware limitation. It is not physically possible to get 24/192 out of the optical digital connection on a Mac.

Why all the searching for a non-USB solution? On my system USB sounded best, so why not try it?
post #893 of 1629
Quote:
Originally Posted by judmarc View Post


I've run Boot Camp on my MBP to try out Windows players with the Bifrost. For Toslink on Mac, 24/96 is a hardware limitation. It is not physically possible to get 24/192 out of the optical digital connection on a Mac.

Why all the searching for a non-USB solution? On my system USB sounded best, so why not try it?

Bummer.  Do the bootcamp drivers just not work, or is the toslink reporting that it can't do those rates?  The native windows drivers supposedly do not work on any toslink above 96k, but there are out drivers out there that do.

 

As for USB - I do, I have.  I've both a Bifrost and Gungnir.  The USB adds an extra layer to the signal path.  Our favorite vendor says "our USB is better than most, but still .."

 

It's like climbing a mountain, you can't see the view until you're at the top.  Well, I want to be able to truly A/B coax vs USB at any rate.  And NOT using a USB to coax adapter - adding stuff to the signal path, how stupid is that?  Except for maybe .. a FIFO that re-clocks the signal, check out:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digital-line-level/192465-asynchronous-i2s-fifo-project-ultimate-weapon-fight-jitter.html

 

Cheers, Frank

post #894 of 1629
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankty View Post

Bummer.  Do the bootcamp drivers just not work, or is the toslink reporting that it can't do those rates?  The native windows drivers supposedly do not work on any toslink above 96k, but there are out drivers out there that do.

As for USB - I do, I have.  I've both a Bifrost and Gungnir.  The USB adds an extra layer to the signal path.  Our favorite vendor says "our USB is better than most, but still .."

It's like climbing a mountain, you can't see the view until you're at the top.  Well, I want to be able to truly A/B coax vs USB at any rate.  And NOT using a USB to coax adapter - adding stuff to the signal path, how stupid is that?  Except for maybe .. a FIFO that re-clocks the signal, check out:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digital-line-level/192465-asynchronous-i2s-fifo-project-ultimate-weapon-fight-jitter.html

Cheers, Frank

Hi, Frank. The I2S looks mighty interesting, and has even drawn the attention of Demian Martin, a designer of some extremely fine audio equipment (just as Mike and Jason are, which is what initially drew me to the Schiit DACs). I wonder if Twisted Pear might have something DIY that at least outputs I2S, don't know about the async though.

When I say the 24/96 is a hardware limit, I mean no matter what drivers you use, the optical module in a MacBook can't output a signal over 96k.

BTW, what makes you think USB intrinsically has more "layers"? Have a look at Audirvana+ and "integer mode" and "direct mode."
Edited by judmarc - 2/9/13 at 7:01am
post #895 of 1629
Quote:
Originally Posted by judmarc View Post


Hi, Frank. The I2S looks mighty interesting, and has even drawn the attention of Demian Martin, a designer of some extremely fine audio equipment (just as Mike and Jason are, which is what initially drew me to the Schiit DACs). I wonder if Twisted Pear might have something DIY that at least outputs I2S, don't know about the async though.

When I say the 24/96 is a hardware limit, I mean no matter what drivers you use, the optical module in a MacBook can't output a signal over 96k.

BTW, what makes you think USB intrinsically has more "layers"? Have a look at Audirvana+ and "integer mode" and "direct mode."

 

Yeah, I use A+, direct and integer.  As for USB and "layers" ..  The object is to take the DSD or PCM bit stream from some file and dump it into the DAC.  I2S, DSD and to some extent PCM are fundamentally similar protocols.  You pull the (say flac) blocks from a file, uncompress, DSD->PCM as required and pump it directly out S/PDIF or I2S to the DAC.  To get to USB the physical layer (look up the ISO stack) is very much different so you need to munge the stream into USB.  Then the DAC gets the USB and munges it back to something more like I2S, DSD.

 

THE engineers can comment about exactly the flow and transformations.  There is a reason that the Schiit DACs have the USB board as an option.  It's the extra layer in HW.

 

Jason - did I get that sorta right?

post #896 of 1629
Thanks, Frank, the info is much appreciated. Learning new stuff is a pleasure. Time for some research.
post #897 of 1629

the reader's digest version of the first nineteen pages would be:

 

 

Quote:
m2man

I'm not sure I have anything good/fair to compare it with. It easily beats my Fostex HP-P1. More extension and less distortion. Not as good as my Eximus, though the Gunjnir does go lower (damnit). Clearly there is a bass head over there at the factory headquarters. It doesn't seem colored in any way, though it's not as bright as the Eximus (which arguably could be too bright). Good detail but not harsh or gritty anywhere.

Well, the easiest difference to hear is that the Eximus is smoother. Detail-wise they are pretty close. The Eximus has more forward mids and the high treble is a hair crispier so it seems more detailed at times. Like I said before the Gungnir isn't grainy or harsh. If you picture the Eximus as having a solid smooth waveform, the Gungnir is more like a dotted smooth line. Probably too visual an analogy, but it's the best I can come up with at the moment. The Eximus is a bit more delicate perhaps.

More significantly, while the Gungnir has reasonable instrument separation, on the Eximus I can easily follow 6-8 melodies going on in a song without trying at all. Even on the muddy mixes, it's real easy to pull out what's going on. It's just super enjoyable. The Gungnir has just enough detail that you want to follow along, but my feeble brain has to work at it. I'm usually not up for work when I put my headphones

I updated my Eximus vs. Gungnir comments regarding detail. They are pretty damn close. The Eximus has more forward mids and crispier upper treble so on some songs they sound a little different.

Oh, and since someone asked... I would get the Mjolnir/Gungnir way way way before thinking about getting the Eximus with built-in HPA.

 

 

Quote:
SourceGuy

Listening to some 192 files through Pure Music with USB. I wont provide a review yet... It takes me forever to understand how a new piece of gear sounds before I can describe it's sonic qualities. So far it blows away my v-dac II and modded parasound d/ac-1000 but that was expected. Much more full-bodied sound and not at all hollow.

The gungnir delivers an incredible flow. It's fast and takes you along with the music (if that makes any sense). And the bass is very very tight.

I wouldn't say it's bass-heavy at all.  It has a very clean and tight low-end.  I think everyone keeps commenting on the bass because of the tightened-up, fast, and punchy sound the Gungnir is delivering.

 

Quote:
wkhanna

I just wanted to share a few immediate impressions:

More air around the sax, notably better image detail on all the instruments, more of an ‘in the studio’ feel. Sort of like being at the mixing console.

Voices not clear or defined via the Bifrost are present and clear as a bell.

Maybe a tad bright in HF right now, not quite sure. Maybe a tad, but I bet it mellows out some with time if it is anything like the Bf.

Oh, and BASS, Lots of clean, balanced, musical BASS. Did I mention the BASS? The clean smooth natural & musical BASS?

Everything seems more immediate, too. Like noise that had been cluttering up the signal has been removed. Sort of like a bottle neck being removed allowing the music to flow at a more even & quicker pace.

The imaging, detail, micro-dynamics & range I hear now are V similar to what I heard on my friend’s $14k speakers.

My system has never sounded this good.

My unit is still burning in, so I will wait a while to update my findings. But I would like to add that the base is full, fleshed out, clean, crisp, fast, tight & V musical. I listen mostly to acoustic jazz & pay great attention to string bass. Gungnir is musical in its bass production. It does not over power or distract. It is a natural bass missing from lower performing DACs. Those familiar with the Bifrost will notice it right away. Do not misinterpret this as being overly bass-heavy.

 

Quote:
grokit

Just getting my first listen in as well, it does seem to be an upgrade rather than a sidegrade which was my biggest concern. I am noticing more detail from both ends of the spectrum than with my previous DAC setup, and increased depth to the soundstage. This is with the USB input

I am still getting used to the Gungnir's sound signature, but if any of you are concerned (as I was) that the Gungnir is clinical, or thin sounding, allow me to put those concerns to rest. I am coming from what is by consensus an extremely smooth-sounding DAC, and the Gungnir seems even less fatiguing overall. It offers better detail at the extreme ends of the frequency spectrum, excellent musicality, and very good transparency overall when using the Spdif inputs.

Listening to My Little Basquiat by the Cowboy Junkies, which combines really distorted electric guitar with piano. I don't think I've ever heard distortion this clearly.

The piano sounds are crystal clear and separated into their own space even though they are about the same Hz as the guitar. The drums sound almost binaural from gentle panning.  The bass guitar is distinct and is laying a solid foundation.

And Margo's voice sounds so distinct, it's like she's singing directly into my ears from heaven. Life is good...

 

Quote:
paradoxper

The Gungnir is neutral and transparent. Bass is very tight and very fast. Very good imaging, it's effortless.  I also concur on the Bifrost seeming veiled in comparison.

The harshness has smoothened out quite nicely.

I'm still quite surprised by how transparent and detailed the Gungnir is.

It gives plenty of bass, but it's not overdone. There's great control. Bass is full, deep, extended all while remaining balanced. Meaning, it doesn't overtake the rest of the spectrum.

I've reached just over 200 hours on the Gungnir and feel I've given enough time for everything to smooth out and settle down. While I've listened to a ton of DACs both over and under $!k, I thought it best to keep my comparisons to the Bifrost, which was my most recently owned DAC.

The Gungnir bests the Bifrost across the entire spectrum in every way. Bass, instrument separation, clarity and details. Most noticeably, I found the Bifrost veiled details more often and had a more bloated low end.

In certain passages the Bifrost revealed a harshness that wasn't apparent in the Gungnir, completely smooth and clear. This is something I've not noticed until now.

Bass is one of the biggest additions needed, Plenty of weight and extension with good control. Nothing muddy or unnatural about it, just plentiful, musical and clean.

There's an overall fast pace to things, less congestion or clutter.

In the Beginning the top end was detailed, but retained some harshness. This has completely smoothened out. Very musical, non-metallic or clinical sound to it. Instruments sound natural without over emphasis.

There's more air to instruments, great sense of space, very easy to follow a single instrument along. Clutter is non existent.           

So the biggest quality I've come to enjoy about Gungnir is its ability to make bad recordings very enjoyable. While retaining an overall transparent tonality, everything is rendered as musical.
 

 

Quote:
SHYood

On first listen, It does sound harsh and strident and, well, a bit raspy out of the box.  There was detail, aplenty, but at the expense of a very fatiguing high end.  I turned the output off and went away for 24 hours.  When I returned to listening, the top end has smoothed out a good bit and the jaggedness that a prior poster had referred to was fading nicely.  

It was another 48 hours till I really had time to listen, and, then, the Gungnir was a revelation.  It is a CLEAR upgrade over the Bitfrost that I had borrowed.  The later was nice, but the Gungnir improves on it in clarity, upper and lower end extension, and, especially in imaging abilities.  Gungnir gives a very solid, but not overblown bass foundation with pipe organ pedals very firmly and cleanly enunciated.  The highs are very nice and airy without the annoying harshness that I came to associate with digital in its early days.  So, tonal balance seemed nailed for me, but this isn't what sets Gungnir appart from the rest, IMO.  

Gungnir portrays a sense of space and dimensionality of the instruments better than ANY digital source that I have heard to date.  (Sadly, I haven't heard the M51, yet.)  Gone is the spectacle of paper instruments on a cardboard stage.  The orchestra has deapth as well as width.  Instruments occupy a three dimensional space.  Janos Starker's cello blooms with a body that rivals my analog setup.  Concert halls reverberate and one hears the walls reflect the voices of massed choirs.  Well done, indeed.  

What really delayed my comments is that Gungnir has another remarkable trick up its sleeve.  To an astounding degree, it makes mediocre recordings sound very nice indeed.  Sadly, not every great performance got a good recording, but Gungnir somehow helped me forget that and I ended up whiling away the weekend seeing what old warhorses sounded like.  

The Bitfrost wasn't bad, but couldn't begin to do the spatial magic that the Gungnir could.  Dacmagic Plus need not apply.  My venerable, and much loved CAL Tempest can't compare on the frequency extremes.  My prior champ, the frightfully inexpensive Ross Martin Dual Bare Beast was also bettered, mostly in the realm of imaging and body.

The final test, for me was to compare a 24/192 download of Janos Starker's Bach cello sonatas with the vinyl version from my collection with a table, arm, cartridge combo costing a good 10 times the cost of the Gungnir.  It was disturbingly close, and the Gungnir/Macbook Pro is sure a lot less fiddly.

 

Quote:
Questhate

Just popping in to say that I've had my Gungnir since last Thursday and have NOT been able to pull myself away from my system.

The bass does jump out on first impression. It's big, bad and feels almost deviant. Not sure I'd describe the low-frequencies as boosted, though. It's just very clean, defined and dynamic. It's a lack of congestion in the way the Gungnir renders music that lets bass lines stand out without being buried by the rest of the spectrum. It conveys a great sense of pace rhythm & timing and musicality, so it's almost no wonder that the bass is what leaps out at me as I groove along. This helps lend a great sense of body and weight to the music as well.

Another quality I love is the way it renders detail without that digital hardness (Bifrost did this well too, from what I remember). There is nothing clinical about the way the Gungnir sounds. It passes my "does a muted trumpet with the HD800 induce pain" test. Cymbals decay naturally without overstaying their welcome. Everything seems natural and effortless.

And lastly, spatiality is great. It feels open and uncluttered -- each element in the music is well-defined and has space to breathe. I have yet to get the feeling that an instrument is stacked on top of another (even on my Grados).  

I know impressions are fairly limited without comparisons to other references/bechmarks because of the subjectivity of this hobby -- but I've been so smitten with what the Gungnir has brought to my setup that I had to sing its praises. I can't definitively say right now that it has more resolution than DAC X or throws a wider soundstage than DAC Y or has better spatial cues than DAC Z. But after days of intense listening, nothing seemed odd, weird, out-of-place, or jars me back to reality. It hasn't committed any major flaws. Quite the opposite actually, as I'm finding it very involving and musical.

I feel like part of it is that it's a very un-congested presentation, so bass seems to slam harder as it jumps out of a blacker background and from a clearly defined area in space. I've heard other setups where you need to focus to hear the bass lines, as it runs up against other elements in the music.

It's been one week since I got the Gungnir, but I feel like my system now shares a lot of the same qualities as that reference (from memory). Sure, it may not match the resolution, or micro-detail, or dynamic shifts of the PWD-->BA  -- but it ticks a lot of the same boxes. Musical, involving, analog and natural, very smooth treble, lots of warmth and atmosphere.

One thing it does match the PWD --> BA system in is its ability to make me NOT want to listen critically. It has a way of just sucking you into the music. Seriously, the other night I just got my Magnums back from a long term loan from another member. I plugged them in just to check if they were still in working order, and ended up sucked into a 4-hour session with them.

 

Quote:
olor1n

Gungnir came in today. Initial impressions straight out of the box confirms what others have stated. The Gungnir is on a whole other level from the Bifrost. I only have it connected to the Mjolnir single ended via rca at the moment (waiting for balanced PYST cables), but the improvement over the Bifrost is evident. It seems to have the same signature, though the frequency extremes extend further. There's more air from the smooth top end, and better separation and placement of elements as a result. It makes the Bifrost seem flat and "veiled" in comparison. The most apparent improvement though is in the bass.

 

Quote:
PewterTA

Gungnir over the CA840c:
-Slightly sharper, maybe clearer and/or slightly more detail.  Also seems slightly thinner sounding because of this.
-Highs are slightly more detailed and crisp… almost to the point of being harsh.
-Midrange and vocals seem thinner, a little more detailed (especially brush work on a snare), but thinner almost harsh at points (listening to Melody Gardot especially).  At times I noticed almost an echo to the voices that I could not hear on the 840c.  Not sure if it's detailing the actual reverb/echo used at points to help make the voice sound better or what.  It seemed like it belonged...but it also sounded odd at the same point.
-Bass is more emphasized in the lower range, probably in the 20 – 40hz is more prominent.  Slight more detail.
-Sound Stage is smaller and not as deep, placed slightly further back only sounding to come right at the plane of the speakers.
-Instruments will jump out with a little more life to them and might have a slight bit more detail and realistic-ness to them (on a very very small scale).

CA840c over the Gungnir:
-Sound stage is bigger and instruments are in a slightly different place (perhaps more focused in a location).  Soundstage depth is deeper, still feels like my room has another 10ft beyond the wall.
-Highs are almost identical, with ever so slightly softer possibly every-so-slight less detail, sustain is identical.
-Midrange and vocals seem fuller and warmer (silky still) and slightly lower octive wise (could be the fuller effect though)… and maybe over all slightly ever-so-slightly “over-emphasized" and I did not notice the echoing effect that seemed to happen at points with the Gungnir.  Voices are 'forward', more pronounced, louder, or "in your face" more.
-Bass is more emphasized in the upper lower range, probably in the 35 to 60Hz range.
-Soundstage is wider and deeper and is placed right at the speakers and sometimes comes more forward in presentation (slightly in front of the speakers)
-Instruments don’t jump out quite as much and seem to stay more in with the sound stage unless really called upon.  It almost reminds me of the statement where when an amp can’t produce a sound properly (doesn’t have the power) the sound will come out sounding over emphasized vs. being more coherent with the whole soundstage.  Not saying that’s the reason here AT ALL…just that is what it reminds me of… that type of thing.

Conclusion…

They are almost the same identical DAC.  LOL.  Each one has slightly different things it does slightly better/emphasizes more.  Of course the Gungnir is still breaking in with an estimated 25ish hours on it, so I think the midrange should come around a lot and the highs will actually smooth out, but hopefully not lose the detail.  I’m also figuring the soundstage should open up and be very similar to the 840c’s width and depth.

Both have impressed me.  Gungnir for the price is AMAZING!!!!  If I didn't have anything it would definitely be my DAC of choice.  CA840c... the old dog STILL impresses!!!!

The only way I could quantify things at the moment is with numbers…  lol

Gungnir:
High: 90
Mid: 86
Bass: 90
Soundstage: 86
Detail: 88
Total: 88

CA 840c:
High: 88
Mid: 88
Bass: 90
Soundstage: 90
Detail: 85
Total: 88.2

 

the info is much easier to digest like that

post #898 of 1629

I have about 150 hours on my Gungnir now.

 

At first I was dissapointed.as the high's sounded really fake & shrill & raspy. At first the Dac Magic Plus I upgraded from beat it for the highs.

 

However, after 150 hours this thing is smooth as, spacious as. Pink Floyd sounds rediculously good.

 

I found something that sounds absolutely AMAZING is this. https://www.hdtracks.com/index.php?file=catalogdetail&valbum_code=HD603497941032

 

It is just rediculous how good 'Dreams' sounds. It actually sounds perfect to my ears. The bass is so punchy and tight, it sounds like perfect vinyl without the hiss!!! Check it out...

 

So far so good with the Gungnir. I am running VAF DCX-35's on an NAD 351BEE 2 Channel Amp.

post #899 of 1629
Quote:

Originally Posted by SnookAU View Post

 

At first I was dissapointed.as the high's sounded really fake & shrill & raspy. At first the Dac Magic Plus I upgraded from beat it for the highs.

 

However, after 150 hours this thing is smooth as, spacious as. Pink Floyd sounds rediculously good.

 

I had a similar experience.  The higher frequencies sucked at first listen.  I A-B the Gungnir with my Logitech Touch and I could not tell the difference between the two.  After about 200 hrs the Gungnir is slightly better in the upper frequencies and clearly better in the lower range.  Of course, the Touch also has about $500 in mods done to it.

 

Currently, I'm comparing the Gungnir to the new TEAC UD-501.  So far, the only definitive conclusion I've drawn is that they are both good DACs.

post #900 of 1629

interesting heads up on the teac DAC. they do take their high end gear seriously. if the two DACs sound similar, then the gungnir has to be the better deal as it's $100 cheaper. though probably about the same street value, but it just looks so much cooler than the teac in either color. looks might not be the most important part for a piece of gear, but they do matter, especially when you're paying close to $1,000.

 

let us know how the two DACs compare when you've done more listening to them. if the teac's that good, it deserves recognition too. no giant killing bargain should suffer obscurity. that 1980s retro look with fugly red LEDs isn't my cup of tea at all though.
 

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