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Has anyone tried this bad boy?!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/light-harmonic-davinci-usb-dac

 

Looks amazing.

post #2 of 12

Yep, we had this on demo at the Montreal Hi-Fi show a few weeks back. It sounds absolutely fantastic!

 

Edit: Just checked the link, that image is actually from our room :)

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Lol. What a small world! Would you please share some listening notes with us? Thanks!

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by peregrinare View Post

http://www.stereophile.com/content/light-harmonic-davinci-usb-dac

 

Looks amazing.

 

looks interesting. according to the website it's PCM only.

 

i wonder why it does not accept streaming dsd or 2xdsd?

 

post #5 of 12

First caveat emptor: Light Harmonic provided us with the DAC for free and BitPerfect (me!) does have a commercial relationship with them. As a result, I've left out some details of my impressions and such, lest this post come across too much like advertising, which it isn't intended to be. I hope the moderators are ok with this.

 

I'm not much good at the listening notes, but here are my general impressions.

 

First about the setup, we were computer audio only (all kinds of resolutions all the way up to 32/384). We were running a Macbook Pro using BitPerfect (obviously!) over USB to the DaVinci, from there to a Classé CP-800 pre-amp, a CA-2300 power amp and Wilson Audio Sophia 3 speakers. We were using our own interconnects and power cables.

 

The CP-800 has a built-in DAC that I'm pretty familiar with, prior to hearing the DaVinci it was the best I've heard. My home setup is a Calyx DAC running LA7000s connected directly. Compared to the Calyx, the CP-800 extracts tons more detail and the soundstage is much better (wider, deeper, etc...) The DaVinci is at least as good again as the CP-800. For much the same reasons, the details are just there and much easier to hear.

 

At the advice of an expert, we bypassed the CP-800 and ran the DaVinci direct to the power amp for the last day of the show. This yielded a stunning improvement, which has led me to believe that for most DACs the analogue stage is where the sound quality gets degraded, not in the conversion. Anyway, bypassing the pre-amp got us more of the same, detail, soundstage, tone, timbre, etc... but what I noticed that I haven't heard before was the layering in the depth of the soundstage in good recordings. You could suddenly tell with ease how far away each instrument was, not just "that's close, that's a bit further" but really, this is a church vs. this is a concert hall, the percussion is definitely the last row, that kind of thing.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks. Did you compare different resolutions? I have never listened to 32/384.

post #7 of 12

Of course, we tried pretty much everything from 16/44.1 all the way up to 32/384. My biggest takeaways from that experience are:

 

1) 16/44.1 can sound surprisingly good with a good setup

2) higher res doesn't mean better sound; the best sound we got was from some 24/88.2s that aren't generally available - they were just astonishing.

 

Edit: That said, 24/88.2+ sounds better than 16/44.1, although direct comparisons are hard to make. After 24/88.2 or 24/96, I personally have a hard time noticing an improvement. That's not to say it isn't there, but those kinds of tests are really hard to setup in reality. All recordings must be made at a "native" resolution. It is unfair to record at 32/384 then downsample to 24/192 and claim that 32/384 is better -- the downsampling could have a big effect. Same problem with upsampling. The ideal test would require two identical recordings at different native resolutions, I'm not even sure that's possible!


Edited by agentsim - 4/9/12 at 6:46pm
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by agentsim View Post

Of course, we tried pretty much everything from 16/44.1 all the way up to 32/384. My biggest takeaways from that experience are:

 

1) 16/44.1 can sound surprisingly good with a good setup

2) higher res doesn't mean better sound; the best sound we got was from some 24/88.2s that aren't generally available - they were just astonishing.

 

Edit: That said, 24/88.2+ sounds better than 16/44.1, although direct comparisons are hard to make. After 24/88.2 or 24/96, I personally have a hard time noticing an improvement. That's not to say it isn't there, but those kinds of tests are really hard to setup in reality. All recordings must be made at a "native" resolution. It is unfair to record at 32/384 then downsample to 24/192 and claim that 32/384 is better -- the downsampling could have a big effect. Same problem with upsampling. The ideal test would require two identical recordings at different native resolutions, I'm not even sure that's possible!


to really hear exactly what different resolutions and bit depths can do accurately, you need to visit a pro audio studio and observe what various sampling rates and bit depths (including 1-bit) do to an analog signal. quick switching from one to another will dispel many myths. and then switching back to analog from either PCM or dsd will also open eyes.

 

i've done that at a local pro mastering studio, Puget Sound Studios. this studio does a good share of hi-rez transfers for hi-rez downloads in North America.

 

(hint--dsd trumps PCM (even 32/384 to a small degree) no matter the resolution or bit depth). of course, YMMV......this is just my personal observations. i have a few thousand hirez PCM files (and a few hundred dsd and 2xdsd files) on my music server and do enjoy hirez PCM, and agree that redbook 16/44 can still sound wonderful thru a good dac.

 

i agree that downsampling tells you nothing.
 

 


Edited by Mossback - 4/10/12 at 6:48am
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by peregrinare View Post

http://www.stereophile.com/content/light-harmonic-davinci-usb-dac

 

Looks amazing.


"A solid design" - I tend to agree.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by agentsim View Post2) higher res doesn't mean better sound; the best sound we got was from some 24/88.2s that aren't generally available - they were just astonishing.


So true! Because 24/96 ripped from DVDs are often so much manipulated that they sound worse than the original redbook, especially if that's older (but not too old) and less tampered.

 



 

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mossback View Post

i've done that at a local pro mastering studio, Puget Sound Studios. this studio does a good share of hi-rez transfers for hi-rez downloads in North America.

 

(hint--dsd trumps PCM (even 32/384 to a small degree) no matter the resolution or bit depth). of course, YMMV......this is just my personal observations. i have a few thousand hirez PCM files (and a few hundred dsd and 2xdsd files) on my music server and do enjoy hirez PCM, and agree that redbook 16/44 can still sound wonderful thru a good dac.

 

i agree that downsampling tells you nothing.

Uhm... they were recorded how? Do they have a DXD (24/384) A/D? It's the native resolution that counts. And If you ask me to compare the original to a DSD conversion i definitely prefer the former.

AFAIK Puged does quality recordings...
 

 

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telstar View Post

Uhm... they were recorded how? Do they have a DXD (24/384) A/D? It's the native resolution that counts. And If you ask me to compare the original to a DSD conversion i definitely prefer the former.

AFAIK Puged does quality recordings...
 

 

 

yes; Puget Sound Studios has the AX24 that records in DXD and DSD. it can and does do PCM up to 32/384. he had it in my room 3 weeks ago to record off my turntable into dsd for one of his clients.

 

i have approx 350 SACD's ripped to dsd on my server that i listen to thru the Playback Designs USB box in the native dsd. and a few 2xdsd files some native 2xdsd files and some sourced from master tape. those also play thru the Playback Designs.

 

as far as my preference for dsd, and what the source for that dsd might have been; first, in the studio the source was an analog signal run through the various digital formats, so the source was the same for all digital formats. if you are asking for the source for my various digital files i listen to in various formats; they are all over the board. sometimes native digital, sometimes analog tape. some SACD's were even redbook sourced. so it varies. i have a number of hi-rez files (HRx from RR) where i also have Lp and master tape masterings where all the formats can be compared.

 

and absolutely i always prefer the native format when possible; which is why i'm heavily into RTR decks and master dubs. even 1/2" master dubs.

 

even though Puget Sound Studios mostly do hirez transfers for various lables for downloads; they also do recordings, and even some multi-channel film soundtrack work.
 

 


Edited by Mossback - 4/11/12 at 11:55am
post #12 of 12

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mossback View Post

and absolutely i always prefer the native format when possible; which is why i'm heavily into RTR decks and master dubs. even 1/2" master dubs.

 

 

:)))

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