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Audio-GD Reference 5.2 (New Balanced 4x PCM1704UK DAC) - Page 15

post #211 of 283
This mod has peeked my interest. Where can one obtain information about the 'Cap snip mod'? Does the mod effect all outputs on the DAC?

My RE5.2 currently sports the WM module and I have been thinking about ordering the DIR module along with the USB32 module as replacements.
post #212 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by rezolver View Post

This mod has peeked my interest. Where can one obtain information about the 'Cap snip mod'? Does the mod effect all outputs on the DAC?
My RE5.2 currently sports the WM module and I have been thinking about ordering the DIR module along with the USB32 module as replacements.

 

The mod is in the user manual on the Ref 5 webpage. You just need to removed the middle cap for each ACSS module (4 in total). They have long feets so you can cut them easily (which was intended by Kingwa).

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by rocksteady65 View Post

 

Thank you for sharing your impressions, they're quite useful. Based on your experience, I too will proceed with the Cap snip mod. I had been thinking about it for some time, but I was unsure if that would be a good move. It seems that it will indeed bring further improvements to the Reference 5.2's already excellent Performance. 

By the way, which DIR module are you using? If you are using the WM8805, I strongly advise you to change it for the DIR9001. With it, the Reference 5.2 is an all together superior performer, being nore Neutral, Dynamic and Precise. Basicallly, better in all counts.

 

Thanks again. ;-)

 

I ordered the DIR9001 with it since I wanted the most transparent sound to compliment the musical SA-31 amp.

 

post #213 of 283

Is Kingwa the one who recommends the Cap-less operation while the individuals performing listening tests in Australia are the one's that recommended for the caps to be there?

 

Any other impressions from people who have performed the vasectomy on their RE5.2/3's?

 

Thanks for the redirect Clem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post

 

The mod is in the user manual on the Ref 5 webpage. You just need to removed the middle cap for each ACSS module (4 in total). They have long feets so you can cut them easily (which was intended by Kingwa).

 


 

I ordered the DIR9001 with it since I wanted the most transparent sound to compliment the musical SA-31 amp.

 

post #214 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by rezolver View Post

Is Kingwa the one who recommends the Cap-less operation while the individuals performing listening tests in Australia are the one's that recommended for the caps to be there?

 

Any other impressions from people who have performed the vasectomy on their RE5.2/3's?

 

Thanks for the redirect Clem.

 

That's the way I understood it. The guys in Australia (John Darko?) actually wanted the new Ref 5.2 (and now 5.32) to sound similar to the old Reference 5. So Kingwa added the 4 caps to the original (re)design to meet this request. 

 

This mod might not suit everybody's preference or matching system though. I did it because I found the pairing with the warm SA-31 lacking dynamics and PRaT but it might not be everyone's experience. Though I might add that the pairing with the transparent Exposure 2010S integrated amp was also exposing the same recess in dynamics when the Metrum was, again, fully enjoyable in that regard. 

post #215 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post

 

transparent Exposure 2010S integrated amp was also exposing the same recess in dynamics when the Metrum was, again, fully enjoyable in that regard. 

 

The Metrum is the Octave?

post #216 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by ceausuc View Post

 

The Metrum is the Octave?

The Metrum is the Quad.

 

Yesterday night I had a short session with both the Ref 5 and the Quad (in that order).

With the cap mod, I notice the highs to be a bit more extended that the Quad now and the transients are thus sharper but the impact is more or less the same (which is an improvement for me). The sound is still darker on the Ref 5 though.

The sound presentation is slightly different between the 2: The Ref 5 has a slightly bigger sound stage expanding further on the sides which makes it more left/right than the Quad.

 

This was not a critical listening, I just wanted to enjoy the Ref 5 and see if its modded sound improved as expected. The thing is, I have the impression that the sound it produces literally puts me to sleep after some time, though my toes keep tapping in my bed :D. In addition, my head feel quite strange after some time, as if I could not entirely relax while listening (which is, oddly, in contradiction to the previous observation). It feels as if I was "feeling" some harshness or upper glare though I don't hear any of that in the music!

 

Because of this strange feeling, I switched back to the Quad and all of this disappeared! I, once again, reached midnight and was enjoying the music with a great deal of involvement. The music through the Quad just flows like liquid crystal!

 

Overall, and for now, I would say the Reference 5 is technically slightly supperior to the Quad but I don't enjoy it as much as the latter.

 

I'll keep you posted, the Ref 5 is still in burn-in and I might play with oversampling to smooth out that "unhearable harshness".


Edited by Clemmaster - 11/13/12 at 5:23am
post #217 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by nigeljames View Post

Kingwa told me himself that the Audio-gd Sabre32 chipped DAC's are more dynamic,faster and livelier than the PCM1704 chipped DAC's.  I have heard a number of people descibe the various PCM1704 dacs. including a couple of Naim's, as laidback, soft or dark sounding.

As the rest of the Audio-gd Dac design are very similar (at each price point) its a safe bet the chip is responsible for this.

The other parts of the DAC are responsible for this, not the DAC chips themselves. Assuming the rest of the parts are similar is probably the cause. R2R dacs require DIFFERENT psu and output stage.

For instance my dac19 surely has less PRAT than the Naim CD5s I compared to, but the former is not lacking.

But Naims laid back? That's a first. I only think it could be a first impression of somebody used for years to unnatural sounding delta-sigma dacs. I lived with tda1541 and pcm63 and the 1704 has MORE PRAT.

 

ps i sniff O2.

post #218 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by nigeljames View Post

 

Kingwa told me himself that the Audio-gd Sabre32 chipped DAC's are more dynamic,faster and livelier than the PCM1704 chipped DAC's.  I have heard a number of people descibe the various PCM1704 dacs. including a couple of Naim's, as laidback, soft or dark sounding.

As the rest of the Audio-gd Dac design are very similar (at each price point) its a safe bet the chip is responsible for this.

 

Oh yes I have heard the Naim CD555 nice but seriously overpriced, and thats from someone who used to own Naim system a few years ago. Different systems but I feel the NFB-7 has better dynamics and is at least as fast and transient.

I was consider and replied based on the Reference 5.32 and the NFB1.32, they have most same parts and similar design level, the ES9018 in the NFB1.32 is emphasize the detail, dynamic and speeder, tighter bass than the PCM1704 in the Reference 5.32 .

The Reference 5.32 just sound like real, have not emphasize anythings but have not miss anythings .

Just like a photo take by a Canon 55D , you can in the computer clear watch anythings more than you standard in the real view area .

 

But this is not applied in other DACs case, in the NFB7.32 and the Master 7, The PCM1704 is overall win the ES9018 in every area, more dynamic, more transparency detail and still richer.


Edited by Kingwa - 11/17/12 at 5:13am
post #219 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telstar View Post

The other parts of the DAC are responsible for this, not the DAC chips themselves. Assuming the rest of the parts are similar is probably the cause. R2R dacs require DIFFERENT psu and output stage.

For instance my dac19 surely has less PRAT than the Naim CD5s I compared to, but the former is not lacking.

But Naims laid back? That's a first. I only think it could be a first impression of somebody used for years to unnatural sounding delta-sigma dacs. I lived with tda1541 and pcm63 and the 1704 has MORE PRAT.

 

ps i sniff O2.

 

The PCM1704 chip has a reputation for sounding dark and laid back and that is exactly why a lot of people like them compared to more aggressive chips. Obviously if would be possible to change its basic character somewhat via the rest of the design but it is what it is.

 

As for the 'Naims being laid back' statement that is your statement not mine. I clearly stated 'laid back, soft OR dark sounding'. My statement was referring to the chip not directly to the Naim. However I did find the Naim players/dacs to be slightly dark but were certainly not laid back or soft.

I also never said the PCM1704 chip actually lacked prat but were not as good in those areas as the Sabre32 chipped dacs. That does not mean they are actually bad in those area's but not the best choice if those were your priorities.

post #220 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingwa View Post

I was consider and replied based on the Reference 5.32 and the NFB1.32, they have most same parts and similar design level, the ES9018 in the NFB1.32 is emphasize the detail, dynamic and speeder, tighter bass than the PCM1704 in the Reference 5.32 .

The Reference 5.32 just sound like real, have not emphasize anythings but have not miss anythings .

Just like a photo take by a Canon 55D , you can in the computer clear watch anythings more than you standard in the real view area .

 

But this is not applied in other DACs case, in the NFB7.32 and the Master 7, The PCM1704 is overall win the ES9018 in every area, more dynamic, more transparency detail and still richer.

 

Thanks for the input Kingwa. When I asked you the question it was in reference to the Ref7/NFB-7 not the cheaper dac's, but that's not important.

 

I must admit when I read read the description of the Master-7 and it was described as more dynamic and detailed than the NFB series (and other Ref series) I became very interested and intriqued by it. Unfortunetely I do not have the space for it without selling the NFB-7 but I just can't bring myself to do that, just enjoying if too much :)

post #221 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by nigeljames View Post

The PCM1704 chip has a reputation for sounding dark and laid back and that is exactly why a lot of people like them compared to more aggressive chips. Obviously if would be possible to change its basic character somewhat via the rest of the design but it is what it is.

 

As for the 'Naims being laid back' statement that is your statement not mine. I clearly stated 'laid back, soft OR dark sounding'. My statement was referring to the chip not directly to the Naim. However I did find the Naim players/dacs to be slightly dark but were certainly not laid back or soft.

I also never said the PCM1704 chip actually lacked prat but were not as good in those areas as the Sabre32 chipped dacs. That does not mean they are actually bad in those area's but not the best choice if those were your priorities.


'Naims being laid back' statement  - I'm sorry, it must have been a bad quote, I never thought that.

About the "dark" I agree, but I tend to find dark sounding electronics to have more correct timbre.

Now about the chip, "Laid back" is an effect of R2R architecture and it can be understood for "soft", lacking speed, not engaging... which are actually effects of what i.e. the sabre ADDS to the original sound. I believe the pcm1704 to be just neutral, it's the rest that add coloration or in some output stage severaly limits its potential.

I have not listened to many implementations of the sabre dac, because I decided that is not my cup of tea. Surely there are better ones than the ones I have. But the CD555 while way overpriced (no argument on this) in the context i heard was producing reference-level sound. it is one of the best implementation of the pcm1704 that I know of.

If you want some other example of state of the art R2R DACs, please have a listen of MSB (the dac III platinum was already excellent).

post #222 of 283
Quote:
Originally Posted by rezolver View Post

Is Kingwa the one who recommends the Cap-less operation while the individuals performing listening tests in Australia are the ones that recommended for the caps to be there?

 

Any other impressions from people who have performed the vasectomy on their RE5.2/3's?

 

Thanks for the redirect Clem.

 

Following Clemmaster's input, I have proceeded with the removal of the four capacitors, which is rather easy to do.  

 

I am glad that I have, because there were fairly obvious gains in transparency, focus and speed, which are qualities that I really value.

 

There really isn't anything wrong with the Reference 5.2 in default mode, in fact it is excellent either way. But with the cap snip the sound is somewhat faster, more immediate and engaging. I personally feel this presentation is a more accurate rendition of the musical content encoded in the physical disc or digital file, or perhaps to be more exact, closer to the Master tape. 

 

Others may disagree with my views of course, and I would venture that many will prefer the somewhat warmer, rounder presentation of the default mode. For those who value these qualities above anything else, I would probably not recommend this mod. Having said that, it isn't irreversible and I suspect that anyone with basic soldering skills would be able to solder them back.

 

All the best,

 

Leonel


Edited by rocksteady65 - 11/18/12 at 1:06pm
post #223 of 283

There is a new update tool on the Audio-gd website to change the USB-32 firmware without any hardware changes. 

 

The USB-32 Firmware Tool download pack comes with a user guide with step-by-step instructions to upload different firmware to your USB-32 module

 

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/USB32/USB32EN.htm

 

It is quick and easy and the improvement to my Ref 5.32 was quite dramatic upgrading to Firmware 3 and Drivers 1.1 (which is currently the default version the gear ships with).

 

Basically after downloading the Firmware Tool and the USB-32 drivers v1.1.

(1) Use the tool to update to Firmware 3 then restart Audio-gd

(2) Remove drivers 1.0 then restart PC

(3) Install drivers 1.1.  Not a bad idea to restart PC again.

 

I would follow the guide's steps.....and remember to restart the gear.

 

You can switch back and forth between Firmware 1 and 3 (reinstalling the appropriate drivers of course).  It is pretty cool.

 

BTW I am not ready to "cut the caps" on my unit, very happy with the current sound I'm getting, but I'm glad someone gave it a try and supplied some feedback.

post #224 of 283
Quote from Kingwa on NFB 11.32 thread:

"Because there are two users maybe have not read the guide careful and flash the firmware fail and very unhappy, so we have remove the tool download link, if users want to flash the firmware please send email ask us send the tool, before flash the firmware , please read the guide careful."
post #225 of 283

There is a thread now specifically for Audio-gd USB-32 Firmware, Drivers, and Feedback.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/638252/audio-gd-usb-32-firmware-drivers-and-feedback-thread

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