It is certainly a great dac. It has me reconsidering the need to purchase an ODAC at least for now. I still wish it had a normal enclosure...
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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Portable Amps, DACs, & DAPs) (page 2)
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Do the DACport and the DACport LX really sound different? - Page 2
Gear mentioned in this thread:
I personally prefer both the sound signature and the build quality of the CEntrance DACport LX to all three of the ESS9018 ESS9023 DACs with which I've spent a lot of time listening:
JDS Labs ODAC
Stoner Acoustics UD100
All of these "affordable" USB DACs use the exact same ESS9018 ESS9023 chip as the $7,000 Weiss DAC202, which I've not heard. The thing to remember is that there is more to the sound of a DAC than the converter chip that's at the heart of it.
The three DACs I've listed above all have different USB receiver chips. The UD100 can only go up to 16-bit/48kHz, where the ODAC and Dragonfly can go to 24-bit/96 kHz.
But to my ears, the UD100 and the ODAC sound very similar - almost impossible to distinguish - where the Dragonfly sounds a little warmer, but keep in mind that the Dragonfly has a headphone amp built in.
I should add, however, that when I say the UD100 and the ODAC sound very similar, that's only true when the ODAC isn't throwing little "fits" as I call them, where I could hear extremely short duration "splashes" in the treble, whenever I played a particularly complex track, with lots of instruments or voices. These "splashes" heard with the ODAC happened very infrequently, maybe once or twice in a three-minute song, but they were very annoying - like two blocks of styrofoam being rubbed together.
Before I returned the ODAC to JDS Labs, they told me that other people were reporting similar problems and suggested a workaround of plugging the ODAC into an AC-powered USB hub, instead of powering it from my laptop. I was unwilling to do that, because... A) I wasn't hearing this problem when powering my DACport LX from the same USB port on the same laptop, and B) I didn't like the idea of being tethered to an AC outlet with a DAC that should get its power from the USB port.
The UD100 suffered no such problems, but sounds nearly identical to the ODAC, otherwise. Overall, I like the sound of the UD100 (and the ODAC when it's behaving.) But the UD100 and ODAC are kind of thin and bright, relative to the DACport LX - "thin" meaning that it lacks dynamics, swing, punch, slam, aggressiveness, etc. and "bright" meaning that it's just got a little too much treble energy for my tastes, but at least they are smooth, without glare, or harshness - non-fatiguing.
The CEntrance DACport LX, on the other hand, is pretty much perfect to my ears, my gear, my tastes. In Headfonia's review of the the DACport LX, Mike wrote that (to his ears) the DACport LX can hold its own with $2000 desktop DACs. I've never heard a $2000 desktop DAC, but I know the LX is a lot more appealing to my ears than the three ESS9018 ESS9023 DACs I've tried.
Updates in red: Corrections, thanks to Poimandres.
Edited by zilch0md - 1/31/13 at 10:39pm
I've been eyeing on the LX for some time. I've also been reading your reviews and I think my taste is similar to yours. I guess I'll be getting it soon.
I'm using UD100 atm. I think it's great for the price but I'm looking for something more. Thanks.
What "are the 9023's not the 9018?"
Are you talking about the chips used in the ODAC, the UD100, and the Dragonfly?
By the way, I don't know what chip is used in the DACport LX - I think it's their own proprietary design.
That's the trick - figuring out if a reviewer's tastes are the same as yours. Then there's the synergy with the rest of your gear.
It kills me how hard it is to know what you're buying in advance of spending the money with Head-Fi gear, but I think CEntrance has a no-restocking-fee trial period refund policy, at least. Check with them before you take my word on that.
The chip in the DACport is the same as what's in the mini. The AKM 4396 is the chip used I believe.
I asked, "Are you talking about the chips used in the ODAC, the UD100, and the Dragonfly?
And you answered, "Yes, I was talking about the sabre dac, it is the 9023... ...the 9018 is the 32-bit reference chip in the DX100 I believe.
So... Are you saying that the ODAC, the UD100, and the Dragonfly all use the 9023?
ODAC: I've just spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out which DAC chip is used in the ODAC, but cannot find it. Arrrgh! I could very easily have been incorrect in my understanding that all three of those DACs use the ESS9018, but I can't find any specification saying exactly what the ODAC uses.
UD100: It took me less than a minute to find evidence that the UD100 uses the ESS9023. I don't know where I heard it was the ESS9018. I will update my original post. Thanks!
Dragonfly: OK, it took me a little bit longer for this one, but now I'm also convinced that the Dragonfly is using the ESS9023.
I think you must be right about the ODAC, too, so that's it - strike 3, I'm out!
And the DX100 uses the 9018! And the DACmini and DACport use the AKM 4396. Right you are!
My original post has been updated.
One thing I agree with you on is the sound the DACport LX I prefer over the dragonfly and if the other two sound similar to the dragonfly the LX is the way to go. I will not be purchasing an ODAC.
I still would like to change the case of the odac so I can stack it. Anyone know of a case that would work?
Right - those other DACS we've discussed here aren't in the same league as the DACport LX, for sound quality or engineering. The DACport and DACport LX have five different power supplies built into them, and manage to run on just about any laptop or PC USB port without suffering power-related glitches.
I don't know of any way to encase the LX, as you are suggesting.
Heat could be a problem, though, if you tried to enclose it.
It's truly remarkable how much cooler the my DACport LX runs while resting on this inexpensive heat sink - with no fans or anything else to move the air around it.
Just got my LX today. It's quite an improvement over the UD100, but the UD100 itself is a great DAC for the price.
I no longer have to use the equalizer to get the sound I want and live recording is much more real now. :D
- Do the DACport and the DACport LX really sound different?
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