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Review: Calyx DAC 24/192 - Page 2

post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Comparing both DACs as they stand, I far prefer the Ref 7.1, as the Calyx sound flat and dull in comparison just using USB power from my MacBook Pro. Using the Audiophilleo 1 + Pure Power for both DACs and the Vaunix Hub as power for the Calyx put them pretty close to each other -- that is, I'd need to compare them in a serious speaker rig I reckon to differentiate them. 

 

correct me if i'm wrong but i'm trying to make sense of your initial review vs what you're saying now. you mentioned that 

 

"Improving on the very good USB input required me using my Audiophilleo 1 + Pure Power with the coax input and then I was well into the law of diminishing returns for the benefits accrued to the sound."

 

from this I got the impression that the USB was very close to what you got from the usb --> spdif converter added to the chain, yet your last post seems to imply a much greater improvement from the latter chain compared to just USB. Since you could hardly distinguish between the ref 7.1 and this latter chain, as opposed to you "far preferring" the 7.1 over the calyx when used just with USB.

 

could you clarify?

post #17 of 32
Thread Starter 

It probably could do with a better explanation. The level of detail, doing A/B comparisons on the same piece of music I felt was only a bit greater with the AP1/PP/VH. However, when listening and enjoying music, I felt the music sounded more "real" and enjoyable with the three things above attached. In other words, if I listen using the Calyx by itself, powered from my computer, I don't enjoy listening. Sure there is plenty of detail, the (perceived) soundstage is wide and all that, but the music simply sounds dull.  

 

However, with the Reference 7.1, I don't feel the music sounds dull even if using the worst connection possible (optical), but does lose some refinement compared to using the AP1 etc. So if I had to choose a DAC by itself, I'd choose the 7.1 (now, I gather it is called the Master 7 and is more expensive).  

 

The Calyx seems (not surprisingly, due to the design) much more sensitive to power and input quality. The cost of the gains with the AP1 etc. is half or more of the cost of the DAC itself. If you buy one second-hand then it's as if you're buying a DAC in two parts -- the Calyx DAC and a top digital transport. That's why I talked about the Law of Diminishing Returns.

 

Given the competition from Anedio, Audio-gd, NAD and Pure Power, the Calyx could do with being a few hundred cheaper I reckon.

post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

It probably could do with a better explanation. The level of detail, doing A/B comparisons on the same piece of music I felt was only a bit greater with the AP1/PP/VH. However, when listening and enjoying music, I felt the music sounded more "real" and enjoyable with the three things above attached. In other words, if I listen using the Calyx by itself, powered from my computer, I don't enjoy listening. Sure there is plenty of detail, the (perceived) soundstage is wide and all that, but the music simply sounds dull.  

 

However, with the Reference 7.1, I don't feel the music sounds dull even if using the worst connection possible (optical), but does lose some refinement compared to using the AP1 etc. So if I had to choose a DAC by itself, I'd choose the 7.1 (now, I gather it is called the Master 7 and is more expensive).  

 

The Calyx seems (not surprisingly, due to the design) much more sensitive to power and input quality. The cost of the gains with the AP1 etc. is half or more of the cost of the DAC itself. If you buy one second-hand then it's as if you're buying a DAC in two parts -- the Calyx DAC and a top digital transport. That's why I talked about the Law of Diminishing Returns.

 

Given the competition from Anedio, Audio-gd, NAD and Pure Power, the Calyx could do with being a few hundred cheaper I reckon.

 

thanks for the explanation. I don't suppose you've heard the femto then? would you be interested in that product?
it seems that I might do myself some good buyijng the audio gd ref 5.2 afterall, even though pricewise it's comparable to the wavelength proton which i'm currently using.

post #19 of 32

Maybe getting the power supply for the calyx will help. It seems pretty good to me but I also picked it up from audiogon when it was 995

post #20 of 32

.

post #21 of 32

He has the PSU. He bought mine. :D

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by driftingbunnies View Post

Maybe getting the power supply for the calyx will help. It seems pretty good to me but I also picked it up from audiogon when it was 995

post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the critique guys. I re-did the confusing paragraph (starting with "Not surprisingly...") so I hope it is a little clearer.

 

About the PSU, I feel the sound is better out of the Vunix hub, to be honest. However, I'm in Japan and we only have 100V here, so I am not sure that isn't having some effect. Regardless, I'd still take the Vaunix hub over the external PSU purely because it is more useful.

post #23 of 32

Last week I had an opportunity to audition the Calyx at length while I was deciding on a Stax purchase. I found as you did that it sounded very "flat" and not very musical. I asked the dealer to switch to the Yulong Sabre D18 (I have this at home) and in my opinion it was no contest. The D18 brought the music to life. I was not there to compare dac's, but from that listening experience I was not impressed with the Calyx.

post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

I posted this in the Head Gear section, but I thought I'd add it here. I bought MorbidToaster's Calyx DAC out of curiosity and shameless consumerism and this is what I thought of it.

 

With the nuclear power stations across Japan almost all shut off, our electricity supplier threatened us with deliberate blackouts unless we could keep our usage down sufficiently. Japanese people, being determined, have been bearing the heat, my neighbours all with their aircon off and doors and windows propped open. Since my main listening rig consists mostly of  Class A components with huge, room-heating power supplies, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see if it were possible to cut down the power I need to use when listening to a minimum, without a loss of sound quality.
 
The end result was unexpected -- something that requires another write-up altogether, but part of what ended up happening is that I spotted a Calyx DAC for sale and it caught my eye because it is USB-powered. Needing only 5V instead of 100-120V it would use considerably less power than my main DAC, the Audio-gd Reference 7.1, with its three transformers and heavy power regulation. In addition, Calyx has gained fame with their Femto DAC, which, along with the reputation for audio manufacturers in Korea made their standard offering too good to pass up*.
 
The Calyx DAC is an interesting piece of kit, consisting of a a heavy aluminium block containing, at the rear, a small circuit board with not much more than the minimum required to get balanced output of an 8-channel ES9018 using only USB power, via an XMOS DSP. Plunk it on a desk under a Mac Mini and you have a pretty resolving music system, especially if you use the volume control on the Mac, which works with the Calyx's USB input. The USB input is 32 bit, resulting in fine-grained attenuation down to -127dB, unlike my 24-bit Audiophilleo 1 USB to S/PDIF converter which only goes down to -72dB. 
 
Not surprisingly, the sound quality improves using the separate power supply (looking akin to something pulled out of the back of a computer rather than a hi-fi component, with surprisingly cheap-looking DC cable) or something like the Vaunix lab-grade USB hub. Improving on the very good USB input required me using my Audiophilleo 1 + Pure Power with the coax input. With some back and forth with the Stax SR-009s, focussing on parts of individual tracks, such as the percussion in Waltz for Libby on David Chesky's Club De Sol, while I couldn't make out significantly greater detail, but music in general, typical of the effect of the AP1/PP combo with other DACs, sounded less flat, more 3-dimentional and real with it as the transport. What this amounts to is that it is possible to extract greater things from the DAC through the S/PDIF, but the USB input in the Calyx is the better choice unless you have a high-end converter or transport, such as I do.
 
One of my favourite albums that is very good for testing the performance of DACs is the classic Getz/Gilberto album (think "The Girl from Ipanema"). It both has a considerable degree of detail as well as having some of the most seductive saxophone playing I've ever heard. My benchmark experience of the album was with an Esoteric K-01, where I heard the most incredible micro detail. With the Calyx using the built-in USB for both power and data, there is, to my ears, something of a flatness to the sound, as if the detail is there but the musicality is lacking, not unlike my experience with the Apogee Duet II. Running from the Calyx power supply improved things somewhat, however switching to the AP1/PP as the transport I felt brought out the musicality and emotion of the music. More so, switching to the Vaunix hub as power instead of the Calyx PSU (which was also powering the AP1) there seemed to be yet more, which surprised me, as the Calyx PSU isn't cheap.
 
For use with the SR-009s I prefer using the Metrum Octave, which presents acoustic instruments in a way that sounds more real and less digital. However, with the above-mentioned ancillaries and at what would amount to a total cost double, or close to it, of the DAC itself, I'd extracted a euphoric level of musical expression and no longer felt a need to reconnect the Octave.  Into the Phoenix, with both DACs using the AP1/PP in a daisy-chain configuration**, it was hard to tell it apart from the Reference 7.1. The Calyx sounded very slightly more forward, something akin to a description of how the Sabre DAC sounds in comparison to the old-school PCM1704UK Kingwa gave me, which was that the Sabre makes voices sound "younger". This impression is not one that shows up in quick back-and-forth comparisons, but was apparent listening to a whole track and then switching DACs.
 
While it doesn't have to drive headphones and is somewhat less critical, the output stage of the Calyx uses NE5532 OPAMPs. Those people whom either roll OPAMPs like some people roll tubes or whom are critical of anything without discrete components might thumb their noses at the use of such devices in a high-end DAC, but, at least with what I have, I didn't detect any untoward effects of their presence, unless my impressions of the effect of the Sabre DACs on the sound were actually due to the OPAMPs. However, I couldn't discern even the slighest effect of having both the single-ended outputs in use at the same time as the balanced ones, even if I plugged and unplugged while music was playing.
 
So, overall, though I didn't like it straight out of my computer, since the sound of instruments was rather flat stock, even if everything else about it was excellent. I do like it very with the addition of the Vaunix and AP1+PP. Annoyingly I found one on Audiogon going for only $995 -- a great price and quite a bit less than I paid. I'd say it'll be a great DAC for anyone like me who has gotten into tweaking their computer etc. as a digital source and will try, as I did, to get the most out of it, or someone who wants a "high-end" USB-powered DAC with a relatively small, if not light, form factor.
 
*It's a pity that it would take years to get back the cost of the DAC with power savings, but power being expensive here in Japan would make it more worth it to buy than the Reference 7.1, which, if left on continuously, would use something like $50/month of electricity.
 
**Input 2 of my Reference 7.1 has both BNC and RCA sockets connected together, so I can daisy-chain another DAC from the RCA, which is perfect for either the Metrum or Calyx, if slightly less than ideal due to RCA connections not being 75 Ohm until I can get around to replacing them with WBT jacks.

I was just about to get the Calyx Dac 24/192 until this thread, i got in contact with Kingwa and told me the best dac for my preferences (Rock, latin Rock, Pop, Indian, some modern Jazz and New age) is the NFB7.32 with ESSsabre, but i can not find anyone who has tried this one, being skeptical i ask him again if the NFB7.32 was in the same level of the ref 7.1 and he said different sound, more modern sound, more fats and dynamic and that maybe people like ref 7.1 more cause of the real instrumental sound...just wanting to share this and perhaps someone around has being in contact with the NFB7.32 ESS sabre, any thoughts?

 

Regards

post #25 of 32

 

 

smile.gif


Edited by ecapsretliab - 9/26/12 at 10:47pm
post #26 of 32

The black one looks nicer than the silver one, IMO.

post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by MorbidToaster View Post

The black one looks nicer than the silver one, IMO.


Yeah, distributor said they were discontinuing the black,  so glad to get it in black.  Everybody knows black sounds better.

 

A/Bing it against my Minimax Plus.  Interesting results so far.  But I want to give it a while before final judgement.

post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecapsretliab View Post

 

 

smile.gif

Greetings,

 

I see you have both Calyx and Audio-GD in the pic, i am considering to get the Calyx or the NFB-1.32 /NFB7.32, using it USB input Mainly i just would like someone who could have made this comparison... cause i really don't know where to go... Help needed!

 

Best regards

 

Miki

post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikicasellas View Post

Greetings,

 

I see you have both Calyx and Audio-GD in the pic, i am considering to get the Calyx or the NFB-1.32 /NFB7.32, using it USB input Mainly i just would like someone who could have made this comparison... cause i really don't know where to go... Help needed!

 

Best regards

 

Miki


Hi Miki,

 

You are seeing a Minimax DAC Plus, not an Audio-GD product.  Sorry, wish I could help you out.  Regards -e.

post #30 of 32

Question.

 

The Calyx has better figures running balanced out.

 

Is it worth running a (XLR in > RCA out) buffer between the Calyx and a single-ended Amp,  thus allowing the Calyx to output balanced?

 

Or does converting the signal back to single ended after the fact, make this a pointless endeavor?  

 

Thanks.

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