Yes it seems that Hugo is very good, some one say it’s better when his EMM lab. Is the Hugo overall better when Master 7 and Offramp 5 in your opinion?
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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Desktop Amps & DACs)
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- Head-Fi Buying Guide (Ultra-High-End Headphones (Summit-Fi))Last edited: 7/21/14
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Audio-Gd Master 7 - Discrete Fully Balanced DAC (PCM1704) - Page 123
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That’s great Al, thanx!
I believe that this DAC is ideal for Senn HD800. Pair it with a good preamp and headp-amp (+ cables) and you will get great bass punch and unbelievable level of naturalness and musicality with HD800.
And the bass detail: I do not have any DACs on the same level at the moment but a good preamp and head-amp can help and show that the bass detail is not bad. I do not not know if the M7 generally lacks in the bass detail area but the overall naturalness and musicality of my setup is so good that I do not complaint of the M7 bass detail at all :)
Yeah, I am desperately trying to give a honest critique of the M7 without appearing to bash it. I absolutely love the dac and the lack of bass detail is very tiny imo. I have absolutely no plans to replace it being that I have owned a ton of dacs previously and the M7 is the closest to perfect I have gotten. You hit the nail on the head with your last sentence.
I have heard the HUGO as being reported a little bright compared to the DirectStream.
Just checking in for AL's reviews of the HUGO vs, Directstream.
Hope AL can do a review on PCM only version and DSD only version..
One thing Directstream and PS Audio have it going for em is the designer Ted Smith who has experience as a software engineer at Microsoft for over 10+ years. I think continuous software upgrades can make this DAC very versatile... But measurements can only bring a small part to the table.. voicing done by PS Audio Paul who has been around audio for considerable amount of time with his experience shows a lot of poetentioal for this DAC.
Edited by SearchOfSub - 6/15/14 at 3:56pm
Direct stream and Hugo , msb and M7
Ok the Hugo first.
The new wave of dacs and Hugo being one are getting closer to what ultra hi end dacs have been for a couple of years or more.
What this means is closer in sound of a ultra high end Analog system .
What an analog system has that most dacs do not is a smoothness that is not smearing . It puts the music up front but not loud or iratating . It has dynamics with out it becoming loud.
It's not that the dacs before had none of the qualities they did but the new stuff has much more of it. As I have compared many dacs the sound signature of the few better ones is very apparent.
The Hugo is the first dac I have heard that is portraying this type of sound at this price point .
It has musicality , what this means to me is . It gives music the power to draw us in , in ways the others did not. It has more details at lower sound passages and does the same when the muisc gets loud as well. I may feel it's tone is off a bit but this is just a point to make but as you listen this seems to fade away into it's obvious refinement of deatils. On an analog system the music seems to slow down so you can hear more of it. The why of this effect I have read has to do with the format it was recorded in meaning PCM as dsd does not have this effect. As such most dacs sound far better with dsd more on this in a few. Now with PCM dacs like a DS or Hugo portray the music in a fashion that makes us feel it's analog so we get the ease in the music feeling. Although the music is pulsing it does not feel this way as much . So louder volumes can be played without the music seeming to Blair at you. The main difference between the Hugo and DS is the proportions of the good stuff they both have. It's very easy to know if the Hugo or DS is playing once you get a handle on what to listen for. But even if you don't know or are not sure in a few mins you will be as the lower details and louder loudness becomes apparent . It's not about tone it's about clarity as they both have it but one has much more and this gives us the feeling of it being more clear . The reason is our brains are tuned for normal sounds like live muisc without amps. And both dacs have this kind of realism in them . Now with red book PCM this becomes just as obvious as hinrez
But in dsd the two really split . The why is a higher level of ambience that makes the DS just much more real. So even though at red book they differ at dsd level it's even more apparent
The Hugo is really good at it's price point but so is the DS as it's still much cheaper than any of the top tier dacs cost and sounds very much like them. It excels in low level details approaching my MSB stack. The DS gives a much more rich and real sounding musical presentation . This makes the choice easy for the difference in price .Now my msb of course has even more of the same kind of natural sound then both of these have. But at low levels this is really apparent and at high levels. Now neither of these dacs blur at complex music as some dacs do , but the DS does maintain a better image and sound stability .
So where does a dac like a audio gd M7 fit in with these other two dacs . It does by having qualities that makes it sound pleasing. The M7 is warmer and as such has less of a glow or timbre accuracy. But it is still, pleasing with it's own style of presentation . Note thickness prevail with the M7 as impact of low end and through out it's whole presentation. This makes for a nice presentation . It makes up for it's lack of being correct and ease of presentation . Lastly my belief is we all hear a little different or have very different likes and dislikes. Just look at all the many speakers and headphones someone always likes one of them as you or I may hate that choice. I have done many home theater installs for wealthy people it always amazed me how poorly they sounded and how happy they were . Maybe it's the money they paid ,not sure but somebody liked it .
The above was done with both speakers and headphones .
Regarding burn in and sound changes as I do what most do and this makes no sense to me by the way. As it never seems to make any difrence to me. A good reviewer takes notes . Now i believe us hearing a new product varies over a period of time and becomes more stable . I do not think the equipment changes but our brain as it interpits the new sounds. After all every device we have sounds different .
Lastly the pitch I stated and started a war. To my ears it's pitched a little high . So vocals seem different as in a higher tone . The reason for this is to makes us feel it has more clarity then it does this also effects the sound stage and will give you more low level details. I cannot say if. It's the dac or amp as you cannot select a true line out either. But it's minor and not bad , what was bad was my persistence as most do not want to read any thing bad about there new toy.
Ok that's it hope you can understand my ramblings and please feel free to rebut what ever you think back to me .
In a word No! USB does not connect when the Short Block is in the path to the Off Ramp 5. The M7 HDMI cable is disconnected for testing. So I have some compatibility issue. Thanks for reminding me as I sent Empirical an Email this morning.
It does seem the bass quality of the Master 7 is affected by what input you use. I first noticed this on USB32 perhaps three or four generations of firmware ago (early 2013). At the time I would switch to the AP1+PP on the BNC input #1 and the bass amount and quality improved dramatically. Same with RJ45 I2S and experimenting with various CAT cable types. Switching to HDMI I2S and the bass is certainly more consistent and focused. I haven't experimented with the various inputs and sources in a while but at the time felt lowering jitter helped fuzziness in the highs and to solidify the bass. But like Al states, the M7 is a very musical DAC and enjoying it for what it is at the moment.
A useful comparitive review.
Exactly which MSB setup do you have? I did a quick search, but couldn't find the details.
To my ears the Master 7 is a good dac, with Offframp 5 (i2s) it’s fantastic. Its sounds so revealing, transparent, dynamic and accurate. Big, big improvement IMO!
To me Master 7 thru USB 32 didn’t sound as good as my Hegel HD 20 with AP+PP. Now with the Offramp 5 thru I2S it sound much better. I would say that the Hegel HD 20 with AP+PP is very musical with good technicality and that the Master 7 with Offramp 5 (i2s) is as musical but with superior technicality, if that make any sense
I haven’t got a liner PSU for the Offramp yet, but think I will buy one later. May be a Teddy Prado. Any one tried it?
Thanx for your review Al looking forward to the PCM!
I see that Audio-GD is planning to release an USB interface soon. See the homepage: "A purchase made during this promotion is also entitled to a 15% discount for one USB Digital Interface (2014 version to be released in July) purchased within one year."
- Audio-Gd Master 7 - Discrete Fully Balanced DAC (PCM1704)
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