Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Audio-GD NFB-1.32
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Audio-GD NFB-1.32

post #1 of 110
Thread Starter 

From the looks of it, we now have a balanced output Sabre DAC from audio-gd. At $650, it looks to be competing with the Yulong D18 as one of the more inexpensive fully balanced Sabre units.

 

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB1.32/NFB1.32EN.htm

 

Alright, edited for a few impressions.

 

Over the past few months, I've tried *cough* quite a few DACs. I've gone through the Yulong D18, KAO audio DAC, Eastern Electric MiniMax+, Audiolab MDAC, Musical Paradise MP-D1 (very briefly), and the NFB-1.32. I've settled on the 1.32 for the time being. 

 

The D18 was very smooth, as per Project86's excellent review. Probably a bit too smooth for my tastes. At the time I did not have my current HD800s, and so perhaps it would have been a nice pairing. I used the D18 with the warm and smooth-sounding Violectric V200, and the sound was really just too lush for my tastes.

 

The KAO was fantastic. It had great tonality and sufficient detail, but I found the soundstage a little bit compressed, and had a volume touchpad issue that caused me to have to send the unit back to the manufacturer.

 

The MiniMax+ really was a modder's dream. I tried a few tube changes and swapped out the opamps as well. The opamp change was much more noticable, but I felt like the unit always had a tiny bit of a sucked-out midrange regardless of what mods I tried, so off it went.

 

The MDAC I bought with the intention of selling to a friend, who currently loves it :)

 

The MP-D1 was returned after a week due to issues getting the USB input to work well with my system. It also definitely lacked detail compared to the Sabre DACs, but I don't think I was able to give it any semblance of a fair judgment. The designer and seller was very helpful troubleshooting with me; unfortunately we couldn't get the unit to play nice with my computer.

 

And that brings us to the 1.32! Matched up with the Burson Soloist this really does seem to be a tremendous sub-$1000 price point piece of equipment. It certainly has the detail that the Sabre DAC is known for. What makes this unit stand out to me is the soundstage and imaging of this DAC. For someone who spends much of his time listening to classical music and who has played in quite a few orchestras himself, the pinpoint placement of instruments both in width and depth is a key factor in evaluating gear. The soundstage is particularly great for chamber and smaller orchestral recordings.

 

One in particular I love is Hilary Hahn's recordings of Bach's violin concerti. The spotlight on the performer is noticably emphasized, with the sound of the accompanying orchestra correctly placed around and behind her. Riccardo Chailly's 2011 Beethoven Symphony cycle is also terrific in recreating the sounds of a larger-scale orchestra. The pizzicato and individual breaths between notes from the brass in the second movement of the Eighth Symphony in particular are portrayed incredibly realistically. 

 

Another reason I am rather enamored with this DAC is its flawless USB input. Resampling music works just fine for me on a Windows 7 system with no dropouts or strange clicky noises I have had from some other DACs. It's easy to set up, easier to forget about.

 

In the end, all of these DACs sound more similar than different, at least to my classically-trained ear. I tend to value soundstage and detail perhaps more than the average listener, and this one hits those notes correctly. I would definitely consider the 1.32 as more neutral than smooth, which I also seem to value. For a classical music enthusiast, I would certainly recommend it as a very competent, moderately affordable DAC. 

 

Of note, I did ask Kingwa whether upgrading to the 7.32 or 27.32 would be worthwhile. Without making it seem like he was bashing on any of his other products, he did note to me that the 7.32 would have been twice the cost and I would definitely have run into the diminishing returns barrier with such a purchase. In the end, I think I am happy enough to stop thinking about source and amplification upgrades for the near future, which is praise enough, right? :)


Edited by allyl - 10/27/12 at 8:10pm
post #2 of 110
Thread Starter 

So after a few email exchanges with Kingwa, I have gone ahead and placed an order with him. I asked him a couple questions as well (responses paraphrased). For the record, Kingwa was superbly responsive to my emails, and a real help throughout this process. So far so good for the customer service.

 

Concerning the difference between the NFB-11.32 and the NFB-1.32, Kingwa said the 1.32 is a little more clear and detailed, and should sound better through the balanced outputs.

 

Additionally, the 1.32 is essentially an update of the ESS Sabre based NFB-1, which is now discontinued. From our emails, the 1.32 is an upgrade on the NFB-1 while being priced cheaper both as a way to get the Audio-GD name out there and because the casework is less expensive. The "upgrade" part is based on an improvement in the USB input as well as shortening of signal paths purportedly leading to a better sonic product.

 

Finally, in comparison to the other Audio-GD dedicated DACs in the $500-$1000 price range, the NFB 1.32 is described as the most neutral and accurate of the three, the SA-1 is the warmer, smoother single-ended DAC, and the Ref-5 is described as neutral with a little bit more weight (perhaps to the low end?).

 

With 2xTXCO clocks ($40), and shipping to the US ($65), the promo price came out to be just about $710. The unit should ship on the 10th of this month, and hopefully I will have a chance to listen to it alongside the Audiolab M-DAC, likely feeding a Yulong A18 via XLR out. 

post #3 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by allyl View Post

So after a few email exchanges with Kingwa, I have gone ahead and placed an order with him. I asked him a couple questions as well (responses paraphrased). For the record, Kingwa was superbly responsive to my emails, and a real help throughout this process. So far so good for the customer service.

Concerning the difference between the NFB-11.32 and the NFB-1.32, Kingwa said the 1.32 is a little more clear and detailed, and should sound better through the balanced outputs.

Additionally, the 1.32 is essentially an update of the ESS Sabre based NFB-1, which is now discontinued. From our emails, the 1.32 is an upgrade on the NFB-1 while being priced cheaper both as a way to get the Audio-GD name out there and because the casework is less expensive. The "upgrade" part is based on an improvement in the USB input as well as shortening of signal paths purportedly leading to a better sonic product.

Finally, in comparison to the other Audio-GD dedicated DACs in the $500-$1000 price range, the NFB 1.32 is described as the most neutral and accurate of the three, the SA-1 is the warmer, smoother single-ended DAC, and the Ref-5 is described as neutral with a little bit more weight (perhaps to the low end?).

With 2xTXCO clocks ($40), and shipping to the US ($65), the promo price came out to be just about $710. The unit should ship on the 10th of this month, and hopefully I will have a chance to listen to it alongside the Audiolab M-DAC, likely feeding a Yulong A18 via XLR out. 

Yep. I got mine ordered as well, ships out monday, also got the 2xTXCO clock upgrade smily_headphones1.gif

This will be my first external dedicated dac, looking forward to the long listening sessions. i've heard bpd-95, and even the ultra spendy weiss 202, and thoroughly enjoyed the sonic presentation of the sabre9018 in both products. I have a TT, a Technics RS1506 R2R machine, and have heard good quality tapes, but mainly use a modded 7.1 soundcard w/LME49990 opamps for my speaker analog out setup, I listen to mostly 2 channel so anything should be a nice step up smily_headphones1.gif
post #4 of 110
Congratz on the purchase guys.
I received the 11.32 and have been loving the detailed sound. Been trying it out as a standalone as well as with a couple tube amps.
Looking forward to your impressions.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
post #5 of 110
Comparison to Calyx 24/192 (or Invicta) pleeeeeaseee ..... wink.gif
post #6 of 110
Thread Starter 

After I win the lotto, sure. Unless project86 wants to hook me up with his contacts at resonessence :)

post #7 of 110
^Fortunately or unfortunately, these are the only 2 sabres I have heard so far, so I can only relate impression with comparison to thes two.
It is not fair to compare Sabre to PCM1704 as the two use very different technology, hence sounds veru very different too. Both have strenght and weaknesess that I like and dislike.
post #8 of 110
^Fortunately or unfortunately, these are the only 2 sabres I have heard so far, so I can only relate impression with comparison to thes two.
It is not fair to compare Sabre to PCM1704 as the two use very different technology, hence sounds veru very different too. Both have strenght and weaknesess that I like and dislike.
post #9 of 110

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by RedBull View Post

Comparison to Calyx 24/192 (or Invicta) pleeeeeaseee ..... wink.gif

 

 

Only place  that's gonna happen is at either a headfi/audio meet or a local distributor that happens to have those DAC's on hand, Ill ask around to see what sources folks have in the area, we have quite an eclectic collection of audio nuts in the PNW :)

post #10 of 110
Yes please, that would be nice. Thank you!
post #11 of 110

Some quick questions to everyone that already owns this DAC

 

1. What does the front panel display? (I know silly question but I couldn't find any info on that in audio-gd site)

2. In the specs, it is stated that the USB input supports up to 32/384 but the DAC supports 32/192. To my understanding, 9018 can accept up to 1.5Mhz. Thus, I would expect that it is possible to send over 32/384. Have you tried it?

3. Is anyone using Win7 64bit? If yes, did you experience any problem with the USB driver?

 

 

Thanks a bunch for the replies.

post #12 of 110
Thread Starter 

I'm pretty sure nobody actually has one of these units at the moment. Kingwa said they would be shipping out around the 10th of this month. 

 

I think the front panel displays the gain "H or L" and which input is active

post #13 of 110

TO my knowledge there are no 32/384 mastered souces anywhere so....

post #14 of 110

The ES9018 specs mark 1.536M input is the built in DA parts , the digital filter is 8X oversampling so total input is limit at 192K.

It is 192 X 8 =1536K.

I test by 384K music files, it just have the discontinuous music output from the ES9018  gear.

I also have the 384K DA chip, it is PCM5102 from TI, but it is a low range design for car . Through it , 384K and 352K files can playback well.

post #15 of 110

According to the ESS9018 data sheet (http://www.esstech.com/PDF/SABRE32%20Reference%20PB%20Rev%200.61%20120726.pdf) it accepts up to 1.536MHz in oversampling bypass mode and if you look at note 1) it says the maximum sampling rate using internal oversampling filters 500KHz.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Audio-GD NFB-1.32