Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Advice needed on a DAC upgrade
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Advice needed on a DAC upgrade - Page 6

post #76 of 99

Hi,

IMO you need to get away from SPDIF and move to an asynchronous USB solution to get decent sound. Jitter levels with SPDIF are far too high to give decent sound, so it doesn't matter what DAC you hang on the end.

David
 

post #77 of 99
Thread Starter 

In all the articles i've read mostly spdif is recommended over usb on test of sound quality between connections.

Where are you reading this information?

Cheers

post #78 of 99

Pretty well every review in any hi fi mags or technical article will give you that information. Over the years I've built or modified enough DACs to hear the difference.

 

Before I got onto to computer audio I started with  an Audio Note 2.1 signature which I gradually upgraded until I had improved the power supply etc but the hug performance increase came when I installed a master clock and synched it back to the transport.

 

Asynchronous DAcs are essentially doing the same thing: clocking the data in the DAC with low jitter clocks and giving you a big increase in performance.

David
 

post #79 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Juancho View Post

Pretty well every review in any hi fi mags or technical article will give you that information. Over the years I've built or modified enough DACs to hear the difference.

Before I got onto to computer audio I started with  an Audio Note 2.1 signature which I gradually upgraded until I had improved the power supply etc but the hug performance increase came when I installed a master clock and synched it back to the transport.

Asynchronous DAcs are essentially doing the same thing: clocking the data in the DAC with low jitter clocks and giving you a big increase in performance.

David

 

Understood, but you've also started with a great piece of hardware....something in which the upgrade will be realized.  An async USB solution that can compete with a 2.1 signature, I'm at a loss for any.  Sure they (the async USB solutions) may have better jitter control but that is not even half the battle nor does it extrapolate to the sound signature of the equipment in question. In other words, having zero jitter is a start, but by no means the keystone or kryptonite for any piece of equipment.  And correct me if I'm wrong but the 2.1 Signature has only SPDIF or balanced input, which means that you were only getting "decent sound" anyway assuming you were using the SPDIF wink.gif.   

post #80 of 99

YMMV in my experience. Many DACs I've found work best with a good async USB to S/PDIF solution but a few are well implemented enough to not need it. The Lampizator's page on transports is a good read about this kind of thing.

post #81 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by colinharding View Post

 

Understood, but you've also started with a great piece of hardware....something in which the upgrade will be realized.  An async USB solution that can compete with a 2.1 signature, I'm at a loss for any.  Sure they (the async USB solutions) may have better jitter control but that is not even half the battle nor does it extrapolate to the sound signature of the equipment in question. In other words, having zero jitter is a start, but by no means the keystone or kryptonite for any piece of equipment.  And correct me if I'm wrong but the 2.1 Signature has only SPDIF or balanced input, which means that you were only getting "decent sound" anyway assuming you were using the SPDIF wink.gif.   

'Understood, but you've also started with a great piece of hardware....'

As standard the 2.1 Signature has a non digital totally unsatisfying but non digital sound. It lacks detail, dynamics, rhythm and pace all IMHO of course and subject to my standard.

'An async USB solution that can compete with a 2.1 signature, I'm at a loss for any.  Sure they (the async USB solutions) may have better jitter control but that is not even half the battle nor does it extrapolate to the sound signature of the equipment in question.'

I don't understand your phrase 'nor does it extrapolate to the sound signature of the equipment in question'. Async solutions well executed have low jitter not no jitter.

'In other words, having zero jitter is a start, but by no means the keystone or kryptonite for any piece of equipment'.  

Of course, but you cannot get very low jitter with a SPDIF solution

'And correct me if I'm wrong but the 2.1 Signature has only SPDIF or balanced input, which means that you were only getting "decent sound" anyway assuming you were using the SPDIF .  '

As standard you are right but what I wrote was that I installed a master clock and synched this back to the transport. This is analogous to the Async USB solution where the ultra low jitter master clock is placed right by the DAC and separate data and sync cables are run back to the transport to feed data and separately provide a clock signal. This is how a studio set up generally operates. My modded 2.1 signature was judged best digital source at several audio fairs i.e public contests.

So what sort of DAC gives you this performance? At the moment I am using a Wavelength Proton which has async data transfer. This cost £600 and offers all the performance of the  modded 2.1 which for just the original DAC cost £1,000 ten years ago. I sold it as modded for £2,000 a couple of years back.. The Proton uses Black Gate, Mundorf and Wima caps along with hi quality resistors. Its piece de resistance is its built in battery power which is used for all the critical circuits, removing reliance on the noisy USB supply. So all the performance I had to self-build a few years ago for a much lower cost!

 

The critical areas to make a great DAC are always power supplies and jitter. Well executed battery is best for power and solutions like asynchronous USB or a synched transport /DAC best for low jitter.

David

post #82 of 99
Thread Starter 

I can't get involved in a to deep a debate as my knowledge of this subject at the moment is to general so i'll have to read up a little more before I comment :)

But, As well as all the fromt end stuff I also think that the analogue stage/side plays a huge part in an enjoyable dac and seems to be the hardest thing to get right.

But again i guess personal taste is another great factor.

My main fear now is ending up with something without weight and is not musical, I don't want to make my decision for buying on numbers I want it to be on the sound, a sound that I can just sit back and enjoy without the need for keep second guessing my equipment.

The meridian 563. bel canto's & synthesis matrix all seem to fit the bill on different price and age plateau.

any suggestions with this sort of sound signature would be gratefully received ......

post #83 of 99
Thread Starter 

ps currawong i'll be reading that article later it looks interesting

cheers

post #84 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Juancho View Post

'Understood, but you've also started with a great piece of hardware....'

As standard the 2.1 Signature has a non digital totally unsatisfying but non digital sound. It lacks detail, dynamics, rhythm and pace all IMHO of course and subject to my standard.

'An async USB solution that can compete with a 2.1 signature, I'm at a loss for any.  Sure they (the async USB solutions) may have better jitter control but that is not even half the battle nor does it extrapolate to the sound signature of the equipment in question.'

I don't understand your phrase 'nor does it extrapolate to the sound signature of the equipment in question'. Async solutions well executed have low jitter not no jitter.

'In other words, having zero jitter is a start, but by no means the keystone or kryptonite for any piece of equipment'.  

Of course, but you cannot get very low jitter with a SPDIF solution

'And correct me if I'm wrong but the 2.1 Signature has only SPDIF or balanced input, which means that you were only getting "decent sound" anyway assuming you were using the SPDIF .  '

As standard you are right but what I wrote was that I installed a master clock and synched this back to the transport. This is analogous to the Async USB solution where the ultra low jitter master clock is placed right by the DAC and separate data and sync cables are run back to the transport to feed data and separately provide a clock signal. This is how a studio set up generally operates. My modded 2.1 signature was judged best digital source at several audio fairs i.e public contests.

So what sort of DAC gives you this performance? At the moment I am using a Wavelength Proton which has async data transfer. This cost £600 and offers all the performance of the  modded 2.1 which for just the original DAC cost £1,000 ten years ago. I sold it as modded for £2,000 a couple of years back.. The Proton uses Black Gate, Mundorf and Wima caps along with hi quality resistors. Its piece de resistance is its built in battery power which is used for all the critical circuits, removing reliance on the noisy USB supply. So all the performance I had to self-build a few years ago for a much lower cost!

 

The critical areas to make a great DAC are always power supplies and jitter. Well executed battery is best for power and solutions like asynchronous USB or a synched transport /DAC best for low jitter.

David

 

 

 

Well I think your first sentence really outlines our differences.  I enjoy the AN 2.1 exactly because it exhibits a very analogue sound, digital sound IMHO is harsh and overly detailed with a very lean presentation.  The AN DAC is warm, laid back, heavy, rich and tonally correct.  Your views are in congruence with the HiFi world at large, which is by no means to say that they are wrong, I just do not share the same opinion.  AN continually receives lack lust reviews from popular HiFi mags for their speakers and equipment (aside from a few outliers) because they don't measure well, they don't have jitter rejection circuits, they don't support USB, they don't sound like everyone else.  For these reasons I'm not surprised that your modded AN won a few shows over, you took the soul out of the DAC and made it sound "modern."  That's not the sound AN is going for (as evidenced by the article in my signature).

 

My point is, you cannot discount something because it does not have an async usb input.  Async usb is more accurate, measures better, has better jitter control, but this barely translates into a good sounding piece of gear.  In fact I'm not sure what sonic impact jitter even has  It's like having a perfect square wave all the way to 20k, it tells you little to nothing about the actual sound of the equipment.  Certainly lets you know that it was a quality build, but the output can still sound terrible.  I'm still not sure why we're all scuffling over these trivial measurements, even a consumer grade product with tons of jitter will sound fine over SPDIF.  It won't match the level of a quality build but that is hardly because of its jitter control or use of SPDIF.  

 

Wavelength has been around the block a few times and I've heard their gear, but their sound is what you prefer, a bit on the cold clinical, lean side.  It is nothing like AN and probably much closer to what your modded AN sounded like.  I'm not at all trying to cast the company in a pajorative light; if that is how you prefer to listen to your music I'm completely complacent with that and can recommend you plenty a DAC that will fit the bill.  But a Wavelength with Mundorf and Wima caps?  The AN must have sounded like a dark room in comparison.

 

Anyway I'm trying to help the OP find something that fits the musical, euphoric, rich, soulful bill.  Wavelength is certainly not it and I'm not aware of a async DAC that will either, but that's not the point as he wants to use his SPDIF from his computer anyway.  I mean if it's that important to you grab a V link (or some equivalent) and just plug the output into your DAC.  Now you've got jitter reduction and whichever DAC you'd like processing the important signal.  It just seems that the more you suffocate these components with additional circuits based upon all these intrinsic problems that were "discovered" and can now be measured, the less it sounds like actual music.  If Hendrix could move an entire audience to tears without feeding his guitar through a jitter correction circuit loaded with Wima caps, then I'm not sure all this extra technology is as deserving as we make it out to be. 

post #85 of 99

Well I think your first sentence really outlines our differences.  I enjoy the AN 2.1 exactly because it exhibits a very analogue sound,

 

You're making huge assumptions here. I said the AN 2.1 was analogue but unfortunately it as standard is incredibly bland

 

digital sound IMHO is harsh and overly detailed with a very lean presentation.  

Bad digital certainly can be. Good digital can be very good

 

 

The AN DAC is warm, laid back, heavy, rich and tonally correct.  

I don't necessarily disagree but it is as standard incredibly bland. Try it next to a decent deck as Peter from Audio Note demmed it for me.

 

 For these reasons I'm not surprised that your modded AN won a few shows over, you took the soul out of the DAC and made it sound "modern."  That's not the sound AN is going for (as evidenced by the article in my signature).

 

You're making huge assumptions here both about the DAC's sound and my musical tastes. What I didn't tell you was these were valve festivals, so it's accurate to say everyone there was in the non digital camp, albeit accepting that many have to use digital as a source.

 

 

My point is, you cannot discount something because it does not have an async usb input.  Async usb is more accurate, measures better, has better jitter control, but this barely translates into a good sounding piece of gear.  In fact I'm not sure what sonic impact jitter even has  It's like having a perfect square wave all the way to 20k, it tells you little to nothing about the actual sound of the equipment.  

 

Jitter makes digital music sound digital. Try clocking something with poor jitter and seeing for yourself.

 

even a consumer grade product with tons of jitter will sound fine over SPDIF.  It won't match the level of a quality build but that is hardly because of its jitter control or use of SPDIF. I'm afraid you'll have to explain the above sentence: it doesn't mean anything as stated

 

Wavelength has been around the block a few times and I've heard their gear, but their sound is what you prefer, a bit on the cold clinical, lean side. 

No reviewer has ever said that about Wavelength gear: in fact quite the opposite. That's certainly not the sound I get from the Proton.

 

 

......probably much closer to what your modded AN sounded like.  

huge assumptions about a DAC you've never heard

 

 

 But a Wavelength with Mundorf and Wima caps?  The AN must have sounded like a dark room in comparison.

I use the outputs with Black Gate N caps in. The Audio Note also uses Black Gates for your info.

 

 but that's not the point as he wants to use his SPDIF from his computer anyway.  

More assumptions. I prefer to think he wants the best sound for his pound that suits his taste and thus suggest he tries a USB async solution. If he doesn't like it nothing ventured, nothing gained!

 

Now you've got jitter reduction and whichever DAC you'd like processing the important signal.  

You absolutely havn't as you are taking your signal through an SPDIF jittery connection.

 

If Hendrix could move an entire audience to tears without feeding his guitar through a jitter correction circuit loaded with Wima caps, then I'm not sure all this extra technology is as deserving as we make it out to be.

The irony seems to escape you that Hendrix was playing live i.e all analogue! Listen to Hendrix on a poor record deck with a crystal cartridge and the sound could still move you immensely. Listen to the same music on CD thru a jittery poor quality and the only tears are those of disgust at how poor bad digital sound can be.
 

post #86 of 99

I'm not sure you're on the same page here....

 

Let's take this one by one as you've done to really pinpoint the issues at hand.  

 

As standard the 2.1 Signature has a non digital totally unsatisfying but non digital sound. It lacks detail, dynamics, rhythm and pace all IMHO of course and subject to my standard.

 

Grammar aside, this sentence leads me to believe that in its stock form you did not like the AN DAC...from which I can then make an accurate statement saying that you did NOT like the DAC where as I DID, hence that is our key sonic difference in taste.  I don't believe there are any assumptions being made here.  

 

Bad digital certainly can be. Good digital can be very good

 

ok...that argument could be applied to anything.  

 

 

 For these reasons I'm not surprised that your modded AN won a few shows over, you took the soul out of the DAC and made it sound "modern."  That's not the sound AN is going for (as evidenced by the article in my signature).

 

You're making huge assumptions here both about the DAC's sound and my musical tastes. What I didn't tell you was these were valve festivals, so it's accurate to say everyone there was in the non digital camp, albeit accepting that many have to use digital as a source.

 

Sure, it may have been a valve festival but here is where you've made your own assumption, just because the amplifier was built around a valve does not mean that it will exhibit valve like qualities.  It is increadibly easy to construct a valve based amp that sounds like it's solid state or digital counterpart.  Digital camp or not, most "valve heads" today aren't all about the syrupy, midrangy, vintage Brook or Leak sound signature.  Aside from that you told me above that you thought the AN DAC was "bland" I'm not sure where my assumptions are playing a role here.  Deduction might be a better word.

 

 

Wavelength has been around the block a few times and I've heard their gear, but their sound is what you prefer, a bit on the cold clinical, lean side. 

No reviewer has ever said that about Wavelength gear: in fact quite the opposite. That's certainly not the sound I get from the Proton.

 

And they shouldn't, juxtaposed with the gear they are reviewing it against the wavelength is quite warm and easily liked.  You have to take these things in context.  But for the OP I that there are better options out there.  

 

 

......probably much closer to what your modded AN sounded like.  

huge assumptions about a DAC you've never heard

 

Hence the "probably."  I've correctly added qualifying words to signify that I'm making an assumption when I'm making an assumption, I'm not trying to pull over on you.  But again, lets to a little deduction here, if you liked your modded AN DAC better than in its original form and you really like your wavelength then it's safe to say that the modded AN sounded closer to the wavelength.  

 

 

But a Wavelength with Mundorf and Wima caps?  The AN must have sounded like a dark room in comparison.

I use the outputs with Black Gate N caps in. The Audio Note also uses Black Gates for your info.

 

I'm aware, but they are not used as the output capacitors, Audio Note uses their own copper foil caps....so your argument is moot here.  It seems like you're saying that you're using an electrolyitic on the signal output but it is unclear, in any case that's not at all how they are used in the AN.  

 

The sound is taken from the pc buy spdif coaxial from an Asus xonar essence ST one of the best cards on the market.  Quoted from an earlier post from the OP.

 

More assumptions. I prefer to think he wants the best sound for his pound that suits his taste and thus suggest he tries a USB async solution.

 

So yes, he wants to use the spdif.  And you are assuming the best sound is equivalent to the use of an async usb.

 

 

If Hendrix could move an entire audience to tears without feeding his guitar through a jitter correction circuit loaded with Wima caps, then I'm not sure all this extra technology is as deserving as we make it out to be.

The irony seems to escape you that Hendrix was playing live i.e all analogue! Listen to Hendrix on a poor record deck with a crystal cartridge and the sound could still move you immensely. Listen to the same music on CD thru a jittery poor quality and the only tears are those of disgust at how poor bad digital sound can be.

 

Ok, I'll concede the point.

 

 

I'm not convinced that the use of an SPDIF signal will degrade the sound to the extent that it will be only decent at best.  It's been around for sixty plus years and if the advent of USB audio was truly heralded as the golden ticket everyone and their mother would have jumped on board but that is simply not the case within the context of manufactures at large.  It simply does not offer vastly greater sound quality, yet.  USB audio is still in its fledgling state and although it stands a great chance to mature I've personally yet to hear a very good USB implementation perform over a very good SPDIF connection.  My comparison was made with an Overdrive SE DAC from Empirical Audio and an Audio Note DAC 4 signature, the first driven via usb from my computer and the second with a transport via SPDIF.  If there is a better comparison to be made, certainly send it my way, but jitter or not I've yet to really see its introduction or reduction in an audio signal make a quantifiable difference. Now we can argue the jitter vs no jitter, digital vs analogue sound all day but the OP has laid out clear sound signature that he would like his DAC to fit in and I'm not sure any of this is helping.  I'll gladly take this elsewhere if you wish as it is definitely a worthwhile argument.

post #87 of 99
Thread Starter 

didn't i read somewhere also that if a 1.5m or greater coaxial lead was used it would acctualy cut or cut down jitter as the signal wouldn't get a chance to bounce back from the source before the dac sampled it or is that all just a nonsence????
 

post #88 of 99

Sub.

post #89 of 99

Colin,

'Fraid I don't have the inclination to continue a dialogue based on your assumptions about my taste in DACs or your audio generalisations. My advice to Smooth Londoner to go listen to a good Asynchronous DAC before making a choice stands. Whether he likes it or not depends on his taste and system synergy.

 

To paraphrase recording engineer Bob Katz:

There are some audible symptoms of jitter that allow us to determine that one source sounds "better" than another with a reasonable degree of scientific backing:

It is 
well known that jitter degrades stereo image, separation, depth, ambience, dynamic range.

Therefore, when during a listening comparison, comparing source A versus source B (and both have already been proved to be identical bitwise):

The source which exhibits greater stereo ambience and depth is the "better" one.

The source which exhibits more apparent dynamic range is the "better" one.

The source which is less edgy on the high end (most obvious sonic signature of signal correlated jitter) is the "better" one.


 

post #90 of 99

Oh well that's fine. Word of caution though; this is a forum and as such represents the opinions and assumptions of those on it, that's how forums operate.  I'm assuming, just as much as you are, that my/your advice will be to the benefit of the OP, petty retorts help neither party.  I've also made an assumption (or deduction) as to what sound signature you prefer based on your likes and dislikes, this isn't rocket science, so if my assumption is wrong please correct me instead of restating the fact that it's an assumption or generalization; reiterating the obvious only gets us so far.  

 

So we're right back where we started then, finding a good (asynchronos) DAC....do you have any assumptions as to which DACs might fit this category for the OP?

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: High-end Audio Forum
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › Advice needed on a DAC upgrade