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SA-2 Musical Dac (Audio-gd) - Page 5

post #61 of 75

So what's the news Craig? Is the honeymoon over?

 

Feedback, feedback, we want more feedback!

post #62 of 75

Yes, more impressions please! I'm thinking the SA-2 might be a nice step up from the NFB-10es2 for the hd800s.

post #63 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post

So what's the news Craig? Is the honeymoon over?

Feedback, feedback, we want more feedback!

Quote:
Originally Posted by thegunner100 View Post

Yes, more impressions please! I'm thinking the SA-2 might be a nice step up from the NFB-10es2 for the hd800s.

Yeah...Yeah..working on it! Maybe another epic post? Ha ha. I've had a busy week (haven't we all?), and had a few days where I didn't even get any listening in. Yikes!

Anyway, still some honeymoon going on- but here's a teaser- after listening straight into the Taboo, and then trying a bit of tube rolling with/without the pre, I'm starting to think maybe the SA-1 / SA-2 are more different than I first thought. I'm getting details and a clarity that I could never get out of my rig before. The DAC is certainly not as laid back as it's predecessor, but it's never crossing on to aggressive signature. Still smooth and realistic tone though, just more clearly focused and the sound stage is very good.
post #64 of 75

might pick this up shortly. Being the successor to my old Ref 9 has me wishing to hear this. The Ref 9's musicality, tonality, blackground, and bass qualities were to die for. Would love to see how this compares to my current Eximus

vrt

post #65 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by opyourmimas View Post

might pick this up shortly. Being the successor to my old Ref 9 has me wishing to hear this. The Ref 9's musicality, tonality, blackground, and bass qualities were to die for. Would love to see how this compares to my current Eximus
vrt
Now the question is: how does the Eximus compare to your old Ref-9?
post #66 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post


Now the question is: how does the Eximus compare to your old Ref-9?

 

I'll chime in briefly with that one. I'd say that the Ref 9 has more bass impact, and a blacker background. I'd say the DP1 is more extended in the highs, and a better defined soundstage. I'd classify them both as musical, intimate dacs, that pair well with the HD800. It's been a while since I've had my Ref 9 though-so I won't comment further on it. Those strengths still stand out in my mind though-and I've had the SA-2 on my radar (though I obviously love the Eximus) because of my past enjoyment of the old Reference 9.

 

-Daniel

post #67 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by BournePerfect View Post
 

 

I'll chime in briefly with that one. I'd say that the Ref 9 has more bass impact, and a blacker background. I'd say the DP1 is more extended in the highs, and a better defined soundstage. I'd classify them both as musical, intimate dacs, that pair well with the HD800. It's been a while since I've had my Ref 9 though-so I won't comment further on it. Those strengths still stand out in my mind though-and I've had the SA-2 on my radar (though I obviously love the Eximus) because of my past enjoyment of the old Reference 9.

 

-Daniel

 

I also had you in mind when I posted this :beerchug:

 

The choice is getting complicated now between the DP1, the SA-2 and the Ref-10.32 (that's a concern for rich people...).

I owned the DP1 but didn't really got into its sound. It's a very fine DAC, no doubts, but I preferred the more authoritative approach of the NFB-27. The Reference 10 would be the closest.

But the SA-31 was part of the equation with the NFB-27, for the Musical take on the sound -> hence my interest for the SA-2, now that I moved to the EF-6.

post #68 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post
 

 

I also had you in mind when I posted this :beerchug:

 

 

 

I actually thought your post was meant for me when I scanned it from the forum before entering the thread lol. :D I figured you had already settled on a dac after you mentioned in the past you preferred the NFB 27 over the Eximus. Do let us know your thoughts on the SA-2 if you ever pick one up. I wish Kingwa would release a balanced Diamond Differential dac so I'd have no excuse. Otoh-the DP1 just suits me perfectly-but I'll definitely be giving the Yggi a shot when it releases next year. Keep us posted.

 

-Daniel

post #69 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by BournePerfect View Post
 

 

I actually thought your post was meant for me when I scanned it from the forum before entering the thread lol. :D I figured you had already settled on a dac after you mentioned in the past you preferred the NFB 27 over the Eximus. Do let us know your thoughts on the SA-2 if you ever pick one up. I wish Kingwa would release a balanced Diamond Differential dac so I'd have no excuse. Otoh-the DP1 just suits me perfectly-but I'll definitely be giving the Yggi a shot when it releases next year. Keep us posted.

 

-Daniel

 

Just did... :rolleyes:

I'm still eager to try the Reference 10.32 and DP1 (again).

 

I'm quite sure that I will like the DP1 better this time. Back in the day (=2 month ago.. in France.. with the SA-31) I found the Eximus lacked dynamics and bass impact.

Though I'm not quite sure the bass would be much different this time, I'm positive that the dynamics would be on a new level on my current setup. What makes me think that is my experience with the Ciunas DAC: it also lacked dynamics back then (I wrote JKenny a feedback about the DAC and this point was my only cons, actually. I think I C/P the feedback in the thread). Now I'm having a different experience on the EF-6 and iMac: it's much better in that aspect!

 

Can someone lend me his DP1, I cannot justify it until I get power speakers (Focal solo6, probably).

post #70 of 75
You ordered one? Right on! I really am enjoying it.
post #71 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegrobe View Post

You ordered one? Right on! I really am enjoying it.

 

Yes. It's a pretty big expense compared to the great deal I had for the SA-1 (don't remember the name of the guy, but he was very nice... :ph34r:).

I feel the SA-1 is lacking transparency and extension compared to my other DACs, but I love the tone and the sound just feel sooo comfortable! SA flavour at play, for sure.

 

I exchanged a couple of mails with Kingwa to get a better idea of how he heard his TOTL DACs or combo. Here's what he answered:

- Details, Imaging, Dynamics: Master 7 > NFB-7.32 => NFB-27 > Reference 10 > SA-2
- Soundstage: Master 7 = NFB-7.32 = SA-2 > NFB-27 = Reference 10.

 

Obviously, this is not telling the whole story. He didn't mention the voicing or the tonality (which is a big deal here), only the "quantifiable" technical aspects.

 

I'm actually worried about the soundstage: I hope it doesn't sound too distant with the HE-6. The NFB-27 + SA-31 was borderline in that aspect.

If it doesn't do it, the Reference 10.32 is next.

 

About the tonality:

The Reference 10.32 not as warm as the Reference 5.32, and not dark as the NFB27+SA31.
It is slight darker than the NFB27.
 
That's a bit weird because I would say the Reference 5.32 is dark and the NFB-27+SA-31 is warm, actually. Don't know if he switched the terms by mistake or not?
post #72 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post

Yes. It's a pretty big expense compared to the great deal I had for the SA-1 (don't remember the name of the guy, but he was very nice... ph34r.gif ).
I feel the SA-1 is lacking transparency and extension compared to my other DACs, but I love the tone and the sound just feel sooo comfortable! SA flavour at play, for sure.

I exchanged a couple of mails with Kingwa to get a better idea of how he heard his TOTL DACs or combo. Here's what he answered:

- Details, Imaging, Dynamics: Master 7 > NFB-7.32 => NFB-27 > Reference 10 > SA-2
- Soundstage: Master 7 = NFB-7.32 = SA-2 > NFB-27 = Reference 10.


Obviously, this is not telling the whole story. He didn't mention the voicing or the tonality (which is a big deal here), only the "quantifiable" technical aspects.

I'm actually worried about the soundstage: I hope it doesn't sound too distant with the HE-6. The NFB-27 + SA-31 was borderline in that aspect.
If it doesn't do it, the Reference 10.32 is next.

About the tonality:
The Reference 10.32 not as warm as the Reference 5.32, and not dark as the NFB27+SA31.
It is slight darker than the NFB27.
 
That's a bit weird because I would say the Reference 5.32 is dark and the NFB-27+SA-31 is warm, actually. Don't know if he switched the terms by mistake or not?

Exciting stuff, I look forward to your thoughts, as you have much more experience sampling different DAC's than myself. Because of this, I know that I'm not the most reliable source to provide comparisons. I'm curious if you'll find similar differences and similarities between the SA-1/2 as I did. I hope you find it worthwhile, and hope my input didn't lead you astray!

Yes, it's an expense..but sometimes just gotta make that leap of faith and try it. In my case, it worked out- for my preferences it's great. I do want to hear either the M7 or NFB-7.32 in my system eventually, to see if perhaps those may have some strengths I prefer. (Those noted in Kingwa's response above). At the time I bought the SA-2, I just couldn't go with the "unknown" of the NFB-7.32 or the added expense of the M7. When I do add one of those, the SA-2 will stay so I can A/B them. For the time being though, I'm pretty much more than satisfied. smily_headphones1.gif

When does yours arrive?

Might as well add some notes here, I'm kind of preferring the SA-2 straight into the Taboo. The soundstage is more expanded, and clarity, focus, and a "simplicity" to the sound is there. The pre adds a weight and body to the sound but takes away a bit in the aforementioned areas. (This is for headphone use). Perhaps time to roll some tubes in the pre, could get some of this back. For driving speakers however, the pre is a necessity.

Regardless of what equipment is doing what, I've got so many options and adjustability with this rig that I've got plenty of ways to listen- none of them bad!
post #73 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegrobe View Post


Exciting stuff, I look forward to your thoughts, as you have much more experience sampling different DAC's than myself. Because of this, I know that I'm not the most reliable source to provide comparisons. I'm curious if you'll find similar differences and similarities between the SA-1/2 as I did. I hope you find it worthwhile, and hope my input didn't lead you astray!

Yes, it's an expense..but sometimes just gotta make that leap of faith and try it. In my case, it worked out- for my preferences it's great. I do want to hear either the M7 or NFB-7.32 in my system eventually, to see if perhaps those may have some strengths I prefer. (Those noted in Kingwa's response above). At the time I bought the SA-2, I just couldn't go with the "unknown" of the NFB-7.32 or the added expense of the M7. When I do add one of those, the SA-2 will stay so I can A/B them. For the time being though, I'm pretty much more than satisfied. smily_headphones1.gif

When does yours arrive?

Might as well add some notes here, I'm kind of preferring the SA-2 straight into the Taboo. The soundstage is more expanded, and clarity, focus, and a "simplicity" to the sound is there. The pre adds a weight and body to the sound but takes away a bit in the aforementioned areas. (This is for headphone use). Perhaps time to roll some tubes in the pre, could get some of this back. For driving speakers however, the pre is a necessity.

Regardless of what equipment is doing what, I've got so many options and adjustability with this rig that I've got plenty of ways to listen- none of them bad!

 

Mine arrived yesterday.

It stayed in my car during the whole afternoon and till 11PM so it was very cold when I opened it :D.

 

I wanted to give it a shot before going to sleep nonetheless. I can tell right now that it is indeed quite different from the SA-1 in terms of tonality and (as expected) technically.

It's much less warm, the highs extend further and are brighter (still on the smooth side, but clearly not as rolled-off as the little brother). The bass, well...  is very deep, impactful and detailed.

It doesn't have the bloom of the SA-1, rather a very tight and clean presentation (valid for the whole spectrum, not only bass). It's basically what I got with the NFB-27, there's no mistaking here and I love that!

 

Now, the interesting thing I discovered is how similar the Chord QuteHD + TeddyPSU sounds! It's not the exact same sound, of course, but the "philosophy" appears quite similar to me, that is: a slightly warm but very clean/transparent sound with great details and bass definition/impact! Yesterday, the Chord was slightly smoother up-top but I won't assert anything until the SA-2 gets more time. That kinda shows how good the QuteHD truly is, IMO. Coming from an occidental company (which have obviously more expensive parts and labour) and in such a tiny form factor, it's very nice!

 

 

Note that I left the SA-1 with the settings you set (4x upsampling, -90dB + dithering). I don't know for the SA-2. I suspect it is 8x upsampling, -130dB + dithering but on the manual I see a BYPASS jumper that is ON by default (does it bypass the whole DSP?).

I suppose that NOS mode + -90dB or -50dB stopband attenuation will result in a warmer sound (at the expense of? TBD). There's also a PLL jumper that is not really documented. Might be interesting to try different combinations.


Edited by Clemmaster - 12/7/13 at 4:15pm
post #74 of 75
Hi Clem, sounds like a positive first impression. I look forward to hearing more. I've got about 300 hours on mine, and have noticed subtle changes in detail, tighter bass, and highs becoming a bit more smooth. Nothing earth shattering or night and day, but a bit of settling in. Not worse that's for sure. LOL. Curious to see what you say as it ages.

The pll/bypass jumper and dithering settings are a bit confusing. The pll default is "on" but "on" is no jumper in place. Same with dither, "on" is with the jumper "off". So to bypass the DSP, or dithering, you would need to place the jumper there.

I never heard much difference with the stopband settings, so just put it in the middle position on the SA-1. Figured middle of the road would be fine if I couldn't reliably tell a difference.

As far as oversampling, I found the 8x smoothest and more laid back, as it's lowered to 4, 2 there is an increase of dynamic but a bit rougher around the edges. NOS would be the far end of that. Very fun sound, but found it tiring.

All that said, I haven't tried adjusting any of that on the SA-2 yet. It's on the default 8x, 130db...I'll be trying the settings eventually to see how the big brother responds.
post #75 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegunner100 View Post

Yes, more impressions please! I'm thinking the SA-2 might be a nice step up from the NFB-10es2 for the hd800s.

Delayed response, for sure....

But, I've had a pair of HD800 here for the last few days. I've got to say, the SA-2 plus Decware rig into the hd800 is stepping things up.

I've made a small adjustment to the tube compliment, as I had the preamp/amp tuned as clean and lean as possible with the LCD-3. The HD800 seems to jump up higher in SQ in this setup, and I haven't even tried lots of tube rolling yet.

Plugging the HD right into the CSP3 is great as well. CSP3 alone, CSP3+taboo, taboo alone are all great but slightly different signatures. (CSP3 alone being the warmest/most colored). The LCD-3 is good really only on the pair or taboo alone.

The leaner headphone on this "musical" rig mates well. The HD800 also seems to be able to maintain balance and SQ at lower listening volume vs the LCD-3, which I like.

It will be tough, but I'll have to choose between one headphone. The LCD does mids fantastically, that would be hard to let go.
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