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Audio-gd Compass 2 amp/DAC Impressions thread - Page 7

post #91 of 379
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Having owned the Modi/Magni as well as the ODAC (which I also used with the Magni and SA-31), I would TOTALLY go straight for the Compass 2. The Magni/Modi was slightly treble oriented (just a hint). The ODAC is wonderful, but comparing it to the inner DAC on the Compass 2, it sounded pretty identical, and you get the 32 bit options on the Compass 2, whereas the ODAC stops at 24/96.

I love the simplicity of having everything in one package. Less clutter, and cables. Yes, you can use your own DAC with the Compass 2 if you want (like testing the ODAC with the Compass 2's amp), and it has a fixed line out (for using as a DAC only for another amp which I find unnecessary unless you wanna try tube amps) or variable line out for something like speakers that don't have their own volume control (I hooked up my cheap desktop speakers to it which don't have their own volume control). In default, it's variable, so if you want fixed, you'll have to add a jumper (as mentioned on A-GD's website.) I say that unless you plan on using another amp, I'd leave it at variable.

The Compass 2 is full of energy and clarity. I honestly think it pairs up better with the HE-400 than the SA-31 did (I could swear the mids are clearer with the Compass 2). Of course, changes are subtle, but I really love the Compass 2 so far. The Magni and O2 are very neutral amps, while the Compass 2 is neutral with a hint of musicality/warmth. I much prefer to have some warmth. Trust me.

The initial setup (on the computer) is a bit of a pain, but not too hard.

This is my 3rd Audio-GD device, and I'm a true fan of Kingwa's stuff. I don't see myself getting another main amp/dac in the future, instead probably just getting a portable one for a laptop or something (like the E17...for the 3rd time, lol).

edit: Hmm, I may have to change from ES9018 direct to using the DIR module, as I'm getting some crackles here and there. It's a very rare occurence, but it did happen. Had a feeling my PC's sound card was gonna be a piece of crap. rolleyes.gif
I specifically asked for the DIR9001 as it's more neutral than the stock DIR chip. I guess I'll change it when I come home from shipping out the SA-31.

Congratulations on your new addition, I hate "Fixing/replacing" and opening my new purchases (or maybe I am lazy). 

Can Audio-gd (Kingwa), replace these items before shipping? even if it took more time to ship, I prefer it being replaced by some pro, other than myself....biggrin.gif


Edited by turokrocks - 1/15/13 at 11:42am
post #92 of 379
Yeah, the DIR9001 doesn't come at default. You can ask them to place it in.

There's not much to do yourself here that you really need to do except adding the jumpers for extra warmth for the line in (assuming you want more warmth or are even gonna use the line in), changing the line out to fixed or variable (fixed = not being controlled by the Compass 2 volume knob, variable = volume knob alters volume), and changing the SPDIF from direct to passing through the DIR chip, in my case, the DIR9001.

Everything else is like changing from ES9018 to the wolfon dac chip, or firmware chips. I got an extra USB module chip and I'm uncertain why I have it. I sent them an email asking what it's for, and if I should swap it out.

post #93 of 379

Awesome impressions, thanks man! It turns out that Compass 2 should be the one I'm looking for after all this while. But first I need to figure out which DIR/DA module that I need? Kinda a bit technical for me, but I guess I'm still learning. So do you reckon that your DIR9001 + ES9018 is optimal?

post #94 of 379
That's what I went for. The DIR9001 won't be used unless you change from ES9018 Direct to DIR Module passthrough. The ES9018 is neutral, as is the DIR9001. I could have went for the WM default chip, since it's warmer and smoother, but I figured I'd only use the DIR module if ES9018 wouldn't work properly.

So far, ES9018 direct works fine 99.9999% of the time, but very rarely get some distortion. Not sure what causes it. I'm not even sure if it's that or something else. I asked Kingwa, since I get the distortion off both the USB and SPDIF, and ES9018 direct seems to only be an option for SPDIF.

It might be something else entirely that's causing my issue. In any case, I've only gotten distortion 3 times, out of 24 hours, so far. Definitely not worried about it.

edit: Also added the warmth jumpers for the line in. Can't say I hear much of a difference, but because the ODAC has less voltage than the Compass 2's internal dac, I can't properly match decibel levels, so I'm not sure if it's warmer or not. If the line in was made warmer, it sure as hell is a very minimal effect.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/15/13 at 12:59pm
post #95 of 379
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

I got an extra USB module chip and I'm uncertain why I have it. I sent them an email asking what it's for, and if I should swap it out.

 

Recently received the Compass 2 from Audio-GD. Got a similar IC wrapped in foam packaging and asked Kingwa what's it for. The answer is pretty simple, this is for the older firmware #3 to use with the older USB drivers v1.1. The older chip and USB driver is meant to have a slightly smoother sound character compared to the current firmware (#4) and USB driver (v.1.22) which has a neutral sound character. So it depends on what your musical taste is going to be. I'll have to try it out once I through getting things warmed up (cough-cough..burned in).

 

Steve

post #96 of 379
Yeah, I got his email telling me it was the older firmware chip, though he didn't mention it being smoother/warmer. Hmm, may have to try that. Warmth/smoothness is good.

I'm loving the hell out of the Compass 2 with my HE400 and K702 Anniversary...
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/16/13 at 12:40am
post #97 of 379

I'm just curious, if u like it warm, why u never get either one of the Wolfson modules? Seems like that's what they said about the Wolfson modules, "slightly warmer".

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Yeah, I got his email telling me it was the older firmware chip, though he didn't mention it being smoother/warmer. Hmm, may have to try that. Warmth/smoothness is good.

I'm loving the hell out of the Compass 2 with my HE400 and K702 Anniversary...
post #98 of 379
I like warmth, but prefer to have it neutral at default with an option to go warm via op-amp or jumpers. Probably should have gotten the default spdif chip, and not the DIR9001, though im using ES9018 direct anyways, so the DIR module isn't being used...
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/16/13 at 1:11am
post #99 of 379

Ahh I see. Fair enough. I guess the default option is not so bad either since it gives both a neutral option and warmth.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

I like warmth, but prefer to have it neutral at default with an option to go warm via op-amp or jumpers. Probably should have gotten the default spdif chip, and not the DIR9001, though im using ES9018 direct anyways, so the DIR module isn't being used...
post #100 of 379
Someone know how to be able to switch from ES9018 direct to the DIR Modue passthrough? It's a very tight fit, and I can't squeeze my fingers in there to swap them out. Everything around the jumpers is soldered in...

edit: Hmm... it seems the ES9018 Direct is not playing nice with my PC, as I was getting the crackling through optical (SDIF direct), and the problem went away went I went to USB. However, I went back to SPDIF direct, and it works fine again. Like it resets the connection when I change inputs, and it fixes itself. Odd.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/16/13 at 3:05pm
post #101 of 379
Hmm, I've noticed that in USB 32 bit mode, I get a click-like distortion on certain sounds, for example, a click sound right before the actual windows clicking when you browse folders in windows. Or like when doing a sound test in playback devices (left side only).

This distortion goes away if I go down to 24-bit.

Any thoughts?

A total non-issue as I don't see any real reason to be in 32-bit mode, but I'd still like the Compass 2 to work at it's best.

I was finally able to move the 3 jumpers from ES9018 Direct to DIR passthrough. We'll see if it fixed my issue with my optical input having distortion and crackling, etc.

BTW, one of the jumpers (closest to the nears side of the Compass 2's wall) is glued to a 'string' so be careful in not snapping it off. Just gently move it from Direct to DIR pass through.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/21/13 at 5:38pm
post #102 of 379

Thought I'd post some impressions and some opinions of using the Compass 2. A bit of a preface in that I'm very new to the world of headphones and have only started to get involved with head gear just this year.

 

I acquired the Compass 2 about two weeks ago and went through some initial testing to make sure it was working. I.e. could play music through the laptop via foobar2000 application. Once that was settled, I then went through a period of playing music and pink noise through the Compass 2 for at least 100 hours (over a week) to burn-in the device and minimize the psychological impact of having a new item.

 

Prior to testing, pink noise was played and the  the volume raised for both the Compass 2 and HA-INFO DA1 to about 66dBA using the sound meter app of the Samsung Note 2 phone and level matched the volume on the right cup of the headpone. I didn't have a calibrated meter with me.

 

Primary listening was using the Hifiman HE-400 headphones. Music source is FLAC files in both 24bit/96Hz (downloaded from HD Tracks) and 16bit/44.1kHz format(ripped from original CDs) on playlists by foobar2000 by USB output using Kernel Streaming (KS). I set the bit depth to 24 bits in the output data format - even though the Compass 2 can accept 32 bits. The buffer length was set to 5010ms to minimize sound clicks when changing between music files.

 

The following is a comparison between the Compass 2 and HA-INFO DA1. I don't have any other DAC + amp unit around that can be compared with.

 

The first thing I noticed was that the Compass 2 did not have any of sound clicks when going from 16bit/44.1kHz to 24bit/96kHz or in reverse order. The sound clicks were quite evident in the HA-INFO DA1 and not matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get rid of the annoying clicks. A worse problem for the HA-INFO DA1 is the inability to play 88.2kHz. So the Compass 2 wins out on the feature stand point.

 

The second thing I noticed was that the Compass 2 had more details in the music. It was a joy to focus on certain instruments or background vocals at will on the Compass 2, while I struggled to get the same level of details from the HA-INFO DA1. A side benefit of the increased details is the wider sound stage of the Compass 2 - very evident on well recorded music files.

 

The third impression is that the base impact is more detailed and forceful on the Compass 2 compared to the HA-INFO DA1. When playing certain bass heavy music, it was much more enjoyable listening on the Compass 2.

 

It took a lot longer for me to understand the smoothness of the Compass 2 compared to the HA-INFO DA1, but it was there. Once I found this out, it was much more enjoyable listening to my favorite jazz music and soft rock. 

 

The DA1 is a fun device to listen to with the Wolfson DAC - it was my first serious headphone amp compared to listening to the laptop output and there was a noticeable improvement. At times the DA1 can be harsh when the volume is up, not sure why - possibly the source wasn't recorded right.

 

I'll conclude is that the Compass 2 is a better device, but its not such an obvious difference that I would have imagined. The cost difference between the two is about 5x, but I can't honestly say that one gets 5x improvement in the sound quality. I quickly found out what the law of diminishing returns mean now.eek.gif

 

Once I return back home, will be using the Oppo as the transport to either the optical or coax inputs to compare the USB.

 

That's all for now.

 

Steve

post #103 of 379

Nice to know that your Compass 2 really doing better :P, and thanks for the impressions.

 

Anyway, I'm still a bit torn between O2+ODAC or M/M or this. Anyway, @MLE any thorough review on the Compass 2 soon? :P How's the burning-in going for u?

post #104 of 379

Thread bump - I am in the market for an amp/dac combo that could drive my active speakers and let me add some good headphones (HE-500, LCD2) later on. Would this be the device to go for in the $500 range? Other options are GF Tubedac 11, Yulong D100 mk2, NFB-10 etc.

 

Or should I just buy a $1000-1500 device and be done with it?

 

Sorry for digressing...

post #105 of 379

Well, how much you're willing to spend solely depends on you ;)

 

From what I read (and by extrapolation of the experience I have with other A-GD gears) the Compass-2 is a top performer in the $500 range.

It's modular (line in), has a very good USB input and you can tune the sound signature.

 

If you want to go balanced, then the 3x R-core integrated (Reference 10, NFB-27, NFB-20) are on a different level (audio & price).

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