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post #256 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.gheorghe View Post

Guys, I have some news here. I have found a wonderful USB interface. I will review it soon. It has DRAMATICALLY improved my sound on Conductor. It really brought it at a new level!!!! Incredible! I am talking about Audiobyte Hydra.

 

I also have Naim Dac v1 for tests. First impressions are pretty good!


Wow, at 700 euro it must be crazy good, price of the very decent DAC with USB interface.

Never heard of it though, I am wondering if these guys can comment anything on it.

Best USB to SPDIF converter

15 USB/SPDIF converters shootout

post #257 of 455
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew_WOT View Post


Wow, at 700 euro it must be crazy good, price of the very decent DAC with USB interface.

Never heard of it though, I am wondering if these guys can comment anything on it.

Best USB to SPDIF converter

15 USB/SPDIF converters shootout

I am trying to get a M2tech line for comparisons. One friend of mine that had both said this is over the M2Tech line. 

 

I personally would not buy M2tech for the simple fact that I do not want 3 boxes...one is enough...and decent.

 

Yes...hydra is expensive but it is deserves every penny. It changed my sound completely. The engineer that made Hydra is behind the transport from PS Audio PWD 2 . 

post #258 of 455
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Audiobyte Hydra: High-End USB interface

Hey guys,

I have heard for a while now, of a Romanian company that supposedly produces some very good audio gear.

Never had the chance to hear one of their products until recently.

The company I am talking about is Audiobyte. The owner, and main engineer is Nucu Jitariu. I have heard of him from Sandu during the last few years. From what I have heard, he is a legend throughout the audiophile society in Romania.

It has come to my attention that Nucu worked with some very popular audio companies like PS AudioWadia, MSBGoldmund.

So yes Nucu and Audiobyte has some real experience with some of the bests products out there.

I have managed to have a small interview with him to help us get a better grip on what he does :

1. Was this always what you’ve set out to do and for how long have you now been into audio?  

My background is in economics but I found myself more into engineering which is my passion ; this passion drives my entire team. I’m into audio since I was a boy, but seriously for about 15 years.

2. What drives your passion?

My idea is to make real audio research and bring it on the market in cost-effective solutions – and offer the sound, not the box.

3. I heard that you collaborated with other companies. Can you tell us which ones and what products did you help create? 

We are doing engineering for many companies. I will not enter the details about specific products, but the most known names are PS Audio, Wadia, MSB, Goldmund…

4. Would you please describe your current (available or in development) line of products?

We have the Audiobyte products, more or less related to computer audio, and the classic Rockna line. We have a few exciting technologies developed for Rockna which migrated into Audiobyte – let’s take for example the Silver Dragon dac , which have a lot of stuff taken from Wavequest dac. For Rockna we’re building now a bluray transport/player with dsd capability – some sort of ultimate machine for spinning discs – I know that’s almost romantic these days, but I just cannot help it… will have also network connection to be fully featured..

5. What is the product you’re most proud of and why?

 The product that I’m most proud of …is not ready yet. We are working on our own conversion technique which uses no dac chips.. will be probably released into the Hydravox dac.

6. You have such a great experience and you make terrific products. Why don’t you invest more in marketing since not many have heard of your company?

 If I would have invested in marketing then I would have had to cut from R&D …which was not an option for me, and still not much of an option today. We’re not a money-driven organization, in a sense that profit is not our primary goal . We put more accent on making good stuff. 

Now to get back to the story. I am writing this article because a few weeks ago, I have seen one of the newest products from Audiobyte and my eyes stuck on this little black and weird looking box, the Hydra 

Well, I know it is not going to win the Miss USB Interface World contest, and to be frank, it did intrigue me, but haven’t had stellar expectations when I first saw it.

However, I am an engineer, and the results interest me much more than just the looks. Also the specs drew my attention  even more, as it really looked like a high end product.

I have called Audiobyte and talked directly to Nucu, asking him to send a unit for the review. He was kind enough to send one, and I must say it really was one of my most interesting WOW moments throughout my journey until now.

code-01

I did not expect this, nor did I want this, as this isn’t a very cheap component to add to your system.

However, I must say that the difference was incredible! Mark my words, the sound was entirely brought to another level. It was like I bought a much better dac/amp.

P1250541

Hydra was designed to get the most out the PC sound. It eliminates the jitter and re-clocks the signal.

It isolates your audio gear from the noisy PC environment.

At the heart of the Hydra, you can find the Spartan6 FPGA which also supports raw dsd audio streams.

Hydra uses 2 low noises clocks for signal regeneration : CCHD-957 type from Crystek, one of 45.1584 Mhz and one of 49.152 Mhz:

You can check real graphs of these ultra-low phase noise clocks here. The clocks are system masters. In order to remove any jitter induced by the FPGA circuit itself, special retiming is applied just before the Hydra outputs.

The usb transactions are processed at high speed with the help of an ARM processor.

One other thing I like about it, is the fact that it runs on battery, giving it clean power. This battery gives you ~9h of music play time, which is not bad at all.

You should look here for full specifications.

Ok, I think it is time to get to what is really important, the sound!

I will tell you some of my impressions on a few songs.

The tests were made with Burson Conductor, Audeze LCD2, Audeze LCD3, Sennheiser HD800 and Focal Spirit One.

P1250567

Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate

The sound was clear as a mountain river. Young Leonard’s voice was flowing with great ease throughout all the incredibly detailed instruments. The openness of the sound was amazing. I just stood still and listened..and listened… carried by the music.

Alisson Adams Tucker – La Vie En Rose 

The headphones were just a window to the music. The sound was incredibly clear. Just loved the voice, it was just mesmerizing. The clarity with which it flows like a musical river to my ears was just amazing. The soundstage was fantastic, holographic. The instruments were incredibly detailed and very very well placed into space.

Pink Floyd – Time 

Ok, so the time presented itself with some “ticks” I have never heard before. Again the sound was so incredibly clear and detailed that it opened the sound and not by a little. The bells were incredible. If I close my eyes I can see the bells well positioned all around me. The voice was crisp clear with excellent texture. I, again just got caught in the music forgetting about anything else.

Hanz Zimmer – The Dark Knight Rises- Mind if I cut in?

The depth of the scene is incredible! The piano just flows with such musical ease that it mesmerized me. I have once heard some piano on MSB Platinum Dac IV that really stunned me. I must say that this really got close to that experience.  I am writing this with tears in my eyes. The sound was that impressive. The instruments had such a natural tone, so incredibly clear, well separated and positioned. I feel like I have heard theConductor for the first time…

 

Infected Mushrooms – Wanted To

The bass had more impact and body. It gave me the impression that it goes deeper and has more detail.

Andre Rieu -Morning

It is 4:30 in the morning and I cannot go to sleep because of this awesome sound. The morning was approaching fast so I put this song in the queue. It really woke me up…for a few minutes…The soundstage was just amazing. The violins had an excellent extension, vibe and texture. If i closed my eyes, the orchestra presented itself all around me.

Conclusions

It is hard to describe what this little black box brings to Burson Conductor.

P1250535

I have first tested it with Audeze LCD2. Lately I have listened more to HD800 due to its’ superior dynamics, details, soundstage, transparency… etc.

The hydra did some voodoo magic with Audeze LCD2. It really brought them to another whole level, improving them exactly where I felt they were lacking.

The sound became a lot more clear, opened and detailed and the dynamics were just excellent. Besides that, it made the bass deeper with more impact.

My problem is that it also improved the HD800, and actually, these qualities were felt with all the headphones I have tested it with.

P1250572

The headphones became just a window to the music, there was nothing between you and the music.

Imagine that you are looking through a  steamed/dirty window and then you open the window and you can see all with excellent clarity. This is what Hydra did, it opened the window, and I must say that I don’t want to close it again. For me it was a one way trip.

I did not imagine something like this to make such a huge difference, but it was one of my best WOWS in my whole journey.

The hydra cleans up the sound making it clean like a whistle. This implies a lot :

  • the sound flows smoothly
  • the dynamics are improved a lot
  • the bass has more impact, presence and is more detailed
  • a lot more details
  • the sounds open up and not by a little
  • better instrument separation, better imaging and positioning
  • deeper and punchier bass

P1250537

And all of this in one box! You don’t have to get all the m2tech stack with all the interconnects.

I loved this product so much that I wanted to hug Nucu for such a great job that he did. Whenever he will come to Bucharest, the beer will be on me!

applaud

He is an excellent engineer and I have become one of his greatest fans.

Guys, this USB interface is really something else. You should really try it! I guaranty you that you will not regret it.

So I must say it again, thank you Nucu, you are one of the people that makes me proud to be a Romanian! Good job and keep at it!

I really can’t want to hear his other products!

P1250543

 

Edited by dan.gheorghe - 5/28/13 at 3:03pm
post #259 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.gheorghe View Post

 

I also have Naim Dac v1 for tests. First impressions are pretty good!

 

I'll be interested to hear your impressions of the DAC-V1 especially with the LCD-2/3, as I own the former and I am considering the latter.

 

NB, the Naim does need to burn-in before sounding its best, 100-150 hours of use is recommended.

post #260 of 455

Great review on the Hydra, Dan. All - I should also have the Hydra over to compare it with my Audiophilleo 2 / IFI IUSB combo.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul Meakin View Post

 

I'll be interested to hear your impressions of the DAC-V1 especially with the LCD-2/3, as I own the former and I am considering the latter.

 

NB, the Naim does need to burn-in before sounding its best, 100-150 hours of use is recommended.

 

Great advice indeed and I think Dan has also noticed this in regards to the DAC-V1. :) We were speaking the other day on how important burn-in is in general with any hardware to sound at its best. I am finding a big difference these days with a solid state speaker amp as it goes through various stages of burn-in.


Edited by negura - 5/26/13 at 9:37am
post #261 of 455

Certainly an interesting product, thanks for another great review, Dan.

These days almost everyone is using XMOS for USB receiver but this one uses some other chip, is that to support DSD?

Also curios of why with all types of outputs available BNC is missing.

Found picture of this converter internals, hope you wouldn't mind me posting it here.

Comparison to other top converters like Evo, Audophilleo and Off-Ramp 5 would be extremely helpful, wishing for too much, I guess.


Edited by Andrew_WOT - 5/26/13 at 9:55am
post #262 of 455
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Meakin View Post

 

I'll be interested to hear your impressions of the DAC-V1 especially with the LCD-2/3, as I own the former and I am considering the latter.

 

NB, the Naim does need to burn-in before sounding its best, 100-150 hours of use is recommended.

 

Out of the box the Naim really needs some serious burn in and the first 50 hours I was really disappointed of it. After 50 - 60 hours it started to break in more. I still think it is a little overpriced compared to the competition though. 

 

It isn't good enough for Audeze in my opinion. After 85% volume it goes into clipping (it distorts the sounds). That means it doesn't have enough power. With HD800 it is ok, but still prefer the Conductor over all. 

 

I like the usb input from it. You can really feel that it has some audiophilleo inside. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by negura View Post

 

Great review on the Hydra, Dan. All - I should also have the Hydra over to compare it with my Audiophilleo 2 / IFI IUSB combo.

 

 

Great advice indeed and I think Dan has also noticed this in regards to the DAC-V1. :) We were speaking the other day on how important burn-in is in general with any hardware to sound at its best. I am finding a big difference these days with a solid state speaker amp as it goes through various stages of burn-in.

 

 

Thank you Razvan! I am really looking forward for your comparison

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew_WOT View Post

Certainly an interesting product, thanks for another great review, Dan.

These days almost everyone is using XMOS for USB receiver but this one uses some other chip, is that to support DSD?

Also curios of why with all types of outputs available BNC is missing.

Found picture of this converter internals, hope you wouldn't mind me posting it here.

Comparison to other top converters like Evo, Audophilleo and Off-Ramp 5 would be extremely helpful, wishing for too much, I guess.

 

Thanks Andrew! Of course i do not mind to post pictures here. Anything useful anybody has is welcomed here. It uses the Spartan6 FPGA.  

From what I know it is quite better than the XMOS.

 

 

I did not managed to get the m2tech stack for comparison though. I am planning to buy the Hydra when I come back from my vacation, and I hope i will get the m2tech then.

 

I have a friend that had the m2tech stack before hydra and said he liked the latest more. I have also tested the usb input from the DAC V1  agains Hydra and the latest won pretty easily. (DAC V1 has some sort of audiophilleo inside, but I don't think it has the original full version


Edited by dan.gheorghe - 5/26/13 at 11:53am
post #263 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew_WOT View Post

These days almost everyone is using XMOS for USB receiver but this one uses some other chip, is that to support DSD?

 

Comparison to other top converters like Evo, Audophilleo and Off-Ramp 5 would be extremely helpful, wishing for too much, I guess.

 

For some reason XMOS based solutions seem to rate below RISC or FPGA ones. M2Tech EVO also uses a Xilinx Spartan for example and from all the reviews it's well above any XMOS stuff. Audiophilleo uses a programmable chip as well, an ARM9. 


Edited by negura - 5/26/13 at 12:02pm
post #264 of 455

i hope those reviews have measurements to back it up.  otherwise, its ridiculous.

HeadAmp Audio Electronics - home of the Pico and Gilmore amps.  Now with Audeze, Fostex, HiFiMAN, Sennheiser, and STAX.
Find us at www.HeadAmp.com

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post #265 of 455
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by justin w. View Post

i hope those reviews have measurements to back it up.  otherwise, its ridiculous.

Don't know for sure what are you referring to justin but if you are referring to what I have wrote, everybody is entitled to their opinions :) They have measurements. The measurements have been done with the best measurements system I know : my ears :D


Edited by dan.gheorghe - 5/26/13 at 4:39pm
post #266 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan.gheorghe View Post

Everybody is entitled to their opinions smily_headphones1.gif They have measurements. The measurements have been done with the best measurements system I know : my ears biggrin.gif

...And the worst tool for interpretation - your mind.
post #267 of 455
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dryvadeum View Post


...And the worst tool for interpretation - your mind.

I use the measurements on innerfidelity very much for example , so I am not discarding them at all. Actually they are a wonderful tool. I can presume from the start sometimes if I wouldn't like a headphone, from the measurements. However, the measurements do not make me take the final decision. My ears and my interpretation has the last word every time.  I know people who don't trust their own minds and interpretations. I, however do not have this problem and nobody will convince me otherwise. So please let's not get into a pointless discussion on the matter.


Edited by dan.gheorghe - 5/26/13 at 4:58pm
post #268 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by justin w. View Post

i hope those reviews have measurements to back it up.  otherwise, its ridiculous.

 

You are of course right in that the processors are indeed not directly comparable when one is just hearing the end result. This is also not what I have said. However, the end result implementations or solution can be compared and it's been done. Even if subjectively, which is what in the end people buy. :)


Edited by negura - 5/26/13 at 5:16pm
post #269 of 455

Would like to see this Hydra compared to the Off Ramp 5 via I2S

 

popcorn.gif

post #270 of 455

great review Dan, as always.

I was the guy who auditioned the M2tech stack, actually it was not the full stack, it was Evo + Evo battery supply (without the EVO clock) and the Hydra was WAY better than M2tech stack. Maybe I should borrow the full 3 box M2Tech stack and compare it against Hydra, it should be fun. But I get a feeling that Hydra would win. It's really something special, I heard it two times and it wowed me also, it's expensive but very good.

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