Preamp as well. I drive my 1KW power amps into Maggies directly, dead quiet.
See their 226 page test report on the Emo site for more details than you can absorb!
Hope this helps,
I would say, do not go with DC-1, Bifrost is better.
I recently got DC-1 and wanted to use it as DC-1 (DAC + Preamp)->UPA 200->HE-6, overall with heavy EQ setting I was happy, till I plugged Bifrost. With Bifrost (DAC)->DC-1 (Preamp)->UPA 200->HE-6 sound much better then DC-1 used as DAC. The main difference I found is bass impact, highs were more clear and precise on Bifrost, differences are little but still exists.
I really liked the DC-1 as preamp, no noise floor, good soundstage, vol control is also great, but the problem preamp is that it has very low gain, that would result in poweramp sound very bright.
The DC-1 had a so-so HP amp. For a $500 option for both a DAC and an amp, it isn't bad. It does not compare however, (in any way) to a better amp. Even in other combos like the Dangerous source, which blows it away in the amp department.
I know this hobbie is complicated ... I was hoping the DC-1 DAC sound to be at par with Gungnir, never mind Bifrost, according to several reviews in this forum. Did you compare both as direct DACs? In my view the pairing of DC-1 and Bifrost may have given it an unfair advantage.
I also know tastes and ancillary equipment have an effect in the perceived end result. This is what is making the whole thing hard for me to decide without auditioning feasibility.
The argument about the preamp's low gain making the power amp 'bright' is one I don't follow, as I would expect it to make the sound 'leaner' (less body and weight, mainly affecting lower frequencies' presence) since the power amp would dilute the preamp's gain. Maybe this is the sensation you're referring to with bright?
In any event, I run an integrated amp with its own (high) input gain, so I would imagine the built-in preamp in my integrated would amplify the incoming DC-1 preamp's signal. But, the preamp needs to have some reasonable output gain range for me to be able to 'ride' this gain with my amp. For example, increasing the DC-1 volume and decreasing the amp's volume would conceptually provide more weight and body to the sound from, say, shallow or lean recordings.
I asked this same 'riding the gain' question to Keith Levkoff at Emotiva, and he said I could certainly achieve that.
Man, I don't want to go to square 1 again! Sorry!
As I understand how the DC-1's pre-amp functions, at the zero dB setting it is putting out ~2 volts, which is the industry standard (a standard that most DAC manufacturers (including Emo) do not exactly comply with (or in some cases even come close to), though as I recall, the DC-1 was at least close... not like some of the DACs I tested).
Most modern amps are designed to handle this 2-volt input, so pretty much anything available these days will work fine with the DC-1's output. Of course you can attenuate the voltage to zero or beef it up a bit using the volume control, but that shouldn't affect the sound quality significantly, assuming that increasing or decreasing the voltage output of the unit isn't distorting the signal. I heard no such distortion in testing the DC-1, and I used it's volume control (admittedly to make only very small changes <2dBs) in level-matching it to other DACs.
As to whether the Bifrost is a better solution, that is a totally subjective matter. I've never tested a Bifrost so I have no opinion about it. All I can say is that I tested the DC-1 side by side with the Gungnir, level-matched, fast switching, and could distinguish no audible differences between their sound quality/signatures. Neither could Barry S, and it was his Gungnir. We used both his LCD-Xs and my LCD-3s. But of course, those are just our opinions, and everybody gets to have their own, at least on Head-Fi.
Thanks again, guys. I don't want to stir up a discussion here, just trying to confirm the general consensus, although, like you said, it is very subjective anyway.
Probably all these DACs are generally in the same sound quality ballpark, I guess. My original short list included the Gungnir and Bifrost, Meier Daccord, original Concero, Yulong U18/D18, Bushmaster Mk II and the EMO DC-1.
I've been discarding some of them lately, based on valid opinions mostly from members of this forum, from which I'm grateful. I cannot pretend to find the definitive option, nor do I intent to. But by reading about the different experiences described I can form an opinion and feel at ease with my imminent decision.
I need a DAC which is tangibly better than the only other DAC I've used so far, up tp PCM 192K . If such a DAC offers the added bonus of a useful, transparent preamp, it would be a plus for me to tweak the sound depending on the recording characteristics.
Given price and features and assuming same overall DAC sound quality, I tend to favor the DC-1.
Just one more question: Is the USB input stage good enough compared to the other digital input options in the DC-1? I could always save up for a quality DDC later on if the USB is not that good, but I rather not.
Finally, what is the level of fidelity in the preamp section? I definitely plan to use it to 'ride the gain' with my integrated tube amp, but it has to be 'transparent' to make it work.
Thanks very much for your thoughts.
Actually, from my experience the USB input on the DC-1 is much better than the SPDIF inputs. I did a side-by-side comparison of the DC-1 to the Emo XDA-2 both using SPDIF and found the XDA-2 to be much better.
My thoughts now are the headphone amp is very clean sounding, but that's it's best attribute. It's not big, exciting, or anything like that. Just gets the job done in a basic manner.
The USB input sounds just as good as any of the other inputs. The only problem is the possibility of noise with certain setups, which can be solved, and has already been talked about here.
The volume attenuator, the preamp I guess, sounds incredibly transparent to me, I am really impressed with it. In a way I miss having a big knob with visual cues, but actually I don't, I just love the sound of it, the smallish knob is fine, and I am starting to learn the attenuation level dB numbers with my system to have a visual cue for expected loudness. It's a fantastic preamp.
Thanks again. I'm glad to hear about the USB and preamp features. Both are important decision factors. I would further hope the USB is at least as good as the S/PDIF input on the XDA-2, which should make sense considering the DC-1 is, after all, an upgrade on the XDA-2, correct?
Thanks again. I'm glad to hear about the USB and preamp features. Both are important decision factors. I would further hope the USB is at least as good as the S/PDIF input on the XDA-2, which should make sense considering the DC-1 is, after all, an update on the XDA-2, correct?
Since I had both, I compared them side-by-side. My experience was that the USB input on the DC-1 was superior to the XDA-2. However, using my Oppo BDP-93 as the source, I found the XDA-2 to be significantly better than the DC-1 with SPDIF.