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Emotiva Stealth DC-1 DAC - Page 24

post #346 of 449

Thanks, it's just that I think the DAC is the weakest link in my setup right now. It is quite bland to be frank so I am looking at more musical DACs such as the AMR DP-777 (which is 5x the price of the Emotiva). But for the price Emotiva is very, very hard to beat as a DAC.

 

One of the reasons why I haven't splurged on a DAC is because of the technological advances in recent years. DACs will keep being cheaper and better.

 

I think the headphone amp leaves much to be desired. It is quite sub-par driving low impedance IEMs with substantial background noise. I do not recommend using it with HD800s or the like either. 

post #347 of 449
The only DAC I know of that will probably be a significant upgrade in quality to the Emotiva, is the soon to be released Bottlehead DAC. I gave up waiting for it in January and bought the Emotiva, but it will now be available in the next few weeks.
post #348 of 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordicai View Post

The only DAC I know of that will probably be a significant upgrade in quality to the Emotiva, is the soon to be released Bottlehead DAC. I gave up waiting for it in January and bought the Emotiva, but it will now be available in the next few weeks.

They've been saying that since January so I also went with the DC-1 and it has been a pleasant surprise. I believe the Bottlehead DAC designer is also associated with an open source Squeezebox replacement which looks to come in at a lower price point.    

post #349 of 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by mordicai View Post

The only DAC I know of that will probably be a significant upgrade in quality to the Emotiva, is the soon to be released Bottlehead DAC. I gave up waiting for it in January and bought the Emotiva, but it will now be available in the next few weeks.

 

Have you seen any reviews or comparisons? I've only seen a few comments here or there, but no comparisons. 

 

I wouldn't count any DACs in or out until they get compared. Digital to analog conversion is different than analog amplification, and there are a lot of serious companies with serious experience making very good DAC products. Bottlehead better be ready to bring the performance at that price.

 

There are DACs that will beat the emotiva, but they're going to cost a lot, and your entire rig needs to be at par to show off the differences in SQ. When I was on the upgrade chain I upgraded headphones --> amp --> dac. If you go the other way, you're really not going to hear the differences in DACs. 

post #350 of 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by northshore View Post
 

They've been saying that since January so I also went with the DC-1 and it has been a pleasant surprise. I believe the Bottlehead DAC designer is also associated with an open source Squeezebox replacement which looks to come in at a lower price point.    

Yah, I'm perfectly happy with the Emotiva, and seriously doubt that I'm going to be looking for an upgrade.  I'm going to be spending my money on music!

post #351 of 449

I find it easier to hear differences in DAC's ("IF" there are any) when used in my main system while listening to speakers. With speakers I can hear differences in the size and/or deep of soundstage a new DAC may provide far easier than with headphones, but then the headphones I'm using aren't at the level that some members here are using. 

 

Frankly, I can't recall when I last heard a "night and day" difference between two well regarded DAC's. Plus, just because something sounds different obviously doesn't mean that it sounds better. I just need to hear the both the Bifrost Uber and the Stealth DC-1 in my own system. It is great to get opinions ahead of time though as this may save you the time of having to return something.

 

Emotiva seems to be putting out some very nice gear for the money and the Stealth was $700 or 800 when it first came out. I also love that the DC-1 has a built in preamp (saves space) and the Muses 72320 it uses for volume control are used by Pass Labs as well.

 

God knows that Mike Moffat of Schiit Audio certainly knows what he's doing when designing a DAC.I listened to a Bifrost a year or so ago and went with the Parasound Zdac (love this little DAC and I think it's only $299 now) instead but the Bifrost wasn't the upgraded Uber version. I'd LOVE to hear from anyone that heard both the Stealth DC-1 and the Uber Bifrost. I know there was a review of several DAC's a while back and there was supposed to be no difference between the Stealth DC-1 and the Gungnir but that "to me" seemed like a HUGE task trying to sort out that many DAC's...my hats off to the gentleman that did it and wrote it all up. 

post #352 of 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by KLJTech View Post
 

 

 

Frankly, I can't recall when I last heard a "night and day" difference between two well regarded DAC's. Plus, just because something sounds different obviously doesn't mean that it sounds better. I just need to hear the both the Bifrost Uber and the Stealth DC-1 in my own system. It is great to get opinions ahead of time though as this may save you the time of having to return something.

 

 

It took me awhile to realize that "different" isn't necessarily "better". I would hear a difference in a DAC and for whatever reason, I'd believe the most expensive one was automatically better.

post #353 of 449
Just order the DC1and hear for yourself........30 day no risk return.....
post #354 of 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by lojay View Post
 

Thanks, it's just that I think the DAC is the weakest link in my setup right now. It is quite bland to be frank so I am looking at more musical DACs such as the AMR DP-777 (which is 5x the price of the Emotiva). But for the price Emotiva is very, very hard to beat as a DAC.

 

One of the reasons why I haven't splurged on a DAC is because of the technological advances in recent years. DACs will keep being cheaper and better.

 

I think the headphone amp leaves much to be desired. It is quite sub-par driving low impedance IEMs with substantial background noise. I do not recommend using it with HD800s or the like either. 

 

My side-by-side testing indicated that nothing out there is going to "blow the DC-1 out of the water" as a DAC.  As folks have posted here recently, the differences in modern DACs are very subtle once you get to the DC-1's capabilities. 

 

I agree that the HP amp in the DC-1 is pretty weak.  If you want a better HP out you can look at the Dangerous Music Source for ~$900 or the Yulong DA-8 for $1200 or so.  The Yulong also has DSD capability and filters that offer audible differences.  There are a bunch of Sabre DACs in the $1K to $1.5K range that sound similar to the DC-1 as a DAC, but reportedly have better HP amp capabilities.  Of the ones I had in the comparison, I only listened to HP jacks in the DM Source, Yulong, and Emo extensively, since I was trying to figure out which was the best value for the $.  The others that had HP outs were more expensive, and thus couldn't compete on a value basis.

 

Given the above, I really think you'd get more bang for your buck holding onto the DC-1 and trying to find better amp matches for your cans.  You've got some really tough cans to match with amps in your inventory, and I think you really need separate, specialized amps for the HE-6 and HD800. I found differences in amps to be huge and obvious when doing side-by-sides, vs. the miniscule differences in DACs.

 

Hope that helps...


Edited by Gary in MD - 5/20/14 at 10:25pm
post #355 of 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 

 

My side-by-side testing indicated that nothing out there is going to "blow the DC-1 out of the water" as a DAC.  As folks have posted here recently, the differences in modern DACs are very subtle once you get to the DC-1's capabilities. 

 

I agree that the HP amp in the DC-1 is pretty weak.  If you want a better HP out you can look at the Dangerous Music Source for ~$900 or the Yulong DA-8 for $1200 or so.  The Yulong also has DSD capability and filters that offer audible differences.  There are a bunch of Sabre DACs in the $1K to $1.5K range that sound similar to the DC-1 as a DAC, but reportedly have better HP amp capabilities.  Of the ones I had in the comparison, I only listened to HP jacks in the DM Source, Yulong, and Emo extensively, since I was trying to figure out which was the best value for the $.  The others that had HP outs were more expensive, and thus couldn't compete on a value basis.

 

Given the above, I really think you'd get more bang for your buck holding onto the DC-1 and trying to find better amp matches for your cans.  You've got some really tough cans to match with amps in your inventory, and I think you really need separate, specialized amps for the HE-6 and HD800. I found differences in amps to be huge and obvious when doing side-by-sides, vs. the miniscule differences in DACs.

 

Hope that helps...

 

Gary,

 

I feel honoured to have your reply to my post. My purchase of the Emotiva DC-1 was solely influenced by your mega-review of mid-priced DACs. And I completely agree with your findings. While I would not say that the DC-1 is indistinguishable from say the Naim DAC V1 and the Benchmark DAC2 HGC, they are very, very close. For the critics of your findings, I must say that I found minimal differences between these DACs despite using more "resolving" headphones than your LCD3s, e.g. the SR009, HE6 and HD800 which are all properly amped. I've found no noticable difference when pairing them with the LCD3. Kudos to you, I am extremely satisfied with the purchase of the Emotiva. It is really a giant killer.

 

That said, there are two reasons why I am looking to buy a second DAC. As you have mentioned in your review, the DC-1 belongs to a class of "digital" sounding incomparables. I feel that I would enjoy more euphony and warmth in the DAC given my neutral headphones. This is all the more so when my Headamp BHSE arrives. Hence I am looking at a tube DAC, the AMR DP-777, to complement the Emotiva. What is more, I have listened to ultra high end DACs such as a top end Esoteric DAC. If my auditory memory has not failed me, I recall that these DACs are capable of bringing out not only the detail but the emotion in a magical way. Maybe that's what people call "analog" sounding, I would not know.

 

I appreciate what you say about my headphones being demanding. They are. My amp (the Woo Audio 5 with upgraded tubes) is what I'd say a jack of all trades - it can drive speakers, electrostatics (through a Stax tranny) and high impedence headphones. In that sense it is as good as having three specialised amps for my headphones. I heard that some other similar priced amps such as the Balancing Act trumps it in driving the HD800 but I am very satisfied with what it does, especially because it drives all 3 demanding headphones very well. It does very little harm to the sound, there is very little one can say to complain about it, and it does some things very well (dynamics, soundstage, midrange purity). That is saying a lot for hifi gear.

 

So at the moment I am seeing if I can upgrade my Emotiva to something much better... I know it will be difficult and my wallet will be sore....


Edited by lojay - 5/21/14 at 1:20am
post #356 of 449
Like you, I bought the Dac1 based on Gary's review. Like I said, I had been waiting forever for the bottlehead DAC. Interesting to note that Bottlehead had originally planned on a tube design, but abandoned it after a very,very,very long R&D stage. Their conclusion was that tubes brought very little to a DAC design. This from a company that is all about tubes. Interesting. I love my Crack, and you couldn't find a nicer bunch of tech guys to buy from, so I expect something special from them soon.
post #357 of 449
Quote:
Originally Posted by lojay View Post
 

 

Gary,

 

I feel honoured to have your reply to my post. My purchase of the Emotiva DC-1 was solely influenced by your mega-review of mid-priced DACs. And I completely agree with your findings. While I would not say that the DC-1 is indistinguishable from say the Naim DAC V1 and the Benchmark DAC2 HGC, they are very, very close. For the critics of your findings, I must say that I found minimal differences between these DACs despite using more "resolving" headphones than your LCD3s, e.g. the SR009, HE6 and HD800 which are all properly amped. I've found no noticable difference when pairing them with the LCD3. Kudos to you, I am extremely satisfied with the purchase of the Emotiva. It is really a giant killer.

 

That said, there are two reasons why I am looking to buy a second DAC. As you have mentioned in your review, the DC-1 belongs to a class of "digital" sounding incomparables. I feel that I would enjoy more euphony and warmth in the DAC given my neutral headphones. This is all the more so when my Headamp BHSE arrives. Hence I am looking at a tube DAC, the AMR DP-777, to complement the Emotiva. What is more, I have listened to ultra high end DACs such as a top end Esoteric DAC. If my auditory memory has not failed me, I recall that these DACs are capable of bringing out not only the detail but the emotion in a magical way. Maybe that's what people call "analog" sounding, I would not know.

 

I appreciate what you say about my headphones being demanding. They are. My amp (the Woo Audio 5 with upgraded tubes) is what I'd say a jack of all trades - it can drive speakers, electrostatics (through a Stax tranny) and high impedence headphones. In that sense it is as good as having three specialised amps for my headphones. I heard that some other similar priced amps such as the Balancing Act trumps it in driving the HD800 but I am very satisfied with what it does, especially because it drives all 3 demanding headphones very well. It does very little harm to the sound, there is very little one can say to complain about it, and it does some things very well (dynamics, soundstage, midrange purity). That is saying a lot for hifi gear.

 

So at the moment I am seeing if I can upgrade my Emotiva to something much better... I know it will be difficult and my wallet will be sore....

 

Honoured (or "honored" to translate for those in the US)?  Thanks, but all I did was spend my holidays listening to DACs, writing wordy posts and getting abused for it.  Anybody could have done that.

 

In any case, you might find the "analog" sound you are seeking in Metrum products.  The Octave was a bit more "analog" (or warmer) sounding than the other DACs I tried, and their more expensive stuff has gotten excellent reviews, for whatever that's worth (I always caution about trusting somebody else's opinions, even mine).

 

I personally have never tried a tube DAC, but I do have an old Carver tube CD changer, and I can tell you that it does sound warmer to me when routing the sound through the tubes (vs. direct digital out), but I also hear some loss of fidelity as the high end is rolled off a bit and the mids are thicker.  That could be caused by the specific tubes employed... or not... I don't know, but I don't use it with my LCDs as a result, since to me that is not a good match. 

 

It's really interesting to me as somebody who grew up with analog sound -- there wasn't anything else -- how hard it is to reproduce that sound with a completely digital chain.  For me, the LCD-3s fed digital files by the Yulong DA-8 and my speaker amps give me the right balance between "digital" and "analog", but everybody has their own brain (I hope) , and needs to find their own balance point.  If your current tube amp setup doesn't feel like it hits the right balance for you, perhaps some tube rolling is in order.  I think you'll find more difference in sound from different tubes than from different DACs. 

 

Alternatively, to reiterate my earlier post, you might want to try separate amps for the HE and HD.  They really are completely different from each other in their demands on an amp, and I find it difficult to believe that any amp can optimally meet the needs of both. 

 

For the HE-6, a speaker amp might be the right answer, and given the huge variety of excellent speaker amps -- including vintage ones -- you don't have to spend a fortune.  If you have a local store carrying decent quality speaker amps, just take your cans and a speaker tap and try everything they have until you find something you like.  If that doesn't work, try searching for vintage amps on eBay or ask relatives and/or friends if they have any old amps laying around that you might try (I found my excellent Nikko NA-890 in my parents' attic). 

 

For the HD-800, I can only recommend reading all of the stuff on this site to see if there is a DAC-amp-can combo that intrigues you.  I am really not a fan of those cans, so can't recommend anything for you there.

 

Again, I hope all of this verbiage is helping you...

post #358 of 449

I love this site, I learn more here in a week than from reading a years worth of my various audiophile mags. I know that I have some catching up to do with regards to portable gear and headphones (I'll get there). Its not helping my bank account any but still extremely informative.

post #359 of 449

You want an eye-opening education?  Read the following thread:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/649107/speaker-amps-for-headphones

 

There will be a test...(which I would fail...).  :redface:

post #360 of 449
Coming completely out of left field with this one, but has anyone done a good, preferably volume-matched comparison between the Schiit Modi and the DC-1? I know they're in different price and features brackets, but the value proposition and very thourough measurements of the DC-1 is making me interested.
Edited by evanft - 5/22/14 at 9:53am
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