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Beresford TC-7530DC Bushmaster Review (Giant Killer?)  

post #1 of 83
Thread Starter 

I've owned quite a few of the modern mid price offerings available including Dacmagic, Vdac, Rdac and an earlier Beresford.

I'm not one for hyperbole at all but I've been smiling all day listening to this after giving it an overnight run in. (it came the next day after ordering from homehifi.co.uk) I've got it hooked up to my Audio GD amp via coaxial input through a musiland Spdif converter.

Such a big, full dynamic sound, deep impactful bass without any sign of wool or looseness. A treble that sparkles without any hardness. The mids are deep and clear with very good separation. Soundstage is realistic and free. My HE500's are really showing off, especially in the mids. They have opened up even more with this dac.

Trying the headphone section and it is pleasing. I can see some loving it, however I feel there is a touch too much bass. It's good bass, but just a tad too much for my preference. If I were using the K702's I feel it would be a perfect match. I've read that the HD800's sound good on this too. (of course I haven't burned this section in yet)

No USB. So I've knocked a star off haha. I don't particularly want a usb function but I know plenty who would.

The Rdac is the only one that could compete with this, I love the Rdac's musicality and natural sound. It doesn't wow you with dynamics it lets you sink into the music. However... The BM seems to have the edge on dynamics and control without losing the real timbres. Some dacs can wow you with false dynamics but this is not the case here. Its just so clear and real.

Overall, this really is a no brainer, I know for a fact that I will have to spend at least four times the amount I paid for this to get something that could be better.

 

 

 

 

Edit. Next day and I've been giving the headphone out section some quality time. My HE500's are really warming to it, more so than my LCD2's. The big bass was a little intrusive with the audeze. It actually has such an engaging sound with the very deep and impactful bass because there is also a very crisp top end to match. I'm trying to decipher if there is any sign of recession in the mids but I don't think there is. I've just never heard dynamics like that. Wow that bass! Concentrating on the treble for signs of sibilance with a great but bright recording and all I'm hearing is a free extension without any signs of hardness but clearly brighter than my Audio gd amp. It's hard to explain, but the overall impression I'm getting is of no restrictions at all. No added refinement, nothing filtered. It's a sound that is new to me and I'm liking it. The volume control has a lovely feel to it, very smooth an sensitive.

 

 

 

 

Edit. Ok then 5 days later and everything is still good. Theres no getting away from the fact that this is one great little dac for the money. After doing extensive swapping, a/bing with the hp section and my two main amps I think the dac section does sound better on its own using a decent amplifier rather than the hp out. It comes across as more balanced and refined. Don't get me wrong the hp section is very good and will compete with a lot of mid price amps, but for my personal preference it is a little too bass heavy with my orthos. This improves in terms of balance when using the dac via a good dedicated amp. This is clearly because of the well designed output of the dac. That being said, I haven't tried any dynamic hp's with it and so it could be a different story with those.

 

I originally bought this for my bedside rig to be used as a one unit set up. Nice and simple. But the dac section is so good it is replacing my Arcam Rdac on my main rig. It is better. If I didn't have other things I need to buy at the mo I'd be purchasing another. The build is solid and I've got no problems there at all, the lights go on when you first switch it on and then go off when it selects the input. Nice touch.

 

I can see many people being very happy indeed with is as an all-in-one dac/headphone amplifier, and If there is another stand alone dac out there that can match it in terms of dynamics and refinement at anywhere near this price then I will eat my underpants. And that's a promise.

 

post #2 of 83

LugBug nice review. I completely agree with your observations and likely your suggested price/performance ratio too. This is a fantastic DAC. I got hooked by some of its apparent innovations and low price, and bought one back in October/November. I didn't expect much given the past furore around its designer on head-fi. At that time, anyone who liked a Beresford DAC could be tarred with the suspicion they might be the designer's friend or even the designer himself.

 

Putting all this to one side...stunned by its performance would accurately summarize my reactions to date.

 

So far I've only casually compared this DAC with my others. Mostly this has been with the Schiit Bifrost (output levels match, making A/B easier and quicker) and fleetingly with the Meier Stagedac (the output levels are awkwardly different and make A/Bing difficult). Source is Mac Mini optical out, iTunes standard or Fidelia, ALAC redbook rips or FLAC downloads. Phones LCD2 or Beyer T1. To remove tubes from the equation, amp used was Meier's latest, the Classic.

 

IMO the Stagedac (SD) is an extremely good mid-price performer - neutral and balanced, detailed, good micro-dynamics, excels with voice. There are differences between the Bushmaster and SD, but without having got into their detail it seems fair to say overall quality is comparable. Btw, SD cost (new, now replaced with the Daccord) was about 3 x more.

 

The most interesting differences are with the Bifrost (BF). Btw, following are just my imperfectly remembered impressions - I haven't time to access my notes right now.

 

This example is with classical piano. First, with the one or two tracks I tried, the BF rendered the sounds of chords as a 'mash'. Not unexpected - after all the sustain pedal was down and the intention of the passage was to achieve tone-colors with fairly dense chord progressions. The surprise came when switching to the Bushmaster. Suddenly, notes were clearly resolved and separated. As well, there was a well-defined left-to-right sound-stage, whereas the BF put the piano quite a distance away.

 

I wondered and wonder if the Bushmaster's filtering may be artificially producing frequency-dependent time-delay (I think I've got that right - there's an interesting discussion point on the Resonessence website for which I don't have the link right now). This is great for separating notes on instruments with wide spans such as piano, but brings one artificially 'close' to the keyboard.

 

Against this, other tracks show no such "right up at the keyboard" effect with the Bushmaster.

 

Bearing in mind BF is Schiit's budget offering - albeit still more $ than the Bushmaster - it's well understood Schiit themselves see room for improvement. Hence Gungnir and the forthcoming Statement DAC. Nevetheless, there is a startling degree of difference between the BF and Bushmaster which I did not notice between the BF and SD or BF and Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC in a review I did back in 2011.

 

Considering its price, I've been looking hard for Bushmaster's compromises. Here's an example where I thought I'd found one. Listening to an aria from Handel's Messiah I was startled to hear the tenor's voice zoning in or out as if he was strutting about all over the stage! This is a studio recording btw, not a live performance. Aha, I thought, something unstable in the electronics. But no - trying the track with my other DACs I hear the same thing, just not as clearly. I guess strutting about and/or the effect of multiple takes is what was happening wink.gif

 

So there we have it - a fine-sounding DAC which I can't yet fault and has produced a number of revealing moments my other DACs have not. It is easily better than Bifrost, which says a lot as Bifrost is a good performer. When I get time I intend to give Bushmaster a serious examination against the SD and MiniMax...

 

Meanwhile, I look forward to your further observations as they develop LugBug - and thanks for starting this threadbeerchug.gif

post #3 of 83
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

LugBug nice review. I completely agree with your observations and likely your suggested price/performance ratio too. This is a fantastic DAC. I got hooked by some of its apparent innovations and low price, and bought one back in October/November. I didn't expect much given the past furore around its designer on head-fi. At that time, anyone who liked a Beresford DAC could be tarred with the suspicion they might be the designer's friend or even the designer himself.

 

Putting all this to one side...stunned by its performance would accurately summarize my reactions to date.

 

So far I've only casually compared this DAC with my others. Mostly this has been with the Schiit Bifrost (output levels match, making A/B easier and quicker) and fleetingly with the Meier Stagedac (the output levels are awkwardly different and make A/Bing difficult). Source is Mac Mini optical out, iTunes standard or Fidelia, ALAC redbook rips or FLAC downloads. Phones LCD2 or Beyer T1. To remove tubes from the equation, amp used was Meier's latest, the Classic.

 

IMO the Stagedac (SD) is an extremely good mid-price performer - neutral and balanced, detailed, good micro-dynamics, excels with voice. There are differences between the Bushmaster and SD, but without having got into their detail it seems fair to say overall quality is comparable. Btw, SD cost (new, now replaced with the Daccord) was about 3 x more.

 

The most interesting differences are with the Bifrost (BF). Btw, following are just my imperfectly remembered impressions - I haven't time to access my notes right now.

 

This example is with classical piano. First, with the one or two tracks I tried, the BF rendered the sounds of chords as a 'mash'. Not unexpected - after all the sustain pedal was down and the intention of the passage was to achieve tone-colors with fairly dense chord progressions. The surprise came when switching to the Bushmaster. Suddenly, notes were clearly resolved and separated. As well, there was a well-defined left-to-right sound-stage, whereas the BF put the piano quite a distance away.

 

I wondered and wonder if the Bushmaster's filtering may be artificially producing frequency-dependent time-delay (I think I've got that right - there's an interesting discussion point on the Resonessence website for which I don't have the link right now). This is great for separating notes on instruments with wide spans such as piano, but brings one artificially 'close' to the keyboard.

 

Against this, other tracks show no such "right up at the keyboard" effect with the Bushmaster.

 

Bearing in mind BF is Schiit's budget offering - albeit still more $ than the Bushmaster - it's well understood Schiit themselves see room for improvement. Hence Gungnir and the forthcoming Statement DAC. Nevetheless, there is a startling degree of difference between the BF and Bushmaster which I did not notice between the BF and SD or BF and Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC in a review I did back in 2011.

 

Considering its price, I've been looking hard for Bushmaster's compromises. Here's an example where I thought I'd found one. Listening to an aria from Handel's Messiah I was startled to hear the tenor's voice zoning in or out as if he was strutting about all over the stage! This is a studio recording btw, not a live performance. Aha, I thought, something unstable in the electronics. But no - trying the track with my other DACs I hear the same thing, just not as clearly. I guess strutting about and/or the effect of multiple takes is what was happening wink.gif

 

So there we have it - a fine-sounding DAC which I can't yet fault and has produced a number of revealing moments my other DACs have not. It is easily better than Bifrost, which says a lot as Bifrost is a good performer. When I get time I intend to give Bushmaster a serious examination against the SD and MiniMax...

 

Meanwhile, I look forward to your further observations as they develop LugBug - and thanks for starting this threadbeerchug.gif

Sorry for the delayed response my friend. I'd given up on this thread as a none starter haha. Yeah I know all about the Stan and head-fi business. Shame.

But there is no getting away from the simple fact that this really is a super dac for the money.

Some great impressions there Aidee, I havent heard the BFrost but I don't think that I will now as its just too expensive here in the uk. The only dac I would like to hear to compare to the BM is the M-dac.

 

I still really like my Rdac and can't see myself getting rid of that for a while, but the BM is clearly the more "hifi" of the two. Like you said, its the speraration and also the dynamics. The Rdac is more laidback and neutral I would say. But the BM gives you the "wow" factor when you swich from one to the other.

 

Great stuff beerchug.gif

post #4 of 83
Hey, nice review my Bug.

Has anybody tried the Mark Grant power supply upgrade with this unit?
post #5 of 83
Chris, I considered it but it adds a lot to the price. I worked through all the artofsound forum posts. Didn't think the quality of most of the impressions was that great TBH. They were mostly very brief and had few reference points. A pity as the product is great IMHO.

Improvements were reported from the PS upgrades for sure - but just wasn't sure enough about what exact differences members were hearing .

Anyway, Stan's description of the technology seemed to imply some independence of the PS I thought (this is me speaking with complete ignorance of any E.E. principles whatever!!).

Something like JKenny's LiFO powered, hiface-based 'JKDAC32'. TheWuss recently started two interesting threads about this and Kenny's upcoming Ciunas products (don't have links right now sorry - gotta run!)
post #6 of 83
Thread Starter 

Thanks Chris bud,

 

I use a standard Maplins switching supply upgrade. But must stress I can't tell any difference from the stock. It does give me the option of pumping 13.5v into the BM for the extra mileage.. But its so hard to A/B in order to hear any (if at all) difference. I tend to think that as long you have a good adapter/filter then the power supplies (as long as they are efficient) shouldn't be creating any noise. I think there is too much emphasis on "clean power" with some distributers and basically thats all an upgrade power supply will do IMO. Some stock PSU's are admittedly very cheap and probably not very efficient,  this may cause some unwanted noise as it slowly crumbles with the heat haha, but thats the only time I would ever consider getting a specialized product if I couldn't get something from Maplins instead. A decent (not necessarily expensive) mains conditioner should clean up any noise before it goes through the PSU.

post #7 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by LugBug1 View Post

Thanks Chris bud,

 

I use a standard Maplins switching supply upgrade. But must stress I can't tell any difference from the stock. It does give me the option of pumping 13.5v into the BM for the extra mileage.. But its so hard to A/B in order to hear any (if at all) difference. I tend to think that as long you have a good adapter/filter then the power supplies (as long as they are efficient) shouldn't be creating any noise. I think there is too much emphasis on "clean power" with some distributers and basically thats all an upgrade power supply will do IMO. Some stock PSU's are admittedly very cheap and probably not very efficient,  this may cause some unwanted noise as it slowly crumbles with the heat haha, but thats the only time I would ever consider getting a specialized product if I couldn't get something from Maplins instead. A decent (not necessarily expensive) mains conditioner should clean up any noise before it goes through the PSU.

 

Mr. Bug,   (mind if I just call you Bug?)

Power supplies can be rather confusing and counterintuitive.

I worked along side a few Switchmode Power Supply Designers for 12 years and assisted them on a few projects (I'm an Electrical Engineer but Power Supply Design is not my specialty, neither is audio design).

Obviously (as you point out) power supply efficiency is very important.

But most of designs create noise that can pollute your circuitry.

Having worked with the Power Supply designers to get their product to meet CE requirements (which involves a lot of noise suppression and noise rejection testing) I tend to look at any piece of electronic gear and wonder how much noise it creates and how much noise immunity it has! It's my paranoia. LOL! 

 

As for "The Bere Bush", who knows? As Aidee pointed out, maybe the designer worked everything out so that an upgraded power supply won't do much for "The Bush". Maybe his circuitry inside the box rejects any noise the wall wart itself creates. Apparently Moon has done a bit of this in their 110LP Phono Pre-Amp.

 

You're correct: good mains conditioners can clean up any noise the other power supplies create so the other power supplies do not pollute your power supply and break into your equipment.

 

Bottom line is:

cell phones create noise

power supplies create noise

computers and microprocessors create noise

TVs and radios create noise

...............it's everywhere! mad.gif

 

BTW, I don't own a "Bush" so I'm no expert. Aidee is trying to get me to buy one. biggrin.gif

 

As Aidee says, thanks for starting the thread! Your comments about the Arcam were very interesting! It agrees with my experience with Arcam products.


Edited by Chris J - 2/13/13 at 7:23pm
post #8 of 83
My campaign is slowly wearing him down ;-)

Thanks for the PS insights Chris!
post #9 of 83
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post

 

Mr. Bug,   (mind if I just call you Bug?)

Power supplies can be rather confusing and counterintuitive.

I worked along side a few Switchmode Power Supply Designers for 12 years and assisted them on a few projects (I'm an Electrical Engineer but Power Supply Design is not my specialty, neither is audio design).

Obviously (as you point out) power supply efficiency is very important.

But most of designs create noise that can pollute your circuitry.

Having worked with the Power Supply designers to get their product to meet CE requirements (which involves a lot of noise suppression and noise rejection testing) I tend to look at any piece of electronic gear and wonder how much noise it creates and how much noise immunity it has! It's my paranoia. LOL! 

 

As for "The Bere Bush", who knows? As Aidee pointed out, maybe the designer worked everything out so that an upgraded power supply won't do much for "The Bush". Maybe his circuitry inside the box rejects any noise the wall wart itself creates. Apparently Moon has done a bit of this in their 110LP Phono Pre-Amp.

 

You're correct: good mains conditioners can clean up any noise the other power supplies create so the other power supplies do not pollute your power supply and break into your equipment.

 

Bottom line is:

cell phones create noise

power supplies create noise

computers and microprocessors create noise

TVs and radios create noise

...............it's everywhere! mad.gif

 

BTW, I don't own a "Bush" so I'm no expert. Aidee is trying to get me to buy one. biggrin.gif

 

As Aidee says, thanks for starting the thread! Your comments about the Arcam were very interesting! It agrees with my experience with Arcam products.

You can call me what you like my friend, Bugger perhaps? haha.

Yeah agreed noise is everywhere. Some amps are more susceptible than others especially with mobile phones etc. This can actually be really annoying. I once sold an amp that I loved the sound of simply for that reason. Everytime my wife was on her mobile (at least an hour every night at my listening time) I'd get that stupid brph brph.. going on in my hp's. Tried ferrite beads etc but to no avail.. The amp or the wife had to go. Unfortunately I got rid f the former.. :D

 

Yeah Arcam do make what I would call 'very mature products'. Even at the lower end. They have a very good reputation here in uk. I own one of their original Dac's from 1989 the old "black box". Its fitted with the still brilliant Philips tda1541a dac chip. It still holds it own with newer dacs that I've tried. Especially in regards to trying to get that old analogue sound.

 

I'm with Aidee on this one. Why don't you give the BM a try! You can always sell it if you don't like. But in regards to its dac section, it's unbeatable at anywhere near the price I would say. Headphone section is an acquired taste though..(I'm coming to the conclusion that it is too smooth, by that I mean it lacks authority at low to mid volumes. You have to crank it up to feel thuds, slams etc. I love the bass though)  

post #10 of 83
Hi Bugger!

Good choice!
Much, much easier to get rid of the DAC!
Getting rid of the wife can be extremely difficult!tongue.gif

Interesting comments about the cell phone interference, bud. Just goes to show us what happens when a DAC manufacturer doesn't fully test his gear before releasing it to the general public. I can't imagine a company with Arcam's resources and customer base releasing a product like that.

Tried an Audiolab M-DAC last weekend.
My faith in my DACS is totally shattered!
I think I'll do what you an Aidee have suggested, try a Bushmaster!
If the Bushmaster is what you say it is (and I'm sure it is), it should be in the same ballpark as the M-DAC. If it isn't, well, I can still get an M-DAC and keep the Bush as I could use two headphone stations around the house!
Maybe compliment the Bush with a kick butt headphone amp and my headphone electronics buying search may be over! ...........I hope! redface.gif

Cheers,
signed, Booger.
post #11 of 83
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post

Hi Bugger!

Good choice!
Much, much easier to get rid of the DAC!
Getting rid of the wife can be extremely difficult!tongue.gif

Interesting comments about the cell phone interference, bud. Just goes to show us what happens when a DAC manufacturer doesn't fully test his gear before releasing it to the general public. I can't imagine a company with Arcam's resources and customer base releasing a product like that.

Tried an Audiolab M-DAC last weekend.
My faith in my DACS is totally shattered!
I think I'll do what you an Aidee have suggested, try a Bushmaster!
If the Bushmaster is what you say it is (and I'm sure it is), it should be in the same ballpark as the M-DAC. If it isn't, well, I can still get an M-DAC and keep the Bush as I could use two headphone stations around the house!
Maybe compliment the Bush with a kick butt headphone amp and my headphone electronics buying search may be over! ...........I hope! redface.gif

Cheers,
signed, Booger.

Haha good stuff. Just to clarify, it wasn't an Arcam product that was susceptible to mobile phone interference... It was a Creek amp.

 

I'd be very interested in your comments regarding the M-dac and Bushmaster. I've ordered a Vdac MkII to try out as I really liked the original. I'll see how good this is in comparison too. 

 

Cheers Booger!

post #12 of 83

Just got the Bushmaster with the Venom Upgrade (scooped it in the FS section). Only a brief couple of hours listen off one of my PCs off an el cheapo optical cable + modded "Grado" (well, the drivers were Grado). It sounds incredible on a first impression. When you consider the price of admission you have to laugh out... loud!*

 

I'll try posting more impressions later when I have tried it with more gear and spent more time with it.

 

* This was not a review.

post #13 of 83
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaval View Post

Just got the Bushmaster with the Venom Upgrade (scooped it in the FS section). Only a brief couple of hours listen off one of my PCs off an el cheapo optical cable + modded "Grado" (well, the drivers were Grado). It sounds incredible on a first impression. When you consider the price of admission you have to laugh out... loud!*

 

I'll try posting more impressions later when I have tried it with more gear and spent more time with it.

 

* This was not a review.

Excellent.  look forward to some more impressions :) 

post #14 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by xaval View Post

Just got the Bushmaster with the Venom Upgrade (scooped it in the FS section). Only a brief couple of hours listen off one of my PCs off an el cheapo optical cable + modded "Grado" (well, the drivers were Grado). It sounds incredible on a first impression. When you consider the price of admission you have to laugh out... loud!*

 

I'll try posting more impressions later when I have tried it with more gear and spent more time with it.

 

* This was not a review.

How does it compare to the Audiolab M-DAC?

post #15 of 83

I heard the M-DAC a while ago, but opted out of buying it. A good DAC, but found it not exceptional around it's price bracket - there are a lot of contenders there.

If you check my sig carefully I own an 8000DAC (Rev III with a couple caps replaced), quite a different animal... vintage :) 

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