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MHDT Steeplechase Tube 24/192 DAC - Thoughts?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

*Updated 2/12/13 to remove erroneous NOS labeling/product info. MDHT revised the product page to reflect the changes.

 

It looks like MHDT has a new tube buffered DAC out called the Steeplechase. There aren't any reviews out, and it's being sold for $843. Thoughts? Anyone own it and want to weigh in?

 

I'm wondering if it's slotted to sit somewhere between the Havana and the Stockholm V2 sound-wise?

 

Details from MHDT:

Steeplechase DAC is capable of up to 24bits/192kHz digital signal inputs. .

The USB input section is in asynchronous operation.

Total four independent  digital inputs; BNC, USB, RCA and Toslink.

The 4 digital inputs are independent to each other, only one among them will be active and is controlled by the tact switches located in front panel.

 

Specifications:

Digital Receiver CS8416

D/A converter AK4396

Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz (± 2dB)

Output impedance:  32 ohms

Output level:  2.8 Vrms

 All inputs support 16/24 bits/ 32 kHz up to 192 kHz

Dimensions clear (W x D X H) 276 x 150 x 60 mm

Dimensions w/ socket (W x D X H) 295 x 170 x 60 mm

Weight 2 kg

 

 

 


Edited by BombayTheIndian - 2/12/13 at 10:15am
post #2 of 23

They say it is an NOS dac, yet the specs say the AK4396 is a 128 X oversampling chip. I'm not smart enough to know by reading the specs whether the oversampling can be turned off.

 

I would be very interested in this. I have a Havana and I only listen to hi-res material. I would love to be using all 24 bits and be able to go as high as 192 kHz, but I want to use the native resolution the way the Havana does. (88 kHz, 96 kHz, etc.) 

post #3 of 23

I may be mistaken but isn't it possible to tap the AK4396 before the oversampling filter, thus running it in "NOS" mode?

 

I'm intrigued too...popcorn.gif
especially with the lower output impedance and the use of the "miracle" AK4396 chip....

post #4 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by twinkle View Post

I may be mistaken but isn't it possible to tap the AK4396 before the oversampling filter, thus running it in "NOS" mode?

 

I'm intrigued too...popcorn.gif
especially with the lower output impedance and the use of the "miracle" AK4396 chip....

 

No, you can't. Not with the AK4396. There is a mode that would let you bypass the digital filter in the AK4399.

 

Probably they're just inserting zeroes to bring the sample rate up to 192kHz, and then letting the third stage of the digital filter take over from there. Which is fine and somewhat close to NOS.

post #5 of 23

"Steeplechase DAC is no over-sampling, no digital filter DAC"

 

Complete nonsense - the AKM4396 is a sigma-delta part, the antithesis of NOS.

 

Direct from the datasheet : 128X Oversampling  24bit 8X digital filter.

 

A tube output stage makes no sense once the signal's gone through on-chip opamps eek.gif


Edited by Sapientiam - 2/8/13 at 10:26pm
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoonUnit View Post

 

No, you can't. Not with the AK4396. There is a mode that would let you bypass the digital filter in the AK4399.

 

Probably they're just inserting zeroes to bring the sample rate up to 192kHz, and then letting the third stage of the digital filter take over from there. Which is fine and somewhat close to NOS.

 

Thank you for the informative answer.

There are so many design options including analog domain filtering, it would be nice if someone who is actually familiar with this DAC's design could come and explain it to us.
 

post #7 of 23

Meh, looks like this was just a case of copy-pasting over from the Havana's specifications. MHDT has now corrected the description on their page: http://dhost.info/mhdtlab/Steeplechase.htm

 

I'm still curious to know what the makers of the well-reviewed Havana DAC managed to do with the AK4396 chip and tubes tongue_smile.gif

post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

I updated the thread and post to reflect the changes MHDT made on the product page, nice catch by twinkle.

 

I also received an email from Jiun over at MHDT about where the sound signature should sit in regards to the Havana and Stockholm:

"Steeplechase use AK4396 which is a delta-sigma chip and tend to not as natural as well as musical as Stockholm. However, in our test, AK4396 get very analog sounding than other delta-sigma chip."

 
post #9 of 23

Since you're in contact with them by email would you be interested in asking them why they chose a less natural sounding chip for this design? Is it because they can't get decent availability of any affordable multibit chips for manufacture? Just curious to learn the background as I have held MHDT in fairly high regard for their devotion to the NOS cause up until now.

post #10 of 23

I think it would be worth a listen.  The AK4396 "Miracle" Chip is supposed to not suffer from the digital sheen of other Sigma Delta chips.

 

Many posts about it on it in this Forum,  Might be a good match with a tube buffered output.  Please post a review if you get it.

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maka View Post

I think it would be worth a listen.  The AK4396 "Miracle" Chip is supposed to not suffer from the digital sheen of other Sigma Delta chips.

 

Many posts about it on it in this Forum,  Might be a good match with a tube buffered output.  Please post a review if you get it.

 

I would love to see a review of this. I have not seen a review anywhere. I wonder how it sounds?

post #12 of 23

MHDT has this on for $379 on their listing page. I guess they are having trouble getting rid of them. Great price, but I wonder how it sounds?

post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Murphy View Post

MHDT has this on for $379 on their listing page. I guess they are having trouble getting rid of them. Great price, but I wonder how it sounds?

+1. Been eyeing this on ebay for a while now. But if it's that compared to the Havana than that's no good.

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Murphy View Post
 

MHDT has this on for $379 on their listing page. I guess they are having trouble getting rid of them. Great price, but I wonder how it sounds?

I only found it for $399. It is a phenomenal sounding DAC for the price. I'd buy another for my computer setup. But don't have the spare cash until I sell some other stuff, but I'm working on it!

 

My only reservations about the entire MHDT line is that there is no sample rate indicator to let you know you are getting the right fidelity (I know you should be able to hear it, but some times the app doesn't communicate well with the DAC and I'd like to be able to do a sanity check by looking at an LED).

 

The one LED they do provide blinks at some fixed interval (1hz?) on the Steeplechase and it drives me nuts - so I had to cover it with black electrical tape on the faceplate.

post #15 of 23

Well I think I've broken in the Pagoda. I don't have my Steeplechase with me yet for a comparison. But I do have my Rega DAC and I have to say, for the extra 400 or 500 bucks you pay for the Pagoda - they are worth every hour you spent earning those bucks. A whole new world of digital for me. Clear, open, lit three dimensional soundstage. Very nice. I will update with a comparison among all in a couple of weeks. Wow!

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