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JKenny Audio Ciúnas DAC and Ciúnas SPDIF - Page 7

post #91 of 595

I would love to know how the ciunas dac compares to the concero? Anyone? Or even the usb to spdif converter inside the concero compared to the ciunas usb converter. All 3 of those units are pretty hot right now imo.

post #92 of 595

After a couple weeks of having the Ciunas DAC in house I've found it to be the best sounding USB DAC I've heard to date.  My previous DACs were the W4S DAC-2, Anedio D2, PS Audio DLIII, CLAS -dB, Dragonfly, Schiit Bifrost, etc.  John Kenny really has put together a DAC with high quality USB implementation.  I've also have owned a couple USB to SPDIF converters like the Audio-gd DI, Musical Fidelity V-link, M2Tech Hiface 1/2.  Those converters do not come close to the stock USB implementation of the Ciunas.   

 

There are FLAC albums that previously sounded just ok when fed via USB to my previous DACs.  Now these albums have punch, dynamics and vitality that are obvious and welcomed.  I imagine one can spend the money on a high end converter like AP1/2 + PP and get similar results via USB.  However, the Ciunas does it without a converter and you get a DAC for under $1000.      

 

I have no hesitation in recommending the Ciunas DAC.  Especially if you don't require all of the bells and whistles of multiple inputs/outputs and you are purely looking to go computer audio.  

post #93 of 595
Thanks WNBC. This is encouraging. May have to try this one!
post #94 of 595
Quote:
Originally Posted by WNBC View Post

After a couple weeks of having the Ciunas DAC in house I've found it to be the best sounding USB DAC I've heard to date.  My previous DACs were the W4S DAC-2, Anedio D2, PS Audio DLIII, CLAS -dB, Dragonfly, Schiit Bifrost, etc.  John Kenny really has put together a DAC with high quality USB implementation.  I've also have owned a couple USB to SPDIF converters like the Audio-gd DI, Musical Fidelity V-link, M2Tech Hiface 1/2.  Those converters do not come close to the stock USB implementation of the Ciunas.   

 

There are FLAC albums that previously sounded just ok when fed via USB to my previous DACs.  Now these albums have punch, dynamics and vitality that are obvious and welcomed.  I imagine one can spend the money on a high end converter like AP1/2 + PP and get similar results via USB.  However, the Ciunas does it without a converter and you get a DAC for under $1000.      

 

I have no hesitation in recommending the Ciunas DAC.  Especially if you don't require all of the bells and whistles of multiple inputs/outputs and you are purely looking to go computer audio.  

wow thats an impressive list of dacs for the JK to beat.

i have considered one of these due to problems with my hiface2. but as my problem appears to be fixed (touch wood) i have put it on the back burner and turned my attention to a 2nd set of quality cans.

 

the only drawback for me regarding the JK's, is just one input.

but i guess i would have to live with that.

post #95 of 595
Simple is better, USB to I2S direct to the DAC and no power supplies. This has to be better than S/Pdif gyrations. And this is using opamp outputs. Good job John, thank you.
Edited by Happy Camper - 5/27/13 at 3:26pm
post #96 of 595
Speaking of opamps; does anyone have any ideas on swapping out the opamps for something like Burson's modules to make the Ciunas op-ampless? I own a Ciunas and am currently still evaluating it to finalize my impressions.
post #97 of 595
The Burson module (their HDAM if you are refering to that one) does not make the thing op-ampless.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmwwhats View Post

Speaking of opamps; does anyone have any ideas on swapping out the opamps for something like Burson's modules to make the Ciunas op-ampless? I own a Ciunas and am currently still evaluating it to finalize my impressions.
post #98 of 595
Quote:
Originally Posted by uelover View Post

The Burson module (their HDAM if you are refering to that one) does not make the thing op-ampless.

Duly noted. But still, any thoughts on installing these? I will say the Ciunas with JPlay is revelatory. I'll give more detailed impressions at another time, but am unlikely to add anything that hasn't already been said.
post #99 of 595
^ please do give those impressions when you get round to it. There has been surprisingly little information (with two or three notable exceptions) about this dac.

Getting impressions from a good cross-section of listeners is a strength of a forum like headfi.
post #100 of 595

Does anybody know what opamps are already on board and if they are DIP or SOIC type? Even the best opamps are cheap and after having done my share of rolling I can't help but ask myself why a designer would want to compromise just to save a few bucks.

 

I'm reluctant to open the case as J Kenny says it's "electrically sealed" and doing so will damage (destroy)  the DAC. I also doubt you could fit discrete opamps in that small case. You'd probably have to do some serious Dremeling to make it happen. Not sure it's a good idea.

 

While we're on the subject of the case - I think it may be the main reason why this DAC isn't getting more attention. It's quite plain looking to say the least. Personally I don't care as I try to keep as much "small box" gear as possible out of sight. At one point I had only a turntable and small preamp in my rack with two class A monoblocks kept out sight. It's what I call a "sleeper" systembasshead.gif


Edited by Turn&cough - 5/28/13 at 3:33pm
post #101 of 595

Here a are few words on my experience with the Ciunas. To begin, it's replacing an MHDT Paradesia+, which itself replaced a Wyred4Sound DAC-1. I know there is a rather large price delta between the Paradesia+ and DAC-1, but to my ears, the Paradesia+ sounded far more like corporeal bodies behind actual instruments as opposed to musical notes played off of tin plates. That's not to say that the DAC-1 is bad, but audiophile-jargon aside, it's more of what you'd expect a machine to sound like.

With that said, you can get an idea of the qualities I value in a piece of equipment. Out of the box, the Ciunas sounded pretty poor initially. The sound was recessed, the dynamics were awfully reserved, and the bass, while present – even a $20 Coby DAP can play bass – was nothing I cared very much to listen to. It did sound smooth overall, but it completely lacked the gusto of the Paradisea+, and is something I’d have regretted paying $200 for let alone the $760 USD it cost me (with shipping). After 48 hours of burn-in not very much changed. I tried JPlay (with Beach and River engines – couldn’t get Xtreme to function) and the music may have sounded different, but I couldn’t shake the thought that those $760 would’ve looked better back in my bank account than tied up in this little thing. I burned it in for another 48 hrs, so by this time there had been about 100+ hrs on it, and suffice it to say I wouldn’t swear in a court of law that it sounded that much better. Things did improve some – music sounded more present, the bass finally decided to show up to work, and I got the sense that there was a little fluttering pulse behind the dynamics. But, still nothing special – another me too product that’s not too bad, but that I didn’t care to own.

 

Things changed dramatically once I got the Xtreme engine within JPlay to work. Things did NOT change dramatically after I hit some magical burn-in number. I strongly suspect that a combination of acclimating myself to the sound of the Ciunas in combination with the Xtreme engine produced a sound that I now consider excellent and am happy to have paid for.

 

The Ciunas + JPlay produces a sound that is completely free of the grating white-haze that typically permeates every sound played from a digital source. Whether tubed or SS DACs, I’ve yet to hear one that has eliminated that metallic film, I would say to this degree, but really I mean completely. I cannot hear it at all. Additionally, I’ve realized over the years – and I’ve been involved in this hobby for about 10 yrs now – I tend to really enjoy the vocals in music with the accompanying instruments playing just a supportive role. Said differently, all my audiophile efforts went into making voices sound better because I’ve completely, not consciously mind you, moved on from trying to get instruments to bring me the same level of enjoyment that voices do. Frankly, that’s kind of pathetic given the amount of time and effort invested. For the first time with the Ciunas + JPlay (Xtreme), instruments have body (and I don’t mean “warmth”) and presence (and I don’t mean “transparency”) that has allowed me to enjoy the sound of instruments as much as I do vocals. That may sound like a rather pedestrian endorsement of a product – aren’t all audiophile products supposed to produce those results? What can I tell you; for the gear I’ve owned, it hasn’t been the case. Regarding other audiophile attributes, I really don’t care. Soundstage, imagining, frequency extension, etc. I’d rather listen to my current setup in mono than trade the above qualities for more soundstage and imaging – not to minimize those things, but I’ll leave it up to others who value those qualities more to elaborate on how the Ciunas performs on those fronts.

 

Anecdotally, my place of employment occasionally hires musicians to play in the lobby. The other day, a jazz ensemble consisting of xylophone, stand-up bass, and jazz-guitar were playing. I stood for a while enjoying the music and walked away thinking “my home system sounds better…”


Edited by mmwwhats - 5/28/13 at 7:51pm
post #102 of 595
Very interesting. Thanks.

Have you since tried listening again without JPlay (Xtreme)? If so, did you find yourself back to "nothing special"?
post #103 of 595
Using window8, jplay mini using ultraxtream with hibernate on will give a better sound quality that you've preferred on xtream mode
post #104 of 595
I'm currently using Pure Music on a Mac mini. I've never tried jplay. Has anyone had experience with both and can compare/contrast them.
post #105 of 595

Great comments, especially for those on the fence.  My overall experience was not much different.  I had the DAC-2 and while its SPDIF is very good, the USB is just good, not great.  As you say, it sounds like a machine.  You get used to it and unless you know it can get better then you live with it.  I did try the DAC-2 with M2Tech Hiface 2 and there was an improvement to dynamics, sounded less digital.  I imagine the JKenny Ciunas USB-to-SPDIF would take USB to a whole new level.  

 

I wouldn't say the Ciunas sounded terrible out of the box.  At the start It sounds as good or better than other DACs via USB input.  Again, if you've heard a great sounding DAC via USB then you'll have a different experience than those of us who have lived with typical USB audio quality.  I've never heard the Paradisea.     

 

I did a little audition with JPlay with a different DAC and there was an improvement.  I've been thinking about getting it but want to read more about how it works.  Naturally there is a lot of different opinions on it and whether or not it is actually doing anything more than what I currently use which is Foobar or JRiver.  I know JKenny recommends JPlay.  Although in the scheme of things dropping $130 is not outlandish I do want know how it is working so I will read more on it.  My only pet peeve is that I recall the trial version limits the listening time per track is silly, especially if we're going to spend $130 on software.  Even if the trial period was 7 days it would be great to be able to listen entire tracks.  If the software is good then the user will end up buying it so limiting the listening to parts of tracks.  My pet peeve, probably not everyone's and maybe they've changed this limitation on trials.

  

Then I read...........  http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/mitchco/jriver-vs-jplay-test-results-156/

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmwwhats View Post

Here a are few words on my experience with the Ciunas. To begin, it's replacing an MHDT Paradesia+, which itself replaced a Wyred4Sound DAC-1. I know there is a rather large price delta between the Paradesia+ and DAC-1, but to my ears, the Paradesia+ sounded far more like corporeal bodies behind actual instruments as opposed to musical notes played off of tin plates. That's not to say that the DAC-1 is bad, but audiophile-jargon aside, it's more of what you'd expect a machine to sound like.

With that said, you can get an idea of the qualities I value in a piece of equipment. Out of the box, the Ciunas sounded pretty poor initially. The sound was recessed, the dynamics were awfully reserved, and the bass, while present – even a $20 Coby DAP can play bass – was nothing I cared very much to listen to. It did sound smooth overall, but it completely lacked the gusto of the Paradisea+, and is something I’d have regretted paying $200 for let alone the $760 USD it cost me (with shipping). After 48 hours of burn-in not very much changed. I tried JPlay (with Beach and River engines – couldn’t get Xtreme to function) and the music may have sounded different, but I couldn’t shake the thought that those $760 would’ve looked better back in my bank account than tied up in this little thing. I burned it in for another 48 hrs, so by this time there had been about 100+ hrs on it, and suffice it to say I wouldn’t swear in a court of law that it sounded that much better. Things did improve some – music sounded more present, the bass finally decided to show up to work, and I got the sense that there was a little fluttering pulse behind the dynamics. But, still nothing special – another me too product that’s not too bad, but that I didn’t care to own.

 

Things changed dramatically once I got the Xtreme engine within JPlay to work. Things did NOT change dramatically after I hit some magical burn-in number. I strongly suspect that a combination of acclimating myself to the sound of the Ciunas in combination with the Xtreme engine produced a sound that I now consider excellent and am happy to have paid for.

 

The Ciunas + JPlay produces a sound that is completely free of the grating white-haze that typically permeates every sound played from a digital source. Whether tubed or SS DACs, I’ve yet to hear one that has eliminated that metallic film, I would say to this degree, but really I mean completely. I cannot hear it at all. Additionally, I’ve realized over the years – and I’ve been involved in this hobby for about 10 yrs now – I tend to really enjoy the vocals in music with the accompanying instruments playing just a supportive role. Said differently, all my audiophile efforts went into making voices sound better because I’ve completely, not consciously mind you, moved on from trying to get instruments to bring me the same level of enjoyment that voices do. Frankly, that’s kind of pathetic given the amount of time and effort invested. For the first time with the Ciunas + JPlay (Xtreme), instruments have body (and I don’t mean “warmth”) and presence (and I don’t mean “transparency”) that has allowed me to enjoy the sound of instruments as much as I do vocals. That may sound like a rather pedestrian endorsement of a product – aren’t all audiophile products supposed to produce those results? What can I tell you; for the gear I’ve owned, it hasn’t been the case. Regarding other audiophile attributes, I really don’t care. Soundstage, imagining, frequency extension, etc. I’d rather listen to my current setup in mono than trade the above qualities for more soundstage and imaging – not to minimize those things, but I’ll leave it up to others who value those qualities more to elaborate on how the Ciunas performs on those fronts.

 

Anecdotally, my place of employment occasionally hires musicians to play in the lobby. The other day, a jazz ensemble consisting of xylophone, stand-up bass, and jazz-guitar were playing. I stood for a while enjoying the music and walked away thinking “my home system sounds better…”


Edited by WNBC - 5/29/13 at 8:44am
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