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PCStep Appreciation, Impressions and Comparisons thread.

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 

Ive been curious about this little DAC/AMP for a while, got one to test with samsung s3 for cheaper than retail, its works, more information can be found on the USB DAC thread.

 

I havn't spent a huge amount of time with it and hopefully others can add to this thread.

 

BUILD QUALITY: Machined aluminium this is a serious heavy duty housing with attention to detail. eg. The battery door is machined to match the back of the unit.

 

Sound: Sweet, smooth with some serious weight/authority in the bass department, no equaliser needed, low (-2) gain and high (+14db) are perfect for my hd650 and frogbeats c5 customs.

 

I havn't tested for hiss with the shure 535 but the way the volume control has been designed I doubt there will be any.

 

One of nicest sounding portables Ive come across IMHO


Edited by fuzzy1969 - 3/16/13 at 8:13am
post #2 of 70

Mine is on its way :)

 

While I always was curious about Jan's amps, I never got around to purchasing one.  For a long time, I used tubes for home and just my Cowon J3 on the go and was happy.  Since, I have gone with a small speaker setup using just my receiver and no amps.  I currently have the DX100 but would love something less... brick-like.  I am hoping that my S3 + an amp/dac like this would be an answer.  When out and about, maybe I can just use my S3 and when listening in bed, I could hook up the PCStep.  

 

I have/plan on trying out SE535, W4R, FXZ200, HD650 with this setup.

post #3 of 70
Thread Starter 

The hd650s go really well, drives the bass on the hd650s with some serious authority.

post #4 of 70
My pcstep was shipped out yesterday. Looking forward to it.
post #5 of 70

I should be getting mine this week, as well.  Glad to read it's smooth while providing some authority down low.  How's the soundstage and tonal quality?  I'll be pitting it against the UHA-6S MKII, Meridian Explorer, and ODAC/O2.

post #6 of 70

Of the three you have which dac do you prefer?

post #7 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

I should be getting mine this week, as well.  Glad to read it's smooth while providing some authority down low.  How's the soundstage and tonal quality?  I'll be pitting it against the UHA-6S MKII, Meridian Explorer, and ODAC/O2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poimandres View Post

Of the three you have which dac do you prefer?

That is some stiff competition. Looking forward to what you have to say about them!
post #8 of 70
Originally Posted by Poimandres View Post

Of the three you have which dac do you prefer?

 

Tough, tough choice.  The ODAC is my favorite due to it's neutrality, resolving ability, dynamic range, and clarity.  The Meridian (which I currently have paired with the O2) sounds terrific.  Smooth, slightly warm, full, and rich.  It's my go to as far as portable use.  The sound reminds me a bit of a nice Amperex tube in my desktop rig.  My (anax-modded) HD800 sounds very very engaging with the Meridian/O2 combo, too.. I was really surprised by that since many people don't like the O2 with the HD800.  The Meridian isn't dead neutral or anything.. but the coloration and contrast is 'artfully' placed, IMO.. and it makes for a very fun listen.

 

There's been a fair amount of (echo chamber) bashing of the UHA's DAC.. I've always gone to bat for it as I found it quite good given the price point (and not all that far off from the ODAC, in fact).  The USB input is nice, but using the UHA's coax/TOSLINK is really where it's at.  Initially, I was quite skeptical of the supposed differences between the digital inputs (even Nick L., the designer, said they should all sound the same).. but I got a cheap USB-to-SPDIF converter a couple of weeks back and gave the UHA's coax a spin for the first time.. and was thoroughly impressed... and surprised by the difference.  Better soundstage depth & imaging were two aspects of the sound I found most noticeably improved.  Not night & day vs. the USB, mind you.. but distinguishable enough to the point I hesitate going back to using the USB.  The coax also dropped the gain a  bit so I can use it with very very sensitive IEMs (where even the stock/unity gain is unusable), which is nice.

 

So.. back to your question.. my favorite?  Depends on my mood and listening environment.  I could be perfectly happy with just the ODAC.. but the Meridian serves as a really nice change of pace  as a portable all-in-one.  The UHA is right there, too.  I'm really interested to see where the PCStep lines up between this gaggle of well-respected portables, though.. Jan's products are really well regarded, but there's just not that many reviews/comparisons between the more visible/notorious amp/dacs that seem to dominate the conversations here.


Edited by FlySweep - 3/17/13 at 2:07am
post #9 of 70

Nicely put.  I am extremely happy with the odac and the uha mkii was definitely a nice unit,  Given it is currently at the same price point as the pcstep I am looking forward to your direct comparisons as I no longer have the mkii.  Nick has some newer amps/dacs coming out soon so I look forward to seeing more information on those.  The Meridian lasted about as long for me as the Glacier did, and although they are both very capable and well built they did not pair well with my 8a's imho.

post #10 of 70
Hello:
Good idea to open a thread about this DAC/AMP.
I've just recieved my PCStep on freeday and I've tested it for a day. Paired to my GS3 works fine. I haven't found any hiss. Plugged into pc and compared to the combo fiio E7 (DAC only) and arrows g4, I've found the PCStep offer a clearer sound, less bass and similar headstage. I've test it with sennheiser HD 518 and Takstar hd2050 booth of them easy to move. I miss a bass and a trevel gain button but i think the PCStep is a good gadget.
post #11 of 70
Originally Posted by jabega View Post

Hello:
Good idea to open a thread about this DAC/AMP.
I've just recieved my PCStep on freeday and I've tested it for a day. Paired to my GS3 works fine. I haven't found any hiss. Plugged into pc and compared to the combo fiio E7 (DAC only) and arrows g4, I've found the PCStep offer a clearer sound, less bass and similar headstage. I've test it with sennheiser HD 518 and Takstar hd2050 booth of them easy to move. I miss a bass and a trevel gain button but i think the PCStep is a good gadget.

Thanks for your impressions, glad you're enjoying it.

post #12 of 70
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

I should be getting mine this week, as well.  Glad to read it's smooth while providing some authority down low.  How's the soundstage and tonal quality?  I'll be pitting it against the UHA-6S MKII, Meridian Explorer, and ODAC/O2.

The soundstage seems nice and wide, its certainly not narrow, I cant really comment on depth Ive been mainly using hd650's, my customs which have a narrower soundstage have a greater depth regarding to instrument placing. Tonality has a warmth and a nice full sound. Although I like the apex glacier for its slightly mid forward energetic presentation, the PCstep is a nice companion having a completely different presentation.

 

This thread seems relevant.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/620752/unboxing-meier-audio-corda-quickstep-and-pcstep


Edited by fuzzy1969 - 3/17/13 at 2:13pm
post #13 of 70

My PCSTEP arrived this afternoon.. I've only been using it for about a half hour.. but goodness.. this little guy is impressive.  Really impressive.  I'm using it as a USB+amp & been listening with the RE-400 and these two products sound like a match made in heaven.

 

Ironic that I asked about the soundstage a couple of days ago since that precisely what jumped out at me before anything else:  good lord!  It's got excellent dimensionality.. easily on par with the best portables I've heard.  It's deeper than it is wide.. but certainly not overly "intimate" feeling in regards to width.  The signature is neutral, perhaps ever-so-slightly warm, with a wonderfully delicate sense of liquidity.. quite reminiscent of what's associated with hifi "analog" rig.  Bass presentation is accurate but very full and possessing excellent heft.  Definitely impressive and very much to my liking.  Texturing is on point as well.  The midrange is beautiful.. again excellent depth and very realistic tonal portrayal.  There's weight aplenty behind every voice and instrument.  The midrange is smooth and clear.  Treble is clean and crisp.. perhaps very gently rolled off at the uppermost frequencies.  Again, I like this as it's detailed and brings out the best in well recorded music.. but not fatiguing with less than ideal recording quality.  If I had to roughly describe the signature in regards to my other gear.. I'd say it's a mix between The Lake People G109-S & the Objective2.

 

I'm even more interested in the other portable Meier amps now.. wish the QuickStep had a built-in DAC, too.. cause I really like how the DAC sounds in the PCStep!  More thoughts coming after I spend time with it but so far, I'm very happy.  I'd easily buy this amp at full price.. it offers excellent value.  For the price Jan offered on the Android thread, it feels like stealing.

post #14 of 70
Very impressive initial findings, here's to hoping mine gets delivered soon. Looking forward to your thoughts on te dac section compared to the o2.
post #15 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

My PCSTEP arrived this afternoon.. I've only been using it for about a half hour.. but goodness.. this little guy is impressive.  Really impressive.  I'm using it as a USB+amp & been listening with the RE-400 and these two products sound like a match made in heaven.

 

Ironic that I asked about the soundstage a couple of days ago since that precisely what jumped out at me before anything else:  good lord!  It's got excellent dimensionality.. easily on par with the best portables I've heard.  It's deeper than it is wide.. but certainly not overly "intimate" feeling in regards to width.  The signature is neutral, perhaps ever-so-slightly warm, with a wonderfully delicate sense of liquidity.. quite reminiscent of what's associated with hifi "analog" rig.  Bass presentation is accurate but very full and possessing excellent heft.  Definitely impressive and very much to my liking.  Texturing is on point as well.  The midrange is beautiful.. again excellent depth and very realistic tonal portrayal.  There's weight aplenty behind every voice and instrument.  The midrange is smooth and clear.  Treble is clean and crisp.. perhaps very gently rolled off at the uppermost frequencies.  Again, I like this as it's detailed and brings out the best in well recorded music.. but not fatiguing with less than ideal recording quality.  If I had to roughly describe the signature in regards to my other gear.. I'd say it's a mix between The Lake People G109-S & the Objective2.

 

I'm even more interested in the other portable Meier amps now.. wish the QuickStep had a built-in DAC, too.. cause I really like how the DAC sounds in the PCStep!  More thoughts coming after I spend time with it but so far, I'm very happy.  I'd easily buy this amp at full price.. it offers excellent value.  For the price Jan offered on the Android thread, it feels like stealing.

impressive.  I cant wait for mine to arrive!  

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