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REVIEW: Firestone Audio Tobby DAC - Page 3

post #31 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by allyl View Post  I'll be visiting Taiwan next week, and would definitely pick these guys up at that price. Would you happen to know a good place to buy them? I'll be all throughout the country, but will spend a majority of time in Taipei.


X-Wind at NOVA is probably the best place to go. Most of the time, one of the store attendants has his personal Tobby there for people to test out.

post #32 of 117

Excellent review as always, Project86!

Could you give some brief comparisons with the Violectric V800, and which one do you prefer?

post #33 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post


X-Wind at NOVA is probably the best place to go. Most of the time, one of the store attendants has his personal Tobby there for people to test out.

Thanks for the tip! Any chance this place takes US currency? I could certainly imagine spending a nice afternoon there.

post #34 of 117

How does the Tobby compare to the V800? My guess would be that the V800 is very similar with a slightly more neutral sound.

post #35 of 117

another solid review Project86, I really enjoyed it!

post #36 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by allyl View Post

Thanks for the tip! Any chance this place takes US currency? I could certainly imagine spending a nice afternoon there.

I've been to NOVA and I'm pretty sure none of the stores take US currency. The exchange rate is pretty favorable though, just make sure you exchange your money after you get to Taiwan. Don't do it stateside, it's borderline highway robbery.
post #37 of 117

John I enjoyed the read. Excellent review as usual.You my friend are getting into Dacs.wink_face.gif

post #38 of 117

Most foreign branded gear are more expensive in Taiwan, when compared to prices in the USA. Blame the lousy import duties and middle men.

 

But yes, Firestone Audio were running a limited intro special on the Tobby+Bobby combo since December last year.

For a paltry NT$24000 (USD$ 800), you could have both of them, which is utterly ridiculous.

 

I have had the pair running my HE-500's since January, and it (subjectively) bests many of the imported DACs/Headphone Amps with asking prices way above the US$1000 threshold.

Firestone typifies what you would call the "japanese" sound (in good old hifi lingo). Much like the Accuphase, Luxman and (high-end) Denon of yester-years, they sound clear, tight, slightly analytical, and paces gently. The japanese gear in the 80-90s prized absolute clarity and resolution above pace/drive (or what the hipsters call PRaT). It is never bold or over warm. It lets the recordings do what it was meant to do. By old analogue standards, they were considered 'dry' and 'aneamic' sounding (as opposed to the warm Brit sound or bold/slamming American sound). That's my feeling on all the Firestone gear since their earlier days. But with the BB 1794 in the Tobby, they have toned down the dryness by adding some warmth. (I've always felt the BB dacs are warmer, Wolfson dacs are faster and dryer,  Sabre dacs have drive and detail, while AKM dacs are somewhere in between ... they all have a family signiture when implemented correctly. But no, I cannot A/B them in a blind test. Just subjective bias.)

 

Anyhow, I digress... this Tobby+Bobby combo should be a no-brainer for just US$800 ...

 

If you buy this combo, for the love of ___, go fully balanced. The improvements I got from going fully balanced was phenomenal. Better channel seperation, more detail, lower noise floor (blackness of background), tighter bass,  smoother treble. Yahdeeyah ... yadeeyah  ... (all those old cliches) ... you get the picture.  wink_face.gif Basically, it is a discernable leap in sound quality once you go balanced on this setup, all the way to your headphones.

 

I will never go back to RCA and 6.5mm jacks - at least not with this current system. And I have some decent RCA cables that cost a pretty penny. (Transparent RCAs from my old hifi days).

 

Caveat ... this combo didn't gel with my Grado cans. It made my SR125s too shrill.

But it sounded good to great with the Senn 598, LCD2s and HE 500 (my current muse).

 

Are there better options ... yes of course. But for US$800-1200 (for a seperate balanced dac+amp) ... not on this island ... at least not new.

 

These special US$ 800 combo units may have sold out at most places, but you may call / email X-Wind  (situated in store B03 at NOVA 3C Center opposite the southern entrance of Taipei Central Train Station) and ask them nicely if they still have some in stock.

 

https://www.facebook.com/xwind.R

 

http://goods.ruten.com.tw/item/show?21303182275420
 

Good luck.

 

 


Edited by chips88 - 5/24/13 at 9:42pm
post #39 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhunter View Post

Excellent review as always, Project86!

Could you give some brief comparisons with the Violectric V800, and which one do you prefer?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AManAnd88Keys View Post

How does the Tobby compare to the V800? My guess would be that the V800 is very similar with a slightly more neutral sound.

 

 

Good question. The V800 is not all that different from the Tobby. Direct A/B comparisons reveal the Tobby is slightly more detail oriented, though it doesn't necessarily have better details overall... but they do get more focus in the presentation. V800 is the more neutral sounding DAC , and is more even sounding throughout its various inputs and outputs (less variation). Tobby kinds of needs balanced and USB to sound its best. But when used that way, I might prefer it to V800 is some situations. V800 is easier in terms of system matching though - just throw it in to any setup and it will likely be a great match. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chips88 View Post

Most foreign branded gear are more expensive in Taiwan, when compared to prices in the USA. Blame the lousy import duties and middle men.

 

But yes, Firestone Audio were running a limited intro special on the Tobby+Bobby combo since December last year.

For a paltry NT$24000 (USD$ 800), you could have both of them, which is utterly ridiculous.

 

I have had the pair running my HE-500's since January, and it (subjectively) bests many of the imported DACs/Headphone Amps with asking prices way above the US$1000 threshold.

Firestone typifies what you would call the "japanese" sound (in good old hifi lingo). Much like the Accuphase, Luxman and (high-end) Denon of yester-years, they sound clear, tight, slightly analytical, and paces gently. The japanese gear in the 80-90s prized absolute clarity and resolution above pace/drive (or what the hipsters call PRaT). It is never bold or over warm. It lets the recordings do what it was meant to do. By old analogue standards, they were considered 'dry' and 'aneamic' sounding (as opposed to the warm Brit sound or bold/slamming American sound). That's my feeling on all the FIrestone gear since their earlier days. But with the BB 1974 in the Tobby, they have toned down the dryness by adding some warmth. (I've always felt the BB dacs are warmer, Wolfson dacs are faster and dryer,  Sabre dacs have drive and detail, while AKM dacs are somewhere in between ... they all have a family signiture when implemented correctly. But no, I cannot A/B them in a blind test. Just subjective bias.)

 

Anyhow, I digress... this Tobby+Bobby combo should be a no-brainer for just US$800 ...

 

If you buy this combo, for the love of ___, go fully balanced. The improvements I got from going fully balanced was phenomenal. Better channel seperation, more detail, lower noise floor (blackness of background), tighter bass,  smoother treble. Yahdeeyah ... yadeeyah  ... (all those old cliches) ... you get the picture.  wink_face.gif Basically, it is a discernable leap in sound quality once you go balanced on this setup, all the way to your headphones.

 

I will never go back to RCA and 6.5mm jacks - at least not with this current system. And I have some decent RCA cables that cost a pretty penny. (Transparent RCAs from my old hifi days).

 

Caveat ... this combo didn't gel with my Grado cans. It made my SR125s too shrill.

But it sounded good to great with the Senn 598, LCD2s and HE 500 (my current muse).

 

Are there better options ... yes of course. But for US$800-1200 (for a seperate balanced dac+amp) ... not on this island ... at least not new.

 

These special US$ 800 combo units may have sold out at most places, but you may call / email X-Wind  (situated in store B03 at NOVA 3C Center opposite the southern entrance of Taipei Central Train Station) and ask them nicely if they still have some in stock.

 

https://www.facebook.com/xwind.R

 

http://goods.ruten.com.tw/item/show?21303182275420
 

Good luck.

 

Thanks very much for the impressions - it's great to have some background on the company and the sound they tend to go for. I agree completely in terms of the "Japanese" sound, again in old-school audiophile terms only. 

 

Unbelievable deal there! Bobby and Tobby, at nearly $2k USD, is a very competitive setup. At half that? Wow. 

 

I can see how it wouldn't work so well with Grados. The Bobby has a slightly high output impedance (~10 ohms single ended, 20 ohms balanced) which is on the high side for Grados and probably helps bring out the shout. Plus the slightly analytical nature of the Tobby.... I can see why it wouldn't be ideal. Planar headphones have far less issues with output impedance mismatching, so yes they sound great with the Bobby. I run it balanced with LCD-2, HE-400 and HE-500, or single ended with Thunderpants, and all sound quite nice. 

post #40 of 117

Very tempted to jump on this at that bargain price.. if only they could give a more conclusive word on the future DSD capability

 

Also a little worried about how it might pair with the HD800, did you ever get the feeling there was "too much of a good thing" going on with regards to the details?

post #41 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EraserXIV View Post

Very tempted to jump on this at that bargain price.. if only they could give a more conclusive word on the future DSD capability

 

Also a little worried about how it might pair with the HD800, did you ever get the feeling there was "too much of a good thing" going on with regards to the details?

 

I'd call the Tobby competitive at $1100 but a steal at half that (or less), even with no chance of DSD ever coming. If you can find one at that price, grab it. I wonder how many are left?

 

With HD800, it does require the right amp. A neutral amp that has clean highs in terms of no grain, could do the trick. Or even better, a somewhat smoother, slightly darker amp is nice too. I like my Violectric V200, Yulong A18, and Icon Audio HP8 in this setup. I don't care for the Yulong A100 though, and even my reference tube amp, the Analog Design Labs Svetlana 2, is a bit too much in this particular chain. 

post #42 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

 

I'd call the Tobby competitive at $1100 but a steal at half that (or less), even with no chance of DSD ever coming. If you can find one at that price, grab it. I wonder how many are left?

 

I may try and find out in the next week or two in asia :D

 

...not like I need anything else with a DA8 on the way, but hey...perhaps a nice lab rig to go with the home rig?

post #43 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by allyl View Post

 

I may try and find out in the next week or two in asia :D

 

...not like I need anything else with a DA8 on the way, but hey...perhaps a nice lab rig to go with the home rig?

 

Keep this up, and you'll end up with +29 feedback in the classified section. Oh wait.....

post #44 of 117

...That definitely does not count gear that has passed on to friends. Or family. I guess there's fun in variety?

post #45 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by allyl View Post

...That definitely does not count gear that has passed on to friends. Or family. I guess there's fun in variety?

 

I know what you mean. I only have a +8 feedback on here, and I can tell you right now that's nowhere near the number of things I've given away, loaned out long term, etc. It's fun to look back and recall stuff you loved or didn't care for, etc. 

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