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REVIEW: Firestone Audio Tobby DAC - Page 6

post #76 of 117

Good stuff! I've seen Bobby around town for close to two years now (back when he was still in prototype form). I haven't had many chances to listen to him, but during the times that I did, I did like what I heard. I also know that Bobby's tuned mostly with a balanced HD600, but also has had the HD650, T1, and HD800 as stablemates. It holds its composure quite well across most full-sized gear.

post #77 of 117

Super.

 

Which DAC did you use with the Bobby?  Was it the Tobby? The Tobby outputs balanced via XLR to the Bobby so they are a matched pair. But wondering if you used a different amp instead.  (Or did you note that and I just missed it?)

 

Thanks,

UL

post #78 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ULUL View Post

Super.

 

Which DAC did you use with the Bobby?  Was it the Tobby? The Tobby outputs balanced via XLR to the Bobby so they are a matched pair. But wondering if you used a different amp instead.  (Or did you note that and I just missed it?)

 

Thanks,

UL

 

I mention in the review I mostly used the Tobby but also the Anedio D2 and the Resonessence Labs Invicta. All three of those DACs have single ended and balanced. Seems like feeding it balanced tends to be the way to go, but that's mostly related to the DACs which tend to sound better via XLR.

 

All things being equal, the Bobby is very close whether being fed by RCA or XLR. XLR has a small edge but not huge. It's more important to use balanced headphones as compared to balanced inputs... I'd rather have RCA in with balanced out, than XLR in with SE out. I hope that makes sense. 

post #79 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post

Good stuff! I've seen Bobby around town for close to two years now (back when he was still in prototype form). I haven't had many chances to listen to him, but during the times that I did, I did like what I heard. I also know that Bobby's tuned mostly with a balanced HD600, but also has had the HD650, T1, and HD800 as stablemates. It holds its composure quite well across most full-sized gear.

Ha, didn't recognize your with that avatar.

 

Thanks for the impressions - it's cool that you live in a place where headphone amps are so casually encountered around town. Must be fun! 

 

I'd definitely pair Bobby with any of the balanced Sennheisers. Not so much with K701, as that might be too thin, but personally I like warmer amps with that particular headphone. 

post #80 of 117

A belated thanks for the review. I just want to point out that the Bobby Amp is now $499 US on Amazon. I saw that it dropped a $100 since I last looked at it in late July 2013. Based on John's stellar review, I would totally pick one up if I hadn't already committed to the HeadAmp GS-X. I'm not sure why the price is so low. Maybe Firestone needs better marketing. I've been super impressed with the Tobby DAC over the last three months, and would love to see their products get out more into the community. (I have no stake whatsoever - just surprised to see the price drop on Amazon).

post #81 of 117

Yes, it is my opinion that the amp performs above its price range.  For whatever reason, they sell in large quantities to Japan but apparently not as many in the US.

 

UL

post #82 of 117

I am not sure if I missed this in the thread, but is the USB on the Tobby "asynchronous" or "adaptive"?  Also, I have a W4S DAC 2 coming.  I bought it just to try it against my Keces DA-151 which is an older, no longer made USB only DAC  that  manages to get everything right IMO.  I've just now become aware of the Tobby.

 

Has anyone heard a comparison between the Tobby and W4S DAC 2.  I am particularly  interested in a USB comparison in the two units.  If I knew the Tobby's USB was as good as the W4S I'll probably just sell the W4S DAC 2.

post #83 of 117
Thread Starter 
Tobby is async USB and that's really the star of the show - legacy inputs are decent but I really enjoy it best over USB. Haven't heard the W4S in ages, so I can't really compare. Sorry.
post #84 of 117

The Tobby's op-amp can be rolled.  Any threads on the internet about that?

 

Thanks,

UL

post #85 of 117

John, how many "burn in" hours would you say were put on this DAC prior to your review?

post #86 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by ULUL View Post  Yes, it is my opinion that the amp performs above its price range.  For whatever reason, they sell in large quantities to Japan but apparently not as many in the US.

 

Apparently, they're reorganizing their distributors in the US --- they were somewhat upset with Hi-Def Lifestyle marking prices below their MAP, as their other distributors elsewhere around the world got upset. Hopefully, they'll maintain better control over their pricing from now on.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ULUL View Post  The Tobby's op-amp can be rolled.  Any threads on the internet about that?


I know a guy that now works for FSA --- I joked with him about how they should release a "MUSES Edition" like ASUS... no idea how the sound would change, though.

post #87 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by islandman View Post

John, how many "burn in" hours would you say were put on this DAC prior to your review?

I'll say 100 hours minimum, but realistically it was probably a lot more. I let it burn with my music server for at least a week. I didn't intend to go so long but I just got busy - that happens a lot these days.
post #88 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post
 

 

Apparently, they're reorganizing their distributors in the US --- they were somewhat upset with Hi-Def Lifestyle marking prices below their MAP, as their other distributors elsewhere around the world got upset. Hopefully, they'll maintain better control over their pricing from now on.

 

 

 

Makes sense. Cut rate, clearance style pricing on a brand new release? That's odd. Firestone is trying to position this gear as high-end products (and rightfully so imho) and finding them available at less than half the MSRP doesn't really help that image. 

post #89 of 117

Hey John,  do you know if the op-amps work in pairs?  I.e.,  2 for USB, 2 for S/PDIF, etc.  I am thinking about picking up one of these DACs to compare it with my own little DAC shootout of my Keces DA-151, ODAC, and W4S DAC 2.  The Keces is op-amp swappable and I found  that going from  its stock BB OP604’s to the LME49710’s was huge upgrade in sound.  Later, the Keces started coming out stock with the LME49710’s because David Wei (designer) had come to the same conclusion about the sound of these op-amps.  I recently installed some LME49990’s into the Keces, and there is possible another upgrade in sound.  The LME49990’s sound,  at least in the first impression, maybe a little thinner,  but that could be because I also hear a jump in resolution in the upper mids and treble.  I will be A/Bing the LME49990’s vs the LME47910's soon to come to a conclusion.

 

I, like you, only have a few of each op-amp that I like.  Not enough for all that is in the Tobby, unless each of Tobby's inputs work in pairs, i.e., 2 for USB, 2 for Toslink, etc.  Do you know if this is the case, as I am only interested in the Tobby’s USB,  and wouldn’t want to swap out any more op-amps than I need to?  I am trying to decide about picking one of these up based on the answer to this question.  Having to fund for a total of 6-7 op-amps of each kind that I like just to experiment  might me a deal beaker for me.  So, let me know if you know!

 

In conclusion here,  I am surprised to see Firestone using these 2604 op-amps, based on my, and many others,  experience with them  vs the 49720’s and the 49990’s in their EE's, and Kaces, etc.  I think it is highly possible to take the Tobby to another level with different op-amps.  But then again, it’s all about synergy and implementation. 

 

Regards,

 

Devlon

post #90 of 117
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by islandman View Post
 

Hey John,  do you know if the op-amps work in pairs?  I.e.,  2 for USB, 2 for S/PDIF, etc.  I am thinking about picking up one of these DACs to compare it with my own little DAC shootout of my Keces DA-151, ODAC, and W4S DAC 2.  The Keces is op-amp swappable and I found  that going from  its stock BB OP604’s to the LME49710’s was huge upgrade in sound.  Later, the Keces started coming out stock with the LME49710’s because David Wei (designer) had come to the same conclusion about the sound of these op-amps.  I recently installed some LME49990’s into the Keces, and there is possible another upgrade in sound.  The LME49990’s sound,  at least in the first impression, maybe a little thinner,  but that could be because I also hear a jump in resolution in the upper mids and treble.  I will be A/Bing the LME49990’s vs the LME47910's soon to come to a conclusion.

 

I, like you, only have a few of each op-amp that I like.  Not enough for all that is in the Tobby, unless each of Tobby's inputs work in pairs, i.e., 2 for USB, 2 for Toslink, etc.  Do you know if this is the case, as I am only interested in the Tobby’s USB,  and wouldn’t want to swap out any more op-amps than I need to?  I am trying to decide about picking one of these up based on the answer to this question.  Having to fund for a total of 6-7 op-amps of each kind that I like just to experiment  might me a deal beaker for me.  So, let me know if you know!

 

In conclusion here,  I am surprised to see Firestone using these 2604 op-amps, based on my, and many others,  experience with them  vs the 49720’s and the 49990’s in their EE's, and Kaces, etc.  I think it is highly possible to take the Tobby to another level with different op-amps.  But then again, it’s all about synergy and implementation. 

 

Regards,

 

Devlon

 

Keep in mind that it's not the specific opamp that always sounds a certain way - it's the entire circuit as a whole. So you may find instances where OP604 or OPA627 or LME49990 (or whatever) sounds warm or bright or smooth (or whatever), that doesn't apply in every case. It's the same as DAC chips, tubes, and transistors - they all have their proper place, and all can take different characteristics based on the complete design. 

 

Having said that, it could be fun to mess with Tobby. It does require a lot of matching opamps though. The opamps are all in the output stage so it doesn't matter what input is used. But you'll need quad matching opamps for the I/V stage, and two more for the LPF stage. Can you get any results just from swapping the two in the LPF? Maybe, maybe not. I'd probably want to swap all 6 of those together. The only one that matters less is the single opamp used to sum the balanced signal for the single ended output. That one might matter if you use the RCA outputs. 

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