Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Bifrost vs. Parasound Zdac? or maybe Gungnir?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Bifrost vs. Parasound Zdac? or maybe Gungnir?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm currently in the market for a new DAC. Budget is around $500 I guess wink_face.gif... After reading extensively on this site, I think I've narrowed it down to either a Schiit Bifrost (with USB and uber stage) or a Parasound Zdac. Can anyone offer any comparisons between these two? I'm also considering being a bad boy and just getting a Gungnir, which would make the choice easier in a way.

Right now, I'm using a Little Dot MK3 amp with upgraded tubes, AKG Q701, and an HRT Music Streamer 2. I can't say that anything in particular bothers me about the MS2's sound, I've just had it for a while and want to upgrade. That said, I don't like the fact that it's USB powered. I want a real power supply. 

General sound qualities I'm looking for:

  • Large soundstage with clear separation. The AKG's have plenty of width, so I'm looking for more depth as well. 
  • Strong detail retrieval and quiet background. 
  • Punchy bass with deep extension. I'm not a bass head, but I would like something with a bit more drive than the MS2. 
  • As much warmth and tonal density as I can get without sacrificing too much of the above. I don't want anything brighter than my current setup. A smidge to the warm side of neutral would be ideal. 
  • Smoothness, coherence, organic flow, whatever you want to call it. 
  • If my tube preferences give any insight: I really like using Mullards (ef95 with the big shield)  in the Little Dot sometimes, but the softening of the bass starts to bother me after too long. My favorite tubes overall so far have been Sylvania JAN 5654 black plates. They have a great soundstage with a good balance of bass/mids/treble. I like the Voshkod gold grids for rocking out, but their treble gets fatiguing after an hour or so. 

 

 

Everything I've read about Schiit sounds great. There's a lot of info out there, so I'm really interested in hearing more about the Zdac. Some of the reviews seem inconsistent. I've heard that it's warm and smooth and that it's like the Benchmark DAC1, which is supposedly on the clinical side. I don't really know what to think. I'm interested in it because I've seen some really glowing reviews, it's got a huge power supply, and Parasound is a reputable company. 

Other comments: I don't really care about the headphone jack on the Zdac. I'll play with it, sure, but the lack of a headphone jack on the Schiit models means nothing to me. I realize that the Zdac uses oversampling and the Schiits don't. This matters less to me than the sound. 

Opinions on Bifrost vs Zdac? Is the Gungnir that much better than either? 

post #2 of 6

I would put the resonessece labs concero on your list as well.  I think that its a tossup between that and the bifrost with ubur.  I would personally recommend those two in that price range.  If you can afford up to a gungnir than that is a audible upgrade to the bifrost and concero and in the range I would also consider the meier audio daccord.  

post #3 of 6

Oh and also the yulong DA8, D18 forgot to mention those as well.  

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

The meier daccord looks like a contender too. As for the concero, I've seen some good reviews, but I'm turned off by the USB power. At this price range, I'd really like to have a dedicated power supply.

As for yulong, they do look nice, but I crossed them off my list after hearing about too many failure issues. I don't have anything against Chinese equipment per se (I like my Little Dot), but I'm not really interested in any component once I start reading about multiple people having reliability issues. 


Edited by manbear - 8/1/13 at 6:19pm
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbear View Post

The meier daccord looks like a contender too. As for the concero, I've seen some good reviews, but I'm turned off by the USB power. At this price range, I'd really like to have a dedicated power supply.

As for yulong, they do look nice, but I crossed them off my least after hearing about too many failure issues. I don't have anything against Chinese equipment per se (I like my Little Dot), but I'm not really interested in any component once I start reading about multiple people having reliability issues. 

I can't speak for the yulong stuff but as for the concero don't be worried at all by the usb power.  It honestly will trump a lot of dacs that are way above its price range or with a dedicated power supply.  It is truely amazing what resonessence labs has done with this little thing. It is small but by no means count it out.  

post #6 of 6

Hi,

I have the Parasound Z dac on a nice almost two month loan at the moment, and am really, really enjoying it.... let me explain why.

(I do not use the in-built headphone amp, so all my comments refer to the unit purely as a DAC).

 

I have already a Burson HA160D, a Cambridge Audio Dac Magic and a Sony CDPX7ESd CD player, so my comments are relative to my experience with these items.

 

The Parasound absolutely has a big, detailed, warm bottom end bass that goes super deep - it always seems to have a good sense of pitch; it reminds me a lot of the sound of Bass off a vinyl record.

I do think that whatever head amp you have must be able to have a good grip on the bass/good PRaT, or it may all sound slightly over whelming .... by the way, it only produces this big deep bass if it is in the recording, it does not add it to everything you listen to. 

 

The bass is both textured and tuneful and equally makes sense with Jazz, Classical, Dubstep, Blues, Rock or Drum n Bass.

I am really enjoying the depth, detail,tone and control it has bought to the bass end in all my uses.

 

The top end is also quite engaging and analogue sounding as well as being quite well extended...it shows a nice range of tone, shine, attack and decay. It perhaps lacks the absolute "Airy" feeling of the best, but not by much!

 

The soundstaging is very good, perhaps not the widest or deepest...but it has that rare magic of adding the illusion of height to the listen.

I find this really helps you get more into the music, and forget about the recording as it is more 3 dimensional and believable with the added perception of height - it is quite interesting how this also makes ****ty sources sound a whole lot better, even youtube clips have a sense of height, space, warmth and clarity.

 

The dynamic range of this dac is awesome, whether listening quietly, average or loud - the music always has a good sense of reverb tails fading down into a silent space (a warm silence too by the way, not a cold silence - if that makes any sense).

The loudest transients never sound muted, limited or compressed - I think it has a lot to do with the power supply, this little unit has a fair bit of weight to it.

 

The Midrange is potentially the weakest point of the parasound...

It is still a very, very good mid range - no problems of harshness or thinness, it has a mid that has excellent tone and texture - a far better midrange than all my other digital gear....

..... however, compared to my vinyl playback system it does lose out marginally in the feeling and sound of actual breath behind the human voice, the dac also loses out on a bit of lower mid warmth in comparison. 

This is an unfair comparison however, as none of my other digital gear comes close enough to my vinyl system to bother comparing them too seriously. 

 

So overall I find the parasound Z dac to have a nice, full, analog sound .. (not necesarily tube)

It has a wide and excellent dynamic range, with a good amount of detail and reverb details that are delivered in a natural to warm manner which I really enjoy.

 

Again, this is all used purely as a dac, I have not used the headphone out at all.

 

regards,

Simon.

:)

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Bifrost vs. Parasound Zdac? or maybe Gungnir?