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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 80  

post #1186 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post


All of the DACs were connected to my PC using the exact same model of 6' USB cable from Monoprice.  They were all connected to the Niles AXP-1 5-way switch (and then the Benchmark DAC 2 dual analog inputs after I wore out the Niles switch), via the same 3-ft Monoprice RCA cables.  All of the RCA cables and the Niles switch were tested for volume drop vs. running directly from one of the DACs to the Amp using my ~25-yr-old Monster interconnects.  As long as I had a good connection, there was no volume drop as a result of running through the system, and I believe that those connections were delivering an accurate signal to the amp. 

For those getting ready to complain about the cables, I don't believe that magic cables would reveal any differences in these DACs.  Moreover, based on all of the arguments about cables over the years, whatever cables I would have chosen, somebody would have complained about them, because every cable out there seems to have both proponents and detractors.  Different types of analog cables might sound slightly different from each other, but I don't think these relatively short cables were degrading the sound in any way, and as long as I was using the same cables for all of the DACS, this setup offered a fair basis for comparison.
Amen
post #1187 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post


Amen

+1 and if a DAC only sounds great off an exotic converter, it is flawed IMO.

post #1188 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post
 

By the way, it should be reminded that the results are for each DAC running its own USB input.

Some DAC (like the Chord) might benefit from using the SPDIF input instead. This is a common advice for the Chord, by the way.

 

Note: the value - and lack of convenience - will obviously suffer, though, so it probably wouldn't change Gary's ranking anyway.


Clem:

 

I hear you, and I thought about testing each DAC with each of its inputs... but think of how many months that would have taken.  I would have been in an asylum long before having finished.

 

Instead I decided that, since some of the DACs are USB only, and because USB seems to be where all of the technology advancement emphasis is these days, I would keep the playing field as level as possible by just testing the USB inputs (except for Potterma's Gungnir, which didn't have USB... Barry's did though, so the playing field was level).  Some of the competitors might have suffered, but as the industry moves more towards USB as the technology of choice, for better or worse, those competitors are likely to suffer if they don't provide maximum performance with that input.

 

And remember, the Chordette didn't lose out because of sound quality.  I doubt the difference in sound between the unit's SPDIF and USB inputs is stark, and if it is, then Chord might actually think about not offering the USB capability.  Since they do offer it, I would assume only a slight difference at most, thus I doubt that using the SPDIF input would have changed the outcome.  All of these DACs already sound so damned good.  For the difference in price, I can certainly live with the Yulong's sound quality. 

post #1189 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 


Clem:

 

I hear you, and I thought about testing each DAC with each of its inputs... but think of how many months that would have taken.  I would have been in an asylum long before having finished.

 

Instead I decided that, since some of the DACs are USB only, and because USB seems to be where all of the technology advancement emphasis is these days, I would keep the playing field as level as possible by just testing the USB inputs (except for Potterma's Gungnir, which didn't have USB... Barry's did though, so the playing field was level).  Some of the competitors might have suffered, but as the industry moves more towards USB as the technology of choice, for better or worse, those competitors are likely to suffer if they don't provide maximum performance with that input.

 

And remember, the Chordette didn't lose out because of sound quality.  I doubt the difference in sound between the unit's SPDIF and USB inputs is stark, and if it is, then Chord might actually think about not offering the USB capability.  Since they do offer it, I would assume only a slight difference at most, thus I doubt that using the SPDIF input would have changed the outcome.  All of these DACs already sound so damned good.  For the difference in price, I can certainly live with the Yulong's sound quality. 

 

It was clear from the start that the DACs would be tested with their USB input, which honestly is the only input I'm using (discarding the fact I'm actually using the Ciunas converter with all my DAC because of its superior USB implementation) so it is fine with me.

The Chord is not a great value if one needs to add the PSU (which you said made no difference; I don't quite agree here but that's IMO) and a good USB-SPDIF converter.

I'm still surprised it fall in the indistinguishable category, though. Sure, most of my DACs are of the 'flavored type' (Metrum, Ciunas, various Audio-GD, Eximus DP1 -> they all have a sound of their own) so the Chord could well be of the neutral kind but I honestly felt it had this "British" sound to it that makes it very involving with rock music. Very good PRaT and a soft/warm sound up top.

To be fair, the setup where this traits were the most apparent was on my dads 2ch (Focal 826W + Exposure integrated; a true British sound ^^). The slam and dynamics were just WOW compared to any other DAC I tried (except maybe the NFB-27, which is a force of nature, too, but with a different philosophy).

post #1190 of 1331

Truly an EPIC comparison, Gary!  I applaud you for your thoroughness and appreciate the multitudinous and voluminous pontifications!

post #1191 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post
 

 

It was clear from the start that the DACs would be tested with their USB input, which honestly is the only input I'm using (discarding the fact I'm actually using the Ciunas converter with all my DAC because of its superior USB implementation) so it is fine with me.

The Chord is not a great value if one needs to add the PSU (which you said made no difference; I don't quite agree here but that's IMO) and a good USB-SPDIF converter.

I'm still surprised it fall in the indistinguishable category, though. Sure, most of my DACs are of the 'flavored type' (Metrum, Ciunas, various Audio-GD, Eximus DP1 -> they all have a sound of their own) so the Chord could well be of the neutral kind but I honestly felt it had this "British" sound to it that makes it very involving with rock music. Very good PRaT and a soft/warm sound up top.

To be fair, the setup where this traits were the most apparent was on my dads 2ch (Focal 826W + Exposure integrated; a true British sound ^^). The slam and dynamics were just WOW compared to any other DAC I tried (except maybe the NFB-27, which is a force of nature, too, but with a different philosophy).


The Chord probably would match well with a NAIM integrated then. But at that price, you might as well spend a little more for the NAIM DAC V1.

 

What is important to me?

-Value

-A "pure" DAC / no need for HP/PRE functions

-Musicality / PRaT

-DSD/DXD a plus but maybe not necessary

 

 

After reading Greg's synopsis, I think maybe the Ciunas DAC may be close to what I am looking for.

 

Have you compared it against the Chord by chance?

post #1192 of 1331
Nope, I sold the Metrum long before but interestingly, the Chord is actually the DAC that sounded the closest to the Metrum (fluid and warmish but crystal clear).
post #1193 of 1331

Excellent job! Clear, concise, and extremely helpful. I ordered a DC-1, it should be here on Thursday!

post #1194 of 1331

If I could proffer one more suggestion, it would be to include that summary in the first post, otherwise it will suffer the same fate as the others. I would imagine that this thread will continue to rack up quite a post count, rendering the summary as difficult to find as the other information.

 

Congrats on finally being done, and being a tremendous asset to the headphone audiophile community.

post #1195 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post
 

 

It was clear from the start that the DACs would be tested with their USB input, which honestly is the only input I'm using (discarding the fact I'm actually using the Ciunas converter with all my DAC because of its superior USB implementation) so it is fine with me.

The Chord is not a great value if one needs to add the PSU (which you said made no difference; I don't quite agree here but that's IMO) and a good USB-SPDIF converter.

I'm still surprised it fall in the indistinguishable category, though. Sure, most of my DACs are of the 'flavored type' (Metrum, Ciunas, various Audio-GD, Eximus DP1 -> they all have a sound of their own) so the Chord could well be of the neutral kind but I honestly felt it had this "British" sound to it that makes it very involving with rock music. Very good PRaT and a soft/warm sound up top.

To be fair, the setup where this traits were the most apparent was on my dads 2ch (Focal 826W + Exposure integrated; a true British sound ^^). The slam and dynamics were just WOW compared to any other DAC I tried (except maybe the NFB-27, which is a force of nature, too, but with a different philosophy).


Hmmm... did you level-match?  If not, I wonder if the extra slam and dynamics were just extra voltage out of the Chordette... though it could be that the amp just likes being fed more voltage... Oh well, no way for me to figure that out without you also sending me your father's setup... :biggrin:

post #1196 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by subsonic1050 View Post
 

If I could proffer one more suggestion, it would be to include that summary in the first post, otherwise it will suffer the same fate as the others. I would imagine that this thread will continue to rack up quite a post count, rendering the summary as difficult to find as the other information.

 

Congrats on finally being done, and being a tremendous asset to the headphone audiophile community.


Done.  I just posted a link in the OP to the summary on p 79, that way they can click on it if they want, or they can read all of the posts if they want (I don't know why they would want to read all of it, but whatever).  I had meant to do that right after finishing the summary, but got hungry so went and ate dinner...

post #1197 of 1331

Well now this thread is just perfection...

post #1198 of 1331

Interesting old discussion here comparing the Octave and the Ciunas. Similar observations as Gary too!

 

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/best-dacs-under-%C2%A31000

post #1199 of 1331

Gary, thanks for all of your work here.  I didn't have any reason to upgrade from my Ciunas but still was an interesting read to see how this DAC would rate against the rest.  "Full-bodied sound" is a good description of this DAC.  The split signal and power USB requirements can be a pain, especially for ultrabook and Macbook users.  But in the end, this DAC has one of the best USB implementations I've heard.  

 

Lets do this again next year ;)

post #1200 of 1331

Ruling out X-Sabre out of comparison before it even happened was (is) a big mistake in my opinion, I liked it more than I do my current DA8 (I feel like X-Sabre had better detail retrieval and instrument separation with a tiny slight boost in bass impact department - nothing intrusive but certainly pleasing). ESS9018 is very popular chip, but X-Sabre should have been there battling on the top spots.

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