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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 12  

post #166 of 1331

Why are you not testing Asus Essence One Muses. Head over to headfi e1 thread, headfonia and 6moons and you will know what I am talking about. It is in the Computer Audio section. Costs $900 and is really awesome.

post #167 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post


The other DACs aren't being ran by battery so I think it best to run standard.


Standard it is!

post #168 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 


Standard it is!

 

Well,  Hilo's DC input option is certainly an advantage compared to other DACs.    

So when comparing DACs, Hilo deserves an extra score for this feature,   if indeed DC sound quality is much better than AC.

 

Not sure if getting these probably will meet December time frame or not.    But here I will put together DC and USB slowly, and report my experience.


Edited by yfei - 11/23/13 at 3:20pm
post #169 of 1331

I reserve the right to make the final decisions, but I have very limited experience with DACs in general, and even more limited experience with DACs in this particular class, so I'm looking to you folks for good information that will allow me to get the right hardware in the final mix. 

vrt 

post #170 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by tongzhioke View Post

I reserve the right to make the final decisions, but I have very limited experience with DACs in general, and even more limited experience with DACs in this particular class, so I'm looking to you folks for good information that will allow me to get the right hardware in the final mix. 
vrt 

Huh? Are you quoting Gary?

:-)

Mike
post #171 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Folks:

 

I ordered cables, a USB hub and a toslink splitter today, so I'm almost set up to run 7 units off of USB at one time, or 3 off of optical.  Now I'm trying to figure out whether to get the Niles Audio RCA switch (5-inputs):

 

http://www.cudakitchen.com/niles-axp1-auxiliary-input-selector-AXP1

 

or the 4-input MCM switch:

 

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/DISTRIBUTED-BY-MCM-INP-4-/50-6175

 

Unfortunately the MCM 5-input unit is back-ordered until March 2014.  The Niles is ~3.5X the cost (including shipping), but has a reputation as a high-quality unit with no crosstalk or noise, proper grounding, etc.  Is the MCM going to perform as well?  I don't want to get the MCM here, have noise issues and then wish I'd bought the Niles unit in the first place.

post #172 of 1331

I haven't had issues with the MCM unit. Potterma now has one too and I believe he doesn't have any issues with it either, except for the cheap-feeling action of the knob. He's experimenting with different switches at the moment, so I recommend you send him a PM for his feedback.

post #173 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 

Folks:

 

I ordered cables, a USB hub and a toslink splitter today, so I'm almost set up to run 7 units off of USB at one time, or 3 off of optical.  Now I'm trying to figure out whether to get the Niles Audio RCA switch (5-inputs):

 

http://www.cudakitchen.com/niles-axp1-auxiliary-input-selector-AXP1

 

or the 4-input MCM switch:

 

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/DISTRIBUTED-BY-MCM-INP-4-/50-6175

 

Unfortunately the MCM 5-input unit is back-ordered until March 2014.  The Niles is ~3.5X the cost (including shipping), but has a reputation as a high-quality unit with no crosstalk or noise, proper grounding, etc.  Is the MCM going to perform as well?  I don't want to get the MCM here, have noise issues and then wish I'd bought the Niles unit in the first place.

 

While I have no experience with the Niles AXP-1, and so have no basis to recommend it, I'd recommend against the MCM unit.  I bought the 5 channel version.  It does "ok" if you can get past the really bad selector switch and aren't bothered by a bit of cross-talk.  The Niles looks interesting.  More in line with what I hoped to get with the MCM.

 

This one from Goldpoint looks nice, though its probably more than you wanted to pay for a switch....

post #174 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by potterma View Post
 

 

This one from Goldpoint looks nice, though its probably more than you wanted to pay for a switch....

WAAAY more (like >4X)... So I ordered the Niles AXP-1.  If I hear any degradation I'll send it back and try the Mapletree LR-1.  It's only 2X what I'd like to pay...  And if that doesn't work I'll be doing a lot of cable swapping...

post #175 of 1331

^ In addition, if you're looking for a switch as a permanent piece in the chain, I would get the better units than MCM. If you want something quick, dirty and temporary (sounds like an ex-girlfriend), then it's not a terrible issue. :tongue:

post #176 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Any other comments on the Asus Essence One Muses edition?  I'm willing to consider it if others think it should be in...

post #177 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Folks:

 

Here's the latest list of competitors.  First, here's what's in, as of now:

  1. Emotiva Stealth DC-1.  It's an AD1955-based DAC, making it relatively unique these days, and it's on sale for $499 shipped, making it cheap.  Emotiva has a great trial period -- 30 days and you pay only return shipping.
  2. Resonessence Concero.  An ESS 9023 DAC, it's <$1K and will be supplied by Zilch0MD (Thanks Mike!).
  3. Yulong DA8... An ESS 9018 DAC.  It has a great reputation and I have a volunteer to take it off my hands for full price if I decide I don't like it.  That person may reveal himself if he chooses, but I'm thanking him anonymously right now, because it means that this DAC will almost certainly be in the competition.
  4. Metrum Octave Mk II.  A non-9018, NOS DAC that appears to have a supplier that offers low-cost trials.
  5. Lynx Hilo.  Does way more things than I need, but has an excellent reputation and Happy Camper has volunteered it for the test, so it's in.  Thank you HC!
  6. Schiit Gungnir.  An AKM 4399-based DAC, and I have somebody willing to loan me one.  That's a good thing, since I already used my annual Schiit return on the Mjolnir I tested last summer (yeah, another potty pun, sorry, but they asked for it).  Thanks to my anonymous donor!
  7. Chordette QuteHD.  A proprietary FPGA-based DAC, making it the kind of unique entrant that makes these comparisons fun to do.  Acoustic Sounds has a 30-day return policy, no restocking, so this unit is in the test.  Thanks for recommending this one JD007!

 

Still in the running for the final ~3 positions:

  • Benchmark DAC-2.  One of many ESS 9018-based mid-range DACs around, it has the advantage of coming from a company with an established reputation.  More important, it has a 30-day free trial period, and they're on the East Coast of the US, meaning low return shipping costs for me.
  • Anedio D2.  Another well-regarded 9018 DAC, and Anedio has a $49 loaner program.  Kudos to them for that!!!
  • BMC PureDac.  Guess what:  another 9018 DAC, but at least it looks different... and has some support among the crew.  Unfortunately Moon Audio has a 5% restocking fee, which might knock this one out of the comparison.  I'll talk to them and Vapor Audio to see if there's a way around that. If not, it won't make the cut.
  • NAD M51.  A well-regarded player, not ESS 9018 which is a plus if we want a more varied field.
  • Grace M903. Aimed at pro/studios first, like the Hilo (and the Benchmark, though they've apparently grown out of that niche), and has a good reputation
  • Dangerous Source.  Another pro/studio unit, with a reputation as a giant killer at <$1K
  • Asus Xonar Essence One Muses Edition.  A well-reviewed piece from a computer company... I guess those people have ears too, though you wouldn't know it from listening to my HP computer's built-in DAC.

 

I can tell you that I will not be picking 3 9018 DACs from this 2nd list, so I'd like some inputs on which one or two should be in.  I'm also leaning toward including only one of the two studio DACs (Grace or Dangerous) and either the NAD or the Asus (not both).  By grouping the units this way, I think we get a pretty diverse field... 

 

But I'm still open to suggestions, so let me know which 3 of these final 7 should make the cut, or if there's a 4th, tell me which of the units currently in should drop out (um, please don't even think about asking me to drop the loaned/sponsored DACs... not gonna happen).  Also, let me know ASAP if I missed something that was recommended earlier in the thread.  I thought I kept my list up to date, but there were quite a few recommendations, so it is likely that I forgot to add at least one. 

 

Note that no Audio-gd unit has been volunteered, and that's fine.  I refuse to beat people up for not volunteering to send their expensive and fragile hardware across the country to somebody they don't know -- because I probably wouldn't do it either.  I applaud those of you who are willing to send your DACs to me, in fact I think you are amazing, wonderful, truly great people, but I understand why others won't, and we certainly shouldn't pressure them or think any less of them for their reluctance.

 

I expect to start ordering on Thursday or Friday if somebody puts one of these units on Black Friday sale, otherwise it will be early next week, as I try to get deliveries to coincide with my vacation days.  So the sooner I get any further ideas you might have, the better.

 

Thanks again for all of your help in this.


Edited by Gary in MD - 11/24/13 at 10:56pm
post #178 of 1331

@Gary in MD Sticking with your most recent request and guideline, here are my recommendations of what three goes in from the list of seven.

 

  • Anedio D2.  Another well-regarded 9018 DAC, and Anedio has a $49 loaner program.  Kudos to them for that!!!
  • NAD M51.  A well-regarded player, not ESS 9018 which is a plus if we want a more varied field.
  • Dangerous Source.  Another pro/studio unit, with a reputation as a giant killer at <$1K
post #179 of 1331

I think it would be sad not including the great Arcam irDAC. I'm always rooting for the underdog who gives you better value.

NAD M51 and Bryston BDA-2 would be excellent choices as well.

Otherwise I find the choices really good.

 

After owning the LCD-3 for a while I don't think they would be really the optimal headphone to test DACs fully.

Even though I find them pretty neutral they put something of their own flavour (of greatness though) to the sound and are a bit forgiving.

A Stax SR-009 or Omega with greater detail retrieval and transparency combined with a really transparent amp like BHSE or KGSSHV would get closer to the ultimate in revealing gear and make it a lot easier seeing straight down to the source. Other less pricey electrostatic systems would perhaps also be of interest for this task.

Do you have any opportunity to get a setup like this on loan?


Edited by Sweden - 11/25/13 at 12:16am
post #180 of 1331
 
Originally Posted by brunk View Post
 
  • Dangerous Source.  Another pro/studio unit, with a reputation as a giant killer at <$1K

 

Terrific suggestion.. I've loooong been interested in this little guy.  If I ever decide to get another ss dac/amp combo, this will probably be it.. the Arcam iR would be a great addition to the shootout, as well!  But of course, it's got to fit into Gary's refund/return criterion.

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