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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 13  

post #181 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

@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

I was gonna pick the same three! Though if I had to pick one it would be the nad m51. As much as I love the D2, I think already having the DA8 means it isn't necessary, but if you're picking three definitely include the D2! And the dangerous music source is a bit of an unknown, would love to see it compared to the existing entrants
post #182 of 1331

I'd still like the Nad M51 to be included - just as it is so readily available (well-distributed) and has received such high praise.  

 

However, what would be absolutely ideal would be if someone with a "METRUM Octave" or "Ciunas" DAC would be willing to lend them to you.  Anyone out there ?  The advantage of the Metrum is that it is a Non Oversampling Dac, so would give a VERY different "flavour" to the ESS Dacs being considered.  The advantage of the Ciunas is its low price and built-in battery power.  Both these later DACS (like the others in this test) have a reputation for being high-value propositions ... and like you, I would hate this to turn into an all ESS showdown !  The more different flavours the better ... more interesting for the audience, and perhaps more importantly given the hours of work you will be putting in, more interesting for you ...

post #183 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoupRKnowva View Post


I was gonna pick the same three! Though if I had to pick one it would be the nad m51. As much as I love the D2, I think already having the DA8 means it isn't necessary, but if you're picking three definitely include the D2! And the dangerous music source is a bit of an unknown, would love to see it compared to the existing entrants

Yep, I agree. Great minds think alike :wink_face:

post #184 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post
 

Yep, I agree. Great minds think alike :wink_face:

So do stupid minds ... LOL - just "hanging ****" - not really saying that what you are saying is stupid at all ... but I do love that quote from Herman Melville, "Woe to him who seeks to please rather than appal".

post #185 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NinjaHamster View Post
 

I'd still like the Nad M51 to be included - just as it is so readily available (well-distributed) and has received such high praise.  

 

However, what would be absolutely ideal would be if someone with a "METRUM Octave" or "Ciunas" DAC would be willing to lend them to you.  Anyone out there ?  The advantage of the Metrum is that it is a Non Oversampling Dac, so would give a VERY different "flavour" to the ESS Dacs being considered.  The advantage of the Ciunas is its low price and built-in battery power.  Both these later DACS (like the others in this test) have a reputation for being high-value propositions ... and like you, I would hate this to turn into an all ESS showdown !  The more different flavours the better ... more interesting for the audience, and perhaps more importantly given the hours of work you will be putting in, more interesting for you ...


The Metrum Octave Mk II is in the field.  The Ciunas is a challenge because of the cost of shipping it back.  Hey, 1 out of 2 ain't bad.... and the NAD is a leading contender to make the field as well, so you could get 2 out of 3... If you could get that percentage every time, you would make LOTS of money in just about any professional sport in this country... not sure about down under, you folks might seek more perfection from your athletes in return for all of the millions paid...


Edited by Gary in MD - 11/25/13 at 3:11pm
post #186 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 


The Metrum Octave Mk II is in the field.  The Ciunas is a challenge because of the cost of shipping it back.  Hey, 1 out of 2 ain't bad.... and the NAD is a leading contender to make the field as well, so you could get 2 out of 3... If you could get that percentage every time, you would make LOTS of money in just about any professional sport in this country... not sure about down under, you folks might seek more perfection from your athletes in return for all of the millions paid...

You rock my world.  :beerchug:

post #187 of 1331

I can lend you the Cinuas DAC :beerchug:

post #188 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweden View Post
 

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?


Okay, which one of you rich guys is willing to send me your $10K Stax setup for this test? 

 

Nobody?  Where's your sense of community!  Zilch is sending me his Concero!  Happy Camper is sending me his Hilo!  I have secret donors sending or sponsoring the Gungnir and DA8!  Somebody please send me a high-end Stax setup!  :tongue_smile:

 

Okay, no fair being flippant with poor Sweden.  The reality is that I would love to have a Stax setup to do comparison tests, but note the title of the thread:  mid-level DAC comparison.  If I were evaluating the highest-end DACs, in the >$5K price class, I would push to use the finest Stax setup... And I would expect that the number of folks interested in that test would be pretty small -- the folks with big bucks and the dreamers/droolers (I admit I am one of those...).  

 

Not that I'm just doing this to serve the masses -- I'm looking for a new DAC for my rig.  Yeah, that's pretty selfish of me, but my community service quotient is at least as limited as those who aren't willing to ship me their Stax setups.  My cans happen to be very nice upper-mid class LCD-3s.  Pricey, no question, but still accessible, or at least conceivably attainable some day, for a large number of folks on Head-fi.  So this is an upper-middle-class test for those in the upper-middle class, or aspiring to be in that class, and I just can't see the SR-009s and BHSE as falling in that category. 

 

Just for the record, I am thinking of getting a Stax setup, but at most I think it'll start with a Woo Wee and the Japanese version of the SR-007s, and at the earliest it will be next year.  I do try to keep my head-fi expenses to a reasonable level each year.  Mostly I fail, but I do try... And if/when that hardware ever shows up, maybe I'll do another comparison test.  Or maybe not.

 

In addition, I do have a pair of Koss ESP-950s I could use for this test.  But I consider them to be much lower quality cans, and not as revealing of how good a DAC could sound as my LCD-3s will be.  I have every confidence that whatever any of these DACs can deliver, the LCD-3s driven my my Cyclops amp can deliver.  That said, if there is time, at the end of the comparison I will try to set them up and give you folks a few notes on them.  But no promises.

 

And finally, my offer still stands:  anybody wanting to bring their own rigs around while I have all of this hardware here is welcome.  Just PM me and we'll arrange for you to show up here with your uber Stax rig!

post #189 of 1331

hd800 should be great for testing dacs imo, on the non-stax side of things

post #190 of 1331

The Dangerous Music unit is little known around here and if it's as good as its few supporters are claiming then it would be very interesting to see how well it fares against the other dacs in this comparison. I'm not in the market for a dac right now, but I'd be very curious about the Dangerous Music dac nevertheless. Pro gear with supposedly "natural", not cold / sterile sound - very interesting IMO.

Also the NAD is considered by many as a very fine value and is based on an unusual technology. It gets my vote too.

I'm really looking forward to reading your impressions!

post #191 of 1331

Gary,

 

I know similar solutions were discussed earlier, but you might find one of these useful (I don't know where you're at with this type of equipment, currently.)

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/689783/december-2013-mid-level-dac-comparison

 

http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_74146_FiiO-HS2.html

 

Mike

post #192 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd007 View Post
 

hd800 should be great for testing dacs imo, on the non-stax side of things


I did not like the HD800 last year when I tried it with my old setup as well as with the Burson HA-160.  I am sensitive to treble, and at least with the setups I've heard, the HD800 is harsh on the high end.  I might be willing to try it again, since I now have a Millenia MG3 amp that might take that brightness out.  If I were bringing in anything from The Cable Co library for this test I could have them throw in a pair of the Senns, but I don't think I'm using the Cable Co this time, so that won't work.  Of course, if somebody wants to send me a pair of HD800s with balanced cables (and a resistor box that will work with the MG3), I would be willing to work them into the test :D.

 

However, I think that those who question using the LCD-3s for this test haven't heard my cans.  When I first got them, they had the relatively dark signature that everybody associates with Audeze.  Then the right transducer blew and I sent them back to Audeze, who replaced both transducers... and sent me back a pair of headphones that did not sound at all like what I originally had.  In fact the FR graphs don't look like the same model cans, let alone the same pair of cans

 

 

 

The top graph, with the new transducers, has considerably less roll off and spikiness at the top end, which significantly changes the signature of the headphones.  They aren't anywhere near as dark as they were before the repairs, and driven by my Odyssey Cyclops, they have an open, detailed sound that I find to be amazingly lifelike. 

 

Would the Stax Omegas be more detailed and revealing?  Maybe, but I don't actually like the sound of the 009s (and I heard them driven by the BHSE) because of my sensitivity to treble...  I do love the 007s driven by the same amp, but my Stax preference probably says more about me than it does about the cans.  And as posted above, I don't have a Stax setup available, so the discussion is moot.

 

In any case, I don't think I am going to be coming up with bad results in this test because of my choice in headphones.  I would certainly not mind having the HD800s or Stax 007s around, but unless somebody is going to send them to me, that ain't happening.

post #193 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd007 View Post
 

hd800 should be great for testing dacs imo, on the non-stax side of things


IHD800 is more detailed and ruthless with the right amp. They are a bit bright though so that's another colouration to factor in.

post #194 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post
 

Gary,

 

I know similar solutions were discussed earlier, but you might find one of these useful (I don't know where you're at with this type of equipment, currently.)

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/689783/december-2013-mid-level-dac-comparison

 

http://www.sonicelectronix.com/item_74146_FiiO-HS2.html

 

Mike


Hmmm... that headphone switcher looks useful for comparing the headphone outs of those DACs that have them.  Have you actually heard the unit?  Does it color the sound in any way?  If not, I would be willing to invest $30 plus whatever it costs for 4 cables to connect it to the DACS...

post #195 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Folks:

 

Okay, another update.  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!
  8. Ciunas DAC loaned by Clemmaster.  Thank you SIR!!!

 

Since the Ciunas is being donated, I am still willing to add another 3 DACs to the competition (note that my current Emotiva XDA-1 is also going to be written up).  Still in the running for the final 3 positions:

  • Anedio D2.  A 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 and getting several votes in the past couple of days.
  • Dangerous Source.  Another pro/studio unit, with a reputation as a giant killer at <$1K and also getting several votes in the past couple of days.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.

 

You can still vote for your favorites, but as it stands right now the D2, NAD and Dangerous DACs are the leading contenders to fill out the field. 

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