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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 14  

post #196 of 1331

Would love to see the BlackLionAudio Sparrow if at all possible.

post #197 of 1331
Thread Starter 

The Black Lion Sparrow has no USB input.  Not sure how I feel about that...

post #198 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 

The Black Lion Sparrow has no USB input.  Not sure how I feel about that...

It sure doesn't, but maybe it can be the only non USB DAC on your list to see how it fairs.

post #199 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 

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. 

 

read this page:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/691392/meridian-prime-headphone-amplifier-review/60#post_10012897

post #200 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Folks:

 

I missed the Arcam irDAC in all of the postings and commentings, etc (sorry Sweden).  The Arcam's based on the Burr-Brown PCM1796 chip and it meets the return criterion via multiple sources.  There have been a couple of folks supporting it here, not just Sweden.  Should it push out the Emotiva, or beat out the Dangerous Source on the low end, or replace one of the higher end DACs?

 

Please discuss...

post #201 of 1331

If push comes to shove, I would say kick the Dangerous for the Arcam...

post #202 of 1331

My vote goes to dropping the Gungnir from the DAC off.. so both the Dangerous Source & Arcam iR can be evaluated.  There's been quite a bit written on the Gungnir already, IMO.

post #203 of 1331
I'd be sorry to see the BMC PureDAC not make the list, because it's a late-generation (2013) model from a company with interesting design ideas. It most certainly isn't a "me too" product.

That said, I support the D2 and JK Ciunas too. Both seem to have exceptional attention to design and novel thinking that has realised interestingly different products.

I agree a lot has been written about the Gungnir. It took a while to happen though. Because Schiit announced their (at that time unnamed) statement DAC at the same time, eyes (and ears) tended to focus on that! Adding it to a multi-way comparison like this might have merit.

Finally, the Benchmark might be worth including because (a) views are polarised about it; (b) it's been around so long it's - well - a benchmark. It might provide a valuable reference point of sorts.

I took a look at the page Chris J linked. Some very good points there about Sabres (they don't all sound the same) and the importance of system design in Jude's post.
post #204 of 1331

My vote is to keep the schiit.

post #205 of 1331
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
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post


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...

I have the FiiO HS2 and would lend it to you with the Concero if I weren't planning to use it extensively in testing I'll begin shortly. It's completely passive and I've never found it to affect sound quality in any way. It comes with four simple mini TRS interconnects (the black interconnects seen in the photos, below). The switching is silent. Construction is superb.

FiiO made a limited run of these for FiiO dealers to use when demo'ing FiiO DAPs with multiple headphones. They are very hard to find now. To my knowledge, the link I provided, above, is the only source in the U.S. that still has inventory.



I've used it for A/B testing sources, as well as headphones.





You could A/B two DACs' analog outs into a single amp, using three of these cables (or something similar) - two on one side of the HS2 for the DAC outputs and one on the other side fot the amp input:



http://www.amazon.com/Monster-MBL-AI-1000-RMINI-7/dp/B008DOAPKU

You'll still have to move the USB cable (from the PC) back and forth between DACs (hopefully without driver issues), but I've found that I can easily select the correct driver in Foobar 2000 when I switch the USB cable between my DACmini and Concero.

Having the HS2 would at least save the time required to move analog cables.

Mike
Edited by zilch0md - 11/26/13 at 7:42pm
post #206 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post

Folks:

I missed the Arcam irDAC in all of the postings and commentings, etc (sorry Sweden).  The Arcam's based on the Burr-Brown PCM1796 chip and it meets the return criterion via multiple sources.  There have been a couple of folks supporting it here, not just Sweden.  Should it push out the Emotiva, or beat out the Dangerous Source on the low end, or replace one of the higher end DACs?

Please discuss...

Hearing that it has the PCM1796 - a chip not yet represented in this cook-off (to my knowledge) - I'd like to see the Arcam irDAC included.

Mike
post #207 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post



I have the FiiO HS2 and would lend it to you with the Concero if I weren't planning to use it extensively in testing I'll begin shortly. It's completely passive and I've never found it to affect sound quality in any way. It comes with four simple mini TRS interconnects (the black interconnects seen in the photos, below). The switching is silent. Construction is superb.

FiiO made a limited run of these for FiiO dealers to use when demo'ing FiiO DAPs with multiple headphones. They are very hard to find now. To my knowledge, the link I provided, above, is the only source in the U.S. that still has inventory.

You'll still have to move the USB cable (from the PC) back and forth between DACs (hopefully without driver issues), but I've found that I can easily select the correct driver in Foobar 2000 when I switch the USB cable between my DACmini and Concero.

Having the HS2 would at least save the time required to move analog cables.

Mike

 

I'll be running it between 4 different DACs' HP amp outs and the LCD-3s, using 1/4" TRS in the headphone out section on the DACs to the 3.5mm line in on the switch, and then plugging the LCDs' TRS plug into the front TRS jack.  All of the DACs will already be hooked up to the computer via 7-port powered USB hub or optical out, being fed by J-River Media, which can supposedly feed multiple USB outs at once.  Then to compare all I have to do is turn the nob on the switch... right?

post #208 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 being fed by J-River Media, which can supposedly feed multiple USB outs at once. 

 

You can create multiple "zones" in JRiver and have each one output to a separate dac. You can also link the zones so that they all play simultaneously.

 

That said, sometimes a computer can't handle that many usb audio devices at one time.

post #209 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Folks:

 

The Gungnir is being loaned to me, so it's staying in, unless you folks have convinced the loaner that he doesn't want to send it.  He's monitoring this thread, and he can weigh in if he wants, but I would like to give Schiit another chance, since I was not overly positive in my view of the MJ.  So if the loaner is still willing to send it, I'm willing to include it and pay return shipping.

 

Assuming the Yulong is also a given (and it is), I would like to have one other 9018 DAC in.  I have no preference for Benchmark vs. Anedio vs. BMC, having heard none of them before.  The BMC might be problematical from a return cost standpoint.  I haven't called Moon or Vapor to discuss that yet, but if they want to charge a restocking fee, I won't buy the DAC no matter how cool it looks.  I might have time to call them tomorrow, but it will probably have to be Friday or Monday.

 

Is the Arcam likely to be better than the Emotiva Stealth DC-1 or the Dangerous Source?  The latter two also have unique designs (i.e., aren't ESS 9018s), and are low cost, so I think those 3 are sort of competing with each other to get into the field. 

post #210 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armaegis View Post
 

 

You can create multiple "zones" in JRiver and have each one output to a separate dac. You can also link the zones so that they all play simultaneously.

 

That said, sometimes a computer can't handle that many usb audio devices at one time.

Hey, I'll try it... I 'm using a core i7 desktop that has never really been challenged, so it will be interesting to see if it is up to the task.  If not, maybe Santa will bring me a new computer...or at least a new sound card.

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