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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 22  

post #316 of 1331
Originally Posted by Andrew_WOT View Post

Can't fully agree on that. From my experience nothing sounded more different than Burson Soloist and AURALiC Vega. Both are based on Sabre 9018.

In fact Chord DAC64 (FPGA design) sounded a lot closer to Vega than Vega to Burson.

Yulong DA8 (another 9018) also sounds quite different than the other two.


Check John Darko's comments on that "house sound" view.



I agree.

The DAC chip "house sound" is a myth!

But nobody's listening!


post #317 of 1331
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

Adding to Chris J and Andrew_WOT's comments, the two 9018 dacs I have - Eastern Electric MiniMax and BMC PureDAC - could not sound more different. Apart from some possible similarity in the upper mids, I would never have identified them as using the same chip.


But they both come in rectangular boxes!

They both run off electricity!

post #318 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post


But they both come in rectangular boxes!

They both run off electricity!

But the PureDAC has a hump in the middle of it... which clearly makes it sound different...  Geez you technical people sometimes miss some of the most obvious things!!!

post #319 of 1331
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post

But the PureDAC has a hump in the middle of it... which clearly makes it sound different...  Geez you technical people sometimes miss some of the most obvious things!!!

It's for better mids....duh! :tongue:

post #320 of 1331

Cool thread to follow, may want to upgrade from the DAC on the WA7 sometime in the future.

post #321 of 1331
Brunk, the PureDAC sounds much the better to my ears, in several ways. In case it makes it into Gary's round-up I won't elaborate. With the EE MiniMax, a slightly heavy upper bass slightly muddies fine harmonic detail and texture in the lower mids. Detail and clarity suffer tarnishing an otherwise fine sounding dac.

IMHO, YMMV, Pigs might fly etc.

Excellent point about the hump in the middle Gary.
post #322 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Okay, folks, before I pull the trigger on a USB card, can somebody please confirm (or at least sound somewhat positive) that this will allow me to power 5 DACs at one time out of the rear of my computer, and possibly another 2 out of the front if I connect it to another 2 ports for the front?






Confused in Maryland

post #323 of 1331
There's no way to tell in advance whether that card can actually deliver 500mA worth of current to all five ports simultaneously, per the USB spec, but if it fails to do so, some of your USB-powered DACs might not even turn on and even if they do power up simultaneously, I'd be concerned that they could all be compromised.

I'm thinking the whole test environment is unrealistic - running more than one USB DAC at time. There's no telling what kind of interference they could cause each other on the data circuits, independent of interactions and competition for adequate amps and volts. The contest could literally come down to a test of which DAC sounds best under the unrealistic conditions you are imposing for the sake of convenience - a classic example of the Observer Effect, where you alter the state of that which you are trying to measure through your choice of equipment or techniques that can inluence the results.

I've never come close to powering two USB DACs at once, much less four or five and I know that where some USB-powered DACS have fantastic immunity to ports that fail to meet USB specs, others have comparably poor power management.

The Ciunas DAC has built-in batteries and pulls only data from a USB port. Many desktop DACs get power from an AC outlet and only data fom the USB port. The Concero and others, however, rely on the USB port for both data and power. A fair contest would ensure that every DAC gets the power it needs.

I'm fine with a USB-powered DAC getting its power from a PC or laptop port vs. something like an independent, external 5VDC supply, but I'm very concerned about even two DACs competing for USB power simultaneously - it's not how most of us will be running a DAC in our homes.

Suggestion: Move one USB cable from DAC to DAC to DAC... Listening to one DAC at a time. The PC will only be able see one DAC at a time and there will be no competition for power, and no chance of interaction in the data circuits.

Edited by zilch0md - 12/2/13 at 8:58pm
post #324 of 1331

Gary, I think you will be fine. The only way to know for sure is to try it yourself. Use as many PC ports as possible though, so you wont run into any possible bandwidth restrictions. I can't remember off the top of my head how many channels of 24-bit audio USB2 can handle, but it's a silly amount that only a studio engineer would ever cross that threshold....and possibly you during this comparo lol.

post #325 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Okay, so I finally got the energy to actually look at the back of my computer, and I'm an idiot.  I currently have 2 empty USB 3.0 ports and one empty USB 2.0 port.  I can free up 3 more USB 2.0's on the front of the machine, giving me 6 total separate ports to use, with the 7th existing port filled by the 7-port powered hub I just bought.  None of the stuff on the 7-port will be a power or data hog  (mouse and keyboard links, seldom used printer, backup external drive that won't be running during the testing, maybe my clipzip, maybe a bluetooth headset, though I can plug the last 2 into other power sources, like my work laptop or the wall) so I might even e able to connect 7 DACs at once into my current USB ports.  No need to buy a new card. 


As long as I use one port per DAC, I should be okay?  I believe the only one drawing any power is the Concero, but I don't actually remember at this point...


If necessary, to avoid the problems Mike raised, I would give each DAC a separate cable and then swap all of the different cables into a single USB port.  Makes A/B pretty difficult, but at least that saves wear and tear on the USB connections on the DACs, all but at most one of which have to go back to owners or sellers at the end of this, so I really don't want to break any of them.  It's a lot cheaper and easier to replace a broken USB port on my computer...


I'll test all of this out once I get a few DACs in here.  At this point, I've only ordered one.  But tomorrow is another day (I hope).

post #326 of 1331

OK, right or wrong, that addresses my concerns of data interference.  What about adequate power (amps and volts) for multiple USB-powered DACs running at the same time?


I guess we will never know - if they power up, Gary will press on with the assumption none of them are compromised by poor power.  It kind of makes you wonder why the Ciunas designer went to such great lengths to include internal batteries in his design.  (Sarcasm)

Edited by zilch0md - 12/2/13 at 9:55pm
post #327 of 1331
Thread Starter 



I checked most of them, and I think the only one powered by USB is the Concero... So I don't think it will be competing for power.  It will probably lose out in the swimsuit competition to the PureDAC, however...

post #328 of 1331

Haha!  Good one, brunk!  LOL


Maybe I should send along my battery pack with the Concero, so that it can compete with all the DACs that have dedicated supplies.


Over on the Concero thread, I just finished replying to a member named JWahl, who couldn't even power up his Schiit Modi, when getting power from any of his PC's USB ports.  He had seen my discussion of using the Anker Astro Pro (5V LiPo battery) with a Y-Cable, to get only power from the battery and only data from the PC.  Not only does the Modi power up as it should, he describes several aspects of how it sounds a lot better than it did when he was powering it with a 5VDC PSU.  Another battery power convert.



post #329 of 1331
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

@Toe Tag Im curious, why are you so interested in having a mobile phone be compatible with a desktop DAC? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?


Think Android tablet, not phone. (You can also now do something similar with with Apple if you have iOS 7 

http://www.leckertonaudio.com/blog/2013/11/5/new-use-your-iphone-as-a-digital-audio-source). Desktop DAC manufacturers seem to be asleep (comatose?) at the switch. They didn't get the memo that the desktop is dying, and that everyone is using tablets and smartphones now. Plenty of graphs and statistics show this clearly.


I like to lounge around on my La-z-boy or in bed listening to music. My CIEMs (Spiral Ear SE5) cost $1600. So I want DAC, and amp, that can do them justice. Desktop or portable, either is fine for my use case. Probably the most expensive (and that should mean better quality) are desktop. 


One thing I ran into was, many desktop amps are designed to power big high-impedance cans. Only. IEMs, particularly BA type, often present impedance that is very low. And very variable across frequencies (as the input signal encounters one, then the next, of the several BA's inside the IEM). So I may have to use a portable amp, like the Tralucent T1. 


I would then need a separate pure DAC, and again these are more common back in desktop land. The only issue is, they speak USB, but can they handle USB OTG. I find that an Android tablet, has dozens of audio programs, that can pull audio from my NAS, or the internet, process it in floating point, etc., plus a big nice user interface running on a 7 or 10" screen. Just seems nicer to lounge around rather than have to run over to my computer (or drive it remotely with VNC, or run wires to it) to drive my stack. 


As far as USB OTG, here is my understanding of the big picture. A device either has the right hardware to support USB OTG or it doesn’t. If it does, it still needs the right software (drivers on Android) or firmware (USB ID codes on the DAC) for USB OTG audio to work. Now, when we see how 80% of the devices “work but only with UARP software” this in fact means that the manufacturer is saying “I accidentally ended up with the right hardware (USB transceiver chip) for USB OTG, but I can’t be arsed to make a few simple software changes”. And UARP has made an entire industry out of this willful ignorance of most manufacturers. I have communicated with CEentrance, Anedio, and Audio-gd and they really can’t be bothered. With Audio-gd I was like “I have $2000 here in my pocket, tell me which of your DACs talk USB OTG” and Kingwa there couldn’t be bothered to buy a $3 cable or figure out how to make one. I guess it all boils down to the Russian saying каждый дрочит, как он хочет "every man jerks off the way he wants".


Anyway with a bit of simple testing we'll see which DACs support USB OTG audio. Accidentally or on purpose.

Edited by Toe Tag - 12/2/13 at 11:35pm
post #330 of 1331

I still highly doubt that you'll be able to run more than two or three dacs off usb at any one time before they start interfering with one another, unless you have more than one usb board inside your computer (which is possible).

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