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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 48  

post #706 of 1331

Really important, I think, to distinguish between the Emotiva XDA-1, a two generation old model, and the Emotiva DC-1, a subject of this review.

 

Totally different creatures.

 

Thanks,

post #707 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by preproman View Post
 

 

I would talk you into buying the Master 7.  Truly a good DAC worth every penny.

 

I agree with this statement :D though I might be a bit biased

post #708 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Alright, for those few of you still tuned in to this show, for the past several hours I have been testing the Benchmark DAC 2 against the DM Source.  I had planned to test the Ciunas, but managed to run down the Ciunas battery, as well as the portable Li-Ion charger that I had been using to feed the battery, by leaving the DAC on overnight for several nights.  I didn't have it plugged into a USB port because I didn't have any available at the time, but I pulled out the printer cable, so I've been charging the Ciunas for most of the day off of the bus, and it will be ready to go for tonight's testing. 

 

In any case, I can say that the Benchmark DAC 2 is a fine DAC, and it sounds EXACTLY like the DM Source.  As in, after 40 songs, I hear absolutely zero, none, nada, nul, zippo, difference on ANY of the music, whether audiophile hi-res or crappy MP-3.  So add it to the list of "indistinguishables".  The Benchmark does have a ton of connections and flexibility, including 2 HP jacks, but so does the DM Source.  Yeah, the Source requires you to buy some adapters to use all of the connections, but it also costs $1100 less.  Both seem to be quality units.

 

This lack of difference between the two actually does not surprise me at all, since Benchmark has been a leader in designing neutral DACs based on the needs of the recording industry, and Dangerous Music is also a music-industry-first supplier.  The Benchmark and the DM clearly targeted neutrality with their latest designs, and in my view they achieved it.  In fact, I wouldn't doubt that DM targeted Benchmark with the Source, and hit that target dead on too.  Both sound great, as do the NAD, Concero, Emo Stealth, Gungnir and even the Arcam which sounds pretty close to the others, with maybe just a bit more mid-range energy,  The PWD has a slightly different flavor, with recessed mids, but with a little equalization, I believe it too could be made indistinguishable from the others, except for the extra echo that I didn't like too much.

 

So far the only DAC that sounds clearly, undeniably different, and to my taste, is the Metrum.  Remember, though that I still have to test the Ciunas, Yulong DA-8 and Chordette QuteHD.  The Ciunas is up tonight, so stay tuned, I'll post something before dawn Sunday.  I hope.  Then I expect to get the Yulong and Chord done by Monday night (or Tuesday at the latest). 

 

Then we'll see who stays beyond that point, but I can tell you that anything that ends up in the indistinguishables club will be returned this  week (or has already been returned), except the DM Source and Emo Stealth.  As I said in the opening post, ties go to the cheaper unit, and those two are the cheapest given their feature set, with the Arcam losing out because it has fewer features in the same general price range.  So unless the Ciunas, Yulong or Chordette have a clearly unique flavor, they will go back too (the Ciunas because it too lacks features and costs almost the same as the DM Source, and hundreds more than the Stealth). 

 

Then I will put any uniques (at this point that's only the Metrum) up against the 2 indistinguishables (who will be competing against each other based on features -- mostly their HP jacks -- vs price), and I'll pick a winner (or maybe two if I decide I want the Metrum... the Stealth is pretty cheap, and combined they cost about the same as the NAD or the Benchmark) in the next week or so.

 

Okay, dinner time!  Then the Ciunas gets to torture me!!!

post #709 of 1331

Kudos for maintaining the tempo, Gary!  

 

It's surely a lot of work - much appreciated, though.

 

Mike

post #710 of 1331

Ohhh... to increase the torture you should listen to it only with Miley Cyrus or Lindsay Lohan :P

 

Great job on this Gary.  I can hardly wait for this to be over and the winner to be announced.

post #711 of 1331

You're a trooper, Gary! At this point it doesn't seem like you're having much fun ...  Keep it comin'!

post #712 of 1331

Looks like it's shaping up to be a Metrum/Emo/Yulong/Dangerous showdown!

post #713 of 1331
Great work, Gary- keep it up!
post #714 of 1331
Been lurking this thread since the very beginning checking out the process every night.

Thanks for the comparison Gary! You have just cured an itch that I would have eventually gotten and my wallet thanks you for keeping it a little bit fuller so I can enjoy my other hobbies!

I can't wait to see the outcome as many others following your adventure! Next step would be going even further down in price and comparing those dacs to your winner.

Do any of the dacs you've been testing do balance audio (I know most of them probably do)? If so would you have anything against comparing the balance out vs the SE output given that you have the proper equipment to run a balanced set up.

Again, thanks for the great work! Keep it up.
Edited by PXSS - 12/28/13 at 6:28pm
post #715 of 1331

I've been doing a little research on the Dangerous Source, and it has an interesting feature--there are two independent DAC circuits. The USB and AES/SPDIF inputs feed into their own DACs, so you could have two different digital sources feeding the DS. This could be useful in a complex setup or for A/B-ing sources, or DJ/performance work.

post #716 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry S View Post

I've been doing a little research on the Dangerous Source, and it has an interesting feature--there are two independent DAC circuits. The USB and AES/SPDIF inputs feed into their own DACs, so you could have two different digital sources feeding the DS. This could be useful in a complex setup or for A/B-ing sources, or DJ/performance work.
Hilo does that too. You can route (Toslink/Coax/AES/BNC/USB to either balanced out (two DACs) or monitor out (one DAC. You also listen to the headphone out with a DAC of it's own monitoring the input or output of choice.
post #717 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post


Hilo does that too. You can route (Toslink/Coax/AES/BNC/USB to either balanced out (two DACs) or monitor out (one DAC. You also listen to the headphone out with a DAC of it's own monitoring the input or output of choice.


The Hilo seems very flexible--it's too bad it didn't get included in the mix. Then again, it's $2500 and some of the more studio-oriented features aren't that relevant to head-fiers. The DS features are also overkill, but at $900--it seems like a better value.

post #718 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

Looks like it's shaping up to be a Metrum/Emo/Yulong/Dangerous showdown!
No no, it's gonna be Metrum / Ciunas / Chord / Dangerous redface.gif

Yulong is among the indistinguishable biggrin.gif.

Anyway, it seems Metrum is really hitting on you Gary
post #719 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post


No no, it's gonna be Metrum / Ciunas / Chord / Dangerous redface.gif

Yulong is among the indistinguishable biggrin.gif.

Anyway, it seems Metrum is really hitting on you Gary

Yeah, the benefit of NOS is the lack of pre/post ringing on the impulse response, but you do get a good amount of added harmonics. I think he already hinted that the Ciunas was going back? As i understand it right now, he is preferring the Emo because of price/performance, but I think that might change once he start playing with the DA8 because of its versatility, which is great for future gear changes :) Has he tested the Chord yet? I don't even think that one will agree with him because of the price compared to the Emo lol.

 

Gotta love speculation :tongue: 

post #720 of 1331
Since when price is relevant in the choice of a DAC? biggrin.gif

Honestly the Metrum is the DAC that will stay in my mind as the most special DAC ever.
Could well be because it was my first step in the >$1000 range (this includes the Stello U3), but honestly I didn't get that so easy on the ear sound from even the SA-2, which is a NOS DAC too.
The quad is the purest I've heard and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up buying the HEX and step out of head-fi...
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