or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 55  

post #811 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Okay Ladies and Gentlemen, we have another result. 

 

The Chordette QuteHD has been evaluated against the DM Source.  And I can report that there is an audible difference when listening to DSD tracks.  With the Chordette, there is less "ring" or lisp with hard consonants like "t"s and "s"s.  This is a very subtle effect, and can only be heard clearly when the consonant is emphasized.  But it does influence the overall impression of how the song sounds, if that makes sense.  The Chordette just sounds a bit clearer, a bit better, when playing Shelby Lynne on DSD.  Of course there is a pretty obvious explanation for this difference: The Chordette decodes DSD directly, and the DM Source does not, so JRiver sends it down-spec'd FLAC files (96/24 if I recall).  So yeah, I can hear the difference between the Chordette playing DSD and the DM Source playing JRiver's translations of DSD to PCM down-rated in bit rate. 

 

Other than that, on all of the hi-res tracks and non-hi-res tracks I used to compare these two, THERE WAS NO AUDIBLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM.  Yeah, the Chordette is an Indistinguishable if you feed it the same signal as the DM Source.  I used several different methods this time to try to ferret out differences.  I had the DACs synch'd, and then I had one lead the other by a small amount; then I switched the leader.  I even varied the lead times from one second to a few seconds so that I could listen to more or less of a song before switching and hearing the same passage.  In effect, with the leader/follower approach, I was listening to a sound then switching and hearing the exact same sound again.  Cymbal strike, switch, cymbal strike.  String pluck, switch, string pluck.  Switch the leads, do it again.  I tried to find differences in about 25 songs.  There were none.  Sorry.

 

However, there is one MAJOR difference between the Chordette and the Metrum -- the Chordette is almost a full 3 dB louder with white noise (yeah, twice as loud), as opposed to the 1.5 dB difference between the Ciunas and the soft-spoken Metrum.  That might explain folks thinking that the Chordette is aggressive sounding if they don't level-match it.  If they do level match it, and still think the Chordette is aggressive sounding, well, then they are hearing things that I don't.  My ears, my brain, my set-up. 

 

I have now plugged the Teddy Pardo power supply into the Chordette.  I listened to a couple of songs, but didn't hear any obvious differences.  On the other hand, I'm pretty tired, so I'm not ready yet to conclude anything about the impact of that juice box on the DAC.  I'll listen to it a bit tomorrow to see if I can tell any difference, but obviously I can't switch back and forth quickly, so any differences are going to have to be pretty significant for me to state that they are definitely there. 

 

I really am sorry to once again have to report that yet another DAC has joined the Indistinguishables, at least for those who don't listen to DSD files.  I had high hopes of hearing some special magic from the Chordette, but no such luck.  It is small and pretty, and the magnifying window into the innards glows a different color for each type of file (DSD is blue, hi-res FLAC is green, lo-res is red).  It does sound great (just like the others), and it does encourage me to listen more closely to the DSD capabilities on the other DACs.  On the other hand, I am not going to be listening to many DSD tracks in the future (I had no DSD files prior to this testing), so this added performance doesn't mean that much to me. 

 

If all other things were equal, I might still choose the Chordette (or another DSD DAC with similar gains with that format) just in case I decide to buy a bunch of DSD tracks in the future.  But all things are not equal -- except the sound of this DAC to the performance of the Indistinguishables when playing all other formats .  The Chordette is relatively expensive ($1800) and has no unique functional features other than DSD.  It has no volume control, let alone pre-amp capabilities. 

 

The lack of volume control is a killer for me, since it is so loud to start with.  The high output of the Chordette means I have to turn down the Cyclops that much more, when I really want to be able to turn it up, to get more into the amp's likely sweet spot.  On the other hand, this relatively high output level might be a real advantage for those feeding an amp that has marginal gain or power to feed that person's chosen cans.  Of course, you can get the same volume out of the DM Source, plus a little (though not much... the Source is at 3-o'clock on the dial to match the Chordette's output).

 

In the end, the Chordette is an excellent sounding DAC, but it isn't the right one for me.  It sounds great on the types of files I am going to be listening to most often, but that sound is exactly like a bunch of other DACs.  It sounds even better playing DSD, but I don't anticipate playing much DSD.  It loses out on the value criterion to every other DAC in this competition except maybe the PWD (depending on what price you really have to pay for that beast).  The Benchmark plays DSDs, and is $200 more expensive, but it is a very capable pre-amp and has two headphone outs.  The Yulong plays DSD files, has lots of other features including a HP amp, and is $600 cheaper (we'll see how it sounds tomorrow). 

 

Moreover, DSD is really a "nice to have" for me, and ranks lower than many of the other features on some of these other DACs, most of which are much cheaper than the Chordette.  Given that several of the other Indistinguishables cost several hundred dollars less and have features I value more, I can live with the way JRiver translates DSD files for the non-DSD DACs.  Add in the Chordette's loud volume with no internal control, which is the exact opposite of what I want in a DAC for my system, and it is easy to me to decide that the Chordette is going back.  

 

Tomorrow is Yulong Day, but first I will try the phone as a source for the Benchmark and Chordette, so that I can finish with them, box them up and ship them back, tomorrow if possible.  The phone-y business will last no longer than an hour or so.  After that amount of time  I'm moving on to the Yulong. 

post #812 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post

  Everybody just be quiet about the HD800s already.
Hear hear! The tool for the job is the Spiral Ear 5-way CIEM... ;-)
post #813 of 1331

If I got it right, Gary heard a difference between hi-res PCM and redbook PCM. He also prefered straight DSD to (PCM converted DSD in the media player).

Anybody able to compare straight DSD to hi-res PCM and share impressions ?

post #814 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post
 

Oh, in that case, then just go get a $20 DAC and use the other $1k for a steady supply of beer or whatever else gets your dopamine really flowing :tongue: j/k 

LOL - that's MY philosophy ... now my ears are going stale and my liver is shot ... but I've had a blast !!

post #815 of 1331

I fairly sure that JRiver can convert DSD into PCM. I use A+ and it does for certain.
The Metrum will play these pre-converted files really well. Since there is no filtering in the Metrum it does not have PCM filters that alter the DSD. Provided of course the track/album was actually recorded in DSD in converted then reconverted back. I find the timbre and harmonics are different on those which are true DSD recordings, even if you pre-convert them to PCM after the fact. 

Over-all it's ended up being a really interesting perspective, is the next installment going to be "How low can you go?". With all the Delta/Sigma dacs sounding the same, how cheap can you get before there is a difference.

post #816 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 

Okay Ladies and Gentlemen, we have another result. 

 

The Chordette QuteHD has been evaluated against the DM Source.  And I can report that there is an audible difference when listening to DSD tracks.  With the Chordette, there is less "ring" or lisp with hard consonants like "t"s and "s"s.  This is a very subtle effect, and can only be heard clearly when the consonant is emphasized.  But it does influence the overall impression of how the song sounds, if that makes sense.  The Chordette just sounds a bit clearer, a bit better, when playing Shelby Lynne on DSD.  Of course there is a pretty obvious explanation for this difference: The Chordette decodes DSD directly, and the DM Source does not, so JRiver sends it down-spec'd FLAC files (96/24 if I recall).  So yeah, I can hear the difference between the Chordette playing DSD and the DM Source playing JRiver's translations of DSD to PCM down-rated in bit rate. 

 

 

by decoding DSD directly, you mean DSD over PCM (DoP), correct?  So a fairer comparison on DSD performance might be comparing the DAC2 vs the QuteHD since they both process DSD the same way. That is, assuming the DAC2 hasn't been sent back.

post #817 of 1331
Yeah the Chord outputs 3V, which can be a pain...
You can always use digital attenuation to match it.
Back when I had the SA-31, I thought the Chord sounded better with volume set to 60-80% on one source (WDTV optical out) than at full volume.
The amp's input stage probably didn't like such a high signal?
I didn't change the volume in the amp, so I actually preferred the quieter volume, which contradicts science (rule 7: "One shall always favor the louder sound").
post #818 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Folks:

 

The Chordette's blue light was telling me it was receiving a DSD signal, which it was processing.  The DM Source doesn't have DSD capability, so JRiver translated for it and sent it a PCM signal.  That's the best I can explain it.  With the Chordette receiving DSD and the DM Source receiving the same song translated to PCM by JRiver, the Chordette sounded different -- better, in my opinion.  But just in that particular situation. 

 

I have to put the Benchmark back in the system anyway, so I'll listen more carefully to it's DSD performance.  Same with the Yulong.  The others don't have DSD capability.

 

There was no reason to knock the Chordette's volume down digitally when comparing it to the DM Source, which could match it in output, so I didn't.  I would have to do so (probably setting JRiver to ~95%) if I put it head-to-head against the Metrum.  I don't think the amp cared about the high input voltage, I just adjusted the volume to my taste, and the sound meter was always around 80dBs in white noise. 

 

Again, the Chordette sounds excellent with non-DSD tracks... just like the DM Source.

post #819 of 1331

A most interesting thread that could pose a threat to the bottom line of many dealers...hence why I am sure some people are responding quite defensively...or offensively.

post #820 of 1331

Gary: I live in DC. If you need a third adjudicator...

post #821 of 1331

I just want to reiterate and applaud Gary's efforts here. I've done dac comparisons before, and just comparing TWO was enough of an ordeal for me in terms of getting everything hooked up, level matched, and playing nice over usb/coax/whatever, then listening to the same songs and same passages over and over and over again. I know how exhausting and numbing it can get.

 

So kudos to you Gary. I highly encourage the (moderate) consumption of recreational beverages during your listening tests. Critical listening and relaxed listening may yield different results :wink_face:

post #822 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by schneller View Post
 

A most interesting thread that could pose a threat to the bottom line of many dealers...hence why I am sure some people are responding quite defensively...or offensively.

 

All the DACs in the "Indistinguishables" group sound great--very neutral with excellent detail and dynamics, good control, and no harshness. These manufacturers have all done a first-rate job building a superb piece of gear. The variety comes in physical design, display, chassis, input/output, warranty, and other features. Other than excellent fidelity, there are still reasons to choose one over another.

 

The signal processing schemes may vary, but they all get to basically the same point. There's some proprietary error correction and timebase correction that's probably doing what the manufacturers say, but is beyond the limits of human hearing.

post #823 of 1331

But in this Indistinguishable category, the Emotiva is by far the best Features * Quality / Price. 

I has everything: remote controlled analog pre-amp; SE and Balanced output; dual headphone amps; all kinds of digital inputs (except I2S) and it even has an analog input :eek:.

 

@Gary: did you try the built-in headphone outputs yet or do you save that for later?

This could be where the Dangerous Source take the lead. I really like my DS at work with the RE-262 or Spirit Pro.

It didn't quite match the EF-6 with the LCD-X, though. I didn't try the Hifimen cause they are balanced only.

post #824 of 1331
FWIW, the Emotiva DC-1 uses the LM4562 opamps, the same as the Benchmark DAC2.
post #825 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by boatheelmusic View Post

FWIW, the Emotiva DC-1 uses the LM4562 opamps, the same as the Benchmark DAC2.

 

Out of curiosity, does anyone know what role the opamps play in the circuit? Do these have a fairly large impact on the sound signature?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
This thread is locked  
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison