Originally Posted by olor1n
Gungnir warmer than the M51? And the NAD with artificial highs? Your impressions are the exact opposite of mine. Other than the shouty and compressed dynamics, the colder, hard edge and more artificial nature of the Gungnir is what prompted me to abandon it in favour of the M51. Lol, are you certain your notes weren't mixed up? Either that or the NAD's firmware revisions really do have a significant effect on its sq.
Artificial sounding highs (note that I didn't say nasty or edgy highs) was a reference to the timbre of the last octave. I actually feel the M51 has a silkier (but not necessarily correct or realistic) treble sound than the Gungnir. Despite the silkiness, I still sense a fine fine grain. The Gungnir's rendering is simply more continuous, more liquid to me. I do agree the Gungnir's attack has more edge and is less blunted; and I know a few have felt the Gungnir was too forward sounding with too much upper-mid emphasis. But I've never had this issue with any of the associated gear. Yes, the Gungnir is going to give you the bite of snares or trumpets. It's not going to sound laid back. Some have said the Gungnir and HD800 is a bad mix. Maybe. But it's been a long time since I've owned the HD800. There's a reason why I don't own the HD800 anymore, and when I did, it was always with mods to tone down the 6kHz peak and on up. (Emphasis in 5-6k region tends to add edge or hardness to recordings.)
In terms of warmth, this was in reference to tonal aspects of the bass and lower mids. The Gungnir is one of the warmer DACs I've heard. (Maybe warm and aggressive at the same time, but I wouldn't describe the Gungnir as a cold sounding DAC.) The M51 was pretty darn neutral to me. I found the Gen 2 USB to render microdynamics better than the Gen 1 USB or even coax SPDIF from all sources I've tried. The M51 had superior microdynamics and microdetail rendering. The Gungnir tends to drop off the quietest sounds or compress them upward slightly. The M51 tends to compress things overall more, especially the loudest sounds. To get the same feel as my references, I kind of felt that I needed to turn the volume button up and down really really fast on the M51 constantly with the music. With the Gungnir, especially with Gen 2 USB not so much. Gungnir definitely has more slam and attack throughout the band - probably the most of any DAC in the list.
Edited by purrin - 2/11/14 at 11:53am