If you mean gungnir, then USB gen 2.
Ahh yes sorry, the Gungnir.
USB2 provides better sound quality over toslink and coax, huh ? I've been doing it all wrong.. I thought USB was the last resort
Intersesting...how were you converting the USB to SPDIF before switching to the USB implementation on the Gungnir?
It seems like the USB input is actually quite a respectable option with many of the newer DACs. The fact that the OR5 didn't offer that much of an improvement in a number of the DACs in the list is a very positive sign for me. USB is a far easier and cheaper format to use when running straight from a computer. Any time you can save money on a specialized converter and get a similar or better sound is a step in the right direction as far as I am concerned.
I actually have a few modern albums (mostly progressive metal, but not necessarily) where the tracks seamlessly lead to the next. Even a small, small gap destroys this and annoys me (in some cases, it causes a larger disconnect than you'd think). Personal preference, I guess. I just live with it on some software and gear.
USB Gen 2 on Gungnir is awesome. Basically negates the need for a USB->SPDIF converter because it is that good, though I suppose some of the top-tier converters could possibly edge it out.
I've had my Gungnir connected to my computer via optical toslink for about 2 months, thinking that it was in fact the best method to achieve the highest sound quality
Am I in for a big surprise once I connect it via USB2 ?
SABRE based DACs do have a tendency toward a brighter sound, having more glare, grain, rasp, etch, etc. for than any other chip I have heard. It's not necessarily the brightness (you put all these DACs on a bench, and they more or less measure flat), but rather the fatigue over longer listening sessions, and the unnatural grain, rasp, etc. which I don't hear on vinyl or R2R DACs.
There certainly is a connection between the SABRE and DSD. Every other new DAC seems to be based on SABRE. And as a result, (the SABRE chip handles DSD with ease without additional design work compared to other chips) DSD's "awesomeness" gets pushed. The sad consequence is that few newer audiophiles get exposure to DACs with smoother sounding more liquid presentations. It seems like 90% of new DACs is a SABRE. I can't count how many requests I get to review X DAC, and I'm thinking "Oh no, not another Chinese SABRE DAC with --->DSD compatibility<--- again." Some people like the SABRE sound. That's fine. But I'd like to see more choice. I think it's great companies like Emotiva and Schiit use the AKM chips.
Although I'm not too convinced by Sabre-based DACs, I have the exact opposite experience in terms of grain / rasp / etch, although I'd be the first one to agree that there is a certain glare / unnatural leanness / lack of meat / perfectible timbre accuracy in their presentation (a little like old electrostatic headphones). Compared to my Lavry DA11, I found both the Benchmark DAC2 and Invicta to sound more refined / delicate / smoother in the trebles. I'm not saying they're the best in terms of refined trebles, but so far I've yet to hear better. To me, grain means that instead of a high-hat going "zing", it sort of sounds like it goes "schrzing". Rasp means that vocals, for example, would be throaty - in that regard I've found the sabre DAC I've heard vastly different. The Benchmark DAC2 felt as liquid as it can get, the Invicta less so, but not anymore than the Lavry. Etch means that we would get something akin to the Clarity filter in Lightroom / Photoshop, i.e. details artificially put forward - and again this is not my experience with the sabre DACs I've heard in comparison to a Violectric V800, a Benchmark DAC1 or the Lavry.
The main thing I dislike with them is their timbre rendition (but it's the same with the Violectric IMHO, which sounds very close to the Benchmark, and yet doesn't have a sabre DAC inside), everything sounds a little "synthesised" in one way or another, especially the Benchmark, and the fact that they all feel less meaty / weighty than the Lavry (although the Invicta gets quite close, at least more than the Violectric V800 I think).
I too find it sad that we're mostly seeing sabre-based DACs only these days, and I'd really like to see R2R Dacs widely available one day.
I'm finding I like the AD1955, especially run in dual differential mode, to my liking.
Very much like the NAD M51......
Well, the new Cambridge Audio 851D, the Emotiva DC-1, and others.....
Please understand, the NAD doesn't use a dad chip, it's that the AD1955 sounds similar to me.
the nad is not actually a conventional dac chip at all. it is a signal converter. it converts pcm to pwm. other things inside of it do the actual output as analog. like the standard op-amps and stuff. I thought 35 bit pwm was going to be like dsd on steroids. it is good but I was not blown away. Cambridge is always a good bet too. I think they are competitors to nad. except for some of the master series are higher end. if you like them. their thing is to use digital. in fact it is the same zetex current converter that is used both in their amp and the dac. on the one hand I could think that is a good financial move for nad. on the other hand that is pretty slick. see, all these ic's and such don't really do anything per se. you have to build them into a circuit to make them do something. actually I hear there is an electronic cigarette that can be made into a pretty good dac! I know most of you are like,duh. I just said this for a few that don't know.
BTW, the NAD M51 is a part of their Master Series.
I have one here now, evaluating against the Emotiva DC-1.
All - I just spent the last week carefully comparing the NAD M51 with my DC-1 on all inputs, on my Maggie 1.7's and Emotiva XPA G1s.
My observations were as follows:
The M51 and the DC-1 have an essentially similar character - say, for example compared to a Sabre 9018 or Metrum Octave as extreme cases.
The M51 seems to extend the highs and lows a bit over the DC-1, but nothing excessive. Also slightly wider but not as deep soundstage.
Bass on the DC-1 is more articulate but a little less powerful....more harmonics heard on string bass.
The M51 had a bit more air and sibilance, but less metallic cymbal shimmer. More sandpapery. Not excessive, but definitely there.
The DC1 is more "present" and less congested in the all important midrange.....not necessarily more forward, but if that makes sense. The M51 a little "softer".
Features tradeoffs - HDMI vs analog inputs, full size chassis for the M51 and programmable display titles, headphone out and front panel volume control on the DC-1, great remote on the DC-1.
Each is easy to listen to and non-fatiguing, but I felt the DC-1 somehow conveye the emotional content of music better. Many moments where my head snapped up to pay attention to the music rather than drift off.....
For the 4x price differential, I think the DC-1 is most impressive, and this really says something given the uniformly excellent reviews for the M51.
I know it is master series. the m3 just seems like a more serious component to me. then again a dac does not need to weigh 50 pounds. I would hope(or not) that it beats the emotive. little bit of a price difference there.