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Next step: CMA800R or CAS192?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

My current rig is an iBasso DX100 >Lehmann  Black Cube Linear > Sennheiser HD800s

 

It sounds great but now am considering the next step on the journey.

 

After extensive reading I've decided on the Questyle CMA800R amp and CAS192 DAC as cost-effective upgrades but can't afford both at the moment.

 

My question is which one would be the better choice for the next step.

 

I'm leaning towards getting the CMA800R first but am somewhat concerned that its performance would be hindered too much by the DX100's DAC. OTOH, would the CAS192 DAC make a significant enough difference feeding the BCL to be worthwhile?

 

Unfortunately it'll be a while before I can afford both, I'd like to get an incremental upgrade in the meantime.

 

Any thoughts?

post #2 of 14

I'd go with CMA800R first, as I know this amp, it has excellent synergy with HD 800. I hadn't heard CAS192 yet. It's 2000$, and it has... WM8740. I'm not sure I'd like to see such DAC chip in that price range. Though I have to listen to it first to know more. Anyway good luck.

post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by 00lunar View Post
 

I'd go with CMA800R first, as I know this amp, it has excellent synergy with HD 800. I hadn't heard CAS192 yet. It's 2000$, and it has... WM8740. I'm not sure I'd like to see such DAC chip in that price range. Though I have to listen to it first to know more. Anyway good luck.

 

I agree to get the CMA800R first, especially if you already own the HD800. There is very little at any price range that matches this combo.

 

The CMA800R is in a league of its own, whereas the CAS192 is just another good DAC IMHO and probably wont be as much of a profound difference.

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanlitun View Post
 

 

I agree to get the CMA800R first, especially if you already own the HD800. There is very little at any price range that matches this combo.

 

If any:evil:

 

Don't want to lobby for CMA800R more than I already am, as I really DO like this amp, but thus far I hadn't heard anything that good with HD 800. For me only one doing similarily good (or better, hadn't both of them at the same time) job was HPA-21, which is almost 3000$.

post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by 00lunar View Post
 

I'd go with CMA800R first, as I know this amp, it has excellent synergy with HD 800. I hadn't heard CAS192 yet. It's 2000$, and it has... WM8740. I'm not sure I'd like to see such DAC chip in that price range. Though I have to listen to it first to know more. Anyway good luck.

 

 

I agree with that, but not for the same reason.

 

First off, their CAS192 actually has the WM8741. Only a single number difference, but it's actually the top model for Wolfson (contrary to popular belief, the WM8742 is a step down from WM8741.... higher number is not always better). A single WM8741 is also used in the rather pricey PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC - so it's not unprecedented for a high end device to use just one, despite many others using two of them in dual mono.

 

Anyway, I don't always think DAC or amp is the priority for upgrades. It depends on where your system is at before upgrading. Your DX100 is a nice source already, and your BCL is a good amp as well.... but I think you'd hear more audible improvements by getting the CMA800R first. Especially considering your HD800 being used, which has special synergy with that amp. If you got the CAS192 - which is an excellent DAC - your BCL probably wouldn't show off the improvement as much. 

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post
 

 

 

I agree with that, but not for the same reason.

 

First off, their CAS192 actually has the WM8741. Only a single number difference, but it's actually the top model for Wolfson (contrary to popular belief, the WM8742 is a step down from WM8741.... higher number is not always better). A single WM8741 is also used in the rather pricey PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC - so it's not unprecedented for a high end device to use just one, despite many others using two of them in dual mono.

 

Anyway, I don't always think DAC or amp is the priority for upgrades. It depends on where your system is at before upgrading. Your DX100 is a nice source already, and your BCL is a good amp as well.... but I think you'd hear more audible improvements by getting the CMA800R first. Especially considering your HD800 being used, which has special synergy with that amp. If you got the CAS192 - which is an excellent DAC - your BCL probably wouldn't show off the improvement as much. 


Hadn't see that one coming - WM8741 it is.

 

And yes, you're right, it's all about final result, synergy etc. And I don't want to discredit WM8741 capabilities but it's fair to say I'm a bit sceptical here. Though outcome might be great, audio world is a place full of surprises :wink_face:


Edited by 00lunar - 1/22/14 at 7:44pm
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you to everyone for your responses.

 

Being the intrepid person I am my decisions were made before reading your posts.

 

My first purchase was the Questyle CAS192  MINI DAC (with the Wolfson WM8741).  I couldn't afford both the CAS192 and the CMA800R so I went with the much cheaper option.

 

My initial experience was somewhat disappointing.  I listen almost exclusively to classical music and to me the differences between the DX100 > Lehmann BCL and the DX100 > Mini DAC > BCL were subtle. For the most part I could readily attribute them to the placebo effect. However on specific pieces that highlighted the differences there was an obvious difference. For example Soler's Fandango in D Minor, a solo harpsichord work. Here the enhanced attack and solidity of the note was readily apparent and much preferred. However on most classical pieces this attribute wasn't readily apparent.

 

Then I added the CMA800R to the mix. Nothing subtle here. The DX100 > CAS192 Mini DAC > CMA800R is an impressive combination. The improvement over the BCL was more than I expected. There's more space around the instruments, the timbres are more clearly defined, the ambience of the venue is clearer, everything is clearer and more focused.

 

It's common to hear people mention hearing new things when listening after adding a piece of kit. With the new rig in some works I hear whole layers of sound that I hadn't been aware of. In some cases it has been startling. I attribute it to the Mini DACs/CMA800Rs abilility to resolve subtleties that get lost with other gear such as the BCL.  These qualities aren't apparent with every recording. But on well recorded classical works with rich textures the differences can be striking.

 

Alden at Questyle mentioned to me that the CAS192 was preferred to the Mini DAC by a number of listeners who compared them.  Perhaps at some point if I'm flush for cash I'll give it a try. Meanwhile I'm quite impressed with the Mini DAC/CMA800R combination and will continue to enjoy the wonderful music they make.

 

FWIW


Edited by Omphalopsychite - 1/23/14 at 12:56am
post #8 of 14

Wow, I didn't realize the original post was from a month ago. So I'm reading your update and thinking "how could he get a CAS192 Mini so fast?" But now it makes sense. 

 

The Mini does look intriguing - possible the best balance of cost to performance in their whole DAC lineup. 

post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post
 

Wow, I didn't realize the original post was from a month ago. So I'm reading your update and thinking "how could he get a CAS192 Mini so fast?" But now it makes sense. 

 

The Mini does look intriguing - possible the best balance of cost to performance in their whole DAC lineup. 


Same thing is with Q192, very nice deal in one affordable package if someone needs very good amp. What's your aim on that device? You have it, do you?

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by 00lunar View Post
 


Same thing is with Q192, very nice deal in one affordable package if someone needs very good amp. What's your aim on that device? You have it, do you?

 

 

I do have a Q192 that I'm evaluating, will have a write up one of these days. I don't have a CAS192 Mini though - I'm just speculating as to the performance based on price and similarities to the CAS192 design. 

post #11 of 14

I don't see a CAS192 Mini on their website. Only a CAS192 DAC and a Q192DAC w/amp. Is the mini an actual thing or the old name for a Q192?

 

http://www.questyleaudio.com/en/plus/list.php?tid=1

post #12 of 14

Questyle seems to have had a few more products when they first launched, but have since decided to focus on a smaller lineup. I'm not sure if the other stuff was discontinued or if they just sell it in their local market only for the moment.

 

The CAS192 mini was smallish dedicated DAC, similar to Q192 in size. It looked just like a smaller CAS192 - including the front panel display. You can google it and see pics and specs.

 

There was also a CMA600 which again was the size of Q192, and looked nearly identical. It was purely an amp only, no DAC section, and had removable output modules that could be swapped out for different sounds. Again, google that if you want to check it out. 

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

The CAS192 Mini is available here with pics and description.  It uses a different chip than the Q192 (WM8741 vs WM8740) and costs a little more even though it's just a DAC. 

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omphalopsychite View Post
 

The CAS192 Mini is available here with pics and description.  It uses a different chip than the Q192 (WM8741 vs WM8740) and costs a little more even though it's just a DAC. 

Thanks for the link. Strangely a search on eBay for "Questyle" doens't come up with anything for me, even if I change it to include "Worldwide" listings.

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