Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Audio-GD NFB-3 (2014) ES9018 DAC
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Audio-GD NFB-3 (2014) ES9018 DAC - Page 2

post #16 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musica Amantem View Post

Yes, but I believe his reference for the comparison is always the 1.32 used from the RCA outs and no TCXO upgrades. Which means the best sound is with the 1.32 with TCXO's and balanced, and that's where the cost difference is. How much is the sound difference? Hard to say, but I would need to change my amp to take advantage of those balanced outputs, which I'm not willing to. But if the new DAC is really close in SQ to the 1.32, it is indeed a bargain.

Yes, you are correct - Kingwa is using the the stock-standard 1.32 as the base-line for the comparisons, and has commented that the TCXO upgrade helps to get the lesser models closer to the performance of the 1.32. This is why the NFB3(2014) is a bargain, given the included TCXOs. If it gets within a whisper of the performance of the 1.32 for $150 less, I'll be extremely happy with that!

I've always asked Kingwa to disregard any improvement via the balanced outputs when providing advice to me, as it is irrelevant to my own personal circumstances.

That said, I know that Kingwa tends to understate the differences between different models, often pushing the lesser models as the 'bang for buck' choice. I found quite a noticeable difference going from the DAC19DSP to the Reference 5 - much more than I expected given Kingwa's original advice. Hats off to him for being humble and honest and not subscribing to any of the usual 'night and day' audiophile banter wink.gif
Edited by petemac110 - 4/7/14 at 8:26pm
post #17 of 186

Right, and with the promo the difference is $190, as I assume everybody buying either model will request that upgrade to enhance their investment anyway. I just want someone to report on this model before the promo ends  ...  How long would that be anyway?


Edited by Musica Amantem - 4/8/14 at 4:59am
post #18 of 186

So torn now.  I was just about to buy an Uber Bifrost and now this....both about the same price, but they each have pros now:

 

Bifrost Pros:

- Bifrost is upgradeable

- Proven to be an excellent DAC

- Looks better

 

NFB3 Pros:

- 10 year warranty vs 5 year warranty.  Plus, if there is anything wrong in the first year, they will pay for shipping both ways.  That is awesome.

- 2 RCA Outs allows you to hook it up to two different amps (or preamp)

- Supports DSD/DXD (although I don't really care about this)

 

Kingwa said that the NFB3 is based on the NFB1P and NFB1.32 - which have both been well received.

 

 

Not sure what to do.  In all likelihood, they would both be very similar...so do you go with the extra warranty and features (2 RCA Outs / DSD), or the ability to have upgradeability in the future.

post #19 of 186

I'm in the same predicament! I was literally placing my order for an EMO Stealth DC-1, after many inquiries and research, and wham! here comes this Audio Gd deal. I'm not sure what to do now, except be patient and wait for the first few user reviews ... sigh!


Edited by Musica Amantem - 4/9/14 at 6:35pm
post #20 of 186
My NFB3(2014) has arrived! I've been listening on and off whilst running the DAC 24 hours a day, as based upon previous experience, audio-gd gear really blossoms with some mileage under its belt. I grabbed a DIR9001 board at the same time, as well as the OCC wire upgrade.

My initial impressions are excellent! Fantastic detail retrieval without overcooking things, and a super-low noise floor. I am currently running the DAC via the USB32 input fed via a SB Touch and EDO ap. I will further fiddle around with the SPDIF input and the DIR9001/WM8805 boards in future, as it is my understanding that the USB32 feeds I2S directly to the ES9018 chip, by-passing the SPDIF receiver boards. I am seeking clarification from Kingwa in this regard.

I'll post further listening impressions soon. It's a bit tricky as I predominantly listen via speakers, and I've just moved into a brand new house with a dedicated listening room, so my ears are grappling with a new room and a new DAC.

I must say that the new casework on the 2014 versions of the NFB2/3 models is a welcome upgrade from the older NFB2/3 style casework.
post #21 of 186

Hi Petemac110,

 

Thanks for sharing your initial experiences with the NFB 3 (2014). I'm on the fence to get one of those over an EMO DC-1 and I'm eager to read about initial impressions from the first buyers before the promo ends. Glad to see you seem impressed with it.

 

Could you explain what the OCC wire upgrade entails? How much does it cost? I could not find that info on the Audio Gd site.

 

I have a need for a very neutral DAC, as my system tends to be somewhat on the darker (warmer) side from neutral. Would you deem the NFB 3 (2014) neutral? I also need it to be quite resolving and detail mining but without loosing musicality, if you know what I mean. Is your new DAC consistent with this?

 

I apologize for all the questions, but I'm eager to replace my current DAC and I've been investing too much time searching already, so I have to decide between these two options soon.

 

Cheers


Edited by Musica Amantem - 4/21/14 at 4:41am
post #22 of 186

Mine should be arriving either tonight or tomorrow, I will post impressions.

 

For the time being I will be using the RCA outs on it, to a little dot 1+ and some trubulent x magnums in wood cups i made.

 

I eventually will be getting an nfb-6 (paired via acss) and some hifiman 560s to pair with this (but that's a couple paychecks away).

 

I am probably going to make my own usb cables for use with this dac, using solid core cat6 (and not terminating the power pin, as some have reported that pin can transfer noise, and since this dac isn't powered via usb, it's not needed).

 

On that note, i'm wondering if anyone has tried to use usb cables with ferrite cores on these (or any usb dacs) and what their impressions were? 

 

I've heard that ferrite cores just act as low-pass filters and could actually just remove hi-frequency signal from the line (which is good if your pc/environment has high-freq rf dirtying up the line, but could also potentially be bad if the line is carrying legitimate high-frequency signals).

 

Thanks in advance for advice on the usb cable, and I will do a follow up post this weekend once i've had some time to spend with this dac :).

post #23 of 186

I already requested the purchasing order and I'm waiting for the PayPal invoice they'll send me to have it shipped this way. Frankly, this is my least researched option and for some reason I felt like it would be a good selection. I guess Audi Gd's proven product quality and customer service helped. Besides, I still think that Audio Gd puts better components inside those boxes, other things being equal. Not requiring balanced and the promotion on the TCXO's also made it tempting.

 

I'll be getting mine with the OCC wire upgrade also, although I'm not even sure what would this entail in terms of sound quality. Anyway, I'll be posting my impressions in a while.

post #24 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musica Amantem View Post

Hi Petemac110,

Thanks for sharing your initial experiences with the NFB 3 (2014). I'm on the fence to get one of those over an EMO DC-1 and I'm eager to read about initial impressions from the first buyers before the promo ends. Glad to see you seem impressed with it.

Could you explain what the OCC wire upgrade entails? How much does it cost? I could not find that info on the Audio Gd site.

I have a need for a very neutral DAC, as my system tends to be somewhat on the darker (warmer) side from neutral. Would you deem the NFB 3 (2014) neutral? I also need it to be quite resolving and detail mining but without loosing musicality, if you know what I mean. Is your new DAC consistent with this?

I apologize for all the questions, but I'm eager to replace my current DAC and I've been investing too much time searching already, so I have to decide between these two options soon.

Cheers

Hi,

Apologies for my late reply. Sadly I have had very little listening time of late, due to moving house and settling-in.

I'm certainly very impressed with what I have heard so far! Very clean, clear, dynamic but not thin and weedy. It is definitely more neutral and less dark than the other audio-gd DACs that I have previously owned.

The OCC wire upgrade replaces the wire from the PCBs to the input and output sockets. For the sake of $10 I figure why not!

I'll post some further impressions soon.
post #25 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by petemac110 View Post


Hi,

Apologies for my late reply. Sadly I have had very little listening time of late, due to moving house and settling-in.

I'm certainly very impressed with what I have heard so far! Very clean, clear, dynamic but not thin and weedy. It is definitely more neutral and less dark than the other audio-gd DACs that I have previously owned.

The OCC wire upgrade replaces the wire from the PCBs to the input and output sockets. For the sake of $10 I figure why not!

I'll post some further impressions soon.

 

Where did you see the OCC wire upgrade?  I don't see that as an option?

post #26 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonSire View Post

Where did you see the OCC wire upgrade?  I don't see that as an option?


It is generally not publicised as an upgrade option any more, but Kingwa offers this upgrade for many of his DACs, and some come with this wire fitted as standard.
post #27 of 186

This DAC looks interesting, specifically, I'm interested in how it compares to the Schiit Bifrost Uber. The signal-to-noise ratio is the only thing that isn't particularly impressive on the spec sheet.

 

edit: I see they also came out with some other balanced DACS with the ES9018 chip in them like the NFB-1, NFB-1P...I'm having trouble figuring out the differences between these units.


Edited by MD1032 - 4/26/14 at 4:24pm
post #28 of 186

Ok, I've put about 200 hours on this DAC now, and have had the opportunity to have a decent listen to it.

 

These impressions are via speakers and are not ideal, as I have only just set up my gear in a new house and new dedicated listening room. The room is quite 'live' and needs some treatment to tame a bit of mild slap echo.

 

That said, I'm VERY happy with the sonic signature of this DAC. Detail retrieval is excellent without becoming etched and artificial, and the tonality and timbral reproduction ain't half bad either. The sound is entirely believable. I do think that I subjectively prefer the PCM1704UK DACs in this regard (particularly with string-based instruments and pianos for example) but the NFB-3(2014) has better detail retrieval than the Reference 5, DAC3SE and DAC19DSP that I've previously owned, and certainly more than the original NFB-3 that I owned, so this is where it edges ahead. I guess you can't have your cake and eat it too, not at this price point anyway! These impressions are all based upon my audio memory, and should be taken with a grain of salt until I have the chance to compare this DAC back-to-back with a PCM1704UK-equipped example.

 

Sound staging is also very good, but the very slight reverb in my existing room configuration is hindering sound staging I feel. I've achieved better imaging from this same gear (albeit with the onboard SB Touch DAC) in my old house, and I've tested the same configuration in the new room and achieved worse results. Given that the NFB-3(2014) trumps the onboard SBT DAC based upon my comparisons, I can't wait to improve the acoustics of the room (adding some room treatments and soft furnishings) to really let this gear shine.

 

The USB32 works flawlessly with the Squeezebox Touch. I applied tape to the +5V pin as the USB32 is internally powered, and some members have reported sonic improvments when severing the +5V connection.

 

I ordered the DIR9001 SPDIF receiver board as well as the WM8805. The DIR9001 sounds more like the USB32, whereas the WM8805 is a bit more laid back, smoother and a tad warmer. I look forward to experimenting with these SPDIF boards in future.

 

The new casework is a marked improvement over the older NFB-2/3 DACs. It is thinner than the kind used on the Reference 5 etc, but is still much better than the pressed steel casing on these earlier models. The recessed screws are a nice touch, although one of mine had a slightly stripped head from the factory, and this made removal a real pain. The input selector knob on the front panel is also slightly askew. I will try to adjust this, but I am likely to be at the mercy of the knob and splines on the switch itself.

 

In addition to the free TCXO upgrade and the optional OCC wire upgrade, I had the ACSS outputs replaced with RCA outputs, as I have no intention of going 'all audio-gd' in my system, so these connections are unwarranted. The RCA jacks are all nice CMC branded items.

 

Compared to my former Resonessence Labs Concero, the audio-gd is slightly more resolving and has slightly wider sound stage. In terms of overall tonality, they are pretty similar I feel. They are not bare-boned detail freaks - they have soul. I could easily live with either of these DACs, and it just goes to show how good the Concero is. It packs a mighty punch into a tiny package!

 

Overall, I consider this DAC to be brilliant bang for buck, and a worthwhile upgrade over the old NFB-3 with the dual WM8741s.

 

I hope that I can tee up a get-together with my friend John Darko (of digitalaudioreview fame) to undertake some back-to-back comparisons on his rig against some highly fancied (and priced!) DACs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #29 of 186

I'am also considering an Audio GD dac. Now that I have read that, the first place on my dac list is secured for the new NFB-1.

I hopefully will buy it with the end of may.

post #30 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asound View Post

I'am also considering an Audio GD dac. Now that I have read that, the first place on my dac list is secured for the new NFB-1.
I hopefully will buy it with the end of may.

Excellent. The NFB1 has the same voicing as the NFB-3(2014) but with a smidgen more refinement. It's a safe bet IMHO! I think you will be very pleased.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Audio-GD NFB-3 (2014) ES9018 DAC