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Audio-GD NFB-3 (2014) ES9018 DAC - Page 11

post #151 of 207
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonSire View Post
 

 

I really like it.  The NFB-3 is very clear and clean which allows all the little details to come through.  I'd say it is pretty neutral which, personally, is exactly what you want from a DAC.  Let the headphones and/or amp colour the sound.

 

I'm currently using my Matrix M-Stage as a preamp to the Mini-X.  I found that even with the 1.25V, it was still a bit too much for just the Mini-X and the HE-500.  I listen at fairly low levels and the mini-x just has so much power.  What are you doing with the Concero right now and no preamp?  Just using the software volume control?

 

The nice thing with going into the M-Stage first is that I can use it with my other headphones like the Q701 and SR80 and then just turn on the Mini-X and use the same M-Stage to control the volume there too.

 

I am using the Concero directly into the Mini-X so far (its output is 1.2V). Audirvana+ doesn't allow for volume adjustments with the Concero. I normally don't go above 9 o'clock on the volume dial. There is some variance on the HE-500 impedance out there, mine is at 53 ohm which is a bit higher than the specced 38 ohm which might help lower the output somewhat? My hearing is also not that sensitive to begin with if you look at my audiogram plots. But it was a lot more difficult adjusting the volume with a DAC that outputs the standard 2.0V.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonSire View Post
 

I should add too that if you haven't done it yet, really do the grill mod to your HE-500s.  The NFB-3 + Mini-X + HE-500 (grill mod) is a really great combo.  The grill mod makes it sound like you have speakers on your head.  Honestly I was surprised at the improvement it made.

 

I haven't modded my HE-500s yet, but I plan on doing the jerg pad and grill mods soon.

post #152 of 207
Quote:
Originally Posted by daerron View Post
 

 

I am using the Concero directly into the Mini-X so far (its output is 1.2V). Audirvana+ doesn't allow for volume adjustments with the Concero. I normally don't go above 9 o'clock on the volume dial. There is some variance on the HE-500 impedance out there, mine is at 53 ohm which is a bit higher than the specced 38 ohm which might help lower the output somewhat? My hearing is also not that sensitive to begin with if you look at my audiogram plots. But it was a lot more difficult adjusting the volume with a DAC that outputs the standard 2.0V.

 

 

I haven't modded my HE-500s yet, but I plan on doing the jerg pad and grill mods soon.

 

Then you shouldn't really have an issue with the 1.25V then I don't think.  As I mentioned, just leave the switch in all the time then.

 

I tried it directly into the Mini-X and I kept it around 9 o'clock as well.  It was definitely listenable and not over bearingly loud, but just a bit louder than I would normally listen.  I think my HE500's were around 45ohm or so when I measured (so that could be a bit of a contributing factor too).  I don't think you'll have a problem then.

 

In regards to modding the HE500, I'm holding off on doing the jerg pad mods and will be buying the new pads when they come out.  I'm not sure how closely you are following the HE560 release, but they have re-done the pads taking a considerable amount of input from the work Jerg has done with the jergpads.  In my case, I'm going to go that route and pick up a nice professionally done set instead of making them up myself.

post #153 of 207
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonSire View Post
 

 

Then you shouldn't really have an issue with the 1.25V then I don't think.  As I mentioned, just leave the switch in all the time then.

 

I tried it directly into the Mini-X and I kept it around 9 o'clock as well.  It was definitely listenable and not over bearingly loud, but just a bit louder than I would normally listen.  I think my HE500's were around 45ohm or so when I measured (so that could be a bit of a contributing factor too).  I don't think you'll have a problem then.

 

In regards to modding the HE500, I'm holding off on doing the jerg pad mods and will be buying the new pads when they come out.  I'm not sure how closely you are following the HE560 release, but they have re-done the pads taking a considerable amount of input from the work Jerg has done with the jergpads.  In my case, I'm going to go that route and pick up a nice professionally done set instead of making them up myself.

 

Thanks for the confirmation! Definitely keeping the NFB-3 at the top of my shortlist for now. I like the free TCXO upgrades as well. 

 

My wife is pretty handy with sewing work so I've asked her to do the jergpad mod for me. If it ends up as a mess I'll buy the new pads, which I'm sure are going to look pretty good.

post #154 of 207
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonSire View Post
 

In regards to modding the HE500, I'm holding off on doing the jerg pad mods and will be buying the new pads when they come out.  I'm not sure how closely you are following the HE560 release, but they have re-done the pads taking a considerable amount of input from the work Jerg has done with the jergpads.  In my case, I'm going to go that route and pick up a nice professionally done set instead of making them up myself.

 

That's a wise decision. I put mine on the HE-6 for a short time - I put them back on the HE-560 shortly after - and going back to the stock pleather was painful...

The look is great on the older series, too.

post #155 of 207
Quote:
Originally Posted by daerron View Post
 

 

How did you do the comparisons? Which inputs did you use? Did you volume match the outputs? Using single ended or balanced outputs? I would definitely have expected the Audio-GD to sound quite a bit better.

The conditions weren't perfect and volume was simply matched by my ears. I had to switch the rca cable all the time, since my amp has only one input. I also used the optical input, which was feed by a technics cd player (see my signature). May this source is a weak point. Also good usb interfaces are now known for to sound better then optical, I didn't compare it my self yet.

Nevertheless the toshiba cd player had a fine advantage in clarity, I was able to make out easy on a very few records. For example the beginning of "heart shaped box" by Nirvana, it was slightly more muffled/thick sounding on the dac and a bit finer with the cd player. But binaural albums by Chesky Records sounded like exactly the same.

In all other departments there was none of the units better then the contester, not even a little bit. For now.

 

Conclusion: Now I know how good the XR-Z70 by Toshiba actually is. Yet I don't have use for it anymore. :)

 

Most likely I will be able to tell more differences in the future, once I have listened to the dac a lot more. In the beginning I mostly rushed through some albums to test it. Now I'am actual able to just enjoy it.

post #156 of 207

You seem to use the NFB-1 single ended, very likely not the way to get the best sound out of it

post #157 of 207

I'am only able to use the single ended mode, for now :D

But the toshiba player is also single ended. Or is the use of the single ended mode, on a balanced device, degrading the sound in any way?

post #158 of 207

In general not at all necessarily, but likely true for Audio gd gear from various impressions - mine included

post #159 of 207

Yep, not necessarily, but in the case of Audio-GD it does seem to matter a bit more, but the feedback usually seems more related to their balanced headphone amps. What playback software are you using?

post #160 of 207

I use foobar 

post #161 of 207

I use foobar too.

post #162 of 207

anybody knows how this DAC mixed with Bottlehead crack and HD800 i looking for best DAC under 500$  and i found this thread i wanted to buy schiit modi but i think hd800 deserve something better. if i had 800$ for dac i will choose schiit gungnir but right now i limited for 500$ suggestions? is this DAC will the right choice to  mix with HD800?

post #163 of 207
Quote:
Originally Posted by listen4joy View Post
 

anybody knows how this DAC mixed with Bottlehead crack and HD800 i looking for best DAC under 500$  and i found this thread i wanted to buy schiit modi but i think hd800 deserve something better. if i had 800$ for dac i will choose schiit gungnir but right now i limited for 500$ suggestions? is this DAC will the right choice to  mix with HD800?

 

Well Asound's impressions have given me pause. You can of course check out the Schiit Bifrost Uber too. The Concero @ $600 is a great DAC for the money, especially considering its compact dimensions. I like it better than the Audiolab MDAC and PS Audio NuWave.

post #164 of 207

I have no clue how all the other dacs in this price range do sound. But Audio GD may still build around the best dacs in those price ranges, which does not mean that other companies can not have equally great devices too.

 

According to a lot of people a good USB interface can sound better then optical. I have used optical in my simple comparision. I compared usb and optical my self now more thoroughly with some good recordings and lesser compressed songs. There actually is a difference and USB is superior and can be by quite a lot! Those differences werent as tiny as it was between the toshiba player and the dac with an optical source...

The original optical source I have used for now is the current realteak chip. It is a bit warmer, fuller sounding, but also more narrower sounding. Just how it would sound if a compression is used. I'am not talking about tiny differences, this was more then just sublte. But again it also depended on the chosen track.

For test tracks I have mostly used songs from the recent binaural test album by Chesky records.

post #165 of 207

Although I find the unit very good at detail retrieving and bass extension, I've noticed with some recordings the ESS Sabre 9018 in the NFB 3 (2014) may be too ear-piercing at times. There's this high frequency buzzing that is not really audible but you can feel it in your ears and it definitely makes you turn the volume down or change selection, or develop some sort of headache.

 

I've read about this effect in other applications of this chip and definitely there are people who are sensitive to it. In my case, I tolerate it pretty much most of the time with certain exceptions, as noted earlier. The other component of this effect is that the middle frequencies tend to be underlined by the DAC, so that voices come up 'in your face' sometimes. In several of my favorite recordings, when the singer goes into highs it may be uncomfortable sometimes, as in order to hear the rest of the instruments you need to have a certain volume level. Again, this is not with all recordings but with the ones emphasizing the middle frequencies.

 

I hope these issues are more source-related (i.e., recording quality) than DAC-derived, as I do love the way it sounds most of the time. Has anyone experienced these issues either with the NFB 3 (2014) or with any other ESS 9018 chip application? I should add my system is tube-based, so I imagine these issues may become even more pronounced with solid state stuff.

 

As a side question, I'm a loudspeaker guy but after joining this forum I've become curious about headphone listening, so I'm willing to give it a try. I feel it brings some practicalities to this hobby and should complement well my normal listening habits. The question is, what kind of headphones will work with my NFB 3 (2014) and no amp (my amp does not have headphone outputs). Would a headphone work directly into my DAC and at just 2.5 V (max)? If so, what would be a good option to try? Are these headphones ready to accept two single-ended RCA cables (left and right) coming from my DAC's outputs? (my DAC does not have a headphone output). Anyone with experience using this DAC directly into headphoes? I apologize for my ignorance, please enlighten me. Thanks!


Edited by Musica Amantem - 6/23/14 at 5:02am
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