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Audio-GD NFB-3 (2014) ES9018 DAC - Page 4

post #46 of 206

Fair enough, my point is that the differences I have (not) heard are tiny to my ears. I think any well put together DAC will do as long as it is silent and does not color the sound. I put my money in the amp/preamp (and speakers/headphones of course).

post #47 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asound View Post

I'am getting kind of impatient now, haha.
Even though its still a month away until I hopefully buy a dac. It's just that I still fear that the NFB 1 is to warm for me, I'am really not into something warm. Some say the sabre implementation here is pretty neutral, others say that Audio GD products are warm in generell. But I also have not read anything negative about their products yet.
Let's see how it compares to the other neutral dacs.

I'd be surprised if you considered the NFB1 or NFB-3(2014) to be warm! The sonic signature is noticeably different to the WM8741 and PCM1704UK audio-gd DACs that I have previously owned.

I partook in a quick listen-off with the NFB-3(2014) and the Concero HD last night at Darko's Dungeon. We did not get the opportunity to listen to the Bifrost Uber due to time constraints.

The NFB-3 reached both higher and lower than the Concero, with greater depth to the bass and superior detail and sparkle in the treble. The sound stage was also noticeably taller, wider and deeper with the NFB-3. Switching between the two DACs revealed an immediate shrinking of the soundstage when the Concero was playing. The NFB-3 threw out a very nicely detailed sound stage for a DAC in this price range. It is a fast sounding DAC with excellent attack, but also offering superior decay to the Concero IMHO.

We listened via the SPDIF input on the NFB-3 (with the optional DIR9001 SPDIF receiver board installed). I feel that this board sounds similar to the USB32 input on the DAC. The WM8805 sounds a tad smoother and a bit warmer, and a bit more mucking around today at home reveals that it's an excellent option if you want to add a smidgen of warmth to the sound of this DAC. I wish I had installed the WM8805 last night!

The Concero is still a cracker of a DAC - it is so damn easy to listen to, and depending upon your system, you may prefer this DAC over the NFB-3 as it is less likely to offend if your system borders on the bright side.

In my rig, I reckon the NFB-3 is a great match for the vintage Sansuis that I run. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Concero too.

I guess it comes down to what your preferences are! Are you trying to add spark, illumination and detail retrieval to your rig, or do you want something that is a bit more subdued?

It was fantastic to hear the DAC in someone else's rig, given that my new room still errs on the reverberant side, and it has been a tad tricky to get a really good feel for this DAC. I think the addition of room treatments and lounges will help to tame the room, and the NFB-3 will then show it's true colours.

I think it' a great sounding DAC for the money. No, it doesn't have the same tonal and timbral performance as the PCM1704UK DACs IMHO, but it is more highly resolving and 'faster' sounding than the DAC19DSP that I previously owned (around the same price point - in fact, a bit more expensive). Different strokes for different folks. wink.gif
Edited by petemac110 - 5/6/14 at 2:57am
post #48 of 206

About my fear of ending up with a to warm sound. 95% of any sonic signature description about an Audio GD product I have seen, was a slightly warm and smooth sound. But I have to admit that I haven't read a lot yet and only about a handful of different devices.

Someone once said, he had not seen any negative experience about an ADG product so far. But he also said, that in a worst case product x "only" sounded to warm for some peeps.

I'am not into a warm/smooth and forgiving sound.

 

It seems that I mostly catched reviews of actual warm dacs/amps by Audio GD. Which made me believe that it's the normal sonic signature for a product by that company. But that would also mean that most of their stuff is inaccurate, which does not fit with the high reputation.

 

The NFB-1 isn't a decision I will regret. Thanks guys!

Also thanks petemac110 for the comparision, I do have high expectations now, lol.

 

Now I have some questions about the "custom options".

I plan to mainly use usb input for music (with foobar) and my mainboard is a pretty modern Asrock Z87 Extreme 6. Is there any need for a txco upgrade? Why could or should I need a higher clock rate there? I have no clue what it means.

 

And would you advise me to take an additional spdif interface? They say that you can run into problems on a very rare occasion, when using the direct spdif input of the sabre chip. My soundcard is a creative x-fi gamer. I will use this combo while gaming (eax 5 is awesome).

post #49 of 206
Nice one!

The clocks (XOs) provide the source of timing for the ES9018 and USB32 chips. The more accurate the timing (lower phase noise and lower jitter) the better the sound. The audio-gd XOs are TCXOs with the TC referring to Temperature Controlled.

If you can afford the extra money, do it. Otherwise, look at Tentlabs XOs or a Crystek adaptation.

Re: SPDIF, the standard WM8805 sounds great. I also purchased the DIR9001. These take 10 minutes to swap over. However, if you are using the USB input, this bypasses the SPDIF anyway. I wouldn't be overly concerned about the DIR9001 on the NFB-1 - either use the SPDIF to the ES9018 direct as this model of DAC allows, or use the WM8805 as am alternative 'flavour' with slightly more warmth.
Edited by petemac110 - 5/6/14 at 1:38pm
post #50 of 206

I will go the full route with both txco upgrades and the wm8805 module...

post #51 of 206

I am very interested how the NFB-3 sounds like compared to NFB-1, any significant difference? and how is NFB3 compared to NBB28? 

post #52 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by rodomo View Post

I am very interested how the NFB-3 sounds like compared to NFB-1, any significant difference? and how is NFB3 compared to NBB28? 

I'd suggest emailing Kingwa directly, as nobody on here has heard all three of these options back-to-back.

That said, Kingwa suggested to me that the old NFB-1P with TCXOs was damn close to the NFB-1, and he has also suggested that the NFB-3(2014) is better than the NFB-1P. From these comments, I can only assume that the NFB-3(2014) is right up there with the NFB-1, with only a minor sound quality difference especially given that the 3 is currently shipping with free upgraded TCXOs.

I seem to recall a comment somewhere on this forum which suggested that the NFB-28 sounds a tiny bit nicer than the NFB-1, but I really don't know as I haven't heard the NFB-28 at all. The NFB-28 is a very versatile beasty though - lots of connection and functional options.
Edited by petemac110 - 5/7/14 at 1:48pm
post #53 of 206

Mine should get here anytime now ... I can't wait! I really hope the NFB 3 (2014) is definitely on the neutral side of the spectrum, as I really need this to balance my slightly darker-sounding system. Petemac, I'm very happy to hear your observations so far, especially vis á vis the Concero, which had been a contender early on my short list.

 

I still would like to know if anyone is using Foobar2K with WASAPI event mode and what woud be wrong with that, as opposed to ASIO or KS (as suggested by KIngwa).


Edited by Musica Amantem - 5/7/14 at 2:43pm
post #54 of 206

petemac110, thanks for the observations.  I'm really interested in the Uber Bifrost vs NFB3 shootout.  You mentioned you didn't get a chance - any possibility this will be coming?

 

From other readings regarding the Bifrost vs Concero discussions, they seem to be fairly close with some edging the Concero.  So if the NFB3 is better than the Concero, than that sounds very promising.

 

I think I may just have to go with the NFB3 myself.

post #55 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaemonSire View Post

petemac110, thanks for the observations.  I'm really interested in the Uber Bifrost vs NFB3 shootout.  You mentioned you didn't get a chance - any possibility this will be coming?

From other readings regarding the Bifrost vs Concero discussions, they seem to be fairly close with some edging the Concero.  So if the NFB3 is better than the Concero, than that sounds very promising.

I think I may just have to go with the NFB3 myself.

Not for a few months at least. I've recently moved further way from John which makes visiting a bit harder.

The NFB-3 isn't necessarily better - more detailed and bigger sound stage, yes, but the Concero may suit an already bright system better. Here comes that word again... 'Synergy'. wink.gif
post #56 of 206

Just requested a quote with TCXO and OCC upgrades... Have $1k budget and from reading about the NFB-3(2014), I feel like it may be a better choice than the Gungnir USB, Concero, etc at it's price point. My only issue is that I switch amps all the time and will eventually go balanced (Ragnarok/Taurus/V281, etc), so I'm wondering if I should just get the NFB-1 instead. Ahhh choices.

post #57 of 206
If your budget is $1k and you think you are likely to go for a balanced amp in future, I'd be strongly inclined to go for either the NFB1 or the NFB28. Both are fully balanced, and the NFB28 has high quality preamp capabilities.
post #58 of 206

 The biggest issue is $$. My current amp is unbalanced so I'm inclined to go with the cheaper NFB-3 because the balanced outs simply won't be used for an undetermined amount of time. As mentioned earlier, synergy is key. The quote I promptly just got back was quite appealing. Going to sleep on it!

post #59 of 206

I read the review of "petemac110" on Audio-Gd NFB-3(2014), I also have bought it with WM8805 and DIR9001. I can't agree any more what he have written. I love the sound very much and it is more resolving compared to Schiit Gungnir and Marantz NA7004 I owned. I also have Audio-Gd FUN version-A. It's a clear upgrade in terms of details and natural tone compared to others DACs I owned. However I preferred the sound of WM8805 module, whereas with DIR9001 module the sound of NFB-3(2014) become little restless or uncomfortable to my ear. But the same module (DIR9001) sound really great with FUN version-A (Wolfson 8741 based).

 

But I am facing a problem while feeding 24bit/192KHz flac files through COAX (input coming from Marantz NA7004), there is very high pitch static noise coming out of speaker, music then become un-listenable. Marantz NA7004 itself is playing 24bit/192KHz flac files without any problem but as I do not like the analog sound of NA7004, that is why I use it's digital out (COAX) to connect with Audio-Gd NFB-3(2014). My question is, have anyone tested the COAX input of Audio-Gd NFB-3(2014) with WM8805 installed playing 24bit/192KHz flac files? I will be grateful if you send me your feedback testing above. I have reported about the problem to Mr. Kingwa, but he stated that there is no problem on his end. But I have strong doubt if NFB-3(2014) do really support 24/192 files through coax? So again I will appreciate if anyone help me with feedback.

 

Regards

Saikat


Edited by srisaikat - 5/9/14 at 7:07am
post #60 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by petemac110 View Post

If your budget is $1k and you think you are likely to go for a balanced amp in future, I'd be strongly inclined to go for either the NFB1 or the NFB28. Both are fully balanced, and the NFB28 has high quality preamp capabilities.

 

Does it make much difference whether the DAC is balanced or not when using ACSS to a balanced Audio-GD amp? (in my case, NFB 6)

 

To put it another way, obviously NFB-1 -> NFB-6 via XLR would be a better utilisation than NFB-3 -> NFB-6 via RCA.  But is there much difference between the two dacs using ACSS?


Edited by BrainFood - 5/9/14 at 2:27pm
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