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Audio-Gd Master 7 - Discrete Fully Balanced DAC (PCM1704)

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by darknightdk, Sep 3, 2012.
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  1. FredA
    The difference is certaintly not very big as it is not so big with the m7 fed by high-quality i2s transport. The cheap r2r offerings by audio-gd seem even more advantageous in their respective price categories. The sound quality per dollar spent prize goes out to the r2r 11. I have it with akg553s at the office and am so totally satisfied with it. This is real gem. True hfi for 500$, headphones included.
  2. DACLadder
    @FredA The R2R 11 is the hot product for sure. At $350 I would be buying one for the office if I was still working!

    I'll keep looking at the R2R 7 thread for inspiration. I would really like to audition an R2R 7 at home for a while to get a feel for it and compare directly to the M7S. But will wait for the design to settle down (firmware, pops, etc) or even next gen. And I do not want pluck down $2.5K for another DAC at this time.
  3. FredA
    Seriously, it sounds so well i think i would be curious to hear the r2r 7 running the same firmware fed directly by the i2s input (bypassing the singularity board).
  4. gibosi
    I'm wondering.... Is there enough information and experience out there to enable one to decide whether a new R2R 1 or a used Master 7 for a bit more is the better deal?
  5. Pablovila
    To give you a glimpse of my own decision process: I am only selling the Master 7 because I got an incredible deal in a Holo Spring Level 3, and the different in sound is not day and night. Pablo.
  6. FredA
    The master-7 is not far from the r2r 7. More euphonic, but less accurate especially with soundstaging, which is spectacular with the r2r 7. Based on what i hear with the r2r 11 and what i know of the master-7, its little brother, you can't go wrong with either the r2r 1 or master-7. With the master-7, you may have to invest on a transport to extract the best from it. It sounds at its best through i2s with pll off. The bnc in is also very very good. The r2r 1 is more customizable and less sensitive to transport.

    I never heard the r2r 1 however. Only the r2r 11 and r2r 7. The master-7 is still one of the best dacs under 3k out there for sure. It's a special dac. You need the latest firmware for best results with it. The master-7 is so expressive it can bring a tear to you eye at times. I can easily recommend it.
  7. Whitigir
    I agree, the master 7 was previously flagship level from Kingwa. The only differences is that Kingwa used different digital boards. I don’t think pcm1704 is bad at all. There are many people still loving it so much.

    From the experiences I have with R2R7, the transport is the bottle neck. I pulled it off, a new PC built specifically for R2R7 best performances, using I2S. I love it so much, and I doubt Master 7 is that far behind, if at all
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  8. motberg
    I used a Master 7 for a couple years. I found my preferences were leaning to the NOS sound signature, so changed it to a NOS 7 and still am using that with a tube preamp and find that there are many things that are much weaker links in my system than the DAC. I regard the NOS 7 as an exceptional piece and would consider selling it only if I could recover nearly its full purchase price.

    I also have a R2R1 some comments here:

    If I could only have one, and taking overall value into consideration, I would prefer having the R2R 1 (with the upgraded USB and clocks) to either the NOS 7 or the Master 7.
    For value comparison, besides the initial cost, also consider the R2R 1's more advanced USB implementation (if you get the isolation upgrade, fancy i2s convertor not necessary), the front panel NOS/OS switch (gives you button select for 2 distinct presentations, useful for many reasons), and the size (for shipping, resale, and warranty repair). I could envision a situation where a Master/NOS 7, with some improved i2s input could be preferable dependent of the listeners preference and associated equipment. But I think most folks buying a R2R 1, after letting it break in for 500 hours can find a very satisfying presentation that, in more cases than not, will perform well beyond their expectations.
  9. Whitigir
    My r2r7 has isolator, amanero384, and External psu daughterboard. It still can not outperform my I2S input on the R2R7. It is the ugly truth about USB as an interface for digital music. However, different DAC designs will approach it in different ways. I have no doubt that good usb performances can still be had but at much more compromises VS I2S.

    I can put all that interfaces debates aside, and I can attest that to R2R7, the I2S is the best of it performances. Then I can isolate this debate and say audioGD has perfect I2S implementations, or if you go with AudioGD, you better have I2S transport. However, I put it, my PC+I2S+R2R7 is the best music I have ever had.....can hardly breathe and type all of this out while listening to this rig LoL (exaggeration !)
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  10. DACLadder
    @FredA above owns both the R2R 7 and the old Master 7 so probably has the best knowledge of comparison. (Edit: and @motberg directly). I haven't heard any of the the R2R models but suspect they and the original M7 sound very different from what I can gather. The original Master 7 is really bass heavy and very warm sounding.plus requires a good external DDC to sound its best. HDMI I2S is the best input in that regard. The original USB32 input is not that great sounding. One of the two S/PDIF inputs sounds better but only limited to 96kHz sampling rates. No DSD support. Not much low level detail in the old M7. It was hard to here things like old analog recording tape hiss for example. So time and technology have moved on from the very original M7 model.

    I have and still use the latest variation of the Master 7 model - Master 7 SIngularity. The old digital DSP/ input board is replaced with the same unit (Singularity DSP) that now ships with the R2R 7 model. Transformed the sound of the old box into something that is glorious. Much, much better all the way around. Less variation in sound between the inputs versus the old original. If the M7 you are considering has the Singularity board then that may be worthy of hard consideration IMHO. I have both the old M7 converted to Singularity plus a factory Singularity 7 (Master 7 SIngularity). The latest, not-so-long ago obsolete factory M7Ss also has analog output board tweaks that lowers distortion and adds crisp, clear highs. The differences of the oldest versus latest models are staggering.

    But always like the Master 7s dynamic sound character. Makes music come alive. That coloration is evident in all models.

    I've heard really good things about the R2R 1 model. Balanced DAC. native DSD support, up to 384K sampling rates, and much better clocking/.precision versus the older AGD models. Comes with Amanero USB input which is much better than USB32 by a long stretch.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  11. gibosi
    Thanks much guys! :)

    But I must confess, DACs are much more complicated than I thought, especially things like I2S...

    Anyway, some perspective, I currently use the DAC in an Audio-gd Fun, with a powered Audio-gd Digital Interface, feeding a Glenn OTL. My headphones are HD700 slightly modded to tame the 5-6k treble spike. I am primarily a tube-rolling guy, but colleagues have suggested that I might be surprised at how much better a newer, dedicated DAC might sound. And from the comments above, I am inclined to think that either the Master 7 or the R2R 1 would be a major upgrade. By the say, would the Digital Interface still be worth using with either of these?

    Thanks again.
  12. Whitigir
    You will not know until you try. I recommend you to take the journey by itself and experience it for your own unique experiences. IME, I2S is the best for digital audio performances, and people often care too much about headphones, amplifiers, and DAC, but totally forsaken another important device, the Source of the transport.

    It is like you have the best speakers, best amplifiers, best DAC, and yet you are using Walmart 50$ turntable. So for me, venture down this road, I would prioritize the Sources first, before all else
  13. FredA
    The di-v3 or di2014 would be a good starting point with either dac. From the Fun, either is a major upgrade. I know cause i own the nfb-5 which is similar to the fun.
  14. seaice
    I own HE-7 Singularity and Master 7 (updated with the new Singularity board) and I had R2R 1 for a short time. R2R 1 was an intereting experiment but I preferred HE-7S over R2R 1 (with my KGSSHV Carbon and Stax SR-009). I did not have Master 7 Singularity at the same time as R2R 1 but I think that I would prefer it over R2R 1 as well. I have never heard R2R 7 (or R2R 7HE) and it would be interesting to try them because I liked many aspects of R2R 1 SQ but I finally upgraded to Chord Dave and it is probably my last DAC for a long time (hopefully) above all my previous DACs (in SQ and price).

    I feed all A-Gd DACs via I2S if possible (upgraded Singxer SU-1, Intona and other USB and I2S tweaks) because it is really the best input if you have a good source for it.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
    DACLadder, FredA and Whitigir like this.
  15. gibosi
    How can I determine if I have the di-v3 or di2014?
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