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Audio GD NFB-11.28 vs R2R 11

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by crowally, Aug 17, 2017.
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  1. FredA
    Classical sounds thin with many dacs out there, as if they become lean for some reason with that music style. Still you need the sound to be opened, with a well develop upper mid. And you need to maintain a natural balance at the same time. The r2r 11 does all this very well.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
    Anaz likes this.
  2. simon740
    Thank you. I will check R2R-1 or 2

  3. gLer
    Hey guys, just finished reading all 67 pages of this thread! Got my R2R-11 last week and been using it consistently since then with both my LCD-2 (2016F) and ZMF Atticus. Initially I bought it to compare to it to my SS combo of ifi Micro iDSD (used as a dac only) and Matrix HPA-3B fully balanced amp. My interest was piqued by all the talk of this ‘mystical’ R2R ladder dac that’s supposed to make music sound natural and ‘non-digital’, and at worse I figured I could sell it on - even at a profit - because of the huge demand for this amp in my country.

    I won’t go into too much detail just yet because I’m still in the hypothetical ‘burn in’ stage, but I can tell you that after a few days I already knew what was going to be sold - my ifi and Matrix! The R2R-11 simply has better synergy with both my headphones, whereas the Atticus, until now, was limited to use on my Woo WA3 because it didn’t like the SS setup too much (flat and unexciting would be how I’d describe the Atticus sound with my solid state gear).

    Issues? Yes - there’s some faint scratching, almost radio-noise sounding artefacts with some DSD files (such as Amber Rubarth’s ‘Sessions from the 17th Ward’), only audible in the silent parts of her songs. This doesn’t happen with every DSD album, and in fact is absent from most, but is still there. Troubleshooting with Kingwa suggests it could be an Amanero issue (isn’t everything!?) so I believe a firmware fix is in the works.

    I also had an issue with a loud screeching sound before the ‘pops’ at the start of DSD playback, but this seems to have completely disappeared after a few hours’ burn in.

    As for the pops, yes they’re there at the start of each sample rate change, but not when switching between songs or jumping to different parts of a song. Sounds like the sound you get when you lower the needle onto vinyl for the first time; it’s really not that bad and quickly forgotten, and like I said doesn’t affect playback during an album.

    I have to say I’m surprised by all the complaints about these pops on this thread. The R2R-11 product page clearly describes them, and the fact that they’re there because the mute circuit was left out of the amp by design. So it’s not like it’s a surprise - it’s a known limitation, so if you can’t live with it, move on. My ifi iDSD has mute circuitry for the same issue, which introduces a 2-second silence at the start of an album or during a sample rate change, which is far more annoying than the R2R-11 pop. At least the R2R plays a song from the start, whereas the iDSD loses the first second or two.

    One last comment on the pops/DSD issues, given all the talk of Eitr around here. Clearly most of you don’t listen to DSDs, otherwise the Eitr would be a no-go. Just be aware that if you want and need DSD playback like I do, you may come across minor issues with the R2R-11, and the Eitr won’t solve them.

    So now that I’ve got all the ‘issues’ out of the way, let me just say this is the best amp/dac combo I have ever heard, bar none. It’s indeed more natural than my previous benchmark dac (the dual Burr Brown 1793 hybrid multibit ifi iDSD). It also drives my LCD-2 superbly, and the Atticus even better. Some people I’ve spoken to don’t like the extra ‘warmth’ it gives the Atticus, but I think it gives the Atticus a level of bass slam reminiscent of my all-time favorite bass cans, the Fostex TH-X00, and makes the Atticus the perfect foil for the more neutral, laid back LCD-2.

    It feels strange that a single ended amp could have more power and energy than a fully balanced amp (which on paper has even more power than the R2R), but I’ve vilume matched the R2R and Matrix and indeed the R2R drives both my 70ohm and 300ohm headphones louder and with more authority. I don’t know what Voodoo magic Kingwa uses in this $350 amp, but it bests my $900 dac/amp combo. Not night and day, but last time I checked $350 was much less than $900.

    I’ll come back here often with more impressions, and offer help or advice where I can. Glad to finally say I’m part of the R2R-11 community!
    4mayday, tauceti, natto and 7 others like this.
  4. gLer
    I have similar issues but not limited to the R2R-11. It only happens when you’re doing other processor intensive stuff with the Mac (like Lightroom edits for example). This will slow down and even break up the music stream, resulting in the pink noise/scratching sound you get during playback. Stop all other tasks and the noises disappear. Either that or get a faster Mac :)
  5. bunkbail
    All Schiit products don't have DSD support, even the TOTL DAC Yggdrasil.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
    natto likes this.
  6. gLer
    I know, which is why I avoid them.
    phthora likes this.
  7. SoniMax
    They added that information recently.
    "we got some questions about the USB INPUT, about a little pop "
    Guess who asked them those questions lol. I asked them before receiving the r2r what was the best way to minimise this pop I had yet to hear and Kingwa sent me the 3 asio settings pictures, which are on the page of the r2r now. Also, after I got the r2r itself, I wrote to them asking if they knew of/could recommend any software or hardware solutions that would fully get rid od the pop. The day after I got Kingwa's reply, most of the things he told me in the email about the pop and the nature of the r2r were added to/expanded on the page of the r2r.
    I am still adjusting. I don't know if you start paying less attention to the pop or it really gets quieter after time.

    I am disappointed to hear this about the lack of DSD support of the Eitr, as I have one on the way. I tried a few dsd songs and I felt like the first time I listened to a lossless format.
    gLer likes this.
  8. VilMo
    The pop was much stronger at the beginning, now it is indeed like pop of vinyl - faint and not bothersome at all. Really this is not an issue at all for me.
    gLer likes this.
  9. gLer
    Great job getting the pop issue into the open then! Many dacs have ‘issues’ with sample rate change, mainly due to their USB interfaces. As I mentioned my iDSD handles it slightly differently, and I actually prefer the faint pop of the R2R to the truncated audio from the ifi. Of course there are many dacs that’s don’t have this issue, so I have no idea where the real solution rests. Personally it doesn’t bother me, because I don’t listen to playlists with multiple sample rates and only listen to full albums.

    Also, I haven’t tested what happens if you upsample all your playback to say 192 or 384, and of that stops the pop from happening because it’s getting a single sample rate feed all the time. I’ll test it and report back here.

    As for the DSD issue, hopefully it’s just minor and Kingwa comes up with a workable solution. Who knows, maybe he’ll add it to the R2R page as well. Of course if you aren’t against converting your DSDs to PCM, then the problem goes away entirely, as PCM playback is flawless.

    Lastly, I’m afraid you’re out of luck if you like your DSDs and want to use a Schitt device. They have a stupid policy against supporting DSD for some reason, and it’s cost them at least one customer I know of - me :wink:

    For anyone reading this and thinking this little gem has too many flaws - don’t! It’s superb. It sounds better than dacs and amps that cost twice or three times the price, and even if you can hear differences in much ‘better’ gear, I honestly believe it’s more flavour differences and very subtle technicalities. Most importantly, the R2R dac renders digital audio in a different (and to me preferable) way to most delta sigma designs - even the TOTL expensive Sabres - and you may just end up preferring it just for this fact alone.

    EDIT: I can confirm that upsampling your files in software to a single sample rate eliminates the pops when changing songs or albums. At least that's the case for me on my iMac with Audirvana+ 3.2.5. There is still a slight pop when switching from PCM to DSD and back, but nothing between PCM tracks - even flac, alac and mp3 tracks with different sample rates - when you upsample in software. I'm not sure if upsampling in software somehow negates the benefits of the NOS dac, so maybe someone else with more technical knowledge can answer that for us.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
    natto and motberg like this.
  10. VilMo
    :speaker:Post 1000!
    (Just couldn't resist... )
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
    gLer likes this.
  11. gLer
    Quick burn-in question guys. I have my R2R-11 sending audio to my monitor speakers via line out. If I switch off the speakers (but leave the R2R playing music in a loop) can I assume the dac/amp is still getting "burned in" even though you can't hear it?
  12. I g o r
    Yes, Kingwa said only leaving the amp on is sufficient for burn in.
  13. gLer
    Thanks, so it doesn't even need to be playing music? That's odd. Don't half the components just sit idle then, no flowing current? So it's more like bake-in than burn-in :)
  14. I g o r
    No music necessary. Current is flowing through all components, even “idle”.
  15. alota
    every day that passes, i think this is high-end for the masses. Fortunately!!
    VilMo likes this.
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