Audio-gd NFB-7
Jan 8, 2011 at 1:13 PM Post #61 of 156

IPodPJ

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Quote:
ipodpj, you have been dealing with audio-gd for so long. You know how their English is :p.
 
Grats on being one of the few owners :), if audio-gd never makes any more, I'm sure the NFB-7 will rise in value as a rare item. The optical input doesn't support 32/192 btw, only AES and coax/bnc.


I don't own one.
 
Jan 19, 2011 at 8:50 AM Post #62 of 156

pasgod

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I don't know if anybody is interested in the NFB-7 anymore, but I received it yesterday. So far it sounds good, but I am not yet able to play 192K files. Waiting for a fix.


We are waiting for a complete review. Do you agree with the description in the Pacific Valve website ? They think it is a little on the warm side, which is not the idea that most people have of the Sabre Dacs.
 
Thanks.
 
 
Jan 19, 2011 at 12:19 PM Post #63 of 156

ccschua

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order my NFB7 in late dec. now looks like I will get my after chinese new year. so i will be back.
 
Jan 19, 2011 at 11:24 PM Post #64 of 156

DBB1

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Quote:
Quote:
I don't know if anybody is interested in the NFB-7 anymore, but I received it yesterday. So far it sounds good, but I am not yet able to play 192K files. Waiting for a fix.


We are waiting for a complete review. Do you agree with the description in the Pacific Valve website ? They think it is a little on the warm side, which is not the idea that most people have of the Sabre Dacs.
 
Thanks.
 

I wanted to be sure the NFB-7 had stabilized. It has about 3 weeks of continuous playing time. It seems to be broken in. First, for convenience, I am quoting, somewhat out of order, the write up at Pacific Valve:
 
* * * * * *  * * * * * *  * * * * * *  * * * * * *

The Audio gd NFB 7
 
 
Ok Folks, here it is.... My own personal favorites!
 
In my opinion, Audio gd's best DAC so far, is a joy to listen to.  It is to a point, where listening to the NFB 7 has become down right addicting. Like the Doge 6, I have to listen to all my CDs over again to find out what I have been missing.  The detail is magical in that it retrieves it, yet places it in the proper perspective so it does not sound fatiguing.  For its price, its a best buy.  I have only heard this, BTW, with EAC ripped FLAC files through a CyberServer.
 
Headlines
* is the latest flagship Audio gd DAC using the Sabre 32 bit / 192K chips
* Appears on  Vic's Picks
* Shows an accelerated buying statistic: the average inventory time for the NFB 7 is 5 days.
* 100% of all water cooler members recommend the NFB-7
* 3 out of 5 water cooler members have purchased the NFB-7
 
Scoreboard
 
Bass: Deep, rich musical bass with good kick and slam   Mids:. Warm and revealing without being etch or glitzy. Pushes midrange out into the room     Highs:   
Extended and sweet - high end outstanding.  Dynamics: Considerable impact and slam  Air around instruments:  Excels at placing air and spooky life like quality around instruments.   Body and Weight:  Considerable heft on male vocals, lower mids horns and massed violins. Warm/Cold: Warms up the music, but never sounds syrupy or overly sweet.  Imaging / Sound Stage:  Outstanding. Places instruments in their right perspective and gives them body and weight.  Resolution / Detail: Above average.  Value: One of Audio gd's finest and refined DACs
 
The Audio-gd NFB-7 is the latest and highest-spec of the NFB series which is a family of non-feedback truly-balanced audio DACs, employing the new and powerful sabre32 ES9018 DAC chip which supports up to and impressive 32Bit/192KHz. The NFB-7 DAC has extremely high fidelity and is based on ACSS non-feedback technology. The NFB-7 uses non-feedback power supply to retain audio purity and natural sound.
 
Compared to other ES9018 designs, the NFB-7 applies non-feedback ACSS output stage  with discrete amplifiers, causing minimal coloration, very low distortion and high linearity of sound. The NFB-7 has excellent analog output stages. For example, the output buffers are Non-feedback with low impedance by applying a two-stage parallel connection for detailed and neutral sound.
 
The NFB series is designed around optimized power supply to achieve high fidelity audio signals. The NFB-7 uses a total of 16 PSU groups to purify the power supply. 15 groups of high-quality class “A”  PSU in a parallel connection enable dedicated double-stage DC supply circuits across the NFB-7 to offer a clear DC power signal through the DAC.  The double-stage PSU design allows for extremely low jitter, while the control circuit is powered by a separate regulator to achieve a silent unit operation.
 
With high-performance components and construction, the NFB-7 uses three R-core transformers (135W total); one 35W R-core supplying power for digital parts, and two 50W R-cores supplying power for analogue output.  More than 45,000uf audio-grade NOVER electrolyte capacitors are used in the NFB-7 to ensure ample and smooth power feed. The NFB-7’s internal layout completely separates components such as power transformer and rectifiers to carefully shield from radiating interferences that can  cause distortion, yet employs a unified design to enable a wider and deeper sound reproduction.  
 
The NFB-7 is an 8-channel truly balanced DAC which supports Coaxial, Optical and BNC input; 4 ACSS modules with balanced input and output, balanced XLR and single-ended RCA output. Cased in a heavy all-Aluminum chassis, the unit is built to be durable.
 
water cooler
 
 
The Audio gd NFB 7 was evaluated using: Ming Da MC 2A3 preamp, YS Audio Balanced A2SE 
preamp, Audio gd ST-7, Audio gd 3 Preamp, Bada Purer Integrated amp, Ming Da MC 3008 
Monos, Ming Da MD 845A, CyberServer, Zu Speakers, Magnepan MG 1.6, Infinity Primus, Horn Shoppe Horns with sub, Proac Response 2, B&W Matrix 801.
 
A couple of trigrams here: The Reference One, The Reference seven, The NFB-7.  All of them close,yet so far a part.
 
Let me make one thing clear though, before we proceed.  The NFB -7 is not a better NFB 1.  The 
NFB 1 and the NFB 7 appear to be made by different makers (even though, they are not) The NFB -1 is analytical and wide open, to the point that if your speakers have a closed in  midrange or if you really want to open it up, then the NFB 1 is for you.
 
With that out the of the way, the REF1, REF 7 and NFB 7 can be look like 3 different versions of 
steak sauce.  They are all the same in that they are steak sauce, yet each sounds (taste) different?  
Get it?
 
A good way to approach this is to compare all three.  While we realize the REF 1 is discontinued, a 
comparison is worthwhile, if not academic. So, to help you with your selection, we composed the 
following rankings of all three.  So off to the races we go: win, place or show:
 
 
Resolution:
REF 1
REF 7
NFB 7
 
Musical Sound:
NFB 7
REF 7
REF 1
 
Warmth:
NFB 7
REF 7
REF 1
 
Imaging:
REF 7
NFB 7
REF 1
 
Midrange Focus:
REF 7
NFB 7
REF 1
 
Bass Slam:
NFB 7
REF 1
REF 7
 
High End:
REF 1
REF 7
NFB 7
 
Not to confuse you, but if your horse shows or places, do not, under any circumstances consider it second rate.  We can sum it up:  the REF 7 was a warmer REF 1, and the NFB 7 is a more musical version of the REF 7.  IF you prefer a DAC that is more neutral then get the REF 7.  IF you fall in love with female vocals, like the mid bass of a male voice, or like your horns a little more tamed, then get the NFB 7.  Either way, you will not go wrong and will not be sorry. The NFB 7 is highly recommended.
 
   * * * * * *  * * * * * *  * * * * * *  * * * * * *
 
I can say that for the most part I agree with these above comments from Pacific Valve except I found that since the midrange is slightly forward, its sound stage was slightly forward as well. Like sitting in row 8 in a concert hall. Still the sound stage depth was outstanding. Secondly, this is the only Audio-gd product I have heard so I cannot comment personally on how it compares to others. Also I could not get it to play 192k files, but it did play 176.4 files.
 
My system:
 
 
No headphones. PC server - Neko D-100 outboard Dac, Lynx L22 card (mostly for recording at this point) ;Technics Sp10 w/ Grado Reference; Sony NV9100ES SACD; McIntosh C712 and MC402; DIY kit speakers: D'Apolito designed  Modified Super Aria: 1 Seas Milenium Tweeter, 2 Accuton ceramic mids, 2 Cabasse 8"woofers. No power  conditioning but a Furman filter; Sonnett II gold alloy interconnects; XINDAK FS-1 speaker cables

 

 

Comparison to the Neko D100.

 

I would say that if I simply walked into a room, I would have no idea which was playing, the NFB-7 or the Neko. It took diligent A/B comparisons to hear the difference between the two. Briefly the NFB-7 had better micro dynamics at low volume. At normal listening volume the difference disappeared. Neither are too warm. They are just right. They are musical in the sense they sound real. 

 

 I have a bias for a natural acoustic. I subscribe to the NY Philharmonic and have for years. Given my bias, I do not think the NFB-7 is  quite as good as the Neko. The Neko is clearer in the midrange, seems to have a lower noise floor,and never blurs or distorts in the lower-upper frequencies. Female vocals and violins seemed ever so slightly high-lighted by the NFB-7.  With the Neko you can hear the air in the hall as if it were real. The NFB-7's mid-range is not as delicate and natural. 

 

Again these conclusions are definite but not obvious on casual listening. Also, the McIntosh amp I am using has an excellent S/N ratio. I feel that with a lesser amp the two dacs might sound identical.  

 

Bottom line, for me, the Neko D100 wins by a nose. If you like female vocals and violins slightly prominent you might prefer the NFB-7. Ditto if you listen at low volumes with no loudness compensation.

 

My ultimate goal is to equal good vinyl. Both come close but no cigar. 

 


 
Jan 20, 2011 at 3:22 AM Post #65 of 156

pasgod

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Hello DBB1,
 
Very interesting observations. I also listen to classical music and the comparison of your two dacs is very helpful. The Neko seems to be a very good Dac.
 
Thank you very much for your review.
 
Pascal.
 
Jan 20, 2011 at 5:01 AM Post #66 of 156

IPodPJ

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Very nice review.  Thank you.
 
I urge you to try any of Audio-gd's top-tier DACs with either the CD7FV or something like my modified Transporter with Audio-gd clocks, R-core, and power supply.  Synergy is very important with their top-tier DACs as they respond best to Audio-gd's own clocks/DSP modules because that's what they were designed with, and the performance you get out of them is only relative to what you put in.
 
Jan 20, 2011 at 5:05 AM Post #67 of 156

ccschua

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HI DBB1,
 
are u happy with your present setup. have u thought of improvement on any gears down the chain, besides the cd transport.
 
when a system moves up scale, the level of revealing can be tremendous.
 
Jan 20, 2011 at 7:58 AM Post #68 of 156

DBB1

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Quote:
Very nice review.  Thank you.
 
I urge you to try any of Audio-gd's top-tier DACs with either the CD7FV or something like my modified Transporter with Audio-gd clocks, R-core, and power supply.  Synergy is very important with their top-tier DACs as they respond best to Audio-gd's own clocks/DSP modules because that's what they were designed with, and the performance you get out of them is only relative to what you put in.


I do not listen to CD's. But I reject the idea that it is the quality of the SPDIF  that counts with the Sabre dac chip. It should make no difference since they virtually eliminate jitter in the chip.. That's why there is so much praise for the chip,
Code:
 Copy from the ESS web page: " With ESS patented 32-bit Hyperstream™ DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, the SABRE32 Reference Stereo DAC delivers an unprecedented DNR of up to 135dB and THD+N of - 120dB, the industry’s highest performance level that will satisfy the most demanding audio enthusiast"
Second, if the quality of the SPDIF is a factor, which I doubt, then the NFB-7 should employ a higher quality receiver chip. In this case, the Neko minimalist design does more with less.
 
Jan 20, 2011 at 8:13 AM Post #69 of 156

DBB1

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Quote:
HI DBB1,
 
are u happy with your present setup. have u thought of improvement on any gears down the chain, besides the cd transport.
 
when a system moves up scale, the level of revealing can be tremendous.


It is an excellent set up. If I could equal the palpability of good vinyl I would be happy. I do not feel a cd transport is for me as I listen to files off the computer only. A better dac than the Neko might do it but which one and how much money? I was hoping to beat the Neko with the NFB-7.
 
Jan 20, 2011 at 9:51 AM Post #70 of 156

vrln

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That ESS jargon part is just marketing talk. Noone (other than builders) knows exactly how good the chip really is, as you need to sign an NDA in order to get the real spec sheet. The PDF one on the ESS site is just marketing spin. The chip might make it less transport reliable, but not in the sense that it doesn´t matter anymore. Kingwa for example has reported a clear performance difference with different SPDIF transports (CD7 compared to Digital Interface) on the NFB-7.
 
The Sabre32 has a built-in SPDIF receiver, but it can run an out-of chip one too. So it´s pretty much a "system on a chip" approach (while the PCM1704 is the complete opposite). From what I´ve read, it should actually be worse with a different receiver as it won´t have the benefit of the hypersampling system then. From what I´ve understood the main reason why it sounds so good is the noise shaping it does.
 
Jan 20, 2011 at 10:02 AM Post #71 of 156

ccschua

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I am just suggesting. consider a good source.
if it is restricted, it might happen that you wont squeeze out much.
 
Quote:
Quote:
HI DBB1,
 
are u happy with your present setup. have u thought of improvement on any gears down the chain, besides the cd transport.
 
when a system moves up scale, the level of revealing can be tremendous.


It is an excellent set up. If I could equal the palpability of good vinyl I would be happy. I do not feel a cd transport is for me as I listen to files off the computer only. A better dac than the Neko might do it but which one and how much money? I was hoping to beat the Neko with the NFB-7.



 
Jan 20, 2011 at 12:10 PM Post #72 of 156

DBB1

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Quote:
That ESS jargon part is just marketing talk. Noone (other than builders) knows exactly how good the chip really is, as you need to sign an NDA in order to get the real spec sheet. The PDF one on the ESS site is just marketing spin. The chip might make it less transport reliable, but not in the sense that it doesn´t matter anymore. Kingwa for example has reported a clear performance difference with different SPDIF transports (CD7 compared to Digital Interface) on the NFB-7.
 
The Sabre32 has a built-in SPDIF receiver, but it can run an out-of chip one too. So it´s pretty much a "system on a chip" approach (while the PCM1704 is the complete opposite). From what I´ve read, it should actually be worse with a different receiver as it won´t have the benefit of the hypersampling system then. From what I´ve understood the main reason why it sounds so good is the noise shaping it does.

So do you feel it is sensitive to the quality of SPDIF input. If so are there solutions?
 
 
Jan 20, 2011 at 12:41 PM Post #73 of 156

macrog

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I have not come across any competent DAC that doesn't respond to a better digital source including ESS9018 DACs.
 
Regards
 
Macrog
 
Jan 27, 2011 at 12:36 PM Post #74 of 156

DBB1

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Some final thoughts on the NFB-7 before I return it. I think the primary difference between it and the Neko D100 are two characteristics. First the NFB-7 seems to be voiced in a way that slightly boosts the bass and treble.  A smiley face on the equalizer. As I said, this makes it sound fuller and more dynamic at low volume. It also results in an  ever so slightly thicker texture and congested or unnatural highs at the violin range of the frequency response spectrum compared to the Neko. The sound stage and imaging are excellent on both dacs. I consistently found myself switching back to the Neko for its definition, ease, and naturalness.  I would highly recommend the NFB-7 for any electronic base heavy, and rhythmic music, but not for natural acoustic music.
 
Jan 27, 2011 at 7:16 PM Post #75 of 156
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I highly doubt it.  When he voices DACs to be neutral, that means they measure flat. It could be the other way around and the Neko doesn't have the same degree of bass or treble extension that the NFB-7 does. You'd have to run both through RMAA to find out for sure.  I'd take a bet though that it's the discreet output stage of the NFB-7 + separate power supplies vs. the transformer output of the Neko.
 

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