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Audio-gd R2R 11

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  1. conquerator2
    Seeing that the best budget R2R unit available does not have a dedicated thread, I took the liberty to create one myself.
    Website: http://audio-gd.com/R2R/R2R11/R2R11EN.htm

    Model: Audio-gd R2R 11
    Type: Single-ended discrete ladder (R2R) DAC/amplifier
    DAC: Audio-gd's own 2x DA-8 R2R modules
    Amplifier: Audio-gd's ACSS discrete transistor design
    Inputs: USB (Anamero Combo384), optical, coaxial
    Outputs: RCA single-ended outputs, 1/4" headphone out
    Amplifier power: 3,500mW @ 32ohms - 150mW @600ohms
    Other features: ALPS volume potentiometer, low (0db) and high (12db) gain switch, tonality adjustment through jumpers (adds a bit of warmth), native DSD & DXD support through USB, KOA / Vishay matched resistors, full-aluminium chassis
    MSRP: $330 (promotion), $350 afterwards

    Subjective impressions:
    (My previous favorite units were the vintage Theta DACs, followed by Chord Mojo. Favorite headphones include the HE1, Utopia, L700, MA900, 400i and S, K7XX, ESP950 and others. I enjoy a fairly neutral sound, but with smooth extended treble, free of peaks. I value good separation and always try to find a headphone that straddles a fine line between detailed and musical. I was going into the R2R11 with a healthy dose of skepticism, owing to my mixed audio-gd experience with their previous DS offerings and the low asking price of the unit in question)

    Luckily, I've been listening to this unit for the last couple of days and it's made its place in my collection as one of the highest regarded units that I've owned to date. The tonality as an all-in-one is spot on, very analogue-like akin to the Theta, but better detailed, with wider soundstage and just as much vintage goodness. The amplifier has ample power to drive most headphones and with the ones I've tested so far it sounded excellent. It has all the essential inputs and performs well through the speaker outs with my monitors. The USB implementation is rock solid and as someone who's had many issues with their previous VIA USB32 module, performs flawlessly and sounds great (across all three inputs no less). The ALPS potentiometer feels super smooth, there's also the low and high gain switch, an input switch as well as a HP/variable/fixed output selector. It can also be made slightly warmer sounding by adjusting a set of internal jumpers though I did not find this necessary. The unit is barely warm to the touch and blends fairly well on a modern desk with its fairly small black aluminium cubeprint.

    For the asking price of $350 (well, closer to $450 if I account for shipping and VAT) I consider it one of the best values out there. Not only was the sound way above what I expected in the best case scenario (somewhere between the Mojo and Theta, closer to their DS offerings) but it also ranks as one of my cheapest audio gear purchases. Taking a glance at my profile, I can't see a cheaper or equivalent DAC/amp inclusive product that'd sound nearly as good. In conclusion, I am stunned yet delighted that there's a unit like this now available, and as much as it was a shot in the dark for me (completely new R2R design, new USB board, low price, mixed experience) I can safely say that this unit will stay here for a while and that I don't think there's frankly a better R2R (or Delta Sigma) DAC/amp out there right now in its price range. (or even a few notches above it)
    My congratulations go to Audio-gd's Kingwa for being able to craft a truly groundbreaking product, priced to be available to most anybody looking for a unit like this.
    Well done, guys!
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018
  2. Filmguerilla
    Subscribe. :D Thanks for the impression man!
  3. mowglycdb
    Subscribed. I've also purchased a r2r11 to test this analog goodness. I have a Master-7 and 8, so I'll be testing it solo, and as a DAC feeding Master-8 to see how it fairs. I'll get it in about a month though... EMS

  4. winja
    Subscribed. I have a NFB-1 amp and I've grown to like Audio-GD products. I'm curious how their new R2R and R2R2 dac sound.
  5. mowglycdb
    I have the r2r 11 at home now, and testing it versus master-7 and master-8.

    My impresions, particulary pairing r2r 11 -> Master 8 are very positive, on average Master-7 is better, with low level información, detail, cleaness, soundstage and layering.

    But the DAC of r2r 11 trumps in musicality, tonality, naturalness, some instruments sound more lifelike, which I value highly. It does have a problem with low level information, it seems it doesn't get it quite right and you can hear the noise, I guess this has to do with the 100 SNR.

    r2r 11 as a combo, is quite fun, I'm doing burn in so my opinion may change after sometime.
  6. bunkbail
    Do you think the R2R 11 is better than Mojo?
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  7. conquerator2
    I think so, yes. Mojo is a great device too, portable and has better tonality than most other units. The R2R11 builds on that foundation with true vintage design, offering just as smooth experience with better extensions at either ends and better minute detail. The USB implementation is also better and in general offers more power, though the volume control on the Mojo was really nice for matching! For reference, if I had to assign a number to how I liked the tonality of the previous designs that I owned, Schiit would get a 5 (too bright], older Audio-gd a 6 (still too bright), Mojo 8 (almost spot on), vintage Theta 8.5 (spot on with better punch) and R2R11 would get a 9 (with the value rankings in mind). Suppose 10 is reserved for pricier TOTL R2R (Audio-gd?] designs as the R2R11 is not as super dynamic as those I reckon. But that would be my only nitpick, really. It's not lacking by no means in that department!
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
    mgunin likes this.
  8. bunkbail
    Thanks for the reply. I was on the fence of making an order for the R2R 11 because I feared that the R2R 11 might not sound as good as my Mojo. I love the Mojo so much that I don't think anything that is cheaper than it might sound as good. if the R2R 11 that good, I might as well send an order right now lol. Audio-gd has an official agent in my country and they have the promo price as well (USD 400 including shipping and taxes).
  9. conquerator2
    Well, I really enjoyed the Mojo myself and thought I wouldn't sell it ever lol. But after a time I usually start finding certain things I don't like and though they were relatively minor with the Mojo I ended up gambling on the R2R11. Mainly because I had the fairly power demanding HE4XX incoming later this year and the USB performance. If a local agent has it then I suppose you can return it if you don't like it. It's always best to audition if you can since we all hear somewhat differently :)
  10. mowglycdb
    It tested it a while more, and I can say the the amp section of r2r 11 is not neutral, it's dark, and has more pronounced bass, but it still is well done. If the headpone is ultra detailed and expensive, maybe choosing r2r 2(only dac) might be a better desition
  11. CJG888
    Will be receiving mine on Monday:smile_phones:.
  12. CJG888
    Initial tests will be between a DX50 and my recabled DT150s. Ultimately I may use it as a digital preamp to drive my restored/upgraded Leak Stereo 20 (Audio Note signal caps, ceramic valve bases, selected NOS valves etc...)!
  13. bunkbail
    So, I just made the purchase and its coming in 2 weeks. :ksc75smile:
  14. CJG888
    mgunin likes this.
  15. CJG888
    The sound isn't too shabby:smile_phones:
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