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Audio-gd R2R DAC Thread

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by JoeDoe, Oct 5, 2017.
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  1. JoeDoe
    Well, now that Audio-gd has joined the R2R pool, I reckon there could be a dedicated thread since the Schiit and Denafrips guys have 'em too!

    The R2R 7 thread is alive and well, and a few of us have even posted our musings on the little brother R2R 11 there, but now that the R2R 2 is out, so I figure if you've got questions, thoughts, or impressions on any of the above, let's drop 'em here.

    For me personally, I've owned a few of the AGD items, including the NFB 11, 15.32, 10.33, and 29. A few months ago, I happened onto a FS thread for a like new R2R 11, the new entry level combo unit built on a ladder design.

    To say I was impressed would be a large understatement. I know that the AGD stuff represents an excellent value in our community, but I wasn't prepared for the capability of that unit. Truth be told, it held it's own easily against my previous stack, $900 DAC feeding a $700 headamp.

    Since I like to be informed on the design philosophy behind my favorite gear, I went to the manufacturer's website and lo and behold Mr. Kingwa had just released a mid-level R2R DAC that slides in between the flagship R2R 7 and R2R 11. I'm pretty sure the last time I paid full-price for a piece of gear was a few years ago, and based on my impressions with the little brother, I ponied up pretty quickly for the new R2R 2 and C-2 amp stack. Very unlike me!

    The R2R 2 is a SE DAC built on 2 of the AGD DA-8 R2R modules. It can handle everything from redbook to DSD and can switch from NOS to OS modes at the push of a button, a feature only found on DACs coming in at a much healthier price point thus far. The C2 is the SE amplification equivalent from Mr. Kingwa, hitting higher than the entry level 11 gear, but not up to the flagship stuff.

    I'm gonna slow down with impressions right here, but I'll tell you that I'm more impressed with this stack than the Gumby/Mjo2 stack along with most of the desktop gear I've had that retails under $1k individually. I know that's blasphemy around these parts, but that's how I hear it fellas!
  2. Filmguerilla
    Subcribed. :D
  3. JoeDoe
    Little eye candy for you:

    alphanumerix1 likes this.
  4. CJG888
    R2R + Grados = :smile_phones:
    JoeDoe likes this.
  5. JoeDoe
    Got that right! Normally I recommend Grados be paired with tubes, but this rig is doing just fine without 'em!
  6. CJG888
    I'm currently enjoying my custom Grados (SR225i with Yew Woodworks cocobolo cups) out of the R2R-11. Listening to Schumann's 3rd (Paray/Detroit Symphony on Mercury).
    JoeDoe likes this.
  7. CJG888
    The big question is: do I swap the drivers out for the Nhoords???
  8. JoeDoe
    Absolutely you do!
  9. Jimster480
    Have just emailed them about the R2R 2.
    JoeDoe likes this.
  10. Wes Pruett
  11. Jimster480
    He told me I should get a NFB 11.28 instead because the r2r stuff is warmer with a more old school analog sound and the sabre products are more analytical.
  12. bballas
    perfect powered R2R boards amazingly real presentation
    JoeDoe likes this.
  13. Jimster480
    It obviously depends on the implementation
  14. JoeDoe
    I'll add to the impressions I posted initially.

    TL;DR - The R2R 2, C-2, and PS1000 or HD800S is the best and most enjoyable head-fi I've experience I've had. Hands down.

    Since the digital conversion will have more of an impact on my experience than the amplification circuit, I'll start with the R2R 2. I've owned a slew of DAC's in my head-fi journey, including Neko D100 mkII, MHDT Pagoda, Schiit Gumby, Auralic Vega, Chord Hugo. Granted each of those were paired with different amplifiers and mostly different headphones, I can say with certainty, that the DAC implementation in the AGD hits way above it's price point. It's competitive with anything in the above list, and to my ears, more realistic than most. After hearing the Denafrips Ares a few months ago, I'd knew I'd never go back to a delta-sigma DAC, the R2R experience is just too natural to ever forego. The R2R modules in Mr. Kingwa's design are exceptional. I find the depth, imaging, and timbre from this DAC more true-to-life than any other piece of digital gear I've laid ears on before!

    The low end is rich and full - I'm very much reminded of vinyl. Nothing ever feels light or wispy. From sub-bass lines to kick drums, to lower male vocals, the tonal foundation that the R2R 2 portrays is in a word, exceptional.

    Midrange is what first hooked me with R2R/multibit conversion. It's just... right. From Norah Jones to Dave Matthews to Pavarotti, vocals are rendered with such clarity and richness, that I've taken headphones off to see if someone has entered my apartment multiple times over the course of three weeks!

    The top end is also very well-done. It's got the smooth, non-fatiguing nature of vinyl but without the syrupy, overly-smooth sound of poorly done NOS designs. The detail retrieval is top notch - revealing things in my 'usual' recordings that I've honestly never heard before. The balance between detail and smoothness is really just striking. Better than any of the aforementioned DACs to these ears.

    And just a quick word about the soundstage/separation/imaging experience. This is what really solidified my preference for the R2R 2. In a word, things are just immersive. With some of the other R2R DACs I've had, soundstage is usually a little small and sometimes congested. The AGD opens up nicely, without seeming artificial or overblown. After A/Bing a few of the other DACs I've got on hand, the R2R really just takes things to a different place in the way of three-dimensionality. With others, I feel like I'm watching a concert, while the R2R really makes me feel (or sound) like I'm there. I've not been impressed with a single facet of a converter's sound like this in a long time!

    Being able to swap between NOS and OS conversion is just icing on the cake at this point. The only other DACs I know off that even offer that option are the Holo Spring and Denafrips Venus and Terminator - both of which retail for at least double what the R2R 2 does. Almost all of my listening was done in NOS mode, as that's the part about R2R designs that usually make the magic happen, but at some point I'll get to comparing the sounds between the OS and NOS settings.

    I'm happy to say that this setup is completely satisfying to me and I've no more desire to ride the head-fi merry-go-round of constant gear auditioning and upgrading! I was losing hope that this day would come (especially at a reasonable cost!)
    allhifi, PopZeus, catmoderne and 7 others like this.
  15. Jimster480
    Very informative post!
    I take my headphones off all the time to see if someone is coming up the stairs or came into my room or something else is going on.
    I'm using a Topping DX7 though.
    Color me skeptical on how much better things can get. I am looking at the R2R-2 but I wonder if its worth anywhere near ~$800 to see if it is any better than my current setup lol
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