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Audio-gd Reference 7.1 DAC

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by ipodpj, May 2, 2011.
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  1. IPodPJ
    All new information and reviews for the latest Reference 7.1 DAC should probably be posted here instead of being mixed in with the other Reference threads.
     
    People should be receiving theirs very soon if they haven't already.  Mine should be arriving tomorrow.
     
  2. Pricklely Peete Contributor
    Cool....I look forward to your impressions ( along with the silver wiring option opinion).
     
    Peete.
     
  3. Nada
    Question: will the 7.1 sound  different to the 7?
     
    Is the analogue output of the 7.1 a totally different circuit or is it the same design with an integrated layout?
     
    With the modular design of the REF7 is it possible to switch output modules to change the sound?
     
     
     
  4. Nada
    The audio-gd site says the PCM1704 supply has temporarily run out and TI have a delay in manufacturing.
    Seven 7.1's are in stock.
    I wonder if the pain of getting a new 7.1 and suffering the prolonged burn in to maturation is worth it in the long run if the sound is better the my current sweet REF7?
     
  5. IPodPJ


    Quote:

    Not sure how helpful I will be with regards to the silver wiring since my Ref7 didn't have it so it won't be an apples to apples comparison.  But I'm of the mindset that the difference between short lengths of different kinds of wire such as those inside of the DAC should make a negligible difference at best, since the capacitance, inductance and resistance differences of such short lengths from one kind of wire to the next will be immeasurable.
     


    Quote:

     
    It looks like the circuit is different, and the SNR is slightly better by 1dB on the new Ref7.1.  Kingwa never mentioned anything about changing modules before to change the sound nor offered that option, but we do know that the Ref7 used a newer version that what was in the Ref1.

     
     
    Quote:

    I guess you have to believe in component burn-in in the first place, which I do not.  Class A components do have changes to sound while coming to equilibrium (warming up) but I have never noticed a difference after a set amount of hours, nor is there proof it exists.  Audio-gd now runs in these DACs for 10 days of straight testing (240 hours) so there are plenty of hours put on it, and you need not concern yourself with the hogwash of extra burn-in time.
     
     
  6. ccschua
  7. Nada
    Quote:
    [​IMG]
     
     
  8. IPodPJ
    Initial impressions:
     
    It sounds damn good.  It took a long time to warm up but once it did I can hear how good it sounds.  It seems like there's a bit of improvement in micro-detail over the Ref7.  I can't give more impressions than that yet because I need to spend a good amount of time with it before I can say any more.  Definitely better plugged into the wall vs. the regenerator.  Build quality also seems better than the Ref7.  I opened it up and took a look inside.  The transformers actually look a little bigger, not sure if they really are or not, but they appear to be.  I also think the chassis is deeper because it seems to go further off the back of my shelf now, but again I'm not positive since I haven't had the Ref7 here for several months.  The power wiring from the IEC to the front power switch is definitely improved, and they are using a really thick OFC wire (OFC is printed on the insulation) for this purpose.
     
    The power switch feels and looks cheap and flimsy, much more so than the Ref7.  The power button feels very loose and you can actually shake the latching mechanism side to side and rotate/twist it a bit, and with the top panel off you can watch the plastic latching mechanism twist.  It is secured tightly on the shaft, so that isn't the issue.  The plastic is not fully enclosing the spring; there is nothing covering the spring on the top so it's conceivable the spring could just pop out.  Having plastic walls on only 3 sides instead of 4 (a box) is probably the main reason it is so flimsy.  A power switch is an important part of the circuit and for a buck or two more they could have used a much higher quality switch.  I don't know how many cycles it is rated for, but I would guess not a high number.
     
    The pictures on the Audio-gd website show the Ref7.1 with 4-pin XLR jacks for ACSS, and this is what I specifically asked that they made sure were used.  I had cables made up with 4-pin XLR connectors specifically for this purpose only after confirming with them that these would be used.  But now those cables are useless and need to be re-terminated since Audio-gd took it upon themselves to use a new style ACSS connector that resembles a mini 3-pin XLR without informing me.  I'm pretty sure they won't pay to have the cables re-terminated.
     
  9. svyr

    interesting... I actually received an email about the ACSS sockets from them before they 'fake-shipped' my NFB-10WM... It was asking whether I needed the old or new style plugs or a conversion cable or something :D... Maybe it was intended for you ?
     
  10. IPodPJ


    Quote:

    They need to get someone there who speaks fluent English and Chinese, and can read, write and understand both languages equally well.  Otherwise, they are going to keep having these problems over and over again.
     
  11. Tom W


    Quote:

    I do like the new list of goods you receive via email that lists everything that you've ordered and their prices. I was thinking that it should also include the Chinese translation(s) so that the person(s) building/shipping were on the "same page" as the order taker.
     
    An on-line ordering system with available options/pricing (stepped attenuators, BNC connections instead of RCA, upgraded wire, etc.) in English/Chinese would be nice too. This would allow the build ticket to go straight from the customer to the assembler and then to the shipper....no intermediate translations would be required.
     
    Just my $0.01
     
     
     
  12. sphinxvc
    Quote:
     
    That's a good idea.  I wouldn't have received the wrong USB module when I'd ordered my unit last winter that way.
     
     
     
  13. Nada
    Quote:
     
    You must have an incredible acoustic memory to even hint at a comparison the ref7.1 with the ref7 !   [​IMG]
     
    I personally find i need to do direct switching to hear subtle differences between gear.  
     
    This might explain why:
     
    1. Sensory memory corresponds approximately to the initial 200–500 milliseconds after an item is perceived. [​IMG]
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory#Sensory_memory
     
    2. endowment effect: people place a higher value on objects they own than objects that they do not  [​IMG]
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endowment_effect
     
    I suggest you might want to just enjoy the music for now until you can get a Ref7 sometime to do direct switching via a preamp?
     
    If you do please let us know what the consensus is between them?


     
     
     
  14. IPodPJ


    Quote:

    What were my words earlier? I said it "seems" like there is a bit of improvement.  Obviously so does Kingwa or he wouldn't have released an upgraded model and boldly stated on his website "the best DAC we've ever made", which he's never done before.
     
    The reason I feel there was improvement in micro-detail is because I have certain tracks that I am intimately familiar with and have listened to countless times on every DAC I've owned.  Certain tiny details have been revealed more with each DAC upgrade that I didn't notice previously.  The same is the case here.  (Have you ever just listened to a song you've heard on many DACs and then finally you hear it on a certain DAC and you say, "Wow, I never heard those nuances before!")  There could be many other reasons why this could be, from the wire used to the upgraded circuitry in the DAC, etc.  That is why I only said it was an initial impression, and that was the only aspect I commented on because I haven't spent much time with it yet.  There might be improvements in many other areas, too, but I have yet to listen to enough songs to be able to give my opinion one way or the other.
     
    But I doubt I'll give more opinions publicly in the future anyway unless specifically asked about a certain aspect, because people like to jump all over the person when they give their impressions and I'm done dealing with that.  So I'm saying it's a very good DAC and I'm sure I'll discover for myself all the ways in which it might better the Ref7, and as mentioned before there are certain QC and parts issues that need improvement.  Also I've noticed that it gets warmer than the Ref7 (whereas the Phoenix was burning hot, the Ref1 was hot and the Ref7 was pretty cool).  Buy it if you want.  Don't buy it if you don't want it.  It makes no difference to me one way or the other.
     
    If I do get a chance to directly compare the two, I'll send you a PM with any differences I perceive.
     
     
  15. IPodPJ
    I've received several requests for more impressions, so here are just a quick few:
     
    Another observation about the Ref7.1 -- when you turned on the Ref7 it would make a clicking relay noise and also when it got a signal lock.  The Ref7.1 does not do that.  It is completely silent.
     
    Also, the bass seems like it's slowly maturing in increments and might take some time before it fully blooms.  This was not at all the case with my Ref7, although I know a lot of people said it was on theirs.  Or it could be that the Ref7.1 doesn't have the level of bass impact that the Ref7 did.  Only time will tell.
     
    I still agree with my earlier sentiments about the greater level of microdetail, this is evident.
     
    Also, in a way it seems like it's taking on certain characteristics of Sigma-Delta DACs, and losing certain characteristics of R-2R; I say that because cymbals sound slightly splashier, but pianos have slightly less natural timbre; I hope these traits reverse as more days and weeks are put on the 7.1.  The PS Audio PerfectWave Power Plant P5 regenerator (that's a mouthful) certainly helps with this vs. plugging directly into the wall, but it doesn't get rid of it completely.
     
    The 7.1 sounds more like live music than the 7 did.
     
    There is also more midrange presence being brought to the front, whereas with the Ref7 it was slightly recessed in comparison.
     
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