CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE
Nov 28, 2021 at 11:25 AM Post #18,376 of 22,762

TheMiddleSky

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I’m not implying the Topping is better than the Dave, just saying that in the DAC world, things move quickly and a state of the art DAC from a few years ago may soon become hopelessly obsolete (e.g., see what happens in the home theater world when 10 grand receivers become worthless because they don’t resolve Dolby Pro Blah Blah or Atmos Super Duper).
While I agree DAC technology is so fast nowadays, it only implies to Delta Sigma chip based DAC. I think because the chip companies push their product so fast as well (AKM, Sabre, Cirrus Logic, etc).

While in high end digital converters, most of them don't use these Delta Sigma chips (Dave with its Pulse Array DAC), therefore the progress is slower, and something like Chord Dave or DCS DAC may last for at least 5 years before the company succeed bring something better to the market.

Delta Sigma DAC indeed has fast progress, as we can see "cheap" DACs nowadays sound much much better compared to few years ago (Imagine what small dongle dac able to do nowadays). However, I think they have their own limitation or "hard to exploit" when being compared to other type of DACs, as most of them can not reach the summit fi market (of course not all of them).

No, I don't totally relate ASR measurement with sound quality by what human listen in real life. At some point the measurement simply tell nothing about what we about to experience about a DAC. Have capabilities to playback DSD512 or DSD1024 great for marketing brochure, but people who really use it is extremely low in number, even in niche audiophile market.
 
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Nov 28, 2021 at 11:56 AM Post #18,377 of 22,762

ecwl

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Did the Topping sound much different than the Dave? I'm curious about the ASR measurement vs subjective experience contrast if there is any.
Having listened to the Topping at my local Head-Fi meet, I can say as with all DAC chip DACs compared to DAVE, I hear these same issues with non-Chord DAC chip DACs:
1) Noise floor modulation that makes the music sound bright and harsh. To me, that’s the sound that “Digital” is famous for and drives people to vinyl which I think it’s a little wild. I also think it’s why some people like R2R or DSD DACs because the other distortions smooths out some of this brightness or harshness. But to me, DAVE’s approach no distortions with no noise floor modulation is better than other DACs’ approach of let’s blur out the noise floor modulation with more distortions.
2) Poor timing accuracy as in transients are smeared or blurred or just inaccurate. This is very hard to describe because everybody says their favorite DAC has great transient accuracy but they don’t if you’ve heard instruments live and compare them to DAVE/M-Scaler vs to a regular DAC. The challenge as we have seen in the M-Scaler thread is that some people are so used to poor transient accuracy from their system that they can no longer hear longer tap lengths’ more accuracy transient accuracy (or the difference between their own hand clapping and their distorted transient inaccurate DAC)
3) Less timbral accuracy which is related to the poor timing accuracy but in some music materials, I really can’t hear the difference whereas with orchestral works, it’s usually pretty obvious.
4) Because most DAC chip DACs would use a mix of analog and digital volume control and DAC chip DACs have poor low-level linearity, and I prefer to listen at lower volume levels, I always hear worse soundstage depth, sometimes even loss of microdetails/microdynamics and channel imbalance with DAC chip DACs including the Topping.
To me, the big surprise is that so many people can’t hear it. In some ways, it shoudn’t be a surprise because I’ve listened to so many systems with so many distortions coming from the recordings, the preamp/amp/headphones that people get used to and love. I myself, really had trouble hearing poor transient accuracy comparing Mojo and DAVE for like 1.5 years until I went to a live orchestral concert and then something suddenly clicked in my brain. I’m still amazed by how good our brain is at ignoring sonic distortions.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 12:57 PM Post #18,378 of 22,762

alxw0w

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While I agree DAC technology is so fast nowadays, it only implies to Delta Sigma chip based DAC. I think because the chip companies push their product so fast as well (AKM, Sabre, Cirrus Logic, etc).

While in high end digital converters, most of them don't use these Delta Sigma chips (Dave with its Pulse Array DAC), therefore the progress is slower, and something like Chord Dave or DCS DAC may last for at least 5 years before the company succeed bring something better to the market.

Delta Sigma DAC indeed has fast progress, as we can see "cheap" DACs nowadays sound much much better compared to few years ago (Imagine what small dongle dac able to do nowadays). However, I think they have their own limitation or "hard to exploit" when being compared to other type of DACs, as most of them can not reach the summit fi market (of course not all of them).

No, I don't totally relate ASR measurement with sound quality by what human listen in real life. At some point the measurement simply tell nothing about what we about to experience about a DAC. Have capabilities to playback DSD512 or DSD1024 great for marketing brochure, but people who really use it is extremely low in number, even in niche audiophile market.
Dave is actually a delta sigma dac
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 1:35 PM Post #18,379 of 22,762

adrianm

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I agree DSP can make things more interesting/closer to accurate on systems that need the help but that Sony system absolutely ruins the message of a proper 2 channel recording. Not saying you need to agree but any surround system creates an effect as opposed to recovers a stereo recording. More than 2 channel music which is hard enough to get right, tends to rob proper dynamic contrast. To each his own but a talented Jazz/classical quartet is a mess on something like that Sony system. I guarantee you that most here have never heard a properly setup 2 ch system, without additional speakers in room (running or not) and with a good enough source to get it... and I mean this, there's nothing wrong with that, It's still fun and we don't know what we don't know, but it leads to less than stellar assumptions.

As for the Sony system, I never felt the need for more than 5 speakers and a sub in a surround system, 4, really but I get why some want a speaker for vocals. If your speakers have a believable phase curve that is constant to all 4 speakers, it should be able to recreate almost any space with the correct media. One plane can create height is recorded properly. Our ears don't have vertical receptor. That said, I've never heard a surround system that gives me goosebumps on more simply/honestly recorded acoustic material.

I know many will disagree and I won't belabor this. Just thought I'd give a counter position.:relaxed:
Well i agree if we're talking about 2 channel recordings, obviously this would have to be considered from the recording process itself. I don't mean playing stereo music on a multi channel system. As good as software would be, it will still sound terrible.
I'm using a Sennheiser GSX soundcard for gaming, which is the best virtual surround i've heard. The reason why it's so good is because it takes real 7.1 surround and uses a proprietary engine to mix it into 2 channels. It's very convincing because the original information is there from all 7 channels, however it isn't up to a real 7.1 system standard.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 1:44 PM Post #18,380 of 22,762

sm60

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From what I have read, most modern vinyl pressings are made from digital masters.
Yes, I expect that is indeed the case. My own assessment is that the distortions inherent in vinyl replay are kinder to historical analog recordings than the PCM modulated distortions. A lot of people get seduced by digital replay because they look at specs that are with respect to 0dB (maximum) signal level where digital looks superb. But the noise floor modulates with signal level. It’s not like analog at all. At -30dB down, CD replay is about the same as analog since you’ve thrown away a lot of bits. The lower the signal level the higher the distortion. So, you have to trade off one type of distortion for another. Ultimately it’s a subjective call which one you prefer. I absolutely love the convenience of digital streaming and the vast potential repertoire, but it reminds me of this buffet places where you can eat as much as you want of potentially a huge number of dishes, but the preparation of each item leaves much to be desired.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 3:06 PM Post #18,381 of 22,762

QuantumKat

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Having listened to the Topping at my local Head-Fi meet, I can say as with all DAC chip DACs compared to DAVE, I hear these same issues with non-Chord DAC chip DACs:
1) Noise floor modulation that makes the music sound bright and harsh. To me, that’s the sound that “Digital” is famous for and drives people to vinyl which I think it’s a little wild. I also think it’s why some people like R2R or DSD DACs because the other distortions smooths out some of this brightness or harshness. But to me, DAVE’s approach no distortions with no noise floor modulation is better than other DACs’ approach of let’s blur out the noise floor modulation with more distortions.
2) Poor timing accuracy as in transients are smeared or blurred or just inaccurate. This is very hard to describe because everybody says their favorite DAC has great transient accuracy but they don’t if you’ve heard instruments live and compare them to DAVE/M-Scaler vs to a regular DAC. The challenge as we have seen in the M-Scaler thread is that some people are so used to poor transient accuracy from their system that they can no longer hear longer tap lengths’ more accuracy transient accuracy (or the difference between their own hand clapping and their distorted transient inaccurate DAC)
3) Less timbral accuracy which is related to the poor timing accuracy but in some music materials, I really can’t hear the difference whereas with orchestral works, it’s usually pretty obvious.
4) Because most DAC chip DACs would use a mix of analog and digital volume control and DAC chip DACs have poor low-level linearity, and I prefer to listen at lower volume levels, I always hear worse soundstage depth, sometimes even loss of microdetails/microdynamics and channel imbalance with DAC chip DACs including the Topping.
To me, the big surprise is that so many people can’t hear it. In some ways, it shoudn’t be a surprise because I’ve listened to so many systems with so many distortions coming from the recordings, the preamp/amp/headphones that people get used to and love. I myself, really had trouble hearing poor transient accuracy comparing Mojo and DAVE for like 1.5 years until I went to a live orchestral concert and then something suddenly clicked in my brain. I’m still amazed by how good our brain is at ignoring sonic distortions.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I was worried that SINAD wasn't everything that could be measured.

Seems to me the "perfect" DAC would both measure well and check all of the boxes you've listed.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 3:16 PM Post #18,382 of 22,762

QuantumKat

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Having listened to the Topping at my local Head-Fi meet, I can say as with all DAC chip DACs compared to DAVE, I hear these same issues with non-Chord DAC chip DACs:
1) Noise floor modulation that makes the music sound bright and harsh. To me, that’s the sound that “Digital” is famous for and drives people to vinyl which I think it’s a little wild. I also think it’s why some people like R2R or DSD DACs because the other distortions smooths out some of this brightness or harshness. But to me, DAVE’s approach no distortions with no noise floor modulation is better than other DACs’ approach of let’s blur out the noise floor modulation with more distortions.
2) Poor timing accuracy as in transients are smeared or blurred or just inaccurate. This is very hard to describe because everybody says their favorite DAC has great transient accuracy but they don’t if you’ve heard instruments live and compare them to DAVE/M-Scaler vs to a regular DAC. The challenge as we have seen in the M-Scaler thread is that some people are so used to poor transient accuracy from their system that they can no longer hear longer tap lengths’ more accuracy transient accuracy (or the difference between their own hand clapping and their distorted transient inaccurate DAC)
3) Less timbral accuracy which is related to the poor timing accuracy but in some music materials, I really can’t hear the difference whereas with orchestral works, it’s usually pretty obvious.
4) Because most DAC chip DACs would use a mix of analog and digital volume control and DAC chip DACs have poor low-level linearity, and I prefer to listen at lower volume levels, I always hear worse soundstage depth, sometimes even loss of microdetails/microdynamics and channel imbalance with DAC chip DACs including the Topping.
To me, the big surprise is that so many people can’t hear it. In some ways, it shoudn’t be a surprise because I’ve listened to so many systems with so many distortions coming from the recordings, the preamp/amp/headphones that people get used to and love. I myself, really had trouble hearing poor transient accuracy comparing Mojo and DAVE for like 1.5 years until I went to a live orchestral concert and then something suddenly clicked in my brain. I’m still amazed by how good our brain is at ignoring sonic distortions.
Bartok vs. Dave vs. Mola Mola Tambaqui? :)
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 3:18 PM Post #18,383 of 22,762

The Jester

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Having listened to the Topping at my local Head-Fi meet, I can say as with all DAC chip DACs compared to DAVE, I hear these same issues with non-Chord DAC chip DACs:
1) Noise floor modulation that makes the music sound bright and harsh. To me, that’s the sound that “Digital” is famous for and drives people to vinyl which I think it’s a little wild. I also think it’s why some people like R2R or DSD DACs because the other distortions smooths out some of this brightness or harshness. But to me, DAVE’s approach no distortions with no noise floor modulation is better than other DACs’ approach of let’s blur out the noise floor modulation with more distortions.
2) Poor timing accuracy as in transients are smeared or blurred or just inaccurate. This is very hard to describe because everybody says their favorite DAC has great transient accuracy but they don’t if you’ve heard instruments live and compare them to DAVE/M-Scaler vs to a regular DAC. The challenge as we have seen in the M-Scaler thread is that some people are so used to poor transient accuracy from their system that they can no longer hear longer tap lengths’ more accuracy transient accuracy (or the difference between their own hand clapping and their distorted transient inaccurate DAC)
3) Less timbral accuracy which is related to the poor timing accuracy but in some music materials, I really can’t hear the difference whereas with orchestral works, it’s usually pretty obvious.
4) Because most DAC chip DACs would use a mix of analog and digital volume control and DAC chip DACs have poor low-level linearity, and I prefer to listen at lower volume levels, I always hear worse soundstage depth, sometimes even loss of microdetails/microdynamics and channel imbalance with DAC chip DACs including the Topping.
To me, the big surprise is that so many people can’t hear it. In some ways, it shoudn’t be a surprise because I’ve listened to so many systems with so many distortions coming from the recordings, the preamp/amp/headphones that people get used to and love. I myself, really had trouble hearing poor transient accuracy comparing Mojo and DAVE for like 1.5 years until I went to a live orchestral concert and then something suddenly clicked in my brain. I’m still amazed by how good our brain is at ignoring sonic distortions.
More that the brain has to continually work to adjust to timing fluctuations amongst other things, the harder it has to work the faster listener fatigue sets in …
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 3:49 PM Post #18,385 of 22,762

sm60

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Did the Topping sound much different than the Dave? I'm curious about the ASR measurement vs subjective experience contrast if there is any.
I haven’t done a detailed comparison of Dave vs the Topping DAC. Part of my reason for getting the Topping was to avoid input switching with the Blu2/Dave, which seems to mess it up. I find the Chord duo works great for streaming, but any disruption (e.g., input changes or power cycling) totally messes it up and it takes a while for the duo to sync back up without crazy digital noise.

I avoid using the Blu2 transport as well, which as far as I’m concerned is total garbage. The Audio Research CD8 that I have uses the same Philips Pro transport, yet works far far better than the Blu2. Disc reading is instantaneous with the CD8. Audio Research has been making CD players for 20+ years and their long experience with the Philips Pro transport shows. The mechanism is highly damped and noiseless. The Blu2 clatters and takes ages to read the TOC on many CDs. Too often it chokes after a few minutes. Fortunately the M-scaler works great with the Blu2 off!

Initial impressions of the Topping are positive. It is a bit softer sounding than the M-scaled Dave. I find the Dave with M-scaler quite analytical sounding. It’s like increasing the sharpening control on your TV. It seems like you’re getting more detail. The first rule the professional TV/front projector calibrators tell you is to turn the damn sharpening control down because all it adds is noise. The real world has soft edges, not artificially sharpened ones.

The Topping shows you the power of digital miniaturization — It’s the size and weight of a small paperback book and works quietly and flawlessly without the drama of the Chord duo, which lights up like a Christmas tree every time the playlist ends or there is a format change (Chord likes disco style flashing lights, I guess). Topping uses an OLED display that is less jarring than Chord’s Times Square billboard like display.

But I have to do a more thorough evaluation. But for $500, it’s a screaming bargain. I got the discontinued model with the better AKM DAC. That factory sadly burned down recently so Topping now uses a different DAC.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 4:16 PM Post #18,386 of 22,762

QuantumKat

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No Bartok but the conclusion seems to be the same :

Nice...

Looks like I'm down to Chord Dave w/ mScaler vs. Bartok (or Rossini).
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 4:31 PM Post #18,387 of 22,762

adrianm

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Nice...

Looks like I'm down to Chord Dave w/ mScaler vs. Bartok (or Rossini).
One thing to keep in mind is that the M-scaler does come with some headaches attached (RF noise so either ferrite cables or a battery), but there is a new , Choral chassis one coming out next year which will hopefully address them.
And you also have to consider a separate streamer, which frustratingly also makes a difference. So not as elegant , but a lot of people here would rather have this than the DCS stuff.
You might say the DCS stuff gets software update to keep it relevant, however with Dave you're essentially getting software + hardware updates in the form of a new M-scaler, which i'd rather have to be honest, software can only get you so far.
You should definitely audition the combos for yourself and consider Dave and the M-scaler a package deal.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 4:43 PM Post #18,388 of 22,762

QuantumKat

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One thing to keep in mind is that the M-scaler does come with some headaches attached (RF noise so either ferrite cables or a battery), but there is a new , Choral chassis one coming out next year which will hopefully address them.
And you also have to consider a separate streamer, which frustratingly also makes a difference. So not as elegant , but a lot of people here would rather have this than the DCS stuff.
You might say the DCS stuff gets software update to keep it relevant, however with Dave you're essentially getting software + hardware updates in the form of a new M-scaler, which i'd rather have to be honest, software can only get you so far.
You should definitely audition the combos for yourself and consider Dave and the M-scaler a package deal.
The all-in-one convenience factor is making me lean Bartok. Once I get an mScaler with the Dave, the price isn't much different anymore.
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 4:44 PM Post #18,389 of 22,762

The Jester

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All FPGA chips are reprogrammable so there’s 2 paths, with Chord it seems “job done” in optimising software for a certain size FPGA and move on with upcoming newer hardware, or continue optimising with regular software updates, the cynical may suggest that could be used to fine tune a “house sound” more pleasing to owners and reviewers than any sonic improvements ?
 
Nov 28, 2021 at 4:56 PM Post #18,390 of 22,762

sm60

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One thing to keep in mind is that the M-scaler does come with some headaches attached (RF noise so either ferrite cables or a battery), but there is a new , Choral chassis one coming out next year which will hopefully address them.
And you also have to consider a separate streamer, which frustratingly also makes a difference. So not as elegant , but a lot of people here would rather have this than the DCS stuff.
You might say the DCS stuff gets software update to keep it relevant, however with Dave you're essentially getting software + hardware updates in the form of a new M-scaler, which i'd rather have to be honest, software can only get you so far.
You should definitely audition the combos for yourself and consider Dave and the M-scaler a package deal.
Amen to that. One lesson owning the Chord duo has taught me is that the M-scaler upscaling game is not worth the candle. The need for garden hose sized coax cables strikes me like this is entirely a crazy solution! My duo is extremely sensitive to RF noise. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend the duo to anyone but a crazy audiophile willing to live on the bleeding edge.
 

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