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CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by magiccabbage, May 14, 2015.
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  1. romaz

    Well said. YMMV. We each live in different environments with varying qualities of power, listening rooms, ancillary equipment and of course, there is the matter of personal preference and so our differing choices probably reflects how we each choose to compensate for the shortcomings in our systems. With regard to settings on the DAVE, like you, I value the ability to switch polarity and I do it often. Unlike you, Crossfeed 3 is quite apparent compared to 0 and I greatly prefer it in all instances and so I never touch this setting.
     
  2. romaz

    Ahh, ok, I get it now and it makes sense because what I heard was not anything special so it was hard to understand what all the fuss is about.
     
  3. romaz
    Interesting thought. I wondered about this when you first reported it but didn't know what to think of it.  I just returned home and while listening to USB, I plugged in an old cheap AES/EBU into the DAVE and heard no change in SQ.  
     
  4. romaz
    Thanks, Jon.  I just returned home from Chicago and so it is late but I will report my findings tomorrow.  Beolab was correct, there are differences with the W20 over even the N10 but there is much more to it than just that.
     
  5. ecwl

    Hmmm... What's the source for AES/EBU? And is the source on to put out a signal to the DAVE because I presume you're still listening to USB through the SonicOrbiter. I'm guessing this is one of those YMMV situation. For me, with the BNC input, the source is miniDSP nanoDIGI B and it was powered by a stock switch-mode power supply and originally hooked up to my Oppo BDP-103 via coaxial. The audio degradation was obvious. When I switched the connection from coaxial to Toslink between the Oppo and miniDSP, the audio degradation was decreased but still clearly audible. Now, I have a linear power supply for the miniDSP and the audio degradation is fairly subtle so I would have to pay a lot of attention to pick out the difference but it's still there.
     
  6. bacon333
    Personally, I really like the TT, always have. Extremely detailed, still musical, but lacks a bit of warmth for a truly euphoric sound. For some studio recordings, it's actually a subtle difference between DAVE and TT (I think I wrote raw notes on some of them). I blind tested my girlfriend and she also couldn't tell the differences between a few tracks. Once we switched to higher-res live recordings, the differences were enormous and obvious. I think I could say safely, it's a champ under the $8k bracket :)
     
    From the DACs I've heard, right under $10k before taxes/shipping...if I already have a decent streamer/music server, I think the MSB Analog w/power base (without Quad USB or upgraded power cord) is probably the better sounding DAC. 
     
  7. bacon333
    Great question and I apologize for the ambiguity. I'll update the post to clarify.
     
    When I switch between Crossfeed 0 and 3 with just the Lumin, the holistic sonic differences were significant (Hopefully someone else with a Lumin S1 could confirm this). With the DAVE not so much. However, with Crossfeed 3, both the Lumin and the DAVE sounded more similar and I couldn't immediately tell the difference (like I did with Crossfeed 0)...but in the end, the Lumin still had more depth, tighter, and a quieter background. 
     
    I hope that clears it up!
     
  8. shuttlepod
    Ok, Bacon, thanks for taking the time to clarify that. I think it's interesting that some folks hear significant differences between different crossfeeds. I recognize that some of this may be due to the sources we are using. But some of it may be due to individual differences in our hearing and the sonic qualities that each of us zeroes in on when listening. For example, I put a high premium on tone (both timbre and the extent to which tone is more substantive or less substantive). Roy clearly has a very keen ear for depth, space, layering, and air. So too with Bacon, it would appear. That might explain, to some degree, why Roy and Bacon hear significant differences with different crossfeeds, while The Attorney and I have not. Just speculation.
     
  9. rgs9200m
    Thanks Bacon a lot for your answer on my TT question. Best to you again.
     
  10. bacon333
    Which headphones are you using again? 
     
    Roy was there when I swapped between the crossfeed settings on the DAVE and it didn't take more than 5 minutes for me to settle on crossfeed 3. I get a much more natural sound and a better sense of the space and air. It just sounds more "as-intended" to my ears. Not to mention, with the Abyss, crossfeed 0 actually comes off a bit harsh and artificial in the treble region (anyone else with Abyss + DAVE notice this? @Beolab). Switching back to 3 and I'm in a happy place.
     
    As you mentioned, I'm also thinking "significant differences" is correlated to sonic qualities that we zero in on as well. I think tone is superb on both but I preferred the more cohesive delivery of 3.
     
  11. Beolab

    Yes i do not use the crossfeed setting 1 or 2 at all, i toggle btw setting 0 (off) or 3, and i just find a slight more grain and a litte less scale of space in the top end in setting 3, so it is little more intimate if you like it like that.

    It is more a matter of taste and i have sometimes hard to distinguish what is really better, or if it just another presentation of the sound. It is a big question on how was it intended to sound from the mastering studio, so i test on my ATC SCM50 SL A Speakers as a "reference " or go to a classic concert to be really sure of how it should sound.
     
  12. shuttlepod

    I was using both an HE1000 (with upgraded cable) and an unmodified HD800 (with stock cable) when auditioning DAVE over a two-week period. Mostly, though, I was listening through my two-channel loudspeaker system. Most of my listening was with crossfeed 0 and I didn't really spend a lot of time switching back and forth. If I end up purchasing a DAVE, I will certainly play around with this some more. 
     
  13. romaz
    Sorry, I misunderstood you.  I thought you were saying you were noticing a drop in SQ just by having a BNC cable plugged into the DAVE and not necessarily having it plugged into a source.  Right now, I don't have an AES/EBU source and so I just plugged in an AES/EBU cable into the DAVE but what you're saying makes more sense.  With my TotalDac, when a digital input wasn't being used, it was designed to be completely decoupled from ground and so this type of negative impact was not possible.  I don't know if the DAVE has been designed this way.
     
  14. romaz
    AXPONA with the DAVE
     
    While my DAVE has nowhere near the 150,000 miles that Rob's DAVE has logged, it is on its way, having logged more than 4,000 miles this weekend as it traveled from northern California to Chicago and back.  I found a nice padded backpack with 3 compartments that nicely fits my DAVE, HE-1000, Silver Spore4 and laptop perfectly and so I was able to make the trip without checking any bags.  Unfortunately, my DAVE was mistaken for a possible weapon of mass destruction by the TSA at each airport which resulted in delays and it nearly caused me to miss my flight on the way home from O'Hare airport.  What I will say is that the DAVE is a ready and willing travel companion and very capably handled the trip.  It even allowed me to enjoy the same music I enjoy listening to at home in my hotel room.
     
    DAVEinbackpack.jpg
     
    The DAVE traveled with me everywhere and for the first time, I was able to hear it in some very high-end systems (>$200,000).  From a cold start (sometimes less than 5 minutes of warm up) and with none of the special isolation accoutrements I have at home, it willingly challenged anything that allowed itself to be challenged, both DACs and turntables, and in each instance and without exception, it acquitted itself very well.  If there is a finer source for the money, I have yet to hear it.  If there is a DAC that better embodies the DAVE's ability to portray that "you are there" sense of depth and scale while always remaining non-fatiguingly musical, I have yet to hear it.  As I plan in earnest to build my dream 2-channel system in the next 2 years (when my youngest son leaves for college), I have a much better sense of what I want and the DAVE will be at the center of it all. 
     
    As for my favorite rooms at AXPONA, here are a few that stood out (no particular order):
     
    1.  Magico 
     
    Magico.jpg
     
    When the day comes, I am fairly certain I will be buying a pair of Magicos although exactly which pair is uncertain.  The new S5 Mark IIs were center stage and were every bit as good as I imagined.  Magico relied mostly on analog sources (turntable and reel to reel).  It's clear from the show that the "old guard" audiophiles remain wary of digital.  This was one room where the DAVE had no opportunity to present itself.
     
    2.  MSB Select II
     
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    The MSB Select II has been spoken of frequently on the DAVE thread and I'm sure MSB is as tired of being compared to the DAVE in the same way that Chord is tired of being compared to something like the Schiit Yggy but the reality is that if you are going to claim to be the best at something then you have to be prepared for the incessant comparisons.  With that said, IMO, no one puts together a room at these shows better than MSB and the experience at AXPONA was every bit as good as the one at CES in Las Vegas in January.  First, they always choose nice intimate sized rooms and then select speakers well suited to the size of the room.  Where everyone else opens up their drapes so that listeners are forced to stare at the glare through the window, MSB draws their drapes and puts in comfortable mood lighting.  Instead of having their product harshly backlit by the sun through the window, MSB has tasteful spot lighting to illuminate their products.  Where most rooms (Chord included) are full of all kinds of gear (turntables, DACs, cable displays, several sets of speakers) that can be distracting, in the MSB room, the only thing you notice is their silver Select II DAC because everything else is a more muted color.  Most importantly, and I cannot state this enough, MSB actually played music that was challenging for DACs to portray well.  There was no "Spanish Harlem" by Rebecca Pidgeon that many rooms were playing.  Those of you who know this piece know that this track can be made to sound good on a Bose system.  How did it sound?  Regardless of the controversy of how MSB reports its measurements, this is a very very good DAC and deserves to be in any conversation of best DAC in the world (IMHO).  Is it worth the $130,000+ they are charging for a fully configured Select II?  I don't know but as it has been rumored that MSB sold out their first run of Select IIs even before they shipped a single unit,  this may have turned out to be a brilliant marketing strategy.  They may not have sold attracted as much attention if they sold this unit for $25,000.  Did I dare ask if I could compare my DAVE to the Select II?  No, I think that would have been in poor taste.
     
    3.  Wilson ALEXX
     
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    This was the grandest room of the show and this large room held almost a hundred seats.  If there was a room that could convincingly present a large orchestra full scale, this was it.  As you can see, they chose to go with the DCS quad stack but the best sound came from the reel to reel.  The Transparent cabling alone listed for more than $100k.  
     
    4.  Vinnie Rossi LIO and Harbeth 40.2 monitors
     
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    This room probably is in my top 2 favorite rooms at AXPONA.  For those who have not heard the Harbeth 40.2 monitors, which despite their large size can be used as near-field
    monitors even in a large room, they are supremely musical and for acoustical music (singer/songwriter, jazz, classical), they are very hard to beat (probably even better than Magicos).  If I don't get Magicos, I will probably get Harbeths (or something similar like Omegas).  Even if I get a pair of Magicos (which are better for large orchestral music and amplified music), I may still get a pair of Harbeths.  The midrange of these speakers are second to none, the bass is potent and no subwoofer is necessary (even with a 25 watt amplifier) and the coherence of all the drivers is simply seamless.  If there was a "you are there" presentation at AXPONA for acoustical music, this was it.  Vinnie was using his LIO, a modular design that can be configured with different options including a delta sigma DAC, phono preamp with tube linestage, headphone amp and 25 watt class AB mosfet amp.  I asked Vinnie if I could connect my DAVE and bypass his internal DAC and he graciously agreed but unfortunately, he failed to outfit this LIO with line inputs because he wasn't anticipating anyone bringing their own DAC along (lol).  
     
    5.  CHORD
     
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    To be up front, having the Chord room as a favorite was not a given.  I was not a fan of their 2 channel setup at CES in January and if that was all I had to go by, I probably would not have bought a DAVE.  The Vienna Acoustics speakers they selected for CES I felt were ill-fitted for the cavernous suite they were in and the tuning could have been better.  At AXPONA, it was a different story.  While the MSB room was still the most inviting, ultimately one comes to AXPONA to hear good music and Jay Rein, Chord's US distributor did a very fine job.  Before I entered most rooms, if I was hearing something sound really good, I assumed it was coming from an analog source and in most cases, I was right.  Before I entered the Chord room (not realizing it was the Chord room), I heard a complex jazz piece playing that sounded so spectacularly good that I immediately assumed it must be coming from an analog source because with the exception of the MSB room, no one else had been playing complex and challenging music through their DACs (studio singer/songwriter was the norm).  Upon entering the room and seeing the DAVE on the rack, I still assumed vinyl was playing because the turntable above the DAVE was spinning.  Upon closer inspection, it became clear this masterful portrayal of a very complex piece was being brought to me courtesy of the DAVE.  
     
    onsionsi and paulchiu like this.
  15. isquirrel
    In general I find AES to have more air and none as far as I can hear compression vs USB. Happy to report I have found IMHO a new king of USB cables, the Transparent Premium, it is reasonably priced at US $595 RRP for 1 metre, so I imagine you could buy it for a little less. 
     
    http://www.transparentcable.com/products/show_product.php?recID=91&catID=3&perfID=1&modCAT=1
     
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