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What wonderful report and photos, thank you Roy !
What a wonderful report and photos, thank you Roy !
I finally had a chance to spend a couple of hours with my BH/SR009 and Dave(now with about 150 hours on it). Bottom line, I'll be keeping my electrostatic setup. I have to say upfront that I'm a big fan of the sound of tubes(the reason why I sold my KGSSHV Carbon). The trade off is foregoing the superior bass of the Carbon (and the HE1000). In truth, if I didn't have the BH/SR009 I could easily live out my days with HE1000 plugged into Dave. The BH/SR009/Dave, however, is just otherworldly IMHO. The midrange is exceptional and the amount of detail is unmatched by any headphone setup I've ever experienced. My musical tastes, though varied, run preferentially towards listening to the human voice and acoustic instruments and this system puts me right there. Dave, of course, also excels in capturing the timing inherent in performances recorded with few to no overdubs and with and without close miking(though I prefer without). Likewise, the detail and timing in well recorded orchestral music is equally well captured by Dave so it's win win. I must admit that instrumental timbres are reproduced well with both the HE1000 and the Stax setup connected to Dave. In any event, I plan to revisit this issue when my DHC cable arrives.
Romaz, thanks for the excellent Axpona report. With Axpona and CES Vinnie Rossi is 2 for 2 for major kudos. Itappears that that the Harbeth 40.2's are a no brainier for showcasing audio equipment in a well set up room. It's amazing to envision the LIO's DAC synergizing so well in Vinnie's show system to the point where it doesn't become the weak link, especially when you consider the higher end DACs on display at Axpona. A lot of companies, Chord included, could take a page or two from Vinnie's book.
Digital Audio Veracity In Divinity!
[Mod Edit: Please do NOT make more than one post in a row -- use the edit button.]
I'm glad to see another impression closely matching my own experience with the DAVE/BHSE/009, so it's not just my imagination then )
As I've been an electrostatics kinda guy for several years, and have finely honed onto their advantages (and possibly got used to their disadvantages), I'm therefore possibly more critical of any dynamics strengths/weaknesses than most.
However, I still like the idea of a simpler DAVE->Dynamics alternative for when I want to skip the ritual of firing up the main rig (I find the BHSE sounds OK after an hour, better after 2, and subtly on a higher plain of magic after 4. But sometimes I don't want to wait 4 hours). So although I was severely disappointed with the HD800S, I feel that the HE-1000 may be more to my taste, and await your opinion on the posh cables when you get them - to see if you find the same big improvement that others have noted.
To complete the picture, the LCD-4 is not as high a contender at the moment because of weight/comfort/reliability and the Abyss is out because I refuse to put anything on my head that looks like a medieval instrument of torture.
esimms -- off topic but did you find the Harbeth 40.2 good for insight and detail? I sold my HL5s a few years ago because they seemed to miss and gloss over critical musical information to the point of being mid-fi to my ears and very unsatisfying for high end.
I called them anti-analytical to the max. I am not familiar with how the 40s sound (although the reviews I read say you have to be careful to avoid overdone bass). Thanks.
(I guess this should go in another thread somewhere so as not to clutter this one.)
Rgs9200m, I'm sorry if I misled you. I haven't had a chance to hear the 40.2's, rather, I was commenting on the very positive accounts I've read in conjunction with reviews of the Vinnie Rossi displays at the most recent CES and Axpona shows.
No problem Esau, thanks for that and I enjoy your posts and observations.
Aurender W20/USB vs Aurender N10/AES vs laptop/USB on the DAVE
On day 2 of AXPONA, I had a chance to listen to an Aurender with my DAVE once again but this time, it was the more expensive Aurender W20. The Aurender dealer (Essential Audio) was kind enough to shut down his room early (by about 3 pm and the show closed at 4pm) and he basically gave me his room to use for my testing and so these were not show conditions but a quiet room. While the Aurender dealer vacated the room so he could look around at some of the other rooms, two people remained who I used as blind testers. Both were knowledgeable audiophiles. Duke LeJeune, owner of AudioKinesis and maker of the custom speakers that were being demonstrated in the room (which were wonderful, by the way) was one. Melissa Owen, owner of Clarity Cable and maker of high end cables including a $1,200 USB cable she named the "Natural" was the other and her products were being demonstrated in the room also. Melissa was kind enough to allow me to test my Curious USB cable against her much more expensive "Natural" USB cable. Unfortunately, she did not have an AES/EBU cable on hand and so I could not perform this comparison.
I recognized that these two individuals would probably have a bias towards Melissa's USB cable and the Aurender W20 because these two items were specifically being showcased in this room but I found a way to blind them from both the source (Aurender W20 vs laptop) and the cable (Curious vs Natural). I selected the first 30 seconds of 3 tracks -- a Redbook, 24/192 PCM and a DSD128 file (live female vocal, small ensemble acoustical jazz, large orchestra). While both Duke and Melissa were blinded, I was not because I was responsible for switching the source and the cables. What I learned from my first round of blind testing with the DAVE is that because the DAVE can make everything sound good, if you wait too long (more than a minute), it becomes difficult to detect differences and so I was able to switch sources or switch cables within about 15 seconds. It became much easier to detect differences this way.
This is what we found and the opinions were unanimous:
Aurender W20/USB vs laptop/USB: The Aurender was better than my laptop in terms of "openness" and clarity and the difference was clearly heard by all and was unmistakable but the difference was not large (maybe 10% better). Without question, the laptop sounded very good and we all agreed we could live with either although given the choice, we all preferred the W20.
$400 Curious USB vs $1,200 Natural USB by Clarity Cable: This surprised me but the Natural USB cable was noticeably better and again the difference was the soundstage seemed bigger and there was a bit more clarity. The difference here was not as great, maybe 5-7%.
With the laptop/Curious USB vs the W20/Natural USB, the difference was greater still, maybe 15% in favor of the W20/Natural USB.
Since the Aurender W20 sells for nearly $17,000 and the Natural USB cable sells for $1,200, is this improvement worth >$18k (or roughly 1.5x the price of the DAVE)? I'm not sure this difference is worth it for me, especially since I'd have to give up Roon but it could be worth it for others, especially if you already own a W20.
What about Aurender W20/Natural USB vs Aurender N10/Nordost AES? While I was unable to do a direct A/B, I would have to say my impression of the N10/AES was significantly better than the W20/USB. If I had to place a number, I would say the N10/AES represented maybe a 20% improvement with respect to a more "open" and a clearer sound. If you have a DAVE and a W20 or N10 (or any source with AES output), I would suggest you try out AES on your DAVE.
Whether this is an Aurender phenomenon where their AES implementation is really good while their USB implementation is substandard or whether AES as a standard has the potential to be superior to USB with the DAVE, I'm not sure I can say. Do you need to spend $4,200 on an AES cable to get superior sound? Again, I'm not sure. I would encourage Beolab and Holeout to report on their findings. I know with iSquirrel's testing with his W20, AES was clearly superior to USB on his Select II and so what I'm hearing is likely very real.
I have requested to have the Aurender N10 shipped to me again along with a variety of AES cables but also that Natural USB cable and so I will perform further testing in the next couple of weeks and so I will report back...
@romaz, using audioquest two jitterbug in the USB inputs of laptop improved the sound considerably. that the difference between the laptop and aurender can be further reduced !
jitterbugs, with that .
Before you think you have to spend a lot of money for something like an Aurender N10 and an expensive AES cable to make your DAVE sound better, you don't. I discovered something else at AXPONA and the improvement I am hearing with my DAVE is even greater compared to what I heard with the Aurender N10 on AES. Even better, this upgrade will cost you about $300-$900 but I can assure you, the improvement is worthwhile. In the same way that the N10 on AES resulted in a more open and clearer sound, this little upgrade does the same but to a greater degree!
I have seen this little device advertised before and I filed it under "snake oil." It just didn't make sense to me and it sounded like a scam. Well, I decided to listen to the demo which involved playback from a modest CD player. With and without this device, the difference was almost too good to be true and I kept thinking there must be some secret trick at play. I also kept thinking that because the DAVE is different, it may be immune to the effects of this device. I spoke at length with Rick Schultz, the owner of the company and inventor of this technology. He, in fact, owns several patents for this technology and so you can get this technology only through his company. There was very little sales pressure and he offered to have me take this device home to try in my system and if it made no significant difference, he even agreed to pay for return shipping. With this kind of guarantee and based on what I heard at the demo, I paid him my money and installed this device last night. I only had about 30 minutes of free time to listen but in that 30 minutes, I heard nothing. Because he said it would take time, I took another listen this evening and I'm listening now as I write this and all I can say is "wow!" This is the real deal and the difference is NOT subtle. Not only does my music sound clearer and cleaner, the transitions are snappier and yet it all sounds natural with no etch or grain. To say that I have never heard my DAVE sound this good would be an understatement. The difference I am hearing is greater than what I heard with the Aurender N10 + Nordost AES cable. This improvement is greater than what I am hearing with my Silver Spore4, Challenger AE15 digital mains cable or Son of Q balanced power supply. This technology, IMHO, is so incredible I have asked Rick to send me his lineup for testing. While some of his items can be expensive (>$20,000), they start at a reasonable $300.
What is this technology? This is what I took home with me and it's made by High Fidelity Cables:
You connect one end to the RCA analog outputs of the DAVE and you connect your RCA interconnect cable to the other end. If you want to go the extra mile, you can buy a 2nd pair (for another $300) and connect them to the amp side. If you're ambitious and you have another $300 lying around, try this one also:
It plugs into a spare receptacle on your power block, conditioner or wall receptacle and the difference will be at least as great based on what I heard at the show but don't take my word for it, if you don't notice a difference on your setup, you can return them for a full refund. They are based on magnetic conduction technology and work differently than an Entreq grounding box, Shunyata Triton/Typhon or any other power conditioner. There are quite a few reviews from reputable reviewers that I read through tonight and each review says the same thing, that this technology made the reviewer's system sound better than they had ever heard it before. Here is a video that explains it:
If you want to try out a pair, PM me and I can provide you Rick's e-mail address.
Btw, in case I now sound like a hired pitchman for this company, that's not the case
I have a few here and will try them.
Hi romaz, very interesting posts - yet again.
From memory, your earlier posts I think said that you could hear no (or very little) differences between sources and digital cables into the DAVE (apologies if I remembered that wrong).
But now you've found some examples where both sources and input cables do make a difference to the DAVE - whether that SQ difference is worth the price difference is a separate question.
Romaz, thanks for the intriguing report on High Fidelity Cables. The RCA interconnect links, BTW, sell for 549 a pair at the HFC website.
Of course, for those of us using Dave solely in a headphone based system the MC -0.5(shown in the 2nd picture) would be the ticket. And yes, the same discount is in effect for buying two.
Great to hear that my ears are not outdated yet, the DAVE are not totally immune like i have discovered and stated in a perviously post.
Yes i got the Aurender W20 and the DAVE, and have not have time to test AES yet in fact, but i will loan a Transparent AES and try as soon as possible.
But what i can tell everyone is that the Aurender W20 with 2x AQ Diamond 0,75 m USB + Regen is a clear winner, very nice fluidness, 3D depht / rischness and sound as a great High End SACD player, but with more realness to the sound.
Second place is my Mac Book Pro Retina SSD with Roon , Amarra , BitPerfect applications.
Third place is the Auralic Aries that have a very high clarity to every tone, but are a little thin and little to bright overall and miss out a little in the bottom information.