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CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by magiccabbage, May 14, 2015.
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  1. Muataz
    This thread is very interesting. I'm not an expert but I believe the difference @romaz heard has something related to the signal is not 100% pit-perfect from the laptop compare to Aurender.
    @romaz Do you think a device like the ifi-usb3.0 could feed the Dave perfectly from the laptop, as ifi claims some interesting features ?
    http://ifi-audio.com/portfolio-view/micro-iusb3-0/
     
  2. shuttlepod
    Roy--
     
    Very interesting findings, thank you for reporting them. I have a few reactions:
     
    1) Regarding sources, I think for the vast majority of us the choice between an Aurender W20 and a cheap laptop (or other relatively inexpensive source) would be pretty clear. A gain of 10% is not worth $17k. For me, the choice is even more clear, as Aurender is not Roon "ready" (at least yet). Roon is an essential part of my musical enjoyment.
     
    The more interesting question for me relates to the forthcoming Sonore microRendu that has generated great anticipation at computeraudiophile.com. This will be priced at $640, is Roon ready, and has software modes that are compatible with lots of other configurations. It remains to be seen how well it will compete with servers that are many multiples of its price tag, but the early reports from prototype users are certainly encouraging. The microRendu needs a very good power supply, but there will be plenty of options to choose from at a variety of price points. For me, the question is whether the microRendu would be a significant improvement on Sonore's Sonicorbiter. If I buy a DAVE, I will likely buy one of these two Sonore products. 
     
    2) I'm surprised that people heard a difference among USB cables, although 5-7% is not a big difference and also calls into question the price/performance ratio. 
     
    3) A 20% improvement with the AES input on an Aurender N10 raises a number of questions, as you pointed out. From a value standpoint, the pressing question is whether this type of performance gain could be replicated with a significantly less expensive cable and with a significantly less expensive source. As I pointed out in a previous post, there are various converters on the market that will take a USB signal and convert it to AES. One of the members of our community, izzard1982, said that he had one of these converters and would test it with an AES cable and his DAVE. Any findings, izzard? And we look forward to your observations, Roy, when using the AES output on an Aurender N10. 
     
    4) High Fidelity Cables has made a splash in certain high end circles in the last couple of years. I own a pair of their CT-1 Enhanced RCA interconnects and that is what I used to audition DAVE a few weeks ago. What I did not do was compare the HFC cables with my other interconnect, a WyWires Gold. 
     
    About two years ago I was in the market for cables and compared interconnects and speaker cables from Audience, WyWires, Auditorium 23, and High Fidelity Cables. Although I assumed, prior to auditioning the cables, that there would be synergy in a full loom of cables from a single company, that turned out not to be the case. The cable that made the single biggest difference in my system was a pair of speaker cables designed by my speaker designer, Lou Hinckley of Daedalus Audio, and manufactured for him by WyWires. This makes more sense when you realize that the speaker cables are designed to work with, and very closely match, the internal wiring in my Daedalus Athena speakers. 
     
    I did find, however, that the High Fidelity Cables interconnects sounded fantastic. I ultimately decided to buy the CT-1 Enhanced interconnect from HFC and a WyWires Gold, which performed on a similar level but gave me a different flavor. I tend to use the WyWires between my phono stage and amplifier, and the HFC cable between dac and amplifier. As you ascend the HFC cable line, performance is said to increase, but at increasingly painful prices. 
     
    But I am very tempted to try the MC - 0.5 Magnetic Wave Guide (where does he come up with these names?). This is the little device you plug into an unused outlet. With the ability to return the device after auditioning, it seems like a no-brainer. 
     
    Roy, if you will be auditioning various cables from HFC, I wouldn't be surprised if you end up purchasing a pair -- the magnetic adapters you are so impressed with are only supposed to give you a "taste" of what the cables are capable of. At any rate, I'll be interested in your observations. 
     
  3. lovethatsound
    Hi Guys
    Some very interesting reading on here lately.Does any one on here use stillpoints with there Dave?if so,what do you think of them.how many do you use with the Dave?:blush:
     
  4. shuttlepod

    I used three Stillpoints Ultra Minis with DAVE during my two-week audition, sitting on an IKEA bamboo cutting board, which itself sat on a Finite Elemente rack with Cerabase footers. I did not do a comparison with and without Stillpoints. But I have found Stillpoints to be effective under dacs (though I find them to be even more effective under speakers, power conditioners, and amps). I am currently auditioning a Schiit Yggy and started out without Stillpoints. After a few days, I inserted the Stillpoints/IKEA combo, and there was immediate better overall focus. 
     
    IMO, Stillpoints are extremely effective and well worth their price (I spent $2k on 8 Stillpoints under my $12k speakers -- absolutely worth it). 
     
    According to Rob, the DAVE should benefit from isolation tweaks. 
     
  5. izzard1982
    Hi shuttlepod,sorry for the delay. I did the comparison between direct USB from laptop and Yellowtec PUC2 to AES connection as well as Regen (Beolab mentioned he used it in his system with DAVE so I wanted to see if I can find something new) earlier today, and the conclusion is this, direct USB connection is better than the other two options which in both cases, at the beginning I thought they sounded smoother and more nature, but after a while, I realized that comparing to USB, they both sounded veiled, the space between notes were not as clear (especially when playing some piano tracks). And the overall sound just appeared to be loose and less real where USB sounded dense and more real.
     
    Keep in mind that the Yellowtec PUC2 is a $470 USB interface and the AES cable I used was DH Labs D-110 which costs $99, so my finding doesn't mean that the AES input is not good, it's very likely that if connected to the Aurrender and the megabucks Nordost cable Romaz mentioned, it can beat USB easily. Although it's another thing if you think the price differences are justified.   
     
  6. romaz
    During my group's initial round of blind testing some months ago, what I posted was that when sighted, some of us (myself included) believed that the Aurender N10 layered details a bit better but once we were blinded, neither of us could really state a preference for one source over another.  In other words, they all sounded very good.  As I reviewed my methodology during that round of testing, one of the things that could have been performed better was the time interval in between testing one source over another.  Because of how my equipment was set up, it took more than a minute (sometimes several minutes) before I could switch sources and because the DAVE can make all sources sound very good, with the amount of time elapsed, all that each of us could say was that each presentation that we heard was outstanding and it was difficult to discern any real difference.
     
    During this more recent round of testing with the Aurender vs a basic laptop, I was able to switch sources much more quickly (about 15 seconds) and I found that it was much easier to discern even small differences, especially if we locked on to a certain point in a track.  
     
    Of interest, upon arriving home and reverting back to my standard configuration of Sonicorbiter SE on USB, at no time am I feeling shortchanged or less than fully engaged in my music.
     
  7. romaz
    This has been Rob's theory as well, that 2 sources that sound different are probably not bit perfect.  With Roon, it's easy to tell when the stream is bitperfect or not.  With the Aurender, it's supposed to be bit perfect but there's no way to know for sure.  
     
    With the Aurender on AES vs USB, since we're dealing with the same source, obviously, the difference that is being heard is due to the connection.  Rob has mentioned that with AES, the quality of the cable used will make much more of a difference compared to USB.
     
    I have looked at the ifi product that you allude to but I have no experience with it.  If you decide to try it out and notice an improvement, please report.
     
  8. shuttlepod

    Hey izzard--
     
    No apologies required -- thank you for doing the comparison! Your findings, combined with Roy's statement that Rob believes that the quality of the AES cable will make a big difference and the fact we are talking about a $470 converter vs. an $8k server, leads me to believe that USB may still be the best choice for those of us who don't want to spend megabucks on a server and AES cable. But we're talking a very small sample size here, so others may provide useful info in the future. 
     
  9. izzard1982
    Also AES only supports up to 192k sample rate so if decided to go that way then all the DXD and DSD are out of the window.
     
    One more thing about USB cable, I can definitely hear differences between my Audience AU24SE USB cable and the stock cable that came with DAVE and it's quite obvious. The Audience cable I'm using is a dual end setup which signal and power are completely separate and I connect the power leg to an external TeddyUSB PSU so it doesn't draw the dirty power from computer, I'm not sure how much this contribute to the differences I heard as DAVE's USB is galvanically isolated. 
     
  10. yellowblue
    Roy, you are writing about differences between laptop and Aurender. What about the Sonicorbiter SE? When I changed from laptop to Sonicorbiter SE (with LPS and good cables and Roon) I got a slight improvement (let´s say 5-10%). But it´s really not easy to hear teh difference. Yesterday I thought I could here an improvement after updating to Roon 1.2. 
    After all we have to ask ourselves if the differences we hear always mean that the sound turns better. The only thing that maybe will be intresting for me (and worth the price) is the upcoming Rendu.
     
  11. shuttlepod

    Very interesting finding regarding the Audience USB cable, which I also own (and found to be excellent with my MacBook Pro and Ayre QB-9 DSD). I was unable to hear differences between this cable, a much older and cheaper Transparent cable, and DAVE's stock cable. But I do not have the dual-ended version of the Audience cable, and you have chosen to power the "power" leg of the cable with an external LPS. This suggests that to me that a device like the Sonore microRendu might have some positive effect in my system by reducing overall electrical noise. But it does run contrary to Rob's statements regarding galvanic isolation of DAVE's USB input and the immunity of DAVE to USB cable variations.
     
  12. izzard1982
    Seems like more testing for me :) 
     
    I will do some more testing on the Audience with and without external PSU, and also compare it to the Cardas Clear USB cable and the stock USB cable and report back my findings.
     
  13. paul79
    Is it a bit perfect issue with the different digital sources or perhaps RFI creeping in with certain digital sources/cables? Could also be noise from these components fed back into the AC causing a "system issue". Thoughts?
     
  14. shuttlepod

    Excellent, izzard. If the sound changes with different cables, it would be great if you could describe what you hear in as much detail as possible (as opposed to:  "X cable sounds better"). Thanks!
     
  15. romaz
     
    Jon, thanks for sharing your experience with the Hi Fidelity cables.  Most tweaks are system dependent but I have to say that I am just floored by what these adapters are doing.  As you've stated, his technology can get painfully expensive really quickly.
     
    I had a conversation with Rick Schultz yesterday and he shared with me that the San Francisco Audiophile Society had a DAC shootout recently and as part of the shootout, his products were also utilized and compared and while I have yet to read the transcripts from this shootout, according to Rick, the consensus was his magnetic gear (both power and interconnects) made a larger impact on SQ than going from one DAC to another although it is unclear specifically which DACs were tested.  I am generally skeptical of such claims but based on what I am hearing with these simple adapters, I'm inclined to believe it could be true.
     
    According to Rick, his power gear is more likely to have a greater impact because "more electrons are involved in AC power than in an audio signal" and that is what his magnetic technology is designed to impact and so his MC-0.5 may provide the best bang for the buck.  He is also trying to develop magnetic adapters for headphone cables and so of course, I volunteered for beta testing duties.
     
    As I am expecting an N10 to arrive for further testing, Rick has also agreed to send me his new Ultimate Reference AES/EBU cable based on the same magnetic technology (MSRP $10,000).  Not that I would ever spend $10k for a cable but if this cable along with the N10 results in the best possible sound my DAVE can produce, then I can better assess the delta between what is possible and what is practical.  I'm hoping the delta won't be that large.
     
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