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CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by magiccabbage, May 14, 2015.
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  1. paulchiu
     
    lol yes.  it is probably more than most small cars in France, like a Volkswagen Polo.
     
    paul
     
  2. onsionsi

    Yes you are alright I looked to a good AMP to HEK then I decided to buy MHA100 from couple of days and I bought it based on a praising to it from audiophile in this forum.
    Many reviewers said that the built in DAC in MHA100 is decent but it can't reach to the level of chord hugo, total dac, dave and Bricasti M1 SE.
    One more thing, I found the Yggdrasil is a good DAC so, do you think it is outperform the MHA100 built in DAC by a vastly margin.
    As far as I know you tried a speaker amp in MHA100 and you appreciated the sound from it over the one came from autoformers so, I thought this speaker amp may outperform the built in one in DAVE.
     
  3. Torq

    Yggdrasil is way better than the DAC in the MHA100.
     
    But then so is the much cheaper Mojo or, for that matter, the basic Schiit Bifrost.
     
    The MHA100 DAC is, in no way, on any plane, anywhere vaguely close to the Hugo, TotalDAC, DAVE or Bricasti units.  I'm in the process of a huge evaluation of such DACs, including the McIntosh begin discussed here, so I've got some recent hands-on (ears-on) experience with all of these units.
     
  4. x RELIC x Contributor
    I would say as an observer of Torq's observations he has been objective and reasonable throughout his auditions. It's a HUGE undertaking and he has reported very useful content to his thread regarding different DACs, regardless if one will agree or disagree with his findings.
     
  5. bigfatpaulie
     
    Agreed.  The MHA100 DAC seems to be like a an inexpensive afterthought/addon in the unit.  Pretty much anything will match or best it.
     
  6. romaz
    Yes, I would agree.  The DAC in the MHA100 is the weakest link and all of those other DACs you mentioned should easily outperform it.  Everyone will have their opinion but for me, aside from the recording, the DAC is the most critical part of a digital audio chain.  If it's not right at the DAC, then you can't make up for it with a good amp, cables, headphones or speakers.  I think those who own a DAVE understand this very well.
     
    While I thought the built-in headphone amp in the MHA100 was pretty good, my opinion is that the DAVE's headphone amp performs at a much higher level and this is because the DAC and headphone signal are "one."  I have never heard the HEK sound better than directly connected to the DAVE.
     
    As for the MHA's speaker amp, as Torq has mentioned, the DAVE does NOT have a built-in speaker amp and so there is nothing to compare.  Rob is designing a special external speaker amp that will attach to the DAVE using digital cables that will have the same transparency as the DAVE's headphone output.  Once you have heard how good the DAVE's headphone output sounds, then you can imagine how good this speaker amp might sound. That is one key reason why this amp is expected to be so special.  While I have not heard it, I have a hard time imagining that the MHA100's speaker amp can compete with it but it would be unfair to make any definitive statements at this time.  
     
    Mist3rLao likes this.
  7. romaz
    I think the MHA100 plays to the strengths and weakness of its creator.  McIntosh is better known for their preamps and amps than their DACs.  I think the DAC in the MHA100 is as good a DAC as they know how to make.
     
  8. bigfatpaulie
     
    Haha!  Don't let us know how you feel about the D100 :)  It's okay, we share the same opinion.
     
    Anyway, @onsionsi I think the consensus is that the DAVE outperforms the MHA100 as a DAC/amp combo across the board for headphone use.  
     
  9. romaz
    Actually, I wasn't trying to be funny.  I read that they use a variation of essentially the same DAC across their entire product line and so it would seem that this is as good a DAC as they know how to make.
     
  10. romaz
    Much has been made about the autoformers McIntosh uses.  Autoformers are used for a variety of reasons but in the MHA100, they are used to adjust the headphone amp's output impedance down to as low as 8 ohms.  The output impedance of most headphone amps seems to range anywhere from 0.5 ohms at best (i.e. GSX Mk2) to about 50 ohms at worst and so some would look at 8 ohms as being decent.
     
    While this is low enough to drive a challenging load like the HEK, which has an input impedance of 35 ohms, this isn't ideal because this leaves you with a damping factor of only about 4 when >8 is supposed to be ideal and the higher, the better.  As many know, too low of a damping factor leads to many problems including inadequate dynamics, unpredictable frequency response and poor control leading to boomy/flabby bass and is one metric where solid state amps often are superior to tube amps.  For the HEK to sound its best, you really need a source with an output impedance of 4 or less.  Some IEMs (Etymotic HF5) have input impedances as low as 16 ohms and so an ideal headphone source should have an output impedance of <2 to be able to drive anything.  Consequently, the MHA100 will struggle to drive many planars and IEMs to their best potential.
     
    This is another reason why almost no other DACs (or preamps) can drive headphones directly (especially planars) and why the DAVE is so special.  Most DACs/preamps start to boast when their output impedance approaches down to about 100 ohms (and to be fair, this is as low as they need to go to drive just about any amplifier which is what DACs and preamps are designed to drive).  An Esoteric CD player, for example, gets down to about 120.  Pass Labs' best preamp also gets down to 120.  MSB's best DAC, the Select II gets down to about 70.  Same thing goes for the Schiit Yggy.  The TotalDac d1-monobloc I used to own had a remarkably low output impedance of about 18 ohms which is why this is one of the few DACs that can drive headphones, even planars directly although with the HEK, this amounted to a damping factor of only 2.  What about the DAVE?  Not only does its headphone output directly tap the DAC signal like the TotalDac but Chord also lists an output impedance of 0.0055 ohms!  Game over.  Because of short circuit protection built into it, it looks as if the damping factor was capped at 145 but you get the point.  Probably only an FPGA DAC can achieve this but this is why the DAVE directly can optimally drive any single headphone load better than anything else.
     
    Mist3rLao likes this.
  11. TSAVJason
    I think I'd like to test these statements. I have a copy of nearly every high quality planar at home or in my showroom. I also have the MHA100 & DAVE in my showroom. Give me the models of headphones you believe the MHA100 would have an issue driving. I'd like to test this with my headphone aficionado friends and I. Also would you mind elaborating on impedance as you wrote 8ohms. I'm confused by that. The speaker out is an autoformer. This is designed to look at loads as low as 2ohms and has no issues out to 16ohms. The headphone output has to gain stages, normal - high. It's been said in many credible articles that the McIntosh can drive just about any dynamic and planar headphone. So far, I've only tried MrSpeakers, HE-X, HE1000, and every Audeze. I'm very interested in knowing more on this topic so please share so I can do further comparisons.
     
    The Source AV TSAVJason Stay updated on The Source AV at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    https://www.facebook.com./pages/The-Source-AV-Design-Group/153623164648713 http://www.twitter.com/TheSourceAV http://www.instagram.com/Thesourceavdesign http://thesourceav.com/ Products@TheSourceAV.com
  12. paulchiu
     
    Do you have Sennheiser HE-1 in your showroom?
     
  13. TSAVJason
    No but I do have a prototype at home. I am a Sennheiser dealer and have nearly every current model too.
     
    The Source AV TSAVJason Stay updated on The Source AV at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    https://www.facebook.com./pages/The-Source-AV-Design-Group/153623164648713 http://www.twitter.com/TheSourceAV http://www.instagram.com/Thesourceavdesign http://thesourceav.com/ Products@TheSourceAV.com
  14. paulchiu
     
    Prototype?  Is this pre-production?  
     
  15. TSAVJason
    It's labeled "prototype" it's not mine it belongs to Sennheiser. Sadly it leaves here soon. It's kind of cool but honesty if I had that kind of money I don't think I'm gadget crazy enough to buy one. But it's an electrostat ....so not relevant to my question
     
    The Source AV TSAVJason Stay updated on The Source AV at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    https://www.facebook.com./pages/The-Source-AV-Design-Group/153623164648713 http://www.twitter.com/TheSourceAV http://www.instagram.com/Thesourceavdesign http://thesourceav.com/ Products@TheSourceAV.com
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