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CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE

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

    Maybe my diplomatic Chinese Canadian self would put it differently. I think other product designers are genuinely convinced of the merits other DAC designs such as R2R, DSD/PWM or DAC chips. However, in order to compensate for the inherent challenges for these DAC designs, those designers would need to compensate for these challenges with improved power supply, reduction in jitter (expensive clocks) or bespoke PCB. I'm guessing one example would be that if a DAC design is inherently prone to jitter, you're going to have to put in a more and more expensive clock to hopefully compensate for it. It's an imperfect solution but what else can you really do?
     
    romaz and maxh22 like this.
  2. TheAttorney
    The fact that DAVE does include an integrated headphone amp, and is small and light and highly transportable (i.e. it did not have huge impressive looking transformers) - these were key factors that caused me to buy one.
     
    I've had my fair share of over sized over weight high end components over the years - and nothing wrong with that if it improves performance in some way, but these days I'm more impressed when the same or better results can be achieved with smaller, lighter and cleverer alternatives. I'm not saying that DAVE is perfect in every way for me for me, but I'm certainly not going to mark it down just because it's small, light and integrated. Times they are a changing.
     
  3. Jawed
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/766517/chord-electronics-dave/1890#post_12387247

    There is no getting used to a recording that is broken by crossfeed: when it becomes musically inferior.

    It most certainly is signal degradation in this case.
     
  4. Crgreen
    I'm wondering what reliable conclusions can be drawn by looking at photos of the interior of DACs.

    And I can't imagine that an engineer of Rob Watt's standing would use an inferior power supply. It's clear from his contributions here that he thought through and tested every aspect of the DAVE's design. It has remarkable measurements and sounds glorious. Like a previous poster, it's about the most expensive component I've bought, leaving inflation aside, and I can't imagine being able to splash that much cash again on a hi-fi component. Apart from the DAVE I lost my desire to keep upgrading a while ago and would rather just listen to glorious music on what I consider to be a well-balanced system. The computer file front end might change - it's a rapidly evolving area - but that's probably about it.

    I assume Stereophile and the Absolute Sound will be reviewing it soon and I'll be interested to read what they say.
     
  5. Torq

    I hear a difference with DSD and DXD ... just not anything that's consistently better.
     
    And when DSD has beaten PCM, for me, it has always turned out to be down to the master not the format.  Converting the same files to PCM didn't lose anything in my evaluations.
     
    That's just me though, and since it's my money I'm spending to get results I like that's really all I care about.
     
    The Nautilus are fabulous speakers.  
     
    I used to run a quintet of the big Meridian 8000 series speakers.  Probably the most accurate reproduction I've heard in a speaker system ... but really not that musical so I stepped back to something that didn't require I buy/build my house around them and spent the difference on some fun cars.
     
    I have a feeling you're not as familiar with Linn's offerings as you sound, though.  For a start, other than not playing DSD (which isn't a big loss for me given the tiny, and mostly irrelevant, catalog - what do you do if what you want to listen is not available as DSD?  Converting PCM to DSD won't get you more resolution or detail ...), you're hardly limited to low-res music or Spotify or TIDAL.  Their "app" is just a control point and not even required ... the DSM units will, and are primarily designed to, pull high-resolution lossless files from a local server.  TIDAL functionality is a bonus.  They don't talk natively to Spotify or any other lossy service. 
     
    By design they are high-resolution DLNA/UPnP/OpenHome streamers and were the first products of their type at that level so you're badly misinformed on that level.
     
    And their speakers with the curtains ... that's the low-end of their Exakt line ... basically Majik Isobarik's with built in amps and crossovers.  I think they're pretty comical, and that's coming from someone that used to own the conventional wood-built non-Exakt version of those speakers.
     
    The best I've heard B&Ws 802.2 D was being driven by Linn's Exakt setup, oddly enough.  I've also heard them in an all Classe system ... in which the very expensive pre-amp showed itself to be really quite the noisy little bitch.  While Linn have many faults ... they make the best SMPS I've ever seen, heard or measured and their filter implementations are up there with Rob Watts and Mike Moffat.
     
    Not that this matters much for headphone audio.  I've posted in my "Life after Yggdrasil" that Yggdrasil, at $2299 beats even Linn's highest end unit (at about 10x the price) in terms of operation as a DAC ... but that's no reason to go making things up about how their gear actually works ... you may not like the way they sound but the bulk of your comment just illustrates you simply don't know how they work or what they do (and that makes me think you've probably never heard them, either).
     
    And I think DAVE beats Yggdrasil (but only just, and for 6 times the price) or anything that Linn offers - but it still sounds better driven off the output of a Linn streamer than it does fed natively.
     
  6. JaZZ Contributor
     
    We've already been there. You can't take an obviously flawed recording as a guideline. For cases like this crossfeed can be disabled.
     
    To my ears DAVE's crossfeed is excellent – almost as good as my own. [​IMG]
     
  7. Jawed
    Does this DAC use an off the shelf chip? If so, then that is, quite literally, an irrelevant comparison. DAC chips are broken for high end audio. Nothing you do with a broken chip at the centre of your design will get you to state of the art audio.
     
  8. Mojo ideas
    Are you wanting me to denigrate another designers product! I simply won't do that. I don't want to talk about any unit or designer in particular. They have their ideas good luck to them we wish all of them the very best. I only state why we do what we do. And we are happy for any of our designs to be explored and tested in the extreme. As a totally independant view Jude M himself tested Dave and he has suitable ultra high grade test gear to truly show the levels of performance that Dave has achieved please check his videos to verify
     
  9. EVOLVIST

    Yeah, but does Metallica sound good through it? :wink:
     
    Deftone likes this.
  10. Torq

    Does Metallica sound good through anything?!
     
    (I kid ... I kid ... I just couldn't resist!)
     
    Mython and EVOLVIST like this.
  11. miketlse
     
    http://www.enjoythemusic.com/superioraudio/equipment/0814/gryphon_audio_designs_kalliope_dac.htm
     
    "a dedicated ESS SABRE ES9018 32-bit D/A converter per channel, these chips incorporate eight individual D/A converters in Dual-Differential coupling"
     
  12. jude Administrator

     
    What constitutes an impressive power supply to you? What about its power supply bothers you? If, as you say, "the fkn PSU is a clusterfuk," explain how you've come to that conclusion?
     
    We have a Chord DAVE here, and it is the best DAC/amp we've yet heard, and the best measuring DAC we've yet put on the audio analyzer. For example, in terms of THD, at 0dBFS, from its unbalanced outs outs, 1kHz sine, we measured the DAVE's THD at 0.000032% (left) and 0.000026% (right). The fundamental (1kHz) measured a tick over 3 volts (3.088 volts); and in terms of distortion product levels, measurements from the 2nd to the 10th harmonic were all measured in nanovolts, starting at around 500 nanovolts for the 2nd harmonic (averaged between channels), and then down from there. From DAVE's balanced outputs, measurements were similarly fantastic, with the fundamental at just over 6 volts (6.18 volts), and, again, distortion product levels measured in nanovolts, from 2nd to 10th (with THD ratio at 0.000025% for left, and 0.000023% for right).
     
    We have never seen measurements like this here, and we've measured quite a few DACs to date. 
     
    (We measured DAVE with an Audio Precision APx555 audio analyzer. We'll be posting more complete measurements of DAVE and other DACs soon, and ongoing.)
     
    DAVE's overall measured performance is stellar. Most importantly, it's a fantastic thing to listen to your music from. I'm not sure how many of the impressions you've read of DAVE in here, but it's an incredible DAC and DAC/amp combination. Incredible.
     
  13. romaz
    You make it sound like Rob didn't think these things out. I believe Rob has already addressed his rationale for his power supply choice in previous posts.  If you take the time to read his posts, you'll be surprised at how much you'll learn.  How many DAC designers to you know that are so forthcoming with information?  
     
    The medical grade switching power supply used in the DAVE is of high standard but what is key is that this power supply feeds the DAVE exactly what it needs.  1.14 kw of transient power delivery (about 9.5A at 120V) is fine if that is what your component needs, otherwise, it's a meaningless spec.  What is often more important is the output impedance of the power supply which impacts how quickly the component can receive the current that it needs during dynamic bursts and so it's often more desirable to have a power supply with agility than one that can provide brute force when it comes to digital equipment.  Some battery supplies comprised of small batteries, for example, often have higher impedance and so even though you benefit from not having the supply connected to ground, the sound you get can be thick and full bodied but at the expense of speed and resolution which is not ideal for a DAC and so there is so much more to consider than just peak power delivery or switching vs linear topology.  
     
    What may be equally important as the capabilities of the power supply is the component's PSRR or power supply rejection ratio.  Reading through Rob's posts, he had indicated that he was able to isolate his DACs well enough from any deletrious effects of the power supply that when he compared the power supply he was using against a large 12 volt sealed lead acid car battery which he considers to be the ultimate power supply, he was unable to tell the difference.  If this has indeed been achieved, why would anyone feel he should do more?  The beauty of the compact supply that is used in the DAVE is that it allows for a one box solution that is almost portable.  
     
    I haven't heard the Linn or Gryphon DACs but what did their overbuilt power supplies, super expensive components and custom quality PCB achieve in the end?  Did they result in an ultra low noise floor with no noise floor modulation?  Did they achieve small signal linearity?  Do they facilitate noise shaper performance down to -350 dB so that you can accurately perceive the depth in a recording?  Given that there is probably not another DAC with DAVE's transparent capabilities, it's hard to argue against Rob's design choices.
     
    JaZZ and maxh22 like this.
  14. Sunya
    https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/application_notes/152143111-audio-myth-switching-power-supplies-are-noisy
     
  15. Torq

    Well, that's not my intent.
     
    I'm sufficiently impressed with DAVE that it makes me wonder what else he could pull off with changes in other areas.  Maybe there aren't any.  It's just idle, interested, speculation on my part.  As an engineer myself, though not working in audio, it's all interesting stuff.
     
    And it's not that I'm questioning his design choices, well not in most cases, again ... I'm just wondering where things might go.  Things tend to move forward,  especially where technology is involved and I very much doubt that DAVE is the very last word on audio reproduction.  It MIGHT be today ... but I doubt that'll hold true forever.
     
    Now, things like audible noise when DAVEs display is active do bother me though - as an engineer at least.  Not really a factor once I'm actually listening to music, but it feels a bit sloppy to me.
     
    The Linn power-supply is hardly "over-built".  It's used in their low-power components as well as their 4x 200 watt amplifiers.  No, their DSM units don't need those kind of reserves but the power amps do and they have class-leading transient response and linearity (the patents on the technology are freely available to read ... really quite clever).  And their pre-amps are the quietest I've ever heard or measured.  Significantly bettering much more expensive, "exotic" units.  So they're definitely getting something out of that work.
     
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