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CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by magiccabbage, May 14, 2015.
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  1. x RELIC x Contributor
    I find it funny that some people actually have the perspective that a device that is over-engineered to overcome the inherent flaws in off the shelf chips could better a measurably, and audibly, very successful ground up design, from the WTA filter programmed in to the FPGA, to the discrete Pulse Array DAC, to the very unique, simple, and extremely transparent analogue output stage (headphone out and line out are essentially the same in DAVE - no other designer can do this with their DAC). No other designer is doing this level of innovation, with this kind of success. No other designer actually looks at the root problem and creates/invents their own solution. Taking a third party DAC chip and burying it's flaws behind over engineering is the exact opposite of transparency and quality IMO (not to mention value).

    Those Gryphon DACs are just using tired ES9018 chips. Let's see them actually invent some technology and DAC chips that measure close to the DAVE, then we can compare. I have no idea if the Gryphon DACs sound any good at the ear. All I'm pointing out is that over-engineering is not the same as innovating, and Rob's DACs have the measurements and reviews to back up his success.
     
    JaZZ, Sonic77, romaz and 1 other person like this.
  2. Torq

    While it might well be an unhealthy combination of both expectation and engineering bias on my part, the best sounding DACs I've had through my hands during my major auditioning cycle have all done something beyond just using off the shelf chips.
     
    There's standout-ground-up designs like DAVE which are clearly showing the benefits of this approach.
     
    The very impressive PS Audio gear which is an all-FPGA implementation but of a very different nature to DAVE.
     
    There's less "aggressive" approaches, like that with Linn and Schiit ... where they're using an off-the-shelf chip and making it perform relative wonders by doing their own filtering via an FPGA or DSP.
     
    And the completely discrete stuff beyond that ...
     
    All of those have proven very interesting.
     
    DAVE still leads the pack though (and, sadly for me, I still dislike it aesthetically and ergonomically ... but oh ... the sound ...).  Both hard to resist and hard to talk myself into at the same time.
     
    x RELIC x likes this.
  3. miketlse
     
    I think many engineers will recognise those times when the mind wanders onto exploring 'what ifs' - often they lead up blind creeks, but other times they are the start point for technical improvements to products.
     
  4. pkcpga

    Not sure how relivent that is than, since the Linn's DAC is very mediocre sounding and most units at half its cost sound similar. No DSD support, no true high res support. Haven't updated for anything but tidal and Spotify play. Linn preamps are equally as unispiring sounding, they do make good amps and speakers. I would much rather have the naim DAC for a little less money or a meridian DAC for home audio which sounds better and supports DSD, dxd and mqa.
     
  5. romaz
    This is an interesting way to look at audio and I suspect it is how many audiophiles buy equipment, based on the perceived quality of the ingredients rather than the actual quality of the output.  I hesitate to even call these people true audiophiles because they are more into their gear than the music.
     
    My late father-in-law, in his prime was a scratch golfer.  Even in his 60s, he played with a +5 handicap.  He often would show up to the golf course and join a group.  Routinely, they would play for money (small change) just to make it interesting.  Because he wasn't a wealthy man, he was not dressed in the best clothes.  He also owned an old set of clubs.  Because of his appearance and his equipment, the people he played with would often dismiss him as easy money and yet with their fancy attire and their custom clubs, my father-in-law would routinely run away with their money.  In the end, it's not about a fancy chassis with oversized transformers and super expensive components that matters, it's about performance.  It's about the ability to transport the listener to a happier time and place.  If the Gryphon DAC does this for you, you should buy it.  But to talk about the "very, very high quality PCB" that it uses is irrelevant.  
     
    smial1966, Sonic77 and maxh22 like this.
  6. x RELIC x Contributor

    While I respect what Schiit and PS Audio are doing my point was specific to off the shelf audio DAC chips in comparison to the DAVE and its price bracket. Off the shelf chips have their place, and IMO that's in the budget realm (let's say less than $1000). That's where you'll see quality for value from them. I see no other reason to spend a whack of cash on noisy chips that require a stupid amount of over engineering (expense) to compensate. But hey, again, that's my perspective. :wink:
     
  7. Torq

    Linn's pre-amps pretty much have NO sound ... and they're about as transparent and quiet as anyone has built.
     
    How on earth is 24 bit/192 KHz not "true high res support"?  They've supported that since day one even on their entry level streamers.
     
    Or are you in the "DSD is the only high-res-format" camp?
     
    I'll worry about MQA when there's any content at all for it.
     
    DSD and DXD don't fare much better there.  What's the point in worrying about support for a format that I cannot buy the music I want in?  Call me when it matters ... almost none of my favorite albums are available in this format ... and those that aren't even native DSD.
     
    I run a Linn speaker rig because it fits the house.  And I get both speaker and room correction into the bargain.  Anymore my serious listening is via headphones.  If I wanted statement-level speaker gear I'd be with B&W or Wilson.  I've been down the Meridian path before, to the tune of about a quarter million US and it's great gear.  I like the results of the cheaper, more house-friendly Linn stuff better.
     
    I really don't know where your getting your information on the Linn stuff ... you keep making claims that aren't based in reality.  Not liking them is fine ... I don't think they're the last word and I own their stuff ... but doing it on the basis of faulty information is a bit daft.
     
  8. Mojo ideas
    As an Engineer then you might care to note that Rob has chosen to not use an addition processor within the design for fear of generating extraneous noise. chosing instead to drive the display directly from the FPGA utilising the Dacs clocking itself. This is a far better and more elegant solution save for the months of dedicated programming in which every character or colour had to be constructed pixel by pixel. Some times the easiest option is not the best and its Rob's obsessive dedication and bloody hard work that has moved the state of the art substantially beyond the known boundaries. Boundries that definitely would not have been moved by designers using known topologies with known chips using known techniques even if they use the most exotic materials and hugely over specified power supplies.
     
  9. Torq

    I think you're being a bit too defensive here.
     
    The results speak for themselves and I've said multiple times that I think DAVE is the best sounding digital audio I've ever heard.
     
    That doesn't change the fact that, aesthetically, and ergonomically, there are things I don't like about it.  That's fine.  You're not going to convince me that the look of the thing, or it's interface is great no matter how much you talk about all the considerations that went into it.  It's opinion ... that's all.  I have immense respect for Rob as an engineer and for what he's accomplished.  I don't work in audio ... my last design goes around the earth over and over at very high speeds ... and has a very different set of necessary criteria and engineering needs.  Some of the issues intersect ... some don't.  It raises questions ... that's all.
     
    Since you're here ... how do I get someone at your company to respond to support issues?  Your dealer network, at least in the PNW and when I was over in the UK recently doesn't seem to be able to handle it and the contacts I had with Edd (I know he's in marketing) and, I think it was Chris, were not helpful.
     
  10. Torq
    Sod it.
     
    I'm going to bow out of this thread.
     
    We'll see where DAVE winds up when I'm done with my auditioning.  If idle speculation at what might be achievable in the future is just going to go this way, I don't need to be a part of it.  And if Chord's perspective is that DAVE can never be improved on, and everything possible has been considered and addressed (which is how the responses read any time anyone throws up a question or an observation), then there's not much more to pay attention to.
     
    Kudos to Rob on an amazing achievement ... both with DAVE and Mojo ... but I'm out.
     
  11. Rob Watts
     
    Err what audible noise when the display is active? News to me...
     
    Rob
     
    Chord Electronics Stay updated on Chord Electronics at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    https://www.facebook.com/chordelectronics https://twitter.com/chordaudio http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/
  12. Beolab

    Yes that is a very good question!

    What will happen to Chord Electronics the day Rob decide to retire??

    Its not that easy to hire a new Rob Jr that can replace him / you Rob.

    Wounder if they got a good plan for this.

    Then about DAVE's performance potential i think we havent even heard 60% of its full potential yet, because we do not have so good recordnings to feed it, even if it say MQA , DSD 512 or PCM 768 on the lable.

    I think in a couple of years we can get full benefit of DAVEś capabillity.

    Like a 8k HDR OLED TV, we do not got any content to provide for it, so the picture looks very similar to a ordinary 1080p TV if your source is just 576i ( Red Book CD) content.

    Just wait and see what DAVINA can bring us:wink:
     
  13. romaz
    Not true.  Everything has a sound and nothing is completely transparent, not even the DAVE and so the less components you have in your analog chain, the better if transparency is your goal.  As Rob has indicated, even the solder used contributes to the sound you hear.  For the DAVE, the most transparent preamp is no additional preamp, Linn or otherwise.
     
    Aside from component switching and adding tone, why would anyone want to add a preamp to something like the DAVE?  Certainly not for impedance matching since the DAVE will have a lower impedance than any preamp.  It wouldn't be for gain because the DAVE has plenty.  Attenuation?  The DAVE will do it better.  Because of its noise shaper, it can attenuate to -76 dB with no loss of resolution.  
     
    As for DSD and DXD, it's fine if you don't buy into it but what's wrong with having it?  If you've followed Rob's posts, then you know he is not a fan of DSD either.  If he had his way, he probably wouldn't bother with it but yet he decided to include this capability so that the DAVE can play anything and everything.  Given all of DSD's issues, the DAVE plays it beautifully.  
     
    Even though your preferred music today comes in 16/44 format, what about the future?  More and more labels are using DXD and DSD recorders.  They can be transcoded to 16/44 but do they sound better that way?  I have found that tracks recorded with DSD recorders sound better in their native format on the DAVE even though the DAVE was designed to excel in PCM.  Likewise, native DXD recordings with the DAVE sound best in their native format, meaning that 24/352.8 sounds better than 16/44. Is it a huge difference?  Not necessarily but there is a definite improvement.  Our recordings today are often limited by the ADC and it is why MQA has come up with its band-aid solution.  This will change when DAVINA comes to market and then we could very well have recordings that live up to the original high expectations of the high res format.
     
    Sonic77 and speedracer1 like this.
  14. paulchiu
     
    Rob,
     
    Indeed, the DAVE display does not cause audible noise.
     
    I think what he refers to is when DAVE is in Display mode 4.  If you get a dropout playing DSD256 or something, the display lights back up in this mode.
    The dropout or pop triggers the display to come on.  The display is not causing the noise.
     
    paul
     
  15. Torq

    When I had it in my speaker system I could hear a high-pitched whine from my listening position when the display was active.
     
    I got the same thing with the Hugo TT.
     
    Not loud enough to hear when wearing headphones.
     
    And to be clear ... it came from the unit, not via it's outputs.
     
    No idea if it's related ... in the case of the Hugo TT you talked about it here.
     
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