CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE
Sep 15, 2016 at 11:04 PM Post #4,771 of 25,821
This Chord DAVE we've been talking about? It's really, really good. Sometimes I can't believe what I'm hearing.

So, I purchased this thing called a SonicTransport i5, and this microRendu thingy. There supposed to send it to me in the mail. I've heard some people say that it's the best transport system, period. Period?

Since you have it coming already, give it a go and tell us what you think.  I have a sonicTransporter but I gave it up and moved back to my Mac when I figured out Roon > HQPlayer with no upsampling  > microRendu > DAVE was another significant step up.  Any day now, the LPS-1 power supply will be released and I am expecting it to further elevate the mR all the more without breaking the bank.  Considering how reasonable all of this costs, it's worth a trial.  A version of HQPlayer exists for Linux but it's unclear if the i5 sonicTransporter is powerful enough to run it (I suspect it is if you don't use it to oversample).  Andrew Gillis sells an i7 version of the sonicTransporter that he preconfigures with Roon and HQPlayer and I'm sure he would allow you to swap up if that's what you want to do.
 
Another reason to consider HQPlayer is for EQ purposes, a benefit that JaZZ finally woke me up to and I'm moving forward with it for both headphones and speakers.  Roon has no EQ but HQPlayer allows the option of 3rd party DSP.  Of course, you could also use JRiver and its EQ with your microRendu as another good option although you can't stream Tidal this way, a dealbreaker for me.
 
The beauty of the microRendu for me is that it matches the DAVE's feature set.  It does PCM to 768kHz and DSD512.  It is the best USB player I have yet encountered and the DAVE is the best USB DAC I have yet encountered.  It is as portable as the DAVE should you wish to travel.  It can be run off batteries and so you don't have to worry about ground issues like you would with almost any other server except a battery powered laptop.  In this way, it is as good as an optical connection.  If you use a Mac and microRendu's ShairPort mode, you can play everything you have on your Mac including Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, etc. via your microRendu instead of the optical connection and I can confirm this sounds considerably better.  
 
Lastly, I now have Sonore and Chord talking and the path for native DSD playback between microRendu and DAVE has been spelled out.  Matt at Chord has much on his plate but he has expressed an openness to tackling this at some point in the future.  I cannot say enough good things about the people at Chord!  Anyway, I consider the DAVE and microRendu a match made in heaven.
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 12:21 AM Post #4,772 of 25,821
@Romaz, like what music on Tidal? What artists? The reason that I'm asking - and I'm not trying to be untoward - but I know that the great majority of music on Tidal, and really most streaming services, is not conducive to critical listening, especially on a masterpiece such as DAVE.

Now, I'm not talking about the genre of music, nor the style, nor even if the recording is lo-fi, hifi, or somewhere in the middle. I'm speaking of the loss of dynamics in modern mastering and recordings which makes it next to impossible for the mind to assimilate the subtle cues in DAVE's output, which more reflects a real life auditory experience. Without natural dynamics (or a close proximity thereof), the brain has a tough time dealing with the sound, because in our everyday natural environments we hear all sound dynamically: fluid, with depth, width and spaciousness. If one crushes that in the recording and/or mastering phases, this an afront to the way the ear was designed to hear, and in turn the way the brain to makes sense of it all.

This is why I have lamented the possible future of the Davina, and I've said as much, because once one gets to the mastering stage, current practice dicates to clip, compress, limit and destroy. Therefore, what would it matter what goes into the recording console, when it's fate is a horrible death?

I highly respect you. Honestly, I do. You and a great number of people who have posted in the DAVE thread. You've opened my eyes to many things. This, however, raised an eyebrow, because although I don't know the specific music you've been listening to on Tidal, it seems to have been intimated that Tidal is used on a regular basis, and if so, beware.

I'm truth, I would love to be able to listen to Prince's last album with a discerning ear, but I cannot because of how it was treated in the mastering phase. I thump it in my ride, where speakers give a bit more air to the environment, but I can never put on my cans and give it a good listen because of the fatiguing and ear bleeding experience. Most of these modern recordings even verge on mono because the pots are all pushed up dead center, without thought to the craft that is mixing. They want the mix to contain an unnatural force.

I guess I'll get off my stump now (haha), but if you haven't investigating the dynamics of what you're putting into your earholes I suggest you give it some thought.

I might not know my way are the tech of what makes a lot of audio work in cables, DACs, power cords and the like, but I DO know my way around the studio, and mastering houses, and I'm here to say that there's been skullduggery afoot since the early '90s, and people have gotten so used to it that they think that this is the way that music is supposed to sound. And then the DAVE comes around as a guiding light, but in order to eke the most out of it, it doesn't start with cables and interconnects. It starts with the music, itself.

Please, take no offense.
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 2:03 AM Post #4,773 of 25,821
  Since you have it coming already, give it a go and tell us what you think.  I have a sonicTransporter but I gave it up and moved back to my Mac when I figured out Roon > HQPlayer with no upsampling  > microRendu > DAVE was another significant step up.  Any day now, the LPS-1 power supply will be released and I am expecting it to further elevate the mR all the more without breaking the bank.  Considering how reasonable all of this costs, it's worth a trial.  A version of HQPlayer exists for Linux but it's unclear if the i5 sonicTransporter is powerful enough to run it (I suspect it is if you don't use it to oversample).  Andrew Gillis sells an i7 version of the sonicTransporter that he preconfigures with Roon and HQPlayer and I'm sure he would allow you to swap up if that's what you want to do.
 
Another reason to consider HQPlayer is for EQ purposes, a benefit that JaZZ finally woke me up to and I'm moving forward with it for both headphones and speakers.  Roon has no EQ but HQPlayer allows the option of 3rd party DSP.  Of course, you could also use JRiver and its EQ with your microRendu as another good option although you can't stream Tidal this way, a dealbreaker for me.
 
The beauty of the microRendu for me is that it matches the DAVE's feature set.  It does PCM to 768kHz and DSD512.  It is the best USB player I have yet encountered and the DAVE is the best USB DAC I have yet encountered.  It is as portable as the DAVE should you wish to travel.  It can be run off batteries and so you don't have to worry about ground issues like you would with almost any other server except a battery powered laptop.  In this way, it is as good as an optical connection.  If you use a Mac and microRendu's ShairPort mode, you can play everything you have on your Mac including Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, etc. via your microRendu instead of the optical connection and I can confirm this sounds considerably better.  
 
Lastly, I now have Sonore and Chord talking and the path for native DSD playback between microRendu and DAVE has been spelled out.  Matt at Chord has much on his plate but he has expressed an openness to tackling this at some point in the future.  I cannot say enough good things about the people at Chord!  Anyway, I consider the DAVE and microRendu a match made in heaven.


Can you share a screenshot of your HQPlayer settings? I am finally doing another comparison with Roon, Audirvana, Roon+HQPlayer, and Roon+HQPlayer+microRendu. Thus far I'm still finding Audirvana+ with DMG EQuilibrium is best on a Macintosh with the DAVE. 
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 2:07 AM Post #4,774 of 25,821
@Romaz, like what music on Tidal? What artists? The reason that I'm asking - and I'm not trying to be untoward - but I know that the great majority of music on Tidal, and really most streaming services, is not conducive to critical listening, especially on a masterpiece such as DAVE.

Now, I'm not talking about the genre of music, nor the style, nor even if the recording is lo-fi, hifi, or somewhere in the middle. I'm speaking of the loss of dynamics in modern mastering and recordings which makes it next to impossible for the mind to assimilate the subtle cues in DAVE's output, which more reflects a real life auditory experience. Without natural dynamics (or a close proximity thereof), the brain has a tough time dealing with the sound, because in our everyday natural environments we hear all sound dynamically: fluid, with depth, width and spaciousness. If one crushes that in the recording and/or mastering phases, this an afront to the way the ear was designed to hear, and in turn the way the brain to makes sense of it all.

This is why I have lamented the possible future of the Davina, and I've said as much, because once one gets to the mastering stage, current practice dicates to clip, compress, limit and destroy. Therefore, what would it matter what goes into the recording console, when it's fate is a horrible death?

I highly respect you. Honestly, I do. You and a great number of people who have posted in the DAVE thread. You've opened my eyes to many things. This, however, raised an eyebrow, because although I don't know the specific music you've been listening to on Tidal, it seems to have been intimated that Tidal is used on a regular basis, and if so, beware.

I'm truth, I would love to be able to listen to Prince's last album with a discerning ear, but I cannot because of how it was treated in the mastering phase. I thump it in my ride, where speakers give a bit more air to the environment, but I can never put on my cans and give it a good listen because of the fatiguing and ear bleeding experience. Most of these modern recordings even verge on mono because the pots are all pushed up dead center, without thought to the craft that is mixing. They want the mix to contain an unnatural force.

I guess I'll get off my stump now (haha), but if you haven't investigating the dynamics of what you're putting into your earholes I suggest you give it some thought.

I might not know my way are the tech of what makes a lot of audio work in cables, DACs, power cords and the like, but I DO know my way around the studio, and mastering houses, and I'm here to say that there's been skullduggery afoot since the early '90s, and people have gotten so used to it that they think that this is the way that music is supposed to sound. And then the DAVE comes around as a guiding light, but in order to eke the most out of it, it doesn't start with cables and interconnects. It starts with the music, itself.

Please, take no offense.

No offense taken.  I appreciate your high standards when it comes to recordings.  
 
I guess I'm a bit more practical with how I approach this.  My ears are routinely treated to live performances.  Many of my family and friends are musical and many of us play a variety of instruments, all acoustic.  My wife and I frequent live performances as well, usually at least monthly and sometimes weekly.  I even mix some of my own recordings.  I gave up a long time ago believing that an electronic system can come close to recreating live music.  
 
This doesn't mean the quality of the recording doesn't matter to me because it does and as you've heard for yourself, the DAVE will expose the shortcomings of any poor recording but on the flipside, it will also reveal more fully the potential of a good recording and there are good recordings out there, even on Tidal.  To be honest, I don't listen to a ton of studio recordings but with studio recordings, I realize there are many poorly mastered ones, especially music geared for the mainstream since the mainstream are content listening to compressed MP3s on their iPhone.  The recordings I listen to most often are live acoustical recordings that really don't require much mixing at all.  They just require quality recording equipment and good recording technique and good recording practices seem to be more the norm with certain genres like classical music or jazz or certain labels like 2L, Telarc, Chesky, Opus 3, GRP, Classic Records, etc.  For classical music, which is what I listen to the most, whether it be chamber music, large orchestral or small ensemble, wonderful recordings abound, even old ones, and yes, they are available for streaming on Tidal. 
 
I like some pop, including 80s music like Prince or Michael Jackson but my standards for this type of music are lower and so I am accepting of what I get, especially since I don't listen to it as much.  I wouldn't say their recordings on Tidal make my ears bleed but I agree, they are fatiguing to listen to for more than a few tracks.  The paradox here is that while the DAVE will expose the limits of these recordings, I am also hearing a depth of detail with my current system that is so much fuller and richer than with my previous DACs that when I am forced to downgrade to Spotify to listen to a certain piece of music, I am finding that 320k can be very passable.  While well-recorded high res downloads can be tough to beat, Tidal (and even Spotify) allows me to discover so much new music that I could never see myself without these options.  
 
Here's a little tidbit about Tidal that may or may not be true but I'm inclined to believe that it is.  During a conversation with Eric Shinn, the head of software development for Aurender at CES earlier this year, he told me that he was enjoying the quality of Tidal streaming on his personal Aurender unit more than his own CD rips that were stored on his Aurender.  When I asked him why, he told me that his CD rips didn't sound as good.  Because Aurender has a professional business relationship with Tidal, he began investigating and found out Tidal has access to and streams from original masters that are provided to them by each label while the physical CDs that we each buy are often not ripped from the original master but rather ripped from a rip of a rip of a rip of the original master and are often fraught with errors.  As I did my own listening with my former Aurender, I also found that Tidal streaming was at least as good and in some cases better than my CD rips and even some of my downloads.  
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 3:35 AM Post #4,775 of 25,821
 
Can you share a screenshot of your HQPlayer settings? I am finally doing another comparison with Roon, Audirvana, Roon+HQPlayer, and Roon+HQPlayer+microRendu. Thus far I'm still finding Audirvana+ with DMG EQuilibrium is best on a Macintosh with the DAVE. 

That's a fairly exhaustive comparison you've made.  
 
DMG EQuilibrium appears to be a very sophisticated digital EQ, something that neither Roon nor HQP has built-in although HQP is capable of incorporating the benefits of DMG EQuilibrium and this is what I am exploring at this time.  Once you have your settings dialed in with DMG EQuilibrium for a certain rate you're interested in (16/44, 24/96, etc), you should be able to download an impulse response file that you can then convert into filter files that HQP can incorporate through convolution.   
 
I just purchased a product called Acourate that doesn't have the fine manual tuning controls that DMG EQuilibrium has but instead utilizes a calibrated microphone that you place by your headphone drivers or at your listening position (for speakers listening).  It then attempts to correct for the frequency irregularities of your transducers by taming peaks and dips through its own algorithms that are modifiable to suit your taste.  It can be useful for addressing the frequency irregularities of your transducer, blending in a subwoofer or super tweeter, or correcting for room nodes.  It's probably not a substitute for properly addressing the acoustics of your listening room but it can go a long way according to people I've spoken with.
 
HQPlayer is not the secret ingredient for me, however.  The microRendu is.  Roon is just a wonderful interface that allows me to catalog both my personal library and Tidal, something that Audirvana now also does but because Roon is tightly integrated with the microRendu and Audirvana isn't, I never considered anything but Roon.  HQPlayer is the icing and for $175, worth its asking price.  There's not much to show regarding my settings since I use no filters but for those not familiar with HQP, here are the options:
 

Here are more filter options:

 
As far as dithering options, I use TPDF although there are others that sound good:

 
I don't try to convert PCM to DSD or DSD to PCM.
 
Since I intentionally only scratch the surface of what the HQP can do, I can't consider myself an expert.  I used to wonder what HQPlayer was doing to result in better SQ if I wasn't using any filters.  I'm not sure if this is the reason but this is what another Head-Fier showed me:
 
The theory advanced by some HQP fans is that it is able to provide better sound, through a microRendu, than Roon's own RAAT protocol, because the NAA architecture is better at isolating noise carried by the signal. The developer of HQP created the NAA to isolate the signal from all the heavy lifting that normally occurs when one uses HQP's upsampling and filtering options. 

 
Sep 16, 2016 at 4:27 AM Post #4,776 of 25,821
Thank you for your replies gents to my post on finding speakers fast and detailed enough to do justice to the sonic capabilities of DAVE. The plasma tweeter idea is interesting. I had not come across it before. I see it runs out of steam at 1.5khz though, which requires crossing over to cone for the midband. That will likely create a significant mismatch of speed in the midband. Something I am hoping to avoid. This is why I am intrigued by the potential of a ribbon solution right down to 400hz. I will let you know my thoughts when I demo DAVE with a Piega Coax 90.2
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 4:52 AM Post #4,777 of 25,821
I have just tried ASIO vs WASAPI on my power hungry design lap-top with Dave - via battery operation on the lap-top, I could not hear a consistent difference.
 
I used a recent download - Hildegard von Bingen: Vox Cosmica a 96k 24 bit recording. This is fantastic SQ and lovely music too. 
 
Rob
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 5:06 AM Post #4,779 of 25,821
Hi romaz, I wonder what do you use for running HQP? And what operation system do you use for it? I am currently considering getting a NUC for HQP. Many thanks for your thoughts!

I use the latest version of Mac OS on a 12-core Mac Pro because it's what I happen to own but you certainly don't need this kind of machine for HQP if you don't oversample or use filters.  Not sure what processing power you'll need for DSP.  A NUC should be fine if you plan to use it like I do but if you're planning to oversample, it may not be enough.
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 7:35 AM Post #4,781 of 25,821

I have HQP running on an i7 Windows 10 laptop and also on an i5 (or earlier equivalent, 4+ years old) Windows 7 laptop. 
 
I don't think any of the filter or PCM upsampling options, will cause any trouble to an i5 laptop. Anyway, HQP has a free trial option.
 
On a different DAC (iFi iDSD) I found the filter and upsampling options made worthwhile improvements, but I agree with romaz that these are best turned off for DAVE (generally pretty subtle differences IMO). 
 
By far the biggest load on the processor is converting PCM to DSD. Even my i7 ran into difficulty trying to convert to DSD512, and occasionally stuttered on DSD256. Apart from that, almost any DSD conversion caused my laptop's fan to kick in, which is very very unwanted in a hifi setting. Others have said that PCM to DSD conversion is not recommended for DAVE - I haven't tried with DAVE because of the inherent fan noise issue (even though I previously liked PCM->DSD on the iFi iDSD).
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 8:01 AM Post #4,782 of 25,821
 
DMG EQuilibrium appears to be a very sophisticated digital EQ, something that neither Roon nor HQP has built-in although HQP is capable of incorporating the benefits of DMG EQuilibrium and this is what I am exploring at this time.  Once you have your settings dialed in with DMG EQuilibrium for a certain rate you're interested in (16/44, 24/96, etc), you should be able to download an impulse response file that you can then convert into filter files that HQP can incorporate through convolution.   
 
I just purchased a product called Acourate that doesn't have the fine manual tuning controls that DMG EQuilibrium has but instead utilizes a calibrated microphone that you place by your headphone drivers or at your listening position (for speakers listening).  It then attempts to correct for the frequency irregularities of your transducers by taming peaks and dips through its own algorithms that are modifiable to suit your taste.  It can be useful for addressing the frequency irregularities of your transducer, blending in a subwoofer or super tweeter, or correcting for room nodes.  It's probably not a substitute for properly addressing the acoustics of your listening room but it can go a long way according to people I've spoken with.

The potential issue with Acourate is that I expect the frequency response of any headphone to vary considerably with the exact location of microphone. How will you know which location matches what you ear is receiving? But will be interesting to see how you get on with it.
 
Looks like DMG EQuilibrium is designed for professional mastering studios, and is far too complex for my needs. I'm looking at its smaller brother EQuick which, apart from being much cheaper and, erm, quicker to use, it still has a 32 band equaliser and many more functions than the typical free equalisers that get bundled with the likes of JRiver MC.   
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 8:45 AM Post #4,784 of 25,821
About speakers and Dave, when I first heard Dave, it was with a Naim amplifier and Dynaudio speakers, certainly both were up to the task of audibly showing me what the difference was between a Hugo TT and Dave.
 
For a fast Speaker, I own 2 pairs of Dynaudio speakers (excite X16 and focus 260) and happy with both.
 
But as Mr Watts says - "you know nothing Jon Snow" so I can only report what I hear, and everyone has to audition for themselves.
 
Sep 16, 2016 at 3:26 PM Post #4,785 of 25,821
  The potential issue with Acourate is that I expect the frequency response of any headphone to vary considerably with the exact location of microphone. How will you know which location matches what you ear is receiving? But will be interesting to see how you get on with it.

Good point.  I'm told by Ulrich Brueggemann, creator of Acourate, that you have to use "in-ear" microphones which are not easy to come by.  A more practical solution would be to take advantage of Tyll Hertsens' measurements of the headphones that most of us use as a guide:
 
http://www.innerfidelity.com/headphone-measurements
 
Here are his measurements for the HD800S, for example:
 

 
According to Ulrich, this frequency data can be imported into Acourate and tweaked as necessary.  An inverse response can then be calculated and used as a filter for HQP.
 

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