CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE
Sep 30, 2016 at 11:32 AM Post #4,921 of 20,228

Ampus

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I don't yet have a DAVE (still saving) but I have tested a number of DAC's with both analogue and digital volume controls thus enabling them to used as preamps, in my 2 channel system.

While some aspects of the sound seem to improve running DAC direct to the power amp (Pass Labs X250.5) like the sharpness of the attack on acoustic guitar notes, I find the soundstage collapses vertically and narrows horizontally, with less sense of instrument placement within the soundstage. There is also what seems to be an added brightness, albeit slight. To me they are the most noticeable differences.

Was the smaller sound stage and blurred instrument position information 'real' ie: more true to the recording and what the preamp adds 'synthetic'? Is my preamp warming up the sound? I don't know. But I listen to music for enjoyment and I'm yet to hear a DAC that to me sounds better direct than running through my preamp.


Phonyx and Watermad,

I tried using DAVE to drive my amps directly as well as using it as a DAC connecting to a Classe CP800 preamp (a very neutral solid state preamp) and Octave Jubilee preamp (one of the best hybrid tube preamps). My observation mirrors yours. A few other reviewers also voiced this observation on their DAVE review.

I would be interested at hearing Rob Watts' personal experience on this subject.
 
Sep 30, 2016 at 12:51 PM Post #4,922 of 20,228

rgs9200m

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I'm curious if the people with speaker issues are discussing things on the a'gon or aud. asylum forums, which have helped me in the past a lot when I was more speaker based. I'm not sure they should be concentrating on this site. 'just a trying to give a friendly helpful suggestion here because I wouldn't think it's a primarily DAC-centered issue.
 
Sep 30, 2016 at 1:03 PM Post #4,923 of 20,228

phonyx

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Phonyx and Watermad,

I tried using DAVE to drive my amps directly as well as using it as a DAC connecting to a Classe CP800 preamp (a very neutral solid state preamp) and Octave Jubilee preamp (one of the best hybrid tube preamps). My observation mirrors yours. A few other reviewers also voiced this observation on their DAVE review.

I would be interested at hearing Rob Watts' personal experience on this subject.

 
Thanks for the feedback. While there might be system specific lack of synergy happening for those with these issues, they seem super common. As in, I've never heard anyone say they preferred the sound of their system with DAC direct (sans preamp). By preferred I mean found it nicer, more enjoyable etc (not just purely more accurate, strictly speaking).
 
  I'm curious if the people with speaker issues are discussing things on the a'gon or aud. asylum forums, which have helped me in the past a lot when I was more speaker based. I'm not sure they should be concentrating on this site.

 
Speaker issues? As in the discussions of using a Dave as a preamp? 
 
I, like most here, am considering a Dave as a headphone DAC (maybe amp too) but when it has a Preamp capability, the only way to really test that is with speakers, so I guess it's going to come up when discussing the product as a whole, and this thread's scope seems pretty all-encompassing. 
 
I have previously discussed DAC direct configs elsewhere with an emphasis on 2 channel systems and the consensus was that it was inferior in essentially all subjective measures to running the same DAC into a good preamp. Just wanted to know if Dave would be different somehow!! 
 
Sep 30, 2016 at 2:34 PM Post #4,924 of 20,228

Jawed

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At hi-fi shows Chord seems to run DAVE direct into a Chord power amp.
 
Sep 30, 2016 at 8:10 PM Post #4,925 of 20,228

rgs9200m

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I just meant that preamp merits are usually not the focus here; I'm guessing that not many people here use preamps, as almost all headphone amps are integrated amps. I did not mean to imply that this subject was in any way inappropriate here. Sorry.
I only meant that there is a far larger population of people discussing preamp capabilities elsewhere and it may fruitful to look there. 'just trying to help.
(I also saw the discussion in this thread about room associated bass issues with speakers, and that prompted this.) 
 
By the way, I also had a Pass power amp for a few years (an X350 in 1999), and it really benefitted from a good preamp.
As a former Levinson and Audio Research owner when I had a good speaker based system (with auditions of others), I felt that there is nothing like a great active preamp, and passives fell short in musicality.
But I can't speak about the Dave, so I better just shut up here. Apologies.
 
Oct 1, 2016 at 12:20 AM Post #4,926 of 20,228

phonyx

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No need to apologise man. I just wanted to clear up that as with most here I'm considering this for a headphone rig but was intrigued about its preamp capabilities. Perhaps it was going a bit off track with that path. I know you were just trying to help and point in the direction of forums with more 2 channel experience - much appreciated.

I run the pass labs amp and preamp. Their synergy is as you'd expect excellent. I'm all for transparency and I get that on paper the less in the signal chain the better. But I want to enjoy the music as number one priority and I've not found running DAC direct achieves that for me.

I won't derail the thread anymore about preamps. Back to DAC discussion!!
 
Oct 1, 2016 at 3:52 AM Post #4,927 of 20,228

TheAttorney

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DAVE's pre-amp function is a significant and useful part of the design, so I do think it is perfectly valid to discuss it here.
The volume and mute controls also work well via its remote control - one of the few functions that do :wink:
 
It's not essential to use loudspeakers to explore this. I've tried driving my BHSE with both DAC and preamp modes and, in that too brief a test, I didn't notice any difference in SQ.
And some other headphone amps have a direct in option, so you can chose which voulume control is best.
 
I stick to DAC mode simply becuase, having spent a small fortune on the most expensive volume pot in the universe for my BHSE, I'm damn well going to use it.
But if ever I return to loudspeakers, I'd definitely be exploring DAVE's preamp function further. 
 
Oct 1, 2016 at 5:48 AM Post #4,929 of 20,228

lojay

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Some people (maybe those who like to pay a high audiophile tax) would scoff that my idea of super clarity in an amp was my SPL Auditor. It elevated every DAC I had every auditioned, including the Berkeley Alpha Reference 2, and put to shame many solid state amps at 4 times the price.

Once I got the DAVE, though, I sold my Auditor. The DAVE's headphone section was that good. But, more to the point, I hooked up my Auditor to the DAVE both as a preamp, and DAC only, and for the first time my Auditor sounded like crap. It's not the DAVE's fault. I had reached a point for headphone listening where no artficial colors or additives were needed.

 
Why are you selling your DAVE?
 
Oct 1, 2016 at 7:21 AM Post #4,930 of 20,228

EVOLVIST

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Why are you selling your DAVE?


I purchased one for my home and another for the office. This was overkill. I should use the money for my DAVE at the office for other things, like maybe some Focal Utopia cans, or other pieces of audio gear.

Have no fear. My DAVE at home is safe with me. :)
 
Oct 1, 2016 at 9:57 AM Post #4,931 of 20,228

tunes

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Still trying to decide if the Dave pairing with the HIFIMAN HE 1000 is adequate to appreciate the full dynamic range of these headphones. This has to be my last purchase unless the Focal Utopias are really as good as some say and more speaker like sounding. Has anyone had extensive listening experience using the Dave with these 2 headphones without a dedicated headphone amp?
 
Oct 1, 2016 at 10:11 AM Post #4,932 of 20,228

EVOLVIST

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Still trying to decide if the Dave pairing with the HIFIMAN HE 1000 is adequate to appreciate the full dynamic range of these headphones. This has to be my last purchase unless the Focal Utopias are really as good as some say and more speaker like sounding. Has anyone had extensive listening experience using the Dave with these 2 headphones without a dedicated headphone amp?


@x Relic × had the FUs, so I know he has. I don't know if Rob Watts got his FUs yet to compare with his Nighthawks, yet Rob says the Nighthawks sound more speaker-like than any other cans.
 
Oct 1, 2016 at 10:16 AM Post #4,933 of 20,228

ubs28

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@x Relic × had the FUs, so I know he has. I don't know if Rob Watts got his FUs yet to compare with his Nighthawks, yet Rob says the Nighthawks sound more speaker-like than any other cans.


Really? Maybe I should try out the Nighthawks then.
 
Oct 1, 2016 at 10:35 AM Post #4,935 of 20,228

EVOLVIST

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Rob said that before Focals newest headphones were released .


Huh? If Rob has said anything about how the FUs sound then I missed it, because the last heard he was still taking his NightHawks on his world tours. Maybe @Rob Watts can elucidate.

Coincidentally, I think I'm getting a chance to audition the NightHawks with DAVE this weekend.
 

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