CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE
Oct 8, 2016 at 5:02 AM Post #4,981 of 18,942

x RELIC x

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Thanks for a nice review.

What is the price of the total DAC rig ?


It varies quite a bit depending on the options chosen. Around 4000 Euros for the D1-core to around 30 000 Euros for the maxed out D1-Twelve with server option.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 5:32 AM Post #4,982 of 18,942

bmichels

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The D1-Six is now their best seller at 13500€TTC (+1000 € for the streamer option)
 
...   I believe I may get a D1-Tube MK2 to warm-up a little my BHSE/SR009 
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 11:50 AM Post #4,983 of 18,942

Jawed

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So there you have it. My take on a couple monsters. The DAVE is quite an achievement in bringing world class digital to a price point that more buyers can reach for.

Did you try DAVE as a pre-amp direct into your power amp(s)?
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 12:45 PM Post #4,984 of 18,942

paul79

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  Thanks for a nice review.
 
What is the price of the total DAC rig ?

The one used for comparison is about $30K USD all in. That includes 4 chassis:
 
Monobloc Twelve DAC's, one per channel
Dual output Reclocker to run the DAC's
D1 Server/Reclocker with the optional outboard supply to feed and isolate the server module
Qnap HS-251 NAS loaded with 2 1TB SSD's and optimized for audio
Belkin WiFi Router tying together all the network equipment
Totaldac USB Cable/Filter
Totaldac RJ45 Cable/Filter between Router and Server, Blue Jeans CAT6A between Router and NAS
All network equipment uses Paul Hynes linear power supplies. SR5-12's
Music Player Software is MPD and I have several firmware versions to tailor the sound
 
Allot of boxes, but they come together very nicely. Sound is akin to a very nice turntable using a Koetsu Cartridge. It really sounds like a turntable.
 
System:
NOS Valves VRD tube amps, with Signature upgrades. Basically better connections, upgraded resistors, upgraded coupling caps, and the use of custom MagneQuest Output Iron. The best amps I have ever heard at any price, no joke. The little distortion present is all moved to second harmonic with these special output transformers, and very little feedback is used
NOS Valves NBS Preamp treated the same way. Upgraded everything. Extreme transparency and focus. Class A single ended no feedback design
Speakers are Joseph Audio Pearl 2's (soon to be upgraded to Pearl 3 status)
Analog Cabling is all Antipodes Reference. Don't sound like copper, don't sound like silver. Sound like music!
AES/EBU Cables are my own custom design using Furutech best XLR connectors
Power Cables are my own custom design for the amps and preamp using IeGo Copper Gold connectors
Power Cables for the digital equipment are all WyWires Silver Juice II with IeGo Copper Gold connectors
Vinyl Rig uses the onboard Phono Preamp in the NBS
Turntable is an original VPI Scout with upgraded bearing, upgraded motor, 10" VPI Tonearm, various cartridges, and placed on a Symposium Platform
Rack is custom Curly Maple shelving with Walnut Legs
 
Power is a dedicated panel with dedicated ground rod and 3 circuits feed the listening room. Amps are dedicated, preamp with Totaldac and turntable are dedicated, and network equipment is dedicated.
With this configuration, I use absolutely NO power conditioning, as it is much better without, and I have tried about everything there is. Some of my previous DAC's benefited from conditioned power. Totaldac doesn't need it at  all, and is worse with it. Using conditioned power with Totaldac changes the presentation and shrinks the performance. Even using high end Conditioners, like Audience or Bybee. Amps and preamp don't like conditioned power either. DAVE may benefit from it, but I doubt it. I think it has plenty of power supply as is.
 
I use power distributors sporting Furutech GTX-D-(G) receptacles with Neutrik 32A PowerCon inlets. Main outlets use the same Furutech.
 
Room is dedicated 18 X 23 with 10' ceiling. Treated with mix of diffusion and absorption, carpeted. Speakers are on the short wall, system placed on the long wall.
 
Music is widespread, mostly PCM CD Rips and some high rez and DSD for my listening, all genres. Instead of getting into what this track or that track sounds like, I listen to allot of music to form my findings as whole.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 12:50 PM Post #4,985 of 18,942

paul79

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Did you try DAVE as a pre-amp direct into your power amp(s)?


Yes, I did try this, but quickly determined that with the Preamp I got more body, more dimension, more scale. Just more more more, without any sacrifice in transparency or resolution that I can hear. Overall a more engaging presentation with the Preamp in the chain. Although, the DAVE does pretty well used as a preamp giving a very precise sound.
 
There is no displacement for a good tube preamp with any DAC I have tried.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 12:51 PM Post #4,986 of 18,942

lojay

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The one used for comparison is about $30K USD all in.


Thanks for your wonderful review. Do you think that the emotion, richness and wetness of the Totaldac Twelve could be replicated by the DAVE with down stream equipment such as a more romantic sounding tube amp?

In terms of tonal balance and density what are your thoughts in the comparison?

Finally would you say the DAVE sounds more similar to the Totaldac Twelve or different? Is it one of those cases that since both DACs are operating at such a high level differences are subtler and require extensive listening to appreciate, or are they immediately apparent?

Thanks again for your time. It makes me appreciate my DAC even more!
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 1:34 PM Post #4,987 of 18,942

paul79

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Well overall system balance can always be tailored. One must be careful though as components that romanticize or color the sound often result in a trade-off. For instance, this often comes with a sacrifice in resolution and transparency. It can also result in sameness, meaning all music will have a similar character to the sound rather than being true.

The Twelve is very coherent as is the DAVE, and tonal density for both are very good providing great realism and vividness keeping true to the sound of instruments/artists. The Twelve has superior image focus and more overall ease to the sound.

Differences between these are easily determinable and apparent. Overall the Twelve is better for me and my system, but both are very capable and world class performers one can build fantastic systems around.

I will also say that in my opinion, once you have your room and system correct, the source material is what you hear :wink: Everything should do the best job it can to get out of the way. That should help determine what my goals in system building consist of.

People often think tube systems color and romanticize. While this is true for some, I find good modern tube gear to be much more resolute than solid state giving much greater realism and life. Just closer to the music. Tubes are simple, and simplicity always wins in the analog domain.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 2:01 PM Post #4,988 of 18,942

lojay

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Well overall system balance can always be tailored. One must be careful though as components that romanticize or color the sound often result in a trade-off. For instance, this often comes with a sacrifice in resolution and transparency. It can also result in sameness, meaning all music will have a similar character to the sound rather than being true.

The Twelve is very coherent as is the DAVE, and tonal density for both are very good providing great realism and vividness keeping true to the sound of instruments/artists. The Twelve has superior image focus and more overall ease to the sound.


Thank you, this is very insightful and allows me to better understand the detailed review you posted earlier on. It seems we share the same goals in audio but I'm still taking my baby steps with headphones.

I completely agree with you on the danger of sacrificing transparency and resolution for romanticism. I do feel that some tube amps bring one closer to the music and the source, for me that would be the DIYT2. While theoretically the cleanest and most direct playback would be through the headphone output of the DAVE, I still prefer the DIYT2 feeding the SR009 which is more transparent to me. I surmise it will only be better with such an advanced and high end speaker system like yours.

Grossly generalised would I be right to say that compared to the Totaldac, the DAVE is a hair quicker in its transient response and timing, but slightly drier, not as good with imaging and depth and has less "ease" in its presentation?

I am quite interested in the last aspect. I do feel that as competent as the DAVE is, it is just a bit nervous in its presentation of transients and has less of a black background that I would desire. It's hard to describe but I think I know what you mean by "ease". I do not know if improving my source would alleviate this.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 2:19 PM Post #4,989 of 18,942

lovethatsound

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Yes, I did try this, but quickly determined that with the Preamp I got more body, more dimension, more scale. Just more more more, without any sacrifice in transparency or resolution. Overall a more engaging and easier to listen to presentation with the Preamp in the chain. Although, the DAVE does pretty well used as a preamp giving a very precise sound.

There is no displacement for a good tube preamp with any DAC I have tried.
Hi paul79
I remember when i frist got my Dave,and for a while i thought using my headphone amp sounded just like what you've describe,but again after while,i realised that the rolls had reversed.Now there's no way I'd use my headphone amp.It may be worth your time just using the dave as your pre-amp for a few weeks,and then compare them again.:blush:
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 2:24 PM Post #4,990 of 18,942

paul79

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lojay,
"""Grossly generalised would I be right to say that compared to the Totaldac, the DAVE is a hair quicker in its transient response and timing, but slightly drier, not as good with imaging and depth and has less "ease" in its presentation?"""
 
Your last question is a good one, and one I didn't really hit on quite enough.
 
I don't know that DAVE is really faster sounding, as both are lightning quick. The DAVE with its presentation more to the forefront and with its more energetic intensity to the presentation just highlights it more on some tracks I think. The "plugged in" vs "unplugged" aspect here again.
 
But yes, you have it pretty much nailed overall.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 2:30 PM Post #4,991 of 18,942

paul79

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Hi paul79
I remember when i frist got my Dave,and for a while i thought using my headphone amp sounded just like what you've describe,but again after while,i realised that the rolls had reversed.Now there's no way I'd use my headphone amp.It may be worth your time just using the dave as your pre-amp for a few weeks,and then compare them again.:blush:


An amplifier or even an integrated amplifer is pretty different than a preamp though. Circumstances are also different in a 2ch system. The differences with and without the preamp are very apparent. Key here though, is a very good preamp. My system always sounds much better with the preamp I use, and the DAVE is no different here. The Twelve actually sounds a bit better direct with my tube amps than the DAVE does, but even it still shrinks the soundscape and lacks a bit of body in comparison. I did give the DAVE a fair shake directly to the amps though, because who wouldn't like to eliminate the preamp?
 
I can see how the DAVE would be fantastic directly driving headphones though, as it has the drive capability to do so. The Twelve has no output stage at all and output is derived directly off the DAC's. That means that it really needs a preamp in the loop to get the best from it, and it better be a damn good one to do it justice. The Twelve will run most tube amps good though, but if the input impedance is low, like most solid state amps have, it won't do. Nor will it drive headphones directly. That is what the DAVE, Totaldac D1 Six, or the D1 Twelve SE are for  :)
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 3:28 PM Post #4,992 of 18,942

JaZZ

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Hi paul79
I remember when i frist got my Dave,and for a while i thought using my headphone amp sounded just like what you've describe,but again after while,i realised that the rolls had reversed.Now there's no way I'd use my headphone amp.It may be worth your time just using the dave as your pre-amp for a few weeks,and then compare them again.:blush:


An amplifier or even an integrated amplifer is pretty different than a preamp though. Circumstances are also different in a 2ch system. The differences with and without the preamp are very apparent. Key here though, is a very good preamp. My system always sounds much better with the preamp I use, and the DAVE is no different here. The Twelve actually sounds a bit better direct with my tube amps than the DAVE does, but even it still shrinks the soundscape and lacks a bit of body in comparison. I did give the DAVE a fair shake directly to the amps though, because who wouldn't like to eliminate the preamp?
 
I can see how the DAVE would be fantastic directly driving headphones though, as it has the drive capability to do so. The Twelve has no output stage at all and output is derived directly off the DAC's. That means that it really needs a preamp in the loop to get the best from it, and it better be a damn good one to do it justice. The Twelve will run most tube amps good though, but if the input impedance is low, like most solid state amps have, it won't do. Nor will it drive headphones directly. That is what the DAVE, Totaldac D1 Six, or the D1 Twelve SE are for  :)

 
Hi Paul
 
Some food for thoughts: From a technical, electroacoustic perspective a preamp in the signal path is hard to justify. Both preamp and power amp offer about the same load for the DAVE (25-100 kΩ), so it's safe to say that the output signal is the same and in no way cleaner due to the allegedly disburdening preamp. Which indicates that the perceived «improvement» is in fact euphonic coloration. Now you like what you like and have your own sonic ideal, to which the preamp path obviously lets you get closer. But sometimes it helps to know what's actually happening to find a solution that's even better than the added forgivingness in your case – which I also and especially attribute to tube electronics. In my experience a signal path as direct as it gets reveils the tonal flaws in a system much more than one with a few euphonizing electronics components with friendly harmonic-distortion patterns.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 3:32 PM Post #4,993 of 18,942

paul79

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Hi Paul
 
Some food for thoughts: From a technical, electroacoustic perspective a preamp in the signal path is hard to justify. Both preamp and power amp offer about the same load for the DAVE (25-100 kΩ), so it's safe to say that the output signal is the same and in no way cleaner due to the allegedly disburdening preamp. Which indicates that the perceived «improvement» is in fact euphonic coloration. Now you like what you like and have your own sonic ideal, to which the preamp path obviously lets you get closer. But sometimes it helps to know what's actually happening to find a solution that's even better than the added forgivingness in your case – which I also and especially attribute to tube electronics. In my experience a signal path as direct as it gets reveils the tonal flaws in a system much more than one with a few euphonizing electronics components with friendly harmonic-distortion patterns.


Technically you may be correct, but don't forget that volume controlled in the analog domain just might have advantages over volume controlled the digital domain. It is also safe to say that a preamp provides a layer of isolation from the connected components in a sense. I believe there is more than just euphonics at play.
 
I would also argue in that my tube equipment is forgiving. I find it much more resolute and revealing than any solid state I have had. Maybe some food for you as well?  :wink:
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 3:59 PM Post #4,994 of 18,942

JaZZ

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  Technically you may be correct, but don't forget that volume controlled in the analog domain just might have advantages over volume controlled the digital domain. It is also safe to say that a preamp provides a layer of isolation from the connected components in a sense. I believe there is more than just euphonics at play.
 
I would also argue in that my tube equipment is forgiving. I find it much more resolute and revealing than any solid state I have had.

 
I'm absolutely certain that the DAVE's digital volume control is lossless down to extremely low volume levels – as confirmed by Rob Watts. You can't ask for more.
 
What would be the benefit from «isolation» between DAVE and your power amp? You can't mean galvanic isolation, since that wouldn't be provided by the preamp insertion either. As I see it, the most desirable goal would be a seamless union between the two components, ideally without a cable in between. But again – according to my experience such a theoretically ideal configuration won't automatically lead to a pleasing sound, since it makes the system extremely reveiling to tonal flaws – which you can never avoid, since sound transducers are notoriously flawed in many aspects, particularly amplitude response.
 
Yes, solid-state electronics absolutely have a similar coloration potential, but tube electronics offer an even more euphonic result – roughly spoken.
 
Oct 8, 2016 at 4:43 PM Post #4,995 of 18,942

Jawed

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I think it's quite common that power amps are designed to work with "matching" pre-amps. In a sense the power amp is "faulty" if not paired with the synergising pre-amp.

It seems there aren't many people running DAVE direct into their power amps, apparently due to lack of synergy.

Romaz appears to be the only person running speakers directly from DAVE:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/766517/chord-electronics-dave/4815#post_12874117

My one compact sized DAVE with no outboard preamp or amplifiers can now very transparently and satisfyingly drives headphones, speakers and a subwoofer. Thank you, Rob and John for my custom tailored DAVE. How did you know?
 

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