CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE
Oct 9, 2016 at 9:11 AM Post #5,012 of 18,942

Jawed

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I just wanted to pull some specifics out of the original "review" text:
It also does something I found kind of interesting.... Some of my recordings that were not so well previously, sounded better through the DAVE, where others sounded worse, and even overly sibilant at times. These are different file resolutions for the most part, so maybe the filtering for said resolution vs. another is better with one than another? I don't know, but I found this interesting.

Good recordings sound wonderful and completely unharmed doing nothing but justice, of course, and worse recordings were a bit of a mixed bag, so take that for what its worth :wink:

This, to me, speaks of making recordings sound more different from each other. Rob talks about this as the single most important thing he designs for. Back in the 90s I worked out for myself that this is the correct way to determine which of two competing systems is better.

Lots of hi-fi is designed to sound beguiling, flattering and inoffensive. These things all diminish the difference between recordings. e.g. it's very common for hi-fi racks to have a softening effect on a system, which people interpret as preferable.

Although the dynamics are world class, not as explosive as the DAVE. [...] Bass does not have the slam of the DAVE. It is a more tuneful bass with the Twelve. Sort of like comparing horn bass to direct radiator bass. It fills the room, is very focused and deep, but it does not hit super hard. [...]The DAVE is just slightly faster sounding better keeping up with drum rolls FE...

These comments paint a picture to me of the Twelve as being "soft".

DAVE also has the edge with forward delineation, meaning a duo or trio of singers that are close together and forward for instance, is better than any digital I have heard at keeping them separate and never smearing together. This is VERY cool and important.

This last comment is probably the clincher out of everything you have written. This ability is the one thing that people point out for all of Chord's current DACs.

This last comment is also, to me, the actual meaning of transparency.

There have been quite a few people writing about using amplification after DAVE (or other Chord DACs) because they like the "bigger soundstage", and describing it as transparency (usually this is people talking about using a headphone amplifier). It can only be an effect. Like reverb is an effect.

Since power amps often depend on a matching pre-amp to sound "right" it's harder to talk about transparency versus this "reverb effect", since it's impossible to separate out the native sound of the power amp (it's literally "broken" if not driven by its matching pre-amp). When people report that DAVE sounds worse in a system because it's being used as the pre-amp (versus feeding into a pre-amp) that is, to me, a pretty strong indicator that the system after DAVE could be better.
 
Oct 9, 2016 at 10:03 AM Post #5,013 of 18,942

JaZZ

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  from what I read, the totalDAC designer uses an FPGA filter for high frequencies only to compensate for high frequency roll off.

 
It must be a purely analogue filter, since the TotalDAC explicitly renounces oversampling.
 
Oct 9, 2016 at 11:05 AM Post #5,014 of 18,942

paul79

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The one question on my mind regarding the TotalDAC is, do all the sounds have a similar 'enhancement' to the sound, or is it dependant on the recording? What I like about the DAVE is that if a recording is close mic'd and/or produced flat then the DAVE shows me this quite well. If it's recorded in a live performance then I sense the room/space/depth easily. I absolutely hate it when a piece of gear gives me a false sense of a larger space where it shouldn't exist. Also, with the DAVE, I find that (as Rob says) hard sounds sound hard and soft sounds sound soft, etc., not just a certain quality or enhancement to every recording.

With regard to these things I'm wondering if the TotalDAC makes everything euphonic, or if one can sense the music more as it was recorded/mixed? Of course the only way to truly judge this is to be present at the recording, or to know the conditions of the recording/mix, but at least I feel with the DAVE I get a clear impression of how it was originally recorded. I haven't been able to pick that out before as easily. How is the TotalDAC regarding this?

Also, regarding the output stage, all DACs have an analogue output stage including the Trinity and MSB. The DAVE essentially uses it's line out to also drive headphones because of Rob's unique approach, which is no separate headphone amp stage as such in the chassis for the sake of transparency. It's well documented by Rob so not really comparable to other DACs with a headphone amp.

Edit: I just want to be clear that I'm trying to get a handle on what the TotalDAC brings with regard to what I've mentioned is all. Simply curious is all.


IMO, The Twelve is very brutally honest and album to album comparisons have no sameness. If it is flat, it is flat, deep is deep, if the performance is more energetic, it is energetic, small is small, big is big, if the recording has a problem, it is laid threadbare FE lacking focus, sharpness, smear, etc. I don't find enhancement broadspread whatsoever. Everything is just more clear and intimate, intimate meaning closer, more transparent, able to see the inner workings of the artists more and a lower noise floor. I don't think of transparency as having a false sence of bigger soundstage or some beguiling glow put on top of everything...... I think of transparency as the ability to hear more the sounds of the instruments, the ability to see something real happening in front of me, the artists emotion coming through with nothing between.
 
I mean look, the Twelve is different. It really has to be experienced to fully understand. You can pick apart my review any way you like, and you really don't have to worry, as the DAVE is a fantastic DAC, and I fully understand what it is capable of and what it does different than many other DAC's. It is a monster at its price in comparison to other DAC's I have tried at and above its price point.
 
The Twelve is soft with regards to bass slam, but not bass quantity and focus. It is not soft in relation to leading edge, attack, and dynamics, and is in fact, more rangy in this regard with relation to soft to loud sounds. This along with the low noise floor, are correlated to the greater depth portrayal IMO. The other Totaldac's have tons of slam and drive.
 
The Trinity, Twelve, nor the MSB Select have an active output stage as far as I know.
All of the Totaldacs have a mode to select the high frequency compensation or not. It is a FIR Filter. Here is Vincent's description:
 
"FIR compensation filter:
Non-oversampling DACs are known for their musicality but they all have a problem, the frequency response is not flat and the treble loss is more than 3 dB at 20KHz. This is called sinus(x)/x loss. All DACs with oversampling compensate the sin(x)/x loss in their digital filter. On the TOTALDAC board I didn't want to use oversampling because I prefer non-oversampling DAC sound, but I used a FIR filter to compensate the sin(x)/x loss. It is a short FIR for high frequencies only, so response before impact is short and is not a problem."

 
The Twelve likes a preamp for driving the majority of amps, because it does not put out allot of voltage and has a higher output impedance. However, if your amp has an input impedance of 47K and above or so, with a voltage to max power under 1.5V or so, the Twelve will run it very well. The Monobloc DAC was much better at driving all amps directly, but it sounds nothing like the Twelve with regards to transparency and noise floor, even with a preamp in the loop. This tells me that the Twelve takes care of an obvious problem, the active output stage. Yes, I know, same could be said for my preamp. To my ears though, it does not harm much in the way of transparency, and it doesn't sound false to me. Twelve direct is supremely transparent, and I hear this with the preamp in the loop also.
 
I am not going to deny either, that my system after the DAVE or the Totaldac could be better, but as a whole, it frikin works and paints the most convincing event picture(s) I have ever heard. It scales with every upgrade that have been made to the Server, network equipment, cabling, etc.
 
Oct 9, 2016 at 1:28 PM Post #5,015 of 18,942

rgs9200m

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I feel it is a longstanding philosophical question of whether a DAC should attempt to remake the digital input it receives into its own interpretation of what a good analog musical output should be,
or just reflect the quality of what it is fed.
(Or something in between?)
When I hear a recording that suffers from digital glare, grain, or some or fatigue, I often wish the DAC would scramble things to create something in its own image.
I suppose this would be a much more active form of error correction.
 
Oct 9, 2016 at 4:50 PM Post #5,017 of 18,942

x RELIC x

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IMO, The Twelve is very brutally honest and album to album comparisons have no sameness. If it is flat, it is flat, deep is deep, if the performance is more energetic, it is energetic, small is small, big is big, if the recording has a problem, it is laid threadbare FE lacking focus, sharpness, smear, etc. I don't find enhancement broadspread whatsoever. Everything is just more clear and intimate, intimate meaning closer, more transparent, able to see the inner workings of the artists more and a lower noise floor. I don't think of transparency as having a false sence of bigger soundstage or some beguiling glow put on top of everything...... I think of transparency as the ability to hear more the sounds of the instruments, the ability to see something real happening in front of me, the artists emotion coming through with nothing between.

I mean look, the Twelve is different. It really has to be experienced to fully understand. You can pick apart my review any way you like, and you really don't have to worry, as the DAVE is a fantastic DAC, and I fully understand what it is capable of and what it does different than many other DAC's. It is a monster at its price in comparison to other DAC's I have tried at and above its price point.

The Twelve is soft with regards to bass slam, but not bass quantity and focus. It is not soft in relation to leading edge, attack, and dynamics, and is in fact, more rangy in this regard with relation to soft to loud sounds. This along with the low noise floor, are correlated to the greater depth portrayal IMO. The other Totaldac's have tons of slam and drive.

The Trinity, Twelve, nor the MSB Select have an active output stage as far as I know.
All of the Totaldacs have a mode to select the high frequency compensation or not. It is a FIR Filter. Here is Vincent's description:

[COLOR=FF5A00][COLOR=FF5A00][COLOR=000000]"FIR compensation filter:
Non-oversampling DACs are known for their musicality but they all have a problem, the frequency response is not flat and the treble loss is more than 3 dB at 20KHz. This is called sinus(x)/x loss. All DACs with oversampling compensate the sin(x)/x loss in their digital filter. On the TOTALDAC board I didn't want to use oversampling because I prefer non-oversampling DAC sound, but I used a FIR filter to compensate the sin(x)/x loss. It is a short FIR for high frequencies only, so response before impact is short and is not a problem."[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR]

The Twelve likes a preamp for driving the majority of amps, because it does not put out allot of voltage and has a higher output impedance. However, if your amp has an input impedance of 47K and above or so, with a voltage to max power under 1.5V or so, the Twelve will run it very well. The Monobloc DAC was much better at driving all amps directly, but it sounds nothing like the Twelve with regards to transparency and noise floor, even with a preamp in the loop. This tells me that the Twelve takes care of an obvious problem, the active output stage. Yes, I know, same could be said for my preamp. To my ears though, it does not harm much in the way of transparency, and it doesn't sound false to me. Twelve direct is supremely transparent, and I hear this with the preamp in the loop also.

I am not going to deny either, that my system after the DAVE or the Totaldac could be better, but as a whole, it frikin works and paints the most convincing event picture(s) I have ever heard. It scales with every upgrade that have been made to the Server, network equipment, cabling, etc.

Not trying to pick apart your review, and I've never heard the TotalDAC. I just had some questions and you answered them. Thank you.

Regarding output I was simply being picky as you said the other DACs don't have an output, but they have to at least output the line out, weak or not, through RCA or XLR, so yes, they have an output. I'm not specifying a pre-amp stage for the other DACs mentioned, and I personally don't consider the DAVE to have a pre-amp stage as the volume is controlled digitally and the single output stage is very simple, even though it has different memories for different outputs.
 
Oct 9, 2016 at 5:20 PM Post #5,018 of 18,942

paul79

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Yes, of course, the Twelve has a physical connectable output. So do any other audio components. What I am saying is, it does not have an active output stage after the DAC. The single ended output of the Twelve is derived directly off the DAC's, with nothing in between.
 
He does offer the option to have a capacitor coupled output with the Twelve, and this is standard. He also offers a capacitor-less output in addition to a capacitor output optionally. So you can have both. Mine has both, and the capacitor-less output is the one I use and is very slightly better, so he uses a good capacitor on the capacitor output. The Cap Coupled output is safer, and presents no harmful DC Offset in the event of a turn off. This is more for people who use the Twelve with solid state equipment that has no tolerance for any DC Offset, and to eliminate pops at power on/off. The balanced output of the Twelve is also really single ended, but Vincent offers transformer adapters for this to convert the single ended xlr output to a true differential balanced output for balanced systems.
 
Oct 10, 2016 at 2:13 PM Post #5,020 of 18,942

paul79

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Most designers design for the measured performance they are seeking, then tune in listening tests. As far as rebuilding a broken recording, I am just not sure how this could be done with a DAC. This would have to be done at the source, and is one reason people like HQ Player, for example, so that they can assign filters for certain recordings.
 
The DAVE does offer an optional filter for a possible improvement to unsatisfactory recordings. This is something I need to play with more.
 
Oct 10, 2016 at 2:26 PM Post #5,021 of 18,942

ecwl

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As a total aside, did you all see that on the Chord Facebook page, they announced that Chord DAVE won the Rocky Mountain International HiFi Press Award 2016 at the Rocky Mountain AudioFest for best DAC?
 
It seems that the competitions this year were
  1. AudioQuest Dragonfly Red
  2. Aqua La Scala MKII
  3. Exogal Comet Plus
  4. MSB Technology Analog DAC
 
Oct 10, 2016 at 3:01 PM Post #5,022 of 18,942

romaz

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Hi, I'm back.  I appreciate all the well wishes as I've struggled with some family issues.  As a physician, I deal with advanced disease all day long but when a close family member comes down with advanced cancer, it's never easy.  As her condition has stabilized for the time being, it allowed me to get away to Colorado to attend RMAF over the weekend and I will post findings that may be of interest regarding the DAVE.  During the weekend, it also gave me time to jump back on Head-Fi and catch up on lots of great posts, especially by @paul79.  A very interesting perspective from a respected audiophile and friend.  I will share my own commentary soon.
 
Regarding RMAF, DAVEand the other Chord DACs were well represented at the CanJam tent.  I got a chance to hang out with Edd and Tom from Chord, really wonderful guys.  They are exploring the Rockies today for the very first time on their only day off.  Hopefully, it's a great adventure.  In the 2-channel speaker section of RMAF, DAVE and TT were well represented in the High Fidelity Cables rooms and DAVE played front and center in the Voxativ room.  More to follow...
 
Oct 10, 2016 at 3:43 PM Post #5,023 of 18,942

paul79

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Hey Roy! So glad to hear of the improvement in your family members trying time.... My best to all of you and yours regarding, and I believe most all here can understand the severity of this disease, especially when it happens to a family member. It is all too commonplace anymore.
 
Look forward to your thoughts Roy, of the show, and catching up here!
 
Oct 10, 2016 at 7:16 PM Post #5,024 of 18,942

EVOLVIST

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The DAVE does offer an optional filter for a possible improvement to unsatisfactory recordings. This is something I need to play with more.


What filter for a possible improvement of an unsatisfactory recording?

You have the HF setting and that's it. To me, if it's a crummy recording, I can dig those sounds, too, because the DAVE really let's you hear what's wrong with it. That can be a fun listen, as well.

@Romaz, it's good to see you back. Blessings to you and your family.

Some recent observation that go along with my DAVE and experience:

I think the DAVE is more agnostic to peripherals than I originally thought. I just tried a score of high-end power cords (with some more on the way), and most did nothing, some did more harm than good, and one was too warm and flat. I also auditioned a pair of HFCs MC-0.5s and I heard nada. Plugged them in by the 4kTV...and bupkes, all over a few days span of time, letting them sit.

My caveat, though, is two-fold. 1.) I have an power transformer right in backyard. Literally, sitting in the corner of my yard. There are only 4 houses on the grid. Am I getting extraordinary power, or a straighter line to crappy juice? I'm leaning toward the former. And 2.) I've come to realize that the bottleneck in my system is my HD800s. Not power (I still use my beautiful PS Audio balanced P300), not so much cables, just the synergy between the DAVE and the stock HF800s, with that 6-7khz spike is nagging and fatiguing. Time to try Focal Utopias or Abyss.

Regardless, I do believe the DAVE can shine on it's own without super expensive filtering cables and the like. But if the bottleneck is my cans? That's one helluva bottleneck.
 
Oct 11, 2016 at 12:34 AM Post #5,025 of 18,942

esimms86

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  Hi, I'm back.  I appreciate all the well wishes as I've struggled with some family issues.  As a physician, I deal with advanced disease all day long but when a close family member comes down with advanced cancer, it's never easy.  As her condition has stabilized for the time being, it allowed me to get away to Colorado to attend RMAF over the weekend and I will post findings that may be of interest regarding the DAVE.  During the weekend, it also gave me time to jump back on Head-Fi and catch up on lots of great posts, especially by @paul79.  A very interesting perspective from a respected audiophile and friend.  I will share my own commentary soon.
 
Regarding RMAF, DAVEand the other Chord DACs were well represented at the CanJam tent.  I got a chance to hang out with Edd and Tom from Chord, really wonderful guys.  They are exploring the Rockies today for the very first time on their only day off.  Hopefully, it's a great adventure.  In the 2-channel speaker section of RMAF, DAVE and TT were well represented in the High Fidelity Cables rooms and DAVE played front and center in the Voxativ room.  More to follow...


Welcome back Roy. My prayers and best wishes are with you and your family.
 
Esau
 

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