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Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by magiccabbage, May 14, 2015.
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  1. Rob Watts
    We have run a few dems at CES here, and there have been a few choice words on the first 3 seconds of plugging the M scaler in. Very exciting!
    It is not small, and absolutely everything improves.
    Chord Electronics Stay updated on Chord Electronics at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
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  2. Mython Contributor
    Running out of steam?
    Sounds more like Murphy's Law, to me!
    Oh well, I'll guess everyone will just have to make do with a mere 1million taps, for the timebeing.
    It's a hard life [​IMG]
  3. Kamil21

    I predict that from now on, Chord or Blu2 to Digital, would be what Linn or the Linn Sondek was to analogue ... extracting the most information out of an old or tired format and making the world of music all the better for it!

    I may be jumping the gun here, but well done, Chord!

  4. bmichels
    thanks Rob, but can you elaborate on "very exciting".   More details & precision ? more soul ? more musicality ? more intimate....
    May be I will be banned from this forum to say this, but as of today, I prefer NAGRA & VITUS sound to DAVE because, despite the fact that DAVE may offer more details & precision, I find NAGRA & VITUS sound to be TO MY EARs more enjoyable, bringing more soul and presence to my music, with a more intimate presentation.
    So... will Blu2 Mscaller move the DAVE sound more in the direction that I like (for me), which is definitively not a need for even more precision/details, but more...soul ?
  5. nepherte

    Heresy. Light the torches XD
  6. Crgreen
    When Rob says that everything improves, I don't take him to mean that everything changes to the same degree. Obviously, these things are relative and recording dependent. I'm wondering how DAVE can be improved, but I'm prepared to take his word for it. In my (limited) experience, you don't know how things can be improved, until you hear them. Which is probably just as well, as otherwise you'd live in a permanent state of dissatisfaction and your audio system wouldn't be doing its job properly.
  7. Sonic77

    ​Bravo! Smashing! Brilliant!
    Must be the tea I'm drinking.   
  8. JaZZ Contributor
  9. Mython Contributor
  10. Mython Contributor
    hahaha - you updated moments before I posted, JaZZ! [​IMG]
  11. Mython Contributor
  12. JaZZ Contributor
    Yeah, I've seen that, too. [​IMG]
  13. esimms86
    Looking for a little clarification here. Chord's product announcement for the Blu mkII says that it uses 1 million taps. It doesn't say 1 million in conjunction with Dave and 500,000 when connected to other DACs, nor does it say 500,000 when playing a red book CD without a standalone DAC. If Romaz's analysis is correct then the product announcement is confusing at best. All this leads me to wonder how the sound compares when a CD is played on the Blu mkII with and without Dave.

    Also, if Davina will potentially be available by summer then the wait time between the Blu mkII and Davina may be as short as 5-6 months. As much as we all want to enjoy the sound of 1 million taps in our own homes, £7,995 product is not an impulse buy. And if you wait you can spend 150 USD on music instead of spending it on an Audiophileo device.

    Davina promises to be the best ADC ever produced. It's then a little ironic for so many Davinas to end up in the systems of playback hobbyists who have no intention of every using it as an ADC.

    The previous gold standard ADC was the Pacific Microsonics 2, now long out of production and commanding a price of 20,000 USD if you can even find one for sale. If Chord someday decides to get out of the ADC business it would leave Davina as a product made out of "unobtainium." I couldn't imagine that there would be many audiophiles willing to part with their Davina/Dave combo.

    Final question and then I'll give it a rest. I'm assuming that the Blu mkII and Davina will both come in choice of silver or black?

  14. adyc
    I want a streamer and Mscalar in one box. In my opinion, they rush Blu2. They should add the steaming option to Blu2. It will be ultimate source component . I don't accept the argument that there is BNC input. First, I don't want more boxes and cables unless it is necessary. I don't want DAVE to become ridiculous dcs Vivaldi mulitboxes. Second, the BNC input is limited to up to 192kHz.

    Chord, please consider a Blu2 SE to add the steaming option.
  15. romaz
    Thanks, Fredrik. 
    I am home now (I arrived late last night and it's been tough to report back until now).  It was probably the best CES in recent memory with lots to see and hear.  The Chord room and the time spent with Rob and John were easily the highlight.  Thank you both!  Just the most gracious hosts!
    Both Blu 2 and Davina can indeed be used with any DAC including a Mojo, Nagra, etc.  Blu 2 will likely be the best CD transport in the universe regardless of what DAC it is connected to.  Davina could well compete with the very best phono preamp in the world even though you would be going from analog to digital and back to analog again.  As Rob has stated, it can also be used to digitally record analog media to a very high standard if a computer is connected to Davina via USB, perhaps the highest standard ever known.  Only when combined with DAVE can either of these devices truly equal analog because it is only with 1 million TAPS that you can faithfully recreate the original analog waveform.
    As for my honest first impressions, here they are.  To be fair, it will take me more listening time in my own system to really tell you what I think.  I don't think I have a golden ear any more than anyone else but I have a very good sense of what I like and what I'm looking for and because I have sought to hear and compare many things, what I do have in abundance is perspective.  I believe it is well known to most that I covet the experience of a live performance in an acoustical venue.  Large orchestral classical music is by far my favorite genre and probably the most challenging for a DAC to convincingly portray but I also love other types of music, especially live jazz and even rock and pop as long as the performance is soulful.  As I write this, I am listening to Pink Floyd.  I find it amazing what DAVE can do with any genre.
    What I will say is the combo of DAVE + Blu 2 just took a massive step forward in sounding like you are there and that is probably the finest compliment I can give any piece of equipment.  In a live situation, never have I wished that the sound was warmer, more organic, had fuller midrange, more extended highs or better bass but as you know, to achieve this type of balance requires more than just a good DAC although the DAC is obviously a foundational piece.  In some ways, compared to the Vienna Acoustic speakers and the Chord Mezzo 75 amp that were used in Chord's setup, I like my system at home better but this obviously took me much time and effort to achieve and I also believe this has a lot to do with my DAVE directly powering my speakers.  I cannot overstate just how HUGE I believe Chord's upcoming digital amp will be for a speaker setup or for headphones that require more power and how much better this type of setup will reveal the impact of 1 million TAPS.  Even compared against the million dollar setups I heard at CES over the weekend, I have yet to hear a setup that speaks to my heart and my overall sensibilities better than what I have at home.  Despite this, what I heard with DAVE + Blu 2 was very very special and I heard it immediately and I'm certain most will also.  In a simplistic sense, yes, there is better depth and clarity of detail but these things are huge because these are the things that all DACs strive for and yet so few truly achieve.  As DAVE owners, we are already spoiled by these qualities and yet the M-scaler gives you more of it, so much more that in comparison, the DAVE by itself sounded hazy and flat, descriptors that I have never before used with the DAVE.  I know what you're asking, however.  In the end, it really isn't just about depth and clarity of detail, it is a greater sense of musicality and engagement that we seek and so if this is your question, then let me provide you this perspective.
    As I do at all audio shows I attend, I listen to a lot of different setups and without fail, I am always impressed by a few.  This year, I really enjoyed hearing the new YG Audio Sonja XVS ($265,000) powered by a pair of wonderful Audionet amps.  Interestingly, as a prominent European journalist came into the room for a listen, they abruptly switched from digital playback to vinyl.  I have witnessed this a lot, however.  When it matters most, most rooms switch to vinyl.  Why?  Because their vinyl setups are more musically engaging.  Even in the Nagra room, which I always enjoy, René Laflamme seemed to play more analog than digital even with Nagra's newly updated HD DAC.  Of course, this is never the case in MSB's room where their statement Select II DAC takes center stage with no turntable or reel to reel in sight.  The MSB room is always well done and just like at RMAF, the Select II was showcasing its new MQA capabilities to very good effect.  I will discuss MQA in a later post as I have much to say about it having witnessed the mobs at the MQA booth but what I will say is that with the Select II, MQA resulted in a clear improvement in terms of you guessed it -- better clarity of detail and depth.  In a nutshell, MQA attempts to achieve exactly the same things as the M-scaler, to bring you closer to the performance.  Does it do it better than DAVE or the M-scaler?  I think you might already know the answer to that.
    Here are a few observations that are not new to me but have become glaringly more apparent with each show that I attend.  In just about every room that was playing digital, the music that was playing was your typical audiophile fare that always sounds good in any well-implemented system but also very easy for even a $100 AudioQuest Dragonfly DAC to portray.  In fact, I heard just such a presentation with a Dragonfly DAC in the AudioQuest room that sounded as good as many of these rooms.  That's right, soundtracks with lots of synthesized bass, solo studio vocals from the likes of Diana Krall, Rebecca Pidgeon or Steely Dan but rarely do I hear anyone playing unamplified orchestral music.  
    In the past year, I have sat in the MSB room at 4 different audio shows and have always enjoyed the selections that Vince Galbo has queued up.  He obviously chooses music that the Select II portrays well but I always found it curious that he never played classical music.  This year, as the room was nearly empty and he was open to suggestions, I asked him to play a classical piece and he admitted he had a very limited selection of classical music but agreed to play a piece he had on hand.  It wasn't really a classical piece but more of an orchestral soundtrack but it was very telling.  The presentation was explosively dynamic and the instruments had nice air around them typical of what I would expect from the wonderful dual power bases that power the Select II.  At the same time, while there was this nice air around the instruments, true depth was lacking, depth that I routinely hear with this type of music with my DAVE and heard in much greater abundance at the Chord room just minutes before.  Moreover, fine details seemed to be missing or else were blurred together.  Instead of an onion with numerous layers of detail that I had heard in the Chord room, it was like an apple with a thick peel and then the core of the fruit.  Plenty of meat but without the juicy succulent layers.  Lacking was the nuance and subtle articulation that I am used to with orchestral music.  The mass of violins had no variation and sounded homogenous.  Furthermore, the attack was more diffuse and the leading edge less incisive, as if a dull knife had been used to make the cut.  Others may disagree, but speed is not the strength of this DAC.
    As I reviewed my notes of how my DAVE directly compared against the newly revised Nagra HD and the dCS Vivaldi some months ago, I realized the differences were the same:
    However, having just experienced DAVE + Blu 2 prior to coming to the MSB room, it seemed the contrast with the Select II was considerably greater.  For someone who routinely finds great engagement with orchestral music with their DAVE, this was not engaging at all and so I can imagine this could be a reason why MSB (or anyone else) doesn't routinely play orchestral music -- it just doesn't sound convincing in their systems.  Of course, there's also the possibility these people don't enjoy classical music but not to have it on tap is unusual to me considering many audiophiles love classical music.
    Here is another perspective I would like to offer.  I have become very friendly with my local Audio Note UK dealer.  He is a true lover of music which I appreciate and so we have had many wonderful discussions about music and have spent hours in his shop listening to vinyl spinning in his system.  Before I bought my Omega Alnicos, I had strongly considered buying a pair of his wonderful Audio Note speakers although as the Audio Note Alnicos start at $30k, this was not a purchase decision one takes lightly.  I also looked at the Audio Note DAC that he had on hand (the 2.1 Signature).  This DAC sounded pleasant enough in his system comprised of a pair of Audio Note 300B tube amps although it paled in comparison to his vinyl setup.  In his opinion, "nothing compares to vinyl" although he has never heard my DAVE.  Nonetheless, he once tried to sell me an Audio Note DAC stating it was the best digital he had ever heard even though it couldn't compare to his vinyl setup but one thing in particular that he told me was very telling:  "Audio Note DACs never measure well but they sound great."  This told me all I needed to know, that he preferred the sound of distortion and I believe many people do, even if it is even-order distortion.  This suggests that the digital converter is so bad that it needs to be softened and sweetened somehow through the analog output stage.  It's why people with off the shelf silicon DACs oversample to DSD, because DSD sounds smoother and less edgy.  Even though DSD lacks detail, to lose this detail is better than to deal with the substrate noise that is inherent to chip DACS.  
    Having owned a very fine TotalDac d1- monobloc, I find NOS DACs like the Nagra and most resistance ladder DACs much more to my liking than any chip DACs I have thus far heard.  They are indeed smoother and less "digital" sounding than chip DACs but I admit now that it is a distortion that I favor with NOS DACs.  The problem with enjoying distortion is while pleasing on some level, there are limits to how real and engaging this can ever sound and you don't realize it until you hear something like the DAVE.  With NOS specifically, there is the other problem of low ambition.  The NOS concept aspires only to translate the original digital signal as best as it can.  Rob, as we know, aspires to a much higher goal as he has been very clear that his goal has always been to reproduce the original analog waveform and this is simply not possible without oversampling and so it is ironic that people equate NOS to analog when it has no real intentions of truly being analog.
    As far as the M-scaler impacting the DAVE's tonality, I didn't get that sense at all.  If you are looking for a true analog sound, then M-scaler + DAVE is as close as you will get with its million taps but if you are looking for a certain warmth or bloom that is missing from your system, I believe this balance is best achieved through your analog components and not your digital components (ie warmer headphones/speakers, warmer copper or gold-infused cables, a First Watt JFET amp or 2A3 tube amp, etc).  In truth, a DAC is also an analog component and you could pair the Blu 2 with something like the Nagra HD with its tube output stage to achieve a warmer signature but having compared this DAC directly against the DAVE, this warmer tonality comes at a significant price of resolution. 
    onsionsi, Blitzula, miketlse and 5 others like this.
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