CHORD ELECTRONICS DAVE
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thomaskong78

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ubs28

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The reason I got the Chord Dave at the time was because it didn’t sound bad next to a $250.000 Esoteric setup. So it was a good price / performance.

Maybe there exist $100.000 DAC’s that are better than the Chord Dave, I don’t really care about it as the price / performance is terrible.

(Even if I was Bill Gates, I would not waste my money on $100k DAC’s)
 
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Thenewguy007

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The reason I got the Chord Dave at the time was because it didn’t sound bad next to a $250.000 Esoteric setup. So it was a good price / performance.

Maybe there exist $100.000 DAC’s that are better than the Chord Dave, I don’t really care about it as the price / performance is terrible.

(Even if I was Bill Gates, I would not waste my money on $100k DAC’s)
Nothing about the MSB Select is even remotely worth $100,000. Even with inflated dealer markups & boutique pricing, they are marking it up to the stratosphere.
 
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Muataz

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The reason I got the Chord Dave at the time was because it didn’t sound bad next to a $250.000 Esoteric setup. So it was a good price / performance.

Maybe there exist $100.000 DAC’s that are better than the Chord Dave, I don’t really care about it as the price / performance is terrible.

(Even if I was Bill Gates, I would not waste my money on $100k DAC’s)
Building the best in the universe should not cost much as we talk about pure technical design.
CHORD Dave could be the most expensive deeply design DAC in the world and if you find it not your taste there is the best off the shelf DACs like akm4499 in Topping D90 for 699$ that could be even better than Dave. Who knows ?! There is no dark magic involved.

If you would like to try D90 or Gustard a22 for less than 1k$ and tell us how they compare against more expensive stuff.
 
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miketlse

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Nothing about the MSB Select is even remotely worth $100,000. Even with inflated dealer markups & boutique pricing, they are marking it up to the stratosphere.
It does feel like bragging rights are being exercised.
 
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JaZZ

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My first serious audio system was Garrard turntable, Fisher Int(SS), ADS bookspeaker bought on 1978.

I bought Technics CD player on 1984.

It sound harsh and bright compared with vinyl.

I gave up vinyl when I moved from Berkeley to Chicago on 1988 since I had no room to carry in my small car.

I upgraded to California Audio Mark2 on 1989.

It was way better than Technics CD player with refined treble and better dynamics.

I had used passive pre, Krell KSA 150 to drive Apogee Duetta Sig.

On 1999, I upgraded to DCS Elgar and upsampler using TEC Tl0x transport.

Wow, I got the feeling that it could match good vinyl system.

But after using DCS Elgar for 6 years, it got out of order and I gave it up with uncertain repair cost and shipping to UK.

TEC Tl0x transport also had kept failing to read some CDs.

Thus I had chnaged to Accustic Arts CD transport and Dac which was a downgrade from DCS Elgar and upsampler using TEC Tl0x transport..

On 2010, I had got EMMLab Dac2 to replace Accustic Arts Dac.

It had excellent dynamics, details and soundstage which made me enjoy the music again with Lansche 4.1 speaker and Silbatone 300B SET amp.

On 2019 I had got Jay Audio CDT2 and Lyngdorf 2170 to use it as Room correction, Dac.

But after using it for 4 months, I found that Lyngdorf 2170 falls slightly short of EMMLab Dac2 on bass slam and details.

Thus I had auditioned several Dacs to upgrade from Oct 2018 to May 2019


Point 100
There is nothing to criticize over MSB Select II except its high price around 100K$.
It has magical relaxed texture similar to top grade vinyl.

Dynamics, details, soundstage are all excellent.

Point 95
Kalista Dreamplay transport and Dac (80k$)
It is excellent matching MSB Select II on almost every aspects.

The only down side is that it does not have relaxed texture similar to top grade vinyl although it still sounds silky.

Point 91.
Trinity Dac(50k$)
This one is also all round player with hard to criticize.
But it falls slightly short of MSB Select II on details and relaxed texture.

Point 90
Lampiziator Pacific Dac(30k$)
I had auditioned this Dac with same setup with MSB Select II.

This one is also all round player with hard to criticize.
It falls slightly short of MSB Select II on dynamics and relaxed texture.
But this one has a nice bloom and full bodied sound,
which make some people prefer this one to MSB Select II



Point 85
Chord Dave and Mscaler(or Blue II transport)
This one give transparent and 3D soundstage with excellent details.
But it need good system matching.
It could sound analytical or hot coupled with bright combination of speaker and amplifier.
Without upscaling using Mscaler, its sound is mediocre around 75 points.

Point 84
MSB Premier with one more basic power supply (22k$)
I had auditioned this one side by side with Lampiziator Pacific Dac.
It matches Pacific Dac with Dynamics, details, soundstage but fall short of Pacific Dac in magical bloom and full body.
With improved power supply or clock, its performance have room to improve further.

Point 80
Formula XHD Dac (12k$)
I auditioned this one side by side with Trinity Dac
This one is a very musical player with full bloom.
But it falls short of Trinity Dac by one notch in dynamics and bass slam.

Point 79
TotalDac 6 tube version (9k$)
This one is also a very musical player.
But from the point of audiophile, its dynamics, details, soundstage are all one notch below the standard set by MSB Select II.


Point 78
MSB Discrete Dac with one additional basic power supply. (12k$)
This one has similar sound signature to MSB Premier
But it is half notch below MSB Premier on dynamics, details, soundstage.

Point 75
EmmLab Dac2
I paid 9K$ for this on 2010.
It matches Chord Dave and Mscaler on dynamics with slightly more bass slam.
But Chord Dave and Mscaler give more transparent and deeper soundstage than EmmLab Dac2 while soundstage width are comparable to each other.
This one has slight fuller sound than Chord Dave and Mscaler.
It is still working fine after 10 years of use.


Point 73.

Lyngdorf 2170
This one has Dac, pre and power amp, active crossover and room correction functions.
It’s Dac sounds very similar to EmmLab Dac2 but with slightly less details and bass slam.

There are many Dacs to audition but I could not audition all of them.


I had bought Chord Dave and Mscaler May 2019.


Dac also depends on system matching.

If I do not use tube integrated amp (Line Magnetic 508), then I may have gone for Lamiziator Pacific Dac.
But I am afraid of too warm sound out of tube Dac and tube amp.



Dave will not go well with analytical speaker like Magico.

It is working better with my Lansche 4.1 which is kind of neutral not too warm like Harbeth or not too analytical like Magico or Wilson


After 7 months of using Dave and Mscaler, my grading of 85 points on Dave stand.

It is a pretty good Dac at the price point, but not the best Dac available now.

If I can shell out 100K$, I may go for MSB Select II.

If some innovative Dac better than MSB Select II come out under 50K$ in the future, then I will upgrade to it.

Otherwise, I expect to use Chord Dave and Mscaler for 3 years or longer.
It's interesting that you (and your friends) have vinyl sound as a reference – or so it seems. That's indeed something Rob and Dave don't aspire to. Hence your comment «But it needs good system matching. It could sound analytical or hot coupled with bright combination of speaker and amplifier» makes sense. To me it's a hint that it may in fact have the purest sound of the bunch, closest to the original – if we take synergistic effects with the speakers and your own sonic preference out of the equation. It would be a further confirmation that a sound as pure as possible is most revealing to tonal flaws in the chain – thus critical in many systems.

Of course I'm not entirely neutral, having a horse called Dave in the race. That said, I belong to those who like some aspects of vinyl, but prefer a sound that's neither digital nor analogue, just as close to the truth as it gets. And I firmly believe that technically the DAVE (even more so with the M Scaler) is the most advanced DAC to date, offering an output signal closest to the original.
 
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The reason I got the Chord Dave at the time was because it didn’t sound bad next to a $250.000 Esoteric setup. So it was a good price / performance.

Maybe there exist $100.000 DAC’s that are better than the Chord Dave, I don’t really care about it as the price / performance is terrible.

(Even if I was Bill Gates, I would not waste my money on $100k DAC’s)
The reason I bought my DAVE was because the Metronome Signature DAC ($30k USD at the time) died and Metronome was not able to resurrect it and did not offer me an incentive to remain with Metronome. In any case, the DAVE was way more transparent and satisfying. The DAVE is still pleasing me today and has renewed its usefulness because I have acquired a high-end professional ADC (3 years of waiting for DAVINA with no end in sight made me take a different approach) in the form of an Avid MTRX and its superbly clocked AES/EBU connection is yet another DAVE strength in allowing me to monitor the ADC process on-the-fly.

Regards
GG
 
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thomaskong78

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Actually I enjoy the sound of Dave and Mscaler to drive Sr1a headphone and Lansche 4.1 speaker.

About 20 years ago, I sold Wilson Watt Puppy 6 speaker within 6 months of buying new one since it sound too bright above my tolerance.

If I hate Dave and Mscaler, I would have done same thing.

Dave and Mscaler is quite neutral with pretty good details.

But its bass impact and soundstage width are just good (not excellent).


I am not ready to spend 100K$ on MSB Select II even if i afford it.

Thus I am waiting for innovative Dac to come at reasonable price.

In the meantime, I am pretty happy with Dave and Mscaler.

I had done enough homework on cables and power management not to get too bright sound out of my system.
 
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BPED

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After some time with my new gear, I’d like to share some impressions..

I recently upgraded from Hugo2 to Mscaler + Dave and today my set up is:

Macbook Pro as Roon Core (Qobuz) – ethernet – router – ethernet - SOTM SMS 200 + SPS 500 - USB cable (Chord Shawline) – Mscaler – BCN cable (Wave Stream) – DaveFocal Utopia / ATC speakers.

Moving from Hugo2 to M-Dave has been a fantastic upgrade but rather than being impressed right away it took me some time to understand and appreciate the change. I listen mostly to jazz, acoustic music, classic music and I particularly care about realism of tone.

Initially I noticed a smoother, rounder presentation of the music, very pleasant. At times I almost fell the music was “slower”, a strange trick played by Dave on my brain. I didn’t notice extreme definition or lots of new details. I think I also felt a bit less bass.

With time I got used to the new sound signature and I went back and forth to the Hugo2 to compare. I realized that M Dave is actually much more detailed than Hugo2 but it is all well integrated, details do not stand out but contribute to the realistic tonal and spatial presentation of instruments and voices, which is vastly improved. That makes sense… listening to a drum kit live I would never think “How detailed it sounds!” but simply enjoy. That is the magic of Chord DAC in combination with a revealing headphone like Utopia. Bass is also more defined and controlled compared to Hugo2 and at first it may seem lighter, but it is all there.

My second step was to look for optimizing my set up upgrading BNC cables. Note that I didn’t have any problem of fatigue or RF (I wouldn’t know how to recognize it) with stock cables, they sound great to me and I just checked out of curiosity.

A first trial with quality silver BNC cables gave me a tighter, leaner sound which I found fatiguing pretty quickly. I preferred the stock ones.

That confirmed that BNC connections do matter so I decided to go for Wave Stream BNC. They are heavy, well-built and not very flexible. They proved to be a worthwhile upgrade in my system. Initially they seemed to add a slightly darker tone compared to stock but I quickly adjusted to that and I cannot hear the effect anymore. Instruments are now better defined, with more controlled bass and a much cleaner “texture”. In comparison, I realize now that stock cable was a bit fuzzy or “grainy”. All this without losing the smooth, non-fatiguing sound I experienced before. Overall, they add a bit of weight and bass, which goes perfectly with my set up. Recommended!

I have a couple more things coming up and I will report here… thanks for reading
 
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odessamarin

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thank you, great impressions.
 
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MacedonianHero

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I have a bunch of external amps and I keep coming back to the Dave / M Scaler headphone out for Abyss. I have the Benchmark HPA4 on trial, and while it's the closest amp I've heard so far to the Dave output - the HPA4 has a hint of dryness to the midrange, whereas Dave is completely smooth.

I don't sense any lack of power or straining with the Abyss at any volume. Though with some dynamic recordings you just don't have quite the volume you need (I'm always super nervous to go past +3db and that I'll clip).

Rob - any news on the digital amps? There has got to be a way to maintain this quality while retaining the smoothness. I'm up for suggestions on headphone or speaker amps that I haven't tried that - while may not be 100% transparent - will not lose that smooth, analog feel.

I wish I could rig a TT2 to be a headphone amplifier for the Dave.
I'd look at the cables in between your DAVE and HPA4 with either the Phi TC or Susvara. I'm using the Water Audioquest XLRs and love it...just perfect tonality to my ears.
 
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MacedonianHero

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The HPA4 is as transparent as it gets, as you say. I don't see an alternative for the Abyss right now. You should find the soundstage opens up a bit compared to DAVE directly too. So it's better here and slightly not there. Overall it's still better.
Pretty much my impressions as well.
 
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gnomen

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I don’t know if any others here have tested their electrics for DC Offset. It’s a form of electrical ‘double vision’ or blur. It affects the imaging and density of your images. As far as I can ascertain in the UK this is a very common problem.
Following Dave's post a little while back, I borrowed an EVO 3 SYNCRO UNI to insert in my power supply. It is specifically aimed at removing stray DC offset current from the public supply. On initial listening I have to say it does make quite a difference, in pretty much the way Dave described in his post. I don't think it is a complete power cleaner - removing RFI/EMI for example - but 'focus' is a good word for what it does do.
 
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DaveRedRef-III

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Following Dave's post a little while back, I borrowed an EVO 3 SYNCRO UNI to insert in my power supply. It is specifically aimed at removing stray DC offset current from the public supply. On initial listening I have to say it does make quite a difference, in pretty much the way Dave described in his post. I don't think it is a complete power cleaner - removing RFI/EMI for example - but 'focus' is a good word for what it does do.

Hi gnomen I wonder did you try feeding straight into the Dave and alternatively feeding your whole electrics hub? If so did you discern any difference either way?
 
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jonstatt

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I'd look at the cables in between your DAVE and HPA4 with either the Phi TC or Susvara. I'm using the Water Audioquest XLRs and love it...just perfect tonality to my ears.
I tried the AQ Earth, AQ Sky and Chord Shawline. The best by far was the Earth (which shares its roots with the water). There are some that swear by that cable despite it not being the fashionable all silver cables like the Sky. The Earth is a mid priced gem. The more expensive Sky made the sound thinner, which gave the illusion of more detail but i found it fatiguing. Earth gives a warm edge while not losing any detail. After extensive comparison, I stand by what I said previously. The soundstage is wider with the demanding headphones via the HPA4 than DAVE directly. This can mean moving the artists a few steps further away which I can understand may be perceived as reduced intimacy. But the more I switched back and forth I realized with some tracks the intimacy was just as present with the HPA4 when the soundstage of the recording was smaller.
 
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