constantly updated impression : Audio-gd Reference 8!
Jul 23, 2010 at 10:11 AM Post #77 of 106
I haven't tried audio-gd's musical dac's and amp's, the closest I got are clearly colored modules for the compass and sparrow and the transistor-based output on the ref 3. But I'm just sharing my thoughts because people may actually want some coloration but are afraid of music sounding like syrup, but they might not have to be afraid of that happening because their diamond differential gear are described as only "slightly warm and soft".
Someone mentioned it recently, and I think it makes sense, maybe some of us who think of "musical" think of the highly colored moon hdam in the discontinued compass. The moon hdam is described as "Full of emotion" and the compass itself is described as in the middle of neutral and musical by Kingwa (if I remember correctly).
After much testing myself I very much agree with Majkel's descriptions of the sound signatures of the different audio-gd hdam's, so I'll quote what he says about the moon opamp here.
The sweetest and the most romantic one. Slightly darker than the other two, a natural step-up from the AD825 pair as I know there are lots of their fans. This one has got big but defined soundstage, the listener becomes a part of the spectacle. You feel emerged in the music flow however the musical fluid is not completely spiced for me. I don't want things to be sweet or salty all the time, I need a tiny sip of sour or bitter flavor sometimes, making the dish more refined. In other words, the music does not have to be sentimental all the time, I'd like it to be intriguing and surprising sometimes.

Personally I considered compass+earth hdam as 75% neutral, deviating by giving a little bit gritty sound and a little more flare.
compass+moon hdam as 40% neutral, it always tries to carry you away with a a few different sentimental emotions.
and dac19/dac9 as 90-95% neutral, not 95-100% because of rolled-off upper highs. These frequencies are usually just agitating but on some occasions they may be part of the music.
RMAA says many audio-gd gear are not neutral :p, so I define neutral only as a psychological effect, allowing you to hear an objective interpretation of how a recording was mastered and allowing you to focus on each sound without being pulled into the music if you don't consciously choose to.  I define musical as engaging you into the whole of the music, can allow you to grasp the meaning of a song better/quicker than with neutral gear, but making it harder to focus on the EXACT intent of individual instruments.
My guess is that diamond differential audio-gd gear is probably closer to earth hdam+compass than moon hdam+compass in degree of coloration, but from descriptions I read the coloration type is probably in the same vein as moon hdam, not earth hdam.
Jul 23, 2010 at 10:26 PM Post #78 of 106
I find it amazing that a DAC that measures -1db @ 20khz is considered rolled off whereas a 100K TT/cartridge analog front end that barely manages 18kz real world (using optimum loading and proper RIAA EQ) is natural sounding......seems like the latter should seem rolled off and not the former....I think digititis has skewed our perception of what is real (in terms of detail) and what is quantization error and dither noise.
Jul 23, 2010 at 11:36 PM Post #79 of 106

Completely different circuits in no way is the diamond buffer an opamp!  Your post was just pure specualation and far from reality,  no offense intended.
The musical series DAC's are in no way colored.  They are accurate.
My guess is that diamond differential audio-gd gear is probably closer to earth hdam+compass than moon hdam+compass in degree of coloration, but from descriptions I read the coloration type is probably in the same vein as moon hdam, not earth hdam.

Jul 24, 2010 at 12:06 AM Post #80 of 106
Hi regal,
how u find the PRAT of the diamond vs the Ref 1.
Jul 24, 2010 at 2:53 AM Post #81 of 106

My comparison is to the DAC19 and I find the Prat much more realistic,  the dynamics are stunning.  Don't get me wrong the DAC19 is a fine DAC but to upgrade in the neutral series you have to go balanced as they don't offer an unbalanced DAC with the superior powersupply,  so that's how I ended up buying the 3SE.
 I really hope people don't think these musical series DAC's have a discrete opamp analog stage as that previous poster implied that is just completely wrong.  Especial from someone who doesn't even own one to make an off the wall comment like that.  They are not colored at all IMHO.  They have a discrete I/V conversion with a little NFB to keep distortion at a minimum and then a discrete diamond buffer.  The filter is adjustable buy changing caps if you want.
Hi regal,
how u find the PRAT of the diamond vs the Ref 1.

Jul 24, 2010 at 3:35 AM Post #82 of 106
On one of the Audio-gd pages it clarifies that "musical" with the diamond buffer stage (I almost typed g's instead of f's just then) is very slightly warmer sounding compared to the ACSS.  It was my confusion about what was meant by musical in the first place.  Anyway, the higher-end Audio-gd gear, to me, mates well with bright gear, such as Stax Lambdas, HD-800s, Grados and the like. I wonder if the same goes for speakers that are similar.
Jul 24, 2010 at 9:29 AM Post #83 of 106
Actually, it measures -1dB at 16K. But it's not really something I'm complaining about, I believe because of the roll-off there is a more pleasant "objectively distanced" listening experience, whereas no roll-off may be harsh and fatiguing and prevent you from paying attention to the important parts of the music. But I don't have enough experience to say either way for sure, it is just my limited subjective experience that it does have a roll-off which may on rare occasions detract from some musical content. This is mainly based off comparing to a $200 sound card without roll-off, but of course I much prefer listening to the audio-gd dacs with roll-off :p just expressing my opinion that I think I hear a roll-off.
Yes regal, it was a lot of speculation. I was just trying to tell people maybe their "musical" gear are not as colored as some people may think, that's all. Not saying that the musical gear is equal to opamps.
Many people consider earth+compass to be acceptably "neutral", or close enough to neutral they seldom say it is not neutral. So when I said audio-gd's musical gear may be closer to earth than moon hdam, I was guessing that many people may actually consider their musical gear to be "neutral", or neutral enough they wouldn't call it colored.
Currawong, some people have made slight alterations to the sound descriptions while fixing up the English on Kingwa's site and we may not actually be describing the sound signature accurately. I really should be asking Kingwa to try to clarify but I am going to be gone for a few weeks soon, but once I get back I'll try to harass him until we find out exactly how to describe the diamond differential gear. For now though, people curious about what they mean by "musical" can try to work out this google translation which is obviously not describing the moon hdam, but maybe somewhere in the middle between earth+compass and an acss neutral gear.
Jul 24, 2010 at 9:54 AM Post #84 of 106
Haloxt,  the implication in your post to uninformed readers seemed that these are discrete opamp amp DAC's which is a much lower grade circuitry.  There is a difference between discrete circuit (general) and discrete opamp (specific).  In other words not all discrete circuits are opamps.  The better one for DAC's aren't.  Just wanted to make it clear that these analog stages are very different from the conventional opamp analog outputs and really make them special (both the neutral and musical series.) 
As far as the -1dB at 16khz,  this is a slow rolloff filter in these.  It trades a little frequency accuracy for less phase (time domain) distortion.   Same reason if you design a speaker that can be suitable with a 2nd order crossover it sounds better than ahigher order crossover even though the higher one has a better looking freq plot,  it measures poorly in phase distortion.
Note that phase distortion is highly audible on headphones according to the author.
Thats why I say the musical series doesn't color the sound, it is just a different approach.
Jul 24, 2010 at 10:29 AM Post #85 of 106
Well now that there are multiple people who have heard both their acss and diamond differential gear I hope soon there will be enough impressions to accurately describe the difference between the two and we can fix audio-gd's sound description if necessary. The only reason I chose to post my above speculations was after reading some impressions on the ref 8/9, google translations of audio-gd's website describing "neutral" and "musical" and "coloration" and experiencing the transistor-based output on the reference 3 (none of which really says anything about diamond differential I know :p) I thought that the uniquely colored discrete opamps most likely do not have the same kind of "musical" as diamond differential gear, and that maybe we should drop our association of those three opamps as audio-gd's "musical gear".
But I'm not saying anything one way or another for certain :p, I think everything is still up in the air, and all those sound description edits on "musical" are done by people just attempting grammar repair, please don't take them too literally right now, only after people with experience describe the difference in proper English and we edit audio-gd's site if necessary.
Jul 30, 2010 at 9:36 PM Post #86 of 106
Interesting info on phase response Regal...but as soon as I saw reference to Arny Krueger....yeeesh... it brought back the old BBS days (pre web forums) in the High End Audio News Group and the endless bickering between Krueger and Stereophile vis a vis John Atkinson. Having recovered from said creepy crawlies
from the trip down memory lane the articale got me thinking about a number of things WRT phase shift. Interesting stuff, thanks for the link.
Aug 10, 2010 at 6:34 PM Post #88 of 106
Got the Ref-8 today. Initial impressions as compared to my Ref-1 are that they are very close (Ref-1 via ACSS to Phoenix, Ref-8 via XLR to Phoenix- as preamp to my speaker rig consisting of a Emotiva XPA-2 amp and Mirage M7si speakers). My test for treble is with Cara Dillon as there is some sharp sibilance in her recordings. The Ref-1 is always smooth but compared to the Ref-8, the sharpness of her voice is very slightly more present (really small difference). Both sound spooky real with her though. There is definitely no obvious tell-tale of "warmness" vs. "clinical" between the two IMO.
I feel I need a couple of hundred hours of use before commenting further.
Aug 11, 2010 at 3:34 PM Post #90 of 106
Do keep us posted tim3320070. Cannot make up my mind between reference 7 or 8.
Do let me know which song of Cara Dillon did u use for the test if possible.

Users who are viewing this thread