Dac1usb headamp vs Larocco Headcode
Aug 1, 2007 at 4:37 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

Hadden

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Not sure which forum this should go into. I just received the Benchmark yesterday, and am at the getting to know it stage. There has been some question about the quality of the internal amp on the Dac1, so this morning I decided to do a concentrated comparison using a Classical and a Pop cd I know very well. Now this is obviously not a scientific blind A/B, and is a tentative initial impression. So don't rake me over the coals. I will be doing more listening over the next while.

I tried to level match by ear as close as I could, then would listen to a short passage of music, about 10 seconds or so, about five times in a row repeated quickly to try to imprint all the sounds and character as much as possible; then I would switch over immediately to see if I could spot clear differences. Sometimes I would start with the Dac1 amp, and go through the repeated cycle, and sometimes I would start with the Larocco Headcode.

At first I thought the Dac1 was duller sounding and had an edginess to the treble, and the Larocco had more defined powerful bass and an openness to the sound. But listening more and more I found I became unsure, to the extent where I started to come to the conclusion I could not detect a difference between the amps, still assumng there was one at all. Right now they sound exactly the same to me as I do the back and forth. This is rather shocking to me as the Larocco is an expensive and well regarded unit and I presumed it would be vastly superior. Not so, so far. At one point while listening I believed I was listening to the Larocco and thought I detected a subtle superiority, or at least a distinction, and realized I was actually listening to the Benchmark!
 
Aug 1, 2007 at 6:04 PM Post #2 of 14

granodemostasa

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is your benchmark on variable or fixed output? (going into the larocco)
 
Aug 4, 2007 at 5:25 PM Post #4 of 14

euclid

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with variable; the output voltage is controlled via the volume knob.
with calibrated; the output is fixed but the headphone output is still variable.

you are using the Benchmark correctly in driving the Larocco, thanks for posting your impressions. what headphones are you using and whats the digital source? im considering a DAC1 for my computer.
 
Aug 4, 2007 at 5:59 PM Post #5 of 14

Hadden

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I'm using Foobar 8.3, Directsound2, SRC 24/96. Phones are Senn600 with Cardas Cable. My impressions of the Benchmark have been up and down so far. I haven't had it long enough to say anything with confidence. It seems to take me awhile to relax into a new unit before I can know it through listening to music rather than assessing it as a component in that uptight way. Early afternoon yesterday I was distinctly underwhelmed; then I had a long session with it late into the night and was very pleased. Sounded quite open and detailed with orchestral stuff. I wonder for Pop if it is undernourished in the bass department, we'll see. Over yesterday it went from thin and trebley, to powerful and almost overwarm much later in the day.
 
Aug 4, 2007 at 9:27 PM Post #6 of 14

twsmith

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My experience with the DAC1's headamp is that it seems to synergize better with some cans as compared with others. Since I also have a GS-1 headamp, I was able to compare the two amps, and clearly found that I much preferred the GS-1 with the AKG701s but the difference was not nearly as great with Grade SR60s (although the GS-1 was still better). I don't have any Senns but some have found that driving Senns using a balanced cable upgrade via the DAC1 XLR outputs sounds quite good. This may be something that you could try and all you really need to do is replace the cable (which is easy to do with Senn 600s).
 
Aug 5, 2007 at 3:22 AM Post #7 of 14

infinitesymphony

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Hadden /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm using Foobar 8.3, Directsound2, SRC 24/96.


The DAC-1 is one of my dream studio DACs but still out of my price range, so I've been reading a lot about it. As a result of its design, the DAC-1 automatically upsamples whatever input it receives to a new rate--one that you would not commonly see or expect (i.e. not 96, 192, etc.). For that reason, I believe it's best not to use software upsampling.

Also, you should see an improvement from using Kernel Streaming or ASIO instead of DirectSound as the former two bypass the internal Windows mixer. The KS component for Foobar can be found here. Just unzip the DLL, drop it into the \foobar2000\components directory, and set up Foobar to output through KS.
 
Aug 5, 2007 at 1:35 PM Post #8 of 14

Hadden

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Quote:

Originally Posted by infinitesymphony /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The DAC-1 is one of my dream studio DACs but still out of my price range, so I've been reading a lot about it. As a result of its design, the DAC-1 automatically upsamples whatever input it receives to a new rate--one that you would not commonly see or expect (i.e. not 96, 192, etc.). For that reason, I believe it's best not to use software upsampling.

Also, you should see an improvement from using Kernel Streaming or ASIO instead of DirectSound as the former two bypass the internal Windows mixer. The KS component for Foobar can be found here. Just unzip the DLL, drop it into the \foobar2000\components directory, and set up Foobar to output through KS.



I was using Asio before with a previous Dac and switched over to DirectSound2 and found the sound more detailed and smoother. If the sound had been simply smoother I would not say it is necessarily better, but the expanded soundstage and increased detail made me think it was genuinely more accurate/resolving. Haven't compared with the Dac1 though.
 
Aug 5, 2007 at 1:42 PM Post #9 of 14

Hadden

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Quote:

Originally Posted by twsmith /img/forum/go_quote.gif
My experience with the DAC1's headamp is that it seems to synergize better with some cans as compared with others. Since I also have a GS-1 headamp, I was able to compare the two amps, and clearly found that I much preferred the GS-1 with the AKG701s but the difference was not nearly as great with Grade SR60s (although the GS-1 was still better). I don't have any Senns but some have found that driving Senns using a balanced cable upgrade via the DAC1 XLR outputs sounds quite good. This may be something that you could try and all you really need to do is replace the cable (which is easy to do with Senn 600s).


I used to have a GS1 with stepped atten. and loved it. The Larocco replaced it and is a better amp I think, more organic, detailed and so on, which is saying something cause the GS1 really impressed. I'm usually sensitive to diffrences in components etc ( I could easily tell the differences in cables with Justin's transparent amp) so having trouble when A/Bing with the Larocco/Dac1 is very odd.
 
Aug 6, 2007 at 4:13 AM Post #10 of 14

james__bean

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Personally, I find that doing quick A/B comparisons can only get you so far. If you truly want to know the differences between two components you have to spend significant time with each one over a long period of time. If you find the DAC1's headamp to be sufficient for your purposes though, thats probably a good thing. If you ever want to get rid of that Headcode let me know. :p
 
Aug 7, 2007 at 9:39 PM Post #11 of 14

vcoheda

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Quote:

Originally Posted by james__bean /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Personally, I find that doing quick A/B comparisons can only get you so far. If you truly want to know the differences between two components you have to spend significant time with each one over a long period of time.


i find the same as well. spend 2 weeks with one and then go to the other. the differences will be more apparent.
 
Aug 7, 2007 at 9:41 PM Post #12 of 14

vcoheda

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Quote:

Originally Posted by twsmith /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't have any Senns but some have found that driving Senns using a balanced cable upgrade via the DAC1 XLR outputs sounds quite good. This may be something that you could try and all you really need to do is replace the cable (which is easy to do with Senn 600s).


yes. i did this with my apogee mini-dac. excellent way to get balanced sound for cheap. sounded much better than SE, imo.
 
Aug 8, 2007 at 12:05 AM Post #13 of 14

cansman

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I find the DAC1 USB headphone output to be very, very good. It is very accurate. Personally, I would rather it be a little sweeter sounding. However, than it wouldn't be accurate!

Give it some time, it takes a while to burn in. The noise floor is outstanding. It is also phase accurate, fast and coherent, and has vanishingly low distortion.

cansman
 
Aug 8, 2007 at 12:13 AM Post #14 of 14

euclid

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cansman /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I find the DAC1 USB headphone output to be very, very good. It is very accurate. Personally, I would rather it be a little sweeter sounding. However, than it wouldn't be accurate!

Give it some time, it takes a while to burn in. The noise floor is outstanding. It is also phase accurate, fast and coherent, and has vanishingly low distortion.

cansman




its unfortunate that often accuracy and enjoyment are mutually exclusive. i dont like recordings very colored either which is why im hoping the DAC1 will be a good choice, the heaphone amp is a nice bonus.
 

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