Massdrop x Airist Audio R-2R DAC: A Discrete Resistor Ladder DAC For $350
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I really wonder how high this baby can punch. I've read it beats the Amethys, on the other hand, some say it gets beaten by Schiit Mimby. So, more info on comparisons would be truly of great help here! :floatsmile:
Well, here is a review and interesting comparison against a couple of other converters: https://forum.headphones.com/t/massdrop-x-airist-audio-r-2r-dac-review/1653/13 (scroll up for the review).

The newest Schiit Bitfrost MB "A2" (as in the model you can now buy from Schiit) is said to best Airist on most technical categories. However, it is also 50% more expensive than the Airist. Don't expect a giant killer, but a very competitively priced product. I'd doubt you will find anything that costs as much but actually sounds better.
 
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The strongest, and most enduring, comparison I can make for the Massdrop x Airist Audio R-2R DAC is that, at least from a signature perspective, it sounds like a Holo Audio Spring DAC and Soekris dac1541 got it on - and this was the result. It exhibits some of the sweetness that I found so beguiling with the Spring DAC combined with the distinctly “pristine” quality to the sound rendered by the dac1541.

While the RDAC is not quite on the same level with all technicalities as those two units, it’s surprisingly close and the combination of their better sonic aspects results in a very compelling delivery with a broad variety of music
That translate to the Airist RDAC being just below those two mentioned.
:)

The newest Schiit Bitfrost MB "A2" (as in the model you can now buy from Schiit) is said to best Airist on most technical categories. However, it is also 50% more expensive than the Airist. Don't expect a giant killer, but a very competitively priced product. I'd doubt you will find anything that costs as much but actually sounds better
I won't believe that statement until I hear the new bitfrost, because of the excessive fanboyism about Schiit in general. Who knows.
We need more comparisons with the $699 bifrost, and the recent $499 Soekris 1321 unit, which is probably the only closest competition.

The Airist RDAC looks to have no other competition, and in turn, no reason to buy any other sub$1k level dac, unless the two others are actually better.

I have already heard the Soekris 1321, and it punches really, really highly.
So at $699, the bitfrost will have hard competition indeed.
 
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The fact that Torq thinks the RDAC can compete with the Ares is pretty bananas. Heck, the only other ladder DAC I can compare the RDAC to is a 2018 R2R-1 and that is surprisingly close. I should run the Audio-gd in 8x OS mode to really do a fairer comparison.

Certainly beats the Mimby, as far as I'm concerned.
 
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The fact that Torq thinks the RDAC can compete with the Ares is pretty bananas.
The Ares has nice tone, but otherwise wasn't that great. And has some notable technical issues, including unusually big performance differences between channels.

Hell, if value was a factor in the evaluation then I think the Modi MB is a better bet than the Ares too; though if not the Ares has some benefits.

That translate to the Airist RDAC being just below those two mentioned.
Well, it's below them. And perhaps closer than people would like to think, but it's not like it's a 95% solution either. And it's more that it has a sound that's something of a cross between them, without having the same level of technicalities. So it's worth noting that the RDAC is also below the Holo Audio CYAN (which I hadn't heard when I wrote that) and the dac1421.

Still does a nice job and I still think it stands up well.

After all, I bought two of them when they originally dropped, and only sold one of them when I completely tore down the rig it was in.

---

After the RDAC, the next thing I'd consider would be the Bifrost MB models built/shipped after October 2018 (possibly before that, but that's the most recent Bifrost MB I've heard). They measure and sound differently to the original Multi-Bit boards (from when they were first released), and the differences there suggest a different board-level grounding/shielding scheme and a higher degree of oversampling.

And after that probably an RME ADI-2 DAC fs.

Not much of a fan of the dac1321, even though I very much like the 1421 and 1541.

Not heard the latest Bifrost 2 at all, so can't make any comment there.
 
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The newest Schiit Bitfrost MB "A2" (as in the model you can now buy from Schiit) is said to best Airist on most technical categories. However, it is also 50% more expensive than the Airist.
Do this math again. At $699, the new Bifrost is double (or 100%) the $350 RDAC.
 
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Do this math again. At $699, the new Bifrost is double (or 100%) the $350 RDAC.
You are absolutely right. Or wrong. Depends on your point of view. That is correct, if you live in USA.

But if you live in Europe: the new revision of the original Bitfrost MB (which I actually referred to, not the "Bitrost 2" model, which was released literally at the same time I was writing that message) costs 619€ bought from here. Now, if you order RDAC from Drop.com, you pay $350 for the device and $12.50 for shipping. That is 332,75 € - and then you have to pay Value Added Tax (24%), which is $350 x 0.24 = $84 ~ 77€. Thus, the grand total for RDAC is about 410€.
 
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Do this math again. At $699, the new Bifrost is double (or 100%) the $350 RDAC.
I'm with you the whole price thing. I own a Bifrost 4490, and Schiit is charging too much for the MB upgrade, at $250. Why is it that I can buy a modi MB for $250., but my Bifrost upgrade is also $250.

Schiit promised a future proof Bifrost. But the new BF is way better. So much for upgrades for life. Schiit will charge so much for a BF upgrade, it makes it totally unhelpful.

I bought an Airist R-2R because of the price. But I would have rather bought a Schiit for the warranty and being US made.If they'd been better on BF MB upgrade pricing, I'd have a schiit right now, instead of a chinese knock off.
 
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Actually both of them are ladder lads. Airist RDAC is said to bear resemblance to the more expensive Metrum dacs (not necessarily by performance, but by tonal balance). Quote: "Hard to say because it technically isn't NOS...Maybe the tone of the Amethyst, with more space/air? Resolution maybe a bit behind, though, and maybe not as clean as Amethyst? It's been so long since I've heard any of those NOS DACs on the list. And comparing NOS to OS is weird."

Sorry for not posting direct link, head-fi policy :)

I am myself waiting to receive RDAC next week. I've only read reviews about it beforehand, but I am expecting a competitive product in its price class. I've owned some R-2R dacs before (MSB Signature IV+, Soekris dac1541, Schiit Modi MB & Yggdrasil A2), so I can write some comparisons if someone is interested.

Love to hear what you find between the Schiit Modi MB vs Airist rdac.
 
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I'm with you the whole price thing. I own a Bifrost 4490, and Schiit is charging too much for the MB upgrade, at $250. Why is it that I can buy a modi MB for $250., but my Bifrost upgrade is also $250.
I don't understand what you are complaining about. If we forget about the new Bitfrost for a moment, for the same price it's better to upgrade Bitfrost than to buy a new Modi Multibit. And if you want a decent USB with Modi you have to buy Eitr for $170. But with Bitfrost you can buy a $100 Gen 5 USB card and keep it all in one piece, no extra cables or power supplies.
 
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I don't understand what you are complaining about. If we forget about the new Bitfrost for a moment, for the same price it's better to upgrade Bitfrost than to buy a new Modi Multibit. And if you want a decent USB with Modi you have to buy Eitr for $170. But with Bitfrost you can buy a $100 Gen 5 USB card and keep it all in one piece, no extra cables or power supplies.
Lets see, BF MB upgrade is a AD5547 D/A converter for $250. The Modi MB is the same AD5547 D/A converter with extra board, enclosure and psu, for $250. If that adds up for you, you may be using some sort of new math.
 
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The Airist RDAC is an all-around step up from the Mimby. It’s been awhile since I owned It but I think the technicalities of the RDAC are better than Schiit’s entry-level multibit offering. Particularly if you enjoy analog audio, the extra $100 for the RDAC is worth the investment, imho. Calling it a “Chinese knock off” seems reductive for the quality we’re getting. If anything, Schiit’s MB board is an off the shelf component not meant for (I think) medical devices, whereas the RDAC is a discrete (open source) design specifically meant to decode audio.
 
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Lets see, BF MB upgrade is a AD5547 D/A converter for $250. The Modi MB is the same AD5547 D/A converter with extra board, enclosure and psu, for $250. If that adds up for you, you may be using some sort of new math.
Exactly my point. IMHO upgrade to BF is better than new Modi for the same price. And you don't have to deal with that big heavy power supply. And unless you already have it, you'd want USB Gen 5. It's a $100 card for BF or $170 Eitr for Modi plus another big heavy power supply and extra cables. In my view upgrading the old BF is better than buying new Modi.
 
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AFAIK, the Bifrost has 2x the DACs as the Mimby. Balanced multibit DACs are a bit more complicated than D-S chip DACs; it’s not as simple as throwing in another AK or Sabre chip onto the board. Looks like there are other upgrades to the rest of the chain as well. Is it worth $700? For me, probably not because I prefer discrete resistor ladder solutions. Now, if a Drop released a balanced RDAC, that might be worth $700, especially if they added a NOS mode.
 
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Finally got my RDAC today after being informed that it was shipped out on 19th last month.

Like what I am hearing so far. I only have the SDAC with my LCX to compare with. Out of the box, slightly more heft, better layering down below. Mids is something I am trying to find words to describe... not too forward but really stands out and grabs your attention. Trebles are sweet. Some piercing trebles I have on some songs are tamed while not missing any details.

This is my 1st R2R DAC and am not disappointed. Overall presentation are mellower, ethereal. Slower attack and longer decay. Less sharp and edgy. Good for unwinding (that's what I usually needed after a hectic day at work). Not as exciting with the SDAC. Might say SDAC is like an excitable teenager and the RDAC is a more mature, cultured gentleman. Just my 2 cents.

By the way how is the quality of the stock USB cable (sorry, don't really want to open another can of worms). If you have any thoughts on this please share via PM. Thanks in advance.

One more question. How does this Airist RDAC compares to Audio-GD's offerings?
 
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For me, probably not because I prefer discrete resistor ladder solutions.
I believe this will be a trend because of the resulting sound...
 
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