MHDT Labs: R-2R NOS Tube DACs

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by luckbad, Feb 13, 2016.
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  1. M3NTAL
    I've got a weird issue that I'll run by the forum before I e-mail MHDT. I can't get a lock on RCA/Coax SPDIF, but I can get USB to lock. This is an older Havana that just started acting up. It acts like it wants to lock for a brief second and flickers into the blue + red (power / error) state. Anyone experience the coax going out on them?

    Also - @Luckbad - where did you find the larger toroid? Thanks.
  2. DavidK35

    I just got mine recently and could not agree with you more. This DAC is perfection to me. Originally I started with the 5670 JAN as supplied & then
    the WE396A/2C51 both great tubes but I wanted to use a 7AF7 loctal 8 pin knowing how good these sound compared to miniatures. Problem being the hole in the top of the DAC is a bit too tight to accomodate it. So I filed the hole out larger & spray painted it. Now with the appropiate adaptor, voila it fits really good (see pics). If I tell you this tube leaves the others in the dust you probably will not believe me, but it is true. IMO this is the best upgrade you can make & it was well worth the extra effort to do so. I would suggest it will no doubt make a stunning improvement to all the other types as well. Also replaced the junky shallow feet with taller solid aluminum feet which I think makes it look a lot better.

    004.JPG 005.JPG 003.JPG 007 (2).JPG
    Luckbad likes this.
  3. Gizmo90

    I got an MHDT Labs canary too recently. I got a WE396A/2C51 for it. To me it made an improvement, but I am wondering about the 6n26p you have mentioned. Do you think it will synergise well with the Canary?
  4. Luckbad
    Depends on your ears. It's worth trying though.
  5. Gizmo90
    Thanks for the quick reply. I guess I will give one a try

    Think replacing the 3 Rubycon power filter caps with Fine Golds or Silmics worth a shot?
  6. Luckbad
    They aren't actually in the signal path and don't make much difference (although I tend to replace them because I can). The main caps I'd recommend replacing are the output capacitors.

    That said, it will void your warranty, so it's best to wait for the year to transpire before messing with anything.
  7. lordcloud
    I need more info on the tube you're using please. And can you describe the improvement?

  8. DavidK35
    It's a National Union 7AF7, but that probably does not mean very much as I believe the Loctals were all made by
    Sylvania & just rebranded. Improvements include: soundstage, clarity & micro detail. For less than $30 you can get
    an adaptor & tube and try it out.
  9. FiGuY1017
    Just received my MHDT Orchid. This is my first NOS DAC.I wasn't a believer in burn in and when I first fired up the orchid it sounded terrible. Compared to my dac19 dsp 1 it lacked detail,stage depth,width,decay was fast and non musical. I was pretty let down to say the least. So I posted this sucker for sale. I continued to listen off and on for approx. 4 or 5 hours. In the last two or so hours I switched to a beefier power cable and as I continued to listen I would come back from a break and I couldn't help but notice things were changing. They have continued to change against every fiber in me. I can't help but to believe I may have extremely over reacted. This thing is starting to sound incredible. I have to and I hope this isn't against the rules. I have to send out props to LTA for there customer service. They were amazing! And mad love to mhdt for making killer DACs that are affordable to own.
    JoeDoe likes this.
  10. Luckbad
    I saw you post it and was like, oh crap, did I lead this guy down totally the wrong path for his tonal preferences?

    There are a few things to consider:
    • These DACs do need a good 30 minutes to an hour to warm up, even after fully burned in.
    • The tubes need burn in. This is the most annoying component because those GE 5670s that the MHDTs come with take for effin' ever to sound exactly right (like, weeks of use), but they're actually quite good after way too many hours of being used.
    • Everything else in the DAC needs burn in. Just leave music playing on it for a few days. It seemed to settle in for me after a few days and only need 30-45 minutes of uptime before sounding right after a week or so.
    • The USB is no worse than Schiit Gen 2 (what they still use on the Modi), but Schiit Gen 5 (which is in the Schiit Eitr and better DACs) is very good. I highly recommend grabbing a Schiit Eitr to pair with your MHDT DAC. It's so much better. Grab a coax cable from Blue Jeans Cable and you should be out less than $200 (and can return the Eitr if you don't hear a difference).
    • If you are using the built-in USB, make sure you power the DAC down every 10 hours or so or it won't sound quite right. Not exactly sure why, but things seem to get off-kilter for the USB input after a while. I don't seem to notice an issue with BNC or RCA inputs if I leave it powered up, but I don't generally leave it on overnight anymore either.
    I'm currently using an Orchid from a Lynx AES16e. I have different output capacitors, a nicer version of the TDA1541A, and a GE triple mica tube in there, and it keeps up with some pretty big boy DACs despite being non-oversampling. It's somewhere between a Schiit Bifrost Multbit and Gungnir Multibit in overall performance, right around the same level as the Metrum Amethyst (about the only other NOS option worth considering at the price range).

    Lynx AES16e -> MHDT Labs Orchid -> Cavalli Liquid Crimson -> Audeze LCD-2 Classic is pretty excellent. Fairly laid back between the Orchid and Audeze.

    Hopefully you get everything working how you want it and come to enjoy the Orchid. If not, NOS isn't for everyone! With these Audeze cans, for example, I know I'd prefer a Gumby to the Orchid.
    JoeDoe and FiGuY1017 like this.
  11. FiGuY1017
    I've actually heard some say with the right tubes it's up there with yggy. Never heard it so can't say. But I'm liking what I'm hearing. Will it be what I want long term? I've got a couple more days to decide. The question for me is,is the money worth the performance against my standard dac19. And no way did you lead me down the wrong path on this I just prematurely freaked out :p
  12. davveswe
    Is the MHDT labs DACs good match with tube amps?
    Is it worth extra to get with aasynchronous operation USB?
  13. shultzee
    I ran a Pagoda with a Freya (pre) and had excellent results. Currently running a Pagoda with a Vincent hybrid amp and love it. I think it depends on your taste.
  14. alwsjr
    what adapter did you use for replacing the 5670 ? the adapter for a 6sn7 ? thanks
  15. DavidK35
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