MHDT Labs: R-2R NOS Tube DACs
Apr 2, 2018 at 4:07 AM Post #331 of 473

nihil sleighride

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On impulse I've just got an Istanbul to replace a Cambridge DAC Magic Plus. I've not had a chance to give it a listen yet as one of my mono blocks is being repaired.

Has anyone had heard the Istanbul and where abouts does it sit in the line-up?
 
Apr 2, 2018 at 4:56 AM Post #332 of 473

Soundsgoodtome

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Interesting, seems to be a modified Stockholm 2. Difference is K dac chips, different output caps, and comes with a Tesla tube. Sounds like someone's choice of mods for a Stockholm 2 made their builds.

As for where it sits in their line-up, the mhdt dacs really are more which tuning you'd prefer.
 
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Apr 16, 2018 at 8:38 PM Post #334 of 473

ZenErik

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Anyone have impressions on the balanced Pagoda or Stockholm vs something like a Metrum Onyx? Also interested in balanced Orchid if that's something that could eventually be a thing. The Onyx was to be my end game DAC, but I admit that I've been looking for other NOS sidegrades quite a lot lately.
 
Apr 23, 2018 at 9:38 PM Post #335 of 473

Luckbad

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Apologies for abandoning the hobby for a while. I've been super busy at work and had to sell off most of my headphone gear to be comfortable acquiring a new vehicle (poor old vehicle took a dump).

The Istanbul is outstanding! It's basically a slightly better Stockholm 2 and should probably just replace it outright, to be honest. It uses a similar technique to the Orchid for the I/V stage using the OPA861 as a transistor.

As soon as I get out from under work responsibilities in the next month or two, I'll write up a proper review and will add it to the overall comparison.

Imagine a Stockholm 2 in the lineup (see comparative review) but notch its micro capabilities up a little.
 
Apr 23, 2018 at 10:14 PM Post #336 of 473

ZenErik

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Apologies for abandoning the hobby for a while. I've been super busy at work and had to sell off most of my headphone gear to be comfortable acquiring a new vehicle (poor old vehicle took a dump).

The Istanbul is outstanding! It's basically a slightly better Stockholm 2 and should probably just replace it outright, to be honest. It uses a similar technique to the Orchid for the I/V stage using the OPA861 as a transistor.

As soon as I get out from under work responsibilities in the next month or two, I'll write up a proper review and will add it to the overall comparison.

Imagine a Stockholm 2 in the lineup (see comparative review) but notch its micro capabilities up a little.
Do you know if it's possible for MHDT to make a balanced Instanbul or Orchid on special request? I thought I read about that either here or on the other site. Both of those options interest me quite a bit.
 
May 19, 2018 at 9:58 PM Post #337 of 473

Luckbad

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Has anyone else heard the Istanbul as of yet?

So far it sounds outstanding to my ears, like a better Stockholm.

I tried out PCM61P-K chips as well (18-bit version of the PCM56P-K) and they work beautifully.

I've been hesitant to give a full comparison to the rest of the lineup because I no longer have a good USB to SPDIF converter (the RME ADI-2 DAC that I usually use has a great USB implementation).

Via USB, I would say it is roughly comparable to the Orchid, but of a different flavor profile. If you're willing to sacrifice a little detail and air for additional musicality, you might prefer the Istanbul to the Orchid.

The two best MHDT DACs in my mind are the two newest: the Orchid and Istanbul.
 
May 20, 2018 at 3:56 AM Post #338 of 473

nihil sleighride

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Since getting my amps back a couple of weeks ago, I've been giving the Istanbul ago.

Previous DACs have been:
Behringer Ultramatch Pro SRC2496
Audiolab CD8200 used as DAC only
Cambridge DACMagic Plus with battery power supply
And now the Istanbul.

Having never heard any previous MHDT DACs I bought the Istanbul just really on a whim to try it. I'd been considering Soekris and Metrum but loved what I'd read about MHDT and thought it would fit.

Got to say it's my favorite DAC I've had in my system. It just gets along well in the context of the system never tiring and gives me the tunes and music. I sit and enjoy just listening to the tunes rather than thinking HiFi thoughts, if that makes sense.
Love it, making digital files as cool and enjoyable as sticking a record on.
System
NVA P50SA
NVA A80 Monoblocs
Larsen Model 4
 
May 20, 2018 at 1:15 PM Post #339 of 473

Luckbad

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Nice!

Perhaps interestingly, mine has been sidelined pretty much since receiving it because work has been crazy and I tend to avoid pure USB like the plague.

I remembered a couple of days ago that I have a Schiit Wyrd, so I hooked the Istanbul up and have been enjoying it since.

Initially, my plan was to get enough listening in to add it to my MHDT comparative review, then sell it. I'm trying to put funds together for the upcoming Monolith Cavalli Liquid Platinum.

After listening to it more, I'm starting to reconsider. The RME ADI-2 DAC has better USB and is amazingly flexible (at home it's my DAC, at work it's my IEM Amp/DAC). However, the Istanbul has the seductive quality of MHDT's DACs and is making me consider letting the RME go and grabbing a Schiit Eitr to clean the USB up.
 
May 23, 2018 at 1:49 AM Post #340 of 473

Luckbad

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Upgraded the "coworkers" Istanbul with Istanbul+ parts (brings it up slightly above the Eagle version):
  • RCA input uses a Murata DA101C transformer instead of caps
  • Input section caps are Panasonic OS-CONs (were Rubycon)
  • Output caps will be a matched pair of the rarer red K40Y-9 PIO caps (currently a lower grade Russian cap)
  • Power filter caps will be Epcos Sikorel (currently Rubycon)
  • 100uf Rubycon and Nichicon Fine Gold caps in the signal path replaced with Nichicon Muse
  • Replaced an additional Rubycon (not in signal path) that I didn't find in my initial assessment with a Nichicon Fine Gold
Obligatory before/after animation:
IMG_20180214_221625-ANIMATION.gif
 
May 23, 2018 at 2:41 PM Post #341 of 473

nihil sleighride

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I'm using mine currently via USB using ASIO driver and JRiver from a PC. I'm in two minds to get something like the Schiit to do it's USB thing or a USB to SPDif converter.

Do the PCM61P-K chips just slightly change the flavor?
 
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May 23, 2018 at 3:41 PM Post #342 of 473

Luckbad

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The best USB to S/PDIF converter (or any method at all to get S/PDIF to your DAC) under ~$500 is the Schiit Eitr. No point in going cheaper than it either because it's so affordable.

The PCM61P-K really doesn't change the flavor at all. If you want to change the flavor (dryer, more crisp, slightly more detailed, less musical), grab a pair of Analog Devices AD1856N chips.
 
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