my Mac as source - audiophile 2496 - and USB ??
Apr 27, 2006 at 4:44 AM Post #16 of 29

giovanni

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Dudes, take this for what it is, that is, where it comes from, me !

So I have had the USBTD for a few days now, couple of weeks I guess, and I will tell you what I think. I did not do so earlier because first I was in the process of selling it (so not too appropriate) then I had not had enough time with it at all.

Anyhow what I describe is ALL relative to the audio out port of my Mac only.
The Mac and the USB are both connected to my MPX3 (which has two RCA inputs) so I could also do a near perfect A/B (near because I had to switch both the MPX3 and the sound output on the Mac).

The dac is cleaner, less in your face and subtly defined across the whole range. Initially, this gave me the impression of a somewhat darker sound (I am sensitive to this with my 580) but as I listened on I realized it was just more precise. In particular, in the more complex traits (classical or other) the dac revealed its comparative quality.

The lows no longer would get lost in time and space, much better controled with the dac, but still nice and punchy when needed. And the highs, well, the same thing, but there was less "metal" in the higher frequencies and a better measure of distance.

What the above meant to me, overall, was a more balanced presentation, simply so.

Oh well, I am kind of sad in a way that I have actually sold it. By the way I suspect the use of a better IC helped a lot. I found the differences between the two sources easier to understand, after switching from a crap cable to an Oxyfuel something.

I have a Benchmark and a DA10 on the way, and that will be another entertaining experiment. The USBTD's form factor just does not do it for me, I had never imagined it is soooooo small and does not stand still on my desk ! A problem for me, my desk is the only place in my apt that ought to be clean and orderly.

It was fun, my first dac has come and gone.


ciaooo,
gio
 
Apr 27, 2006 at 1:16 PM Post #17 of 29

zatara

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Quote:

Originally Posted by giovanni
Zatara that is interesting. I had troubles with my iBook. In fact I had brought it to the meet to use with the USBTD, and it was horrible, the noise out of the USB port was just unbearable. I had not tested it before unfortunately. Anyhow, my iBook is a pretty old G3 (700mhz) so who knows.

I have no problem at home using my powermac, provided I don't use the 2 USB ports available on the Apple flat screen - unusable for music. The ports on the actual Mac are clean. Fortunately !



Gio,
I think it is the USB chipset the laptop uses. I have an external USB hub and I get nothing but noise from it as well. I have no problems going direct.
Also you can also roll tube on the SNTD. The stock Miniwatts are ok but the Amperex A-frame I got from Jahn is just so sweet with my Raptor.
Sorry we could not experiment at the meet but it was great meeting you.

Jeff
 
Apr 27, 2006 at 2:11 PM Post #18 of 29

giovanni

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hey Jeff,
it was great to meet you too and yes, I feel that meet has come and gone and I wish I could go back !!! I was probably a bit overwhelmed being at one of these for the first time, so I obviously poorly managed my time.
Oh well, I am counting on some mini-meets here in manhattan now.

Anyhow, when you say direct you mean non-USB I guess. I must assume that more recent laptops from Apple (including iBooks G4, I would hope ) have a better USB signal. On my old G3 iBook, it was not even just noise, it was like a fast thump-thump-thump.

gio
 
Apr 27, 2006 at 2:22 PM Post #19 of 29

zatara

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Quote:

Originally Posted by giovanni
hey Jeff,
it was great to meet you too and yes, I feel that meet has come and gone and I wish I could go back !!! I was probably a bit overwhelmed being at one of these for the first time, so I obviously poorly managed my time.
Oh well, I am counting on some mini-meets here in manhattan now.

Anyhow, when you say direct you mean non-USB I guess. I must assume that more recent laptops from Apple (including iBooks G4, I would hope ) have a better USB signal. On my old G3 iBook, it was not even just noise, it was like a fast thump-thump-thump.

gio



Gio,
When I say direct I mean plugging into the USB port in the computer instead of a USB bridge/hub. With some USB bridge chips I get bad static but not a thump thump.
My iBook is a G4 and I have never had any problems with it.

Jeff
 
Apr 27, 2006 at 2:42 PM Post #20 of 29

giovanni

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zatara
Gio,
When I say direct I mean plugging into the USB port in the computer instead of a USB bridge/hub. With some USB bridge chips I get bad static but not a thump thump.
My iBook is a G4 and I have never had any problems with it.

Jeff



got it, that makes sense.

By the way my G3 has been a fantastic workhorse now for many years, it is only the USB port that was problematic and that was the only time I ever tried it for music (meaning, it could be a one time thing, I don't know).

gio
 
May 2, 2006 at 2:35 AM Post #21 of 29

giovanni

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zatara
Well I have only had the TubeDac+ for a couple of days so these are only preliminary.

My configs are:
Airport Express -> SPDIF/TOS -> TubeDAC+ -> RSA Hornet -> Senn HD650
TBAAM -> SPDIF/TOS -> TubeDAC+ -> RSA Hornet. -> Senn HD650
OR
Airport Express -> SPDIF/TOS -> MicroDac -> RSA Hornet. -> Senn HD650
TBAAM -> SPDIF/TOS -> MicroDac -> RSA Hornet. -> Senn HD650


I also swap the Hornet with my RSA SR71.

To begin with I find the MicroDac a tad bright and fatiguing with my Hornet
but listenable and I cannot listen with it connected to my SR71 at all. The
cymbals just sound to shrill and fake to me.
This is why I was looking for a new DAC to begin with.

I find the TubeDAC+ with the Miniwatt PC88 tube preferable to the MicroDac
in just about every way. I guess the only area where the MicroDac has the
upper hand is in the amount of bass which is available. But is a different kind
of bass and I really like the bas on the TubeDac+ as well.


The MicroDac seems a bit forward and congested to me at times where the
TubeDac+ seems open and spacious developing me in its sound. What I am
trying to say is with the TubeDac+ the sound feels like it is 3D and all around
me. I feel like I am in it upfront and personal. Versus the MicroDac where I
always feel I am at arms length and I just want to reach out and move just a
little more into the sound.

I just love the sound of the cymbals and high hats with the TubeDac+ it is
Just the sound I was looking for. I was listening to a new Buddy Rich CD
Called Blues Caravan and the positioning of the drum kit was exceptional
With the TubeDac+ everything seemed to be perfectly separated and the
Sound was just so easy to sit back and relax to. I really felt I was there with
Them in the studio.

Any way I find myself going back and listening to CD’s I have not used in
years just to hear how they sound with the TubeDac+. Event my cheap
portable DVD player with SPDIF out sound great. I just want to keep listening
for hours at a time.

I do love the bass on the MicroDac but all in all it is just not for me.

I hope this helps.



I was going through the thread again and reread your impression of the TubeDac+. I find that my experience with the USBTD was very similar, even though I was impressed also with both the quantity and quality of its bass. But defintely, it produced a far more involving and simply pleasant sound. I will say it again, a great DAC. Well, of course, apart from its form factor. But again, I bet some are actually attracted by its small size.

gio
 
May 2, 2006 at 12:19 PM Post #22 of 29

zatara

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Gio,
My TD+ is also die-cast metal so it has a bit more weight than yours did. I prefer the metal over the plastic
after having seen yours briefly at the National meet.

Jeff
 
May 2, 2006 at 1:04 PM Post #23 of 29

giovanni

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zatara
Gio,
My TD+ is also die-cast metal so it has a bit more weight than yours did. I prefer the metal over the plastic
after having seen yours briefly at the National meet.

Jeff



yes, it certainly looked better ! SN will ship the USBTD in a different enclosure at some point (but more expensive), may be the same as the TD+.

By the way, I now have a Benchmark Dac01 that I am auditioning together with a Lavry.
For now I can only say that I am amazed how much better the sound is out of my MPX3 compared to the Dac01 internal amp. Just amazing, for all instruments including vocals. As to comparing it to what I recall of the USBTD, it's a bit early to tell, I just set it up last night. Haven't played around with the Lavry yet since I need a cable that I will only have in a couple of days. We are talking two units which are twice the cost of the TD, so I am pretty curious since I'd expect a significant improvement.

In fact, for curiosity I will also use my CD player, just to avoid the uncertainty that may be associated with certain files on my hard disk (even though I try to the all testing with either AIFF or AppleLossless files).

gio

gio
 
May 2, 2006 at 2:03 PM Post #24 of 29

zatara

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Gio,
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the two new DAC's you have. Before I got the SNTD+ I was looking a the two you got and the Stello DA1000 as well.

Jeff
 
May 8, 2006 at 4:11 AM Post #25 of 29

giovanni

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Well,
since I am still waiting for a cable to come to begin testing and comparing the DA10 (I ordered an XLR-RCA cable which I received except that I thought there were going to be two coming !!), I have been spending some time (always somewhat limited) with the Benchmark and I wanted to pass along one first, to me very obvious, impression.

Such finding by the way is not truly related to the testing I am most interested in (i.e. computer --> Dac --> MPX3). Rather, it is what I found using my Pioneer Elite 47Ai as a source and then as a transport for the Benchmark.

To make it clear: I have the Pioneer analog out to the amp's first set of inputs and then the Pio's optical out to the Benchmark and the latter out to the other set of inputs on the amp. This allows me to A/B on the fly.

Well, what I find is that it's nearly impossible to my ears to distinguish the sound out of the MPX3 whether it is coming direct from the player or through the dac. And that is all. As hard as I tried, with varied type of music, differerent volumes, I just don't detect differences that are consisten enough to be relevant. By the way, interestingly, as I switched from one to the other I have no idea which one is playing, I just forgot what the connections are, and on purpose I am not looking.

I thought this was interesting enough to share.

I will return with more soon. This is fun experimenting, but even now that I have not yet played around with the DA10, I have a feeling the Benchmark is not giving me much, at least in my current set-up, that does not seem to be the case. I do need, however, to test it with my Mac as a source.

gio
 
Jun 2, 2006 at 6:41 PM Post #26 of 29

giovanni

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Just to put an end to this.

I have sent back both the Lavry and the Benchmark.

The differences with or w/o either of them in my set-up were so minimal that there would be no justification for the cost (and extra space, cables ...). None.

I am disappointed but I guess that means that improvements ought to come from elsewhere (probably different headphones).

I even had a mini-meet here in NYC with some dudes and I believe we all had some troubles caracterizing differences between the two dacs (but I really should not speak for others...).

Fascinating, the USBTD+ I thought was a much greater improvement, very much so. I miss it a lot. At half the cost it is quite a finding.

So, that's the way it is, obviously to my ears, and without a doubt
smily_headphones1.gif


gio
 
Jun 2, 2006 at 10:16 PM Post #27 of 29

JaGWiRE

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Quote:

Originally Posted by giovanni
Hi guys,
I purchased the above card in order to have easy access to digital out from my Mac, which in turn would allow me to use any DAC.

The problem is that the card, while working w/o problems, makes my system unstable, which I cannot stand. My Mac never ever crashes, I could not even remember the last time I had to reboot, but since I inserted the card (PCI) I have some problems. So.....

So, I now figure I should either use an A/X (not my preferred solution though) or "ideally" a USB DAC. There are not many choices for the latter but the key question is, does anyone have experience with using a usb DAC with his Mac ? Is it at least worth the try ?

My Mac, btw, is a Powermac Dual 1.25 (OS 10.4.5).

best,
ww



When I was looking at the firewire cards (did not end up buying), I found the firewire 410 to be the neatest looking, with lots of inputs and outputs, and a combination of optical and coax. It is kind of neat actually, it's one of the only professional cards I could find (or atleast compared with the e-mu) that can pass DD/DTS.
 
Jun 2, 2006 at 10:20 PM Post #28 of 29

lan

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Quote:

Originally Posted by giovanni
Just to put an end to this.

I have sent back both the Lavry and the Benchmark.



Next time we will try various headphones and amps
wink.gif
 
Jun 2, 2006 at 10:37 PM Post #29 of 29

JaGWiRE

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Quote:

Originally Posted by giovanni
Just to put an end to this.

I have sent back both the Lavry and the Benchmark.

The differences with or w/o either of them in my set-up were so minimal that there would be no justification for the cost (and extra space, cables ...). None.

I am disappointed but I guess that means that improvements ought to come from elsewhere (probably different headphones).

I even had a mini-meet here in NYC with some dudes and I believe we all had some troubles caracterizing differences between the two dacs (but I really should not speak for others...).

Fascinating, the USBTD+ I thought was a much greater improvement, very much so. I miss it a lot. At half the cost it is quite a finding.

So, that's the way it is, obviously to my ears, and without a doubt
smily_headphones1.gif


gio



Did you try out the balanced xlr? A lot of people acclaim that and the benchmark / lavry to be really good, were you using the dac as an amp too? If so XLR was probably a must from what I've heard.
 

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