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New Nagra HD DAC

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by isquirrel, Aug 12, 2014.
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  1. isquirrel
    Thought I would start a thread on this remarkable piece of gear. It is clearly a serious (and expensive) bit of equipment. 
    There's an initial review up on six moons.
  2. bmichels
    Thanks for starting this thread.
    If the Headphone amp included is really TOL and not just an after-thought feature, then it becomes very interesting for us.
    some pictures of the inside: really packed !
    I am really looking forward hearing more reviews (that include the Headphone out) other than 6moon which is already very positive.
  3. TheAttorney
    Subscribed. As owner of a Nagra CDC, the new HD DAC is automatically a candidate to tempt me away from CD-only playback. 
    Shame that Nagra has pitched the price so high [​IMG] . There's currently a whole bunch of FOMs, from the likes of Lampi and Totaldac, that come in at less than half this price. Nevertheless, if the Nagra can trump them all then it could get interesting.
  4. bmichels
    That is THE question...!   
    Also, I just realized that this DAC make internal PCM to DSD hardware conversion for ALL digital input [​IMG]

    This PCM to DSD on the fly conversion seems to be the next big move in digital playback ! 

    Even Lampizator on his Facebook says: "From many many experiments that we do now developing our DSD lineup, I can see that probably the future of High End is - decline of CD spinning transports and huge increase of computer based systems where EVERYTHING will be played as DSD via DSD DACs. Even PCM files, simple CD rips wil be played viaDSD. I Really dont know why, everything benefits from conversion toDSD. That's where I see high end 2 years from now."

    And the New $10.000 ALLNIC tube D-5000 DAC also convert PCM to DSD as well as other like the Mytek Manhattan, PS Audio DirectStream DAC...

    --> Is this  PCM->DSD conversion a permanent move or just a marketing trend ??
  5. TheAttorney
    Yes, I think the Nagra HD DAC does seem to do it all in a very neat package. And if the preamp and headphone section really is top of the line then that helps too. It's just that price that's hard for me to take - more than double Nagra's previous standalone DAC.
    I do agree with the reviewer that the headphone section of the CDC is more convenience than top of the line - and very convenient it is too, even with remote control if I want to use that. But the headphone SQ is fair, rather than great, and not to the same level as the transport/DAC sections.
  6. bmichels

    Did you already had à chance to listen to the HD DAC ? With which headphones did you tested it's headphone out ?
    Really not at the Level of stand alone TOL headphone amp ?
  7. TheAttorney
    Just to be clear, I was writing about the headphone section of my 6 year old Nagra CDC (integrated CD player with preamp and headphone output as below). Mostly using the Sen HD600s as an occasional alternative my primary Stax rig..
    I've not yet seen the new HD DAC, let alone heard it.
  8. bmichels
    Oups... sorry. I read too quickly.  
  9. isquirrel

    I believe that this is correct. Everything I hear about DSD including from friends with record labels indicate that this is indeed the future direction of the industry. Based on what I have listened to I prefer DSD over PCM.
  10. TheAttorney
    It's hard to know how the DSD v PCM tussle will end up - it's the mass market, politics and promotion that usually decides, not which is the better format. So at this point of DAC decision, all we can do is choose a DAC that looks to be the most versatile and future proof.
    I guess an appropriate rival to the HD DAC will be the Light Harmonic Da Vinci (photo below). The latter chose to keep DSD as a completely separate section from PCM, at a mere $11k on top of the $20k PCM-only version.
    I think the Nagra way of converting PCM to DCD is neater in concept - but Light Harmonic reckons any way of mixing the two will compromise the end result.
    Now, wouldn't a shootout between these two be interesting?
  11. bmichels
    The NAGRA HD DAC (finally !!) arrived at my dealer in Bruxelles [​IMG]
    --> I will make an appointment to listen to it and I will report here.  (I wish I could compare it to the much less expensive Mytek Manhattan ...)
    I will mostly test it with headphone (my dealer told me that with the LCL3, the Headphone Amp inside the NAGRA is very very good !)
    I just need to get used to the idea of having ALL my PCM files internally converted to DSD instead of being read natively ! [​IMG]
  12. TheAttorney
    (The 6 moons review is complete. So many words... yet I'm not much wiser whether it is worth its price tag)
  13. bmichels
    The 6 moons reviews are not always very easy to understand...:)
  14. arnaud Contributor

    The pcm>psd conversion is not the end-be-all it would seem per some not so enthusiastic reports on the directstream. Having said that, as discussed in the 6moons article, it's been done before (emm labs?) . Myself, I don't understand what is so different from all the existing oversampling delta/sigma dacs with this pcm>dsd conversion. Isn't a delta/sigma dac trading bit depth for rate already?

    As for competitor to the nagra, I look more at the cheaper totaldac products but they certainly don't spend near as much money in the machining of panels, knobs and what have you.

    Would love to hear the nagra someday though, the compact size and ocd finish make it a prime candidate for the local audiophile market so maybe in the future...

  15. isquirrel
    Very interested to hear peoples comments after they have auditioned it, I really do covet Nagra gear, its audio jewellery.
    There are a couple of other high end DACS that I will be auditioning at home over the next 3 months.
    Gyphon Kalliope
    Computer Audio Design DAC 1543 and CAT (very promising)
    Chord QBD 76
    Chord DX 1000
    I think as the market moves further towards computer audio that transport/streamer is as important a component as the DAC
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