Playback Designs DACS
Mar 4, 2023 at 7:37 PM Post #31 of 194
Yes except MPD-8, plus I have tried many more sources that you didn’t thought about. I even owned Emm Lab’s own pre.

None of them could have the organic dynamics from a well matching pre, the gap is not small, irregardless of the retailing price.
Emm Labs does not recommend their own pre with DV2 - DV2 is better. Those are the sources with great output stage and volume control. Anyway, no preamp is my hifi view; you feel differently obviously.
 
Mar 4, 2023 at 8:18 PM Post #32 of 194
Great discussions.

My view about what is foundational is definitely influenced by one of our most respected head fi members simorag. He has always preached source (streamer + dac) being paramount in the system and I always ran with that as it made sense on the surface and with admittedly limited experience, it seems to ring true for me thus far in my own personal hifi journey.

Of course I am always open to new thoughts and views and listening to other peoples' experiences.
 
Mar 4, 2023 at 9:39 PM Post #34 of 194
At this point in my journey I am beginning to lean more and more towards the source being the supreme component. After investing heavily in my source and streamer I feel like music is more alive, has more vivid colors, and greater sense of flow and atmosphere. A great source almost makes you better understand what the recording engineer and or the players intent is. Albeit, am sure each DAC will attempt to portray their interpretation, but that is something I am noticing more with "hi-end" sources. At least, that's how am feeling for now. I would have never imagined this as I am predisposed to saying go all out on the amp. The analogy I have used before is that if we zoom in on a blurred picture we aren't getting more details. Whatever has already been lost can't quite be recovered with greater amplification. Nevertheless, I have not explored pre-amps, but I am encouraged by some of the findings of fellow headers above.
 
Mar 4, 2023 at 10:12 PM Post #35 of 194
Garbage in garbage out.

I feel the tech in what's possible on the headamp side is significantly behind the source side so if you use a standalone headphone amp, even some of the best today like WA33EE and Riviera, the performance there still falls behind. When you break up into separates like in 2ch, the game completely changes and a whole new world opens up. Performance skyrockets. However, complexity goes up as well and synergy becomes even more important.
 
Mar 4, 2023 at 10:35 PM Post #36 of 194
I’m not against high end source…

I also use high end source…

I just prefer source with minimal colorization after trying countless high end DACs and streamers, finding that any artificial and gimmicky tweak from the source and deviation from neutrality would have drawbacks such as limiting suitable genres or flavor fatigue, especially for FPGA/ R2R DAC construction.

Not if you know what woo and riviera are best at and how to fix their caveats.

The boundary between headphone amps and loudspeaker amps is not that significant especially in planar world more and more loudspeaker power amps and pre amps are being used and involved.
 
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Mar 4, 2023 at 10:53 PM Post #37 of 194
I came to this thread to read about PBD DACs, and now because of you I started to want a preamplifier 🤣

Actually, I was playing with HQP volume control few days ago and noticed that when my AIC-10 volume control is near the unity gain position it sounds better. Looks like that keeping it there and getting a separate preamp might be a good idea.
 
Mar 5, 2023 at 10:59 AM Post #38 of 194
At this point in my journey I am beginning to lean more and more towards the source being the supreme component. After investing heavily in my source and streamer I feel like music is more alive, has more vivid colors, and greater sense of flow and atmosphere. A great source almost makes you better understand what the recording engineer and or the players intent is. Albeit, am sure each DAC will attempt to portray their interpretation, but that is something I am noticing more with "hi-end" sources. At least, that's how am feeling for now. I would have never imagined this as I am predisposed to saying go all out on the amp. The analogy I have used before is that if we zoom in on a blurred picture we aren't getting more details. Whatever has already been lost can't quite be recovered with greater amplification. Nevertheless, I have not explored pre-amps, but I am encouraged by some of the findings of fellow headers above.
Totally agree.

Amp changes the sound the most as it is the tail end near the headphone, but with a so so foundation, no amp can fix what's already been broken, imo of course.

DAC is so far been really good to me, listening time has been very very enjoyable. No fatigue at all, but still very detailed.
 
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Mar 5, 2023 at 12:02 PM Post #40 of 194
@F208Frank very interested to read how you’re getting on with this DAC. I hear lots of good things but sadly no chance to hear the actual DAC here in the UK, so I went for the best sounding DAC I’ve actually heard, the aqua formula xhd. Sounds like we had a similar search criteria best of ladder and Ds combined. Looking forward to more impressions!
 
Mar 5, 2023 at 12:05 PM Post #41 of 194
After trying Riviera flagship integrated Levante with Totaldac flagship D1 driving Susvara versus separate amp configuration I know what I hear and what is the day and night difference. It is hard to believe or imagine how big is the gap.

Also just a reminder If you want to keep your current source, it is better and way much safer to use a preamp of the same brand of your power amp. Otherwise, your current source might not match at all with a pre of different brand, as a result of a vastly different sound sig.

People claiming a 3K CFA3 could beat Riviera out of water is due to the soft and lacking extension of aic10, which is only correct in terms of the caveat of aic. Yes one could use source with loaded bass to enhance that dynamics, but there will be drawback with that tuning and colorization.

At this point, I couldn’t go back to listen to aic10 anymore, or any integrated non-electrostatic amps after owning and trying most TOTL headphone amps and sources.

Again I’m not against high end source and I also use very high end source. I just don’t see it as the foundation cause my amp configurations are superstars compared to all the TOTL sources I tried in my system. I am also fully aware the points and reasoning from the two parties of source first vs amp first. Personally I departed from the path of searching a matching amp for a colored source, no matter how mesmerizing or impressive.
 
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Mar 5, 2023 at 1:42 PM Post #42 of 194
@F208Frank very interested to read how you’re getting on with this DAC. I hear lots of good things but sadly no chance to hear the actual DAC here in the UK, so I went for the best sounding DAC I’ve actually heard, the aqua formula xhd. Sounds like we had a similar search criteria best of ladder and Ds combined. Looking forward to more impressions!
Funny you replied here as I was going to send you a message.

The dac is wonderful so far but break in is still underway, 500 hours is needed according to manual. It even breaks down what happens every stage with descriptions of what should be expected:

50 hours
100 hours
200 hours
500 hours

Though break in period has not been anywhere near done, still been enjoying the dac immensely. I traded in my 2 channel floor standing speakers and integrated amp for them so the financial damage did not sting AS much. These are just one of those purschases where you feel in your gut "damn that's expensive" and feel bit guilty about price but when listening and bopping that head, all that doesn't really matter and its hard going "backwards."

Still I completely understand the diminishing returns as we move up the ladder.

Anyways I wanted to message you thanking you for being so patient and nudging me in the right direction. I have been loving the MUON product quite a bit and appreciated your patience, insight, and thoughtful statements previously exchanged.

"Sounds like we had a similar search criteria best of ladder and Ds combined"

^Can you please rephrase this above? Little confused!
 
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Mar 5, 2023 at 2:39 PM Post #43 of 194
Funny you replied here as I was going to send you a message.

The dac is wonderful so far but break in is still underway, 500 hours is needed according to manual. It even breaks down what happens every stage with descriptions of what should be expected:

50 hours
100 hours
200 hours
500 hours

Though break in period has not been anywhere near done, still been enjoying the dac immensely. I traded in my 2 channel floor standing speakers and integrated amp for them so the financial damage did not sting AS much. These are just one of those purschases where you feel in your gut "damn that's expensive" and feel bit guilty about price but when listening and bopping that head, all that doesn't really matter and its hard going "backwards."

Still I completely understand the diminishing returns as we move up the ladder.

Anyways I wanted to message you thanking you for being so patient and nudging me in the right direction. I have been loving the MUON product quite a bit and appreciated your patience, insight, and thoughtful statements previously exchanged.

"Sounds like we had a similar search criteria best of ladder and Ds combined"

^Can you please rephrase this above? Little confused!

sorry yes, the dyslexia doesnt get any better with time! i meant the best of both R2R and Delta Sigma worlds... and thank you for your kind words about muon, i'm glad its still earning it's keep :)
 
Mar 5, 2023 at 3:29 PM Post #45 of 194
If no one minds, I'll continue the preamp offtopic a bit 😇

@teknorob23 I see a Holo Serene KTE in your signature. It seems to be very natural purchase for me as I have Holo May already. Stereophile reviewer praised this preamp as transparent and lively at the same time. How do you like it? Is it just a volume control, or it really adds something good to the sound of your system?
 

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