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Starting Point Systems portable NOS DAC

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by cjg888, Mar 12, 2014.
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  1. rvx2tr
    I noticed the same lively USB behaviour compared to optical, also has anyone noticed  the somehow relaxed but at the same time edgy (crispee) character of the high frequencies - the transient response is good and/but at the same time needs more body (my system is transparent to timbre and transients - so these two will determine if I keep it or return).
    My reference is a NOS Rockna AD1865 and other two OS DACs based on PCM1796 and alternatively PCM5102a.
    DIY solutions and/or external power supply may help? 
  2. gvl2016
    I'm not very happy with high frequencies as well, it seems they get accompanied by some lower-frequency sound that shouldn't be there. Haven't tried an external PS. Someone speculated elsewhere that this DAC doesn't have an analog filter post the TDA chip to suppress ultrasonic noise that is typically present in a NOS DAC and it may cause intermodulation distortion in downstream equipment. Despite this I think this DAC manages to be pleasant to listen to, without much hard edges to speak of. I find it pairs nicely with a mini tube amp and a pair of Klipsch bookshelf speakers I use on my desk, but somehow I don't care much for the sound when using headphones, it is not terrible just all the limitations of the device become more apparent when listening in headphones. I'm keeping mine, seems to be a good and different enough DAC to keep around.
  3. rvx2tr
    Thank you for all the info - still important for my system the transients specific to NOS (will try external power supply).
    As for the high frequencies, I tested it with many types of files and resolutions but also playing 1002.3 Hz square wave digitally generated, a 'bonger" test, drum sets, (test CD by Chesky Records) - to make sure I determine the character of what I hear as a difference between DACs just to reinforce my initial experience.
    So I will have to return it - or hope to get transient quality using a good power supply and maybe a DIY solution for upgrading some parts in order to get the timbre of instruments closer to reference (if anyone has any experience to share please advise).
  4. gvl2016
    Perhaps ask the designer for an advice? Apparently TDA1543 isn't that good of a DAC chip with ENOB of about 12 due to its relatively high noise level and THD and some think it was a step back from TDA1541, could be an inherent limitation of the chip? I don't think this DAC is a good choice for critical listening, but it can be fun, for one it brings me memories of that stereo cassette deck sound :)
  5. Jimster480
    Hey guys,
    So I was pointed here as a NOS / R2R entry level DAC.
    I was wondering which versions you guys have? I see that he sells a DAC2 and a DAC3 and I presume he originally had a DAC1 or just DAC.
  6. gvl2016
    Anyone still using this DAC? I don't know what receptors it tickles in my brain but I keep coming back to it. I even got a Schiit Modi Multibit thinking being R2R it would retain the same qualities and also cure deficiencies being based on a better chip and modern architecture, guess what it is a completely different beast with radically different sound signature. I can see this DAC being not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm not letting mine go anytime soon.
  7. dryvadeum

    Best DAC I've bought. The sound signature of it reminds me of that natural sound you get from planars. The main characteristic I find pleasing with this as someone with experience with drums is that I can actually hear and feel the air being amplified from the instruments. There's a natural weight to the sound spectrum. From the standpoint of acoustics and timbre it's probably the most accurate DAC I've heard.

    Remember when you hear instruments live it's not crystal clear, you hear all the harmonics and acoustics - this DAC manages to recreate that.
    richard51 likes this.
  8. mcandmar
    I bought a DAC3 a while ago and really like it.  It may not be the last word in resolution and pinpoint accuracy, but what it does have in spades is musicality.  No regrets buying mine at all..
  9. gvl2016
    Yes, I don't know what the secret is but despite all the harmonics and audible distortion here and there this is the most natural sounding DAC I had. Love the rich vocals and how mid-range pops. I can listen to it for hours with no fatigue. I never liked how recent Metallica albums sound, too harsh and bright, but through this DAC it is a completely different story. As others noted I agree it pairs better with brighter gear. I suspect all this can be said of many Philips DAC based designs, and there are likely better implementations as well, but the DAC3 is nicely done with more or less modern USB interface chip and priced right for what you get imo.
  10. rodge827
    I used mine with an Astron SL-11R linear power supply with good results, and an iFi iTube. The iTube brought this little dac to a whole new level. Large open sound stage and way improved imaging. BTW I'm using mine in a full range system and not head phones. YMMV
  11. gvl2016
    I too use mine mostly with speakers, a mini-tube amp driving Klipsch RB-15s on my desk. Sounds sweet.
    volly likes this.
  12. Jimster480

    i have R-15PM's attached to my TV via TOSLINK and they sound amazing by themselves.

    I wonder what DAC/AMP setup they have inside...
  13. gvl2016
    Dunno, likely some midrange DS chip and a D-class amp on a TI chip or the like. Generally mainstream Klipsch speakers get deserved bad rep for being too bright on audio forums, it is ok for TV and movies but you really need to be careful when pairing it with upstream gear for pure music, they can sound good but a bright component in the chain will easily ruin the experience. I don't like Modi MB with mine, too forward sounding causing fatigue, they do play nice with the DAC3 though which is a soft sounding DAC. Klipsch Heritage series is a different story, but they aren't cheap.
  14. Jimster480

    Well for TV and movies its beyond amazing, honestly the depth of the voices and sounds in the movie completely immerse you in the experience to the point that the speakers are transparent.
    I listened to some music from Vevo on my TV just to test it out and it sounds fine and true to life, but i can understand where this can be harsh for long listening especially in songs that have some sharper vocals or instruments.
    But I was genuinely surprised at the "3D" sound of the audio from these speakers aswell as their transparancy,  it also made my wife who is a Violinist (hobby) just speechless.
    She doesn't even want to watch anything now but on the main TV because it sounds so good.
    I think my Denon Heos setup is more suited to long listening and surely has a warmer and more pleasant sound especially since its mostly used for house music and its not for analytical listening.
    I have it paired with a Klipsch reference subwoofer that I also got on sale a few weeks ago, it pairs nicely with my Sony x850D that before I was using my hacked together Headphone output -> 3.5mm to RCA Splitter (Red/White) -> RCA Splitter -> Red to Red / White & White to Red / White -> Monoprice RCA to 3.5mm on each speaker.
    Then each Heos was set to Aux input and volume set to 75% and everything was controlled via the TV remote.
  15. gvl2016
    I like mine in my current setup. Klipsch speakers are very sensitive and pair well with tube amps, my mini tube amp is only 3WPC yet I can get the speakers so loud it becomes difficult to stay in the room.
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