T+A HiFi - DAC 200 - Official Discussion Thread
Dec 5, 2023 at 9:15 AM Post #376 of 494
- Q : you say you wouldn't use the Headphone amp, but you don't say why... I am enjoying it with my Hifiman HE1000 V3. Am I missing something ? Is the internal headphone amp a "weak link" in my chain ?
There's nothing 'wrong' with it. It's not bad or anything. It's just not as good as a decent separate option and using it after paying the high price for the DAC itself feels a bit like spending a ton of money on a really nice new camera and then only taking photos in 720p. Still great pictures and better than using a phone, but nothing like the result you can get by taking 4k photos and taking full advantage of what the product you bought has to offer.

In the vid I mentioned the Singxer SA-1, that's a big step up, but other stuff like an OOR or a Bliss if you're happy to spend the money would be a substantial upgrade.
 
Dec 5, 2023 at 10:39 AM Post #377 of 494
Can you hear any difference in this comparison?

Not easy to tell apart, imho.
Here is my personal perception :
- First comparison : YES : I think I indeed prefer DAC 1 and DAC 3 over DAC 2. But would not be able to tell DAC 1 and DAC 3 apart. The main difference I hear (in 1 and 3 being better than 2) is in the voice, more than in the instruments. DAC 1 gave me the most wow effect (but it might just be because it was the first one).
- Second comparison : NO : I do not hear a difference between both connection types.
- Third comparison : NO : I do not hear a difference with and without the 35k$ preamp.

Obviously, as the guy explains, listening thru youtube can not be comparable to listening IRL in the room.
Still, the guy says we should still be able to hear differences and have a preference.
Maybe, maybe not. I am not sure. I am listening on my iMac with a pair of $300 Harman-Kardon Soundsticks... It might not be the best testing equipment :wink:... and some things might be cancelled out I guess.

If I can hear a difference though, it would only be about the first test.
It would definitely not be as strong a difference as most people say in the YT comment section.
 
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Dec 5, 2023 at 10:50 AM Post #378 of 494
Regarding soundstage, can you play this track and tell me the position of the two main singers?
Screenshot_2023_1205_092234.jpg
Looking for A Home has one vocalist centred and the other is to the right about 4-6 feet from the centred vocals.

If you are interested in this kind of spatial testing then I recommend Naturally 7.

Ready or Not (Live) has a wealth of positions from centred to all around to every spot in the soundstage in between and from forward to back.
 

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Dec 5, 2023 at 10:54 AM Post #379 of 494
Regarding soundstage, can you play this track and tell me the position of the two main singers?

I like Blue Coast Records too.
But I am bit puzzled by your question.

I am still listening via my iMac with a pair of $300 Harman-Kardon Soundsticks, as above.

Facing the stage, Keith is centre-leftish (let's say at 11:30 o'clock), while Dayan is centre-rightish (a bit more off-centre than Keith though, about 1:15 o'clock or a few minutes more). Dayan may also be a bit more behind (a step or two, not sure though), or just singing a bit further from his mic).
I imagine myself about 5 meters (17 feet) from the stage, and I agree with @Soundguy123 they must be about 5-6 feet (2 meters) apart.
But this is rather basic stereo.
I mean, it should also be easily audible with a "walkman" and a basic stereo head-set.
If you do not hear the left/right thing here, there must be something wrong with your gear (mono instead of stereo).
This makes me think, obviously, if you are listening thru a single speaker (like a HomePod), it won't work.
So, I am not sure I got your question correctly... as I am a bit afraid of saying too obvious things and be completely aside the question.
Does this help ? Or is there a misunderstanding ?
 
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Dec 6, 2023 at 1:31 AM Post #380 of 494
Looking for A Home has one vocalist centred and the other is to the right about 4-6 feet from the centred vocals.

If you are interested in this kind of spatial testing then I recommend Naturally 7.

Ready or Not (Live) has a wealth of positions from centred to all around to every spot in the soundstage in between and from forward to back.
I am afraid you are wrong. First singer is front of stage, left of center (say 11 oclock). Second singer is right of center (say 2 oclock) further back in the soundstage stage. What you are hearing maybe the effect of upsampling, try turning it off and listen again.
 
Dec 6, 2023 at 2:40 AM Post #381 of 494
I am afraid you are wrong. First singer is front of stage, left of center (say 11 oclock). Second singer is right of center (say 2 oclock) further back in the soundstage stage. What you are hearing maybe the effect of upsampling, try turning it off and listen again.
I'm one of the many quiet followers of this thread. Perhaps disclosure your equipment that allows you to make this soundstage determination. Many thanks.
 
Dec 6, 2023 at 4:18 AM Post #382 of 494
I'm one of the many quiet followers of this thread. Perhaps disclosure your equipment that allows you to make this soundstage determination. Many thanks.
I used to own a hi end store so many different systems. Now I'm just a consumer looking to get a new rig, last three systems i demoed the streaming version on were a TEAC streamer/DAC into McIntosh amp/ATC speakers, Aavik streamer/DAC into Aavik amps and Borrensen speakers and Cambridge Audio Edge streamer/DAC into Edge amps and KEF Reference speakers.
 
Dec 6, 2023 at 5:37 AM Post #383 of 494
I am afraid you are wrong. First singer is front of stage, left of center (say 11 oclock). Second singer is right of center (say 2 oclock) further back in the soundstage stage. What you are hearing maybe the effect of upsampling, try turning it off and listen again.
Yes this matches what I hear exactly. 11 is what I would call centre stage to me. I am familiar with most of the equipment you demoed apart from the streamers. I listen on an ATC high end model you likely haven’t heard. The recording is rather unremarkable IMHO and I fail to see your point. I hear what could be more hall effect reverb on the second singer (wetter) with less or no proximity effect and a greater proximity effect on the microphone used by the lead, which indeed makes the second singer appear further back and the lead sound more intimate/closer. This presentation is quite standard.
 
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Dec 6, 2023 at 6:08 AM Post #384 of 494
Yes this matches what I hear exactly. 11 is what I would call centre stage to me. I am familiar with most of the equipment you demoed apart from the streamers. I listen on an ATC high end model you likely haven’t heard. The recording is rather unremarkable IMHO and I fail to see your point. I hear what could be more hall effect reverb on the second singer (wetter) with less or no proximity effect and a greater proximity effect on the microphone used by the lead, which indeed makes the second singer appear further back and the lead sound more intimate/closer. This presentation is quite standard.
Strange, you didn't mention the 2nd singer is further back in the soundstage. This flattering of the soundstage is what I heard when using Roon upsampling so I figured you heard the same.
 
Dec 6, 2023 at 6:50 AM Post #385 of 494
I don't want to join the gentlemen's argument here above, as we might actually be drifting further and further away from the main topic, which is the splendid DAC-200.
But out of respect for Blue Coast Records, I feel I must set something right here.

Blue Coast Records is one of the finest recording studios men can find. Check here for more info : https://bluecoastrecords.com/

Screenshot 2023-12-06 at 13.55.50.png

As a proof of their commitment to great sound, they were one of the very first to natively record, master, and publish in Hi-Res 24/192 and DSD format, more than 12 years ago.
The quality of their recording is certainly not "meh". Their recordings are often used as reference in many very high-end audio events and demos.
So @Soundguy123, with all due respect, you might be a bit off here, about the quality of the recording.
But, in order to square the balance again, the main purpose of their recording it to show transparency, the most possible "as you were here" listening experience.
This recording is not intended to be a demonstration of stereo or spatialisation, as this intimate song is in very close-up mode (like we are around a camp fire).
Soundstage, spatialisation becomes really impressive (imho) when the soundstage is larger than the speakers placement, which is not at all the purpose here.
So, @REXNFX, I guess you would also agree that if you want to talk about soundstage width and depth, other choices might be more fortunate.

That would be one point for each of you.
Maybe we can go back to topic.
 
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Dec 6, 2023 at 8:22 AM Post #386 of 494
Strange, you didn't mention the 2nd singer is further back in the soundstage. This flattering of the soundstage is what I heard when using Roon upsampling so I figured you heard the same.
Hard to say. You may have heard this depending on processing and the starting point and in particular the DAC chip (for example ESS chips all reconvert everything to PCM then again to DSD). Upsampling PCM to DSD256 seems to give the most accurate soundstage in my setup but width and depth can change according to types of filter and modulator. In general there can be a bit of an exchange - a wider bigger soundstage with accurate placement horizontally may diminish the perception of depth (it is still there but overshadowed by a feeling intimacy and being enveloped by the soundstage) - vice versa a narrower soundstage can feel deeper.

Tracks like Serenade from Ultravox, Tiger Tiger Duran Duran have sound effects wandering left to right and front to back and Amused to Death by Roger Waters for some extreme stuff - they can be fun to try out.

As for these audiophile recordings - I don’t care for them - none of them. I prefer a well crafted close miked creation by a competent sound engineer of a group of world class musicians rather than a carefully crafted musically bland production. As impressive as it can be, stereo imaging and depth is and remains an illusion - nothing can be done about that aspect unfortunately - that said timbre and transients can be done correctly and perfectly to the point where you can’t tell recorded from real instruments real vocalists on speakers like ATC.

I am sure your observations are all 100% correct, however, generalization or extrapolation to all setups and all DACs is where it is tricky.

Now back to T+A DAC200

That said, I must say DSD256 sent to a T+A D200 over USB and with the right modulator and filters using HQP, sounds marvellous - so I am not generalizing to all setups and I can confirm that upsampling with HQplayer to DSD on an ESS chip based DAC is rather ho-hum (no improvement), however, upsampling 44.1 or 48 PCM to 176 or 192 PCM generally does incrementally improve the sound of ESS chip DAC’s.
 
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Dec 20, 2023 at 4:11 AM Post #387 of 494
I've had the DAC 200 for a few weeks now and it has had a thorough workout in PCM and DSD modes. Using HQP with all the recommended settings in 256 or 512 is technically very impressive to my ears, but (and it is a very big "but") for musical engagement and general enjoyment I find myself drifting back to PCM more often than not.

99% of my listening is vocal-centric (pop/rock/folk) and, to my aged ears, the musical magic of the PCM output beats out the more technical delivery of the DSD most of the time. It has taken a few weeks of use before the PCM output has really started to outshine the DSD. Whatever T+A has done with those 4 Burr-Brown/TI chips is just fantastic. Love this DAC.

Am I alone in this? Anyone else finding that the PCM sound works better for them than the DSD? If so, what genres do you listen to?

For me the PCM/DSD preference is genre specific - I don't listen to classical very often, but when I do I use the DSD output. I could imagine other genres that are not vocal-centric also being better on DSD vs PCM. Anyone thoughts out there?
 
Dec 20, 2023 at 6:29 AM Post #388 of 494
I've had the DAC 200 for a few weeks now and it has had a thorough workout in PCM and DSD modes. Whatever T+A has done with those 4 Burr-Brown/TI chips is just fantastic. Love this DAC.

Am I alone in this? Anyone else finding that the PCM sound works better for them than the DSD? If so, what genres do you listen to?
What filter do you use with PCM mode?
 
Dec 20, 2023 at 5:23 PM Post #390 of 494
PCM settings below from HQP. I use the BEZ 2 filter setting on the DAC.

Interesting. In regard HQP and DAC200…

For vocals I find poly-sinc-ext2 and ASDM7EC super to convert to DSD256 to be the best for Redbook - it is extremely vivid and revealing with so much reverb and microphone detail - incredibly intimate - I never imagined Eva Cassidy or Melody Gardot could sound even more “you are there”. I have not yet found a favourite for hi-res files so far (Nx upsampling) principally because I only have a few 100 albums whereas over 6400 redbooks albums in my library and I don’t prioritize hi-res over Redbook at all (I prefer to hear what I like rather than listen to something pristinely recorded that I don’t - so Chesky is NOT my thing).

I do not listen with headphones. I find the balance to be slightly emphasized in the prescence region but it sounds utterly realistic in timbre, space and transients without the slightest hint of harshness.

Even CD loudness tracks like U2 Walk On sound impressive but the distortion/compression on the vocals is more noticeable.

Right now I struggle with hi/res 88 KHz version of Toto greatest hits - I have concluded the recording is bad (loudness war victim). Hi resolution 176KHZ SRV - Tim Pan Alley sounds great. Just not quite concluded my search for an optimal upsampling setting for hi-res material.

That you listen with headphones may be a factor - I do find the Burr Brown PCM NOS output to be delightfully smooth and just all around makes everything sound great.

Thanks for sharing
 
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