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TOTALDAC DAC

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by khaos974, May 12, 2011.
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  1. romaz
    This is a tough one to recommend from a common sense standpoint and so you have to go with it based on other logic.  Very rarely does something at this level that costs more than twice as much perform more than 2x better and that applies for the monobloc but the difference is indeed significant and I know of no other way to reach this level.  If this isn't end game, I don't know what is.  There are probably other equally good DACs from the likes of Nagra, MSB, Light Harmonic, etc. but most are more expensive than the monoblocs and at this level, the differences would probably amount to splitting hairs.  The Nagra is of specific interest because it is priced comparably to the monobloc but as a tube DAC with a high output impedance, you cannot connect your headphone directly to the output signal.  
     
    I have found myself especially attracted to products if there is good rapport with the product's designer and I am impressed by how responsive Vincent Brient has been.  We have exchanged several dozen e-mails over the past year and he has patiently answered every question I have had despite not knowing if I was a serious customer or not.  Having scoured the internet on all things related to TotalDac or Vincent Brient, I have yet to read anything less than exemplary about either.  I am also equally impressed by my dealings with Scott Berry, creator of the CAD 1543 and CAT server.  If his CAD 1543 DAC had a more ideal output impedance, I would have given it a shot. I am keeping an open mind but I won't be surprised if his CAT server turns out to be the best of the lot.  Having read his efforts to create this machine over the past several years and knowing his extremely high attention to the smallest of details, my expectations are very high.
     
    You are in a favorable position living in England.  You could easily make a trip to visit CAD and TotalDac and audition these systems for yourself without making a purchase first.
     
    Yoga likes this.
  2. Yoga

    I've also only ever read good things about Vincent, although I've only spoken to him briefly, and not at any considerable technical level.
     
    I assume the 14 day TotalDAC return policy applies to the monobloc, I'd plump for that option for extensive listening. I'd also take that opportunity to see if @negura would like to compare it to his own gear. I may wait for him to get the Eddie Current Studio if that's the case.

    Visiting Scott (CAD) is on the cards - very close to me - but hardly in the UK at the moment as I'm travelling abroad a lot for work.
     
    Time is the most valuable currency :¬)
     
  3. negura

    Are you going to go for the d1-mono or d1 twelve. What is the Voltage output of the Twelve if anyone knows? There is a trade-off but added resistor ladders tend to improve accuracy, lower noise and increase resolution. The reduced number of components in the output should increase transparency. As I am considering something in the range of the Signature or Diamond V, where these also lie, it would indeed be very worthwhile to try and hear both side by side. I should be able to source a MSB stack if we coordinate.
     
  4. a1uc
    A buddy of mine just bought the 12 and loves it , he did have to add a preamp in the mix also which he didnt need with the Mono , I also ran my HD800 direct to the XLR's of the D1 Dual if you just use the HP output your not using the Dual Dacs and have no idea what one is missing 
     
  5. a1uc
    I have a upgraded WA22 I also use with the Totaldac D1 Dual and my Sony HAPZ1ES
     
  6. a1uc
    Has anyone here compared the D1 Dual to the Mono Blocks ? I wondering if its worth the cost of the upgrade 
     
  7. romaz
    The 14 day return policy applies to everything Vincent sells.  Both @negura and I are in line for the EC Studio but negura should receive his much sooner.  The Studio is the most transparent headphone amp I have heard and may indeed be a very good match for the monoblocs if one needs amplification beyond what the monoblocs can provide directly.  For his HE-6, that might be necessary as that is the only headphone I can think of that craves endless power.  Others have suggested that DAC-direct powers the Abyss adequately.  The Studio or any amp could also serve as a tone control if someone is looking for that.
     
  8. negura
     
    To be honest, as much as I love my headphones, I am getting more benefit out of these high-end DACs with speakers. Is it that most recordings were mastered/intended for speakers, the multiple dedicated drivers, the spatial information that the headphones cannot render in the same way, or whatever, but it's there and imo it limits these uber DACs a little, when used with headphones. That said some headphones to keep scaling and scaling. The 2A3x4/Studio are also speaker amps, and excellent at that, despite the limited power. Good SET triode amps are something to behold. 
     
  9. romaz
    The d1-twelve may be the quietest DAC in the world.  For example, the S/N ratio of the MSB Signature V is -140dB which is exemplary and is even quieter than the Nagra HD at -128dB.
     
    Here is the S/N ratio of the d1-monobloc:
     
    FFT-d1-dual-monoblocs.gif
     
    From this plot, you will see the monobloc's S/N is an astoundingly low -160dB.  With the d1-twelve, it is so low it is beyond the capability of Vincent's equipment to measure it.  The benefit and curse of this is because of its ultra low noise floor and impedance, Vincent designed the d1-twelve without an output stage.  As I previously stated (which has been confirmed by Vincent), the d1-twelve cannot drive headphones directly.  You will need an active preamp or amp to drive anything.
     
  10. romaz
    With the flip of a switch and the swap of a chip, I can convert the monobloc to a d1-dual.  Once everything is burned in, I will be comparing monobloc (which requires the reclocker) vs d1-dual + reclocker vs d1-dual by itself.  
     
    arnaud likes this.
  11. a1uc
    Great I will wait to hear your impression , I do like my D1 Dual and D1 server but always wondered . My server is current but my Dac is without DSD and would have to be sent in for DSD UPGRADE it is the earlier version so it's not DIY .
     
  12. romaz
    I agree.  With headphones, there is no true soundstage and headphones can never image as well as 2 channel and so I intend to use the Studio just as you plan to do.  I have a pair of high efficiency Omega single driver, crossover-less speakers that need only 2 watts to be driven properly but I have yet to convince myself that the Studio will add anything beyond what the monoblocs offer for headphones except for tone control.  
     
    The monoblocs come with 2 balanced XLR outputs and 2 unbalanced RCA outputs.  I am concurrently driving my 2 channel setup and without question it sounds a large margin better than the Bricasti M1 it replaces, however, since this is head-fi, I have not commented on it.  To be upfront, I do more headphone listening then 2 channel listening these days (out of necessity) but that will change if I can ever build a dedicated listening room.  The advantage of headphone use with this DAC (and something that 2-channel cannot do) is the direct connection to the DACs signal.  @bmichels and @nepherte are to be commended because I believe they were the first to report on this virtue.  Via its XLR outputs, you will be able to assess the pure signal of the DAC, unadulterated by the limitations of even the best amplifiers with respect to noise floor, speed and dynamics.  Even a $200,000 Naim Statement One amplifier will amount to a veil in comparison.  Look at the distortion ratings and S/N ratio of even the best amps and you will see that they will never be as clean as the signal from your DAC.  People often buy tube amps because they are the end statement when it comes to low level resolution but even the bandwidth of the best tube amp will be limited in comparison.
     
  13. romaz
    Vincent's DSD implementation is as good as his PCM implementation because it uses the resistance ladder in exactly the same way.  With my Bricasti M1, DSD sounded smoother and more attenuated but that was it, it didn't really sound more highly resolved but with the monobloc (and probably the dual), the difference is there to be heard.  As better and better DSD material come out, I believe you will find this upgrade to be warranted.  
     
  14. romaz
     
    I would be interested to know about this comparison.  The MSB V has a low enough output impedance to drive headphones directly.
     
  15. bmichels

    You still have the Studio on order ! I thought that you canceled your order after you heard the TotalDAC direct headphone out ? Do you still believe that an external headphone can being something additional to the TotalDAC Headphone OUT ? Expecialy with the D1-mono ?

    May be Some extra musicality or some extra " meat " ? :)
     
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