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TOTALDAC DAC

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by khaos974, May 12, 2011.
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  1. nepherte
    I put a dust cover over the Totaldac every time it is not being used. Dust prevention for the win :)
     
  2. astrostar59
    Coming into this thread for the first time.
     
    I have an Audio Note DAC 4 which is tubed regulated power supply and tubed output and also NOS. It sounds great, but I am wondering if there is anything else I might be missing. Have any of you guys heard a TotalDAC against an Audio Note or a Lampizator Big 6 R-2R DAC (similar topology).
     
    I am trying to work out if the chipless design of the TotalDAC is key and makes a difference, or it is more the fact TotalDACs are R-2R not DS.
    If most owners on this thread came from DS DACs I can relate to the wow factor as I had that coming to the Audio Note DAC 4.
     
    The output circuit in the TotalDAC seems quite simple, I think it just takes the current directly off the digital board (it doesn't need I/V conversion) and has a class A discrete output. It has one torroid for the power supply. I am a bit averse to torriods, I was always under the impression IE or C-Cores were better?
     
    The D1 Dual is of interest to me and my budgets, but of course I can't hear it in my system or where I live without paying full price for one first on a 10 day loan. I do realise buying from Vincent misses out the mark-up mind.
     
    Any insight would be great guys! This hobby is hard work sometimes.
     
  3. juanitox

    i had both ,  TOTALDAC A1 and Audionote DAC4  and you are not missing something with your dac even if with this hobby we always think that the grass is greener elsewhere ( french expression traduction ) .    these two dacs have the typical natural sound of the R2R dacs and with a little more colour for the audionote and a little more transparency for the Totaldac .   but not by a big marge.
     
    no needs to spend more money for that or you can spend it elsewhere in your system :)
     
  4. astrostar59

    Hello Juanitox
    Ooh you turn my world upside down now! Interesting indeed my friend. So they were that close? A few question if I may sir.
     
    Which DAC 4 did you have? Was it the kit, UK DAC 4 or UK DAC 4 balanced.
     
    You have / had the A1. I read the A1 was the first production but got mixed reviews, then the D1 came out and everyone is saying they are great. Or have I got confused. This hobby is confusing especially when it comes to digital audio.
     
    My DAC 4 is actually a heavily tweaked up 4.1 kit with the UK DAC 5 board and Duelund caps to replace the AN Coppers which I found to limit the transparency. I have heard the UK DAC 4 and mine is probably slightly more transparent, less coloured, but still has the AN smoothness and organic sound.
     
    Any more advice would be great!
     
  5. juanitox

    i had a AN DAC kit full moded too with VCAP  copper, MKP power supply , separate transformer for digital board, etc.. 
    the TOTAL dac i have was the first model but it has the same digital board as the D1  ( vishay TX102 resistor , nude Vishay for the D1)  , i have swap the original oPamp output stage with a 2SK170 Fet output stage and later with a 26DHT tube output stage. 
     
    these two dacs sounds very natural and organic , but the most i regret was the most dynamic sound with AN , 
    the AD1865K is a 18Bit only but the Totaldac can't reply go over 16bits resolution ( some says 14bits max)  due to the 0,01% resistor ..  so it is nearly the same.
    i know have a 16bits chipless R2R NOS dac again ( Mosaic Tdac) can't really say if it is better or not  than the two i had before but it the same 
    kind of sound.. 
     
    i have also seen that with our NOS R2R dac we are no longer in the mood , and now all goes to DSD256 or DSD512  ..
    crazy hobby..
     
  6. arnaud Contributor
    Not first hand experience but from other people, the A1 is a very far cry from the D1-dual so when reducing TotalDAC to the A1 / "all R2R sound the system"
     
    arnaud
     
    Mod Edit - removed personal commentary
     
  7. juanitox

    have you ever open a TOTALDAC,  A1 and D1 share the same digital board,  same lundhal Pusle transformer input , same FPGA FIFO PLL clocking , only differs the Transistors  TX102 for the A1 and nude version for the D1 .   there  is no misinforming here just facts..
    A1
    totaldac.jpg

    D1
    D1_inside1.jpg
     
    D1 reclocker :   same card , but without the precious resistor. 
    totaldac_D1_Twelve_High_Fidelity7.jpg
     
  8. arnaud Contributor
    Well, the designer writes in bold that the precision of the resitors (over a third of the cost of the D1-dual I recall) majes a bit difference and he's not the kind to do expensive design choices for the sake of it...
    Next, a dac is more than just an I/V stage...

    Arnaud

    Mod Edit - removed personal commentary
     
  9. juanitox

    again , you are talking about things you don't know ,  there is no difference in precision between TX102 and nude vishay (one is encapsulated the other is nude) ,  and for a dac there is no more than the R2R stage to works  than the output stage is just a discrete or ECC82 tube buffer .  no magic here .
     
     ..  calm down it"s just a dac  a good one like others dacs are too :)
     
    Mod Edit - removed personal commentary
     
  10. paul79
    Differences will be more about how the DAC works in your system. I have heard a very nice AN kit dac and it sounded beautiful in allot of ways, but there are some differences, and some very important. I have had almost all the Totaldac's and they are different in allot of ways, not only different than the AN, but from each other in the Totaldac lineup. The house sound is all about the same with them, but as you move up the line, you get more of everything great and nothing bad. I am quite sure AN scales within there lineup as well, but have not heard the higher end offerings from them.
     
    Totaldac in my system is faster sounding, more layering in the soundstage, more accurate/resolving, and at the same time very sweet sounding. It is also much more dynamic to me, with regards to contrasting from soft to loud, etc. Much more real sounding. The Totaldac is also great at putting the artist's in the room with you, and this is important to me.
     
  11. astrostar59
    I think the A1 we are talking about has a modded / custom output board so not stock anyway. 
     
    All this is difficult as it is almost impossible to demo any of these DACs without paying up first. I am even having trouble hearing the Audio Note DAC 5 as it is built to order.
     
    After hearing so many DACs over the years, I must admit the entry to the R-2R camp is a shock for many, things suddenly sound right and real, less hifi.
    I am thinking a lot of the positives is about that change over from DS.
     
    What would be really good would be a big review from a magazine of a TotalDAC v other top R-2R DACs. But then many magazines are funded by adverts so we never know what the trust really is. I tend to believe other users on these forums who have owned both TBH.
     
    But I would aestivate that a 10K TotalDAC is like a 20K 'nomad company' DAC which has 100% dealer markup and local service centre.
     
    I would say maybe the case on the TotalDAC could be a bit better, and the remote is poor. But if the sound is right, I would swallow that. Audio Note chassis are bent metal and aluminium faceplates as well. But the advent of DACs like the CH Precision C1, Esoteric, Nagra, they all have great chassis at that price point.
     
  12. Brooko Contributor
    [Mod Comment]
    Gentlemen
     
    I've just deleted 2 posts - it's fine to disagree, but can we stop the personal attacks?  Its Sunday and I'm in no mood to issue an infraction - but it if carries on I will ......
     
    brooko-mod.png
     
  13. arnaud Contributor

    Well, nude or clothed, there is a very clear reason why the D1-single is much more expensive than the A1, and it's because of the precision of the resistors used. In particular these vishay resitors in the D1 cost substantially more, not because they're naked but because they're laser trimmed to get to that tolerance level.......

    Next, I am convinced the sound of the dac is so much more than just the I/V stage, starting with the digital manipulation (OS filters if any), the brickwall filter (or lack thereof in AN dacs?), the output stage and power supply for the whole dac, the layout of the board (there is a reason why the D1 power supply is outside).

    Cheers,
    Arnaud
     
    Articnoise likes this.
  14. arnaud Contributor
    Hi Julien,

    Despite the heated arguments with the juanitox, there may indeed be no major need for you to cross the pond from AN to TotalDAC as you have a pretty optimised source it seems. However, you're based in uk right? If you have the disposable income, you could arrange for a home audition (you'll have a couple of weeks to decide).

    In terms of line up, it's hard to make a recommendation as Vincent has DACs at all price points and everyone sees diminishing returns with a different eye. I believe my d1-six sounds more spacious and dynamic than my previois d1-dual but no way for me to quantify the bump in SQ.

    More practically speaking, the d1-six is as far as I can go before risking a divorce so the end of the road for me :wink:. TBH, I agree with juanitox that there are probably many other good sounding dac candidates out there (possibly much cheaper / better deal and whatnot) but I feel more than satisfied with my rig at present time.

    Last, the other deciding factor for me to go with TotalDAC, was honesty/sound thinking of its designer (Vincent Brient). He spends little on marketing, bypasses brick and mortars to keep costs down, skimps on fancy casings to put the dollars where it needs to be (makes shipping cheaper too). His dacs have sold themselves from word of mouth which is quite admirable in this era of marketing through social medias and such...
    Basically, even though I do find it silly to spend that much money on a DAC, I was ultimately happy to support this small french boutique...

    In some ways, it's quite similar to AN's attitude so again, hard to recommend you to move :wink:.

    Cheers,
    Arnaud
     
  15. arnaud Contributor
    Well, I did not have to go very far to get additional info. See homepage for the manufacturer where the laser trimmed vishays are discussed: http://www.totaldac.com/principles.htm

    AFAIK, the A1 used much cheaper 1% precision resistors which made a large difference on end performance per designer's experimentations. The naked vishay resistors (bloody expensive as I understand) in D1 series are laser trimmed to get to 0.01% precision while vincent also mentions about rework in the FGPA section (e.g. Where his proprietary filter resides).

    Julien: AN mentioned in a video interview for enjoythemusic that they were working on a discrete ladder dac with an independent designer from poland or something. I forgot the details but he mentionned that it "wiped the floor of all their current offerings including much more expensive top flight system" at a lower price point so they were considering upgrading these owners for free ... In the end, I wonder this was not very viable way to proceed and the shelved the project or did you hear anything?

    Arnaud

    Ps: foudn the link to the video: http://youtu.be/qtperKH7XsU
     
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