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Patience grasshopper, enjoy the Trump gif for now.
Alright guys, took the handoff from EricR and hope to get the system set up tonight. EricR also loaned me his Bimby for another point of view. Looking forward to a week of testing.
Received and in good condition.
Definitely the larger nicer case like the pagoda vs the havana2.
Sad to see it go. I'll post some impressions in the next day or so.
Sorry I have been so quiet this week, bad timing with some work deadlines has kept me out of the forums. Will have to add review writeups this weekend.
A few first impressions. Please keep in mind that I do not have any way to quickly AB the various DACs, so this is an overall feeling rather than definitive nip picks. Judging a DAC is much more difficult than judging an amp, especially a tube DAC. Making it much more difficult is that I use a very colored amp, the EC BW. So, is it the DAC, DAC tube, amp, pairing, etc. So I have to judge the whole chain. That being said, the differences are subtle at best, not day and night. Immediately, I would say that the Stockholm is the better DAC based on reasons that I will get into. But the subtleties are slight enough that I wonder if I can get the same difference tube rolling.
Havana2 vs. Stockholm2:
Grip: The Stockholm feels like it has a harder grip on the music, maybe a larger power supply. The Havana is softer in its transitions. The tour tube has a balanced bottom end which may get better with a different tube, but the Havana bass seems harder vs. the Stockholm tighter and lighter. We would have to do a lot of tube rolling to see if this holds true rolling tubes. However, knowing the tube being used having had it in my Havana previously, I do know that it is bass light on the Havana too. But it is more neutral on the Stockholm where the bass is lighter on the Havana using this tube. So this isn't good or bad, just a matter of preference - but the Stockholm sounds more audiophile.
Treble: The Stockholm has better treble with no sibilance. The Havana doesn't either, but it is rolled off faster. There is just a better overall treble with the Stockholm.
Sound stage: The sound stage is the same to my ear, but the Stockholm is more transparent. I would say that while they are both euphoric in presentation, the Stockholm leans toward detail while the Havana leans toward emotion.
EC BW Pairing: Given the warmth of my BW, I have had the feeling that the Havana may be holding back the performance of my BW. At a meet, this concern was confirmed when I paired the BW with a Ygg, and the sound stage open up wide, details popped in spades, and the BW got up off the table and started dancing. In this sense, the Stockholm is a step toward the Ygg and is a better pairing with the BW. However, I don't know if I will ever beat what I heard paired with the Ygg.
Musical: While both are musical in a different way, they are both quite good at drawing me into the music.
Why Stockholm: The elephant in the room with the stockholm is the treble. The treble stands out, but in a very good way. I now understand what people mean when they say they are a treble head. This is a euphoric treble that caress us with detail in a loving way. No harshness here. I will miss this when the Stockholm goes away.
Why Havana: The more I listen, the more I feel the Stockholm is a better DAC, but the Havana still gets me being very musical and textured for raw emotion. The Stockholm is more delicate in its presentation to ink out the last ounce of detail. I am not saying that the Stockholm is weak as it definitely has a better grip, but the Havana will bowl you over with texture where the Stockholm draws you in with its caressing treble.
Build: The Havana is nice, but the Stockholm is nicer. I prefer its case, power button, size, and heft.
That is what I am finding obvious, the rest is more subtle. I hope to have time to roll some tubes, but may not. The real test will be getting used to the Stockholm, and then having to go back to the Havana. Right now, I am really enjoying the treble.
Good stuff Bill, just like I thought it would be, the Havana 2 upgrade to the Stockholm V2 are not massive but subtle. Enough to warrant the upgrade/update between the two models, of course. Essentially the Stockholm 2 is an updated/modded version of the Havana 2. The differences are the larger transformer, the bypassing of the internal opamp within the PCM56P R2R chips, and a newer USB implementation.
Looking forward to your conclusions!
My anticipation to hear the Stockholm V2 keeps growing ...
A big part of that is based on what I'm reading. I'm also intrigued as to how it stacks up compared to my Yggdrasil and where it sits in relation to that and the Bimby and the "4490" - as I need to buy another desktop DAC to go with my recently acquired WA6 (pairs very nicely with the Mojo) sooner than later.
How long do these things take to get if we opt to buy one, anyway?
Also, I think the tube-DAC into tube-amp is going to be an interesting combination - has me wondering if things will become sickly sweet, just tend towards very warm and lush, or whether the combination remains detailed and dynamic and just pleasantly euphoric ...
Another advantage to a tube DAC is the ability to add it before a speaker amp to provide some interesting euphonics. Some tube amps provide preamp capabilies like the ZD/ZDs that can do the same thing, but not many. Adding the Havana before my Maggies has a real moving effect that even my wife can hear/feel. They are driven by an 800 watt amp so good luck finding a tube amp that will do that. But before the the existing amp, I get the euphonics and the watts needed.
Tomorrow night, I am going to put the Stockholm on speaker duty to see what it does. Should be interesting.
Switching to the Bimby now to get it warmed up for listening all day tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how I feel leaving the tube DAC euphonics. However, the Bimby stands a reasonable chance to be a good pairing with the BW being on the warm side to the Bimby's cold touch. I have found that the Bimby is more sensitive to being warmed up for long term than the Tube DACs. I am happy after about 20 minutes warm time with the Havana and the Stockholm so they are less sensitive.
Listened to the LCD2s for the first time on the S2 and found it to be song dependent in the pairing vs. the HD700 with the tweaks that sound incredible with everything. The SonarWorks plug in is definitely taming some of the S2 treble. This is something that I hadn't considered previously in my listening. However, the LCD2 is turning my head again on this setup where with the Havana vs. the HD700 SonarWorks, it has been in its box since the Aune m2/B1 stack left. Man, I miss that stack and its pairing with the LCD2.2.
All good info! I like combining the mhdt dacs with the project amps (tube hybrid) to power headphones or preamp into my surround system (cheap Sony Bluray with surround speakers). What comes out is not an overly tube-y sound with the proper tubes but just the extra hint of sweetness in the mix
To answer your question Torq, ship time from Taiwan is 3-4 days as they use express service.
Bimby Comparison Notes:
EC BW Pairing: Great pairing with the BW as expected. The BW curves the bimby brightness.
Bimby sound stage vs. S2: The Bimby sounds reasonably wide, but with little depth or layering. The S2 has much better layering and depth for a more 3d or holographic sound stage. Width may be equivalent, but the Bimby has more of a three blob sound stage vs. the sweeping sound stage of the S2.
Treble: As mentioned earlier, the treble is tamed by the BW pairing, but it also tamed by the SonarWorks eq. The resulting treble is very nice with good timbre. However, in comparison, to the sweet treble of the S2, the Bimby treble is very dry. My preference is for the sweeter treble, but that will vary with individual preferences. The dryer treble makes it easier to focus on a treble effect while the S2 treble is more integrated into the note. The top hats are very realistic with the drier note with natural decay. Can hear the tap, shimmer, and stop.
Euphorics: The Bimby is not a euphoric signature and is very dry. It will appeal to the HD800 crowd that likes to ink out the last ounce of detail as the emotion of the euphonics can be distracting to detail hunters. However, given the brightness evident in the Bimby, it would not be a good match with the HD800 without Sonarworks to tame the HD800's pesky treble issues. I find that regardless of euphonics, the S2 has more detail to go along with the emotion. But you will quickly forget that you were listening for detail and just sit back and enjoy.
Dynamics: I feel that the Bimby is softer than both the Havana and the S2.
Bass: While the bass is nice, it is not as pleasing at the Havana bass ephonics or as tight as the s2.
Overall, the Bimby is a great DAC for the price. It has a dry signature presenting it as it is and not putting color in the way of the details. Dry or not, it is very natural in the treble. The Bimby is also very neutral with everything on the same sound stage and very full sized making it a great listen. My preference goes to the S2 for a better grip on the music and the best sound stage with a nice euphonic signature that makes me tap my toes. The Havana takes a close second with a little more bass focus and a very euphoric, more than the S2 signature. The Bimby takes a distant third due to its dryness and treble focus. All three are good in isolation, but in direct comparison - there are differences that will make listeners go one way or the other.
Next Up: Taking the S2 to the speaker setup tonight for a music night to see what it can do for my Maggies.
Great impressions. Looking forward to compare my GMB to the S2!
I created a play list of songs to use for my comparison...
i'm really looking forward to hearing the S2, but my impressions won't be very formal, i'm just going to put it in the system, press play, and see if if the music
sings , or not, and if/how it sounds from the teac, and the dacs i've had before.