1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

TOUR: MHDT Labs Stockholm V2 NOS DAC tour! PCM56P-J R2R D/A chips, Bendix 2C51 Tube, 24/192 input

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
  1. JoeDoe
    Here's the cleaned up version:
    The Breakdown:
    Test Songs (all FLAC, ALAC, or AIFF either 16/44 or 24/96):
    "Undiscovered" - James Blake - Undiscovered
    "Gold" - Chet Faker - Built on Glass
    "Blue Monk" - Chick Corea Trio - Trilogy
    "Asking Around for You" - Joe Bonamassa - Live from Nowhere in Particular
    "Best for Last" - Adele - 19
    "Touch the Sky" - Hillsong United - Empires
    "Find Your Way" - Dynamo - Find Your Way
    MacBook Pro > JRMC20 > Stockholm/WA7tp >Beyer DT1770 Pro or GH1
    Sound: Smooth, rich, and delicious.
    Bass: Basically,  I felt the same about the Stock as I did the first time I listened to my Bladelius DAC, "I went through a period when three or four of the DAC's I had were based on Sabre chips. I gave those as much attention and tweaking as I could, but I honestly can't get on board with that sound. Even the Geek Pulse (which has the 'warmest' Sabre implementation I've heard) still had an uncomfortable digital glare going on." The Stockholm is definitely a little warm in presentation, and as such, it's low end is killer! The midbass has a little more punch than what I'd call 'normal,' and the lower midrange is very full. Compared to the Bladelius, the Stockholm offers a little more texture in the kick drum department. I did some comparing between it and the internal DAC on my Woo WA7tp and honestly I couldn't hear a lot of difference in this department (which I think, is a nod to the quality of the Woo DAC!). I did find the bass a little loose on heavier tracks, especially those with electronic instruments. Certainly not muddy or anything, but not quite fast enough to really hear every last bit of information.
    Midrange: Yummy! I'm sure it comes as no surprise, but the MHDT has got the midrange down! I'm a Grado fanboy, and as such, the presentation of the mids is very important to me. I wasn't disappointed! Once again, the mids from the Stockholm are very similar in sound to the Woo's internal DAC, but just a hair more forward. Male vocals sit slightly more front of electric guitars and organ, and things like saxophone and synthesizers have a great bite! If you dig on cans that are a little bright, the tube-tastic-ness of the MHDT will probably synergize really well with your gear!
    Treble: Smooooooth! I do think the upper extremes are a little rolled off, but not in a way that makes me want for anything. Once again, if you have brightish cans (HD800, T1, etc.), this DAC might be just a ticket to tame the top! The most notable range that was affected by tube-rolling to these ears was the treble. Just FYI! It also bears mentioning that the treble range, especially where the metallic sounds like cymbals, harmonics, and other 'ringy' instruments reside, was very clean. Sometimes the Woo (and other DACs I've owned) can get a little splashy in that range, so it was nice to rest assured that those areas wouldn't be cause for worry!
    Soundstage/Separation/Etc: I'd say slightly above average for this price range. I wasn't particularly blown away by soundstage depth or width, but I didn't feel like anything was congested either. In a word, I'd say things sounded 'natural.' 
    Qualms: Nope. 
    Build Quality: Very good. No beef whatsoever. This is a nice looking piece of kit that seems to be built quite well!
    Hopefully this gives you guys the gist of my impressions. The DAC is now en route to Cali for it's next stop!
    PS. Sorry my impressions took so long! 
    Luckbad likes this.
  2. s1rrah
    The perfect description.  MHDT Lab should adopt that as their official slogan.
    In fact, your impressions echo my own pretty much exactly and across the board.
  3. Soundsgoodtome
    You know what's crazy, it's a good description that you have to hear to appreciate. I mean if I read that about a Delta Sigma DAC I would think that was a severely colored DAC or inaccurate.. yet for an R2R it takes on a different dimension to the sound* (which I'll try to explain one down and botch but those who heard it know what I'm talking about)
    Awesome Joe, I'm glad you got to liking the DAC. Great write-up on your experience with it! This pretty much concludes the tour, it's going to Luckbad now but he's already into MHDT Dacs like the first tour members locally.

    * I think it's enough to say that the Stockholm while remaining close to neutral does have a weighty bass section. Some won't like this as it's unusual for a dac to boost a frequency range but unlike Delta Sigma where traits usually extend into other characteristics due to its filtering nature, the bass boost in the Stockholm is sort of a no strings attached tuning, if that makes any sense. An example of this is the warm tuning of the Wolfson DS chips, by warm i mean usually having a nice bass section but very controlled at the characteristic filter tuning that the mids also carry a similar warmth. It's as if the applied tuning can't be just the bass or just the mids but traits carry into other spectrums. This also might play more into the attack/decay of DS being too polite and "smoothed or sharp" depending on the filter used but at this time I don't have proper a/b setup to really pinpoint the main differences to get a detailed explanation.
    And you're correct on the synergy, it plays exceptionally well into phones that lack or are over controlling the bottom end. It's nice to have added weight to the bass end on the hd800 and even more bass on a modded he560 without any EQ. This added bass is there but without much imposing bass where it ought to not and instruments still sound very true when listening to instrumental songs. The only time it really may play into the music is say a jazz recording where the bass instrument might come too forward over the rest of the band but if you've ever gone to a live show, the bass always cuts through the drums and wind instruments. The mids are classy and very well executed, as well as the treble but it does lack that upper register air that would benefit cymbals and the like but we're talking extension and openness rather than being able to reproduce the upper registers. Mixed with the hd800 you're not missing much, if not grateful that the upper registers are somewhat subdued with unmodded phones.
  4. Luckbad
    The Setup
    Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB -> MHDT Labs Stockholm V2 w/ AEG tube -> Garage1217 Project Horizon III w/ 6N6P tube.

    This weekend I'll try it out at home with the ampsandsound Mogwai amp, but I'm using the Stockholm at work for now.

    Some Thoughts
    Stockholm = Hot Cheerleader
    Pagoda = Hot Librarian
    Atlantis = Hot Girl Next Door

    They're all hot! Different flavors.

    The Stockholm is the most euphonic tuning of the three. Warmer, weightier sound with an undeniable musicality. She's gorgeous and popular, and teases the hell out of you. But damn she's fun. You lust after her.

    The Pagoda is the most detailed and accurate, but it has a wild side. She's intelligent, calculating, and utterly capable of rendering you hopelessly in love. She also makes more money than you.

    The Atlantis is a little more unassuming, but give it the right tubes and it sings. She's beautiful without makeup and unaware of how pretty she really is. Her kindness, honesty, and sense of humor enrapture you and make your heart skip. You can't stop thinking about her.

    Meaningless Rankings
    These rankings are based on what I perceive as the character of the DAC itself, absent of tubes (I've rolled so many that I can roll ~3 tubes and know roughly what the DAC is imparting on the character at this point).

    These differences are subtle. All three have a rich, organic, natural musicality and all render instruments with a gorgeous timbre. Differences are +/- a few percent, with gaps tightened or even closed depending on the tubes used.

    Detailed: Pagoda > Atlantis > Stockholm
    Organic: Pagoda = Atlantis = Stockholm
    Timbre: Pagoda = Stockholm = Atlantis
    Musical: Stockholm > Pagoda > Atlantis
    Soundstage Width: Pagoda = Atlantis > Stockholm
    Soundstage Depth: Pagoda = Stockholm > Atlantis
    Accurate: Pagoda > Atlantis > Stockholm
    Dry: Atlantis > Pagoda > Stockholm
    Warm: Stockholm > Atlantis > Pagoda
    Liquid: Stockholm > Pagoda > Atlantis
    Adaptable: Atlantis > Stockholm > Pagoda
    Bright: Pagoda > Atlantis > Stockholm
    Speed: Pagoda > Atlantis > Stockholm
    Vocals: Atlantis > Pagoda > Stockholm
    Euphoric: Stockholm > Pagoda > Atlantis
    Thickness: Stockholm > Pagoda > Atlantis
    Smooth: Stockholm > Atlantis > Pagoda

    Some advantages of each:

    Atlantis: The Atlantis is the most responsive to tube changes of the three, imparting the least of its own flavor to the music. It can range from bright and dry with a Bendix tube to warm and liquid with a GE Triple Mica.

    This is a blessing and a curse. If you give it a bright tube, it can become too bright. If you give it a warm tube, it can be too rolled off. The Pagoda and Stockholm are less responsive to tube rolling--you can nudge each in different directions with tube changes, but you're not going to roll a tube and suddenly think, "well, my dac sounds like crap."

    That said, the relative rankings can be shifted significantly by rolling tubes.

    Stockholm: Absolute musicality. This is probably the most fun to listen to of the three. You aren't going to hear as deep into the music as the Pagoda, nor can you effect as much change with different tubes as you can with the Atlantis

    But, it has a gorgeous, toe-tapping sound. I listened most of the day at work to it and swapped in a GE Triple Mica tube to get my bearings. That tube makes the Stockholm too warm and syrupy, so you're likely best going with a Bendix/AEG/Sylvania tube or their ilk with this dac.

    Pagoda: The refined approach. Euphonic? Yes. Detailed? Yes. This is the brighest of the three both to my ears and as far as measurements are concerned (-1dB at 20kHz as opposed to -2dB for the Atlantis and Stockholm.

    It's technically the most impressive of the three and will get you the audiophile-desired clarity, accuracy, and refinement that many people want. But, it also deliver sit with an organic timbre just like the Stockholm and Atlantis.

    Further comments:

    The stock sonic emphasis goes something like this in overall frequency response. Again, keep in mind that this is +/- a few percent. 

    Treble = Pagoda | Mids = Atlantis | Bass = Stockholm

    Based on my basshead preferences, that would usually mean I'd lean toward the Stockholm as my preferred choice. But life is complicated, mkay?

    Bass impact is superior on the Stockholm, and the Pagoda even punches quite hard. However, what makes me lean toward the Altantis is that it's a freakin' chameleon.

    Rolling tubes in the Atlantis can yield significant changes. I generally use GE Triple Mica tubes in the Atlantis, as it thickens the sound a bit (removes the dryness) and adds nice weight to the bass. And, most of the weight is lower in the bass regions toward sub-bass, so it doesn't muddy the sound at all. The Stockholm with the same tube gets a little too muddy and encroaches on mids.

    I finally bit the bullet a bit ago and grabbed Tesla 6CC42 Pinched Waist D-Getter tubes. They're harder to find than Western Electrics, but they're around the same price. These tubes are outstanding to my ears. They add many of the qualities of the Bendix in clarity and detail without emphasizing treble as well as much of the euphoria of the Western Electric tubes without going too smooth. The bass is also well extended. Highly recommended with an Atlantis and Pagoda, perhaps not with the Stockholm.

    If you fancy yourself a modder, you can mod these DACs with various upgrades. The Pagoda seems largely upgraded as is, and the Stockholm has a few more bells and whistles than the Atlantis. I upgraded one Atlantis, which added additional detail and clarity to the sound while retaining its largely mid-focused character. It also has the larger toroidal transformer, but (as Jiun pointed out to me in an email), it's really only necessary for their balanced DACs.

    Where was I going with this?

    Ah yes.

    The Stockholm wins in overall musicality between the three DACs. The Pagoda wins in overall audiophile-ness. The Atlantis wins if you want a tube-rolling DAC and enjoy optimizing sound.

    Frankly, if you have an MHDT Labs DAC, you win. Differences between any good DAC are minimal. Differences between R-2R DACs designed and built by the same manufacturer a smaller still.

    If I hadn't modded one of my Atlantis DACs, I'd have probably sold one and purchased a Stockholm to have two different flavors.
  5. Soundsgoodtome
    I've heard of cars and motorcycles referenced and compared to women but DACs, lol. I had a good chuckle on that bit. Great comparison and I think it's spot on. I have a set of AD1856 chips coming in from China (I hope they're real....but the seller has a great ebay record) which should change the sound sig on them quite a bit. I'll report when they arrive which should be around the time the DAC gets back.

    The Stockholm is indeed the most musical and really takes from the first gen MHDT Dacs sound, very similar to the Paradisea 3. I do want to say the Stockholm really got a boost in bass/mid bass even from the Havana, which is using the same DA chips. The added boost does play nicely with tight phones though and the synergy with say the HD800 and similar signatures is FANTASTIC due to the mids and highs on the Stockholm sounding the way it is.

    Stockholm + HD800/HE560/HD600/AKG K7__ = fantastic synergy
    I would love to hear the Stockholm with an electrostatic headphone. Those have such amazing mids and highs but really lack a bottom end that you'd think the Stockholm could take the sound to another level... my wallet is scared.
    Luckbad likes this.
  6. humzebra
  7. ericr
    The link you gave says "Pentode", and tubes for the MHDT units need to be "dual Triods". Just don't ask me the difference!
  8. humzebra
    Oh yeah, thx just figured that out. Favorite sources for tubes anyone want to share?
  9. ericr
    Most of my tubes have come from the for-sale forum here on Head-Fi or from eBay.
  10. Luckbad
    I get tubes here, eBay, Audiokarma, Sovtube, GSTube, and locally.
  11. HiGHFLYiN9
    Bumping this great thread as the MHDT love needs to continue. Ever since my first DAC from them (Renaissance) I can't get enough. I'm soon to have a Havana and hopefully an Atlantis in hand to start tweaking. Would have snagged a Stockholm but the Atlantis was a sweetheart deal. While Soniccraft Sonicaps are often a favorite of mine for the small 0.1uF coupling caps, I'm thinking some Mundorf Evo Oils may fit. I'd also like to get some of the Nichicon caps out of there in favor of Silmic IIs.
  12. Soundsgoodtome
    Dare I make a 2nd round of this tour? Interests?

    The requirements to join the tour:
    - Be a USA Head-Fi member
    - Have at least 300 posts and have joined H-F prior to 2016 or know me personally / have met in person.

    To sign up, write in a post of this thread with the following:
    - List of gear you'll be using with the DAC including headphones, speakers, amps, and DACs in comparison.
    - Your experience with audio gear and if you've had experience with an R2R DAC previously/currently.
    -Also list if you're part of the music industry (engineer, musician, etc) or have some musical training on an instrument.

    After sign-up has been closed, I will select 7 members within the list to participate in the tour, 3 have already been chosen and are local Head-Fi members/friends who have shown interest in person. This will make a faster start to the tour and get a few impressions rolling. I do ask that participants refrain from reading the written impressions/reviews until you've made yours, the power of suggestion is quite persuasive.

    HiGHFLYiN9 likes this.
  13. HiGHFLYiN9
    Sounds like fun! I may have to be later in the list though, I have three other reviews I have to finish first :: phew! :: (LessLoss Firewall, Burson Op-Amp v5 and a pair of headphones on loan).

    I was doing a lot of work on a Havana the past couple of days. All Nichicon Muse caps and some of the FG caps were all replaced with Silmic IIs, the 4 power supply caps were bumped from 2200uf to 3300uf, some of the resistors were replaced with Kiwame, film caps replaced with Sonicraft, and output caps will be Jupiter. Tonight I'm replacing the RCAs with some comparable ones with teflon insulation and a BNC from Vampire.

    For the Atlantis, since the chassis has some extra real estate on the inside, I reached out to MHDT to see if they sell the larger toroid from the Stockholm as it should fit without issue. Sure enough they do, $80 shipped and ready to mount. I did check around to see if there was a comparable toroid off the shelf, but there isn't one out there that I could find that features both 8V and 15V secondary w/CT. You could buy a separate 8V and 15V for ~$30-40, but no room. I know there's also the R-core that people like for around $30 from China... we shall see.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Share This Page