So 500 hours later and the good tubes in. Everything is just so good. Listening to music much more now which is the biggest compliment. All the other things I mentioned still hold true, but now I can add that the highs are actually more present but in such a beautiful way. Seemingly limitless. The common argument against NOS DACs is rolled off highs. They obviously have never heard a Audio Note DAC. This is definitely it for me.
Well, its been a while but I received my ANK DAC 4.1 Limited Edition. I only have about 125 hours on it and the upgraded V-Cap CuTF output caps need 500 hours. I am using a the stock tubes which are actually really nice. All NOS except for the regulator tubes which is a Electro-Harmonix 6BM8 / ECL82. Once I get to 400 hours, I will put in my top tier NOS tubes. I was worried about adding a tube DAC to my system as I have very high efficiency speakers 101 dB-SPL and a tube amp Decware Torii III. I was worried that it might adversely affect the super quiet noise floor I have. The DAC is dead quiet. The noise floor has remained the same. Which is amazing on these speakers and considering it replaced a DAC that measures very well. The Anedio D2 was the only Sabre based DAC that I liked. Extremely transparent, but with a slight silkiness to it. Very refined. The ANK DAC has been a revelation. The second thing I was afraid off, was a loss of detail or transparency. That also was unfounded. While there is a huge increase in weight, texture and dynamics, there is no loss of resolution or transparency. This really surprised me. I was expecting a trade-off. It might be the V-Cap Cuft's that help in this regard. Expensive, but you only need two small valve caps, so it was worth it. Before I say anything more, I need to put some more hours on it. But so far with inexpensive tubes, it has far surpassed all my expectations. There is no trade off or weakness that I can detect so far. A really full sound that seems to be more palatable. Almost like you can reach out and touch it. I have never experience anything like it. I will report back in another 200 hours!
Exactly my feeling as well. I love resolution and transparency, but just need less glare or treble edge and more emotional involvement. I am getting a built unit. I have no skill! Brian has a builder in Canada and the US. I think these guys work with Brian in the UK: https://www.hificollective.co.uk/kits/audionotekits.html
That’s great news. I am glad you heard and liked a ANK 4.1. If the ANK 4.1can sound as good as a AN 2.1sig I will be very happy. The benefit of the 4.1 is the transformer coupled output which lowers impedence to around 10-13ohms making preamp/amp matching easy. My integrated tube amp’s is very low impedance and this will work great. ANK is crazy busy with their level 5 gear, so they are gave me a great deal on the 4.1. Also, I am in Canada which helps. At the end of the day, I am only paying about $300-500 more then a fully loaded BP DAC. Not including tubes upgrades or the CuTFs. I didn’t really want more tubes to maintain, but a proper tube output I think is the way to go with these filterless DAC chips. Plus, I still feel better knowing the heart of the DAC, the AD1865 is a much superior chip to the TDA1543. Thanks again to everyone on this thread posting your comparisons. When you can’t demo gear, it is really helpful to read about detailed comparisons. They give valuable reference points. I almost went for an Yggy, but saw that it would be too similar to what I already have: Detailed but slightly sterile. I don’t flip gear as shipping is so expensive in Canada.
Thanks George! The ANK 4.1 differs slightly and uses 2 x 5687, 1 x ECL82 and 1 x 6X5. After I burn in the V-caps CuTFs (400 hours) I will replace stock tubes with Tung Sol 5687 (smoothest, Peter Q’s favourite), Mullard ECL82 (warmest midrange) and Bendix 5852 (punchier bigger presentation, twice the heater current then 6X5, but Brian at ANK says their transformer can handle it). I have Amperex 7308’s in my Decware Torri III amp. I wish they were not so expensive! But they do last a very long time. I found they have the most emotional presentation. Over the years I learned the hard way that buying cheaper tubes that people say are almost as good as... ended up costing me more then just buying the right tube in the beginning. So with the ANK 4.1, I want to start off right. I also buy spares at the same time to save shipping/duty costs which make the tubes cheaper in the long run. What is your impression on the AN 4.1 in the context of this thread?
Sorry, I’m in Canada! I think you are in the UK? The thing with the AN and ANK DACs is the tubes can adjust the sound so much. So without knowing the tubes in the 2.1 vs 4.1, it is not really a fair comparison. Especially the rectifier. The Bendix 5852 will pull much more heater current and deliver that punch (coveted AN sound) then the 6X5. Any chance you could find out what tubes are used in each?
Thanks Metatron Mr. Underhill. I did communicate with Gary, and in the end I ordered a ANK 4.1. It will be somewhere in the middle of an AN 2.1Sig and 4.1. It was a tough decision, but I feel for the amount more I paid over the BP SE I will be getting more for my money as this will be hopefully be a keeper. I cant help feel that I would miss the resolution and transparency if I went for the BP. With nice NOS Tubes and upgraded V-cap CuFT’s I hope I can strike a good balance of resolution, transparency, and emotion. It will take a few weeks for the build, and then I will have break in those V-caps for 400 hrs, so it will be awhile before I know!
Thanks Mr Underhill. I love your comparisons. I am using an Allo Digione to power my current DAC. Absolute the best source I have used (Much more expensive gear). Better for me going Ethernet to spdif rather then USB. But, I am looking at either a Border Patrol DAC or an Audionote Kit 2.1. I would only use the Spdif as the Digione is amazing, and I have very nice cable from Triode Wire Labs. Both would be similar price. I live in Canada and get free shipping with the ANK. The ANK is not going to be as good at the original AN 2.1 due to lower quality parts in some key places. But apparently it is pretty close. Especially with upgraded coupling caps. The Border Patrol with passive I/V conversion is IMO the best way to use the TDA1543 chip as per Ryohei Kusunoki’s legendary designs. Audio Note has their transformer coupled I/V conversion which is also famed and key to their house DAC sound. The AD 1865 chip is more detailed. The AN has more tubes to maintain which I am not excited about It’s a hard decision for me, as I can’t audition either one. When you listen to the 2.1 is it hard go back to the BP? Or is it really a small difference? I do like transparency and resolution but not with harsh treble. I am tired of “digital filters” and up-sampling. I would appreciate any any more comparisons. Thanks so much!
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