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Hi Richard,

I have a suspicion that the issues we are covering above are more streamer based, and that what you hear may well be without them.

A couple of days ago I took receipt of an IFI iDefender 3.0, and yesterday did some listening tests. As soon as I plugged it in ALL the edge issues vanished, but so did some resolution. As the widget settled down over the next couple of hours the detail returned, as did some of the edge. This made me bite a bullet I have been avoiding:

My SingXer F1 was powered from the ultraRendu (uR), it has built in tech to clean the DC.
I made up a couple of cables, blocked the DC from the uR, and supplied the power from an LT3045 (0.5A 5v).

I then played with combinations of adapters, settling for the moment on:

SBooster VBus2 (Blocks the DC)
IFI iDefender 3.0
USB A > B adapter

Result?
More body and detail.
Edge mainly gone - teh Richard Burton hard 'S'es are still there, but there impact is reduced. Played a couple of other tracks which I know can be a bit hot in places, same result.

Do you have War of the Worlds on CD/SACD? If so could you give it a spin and let me know what you hear?

Thx,

Martin

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Super Wammer

Hi Martin,

Need to research your units but very interesting stuff as the mains will be my next point of focus. No sorry don’t have War of the Worlds but if I find one in a charity shop will give it a go. I enjoy browsing in them.

R

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My thanks to Metatron & George:

Metatron supplied the venue, the base system & the Chord Hugo;
George the Audio Note 2.1 DAC and Esorteric D-03 DAC; and
I supplied the Border Patrol DAC.

Bottom Line: I am very happy.

The tracks included problems (War if the Worlds & Simon & Garfunkel - The Dangling Conversation), Difficult (Nina Simone) & tests (Bela Fleck).

My opinion:

All four DACs are good and will shine in different systems and your preference will be based on your tastes, for me:

Chord Hugo:
As above, mids just don't grab you, sounds to me a bit academic - doesn't communicate the joy.

Border Patrol:
Now this was more like it. The fun came back. Emotional communication. Perhaps a touch rolled off.

Audio Note 2.1:
Oh! The emotional connection of the BP, but greater transparency.

Esoteric D-03:
Initially AWFUL, this was connected via the AES dual leads from the dCS Bridge. Changed to the spdif, yes - this was more like it. Chord on steroids? But, for me, lacked the magical middle.

My order:

AN 2.1 > BP > Esoteric > Hugo.

Even better, the problem files were problems via all the DACs (apart from the Hugo - see the entry above).

I think the essential DNA of the AN & BP are the same, but the BP is 1/3rd of the cost and is no way shamed by the comparison. For me this reconfirms the superb quality and VFM of the BP; but, I now have an idea of where I would be looking at going if I was willing to spend more.

M

Edited by Mr Underhill

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1 hour ago, Mr Underhill said:

My thanks to Metatron & George:

Metatron supplied the venue, the base system & the Chord Hugo;
George the Audio Note 2.1 DAC and Esorteric D-03 DAC; and
I supplied the Border Patrol DAC.

Bottom Line: I am very happy.

The tracks included problems (War if the Worlds & Simon & Garfunkel - The Dangling Conversation), Difficult (Nina Simone) & tests (Bela Fleck).

My opinion:

All four DACs are good and will shine in different systems and your preference will be based on your tastes, for me:

Chord Hugo:
As above, mids just don't grab you, sounds to me a bit academic - doesn't communicate the joy.

Border Patrol:
Now this was more like it. The fun came back. Emotional communication. Perhaps a touch rolled off.

Audio Note 2.1:
Oh! The emotional connection of the BP, but greater transparency.

Esoteric D-03:
Initially AWFUL, this was connected via the AES dual leads from the dCS Bridge. Changed to the spdif, yes - this was more like it. Chord on steroids? But, for me, lacked the magical middle.

My order:

AN 2.1 > BP > Esoteric > Hugo.

Even better, the problem files were problems via all the DACs (apart from the Hugo - see the entry above).

I think the essential DNA of the AN & BP are the same, but the BP is 1/3rd of the cost and is no way shamed by the comparison. For me this reconfirms the superb quality and VFM of the BP; but, I now have an idea of where I would be looking at going if I was willing to spend more.

M

I fundamentally agree.

I found the Esoteric much like the a better Hugo, but suffering the same emotional detachment.

I think the BP has a nice full driving midrange, but it's a little too rich for me and I'd like treble more akin to the Hugo but without the apparent compression is seems to suffer. The Audionote was more transparent as you said Martin. So the Audionote was best for me.

Hi-res so far brings nothing to the table unless listening to a new and better mastering of a track, but I will persist in exploring the avenues with new DACs in case one of them really does shine. I also felt that tracks like the 192/24 Nina Simone - Sinnerman, or the 192/24 Supertramp - School sounded just fine on the BP and Audionote when downsampled to 48kHz so they could play the track - better than the standard redbook versions of these tracks still. This seems to point to it being more about mastering quality than resolution the track is saved at.

I noted that on instruments like piano, double bass, cello, the Audionote sounded more real than the other DACs, including the Esoteric. I play Alexis Ffrench - Introit and the piano sounded very in-room. This was something I definitely want more of.

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Moderator

What a cracking mini bake off.

Overall I agree with what the guys said.

The starter system with the Hugo sounded very good with a great sound-stage and real 3D. I felt the system was being held back by the Hugo but you can never be certain with a whole system. The Hugo flavoured system felt like an academic exercise, going on over there, by the speakers.  The pleasant surprise was the Border Patrol in that it communicated the music really well. The mid range was very natural and voices sounded more like humans singing rather than a synthesiser playing. It was great listening to this system and I can imagine a lot of people saying 'this is it'. However, when we added the Audionote (and trying to put my biases aside) the sound became magical. Real musicians making music. It also had the hifi attributes of a better bass and more sparkle in the top end. The Nina Simone track was fascinating even though it is a long track. The first part had a very emotional voice, the second section is a great musical section with the musicians interacting with each other. The final section is the drum kit and had a powerful wallop from the drums and a clear shimmer from the cymbals. Now the system was great. Supertramp was also a good track with some really inventive music. Although the AN had a tighter more propulsive bass and a brighter top end than the BP the BP did a great job of making music. Add to that the price of the beast and it is no doubt a great product. Now if Gary would add a valve buffer/preamp it would be a super great product. 

We tried a Class D Nord and it made a great neutral sound but it could not match the huge sound-stage, bass and super realism of the Pass Labs but there is a great difference in cost.

As this is BP's first DAC it is a great start.

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3 hours ago, Metatron said:

I noted that on instruments like piano, double bass, cello, the Audionote sounded more real than the other DACs, including the Esoteric. I play Alexis Ffrench - Introit and the piano sounded very in-room. This was something I definitely want more of.

Aahhh, but you do realise, don't you, that since the difference in sound that you heard cannot be measured, your subjective judgement is valueless...or so the measurebators here will assert.

Enjoy the music? Heaven forfend! You are using the wrong sense organs. You should be listening with your eyes.

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2 minutes ago, KevinF said:

Aahhh, but you do realise, don't you, that since the difference in sound that you heard cannot be measured, your subjective judgement is valueless...or so the measurebators here will assert.

Enjoy the music? Heaven forfend! You are using the wrong sense organs. You should be listening with your eyes.

I am well aware of the "all DACs sound the same" department... and that any DAC that doesn't must be tuned with distortion.

However, if you saw a post I made recently with an attached research paper, you'd know I found research that proves that perception doesn't always go with the better measuring unit, and that objectively better measured specification doesn't always correlate to a unit perceived as better sounding in an ABX study. 

I have also posted before that I do use specifications to shortlist items, but in this instance, two units limited to 24b/96kHz using older DAC chips that truncate to 18bits, didn't seem to lose out to my Hugo, instead being more expressive/emotional with music than the Hugo. That is perception, but the reason there is so much disagreement between a measurbator and subjectivists is that the former trust only the equipment and ignore their ears, while the latter trust their ears and ignore measurement. I feel both are required and measurements only go so far, but listening is also required.

Until there is more means from specifications to determine what something will actually sound like, we will have to ultimately trust our perception of it, since our perception is the only way we interface with the world.

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20 minutes ago, Metatron said:

... the reason there is so much disagreement between a measurbator and subjectivists is that the former trust only the equipment and ignore their ears, while the latter trust their ears and ignore measurement. I feel both are required and measurements only go so far, but listening is also required.

You are in good, what I like to call 'thinking' company. As you observe, we don't know how to measure all of what makes a box sound the way it does. Trust the measurements for what they might usefully tell, but trust your ears as well, is the mindful response.

I gather from G47 that your day was illuminating. I am not in the slightest bit surprised at your conclusions.

Edited by KevinF

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Super Wammer

Can I ask, in the recent comparison of DACs, what pre amp and power amp were used?

Can I also ask, when the Hugo was trialled, was it set to the DAC output level?

Thanks.

PS, Last week I listened to a PS Audio DirectStream with Redcloud firmware in direct comparison with my Blu2 MScaler and Dave. I can post (probably in a different thread) if anyone is interested.

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Super Wammer

Yes please!

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2 hours ago, Fourlegs said:

Can I ask, in the recent comparison of DACs, what pre amp and power amp were used?

Can I also ask, when the Hugo was trialled, was it set to the DAC output level?

Thanks.

PS, Last week I listened to a PS Audio DirectStream with Redcloud firmware in direct comparison with my Blu2 MScaler and Dave. I can post (probably in a different thread) if anyone is interested.

My Modwright LS36.5 and my Pass labs X250.

No, the Hugo was not on the so-called DAC output level, not least because the Chord manual incorrectly states this is 2V, when in fact it is 3V. When I purchased the Modwright I contacted Dan Wright to ask about the ideal voltage it would like to see on the input and he said about 2V.

I've previously heard the PSA DSD DAC in my system with Huron firmware. I would say your DAVE betters it, although I find the DAVE a bit on the cool/clinical side despite its awesome imaging. The PSA DSD DAC had much softer less impactful bass and was ultra smooth to the point of sounding smoothed out a bit to me (making what should be hard attack edges softer and more rounded in transients), so I didn't go for one. I've found the BP and Audionote DACs more different in that they have more midrange drive, no excess smoothness, but did connect with me more viscerally than the Hugo. The Hugo still sounds accurate, but the mids just don't project as I feel they should.

What did you make of the PSA DSD DAC with Redcloud firmware? 

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