Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 52
  1. #1

    Ayre - Mytek - Benchmark: Please help me decide

    I'm looking for upgrading my digital source and now considering these 3 candidates:
    1. Ayre qb9 dsd
    2. Mytek stereo 192 dsd
    3. Benchmark Dac2

    Ayre is the most expensive and Mytek is the least. My main objective is to use it solely with a Mac mini but having those extra inputs and features, of course, doesn't hurt. My point is I don't know if Ayre is that much better comparing with Dac2 and, especially, Mytek, which is almost half its price and can do a lot more things.

    I just read a review of qb9 dsd in my local audiophile magazine (Korean magazine). The magazine pit almost all major DSD dacs against each other, including these 3 in my list, and based on the reviewer's opinion, Ayre fell short of delivering satisfactory sonic performance. The reviewer described Ayre as sounds dry, aggressive and lack of dimension and depth. Dac that gained most favorable score in term of sound quality is Benchmark Dac2. Mytek won best price VS performance award. Ayre ranked lowest with worst price VS performance score. They said Meridian Explorer, dac that's almost 1/10 its price, easily outperformed qb9 in 44 and 24 bit playback.

    To be more specific, the reviewer compared all units fairly by allowing them to run for 200 hours to ensure that all units are fully broken in (all units were fresh out of the box), and all units were placed on the same rack using the same interconnect, and playing the same song.

    To be frank, I was about to pull the trigger on the qb9, but after reading this review, I really need to reconsider it.

    So I want to hear what you guys think. Is Ayre that bad? I also searched this forum and found http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6...yre-qb9-15548/ many folks there agreed that qb9 is on-par with the Explorer!

    If we can conclude that qb9 dsd is not worth the money, which one do you think is a better dac, Mytek and Dac2?

  2. #2
    Do not buy anything without the possibility to try it in your own system. If you have enough money or a good dealer, try to make a comparson at home with the gear you are interested in. You cannot rely on recommendations from people you do not know or magazines or else. You will not be happy without testing it your self. The painfull process of deciding on the basis of what you have read will imediately be over in that instance you hear it yourself!
    The truth is:
    The more expensive device is not always better.
    The more complex and elaborated device is not always better.
    The device with better measurements does not always sounds better.
    A device with a certain technology doesn't sound always good or bad.
    A device is not better because someone wrote about it and telling it is.
    If you do not have the possibility to test the devices you want to buy, buy something you can test!

    Only You Can Decide!

  3. #3
    I've only been a member here for a few days. Most of my time spent here has been trying to figure out how to cancel my membership. Its all computer, no audiophile. I didn't think I would post anymore until I just read Fleco's post. Its the first one I've read where someone actually knows something about audio equipment, and is staying on topic. Every word is true.

  4. #4
    I would not jump to the conclusion that the Ayre is "that bad". After following the posts here on CA where Charles Hansen comments on the QB-9/DX-5 upgrades, and after briefly hearing an upgraded DX-5 DSD, I'd say the Ayre is a very good DAC. I've heard all three DACs you mentioned, but was not able to directly compare the Ayre to the Benchmark or Mytek.

    I've had a Benchmark DAC2 for nine months and was able to borrow a Mytek DAC for a few days to do a direct comparison. I played 16/44, 24/96, 24/192 and DSD files during the comparison. My conclusion? They are both very good DACs but I prefer the Benchmark's sound and connectivity options.

    Connectivity: Compared to the Benchmark, the Mytek has more digital connection options but has only one analog input. The Benchmark does not have Firewire and AES/EBU inputs like the Mytek, but the Benchmark's 2nd analog input is more useful to me. The Benchmark's analog line stage is excellent so I use the Benchmark as my preamp and DAC.

    Interface: The Mytek has more studio-oriented functions than the Benchmark, which may or may not be useful to a hi-fi user. But to pack all those features in there, the Mytek uses a menu navigation system that I found to be a PITA to use. The Benchmark's button and light interface is easier to figure out and use.

    Sound: The two DACs sound quite similar, but I did hear differences in how high frequencies are reproduced. Compared to the Benchmark, the Mytek sounds a bit rounded off and less extended in the high end. The Benchmark conveys more energy through the upper midrange and treble region which results in better delineation of inner detail, more leading edge transient energy and a bigger, airier sound stage. I would say the Benchmark gets more out of good recordings while the Mytek is more forgiving of rough recordings.

    Russ
    Last edited by russtafarian; 08-22-2013 at 02:40 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Blake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SLC, UT "greatest snow on earth"
    Posts
    1,360
    Quote Originally Posted by dcx1875 View Post
    I've only been a member here for a few days. Most of my time spent here has been trying to figure out how to cancel my membership. Its all computer, no audiophile. I didn't think I would post anymore until I just read Fleco's post. Its the first one I've read where someone actually knows something about audio equipment, and is staying on topic. Every word is true.
    Staying on topic? Pot, kettle, black. Also, please carefully re-read the OP's post, then read Russ' reply. That my friend is an excellent example of "staying on topic".

    P.S. I personally have no problems with off-topic posts, like my post
    Last edited by Blake; 08-22-2013 at 03:00 PM.
    MacBook Pro ​2012, i7, 16gb(Audirvana) > TotalDac D1 usb cable & filter > | Berkeley Alpha USB > Siltech HF-9 > | Bel Canto DAC 2.5 > Siltech Anniversary 220i > | Jeff Rowland Capri ​preamp > Siltech Anniversary 220i > | Blue Circle Audio BC202 amp > MG Audio Planus III > | Revel Ultima Gem ​speakers | 2 x Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers | Sablon Gran Corona power cords

    Headphone Setup: Sources listed above, then... > Dennis Had (founder of Cary Audio) IHA-1 Dragon Inspire headphone amp (Sophia Electric 274b rectifier tube + pair of NOS Sylvania 6bx7) > Beyerdynamic T1 and Fostex TH900 cans.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by LMR View Post
    I just read a review of qb9 dsd in my local audiophile magazine (Korean magazine). The magazine pit almost all major DSD dacs against each other, including these 3 in my list, and based on the reviewer's opinion, Ayre fell short of delivering satisfactory sonic performance. The reviewer described Ayre as sounds dry, aggressive and lack of dimension and depth. Dac that gained most favorable score in term of sound quality is Benchmark Dac2. Mytek won best price VS performance award. Ayre ranked lowest with worst price VS performance score. They said Meridian Explorer, dac that's almost 1/10 its price, easily outperformed qb9 in 44 and 24 bit playback.

    To be more specific, the reviewer compared all units fairly by allowing them to run for 200 hours to ensure that all units are fully broken in (all units were fresh out of the box), and all units were placed on the same rack using the same interconnect, and playing the same song.
    Such testing is very impressive. I wish we had similarly rigorous tests in Europe/N. America. The hi-fi magazines I am buying every month (TAS and Stereo Image Prestige) almost never compare gear head-to-head, and when they do (as in a very recent issue of TAS comparing the Benchmark DAC2, Mytek DSD and Lynx Hilo), they write that all the DACs sound the same. As for Stereo Image Prestige, they describe almost all items they test as "sounding much better than other units several times more expensive". I have been reading this magazine for three years and have yet to come across a single review that would write that a piece of gear does not sound as good as cheaper equipment...

  7. #7
    Cord Cutter junker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Newport Beach, CA
    Posts
    704
    Don't trust any reviews on the Ayre. Their dealer network doesn't even have the new and improved DSD model yet.

    If you would like DSD and balanced outputs the Myek is hard to best for the money. Sounds better on a basic FireWire connection than any USB wire.

    Benchmark... Heard it sounds bright and fatiguing.

  8. #8
    Blake,

    "Staying on topic? Pot, kettle, black. Also, please carefully re-read the OP's post, then read Russ' reply. That my friend is an excellent example of "staying on topic".

    P.S. I personally have no problems with off-topic posts, like my post "

    I have no idea what you are talking about. I read both posts. Nothing wrong with the OP's. He's allowed to ask whatever he wants; its his post. I couldn't think of a worse way to go about picking a component. I read Flecko's post and agree 100%. That's just the way it goes. I would never buy a component without listening to it. Russ did a great job comparing the Mytek and the Benchmark DAC's. So what's the problem? Because if there's one thing I learned on this web site over the past few days, is there's always some silly problem. What is it?

  9. #9
    Don't trust any reviews on the Ayre. Their dealer network doesn't even have the new and improved DSD model yet.
    You're probably right about that. My friend was one of the first to get his DX-5 through the upgrade que.

    Benchmark... Heard it sounds bright and fatiguing.
    Since we're in the same neighborhood, you're welcome to come by and hear my DAC2. Then you can announce with authority that it sounds "bright and fatiguing" rather than announcing with authority that you "Heard it sounds bright and fatiguing".

    Seriously, PM me. Let's hang out.

    Russ

  10. #10
    Ha! Just got off the phone with my Ayre DX-5 buddy. He's bringing it over tonight so we will get a direct comparison with the Benchmark DAC2. Should be interesting...

    Russ

  11. #11
    Cord Cutter junker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Newport Beach, CA
    Posts
    704
    Not sure hearing something anecdotally constitutes "with authority", but that's great if you think so...

    Definitely let us know your impressions. Do you have any DSD to feed the Ayre?

    Quote Originally Posted by junker View Post
    Benchmark... Heard it sounds bright and fatiguing.
    Quote Originally Posted by russtafarian View Post
    ...rather than announcing with authority that you "Heard it sounds bright and fatiguing".

    ...The Benchmark conveys more energy through the upper midrange and treble region which results in better delineation of inner detail, more leading edge transient energy and a bigger, airier sound stage.

    Last edited by junker; 08-22-2013 at 05:58 PM.
    Free Anakata

  12. #12
    Senior Member Blake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SLC, UT "greatest snow on earth"
    Posts
    1,360
    Quote Originally Posted by dcx1875 View Post
    Blake,

    "Staying on topic? Pot, kettle, black. Also, please carefully re-read the OP's post, then read Russ' reply. That my friend is an excellent example of "staying on topic".

    P.S. I personally have no problems with off-topic posts, like my post "

    I have no idea what you are talking about. I read both posts. Nothing wrong with the OP's. He's allowed to ask whatever he wants; its his post. I couldn't think of a worse way to go about picking a component. I read Flecko's post and agree 100%. That's just the way it goes. I would never buy a component without listening to it. Russ did a great job comparing the Mytek and the Benchmark DAC's. So what's the problem? Because if there's one thing I learned on this web site over the past few days, is there's always some silly problem. What is it?
    Hi DCX, let me clarify: You complained that people on this forum don't stay on topic, yet your post was a completely off-topic complaint about CA and its members, which has nothing to do with the information requested by the OP. How was your post responsive to the very specific information requested by the OP?

    The OP was was not requesting general advice from the CA membership on how to go about selecting audio equipment. LMR was asking for specific commentary on these 3 DACs.

    Having said all that, I am not one to complain about off-topic posts as I frequently engage in that activity (this post is off-topic ). I have no problem with your off-topic post and also agree the Flecko makes some good points. But if you are going to rail against an activity (off-topic posts), just be sure you are not engaging in that activity yourself.

    Finally, I hope you will stick around and give CA a chance.
    Last edited by Blake; 08-22-2013 at 06:07 PM.
    MacBook Pro ​2012, i7, 16gb(Audirvana) > TotalDac D1 usb cable & filter > | Berkeley Alpha USB > Siltech HF-9 > | Bel Canto DAC 2.5 > Siltech Anniversary 220i > | Jeff Rowland Capri ​preamp > Siltech Anniversary 220i > | Blue Circle Audio BC202 amp > MG Audio Planus III > | Revel Ultima Gem ​speakers | 2 x Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers | Sablon Gran Corona power cords

    Headphone Setup: Sources listed above, then... > Dennis Had (founder of Cary Audio) IHA-1 Dragon Inspire headphone amp (Sophia Electric 274b rectifier tube + pair of NOS Sylvania 6bx7) > Beyerdynamic T1 and Fostex TH900 cans.

  13. #13
    Touche' junker. One man's "better delineation of inner detail, more leading edge transient energy and a bigger, airier sound stage" is another man's "bright and fatiguing".

    And yes, plenty of DSD files to feed the Benchmark and Ayre tonight.

    Russ

  14. #14
    I had Benchmark DAC2 for about 4 months and my thought of it echoes what russtafarian describes.
    Very well extended highs and lows. Clear instrumental separation and good soundstaging width + depthwise.
    Very well implemented pre and analog connectivity etc.
    Ultimately I compare it against Chord QuteHD and exaSound e20 mkII for a while and ended up selling it.
    Even though it sounded great, Chord and exaSound had better synergy with my magnepan + REL setup.
    Especially e20 had more PRaT, musicality that I felt slightly missing in DAC2. However when I played DSD64 materials both DAC
    sounded equally great.

  15. #15
    Cord Cutter junker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Newport Beach, CA
    Posts
    704
    I'll let you work that out with the other reviewers...

    I'm particularly looking forward to your review of DSD on the Ayre. That is probably the single most important factor for me in considering that unit, as I have no doubt the PCM sounds great. We're lucky to have an Ayre dealer here in Orange County. I'm going to borrow his unit and play it against an MSB AnalogDAC from Jay at Audio Revelations sometime in September.
    Last edited by junker; 08-22-2013 at 06:34 PM.
    Free Anakata

  16. #16
    Thanks for your input.

    Let me clarify a bit more.

    - The unit tested by the magazine is the Ayre qb9 DSD version. When I referred to it, I just called it the qb9, so that may lead to confusion.

    - Though Iíd love to, but I couldnít try any dac at home, because here, there is no such thing as a loaner program, so the audition has to be done at the store. Too bad that in my area, itís really difficult to find Ayre product and Ayre dealer in my area and surrounding area doesnít have Benchmark and Mytek, so direct comparison is not possible.

    I can audition Ayre at Ayreís dealer and Benchmark and Mytek at their dealer, but as you guys might already know, each of them always sounds good on its own. So without a direct comparison on the same system, I would have no idea how one fares against the others.

    - I want to believe that qb9 dsd is a good dac, since it was designed from ground up to work exclusively as a USB dac without any other unnecessary features, and judging from the sale price which is significantly higher than the other two who can do so much more, I want to believe that Ayre should have something good up its sleeves.

    Actually, Iím really not sure how much I can trust the magazine, since it said it let all units run for 200 hrs to burn them it, but based on Ayreís manual from the website, the unit needs 100 Ė 500 hrs to fully burn in. Iím not sure if it is fair to judge qb9ís performance with a mere 200 hrs on it.

    This is why I posted the thread, because to experience it myself in my own system, I would have to buy it, and while a store is generous enough to refund within 7 days of purchase, it would be no way that I can have that 500 hrs burn in without 7 days, even I leave the unit operate for 24/7.

    Comments from you guys would be a good starting point for me. If any of you have any experience with qb9 dsd with these other dacs, please let me know if you agree with what the reviewer said.

  17. #17
    Cord Cutter junker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Newport Beach, CA
    Posts
    704
    Isn't that what we did?

    And can you post a link or image of this review, particularly of their image of the Ayre that shows the DSD in gold. I'm skeptical they actually have a DSD unit. There are only several even represented here on these forums and they won't be completely rolled out to US dealers for another 2 weeks or so. A link would be better since we could use Google Translate to convert from Hangul.

    Quote Originally Posted by LMR View Post
    please let me know if you agree with what the reviewer said.
    Free Anakata

  18. #18
    I want to believe that qb9 dsd is a good dac, since it was designed from ground up to work exclusively as a USB dac without any other unnecessary features, and judging from the sale price which is significantly higher than the other two who can do so much more, I want to believe that Ayre should have something good up its sleeves.
    It could be expected but it is not necessarily true.

    I can audition Ayre at Ayre’s dealer and Benchmark and Mytek at their dealer, but as you guys might already know, each of them always sounds good on its own. So without a direct comparison on the same system, I would have no idea how one fares against the others.
    The next best thing instead of making a direct comparison, is to make an indirect comparison. Take your DAC (and maybe your amplifier) to the dealers and compare it to the Ayre, Mytek and Benchmark DAC, one after the other. This will help you a lot.

  19. #19
    We had a great listening session last night. Among other things, we were able to directly compare the Ayre DX-5 DSD to the Benchmark DAC2. The DX-5 is a Universal disc player and USB DAC that goes for around $11k in its current DSD upgraded status. My understanding is that the DX-5 DSD uses the same USB input, DAC circuit/filtering and output stage as the QB-9 DSD DAC. Participants were me, Mr. Benchmark owner; my buddy, Mr. Ayre owner; and our comrade, Mr. Head-fi guy who refereed the match.

    To get right to the point, the Ayre is a better sounding DAC than the Benchmark. It is more relaxed, refined and liquid sounding while retaining the resolving power and extension of the Benchmark. Very impressive! Now to be fair, one would hope the Ayre sounds better given the price difference. It did. No doubt.

    Playback setup for the comparison was a Macbook Pro running Amarra and an Audioquest USB cable. The test track was Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On @ 24/192 from HDTracks. We listened for “maximum Marvin mojo” when judging the two DACs. The Benchmark revealed some smooth, suave mojo, but Ayre unleashed “lock up the ladies, Marvin’s in the house” mojo.

    Some other observations from the evening:

    Software makes a big difference! We tried Amarra, Decibel, and Jriver on the Mac and Jriver on my Win7 laptop. On the Mac, Amarra is noticeably clearer and more resolving than Decibel. Jriver for Mac is NOT ready for prime time. It sounded inferior to every other hardware/software combo we tried. We only used it for DSD file playback on the Mac. As for Mac vs. Win, Mac/Amarra and Win/Jriver on the same DAC were both very good and hard to tell apart. Just to show the interactivity of all these factors, Win/Jriver/Benchmark sounded different, but equally as good as Mac/Decibel/Ayre, all other factors being equal. Go figure…

    Vinyl still rules! We finished our head to head DAC comparison with Steely Dan’s “Hey 19” from Gaucho (24/96 HDTracks). After the Ayre once again revealed its more refined sonics compared to the Benchmark, I pulled out my 33 year old, bought it the week it was released vinyl pressing of Gaucho. From the first to last note, vinyl playback just killed anything we had heard that night from the digital domain. My two guests are not vinyl guys, but they heard it and couldn’t deny it. Kinda depressing that the latest and greatest in digital playback still misses that elusive liveliness that vinyl delivers. Oh well…

    The Benchmark’s preamp is really good! The cleanest configuration we could come up with for the DAC comparison was to use the Benchmark as a USB DAC/Preamp connected directly to the power amp and send the Ayre DAC’s analog output through the Benchmark’s analog preamp to the power amp. This would theoretically give the Benchmark DAC an inherent advantage in the comparison. But give credit to the resolving power of the preamp. It clearly and cleanly passed on the delicate character of the Ayre DAC as well as the kick-ass energy of the phono rig. I was impressed before. I’m REALLY impressed now.

    Computer audio comparisons require patience! Switching back and forth between various combinations of computers, playback software and USB DACs can be challenging and frustrating when you just want to get the music flowing. Is the USB cable swapped and properly seated? Is the correct input and volume level selected? What menu setups need to be checked or changed when swapping DACs? Does the software and/or the DAC need to be restarted to establish the USB handshake? It’s a good thing we had two guys there to calm down the guy doing the configuration swaps or stuff might have gotten busted up!

    All in all, I’m still happy with my Benchmark. I think it acquitted itself pretty well in the comparison. But now I know what better sounds like, and that helps me maintain perspective.

    Russ

  20. #20
    Cord Cutter junker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Newport Beach, CA
    Posts
    704
    Nice! Thanks for the review.

    Would be great to know how the value king Mytek fits in here, particularly with DSD. Did you guys have a chance to play DSD over the Ayre, and if so did this close the gap to vinyl? What vinyl rig did you use in the comparison? and no Audirvana?!

    Thanks Rusta!
    Free Anakata

  21. #21
    Senior Member Blake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SLC, UT "greatest snow on earth"
    Posts
    1,360
    Nice review Russtafarian!

    Jah Rastafari!!!!!

    Last edited by Blake; 08-23-2013 at 03:37 PM.
    MacBook Pro ​2012, i7, 16gb(Audirvana) > TotalDac D1 usb cable & filter > | Berkeley Alpha USB > Siltech HF-9 > | Bel Canto DAC 2.5 > Siltech Anniversary 220i > | Jeff Rowland Capri ​preamp > Siltech Anniversary 220i > | Blue Circle Audio BC202 amp > MG Audio Planus III > | Revel Ultima Gem ​speakers | 2 x Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers | Sablon Gran Corona power cords

    Headphone Setup: Sources listed above, then... > Dennis Had (founder of Cary Audio) IHA-1 Dragon Inspire headphone amp (Sophia Electric 274b rectifier tube + pair of NOS Sylvania 6bx7) > Beyerdynamic T1 and Fostex TH900 cans.

  22. #22
    Last edited by Flecko; 08-23-2013 at 04:49 PM.

  23. #23
    To summerize the review: You are a happy Benchmark owner.
    Yup.

    And my friend is a happy Ayre owner. And my other friend is pissed because he doesn't have either.

    Interpret what I wrote as explanatory statements: "this is what I observed", not normative statements: "this is the way it is".

    Except for the part about vinyl. Those are normative statements.


    Russ

  24. #24
    Would be great to know how the value king Mytek fits in here, particularly with DSD.
    That would be hard to do without having it there.

    no Audirvana?!
    I wish. We were limited to what Mr. Ayre Owner had on his Macbook. I have encouraged him to try Audirvana.

    Did you guys have a chance to play DSD over the Ayre
    We played DSD through the Ayre with Jriver for Mac, but the Mac version does not sound good in its current state of development. DSD through the Benchmark with Jriver for PC sounded better.

    did this close the gap to vinyl? What vinyl rig did you use in the comparison?
    Here's the thing with vinyl. (Note: the following statements are explanatory, not normative.) Good vinyl playback had a tactile feel to it that digital, no matter how good it is, can never replicate. Why? Because what makes vinyl sound so great are the various resonances and distortions that are inherent to the medium. Even really good digital vinyl rips seem to miss that last little... something that sets good vinyl playback apart. What we need is a DSP "vinylizer" button for playback software and disc players that models the resonances and distortions and puts all that crap back into the digital file to give us the vinyl experience.

    My vinyl rig is a bit idiosyncratic (I wouldn't have it any other way): Heavily modified Technics SL1200, Graham 2.2 arm, Soundsmith Denon DL103, DIY Phonoclone preamp.

    Russ

  25. #25
    Newbie
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Portola Valley CA
    Posts
    13

    Buying a dog so you can bark

    ** Here's the thing with vinyl. (Note: the following statements are explanatory, not normative.) Good vinyl playback had a tactile feel to it that digital, no matter how good it is, can never replicate. Why? Because what makes vinyl sound so great are the various resonances and distortions that are inherent to the medium. Even really good digital vinyl rips seem to miss that last little... something that sets good vinyl playback apart. What we need is a DSP "vinylizer" button for playback software and disc players that models the resonances and distortions and puts all that crap back into the digital file to give us the vinyl experience. **

    I am a fine art photographer as well as an audiophile-- and a similar dynamic reigns with respect to digital images and film/silver prints. Most people of a certain age grew up appreciating fine black and white photography, and still yearn for certain distortions that they enjoy as beautiful (like lack of color). This is true even as digital capture and reproduction get better all the time, and demonstrably reproduce the natural world better than the classic materials.
    Steve Goldband[br]Homebrew Windows 7 music server[br]JR Media Center Version 17[br]Schiit Audio Bifrost DAC [br]Emotiva UMC-1 pre-pro[br]Emotiva XPA-2 Amplifier[br]Paradigm Signature S8\'s[br]REL R-328 Subwoofer[br]Stock power cords[br]12 Gauge Romex copper wiring to the breaker panel[br]10 Gauge copper speaker wire

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast