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  1. #1

    DAC reviews: Acoustic Arts Tube-DAC / Audio Research DAC8 / Weiss DAC202 / dCS Debussy / Meitner MA-1 / AMR DP-777

    Disclaimer: This mini review is only based on me and my friends’ findings/experience over the past 6 months, with my system and with our music tastes (my friends did bring music along from time to time), YMMV. Also I didn’t take any photos of the demo units (busy listening than taking photos), the photos here are the ones I pulled from the web so it is easier for people to follow.

    I listen to LP 70% of the time, the rest was CD/CAS. My music taste was quite vast, from large scale classical (35%), opera (15%), through Jazz (30%) to Rock (15%) and Pop (5%).

    I would say I have a fairly decent system to start with, but the digital side needs a bit of update. The CEC transport I have was quite analogue sounding, but it does lack some bass definition. Although the Theta DS Pro DAC was a classic, it was a long in the tooth that really looking for retirement.

    My System, for details please see my signature at the end of the post.


    For the past 6 months, I have asked, beg, borrowed, threatened, stole a number of DACs into my system for extended period of audition (I will only buy a piece of equipment if I can have it in my house for home demo).

    The comparison was with my vinyl system, there was little point to compare it to the Theta DAC. I know it was not 100% fair to compare the DACs to a US$30,000 vinyl system, but this was what I have and life is too short for me to compare it to anything lesser …

    The following was a list of the DACs that I have had the good fortune to try in my system. I didn’t try any budget DAC of the day stuff, as in order to match the rest of my system, something substantial was needed, so anything US$3000 or less was not considered.

    Acoustic Arts Tube-DAC II (SPDIF only)


    This was one of my friend’s machines and I borrowed it for a weekend. I connected it up to my CEC and the AA DAC gave a very nice warm sound from its tube outputs. It didn’t offend anyone. We were able to listen to it without fatigue. Vocal was solid and the bass has good energy. It had two outputs and the solid stage output was slightly cleaner but thinner and less body. We all preferred the tube output.

    However, the downside was that the AA DAC has a very 2D sound stage and the sound was very much clogged, also the highs were not very refined and felt fuzzy. The whole orchestra (Nikolaus Harnoncourt – Requiem) seems lump together in the center of my speakers, it lacked transparency and speed and all this made the music boring. YoYo Ma playing the Prelude from Bach Cello Suite No.1 was vague, slow and dull. Plus it didn’t have a USB input, so on the next Monday, it’s back to in his owner’s house.

    Audio Research DAC8 (tested both USB and SPDIF)



    This was a dealer demo unit, well ran in. The ARC DAC8 has good transparency and speed when compare to the AA DAC. Orchestra and Jazz pieces rendered quite nicely. It passed the Mahler test (Symphony of a Thousand) without too much trouble, capable of separating the instruments in full and yet keep the music and noise the orchestra was making in check.

    However, it was a bit on the lean side and also the sound stage depth was a bit lacking, more importantly the all-important midrange vocal was lacking body and soul, sounded a bit hollow in fact. If one doesn’t listen to much vocal music, the ARC DAC8 could be a fine choice. By the way, it sounded quite a bit better on the SPDIF input than on its USB input, so this was a machine more for upgrading your CD player than for computer audio playback.

    Weiss DAC202 (tested both Firewire and SPDIF)


    This was from another friend of mine, who was a die-hard Weiss fan, he has the Weiss Jason/Medea combo and the Minerva (for his MacBook), now he got the DAC202. The Weiss was definitely more laid back than the Debussy and the Meitner, the sound stage moved back a couple of meters, not as upfront, it has slightly better definition and transparency when compare to the Debussy and the Meitner. Avishai Cohen Trio’s complex interplay was quite persuasively rendered. However, although the sound stage was now deeper, the music still sounded a bit tinny (if you know what I meant), there wasn’t much organic mass there and sounded a bit basic. For example, Andras Schiff’s piano lacked physical presence within the room.

    The Weiss DAC202 does have a digital pre-amp (no analogue input) built-in and so we tried its volume control function. All I could say was as long as I engaged the volume control, there was a notable loss in sound quality and the sound was less direct. I pitched it against my Gryphon Elektra Preamplifier. And it was obvious that it was not in the same class as the Gryphon, the DAC202’s volume control sounded crowded and lacking details and refinement. So the DAC202’s volume control should only be consider as a bonus, but if one wants a really high quality highend pre-amp/volume control, the DAC202 won’t fit the bill.

    Both of my notebooks all have Firewire, but the Weiss driver only worked with the MacBook/OSX/Win7 one, the highly modified Sony/XP with MinLogon didn't work. The Firewire connection was the superior connection compared to the Weiss's SPDIF and the above conclusion was drawn based on the superior connection: i.e. the Firewire.

    Also, although I use both Mac and PC at home and all have Firewire (except the new HP), the lack of USB input put me off a bit, as Firewire to me was a dying consumer format.

    dCS Debussy / Meitner MA-1 DAC (tested both USB and SPDIF)



    Why I lump those two together? Because they sound fairly similar in my system, both have good scale, bass and dynamic, ample details, both are forward sounding without being offensive. In fact the bass as I remembered were quite a bit better the than ARC DAC8. Both machines brought us into close contact with low frequency that we simply didn’t hear with others, and especially so with my Kharma Grand Ceramique Midi floor standing speakers. Very nice DACs indeed.

    With the dCS Debussy, it was Filter 2 (with the Filter LED on) that we liked the most, it gave a more relaxing, natural and smooth sound than the other filter. According to the dealer, this was the “Minimum Phase” filter, the other one was the traditional digital filter. On the Debussy, the USB input sounded similar to the SPDIF inputs, but this unit was limited to 96kHz only. Also if one wants the best sonic from the Debussy, don't use the digital volume control, setting anything other than 0dB immediately affect the sound, although not major, but audible.

    With the Meitner MA-1 DAC, what we found out was the SPDIF input from the CEC transport sounded significantly better than the USB input from the computer. We were a bit puzzled and then we tried an M2Tech USB to SPDIF convertor, suddenly the music from the computer was beautiful again. We try a couple other different computers with the Meitner MA-1 DAC, and they all sounded worse than the CEC transport with the SPDIF input. Although the Meitner MA-1 DAC’s USB input supports 192kHz, I think there was something amiss in its implementation (may be a design/matching bug).

    The only other thing that stopped me from bring out my cheque book was that they both sounded a bit too clinical and the music was lacking passion and not very musical. I got the feeling that Pavarotti wasn’t interested in what he was singing.

    AMR DP-777 (tested both USB and SPDIF)



    The only reason I auditioned the DP-777 was because I have the AMR PH-77 which I enjoyed very much. Actually, the DP-777 was really a bit too cheap for my system. They do have the CD-77 (have USB input too), but I wasn’t prepared to buy another CD player. So I took the dealer’s advice and gave the DP-777 a try.

    To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. After all I was nearly settled on the dCS. When I first turn on the dealer’s DP-777 on a Saturday evening, the initial feeling was quite nice, but nothing really special. What happened was after half an hour or so of playing, which I wondered off to do a stock take on my vinyl LPs, sudden I realized I was smiling like an idiot and singing along (Belafonte at Carnegie Hall – Matilda), then I realized something wonderful has happened, something just bridge the gap between the performer and myself, I was teleport to the actual performance.

    I often had that experience when I was enjoying my vinyl system. The vinyl system literally transported me to the performance (the signature of a good vinyl system). But I never had that with my digital system, nor with all the other DACs that I have tried in my home.

    To give a short summary (which I will discuss more on its sonic quality in the separate DP-777 review of my own unit), the dealer’s DP-777 arguably had more PRAT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing), but lose out a little bit on the sheer ultra-low energy. So if you are a super-duper bass freak, then the DP-777 may not fit your bill, but if you are only a bass freak like all audiophiles do (including myself), then the DP-777 should have enough in the bass department to keep you happy.

    The ultimate strength of the DP-777 was the sheer musicality of the machine (listening was mostly done under Bit-Perfect II with Zero Jitter turn On); excellent PRAT, truly full body mid-range with stunning imaging and sound stage. It had a wonderfully natural sense of ease and liquid phrasing which other DACs were struggle to compete. All of those make the music so much easy to follow, and hence transport you to the music performance without one recognized. It put the emotion back into the music in a digital system.

    Conclusion

    No, none of the DACs above bettered my US$30k vinyl system, my vinyl system is still more open, direct and ultimately more musical. But the AMR DP-777 at least stands a chance of holding its own beside my US$30k vinyl system, which was no small feat and hence I ordered one myself.

    They were all very good DACs, but for pure sound quality, which not just HiFi quality but also music quality, I will rate those DACs as follows (in order of my preference):

    AMR DP-777
    dCS Debussy / Meitner MA-1 DAC (tie for second place)
    Weiss DAC202
    Audio Research DAC8
    Acoustic Arts Tube-DAC II

    Normally for a layman like me the mini review will and should stop here, however as the DP-777 was something really special and has so many features (twin DACs, Zero Jitter mode, Bit-Perfect Mode, selectable filters, Tubed SPDIF inputs, analogue inputs etc.), I decided to do a more in depth review on my own DP-777 (which arrived a couple weeks ago, still burning it in). So for people who are interested, hopefully they can get a fairly detail and fair view of the unit.

    I also planned to see how much I can get out of this little machine by optimizing my computer and modifying the DP-777 (e.g. trying different tubes) in the upcoming detailed DP-777 review.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    (new additional, didn't know I can add more to the original post, as many have asked about my CAS setup, here is some info):

    My CAS setup
    (didn't want to put all of those into my signature, as it will be too long)

    Ripping: was EAC and now dBpoweramp with AccurateRip enable

    PC system:
    Sony Vaio PCG-X505 Notebook (WinXP using MinLogon)
    Apple Macbook (Mac OSX/bootcamp/Win7, SSD mod)
    HP TouchSmart 310 (Win7, SSD mod, I also wish I got the 610 instead, 20" screen is still too small)
    (all boot around 10-20s, so this is how lean/optimise the system are)

    Playback s/w:
    MacOS: Audirvana and BitPerfect
    WinXP: ASIO/CPlay on WinXP
    Win7: ASIO/WASAPI(event style)/CPlay/Jplay/J.River

    Computer Connections:
    USB cables (various, including battery powered ones)
    Firewire cable various(This was used only for Weiss DAC202)

    I personally don't mind Firewire at all, all my notebooks had it, but seems to me its biggest supporter in Consumer products (not professional), Apple, has dropped it (Sony dropped it a few years ago). So for consumer use, USB may be a safer bet.

    Also my friend who worked for OEM with BridgeCo said BridgeCo has stopped the consumer side of the Firewire development (was there ever a consumer side of Firewire from BridgeCo?) and focus all their resources on AirPlay now. Their USB solution is basically too late to the market and its solution is only adaptive and not Asynch USB.

    Also I have tried ripping my vinyl to 24/96 files (using Audacity),and then compared the ripped 24/96 file (playing back via a DAC) with the original vinyl on a A/B test, the results were very interesting indeed, but this will be another story for another day.

    Digital Sources: Optimised HP TouchSmart PC/CEC TL-1X CD Player/AMR DP-777 DAC/Theta Digital DS Pro Basic II (old)
    Analogue Sources:Koetsu Jade Platinum MC Cartridge/Tri-Planar arm/Kuzma Stabi Reference turntable/AMR PH-77 Phono Stage
    Amplifiers:The Gryphon Elektra Preamplifier/Convergent Audio Technology JL2 Signature Mk 2 Stereo Amplifier
    Speakers:Kharma Grand Ceramique Midi[br]Cables:Nordost Valhalla (interconnect and speaker cables)/Shunyata Research power Snakes power cables

    Portable: Sony PHA-1/PHA-2; Dragonfly 1.0/1.2; Meridian Explorer, Director; iFi nano iDSD, micro iDAC, micro iDSD; Geek Out; Hdta Serenade DSD

  2. #2

    Technical

    You do realise the technical limitations of vinyl, poor dynamic range, poor crosstalk, tracking,tracing distortion etc etc, in these terms I would expect you to prefer the AMP unit.
    Keith.

  3. #3

    A simple search "vinyl record sound quality" on Google

    will give you all you need to understand why Vinyl can (not must, but can) sound better than digital stuff, for example:

    Vinyl records produce a sound quality better than that of CDs
    http://www.wilkesbeacon.com/opinion/vinyl-records-produce-a-sound-quality-better-than-that-of-cds-1.2396024#.Tu8jszX9Ovg

    Vinyl Record Sound Quality Thrives At US Plant
    http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/benson/Vinyl-Record-Sound-Quality.html

    Vinyl Record Quality vs. Modern Media
    http://www.articlefriendly.net/Art/89699/6/Vinyl-Record-Quality-vs-Modern-Media.html

    Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD's Coffin
    http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/commentary/listeningpost/2007/10/listeningpost_1029

    etc.

    Enjoy
    Digital Sources: Optimised HP TouchSmart PC/CEC TL-1X CD Player/AMR DP-777 DAC/Theta Digital DS Pro Basic II (old)
    Analogue Sources:Koetsu Jade Platinum MC Cartridge/Tri-Planar arm/Kuzma Stabi Reference turntable/AMR PH-77 Phono Stage
    Amplifiers:The Gryphon Elektra Preamplifier/Convergent Audio Technology JL2 Signature Mk 2 Stereo Amplifier
    Speakers:Kharma Grand Ceramique Midi[br]Cables:Nordost Valhalla (interconnect and speaker cables)/Shunyata Research power Snakes power cables

    Portable: Sony PHA-1/PHA-2; Dragonfly 1.0/1.2; Meridian Explorer, Director; iFi nano iDSD, micro iDAC, micro iDSD; Geek Out; Hdta Serenade DSD

  4. #4

    Hey DM - a very enjoyable

    Hey DM - a very enjoyable comparative report. Must've taken a fair while to research and write? Nice one.

  5. #5

    Vinyl can sound extremely

    Vinyl can sound extremely pleasant but it bears little resemblance to the original recording.
    Keith.

  6. #6

    Keith ... if this is what you understood ... fine with me :-)

    Enjoy ...
    Digital Sources: Optimised HP TouchSmart PC/CEC TL-1X CD Player/AMR DP-777 DAC/Theta Digital DS Pro Basic II (old)
    Analogue Sources:Koetsu Jade Platinum MC Cartridge/Tri-Planar arm/Kuzma Stabi Reference turntable/AMR PH-77 Phono Stage
    Amplifiers:The Gryphon Elektra Preamplifier/Convergent Audio Technology JL2 Signature Mk 2 Stereo Amplifier
    Speakers:Kharma Grand Ceramique Midi[br]Cables:Nordost Valhalla (interconnect and speaker cables)/Shunyata Research power Snakes power cables

    Portable: Sony PHA-1/PHA-2; Dragonfly 1.0/1.2; Meridian Explorer, Director; iFi nano iDSD, micro iDAC, micro iDSD; Geek Out; Hdta Serenade DSD

  7. #7

    DAC reviews

    Thank you for great review.
    You have covered most well known DACs but I would be interested in glorified Berkeley
    DAC.
    Any feedback on it ?


  8. #8

    Berkeley DAC

    It is a very lovely DAC, Robert Harley liked it quite a lot.

    If you are getting a DAC now, you may want to look for something newer, the Berkeley DAC may be a little bit dated (but still a very good DAC).

    For picking DAC now, I will look for the following features:

    1. 192kHz Asynch USB input (basically the de facto interface now, nearly a must have)

    2.Selectable filters (NOS Bit-Perfect, Minimum phase, Apodising, Soft-roll off etc.), as they do sound different enough and there is no consensus which one is the best. I personally like the NOS Bit-Perfect mode quite a lot. I will touch on the different filters in my follow up detailed review.

    The Berkeley DAC although have 4 filters, but 3 of them are not for home use, so in reality the Berkeley DAC only have one useable DAC.

    3. Finally, if you want volume control, get one with ANALOGUE volume control, all the digital volume control (no matter how they call the technology) I have tried impact the sound enough that I bypass them as soon as I can.

    Hope the above help, but always go and listen for yourself. Even better, get one for home demo.
    Digital Sources: Optimised HP TouchSmart PC/CEC TL-1X CD Player/AMR DP-777 DAC/Theta Digital DS Pro Basic II (old)
    Analogue Sources:Koetsu Jade Platinum MC Cartridge/Tri-Planar arm/Kuzma Stabi Reference turntable/AMR PH-77 Phono Stage
    Amplifiers:The Gryphon Elektra Preamplifier/Convergent Audio Technology JL2 Signature Mk 2 Stereo Amplifier
    Speakers:Kharma Grand Ceramique Midi[br]Cables:Nordost Valhalla (interconnect and speaker cables)/Shunyata Research power Snakes power cables

    Portable: Sony PHA-1/PHA-2; Dragonfly 1.0/1.2; Meridian Explorer, Director; iFi nano iDSD, micro iDAC, micro iDSD; Geek Out; Hdta Serenade DSD

  9. #9

    DM, as a scientist, I can ALWAYS predict

    the outcome of an "experiment" when the experimenter begins his/her experiment with a goal in mind.

    Your post listing "google search" of why vinyl MUST sound better mitigates any and all objective criteria you claim.

    First, you list NO variables and the normalization of such and just comparing one to the other is, for lack of a better word, useless?

    I doubt more people have spent more time around and setting up vinyl than me, in fact I was paid very handsomely for my services years ago (where I made more money setting up all sorts of analogue than selling my wares) will admit that most vinyl sounds better than most of the digital counterparts. However, that IS changing. As more attention is being paid to remastering OLD masters and new recordings being made in the digital domain, source material is more apt to be of significantly better quality going forward than looking backwards.

    As to your DAC experience you are very short in describing optimization of each other than to switch from SPDIF to USB and vice versa.

    I had a Debussy, PS Audio and now an ARC DAC 8, all at once for comparison. My initial experience with the DAC 8 sucked because it turned out to be broken. Ultimately, I preferred the DAC 8 to the Debussy which was a newer 24/192 capable model when running it via USB with a Mac Mini. Actually the PS Audio was the best sound per $. Your observation about using the DAC 8 via the SPDIF actually proved correct for me as well when I tried a transport compared to my Amarra/Mac. However, it took me almost a year to run through options and setup to find that the DAC 8 performs at a quantum level above via USB with CAPS 2 and JRIVER its Mac counterpart and significantly better than my SPDIF choice of a transport. I am soon to have a Wavelink to compare it to and, will keep my perspective totally objective as I always have as I am not in the business of rationalizing my purchases.

    However, I will also be the first to admit that a DAC 8 may or may not be a good DAC without a REF5 or REF40, which makes the DAC 8 actually the most expensive DAC of the lot.

    So what does this all mean? If my experience with the DAC 8 is of any use, that each DAC has its strength and weaknesses and each DAC will probably perform better under one set of variables that in many cases will differ from one DAC to another. No different than turntables, arms and cartridges and no different than how they are setup.

    One thing I have found is that NO setup, no scientific reasoning, no discussion is ever going to convince a hardcore VAPs (VinylAnaloguePhiles) what digital is capable of. It has also been my experience, with few exceptions that VAPs will never put the time into Digital that they put into Vinyl and will use Digital either for convenience or to justify the dominance of Vinyl.

    But thanks for the post and let the debate will continue

  10. #10

    Dear Priaptor, I think you may have misread my post ...

    I actually said:

    "A simple search "vinyl record sound quality" on Google will give you all you need to understand why Vinyl can (not must, but can) sound better than digital stuff..."

    again if you missed it again :-)

    "why Vinyl can (not must, but can) sound better than digital stuff..."

    Enjoy.

    For the PC side, I used to have two dedicated notebooks (now a HP TouchSmart) with only battery power supply, one running MinLogon and ASIO (not the normal Winlogon, WinXP), one running Win7 with WASAPI or ASIO.

    Both have SSD and run under memory play, also Fidelizer and used CPlay and now Jplay for critical listening. JRiver impact the sound too much.

    But for day to day operation, I do use JMRC (but uses CPlay/Jplay as its external Player) as it has a much better interface ...

    I also made a couple battery powered USB cables, which significantly improved the sound of the USB DACs.

    Currently I am spending much more time on optimising the PC setup, which I will try to share the details in my follow up review. BTW, my vinyl setup has been well optimised by Dr. Feickert's excellent Adjust plus software, so no need to touch it, just need to check it once every few months and make sure everything is still intact, hence no time I spend on optimising my vinyl setup now really.

    So I am a VAP (VinylAnaloguePhiles) and a CAP (ComputerAudioPhiles) :-)
    Digital Sources: Optimised HP TouchSmart PC/CEC TL-1X CD Player/AMR DP-777 DAC/Theta Digital DS Pro Basic II (old)
    Analogue Sources:Koetsu Jade Platinum MC Cartridge/Tri-Planar arm/Kuzma Stabi Reference turntable/AMR PH-77 Phono Stage
    Amplifiers:The Gryphon Elektra Preamplifier/Convergent Audio Technology JL2 Signature Mk 2 Stereo Amplifier
    Speakers:Kharma Grand Ceramique Midi[br]Cables:Nordost Valhalla (interconnect and speaker cables)/Shunyata Research power Snakes power cables

    Portable: Sony PHA-1/PHA-2; Dragonfly 1.0/1.2; Meridian Explorer, Director; iFi nano iDSD, micro iDAC, micro iDSD; Geek Out; Hdta Serenade DSD

  11. #11

    DAC reviews

    I am scientist myself and I try not to "predict" research outcome-otherwise why me need to do any research!
    Therefore I disagree with your statement and I further praise DM for trying to help us.
    Vinyl does sound better with proper recording and equipment but it is very expensive and inconvenient;10 minutes listening,changing sides and cleaning records etc.
    DAC 8 is good but in short run is not close to Debussy sound!(I listened to both using I-Mac,ARC Ref 40 and Ref 210 amplifier with Audioquest cabling throughout.
    Best


  12. #12

    Pawel too bad

    you didn't try it with a Windows solution

    "DAC 8 is good in short run is not close to Debussy sound".

    WTF does that even mean?

    Whatever! That is why there are different strokes for different folks. From my perch when some "experimenter" already has it in their mind (as the multiple google references demonstrate) what the results should be there is no experiment. But it was an interesting post an interesting read and agree that if I had the time and desire I would futz around with vinyl. BUT the new technology with recordings, sources and DACs has me sticking with digital.

    By the way, I am not married to any manufacturer and have no issue dumping what I have in favor of something giving me more enjoyment. I am not endorsing the DAC 8 with a petulant claim like you just made with the Debussy. "like better" is quite different than "not close to sound". For a scientist, your statements aren't too scientific.





  13. #13

    @DM

    Dear DM,

    your thoughts, experiences and tries to find out the "true" about the DAC technology are nice, but in my opinion they can't be called "review".

    All experiments with your CEC as transport can be so good as your CD-transport is, not better. Just to connect it to your DAC shows the quality of your connection and your transport more, than of the tested DAC.

    Very important thing in CAP (computer audiophile playback) is also the question of the interface to get the signal out from the computer to your
    DAC. You didn't compare (for example) the abilities of Fireware connection
    of Weiss DAC202 to computer. Firewire in audio technology (studios) has been used since around twenty years and is much "older" than USB asynchronous protocol. It is not dead, because Apple wants to leave this way.
    Ask recording engineers !

    The digital connection mit the firewire-cables are not so critical as it seems to be in USB-world (and mostly not so expensive).

    What about ripping ?
    What about your computer system ?
    What about your playback software ?

    Comparing only this aspects at the "best" CAP setup in the world could drive you crazy, about any realistic conclusion and answer, what is really the best thing.

    I like to hear vinyl as I like to hear computer aided playback (also CAP !) and it seems to me you are really good "analouge".

    But for computer audiophile playback ist the completely change of the way of thinking absolutely necessery...


    Just hear the music ! There is no really the question of Weiss, AMR, dCS or others because you can optimize every system so as you like it and as you are satisfy with it.

    Anyway, see for example www.behold.eu for PSD192 phono pre with the
    possibility to simulate of nearly all important recordings curves digitally (Columbia IEC RIAA, DECCA, London, etc.), which is probably a very good "toy" to merge the digital and analogue world (like Dr. Feickert's Adjust).

    And if you like to undestand what I ment about the change, just see other digital products of behold...


    Adam

  14. #14

    Review

    Just to make it clear:I do not approach music with science but Debussy was superior in bass,soundstage and clarity of voices.
    This was also opinion of several listeners including dealer who caries both.
    If you know the way to evaluate dacs scientifically please
    Let us know.
    Dcs after few hours listening will make "tired"

  15. #15
    Tone Junkie AudioDoctor's Avatar
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    That is yet one more Data point

    in favor of the AMR DP 777. I really do need to get one of these in for some listening, according to their website, it is even compatible with Linux.
    Enjoying the music...

  16. #16

    pawel8, you keep saying you

    don't "approach music with science" BUT then go on to make a dogmatic statement as though it is FACT that the "Debussy was superior in bass, soundstage and clarity of voices".

    Sorry, but that logic is just plain flawed and obtuse.

    I too am very friendly with one of the largest dealers in America who happens to carry a large line of DACs who would have loved to sell me the most expensive DACs he had and I may have even considered it, but his OPINION was shared with mine, BEFORE I even formed mine regarding the Debussy, but waited till I listened for myself. Again, different strokes for different folks.





  17. #17
    Masters Level Member ted_b's Avatar
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    DM, I appreciate your review, and your willingness to absorb

    the comments and criticisms that always follow.

    Question: how broken-in were each of these DACs? And how long did you have them set up before listening? The first question is simply about cumulative DAC hours (I've found DACs to change sound over their first several hundreds of hours, so much that the change is greater than the difference between DAC models), the second one has to do with "settling in" time at your place. I've found, almost invariably, that digital equipment needs 24-48 hours running to settle in to any system...and am not exactly sure why (electrically).
    "We're all bozos on this bus"....F.T.

    My JRiver screencast tutorials : http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f1...tml#post272960
    My DSD database: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...ySk/edit#gid=0
    My SACD Ripping Guide (needs updating but still works): https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...r%20v4.0.1.pdf

    US Technical Advisor, NativeDSD.com: www.nativedsd.com

  18. #18
    Pseudo Journalist Part-Time Audiophile's Avatar
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    Very nicely done

    Loved the write up. And I agree, that AMR is a very interesting DAC. Can I ask which DAC chip you liked best?

  19. #19

    Not opinion

    DM my statements are not opinion, but fact, start by looking at the dynamic range of vinyl compared to CD, not hires just standard 44, then look at crosstalk, or distortion.
    Keith.

  20. #20

    HiYou just simply can not

    Hi
    You just simply can not accept different opinions,which were based on listening rather than pseudoscience.
    And this is opinion ONLY!
    Best

  21. #21

    Scot, just for the record, I

    am going to try to get what some are considering a real tour de force in DACs for a trial. The Lampizator, made in Poland getting some real accolades in Europe. It comes in multiple levels with Level 5 his newest.


  22. #22
    Freshman Member RSB's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing

    DM -

    Thanks for sharing your DAC experiences. Nice read. A bunch of ideas and data points are always helpful as I try to learn about what I like in my system(s). I look forward to reading your further thoughts about / review of the DP-777.

    Randy


    The world is but one country, and mankind its citizens.

    Living Room: Caps2/JRiver 19/Fidelizer > Wireworld Platinum USB > Calyx DAC/KingRex PSU > Kimber Heroes > Bryston BP-26/4B-SST > Kimber 8TC > B&W 802D.
    Den: CAPS3 Carbon/SOtM USB/JRiver 20/Fidelizer/Uptone JS-2 power supply>Totaldac USB > Off Ramp5/Dynamo PS/Short Block via I2S > PS Audio Silver HDMI > W4S Dac2DSDse/femto upgrade > Triode Wire Labs IC > Bryston B100-SST > Kimber 8VS > B&W SCMS. (Triode Wire Labs power cables).

  23. #23

    DM: thanks a lot

    for your real life review. I've been waiting for a review like this for months...

    You confirm most of the impressions I had got researching on the internet.

    I think only 2 additional DACs are left that might interest you to listen to: the new Berkley DAC (series 2) +their usb adaptor and the Aesthetix Pandora DAC.

    I mention the new Berkley DAC because Scott from part time audiophile finally preferred it to others similar to the ones of your review.

    Best.

  24. #24
    Sophomore Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Half Moon Bay, Ca
    Posts
    136

    DM....thanks for your brief impressions

    The only thing I can surmise after reading yours and other comments is that I must have gotten one of the precious few Meitner's that operate beautifully through its USB input. For that I suppose I should be very grateful.

    It is anything but clinical or dry in my rig....but it IS rich in tone and full of body, allows for a very wide and deep soundstage, and is quite musically satisfying.

    As always...

    YMMV

    Bob
    Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not." — Nelson Pass

  25. #25

    Thanks for your interesting

    Thanks for your interesting roundup, DM. I would appreciate it if you were kind enough to quote a review in which Robert Harley did not "like" the device-under-test "a lot", or indeed one in which he disliked it downright.

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