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Message started by Tommy Freefall on 03/20/19 at 00:29:17

Title: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 03/20/19 at 00:29:17

Does anyone have any experience or informed thoughts about NOS DACs such as the one by Border Patrol or the Audio Note 0.1x?
It seems many in the tube amp and vinyl crowd tend to favor their simplicity over the DACs that employ oversampling and error correction, and measure perfectly but sound sterile or etched.
The language used in describing their sound are similar to the terms Iíve seen used to describe SET tube amps Ė natural, warm, textured, etc.
Iím wondering if one of these types of DACs would be a good, long-term solution for people who primarily have Redbook CDs and standard res music files, and arenít planning to chase every high res format that comes down the pike.


http://www.borderpatrol.net/DAC.htm

https://www.dagogo.com/audio-note-uk-dac-0-1x-review/


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 03/20/19 at 02:01:04


Tommy, check out this thread. I am the one with the ANK 4.1 LE. Amazing DAC. These are lifetime DACs that get you off the DAC merry-go-round. The owner of the Border Patrol DAC ended up selling his and bought an AN 2.1.

https://hifiwigwam.com/forum/topic/127204-r2r-nos-dac-and-ddc-mini-bakeoff/?page=2&tab=comments#comment-2256038

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 03/20/19 at 02:03:23

Get them to build it for you. Also, phone Brian, he will give you a good price on the 4.1 because they are pushing the 5.1 now. Upgrade the output caps to whatever you want. Don't get the AN caps.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Chester on 03/20/19 at 05:23:47

This may be a premature review since I just received my Border Patrol SE a few days ago and Iím not yet using a Decware amp, but Iím happy to share my thoughts taking those caveats into account.

First, I was really struck by how different the BP sounded compared to the integrated DAC in my Peachtree Decco65. I really like the sound from the Peachtree, but the BP mellowed everything while bringing out more detail. Everything sounded more realistic - the piano sounded like a piano, vocals sounded more lifelike. All of this was from iTunes and Spotify, no hi-Rez stuff. Overall, I would say it was a solid improvement. Granted, Iím still running it through the Peachtree and Iím very excited to see what a Torii Jr. will do to the sound (once that is broken in as well), but Iím really happy with the sound so far.

It seems you have done the hard part in narrowing down the sound and architecture you want from a DAC.  I  know the BP comes with a return policy so that might be a good place to start.  That said, for me, price was the ultimate deciding factor (and diminishing returns for more money).  The more I researched, it occurrred to me that there wasnít a be-all DAC in any price range (under $10,000 anyway) - each had its own strengths and weaknesses and a lot of it subjective. I guess this is a really long way of saying that if you canít audition the equipment (as I couldnít) pick a price point and some reviews you trust and jump in.

FWIW, I listen through Zu Omen speakers with an Undertone sub.

Best of luck!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Ellsworth on 03/21/19 at 02:57:33

I bought a NOS DAC for the first time a few weeks ago.  It is the Holo Audio Kitsune Tuned Spring DAC.  It matches up great with my 25th anniversary zen and a passive preamp.

The sound is quite different from a Sabre DAC and may not be everyoneís cup of tea.  The impressions above from Chester on the sound characteristics are similar to my thoughts.  

One thing I noticed is that it is very sensitive to what you feed it.  I use Audirvana Plus and had to play with some of the settings to dial it in to what I want to hear.  My previous DACs seemed much less sensitive to the Audirvana settings.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by JD on 03/21/19 at 12:16:16

Ellsworth,

I've been tempted to jump into the digital world and your dac, if it is the 3rd edition is one i've been very interested in. Will pointed me in that direction for as a possible option. Let us know your thoughts as you listen.

Thanks

JD

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Ellsworth on 03/23/19 at 14:48:22

I am enjoying the Holo DAC.  I really had to play around with the settings in Audirvana to get the sound I like but it was worth it.   What is different for me compared to my previous Sabre based DACs is the natural tone of instruments and huge soundstage.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Ash on 03/26/19 at 15:47:57

Much prefer NOS DACs: Have had Scott Nixon, Red Wine Audio, Peter Daniels, Mojo Audio. Had a Decware ZDAC-1 of a few years back--but that wasn't a NOS--a DAC that was very full in the midrange. Also have a tried a few raved about non NOS.  NOS always feel easier to listen to, especially for the long haul of more than 15 minutes of listening. A non-NOS, can on the first few minutes of listening sound more detailed & more extended.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/02/19 at 20:01:54

Obviously Ė since I mentioned them as examples above Ė I was most interested in NOS DACs by BP and AN.
However, I currently utilize a Decware ZBIT which means I need a DAC with Balanced connections.
Schiit DACs seem to be popular on this forum Ė and the Gungnir would work with my ZBIT - but theyíre not NOS.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by mperdue63 on 04/02/19 at 22:56:29

I'm using a Metrum Jade, really liking it with the ZMA.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by lobo on 04/03/19 at 02:42:50

I'm awaiting shipment of the BP SE, should be this week.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/03/19 at 17:33:29

Lobo, that's exciting news.
Are you upgrading your existing DAC?

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by lobo on 04/03/19 at 21:18:44

Yes Tommy been using a schitt modi †multibit. After reading about the nos dac's , I just had to try one. A ZRock also looks interesting

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/04/19 at 20:25:26

Lobo, after you receive the BP, would be very interested to get your initial thoughts.
And after a few weeks or months of usage, your impressions of its sound.

Ps. I have a ZRock and it is a game-changer for my listening. Worth every penny.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by lobo on 04/05/19 at 17:33:36

I think I would like either one, ANK and BP seem to be very similar to me.Price and ease of ordering,plus all the positive reviews for BP was my reason to go with it. Like this forum,read about all nice toys and you gotta have it.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by HockessinKid on 04/05/19 at 18:07:46

I listened to the Border Patrol SE USB DAC extensively at two Capital Audio Fests. Both times with a Border Patrol amp & preamp, Volti horn speakers, and Triode Wire Labs cabling.

Consistently one of my top three favorite systems at both shows. The BP DAC sounded exceptionally detailed & resolving, yet very much like spinning vinyl on a high end turntable. Very natural vocals and piano too. †I gave it a lot of consideration when I made my DAC purchase two years ago

HK

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/12/19 at 19:49:50

Hey Chester & Lobo, how are things going with your new BP DACs?

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by lobo on 04/12/19 at 23:21:51

Mine arrived yesterday,it came out of the box singing. Much like my Tori Jr i'm not sending it back.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/13/19 at 17:27:27

Awesome news, Lobo!
I've read that the BP needs about 100 hours of break-in before it will really start to sing.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Chester on 04/16/19 at 05:05:45

Iíve finally gotten some serious listening time with the Border Patrol and my new Torii Jr. and the short answer is Iím really happy with the combination.

The biggest change is that my wife is now listening with me on her own accord. Before, she would just listen to the music as she went around the house. Now, we will often sit together for almost two hours discussing the differences and nuances of the songs.  Last night, for example, we both marveled at how we could hear the vocal differences in John and Paul as they sang together in ĒHey Jude.Ē  Itís always nice to have someone else hear and appreciate the improvements you have in your system - especially someone you love.

As many of you have found, a really good system makes you want to listen to it more and more.  That is certainly the case here.  I will say that I prefer pleasant sound over accurate sound and the BP gives me the idealistic version of the instruments if not necessarily the accurate one.  

Overall, very very happy!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/19/19 at 16:57:02

You know, Steve seems to have a lot of free time on his hands these days.
Instead of modifying other manufacturer DACs - which ultimately cease being produced and are replaced by newer models - I would love to see him buy up a bunch of old chips, and design and build his own NOS DAC.
A DAC for people who arenít interested in chasing newer and newer digital technologies, and endless firmware upgrades, but want something awesome - for the mostly Redbook/Standard Res music in existence - that they can keep for the long haul.
Iíd buy one of those in a heartbeat.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Lon on 04/19/19 at 18:16:09

Steve built a fascinating DAC about a decade back that had a great feature of being able to blend a solid state and a tube output stage for the final analog output. (Or listen to either separately). I don't believe it was NOS but I'm not sure. Anyway he built it and was using it himself--he may still use it for all I know. Somewhere on the forum there's  even a photo of it. I'm sure he'd build you one. . . ;)

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Ash on 04/20/19 at 14:37:28

Years ago, when the ZDAC-1 was out, I remember that there was mention of a battery drivern NOS DAC used at Decware. The Border Patrol, which I've not heard, has tube rectification. Undoubtedly tubes in a power supply affects what's digital. Many have used tubes buffering  the output of DACS. More the merrier.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 04/20/19 at 19:15:05

If you want to get off the DAC merry-go-round and never have to doubt if your missing something, just get ANK 4.1 and call it done. Or the 5.1 if you can swing it.

The BP is a good DAC that will make most music sound good, but it is based on a lesser quality DAC chip and the implementation is average. †Donít get me wrong, it is still really good for the money, but the ANK 4.1 brings so much more to the table and you will get more bang for your buck.

The ANKís are based on one of the best vintage (R-2R) chips ever made. AN and ANK bought the world supply of these chips out many years ago. But it is also the way the chip is implemented. You get the velvet, no digital harshness but with dynamics that will blow you away. †Resolution and transparency is better then high res DACs in that you get the same detail retrieval, but so much more naturally presented.†Itís hard to describe until you hear it. Music becomes alive.

The key is that the DAC chip is hardwired directly to output voltage. This is a patented method that only AN and ANK can use. This is what make the dynamics so good. The digital board has no analog filtering. There is so little between the digital signal and your amp. No conversion or manipulation of the signal in any way.

Triple C-Core Transformers on the output stage, tube rectified and regulated power supply for and tube output with caps of your choice.

This DAC with all its tubes is dead, dead silent. Run it straight into your Decware amp and you will never change your digital side ever again.

Feed it with a simple Allo Digione or Digione Signature. That way you can upgrade the source expensively in the future, but you DAC will become the heart of your system like a good turntable. †

I used to listen to a lot of high res on my other DACs, and I can tell you that I am not missing high res at all with this DAC. The emotional connection to the music is so powerful.

You can purchase the 4.1 or 5.1 built for you. So you donít need to worry about building it. You can see pics of the quality in the wigwam link up above in my first post.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/24/19 at 15:14:35

Lon, thatís interesting - I was not aware of that history.
Obviously I was joking about Steveís free time, but even if he were to agree to undertake such a project - at his current labor rate - I imagine the DAC would probably run $10K!
Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of Steve developing a product he would ultimately put into production.
Strategically however, heís probably focusing on other offerings of greater interest to him.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Lon on 04/24/19 at 17:08:46

I think you're right, a production DAC is not likely to be a priority anytime soon for Steve. The last time he made a production DAC a Chinese company stole his development and circuit design and mass-produced it . . . . He's unlikely to be eager to risk that again.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by HockessinKid on 04/24/19 at 17:24:29

Yes, I'm not sure designing and building a Decware DAC, NOS or not, makes a lot of sense. Seems the industry has taken one of two paths; inexpensive DAC's which companies continually change their models or expensive, high end units that get regular software updates. Not sure either makes sense for Steve's shop.

Either way, Steve has introduced several new products over the last year or so + 25th Anniversary modifications to many of his products. †I think the dude needs some R&R or at least more time to dream up another killer amplifier 😀.

HK

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by lazb on 04/24/19 at 19:26:12

H K, I have to  agree with you on the R&R but, please, my pocket book cannot stand another "new" amp!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by HockessinKid on 04/24/19 at 19:33:43

😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂

HK

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/25/19 at 17:37:01

Orangecrush,
Iíve not heard them but I imagine the Audio Note Kit DACs Ė both the 4.1 and 5.1 Ė are fantastic, end-game components.
But at approximately $3K-$4K for the DAC 4.1 and $6K for the DAC 5.1, theyíre not really fair comparisons to the Border Patrol DAC which can be purchased for as little as $1K.
But for those that can swing the additional cash outlay, I would not doubt the ANK DACs are worth it.

Especially when you consider the factory-built versions. These prices are probably outdated, but Iíve seen prices for the non-kit, factory-built AN 4.1 DACs from $18K-$30K.
And the 5.1 version from $38K-$55K!

Regardless, that ANK 4.1 version you have is very tempting!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 04/25/19 at 19:36:30

According to the website they will build an ANK 4.1 or 5.1 for the month of April for free.

Scroll at the bottom of the products page


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 04/27/19 at 16:15:18

Yeah I bought mine on a similar special like that. True, it is allot more money the basic BP, but if your looking at the top BP, then you really need to think about it.  Or if you factor in how much you lost over years upgrading DACS to newest, latest and greatest. I prefer to think about these as turntables. But them again, I am probably the only one left who is still happy with his Torii MKIII. :)

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Lon on 04/27/19 at 17:48:14

I bet that DAC and the Torii Mk III are a wonderful combination. I can understand being "still happy" with the Torii Mk III--I was happy with mine for a long time!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/27/19 at 20:00:58

Orange, I hear what youíre saying. If someone is prone to dissatisfaction and never-ending upgrading, then stretch the budget and go to the next level. In the long run youíll save time and money.
If you know youíll eventually spend that much anyway, why wait - bite the bullet and get it over with quickly!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Melvin on 04/28/19 at 16:01:38

"Orange, I hear what youíre saying. If someone is prone to dissatisfaction and never-ending upgrading, then stretch the budget and go to the next level. In the long run youíll save time and money."

My issue has always been simple curiosity. Take speakers for example .. monitors, floor-standing, single-driver, 2-way, 3-way, panels, omni's, and, of course, subs. I've tried them all and been happy with each and every choice. Each design had strengths and weaknesses which I could live with. Then curiosity sets in. Same with DAC's .. delta-sigma, R2R multibit, FPGA, and tube-buffered designs. It's lunacy. Fortunately, I'm so happy with my system I have no interest in changing out the core components. AND I have enough gear in storage for 3 complete systems if I get an itch. Again, lunacy. That being said, your advice is spot-on. If only.


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 04/28/19 at 16:40:32

Melvin,

I see in your signature the MHDT Dac.  How would you describe the sound signature compared to other DACs?  I've been looking at the MHDT dacs as a R2R tube buffered option (when finances permit) and then the merry go round options crop up and the ANK gets in the mix for twice to three times the price.

The hassle of dealing with records and turntable is not appealing at all.

How close can I get to analog with the MHDT?



Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Melvin on 04/28/19 at 17:30:16

Dana,

For comparison to the Pagoda I have an upgraded dB Audio Labs Tranquility NOS DAC (TDA1543), Chord Qute EX, and a Schiit Bifrost Multibit, which are all very different designs. I find the Pagoda to be very natural, yet detailed. It's not romantic or tubey in any way. The Qute EX is more forward and aggressive sounding (not good). I do like the Qute EX for the most part and used it for years but it doesn't sound as natural/organic as the Pagoda. The Tranquility, on the other hand, is a bit more recessed in the highs, which isn't surprising really. It has a beautiful midrange and is more similar than different to the Pagoda in this regard. Both are easy to listen to with no digital nastiness. The Bifrost, while quite nice, is just not as refined as the Pagoda. I'm very happy with the Pagoda (if you can't tell). Pairing with the SE84UFO gives me that analog sound I was missing for so very long. Unless I come into a very large pile of cash and overhaul my whole system, my DAC journey is finished. BTW, there's been some very positive online chatter about the MHDT Orchid lately, which uses the TDA1541. Lots of love for those old chips. IMHO the boys at MHDT Lab offer a great product at a great price point. Hope this helps a little. Best of luck going forward.


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 04/28/19 at 21:45:47

Melvin,

Thanks so much for taking the time.  I'm part of the Seattle Audio club and one of the guys built an R2R dac from scratch and showed it at one of the meetings.  I'm hooked on that lack of digital sound but don't have the chops like he does to actually build one.

I haven't heard the Soekris yet and there are some people adding a tube buffer to the DIY board but again it's kind of over my head.  I didn't really want to spend $1200 for a DAC but I also want to listen and not fret over what I'm missing or spend $800 bucks an bunch of parts that I can't make work.




Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 04/29/19 at 16:33:47

For lower priced NOS DACs, check out Abbas Audio. https://www.ebay.com/itm/DAC2-1abbasaudio-solid-state-SE-stage-3v-RMS-TDA1541A-CS8414-NOS-klangfilm-parts/362609221256?hash=item546d319e88:g:wDQAAOSwW3dbZ4tv


He is a genius from the Ukraine. Professional musician and he uses all vintage wire and parts.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 04/29/19 at 23:37:26

Dana, Iíve also seen high praise for R-2R DACs from Metrum and Denafrips.
They offer some lower-priced options:
The Metrum Flint is $430.
The Metrum Amethyst is $950.

https://www.zmfheadphones.com/ampsanddacs/

And, IIRC, the Denafrips Ares is around $750 US.

However, once the DAC budget closes in on the $2K mark Ė Iím in agreement with orangecrush Ė the Audio Note Kit DACs go to the top of my list.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 05/11/19 at 00:19:21

Ok, so the Border Patrol DAC arrived. Iíve got HappyGirl behind the rack on her hands and knees with a flashlight getting it connected into my system.
After sheís done with that sheíll mix us up a batch of margaritas, and weíll let the BP start cooking so as to get the break-in process started and behind us as soon as possible.
More to followÖ

Ps. Orangecrush, I must admit I came this close to pulling the trigger on an Audio Note Kit DAC - most likely the 2.1. But there was no way for me to experience it first in person. Also, my system is probably not as resolving as yours. And at $995 for the BP, I have less risk. Regardless, the ANK could easily be a future purchase.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 05/11/19 at 01:51:44

Awesome, thatís a great DAC. Canít wait to hear your impressions.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 05/11/19 at 02:01:16

BTW, I replaced my ZU Missions with Duelund 12GA Twisted Pair Speaker Cables from https://www.aurealisaudio.com.au/duelund-speaker-cables/

Really goes well with the NOS DAC sound sig. Incredible synergy and value. †Their prices are AUD which are very favourable. Cheaper then making them yourself and they use a cotton outer sheath. I custom ordered the pure copper spades on the speaker end to match my ZU speaker connectors. †Sounds just as good as the Triode Wire Labs Speaker cables which use the vintage WE tin plated wire. But way less expensive. I might even prefer it as I think the Duelund is better then the WE. But, I don't have access to the TWL speaker cables anymore.



Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 05/16/19 at 00:35:41

Orange, thanks for the tip.
I like the Decware cables, and Chris Sommovigoís Black Cat Cable is highly praised, but that Aurealis Audio stuff looks nice!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Rivieraranch on 05/16/19 at 01:20:52

The title of this thread deceived me. I thought that NOS meant "New Old Stock." Silly me. They are still making DACS and nobody lusts after the older version. No Over Sampling.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 05/16/19 at 13:51:54

Riviera, welcome to the party! Glad you could finally join us!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Rivieraranch on 05/17/19 at 12:25:44

I just received my Schiit Modi Multibit and am very happy with it.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Lon on 05/17/19 at 12:34:21


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by anzaanimal on 05/23/19 at 00:30:26

How does NOS improve the digital experience?  How is it different from R2R ladder effect?
Steve

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 05/26/19 at 16:10:17

There are two Border Patrol SE DACS for sale here:

https://www.canuckaudiomart.com/details/649526560-borderpatrol-dac-se-special-edition-usb-version/

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 06/10/19 at 04:01:40

BP arrived and installed!

ps. Orange, I left room in the rack for an Audio Note DAC...

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 06/11/19 at 21:34:54

Nice!!! Looking forward to your impressions.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 06/13/19 at 16:20:48

Based on the information derived from this thread (and others) my MHDT Orchid DAC is supposed to arrive on Monday. †I especially want to reach out and thank Melvin for providing some insight on what to expect sound wise and took his recommendation regarding the Orchid DAC. †Orange also helped me decide. †I didnít want to spend $1100 on a DAC but his point about the losses over time and trying to cheap out really hit home.
With all your help I based my decision on a couple of factors. †One of the most telling to me was a quote on the Audio Note UK DAC 0.1x review.
ē      ďThe Audio Note UK DAC 0.1x uses the classic Philips TDA 1543 chip, which Peter Qvortrup likes very much, although he noted to me that he would have preferred to use the TDA 1541. †ď
ē      Another deciding factor was the 6Moons review. †The reviewer replaced his TDA 1543 based DAC with the much less expensive MHDT Orchid 1541A based DAC. †https://6moons.com/audioreview_articles/mhdtlab/
ē      Thirdly but less important is I still get to tweak with stuff. †Not only is there tube rolling but also chip rolling. †According to the internet (so it must be true) there are multiple versions of the TDA 1541A chip with different sound signatures to play with.

Everything is a compromise so what am I loosing? †Most important †is the 24-32 bit playback at higher frequencies. †The MHDT will allow 196/24 input but only outputs at 44.1/16 (undersampling???). †With all the HQ streaming services is this an issue? †I donít know yet. †
So thanks everyone for your comments they really helped. †I also have someone to blame if this all goes pear shaped and I purchased and audio product without hearing it first! † ;)

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Melvin on 06/14/19 at 02:45:12

Dana, congrats on your decision and purchase. As to the down-sampling of higher resolution files, I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's been well-reported just how well the Orchid handles handles everything thrown at it. The NOS DAC sound, when done well, is intoxicating and it seems you've chosen just the right DAC for your taste. Please let us know what you think of the Orchid after some time with it. Best.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 06/19/19 at 19:56:37

My first impressions of the MHDT Orchid NOS tube DAC:
After an arduous wait (the UPS guy didnít arrive until 9:45 PM Monday night).  Iíve set up the MHDT Orchid and am letting it burn in.
 
Iím using a Raspberry PI and Allo DigiOne as my transport using the S/PIDF Coax connector. https://www.allo.com/sparky/digione.html. The Raspberry Pi is supposed to have a noisy USB output but the DigiOne uses the I2S connection, has a galvanic isolator to lower background noise and the  DigiOne  uses double reclocking of the S/PDIF stream to reduce jitter (one of them taking care of metastability (whatever that is?) and the second one taking care of realigning the data). Iím using Volumio software which includes the DigiOne driver so during the setup wizard, I chose the DigeOne as the I2s DAC/Transport had it working right out of the box.

My previous DAC was the Allo Piano 2.1 with the KALI reclocker board. https://www.allo.com/sparky/bundle-kali-piano-2-1.html The Piano 2.1 uses 2 PCM5142 DAC chips which allowed me to run each channel on separate chips, dual mono. I thought it sounded comparable to the other Over Sampling DACs Iíve heard.

I mainly listen to female vocals, duets and vocal harmonies usually with an acoustic background and am sensitive to what I call glare.  On many of the DACs Iíve heard when a singer increases her volume on a note it takes on an almost ďautotuneĒ characteristic on the leading edge of note that is very unnatural.  The Allo Piano 2.1 was OK most of the time but I didnít notice it at all on my brief listen to the MHDT Orchid.  Vocals were very realistic and pleasant.  The violins (/ fiddles) had that woody sound to them that was absent on the Piano DAC and they werenít screechy at all.  (Big Improvement) The background vocals were much more prevalent and easier to understand and to me even the trumpet sounded more like a trumpet, like it was coming from a brass horn instead of just a trumpet sounding device. (Not to this extreme but it was more like a real instrument instead of one from a synthesizer.)  The MHDT Orchid has a similar type of presentation that Melvin described of the Pagoda as not as forward as the Piano 2.1 with a very different presentation, like I was listening to it in a very dead sounding room. (Iím wondering if this is the NOS sound people refer to?)

My wife keeps asking ďAre you happy?Ē and you knowÖ. I think I am.  Iíll know more after a month or two when the tube is supposed to have burned in and Iíve spent some quality time with the artists I need to listen to.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 06/20/19 at 01:22:02

Sorry if this comes across too opinionated, itís just my personal experience. NOS doesnít really mean much. There are many other factors that bring the out the best of the DAC chip.

I had a MHDT Havana with the best tubes (Bendix Red Bank and WE) but I did not like it all all. It was actually harsh on the treble side and the bass was lacking. Mid range was lifeless. Turns out the tube was just a gimmick, it was just a tube buffer, the output was still through a cheap opamp. They really tried to hide that fact. That really put me off MHDT. I really hope their new offerings have changed. But know what you are buying.... After that I went with the best high resolution DAC I could afford at the time which was much better, but I still felt "digital" was lacking.

Then I read allot and realized that DSP of any kind is what I didn't like in most modern DACs.

However many NOS DACS are described at softer, or noted as having rolled off highs or soft bass. That is not what I wanted. I wanted the emotional connection that new DACs have lost but I did not want to sacrifice the resolution, speed and transparency. My research led to a few things I knew I wanted in my next DAC that would be my life time DAC.

1. No digital filter or DSP processing of any kind.
2. Real tube output stage with very linear tubes.
3. Tube rectified power supply and tube regulation.
4. Choice of output caps. I really wanted V-CAPs Cufts.
5. Transformer coupled output with low impedence so I could drive my Torri Mk3 direct or with with a passive pre.

This led me to the Audio Note philosophy and the ANK 4.1. It met all of the above criteria and added more and perhaps the most important feature that is unique (patented worldwide):

6. I/V Transformers are used to maximize the energy transfer during the Current-to-Voltage phase of the conversion resulting in increased dynamics.

The result is unbelievably good. Dynamics are like you have never heard (especially with the Brimer 5842 rectifier), resolution and transparency that rivals the best implemented ESS SABRE32 without sucking the life and emotion out of the music. Bass that is deep and tight and glorious highs.

There are a few other highly technical things the AudioNote circuit does which I confess I don't fully understand. But basically they bypass the SPDIF receiver chip PLL function. This means if you feed your DAC with a low jitter source like the Allo Digione, the SPDIF chip is not adding it's own jitter which makes its way to the DAC chip.

My experience is limited with other NOS DACS, but I spent allot of time with some very nice and expensive high resolution DACs and the ANK 4.1 will be my end game DAC. The AD1865 chips and other vintage chips are going to be gone once day, so even though it was allot of money for me, I feel it was really worth it. I have zero interest in the DAC merry-go-round.

New R2-R designs are still missing the magic of these vintage chips.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Melvin on 06/20/19 at 13:29:08

@orangecrush .. "NOS doesnít really mean much". While I think I understand what you're getting at (i.e., many other factors) a non-oversampling DAC is diametrically opposed to the vast majority of DACs sold today. Like you've found with your ANK DAC, many of us prefer the non-oversampled and filterless approach to the often 8x oversampled and filtered-to-death approach, which seems to literally suck the life out of digital. That's not to say all NOS DACs are engineered well or indeed better than all OS DACs; quite the contrary.

Seems to me advancements in digital proved the theory correct and, as with everything else in audio, implementation is key. It's to our good fortune some fine "old-school" type DACs are being manufactured today at every price point and not just for the well-heeled. However, as you mention, those vintage chips will be gone one day. Hopefully by then digital will have advanced to a point where all DACs sound real.


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 06/20/19 at 14:40:00

I agree 100%. Nicely said!

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 06/20/19 at 16:42:28

Hey Orange
If you have any of those old MHDT tubes cluttering up listening area let me know.  I'd be glad to help you clear some space.
Dana

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 06/20/19 at 21:50:23

MHDT Tube alert on Ebay.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/283522801655?ul_noapp=true

Western Electric 396A(2C51)Tube*Black Plate*D-Getter for $19.99 plus tax and shipping.

According to the MHDT website this is a top tier tube for the MHDT DAC

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 06/21/19 at 02:38:17

Unfortunately not, that was over ten years ago I had the Havana.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 06/24/19 at 14:38:58

AHHHHHH!!!What a wonderful world we live it... I hate it. Just announced the Raspberry PI 4 was  released today.  It now has USB 3.0, true Gigabit Ethernet and has separated the USB bus from the network bus so it's a lot cleaner signal and can now run a real 64 bit OS.  A quality fanless music / streaming server for $50.  One week after I purchased a new PI 3...  
Sigh

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Melvin on 06/24/19 at 19:50:30

That's too bad Dana. $50 ain't bad so perhaps you can find another use for that Pi 3 after you score a Pi 4, assuming you will ;).

I had similar experience with my Qute HD DAC when I had it upgraded to the EX. Not a month later Chord released their latest-greatest iteration of the Qute with a completely re-engineered USB input which no longer needed a Mac driver. Subsequently, they stopped developing the old driver(s), leaving many of us sh*t out of luck. IIRC the USB input stopped working with Yosemite. Such is the way of technology but it left a bad $500 taste in my mouth. Yes, a $500 "upgrade" which I assumed would somewhat future-proof the usefulness of the DAC. Lesson learned. The DAC still works via Toslink and BNC thankfully. I'm no longer a Chord customer.

Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Dana on 06/27/19 at 18:12:28

I want to give a Shout Out! to Linear Tube Audio who I purchased the orchid DAC from. †The MHDT Orchid 6Moons review stated that there would be spare tube when purchased from LTA. †There wasn't an extra tube on its arrival so I contacted them about it. †

LTA response:
Hello. This was a limited time arrangement based on tube availability. Unfortunately, we have run out of the tubes we were offering for free due to the popularity of this amp.
That said, we want you to be happy, so we can send you a second tube.

I find that admirable and will recommend them to anyone who asks.

On the other note I purchased one of the "WE out of balance D getter tubes" †and WOW! †It changed the whole sound signature. †MHDT says the original tube takes up to 30 days to season but I may never know as I'm not sure I can go back.


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Melvin on 07/09/19 at 14:41:04


Quote:
I had similar experience with my Qute HD DAC when I had it upgraded to the EX. Not a month later Chord released their latest-greatest iteration of the Qute with a completely re-engineered USB input which no longer needed a Mac driver. Subsequently, they stopped developing the old driver(s), leaving many of us sh*t out of luck. IIRC the USB input stopped working with Yosemite. Such is the way of technology but it left a bad $500 taste in my mouth. Yes, a $500 "upgrade" which I assumed would somewhat future-proof the usefulness of the DAC. Lesson learned. The DAC still works via Toslink and BNC thankfully. I'm no longer a Chord customer.


Sorry for being off-topic but I would like to add some info I just recently discovered. With summer here I decided to change out some gear, including the Pagoda. I was curious about using the microRendu with my Qute EX and searched around a bit, hoping but not expecting. Well, as it turns out, Sonore addressed the USB issue for many older Chord DAC's with their Sonicorbiter 2.7 update. Sonicorbiter is based on Fedora Linux and USB support (all bit/sample-rates) for the Qute EX is among those listed. It works great! Apparently Jesus (Sonore) worked with Roon, Signalyst, and Chord to make this happen. Kudos to all, especially to Jesus.


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by Tommy Freefall on 08/04/19 at 03:58:38

Orange, youíve probably already seen this, but for those who havenít, this is a brief but interesting interview with Peter Qvortup of Audio Note UK, where he chats about DACs, Amps, Measurements vs Listening, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEUW3Y7IZRA


Title: Re: NOS DACs
Post by orangecrush on 08/05/19 at 05:38:07

Thanks Tommy, I havenít seen that one.

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