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DAC's without/without XLR (Read 4997 times)
Dom
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DAC's without/without XLR
04/24/13 at 23:00:25
 
Hey guys....I need some advice,

In searching for a new DAC, I have narrowed my selection down to the following 4 DAC's...

PS audio NuWave DAC
Schitt's GUNGNIR and BIFROST DAC
W4S DAC1

All but the Bifrost employ XLR outputs.  My question is how many members here utilize the XLR outputs in their setup, and more importantly...how much of a an audible difference do you notice by using them over an unbalanced setup??  

Since all of the Decware gear does not employ XLR inputs, I am wondering if its worth the cost of  the extra feature.  

Honestly I am leaning more towards the NuWave and the Gungnir.  From what I have read online, they are a very close match by comparison.

If anyone personally owns and/or has listened to any of the aforementioned DAC's, your input would be greatly appreciated.  Keep in mind I am currently using the Peachtree Audio DAC-IT with my IMac, so whichever one I go with will probably sound a lot better  by comparison.

Dominick





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SteveC
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #1 - 04/24/13 at 23:16:58
 
I have a Bifrost for my desk.  I've read that the Gungnir is a significant upgrade (even compared using only RCA).  I'm waiting for their 3rd Statement dac.

I've never owned any xlr based stuff, so I don't really know.  I've read about it and understand how xlr's noise cancelling abilities are very useful when you're running long lines around stages at concerts.  But, for short distances in a home audio rack...I don't think it really matters.  

And, falling back on my "Just trust Steve" philosophy on amps, tubes, speakers, etc (cuz he put more time into this stuff than I want to spend money experimenting on)..  if there was a clear superiority in home audio application of various connectors, I'd bet he would have chosen to put them into his amps.   Everything else is top notch.

$.02
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« Last Edit: 04/24/13 at 23:18:23 by SteveC »  
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Donnie
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #2 - 04/24/13 at 23:39:03
 
I have the W4S DAC1. It has XLR outputs on the back, I don't use them.
I've been pondering the whole DAC upgrade thing lately and came to the conclusion that whatever is sitting on my desk is the best sounding unit in my house. As long as it isn't being A/B tested against anything else, it is perfect. Buy what you want, don't look back and enjoy life.
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Dom
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Still like that old
time Rock and Roll!!

Posts: 95
Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #3 - 04/24/13 at 23:48:40
 
Thanks or your input Steve.  I agree with you....if Mr. D thought that the XLR connection would be worth the addition, then they would have already been added to the Decware lineup.  Glad you like the Bifrost...gives me a reference point  in making my decision.  

The only time I have used XLR connections, was when I played out as a guitarist for an New Years Eve party.  They do work great, but we are talking Pro Audio, not home use.  

Schitt's upcoming statement DAC is out of my price range for now.  I am also gonna be buying Decware's ZBOX to round out my music.

Thanks again


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beowulf
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #4 - 04/24/13 at 23:54:30
 
Quote:
SteveC,
And, falling back on my "Just trust Steve" philosophy on amps, tubes, speakers, etc (cuz he put more time into this stuff than I want to spend money experimenting on)..  if there was a clear superiority in home audio application of various connectors, I'd bet he would have chosen to put them into his amps.


I agree, and I also recall Steve D. mentioning somewhere else in the forums that he did not include them in his designs as he thought there was no advantage to justify the added expense.

So, since the current line-up of Decware amps don't include them - you won't need a DAC that has them ... unless you plan on using balanced connectors with some different preamp/amp (or some other re-routing method in mind).

I believe that Schitt's Gungnir is the best bang for the buck in their line-up do to it's reclocking system (Adapticlock), and it's also hardware-summed back to single-ended at the SE outputs, so it retains many of the benefits of balanced operation.

Also a lot of guys use PS Audio's PWD and rave about it so I would think the NuWave would be a pretty safe bet as well.
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« Last Edit: 04/25/13 at 00:00:05 by beowulf »  
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AiDee
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #5 - 04/25/13 at 04:55:15
 
I agree xlr is not a decision point. Otoh, you can certainly do better than bifrost - great VFM but doesn't match the resolution and transparency of Steve's amps. After doing detailed comparison with a Meier Stagedac and Eastern Electric Minimax DAC mostly using the Meier Concerto (SS) amp, I found bifrost stood up well. Repeating some of these tests later with the Taboo though, I was surprised to find lack of separation and muddied harmonics with e.g. dense classical piano.

Haven't heard Gungnir but there is indeed good consensus it's a distinct improvement on bifrost and very good VFM too, even at its higher price point. Go visit changstar.com and find your way to purrin's spreadsheet-based review of gungnir and several other dacs for some interesting and astute impressions.
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AiDee
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #6 - 04/25/13 at 05:06:10
 
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Fireblade
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #7 - 04/25/13 at 06:25:13
 
IMHO, Resonessence Labs' Concero is the best bang for the bug and better sounding than many more expensive DACs out there. Just check out (Google) the various reviews. It is supposed to improve upon both the Schiit DACs discussed and then some.

Both USB (2.0) and Digital Coaxial inputs. No balanced outputs. Three different filters. Up to 192K sampling capability. If you choose sound over other things, and don't want to spend a fortune, this is the DAC to have.

The Concero is one of the two DACs in my upgrade plan, along with John Kenny's 'Ciunas' (a terrific DAC also, improving over the excellent JKDAC32, but with only USB as input).

Just my $0.02.

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« Last Edit: 04/25/13 at 06:33:48 by Fireblade »  

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beowulf
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #8 - 04/25/13 at 06:27:05
 
Quote:
AiDee,
In fact here is the review link I mention above:https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/lv?key=0Ao9CyUbvb2nFdHZ4RlZaQ2JwX1JsZG
9vQlAt...


Thanks for posting that, interesting stuff and nice to see that the Schitt Gungnir (being the underdog in that review) held its own and came in 2nd to DACs that cost almost 2-3x more.

I was also surprised to see that the Mytek Stereo 192-DSD DAC did so poorly in that round-up, I thought this might be one of the better ones on the market and considering some of it's technical advances such as DSD playback, etc.  Maybe they really did have a defective one.
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AiDee
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #9 - 04/25/13 at 09:00:19
 
Great suggestions of Fireblade's. Haven't heard either, but have recently been reading a lot about them. The JK stuff has particularly clever design and a strong following.

There's a fair bit of talk on head-fi about both, without the usual hype too. Project86 is a terrific dac reviewer and rates the Concero. So does Nick Dangerous - a csp2+ owner.

Grunter72 in the Lynx Hilo thread commented very favorably about the JKDAC32 in the last few days - and he's heard some expensive gear.

Re changstar, take good note of purrin's comment that dacs are very personal, and those are just his (and anaxilus' and LFF's opinions).

In my view, the market's getting a bit flooded with good quality dacs ATM. All good, except it makes it harder to see the (reasonably priced) ones that truly stand out for their SQ.
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Dom
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Still like that old
time Rock and Roll!!

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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #10 - 04/25/13 at 15:09:32
 
AiDee......that is by far the best piece of info I have seen regarding the Gungnir.  I can't believe how detailed it was by comparison to other DAC's.  

Fireblade...I will check out the other DAC's you mentioned....thanks for your input.  Definitely worth the consideration.  

Like Donnie said.....buy what you like and don't look back....just enjoy!!  

Dom
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beowulf
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #11 - 04/25/13 at 23:17:17
 
Quote:
Dom,
AiDee......that is by far the best piece of info I have seen regarding the Gungnir.  I can't believe how detailed it was by comparison to other DAC's.  

Fireblade...I will check out the other DAC's you mentioned....thanks for your input.  Definitely worth the consideration.


Interesting how subjective DACs are.  From the comparison on ChangStar, the Gungnir is heads above the Resonessence Invicta and besting it in many catagories, yet Fireblade mentions that he read reviews where the Resonessence Concerno seems to best the Schiit offerings.

I would think that the Invicta being $4K (and the most expensive of the bunch) would have stomped all over the others (or at least from a price performance perspective gave a good lead over them) but it didn't, and because it didn't that would lead me to logically believe that the Concerno would be even less a performer as their most expensive Invicta.  But clearly they preferred the much less expensive Gungnir on most occassions, so how could the Concerno (being less expensive than the top of the line DAC) best the Gungnir who bested the Invicta?

Things that make you go Hmmm Huh Grin

Anybody else agree with me that DACs, along with Power Conditioning and Cabling (Power/Speaker/Interconnect) have to be the most subjective components in the Audio Chain?  That's why there seems to be a lot of snake oil out there (especially in the Conditioning/Cabling area).

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AiDee
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #12 - 04/26/13 at 01:44:14
 
As I noted above, purrin claims 'DACs are very personal'. I guess that means "subjective". And he applies the maxim to all to his findings in that chart.

Of course this includes Invicta, where interestingly his conclusions diametrically oppose project86's. (Btw, PWDII lists at $4000 as well, although purrin et al. consider $2500 more realistic).

I'm a researcher and statistician, and with DACs I think the term "hard to measure" might be more accurate than "subjective". Yet, I agree, the former invites the latter.

In all this the only thing I am sure about is that DACs do sound different. After some degree of brain-washing by Head-fi 'objectivists' that 'all DACs sound the same, if competently executed', I was shocked at how readily reliable and repeatable differences between DACs could be heard with some material.

But this "some" material comprised - in my own comparisons - perhaps 3% of tracks and then only fragments of them.

Is this small difference important? Until you notice it, absolutely not!

Worth worrying about? Emphatically not!

As to price difference per se, given the same engineering approach and topology, costlier = better (in general).

The rub comes when the engineering approach is a different one. Different cost/payoff equations apply, sometimes very different.

For example there's a DAC I bought a few months ago - the Beresford Bushmaster - which is cheaper than Bifrost yet sounds shockingly good (to me, so far). Snakeoil, I guess!
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Donnie
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #13 - 04/26/13 at 02:03:42
 
AiDee.
That is what I am trying to get at. In your system, right now, nothing sounds better. If we can all get off of the "next one will be better" merry go round, we will all be happy. I fell into this trap with motorcycles. Next year was always a bit better, making this years model somehow a bit lacking. All I am saying is be happy with what you have. I bet it is pretty darn good.
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beowulf
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Re: DAC's without/without XLR
Reply #14 - 04/26/13 at 02:10:50
 
Quote:
Donnie,
I fell into this trap with motorcycles. Next year was always a bit better, making this years model somehow a bit lacking.


I must have subconciously went backwards with that one (I have a 66' Triumph Bonnie) Cheesy
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