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Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac (Read 4247 times)
beowulf
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #15 - 02/16/14 at 00:20:20
 
Thanks FB, I'll be on the lookout for that one.
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Digger
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #16 - 02/16/14 at 03:52:46
 
  FireBlade,

       You have my attention with the Grant Fidelity Tube DAC-11. There are some things I like about it one is it uses the 6n11 vacuum tube and are interchangeable with the 6922,6dj8 and 6h23n tubes. It also has a volume control that will control the voltage output on the tube out allowing me to keep the CSP3 in its sweet spot. The Schiit BiFrost didn't have this option and caused me to run my CSP3 at about 3 on the inputs to be able to control the harshness that was present at higher settings. Certainly seems like a more tweakable unit. The CSP3 also uses all of these tubes and I like the sound of them all pretty much since rolling them through the preamp. Nice tonal changes depending on the music and mood. The price is definitely low which will also allow for an upgraded power cord just hope the less resolving part isn't as noticeable as much as the warmth of the presentation. This may just cure my Sony transport problem it is very detailed but lacks the warmth. If this set up can maintain most of the detail along with adding warmth with this DAC I'd be very happy.         Smiley



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« Last Edit: 02/16/14 at 15:42:33 by Digger »  
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Fireblade
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #17 - 02/16/14 at 04:13:55
 
In fact, there's a group of fans that swear by it and they do not find it unresolving at all. It's just that it is less resolving than the D18 given the nature of the Sabre chip in the latter.

The Sabre 32-9018 is the most expensive and resolving DAC around. There are other fine DAC chips too, like the older 1784, but of course, this is just one piece of the puzzle, as the analog stage in both DACs is pretty good too.

In the case of the Tube Dac, those tubes bring about the sound warmth they are well known for. The D18 achieves this warmth by controlling and modifying the Sabre chip's variable built-in parameters with finesse, using a purely SS output stage.

I think you'll like the Tube Dac, is affordable and sounds very good too. But, I do not have a personal experience with either, I just trust the statistics and consistency behind the published impartial evidence.

Either of these two would do the job, you should choose based on features wanted and budget.
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« Last Edit: 02/16/14 at 04:18:31 by Fireblade »  

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Digger
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #18 - 02/20/14 at 01:40:38
 
   FireBlade,
         I went ahead and ordered the Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11 as you mentioned as a choice. It sure has some flexibility designed into it. I guess I'll see how it performs and let you know my impressions of it. I'm hoping the 6n1 tube up front will do the job. May need to swap out the Chinese tube will have to see. At least I have other 6n1 tubes laying around to swap.

Thanks for the info!


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Fireblade
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #19 - 02/20/14 at 18:59:21
 
Sure thing. Congrats!

I thing GF abides by the 30-day return policy so if you don't like it you can still return it.

I'm surprised to see how many people are doing DAC comparisons these days and the conclusion trend seems to be, with few exceptions, these DACs more or less sound about the same.

I guess one has to have a really good system/room to tell them apart (plus a good set of ears).

I'm considering the Emotiva Pro Stealth DC-1 these days. It has a preamp with analog volume control and according to the reviews the sound is on par with the most popular ones out there, including the Schiit Gungnir.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your new DAC.
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« Last Edit: 02/20/14 at 19:00:23 by Fireblade »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #20 - 02/20/14 at 21:17:07
 
No DSD on the Emotiva, but at least it has the Asynchronous USB input.

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Fireblade
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #21 - 02/20/14 at 22:49:17
 
Not interested. PCM up to 192 is all I need.
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Digger
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #22 - 02/21/14 at 00:32:52
 
FireBlade,

I do believe they have a 30 day return policy. I am looking forward to seeing if what I have read about them is true for me. There's always trade offs in equipment as Lon mentioned earlier in this thread. This should round out my system for this year just need to keep accumulating more music for a while. Its a lot more fun when you have something you look forward to hearing it on for sure. I have a store near me that is called the exchange and they sell a lot of used CD's for a $1.00 I've picked up 50 or so over the past couple of months. Its a hit or miss but it keeps me coming back to look for the new trade ins. Many of them have been in like new condition. They do also sell new and newer CD's so if there is something I'm looking for they most of the time have it. There also getting a decent sized vinyl section started its funny seeing the albums back after all of the years you didn't see them much.

I'll keep you posted on what I think of it!

Cheers!



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Fireblade
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #23 - 02/21/14 at 01:08:40
 
I'm sure the D/A conversion job will be good enough, since what you are trying to do is compensate for some of the analytical excesses in your CDP, which probably stem from a weak analog output stage.

The question is, will this external DAC make the sound warm enough for your taste. That is something only you can determine, but I believe you are headed in the right direction.

Good luck.
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Digger
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #24 - 02/21/14 at 02:16:28
 
Thanks!       Smiley




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Digger
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #25 - 02/28/14 at 01:06:55
 
FireBlade,
        The Grant Fidelity Dac 11 arrived yesterday! So far only about 4 hours listening into it. I must say out of the box it has been very musical. I haven't experienced anything that it has added to the sound that I would call a negative. This is a good start. I'm surprised by the overall flexibility this thing has you can tweak your sound until your heart is content. The annoying high frequency ear fatigue that I experienced with the Schiit BiFrost is non existent in this unit if anything it is a bit warm on the tube out. The problems I was having with my hot tweeters I am able to control through the volume in the Dac I am able to add or subtract the amount of brightness I have by adjusting the output of the DAC really like this flexibility of the unit. I do like it straight through the DAC no tube output involved very clean and has a dead silent back ground. I replaced the Chinese tube that came in it with one of my stock 6n1p tubes that came stock with my Decware CSP3 this tube is warm and smooth. The Chinese tube may have been a little brighter sounding and also seemed to have a bit more gain. I put the 6922 JAN NOS tube in my input of the CSP3 to tighten up and brighten the sound from the 6n1p tube really tightened the bass up nicely. I'm running 6nip-ev super cryo tubes in the output on the CSP3 sounding good so far. Not noticing any difference in imagining or sound stage so that is a good thing liked it before and still like. I'll follow up with a better evaluation for the sound once it burns in some.



Cheers!                         Smiley



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« Last Edit: 02/28/14 at 01:25:23 by Digger »  
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Fireblade
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #26 - 02/28/14 at 12:15:33
 
I'm really happy for you, Digger.  You still need to give it more burn in time, though. It is bound to get much better, as this unit is supposed to require a somewhat long burn-in process before sounding its best.

I would then try the tube output stage again, as this buffer may impart further sweetness without loosing any of the DAC chip-derived detail retrieving once it is settled in.

Keep us posted and happy listening.



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Digger
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #27 - 03/01/14 at 00:03:46
 
FireBlade,

     Thanks, so far so good. I will say this thing is smooth. Its been years since listening to vinyl but I'm picturing it to sound similar to what I'm hearing on my CD's through this DAC. It seems to be very mellow and laid back so far. The nice thing is the analog volume control and being able to push it or settle it down for some CD's. it seems a little flatter in its presentation than with out it. I'm listening to the tube out as I'm typing. Crank the volume a bit and it brings the highs more forward lower it and it seems it brings the midrange more forward than adjust CSP3 to volume desired sweet! Detail wise hard to say I usually notice more detail in the brighter sound. Smooth and pleasant is what it sounds to me. Once this thing settles down I may roll a 6922 into the DAC and see what it does for it. Sure is nice already having the tubes on hand to roll through this unit.


                              Smiley





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« Last Edit: 03/01/14 at 00:09:49 by Digger »  
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Digger
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #28 - 03/02/14 at 14:23:46
 
FireBlade,

    I found a review that pretty much mirrors my thoughts on this DAC. Since he was able to put his thoughts in such a good and to the point review much better than I could of I decided to post it for others consideration. I have no knowledge of the other DAC he mentions but as far as his description of the Grant Fidelity DAC I have to say I pretty much agree 100% with his explanation of it. It certainly will not keep up with higher end DAC's but it is very musical and flexible in my system. I have yet rolled the 6922 through it. Enjoy his review it is pretty much spot on. I did upgrade to the Grant Fidelity power cord 1.5 meter that is offered with it for $100 with hospital grade cord ends.

NOTE: I realize I am posting this in a head-fi forum, though I am providing very limited information about the headphone output in the following review of the Tube DAC-11.  From the little listening I was able to do on headphones (decidedly budget Sennheiser HD203s at that), the sound characteristics I heard through loudspeakers was of a similar nature.

I have been using the Grant Fidelity Tube DAC-11 for about 4 weeks now, think I have a reasonable “first impression”, and wanted to share my enthusiasm for a very high value piece of audio gear.  The Tube DAC-11 currently checks in at $350 and I feel you certainly get tremendous value with this DAC.  The marketplace is not short of DACs in this price range but there is a fair share of very mediocre gear out there and a limited handful of ones that punch above their weight class, so to speak.  The Tube DAC-11 comfortably fits in the latter category, at least to my ears.

From the standpoint of comparison, a number of reasonably decent DACs do inhabit this price range but considering the nearly “do-all” capacity of the DAC-11, it definitely represents great value.  A very welcome feature is the tube output stage which allows plenty of “tube rolling” options to change the sound signature.  The included Chinese-sourced 6N11 is fairly good.

It would not be all that useful to repeat the detailed features and technical overview available on Grant Fidelity’s website, so I will just provide the link for those interested in that information:  http://shop.grantfidelity.com/Grant-Fidelity-TubeDAC-11-D-A-Converter.html.

I think most people choosing to read this review are more interested in my opinion of the sound from this DAC, not a rehash of technical details and the like.  It bears some notice that this is simply my opinion, one from a decidedly “amateur” audiophile, so take that for what it’s worth.  (As an amateur reviewer, please have some tolerance for lack of information or incorrect information, however unintentional.)  In short, I find the DAC-11 quite revelatory, not only in its ability to convey a very detailed, clean and crisp sound, but also revelatory in its ability to provide such a high sense of value.  I keep returning to this mantra because it is so surprising to me when I consider the level of performance relative to the quite affordable price.

The DAC-11 is a NOS design and will simply play whatever sample rate it is fed through its many inputs.   USB is capable of 24/96, while the optical and coaxial digital inputs support 24/192.  There are also 2 analog inputs which is great for convenience if other gear is to be hooked up and played through the passive on board pre-amp, or headphone stage.  Grant Fidelity themselves strongly recommend a power cord upgrade and while my upgraded cord was not super high end, it did seem to offer some improvements from the stock cord using some quick A-B tests.  I might try something better in the future.

Most of my listening was through the tube output.   I have not had the chance to try any other tubes other than the included 6N11, though I have an EH 6922 and a Philips JAN 6922 awaiting trial.  I did some limited headphone trials (good enough for me, but I did not do extensive listening so should refrain from any critical comments) but most of my listening was through loudspeakers driven by a power amp, using the DAC-11 as a preamp.  For the record, the gear: a Burson PP160 and Mission 752…perchance a slightly curious combination, but it is what I have on hand.  I used a Sony BDP350 for Redbook CD playback via coaxial cable, an iPod touch docked to a Pure i-20 via optical and coax, and a PC music server through USB as source equipment (Yulong ASIO USB driver).

The most salient aspect of the sound quality via either transistor or tube outputs is the remarkable detail retrieval, with a caveat as described below.  Of course, the ancillary gear will have some influence on this, but if you have reasonably resolving gear, the DAC-11 will shine.  The DAC-11 does especially well with recordings of jazz ensembles, small chamber classical music, acoustic pop/rock and individual singers and instruments.  I did find some limitations with larger orchestral recordings and to some extent multi layered pop/rock recordings as there was some congealing of the sound where I found individual placement of instruments harder to distinguish.  Nonetheless it hardly falls flat on its face with more demanding recordings such as a large symphonic piece; it fares admirably, but does not offer the last word in spatial detail and resolution.

Comparing the SS vs. the tube output, I found the tube preferable in my system as far as synergy.  My intention was to tame the inherent tendency to stridency and brightness in my amp and loudspeaker combination and the tube output of the DAC-11 accomplished this quite well.  Switching to the SS output, the same level of clarity and detail was there as with the tube but perhaps a touch brighter and more shrill in the top end.  I am quite sensitive to brightness-induced listener fatigue and I found after some extended listening, the SS output went in that direction for me.  This is not to say this would happen in every system but as mentioned my gear was already leaning to brightness.  The SS output did have a slight edge in bottom end extension but the tube output surprised me here with good impact and snap in the bass octaves.  Tubes often have listeners criticizing an overly euphonic sound but I found the tube output with the 6N11 offered just the right amount of “sweetness” and warmth while retaining excellent clarity and detail.  I have high hopes for the Philips JAN 6922 mentioned earlier as soon as I get around to it.

My comparison DAC gear was limited but many are probably familiar with the Burson HA160D, if not in person, then at least from many glowing reviews.  It is definitely in a different price category so the comparison is hardly fair but the DAC-11 did not throw its hands up and fall over, in fact it again flat out surprised me considering the price.  I strongly believe in synergistic combinations of audio gear and the DAC-11 works well in my system largely due to whatever brightness-taming capacity it has via the tube outputs, as alluded to before.  The HA160D is remarkable for its ability to convey stunning detail, provide exemplary extension in both treble and bass ranges and a very convincing midrange with great depth and soundstage.  The DAC-11, by comparison, does all of the above fairly well but is outclassed in every regard by the HA160D to my ears, but note significantly there is an $800-odd price differential.  Of note, I am finding some narrowness in the soundstage and depth in the DAC-11 but it is a slight quibble and likely to improve with further burn-in of the 6N11 or a wholesale switch to a higher performing tube.

In summary, the DAC-11 is an outstanding performer, not only for its excellent sound quality but for the many features it has and foremost for the remarkable price-to-performance ratio.  An easy recommendation.



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Fireblade
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Re: Music Hall DAC 25.3 Tube Dac
Reply #29 - 03/03/14 at 00:43:47
 
Nice. I think I had read that review already. The only thing I disagree with is the prominence given to the $800.00 more expensive HA-160D.

A recent, competent review compared the HA-160D to the Dangerous Audio Source DAC (a dual DAC pro mixing tool), which is less than $500 more than the TubeDac-11, has a killer double headphone amp and does DSD, but it literally anihilated the Burson on DAC or Headphone sound alone, never mind the multiple other features in the Dangerous Source DAC.

Since your objective was not more resolution but neutralizing the harshness of your highly resolving player, it should accomplish this with flying colors according to this article.

I think a well designed NOS DAC can get away with a lot, never mind the useful output tube stage.   Wink





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