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NOS DACs (Read 1040 times)
Tommy Freefall
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NOS DACs
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/

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Torii Jr., ERRx, ZBIT, Zenhead, Grado 325e
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orangecrush
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #1 - 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
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orangecrush
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #2 - 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.
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Chester
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #3 - 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!
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Ellsworth
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #4 - 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.
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JD
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #5 - 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
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Ellsworth
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #6 - 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.
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Ash
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #7 - 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.
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #8 - 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.
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mperdue63
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #9 - 04/02/19 at 22:56:29
 
I'm using a Metrum Jade, really liking it with the ZMA.
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lobo
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #10 - 04/03/19 at 02:42:50
 
I'm awaiting shipment of the BP SE, should be this week.
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #11 - 04/03/19 at 17:33:29
 
Lobo, that's exciting news.
Are you upgrading your existing DAC?
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lobo
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #12 - 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
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #13 - 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.
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lobo
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #14 - 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.
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HockessinKid
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #15 - 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
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Lonely Raven PC (or) TEAC PD-600H > ZDAC2 (or) Nottingham Interspace (heavy platter) TT w/ Dynavector 20X2LO + P75 MKII phono pre > ZROCK2-25 > CSP3-25 preamp > Zen Mystery Amp > Omega SAHO XRS speakers > ZenWave Audio, TWL, & Acoustic BBQ cables.
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #16 - 04/12/19 at 19:49:50
 
Hey Chester & Lobo, how are things going with your new BP DACs?
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lobo
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #17 - 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.
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #18 - 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.
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Chester
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #19 - 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!
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #20 - 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.
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Lon
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #21 - 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. . . Wink
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Ash
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #22 - 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.
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orangecrush
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #23 - 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.
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #24 - Today 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.
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Lon
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #25 - Today 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.
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HockessinKid
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #26 - Today 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
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Lonely Raven PC (or) TEAC PD-600H > ZDAC2 (or) Nottingham Interspace (heavy platter) TT w/ Dynavector 20X2LO + P75 MKII phono pre > ZROCK2-25 > CSP3-25 preamp > Zen Mystery Amp > Omega SAHO XRS speakers > ZenWave Audio, TWL, & Acoustic BBQ cables.
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lazb
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #27 - Today 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!
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HockessinKid
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #28 - Today at 19:33:43
 
😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂

HK
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Lonely Raven PC (or) TEAC PD-600H > ZDAC2 (or) Nottingham Interspace (heavy platter) TT w/ Dynavector 20X2LO + P75 MKII phono pre > ZROCK2-25 > CSP3-25 preamp > Zen Mystery Amp > Omega SAHO XRS speakers > ZenWave Audio, TWL, & Acoustic BBQ cables.
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