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NOS DACs (Read 4785 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., Rachael SE34I.5, ERRx, ZBIT, ZRock2, Tascam CD-240, Border Patrol DAC, Zu Audio Mission speaker cables, Declare Interconnects, 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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Torii Jr., Rachael SE34I.5, ERRx, ZBIT, ZRock2, Tascam CD-240, Border Patrol DAC, Zu Audio Mission speaker cables, Declare Interconnects, Zenhead, Grado 325e
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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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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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Torii Jr., Rachael SE34I.5, ERRx, ZBIT, ZRock2, Tascam CD-240, Border Patrol DAC, Zu Audio Mission speaker cables, Declare Interconnects, Zenhead, Grado 325e
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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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Torii Jr., Rachael SE34I.5, ERRx, ZBIT, ZRock2, Tascam CD-240, Border Patrol DAC, Zu Audio Mission speaker cables, Declare Interconnects, Zenhead, Grado 325e
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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 - 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.
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Torii Jr., Rachael SE34I.5, ERRx, ZBIT, ZRock2, Tascam CD-240, Border Patrol DAC, Zu Audio Mission speaker cables, Declare Interconnects, Zenhead, Grado 325e
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Lon
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #25 - 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.
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HockessinKid
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #26 - 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
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Lonely Raven PC (or) TEAC PD-600H > ZDAC2 (or) Nottingham Interspace (heavy platter) TT w/ Dynavector 20x2 LO cart + P75 MKII phono pre > ZROCK2-25th > CSP3-25th preamp > Zen Mystery 25th 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 - 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!
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HockessinKid
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #28 - 04/24/19 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 20x2 LO cart + P75 MKII phono pre > ZROCK2-25th > CSP3-25th preamp > Zen Mystery 25th 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 #29 - 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!
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Torii Jr., Rachael SE34I.5, ERRx, ZBIT, ZRock2, Tascam CD-240, Border Patrol DAC, Zu Audio Mission speaker cables, Declare Interconnects, Zenhead, Grado 325e
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Dana
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #30 - 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

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Bill Murray "What About Bob" There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex-wife loves him.
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orangecrush
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #31 - 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. Smiley
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Lon
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #32 - 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!
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Tommy Freefall
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #33 - 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!
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Torii Jr., Rachael SE34I.5, ERRx, ZBIT, ZRock2, Tascam CD-240, Border Patrol DAC, Zu Audio Mission speaker cables, Declare Interconnects, Zenhead, Grado 325e
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Melvin
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #34 - 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.

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Dana
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #35 - 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?


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Melvin
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #36 - 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.

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Dana
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #37 - 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.



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orangecrush
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #38 - 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-C...


He is a genius from the Ukraine. Professional musician and he uses all vintage wire and parts.
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #39 - 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.
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #40 - 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.
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #41 - 05/11/19 at 01:51:44
 
Awesome, thatís a great DAC. Canít wait to hear your impressions.
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #42 - 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.


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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #43 - 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!
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #44 - 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.
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #45 - 05/16/19 at 13:51:54
 
Riviera, welcome to the party! Glad you could finally join us!
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #46 - 05/17/19 at 12:25:44
 
I just received my Schiit Modi Multibit and am very happy with it.
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #47 - 05/17/19 at 12:34:21
 
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #48 - 05/23/19 at 00:30:26
 
How does NOS improve the digital experience?  How is it different from R2R ladder effect?
Steve
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Re: NOS DACs
Reply #49 - 05/26/19 at 16:10:17
 
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