R2R Ladder DAC - Which Ones Have You Heard - Which Would You Choose

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mds, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I am moving towards streaming and will need a DAC. Based on my reading I've decided to go with a R2R Ladder DAC. There are a number of units that are in my price range to choose from. I have narrowed it down to three but am open to other choices in the price range of $3,000 give or take.

    My finalists are:

    • Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC - $2399
    • Denaprips Pontus R2R DAC - $2200
    • Holo Audio Spring DAC Kitsune Tuned Edition DAC - $2649
    I like the idea of listening in NOS mode and the ability of playing DSD recordings (realize I must purchase a new transport) which would drop out the Schiit Audio DAC. The advantage of the Schiit is my CD would be acceptable as a transport.

    I would like to hear opinions from people who have heard the units and particularly if they have compared the Schiit to either of the other two and what they felt was the stronger and why. My profile shows my equipment which should have an effect on how the DAC will integrate. Basically I run tubes and my speakers are KEF References 3s.

    The last item of interest is running my current CD player through the DAC. I am curious if I will be able to hear a noticeable difference and what that might be. More than likely no one has heard my CD player, which is a Consonance Turandot, however the specs, which are most important, are:

    • Digital Jitter down to 118 psec
    • Digital Sample Rates (Fs): 352.8 kHz
    • DAC section with local clock and PCM1792 chip
    • Differential analogue filter and output stage Burr-Brown OPA627
    • DAC resolution: 24bit 192kHz multilevel sigma-delta
    As I said I am open to other suggestions but the DAC must be in my price range, a R2R Ladder configuration, capable of NOS playback and can handle DSD files.

    Thanks for taking the time to think and respond to my questions.


     
  2. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Well-Known Member

    Location:
    United States
    It's not an R2R ladder DAC, but you may want to at least consider the Benchmark DAC3 HGC (or the model without the headphone amp). I've been trialing one here for a bit over a week, and I am really impressed.
     
  3. roboss38

    roboss38 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Clovis, CA U.S.A.
  4. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Well-Known Member

    Location:
    United States
    I don't think the Yggdrasil does DSD.
     
  5. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I will give it a look but really am leaning toward an R2R ladder DAC that can be used without filtering. Based on my reading these are the least "digital" sounding and bring out lots of detail that seems to be hidden to other designs.
     
  6. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    The Holo Audio Spring is an excellent DAC that also measures very well. Stereophile did a great review of it. It's been at the center of my system for 6 months now and I don't feel any need to replace it. It works wonders on well-mastered CDs, and its hi-res performance is brilliant to these ears. DSD sounds really nice too. I use it in OS mode and feed it CD-quality PCM about 90% of the time, and it never feels like I'm missing out on anything.

    The Holo Audio Spring can't be used without filtering, but the NOS mode does have a very sharp filter that attempts to clean up the inescapable aliasing artifacts. I wouldn't get so hung up on OS filters, but if you look at Stereophile's measurements for the Spring, you'll see that its NOS mode is capable of producing transients that look absolutely perfect. That's what I would recommend for you.
     
    mds likes this.
  7. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    How does the Yiggy compare to the Holo or was the time span between listening too long to really compare other than they both sounded excellant?
     
  8. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Much appreciate you sharing your experience with the Holo. Did using it with your current CD player improve the CD players sound?
     
  9. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    It is outside your budget but I have heard the Terminator which is a tremendous R2R Dac.
    I am a vinyl lover who does not get easily impressed by digital but the Terminator is one Dac that I could live with. Trully reference quality.
     
  10. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Well-Known Member

    Location:
    United States
    I will say that I can't imagine that the Benchmark DAC3 is hiding any detail whatsoever. The Holo DAC sounds pretty cool.
     
  11. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I've never had a dedicated CD player, instead going for a discrete DAC for digital. I picked up an old Pioneer DVD player and used it as a transport so I could keep my "pull a disc off the shelf and spin it" ritual I had with vinyl. If Holo Audio ever made a Spring-based CD player, I'd probably go that route for simplicity's sake.
     
  12. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Yes slightly above what I wanted to pay, however if it is really steps ahead of the Holo or Pontus I might consider, however it is hard for me to believe it is that much above these player to be worth a grand more. It is too bad one cannot audition these players easily.
     
  13. jphabc54

    jphabc54 Active Member

    Location:
    NoVa
    The Soekris dac1421 is another very well regarded discrete R2R that supports DSD and is well under the price points of the three DACs you named. (Soekris Engineering ApS, Products dac1421 )

    I joined the Massdrop x Airist Audio R-2R DAC drop, which is expected to deliver in December 2018. Another discrete R2R that supports DSD that I plan to use in a second system (assuming it actually comes to market). Should be very interesting at the price point if it is successful. (Massdrop x Airist Audio R-2R DAC | Price & Reviews | Massdrop )

    I currently only listen to PCM and am very, very happy with my Yggdrasil, but I've heard nothing but great things about the Holo. I also have tubes and KEF speakers.
     
    Ric-Tic and mds like this.
  14. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    True, and unfortunately I haven't compared the Terminator to the Pontus or the Holo but based on my experience with the Terminator I would seriously consider another Denafrips model, like the Pontus for instance that is already in your list.

    I am sure that the difference between the Terminator and the Pontus is not night and day.
     
  15. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    I was thinking to join too but the controversy turned me off. I am curious to hear what you think about its sound when you received it.
     
  16. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Thanks for your input. I am thinking of purchasing sooner than December so I'm probably not waiting for the Massrop although I'm sure its a fine DAC. My concern with the Yiggy is paired with the KEF I am concerned it would push the sound too far forward and be a little too dynamic. The KEF speakers I have are very quick, flat and dynamic. When I added my Backerd pre I had to go with a NOS Mullard tube because of how highly dynamic and forward things became. Sounded great but on some CDs the level of dynamic slam had me jumping in my seat and going whoa. Now its wide and behind the speakers, still dynamic and transparent but not knocking me off my couch. The Yiggy gives me the impression that it has tons of slam and maybe a little forward due to this.
     
  17. Henry Love

    Henry Love Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicagoland
    JRiver will allow you to play DSD through DOP.So you don't have to elimanate theYggy.
     
  18. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Hmm, not sure I follow, "DOP"? Interesting and worth following up on. Such great reviews the Yiggy gets.
     
  19. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'm planning on using a microRendu for processing and streaming using my PC filled with FLAC files and Roon.
     
  20. Ulises

    Ulises Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    You might also consider the Metrum Onyx in that price range, which uses the chip developed for their flagship and a parallel R2R network. I’ve always been curious about Metrum, but never wanted to do a blind investment so I recently ordered their new Flint at $40o to try out their take on NOS. If I love the Flint, I will likely try buy an Onyx in the near future. If not, am thinking about Denafrips or Yggdrasil as well.
     
  21. Henry Love

    Henry Love Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicagoland
    Somebody more knowledgeable about it should posting soon.That would be Ham Sandwich.
     
  22. jphabc54

    jphabc54 Active Member

    Location:
    NoVa
    I went back and forth on whether to join the Airist drop in light of the controversy over the design. I am hoping that it is all worked out before it comes to market, but I think it (rightly) scared off a lot of potential buyers.

    To the OP, I also have a very forward system -- KEF LS50 with a Rogue Cronus Magnum II. I rolled the CMII's tubes to soften things up a bit (including a NOS Mullard CV4003 in the pre), and as the system broke in everything mellowed out to reach the exact balance of accuracy and warmth I was looking for. I've found the Yggy to fit perfectly in with the overall scheme. That said, I've also heard the Holo in NOS mode is amazing, but I haven't listened to one.

    FWIW, I listen to jazz almost exclusively on my system, so I can't speak intelligently to how it would align with other music styles.
     
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  23. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Thanks very helpful. Seems we both tweeked our systems similarly with similar results.
     
  24. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

    Location:
    Savage
    DSD through DOP is DSD Over PCM. It is still DSD. The Yggy being PCM only still will not play it.

    JRiver can convert DSD to PCM on the fly which the Yggy can play.
    Or you can convert DSD to PCM manually and only play the PCM versions.

     
    warp2600 likes this.
  25. rbmitch2

    rbmitch2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson
    FYI the Pontus is $1600 US dollars, the website shows prices in Singapore dollars. I have the Denafrips Ares and it is a very good sounding DAC for the money.
     

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