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:
    PA
    Thanks for pointing that out to me. So do you know how much the Venus would be in USD, it reads as $3850, I assume this might be closer to my price point?
     
  2. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    The problem I see is I own some SACDs which I play in my home theater using my Oppo. If I go with a DAC that is capable of reading DSD then if I brought a SACD player into this set up those DACs could play the native SACD (DSD) which I am believing the Yggy would not, it would only play the redbook layer.
     
  3. rbmitch2

    rbmitch2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tucson
    S$3850 = $2823 US
     
  4. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    You can only spin SACDs and stream that DSD signal to an external DAC if you have one very specific and very expensive transport. Your SACD player would only output PCM digitally regardless.

    That being said, I don't believe there is an audible difference between pure DSD and DSD to PCM, so you really wouldn't be missing much. If you do want to play pure DSD, you'll need to stick to a SACD player's analog outputs, or stream from a computer.
     
  5. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident

    Looks interesting. I signed up as I'm curious as to the price.
     
  6. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Interesting. I was under the impression that if I had the Holo, which plays native DSD, and paired it with a SACD player then by playing SACDs and pushing the digital signal through the DAC the DACs processors would play the SACDs DSD signal. From what I am understanding you to say, this is not true, therefore my current CD player will suffice and the only DSD that I could process fully as a DSD file would be those that I stream. Do I understand this correctly?
     
  7. Ric-Tic

    Ric-Tic Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    The Soekris 1421 (which has caught my attention) doesn't ship as NOS, although it is possibly to add NOS filter to the firmware by reflashing it. IMHO, what speaks for the Soekris design, is it is developed (more or less) as an open source project by some very smart people at diyaudio.com. Another strongpoint for Soekris design philosophy, is the design(s) should measure well AND sound good. There are several members from the site that have contributed different versions of the firmware to the Soekris DAC.
     
  8. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    I am a big fan of the Kitsune. Very smooth and natural sound in my experience.
     
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  9. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    You cannot pass a dsd signal from a sacd through an optical or coax output. You need an HDMI to output it.
    It's a DRM restriction by Sony, I believe.
     
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  10. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Very interesting. If my CD player had an HDMI out and my DAC had an HDMI in would that take care of the issue?
     
  11. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    I am sure that someone more knowledgeable than me will correct me if I am wrong, but you need something like the Sony XA5400ES (a SACD player that can output raw dsd from hdmi) and then a receiver/dac that can decode dsd from the hdmi like the Sony 6400ES receiver.
     
  12. Kyhl

    Kyhl formerly known

    Location:
    Savage
    You can send it HDMI to some receivers, usually of the same manufacturer as the player. Example Denon player to Denon receiver, or Sony player to Sony receiver.

    What most people do that are using and external DAC for DSD is to rip their SACDs to a DSD file on their computer, usually stored along with PCM files. Then use a program, like JRiver to play the music to the DAC.

    I have an Oppo 301 that I use to rip SACDs. Someday I might play a disc on it for kicks. Discs get ripped and boxed up.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
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  13. Kal Rubinson

    Kal Rubinson Forum Resident

    Not necessary. All you need to do is determine if the player and the receiver have the capability of, respectively, sending and receiving DSD over HDMI. I have used Oppos for years and they work fine with lots and lots of brands. OTOH, there are some AVR/prepro brands that refuse to support DSD and, of course, they won't do but, then again, that was a conscious decision.
    Of course, that is my preferred protocol.
     
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  14. Another R2R DAC worth checking out are the DACs by Metrum Acoustics. They're discrete R2R. Worthy of consideration with the other DACs in your list. The Metrum Acoustics Onyx is around $2500. The Metrum Pavane is also really nice, but double the price at around $5000. Look for reviews of the Metrum DACs.

    However, the Metrum DACs and the Schiit Multibits do not support DSD. If you need the DAC to support DSD then you'll have to restrict your choices to the Denafrips, Holo Spring, and a few other discrete R2R DACs that include DSD playback support.

    I don't consider DSD support to be necessary. I bought a Pioneer BR player that is able to rip SACD discs. I've ripped the SACDs I own and use JRiver Media Center to play them. JRiver can convert DSD to PCM on the fly. I use JRiver to play DSD files with my Schiit Gungnir Multibit. DSD played that way sounds fine. Of course playing DSD that way sounds different than pure PCM recordings. But different DACs can have the same style and magnitude of sonic difference. So I roll with it. The sonic differences between PCM and DSD converted to PCM on the Schiit DACs are what they are. Accept differences like that, don't fight it.

    The only time I've heard the Holo Spring DAC is at a meet and using a iFi Pro iCan headphone amp paired with headphones I haven't heard before. The iCan Pro is too different from my own amps and preference and combined with headphones I'm not familiar with makes it impossible to say anything about the Holo Spring DAC itself.

    It's really difficult to choose a DAC without listening. Going just by reviews only confuses things. Don't over-analyze before deciding what to listen to and what to consider.

    If I won the lottery and could suddenly spend lots on DACs I'd probably go with a Metrum Pavane for PCM and try some DACs like the PS Audio Direct Stream for DSD playback and as an alternative for PCM. Keeping the Yggy in the back of my mind as a backup choice. I've heard an older version of the Pavane and the vocals and midrange had a slight glow that I really liked, a kind of glow that the Yggy and Gumby don't quite do. That's enough to get me interested in what Metrum Acoustics is doing.
     
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  15. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
  16. Ron Scubadiver

    Ron Scubadiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston TX
    iFi dacs are all hybrid multibit.
     
  17. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    OK I've bitten on the Denafrips Venus DAC, seems really nice. One step up from the Pontus and just below the Terminator. If I went this route over the Holo Spring Level III DAC I would save some money which could be applied to the coax & USB cables I will be requiring. Has anyone compared any of the Holo units with any of the Denafrips DACs? I've boiled it between these two although the others people have mentioned all look great but lack all of the features that are important to me such as R2R DAC, play both PCM & DSD file formats, have XLR outputs along with being flexible with the inputs.
     
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  18. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    On the DAC side, I sticking with the Benchmark DAC3 HGC. I really like what it does. Amp(s) kind of undecided for now.)
     
  19. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    Based on your input I took a serious look at the Benchmark and it seemed like a fantastic DAC. It seems as though it is extremely revealing and more in line with the Yggy than either the Holo or Denafrips. The real issue for me was that I wanted an XLR output since my current cable is XLR and they are a costly pair of cables I would still like to use in addition I also have a preamplifier that I plan on continuing to use and therefore do not need a preamplifier built into the DAC, which the Benchmark has. Other than those concerns it is a great DAC and I am sure you will love it for years.
     
  20. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Pls disregard my msg above, wrong thread.
     
  21. shiwo

    shiwo Member

    Location:
    Montreal
    Audio-GD has a full line of R2R DACs: 睿志音响
    They seem to get great review and I'm very interested by their last R-28 All-In-One Balanced DAC/AMP.
     
  22. mds

    mds Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    PA
    It has been a while since I poked this post so I am going to relight it again in hopes of some final help.

    I tried a TEAC NT-503 which I was able to take back to my house and run through my system with my current CDP. It sounded very nice, which was what I was looking for, to verify that a stand alone DAC would improve my Redbook play back better than my current CDP was capable of. The unit had a very analog sound. No digital glare at all and up converted both PCM and DSD. I found that I liked the unit best played with no filters or up converting. Standard Redbook at standard resolution sounded wonderful. I did not have the chance to hook it to my PC for streaming so I cannot speak about that but as far as a modestly priced DAC this unit is a killer. It uses the same chip manufacturer as in the Esoteric CDP and DAC units. Wonderful sound stage, great mid-range, very deep bass, wonderful texture to the instruments that made them sound ever so real. It was a little relaxed in the treble but still had shimmer and detail but not as much detail as my CDP has. It had a really engaging analog sound. I am now satisfied that a stand alone DAC will improve my Redbook playback and allow me to stream from both my PC and the internet so I am sold on the value of purchasing a DAC.

    Based on some great suggestions for DAC alternatives from my original list made by people replying to this thread I opened my search a little and now am trying to decide between my two finalist; the Denafrips Venus and the Metrum Onyx.

    The advantage of the Denafrips is I can play both PCM and DSD files, the Onyx does not play DSD files. Both are R2R ladder DACs and play in NOS mode, and both companies have received rave reviews for their line of DACs in terms of build quality, service, warranty, and most importantly sound. Both are within my budget. Unfortunately I have not been able to find any reviews on the Venus. There are plenty of rave reviews on the Terminator, which is well above my budget, great reviews about the lower line of Denafrips DACs; the Ares and Pontus. I cannot find any reviews on the Venus, which falls just below the Terminator and still within my budget. One question I have, am I comparing apples to apples between the Venus and the Onyx. Another is how much of an improvement in sound quality is the Venus over the Pontus and how close to the Terminator is the Venus? From reading the specs on the Venus it appears to have a lot of the features and internals as the Terminator and a higher build quality than the Pontus. Terminator definitely has larger power supplies, but I am not sure what else is different and how much of a difference in sound there is without having any reviews to refer to. Has anyone heard the Denafrips Venus DAC and can you compare it's sound to another DAC or the one above and/or the one below it? I have an email into the US distributor to see what he has to say and maybe he can direct me to some reviews, but have not heard back from him yet.

    It is very frustrating not being able to audition in person something so expensive and have to rely on magazine and internet reviews and recommendations from forums but it is what it is. Any feedback on these two units would be appreciated. I do not need suggestions on other DAC because I have been looking at the field in detail for weeks now and have decided that these are the two I want to choose from.
     
  23. dolstein

    dolstein Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arlingon, VA
    This seldom gets mentioned in R2R DAC discussions, but some of Naim's digital gear uses R2R DAC chips. The Naim DAC uses two Burr Brown PCM1704K chips, one for each channel. That chip was discontinued years ago, so Naim must be sitting on a stockpile.

    HiFi Man's top of the line digital audio player also dual PCM1704 chips (HifiMan R2R 2000 Digital Audio Player ) and can be used as a USB DAC.
     
  24. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    So why don't you just keep that one? ;)
    Do you have many SACDs? Or high rez titles which are only streamable as DSD? That would be a big point in favor of the Denafrips.
     
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  25. Henley

    Henley Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Netherlands
    I have owned ao the Audio Note Dac 5 Special, Schiit Gungnir Multibit and EC Designs Mosaic T Dac.

    I’m currently still playing with the EC Designs Dac. This is the most natural digital playback I have ever heard, even better than the AN Dac. In direct comparison with the Gungnir, the EC Designs does lack some drive but makes up for it in transparency and sheer musicality. The difference in drive is likely the result of the difference in output stage built up.

    I also have the Mosaic preamp module, which I am planning to try out in combination with the Audio Note Paladin power amp (currently playing with AN Oto SE Signature integrated).
     
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