DACs

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by three_paws, Jul 11, 2021.

  1. Nice Marmot

    Nice Marmot Nothin’ feels right but doin’ wrong anymore

    Location:
    Tryon NC
    Do you remember the chassis expanding sounding “click” that equipment had? You’d be listening and about 15-20 minutes in you’d hear “click” and you knew everything was warm. The sound coming out of the speakers never changed. A couple of decades ago in one of the audio magazines there was a little article about a simple relay needing to be added as the technology changed to simulate the warm up click because people missed the comfort feeling of the click. My Rotel amp does the click.

    I know my system sounds better after a couple of hours…. but I’ll admit it’s because of a different state of mind. Having, over the years, seen people’s listening posts and drinks and other things, I’d say about 98% of the forum notices the same phenomenon.
     
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  2. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Haha. Agreed. Nothing warms up my system better than a cold pint of Guinness.
     
  3. Funky54

    Funky54 Coat Hangers do not sound good

    So I picked up a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC.. I believe series 1, serial number 1106. Truthfully I don’t think I hear any improvement over my current streaming solution. Anyone know how to confirm what series it is? Any idea of a street price? Very clean, power chord, no remote.
     
    h1pst3r88 likes this.
  4. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Berkeley Alpha DAC is good. I was considering a series 1 or series 2 as a DAC. I auditioned it with my headphone amp and liked it. But back then a used one was over $3K plus the extra cost of an external USB converter. And I couldn't get myself to pay that much for a DAC. So I got a Schiit Gungnir multibit instead.

    The series 1 and series 2 have two firmwares available. One with MQA and one without. You'll want to figure out which firmware you've got.
     
  5. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    I am currently using a Topping D90 MQA DAC. It displaced my MSB Gold DAC III with up sampler, outboard linear power supply and ungraded op amps and a reclocking DIP Combo box from Monarchy Audio. (Still run it in my office system). The Topping uses the AKM4499eq DAC and LME49790 output op amps (incidentally what I was also running in the MSB). The sound is smooth, detailed, and a huge soundstage. At $800 it was clearly better than the $4,200 MSB that was 16 years old. Plus the flexibility of multiple inputs, USB, and a remote. I have been completely satisfied with this DAC. It gets is signal from a Musical Fideity A3.2 CD being used as a transport and also from a MacBook Air over USB.

    It’s a shame there will be no more after the AKM factory burned to the ground. We’ll have to see what comes next after AKM rebuilds.
     
  6. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Really curious about Topping stuff. I kind of don't want to get MQA DACs on principle, though.
     
  7. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    I hear you on that. I don’t actually use any MQA sources. I bought the MQA version for 2 reasons. 1. It has the newer XMOS 216 chipset in it and I thought that would be a good thing and 2. Resale-ability if I were to flip it and buyers would want all the bells

    If you want to check them out, I’d encourage you to go through their US distributor Apos, as their customer service is excellent.
     
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  8. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Out of curiosity, did you do an AB between the DAC and the MF CD player? Curious what the sound differences are.
     
  9. KaiFi

    KaiFi Active Member

    Location:
    California
    I'm primarily a headphone-listener so my DACs are geared toward headphone usage. Right now my main one is the iFi Zen DAC.

    I also own a Schiit Modi 3+ and am looking at getting another desktop DAC/amp combo in a higher price grade, but not sure what to upgrade to.
     
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  10. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    I have done a lot of a/b with the CD player and each DAC I have used in my system. The MF A3.2CR is a wonderful stand alone 24/96 player, for 2004, but compared to modern DACs it is hard to compete. The DACs I have used (all with the same CD player as a transport) in the order of worst sound to best.
    AudioEngine D1
    MF A3.2CD as player
    MSB Link DAC III
    Topping D10
    MSB Gold DAC III (modded and external linear power)
    Topping D90 MQA

    The main improvements going up the list are clarity without any harshness, highly detailed even with complex pieces of music, and the size (both width and depth) of soundstage. Additionally as I got to the MSB Gold and Topping D90 both are reclocking amd resampling the signal (remove all jitter and smooth signal) Red Book (16/44.1) are indistinguishable from hi-res for well mastered tracks.
     
  11. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Thanks, man. Would love to hear the D90 in person. Everyone seems to really like that DAC. I tend to like punchy and warm, though, and I'm getting the sense that Topping DACs are more linear/neutral? Is that accurate?
     
  12. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    The D90 is neutral for sure.
     
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  13. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF, CA, USA
    A scientific paper for cameras (see page 4): https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/35462879.pdf
    a vendor paper for a LCD computer monitor (see page 5 especially): https://www.eizo.com/eizo/media/contentassets/2018/09/07/WP18-001.pdf
    A scientific paper for several CRT computer monitors (see page 6): https://www.tqmp.org/RegularArticles/vol13-3/p166/p166.pdf

    Many other examples can be found via Google. You could search for things like "camera temperature noise" and learn about amp glow and astrophotography, or "monitor color calibration warm up time" and learn about color calibration techniques.
     
  14. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Monitor calibration is totally different. That's controlled adjustment of values. I've done it for photography. That's not the same thing as something warming up to perform to spec.
     
  15. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Also, no one is saying that temperature is irrelevant. The question is how warm up somehow beautifies DAC performance. The paper you posted explains how too much heat creates noise, which is actually the opposite argument.
     
  16. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Thanks!
     
  17. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF, CA, USA
    I was refuting your quote of "Why don't computers need to warm up/break in? Why don't cameras? My smartphone? I've yet to see any scientific basis to support any of this."

    If you want a DAC specific example, there are many to be found. Here is one: https://www.ti.com/lit/wp/slpy003a/slpy003a.pdf?ts=1630544930970
     
    MaxBuck likes this.
  18. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    You didn't refute it, my dude. You posted papers that just focus on different things.
     
  19. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I had a look, but I don't see anything in the last one that explains how DACs start to sound fuller and warmer, etc., after warm up. I've acknowledged all along that it might impact accuracy. But that's something different.
     
  20. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF, CA, USA
    What about a refutation of "...entirely immaterial in every other electronic component"?

    DACs aren't magical and change with temperature just like other electronics. If the designer designed them to sound their best once they have reached steady-state temperature they are going to sound their best then, and less good before they are warmed up.
     
  21. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Immaterial in the sense that it's not necessary to operate to spec. Seems to me like you're setting up a straw man. No one ever said temperature is irrelevant. The point is that I don't need to wait for those devices to warm up so they operate according to spec. That's how temperature is immaterial.
     
    timind likes this.
  22. UCrazyKid

    UCrazyKid Grand Puba of Funk

    Location:
    Illinois
    Totally agree that these things become immaterial in certain applications. People forget context when they make an argument or point to evidence. Sound reproduction is not anywhere near the same level of complexity or necessary of specs of say the Hadron collider's ability to measure a quark. But it is common to see "audiophiles" state some very esoteric outlier is the reason their power cable completely transforms their sound, etc.
     
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  23. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Well said, sir.
     
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  24. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF, CA, USA
    My apologies, I took your request earlier "I honestly would love it if you could point me to any scientific study that supports this" as a sincere request. Now that I see it was not, I'll go back to not posting in this thread.
     
  25. three_paws

    three_paws deleted account Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    It is a sincere request. But absolutely nothing you've posted is on point. You seem so keen to argue and be right that you haven't even read the content you're sharing (or really what I've posted).
     
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