DACs

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

  1. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Seems a valid question as to whether @jfeldt read the Texas Instruments paper he referenced. I don't see why he'd use it to make his case if he had.
     
    three_paws likes this.
  2. MaxBuck

    MaxBuck Well-Known Member

    Location:
    La Quinta, CA
    As someone who is skeptical about claims of "burn-in" requirements for electronics (and especially cables, for the love of Jennifer Aniston), I really appreciated the technical article provided by @jfeldt.

    Not that I could understand it.
     
  3. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    If that's the article that says that too much heat creates sensor noise, it really doesn't speak to burn in--more to the fact that temperature needs to be controlled or it will have a visibly adverse effect on performance.
     
  4. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    I decided to try a new "Audiolab MDAC Mini" in my system. I have a Yamaha CD S1000 to a Rega Elex R. I also have my PC connected optically to an amp (the PC has a Soundblaster Z).

    Results were poor. Now, the MDAC is new, so questions of "burn in" remain. What I can say is, I hated it with the Yamaha, and it was no upgrade from the Soundblaster. I appreciate it's a cheap DAC - a very cheap one - but I thought worth an experiment.

    You know what it reminded me of? It was the sound you get from a Marantz amp in the PM range. That is, it sort of blasts at you, shouts. It lacks refinement, like an over-active child having a tantrum. Refinement went out the window, very brassy and brash. (Yes, I own a PM6004).

    I admit, I didn't leave it connected for long since I had such an adverse reaction to it. In the closet it goes!
     
    timind likes this.
  5. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Interesting that you experience Marantz as shouty. I have the PM8006, and I think it's very warm, smooth, and musical. (Except with the Cornwalls IV-- it was too bright, but that is likely a function of the Klipsch horn.) Never heard the 6004, though. Ever hear the DACMagic 100? It really hits the spot for me.
     
  6. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Location:
    Belgium
    I really do appreciate some Jennifer Aniston!
     
  7. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Whatever is happening with my Holo May, I'm not mad about it. It's not changing tonally, but I would swear by my momma that it's getting better at projecting a 3D image. It's weird and I won't get into a shouting match about it since I can't really prove it, but the same songs played now after 100 hours that I played right after I got it (and it had been on for like 4 hours?) Seem more dimensional, less flat "wall of sound" type of presentation.

    And the only reason I bring it up was I was a bit surprised at how unlayered it was at first. That's supposed to be it's forte so I had expectation bias that was unmet.

    Yet now that's not how I view the sound I'm hearing. It's been detailed and natural and transparent the entire time, yet it's ability to project space of the recording venue seems to be improving with each passing night.

    And I do have it running with music, 24/7. Because Roon + Shuffle makes it so :)
     
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  8. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Could be your deeper familiarity with it? I had that experience with an amp, but I think in the end it was just my ears getting used to its specific sound--I think I was able to "understand it" and appreciate it only after extended exposure.
     
    h1pst3r88 likes this.
  9. h1pst3r88

    h1pst3r88 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, USA
    This is exactly what's going on. It sounds better to us after 400 hours because we've had all that time to acclimate to its sound.

    No one would argue this if manufacturers changed "burn in" to "getting acclimated".

    But manufacturers know that by giving their new customers time to get used to the sound under the guise of "burn in" they play right into the audiophile's obsession.

    Like suddenly my Audio-GD R2R R1 will magically become a butterfly on the 401st hour of listening?
     
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  10. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    And sometimes it really works in the other direction, too. I'm having anti-burn in with the Ares II--the more I listen to it, the less I like it. I've even come to prefer the Yamaha native DAC to the Ares II, which I never expected. I'm guessing that's my psychological reaction not a question of temperature, etc...
     
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  11. Drew769

    Drew769 Buyer of s*** I never knew I lacked

    Location:
    NJ
    I had a Rega DAC for a long while, and then moved to a Lampizator DAC for a couple of years. I really enjoyed that Amber 2.2 and it’s a giant killer at its price point.

    My gold standard, though - the best I had ever heard anywhere - was an EMM Labs CD/SACD/DAC that I heard at a friends house. It blew my mind how clear and open digital could sound. I noticed for the first time ever how chesty Donald Fagen’s vocals are on “Babylon Sisters.” It hits you square in the chest, as if he was there in the room. My friend was trying to show me how great digital is not really the equal of vinyl, but different and wonderful in its own right. The price tag, though, was $25,000. I felt privileged to have heard that player/DAC (and the rest of that $250,000 system which is probably the best I have ever heard, anywhere), but felt I would never own one.

    Fast forward to early 2021 and I saw a listing for a used EMM Labs DAC2X that was well cared for, one owner. Doing some research, I discovered I could have EMM Labs upgrade it to the current V2 spec for under $2k - essentially giving me a $16,000 DAC for less than 1/2 of new. I decided to go for it.

    Break in/burn in is real and confirmed by Meitner himself. My unit changed dramatically over 100 hours. It is superb, and I have zero interest in upgrading further. My system is good enough to appreciate the differences this DAC brings to my digital. I added an EMM Labs NS-1 Streamer, too, and the difference between that and my Bluesound Node 2i were also very noticeable. I had the streamer on loan, and asked my 15 year old daughter to listen to a series of tracks between the two streaming units, both played through the EMM Labs DAC. She not only heard differences, but said “wow” on two of the tracks when I switched to the NS-1. She didn’t even know what we were testing, but she heard every change, even when I changed up the order, played save Streamer twice, etc.

    Even at half price, it’s still lot of money. But if it’s in the budget, it’s really hard to beat this unit at its price point. Meitner also sells a version of my DAC under the Meitner brand for about half the price new (MA-1 V2). Steve Guttenberg did a video on that DAC and compared it to his reference Denefrips Terminator. He basically said the Meitner beat the Terminator in every way - more of everything. Of course, $4,000 vs $8,000 is no difference! I would say that one could easily get the EMM version in V2 form for less than the new MA-1.
     
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  12. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    If it is real, what I truly don't get is why there is no scientific literature in support of this theory (at least as far as I've been able to see). And again why it's endemic to audio and not present in other electronics. I've never heard someone say that camera sensor colors change with burn in, for example, and I've seen no changes in performance with the many cameras I've owned. It just doesn't add up to me.
     
  13. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I am totally onboard with accepting the "change" as being on my end, not the gear. But whatever it is, it sure seems reasonable and palpable.

    Then again, this also reinforces my view that rapid back and forth a/b testing can be a very difficult scenario for detecting minor, subtle changes. But listening to something for 200 hours and then subbing back in what it replaced? I find that to be very revealing of any perceived changes. And 200 hours is totally arbitrary. I think just acclimating and then swapping back out is best, if one really wants to perform an adequate comparison.
     
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  14. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    I believe I’ve had a similar reaction which I blamed on expectations from a super-hyped product. Here I am expecting to hear angels singing from on high, and I hear a slight difference, meh.
     
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  15. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Totally. I think it's why my impression of both the Ares II and the DACMagic 100 changed. Also, I think different AB comparisons highlight different aspects of each source, so sometimes you start to recognize new characteristics, which impacts your impression.
     
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  16. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Haha, yea, that happens all too often.
     
  17. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    Sorry man. The 6000 range is Marantz' low end offering. I think the 8000 series is higher end - two and half times the cost. Therefore, I'd not really compare them. I don't doubt your 8000 series is good.

    You know, I saw another thread praising a later model of Marantz' CD player on the forum recently. I was going to pitch in, but I didn't feel like doing a threadcrap. I have the CD6004 (to match the amp) and I just don't like the sound at all. I later tried the CD player with my Linn Majik, and it was a no again. It's a very forceful sound to my ears. They do sell well, and perhaps the CD player would work for me as a transport, but it's just not a sound I can settle with.

    It's all opinions, right?
     
  18. h1pst3r88

    h1pst3r88 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, USA
    Totally agree... this is why I am resisting the urge to do a comparison of the Black Ice GlassFX tube dac and my newer Audio-GD r2r DAC until I've had a few months with the Audio-GD to then swap back and see what I hear with the Black Ice.
     
  19. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Oh, totally, I wasn't being defensive--just surprised bc I think the 8006 sounds so nice and friendly. I've been eyeing the Model 30, too, for that reason. Never got to hear the standalone Marantz DAC, but it seems to be discontinued. I've seen really good reviews of the 30N, though.
     
  20. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    I heard improvement in soundstage and imaging depth and separation in my Bifrost 2 as it warmed up and got more hours on it. It wasn't me getting familiar with its sound or learning to understand its sound. The Bifrost 2 is like a baby Gungnir multibit. I've owned my Gungnir multibit for 5 years. I've had 5 years with the Gungnir multibit and my amp to get familiar with their sound together and learn to understand their sound. While comparing the Bifrost 2 I could, and did, switch to the Gungnir to verify that yes the Bifrost 2 was more forward and not as smooth and lacking bass ambiance and lacking imaging depth and separation. Now that the Bifrost 2 has warmed up and gotten more play time those negative traits are gone and the Bifrost 2 is much closer to the sound quality of the Gungnir multibit. Much closer to the imaging depth and separation of the Gungnir.
     
  21. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    So, how do you explain that? Why doesn't my 10k video camera need warm up? Or the electronics in my car, or the electronics in a commercial jet (outside of extreme temp conditions)? Why do only DACs need it?
     
  22. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    Also, couldn't it be that minor differences seemed bigger just bc they were new and you were hypervigilant? And now they seem proportionally more trivial?
     
  23. adamos

    adamos Forum Resident

    Location:
    Southeastern PA
    I’m not able to contribute anything to the scientific portion of this discussion but I thought I’d share my own experience with the Ares II.

    In my system/room/ears and the sound did seem to improve over the first 100-200 hours of play time. (I also kept it on 24/7 and still do). Part of that was certainly me getting acclimated to it which makes sense. But what was interesting is that it wasn’t a linear progression. Part way through that timeframe there was a point where I could swear that it started to sound noticeably worse. It’s been a while so I don’t remember the specifics anymore but it was grainer and less pleasant on a variety of recordings. I remember being surprised and trying to figure out if there was a problem somewhere. Anyway eventually those qualities receded and it started to sound noticeably better to me again.

    I don’t have an explanation for this and it could have been a fluke. But to me it potentially reinforces the notion that the burn-in period involved more than just me getting used to its sound. I should add that I’ve also had a few delta-sigma DACs and I don’t recall noticing substantial changes in the first X hours of use. So I would think that this issue is more applicable and apparent with R2R and multibit DACs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2021
    bever70 likes this.
  24. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    I was listening somewhat casually. I wasn't doing dedicated focused listening in deep concentration or hypervigilant. Just listening like I normally do. With headphones on my head, a beer and snacks to the side, and at the computer. Which is exactly what I'm doing right now. Beer, snacks, headphones, and on the computer. Listening to a recording of "The Four Seasons" in 24/96 that I just bought. It's a good recording. I like it. Sounds great with the Bifrost 2. Very neat imaging with each instrument sounding like it is in its own space and location. I can hear the imaging move around like a hot potato as the phrases get passed from instrument to instrument (this is by a small chamber orchestra where there is often just a single musician for each part which makes it easier to hear precise location for each instrument). So I'm here listening to instruments dance around my head while typing on the computer.
     
  25. three_paws

    three_paws jerry was a race car driver Thread Starter

    Location:
    USA
    I'm actually having the same impression of the Ares II right now--in one of the settings the lower end sounds pretty ugly. But I also think that it might be a function of me doing AB comparisons with the Yamaha DAC for the last couple of hours. Until I did that, it sounded woolly but not harsh. (Unless at very high volume--Nirvana sounded pretty harsh then.)
     
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