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Rega DAC Impressions/Review

 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4295
Registered: May-05
Before I get into the Rega DAC, I guess I should give some background on the associated gear, room, etc. Also, this is just what I heard at the dealer's shop. I listened to half a song at home, but got side tracked with my daughter, wife and dinner.
We used an Arcam CDP with coax as a transport. At the end, we tried Toslink on the CDP and an Arcam Blu-Ray player with both coax and optical, and heard no difference in any configuration.
We mainly used a Naim Nait 5i-2 as amplification. We also used the Naim UnitiQute, both digitally and analog. I wanted to hear the UnitiQute because I was kind of kicking around the idea of it was worth it to sell off everything and get that as a one box solution. Short answer is not really.

Speakers were Naim N-Sats and N-Sub. I just can't warm up to the N-Sats. They're a very fun speaker that has a huge wall of sound, but after an hour or two, I just get tired of them. Not in a listener fatigue way, but they're a bit of a one or two trick pony and the fun factor wears off. They're too wall of sound for my taste.
The DAC was straight out of the box. My dealer meant to get it plugged in and playing when it arrived the afternoon before, but got sidetracked with other stuff. Whenever he attempted to do it yesterday, same thing. So we unboxed it, hooked it up, plugged it in, sat down and pressed play. The majority of the music was Dark Side of the Moon, because stupid me didn't bring any music. We spent a little over 2 hours with it and the Naim DAC and Arcam rDAC. It wasn't quick A/B/C comparisons, and we didn't really analyze what they others were doing in relation to the Rega DAC other than a quick observation or two.

First impression when he took it out of the box was that it's heavy. He passed it to me, and it was a lot heavier and more solid than I thought it would be. It seems as bullet proof as my Bryston B60. We weren't surprised that it was well built, but it's a definite step up from the Apollo. Size-wise, it's pretty much the same size as the UnitiQute, only the UnitiQute was about 3 inches deeper. We had them side by side - not for comparison, that's just where they ended up. The Rega DAC is about the size of a shoe box, just not as tall. Holding it doesn't seem like there's any wasted space in it. The case makes a solid sound when knocking on it. Not that I think that's important; it's more trivial than anything else.

First thing I said was "That looks a lot nicer than the pictures." He agreed. The pics do it no justice. He didn't open the black one up yet, so no comment on that, but I think they've got the same finish. It's not overly shiny. It seems like a very thin glaze over matte finish. I tried every setting on my camera to get a good pic of it, but nothing worked well. Without flash it looked dull, and with flash it looked shiny and reflective. It looks right at home in the rack with my silver B60 and Apple TV.

Now for the sound...

Because it was cold, it sounded a bit thin, and didn't go too far down in bass. It wasn't bass shy nor overly lean, but we could tell it needs some time to warm up and fill out. I expected a little harshness and distortion in the highs, and the bass to be looser. By comparison, my Apollo sounded a lot thinner, harsher, and muddy right out of the box. It sounded like crap for the first 10 CDs or so. After that, it sounded pretty good and I could tell it was going to stay (I heard a well warmed up and run in one, in the shop, so I had a good sense of where it would go). Right out of the box, the DAC sounds a lot better than the Apollo did after a few days. That really says a lot IMO. I'm very confident that everything will fill in and will sound a lot fuller over the next day or two. Can't explain why I feel it will; I just get that sense about it.

The most obvious thing that's there right now is the PRaT. It's pretty much on par with the Naim DAC ($3500). Even cold, it can carry a tune like it's fully warmed up and run in. I'm not saying the Rega DAC is better or will be better than the Naim DAC, but when everything fills in, I doubt it'll be very far behind. The Naim DAC has more functionality like a thumb drive input, iPod digital input, etc., so these things obviously drive up the cost without increasing sound quality. In terms of sound quality comparison, the Rega DAC sounded like a lighter version of the Naim DAC. Thinner, not as deep, and not as controlled on top. That's about it at this point. I hate to keep harping on warm-up, but once it's there, that gap will probably diminish quite a bit. I'll most likely hear them side by side next time I drop by my dealer's place. That should be very interesting.

For the guys with an interest in the Arcam rDAC, the Rega DAC sounds a good bit better already. That doesn't mean the rDAC is bad in any way at all. It's better than I thought it would be, actually. For $479, it's really a no-brainer DAC IMO. Far better than the V-DAC and the DAC Magic (sorry guys!). Next to the Rega, the rDAC looks a bit like a toy. The rDAC is about 1/3 its size, and less than half its weight. The Rega sounds more clean and open than the rDAC. More lifelike and boogies a bit more. The Arcam seems more laid back and softer at the top end. The rDAC really impressed me for its price, and I strongly recommend it if $500 or so is anyone's max budget.

It's a bit too soon to go into space around the instruments, high and low frequency extension and control, imaging and sound staging, and so on. They're all pretty good, but not where they'll end up IMO. Even though the Naim stuff has that wall of sound, it's a huge wall IMO. Height and width were as big as the room, but there's little depth. Frank Abella described it as the musicians are on stage and the sound is projected at you. It seems odd, but if you heard it set up right, it would immediately make complete sense. The Rega DAC did everything the Naim and stuff did in this regard. It sounded a bit more 3D, but I think the N-Sats were holding it back. In my room with my gear, I bet it would image a lot better.

I really liked the Naim gear and would have preferred to hear all the stuff with the Linn Katans instead of the N-Sats. They're far more my taste, and I'm more familiar with them at the end of the Naim gear. The Katans are discontinued and they sold their last demo pair in the last few weeks.

I'll post more when it's got a bit of time on it. This is just initial impressions right out of the box and not in my system and room.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1192
Registered: Jul-07
I'd wager you'll see a fairly significant improvement in the next week or so. My DAC took forever to burn-in. It sounded different every day for weeks.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13788
Registered: Feb-05
Great start and well done, Stu. I agree that the N-Sats are great fun but I don't think that I could live with them.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4296
Registered: May-05
The N-Sats are great for an hour or so. I'm not the biggest Naim speaker fan. Actually, the only ones I've really liked are the Ariva and the new Ovator S600. Figures that the Ariva is the red-headed step-child of Naim speakers, and the Ovator hasn't won over the hard-core Naim guys.

The DAC is so much better today. It's hard to analyze in that the music's flowing so well. More on that after dinner...

We got about 4 inches of snow today. Do you think that would stop me from throwing some pork chops on the grill?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13790
Registered: Feb-05
It would stop me. Then again I haven't grilled for months and won't for several more....April or May perhaps.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15677
Registered: Dec-04
Check with the "metal guys with smokers"
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2009
Registered: Oct-07
I've grilled (Weber) standing more than knee deep in snow.
And NO, I wouldn't even think about a mere 4".

Here in SoCal, however, that kind of nonsense is not on the list. Lately, we've had some near-Biblical amounts of rain. Everywhere is 200% or more of 'normal' for the entire SEASON which still has maybe 3 months more to go. We could easily double up on what we already have. I just spent the last 2 days digging a ditch for some drainage. 30' of drain later, I'M drained.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13792
Registered: Feb-05
Grillin' just don't mean that much to me. It's neat in the summer and I couldn't care less about it the rest of the year. 'Specially when my wife can pull together a mean Jambalaya! I've lost 60lbs over the last year and eat a little differently than I did a couple of years ago...just sayin'!
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4297
Registered: May-05
Great work on the 60 lbs, Art! I've lost 30, but plataued the last 2 months. No time to work out lately, for some odd reason...
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4298
Registered: May-05
More on the DAC...

Please don't interpret the earlier post as I don't like the DAC. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I left it on last night to help it warm up. My Apple TV outputs some sort of signal even when not playing, because the DAC's signal locked and 44.1 lights are on. This was the same case with the Theta DAC, even with the Apple TV in standby.

Played some music this evening when I got home from work. First impression was that it sounded much fuller. Imaging sounds a lot better too, but this could be from my system vs the dealer's.

I hate cliches, especially when people say digital gear sounds analog. That one gets way over used. The best way to describe the sound right now - it sounds like a great turntable without the pops, clicks, groove wear inner groove distortion. If you think turntables sound smoothed over, warm and laid-back, you haven't heard a good turntable IMO. The DAC sounds natural, organic, and really gets to the heart of the music. Tone Audio's Jeff Dorgay briefly said it sounded a lot like his Rega P9 turntable. I haven't heard a P9, so I can't agree, but I definitely see why he said that. Not that I'm saying the DAC sounds like a hifi piece, because it sounds like live music.

There's a decent amount of space around instruments, and it projects better than average images. I haven't heard any new small details that weren't there before. These aren't it's strong points/selling points, and they've never really been Rega's focus in any of their gear I've heard. What this thing does is sound natural and organic. The tone and timbre sounds the way it's supposed to sound - like the intsruments are in front of you.

The DAC is already far better than the Apollo ever was. It makes far more sense of the music to my ears. Metallica's Orion from Master Of Puppets is an 8 minute or so instrumental song. Recording quality isn't anything to write home about, and it can sound a bit compressed/congested. I can't exactly describe it, but it just got everything right and sounded far more real than I've ever heard it. The congestion is way less than before. In the track, there's two or three bass solos that people very often confuse for guitar solos. I knew they were bass solos, but always thought they didn't sound anything like a bass guitar. Hearing it now, it's very clear that it's a bass guitar. I've heard the song so many times before, so it's not like I didn't pay attention previously. Actually, the bass solos are something I focus on!

Another song that was a revolation was Hendrix's Little Wing. It's one of my favorite songs and always frusterated me from a sonic stand point. It sounds like a mess. Not so anymore. It's not perfect, but it sounds right now, like the DAC made sense out of it somehow. It's not artifically smoothed over, as that would annoy me so much more. I listened to Little Wing 3 times in a row!

I listened to alot more stuff, but these really stood out more thananything else.

Needless to say, I've never heard anything this musical in my home before. Everything the Apollo did, the DAC more than one-ups. My wife doesn't know I bought a new DAC - not that I hid it from her. I'm not going with the whole chiche 'even my wife noticed!' line. But here's what happened - Normally when I'm playing music, she's indifferent to it. When I went to turn it off, she asked me not to! That's a first. Her foot was tapping to the music; another first.

I'm not saying run out and buy this DAC. I am saying walk very fast to your Rega dealer and hear it.

Not sure how it compares to the Saturn, Art. I haven't lived with one. The dealer didn't have one on the floor either. I'd have loved that comparison. If your Rega guy has one, check it out. Can't say I agree with FatElvis's comments about the Apollo - mainly, the Saturn is more Rega than the Apollo, the Apollo is a bit strident in the highs - but I can say this thing is far better than the Apollo. I'd be interested in your take on it.

More to follow. Feel free to ask about anything that needs better explanation.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15679
Registered: Dec-04
Well done lads, but hats off to Art, for sweatin' to the oldies
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4299
Registered: May-05
To clarify one point - my wife isn't indifferent to music. She's indifferent to the gear and sound quality. She appreciates my appreciation of the gear, and she knows why I buy what I buy. She just enjoys music in a different way.

Also - my turntable has been packed up since we moved in August. I miss it a lot less now.

Safe to say I'm keeping the DAC?
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3405
Registered: Jun-07
Cooked some Steak up on the Traeger tonight. We got 5 inches of snow yesterday.

Stu - Excellent write up. Would you say you could happily live with the Naim 5i and Rega DAC combo? The NAIM DAC is a little pricey and if the Rega can bring 90 percent of the musical enjoyment that the Naim DAC could then its an easy 1000 dollar decision. Not to sound a bit crazy. How would you compare the Rega DAC to the Bryston DAC going by memory.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 898
Registered: Dec-06
Thanks for the write up, Stu. I may have missed it, but how do you have it connected at home? I know you tried various connections at your dealer and I believe you said they all sounded comparable.

I agree it would be great to hear the DAC against a Saturn. Do you know how it compares to a Rega Apollo 35th? That is ultimately what I will have to compare it to. I'm either going to keep the 35th, buy a Rega DAC, or buy a Naim CD5i. Maybe an rDAC. Actually, I'd love to hear an Audio Note DAC too.

By the way, there is something wrong with my Apollo. It's been acting very strange and I'm starting to be concerned. It has played flawlessly now for like two or three months straight. What's up with that?

This all brings me to the last question I have...I see you have respect for the rDAC. How does it match up to an Apollo? I'm thinking the rDAC might be a little too laid back for my taste. I like how Rega sources sound smooth, open, and organic, but also have plenty of drive and clarity. Ultimately I think what is better (rDAC or Rega DAC) in many cases will depend on listening tastes and partnering gear, though I'm sure the Rega will come out on top most often.

Sorry...another question. Have you tried the filers?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13796
Registered: Feb-05
Nicely done, Stu. I don't have a Rega guy anymore. He will be out of business soon and with what turns out to be little conscious around customers (don't ask) it ain't such a bad thing. Gonna have to muster up another Rega dealer, again. Probably go through the distributor next. I will inevitably look into a DAC but not quite yet. When I do I'll look at the Rega and Naim DAC's first.

You waited patiently for this DAC, Stu. Your honest approach to listening and reporting what you are hearing has done it justice. Well done!
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4300
Registered: May-05
I'll try to go in order -

Nick- I could very happily live with a Nait 5i and Rega DAC. They were a great combo at the dealer's, but I couldn't live with their choice of speaker. I've heard the Nait more than enough times to know the N-Sats held it back in ways I don't like.

Vs the BDA-1 is interesting. I haven't lived with it, so don't hold this as gospel - The BDA-1 is more matter of fact in a way. More polished, so to speak. The Rega is more funky/groovy. The best analogy would be it's basically like your Bryston gear vs your Nait. Sorry, but that's the best I can do.

Dan - Haven't heard the 35th Apollo. No idea what it does differently than the standard Apollo. Haven't read a review either. I have the DAC connected to my Apple TV's only digital output - optical. I use a cheap but great glass cable from Amazon of all places - $24.

Art - Is the dealer you're talking about the same guy you've talked about in the past? I thought it was someone else, where you could go hang out and listen to some gear for fun. Didn't expect you'd be in the market for a DAC. Just looking for a quick impression from s guy who lives with the Saturn. I respect FatElvis's comparison, but I don't know him and his preferences like I know yours.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4301
Registered: May-05
With the DAC now in my system, I honestly think I've struck the perfect balance that I was looking for. My system's working together in a way I've always wanted it to - well balanced and more musical than just about anything I've ever heard. Some systems do some things better, but not a combination of what I'm hearing right now. At least not for what I've invested in it.

I'm done buying components for a very, very long time. Maybe an interconnect or other cable or two after a few months, but that's it.
Dan -

If you really like what the Apollo is doing, the rDAC is going to be a step down. It's a $479 DAC vs $1500 or so CDP, so it should be. The rDAC may or may not be more open sounding and image a bit better. The room I was in and the system weren't mine, and the speakers weren't anything that would show big differences in these things. The demo room is a bit on the live side, and it has a bit of a cold feel to it. It gets more obvious every time I'm there. Also, I didn't spend as much time with it as everything else.

Nick -

Take the Rega DAC home and try it out if you can. It's a bit different than the BDA-1. I'd have loved to buy the BDA-1, but now that I have the Rega, I think I'm most likely better off. Not sure if I could say if the Rega DAC is 99% what the Naim DAC is or isn't. I can say that the Naim DAC has a few more features like thumb drive input, iPod digital input, DINs, and I think more inputs. These drive up the price and don't affect absolute sound quality.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1193
Registered: Jul-07
Sounds like you've got a winning combination Stu.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 13799
Registered: Feb-05
"Art - Is the dealer you're talking about the same guy you've talked about in the past?"

Yes, and like I said, don't ask.

After years of advocating for brick & mortar dealers I have come to the conclusion that I have been wrong. Honesty and integrity can come in many forms and any dealer, whether B&M or online can have it or lack it. Sometimes it takes a while to figure it out, longer if you are seduced by the "good deal" and a pretense of friendship, but inevitably the truth reveals itself.

I'll be buying a new digital source (potentially 3) in the next year or two as my wife's old Rotel will croak eventually. I will also need something for the computer and a music source for the HT, for when I have guests. So I'll be checking out the Rega DAC.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3406
Registered: Jun-07
I am 100 percent bringing home a Rega DAC Stu. Can't wait actually. I hear you on the comparison of Bryston vs Naim. Bryston DAC might do more audiophile stuff better but the Rega might just down right be more musical and toe taping. I wont miss audiophile features at all for musical enjoyment. The little Naim 5i has allowed me to enjoy the music more so than ever. The MSB DAC is fantastic and is what is running currently so the Rega will have to knock it out of park which I am sure it has the potential to do. Thanks for the answers Stu.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4302
Registered: May-05
Nick -

I'm not saying the Rega DAC is better than the BDA-1. I really like the BDA-1. It's very musical and does a ton of things right to my ears. Had the Rega not been exactly what I was looking for, I'd have found a way to save up the extra cash somehow. Good thing I don't have to though!

The Rega is warmer and smoother. It's a bit more forgiving, in that lower SQ stuff didn't sound unlistenable. The Rega isn't artificially warm and smooth though. It pulls it off in a way that's hard to describe. I guess the turntable analogy is the best way to describe it.

The BDA-1 is not as warm and a bit leaner and meaner. Bass may or may not go deeper, but I'd say probably just a tad. Imaging is far more pin point. There's more detail there, especially fine detail.

What the Rega does that I haven't heard anything really do yet is make sense of a mess. Hendrix's Little Wing (latest remastered CD) and Metallica's Orion are perfect examples of it. It's not like the Rega has more space around instruments or is artificially smoothing things over, it just sounds so much more right through the Rega than I've heard it. Call it PRaT, call it whatever you will.

The Rega DAC isn't every audiophile's dream. There's stuff that'll do the audiophile traits better. I highly doubt any music lover who also appreciates great sound wouldn't grin hearing the Rega DAC.

The BDA-1 is a very musical player too. It balances music and hifi very well IMO. If you're doubting Bryston's musicality, keep in mind my B60 is letting all this through!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3407
Registered: Jun-07
No way man, I would never doubt Brystons musicality. My Bryston gear was old and tired, but still slammed with lots of detail. The Naim is new and giving personal preference is what it really has over my 20 some old Bryston gear. Your B60 would be heads and bounds more musical than my Bryston gear was. Bryston back in the day was all about bringing out the most detail possible and realism. The newer stuff became more house hold oriented and just simply sounds better.

Overall it sounds like the Rega DAC is a sure winner. I like the price point too. My dealer says its in Canada in a few weeks.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4304
Registered: May-05
I got one of the very first ones, Nick. Maybe they sold out of the first batch to North America? I have Serial # 25.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4305
Registered: May-05
I agree with what you're saying about older Bryston vs new. Also, many considered the B60 to be the sweetest sounding Bryston stuff for a very long time.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3409
Registered: Jun-07
Yeah the B60 is fantastic. I almost bought one and would happily live with one for a good long time.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4595
Registered: Feb-07
Really interested to hear your first impressions of the Rega Stu. I still have the idea of a DAC as my next purchase and your experience maybe adds the Rega to the shortlist of what to look at. At first I though it had to the BDA-1 (heard it at Nucks house, and sounded good), then I was thinking, I could save myself 700-1000 bucks and pick up the Wyred DAC-1, but those seem to be hard to get and no one's really heard one. So maybe the Rega may be the way to go?

I'm patient... I'll wait till Nick gets one and see what he thinks :-)

You planning on leaving it on all the time?
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 907
Registered: Dec-06
I think I might also ask my dealer for an in home trial. Nothing to lose in just trying it out, so why the heck not?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4596
Registered: Feb-07
I have a Rega dealer here in town, but from what I've heard, they don't do home trials.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 908
Registered: Dec-06
Pretty sure I can get one for a day. When I typed that I was thinking of doing it next month when I've got a few days off, but I have to get my system sorted out first (speakers). So perhaps in April or May.

If I can't swing it then I'll just bring my Rega 35 to the store and we'll listen one slow afternoon.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4308
Registered: May-05
Someone else has to hear this thing to give me some credibility

In all seriousness, if you're remotely interested in a DAC or have a CDP that's aging a bit, you should put this on your short list. The Arcam rDAC should also be auditioned, as it's a great deal for the money.

Art - Of you've got to buy a few sources, especially a DAC for a secondary system, the rDAC should definitely be looked into. If you're looking for something a hood bit cheaper than that, I've got an old Theta DAC that'll need a new home
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3410
Registered: Jun-07
lol Stu I think David was referring to the Wyred DAC. We all trust your ears on ecoustics. I just text messaged my dealer. He is back to work tomorrow and will give me a quote on the Rega DAC.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4309
Registered: May-05
I was saying someone else has to hear the Rega DAC. It was a bit of a joke.

It's $995 down here.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3412
Registered: Jun-07
OhhhhH got ya got ya.lol Misinterpreted.My bad.

995 there will mean probably 1199 here. Our dollar is on par but we still get jacked a bit on electronics. But my dealer I am sure will throw me a great deal new.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15684
Registered: Dec-04
Dave, is the room ready yet?
We may have some testing to do.
I will bring a bryston.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4599
Registered: Feb-07
The room is a long way off Nuck, unfortunately. I think another 2 months at least, at my rate.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15686
Registered: Dec-04
Heck, you may have to come here!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 910
Registered: Dec-06
Quick question for you guys - what are some decent music streamers or music servers to look at in the $500-$1,000 range? I don't even know what the proper term is - I have never considered nor even read about a product like this before. Basically I would want something that I can copy music to (I guess it would need a HDD) and that would then pass the digital signal along to the Rega DAC, then analog to my amp, and then to the speakers. So no DAC or amp is needed nor wanted in the server/streamer.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4600
Registered: Feb-07
Mine is of the Macgyer/home rolled sort. A mess, really, but works well enough for my wife and my son to use it. Just need a better DAC!
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4310
Registered: May-05
The Apple TV gen 1 is $150 on Amazon. 160 gb of HDD, can use a universal remote or iPhone/iPod Touch as remote. You also get YouTube and Internet radio.

I have 350 or so CDs ripped as Apple Lossless and synched to it's hard drive. I'm at exactly half it's capacity. I can't say enough good things about it. If you run out of room, you can either unsynch what you don't regularly listen to, or you can stream your music. It's good in that it's a self contained unit that doesn't need the main computer running.

Downsides are it'll only play WAV, Apple Lossless, and AIFF, no FLAC or high-res.

People complain about it's video stuff - Apple's movie rental/buying scheme, limited to 720p, etc. I don't use it that way, so no problem with that.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4311
Registered: May-05
There are people out there who shoe-horn a bigger HDD into them. I'm not at all savy with that stuff, so I leave it alone.

Nick - Is this something you could do?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4602
Registered: Feb-07
I think Nick probably do anything you throw at him Stu.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4312
Registered: May-05
Dave -

I have a strange feeling that your Stingray would sound great being fed by the Rega DAC. Have I told you how much of a fan of the Stingray I am?
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4603
Registered: Feb-07
You have Stu. In fact, it was one of the factors that caused me to try one out, and I'm glad I did. I'm still loving the Stingray man, in fact, I was just listening to the new Social Distortion album on it not 15 minutes ago.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3416
Registered: Jun-07
Social Distortion? Wicked David. I cant wait to hear the Stingray.

Stu- All apple products can be hacked jacked and bo backed my friend. All you need is a PC to do so ;D . hehe

All jokes aside the Apple TV's internal hard drive can definitely be upgraded with a larger one. No problems there bud. One thing is for sure the little Apple products are tough to get into. I can jail break your IPod touch while I am at it. lol. I actually picked up an Ipod touch 4th Gen over the holidays for testing. I am using MobiMote to control everything networkable in my house including the Media Center in the system. All you need is a network. Anyone with a touch or IPhone who hasnt checked out MobiMote should check it out.

Dan - Would you want a streamer or a self contained server? Streamer means you will need either a PC/Mac, external drive, or other networked device feeding it music through software. There is usually no optical drive or database collection management in a streamer. Server is all of that in one box. There is advantages and disadvantages to both. It all depends on what your budget is and what sort of long term install you plan on doing. The thing I like about the Apple TV is that while its not a full server, it has an internal hard drive so it can self contain data. A Streamer with a built in drive is handy, and the price of 150 is a very good value. Like Stu said it does have its disadvantages like lack of FLAC and high res. Both of which I could care less about. All I personally need is WAV myself. If your not an I-Tunes fan you do not have to use it past the initial setup. The Apple TV comes up as a storage device so it makes it easy to drag and drop music onto it. I would do some research on Streamers and full Media Centers and see what best suits your needs.

Sorry to get off topic a bit Stu.

Jamie - I see us making a trip to Davids with amps and dacs in hand. Rega included. ohhhh I am getting all excited.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4313
Registered: May-05
Dave -

I was joking around when I asked about the Stingray. I'm pretty sure I was the one who put that idea in your head.

I've gotta check out Social Distortion. It's a band that I've heard a track or two from here and there, but never really looked into them. Where's a good place to start?
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 912
Registered: Dec-06
Nick, I think I'd want the server. I want one box that is the size of an amp (it can be smaller) that I can put songs on, then select an album and hit play and away it goes. It would probably display the album name, artist, and all of that. Not sure what else it would do.

I know that Cambridge Audio and Naim and the like have certain products. I hear a lot about Sooloos too. Stereophile has a review on that product, which I'll read soon. I'll have to look into it a bit more. I wasn't going to take the plunge this soon, but there are a few things making me seriously consider moving on from my Apollo. One alternative that I may opt for is the dedicated transport to DAC route. Really not sure yet, but the future is obviously away from physical media like the CD. Finally, I might stick with the Apollo, but that seems least likely.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 913
Registered: Dec-06
Sooloos retails for about $10K. Strike that from the list. lol!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 914
Registered: Dec-06
The Cambridge Sonata NP30 or Marantz NA7004 is closest to what I had in mind. The Squeezebox Touch, Wadia, and Apple TV look pretty good too. In a perfect world I'd get the Linn, Naim, or PS Audio server, but the world is far from perfect!

It's a totally different way of listening to music than I'm used to. I can't even imagine it.

Sorry to drag this off topic, Stu. I'll post in another thread if I have any further questions.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4604
Registered: Feb-07
Stu, I highly recommend you check out Social Distortion. The lead guy, Mike Ness, is very blues and country influenced and it shows in their music. They even did a legendary cover of Ring of Fire on their 1990 album. Where to start? Honestly I think the best to start is their new album "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes" (but it's not out yet - Jan 18). It has a definite Stones vibe to it. But all their albums are good.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4325
Registered: May-05
A pretty cool video by a dealer...

 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 923
Registered: Dec-06
Still not sold on the looks...don't get me wrong though, it doesn't look bad...just a little odd. I'm probably going to opt for black myself.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4622
Registered: Feb-07
I actually like the look of it better in silver than black, and I even usually prefer black gear.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 4842
Registered: Dec-03
Very nice and informative review, Stu. Thanks! I bought a DACMagic about 6 months ago. There was no Rega at that time, just rumours. The DACMagic is good, but I have no comparison. Except to say that the Rega Apollo s/pdif into the DACMagic makes the sound a just little brighter, maybe harsher, than what I hear from the Apollo's own analogue output. In contrast, the DACMagic does great things to the output from the Apple TV, which I think has a poor analogue output.

What prompted me to get a DAC was high resolution audio file downloading. I intended to use it with an Apple TV, but the ATV on its own will not show the full benefit of hi-res, since it is limited to 44.1/16 even with s/pdif into a DAC. Also, as Stu notes, no FLAC.

I have a suggestion for Dan, looking for streamer: a Logitech Squeezebox Touch. You'd need to keep all your files somewhere else, though - it has no storage. Stereophile review.

The Touch is well within the budget range you mention - you could buy and plug in, directly, a TByte USB hard drive and still have plenty of change.

Apologies for digression here. Wish I'd known last year abou the Rega. Thanks again for this thread!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 4843
Registered: Dec-03
Sorry, bad link in the above post.

Stereophile review of Squeezebox Touch.

Nick, too, noted absence of FLAC from Apple TV.

Not sure what music folk like here, but Linn Records Studio Master downloads demonstrate what hi-res can do. Yesterday I got this as 192 kHz/ 24 bit FLAC:

http://www.linnrecords.com/recording-espana.aspx

The Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez is really something. Space, balance, dynamic range. A concerto for acoustic guitar and full orchestra must be hard for recording engineers to get right. That recording is an object lesson. Wonderful. The Adagio is well-known, covered for example by Miles Davis and by the Modern Jazz Quartet.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 934
Registered: Dec-06
Thanks for the suggestion, John. I was watching a video of the Squeezebox in action on You Tube, and it seems like it would work very well. It would be at the top of my list, but I think I'm going to hold off on a streamer for now.

I picked up a new budget universal Blu-Ray player a few weeks ago that I am very pleasantly surprised with in terms of sound quality. I think for the time being I will probably use the Rega DAC with it, and perhaps the next logical move from there will be to a streamer/server solution. I'm in no rush, still happy to use disc media, so with that in mind waiting to see what new streamers and servers hit the market in the near future seems prudent.

I'll be very interested to hear how the Rega DAC alters the sound, both of the BR player and my Apollo 35. I'm shooting for an April/May in home demo. My dealer usually posts a note online when a hot piece of gear lands in his showroom. Nothing about the Rega DAC so far, so I'm guessing it has not hit Canada yet.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 4844
Registered: Dec-03
That's good to hear, Dan. Thanks for the reply. I'd guess someone has tried a Rega DAC with an Apollo. Would it sound like a Saturn? I like the Apollo as it is. Not sure if mine has a number. As I said, I am just dipping a toe in hi-res downloads, too. That's the reason for my interest in DACs.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 935
Registered: Dec-06
The Apollo 35 is the special edition 35th anniversary Apollo. Made in limited quantities, it has some upgraded parts that are used in the Saturn.

I would expect anything playing through the Rega DAC to sound different than the Apollo or Saturn, as Stu and Fat Elvis have indicated on this forum. It is it's own animal, so to speak. The transport used may also make a difference. Both of them indicate the DAC is a definite step up over an Apollo. But Fat Elvis indicated that he wouldn't quite be so unequivocal about it being superior to a Saturn. Different, but not necessarily better, depending on one's preferences.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 4845
Registered: Dec-03
Appreciated, Dan. Good to meet you. I'll let others step in now. I have no more to say of any consequence on the Rega DAC. Unfortunately!
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4340
Registered: May-05
I wouldn't get into a streamer or server because you think physical media will go away. It'll be here for a very long time. Where we buy it from may change, but that's about it for the forseeable future IMO.

I'm also confidant that high-res isn't going to take the world by storm any time soon. From what I gather, downloading it isn't exactly quick, streaming it has some bugs, and how do you make a physical back up?

Add to that that the mass market finds iTunes 120 Kbps mp3 (or whatever it is) perfectly acceptable, and high-res going mainstream is a pipe dream IMO. Sure, there'll be some stuff available, but realistically speaking, how much?

Another major obstical is convenience. How many portable players will play high-res? How many files will fit? Can they play in a car system?

I'm pretty sure convenience killed HDCD and DVD-A, and made SACD a novelty product for all intents and purposes.

Call me a cynic or whatever you will. I call it looking at the past and not getting my hopes up for something that's failed countless times.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 938
Registered: Dec-06
Nice to talk to you too, John. I have not heard the DACMagic, but it is held in pretty high regard, so enjoy it and don't worry too much about the Rega DAC. Unless you've got the funds to upgrade perhaps! For what it's worth, the sound you mention from Cambridge has been my experience with that brand too.

Stu, I guess it would depend on whether the music one likes is available in high res. For some genres it could very well be. For more mainstream fare, not likely.

If I were to buy a server/streamer, I'd do it for the convenience and any sound quality upgrades one could realize because the system doesn't have to read data on the fly. Make a bit perfect copy in EAC and then use that same exact bit perfect copy each time, fed into the DAC.

I think we've discussed this before, but I can see the day that all music in stores like Best Buy and HMV is available on an SD card. Now I'm not sure if that is in the works or for some reason the industry has opted against it, but it would be super convenient, save lots of retail shelf space and packaging, you could have artwork that loads up when you insert the card into your PC, and it could either play through the PC or into a server that accepts the card. Of the servers I've looked at though, most seem to not have an SD card slot.

Stu, hopefully you don't mind the thread going off on a tangent, of course servers/streamers are another topic altogether, though at the same time related to DACs. I don't really have much else to add anyway, you guys certainly have more experience with servers and streamers than I do. Like John I think I will defer then, until I am able to listen to the Rega unit.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4341
Registered: May-05
I don't mind where the thread is going. Like you said, something's gotta play it.

I saw a few albums at Best Buy a while back on what I think was SD. Definitely a flash memory card,not a USB stick. Haven't seen or heard anything about it since.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 4848
Registered: Dec-03
Thanks, guys. Appreciated. I too would prefer a physical CD to the same content downloaded - it's cheaper (if you buy it), you get the printed info, and a a free back-up copy on optical disc. I said I'd stop, but this is just also to say the Squeezebox Touch has an SD card slot. I'm not sure what it's for. It might be for artwork.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15824
Registered: May-04
.

Thanks to John I found this thread and thought this might be of value to the current discussion; http://www.musicdirect.com/product/86601

There was a comment a while back on an "audiophile" portable music player which used media storage cards and had an internal harddrive I remember the $798 price but not the brand name.


We've been replacing our copies of Radiers of the Lost Ark from VHS to LaserDisc to DVD to BluRay so I wouldn't hesitate to think the retailers wouldn't think we should have just one more copy of The White Album on mini-SD card.

.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1206
Registered: Jul-07
Presumably, selling high-rez music on phyisical media is a way to avoid waiting for it to download ? Not sure. Maybe there is some copyright issues with posting it for download at a reduced fee. Myself, I'd rather download it today, rather than waiting for a week for it to arrive in the mail. Plus, avoiding all of the packaging materials is more planet friendly. I wouldn't use the USB stick once I had copied the music off of it anyway.

It will be interesting to see where this goes in the future. I have to remind myself often that I'm far from a "typical" customer, so what I want is likely the opposite of what most other people would want. To Stu's comment earlier re: availability of high-rez files, I think he's right. The only thing I'd add though is this. In my opinion the single biggest upgrade most of us could do for our systems is to ensure that all of our recordings were top knotch. If all of your cd's sounded as good as the best of your cd's, would that not trump a component upgrade ?

Now, I'm not suggesting that high-rez files fix bad recordings, as they won't. But, they'll sound as good as they can sound (or, at least as good as they can sound today). And as for most people being happy with compressed recordings, and perhaps there will be insufficient demand to drive high-rez content......I would argue that the same is true for stereo components. Sure, most people buy a receiver from Best Buy. But, how many audiophile companies are out there making high end speakers, amps, dacs, etc. Hundreds. So the demand for high quality audio is proven. It won't compete with the mass market volumes, but I believe it is sufficient to drive companies to offer high-rez content. As soon as the hardware to play it becomes more common, the content will follow. No doubt in my mind.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15826
Registered: May-04
.

"I wouldn't use the USB stick once I had copied the music off of it anyway."


You can't copy the data from the Beatles USB drive. If you could, you could pirate the distribution of the content and that would be very bad for the music business. Think about the issues which have held up and held back the development of so many formats through the years. Watermarking was a serious issue of disagreement between the public and the music industry for several years just prior to the introduction of both MP3 and the SACD/DVD-A media. Most "serious" music listeners, and not just audiophiles with golden ears but simple listeners who heard differences, objected to the effects of watermarking on these materials as the process interfered with the music's performance. http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=slv8-hptb5&p=watermarking%20SACD&type =

Digital coding made the issue far more important to everyone involved as the concept of digital is still a perfect copy each time as opposed to the obvious degredation of sound quality with each subsequent copy made in analog.


"So the demand for high quality audio is proven. It won't compete with the mass market volumes, but I believe it is sufficient to drive companies to offer high-rez content. As soon as the hardware to play it becomes more common, the content will follow. No doubt in my mind."


Sorry, Chris, you're not looking at the actual history of the media. As audiophiles we would like to think better sound is what everyone should be about but that's simply not the case. For one thing, it would be very difficult to get a group of "audiophiles", music lovers and engineers to agree on what "better sound quality" actually means. However, looking at what has trumped sound quality over the last century of "progress" in audio you would find "convenience". The 78 RPM disc trumped the cylinder for several reasons but one being the amount of storage space required by each (sound like a familiar agrument?), the LP beat out the 78 due to longer playing times, automatic changers were far more popular as turntables than single play tables, tape became the "audiophile's" format while LP prevailed in sales since you could find the beginning of any cut just by looking at the disc, you could stack five disc on top of each other and LP's took up less storage space and didn't become a rat's nest if you dropped the disc as tape would, Beta lost to VHS, most people never knew there was a LaserDisc let alone saw one demonstrated, same for the ElCassette (though its "quality" was debatable even though its principles were good), casettes outsold LP's, the Walkman started listeners down a path of having music as not much more than background noise, CD's are more convenient than LP's for the very reason this thread states, MP3's and MiniDiscs pushed CD's aside, etc.

But mostly, in a music as sonic wallpaper market, SACD and DVD-A barely made an impression in the market.


"As soon as the hardware to play it becomes more common, the content will follow. No doubt in my mind."


Go down to a local big box store today and ask the twenty something working there if they know what "SACD" stands for and why they were important? Ask if they have any "universal" players. Wander over to the hard disc music section and ask if they sell anything on SACD.

DSD vs PCM? No contest in quality. Unfortunately, since Sony (and others) were mostly interested in the non-copy provision of the format, as DSD signals were passed through most studio gear capable of handling DSD the actual data stream had to be down converted to PCM to move to the next piece of gear. If the SCAD disc you were listening to had been "engineered" in most studios, it was a good bet what you were hearing had been down converted from DSD and then up converted back to DSD from a PCM format.


"If all of your cd's sounded as good as the best of your cd's, would that not trump a component upgrade ?"


Chris, to answer that question I would take you back a few years to this thread; https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/56709.html

Chris, your perrennial optimism is not new but history does indicate it is misplaced.



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1207
Registered: Jul-07
"Chris, your perrennial optimism is not new but history does indicate it is misplaced."

Wouldn't be the first time.

"But mostly, in a music as sonic wallpaper market, SACD and DVD-A barely made an impression in the market."

True enough. But I think there is a difference here. Those formats were proprietary, required a specific piece of hardware to play them, and required you to purchase/re-purchase a new disk format. I'm not convinced this is the same. Digitial media is already rampant as a "format" per se, and no special appliance is required that they don't already have in many cases. Ipod's will support high-rez files on them now. Most Dacs are supporting high-rez files whether purchased as a separate component, or embedded in a receiver. So there is no format conversion that needs to take place, as there was with DVD-A and SACD. The format is already predominant. What we're talking about IMO is simply adding a quality aspect to the equation. Some people will always be satisfied with "good", others, given the choice, will want "better".

And yes, perhaps that's an optimistic view. And as I also said earlier, I have to remind myself I'm not a typical customer. What often makes perfect sense to me, doesn't in the real world. That's what you get with a focus group of 1.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 4849
Registered: Dec-03
Thanks for the comments and links, Jan.

I agree with Chris that we are now seeing increased quality as an added option for downloaded music. Domestic network bandwidth has made this possible. I am reminded that when we started that thread I was still using dial-up modem, like many people, and paying by the minute. 2 GB of downloaded FLAC files are now within reach, if this is what people want.

There is another aspect. The distinction between downloading and streaming is getting blurred. Internet "Radio" is getting better all the time. When you play music from digital files, it almost doesn't matter, just considering what you hear and see, whether you own the medium on which the files are stored. Or where they are stored.

Whichever way things go, it will make a difference to have a better DAC. That's the point where bits of information get converted into electrical signal. The need for this is unlikely to go away, I think.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1232
Registered: Jul-07
So Stu, now that you've had the unit for a while, and it's gone through most of its burn-in, what the verdict ? Still happy ?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4349
Registered: May-05
Very happy. It's as described above, only everything's a bit better. Easily the best source I've owned, and one of the best I've heard, regardless of price.

Once the hifi rags get a hold of it, I'm sure it'll get as much attention as the Apollo did, if not more. Then again, maybe not because they might still be hung up on CD players.

Just wish I had more time to listen to music through the main system. Infant daughter, more than full-time work, second go-round with grad school, it never ends. Well, hopefully the grad school part will.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1234
Registered: Jul-07
Good to hear. I'm in the same boat time-wise. Cleaning out my driveway after snowfall has become a nightly event here lately......and the snowbanks just get higher and higher.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 975
Registered: Dec-06
My dealer should have the Rega DAC in stock this week. I was told they ordered four of them.

I'm a little turned off about getting a DAC now though. A problem I've discovered is that universal players do not output full resolution audio from SACD or DVD-A through their digital outs, so I can't play those formats through an external DAC.

I've owned three blu-ray players over the past four months. CA 650BD, which I owned for a year or so. I wanted a more up to date player with better DVD upscaling so I bought the brand new Denon DBP-1611UD in December, with the intention of using the Denon as transport into the Rega DAC. The Denon surprisingly sounded better than the Cambridge on red book CD (warmer and smoother). The motorized tray mechanism seemed higher quality too, giving me a good feeling about using it as a transport. But video quality was, like the Cambridge, disappointing. You have to spend $1,000 plus with Denon/Marantz/Cambridge before you get a dedicated video chip like the one from Anchor Bay or Marvell. With Oppo you have to spend only $500. I should have looked into that a bit more before buying the Denon.

So I picked up an Oppo BDP-93 yesterday. I haven't tried it for audio, but I expect decent quality there. It's a definite step up as far as picture quality. Build quality is also very good, I would say edging out the Denon and Cambridge. As much as I want to like the competition, Oppo simply has the most up to date and best value players on the market, in this price range. I'm happy for now and can forget about blu-ray players for many years I think.

But to run it through a DAC, for red book I'd need to use co-axial cable. Then whenever I want to listen to a SACD or DVD-A disc, I'd need to change the cables, so that I'm running interconnects from the analog outs on the Oppo to my amp. What a pain that would be. Unless I can have both connected and the Oppo defaults to digital out when it can, and reverts to analog out when it plays a SACD or DVD-A disc. Perhaps that's a question I will ask Oppo.

Oh, here's another Rega DAC review:

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue53/rega.htm
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 976
Registered: Dec-06
Well, I found out that the Oppo 93 has all outputs active. So that would mean I could use both the digital and analog outs and just switch to digital through the DAC for CDs and analog to my amp for high res discs. Easy as pie, and can be done with one button push on my remote.

I'm deciding now between either an upgrade to a used Saturn (after trade in of my Apollo SE it would cost about $300 more), or the Rega DAC (which costs about the same as I'd get for my Apollo SE). Is the DAC a no brainer? Big upgrade for virtually no cost? I guess it depends on how important the transport is. Reading people's opinions online has been very unhelpful, as it seems there is a lot of disagreement about this. If it is important, how good is the 93 as a transport? Oppo makes a decent product, so one would think it should be acceptable. The DAC is of course more future proof, allowing me to move to a non-disc based transport whenever I'm ready to.

Loving the sound of my system more and more as my Tannoys have broken in, and I've substituted interconnects. I think the Apollo SE works great with my amp and speakers, so I'm hesitant to make a move. But I feel sticking with Rega is safe (I briefly considered a Naim CD5i), as the Rega sound seems to work nicely with the rest of my gear, and if I can upgrade at very little to no cost then I should take advantage of that opportunity.

If anyone has any thoughts then, about a BDP-93/Rega DAC vs. a Rega Saturn, I'd love to hear them.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3435
Registered: Jun-07
I say DAC for sure IMO Dan. How much longer are we going to be able to purchase CD's? Maybe for a while yet, maybe not. Not only will the DAC be future proof, it will also allow you more possibilities with connectivity down the road as well. You can run multiple units through the DAC to get quality sound. Not only that, but from what I have read the Rega DAC is as good (different however) in many ways than that of the Saturn. Of course this is subject to taste. I believe the Transport does matter. I also would think the BDP-93 would make a fine one at that. I say buy the DAC. That is my opinion.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4662
Registered: Feb-07
I 50% agree with Nick. Buy the DAC, if you intend on moving to a server based source down the road.

But, if you have a substantial CD collection a CDP is still a viable source. And we'll still be able to buy CDs for a very long time still, both new on Amazon (where I buy a lot) and your local used CD stores (where I buy even more!).

You already have a very good transport with the 93, so you can have the best of both worlds with a good DAC.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3436
Registered: Jun-07
That is true. You can use cd's with the transport and use a server or some other source on another input. Best of both worlds.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 977
Registered: Dec-06
Thanks guys. Agreed David, a CDP is still more than viable, especially for someone like me who isn't looking to move away from that medium. However, in a year or two? Who knows what I'll be doing.

I've got three options here...keep the Apollo SE for no cost, trade the Apollo SE in for the DAC for approx. no cost, or get the Saturn for $300. Or you could break it down to two options - stick with a CDP or go the DAC route.

If sticking with a CDP, the Saturn should be a definite step up over the SE, and for 300 bucks in my eyes is worth doing. That would eliminate the Apollo SE from the mix. But if the DAC gets you to Saturn level, and like you guys said is the best of both worlds, and would cost me nothing after trade-in of the SE, why pay the $300 for a Saturn? Nick is right though, the sound is reported to be different.

Anyways, my dealer just offered to lend me a Simaudio CD1, which I think I'll take him up on. I'm also wanting to borrow the i-1 to go along with it. No intention of moving on from Rega/Exposure, but I'm curious to hear a different approach, with Sim probably being a little less flat earth than Rega and Exposure (and I know several of you guys dig the Simaudio sound). I'm going to hear this before deciding on the DAC. I was almost ready to order the DAC now, but I'm going to be a little bit patient and make sure it's what I want to do.

I don't feel as iffy about using the 93 as a transport now, so unless the Sim stuff bowls me over I'll probably grab the DAC within the next couple of months.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3437
Registered: Jun-07
Simaudio has quite the range from the i-1 stuff right up into the multi-thousand dollar amps. All of it which I like a lot. Simaudio stuff I would happily live with.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 978
Registered: Dec-06
No doubt they make good stuff. My auditions of Sim Audio gear didn't go very well, but I think it was related to set up and possibly associated components. So at first I was going to turn down the offer, but I figured why not? It won't hurt to try for a couple of days. The one thing I've long felt I might be missing was sound that was projected forward more. The Tannoys have helped some in that regard, but with all speakers I've tried the sound always seems to be on the plane of the speakers. I chalk that up to the flat-earth approach of Rega/Exposure, but that's just a guess. I don't think either of those two are as ardent about the approach as Naim or Linn is.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1252
Registered: Jul-07
Simaudio has a sound quite different from Rega. If you love that sound, you'll love the gear. Very well made gear. My dealer here carries it so it's one of the few I'm familiar with. I have a hunch what you'll think of it, but I'll keep that to myself until you report back Dan......don't want to put any preconceived notions in your head.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 979
Registered: Dec-06
I'm looking forward to it, Chris. It probably won't be for another month and a half though.

I have the two blu-ray players to trade in and was going to upgrade to a P3-24 with the proceeds. But I'm starting to question how much more I want to invest in vinyl. For the amount I listen and for how much I think I'm going to listen in the future, I think the money is perhaps better spent upgrading other parts of my system. I like dabbling in vinyl and will hang onto my MMF-2.2, but dabble is probably as far as it will go.

I'll definitely listen to the Simaudio combo, but I think it's likely I'll end up with the Rega DAC and thus the logical place to invest the funds could be the amp. With that in mind, in addition to Simaudio, I'll probably try out the Creek Evolution 5350 and the Sugden Mystro. That will hopefully give me a pretty good range of sound to consider. I think a Rega source would sound nice with all of those, but I'll try the Sim player with the Sim amp just in case. I don't think I'll try a Creek or Sugden source with those amps though. Four boxes to lug around will be enough.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2426
Registered: May-06
I know there are a couple of threads going regarding DACs but I figured what I have to add is most relevant here. Thanks JV for bringing this thread to my attention.

I spent a bit of time with my local dealer John whom I've done the most business with over the past few years. He had said a while back that he was anticipating a new CDP player coming out that was supposed to achieve a whole new level sound quality. It's not here yet.

So I listened to an Oppo 93 which I thought was quite good but digital sounding. John thinks the Oppo 95 outperforms the Saturn but I did not get to hear that one. He then switched over to an Esoteric SA-50 (I think) which completely outperforms what I hear from my Saturn. John was using Vandersteen 5's, an Anthem amp and other gear which I am not certain about so I will not venture a guess. The Esoteric was very precise, warm and smooth. I could have listened to it for hours.

John then switched to his MAC PC set up and ran the audio through a processor (still not sure which one) with hot rodded DACs inside. The soundstage exploded with a depth and bass presence that I had not heard before. It had more of a clinical sound to it than the Esoteric but that is the only negative I could describe. Finally he switched to a $1700 tube DAC which was less enthusiastic with sound stage and detail than the hot rodded DACS but had much the same color and warmth of the Esoteric while maintaining a good portion of the expanded soundstage and depth of the the hot rodded DACS.

John believes that running even a mini MAC through a quality DAC will outperform anything up to a $25K CDP. He likes MAC better than a Windows PC for audio processing.

The tube DAC to me was better than the Esoteric and I feel strongly that it would absolutely trounce my Saturn. I will have to work out an in house demo using my Windows 7 Media Center.

I picked up an new HP laptop that runs Windows 7 Premium 64 bit. After listening to John's config with his MAC a couple of days ago I decided to run my outboard hard drive through my new laptop into my HRT Music Streamer+ using my MHDT USB from outboard drive to laptop and laptop to DAC. I have not had time yet to do an A/B test but my ears are telling me this nickle and dime set up is a bit ahead of my Saturn. I will do some switching with the Emma CD in the Saturn and on the hard drive to come to a more definitive conclusion.

If it goes as I think I will definitely be asking John if I can try out his tube DAC at my place. I would not be surprised if I end up selling the Saturn to pay for his tube DAC or some other DAC that would allow me to break even. Maybe David's guy's Wyred DAC or an MHDT Tube DAC.

He did say that depending on the pairing that there are two different models of Wireworld USB that he prefers above all others. I figured I should add that in as I believe that these would be difference makers in the overall SQ.

Just if this post was not run on enough, if I go the DAC / Server route I will still be buying CDs to burn to the external hard drive. It's about the sound to me more than anything else. Besides, I will always have vinyl.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1268
Registered: Jul-07
Which tube DAC was he using MW ?
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2427
Registered: May-06
It was the Wavelength Brick. I will be picking it up today to demo it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1271
Registered: Jul-07
Very highly thought of. There is a very good review of one of the basic Wavelength units (<$1000) on the Computer Audiophile site.

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Wavelength-Audio-Proton-Asynchronous-U SB-DAC-Review
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 997
Registered: Dec-06
That is one sweet looking DAC, even if it is basically just a big logo.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4684
Registered: Feb-07
Hmmm, the Proton only has USB input?
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 998
Registered: Dec-06
On the Wavelength website they say the Brick is Stereophile Class A rated. However, I don't see this mentioned anywhere in Art's writeup. It also seems kind of pricey for what you are getting. Pretty close to BDA-1 territory, and significantly more than Rega. Just sayin'...for all I know it sounds better than anything in it's price range.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2428
Registered: May-06
The Wavelength Brick only has USB input too. The only thing it eliminates would be using the Saturn as a transport but at this point in time should I end up going the DAC route the Saturn will have to go for me to pay for it.

I warmed it up using my Kimber USB Cable then moved the Wireworld Starlight into play. My first impression was nice, a tip better than the Saturn perhaps but I need to listen more. I moved the DAC onto some wood planks with Jenga pegs under the feel for coupling to the floor. Later I may try my Granite slab under the DAC.

At this point it is nowhere close to what I heard at the dealer's the other day. I primarily stayed with Pink Floyd Animals and Emma throughout the evening. I have no intention of doing an A/B with the Saturn until about a day or two before I return the DAC. It did occur to me that the RCAs for the Saturn were one rev level newer and one grade higher than the RCAs I had in the HRT Media Streamer+ so I swapped the better cables into the Wavelength DAC. Up until doing this there was something not right which at this point I realized that the sound was somewhat muted before the RCA switch.

While I am liking the sound better it is much closer to what I already have with the Saturn than anything I heard at the dealers. Of course he was using an $8K Anthem Surround processor / pre and an Anthem solid state amp with Vandy 5's as compared to my kit but I still expected greater differentiation than what I got.

Lastly I ran some music that was on the laptop itself and not on the external hard drive that I use to store my music on and connect via USB to the laptop. I found what was looking for by eliminating the external drive with USB.

This is mostly what I was hearing at the dealers just not as grand in scale. More detail, higher wider soundstage with extended depth. On Pink Floyd Animals track 2, Dogs, which I copied back to the laptop from the external drive, right near the end of the track I heard four levels of percussion swirling from left to right rising higher on each pass as if it were going from main floor to mezzanine to 1st then 2nd balconies. Before this it just seemed to pass from left to right on the same level. I heard a lot of differences but this seemed the most tangible that I could comment on.

After speaking with JV tonight I am not ready to go all in just yet. I have a couple of weeks to sort through this. As JV pointed out this is just the first DAC that I have demoed aside from the HRT Media Streamer+. There is also the new twist that I will probably have to re-record my CDs I have already burned and everything else I have or will purchase directly to my laptop if I want optimal quality. My dealer suggested using DB Poweramp software for burning my CDs. Fortunately I have 1/2 Tb of space.

One more strike against this particular Wavelength DAC is that it is a Version 2 model not the current Version 3.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1272
Registered: Jul-07
What software were you using to play the tunes off of your laptop Mike ? There are also some settings in Windows to check to ensure you're getting bit perfect translation through to the USB port. Nick's the expert on the Windows front so he can chime in on what has worked best for him.

How long was the warm up period before you started to play tunes through the DAC ? Some of these units need a minimum of 24 hours before they come into their own.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2429
Registered: May-06
HP has their own audio program that came with the laptop but I just use the Windows Media Center to play the music off of the laptop Chris.

I warmed it up for an hour but it is still plugged in from last night. I will be back at it later today again.

I too would like to hear Nick's input.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3441
Registered: Jun-07
Hey Mike that DAC looks very nice.

By default Windows Media Center uses Media Player as a backdrop of a player. You really want to spice it up download the free version of Foobar.
http://www.foobar2000.org/

When you first install the foobar player you will think it was made by a 14 year old kid in his grandmas basement based on the looks alone.lol. But wait until you play a song through it. Go back and forth between it and Media Player to see the difference. Foobar2000 is IMO the best sounding player out there for the simple fact it uses its own decoding and bypasses all Windows audio codecs. If you like it let me know then we can get into some Registry hacks in Windows to change the codec/player Media Center uses.


Also make sure you USB audio driver is synced up at 44.1/24. To do so go to Start, then to Control Panel. Change the view to do 'Small Icons'. You will see an option called 'Sound'. Copy and Paste it out to the desktop for further use. Open it up and you will see the USB Audio driver. Click on it to highlight and then go to Properties. In here click on the Advanced tab to reveal the sample rates. Play around with them to see which one the DAC prefers. Should be fun. Let me know how much of a difference it all makes Mike. Cheers.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15997
Registered: May-04
.

44.1/24?!


What's with the "24"?



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4685
Registered: Feb-07
Windows Media Slayer is by far the worst media player out there, well there's iTunes I guess, but we won't even go there.

Foobar is lean and mean and designed for music playback, not eye-candy.

In the past I've always run Foobar with ASIO to bypass the Windows kernel mixer, but from what I understand, Windows 7 has been totally redesigned for audio playback and doesn't use the kmixer anymore, so it may not be necessary to install ASIO.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2430
Registered: May-06
Thanks Nick and Dave, I will work on that this evening and report back.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4686
Registered: Feb-07
Have fun Mike!
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2431
Registered: May-06
My laptop has the Dr. Dre Beats Audio for laptops which is interesting for laptop speakers. The HP MediaSmart Music Application also came with the laptop.

The option for USB for the Brick is hardset for 16/44.1 CD Quality and will not allow me to pull up the drop down menu to go to 24/44.1 for Studio Quality, I was able to upgrade it for my laptop speakers and headphone jack however.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4687
Registered: Feb-07
I think it would depend on the recording quality, would it not?. If the recording is captured at a 16 bit depth, playing it back at 24 bits would have no difference (upsampling or oversampling notwithstanding).

I've played with both upsampling CDPs and DACs and always preferred 44.1/ 16 bit. I think the 0 and 1's that are already on the source are as good as it's going to get.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2432
Registered: May-06
Foobar has my music dancing on the ceiling.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1275
Registered: Jul-07
Foobar is way better than FUBAR.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 15998
Registered: May-04
.



OK, if the "24" refers to a 24 bit system, then I don't understand. Or, I do and I don't. My recollection of "bits" is in relation to word length or "bit depth". A 16 bit system has doubled the word length of a 15 bit system. If the 15 bit word was constructed of "0001000101", the 16 bit word would consist of "00000011000000110011". This change can provide a better chance - and chance would still appear to be the most important word here - of looking at each numerical value more times. In theory this should provide the system with more chances at retrieving information correctly but, in reality as I understand it, if the word is not read correctly to begin with, then a change to more looks at an incorrect word is still an incorrect word. The system then depends on how many times the original data was sampled - information not provided by this system though eight times over-sampling has been generally agreed upon as the most workable unless the system is operating in DSS or HDCD.

I would think that any audible benefits related to an increase in bit depth - or word length - would be highly dependent on the quality of the transport which I wouldn't expect to be of the highest quality in most PC's or laptops. On the other hand, in comparison to the "average" stand alone CD player, jitter is typically rather low in most PC's and laptops if I remember correctly.

Additionally, by adding bits the system gains in dynamic range - in theory. There is always the matter of "the least significant bit" when dealing with Redbook CD. In any digital system noise in the form of dither has been added to the signal. Dither serves several functions. Dither is simply "shaking" the digital data stream to make it less prone to quantization errors and distortions. Quantization noise is the intermodulation distortion which relates to the highest frequency being sampled. At 44.1kHz the highest signal sampled is just above 22kHz according to Nyquist Theory. Redbook cuts off just slightly beneath this frequency to prevent ringing caused by the filters which are required to determine the sampling frequency. Any musical information in the data stream would be prone to induced intermodulation distorion (quantization noise) which is system generated noise created by the musical frequency and the 22kHz sampling frequency beating against each other. Quantization noise occurs within the audible bandwidth and is one of the huge bugaboos of "digital sound". I would say most designers would tell you intermodulation distortion is far more fatiguing than is harmonic distortion due to the non-linear nature of IM.

'Intermodulation or intermodulation distortion (IMD), or intermod for short, is the unwanted amplitude modulation of signals containing two or more different frequencies in a system with nonlinearities. The intermodulation between each frequency component will form additional signals at frequencies that are not just at harmonic frequencies (integer multiples) of either, but also at the sum and difference frequencies of the original frequencies and at multiples of the sum and difference frequencies.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermodulation

In Redbook CD this quantized noise can only be dealt with by using steep filters above the 22kHz point. The filters, however, have their own drawbacks to sound quality. By moving the sampling frequency upward, the quantization noises - or intermoduation distortions, if you prefer - are also moved upward as the difference frequency, the intermodulation component, is moved further upward in frequency and lowered in amplitude within the audible music range. I'm not clear on how this changes anything in a system which still reads at 44.1kHz. As far as I can see the upper limit of the system remains too low by most subjective standards to change any quantization noise.

Going back to dither and the least significant bit, the noise floor of the system is determined by the amount of dither added to the system. When Redbook was created the choice between 14 and 16 bit word length provided the designers a choice between ultimate dynamic range of CD playback. Dither exists at the low end of the spectrum and consumes the "least significant bit(s)" of the data stream. Any information contained in the lowest level bits is considered to be "the least significant" and it is, therefore, easily filtered out of the remaining data stream by way of dither. By discarding the dithered noise away from the output your 16 bit system becomes effectively a 14 bit (or lower) system. Dither is a constant level and frequency (or a constant stream of 0's and 1's if you prefer) that can more easily be identified and then filtered than is the musical information which is assumed to be inconstant flux. Working somewhat like noise cancelling headphones, the system is more able to distinguish those noises (0's and 1's) which form a constant signal rather than an in flux signal. Those least significant bits are then discarded by the system since they are, by definition, the least significant to the musical waveform. To a critic of digital sound it is heresy to throw away any musical information simply due to it being low in level. For most audiophiles, this is a major component of how they are judging the quality of playback - how much low level detail is retrieved by the system.

Changing from a 16 bit word length to a 24 bit word length provides a dramatically improved cushion for data which exists in the area where it would have normally been tossed out by the system as being "least significant". The issues would arise, I would think, in just how well the transistion has been made and has any data been lost to read errors or more commonly to jitter in the system when making this move in word length (or bit depth).

So a 24 bit system isn't seeing anything different than a 16 bit system if the original data stream was fixed at 16 bit.

I think. Certainly in terms of data streams which amount to musical information this should be true.

It is looking at longer word length but it has the ability to look more closely to each chunk of data. Sort of like eating a bigger sandwich in smaller bites, you still eat the whole sandwich but you can chew it better. No increase in actual useable data between any upsampling system or change of word length can occur. If the recording has been set at 44.1/16, that's all the musical information that can exist. No system so far can insert new information though I suppose Meridian has come the closest to making this occur.

Upsampling is mostly about looking at the data with different "eyes". As I was telling MW the other day, my limited experience with upsampling systems tells me that anything which moves data to a frequency which is not a simple multiple of the original data stream is less likely to succeed sonically. That would mean moving data from 44kHz to 88kHz rather than 44kHz to 96kHz. What advantages there are to leaving the data at a 44.1kHz sampling rate are not clear to me.

Any correction to my ideas above or anyone who can make clear any advantages to the 44.1/24 bit system is welcome to chime in.



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3442
Registered: Jun-07
Jan and Dave are correct. 44.1/16 is what I should have put, and is what my MC is currently set to. My mistake.

Mike- Dancing on your ceiling a good thing? lol
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2433
Registered: May-06
Well, for me, my music, and Lionel Richie it is.

Through the Wavelength Brick connected via Wireworld Starlight USB to the laptop, running Foobar, on battery and the media source on the laptop itself the soundstage has expanded to the point of reaching the ceiling as well as wall to wall across.

I still am getting the qualities of the sound I relish, the warmth, pace, etc.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1277
Registered: Jul-07
My understanding is that during the conversion of a 16 bit word to a 20 or 24 bit word length the required bits that are missing are simply filled in with "placeholders". In other words, the word length is padded. Nothing I have read leads me to believe that there is any sonic benefit in moving a 16 bit source to a higher word length. As Jan stated, you aren't creating any useable data.

Upsampling is a horse of a different color. You do create data when upsampling.....sort of. Whether adding those bits through clever software is sonically beneficial is arguable. Some seem to prefer the results, however I'm unconvinced.....but admitedly haven't heard that many upsampling DAC's.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3443
Registered: Jun-07
I hear ya Chris. SO far in my experience the upsampling options on the DAC's has not been for me. It seems to add a unrealistic flavour to the sound. I am now back to owning a Bryston DAC and even with it I do not like the upsample feature. Its O'Natural for me.

Mike - Glad you dig Foobar. Its a beaut.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16006
Registered: May-04
.

"Upsampling is a horse of a different color. You do create data when upsampling.....sort of."


Not to my knowledge, Chris. If the original data is limited to 44.1kHz sampling - and therefore approx. 22kHz in frequency extension, that's all the data that exists. Upsampling is used to move those aliasing artifacts (the IM products) farther away from the music content and have them lower in level when you begin with 44 and upsample to a higher frequency. By moving the sampling frequency further up the frequency range, the filters which are required in digital can be made far less steep and, therefore, they have far less influence on time and phase shift along with a reduction in ringing within the audible bandwidth.

Now, upsampled recordings are a horse of a different color. While it's impossible to flatly state anything definitive is responsible for any improvement I've heard from 196/24 masters downsampled to Redbook standards, I would say overall the upsampling feature has made for better sound quality even at Redbook playback levels.

I have a small, handheld digital recorder that I often take with me to concerts. These are performances of players not under contract to a studio so I always ask if they will permit me to record their performance. I have one recorder so I can't do an A/B comparison between the various sampling rates available on this recorder but any time I've used the 196/24 format on the recorder, the results have been more listenable than any recording made at 44/16.

I've linked to the Reference Recordings site down at Chris' "Role of a Recording Engineer" thread in the "Speakers" forum. RR offers a few upsampled downloads. If you have the ability to extract the files in a native format, I would suggest you give a listen.




.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 999
Registered: Dec-06
I posted this somewhere else on the forum. A paper from Sim Audio on upsampling, in which they seem to conclude like Jan does that upsampling and oversampling are really the same thing, and that upsampling as an idea is not much more than a marketing gimmick.

I don't know myself - Bryston's DAC for example apparently does both, so perhaps they would argue the two are indeed different. Maybe they really aren't - maybe when upsampling what Bryston is really doing is simply using a different filter after oversampling is applied??? Could that be?

www.simaudio.com/pdf/Upsampling.pdf
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4365
Registered: May-05
That's part of why I love the Rega DAC - it leaves the sample rate and everything else the hell alone - no upsampling, no oversampling. It simply converts what it's fed.

I've heard a bunch of upsampling DACs and CDPs. Very, very few sounded better to my ears. With the Bryston DAC, which the user can select upsampling or not, keeping it off sounded better to my ears the majority of the time. It created an artificial like sense of space. The only time it sounded better was stuff that was severely compressed like low bit mp3 streams. A lot of Internet radio stations sounded better, but redbook and above didn't, at least to my ears in a demo. The dealer confirmed that he's heard the same thing many times. Other dealer's I've spoken to have come to a similar conclusion, not just with the Bryston DAC, but with DACs in general. The Naim Uniti does something like this with Internet radio. Surprisingly, Internet radio sounds just about as good as redbook through it. Really low bit rate stuff sounds compromised, but not as bad as I've heard it.

Maybe upsampling's best use is low bit rate stuff and shouldn't be used for anything else?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4366
Registered: May-05
Anyone else hear the Rega DAC yet, or am I still the only one?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16010
Registered: May-04
.

"A paper from Sim Audio on upsampling, in which they seem to conclude like Jan does that upsampling and oversampling are really the same thing, and that upsampling as an idea is not much more than a marketing gimmick."


That isn't what has been intended with my posts, Dan, not at all. And upsampling and oversampling are two very different things. Upsampling has to do with the frequency at which the system is cut off from further information. Nyquist theory dictates that the highest frequency the system is capable of reproducing is half the sampling rate. Therefore, a 44.1kHz sampling rate will have a high frequency cut off at approximately half that frequency - 22kHz. Upsampling manages to move the position of the filters upward in frequency and further away from the audible bandwidth. Upsampling primarily affects aliasing distortions and how many samples exist for the highest frequency data.


Oversampling has nothing to do with the cut off frequency but rather it states how many times the signal sample is looked at by the DAC before it is passed along to the analog section of the system. Eight times oversampling is not the same thing as increasing the sampling rate by eight times.



The isssue of 44.1/24 has been cleared up as a typing error by Nick. The foobar system, from what I understand at this point, has a default operation at 44.1/16. My post which claims not to understand why there would be any improvements in a 44.1/24 system has been answered in that there are no word length (bit depth) changes to the original data stream when using foobar's defaults. It was all a typing error by Nick.



I would say, if there are any "gimmicks" in the digital market, they result from no one having a clear idea where the most significant problems exist with digital playback. And since the devices which are meant to correct the various problems identified by each designer are competing so rapidly for attention, there doesn't seem to be a consensus as to what it really takes to make digital sound less like digital and more like live music. There are literally too many products, each competing for an ever shrinking piece of the consumer dollar, and everyone has to have their own story to set them apart from the rest.

As I've said elesewhere, I find this market very confusing. It doesn't seem to be about improving the music as much as it has to do with having a story. Then it wouldn't appear to be about having enjoyable music reproduction, it seems more to be about having more of anything, just having more and never being satisfied with what you have rather than what someone else is offering.

I do believe I've reached my curmdudgeonhood. I don't get this market anymore.



.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1000
Registered: Dec-06
I've not heard one yet. I'm planning to in late April. I'll have some time off then and can work it into my schedule.

The only experience I have with upsampling is through my old Marantz DV-7001. I generally did not like the result. I think the higher end Cambridge players are well regarded as far as upsampling goes, but I've not heard one myself.

I really was intent on getting a NOS and filterless DAC, but I must confess, this feeling has lessened after reading posts by Dan Lavry on the Head Fi forum. Now he probably has his agenda like everyone else, but he seems to be respected as one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to DAC design. To say he is a non-believer in NOS design is an huge understatement. While he makes OS DACs and could be considered biased for that reason, it's also clear he truly believes in his design philosophies.

One of his arguments is that most, if not all, DACs today oversample. Whether they state this or not. He states that true NOS DACs roll off high frequencies in the listening range, but also put out unwanted highs (above 20Hz) to the amp, which tends to make it work harder than intended (or at least harder than it has to) and could possibly lead to stability issues. NOS DACs also lead to high amounts of phase non-linearity. His personal preference is for complete transparency, as he believes the role of a DAC is to perfectly (as close as possible) construct the signal on the disc being read. He does not want to color the sound, and if he does want this he'll do so at the amp or speaker level.

That's basically a summary of his conclusions going by memory. I think maybe they apply to DACs that are both NOS and filterless, not just NOS. It's been a while since I read the thread. It's an interesting thread to read though, it's called "NOS DAC - Marketing BS?" for anyone interested. Lavry gets very technical and is challenged at times, though everyone seems to concur that you cannot argue the facts he presents. I certainly wouldn't discount NOS DACs simply because of the thread, on the contrary what the thread did do was it made me realize that I probably shouldn't discount OS DACs.

Out of curiosity, I'd love to find out if the Apollo/Saturn is NOS or OS, but I can't seem to find this with a brief Google search.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16011
Registered: May-04
.

Sorry, Stu, this thread has somewhat veered to the side and rolled down an embankment as other topics have swerved in front of the bus. I haven't read the entire thread. Your initial review sounds interesting. But, to tell the truth, I don't care to go into my local Rega dealership to be harrangued about how they have decided which component I should listen to and that they have also decided which components I should not listen to since they do not meet Audio Concepts' high standards. I've reached a point where all of this seems to be such a circle jerk. The Positive Feedback review is an excellent example of the nuerosis which afflicts too many people who just want too much stuff. I read it and all the permutations of components which were involved in the review process and just wanted to scream, "Just listen to the f***ing music, you little jerk!!!"




Sorry to have hijacked your thread. It sounds like you're enjoying yourself and your new DAC.



.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16012
Registered: May-04
.

NOS DAC's!!!



Oh, my. My head hurts. I really should continue to avoid this section of the forum.




.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4367
Registered: May-05
Jan,

I don't look at the thread as hijacked. Its all relevant somehow. No complaints.

I didn't buy the Rega DAC because of any technology other than reproducing music. I don't care for white papers, specs, etc. I just care about the gear getting the music right, and that's what every Rega source I've heard has done very well, especially the DAC.

It just happens that my DAC is NOS, doesn't upsample, etc. Had it had 1000x oversampling and upsampled to 100 x the current rates, and had sounded like it does now, I'd still have bought it and I doubt I'd be any more drawn to it due to that.

I think a big reason why a lot of the current DACs do the sample rates they do is because the audiophiles all think that high-res is going to somehow become the standard. By the time it does become the standard, I'm pretty sure the current DACs will have been obsolete for quite some time, or at least have made a bunch of techincal advances

To that I add I hate all this flavor of the month stuff. The ESS Sabre chip crowd has been a bit quiet as of late. Waiting for the next big chip, are they? I've heard a bunch of people recommend DACs that they've never heard solely due to the chip. Just plain stupid. I got into an interesting discussion with a guy on Audio Circle about that one. Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio stepped in and confirmed what I was getting at with it.

Then again, there is flavor of the month stuff in every aspect of this (and pretty much every other) hobby. Nothing new, it just annoys the hell out of me. I guess the magazines need something to hype up to keep readers interested, and the manufacturers need new stuff often to keep people buying. I guess everyone wins.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1001
Registered: Dec-06
Jan, did I say something I shouldn't have about NOS (non-oversampling) DACs? I didn't bring it up, I responded to it by bringing up a thread I had read, which contains lots of interesting in depth discussion on this topic. Whether anyone wants to read it or not is up to them.

It seems that both Simaudio and Bryston suggest that oversampling does what you attribute to upsampling. In fact, Simaudio suggests in their paper that they are basically one and the same. And this is from the Bryston site:

Over-sampling is when the samples are re-read (2x, 4x, 8x, etc.) to create a new sampling frequency.

So this is basically where I thought you were going with your post. I guess not. And it is possible that I am totally misinterpreting what these two companies are saying. Here's my attempt:

Oversampling as I see it is as described by Simaudio...reading the sample 2x or 4x or 8x and creating a higher sample rate. If the sample rate is higher than 44.1 (say 176.4kHz or 4x OS), then as per Nyquist theory you must start using your filter at half that, or 88.2kHz and higher, to remove unwanted artifacts in the sound, which allows for the use of a much gentler filter that better preserves sound quality as this is far removed from the 20kHz area that is at the range of human hearing.

Upsampling, if I had to guess, uses the same method to achieve the higher sampling rate, but now uses that sampling rate as the starting point. As if the disc had been recorded at that rate, i.e. as if the disc is high res. The signal then goes through oversampling and a filter to again remove high frequencies which contain unwanted artifacts.

I must say that I agree that listening and seeing if you enjoy the music created in your room is paramount. But trying to understand the theory behind what makes a product work also seems worthwhile. Non-oversampling or oversampling, upsampling or non-upsampling, I also don't care. I'll listen to all of them and try to keep an open mind. But if I can understand the theory underlying them a little bit as well, so much the better.

The only things I feel I should insist on is that if a player upsamples, I don't want this option to be non-defeatable. And I would also be concerned with overloading my amp with high frequency signals it does not need to cope with. These seem like two things I could and should do without, no matter what. How prevalent the latter is I simply do not know.

Anyways, there really isn't anything more I can add and I probably got a good bit of what I added wrong anyhow, so I will leave this thread and hopefully any further mention of

NOS DACs!!!!
 

Silver Member
Username: Nency

Post Number: 143
Registered: May-09
Hi....
It is significance adage that I sold the Saturn some while ago. However, my overall impression is that the DAC is better. Not better at everything, with detail for example the DAC loses out, but in overall terms the DAC is a winner. I am listening to model at the instant and can say, without doubt, that it has never sounded so good..
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1278
Registered: Jul-07
Jan, the reason I suggested that data is added.....sort of....during the upsampling process is simply because of the data points upsampling creates. I have lots of uncompressed 44/16 files on my computer, and some higher rez files (96/24, 192/24, etc). The files with the higher rates are much larger in size. Although the files are not stored when upsampled in a DAC, presumably the data is still created and passed along. It may not be considered new audio data, as it had to come from the original dataset, but it was manufactured in the upsampling process.

That might be flawed thinking, but that's where I was coming from.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3444
Registered: Jun-07
Stu- I have talked to my dealer and he ordered in a Rega DAC for me to demo yesterday. Should be here early next week, although I wont be able to listen to it for at least a month as all of my electronics that are still good are in my spare bedroom laying on a floor as my insurance company works on the quote to re-do my basement (sump pump quit on a bad rain storm and my basement flood). My finished basement is not finished anymore and they came and did an emergency rip out and dry up environmental cleaning. Now its ready to be re-done. Anyway aside from that when the system goes back together I will have a Bryston and Rega dac to compare and one will go back. The MSB Dac is dead as the PSU layed in 3 inches of water. MSB cannot be replaced so replacement value will go toward the Bryston or Rega. I will also have to get some other goodies but I will post on that later. Either way I will hear the Rega very soon bud.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1280
Registered: Jul-07
Sorry to hear about the flood Nick. Had one of those once. Not fun.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16014
Registered: May-04
.

"It just happens that my DAC is NOS, doesn't upsample, etc."

"Jan, did I say something I shouldn't have about NOS (non-oversampling) DACs?"




OK, here's why people who use fifty year old tube amps shouldn't be in the "digital" section. "NOS" to me says "new, old stock" - as in tubes. "NOS" means something decades old but pulled out of a new box. Now, with that in mind, why would I want a "new, old stock" DAC? I've got a few of those laying in my closet.


As Johnny Cash sang ...

I hang my head.

I hang my head.


"Non-oversampling"? Who woulda thunk? That's one of the reasons I really, really hate acronyms! That and the fact the Japanese have new ones every six months when they redesign their product lines. And the new ones are just another version of the old one because the new circuit they describe is just another version of the same old crappy one they had before.


OK, "NOS DAC's". Couldn't they have come up with something that didn't mean the same as something else? Maybe something like "IDDTS" for "it don't do that stuff"? That I would have understood.




.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16015
Registered: May-04
.

"Oversampling as I see it is as described by Simaudio...reading the sample 2x or 4x or 8x and creating a higher sample rate. If the sample rate is higher than 44.1 (say 176.4kHz or 4x OS), then as per Nyquist theory you must start using your filter at half that, or 88.2kHz and higher, to remove unwanted artifacts in the sound, which allows for the use of a much gentler filter that better preserves sound quality as this is far removed from the 20kHz area that is at the range of human hearing.

Upsampling, if I had to guess, uses the same method to achieve the higher sampling rate, but now uses that sampling rate as the starting point. As if the disc had been recorded at that rate, i.e. as if the disc is high res. The signal then goes through oversampling and a filter to again remove high frequencies which contain unwanted artifacts."





We saw "oversampling" enter the CD market long before we saw "upsampling". Oversampling was, first, more easily accomplished using the technology of the 1980's than upsampling could have been. Chips had to become much faster to accommodate oversampling at the rates we see today. So oversampling was a stop gap method which theoretically allowed for some improvement over Redbook sampling rates. A problem arose in that anyone could claim any oversampling rate they preferred as chips became available to make 8 or 16 times oversampling available to even the least expensive players. And each step forward in oversampling was greeted by the mass market - who tend to still drive the digital market much as they did back in the '80's - as the new panacea for the perceived ills of digital audio. Then along came "1 bit" DAC's and oversampling became very, very contentious and obscure for most of us. And here I am no different than most. I've read a few of the basic technical texts which were produced shortly after the introduction of CD. But I would say my understanding of how digital audio actually works is about the same as someone who tries to understand impressionism and they've reached the level of saying, "That Van Gogh, he sure liked blue."

The Simaudio pdf is presenting their case for why you should buy their players. While most manufacturer's papers do have some valuable information there is always the point where you have to understand why the paper is being presented.

Oversampling (Sim's preferred method) is "one" way to improve digital audio's sound quality. As the paper states, by "oversampling" the data the result is the virtual sampling rate has gone up in frequency. Oversampling, however, doesn't change anything about the original signal. It merely takes what has been extracted from the data stream and places it in a hold file where it can be looked at 2/4/8 or 16 times. Sort of like someone reading the same passage of text eight times in order to get the information correct. The sampling rate has been virtually boosted (you've read the same text eight times) and the filters which remove the higher frequency sampling noise can be made more gentle in their action even to the point of being first order (-6dB) filters rather than the more common "brickwall" digital filters found in, say, third generation CD players. The digital brickwall filters had more success at minimizing aliasing (intermodulation) noises which occur within the audible bandwidth when compared to early analog filters which produced substantial phase problems and ringing along with aliasing noises within the audible frequency range. But oversampling has, IMO, always been a bit of a shell game. It operates in the "virtual" world and not in the real world. Consider oversampling to be similar to someone wanting to measure 24". To arrive at 24" you only need a ruler that can somehow arrive at a reasonable distance simlar to 24" and it doesn't matter how the ruler is divided along the way. 1/2/3/4/6/8 or 12" divisions are acceptable because you are only looking at the repetition of the same segmentation to exist multiple times. If the rule is segmented into 12" divisions, you would look and then flip the rule once then look again to get to 24". If the rule were segmented in 4" divisions, you would look and then flip, look, flip, etc. until you arrived at what you hoped was 24". In this respect a fairly low quality oversampling filter can be used and still deliver acceptable results. If the filter makes a mistake along the way, it is up to the downstream filters to "decide" how many times a certain data stream has occurred vs how many times another reading has occurred. And all of this is still dependent upon how well the original data was captured in the first place.


Upsampling arrives at the same increased sampling rate but goes about the process in an entirely different manner. Along with upsampling we typically see the increase in word length/bit depth or simply, higher bit rates. An increase in bit depth doesn't necessarily accompany oversampling in anything other than a purely "virtual" context. So along with 96kHz or 192kHz upsampled rates we also see an increase in bits to, say, 24. By increasing the word length the data contained in each sample is doubled with each increase of a single bit. As I noted above, "If the 15 bit word was constructed of "0001000101", the 16 bit word would consist of "00000011000000110011". This change can provide a better chance - and chance would still appear to be the most important word here - of looking at each numerical value more times." Take that and do your own calcualtions as to how many samples of each 0 and 1 would be in a 24 bit sample when compared to a 16 bit original sample. Now we have a ruler that is not marked off in 12" segments but in much finer resolution. Along with the finer segmentaion comes the ability to more accurately mark the 24" length by using a finer marking tool. Imagine cutting a board that has been marked with a fine bladed marking tool vs a board that has been marked in crayon. Depending on the quality of the upsampling filter vs the oversampling filter, the chances the sample can be cut at "exactly" 24" increases significantly with the use of the upsampled ruler.



Here's the hitch as I mentioned earlier and as stated by the Simaudio paper; oversampling can only be made to work at intergers of the original sampling frequency. Take a 44.1kHz data stream and oversample it 2X, you will get a virtual 88.2kHz sampling rate. Do your own math again to figure out the sampling rate for higher rate oversampling filters. The point being the filter does not take apart and then reconstruct the original data stream to arrive at anything other than a simple multiple of the original sampling rate. So the ruler is always marked in inches despite its being marked in larger segments, the virtual sampling rate is a simple multiple of the original data sampling rate. That makes the task of the filter far less complicated and far less prone to error than the upsampling filter which takes the original 44.1kHz signal and all too typically winds up with a sample rate which is not an interger of the orignal. In this case, you can think of a ruler which has extrememly fine segmentation but along the way converts from inches to meters and then back to inches to arrive at the final 24" length.

With current technology there would seem to be a case to be made for either technique. The end result being sought is to move the filters away from the audible bandwidth and to enable the use of less severe filters which bring their own problems to the music. And so you get papers such as the one from Sim which is really a justification for why they have chosen one technology over another. Most of the finer points of why a filter does what it does or why the other guy is using their filter have been left on the cutting room floor. I have no problem with that as long as the paper is fair to all sides. But, since most papers from manufacturers want to convince you not to buy the other guy's product just as much as they try to convince you to buy their's, most truly useful information must be sought from other sources. Keep reading, Dan, and don't accept any information just because it agrees with what you prefer to hear or they have convinced you this is what you should be hearing. There's always another side to these stories as all audio is, to my knowledge, a trade off of advantages vs disadvantages.




One last thing to mention about sampling rates is that the Redbook 44.1kHz has nothing to do with any other sampling frequency in use today or at the time Redbook was establish. DAT's (digital audio tape) were the most common device used to transcribe the first digital music recordings just as they are in use today. At the time of CD's introduction the sampling rate for a DAT was 48kHz and some change. To take the original digital recording and place it on a CD required the downconversion of the original data stream to a sampling frequency which is not a simple interger of the original. This problem has plagued CD since its inception and as sampling rates go higher, the downconversion process has all the opportunities of the inch to metric back to inch conversion process to result in errors in the data stream which are then embedded within the polycarbonate disc surface.


And I am still at a loss for why all the furor over sampling rates even exists within consumer audio when the SACD format achieved through DSS sampling is obviously a clear and audible improvement in digital audio's sound quality. I get it that everyone has to pay Sony to use DSS but the audible advantages are there. Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear of Redbook CD is still a mystery to me.



I have yet to sort out exactly what benefits should be expected from the current oversampling and upsampling DAC's given that my understanding of each includes significant reasons to expect the data to be damaged or compromised along the way. Whether the case can actually be made for NOS DAC's (see? I get it now!) would be something I would look at slightly askance and mostly with an eye towards seeing the other guy's point of view for why he chose what he went with. YMMV




.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16016
Registered: May-04
.

"And I would also be concerned with overloading my amp with high frequency signals it does not need to cope with. These seem like two things I could and should do without, no matter what. How prevalent the latter is I simply do not know."



I'm unaware of any amplifier being overloaded with high frequency content from the CD player, Dan. The filters are sophisticated enough that I can't remember this actually ever being a problem. What can be a problem is the aliasing noise which would be placed higher and higher over a broader and broader bandwidth if the filters were not adjusted. This would, first of all, become quite annoying to the listener and could possibly result in damage to high frequency drivers if the IM became severe. But, to my knowledge, your amp isn't in any danger any more than if you were playing a very slightly distorted recording.


.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16017
Registered: May-04
.

"Jan, the reason I suggested that data is added.....sort of....during the upsampling process is simply because of the data points upsampling creates. I have lots of uncompressed 44/16 files on my computer, and some higher rez files (96/24, 192/24, etc). The files with the higher rates are much larger in size. Although the files are not stored when upsampled in a DAC, presumably the data is still created and passed along. It may not be considered new audio data, as it had to come from the original dataset, but it was manufactured in the upsampling process.

That might be flawed thinking, but that's where I was coming from."




I would expect upsampled files to be extremely large, they contain numerous multiples of the original file. My understanding is the original files are stored in a hold tank type container when they are upsampled. They are stored in order to reset the number of data points found in each sample. The process is different than what occurs in oversampling but they data rests as it is being copied. I would disagree with the idea the new data points are "manufactured". I would say they are simply copied and nothing new should be added to the original file other than multiple read points within the same file.


.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16021
Registered: May-04
.

Here's an acronym I can understand; the Lansing Area Ukulele Group or L.A.U.G.H. - the "H" being silent according to their webpage.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1002
Registered: Dec-06
Thanks Jan. Informative, as always.

I assumed in the context of DACs that NOS would be understood. But I also know that "new old stock" is the other, much more standard, meaning. I had a feeling this might've been why you posted your comment, so I included the meaning in parenthesis.

As for the amp getting overloaded with high frequencies, I'd have to read over Lavry's posts again. I think he may have meant that with respect to non-oversampling filterless DACs. If a DAC is non-oversampling, but contains filters (such as the Rega DAC) that may not be a concern.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1281
Registered: Jul-07
Another consideration in the up/over sampling discussion. Regardless of which approach a manufacturer takes, the design needs to include the horsepower to do the processing in real time. A lot of these DAC's don't have adequate processing power to do this, and I think that is a lot of the difference between a $1500 DAC and a $500 DAC. The chipset might be the same, but the processor isn't. It was the guy from Wavelength that published something on the topic a while ago, and I've read the same thing from others. If the DAC can't handle the number crunching that is necessary, it would likely have an audible affect.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16022
Registered: May-04
.

I don't understand "adequate processing power" in this context. If the chip is fast enough, what other circuits or power supply or further processing would amount to "adequate processing power"?
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1284
Registered: Jul-07
Gordon Rankin was referring to the CPU capacity to do the processing.....similar to the processing capability of a computer to execute commands at a certain speed. I'll try to find the article and post a link.

And is anyone else having trouble with this site the last couple of days. Everytime I'm here my laptop slows to a crawl, and I'm typing 3 or 4 words ahead of the text showing up.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16023
Registered: May-04
.

This thread's speed and command processing have been the sh*ts.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2434
Registered: May-06
W h a t e v e r h a p p e n e d t o j u s t l i s t e n i n g t o a N O S D A C t h e n c o m p a r i n g t h a t e x p e r i e n c e t o a n O S D A C? I w o u l d t h i n k t h a t a f t e r a f e w p a s s e s w i t h a f e w D A C s o f e a c h t y p e o n e m a y d e v e l o p a p e r s o n a l b i a s a n d w o u l d n o t h a v e t o c o n s i d e r c o n f l i c t i n g w h i t e p a p e r s .


I was not having any speed issues with this site as mentioned above so I just typed the previous paragraph that way in order to better feel your pain.

Translated it says;

Whatever happened to just listening to a NOS DAC then comparing that experience to an OS DAC? I would think that after a few passes with a few DACs of each type one may develop a personal bias and would not have to consider conflicting white papers.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16029
Registered: May-04
.


In Wodekese ...

ThatwouldbeanOKideaifeverythingelseabouttheDAC'sundercomparisonwasequivalent.Sin cetheanalogoutsectionofaDACstillappearstobethemostinfluentialandvariablecircuiti ntheentirecomponent,makingvalidcomparisonsbetweenthetopologyofanytwoDAC'sseemsto metobeimpossible.Forexample,backbeforeCD's,nopreampwasreviewedforthesoundquality ofitslinestage.Thefocusoftheentirereviewwouldhavebeenonthequalityofthephonosecti onwithanylinelevelsourcesbeinggivenasentenceorwoinpassing.Thereviewprocesswasdon ethiswaysinceitwasimpossibletoseparatethephonosection'sperformancefromthatofthep reamp.UnlesssanduntilthereareoutboardDAC'swithoutboardanalogoutputsections,there isnowaytoactuallypinthesoundofanyothertechnologicalclaimsontheoverallperformance oftheconversionprocessitself.




For the rest of us ...

That would be an OK idea if everything else about the DAC's under comparison was equivalent. Since the analog out section of a DAC still appears to be the most influential and variable circuit in the entire component, making valid comparisons between the topology of any two DAC's seems to me to be impossible. For example, back before CD's, no pre amp was reviewed for the sound quality of its line stage. The focus of the entire review would have been on the quality of the phono section with any line level sources being given a sentence or two in passing. The review process was done this way since it was impossible to separate the phono section's performance from that of the pre amp. Unless and until there are outboard DAC's with outboard analog output sections, there is no way to actually pin the sound of any other technological claims on the overall performance of the conversion process itself.


This would seem to be made even more difficult by the necessary use of large scale chips to perform all of the digital functions of a DAC. Since oversampling will determine which complimentary chips will be used through the digital circuits, those chips have some influence on the sound quality of the DAC and will make the DAC's performance unlike the performance of another oversampling DAC. As Chris suggests two computers using the same Intel chipset at their base won't perform as identical units.



.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16030
Registered: May-04
.

Glad you're not having problems with this thread, Mike. It must be the new DAC you're using. For me, this thread is working about on par with a $19.95 DAC being blown out on the Home Shopping Network.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 16874
Registered: Jun-04
can you still get this Rega - DAC for $479.....oh i see now thats the Arcam rDAC......wishful thinking
 

New member
Username: Humanmedia

Post Number: 1
Registered: Mar-11
Stu, how is the DAC settling in?
Has it's sound changed much with burn-in?

I have just picked up this DAC as well and it does sound great.
Really good mid-range and timing/rhythm.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4371
Registered: May-05
It'll sound pretty much just like it sounds new out of the box. It's changed a bit from when I first got it, but all for the better. Everything opened up - soundstage, space, etc. Basically less compressed sounding, not that it sounded compressed before. The music flows a little bit better too.

I'm very happy with the DAC. By far the best my system has ever sounded.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4710
Registered: Feb-07
Hey Stu, have you tried using the Rega as an outboard DAC on a CDP? I'm guessing no since you've gone the computer route. If you have (or anyone else), have you experienced the DAC dropping the lock when using a CD transport?

I've tried this twice with 2 different DACs, and 2 different CDPs and experienced dropouts. It's maddening.
 

New member
Username: Humanmedia

Post Number: 2
Registered: Mar-11
I've used the Rega Saturn as a transport to the Rega DAC without any issue.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4713
Registered: Feb-07
Good to hear. Have you done a comparison of the DAC vs. the Saturn? I've read on some forums that the DAC is as good, if not better, than the Saturn.
 

New member
Username: Humanmedia

Post Number: 3
Registered: Mar-11
IMO the DAC has a better midrange, but the Saturn has a more refined treble and better bass. If only their sounds could be combined.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4714
Registered: Feb-07
Interesting. What's with the filters on the DAC? Have you played around with those? Do they sound that much different?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4376
Registered: May-05
David,

Haven't used a CDP as a transport. Haven't used a traditional computer either. I've only used optical from my Apple TV gen 1 and my cable box.

I've scrolled through the filters quickly once or twice, didn't hear any major differences. I've kept it on filter 1.

Haven't had much time to listen lately. Wife, 4 month old daughter (time flies!), job, grad school all getting in the way.

On a side note, I haven't been sitting around much in the little spare time I've got either. I've been working out again, and am under 200 lbs for the first time since at least 2001. It works out great that I drop off my daughter at day care and have some time before I go into the office, so I've been working out in the fitness center at work (I work at a college).

I lost about 30 lbs last summer, and have lost about 7 or 8 more in the last 3 weeks. Trying get get down to my high school wrestling weight of 177. It'll be tough, but it's not that unrealistic if I take my time and do it right. I was tipping the scales at 235 this time last year. Hopefully I'll resemble my former wrestling and/or full contact karate self.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1291
Registered: Jul-07
Good for you Stu.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4715
Registered: Feb-07
Nice work Stu! Did you change your eating habits as well?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4377
Registered: May-05
I made two changes, one very big (for me anyway), and one small. It was all about analyzing what was making me fat...

I stopped drinking soda. I'd drink about three 20 oz bottles of Pepsi a day. That's 750 calories of nothing but garbage, not to mention all the sugar that was wreaking havoc on my insulin levels and resistance, and body fat.

I switched regular bread for the deli flats, which are 100 calories and whole grain. I think Pepridge Farms and Arnold make them. I hate multigrain breads, but these things taste just like regular old white bread. I eat sandwiches every day for lunch, so the change had a purpose.

It surprised me how easy it was/still is. I don't miss soda at all, and neither do my waist and wallet.

I'll get into the strength training regimen when I've hot time. That's what really helped. When I wasn't working out for a good 6 month period, I didn't gain or lose any weight. Started again, and the weight's coming off again.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1292
Registered: Jul-07
If you haven't read the book Younger Next Year, it's definitely worth a read. Funny as heck and a lot of the latest science on the necessity of exercise and nutrition......which becomes increasingly important as we get older. Soda pop and french fries are two pure evils unfortunately.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16067
Registered: May-04
.

Stu, have you been diagnosed as a diabetic or "near diabetic"? Type 1 or type 2?
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2239
Registered: Oct-07
I don't know if you can be 'near diabetic' type 1?

Stu? How is your A1C? It should be coming down nicely, especially without all that worthless soda sugar.

DO get 'Younger Next Year'. Excellent read.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4378
Registered: May-05
18 months ago I was 1 unit under the diabetic cutoff point. Can't remember the numbers exactly, but I think it was 129 and the cutoff was 130. Don't hold me to that, I just remember it was 1 less than the cutoff.

I'm starting a thread about what I've done, how, etc., as it was too long to post here. Not exactly sure where to post it, I guess in the speaker section, as that gets the most traffic.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2243
Registered: Oct-07
Stu, get a test called A1C.
It is a quality number reflecting your blood sugar level for the last 90 days or so.
Depending on the frequency of measuring your sugar, you may be missing a 'spike'. My wife no matter what, wakes with a high level. This number changes fairly slowly and has been shown to be 'real'.

Have this test repeated at intervals as prescribed, but in No case omit it. If your Doctor has not heard of it or ignores it, get another doctor.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4385
Registered: May-05
My doc ran a bunch of bloodwork tests. Glucose levels was one of them. If there's something suspicious, we'll move on with more tests. I think we'll do a glucose tolerance test, which is a pain in the butt and takes a while, but it's a good test - I'd down a bunch of glucose and have blood drawn every half hour or so for a 2 or 3 hours. It shows how the pancreas is responding to the glucose.

But that's getting ahead of myself. I'll find out tomorrow how the initial stuff is.

Thanks for the advice guys.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4388
Registered: May-05
Got the results back yesterday. Everything was "excellent" (doc's words), including A1C. No need for the glucose stress test. I guess there's something to this whole diet, exercising, and losing weight thing after all.

I've seen diabetes several times. Fortunately for me, none were blood relatives. Its definitely a disease I want no part of, especially if it was from something I did.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1021
Registered: Dec-06
Hey guys, thought I'd post a quick update. I had the Rega DAC for the day, along with the Simaudio CD-1 and i-1.

As Stu said in the OP, the DAC is very well built. It feels solid and substantial all around. I started listening to it, putting it into the system in place of my Apollo SE and using my Oppo as transport. I'll start with the two issues that I faced.

Music sounded like it slowed down a tad, but dynamics and richness increased. I was mixed about this...in large part the added richness was welcome, though it served some songs more than others. Songs that have a thin, brittle sound certainly benefited (greatly - they sounded remastered, and not in a bad way), while songs that didn't have this problem didn't really need the enhancement. But it didn't seem to hurt those songs, though I did wonder if it tipped the scales to far. Sounds like vinyl is probably an apt description.

Dynamics were bigger than I'd ever heard in my system before. Drums, bass guitar, and even quick forceful strums of an acoustic guitar; these sorts of things felt very emphasized. I'm wondering if Stu has the same experience (probably not as he didn't mention it). I felt more often than not that this threw off the balance in my system. At first it was exciting to hear, but as time passed it got to where I felt it was detracting from the rest of the music.

Other than that, separation was impressive. Soundstage wise, I think it does left-right and depth behind the speaker more than push the sound forward, which is fine. Musicality, the feeling of proper timing between notes, and the rendering of inner detail of musical notes (microdynamics??), really allowed music to flow as it should.

I enjoyed my time with the DAC, but the issue of balance was something that stands in the way of me purchasing it. Also, I'm not too fond of the BDP-93 as a transport. The remote is not as responsive as it should be, and it's a pain having to start playing track 1 in order to go to another track. If the balance was right and I wasn't using the BDP-93 I would certainly have the DAC on my shortlist. It was always a treat to listen to despite these issues because of it's musicality and sweet sound.

Now, in went the CD-1. I wasn't expecting to love the Simaudio sound, but I am glad I decided to borrow it from my dealer. It's one sweet match with my Exposure amp. The Soundstage review pretty much nails it. The Sim sound is rich and full, but also clear, detailed, and open. Highs sparkle, the midrange is sublime , and the bass is just right. The stage is a little more forward as well. To me it has better balance than Rega, which sounds somewhat bloated by comparison (the DAC and my Apollo SE). The responsiveness of the player to commands, and flawless operation no matter what I asked it to do, was also welcome. The only thing I didn't like was the flimsy CD tray. It's a shame, because the rest of the player is so solid.

In went the i-1, and it sounded nice...but I preferred the Exposure, which had greater clarity and drive. I think the CD-1 and i-1 were too much of a good thing.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3461
Registered: Jun-07
Dan - You try the Rega DAC with a different transport? The Oppo could be a bad match with it.

Glad you liked the Sim stuff. Very nice gear.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14330
Registered: Feb-05
"The responsiveness of the player to commands, and flawless operation no matter what I asked it to do, was also welcome."

Something a person comes to appreciate after owning a Rega CD player.
 

Gold Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 4724
Registered: Feb-07
Hey Dan, how would you compare the DAC directly with the Apollo SE?
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14332
Registered: Feb-05
Reading your thoughts on the DAC, Dan, I'm struck by how similar your experience with that DAC is with mine and the Saturn in my current setup.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1022
Registered: Dec-06
Frankly, I was so impressed with the Simaudio player that I've already ordered a CD.5. The only difference between it and the CD-1 seems to be an RS232 port, and IR input, and a SimLink controller feature - in other words, nothing I'm going to use and the sound itself should be the same.

I hope that wasn't too hasty, as the dealer is letting me keep these components for a few days. So I'll be playing around a little more with the DAC. I'm going to try the Apollo as transport this time, and maybe play a little with the filter settings.

David, I think the DAC compares favorably with the Apollo, but I'd like to try the Apollo as transport before I can say definitively. But I think I'm like Art, and perhaps the Rega digital sound just isn't for me anymore. I preferred the CD-1 to my Apollo for sure. I don't want to say it's better than the Rega DAC though - it was in my setup, but with a different transport and a different amp and speakers, it would likely be a whole other ball game. The Rega DAC is obviously an impressive piece of technology, and is a sure step up from the DAC in the CD-1.

I jumped from my little Denon mini-system back a couple of years ago right into a Rega Saturn. For a brief time I had the Exposure player, and now the Apollo SE. So other than that Exposure, I haven't had another CD player to try in my set up other than Rega, and it's been like that for a long time. I think this was doing me a little bit of a disservice, as I wasn't giving myself the chance to hear a different presentation. I just kind of assumed that Rega was the leader in CD playback at their price point.

Art, yes the responsiveness and flawless operation is most welcome. I don't know if some companies just overlook this as it's not part of what makes the sound, but with the amount of commands we all give to our components I think it should work properly. That I can have this in a player that sounds as good as Sim's does means there has to be no compromise.

I noticed your comment about the Saturn Art, in the Saturn thread. Strong and saturated. I noticed it too last night while I was listening. To me, Sim just had a better balance, where because it wasn't so saturated the sound was more open and detailed, but it was still able to bring the richness Rega does. And plenty of musicality (PRaT). It's probably a system thing. I think I could describe my amp and speakers as strong and saturated, thus a player that also has these qualities might be too much of a good thing. Start with a system that's a little on the lean side and the results would likely be different.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4398
Registered: May-05
Simaudio makes great gear, Dan. It's very hard to fault IMO.

I haven't heard a sonic inbalance with my DAC or my Apollo when I had it. Haven't heard it at my dealer's place either. Not saying that you didn't have one. Everyone's ears, system, and room is different. Synergy plays a big role in how something sounds.

The important thing is to find the best piece for you. Makes no difference what it looks like or what the logo is on it.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 14333
Registered: Feb-05
So true, Stu. Whatever works in the context of your setup and to your ears.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1023
Registered: Dec-06
Yes, I think it's got something to do with the rest of my system. I didn't think the Apollo had any kind of imbalance. When I heard the DAC, the imbalance with it (the DAC) really jumped out at me. When I then heard the CD-1 it just felt the most balanced out of the three, and simply what I'm looking for from CD playback.

I'll throw up some pics of the DAC a little later. I've got the black one.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4400
Registered: May-05
Any idea how many miles were on the DAC before you used it? What about the rest of the stuff you had/have on loan?

I'm not the biggest burn in advocate. I think the way it sounds out of the box is pretty close to the way it'll sound (everything minus speakers and TT carts - stuff that have moving parts). But I also think there's a little bit to burn in. My DAC sounded very similar to what it sounds like now. If there's a slight imbalance and the DAC was cold and never played before, I'd give it 2-3 days before passing judgement. If the imbalance is painful, get it out of the system. I never heard a piece change dramatically with burn in. I think burn in has more to do with the subtleties than with the big picture.

So long as it was warmed up for a day or two, what you heard is what it'll sound like in your system IMO.

My speakers are a bit lean sounding. Not thin by any means, but they're not a bass heavy nor lush and romantic sounding speaker by any means. My B60 is similar, just not to the same extent. The DAC in my system sounds a bit fuller and more weighty than it ever has, but it has the perfect amount of it to my ears. It doesn't sound slow in any way.

In the end, synergy makes or breaks a system. No point in chasing a new system to build around a piece that's not working out. Too many people have fallen into that trap.

Again, not doubting for a second what you're hearing. I don't know your amp, speakers, and room well enough to confirm or deny your synergy. All we can do is report what we hear. My system sounds as perfect as I can afford it to sound. Once you figure out what works best, I'm sure you'll say the same thing.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1024
Registered: Dec-06
Unfortunately, I'm not sure how many miles are on any of these items.

My system isn't lacking in fullness (it used to, and it drove me nuts - the solution was simply properly coupling speakers to stands, and stands to the floor). I'm not sure I'd say my amp is full and lush, but it really does highlight bass and the sound is full when it should be. And with floorstanders now, a full, weighty and somewhat lush sound is pretty much assured.

I'll see over the next couple of days what difference the Apollo makes over the Oppo as transport.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1025
Registered: Dec-06
After letting everything warm up for several hours I tried again. First just the Apollo. I liked it best with just the Apollo going. I'd have to be nit-picking to find any issues. The usual accolades apply - PRaT, exciting sound, well balanced, detailed but not too analytical. I don't want my prior posts to sound like Rega bashing...no question, they make great players and this is one example.

Then the Rega DAC. Certain things improved, mostly separation and that added touch of richness. I didn't notice a seemingly slower pace. The thing I love about the DAC is that it brings out every instrument in the mix so that it's easy to follow, but yet it all blends into one cohesive performance. That added emphasis on the dynamics was still there, not as bad as I felt the day before, but still more than I felt was required.

Then I hooked up the DAC to the Oppo. Things got worse. I'm really not sure what the issue is. It felt a tad slower, as it did the day before. I don't know if dynamics is the issue I made it out to be - yes, they seemed even more pronounced through the Oppo, but I'm not sure if this is all in my head or if it's real because I don't understand how a transport can have this effect. The sound was less organized than through the Apollo alone or the Apollo/DAC - that was my biggest issue. Bass less so, it was more the mids and highs that were messier sounding than before. I'm not sure why I didn't notice this yesterday...perhaps choice of song, or perhaps it was that today I made more direct comparisons. Whatever it is, the Apollo works much better in this context than the Oppo does.

This is my first experience with a standalone DAC. It would appear to me that what is ahead of the DAC is just as important as the DAC itself, and perhaps a standalone CD player has it's advantages. I remember Art making that observation - players are designed around both a transport and a DAC working together, which seems like a big advantage. Going with a computer based solution may take away some of the variability of results that can occur with a disc based transport.

Well, with a worthy transport and a well matched amp/speakers I've no doubt the Rega DAC can shine. I think I got a taste of that, but ultimately both the Apollo and the CD-1 worked better in my own system. I could probably happily continue on with the Apollo, but overall I prefer what the Simaudio player does, and right or wrong I simply don't want to live with a Rega player outside of warranty.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16099
Registered: May-04
.

"... and right or wrong I simply don't want to live with a Rega player outside of warranty."


Maybe it's time for the high end audio industry to follow the lead of the (high end) auto industry and begin leasing components. Payments based on the depreciation of the unit over the period of the lease plus a margin for the dealer. Pay for only the hours you actually listen. You never own gear out of warranty and you can always have new gear every 24-36 months. The downside for the consumer would be the same constant audio system payments found in automobile leasing but plenty of consumers are close to that already or have been at some time in their life spent in this hobby. The downside for the industry would be having to establish titles to audio gear to prove ownership. But should a $40k audio system be less entitled to registration than is a $40k car?

I can see it now - "Manny's HiFi For Less" with balloons tied to the Mac, Bryston and CJ equipment sitting on the front row. After you make your purchase, we'll introduce you to the lady who will sell you accessories and then it's off to the finance department you go.




.
 

Gold Member
Username: Kbear

Canada

Post Number: 1026
Registered: Dec-06
I'm not sure if you are being serious, Jan, but I'll provide my two cents.

My Grand Prix is 14 years old and still chugging along reliably. I'll never lease a car because financially you are worse off than buying one and actually taking care of it for 15 years. I guess one could say that about audio equipment as well, and with the amount of equipment some of us have gone through we've spent more than we've had to. I'm just going to ignore this for now.

I owned the Saturn for a bit and after giving it a few commands it would start doing things I didn't ask it to. This happened frequently. I got my Apollo SE and it was dead on arrival. Had to go in to be fixed. That's 2 for 2! It's behaved pretty well since, but occasionally it messes up a command. That and the raft of other complaints on the web about Rega players does not inspire confidence. $1,400 is a decent chunk of money for a CD player. I'm willing to spend that for reliable performance over the long haul, but if a player dies in year 4 I won't be a happy camper. In all honesty, I'd probably be comfortable owning most other brands, it's just for some reason Rega specifically seems to have issues. I have not heard the same happening for most other high end makes.

That said, their DAC is exceedingly well built and there is no reason to think it will suffer issues like their CD players have.

I understand Jan, that you own an Apollo and it has probably performed flawlessly. So you may not be able to relate. Just like I can't relate to all those who state GM makes lemons.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3463
Registered: Jun-07
FWIW When I owned the Apollo I thought it was far worse as a Transport than a PC based solution. I would definitely agree Dan that what is front (or behind) the DAC makes a considerable difference.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 16107
Registered: May-04
.

"My Grand Prix is 14 years old and still chugging along reliably. I'll never lease a car because financially you are worse off than buying one and actually taking care of it for 15 years."




I would say that is a debatable opinion, Dan. There are many ways to look at your statement, one is the simple fact of cost of materials vs cost of replacement. There maintaining and keeping a car until it rolls over and puts all four wheels in the air wins. However, most Americans aren't interested in what's ultimately best for the planet. Therefore, facing the reality of averages, most new cars are traded in within four to five years after the intitial purchase; http://www.city-data.com/forum/automotive/166007-how-often-do-you-trade-up.html What the vast majority of buyers ignore when they are shopping the lots is the yearly cost of ownership. That takes into account; first, the yearly devaluation of the vehicle which, in the case of your Pontiac, was rather high as there were lots of GP's sold to the lease car market. This resulted in used car lots flooded with high mileage GP's within 18-24 months. Those buyers who did not make their purchase as a fleet deal and paid generally higher prices for their new cars still suffered the same valauation as those ex-rental cars. So all GP's were devlaued just by the fact most GP's ending up in the fleet sales/lease market. The average buyer would have been better off leasing a GP and turning it in after about 3 1/2 to 4 years.

For those few years when I sold Honda products I often recommended a client consider the 36-48 month residual value of the vehicles they were considering. I did this whether they were leasing or buying. Of course, with few exceptions I knew the Hondas would always win most comparisons when it came to holding their value. The recent exceptions there have been the New Beetle and the Mini, both of which have had high residuals in the first years despite being low rated when it came to reliability.

The gas mileage and maintenance costs should also to be taken into account when considering cost of ownership though these are seldom in the sights of most buyers other than those who are specifically looking for a low cost vehicle in the first place. Then you need to add in cost of insurance, which can be quite bizzare. Years ago Honda had a high mpg version of their popular CRX which was rated at over 50 mpg highway. The basic CRX design was a two seat vehicle meant in many ways to be light and fuel efficient for mostly in town driving. However, two seaters automatically got charged a "sports car" premium by most insurance companies. Buyers saved on gas but got it in the shorts when it came to insurance.

As far as leasing is concerned, it is often the best financial plan for many drivers. If you trade cars every three to four years, then leasing is typically the least expenisve way to drive a car. Most particularly, if you buy cars like the Beetle or the Mini because they are new and different, then let someone else absorb the depreciation of the vehicle and lease it for three years then walk away. If you use your car for business and can deduct or be reimbursed for the lease costs, then you would be a fool not to lease. If you put high mileage on your car, then leasing and turning in a car with excessive mileage in a few years time will almost always work to your advantage - particularly if the car is highly reliable. About the only time buying is the best financial new car deal is when the buyer intends from the outset to keep the car for more than six years.


"In all honesty, I'd probably be comfortable owning most other brands, it's just for some reason Rega specifically seems to have issues. I have not heard the same happening for most other high end makes."


Every manufacturer turns out the occasional lemon. I've seen clients who simply have bad luck with otherwise excellent brands and there are always the people who have less impresssive brands that have lasted them for decades. For the most part, it is somewhat easier to build something cheap that lasts vs. something expensive which operates to much tighter tolerances which will have problems. IMO it comes down to how the manufacturer and the dealer resolve the problems that will make up my mind about how much I trust a brand. I've seen mid-level companies who make neglibly reliable products who are easy to work with and I've seen high end companies who simply refuse to admit their product might break or who get caught up in substandard parts from a secondary supplier. CD players are some of the worst for the latter issues since everyone pretty much buys many of the parts that go into their players.


" $1,400 is a decent chunk of money for a CD player. I'm willing to spend that for reliable performance over the long haul, but if a player dies in year 4 I won't be a happy camper."


I own the Apollo because long ago I decided to set a limit for how much I would spend on a CD player. I have had very few CD players that have lasted long enough to trade or sell as used. Most five year old CD players, if they're still working, aren't going to bring much on trade or resale. Most of what I've owned has crapped-out a few years down the road and despite being far from budget models, they weren't worth fixing. I've had amplifiers, pre amps and tape decks and turntables that lasted for decades and still gave reliable performance. I've not had that with CD players overall. Like VCR's I was throwing away several hundred to a thousand dollars with each player. I finally decided there had to be a limit to just how much money I was eventually willing to toss into the junk pile.




"I'm not sure if you are being serious, Jan ... "


No, I wasn't. Though the idea has been floating around audio for a few decades. Considering the number of audiophiles who swap gear on a fairly regular schedule and the financial hits they often take stepping up to this year's model, the idea of leasing high end audio gear has been around for quite awhile. Like automobiles, the first few years of depreciation are the worst. My old Mac tube amps have been relatively stable in their value for the last twenty years.

Wouldn't it be nice though, after you've decided which player to buy, to sit down with an attractive young lady who would tell who exactly which accessories you should buy?


.
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 2437
Registered: May-06
I finally made my decision. I am selling my Saturn and keeping the Wavelength Brick USB Tube DAC.

It took a while as I am now on my third laptop in the past month. The HP I bought developed a fan control overheating problem in time for me to return it to the store for a full refund. I then picked up another HP, this time with an Intel i5 2nd generation chip instead of the AMD Phenom that the initial HP had. The second HP had a defective USB port which appeared to be shorted out, perhaps from a upside down USB plug in attempt by a friend of mine.

This time I opted Toshiba A665 Blu-ray Laptop Core i7-2630QM 2.0GHz LED Backlit Display. I read somewhere that you needed a good chip to process music properly.

I also purchased a Western Digital Passport Essential 1TB USB 3.0 external storage device.

I have experimented with playback of my stored music from my laptop to the Brick via the Wireworld Starlight USB cable using my original storage device, a SimpleDrive 350Gb unit via a 2nd Wireworld Starlight USB, the WD 1TB storage device via its own USB, and directly from the laptop's 640Gb hard drive. After extensive listening to even 5 second clips of music one after the other from all 3 there really is no discernible difference between any of the 3 options. I will say that the SimpleDrive was not good before I put in the 2nd Wireworld Starlight USB between it and the laptop and the WD Storage device kept losing music with several significant drop outs when plugged into the USB 3.0 port. I it works just fine via the USB 2.0 port.

I could almost relate to what Dan posted above "Dynamics were bigger than I'd ever heard in my system before. Drums, bass guitar, and even quick forceful strums of an acoustic guitar; these sorts of things felt very emphasized. I'm wondering if Stu has the same experience (probably not as he didn't mention it). I felt more often than not that this threw off the balance in my system. At first it was exciting to hear, but as time passed it got to where I felt it was detracting from the rest of the music. Where I differ is that in my environment the dynamics are all there in full bloom but very much within the music. My soundstage is fuller 3 dimensionally. The music is much more present to me, individual vocals are more intimate and lifelike.

I had to make a few adjustments with the Toshiba laptop as it's voltage output to the USB is higher than anything I have experienced from any computer. I was listening to Adele and thought it odd that her voice would break up slightly when she extended her vocals and was really pushing it. Lowering the volume to 88% brought her performance back to perfection.

As I was telling JV, the Saturn still does some things better in terms of warmth and intimacy within a smaller presentation. The reason I opted for the DAC is that I often do my job searches sitting in front of my system with my laptop. The DAC gives me the ability to build playlists, pause, play, switch songs, etc. without having to get up to change a CD or flip an LP. If I am engaged with the laptop the music is a nice backdrop for me, or if I am playing some media from an email or a website it is much nicer hearing it through my system than earbuds or laptop speakers. If while listening a certain song captivates me, I can simply turn my attention from whatever I am doing with my laptop and focus on the music in audiophile quality.

Now I need Nick to educate me on changing the registry so that Foobar codecs are in force.

Know anybody wanting a used Saturn or a HRT Media Streamer?
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Canada

Post Number: 3509
Registered: Jun-07
Mike- Congrats on the Toshiba Laptop purchase, that is a nice model.

I will shoot you a PM regarding the codec change. Cheers.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4439
Registered: May-05
If you're giving away the Saturn, I'll take it off your hands Mike But in all seriousness...

I've heard nothing but good things about the Wavelength stuff. It's got a bit of a cult-like following, which turns me off a little, but if I only needed USB, I'd look into their stuff.

I finally got around to trying out the Kimber Hero w/ WBT 0144 interconnects. Within about 3 songs I knew it would permanently replace my Audioquest King Cobras. I could see people preferring the King Cobras, but in my system the Hero is a very good change. In a nutshell, the Hero sounds more live and realistic to my ears. The King Cobra sounds warmer and smoother, but it's a bit closed in and distant, relatively speaking. The Hero is a bit leaner and has better attack and decay. The images seem a bit smaller, but in a realistic way. Instruments have more/better space around them, and the overall soundstage is a decent bit bigger.

I guess a better analogy is the Hero is the 4th row, whereas the King Cobra is the 10th row.

Funny thing though... The DAC's soundstage sounded a good deal further back than the Apollo's. Both had the King Cobras. With the Hero, the soundstage is right where the Apollo's was. I think the Hero would have sounded better with the Apollo than the King Cobras did, but it would have most likely brought the soundstage too close, making me return them. At the end of the day, it's all about synergy.

So I'm officially done with the system for a very long time. Well, maybe the Canare speaker cables are the odd man out, being far cheaper than everything else. Right now I don't want to mess with anything. In 6 months or so, the Bryston or Kimber speaker cables may have me scratching my head, wondering what could be
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4440
Registered: May-05
Oh yeah...

Gotta get a cloverleaf to IEC adaptor to try out the Shunyata Venom on the DAC. I know the Venom didn't work out in Mike's system, but I'm loving what their power cords are doing in mine.

If they made an interconnect and speaker cable that didn't cost more than twice my B60's retail price, I'd try them out in a heartbeat. I asked Shunyata's owner/engineer/whatever he is over on Audiogon if they'd make an interconnect and speaker cable on the Diamondback's level, but got no reply. Earlier in that thread, he said the Venom and Diamondback weren't money makers for them; they're made to attract people to the brand. Hook 'em while they're young, kinda like the tobacco companies (poor attempt at a reference to the movie Dogma).
 

New member
Username: Korzena

Poland

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-11
How wide and deep is the soundstage of Rega DAC?
Anybody tried the DAC with headphones?
 

New member
Username: Nutpi

Post Number: 4
Registered: Oct-11
Got my Rega DAC 2 months ago and have not regretted the purchase. I was deciding between the Benchmark or the Rega and I'm glad I went with the Rega. USB to my Mac-mini and RCA to my Mcintosh. The sound is identical to the reproduction from the vinyl. But, do not use iTune quicktime player. To get best sound result is to use Amarra player attached to iTune.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Stamford, Connecticut USA

Post Number: 4492
Registered: May-05
Korzena,

Haven't tried the DAC with headphones. There's really no way to state the size of the soundstage, as it can't really be measured and it's a function of a lot of things - room and placement of speakers and other objects, speakers, and amplification.

My Bryston B60 throws a very big soundstage. My Audio Physic Yara Evolution bookshelves also do. APs are very highly regarded in this area, and I haven't heard many speakers that out do them in soundstaging, regardless of price.

I get a very good sized soundstage in my room. I could get more depth, but I have a TV in between the speakers.

Are you the gentleman that posted a thread about the Rega DAC vs Havana DAC? I'm kbarkamian from over there.

The Rega DAC has a very good soundstage. It's not going to be the be all, end all of soundstaging by any means. But against everything I've heard for equal money, I'd say it's just as good at it than anything else. It's better at it than my Rega Apollo was. My old Theta Cobalt 307 DAC may have been very slightly bigger in soundstage. But that's got a completely different sonic signature with different tradeoffs.
 

New member
Username: Korzena

Poland

Post Number: 2
Registered: Oct-11
Stu Pitt,
Yes, I am the guy from the other thread Trying to gather more impressions from different people.
Thank you!
 

New member
Username: Humanmedia

Post Number: 4
Registered: Mar-11
BNC digital input on Rega possible - yes
http://www.stereo.net.au/forums/showthread.php/30510-Rega-DAC-Logical-step-up-from-Cambridge-Audio-DacMagic?p=613444&viewfull=1#post613444
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-12
Got Rega DAC into my system and wanted to share a few impressions about it.

First of all, Rega DAC sound is best described as analogue seductive and tonally rich. For the most sound is well controlled though I find Rega struggling a bit in lower octaves on complicated recordings. Mids are just superb and higher octaves are rendered very well too.

Rega DAC is most convincing with small chamber and acoustic materials, less so with rock and techno. In any case Rega sounds great in most cases, for the money it is a steal. Just do not expect it to match mega buck DACs.

You cannot call Rega the most resolving DAC but you can call it very musical one. If you value music harmony and organic way of presentation (like in live performances) above all then Rega will cut it for you. I can say I am enjoying every moment with my Rega. My primary source is still Naim CDP but for digital playback Rega ticks all boxes for me personally.

In my setup Rega plays with Mac Mini wired via MF V-link into Vincent 236MK II hybrid amplifier to SF GPD floor speakers. I can only say this whole system produces a highly musical live-like sound so you stop caring about fine details and you just dive all the way into the musical eternity.

IMO Rega DAC is good enough to make your HDD music sound enjoyable in the way you did not hear it before. HOWEVER……. do not expect Rega to beat the quality of more expensive gear or high end CDP. I got Naim CD 5X player which is a better sounding machine by comparison but it also costs a few times more than Rega DAC. What Rega offers is truly musical experience for more than affordable price. Whatever Naim does I enjoy my Rega no less than my Naim.

Now, toning down I would mention a few practical issues. First of all, if you want to do your Rega DAC a better justice then please forget about USB input. You most certainly will not like Rega sound via its own USB. The best way to use your Rega would be to invest in a good USB-to-SPDIF asynch converter and a pair of quality USB and SPDIF cables. From my experience optical connection might be good but SPDIF does it better. I personally use my Rega DAC with MF V-Link II + Wireworld USB and SPDIF cables.

Filter settings on Rega give subtle difference. Personally I prefer filter #1, though many use #4 and #5. #1 is closest to CD standard. #4 and #5 sound just bit soft to my ear, but then i use tubed preamp section. so perhaps with solid state you may like #5 better.

Also, it makes sense to decide on the source you will be using to feed your Rega DAC. Whatever you choose, Mac or PC, I recommend use them only for dedicated playback. So remove all unnecessary software from your PC or Mac, use them off-line, disable not vital processes in CPU and install good media player software. Forget about WMP or iTunes which cannot do justice to your music. I personally prefer inexpensive great sounding Audirvana player. But if you want more expensive solutions then check Pure Music player or much more expensive Amarra. Personally I did not care for Fidelia or Decibel software which sounded too artificial for me. Also, I recommend against using upsampling in software or in DAC. Gladly Rega has no upsampling and in Audirvana I disabled upsampling. Upsampling is no good if you are spoiled with live music and stage drive, I tried upsampling but quickly switched it off as my ears protested instantly against upsampling.

My personal opinion is if you want to outclass Rega DAC you need to move to DACs costing above 3k $. Otherwise, switch on your Rega DAC, lean back and forget all your worries about HiFi upgrades, you already have very musical box of equipment :-)
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1464
Registered: Jul-07
Your experiences re: media player software mirrors mine quite closely. I haven't tried Pure Music yet, but Amarra (Mini) sounded much more natural to me than Decibel or some other players I tried, although it's a bit buggy....which disappointed me greatly given the price you pay.
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jan-12
Chris, very much agree. Actually the reason me going for Audirvana was too many bugs in Amarra plus i do not use iTunes so not much reason for paying huge extra to Amarra.

frankly speaking i found Audirvana sound fairly good for my ear, it is not top notch but at least it is closer to Amarra than Fidelia or Decibel. also Audirvana inteface is well laid and simple and price you pay is very fair IMO. note Audirvana also has iTunes integration mode which users say is well implemented and stable compared to Amarra.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1466
Registered: Jul-07
I'm not even using the iTunes integration in Amarra.....just selecting tracks through Folder. Still quirky. I know the issues now so I just avoid them, but it's still not acceptable for a product that costly. However, since sound quality supercedes everything else, I still use it.
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 3
Registered: Jan-12
Chris, you can compare Amarra to Audirvana by using a 15-day trial download from http://audirvana.com/site/?page_id=112

If you do so I will be curious to hear your impression. For me Audirvana was second best to Amarra in sound, being darn stable and having best user interface. I do not know if you use Mac or Windows however.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1467
Registered: Jul-07
I use a Mac Mini, with everything shut down other than Amarra. I also replaced the standard drive with a SSD, and turn journalling off.
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 4
Registered: Jan-12
funny but i think i know what Rega means when they write Best Used with Valves....... actually i have tubed preamp and that makes Rega sound especially spacious and rich increasing analogue character of DAC.
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 5
Registered: Jan-12
for what is worth another observation. despite various recommendations to use dedicated USB port on Mac Mini instead of shared i found literally no difference between the shared and not shared. actually i somehow believe that sound was slightly better on the shared as opposed to not shared high speed USB2. since i use Mac Mini only for music playback and use also V-Link II may be this is the reason I cannot hear any difference. My Mac Mini is from early 2011 with Snow Leopard (no Lion please, I never would install a new OS until it was tested and updated for 1 year since issue date). Not surprised reading sad stories of Lion OS users.
 

New member
Username: Jasjas

UK

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jan-12
Hi everyone,
newly joined member here so please excuse if I seem to hijack the OP or if my query is discussed elsewhere.
I have a Rega dac which is hardly run in yet but I'm enjoying it via USB. I'm looking to go via a USB to coaxial/optical converter but just want to get an indication of the improvement I will hear.
Glut, have you tried with direct USB without your V-Link? If so what were the differences? I'm expecting there to be an improvement, but is it night and day or more subtle?
My system is very modest, the DAC being the most expensive in this path (Marantz PM6004 to MonitorAudio BR2), so I'm quite enjoying what I'm hearing already from the DAC (it really does bring out the music). I'm finding I can also play 24/96 files (I'm using foobar) although down-sampling must be occurring somewhere of course. So, SQ wise, should I invest in a USB converter, and which one? I'm also considering the Halide Bridge or M2Tech HiFace for their convenience aspect. Anyone had any experience of these, especially with the Rega DAC? Or should I forget this and wait to upgrade the rest of my path first?
Any suggestions welcomed. (I'm UK based btw).
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 6
Registered: Jan-12
hi JJ, in my system USB to SPDIF gave well improvements in termsof fuller sound articulation and air. for what is worth my observation was that sound became more open and instruments better defined. As for what adapter, I would go with cheap but good quality brand. In my case I ended up with Musical Fidelity V-Link II 24/96, paying just about 110 euros. I do not see reason paying more for 24/192 and else similar because you can barely find files in native resolution above 96 while i hate upsampling of any kind, just a matter of taste.

what i like about MF V-llink is easy to use, no driver required, works smoothly, does not have issues with integer mode like for instance HiFace or EVO HiFace...and MF gives you every bang for your buck with great sound. i also heard many good words about Audiophileo but this is too expensive and makes little sense in modest setup. as regards Stello i think it falls within same category with MF. since you in UK it must be very easy to get V-Link II, there is also a newer V-Link 24/192 but it costs more.

i thought about HiFace or their EVO and almost bought one but then was reading through comments on various forums about reliability and drivers... it happens more people have problems with HiFace driver implementation especially with Macs.... so I decided not to try. also EVO requires power adapter, which adds to your cost since supplied adapter is garbage. so quality sound wise i think MF V-link offers best choice for little money.

but do not forget to use good USB and SPDIF cables. frankly speaking many people laugh at audiophiles overpaying for cables but from my experience i can attest that cables really can improve sound of your system and not by little.

in my system wireworld USB and SPDIF play nicely. also i have Atlas interconnects. they are good cables moderately priced by HiFi standards.
 

New member
Username: Jasjas

UK

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jan-12
Glut, thanks for your reply.
I guess you have re-enforced what I was suspecting all along, that a converter would bring improvements, and that the V-Link is good enough to do just that. I was subconsciously rejecting the MF V-Link I think because I had demo'd the MF M1 dac and was not overly impressed when compared to the Rega (nor even the rDAC), but this is of course completely illogical to reject the V-Link on that basis. The more I look into the V-Link the more impressed I'm beginning to be about the little box of tricks esp for the price point. And I agree spending any more is really unjustified in my setup. Hopefully I can demo it at home in time.
I wasn't aware of the driver issues with the HiFace,but it's good to know about.
I think I agree about what you say on the interconnects. I too have the wireworld Ultraviolet USB but TBH I haven't bothered doing AB against a vanilla USB cable - you can drive yourself crazy with these things! Coincidentally I also have Atlas Equater RCA's (old version) which I use from CDP to amp. But with the Rega dac I'm using Chord crimson plus which compared to the Atlas are much brighter (to me) so go well with the Rega (again, don't have the time to fiddle too much - once I like what I'm hearing it's good enough for me!). Talking of Atlas my local hifi dealer is always pushing the make and I've ended up with Atlas Element bi-wire spkr cable which I'm checking against Chord Carnival silverscreen. Although there's a canyon of difference between the sound of these two I'm not sure which arrangement I prefer - so still in the process of deciding... but spkr cables/bi-wiring is probably a topic for another thread.
Cheers.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1487
Registered: Jul-07
I have the Mapleshade version of the HiFace, plugged into my Mini Mac and have had zero issues with it. Simply installed the driver from the HiFace site, selected it for my output device, and boom, done. Oddly, I'm running Lion, which was supposed to be the cause of some of the issues, but for some reason I'm not having any. Lucky me.
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 7
Registered: Jan-12
Chris, i do not know what mapleshade version means, i only know that some people reported problem and that was not only Lion but also Snow Leopard. Anyway, Musical Fidelity V link is a great product and is reasonably priced. Evo Hiface is more expensive actually esp if with additional extra PSU. For that money you can easily take Audiophileo which will outdo Evo IMHO.

I also believe you that perhaps your case was lucky and you enjoy your Evo adapter as much as i enjoy my V link.

I also agree with JJ, while MF M1 Dac is not great product sound wise, their V link is really a gem priced very cheap by hifi standards.

In the end it only matters if you like the sound and components in your setup or not. I can say many people use to bash Naim gear. However i believe Naim CDP are best sounding players around. And Rega Dac was equally superb for the asking price. I prefer analogue rich sound and when i listen to strings i want to hear not only string sound but also air reverb around strings and dynamic sound fade out. When drums hitting i want hear not only drum but also that moment when sticks hit drums and how that evolves into the sound. As for detailed sound i prefer harmony and music layers to any detail that might be artificially spiced. For me music is all about harmony and live, the rest is literature.
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 8
Registered: Jan-12
JJ, Chord makes very good cables. I have two and am very happy with them. My Naim works with Chord Cobra Plus DIN to RCA.
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1489
Registered: Jul-07
"Chris, i do not know what mapleshade version means..."

http://shop.mapleshadestore.com/prodinfo.asp?number=USBADAPTER-CL
 

New member
Username: Glut

Post Number: 9
Registered: Jan-12
Chris, wow, that looks cool. thanks for posting the link...

btw, since we began exchanging links. here is a link to one rare but very interesting NOS DAC, NOS stands for Not Over Sampling :-)

http://www.nosminidac.nl/Octave_English.html
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/metrum/1.html
 

Gold Member
Username: Hawkbilly

Nova Scotia Canada

Post Number: 1490
Registered: Jul-07
Very interesting looking DAC Glut.
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