Comet Exogal DAC shoot out

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I.Greyhound Fan

Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« on: 17 Mar 2015, 06:32 am »
I am going to upgrade my DAC some time in the next few months and I have some friends that have a Hugo Chord, Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 DSDse with the Femto Clock upgrade and a Bryston BDA-1 DAC.  We decided to to a DAC shoot out and compare them.  Then one of my friends sent me a link to a new company called Exogal based here in the Twin Cities.  They have a new outstanding DAC called the Comet which sells for $2,500 and $3,000 with a beefier external power supply.  So I emailed them and asked if they would be interested in including the Comet in the shoot out.  Jeff the CEO was game and dropped the unit off at my house about a week before the shoot out.  I had a few days to play with it and was very impressed with the sound.  It clearly bested my aging AVA Ultra DAC a hybrid tube design.  I will go more into how it sounded in my system after the shoot out results.

This past Saturday night 2 friends and I went over to another AC members house for the shoot out.  For kick's one guys brought over his  $500 IFI DAC and  $299 IFI tube buffer to see how it would stack up against the other 4 dacs.

Equipment used-

Magnepan 3.7 speakers
Dual AVA HiFi 600R amps used in a mono block configuration at 600wpc @ 4ohms
AVA FET CF tube Preamp
Computer based music using JRiver software
Emperical Audio OR5 off ramp USB converter which allowed us to immediately switch back and forth between 2 DAC's at a time.

Because we could only switch between 2 DAC's at a time we compared each DAC to each other, picking out the one we thought sounded the best and then compared the 2 winners.  Here are the results-

The IFI was clearly out classed by the other DAC's in detail, resolution, dynamics and listenability.  It sounded flat in comparison but we all expected that going into this.  It was not bad sounding by any means but it was totally out if its league.

The Wyred 4 Sound came in 4th.  It hits hard with good dynamics and bass but it was too bright and had a little grain.  It sounded great with acoustic guitar with great attack, detail and resolution, but on rock music it was irritating and almost harsh.   This was a surprise because I have heard it in my system and my friend's who owns both the Hugo and W4S and it did not sound that way. In fact it was one of the DAC's that I was considering buying up until this test.

The next 2 DAC's were a tough decision for me.  I would call it a tie between the Comet and the Bryston, although the person that owns the Bryston liked it the best. The Comet has this unique 3D or holographic sound with a huge sound stage that is wide, deep and tall.  It has great air and transparency, the best out of all the DAC's.  It was actually uncanny in a good way on how clear  and holographic it sounded.  It reminded me of hearing a pair of higher end Martin Logan ESL's a few years back which I found to have tremendous transparency and a 3D sound. In addition we all agreed that it had a very nice midrange bloom.  Bass was tight, fast and controlled but not as deep as the Bryston or W4S.  Resolution was very good, better than the Hugo and not as good as the Bryston or W4S.  Drums had very good kick and snap.  Vocals and horns were smooth and very natural.  We listened to Anne Bisson's Blue Mind CD using a Cambridge Audio 840 as a transport at the beginning of the test and her voice had good texture.  All 4 of us however felt that the sound leaned a just bit to the bright side of neutral mainly on rock and roll.  It sounded excellent when listening to Billy Mclaughlin's guitar on his Finger Dance album.  2 of us felt that it would be a great DAC for Jazz, Acoustic and Classical music.

The Bryston on the other hand did every thing well.  It had a nice neutral tone, very good resolution, probably the best dynamics and bass out of all the dac's.  It had a thicker or heavier sound compared to the other dac's.  Because of this it did not appear to have the amount of air and transparency of the Comet.   It sounded great with all types of music.  It has good pace and rhythm  and was about equal with the W4S in this area.  The Comet was a little slower and the Hugo the slowest.

The Hugo Chord was the DAC that 3 of us preferred and ranked number one.  It also does every thing well but it has a lush, liquid midrange and a more romantic sound.  It sounds good with all types of music with out any fatigue.  It was the most musical, smoothest sounding out of all the DAC's.   It had good dynamic. It did not have the crisp detail of the W4S or the transparency and holographic sound and resolution of the Comet , nor the dynamics or bass of the Bryston but it sounded damn good.  Some people may not like the sound because it can sugar coat the sound a little.  Certainly if you are the type of person that likes a dead neutral and more clinical sound or razor sharp detail then it is not the DAC for you.

In the end, we all agreed that the Comet, Hugo Chord and the Bryston were excellent DAC's and each had it strengths and weaknesses.  Clearly system matching is important.  I had the Comet in my system for several days and it was very neutral sounding.  However, I use a Pass Labs x250 amp, a BAT VK51se tube preamp and Magnepan 1.6 speakers. 

I will post a dedicated review of the Comet, its features, build quality and how it sounds in my system tomorrow.   In addition I will have the Comet for a couple more weeks and I will try it with more traditional cone speakers (PSB and Monitor Audio) and post my findings. 

If any one has any questions about the DAC's and the Comet in particular, please send me a PM.

Here is a link to Exogal and the Comet-

http://www.exogal.com/index.php/products

JLM

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Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #1 on: 17 Mar 2015, 11:49 am »
Thanks so much for the comparison - very useful.  I've been looking at the Hugo, even more so with the soon to be release 2Qute ($1800 desktop version of the Hugo in the Chordette shell).

Did the Comet include the $500 power supply option?

WGH

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Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #2 on: 17 Mar 2015, 03:12 pm »
Good review. Just by chance Michael Lavorgna's review of the Comet appeared in my inbox the same day you posted:
http://www.audiostream.com/content/exogal-comet-dac

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #3 on: 17 Mar 2015, 03:36 pm »
Thanks so much for the comparison - very useful.  I've been looking at the Hugo, even more so with the soon to be release 2Qute ($1800 desktop version of the Hugo in the Chordette shell).

Did the Comet include the $500 power supply option?

Yes it did.  We only used the external power supply.  I still have the Comet and I will try the little wall wart to compare.

I really liked the Comet.  I think that the Comet and Hugo are too different flavors but both are very good.  The Comet having more detail, resolution bigger sound stage and clarity  of the two but the Hugo's warmer and romantic sound is intoxicating.  I like both DAC's and it would be a hard choice between the two as I like the strengths of both DAC's.  Both are very easy to listen to. The Comets huge sound stage and 3D sound was outstanding and the best that I have heard.

Good review. Just by chance Michael Lavorgna's review of the Comet appeared in my inbox the same day you posted:
http://www.audiostream.com/content/exogal-comet-dac

Yes, I read that review last week and my personal experience with the Comet in my system mirrors that review.  I will post a review that I wrote on the Audio Shark Forum last week.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #4 on: 17 Mar 2015, 03:44 pm »
Here is the review that I wrote after a few hours of listening to the Comet last week-


I have been listening to the Comet for at least 3 hours now and I have a better impression of it.

When I first listened to the Comet I was not initially wowed like I was when my friend brought over his W4S DAC-2 DSDse and Chord Hugo a few weeks ago. I thought this sounds very good but I was not hit with the immediate feeling that this was a piece of Kit that I needed to have. But after listening for a good while I found myself smiling for no reason and really enjoying the music, more so than I had in a long time. I had to sit and think about why and then I started thinking about what was missing from the sound. There was no glare, digital edge or fatigue and no sibilants. The back ground was completely black. I found the sound was very easy to listen too leaning on the relaxed side as I began to think about what was right with it. It is very liquid, holographic and 3D with fantastic transparency. The sound stage is wide and very tall. Bass is tight, well controlled and pleasing although it could use a just a little more weight with my Maggies. Cymbals sounded perfect and not too forward or pushed back. Vocals and horns are to die for, very natural and smooth. Drums had good kick to them. There was good spacing between instruments. Overall the sound is very analog and neutral with maybe a hint of warmth on some recordings. The dynamics are good but not on the level of the W4S DAC-2 DSDse which has great slam, and there is good musicality but not to the level of the Hugo Chord which I really like but seems to sugar coat a little like the old CJ tube gear. I think that is why I was not initially wowed by the Comet, but the more I listened, the more it won me over as I realized that the sound is excellent and it just sounds right. It is a very analog sounding DAC and I just might buy this DAC after I hear a few more at Axpona.

I will post an updated review on the Comet after further listening in my system at the end of next week.


Larry

JLM

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Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #5 on: 17 Mar 2015, 06:29 pm »
$2500 is about my DAC limit, so your comparison of the Comet with and without the $500 power supply would be helpful.

(Although I've been hyped over the Hugo, the large soundstage and good resolution of the Comet would be important considerations in my system.)

*Scotty*

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #6 on: 17 Mar 2015, 07:39 pm »
A better investment might be a much larger regulated linear power supply around 150watts in size. The addon power supply is rated at only 25 watts. This equivalent to a small wallwort 
A lower impedance power supply couldn't hurt.
Scotty

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #7 on: 18 Mar 2015, 04:42 am »
I was just informed that the USB off ramp that we used does not play well with the W4S causes it to sound bright.  It may have had the same affect on the Comet.  I am going to do another shoot out in my system using a CD player as a transport some time in the next 2 weeks.

beowulf

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #8 on: 18 Mar 2015, 06:09 am »
I was just informed that the USB off ramp that we used does not play well with the W4S causes it to sound bright.  It may have had the same affect on the Comet.  I am going to do another shoot out in my system using a CD player as a transport some time in the next 2 weeks.

First off, thanks for the great review and for bringing the Exogal Comet to my attention as it sounds like a stellar product!

Secondly why not try the Comet DAC without the Off Ramp altogether and just use your PC/Mac and JRiver straight to USB without sticking another component into the chain?  That to me would be the purist signal and testament to what the DACs can do without having anything else in the mix.

Thanks again I really enjoyed this read. :thumb:

edn4x4

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #9 on: 18 Mar 2015, 01:49 pm »

Secondly why not try the Comet DAC without the Off Ramp altogether and just use your PC/Mac and JRiver straight to USB without sticking another component into the chain?  That to me would be the purist signal and testament to what the DACs can do without having anything else in the mix.



The reason we used my OR5 (its fully optioned and has the EA power supply)was to avoid any USB driver issues as I didn't have them installed for the comet and wanted to be able to quickly a/b the dacs.  The last thing I wanted was to have windows driver issues during the shootout. (been there done that...)
The second reason was the w4s i2s input through the OR5 was supposed to be its best and the coax into Hugo it's best - so I was trying to compare it in that way as well.
I fully agree that one less piece would be nice and when I get together with Larry again, I will do only USB to each dac straight from the computer and see how they stack up.

beowulf

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #10 on: 18 Mar 2015, 07:38 pm »
The reason we used my OR5 (its fully optioned and has the EA power supply)was to avoid any USB driver issues as I didn't have them installed for the comet and wanted to be able to quickly a/b the dacs.  The last thing I wanted was to have windows driver issues during the shootout. (been there done that...)
The second reason was the w4s i2s input through the OR5 was supposed to be its best and the coax into Hugo it's best - so I was trying to compare it in that way as well.
I fully agree that one less piece would be nice and when I get together with Larry again, I will do only USB to each dac straight from the computer and see how they stack up.

Thanks, looking forward to your next comments! :thumb:

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #11 on: 25 Mar 2015, 03:41 am »
Today I spent about 2 hours listening to the Comet in my main system but I replaced my Magnepan 1.6's with a pair of Monitor Audio S1 speakers as well as a pair of PSB B6's.  For those not familiar with either of these speakers, the MA's sold for about $750pr and they are a small bookshelf with a 6.5" woofer.  They have a neutral, clean, detailed and slightly forward sound with good air and transparency.  The PSB's are large bookshelfs with a 6.5" woofer.  They sold for about $525pr and they have a warmer more forgiving sound.  They have very good bass for a BS speaker but they are not as detailed as the MA's.

The Comet made both of these speakers really sing beautiful music.  The Comet seems to be a much better match with both of these speakers.  There was not a hint of brightness as with my Magnepans.  The sound stage continued to be wide, tall and deep.  The sound was very holographic and 3D.  Piano's sounded very natural with excellent decay.  The attack on Piano and Acoustic Guitar was both crisp and smooth at the same time and sounded very life like.  Vocals and horns were very smooth with not hint of harshness.  Cymbal crashes were crisp and clean.  Bass was good fast ,taught, crisp and controlled.  There was a nice, pleasing mid bass bloom but the bottom end could use a little more oomph.  Turning up the cross over on my sub fixed the issue. 

Music used-

Pink Floyd- The Wall
Melody Gardot- Worrisome Heart
Pat Metheny- What's It All About
George Winston- Autumn
Chesky's- The Worlds Greatest Audiophile Recordings
Eva Cassidy- Simply Eva
Fleetwood Mac- Rumors
A Blu-Spec Classic Selection sampler CD of Classical music
Quilles and Cloud- Seminole Star (from Blue Coast)

Ric Schultz

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Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #12 on: 27 Mar 2015, 02:09 am »
The Schiit Yggdrasil is coming soon.......I would not buy anything till it comes out and is properly evaluated.  Could be killer!

KLH007

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Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #13 on: 11 Sep 2015, 04:08 pm »
Today I spent about 2 hours listening to the Comet in my main system but I replaced my Magnepan 1.6's with a pair of Monitor Audio S1 speakers as well as a pair of PSB B6's.  For those not familiar with either of these speakers, the MA's sold for about $750pr and they are a small bookshelf with a 6.5" woofer.  They have a neutral, clean, detailed and slightly forward sound with good air and transparency.  The PSB's are large bookshelfs with a 6.5" woofer.  They sold for about $525pr and they have a warmer more forgiving sound.  They have very good bass for a BS speaker but they are not as detailed as the MA's.

The Comet made both of these speakers really sing beautiful music.  The Comet seems to be a much better match with both of these speakers.  There was not a hint of brightness as with my Magnepans.  The sound stage continued to be wide, tall and deep.  The sound was very holographic and 3D.  Piano's sounded very natural with excellent decay.  The attack on Piano and Acoustic Guitar was both crisp and smooth at the same time and sounded very life like.  Vocals and horns were very smooth with not hint of harshness.  Cymbal crashes were crisp and clean.  Bass was good fast ,taught, crisp and controlled.  There was a nice, pleasing mid bass bloom but the bottom end could use a little more oomph.  Turning up the cross over on my sub fixed the issue. 

Music used-

Pink Floyd- The Wall
Melody Gardot- Worrisome Heart
Pat Metheny- What's It All About
George Winston- Autumn
Chesky's- The Worlds Greatest Audiophile Recordings
Eva Cassidy- Simply Eva
Fleetwood Mac- Rumors
A Blu-Spec Classic Selection sampler CD of Classical music
Quilles and Cloud- Seminole Star (from Blue Coast)

I was wondering if you had made any more observations or purchases since this last post? The Comet has not gotten any more reviews that I'm aware of, sure seemed to be a rising star. I'd also like to hear the NuPrime DAC-10.

worldcat

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #14 on: 4 Oct 2015, 06:03 pm »
Has anyone compared the Comet to the Yiggi?

martinr

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #15 on: 7 Oct 2015, 01:54 am »
It would be nice to read a review of a shootout between the Iggy and other dacs.....there are a few around the web like this one http://www.head-fi.org/products/schiit-audio-yggdrasil/reviews.

The recent talk regarding BS stereophile mags and RMAF show awards solidifies the fact that I trust the people on this forum with product reviews more than anywhere else.....

johzel

Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #16 on: 7 Oct 2015, 02:13 am »
$2500 is about my DAC limit, so your comparison of the Comet with and without the $500 power supply would be helpful.

(Although I've been hyped over the Hugo, the large soundstage and good resolution of the Comet would be important considerations in my system.)

I have the Comet with the power supply and have no desire to look further (having owned a number of others including most recently, a upgraded Wyred with the Femto Clock upgrade.)  I have never heard the Comet without the power upgrade.  Walter, the US distributor says the power supply is a significant upgrade - of course he would.  I just saw a used one with the power upgrade for well under $2500 as I recall.  BTW, Jeff at Exogal is an awesome guy to deal with . . .

dfish

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Re: Comet Exogal DAC shoot out
« Reply #17 on: 31 Mar 2016, 09:15 pm »
I.Greyhound Fan,

I hear the Exogal sounds far better after 300 hours than when first listening to it.  For some reason, it has a very long burn in time.  A dealer was not "wowed" by it when first listening to the Exogal, but left it in his system a while.  It really turned into a different sounding DAC that he said competes with far more expensive manufacturers.  He ended up selling his Lampizator and purchased the Comet.  Any thoughts from your original post about the Comet?  Regards, David