The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!

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trianglezerius

The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« on: 5 Dec 2009, 02:41 pm »
I recently had the opportunity to do a home audition of the DB Audio Labs Tranquility USB Dac. Boy, what a privilege it was to hear this new dac. It has a really nice build quality and the nice beefy connectors on the back. I set it up next to what I thought was a stellar CD player, especially after modifying it, my Jas Musik 1.2. I bought this player last year as it sonically won out against players like the Rega Apollo and all the Cambridge models. Yet the Tranquility DAC just trounced my player. There was no comparison! It was cleaner, clearer, had a lower noise floor and had sustain and decay much like analog does, the midrange had a more fluid presentation and the bass was deeper and had better pitch definition. It was unlike anything I?ve heard before at this price (or any for that matter) and it?s mind baffling they are selling for under a grand. Hell, even at its list price of $1495 it is a real steal in my opinion. I know I haven't heard everything out there but I believe that this Tranquility Dac must be setting some sort of new standards for digital playback.
 
I proceeded to compare it to my buddies $9K AMR player at his house and his AMR is VERY well reviewed. This player, as good as it is, sounded more digital - like, where the trailing ends of musical notes ended much more abruptly and the Tranquility had sustain and decay that just kept going right till the next note. Plus the Tranquility?s ability to sound natural and fluid was better too. I remember my quest for a CD player under $2K. It seemed a little disappointing that I had to accept some sort of sonic compromise for anything I heard near that price. Models such as the Cambridge Audio 840c and Rega Apollo sounding a bit glossy and shut in compared to players I couldn?t really afford (and I don't care what the reviewers say about these CD players, that's how they sounded to my ears!).

The Tranquility Dac makes me rethink my opinion that digital music was somewhat flawed. Now I think it's been the playback that was flawed all along. I am going to purchase this Tranquility Dac after the holidays so I can re-listen to my entire CD collection. Thanks to the guys at dB Audio Labs for this excellent product. I?m sure they could have priced it much higher than the $1,500 based on how it sounds and still made lots of sales. As for the current price, I feel like I've just won the lottery. It that will remain a staple in my system for years to come, job well done guys!
 
Tom

richidoo

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #1 on: 5 Dec 2009, 02:59 pm »
Nice review. Sounds like you really like it.

Here's a link to their homepage
http://www.dbaudiolabs.com/

trianglezerius

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #2 on: 5 Dec 2009, 11:17 pm »
Thanks Rich for posting the link since I just forgot to add it.

srb

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #3 on: 5 Dec 2009, 11:30 pm »
Here's a link to their homepage
http://www.dbaudiolabs.com/

I'm glad it sounds good because never have I seen so much prose say so little!
 
I also have no idea what bit depth and sampling rate it will decode, no clue as to how quiet or noisy it might be (S/N ratio) and as far as frequency response linearity, I guess that too is guarded information.
 
I do know it's dimensions and weight, though!
 
Steve

Jon L

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #4 on: 5 Dec 2009, 11:31 pm »
Nice review. Sounds like you really like it.

Here's a link to their homepage
http://www.dbaudiolabs.com/

Boy, their website absolutely reveals NO information about the USB implementation, DAC chips, 24/96 capability, or pretty much anything.  I did catch that they use "Zero Feedback discrete Class A output," which is always a plus  :thumb:

srb

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #5 on: 5 Dec 2009, 11:34 pm »
It has CTIT (tm) - Cryogenically Treated Integrated Circuits.
 
I'm out.
 
Steve

pardales

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #6 on: 6 Dec 2009, 12:15 am »
Here's a link to their homepage
http://www.dbaudiolabs.com/

I'm glad it sounds good because never have I seen so much prose say so little!
 
I also have no idea what bit depth and sampling rate it will decode, no clue as to how quiet or noisy it might be (S/N ratio) and as far as frequency response linearity, I guess that too is guarded information.
 
I do know it's dimensions and weight, though!
 
Steve

I thought the same thing....lots of words for so little said. My generous interpretation of this is that by not getting into the details they are saying to the audiophile community,

"look everyone is spouting this and that about the latest digital technology: bits/sampling rate/jitter, etc. etc., we're a smart group of folks who have judiciously assembled several mature technologies and put them together into a package that does music right, and we hope you'll take a listen."

This won't sit well with many people, but if it really is a special unit, lots of people will say it is over a long period of time, and we will still be talking about it one year from now.

srb

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #7 on: 6 Dec 2009, 12:36 am »
I thought the same thing....lots of words for so little said. My generous interpretation of this is that by not getting into the details they are saying to the audiophile community,

"look everyone is spouting this and that about the latest digital technology: bits/sampling rate/jitter, etc. etc., we're a smart group of folks who have judiciously assembled several mature technologies and put them together into a package that does music right, and we hope you'll take a listen."

I think whether or not the device will convert the high resolution files on my computer (after all, this is a USB DAC intended for a computer) is most certainly a "detail" that should have been talked about!
 
As far as my previous post, I am not a believer in cryogenically treating circuitry.  NASA acknowledges that cryogenics can increase the dimensional stability of metals, however they do not cryogenically treat electronic circuits that go into space.
 
Beyond that, applying for a tradename for an acronym of "Cryogenically Treated Integrated Circuits" IMO is pure marketing hype.
 
I have every right to be turned off by fluff.
 
Steve
« Last Edit: 6 Dec 2009, 02:33 am by srb »

pardales

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #8 on: 6 Dec 2009, 01:37 am »
I thought the same thing....lots of words for so little said. My generous interpretation of this is that by not getting into the details they are saying to the audiophile community,

"look everyone is spouting this and that about the latest digital technology: bits/sampling rate/jitter, etc. etc., we're a smart group of folks who have judiciously assembled several mature technologies and put them together into a package that does music right, and we hope you'll take a listen."

I think whether or not the device will convert the high resolution files on my computer (after all, this is a USB DAC intended for a computer) is most certainly a "detail" that should have been talked about!
 
As far as my previous post, I am not a believer in cryogenically treating circuitry.  NASA acknowledges that cryogenics can increase the dimensional stability of metals, however they do not cryogenically treat electronic circuits that go into space.
 
Beyond that, applying for a tradename for an acronym of "cryogenically treated integrated circuits" is IMO pure marketing hype.
 
I have every right to be turned off by their fluff.
 
Steve


You certainly do, Steve. I don't think you will be the only one turned off either. I am certainly going to wait and see. So much happening in the DAC world these days. Good fun.

ted_b

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #9 on: 6 Dec 2009, 02:28 am »
I gotta assume it's not a hirez DAC, redbook only, or they would have said something on their website.  Nice pictures, lots of words, no info.   In this world of competitive DACs at every price range (Antelope, make of killer digital audio clocking devices at real world pricing, just announced their 24/384k DAC at $3k, and two others starting at $1800) it's quite surprising they have no real info.:scratch:

TRADERXFAN

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #10 on: 6 Dec 2009, 07:37 am »
Not sure if you all are aware (or care) but Gr-research featured this at the last RMAF. Danny seems to think a lot of it.  Maybe he could give some more info about it....

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #11 on: 6 Dec 2009, 08:18 am »

As far as my previous post, I am not a believer in cryogenically treating circuitry.  NASA acknowledges that cryogenics can increase the dimensional stability of metals, however they do not cryogenically treat electronic circuits that go into space.
 
Beyond that, applying for a tradename for an acronym of "Cryogenically Treated Integrated Circuits" IMO is pure marketing hype.
 
I have every right to be turned off by fluff.
 
Steve

I don't expect that astronauts are listening to high end stereo systems in space either so what's your point? I AM a firm believer in cryogenics as used in audio. I also have every right to be turned off by fluff.  :thumb:
 
Nice review btw regardless of all the excessive fluff (edit: AFTER THE REVIEW).  :thumb:

Cheers,
Robin
« Last Edit: 6 Dec 2009, 08:29 pm by satfrat »

wilsynet

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #12 on: 6 Dec 2009, 03:36 pm »
Antelope has no real info either.  When I go to the website there are lots of specs but no date for availability and no pricing.

rajacat

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #13 on: 6 Dec 2009, 03:57 pm »
Similar discussion happening on Audiogon after a rave review was posted.

http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?ddgtl&1258679140&read&keyw&zzdb+audio+labs+tranquility+usb+dac

ted_b

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #14 on: 6 Dec 2009, 04:03 pm »
Antelope has no real info either.  When I go to the website there are lots of specs but no date for availability and no pricing.

Cuz they're not released yet.   :)   My point is that there is no doubt what they can do.  Lots of tech info.  6Moons has the pre-press release with pricing, but that's not the topic of this thread.   

mgalusha

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #15 on: 6 Dec 2009, 04:12 pm »
Assuming the Eric Hider that owns the domain is the same Eric Hider who is on AC as ehider, he was logged on as recently as yesterday, so perhaps he will post some details in this thread.

trianglezerius

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #16 on: 6 Dec 2009, 04:52 pm »
A couple of you guys just crack me up!  Let?s review my digital comparisons that I did for picking this new DAC I am going to buy -

My JAS Musik - PCM 1732, a buffer using a 12AX7LPS, custom superclock and pwr supplies and it easily won out when compared to the following players with their "technology"-
- Rega Apollo - Wolfson 8740 with Rega's own class A design output and some other Rega stuff they don't talk about.

- Cambridge 840C - Anagram (ATF) asynchronous, upsampling feeds two 24-bit, 384 kHz DAC,  ?The ATF system intelligently interpolates 16-bit, 44.1 kHz CD data to 24-bit, 384 kHz data, through the use of a 32-bit Analog Devices 'Black-Fin' DSP. This, in turn, feeds two 24-bit, 384 kHz DACs from the same company in dual differential formation.?....and the 840C features a Four Pole Dual Differential Double Virtual Earth Balanced topology?.

But my JAS and the other two players don?t hold a candle to my buddy?s cost no object AMR Player which has a bunch more of "technology" -

- AMR CD-77 - special custom wound transformers, optimized servo timing, super clock module w/ special pwr supply, MASSIVE custom transport, 10 pwr supply regulators, two power supplies that drive the Master Clock, Dynamic Element Matching, special SMD film capacitors, Sanyo Os-Con caps, power supply impedance up to 100Mhz. blah, blah, blah. Here are some great pictures of the inside of his AMR player from a reviewer that said it was one of the best you can buy today. It looks serious and then some!  http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/abbingdon/abbingdon_3.html

The Tranquility that I?m going to buy is even better sounding than all of these different companies digital players. What's with these serious negative responses because you don't knowing what is inside this new Tranquillity that I'm getting? Can't give these guys a chance to explain what they are doing? From what I know they launched this company at RMAF just a few months ago. How do you guys know they won't tell you about their "technology". EVERY question I asked them they answered in great detail.

Does anybody here remember Robert Harley's review of the Cambridge 840C? He talked and talked about all of this super "technology" inside that player with him concluding it was the best buy he knew of under $5K! Is that what everyone thinks now about the Cambridge 840C? For me I like to start with judging any digital by comparing with MY EARS how each is against other great sounding players. I DON'T want to end up with some sort of "technology approved" Cambridge type of player that fits some engineer's idea of is great. I guess I must be a very different audiophile from a few of you guys. For me, the proof is in the pudding;-)

ted_b

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #17 on: 6 Dec 2009, 04:58 pm »
What's with these serious negative responses because you don't knowing what is inside this new Tranquillity that I'm getting?


Cuz if I try to play a 24/176 HRX file on it and it spits out electronic buzz (cuz it can't do 24/176) then it's not gonna work for me!!  A few details (like what does it play!!) is not asking much.

srb

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #18 on: 6 Dec 2009, 05:45 pm »
What's with these serious negative responses because you don't knowing what is inside this new Tranquillity that I'm getting?


Cuz if I try to play a 24/176 HRX file on it and it spits out electronic buzz (cuz it can't do 24/176) then it's not gonna work for me!!  A few details (like what does it play!!) is not asking much.

That's what fueled my negative response.  The lack of necessary information combined with an inordinate amount of insubstantial poetry.
 
Steve

Danny Richie

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #19 on: 6 Dec 2009, 08:13 pm »
I have one of the tranquility DAC's here now. And for what it is worth, I have been ABing it to the latest 32 bit Wolfson system that is a new evaluation model that is not even a product yet. A small group and I will be having a little DAC comparison shortly using some of the best available that we can find. Cost is no object.

Right now I'd have to say that the Tranquility DAC is a favorite.

It is everything mentioned above in the review and then some. It is like not even listening to digital at all. It sounds like a top level analog system.

I know Eric pretty well and while he doesn't divulge to many of their trade secretes, I do know enough to know that they are doing some things no one else is and I doubt they will go public with those things at all if they can help it. They have some clear competitive advantages.

If you call them up and start asking Eric questions then he will give you answers, but don't expect to see his answers on the web site. And the reasons why it sounds as good as it does involves a lot of things often overlooked. It is not about the numbers or the bit rates.

The best advice I can give you guys is that it only cost a grand and it stomps the crap out of just about anything regardless of price. Who cares what's in it. Just listen to it and decide if it is worth it or not.

And Steve, the cryo treatment does a lot, not just in this DAC but in a lot of things involving circuits, components, and wire. A LOT! Don't go into analyzing it and debating it without listening. Before and after comparisons are pretty easy to make. Been there, done that.

So count me as a very happy customer.