The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!

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highfilter

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #720 on: 3 Dec 2010, 09:41 pm »
I don't doubt it.  And I see that MacMini as giving additional performance over and above the transports that were used in my review.  I think it was pretty clear from my findings that I described the Tranquility SE as having a 5-star sound and that even more sonic performance could be had by adding a MacMini as transport.  What more do people want?   :roll:

I stand by my review "findings" and I believe that both my Squeezebox Touch (USB output) and my MacBook Pro are perfectly valid transports with which to test any DAC - the Tranquility SE should be no exception.  I spent a considerable number of hours listening and changing system components to check and re-check conclusions.

However, my "complaint" is that db Audio Labs themselves and others suggest that the starting transport with the Tranquility SE should be a MacMini and that not to use one doesn't reveal the true potential of the DAC.  This may well be the case, but it doesn't make my findings with lesser transports any less valid.

Eric told me via email that a) he pretty much insists that buyers of the Tranquility use a MacMini and b) he was "VERY concerned" that I was not using one in my review.

If these two points don't illustrate that a MacMini is part of the db Audio Labs ethos, I don't know what does.  And that's FINE - really it is - but it needs to be declared upfront and on the db Audio Labs website so that potential customers are aware that this particular DAC requires the db Audio Labs USB cable and a MacMini as transport.

I totally agree, I wasn't really taking any punches at your review - I was just stating that the Mac Mini isn't just a "magic" best source for JUST the Tranquility. I thought your review was fair and I don't see anything wrong with reviewing it without a Mac Mini - especially since you thought it sounded great not using one.

The Mac Mini thing should really be listed on the dB Audio Labs Web site, but most sales go directly through Eric, and Eric has great customer support and he'll usually talk about it over the phone and go over options and what system you have. It's just one of those things that greatly impacts the sound of any system, and you can take it as far as you want. Other computer sources sound good to great, and there's always stuff you can do to improve the sound. There probably should be a "Setup" section on the Web site that lists out a recommended configuration and some background on how computer audio relates to the sound quality of his product. But as I see with most audio company Web sites, the Web site is usually the last thing to get updated.

The same goes for the dB Audio Labs USB cable. ANY quality USB cable will greatly improve the sound in a USB DAC. I was using their USB Cable on my Wyred4Sound DAC-2 before I even bought the Tranquility. I thought computer audio through USB was complete crap until I tried a good quality USB cable, such as the dB Audio Labs Essential cable. All these things add up to the ultimate experience, and Eric does insist on them because they really do matter and he wants to offer the best sound quality possible to his customers.

I have no issues with your review of the DAC and people will always raise a fuss over a published review, no matter what. Keep doing what you do.  :)

genjamon

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #721 on: 3 Dec 2010, 09:58 pm »
I don't see why people are taking such issue with the review, either.  For a long while I was using a linux-based Asus EEE netbook with the original Tranquility to great effect.  It may be true that the Mac Mini was a step up in improvement, but I don't know why the Mac Mini should be REQUIRED.  It's fine to recommend, but sheesh, can't people make up their own minds a bit about their source selection.  I like that the review demonstrates that the Signature Tranquility has exceptional performance even without the Mac Mini.  You might get a different impression that a Mac Mini is truly necessary from some of the comments on this thread and also by dB Audio, and I think that would be a shame.  That said, I also recommend a Mini for ergonomics and ease of use as much as sound quality.

What I'm more interested in is the comparison to the Red Wine unit.  Does anyone else have any comparative impressions to offer between the Red Wine approach and either of the Tranquilities?

~Ben

johnnydarko

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #722 on: 3 Dec 2010, 10:03 pm »
I don't see why people are taking such issue with the review, either.  For a long while I was using a linux-based Asus EEE netbook with the original Tranquility to great effect.  It may be true that the Mac Mini was a step up in improvement, but I don't know why the Mac Mini should be REQUIRED.  It's fine to recommend, but sheesh, can't people make up their own minds a bit about their source selection.  I like that the review demonstrates that the Signature Tranquility has exceptional performance even without the Mac Mini.  You might get a different impression that a Mac Mini is truly necessary from some of the comments on this thread and also by dB Audio, and I think that would be a shame.  That said, I also recommend a Mini for ergonomics and ease of use as much as sound quality.

What I'm more interested in is the comparison to the Red Wine unit.  Does anyone else have any comparative impressions to offer between the Red Wine approach and either of the Tranquilities?

~Ben

Hey Ben

When I follow-up on the Tranquility SE with a MacMini, I shall use the Red Wine DAC as my comparison DAC. 

bhobba

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #723 on: 3 Dec 2010, 11:22 pm »
How would the Auraliti feed a Tranquility DAC?  The device is advertised as AES or S/PDIF output only, as I understand it, through the ESI Juli@ card, though I see no reason why they couldn't send USB out as well.  Lynx was going to be an upgrade option but Linux support was not so good. While I understand the logistics issue, it sure would also be nice to review a fully optimized Mach2Mini with the SE DAC and USB cable, which is apparently the best possible combo.  I think what many are finding is that you really need to consider the whole computer/playback system together to get the best measure of sound quality.  Obviously, setup and synergy matter a lot in this realm.

Although the Aurality site does not advertise it I know someone who wrote to them and confirmed it will output USB as well.  Evidently there are a number of things it will do that is not advertised such as being able to handle apple lossless as well.  But to be 100% sure I will write the manufacturer myself now I have actually purchased one.

Yes I understand wanting to check it out with a fully optimized Mach2Mini.  Trouble is John and I are doing this at our expense and money really is at a premium.

Thanks
Bill

bhobba

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #724 on: 3 Dec 2010, 11:29 pm »
As for the Auraliti - yes, it's S/PDIF out on the Julia card so a like-for-like comparison with the MacMini as a transport (when feeding the Tranquility SE) won't be possible.

Hi John

Evidently it can do both USB and SPDIF - a guy has written to them conforming it.  Now I have got one (I have just got the confirmation of it being shipped) I will write to the manufacturer just to double check what other have said - namely it can do USB out and Apple lossless.

Thanks
Bill

bhobba

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #725 on: 3 Dec 2010, 11:33 pm »
Just to add my 2 cents... From my experience, the Mac Mini thing isn't exclusive to the Tranquility. I found the Mac Mini to be the best transport for computer audio in general. I have the Wyred4Sound DAC-2 and the optimized Mac Mini sounded the best on that as well. I tried optimizing Windows 7 on a PC, Windows 7 on the Mac Mini, and Mac OS X on the Mac Mini, and the Mac OS X / Mac Mini combo offered the best sound quality, from my listening - for both the DAC-2 and Tranquility SE. I don't think the solid construction, isolated components and efficiency of the Mac Mini only benefits the Tranquility alone, it benefits any DAC that uses it. The effects may be greater on the Tranquility, but the Tranquility in general offers a higher quality experience so you'll notice the quality in source gear even more.

That is true from my experience, and Eric has confirmed it as well.

Thanks
Bill

jdbrian

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #726 on: 4 Dec 2010, 11:50 am »
Hi Folks

  I don't think that Eric has ever said that the Mini is REQUIRED. My feeling is that Eric wants his customers to have the best quality computer audio possible. They have done a lot of research and listening and recommend what they think is the best solution.
  If a PC based solution becomes available that can match or surpass the Mini then my guess is that they will recommend that solution as well.
  I feel that many people are critical of John's review because they really want to know more about the differences between an optimized mini and other transports such as a typical PC, Laptop or squeezebox. There seems to be a good consensus about the SQ of the Tranquility DAC's in general but many people want to know what the addition of an optimized mini would add to the equation and if it is worth the cost of admission. In some cases PC devotees just don't want to go MAC and are looking for a PC solution. They want to know what they are giving up in SQ, if anything, by making that decision.
   In my case I had purchased a mini before I made the decision on which DAC to buy. However Apple released the new 2010 version about a week later. So the lesson is that there will always be new and hopefully better solutions coming from both Apple and the PC industry.

Brian





TomS

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #727 on: 4 Dec 2010, 01:15 pm »
Hi John

Evidently it can do both USB and SPDIF - a guy has written to them conforming it.  Now I have got one (I have just got the confirmation of it being shipped) I will write to the manufacturer just to double check what other have said - namely it can do USB out and Apple lossless.

Thanks
Bill
Jack just sent me a note last night that said "no" to USB output on the LK100, however they do have another USB output specific player coming.  They also customize their own version of MPD for Voyage so it's not Voyage MPD.

johnnydarko

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #728 on: 4 Dec 2010, 09:29 pm »
  I don't think that Eric has ever said that the Mini is REQUIRED.

Eric is very open and enthusiastic about the MacMini as transport.

He said in an email to me, "You should realize that I darn near demand that my customers don't use computers that fall way short of delivering details. The DAC purchase would just be a waste of money otherwise. And, used Mac Minis only cost a little over $300 here in the states."

...and yet I heard wonderful things from my MacBook and Squeezebox and don't myself consider the DAC purchase to "be a waste of money" with these transports at all.

Like I have said in previous posts, a follow-up with a MacMini will eventually be forthcoming.

satfrat

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #729 on: 4 Dec 2010, 10:25 pm »
Eric is very open and enthusiastic about the MacMini as transport.

He said in an email to me, "You should realize that I darn near demand that my customers don't use computers that fall way short of delivering details. The DAC purchase would just be a waste of money otherwise. And, used Mac Minis only cost a little over $300 here in the states."

...and yet I heard wonderful things from my MacBook and Squeezebox and don't myself consider the DAC purchase to "be a waste of money" with these transports at all.

Like I have said in previous posts, a follow-up with a MacMini will eventually be forthcoming.

Thanks darn good advice to know there for anyone owning a PC.  :thumb:  I won't be wasting my money on a Tranquility Dac then. Thanks for the heads-up!  :thumb:
 
Cheers,
Robin

bhobba

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #730 on: 4 Dec 2010, 10:50 pm »
Jack just sent me a note last night that said "no" to USB output on the LK100, however they do have another USB output specific player coming.  They also customize their own version of MPD for Voyage so it's not Voyage MPD.

Interesting.  I sent a note to confirm it but he has't got back to me yet.  Another guy I know claims he said it was supported:
http://www.stereo.net.au/forums/showthread.php/30306-Auraliti-MPD-Transport/page2

'Ok. Response back from Auraliti. I2S is possible, but would apparently require a driver stage to get it up to a usable level, so it's not something they've decided to offer. So DIY only. USB audio is supported. Apple Lossless (not AAC) is supported.'

And the supposed direct copy of the reply:
Hi Dave, We support USB audio class 1 off the motherboard USB connection. So 24/96 is okay. Better USB is coming soon. Remembered you stated the DAC also has SPDIF input. We think our present SPDIF solution tends to sound better with most DACS we have tried that offer both SPDIF and USB inputs. I would suggest trying both and deciding for yourself. On the other hand if your DAC receives and processes 24/176.4 and 192 KHz files then I think you owe it to yourself to get a few of these albums in super high resolution and have a listen through the SPDIF input. Our experience and that of our customer's would indicate you will not be disappointed.

Thanks
Bill

bhobba

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #731 on: 4 Dec 2010, 11:04 pm »
Thanks darn good advice to know there for anyone owning a PC.  :thumb:  I won't be wasting my money on a Tranquility Dac then. Thanks for the heads-up!  :thumb:

I have heard the Tranquility using a simple Windows notebook and using its internal drive (not an external USB Drive) - it sounded pretty darn good - still one of the three best DAC's I have ever heard.  Using an external USB for some reason did suck a lot of life out of the music so I would store it on its internal hard drive.  I can understand Eric's desire to want his DAC fed optimally but I wouldn't let that stand in the way of getting one if you don't want to invest in a mini.

Thanks
Bill

jrebman

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #732 on: 5 Dec 2010, 02:32 am »
Robin,

You still have that Havana?  I had one for a good long time and used with the asus eee box that I was using o feed the original Tranquility, and I didn't even get anywhere near maximizing it for music playback, except for a few simple tweaks, turning off uneeded interfaces, using foobar with kernel streaming and a good asio driver, and even a sub-optimal setup with an external usb drive for music storage, and the Tranquility easily trounced the Havana.  Soundstage, detail, upper and lower extension, and that analog smoothness like no other dac I've heard can deliver, plus more tone and detail across the board.  Now, I'm talking about the original Tranquility here.

Many of my friends heard this and were shocked at how good it was and how real it sounded.  Next I got the Mach2 mini, and things got even better, and now with the
SE, I feel it can compete with the best of the best, price not withstanding.  The SE was also quite nice with  the less than optimum asus box -- nicer than the original by a very audible margin.

Bottom line: the dac is fantastic (both models) and as you upgrade the transport you just take things further and further up the ladder into rarified territory.

If you don't et this from this dac, regardless of computer used, look elsewhere in your system for something else that's holding it back.

-- Jim

satfrat

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #733 on: 5 Dec 2010, 02:42 am »
I ain't listenin' to you Jim, nor am I listenin' to Bill, Eric says a MacMini is required and I'll never fit the bill there. I'm PC forever! So I guess my poor soundin' Havana will have to do for my inferior sounding' system.  :D
 
Ya'all will just have to keep hyping the Tranquility w/o me.  :wave: 
 
Cheers,
Robin

TomS

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #734 on: 5 Dec 2010, 04:46 am »
Interesting.  I sent a note to confirm it but he has't got back to me yet.  Another guy I know claims he said it was supported:
http://www.stereo.net.au/forums/showthread.php/30306-Auraliti-MPD-Transport/page2

'Ok. Response back from Auraliti. I2S is possible, but would apparently require a driver stage to get it up to a usable level, so it's not something they've decided to offer. So DIY only. USB audio is supported. Apple Lossless (not AAC) is supported.'

And the supposed direct copy of the reply:
Hi Dave, We support USB audio class 1 off the motherboard USB connection. So 24/96 is okay. Better USB is coming soon. Remembered you stated the DAC also has SPDIF input. We think our present SPDIF solution tends to sound better with most DACS we have tried that offer both SPDIF and USB inputs. I would suggest trying both and deciding for yourself. On the other hand if your DAC receives and processes 24/176.4 and 192 KHz files then I think you owe it to yourself to get a few of these albums in super high resolution and have a listen through the SPDIF input. Our experience and that of our customer's would indicate you will not be disappointed.

Thanks
Bill
Bill,

Yes, you are correct and I mis-spoke from reading his email.  A little confusing, but he said while they do support USB Class 2.0 audio up through high sample rates now, they still recommend the S/PDIF or AES output at this time.  They are coming out with a USB specific model at some point.

Tom

johnnydarko

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #735 on: 5 Dec 2010, 05:02 am »
Interesting.  I sent a note to confirm it but he has't got back to me yet.  Another guy I know claims he said it was supported:
http://www.stereo.net.au/forums/showthread.php/30306-Auraliti-MPD-Transport/page2

'Ok. Response back from Auraliti. I2S is possible, but would apparently require a driver stage to get it up to a usable level, so it's not something they've decided to offer. So DIY only. USB audio is supported. Apple Lossless (not AAC) is supported.'

And the supposed direct copy of the reply:
Hi Dave, We support USB audio class 1 off the motherboard USB connection. So 24/96 is okay. Better USB is coming soon. Remembered you stated the DAC also has SPDIF input. We think our present SPDIF solution tends to sound better with most DACS we have tried that offer both SPDIF and USB inputs. I would suggest trying both and deciding for yourself. On the other hand if your DAC receives and processes 24/176.4 and 192 KHz files then I think you owe it to yourself to get a few of these albums in super high resolution and have a listen through the SPDIF input. Our experience and that of our customer's would indicate you will not be disappointed.

Thanks
Bill

Hey Bill

I had a play with the Auraliti today - what a sweet little device.  We had a bit of an impromptu DAC shootout (Tranquility SE included - more on that soon) and all three DACs used were simple plug n play via USB.  Didn't even need to reboot the Auraliiti.

JD

bhobba

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #736 on: 5 Dec 2010, 05:39 am »
I had a play with the Auraliti today - what a sweet little device.  We had a bit of an impromptu DAC shootout (Tranquility SE included - more on that soon) and all three DACs used were simple plug n play via USB.  Didn't even need to reboot the Auraliiti.

Hi John

Great to hear mate.  Makes me feel good I got one coming.  I think it is the most versatile source for doing DAC comparisons taking sound quality into consideration.  The Squeezebox touch probably will do it but I think the Auraliti has better sound quality considering its BNC connector and output transformer.

You got me really keen now with the result of the mini shootout.

Thanks
Bill

jrebman

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Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #737 on: 5 Dec 2010, 02:55 pm »
Robin,

You sure read a whole lot into my post that was not there, nor intended to be.  Just trying to give you a data point for comparison, but apparently that doesn't really iterest you.  Sorry 'bout that but it did seem that you wanted to know what you'd get from a PC as source, and since I only switched over to a mac about 2 months ago, and have owned many, many usb dacs of various flavors and at various price points, somehow I thought that might be useful to you.  Oh well...

BTW, not "hyping" anything here -- I rarely post here anymore and only about things that I feel are sufficiently noteworthy in terms of their ability to bring game-chaning performance to music lovers of average means such as myself.  However, this one is also one of those that will appeal to those who can afford anything.

== Jim



Rapt

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #738 on: 5 Dec 2010, 07:51 pm »
Johnny,

           Thanks for the follow up, Dacs seem to be like loudspeakers in the fact that they are the most "subjective" devices in the audio chain.  For example: In bill's (bhobba) review with the wfs dac vs tranquilty vs killer dac among others in the shootout there was not an obvious consenses as to which dac was better, one reviewer picked the WFS Dac. My point is I always take Dac reviews as with speakers reviews as a subjective type of offering, still fun to read though.

         Where I live there is not alot (any really) chance to hear any other DACS that is why I appreciate your page as you seem to review alot of the stuff I am reading about.  :thumb:

         I own the tranquility SE and am very happy with it running a pc laptop using Media Monkey, I have not heard any different transports in my system. 

        As I stated above speakers and dacs are obviously subjective due to listener preferences, this brings me to the question does the auraliti (or mini mac) always sound better than a mac book pro or pc in every situation within the same system?

        Johnny is the auraliti worthy of the price for an upgrade in your opinion?

                                                         Thanks 

mr_bill

Re: The dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC - Wow!
« Reply #739 on: 5 Dec 2010, 08:03 pm »
I think this is another example of how close the difference is between good digital dacs or players - very small differences - not the huge differences that we are led to believe.