What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?

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TJHUB

What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« on: 27 Jul 2009, 06:05 pm »
When I purchased my HT2-TLs this past March, I also switched to a dedicated 2-channel preamp setup which required me to purchase a DAC to use my existing sources.  Here is my setup:

Speakers:  Salk HT2-TL
Sub:  SVS PB13-Ultra (EQ'd flat in-room)
Preamp:  Parasound 2100
Amp:  Parasound 2250
Source:  Roku M2000 (streaming .WAV files transcoded .FLAC files)
DAC:  PS Audio Digital Link III (stock)

Overall I am fairly happy with the sound overall.  However, I could label the sound as a little bright with some level of digital glare.  The sound is very, very clear. 

However, I think I'm looking for something different.  I'd like to hear a more fluid midrange with less glare.  I don't really want to change my current preamp or amp, so that leaves me with the DAC or possibly my source.  I do have an OPPO 980H which my PS Audio DAC kills for performance all around to my ears.  I didn't really notice any sound difference using the OPPO as a transport the last time I compared it to the Roku. 

I've been reading up on DACs for months and what I've learned more than anything is that a DAC has to work with your current gear more than anything.  As such, I was curious to know what DACs fellow Salk speaker owners are either running or have heard with their speakers.  What I have my eye on is a non-oversampling tube DAC like the MHDT Havana. 

I've also sent a few emails to Rick Cullen to mod my current PS Audio DAC to his level 4 modification, but that is more money than I'd really like to spend, not to mention I'm not certain of the sound improvement I'll get.  I'd really like to identify a couple of DACs that have some sort of return policy or that I could sell easily.

So, what DAC works with your setups?  Any recommendations for my setup?

Art_Chicago

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #1 on: 27 Jul 2009, 06:40 pm »
seems like AVA T-8 vaccum tube DAC might be a good fit (fluid midrange and so on). 30-day return policy if new from Frank, otherwise there is one on a'gon
http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?dgtlconv&1253374656&/Van-Alstine-Transcendance-Eigh
oneinthepipe has a couple of AVA DACs, I think...

nyc_paramedic

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #2 on: 27 Jul 2009, 06:43 pm »
Is your room treated? Do yoo have your first reflection points treated? Sidewalls *and* ceilings?

I mention this because I had a similar issue when my ht-2tl's arrived. They sounded  "bright" or "cold and shrill" upon initial listening. Then I realized that I had sold a bunch of Echo Buster panels and had a bare celling and wall behind the speakers. My suspicions were confirmed when I clapped forcefully at the listening seat; serious slap echo. After treating the rear wall with the Real Traps I found that everything sounded wonderful and I could listen for hours with nary a hint of fatigue. The clap test? Totally gone. Something to think about before spending mucho dinero on electronics.

As far as my DAC? I'm using a Wavelength Brick Version 2 USB DAC. Tube output stage and no oversampling. It replaced my long used Adcom GDA-700.

I love what the Brick does with chamber music and female vocals. Soundstaging width and depth is excellent as well.

martyo

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #3 on: 27 Jul 2009, 06:56 pm »
Ava Ultra DAC.
Quote
however, I could label the sound as a little bright with some level of digital glare

Nothing bright about my set, and I'm very sensitive to anything approaching bright, or "digital sounding". I do have a well treated room. 

Big Red Machine

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #4 on: 27 Jul 2009, 07:20 pm »
HUB, if you are willing to pay postage, I can let you borrow my Audio Sector SPDIF equipped dac.  Ships in a shoebox size package.

K Shep

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #5 on: 27 Jul 2009, 09:39 pm »
+1 nyc_

I notice the brightness decrease as I added the treatments to my listening room.  I've been considering the addition of a DAC to my system.  Looked hard at the Van Alstine products.  I plan to go the laptop-DAC route eventually.  I stopped in my favorite audio shop today and listened to the Ayre QB-9 USB Digital-to-Analog Converter.
http://www.ayre.com/products_detail.cfm?productid=18
It's expensive, but we burned a CD to the hard drive of a laptop then put the same CD back in an Ayre CD player and switched back and forth.  To my ear the QB-9 sounded incredible.  Deeper bass and 3 dimensional soundstage as we compared. 

golfugh

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #6 on: 27 Jul 2009, 11:08 pm »
HUB
Having demo'd (in my system) the standard Digital Link III and owned the cullen lvl 4 mod'd unit there is no comparison.  It is a phenomenal DAC, no digital sound with the PS Audio Cullen mod'd unit.  Smooth, much more analog like in it's overall presentation.  I'd send you mine for comparison, but I just sold it.  The only reason I sold it is I'm looking at the new PS Audio Perfect Wave and needed the funds to try and make that happen.

Lvl 3 mod'd unit on the gon':  http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?dgtlconv&1253917229&/PS-Audio-digital-link-iii-cull

Just my 2 cents.
Mark

rahimlee54

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #7 on: 27 Jul 2009, 11:34 pm »
HUB
Having demo'd (in my system) the standard Digital Link III and owned the cullen lvl 4 mod'd unit there is no comparison.  It is a phenomenal DAC, no digital sound with the PS Audio Cullen mod'd unit.  Smooth, much more analog like in it's overall presentation.  I'd send you mine for comparison, but I just sold it.  The only reason I sold it is I'm looking at the new PS Audio Perfect Wave and needed the funds to try and make that happen.

Lvl 3 mod'd unit on the gon':  http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?dgtlconv&1253917229&/PS-Audio-digital-link-iii-cull

Just my 2 cents.
Mark

Not sure which mods were on the one I heard but we demoed stock vs the modded PS audio DAC and everyone there preferred the stock version.  Not sure of all the gear as it was at a GtG locally.

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #8 on: 28 Jul 2009, 01:50 am »
I expected to see the AVA DAC recommendations as I see you guys on the forums here a lot.  :)  They are on my radar, but I'm not too inspired by them at the moment. 

nyc_paramedic:

I don't have any room treatments at the moment.  I did try them with little success.  I was told that I did too little and too few panels to make a difference.  I guess I have to agree with that.  However, I think my room sounds great without them.  Nuance has been to my home and when he reads this thread, he may think I'm crazy for wanting any difference in sound; he may be right.

Regardless, my listening room is my living room.  My wife let me try some room treatments, but apparently to get enough of a change, I have to have too many panels.  This is just not going to work for my wife or myself for matter.  Maybe it's a mistake on my part, but I'm not going to turn my room into a listening room over anything else. 

Having stated of that, I also don't think my room as enough issues to merit sound treatments.  My frequency response is incredibly good.  The HT2-TLs really measure great.  I think I can discern the difference in sound of the room and the speakers.  I honest believe that the sound I want to change is from my source components, not the room.

Larkston Zinaspic:

I purchased my PS Audio DLIII DAC because I had intended to have Cullin mod it to level 3 or 4.  Rick says I should go for level for with my setup, and he offered me a decent price to mod it.  I have read NOTHING but great things about Rick's upgrades to this DAC.  I'm just concerned that it's still a good amount of money and I'm not certain what I'll get for that money. 

Unfortunately, I do liver VERY far away from you as I'm in Wisconsin.  If I do decide to mod the DLIII, I will certain share my thoughts.

Big Red Machine:

I was not expecting your post at all as I completely expected you to recommend the Cullin mod.  Don't you still run this DAC? 

I did a little research on the Audio Sector DAC, but I want to do a little more before accepting your generous offer.  I really would love to just throw another DAC into my setup and compare the sound to what I have now if nothing else but to further the amount of DACs I've listened to thus far.  The Audio Sector would make the 2nd external DAC I've ever heard!!  :icon_lol:

golfugh:

I was bouncing around the forums and saw your FS post.  Had I seen it, I would have most likely picked up the DAC from you to have been able to compare to my stock one.  I could have sold the DAC I didn't want.  Opportunity missed.  :(

I've seen you post on AVS regarding the DLIII level 4 and I know you liked it.  It's not hard to find people who love the level 4 DAC.

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #9 on: 28 Jul 2009, 01:52 am »
HUB
Having demo'd (in my system) the standard Digital Link III and owned the cullen lvl 4 mod'd unit there is no comparison.  It is a phenomenal DAC, no digital sound with the PS Audio Cullen mod'd unit.  Smooth, much more analog like in it's overall presentation.  I'd send you mine for comparison, but I just sold it.  The only reason I sold it is I'm looking at the new PS Audio Perfect Wave and needed the funds to try and make that happen.

Lvl 3 mod'd unit on the gon':  http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?dgtlconv&1253917229&/PS-Audio-digital-link-iii-cull

Just my 2 cents.
Mark

Not sure which mods were on the one I heard but we demoed stock vs the modded PS audio DAC and everyone there preferred the stock version.  Not sure of all the gear as it was at a GtG locally.

Besides "everyone" at the GTG, what did you hear between the two?  What did you like more about one over the other?

oneinthepipe

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #10 on: 28 Jul 2009, 01:55 am »
TJ:

As you know, I have the AVA Insight DAC and the AVA T8 DAC.  The T8 DAC is voiced the same as the Insight DAC but doesn't have as much output in the top end or the very bottom end.  While I was waiting for my HT2-TL, I was playing a pair of Linn speakers with a bright tweeter, which was driving me nuts, and I switched over to the T8 DAC, and the sound was much smoooothier. 

I haven't used any other DACs in my system.  I have heard other DACs in other peoples' systems, but I don't know that would be too much help.   :D

I think that you need to match a DAC to your system, since each of them is different.  I know that you don't like a bright or clinical sound, and maybe a tube DAC would smooth the sound out.  I don't think that you need to give anything up in detail.  I recently listened to Zybar's system, and he has a Modwright Transporter with a tube output stage and Atma-Sphere tube amps, and his system is as detailed as any.


Big Red Machine

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #11 on: 28 Jul 2009, 01:58 am »
The PS Audio dac in any form is very nice.

I sold mine last year.  I have the AS nos and will receive an older AVA dac tomorrow to listen to as well.

The AVA Insight dac isn't bad but I preferred the PS unit top end much more.


oneinthepipe

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #12 on: 28 Jul 2009, 02:01 am »
The PS Audio dac in any form is very nice.

I sold mine last year.  I have the AS nos and will receive an older AVA dac tomorrow to listen to as well.

The AVA Insight dac isn't bad but I preferred the PS unit top end much more.

BRM:

The Topp-Hat?  Wayner has a Topp-Hat and likes the DAC.  Good to see you back in the fold (for a while).  :D

nyc_paramedic

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #13 on: 28 Jul 2009, 02:04 am »
May I make another suggestion? Perhaps a DAC party? Where are you located?


Nuance

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #14 on: 28 Jul 2009, 02:25 am »
Nuance has been to my home and when he reads this thread, he may think I'm crazy for wanting any difference in sound; he may be right.
:lol:  Dibs on the PS Audio DAC!  Seriously!  ;)

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #15 on: 28 Jul 2009, 02:37 am »
TJ:

As you know, I have the AVA Insight DAC and the AVA T8 DAC.  The T8 DAC is voiced the same as the Insight DAC but doesn't have as much output in the top end or the very bottom end.  While I was waiting for my HT2-TL, I was playing a pair of Linn speakers with a bright tweeter, which was driving me nuts, and I switched over to the T8 DAC, and the sound was much smoooothier. 

I haven't used any other DACs in my system.  I have heard other DACs in other peoples' systems, but I don't know that would be too much help.   :D

I think that you need to match a DAC to your system, since each of them is different.  I know that you don't like a bright or clinical sound, and maybe a tube DAC would smooth the sound out.  I don't think that you need to give anything up in detail.  I recently listened to Zybar's system, and he has a Modwright Transporter with a tube output stage and Atma-Sphere tube amps, and his system is as detailed as any.

Well you I expected. :D I guess the thing that intrigues me most about tube gear is tube rolling.  I've seen threads from a few people I respect go to tube preamps or DACs, and not like them.  A little tube rolling later, and they keep the tube gear.  So what may start off as a weak upper and bottom end, may turn into something good. 

You are correct that the synergy of the components your setup are critical.  I don't want to change my pream, amp, or speakers.  I would change my DAC and/or source, but that's it.  I need to find my synergy there.

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #16 on: 28 Jul 2009, 02:41 am »
The PS Audio dac in any form is very nice.

I sold mine last year.  I have the AS nos and will receive an older AVA dac tomorrow to listen to as well.

The AVA Insight dac isn't bad but I preferred the PS unit top end much more.

I didn't know you parted with the PS Audio DAC.  How do you think the AS compares? 

I'd really appreciate your thoughts on the AS vs the AVA Insight vs what you remember from the PS Audio DAC. 

I know the stock PS Audio DAC I have is respectable.  I just don't think it gives me what I think I'm looking for from my setup.  Don't get me wrong here, I know what I have now is really very good, I just want more...and don't we all?  :wink:

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #17 on: 28 Jul 2009, 02:43 am »
May I make another suggestion? Perhaps a DAC party? Where are you located?

I would LOVE to have a bunch of you bring your DACs to my house for a DAC party.  If you're willing to make the drive, I'm game.  I'm in Wisconsin. :D

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #18 on: 28 Jul 2009, 02:44 am »
Nuance has been to my home and when he reads this thread, he may think I'm crazy for wanting any difference in sound; he may be right.
:lol:  Dibs on the PS Audio DAC!  Seriously!  ;)

Seriously?  This is all I get from you on this, "dibs"?  :P

rahimlee54

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #19 on: 28 Jul 2009, 03:33 am »
The Modded DAC hadn't been broken in if that means anything to you, but it was much harsher.  The top end was much more forward on the modded one.  It didn't sound as natural in a way that made us all feel that the stock DAC was better.  There were a few other differences that I cant remember anymore.  Just like everything there were pros/cons for each but ya with the gear there, I thought the stock was better.  Maybe it has mellowed out since then.