What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?

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TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #40 on: 29 Jul 2009, 02:40 am »
Once you got out of this hobby  :wink:

Should you decide that The Weiss DAC is in your budget, shoot me a PM and I can put you in touch with a great dealer who offers in-home demo's. He only asks that you seriously be considering purchasing and not just wanting to hear another piece of gear.

I am going to be honest here and stay away from the Weiss with that kind of price.  I really do appreciate the offer.

However, that Bryston BDA-1 does look interesting.  It's price is more than my maximum, but I don't need a DAC tomorrow.  I may watch for an opportunity to either listen to one or pick one up used.  I have to research it a bit more, but what I've read in comments and reviews, it may fit my needs. 

RadioWonder

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #41 on: 29 Jul 2009, 11:03 am »
Great review on Amarra Playback Software and the Weiss Minerva Firewire DAC.
http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue44/amarra_minerva.htm

charmerci

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #42 on: 29 Jul 2009, 01:54 pm »
If you want to do a "room treatment" with a good "WAF," try buying and hanging those big heavy Mexican/Central/South American rugs. ("Oooh, wouldn't this look wonderful on our walls!") There are so many different colors and patterns, you'll be able to find some you'll both like. If your traveling there, they are quite inexpensive.

Big Red Machine

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #43 on: 2 Aug 2009, 10:46 pm »
Omega III Topp DAC from AVA

An oldie but a goodie!





Oops, it's empty!!

I put the insides into my SQAC




Big Red Machine

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #44 on: 2 Aug 2009, 10:55 pm »
I was using this Audio Sector dac which I am almost done making a box for to pretty it up.


mike1964

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #45 on: 3 Aug 2009, 02:20 am »
I'm currently using a Promitheus Audio DAC, and really enjoy it.  In the market for another, though, as I want to move the Promitheus to my office system.  For the money it is really really hard to beat; the NOS topology with transformer output is a flavor that works well for my taste.

Big Red Machine

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #46 on: 3 Aug 2009, 02:29 am »
Quick and dirty half day job to box up the AS dac.  I will loan it out for audition before posting for sale.




Nuance

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #47 on: 3 Aug 2009, 04:32 am »
Looks great, BRM.  Well done!

mike1964

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #48 on: 3 Aug 2009, 10:15 pm »
I was using this Audio Sector dac which I am almost done making a box for to pretty it up.
I listened to one of those in my system.  Nice, but there was a bit of current rush noticeable, maybe due to the proximity of the transformer.  Great deal for the money.

Just ordered an AYAII to replace my Promitheus DAC in my main system.  Pedja has done a lot of work engineering these things; I have pretty high expectations.  Will see if it lives up to it, once I get it all put together of course.

avahifi

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #49 on: 6 Aug 2009, 10:18 pm »
Hi Big Red,

Did your "guts transplant" of that 1995 TOP-DAC go well for you?  If there were any issues we will make it work for you if you desire.

You might try swapping the AD817 chips (four of them in that unit as I remember) for Burr Brown OPA627 chips.  We are hearing a more refined and detailed sound with these chips in our newest models.  They should be helpful in that older model too I suspect.  Do look at it on the test bench before using it in your system after the swap to make sure it is stable with these chips.  It should be, but I can't guarantee it as we have not had the opportunity to try it with this model.

Regards,

Frank Van Alstine

rlee8394

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #50 on: 7 Aug 2009, 08:50 pm »
Big Red,

You have a PM.

Ron

Big Red Machine

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #51 on: 9 Aug 2009, 08:54 pm »
Hi Big Red,

Did your "guts transplant" of that 1995 TOP-DAC go well for you?  If there were any issues we will make it work for you if you desire.

You might try swapping the AD817 chips (four of them in that unit as I remember) for Burr Brown OPA627 chips.  We are hearing a more refined and detailed sound with these chips in our newest models.  They should be helpful in that older model too I suspect.  Do look at it on the test bench before using it in your system after the swap to make sure it is stable with these chips.  It should be, but I can't guarantee it as we have not had the opportunity to try it with this model.

Regards,

Frank Van Alstine

Photos posted over here:  http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=69772.msg657219#msg657219

I'll have to look at the chips Frank and see if I'm up to it. 

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #52 on: 31 Aug 2009, 02:16 pm »
I wanted to update this thread with a DAC I purchased that may replace my current PS Audio DAC. 

I purchased a Music Hall DAC 25.2 hybrid tube DAC for cheap.  It was nearly half price, so I figured why not give in a chance.  I know of a person on another forum that picked one up and really liked it after a few changes. 

Upon first listen, I was smitten by the DAC's sound stage.  It is wide, tall, and very holographic sounding; amazing really.  The sound stage was so good at first it was masking the DAC's faults. 

Other first impressions were that the bass was sloppy and muddy sounding and the highs were rolled off.  The midrange did sound nice, especially with the sound stage effects.  However it didn't take long to hear things I didn't like.  I played some Peter Gabriel and the bass was so muddy sounding I couldn't listen to it.

Here is where the Music Hall DAC's flexibility kicks in.  The DAC has 3 oversampling modes: non-oversampling, 96k, and 192k.  I started my listening in the default non-oversampling mode.  I then switched to 96k and things tightened up a bit in the bass and the highs were a little more extended sounding with better decay.  But this still wasn't really floating my boat, so I switched the DAC to 192k oversampling.

192k oversampling is the mode I left the DAC in since last week Tuesday.  The DAC now sounded more similar to my PS Audio DAC still with less bass articulation and about 80% of the brightness that I had.  I was now starting to like the DAC again. 

This is where I switched back and forth between the two DACs a bit.  All I heard was a cleaner presentation from the PS Audio DAC in the bass and midrange, but brighter highs.  Again, I was liking the Music Hall, but it wasn't a clear winner over PS Audio.  Each DAC seems to do things better than the other.  Picking what things are most important to me is not easy as I want it all!!!

Fast forward to Saturday and I notice a change in the Music Hall.  I hadn't been listening to the PS Audio really at all for a few days by then, but it was just a button push away from playing.  It was about mid-morning when I noticed the Music Hall was sounding very articulate in the bass (not as good as the PS Audio), the midrange sounded good and clear, and the highs sounded cleaner with extension and decay that I found very good.  I even looked at my preamp to make certain I was listening to the Music Hall and not the PS Audio.  I spent the rest of Saturday enjoying the Music Hall and not putting much more thought into the situation.

Sunday morning basically confirmed what I was thinking about the Music Hall, something was different.  It was now very clear to me that the bass was in fact more articulate and the midrange and highs sounded great with good attack and decay.  Things were much better for my tastes.  I don't really believe in break-in, but I don't know anything about tubes.  All I know is I have about 50 hours on the DAC and it's different; clearly different. 

So now that the DAC is actually starting to sound good to my ears, I started to compare it to my PS Audio DAC again.  I was mostly interested to understand how much was the DAC changing and how much was my ears/brain adjusting to the sound.  With the Music Hall in 192k mode, I switched back and for during a few of my favorite tracks.  The two DACs sound different, but the sound is not as different as it used to be.  The main differences I heard now are that the PS Audio still has the clearer sound presentation; crystal clear actually.  The bass and midrange is very articulate and highs are just a little overdone for my tastes.  The Music Hall still brings that great sound stage with nice, clean highs that are never overdone or in your face.  Very nice actually.  The midrange is smoother sounding, but not by much.  The bass is still less articulate and I would fault the Music Hall most in this area.  Too bad really as the Music Hall would be a clear winner if this was better.

To further convince myself that the Music Hall did in fact change in sound, last Sunday afternoon I put it into 96k oversampling to give a listen.  To my surprise, I may like this mode better now.  I've learned that the sound stage changes a bit as well as you switch between oversampling modes.  The stage is most holographic in non-oversampling mode and the least in 192k mode.  So 96k brings a bit of balance between the sound stage presentation and the overall tonality of the DAC.  But the biggest surprise is that the DAC went from un-listenable in the is mode to pretty darn good sounding.  Bass articulation is livable with sounding muddy and the midrange is nice and clear.  The highs still sound clean and extended with nice decay.  Very pleasant sounding overall.  I certainly would not have made these types of statements about this mode middle of last week.

What's funny is that I'm really liking a DAC with a tube that most don't like.  Although I'm thinking if tubes break-in, maybe they didn't listen long enough.  I don't know.  What I am looking forward to is some tube rolling.  Maybe there is a tube that will take this DAC the rest of the way for me.  I'm really hoping so, because I think I'm now a tube lover. 

Some comments on tubes (for the little I know) now that I have experienced for the most part what tubes can do for sound:  I don't hear anything I'd call "coloring of the sound".  I hear a magical presentation of sound that has a sound stage to die for.  The sound is clean, detailed, and balanced.  The funny thing for me is that no matter how many faults I heard from the Music Hall early on, I never hated the DAC.  There was always something to like and appreciate.  I've heard other DACs that I just hated, the Music Hall never disconnected me from the music.  I may now be a tube guy!   

I still find the PS Audio DAC very, very good.  It will be tough to actually sell it without thinking I'm making a mistake.  But the Music Hall may just be a keeper.  I have to see what tube rolling may bring.  I have two fine gents sending me tubes to try and I may just spring for a big dollar Telefunken tube from the 1960's.  It's supposedly exactly what I'm looking for.  I may find out tonight...
« Last Edit: 27 Sep 2009, 02:24 pm by TJHUB »

Nuance

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #53 on: 31 Aug 2009, 05:06 pm »
Great impressions, Terry.  I really need to get up there and hear that Music Hall.  I still call dibs on the PS Audio DAC, though.  :D

I look forward to hearing your further impressions.  It looks like your weakness hunt paid off, as you are now 98% of the way to getting a "perfect" sounding system (to your ears, of course).  There doesn't seem to be a lot of people who have achieved that.  SWEET!

oneinthepipe

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #54 on: 31 Aug 2009, 05:53 pm »
I have to go with Terry on the tubes v. solid state, in general, acknowledging that every tube component is not better than every solid state component.  I am primarily using an AVA Ultimate 70 tube amp and an AVA T8 DAC with an AVA Insight solid state preamp, and I am thinking about adding an AVA T8 tube preamp.  The AVA Ultimate 70 is every bit as defined as the Insight 440 solid state amp.  The T8 DAC has a sweet midrange, and although the T8 DAC lacks the Insight DAC's low end power, the Ultimate 70 makes up for any lack of bass.

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #55 on: 27 Sep 2009, 03:16 pm »
I wanted to update this thread if for anything else to give anyone who may care the final information about my findings.

While I find tubes very interesting, tube rolling was a rocky road taking me from thinking I made a huge mistake to potentially finding what I'm looking for; sonic bliss.  I've listened to tubes that sounded like 20% of the music was missing all the way to nearing the sound of solid state. 

Please note that all of the following statements pertain to the Music Hall DAC performance only. 

One thing that has been the most difficult for me is the bass output of most of the tubes I've tried.  It sounds rounded, often muddy, and what I'd call "bloomy".  In other words: not good.  My PS Audio DAC had what I think is perfectly balanced and articulate bass.  You could hear every note with distinct clarity and it was wonderful.  I have not had that since listening to the Music Hall DAC.

The best things about tubes and this Music Hall DAC are the midrange and highs.  Almost every tube exhibited a smooth, open, and very realistic midrange.  Voices and instruments just seem more clear and natural.  Granted, not every tube exhibited this, but nearly all did.  The highs are where most tubes seemed very different.  The main differences were attack, decay, extension, and air.  Each tube had it's own sound and for the most part fell in line with what you'd read about on the internet or descriptions from various tube vendors. 

I will state again what makes me a fan of tubes is the tremendously wide and often very deep sound stage.  The sound stage can be 3D or holographic sounding.  Basically the sound stage has incredible dimension and can give you a much better feeling for the performance of the music.  Some tubes can make this stage sound recessed and unrealistic, but most present and incredible stage that I really like.

What really started to get me down was that I was not finding a tube that possessed all the attributes I wanted.  One would have great highs and bad bass, the next would have decent bass and not enough life in the highs.  Luckily I have two tubes I could live with.  One is a Tesla E88CC that has decent bass with good midbass and decent highs that unfortunately do not have the extension I like to hear.  The other is a RCA branded late production Amperex 6922 that has decent bass with not so good midbass and very nicely extended highs.  What I needed was to combine these two tubes.

A couple weeks of research led me to a few tube vendors that I wanted to try.  One of them was Brent Jessee from audiotubes.com.  I contacted him last week Monday to see what he'd tell me.  The thing about tubes is that you have to gain some experience with the sound of certain tubes in order to tell these tube gurus what you hear now and what you'd like to hear.  I explained my story to Brent on the phone and he made a couple of recommendations as best he could as he was not familiar with the Music Hall DAC.  To make a long story short, he felt very strongly that I should try a NOS 1972 Mazda 7308 (Philips owned plant in France).  So what the heck, I purchased it.

I didn't get the tube until Friday.  I installed the tube and started the break-in process (yes, there is absolutely no doubt that tubes need break-in).  However, anxious to listen to this Mazda tube, I immediately gave it a listen anyway; why not enjoy the break-in process while it's happening, right?  Well even upon first listen, I knew I had a winner.  The tube presented good bass articulation with great midbass.  The midrange was very open and clear and the highs are very extended with excellent attack and decay.  This was by far the most solid state sounding tube I've heard.  I was really liking it, but I needed to get around 50 hours on this thing to really know how it was going to sound.

Well, it's now about 40 hours in and I can't begin to explain how happy I am with the Mazda tube.  I think this is it for me.  I have found what I was looking for.  The bass is very articulate.  Double bass sounds very articulate and I can once again hear the string being plucked and the body of the instrument sound tight and accurate.  I hear no bloom of any kind.  The midbass is tight and punchy and the whole bass region is very balanced like the PS Audio DAC was.  The midrange is not as smooth sounding as any of the other tubes I've heard.  It is very open and clear sounding.  Voices and instruments sound very real and accurate.  The highs are very clear and extended.  I can hear every little detail and ambiance.  Cymbals have great attack and decay and very metallic.  I'm very careful to make certain cymbals sound realistic and have that distinct metallic sound.  The sound stage is still tremendously wide and tall, but this tube doesn't exhibit the same depth as some of the tubes I've heard.  I suspect this is due mostly to it's increased balance across the entire audio spectrum.  This is a very accurate sounding tube. 

So there it is.  I am incredibly happy.  I feel like I'm so close to the sound I was looking for that I need to quit changing anything.  The Music Hall was that final piece of the puzzle.  It just took the right tube to bring the magic.  I am extremely impressed with the Music Hall because it was the first DAC I've heard that the PS Audio DAC didn't kill in almost every way.  Granted, the Music Hall is not very good with the stock tube.  I even considered getting the Music Hall modified, but this Mazda tube sounds so near perfect, I'm not modding anything. 

 

oneinthepipe

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Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #56 on: 28 Sep 2009, 03:00 am »
Terry:

I have also been following the thread on the Tube-o-phile Circle, and your comparisons and analyses of the distinctions between the tubes is very interesting.   

Thank you for keeping us apprised.

TJHUB

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #57 on: 28 Sep 2009, 03:53 am »
Terry:

I have also been following the thread on the Tube-o-phile Circle, and your comparisons and analyses of the distinctions between the tubes is very interesting.   

Thank you for keeping us apprised.

Here I thought no one cared.  :)  The Tube-o-phile Circle is a little slow at best.  I'm just trying to learn and share.  I think more people should at least try tubes.  They can be amazing.


K Shep

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #58 on: 28 Sep 2009, 04:37 am »
Terry:

I have also been following the thread on the Tube-o-phile Circle, and your comparisons and analyses of the distinctions between the tubes is very interesting.   

Thank you for keeping us apprised.

Here I thought no one cared.  :) 

TJ,

Thanks for taking the time to write 2 comprehensive posts.  I appreciate your point of view.

Kirk

srb

Re: What DAC are you running with your Salk speakers?
« Reply #59 on: 28 Sep 2009, 04:40 am »
Terry,
 
While it is true that each person may hear frequencies and tones differently, the characteristics of music playback that you are looking for seems to be a description of what we all are looking for.
 
Tube rolling may be less of which brand and model of tubes in general sound good to our ears, but more of which tube has near perfect synergy to the circuitry of a particular model component.
 
If you can, hold on to the PS Audio DL III for another 30 days so we can hear about your perceptions after that period of time.
 
Steve