Need some help with new DAC purchase

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Escott1377

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Need some help with new DAC purchase
« on: 19 May 2020, 10:34 pm »
I’m going to be buying a new DAC within the next 60 days.  We bought a new house and I will finally get my stereo out storage - listening space lost to 3 yr old twins.

I am considering the following, I want my next purchase to be an R2R DAC.

I use JRiver as my media server and will downsample to 24/96 as my highest frequency.

The DACs that I am considering are the following:

Denafrip Aries
Denafrips Venus
MHDT Pagoda
Border Patrol

My stereo is very tube based, I have a SS phono amplifier and My VSA jrs are bi amped with the woofer module using SS amplification.

So, I am open to suggestions and would appreciate any and all recs.

I feel like the Venus is overkill since 24/96 will be my replay limit. 

I own DSD, 24/192 and recordings can be good but I find the 24/192 to be a bit dry.  The 24/96 is the sweet spot for my ears.

Please let me know your thoughts - I am leaning towards the Pagoda bc of the ability to tube roll.

Thanks in advance -

mresseguie

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #1 on: 19 May 2020, 11:14 pm »
Is the Orchid not tube rollable?

Tonight hopefully, I'll chat on the phone with someone who is very knowledgeable in NOS tube DACs - MHDT models, Audio Mirror Tubadour III, and a couple others. I'll mention your post.

I've got a dB Audio Tranquility SE DAC that uses the same TDA1543 chip as the Border Patrol DAC. It's a nice little DAC that is responsible for setting me down the NOS DAC road (very happily, I might add). I've never heard the BP DAC myself, but two people have shared with me their thoughts on it vs the Tranquility DAC. Apparently, they are more or less equivalent. Based on their testimony and my liking the Tranquility, I'd be willing to bet I'd like the BP DAC, but it would be a lateral move from my Tranquility DAC.

Have you considered the Soekris 1541 DAC?

I auditioned the Venus a couple years ago. It took something like 250 hours of burn in before it began sounding good. I did not keep it and returned it with the thought that I would buy the Terminator. That never happened because I let someone (Wig) persuade me to try my current DAC. [See below.] I owe Wig a big thank you.

While I do still own my Tranquility and use it in my desktop headphone system, I have moved past that level in my main system. My main DAC is a SW1X Audio NOS tube DAC and it is awesome. Mine is the level III STD. I'm not suggesting you buy this as it is above your likely budget limit. There is a level II that may be in your price range. I have compared my DAC to a Lampi Atlantic and felt that they are about equal. The Atlantic DAC is double the price of mine.

Michael

Escott1377

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #2 on: 20 May 2020, 12:16 am »
Thanks for your response.  The 1541 is sold out with not ETA.

I have to limit my options so that’s how I got to 4 that I mentioned.

Otherwise, I may never get another DAC with all of the models and flavors available.

I like the Pagoda since it is supposed to respond well to tube rolling and actually implements two A>D chips in its design.

I like the Border Patrol bc of its attention to its power supply.

Been seeing lots of reviews on the Denafrips products but that moves away from tubes.

With the house being an upgrade for us, I can maybe stretch to $2,500 but I catch literal hell when budget keeps going up.

walkern

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #3 on: 20 May 2020, 12:26 am »
I have an older MHDT Havana and have heard the Pagoda and I think you'd love it.  I've never heard such a dramatic change when swapping tubes as in my Havana.  The WE tubes from the 1950s are absolutely gorgeous sounding.

Escott1377

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #4 on: 20 May 2020, 01:25 am »
Thank you.  I have read about the WE swap.  Another article I read called for a 5670 bottom to 6922 top tube adapter.  The author used a Mullard NOS gold pin and reported very positive results.  I also read about using an Ecc86 which is old radio tube as a sub.  Since it’s in the buffer stage and the tubes are dirt cheap, I figured that could be a fun swap as well.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #5 on: 20 May 2020, 02:04 am »
Consider a Schiit Yggdrasil.  It sounded better in most but not all respects in my system vs my $5K Luxman DAC and the Yggy was not fully broken in.  It is american made and has a 15 day return policy if you do not like it.  The reviews on the Denafrips are good but what happens if it breaks down.  You have to send it to Taiwan. I would also look at the Chord Qutest. 

By the way,  checkout Audirvana as a music player vs JRiver.  It has a similar interface but it is easier to use and it sounds way better, with more detail, resolution air and transparency.  HQP is better than both of those.  Checkout the free trial of Audirvana.  I have JRiver and it is an excellent program that can do a lot for things but sound wise it is midfi at best.

Larry

JTF

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #6 on: 20 May 2020, 02:11 am »
I use an Orchid, and I recommend it. Did you check stock with LTA? MHDT also sells them direct on feeBay, they have it posted.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mhdt-Labs-Orchid-TDA1541A-Non-OS-USB-Tube-DAC-192-24/122521448234?hash=item1c86d8ef2a:g:aaMAAOSw8HBZDdmC

Escott1377

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #7 on: 20 May 2020, 11:20 am »
Consider a Schiit Yggdrasil.  It sounded better in most but not all respects in my system vs my $5K Luxman DAC and the Yggy was not fully broken in.  It is american made and has a 15 day return policy if you do not like it.  The reviews on the Denafrips are good but what happens if it breaks down.  You have to send it to Taiwan. I would also look at the Chord Qutest. 

By the way,  checkout Audirvana as a music player vs JRiver.  It has a similar interface but it is easier to use and it sounds way better, with more detail, resolution air and transparency.  HQP is better than both of those.  Checkout the free trial of Audirvana.  I have JRiver and it is an excellent program that can do a lot for things but sound wise it is midfi at best.

Larry

I have looked at Audiovana as my player.  I’m not in my final stereo home so just using JRiver right now to index my library.  I looked at Roon as well but I do not have the house wired for Ethernet.

In regards to the Yiggy, I have a few friends that own them and speak very highly of their performance.

I will probably head the Pagoda route.  I read that the chips can be upgraded to a better version and the capacitors are fairly easy to swap out.

Thanks to all, esp the Audionirvana suggestion. 

Escott1377

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #8 on: 20 May 2020, 11:23 am »
1 final question.  Has anyone ever used a USB > SPIDF converter?  I have had issues with my Cary 100t’s driver.  It is Windows 7 and basically sucks.  Wyred for sound makes 1 and curious if a driver is required to feed the box from USB.  Thanks!

rodge827

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #9 on: 20 May 2020, 11:38 am »
Here is an excellent nos dac:

https://www.audioasylumtrader.com/ca/listing/DAC-Processors/Audio-Note-Kits/Dac-4.1-LE/With-USB/210161

Not sure if its in your budget but worth a look. The guy selling is who does the builds for ANK so you know its done right!

Hope you find waht your looking for.

Chris

ric

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #10 on: 20 May 2020, 01:35 pm »
Like you, I did a lot of research on purchasing a new dac, and ended up buying a used Border Patrol SE and I have no regrets. I even found a cheap bugle boy tube on Ebay and that further improved the sound, as well as IsoAcoustic footers and a better quality power cord. Bybee ISQ (can't remember the name) adds another layer of sound dimension. Overall I still prefer vinyl, but now the gap between them is very small. I would imagine any of the newer analog type chip dacs would sound great. If you can, buy used, you can always resell, or audition new ones first?
Good luck!

JDoyle

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #11 on: 20 May 2020, 02:01 pm »
This might be worth a read... hopefully it might help you.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?pages/Audio_DAC_Performance_Index/

JD

mresseguie

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #12 on: 20 May 2020, 03:33 pm »
I did chat with the knowledgeable guy for 35 minutes. He suggested that the balanced Pagoda is his preferred choice only if your preamp and amp are truly XLR. If your connections are RCA, or single-ended inside with XLR connectors outside, the balanced Pagoda will not reach its full potential. [I realize you didn't necessarily say anything about the balanced Pagoda or XLR connections.] For those of us with single-ended connections, the Audio Mirror Tubadour III SE model was suggested to be the better sounding choice.

I'm not trying to talk you out of the Pagoda; I'm just paraphrasing what I was told last night. MHDT is a Taiwanese company, so I'm all for supporting it. [Guess where my wife is from!] My system isn't balanced, so I'd lean toward the Tubadour SE, or an upgraded Orchid for about half the price.

While the Soekris1541 is sold out on Modhouse's website, I believe you can purchase directly from Soekris.

I_Greyhound,

The Denafrips gear is made in China - not Taiwan, and is sold via the Singapore-based dealer, Vinshine Audio. I'm curious about the Yggy, but I've never heard it.

I'm also curious about the Nuprime Evolution DAC, but I have no idea how it compares to any of the DACs in this thread - including my own.

Enjoy the journey. Let us know which you decide on, and come back with your impressions as it burns in. :thumb:


HT cOz

Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #13 on: 20 May 2020, 03:35 pm »
I’m looking at Ares and Pontus. I have a Modwright Transporter that has a great tube output stage but am very curious to try R2R by Denafrips.  My thoughts on tubes is to focus either on dac or line stage. I’m not sure about having tubes on tubes on tubes.  I’m currently trying the new Purifi amp with Sparkos buffer.  This amp gets out of the way and allows a better assessment of upstream components.

What are thoughts on too many tubes?  Real or not?  I’m thinking of Don Sachs line stage as a good placement of tubes.

mresseguie

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #14 on: 20 May 2020, 03:58 pm »
I’m looking at Ares and Pontus. I have a Modwright Transporter that has a great tube output stage but am very curious to try R2R by Denafrips.  My thoughts on tubes is to focus either on dac or line stage. I’m not sure about having tubes on tubes on tubes.  I’m currently trying the new Purifi amp with Sparkos buffer.  This amp gets out of the way and allows a better assessment of upstream components.

What are thoughts on too many tubes?  Real or not?  I’m thinking of Don Sachs line stage as a good placement of tubes.

I'll be upfront: I'm biased for tube on tube on tube.  :D I really love the music coming out of my speakers with all tube gear. I also have a backup IceEdge1200as2 amp that sounds good as well, but it's not as nice sounding as my Kootenay 120. I use it when my room is already too hot during the summer, but switch back to the Kootenay 120 when temperatures moderate.

I caught the tube bug thanks to Don's Model 2. It sounds wonderful with either SS or tube amps.

 

Elizabeth

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #15 on: 20 May 2020, 04:01 pm »
A few points. First, the fact you may not TODAY be interested in High Rez does not mean tomorrow you will not deeply regret failing to buy a DAC that can do it...
Secondly I bought a Marantz SA-10 SACD player ONLY for the fact it has fantastic CD playback from the digital inputs..
SO basing a choice (again) on only wanting the features you "think" you want is really blocking choosing the right DAC.. for musical quality. Period.
If you cannot listen to one before buying. that makes it a lot tougher.
But I would if force to choose without listening would got for the Venus..
 :thumb:

Escott1377

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #16 on: 20 May 2020, 04:37 pm »
I have 14TB of music on my Drobo.  All is 16 bit or higher, no lossless.  I have a few recordings that sound really good at the higher frequency but the step up to 192 often is worse than 96k. 

I am a member of a group where we share music (hope the police are not monitoring) and DSD or SACD does not come up often.

The Venus is an impressive build, but if you look at their R2R structure I find it hard to believe that there will not a failure with a resistor or capacitor - there is just too many.

I also looked at a streamer if I went Roon (Metrum Ambre) and it caps at 24/192.

So, if I do eventually expand, I’m looking at a more expensive streamer.

Not to be offensive, but the Pagoda is at a price point that I can move on if I need to since new DACs hit the market constantly.  I was also looking at the Benchmark and Mytek.

I think I’m in the camp with the tube fans, so I like the Pagoda.  The only model they currently offer is single ended.



HT cOz

Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #17 on: 20 May 2020, 04:55 pm »
I have 14TB of music on my Drobo.  All is 16 bit or higher, no lossless.  I have a few recordings that sound really good at the higher frequency but the step up to 192 often is worse than 96k. 

I am a member of a group where we share music (hope the police are not monitoring) and DSD or SACD does not come up often.

The Venus is an impressive build, but if you look at their R2R structure I find it hard to believe that there will not a failure with a resistor or capacitor - there is just too many.

I also looked at a streamer if I went Roon (Metrum Ambre) and it caps at 24/192.

So, if I do eventually expand, I’m looking at a more expensive streamer.

Not to be offensive, but the Pagoda is at a price point that I can move on if I need to since new DACs hit the market constantly.  I was also looking at the Benchmark and Mytek.

I think I’m in the camp with the tube fans, so I like the Pagoda.  The only model they currently offer is single ended.

Maybe pick up an Ares and pagoda?  Second hand market is likely to make downside very low.  Maybe we could approach Denafrips about a tour?

Escott1377

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Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #18 on: 20 May 2020, 05:58 pm »
TUBADOUR III SE Nonoversampling Tube DAC $2500

This just threw a wrench in my decision  :o

jmolsberg

Re: Need some help with new DAC purchase
« Reply #19 on: 20 May 2020, 06:14 pm »
I love R2R dacs and the Tubadour is certainly as good as it gets!