Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout

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Dadbeh



weary and tired of Delta-sigma dacs sound, I turned to far east in search of a wallet and ear friendly digital to analog conversion apparatus.

Audio-gd R2R 11 achieves this not by using a DAC chip, has a fairly powerful headphone amp, and can function as preamp so I believe that it meets the cheap and cheerful criteria considering that by addding a headphpone or an active speaker you will be all set and ready to go. 

i placed the order more than 2 weeks ago and expect to receive the unit in 2 weeks so in total a month would a typical waiting time to order from audio-gd

i intend to use it mainly to drive headphones but if it impresses as a DAc then maybe it will be also used in my stereo (currently Nuprime IDA-8 + woofer augmented Omega speakers)
I will be posting review/impression for the pairing of R2R 11 with these headphones:
Audeze LCD-3
Hifiman HE400i
Vmoda crossfade
Superlux 668B (aftermarket pad)
Monoprice Retro (aftermarket pad)
Sennheiser HD599
Status audio CB-1
Marantz MPH-2
Monolith 1060
Foxtex 50RP (with various pads)

the two glowing video reviews on youtube are created by two literal morons and the reviews on SBAF are particularly harsh so i decided to see for myself.
« Last Edit: 28 Feb 2018, 10:56 pm by Dadbeh »

dB Cooper

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles
« Reply #1 on: 26 Feb 2018, 10:38 am »
If this doesn't work out, a very good value in R2R DACs is the Schiit Modi Multibit at $249. Had one for about a year now and very pleased.

Dadbeh

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles
« Reply #2 on: 28 Feb 2018, 06:27 am »
If this doesn't work out, a very good value in R2R DACs is the Schiit Modi Multibit at $249. Had one for about a year now and very pleased.

definitely. I am hoping for good results ... bit if not Im ready to move on from them so fast as i have an arsenal of great headphones and no time to waste on a crap DAC

////////

I have decided to turn this into a review/imprssions topic for a variety of budgest eadphones with various mods if necessary
I have in my arsenal:

$30    over ear open back headphones Superlux 668B (+ 30$ Brainwavez memory foam protein leather XL pads)
$30    over ear closed back Monoprice retro (+ $15 generic aftermarket memory foam protein leather XL pads)
$50    over ear closed back  Marantz MPH-2 (stock pads are good)
$50    over ear closed back Status audio (stock pads are soft but leak too much)
$100  over ear closed back Vmoda (stock pads)
$150  over ear semi open Fostex T50RP Planar (+ $30 Brainwavez angled memory foam protein leather pads + mods)
$200  over ear open back Hifiman planar 400i  (Focus pads)
$300  over ear Open back planar monolith 1060 (stock pads which are delicious)
$200  over ear open back Sennheiser HD599 (aftermarket silver cable)

+

$2000 LCD-3 over ear planar (+ $500 worth of aftermarket cable, sheepskin earpads)

so im gonnna take the LCD-3 out of the comparison to comply with the C&C guidelines and do a value focused shootout. using Sabaj DA3, Signstek, Audio-gd.

JohnR

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles
« Reply #3 on: 28 Feb 2018, 08:48 am »
Hmmm... would you be interested in adding an HE4xx into the mix?

Dadbeh

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles
« Reply #4 on: 28 Feb 2018, 02:06 pm »
Hmmm... would you be interested in adding an HE4xx into the mix?

Actually I was so close to buying the HE4XX and HD6XX instead of buying the Monolioth 1060 and HE400i and the only reason that I didnt was that the shipping date from massdrop required some patience that I did not have. Now I have been told that HE4XX is possibly identical to HE400i, if that is the case then there is no reason to add it to the mix, but if it is not, then yes I am actually very curious about more hifiman cans. the HE400i has some good characteristics but the narrow soundstage kinda hurts them. anyway what is your opinion, do you think that the cans are different? for starters does the HD4XX have the same earpad?

Dadbeh

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles
« Reply #5 on: 28 Feb 2018, 08:54 pm »
Updatde: i took the status audio out of the mix on account of its headband being uncomfortable to the extent that it doesnt even matter how good it sounds. it also leaks so much sound that it defeats the purpose of going close back. it is also all plastic and sits loose on the head. it does sound very good for the price of 45 bucks on ebay but the marantrz MPH-2 is so accomplished (for the sale price of 40 bucks which happens multiple times a year) that status CB-1 is rendered irrelevant. so i wont be comparing the status CB-1 to the rest.

https://imgur.com/ozRv2ng

//////////////////

the marantz is an exceptional value. everyone should own one. with sabaj DA-3 it has kickass bass, nice enough midrange, good clarity and detail, and a very nice presentation overal good for classic rock all the way to trip hop. this combination is my recommendation to anyone at the total price of 140 USD.

« Last Edit: 28 Feb 2018, 10:06 pm by Dadbeh »

ronu9400

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 3
Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles
« Reply #6 on: 28 Feb 2018, 10:54 pm »
I've got a few better headphones around now, so I put aside the Superlux 668B that I own. I wasn't too pleased with the comfort - that headband design! and the stock earpads didn't seem to have much padding after I'd worn them for a while. I did try some replacement pads but they are/were too small to provide a good fit. I didn't try the Brainwavz XL pads, but that was good info... especially since it is likely that if those fit the 668B, they should also fit my old AKG K240 Sextett.

So, I will be interested in hearing your comments about that "668B" test in particular. If you made any other mods/improvements to them, beyond the Brainwavz XL pads, maybe you could mention those as well. I still doubt that they will replace my better headphones, but I would be interested in hearing your opinion(s)/results.

Thanks, Ron

Dadbeh

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles
« Reply #7 on: 1 Mar 2018, 12:21 am »
I've got a few better headphones around now, so I put aside the Superlux 668B that I own. I wasn't too pleased with the comfort - that headband design! and the stock earpads didn't seem to have much padding after I'd worn them for a while. I did try some replacement pads but they are/were too small to provide a good fit. I didn't try the Brainwavz XL pads, but that was good info... especially since it is likely that if those fit the 668B, they should also fit my old AKG K240 Sextett.

So, I will be interested in hearing your comments about that "668B" test in particular. If you made any other mods/improvements to them, beyond the Brainwavz XL pads, maybe you could mention those as well. I still doubt that they will replace my better headphones, but I would be interested in hearing your opinion(s)/results.

Thanks, Ron

the only earpad that i was able to find to fit the 668B is this (you can see it on the 668B in the picture that posted in this thread):

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076SGPZ2D/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I bought the protein leather version but it has been removed from amazon from th second that i ordered, i guess i literally got the last one. but the bybrid is a very good and i recommend it.
it improves the comfort by %500 (seriously, an uncomfortable headphone becomes very comfortable. also for the headband you can buy a headband cover this headphone is worth it).


ronu9400

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 3
Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #8 on: 2 Mar 2018, 04:12 pm »
Thank you, Dadbeh.

I will add the Brainwavz XL pads to my "must buy" list.

Looking forward to hearing about how you find the R2R functions as a DAC.

(fyi - my best headphone amp in current use is the Schiit Lyr, so I'd probably lean towards a Schiit DAC, as suggested by dB Cooper, for my system. However, the favourable reviews of the Sabaj, etc., have caught my attention. So I will be interested in your comparisons.)

- Thanks, Ron

Dadbeh

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #9 on: 3 Mar 2018, 12:20 am »
Thank you, Dadbeh.

I will add the Brainwavz XL pads to my "must buy" list.

Looking forward to hearing about how you find the R2R functions as a DAC.

(fyi - my best headphone amp in current use is the Schiit Lyr, so I'd probably lean towards a Schiit DAC, as suggested by dB Cooper, for my system. However, the favourable reviews of the Sabaj, etc., have caught my attention. So I will be interested in your comparisons.)

- Thanks, Ron

I have never been a fan of their DAC's sounds even though modi 2 multi bit + magni represent great value, i think that in case this chinese DAc does not preform, I will go straight to Chord Hugo or mojo. While I am considering their Joutenheim to drive LCD-3 in balance mode, I probably will not be considering their DACs. It seems like for digital domail the purist approach does not amount to much and the hi tech digital filters are the answer.

JohnR

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles
« Reply #10 on: 3 Mar 2018, 05:08 am »
Now I have been told that HE4XX is possibly identical to HE400i

You are right... the measurements (innerfidelity) are basically identical. I haven't heard the HE400i but there seems no reason to think it any different.

Dadbeh

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #11 on: 4 Mar 2018, 03:31 pm »


burning in

JohnR

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #12 on: 5 Mar 2018, 09:55 am »
Cool, so you got the Audio GD.

Dadbeh

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #13 on: 8 Mar 2018, 12:12 am »
Cool, so you got the Audio GD.

its been burning in for the last couple of days.

it is possible that ive gone a bit overboard with my DAC/amp & headphone shootout but  since then I have added: Sonus Faber Pryma, Sennheiser HD6XX and Chord mojo to the mix. The reason for buying the HD6xx was my positive experience with HD599 which i impulse bought after Wishlu mentioned them. turns out that I love sennheiser sound and it is what i was trying to make every other headphone sound like by changing DACs.

so far I have found a few winning combinations with good synergy that i will list when i get a chance.

Also I had my most profound experience with burn in. Hifiman HE400i went from not bass impact/slam and absolutely zero, zilch, none, sub bass, to an amazingly detailed, present, and precise bass with sub bass right after 60 to 70 hours of playback. A truly audiophile grade Bass. I was kinda taken aback by the magnitude of the difference. Turns out Hifiman HE400i is a proper audiophile offering marred by Severe QC issues.

secondly R2R -11 is pretty great.  the negative reviews on SBAF are beyond false, they are just irresponsible lies, R2R11 is preforming very well and I intend to review it in detail.
« Last Edit: 9 Mar 2018, 02:18 am by Dadbeh »

C17FXR

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 126
  • Remember, you don't have to rewind the Blu-ray.
Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #14 on: 8 Mar 2018, 12:45 pm »
Dadbeh

Keep up the good work, I'll be following this thread with interest.
I just purchased one of these (R2R11) and currently burning it in using a Beyerdynamic's T1.
I have about 40 hours on it so far and it sounds pretty good.
I got this primarily for when I travel I can use it to listen to music on my computer.
Anyway enjoy the journey and keep us informed on your progress.


adydula

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  • Posts: 1557
Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #15 on: 8 Mar 2018, 01:18 pm »
I know this is a shootout with this dac, and it would be nice to see some internal build shots if at all possible. I am always curious to whats inside the "box" being an avid DIY'er etc...if you can take the covers off (without power!!) take some pix, if not thats fine.

Good luck in your comparision.
Alex

Johnny2Bad

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #16 on: 8 Mar 2018, 05:49 pm »
I know this is a shootout with this dac, and it would be nice to see some internal build shots if at all possible. I am always curious to whats inside the "box" being an avid DIY'er etc...if you can take the covers off (without power!!) take some pix, if not thats fine.

Good luck in your comparision.
Alex

From experience, I think it's safe to say the AudioGD DAC will outright shame the Schitt DAC for build quality if you open the hood.

adydula

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  • Posts: 1557
Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #17 on: 9 Mar 2018, 01:41 pm »
This wasnt meant to be a look at the insides for a "hey, this thing is better than that thing"...its just a DIY'er curious about the internals....

I did take a look at the box on the audio gd site and it looks very well built / layed out etc....

As we all know a box that is layed out to look "nice" may not play nice....regardless of the OEM.

Looking forward to the results of this comparison...

All the best
Alex

hibuckhobby

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  • Posts: 566
  • On a search for audio nirvana
Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #18 on: 9 Mar 2018, 03:27 pm »
A slight detour in the process, but how much was the shipping?  I looked it up on
their website and it was $82 which raises the price into the 400's.
Hibuck...

Tyson

Re: Chinese Resistor ladder DAC chronicles + Headphone shootout
« Reply #19 on: 9 Mar 2018, 03:30 pm »
I've had the top of the line audio-gd preamp and amp in the past and it was VERY nice.  I would still have it if I hadn't become such a tube-head.