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Back to dacs, back to back, valve? r2r? etc


bohemian
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Back to the confusing world of dacs.

I have a Wyred4Sound dac2v2 with femto clock upgrade.  I am very happy with the sound I have, but you all know the itch that comes occasionally….

Would the PrimaLuna evo 100 dac improve my overall sound (with PL pre and power monos) Tempted to listen to the pair.

But then I read strange words on the forum which I do not undertsand - words like denafrips, r2r, etc. Once again I am in a minefield of terminology.

My system gives me outstanding pleasure as is, but you sometimes read something that inserts question marks in your mind……

Can anyone clarify the muddied waters for me to see the bottom of the bitstream?

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IMO the best DACs are ones with completely analogue output stages, and when implemented correctly, should sound completely natural when listening to, for example, well recorded piano music. Any hardness, especially on the higher keys, is easily audible with a decent system and a shit dac.

Personally I also love the addition of a valve output stage, but I am sure a lot good DACs, like the Denafrips series also sound very natural.

I won't recommend you any particular dac, but I'm in love this how organic and "analogue" mine sounds. There are plenty of good ones out there.

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Get a listen to an R-2R Dac in your 'secret location'. The level of detail and depth and space in the soundstage is quite an eye opener when compared to Delta-sigma (chip based) Dacs.

I have used increasingly expensive Delta-sigma Dacs up to a Topping D90 and will not be going back from using R-2R. I have two, there are a number of manufacturers, Denafrips, Musician, Soekris, Holo, plus others.

If you were local you could have a listen to one.

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11 hours ago, bohemian said:

Back to the confusing world of dacs.

I have a Wyred4Sound dac2v2 with femto clock upgrade.  I am very happy with the sound I have, but you all know the itch that comes occasionally….

Would the PrimaLuna evo 100 dac improve my overall sound (with PL pre and power monos) Tempted to listen to the pair.

But then I read strange words on the forum which I do not undertsand - words like denafrips, r2r, etc. Once again I am in a minefield of terminology.

My system gives me outstanding pleasure as is, but you sometimes read something that inserts question marks in your mind……

Can anyone clarify the muddied waters for me to see the bottom of the bitstream?

There are people on here who a) can’t hear any difference between DACs b) hear differences that are not worth paying for and c) hear differences that Are worth paying for. There is no right answer. 

For example I own a Benchmark DAC 1 and DAC2. They sound different. One sounds better than the other depending what system that I put them in.

I don’t know anything about your DAC but if your system gives you pleasure then well done because a lot of audiophiles are not happy with their systems. Stick with what you have. Don’t worry, be happy!

Edited by DomT
Typo
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I'm a big R-2R DAC fan. Currently enjoying a Holo Audio Spring level 2 DAC. 

There's an openness, tangibility and in the room presence to the sound that ticks my boxes very accurately and seems consistent with the MyST 1866 DAC that I previously enjoyed, also a R2R design. The Holo does it better, but at several times the price it should do. 

I have no idea at all how they would compare with the Primaluna DAC, not having heard one. 

A visit a few days ago to Alan Firebottle showed his system with its R2R DAC performing in similar open and tangible fashion. 

Edited by JANDL100
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10 hours ago, bohemian said:

But then I read strange words on the forum which I do not undertsand - words like denafrips, r2r, etc. Once again I am in a minefield of terminology.

Not sure if this will help Chris :)

R-2R Resistive Ladder Network

As its name implies, the “ladder” description comes from the ladder-like configuration of the resistors used within the network. A R-2R resistive ladder network provides a simple means of converting digital voltage signals into an equivalent analogue output. Input voltages are applied to the ladder network at various points along its length and the more input points the better the resolution of the R-2R ladder. The output signal as a result of all these input voltage points is taken from the end of the ladder which is used to drive the inverting input of an operational amplifier.

Then a R-2R resistive ladder network is nothing more than long strings of parallel and series connected resistors acting as interconnected voltage dividers along its length, and whose output voltage depends sole on the interaction of the input voltages with each other.

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Abbas Audio is coming up a lot of other forums.

If and when I move on my Musical Paradise, I'll be trying either that or a big bottle lampiztor.

Might be worth stating your budget.

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11 hours ago, bohemian said:

Back to the confusing world of dacs.

I have a Wyred4Sound dac2v2 with femto clock upgrade.  I am very happy with the sound I have, but you all know the itch that comes occasionally….

Would the PrimaLuna evo 100 dac improve my overall sound (with PL pre and power monos) Tempted to listen to the pair.

But then I read strange words on the forum which I do not undertsand - words like denafrips, r2r, etc. Once again I am in a minefield of terminology.

My system gives me outstanding pleasure as is, but you sometimes read something that inserts question marks in your mind……

Can anyone clarify the muddied waters for me to see the bottom of the bitstream?

Looking at your system  I am not surprised you are very happy with the sound. Looks to me like a high quality and well thought out system.

High end audio can be very addictive or gives us an itch . I often find the best way to deal with an itch often can be to let go until the enjoyment comes back.

Also I have found if the system is enjoyable it's because the system is working well as a whole/complete system.

Changing something will cause an effect in the chain. Sometimes it's not about what's the best but how it compliments or affects your system as a whole.

However as you have a primaluna pre power it could be worth trying their dac as they will of been designed to work together.

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As you probably know, there are two main ways of converting digital audio to analogue. In R2R, the digital number is converted back to an absolute analogue value using a ladder of resistors, with each representing a different analogue value. With delta/sigma the difference between the previous sample and the current sample is used.  R2R ladder resistor have to be very precisely made and that involves using very accurate resistor values. They can be produced by laser trimming surface mount resistors, as in the Denafripps. I am aware of one company that uses bulk resistors, but that is an expensive and complex way of doing it. Delta/sigma conversion is actually incredibly complex, and most of the processing is now done on board a chip. As well as these processes, the analogue signal is normally filtered and then an amplifier is used to provide the 2V output, or whatever voltage the company wants.  I have over simplified as there are discussions on filters, I/V conversion and the op amp/discrete component outputs.  And sigma/delta  measures better and is cheaper. But which sounds best ???

Audio wise, some say R2R is very natural, 3D and smooth and delta/sigma has great transients, attack and dynamics. And conversely, R2R is soft and not as dynamic with delta/sigma sharp, aggressive and unnatural.

As with all audio, I would not place too much store on generalisations.

Ironically, I am going next weekend to hear a comparison between a top R2R DAC and the Terminator + in a very high quality system. Should be fun and illuminating.

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I have found that good power supplies have a huge impact on the sound of DACs where my Chord Qutest and Topping E30 are concerned.  Very much out of proportion but I think a Topping E30 with Sbooster would take a lot of beating for £450.

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4 minutes ago, ziggy said:

I have found that good power supplies have a huge impact on the sound of DACs where my Chord Qutest and Topping E30 are concerned.  Very much out of proportion but I think a Topping E30 with Sbooster would take a lot of beating for £450.

To a large degree I think it makes sense that cheaper DACs would benefit more from improved power supplies though, in that you'd at least hope that more expensive models had power supply elements handled better internally. 

Edited by MartinC
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1 hour ago, MartinC said:

To a large degree I think it makes sense that cheaper DACs would benefit more from improved power supplies though, in that you'd at least hope that more expensive models had power supply elements handled better internally. 

My Benchmark DAC2 is said by Benchmark themselves to be identical to their DAC3 retailing at £2,000 and absolutely benefited from an SBooster on the Aries Mini and also an Innuos power supply on the Zen Mini mk3.  But as I don’t have another dac to hand to test with it might be an outlier but suspect not. 

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1 hour ago, George 47 said:

As you probably know, there are two main ways of converting digital audio to analogue. In R2R, the digital number is converted back to an absolute analogue value using a ladder of resistors, with each representing a different analogue value. With delta/sigma the difference between the previous sample and the current sample is used.  R2R ladder resistor have to be very precisely made and that involves using very accurate resistor values. They can be produced by laser trimming surface mount resistors, as in the Denafripps. I am aware of one company that uses bulk resistors, but that is an expensive and complex way of doing it. Delta/sigma conversion is actually incredibly complex, and most of the processing is now done on board a chip. As well as these processes, the analogue signal is normally filtered and then an amplifier is used to provide the 2V output, or whatever voltage the company wants.  I have over simplified as there are discussions on filters, I/V conversion and the op amp/discrete component outputs.  And sigma/delta  measures better and is cheaper. But which sounds best ???

Audio wise, some say R2R is very natural, 3D and smooth and delta/sigma has great transients, attack and dynamics. And conversely, R2R is soft and not as dynamic with delta/sigma sharp, aggressive and unnatural.

As with all audio, I would not place too much store on generalisations.

Ironically, I am going next weekend to hear a comparison between a top R2R DAC and the Terminator + in a very high quality system. Should be fun and illuminating.

That’s a very helpful summary. And so either approach will be ideal depending on the system that it is going into, just like everything else. Too much of either camp is er too much of a good thing.

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Without knowing your budget makes recommendations difficult, if it was me, I'd like to try the one Jandl has mentioned, Holo Audio Spring, but a valve one I'd be going with this DOGE 7 Clarity – Tube DAC – DOGE AUDIO

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