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rabski
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2 hours ago, DomT said:

Interesting write up and thanks for doing so. You had previously mentioned that one persons small difference is another persons large difference but even so your findings are interesting. Your experience of comparative harshness from the laptop compared to the Node is what I found although by using Innuos and Auralic as I don’t have a Node.

I had expected you to describe a bigger difference between your own DAC and the Node though. Whilst I don’t know the specs of your DAC I had assumed that it would be ‘among the best’ available today. To make the comparison more understandable do you have any specs for your DAC or do you have a reference commercial dac that you would say that it’s on par with?
 

In my case for example the difference between my Benchmark DAC1 and DAC2 is quite noticeable as the specs confirm.

It's always the problem with reviewing, describing and discussing audio. There are usually differences between things that in specific ways are quite noticeable, in particular harshness and distortion at specific frequencies, overblown bass, drops in certain frequencies. However, once the response is relatively even, nothing booms or grates and there is relatively low distortion across the frequency range, differences are much more subtle.

I've listened to so many things over so many years and basically, the 'night and day' and 'even the wife can hear it' usually turn out to be relatively small differences. That doesn't mean they aren't audible or apparent. But if it's not 'broken', then it's far more down to people's individual tastes and preferences.

My DAC is a DIY build, so whether it's 'best available' depends again on taste. It's non-oversampling, using an AD1865 chip and AK4118 receiver. The digital circuit uses transformer loading in the I/V conversion and the parts list is quite naughty in terms of quality. The analogue section uses paralleled 12SN7 valves, and there is multiple regulation and smoothing for three separate digital supplies and the valve filaments, and valve-rectified HT. Comparatively, I'd put it somewhere around AN DAC3.1, though mine does not use output transformers, as I have no need for exceptionally low output impedance or a balanced output.

The difference between the Node 'direct' and through my DAC is evident and I suppose some would say it's major. To my ears, as both are relatively even in response, neither sound rolled-off and neither have any audible peaks or distortion, I would have to describe the differences as more subtle and more a matter of taste. I don't find the Node DAC to be particularly 'digital' sounding. My one has a 'bigger' presentation and the mids seem a bit more 'liquid'. Of course, it's also made harder because I built it, so the bias goes both ways. I want it to sound wonderful, but I'm also my own harshest critic....

Edited by rabski
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Super Wammer

Nice reviewing Richard and I think I understand what you are saying and do agree that differences even positive ones are often subtle . My only way to decide on the changes is a very basic one . Having now heard the improvements could I go back to the way it was and be happy with the sound ? If I can then it is a very strong feeling for me the change is not enough or really worthwhile. If I find that I can not go back then comes the even more for me difficult choice of is the improvement at a price I am prepared to pay . I had to do this recently over of all things a cable and in the end I could not forget what I heard so had to dig deep and buy it. In your case much of what you are adding is your work and components so less of a commercial choice.

Edited by bencat
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Interesting, I often find that differences grow on me. 

What appears subtle at first can sometimes become either greatly enjoyed or an unlistenably awful showstopper. 

Edited by JANDL100
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On 06/11/2021 at 00:46, rabski said:

I seem to recall having stated here more than a few times that vinyl is my primary source. It remains so, to be honest. However...

Somehow, I appear to have accumulated a number of DACs to go with the number of phono stages. I also appear to have bought a Node 2i. We have visitors here, so much as I'm itching to play with it, setting it up may have to wait until after the weekend. It will be interesting to see, more than anything, how it compares with my (well-isolated electrically) computer USB streaming source.

So much for 'no hifi spending for a while' 🤣

Rab

I would be interested to hear your end thoughts on the Node 2i (which I think is a wireless service).  My audiophile hairs bristle at the thought of a non cable - ie satanic - connection.  Call me old fashioned if you like but where are the digits?  Is it really true they fly through the ether?

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It has no right to sound this good...

I did tweak a few bits in the DAC (voltages mainly, plus winding down the filament regulator so I can try some 6SN7s). Whatever has run in a bit or sorted itself out, it's sounding better than I'd hoped. The bass is going notably lower, top end is clear, soundstage is bigger and the whole presentation is just more lifelike.

Before now, I'd always said streaming was a secondary source. To an extent it remains so, as much as anything because of the number of LPs in the collection. However, in terms of sound quality, it's taken enough of a leap to seriously challenge the vinyl source on good recordings. That takes some doing. It doesn't quite equal it for the 'reality', but on some tracks, it's very, very close.

Damn. That means I've got to do the next phono stage build and try to push that a bit further :cool:

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On 14/11/2021 at 04:26, Andrei said:

Rab

I would be interested to hear your end thoughts on the Node 2i (which I think is a wireless service).  My audiophile hairs bristle at the thought of a non cable - ie satanic - connection.  Call me old fashioned if you like but where are the digits?  Is it really true they fly through the ether?

Anne is away, so I've had the opportunity to drag a cable across the hallway and compare ethernet with wireless to the Node. It's worth pointing out that our wifi is good. I use a relatively high-end Netgear router (5 gig), and it runs from a separate router used just as a cable modem. I also configured the router with a separate login for the Node. I don't know whether that gives any more 'separation', but it does show as a separate wifi network.

Result? I can hear absolutely zero difference between ethernet and wifi. None. No interference, no discernable difference musically.

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9 minutes ago, rabski said:

Anne is away, so I've had the opportunity to drag a cable across the hallway and compare ethernet with wireless to the Node. It's worth pointing out that our wifi is good. I use a relatively high-end Netgear router (5 gig), and it runs from a separate router used just as a cable modem. I also configured the router with a separate login for the Node. I don't know whether that gives any more 'separation', but it does show as a separate wifi network.

Result? I can hear absolutely zero difference between ethernet and wifi. None. No interference, no discernable difference musically.

Wait till Anne returns and starts streaming those hi-res Dreamboys vids. That's when you'll wish for more bandwidth...

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4 minutes ago, savvypaul said:

Wait till Anne returns and starts streaming those hi-res Dreamboys vids. That's when you'll wish for more bandwidth...

I've got the login for the router. I can set parental controls :whistle:

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3 minutes ago, rabski said:

I've got the login for the router. I can set parental controls :whistle:

Yeah...say that when she's back :pop:

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