Author Topic: dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE Dac w/upgraded caps no less!  (Read 327 times)

Offline mresseguie

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dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE Dac w/upgraded caps no less!
« on: April 28, 2018, 06:33:33 AM »
I would have written this 8 weeks ago, but my life has been too preoccupied with other events to bother with this until now.

Eric Heider is the man behind the dB Audio Labs, and he is very easy to communicate with. He made a point of telling me how to get his Tranquility DAC to sound its best. One very important detail is that it really needs to be paired with a Mac Mini to sound its best. If you use a Windows PC, you probably won't care for his DAC. I guess that limits his DAC's appeal somewhat.

Fortunately, I have a Mac Mini, so I went ahead and ordered an SE model. I decided that as long as I was going to audition it, I may as well ask for a special upgrade that someone I know showed me on his DAC two years ago. I asked Eric to replace his stock output caps with Jupiter Cu caps. He told me it wasn't a problem, but I'd have to pay for the upgrade.  I happily accepted. :thumb:

I asked Eric to ship it to AC member Aldcoll's home because I wasn't certain where I would be when it arrived. Sure enough, when Alan hooked it up to his Windows PC, it sounded like crap. Poor Alan tried switching cables and I'm not sure what else, but the sound never changed. I collected the DAC from him a few days later and took it home. I added it into my system (Pi Audio UberBUSS, D Sachs Model 2 preamp, D Sachs Kootenay 120 amp, Daedalus Apollos speakers, and a TWL loom) not knowing what kind of music would come out of my speakers.

Let me back up a little...Just before adding it into my system, I had been using my Nuprime DAC-9 to listen to a few familiar songs. Well, with zero burn in, the Tranquility DAC (with Jupiter Cu Caps) sounded wonderful! There was an immediate improvement is the overall sound. The soundstage grew by a couple feet and (most importantly to me) acoustic instruments and vocals took on extra depth and clarity. I liked this DAC right away.

Of course, we're not supposed to like equipment right away, so I told myself to be patient and to give it a good run for my money. I did just that. I burned it in for 20+ hours each day (using my Folsom's chip amp). I didn't do much serious listening during burn in because my Apollos sound a bit thin when the Folsom amp is driving them. Once it got close to 150 hours, I began paying closer attention to how it sounded with my tube gear. During burn in, there were a couple times where the music sounded very much like it was coming out of a locker room (those caps need time to burn in).

At around that time, I packed up my D Sachs gear and the Tranquility DAC and drove up to Bothel, WA for another of Greg Fisk's audio G2Gs. Everyone who attended it brought some gear, so we had a blast. I got to compare the Tranquility DAC to Greg's Lampizator Atlantic DAC. It wasn't as nice sounding as the Lampi, but it's also close to $4000 less expensive! Considering the price difference, I was actually quite satisfied with its performance.

After the G2G, I returned home and set everything up again for another couple weeks, I think. Then, unfortunately, I boxed everything back up and put it into storage because I had a flight to catch to Taiwan. [My wife and I will fly to PDX mid-May.] Oops. I forgot the important point of this write up - I liked the Tranquility DAC so much that I told Eric there was no way I would ship it back to him. I also bought the DAC's power cord that he included for me to try. It's a very nice thick PC.

If you own a Mac Mini and are considering a new DAC, I suggest chatting with Eric about his Tranquility DAC. It's worth a listen in my opinion. Eric is mighty quiet here on AN, but maybe he'll stop by to say howdy.  :thumb: Thank you, Eric, for creating such a nice DAC.

Regards,

Michael

[Some of the details have blurred because I waited so long to write about this, but this is close enough for me.]
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 06:36:14 AM by mresseguie »
Daedalus Audio Apollos Fritz Loudspeakers LS/5-R
Gustard X20u DAC
dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE DAC w/Jupiter Caps
Don Sachs Model 2
Don Sachs Kootenay 120 KT88; Nuprime ST-10
TWL loom
PI Audio UberBUSS, DigiBUSS, Uber-MiniBUSS
PI Audio USB cable
Mac Mini

Offline Nick B

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Re: dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE Dac w/upgraded caps no less!
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2018, 09:24:42 AM »
I would have written this 8 weeks ago, but my life has been too preoccupied with other events to bother with this until now.

Eric Heider is the man behind the dB Audio Labs, and he is very easy to communicate with. He made a point of telling me how to get his Tranquility DAC to sound its best. One very important detail is that it really needs to be paired with a Mac Mini to sound its best. If you use a Windows PC, you probably won't care for his DAC. I guess that limits his DAC's appeal somewhat.

Fortunately, I have a Mac Mini, so I went ahead and ordered an SE model. I decided that as long as I was going to audition it, I may as well ask for a special upgrade that someone I know showed me on his DAC two years ago. I asked Eric to replace his stock output caps with Jupiter Cu caps. He told me it wasn't a problem, but I'd have to pay for the upgrade.  I happily accepted. :thumb:

I asked Eric to ship it to AC member Aldcoll's home because I wasn't certain where I would be when it arrived. Sure enough, when Alan hooked it up to his Windows PC, it sounded like crap. Poor Alan tried switching cables and I'm not sure what else, but the sound never changed. I collected the DAC from him a few days later and took it home. I added it into my system (Pi Audio UberBUSS, D Sachs Model 2 preamp, D Sachs Kootenay 120 amp, Daedalus Apollos speakers, and a TWL loom) not knowing what kind of music would come out of my speakers.

Let me back up a little...Just before adding it into my system, I had been using my Nuprime DAC-9 to listen to a few familiar songs. Well, with zero burn in, the Tranquility DAC (with Jupiter Cu Caps) sounded wonderful! There was an immediate improvement is the overall sound. The soundstage grew by a couple feet and (most importantly to me) acoustic instruments and vocals took on extra depth and clarity. I liked this DAC right away.

Of course, we're not supposed to like equipment right away, so I told myself to be patient and to give it a good run for my money. I did just that. I burned it in for 20+ hours each day (using my Folsom's chip amp). I didn't do much serious listening during burn in because my Apollos sound a bit thin when the Folsom amp is driving them. Once it got close to 150 hours, I began paying closer attention to how it sounded with my tube gear. During burn in, there were a couple times where the music sounded very much like it was coming out of a locker room (those caps need time to burn in).

At around that time, I packed up my D Sachs gear and the Tranquility DAC and drove up to Bothel, WA for another of Greg Fisk's audio G2Gs. Everyone who attended it brought some gear, so we had a blast. I got to compare the Tranquility DAC to Greg's Lampizator Atlantic DAC. It wasn't as nice sounding as the Lampi, but it's also close to $4000 less expensive! Considering the price difference, I was actually quite satisfied with its performance.

After the G2G, I returned home and set everything up again for another couple weeks, I think. Then, unfortunately, I boxed everything back up and put it into storage because I had a flight to catch to Taiwan. [My wife and I will fly to PDX mid-May.] Oops. I forgot the important point of this write up - I liked the Tranquility DAC so much that I told Eric there was no way I would ship it back to him. I also bought the DAC's power cord that he included for me to try. It's a very nice thick PC.

If you own a Mac Mini and are considering a new DAC, I suggest chatting with Eric about his Tranquility DAC. It's worth a listen in my opinion. Eric is mighty quiet here on AN, but maybe he'll stop by to say howdy.  :thumb: Thank you, Eric, for creating such a nice DAC.

Regards,

Michael

[Some of the details have blurred because I waited so long to write about this, but this is close enough for me.]


Very nice write up, Michael. I recall that Pete and Dave use the mac mini and Dave the db Tranquility dac with great results. Itís something Iím considering down the road. That is compares favorably to a more expensive Lampi is quite an achievement. As I donít own any hirez recordings, a 16/44 dac would be just fine for me.
Nick
ICEpower 1200as2 stereo amp
Audio Hungary APR 204 preamp
KEF LS 50 speakers
Border Patrol SE dac
Auralic Aries Mini
Roon & Tidal
Don Sachs phono
Basis Ovation turntable
Graham 1.5 T tonearm
AT-ML150 cartridge
PI Audio Uber
All cables by Gary A

Offline mresseguie

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Re: dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE Dac w/upgraded caps no less!
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2018, 09:45:54 AM »
Thanks, Nick.

I forgot to add a disclaimer. I did not get a special deal on this DAC nor did Eric offer any incentive for me to promote his DAC. I paid the same price on his website plus what the Jupiter caps cost.

Just in case anyone asks, I can't say if the Tranquility DAC has a tube sound because I've only used it with my D Sachs preamp or Greg's tube preamp. One of these days I'll borrow someone's SS pre for a listen.

Someday...well, okay...some year I hope to be able to own a Lampi Atlantic, but now I can easily wait a while before getting the itch to shell out so much cash for a 'dream' DAC. The dB Audio Labs DAC is a very nice DAC.
 
Daedalus Audio Apollos Fritz Loudspeakers LS/5-R
Gustard X20u DAC
dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE DAC w/Jupiter Caps
Don Sachs Model 2
Don Sachs Kootenay 120 KT88; Nuprime ST-10
TWL loom
PI Audio UberBUSS, DigiBUSS, Uber-MiniBUSS
PI Audio USB cable
Mac Mini

Offline dBe

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Re: dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE Dac w/upgraded caps no less!
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2018, 12:03:07 PM »
Congrats on finding one of the truly magical for the $$$ combos in audio.  The Tranquility SE DAC paired with an appropriate Mac mini (I use a quad core 2012) just makes music.

The Philips chip used in the Tranquility is one of the secrets to the sound.  Another is the simplicity of the circuitry.  When it comes to audio, I am a minimalist.  Why use more parts and pieces just to get the job done than absolutely necessary?  Pretty soon all of the junctions, solder joints, Johnson noise, gate delays, materials transitions, solder etc., begin to get in the way, so another stage is added to "fix" that and the beat goes on.

Also:  Redbook has an amazing amount of data encoded into that medium.  Trouble has aways been in the reconstruction of the data.  Over sampling, decimation and brick wall filters just don't get down to nits in that data.  Worst part comes from playing Redbook in any manner other than its native format.  Taking a 44.1 file and upsampling to 96K is a terrible way to go about playback.  88.2 mor 176.4?  Yes.  96 or 192K?  No

I have not heard the Jupiters in a Tranquility.  Seems to me that I need to do so.

Thanks for the review, Michael.

Offline mresseguie

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Re: dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE Dac w/upgraded caps no less!
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2018, 08:55:20 PM »
Hi, Dave.

I hadn't realized you have one of the Tranquility DACs. Good for you.

Last year, I auditioned a Denafrips Venus DAC. With no burn in it sounded pretty uninteresting. but there are a heck of a lot of caps inside that must burn in, so I figured it needed to burn for a solid 200 hours before it would start sounding better. It did eventually get to a point where it sounded very nice (soundstage, sonics, timber, acoustics, etc.). However, that 'very nice' (based on my memory of its sound) was about the same as the dB Audio Tranquility DAC's zero burn in sound. That was VERY impressive.

My Tranquility DAC only got up to about 200+ hours when I packed it away. I've read reports and posts that suggest Jupiter caps may need as many as 500 hours(!) to reach their full potential.

That power cord he supplied sure is a beauty. I just couldn't let it go, so I bought it!

Enjoy this life as much as possible.

Michael
Daedalus Audio Apollos Fritz Loudspeakers LS/5-R
Gustard X20u DAC
dB Audio Labs Tranquility SE DAC w/Jupiter Caps
Don Sachs Model 2
Don Sachs Kootenay 120 KT88; Nuprime ST-10
TWL loom
PI Audio UberBUSS, DigiBUSS, Uber-MiniBUSS
PI Audio USB cable
Mac Mini