Author Topic: CD Player and two DAC comparisons  (Read 439 times)

Offline steve

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CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« on: May 05, 2021, 05:22:00 PM »
A friend brought over a very highly regarded Monarchy 24 tube DAC the other day. I also have the heavily upgraded Modi 2 and upgraded NAD 521Bee, both of which I upgraded.

Amazingly, the three sounded so close we could not tell the difference. This is the upgraded Modi 2 that upstaged the highly regarded Border Patrol tube/SS powered DAC. In a couple or 3 weeks I will be comparing a Denafrips DAC.

What amazed me was that I had not compared the Player/DACs while performing the upgrades; The first comparison
occurred last evening (exception Border Patrol sometime back). The stereo system is extremely transparent, so any sonic differences and/or problems would be perceived. This is verified by several different methods of altering my systems performance.

1. Changing just one leg of speaker wires from ten 18 gauge wires per leg to 11 per leg is perceived.
2. Adding or subtracting 1/4 inch of a turn on a 600 watt 10 mh crossover inductor is perceived.
3. Changing the resistance of a crossover resistor by 1/100,000th or less of an ohm is perceived.
4. Rotating a speaker by 0,5 mm pen width is perceived.

Thus masking, which can occur due to venue/system problems, and affects inner detail, tonal quality, soundstage
etc, is virtually eliminated.

We also compared my ethernet cable (14' long) to the Supra (25' long cable), and the Supra cat 8 lost. That was interesting since my Supra USB 3 meter cable from computer to DAC clearly beat three other USB cables, one $600.00 or so.

cheers

steve
« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 09:29:06 AM by steve »
Steve Sammet (retired, owner, SAS Audio Labs)
"V" Very Low Capacitance ICs, 40pf 1 meter
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS Audio 11A Tube Reference Preamplifier
SAS Audio Labs 25 W Triode Reference Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28 - 20khz  -3db (28hz)

Offline rollo

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2021, 11:24:51 AM »
  Steve in general not giving away your secrets what upgrades ? Power supplies ? ????

charles
contact me  at rollo14@verizon.net or visit us on Facebook
Lamm Industries - Aqua Acoustic, Formula & La Scala DAC- INNUOS  - Rethm - Kuzma - QLN - Audio Hungary Qualiton - Fritz speakers -Gigawatt -Vinnie Rossi,TWL, Mad Scientist, Swiss Cables

Offline steve

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2021, 09:38:31 PM »
  Steve in general not giving away your secrets what upgrades ? Power supplies ? ????

charles

For the CD player, it was by-passing the 6db analog gainstage (gain of 2) to the output. Almost every preamplifier/ amplifier combo has plenty enough gain. The cheapo analog gainstage does nothing except degrade the sound.

Power supply and internal parts, but there is more involved. Thanks for respecting my privacy. :)

cheers

steve
Steve Sammet (retired, owner, SAS Audio Labs)
"V" Very Low Capacitance ICs, 40pf 1 meter
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS Audio 11A Tube Reference Preamplifier
SAS Audio Labs 25 W Triode Reference Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28 - 20khz  -3db (28hz)

Offline S Clark

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2021, 08:07:24 AM »
When people hear things I can't, instead of doubting, I simply chalk it up to different hearing abilities.  Years ago Danny Richie was talking about hearing the difference in black wire insulation compared to red.  My ears just aren't sensitive enough for such nuance. 
But when we get into something like a quarter turn on a big inductor, or .000 01 of an ohm, I'd think that you have that much variation or more simply in the contact points in on/off switches, or input selectors, or volume pots.  I've learned not to doubt that others hear things I don't, but the explanation of 1/100 000 of an ohm or .001% change in an inductor don't seem like a likely reason for change in sound.  Most of us don't hear a 1 dB increase or decrease in volume.  And +- 3 dB has sort of been an industry standard for decades.
 
I'm not doubting your conclusions.  But I'm curious how you arrived at determining a difference in such small changes? Shoot, I hear things different from night to night... could be what I ate, or allergies, or something my wife said.   I do think my state of mind affects my perceived hearing. 
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Offline rollo

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2021, 08:37:03 AM »
  Steve in general not giving away your secrets what upgrades ? Power supplies ? ????

charles

For the CD player, it was by-passing the 6db analog gainstage (gain of 2) to the output. Almost every preamplifier/ amplifier combo has plenty enough gain. The cheapo analog gainstage does nothing except degrade the sound.

Power supply and internal parts, but there is more involved. Thanks for respecting my privacy. :)

cheers

steve


 Great idea. I have asking for years why does a CD player need a gain section when using a preamp  ? Your experience and hard work deserve a fee.


charles
contact me  at rollo14@verizon.net or visit us on Facebook
Lamm Industries - Aqua Acoustic, Formula & La Scala DAC- INNUOS  - Rethm - Kuzma - QLN - Audio Hungary Qualiton - Fritz speakers -Gigawatt -Vinnie Rossi,TWL, Mad Scientist, Swiss Cables

Offline rollo

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2021, 08:39:53 AM »
When people hear things I can't, instead of doubting, I simply chalk it up to different hearing abilities.  Years ago Danny Richie was talking about hearing the difference in black wire insulation compared to red.  My ears just aren't sensitive enough for such nuance. 
But when we get into something like a quarter turn on a big inductor, or .000 01 of an ohm, I'd think that you have that much variation or more simply in the contact points in on/off switches, or input selectors, or volume pots.  I've learned not to doubt that others hear things I don't, but the explanation of 1/100 000 of an ohm or .001% change in an inductor don't seem like a likely reason for change in sound.  Most of us don't hear a 1 dB increase or decrease in volume.  And +- 3 dB has sort of been an industry standard for decades.
 
I'm not doubting your conclusions.  But I'm curious how you arrived at determining a difference in such small changes? Shoot, I hear things different from night to night... could be what I ate, or allergies, or something my wife said.   I do think my state of mind affects my perceived hearing.


   All good points. If one truly knows the sound of their system a difference can heard. If not then change made is not worth keeping.

charles
contact me  at rollo14@verizon.net or visit us on Facebook
Lamm Industries - Aqua Acoustic, Formula & La Scala DAC- INNUOS  - Rethm - Kuzma - QLN - Audio Hungary Qualiton - Fritz speakers -Gigawatt -Vinnie Rossi,TWL, Mad Scientist, Swiss Cables

Offline steve

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2021, 10:39:56 AM »
When people hear things I can't, instead of doubting, I simply chalk it up to different hearing abilities.  Years ago Danny Richie was talking about hearing the difference in black wire insulation compared to red.  My ears just aren't sensitive enough for such nuance. 

But when we get into something like a quarter turn on a big inductor, or .000 01 of an ohm, I'd think that you have that much variation or more simply in the contact points in on/off switches, or input selectors, or volume pots.  I've learned not to doubt that others hear things I don't, but the explanation of 1/100 000 of an ohm or .001% change in an inductor don't seem like a likely reason for change in sound.  Most of us don't hear a 1 dB increase or decrease in volume.  And +- 3 dB has sort of been an industry standard for decades.
 
I'm not doubting your conclusions.  But I'm curious how you arrived at determining a difference in such small changes? Shoot, I hear things different from night to night... could be what I ate, or allergies, or something my wife said.   I do think my state of mind affects my perceived hearing.

Hi Scott,

Actually it is a1/4" of a turn on the inductor. Dan also hears it and got on my case for having the sound a little too full the last visit up. Changing the inductance just slightly is at the crossover intersection, where phase matching, additions and subtractions occur, thus extremely touchy.

I agree with you, connections, all make a difference and need to be periodically checked. That is one area of concern with maximum attention.

The 1db you mention is spl, across the audio band "volume". What I mean is change in frequency response, or tonal balance change. The ear is incredibly sensitive to tonal balance changes.

That is why +/- 0,1db means so little and why one perceives different manufacturers sounding different even with a
+/- 0,1db spec from 20hz to 20khz. That change in tonal balance is only in the area of -54db down. That variance alters many natural harmonics that an instrument/voice produces, and is easily perceivable.

Changing the number of speaker wires in parallel alters both the total gauge, thus damping of the bass and the inductance at higher frequencies, altering the highs. Both parameters alter any masking effects, rise time (attack times), cleanness of the sound, sound stage, transparency etc.

Also remember this is a lab setting, my preamplifier, amplifier, speakers, ics have been designed and special listening tested to be accurate in absolute terms, so masking is virtually eliminated.

I hope this helps in clarifying and foggy explanations I may have written Scott.

steve
« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 06:04:23 PM by steve »
Steve Sammet (retired, owner, SAS Audio Labs)
"V" Very Low Capacitance ICs, 40pf 1 meter
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS Audio 11A Tube Reference Preamplifier
SAS Audio Labs 25 W Triode Reference Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28 - 20khz  -3db (28hz)

Offline steve

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2021, 06:07:16 PM »
Just compared the Denafrips and will stick with my highly upgraded Modi 2. Just more natural; the -3db at 20hz did
not help the Denafrips.

cheers

steve
Steve Sammet (retired, owner, SAS Audio Labs)
"V" Very Low Capacitance ICs, 40pf 1 meter
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS Audio 11A Tube Reference Preamplifier
SAS Audio Labs 25 W Triode Reference Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28 - 20khz  -3db (28hz)

Offline Nick B

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2021, 11:04:58 PM »
Just compared the Denafrips and will stick with my highly upgraded Modi 2. Just more natural; the -3db at 20hz did
not help the Denafrips.

cheers

steve

I was curious about other dacs, especially the Denafrips. Do you recall which model?
Nick
« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 11:07:07 PM by Nick B »
Van Alstine SET 120 Control Amp
Audio Hungary APR 204 preamp
Fritz Carrera 7 BE speakers
Border Patrol SEi dac
Auralic Aries Mini & Mojo Audio lps
Audio Envy cables
Roon, Tidal, Qobuz
PI Audio UberBUSS

Offline steve

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2021, 09:55:28 AM »
Just compared the Denafrips and will stick with my highly upgraded Modi 2. Just more natural; the -3db at 20hz did
not help the Denafrips.

cheers

steve

I was curious about other dacs, especially the Denafrips. Do you recall which model?
Nick

Hi Nick,

Yes, the Aries 2, the least expensive model.

But I noticed an interesting feature. If one inspects all the R2R series, except for Terminator and Terminator Plus DACs, the rest have a spec of -3db at 20hz. The Terminator and Plus have a spec of -0,2db at 20hz.

Listening, I found the deep bass was nearly as loud as from my Upgraded Modi 2, which is within 0,1db. Such an aberration between spec and sound is disconcerting to say the least. However, there is  more.

The Aries 2 definitely had a thinner/leaner lower midrange and mids. It was not bad, and even sounded quite refined. But it was enough to lose the "live", natural sound, especially when compared to my upgraded Modi 2.

The cause could be the use of a really poor capacitor in the analog circuitry, such as a power supply capacitor or coupling capacitor. I remember my old sony TC 350 reel to reel that used electrolytic caps as coupling capacitors. However, I tend to feel the electrolytic cap is more likely in the power supply. Tube amps are noted for fat bass somewhat due to electrolytic capacitors.

If the FR spec is good and the sound is great, that is excellent.
If the FR spec is good but the sound is bad, something is wrong.
If the spec is bad, but the sound is good, then something is wrong. 

Gotta go.

steve



« Last Edit: May 26, 2021, 02:30:03 PM by steve »
Steve Sammet (retired, owner, SAS Audio Labs)
"V" Very Low Capacitance ICs, 40pf 1 meter
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS Audio 11A Tube Reference Preamplifier
SAS Audio Labs 25 W Triode Reference Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28 - 20khz  -3db (28hz)

Offline Nick B

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2021, 12:24:08 PM »
Just compared the Denafrips and will stick with my highly upgraded Modi 2. Just more natural; the -3db at 20hz did
not help the Denafrips.

cheers

steve

I was curious about other dacs, especially the Denafrips. Do you recall which model?
Nick

Hi Nick,

Yes, the Aries 2, the least expensive model.

But I noticed an interesting feature. If one inspects all the R2R series, except for Terminator and Terminator Plus DACs, the rest have a spec of -3db at 20hz. The Terminator and Plus have a spec of -0,2db at 20hz.

Listening, I found the deep bass was nearly as loud as from my Upgraded Modi 2, which is within 0,1db. Such an aberration between spec and sound is disconcerting to say the least. However, there is  more.

However, the Aries 2 definitely had a thinner/leaner lower midrange and mids. It was not bad, and even sounded quite refined. But it was enough to lose the "live", natural sound, especially when compared to my upgraded Modi 2.

The cause could be the use of a really poor capacitor in the analog circuitry, such as a power supply capacitor or coupling capacitor. I remember my old sony TC 350 reel to reel that used electrolytic caps as coupling capacitors. However, I tend to feel the electrolytic cap is more likely in the power supply. Tube amps are noted for fat bass due to electrolytic capacitors.

If the FR spec is good and the sound is great, that is excellent.
If the FR spec is good but the sound is bad, something is wrong.
If the spec is bad, but the sound is good, then something is wrong. 

Gotta go.

steve

Thanks, Steve. Quite interesting  :thumb:
Van Alstine SET 120 Control Amp
Audio Hungary APR 204 preamp
Fritz Carrera 7 BE speakers
Border Patrol SEi dac
Auralic Aries Mini & Mojo Audio lps
Audio Envy cables
Roon, Tidal, Qobuz
PI Audio UberBUSS

Offline steve

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2021, 02:36:44 PM »
Just compared the Denafrips and will stick with my highly upgraded Modi 2. Just more natural; the -3db at 20hz did
not help the Denafrips.

cheers

steve

I was curious about other dacs, especially the Denafrips. Do you recall which model?
Nick

Hi Nick,

Yes, the Aries 2, the least expensive model.

But I noticed an interesting feature. If one inspects all the R2R series, except for Terminator and Terminator Plus DACs, the rest have a spec of -3db at 20hz. The Terminator and Plus have a spec of -0,2db at 20hz.

Listening, I found the deep bass was nearly as loud as from my Upgraded Modi 2, which is within 0,1db. Such an aberration between spec and sound is disconcerting to say the least. However, there is  more.

However, the Aries 2 definitely had a thinner/leaner lower midrange and mids. It was not bad, and even sounded quite refined. But it was enough to lose the "live", natural sound, especially when compared to my upgraded Modi 2.

The cause could be the use of a really poor capacitor in the analog circuitry, such as a power supply capacitor or coupling capacitor. I remember my old sony TC 350 reel to reel that used electrolytic caps as coupling capacitors. However, I tend to feel the electrolytic cap is more likely in the power supply. Tube amps are noted for fat bass due to electrolytic capacitors.

If the FR spec is good and the sound is great, that is excellent.
If the FR spec is good but the sound is bad, something is wrong.
If the spec is bad, but the sound is good, then something is wrong. 

Gotta go.

steve

Thanks, Steve. Quite interesting  :thumb:

Your welcome Nick. It is definitely leaner than your stock Border Patrol DAC and even more so with the Jupiter cap upgrade.

It worked for audiophile Dan/Susan since he is using either Rogers LS 3/5A or Harbeth speakers in his primary system, I forget which one, and the other in his secondary system. But one has a little bumped upper bass, so the Aries 2 compensates his system.

Cheers

steve
« Last Edit: May 31, 2021, 02:21:48 PM by steve »
Steve Sammet (retired, owner, SAS Audio Labs)
"V" Very Low Capacitance ICs, 40pf 1 meter
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS Audio 11A Tube Reference Preamplifier
SAS Audio Labs 25 W Triode Reference Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28 - 20khz  -3db (28hz)

Offline Nick B

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2021, 11:57:01 PM »
Just compared the Denafrips and will stick with my highly upgraded Modi 2. Just more natural; the -3db at 20hz did
not help the Denafrips.

cheers

steve

I was curious about other dacs, especially the Denafrips. Do you recall which model?
Nick

Hi Nick,

Yes, the Aries 2, the least expensive model.

But I noticed an interesting feature. If one inspects all the R2R series, except for Terminator and Terminator Plus DACs, the rest have a spec of -3db at 20hz. The Terminator and Plus have a spec of -0,2db at 20hz.

Listening, I found the deep bass was nearly as loud as from my Upgraded Modi 2, which is within 0,1db. Such an aberration between spec and sound is disconcerting to say the least. However, there is  more.

However, the Aries 2 definitely had a thinner/leaner lower midrange and mids. It was not bad, and even sounded quite refined. But it was enough to lose the "live", natural sound, especially when compared to my upgraded Modi 2.

The cause could be the use of a really poor capacitor in the analog circuitry, such as a power supply capacitor or coupling capacitor. I remember my old sony TC 350 reel to reel that used electrolytic caps as coupling capacitors. However, I tend to feel the electrolytic cap is more likely in the power supply. Tube amps are noted for fat bass due to electrolytic capacitors.

If the FR spec is good and the sound is great, that is excellent.
If the FR spec is good but the sound is bad, something is wrong.
If the spec is bad, but the sound is good, then something is wrong. 

Gotta go.

steve

Thanks, Steve. Quite interesting  :thumb:

Your welcome Nick. It is definitely leaner than your stock Border Patrol DAC and even more so with the Jupiter cap upgrade.

It worked for audiophile Dan/Susan since he is using either LS 3/5A or Harbeth speakers in his primary system, I forget which one, and the other in his secondary system. But one has a little bumped upper bass, so the Aries 2 compensates his system.

Cheers

steve

Lean is not a good thing… 👎 I understand about using cables and gear to try and compensate for various system deficiencies, but conceptually, I’m quite against it. I use a full loom of Audio Envy cables and sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t at least experiment with another digital cable, but this hobby can get very time consuming and a bit spendy. Plus, I still need to finish speaker placement etc. But a couple of other projects have priority.
Van Alstine SET 120 Control Amp
Audio Hungary APR 204 preamp
Fritz Carrera 7 BE speakers
Border Patrol SEi dac
Auralic Aries Mini & Mojo Audio lps
Audio Envy cables
Roon, Tidal, Qobuz
PI Audio UberBUSS

Offline steve

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Re: CD Player and two DAC comparisons
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2021, 11:07:29 AM »
Just compared the Denafrips and will stick with my highly upgraded Modi 2. Just more natural; the -3db at 20hz did
not help the Denafrips.

cheers

steve

I was curious about other dacs, especially the Denafrips. Do you recall which model?
Nick

Hi Nick,

Yes, the Aries 2, the least expensive model.

But I noticed an interesting feature. If one inspects all the R2R series, except for Terminator and Terminator Plus DACs, the rest have a spec of -3db at 20hz. The Terminator and Plus have a spec of -0,2db at 20hz.

Listening, I found the deep bass was nearly as loud as from my Upgraded Modi 2, which is within 0,1db. Such an aberration between spec and sound is disconcerting to say the least. However, there is  more.

However, the Aries 2 definitely had a thinner/leaner lower midrange and mids. It was not bad, and even sounded quite refined. But it was enough to lose the "live", natural sound, especially when compared to my upgraded Modi 2.

The cause could be the use of a really poor capacitor in the analog circuitry, such as a power supply capacitor or coupling capacitor. I remember my old sony TC 350 reel to reel that used electrolytic caps as coupling capacitors. However, I tend to feel the electrolytic cap is more likely in the power supply. Tube amps are noted for fat bass due to electrolytic capacitors.

If the FR spec is good and the sound is great, that is excellent.
If the FR spec is good but the sound is bad, something is wrong.
If the spec is bad, but the sound is good, then something is wrong. 

Gotta go.

steve

Thanks, Steve. Quite interesting  :thumb:

Your welcome Nick. It is definitely leaner than your stock Border Patrol DAC and even more so with the Jupiter cap upgrade.

It worked for audiophile Dan/Susan since he is using either LS 3/5A or Harbeth speakers in his primary system, I forget which one, and the other in his secondary system. But one has a little bumped upper bass, so the Aries 2 compensates his system.

Cheers

steve

Lean is not a good thing… 👎 I understand about using cables and gear to try and compensate for various system deficiencies, but conceptually, I’m quite against it. I use a full loom of Audio Envy cables and sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t at least experiment with another digital cable, but this hobby can get very time consuming and a bit spendy. Plus, I still need to finish speaker placement etc. But a couple of other projects have priority.

Speaker placement can be frustrating, but well worth it. Good luck with your endeavors Nick.

cheers

steve

Steve Sammet (retired, owner, SAS Audio Labs)
"V" Very Low Capacitance ICs, 40pf 1 meter
SAS Audio Labs Test Phono Stage
SAS Audio 11A Tube Reference Preamplifier
SAS Audio Labs 25 W Triode Reference Monoblocks
2 way test Spkrs, 28 - 20khz  -3db (28hz)