Author Topic: Digital conversion types  (Read 3535 times)


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Digital conversion types
« on: January 25, 2007, 08:11:13 AM »
I was going to pass this one by for a while but how could I, I'm the first, number one, numero uno, the big cheese.

OK, but seriously.  A couple of years ago there was a lot of buzz around Vinnie's battery powered Monica-2 nonoversampling DAC.  Being one to jump in, I did and boy was it great!  It scraped away all the almost-subliminal digital grunge and left a sweeping and beautiful soundscape.  Then I heard about the Ack! DAC 2.0.  

This is another battery-powered, NOS DAC of a different flavor.

It so happens that Mr. Ack!, Chris Own lives in Seattle.  

Total aside, he's in his early 30's and some sort of nuclear scientist.  He developed the dAck while in graduate school to pay for his schooling.  Um, I was a short order cook and bartender in school.  He's a super guy, BTW.

Anyway, I arranged for Chris to bring a demo unit over to my place to try it out.  I had no intention of buying it but agreed to try it for a couple of weeks.  Well, I liked it better than the Monica.  It still sounded whole and organic but added some bass definition and high-end sparkle.  It replaced the Monica in my main rig and stayed there for a while.

I figured the NOS sound was for me, so when I saw a shootout of nonoversampling DACs that proclaimed the Altmann Attraction astounding, I had to get one.  Holy shimolies!!  What else could there be?  This DAC is every bit as coherent as the Monica but presents as much or more detail as the oversampling units in my TacT.  But, ultimately incompatible with the TacT's 24-bit output.

All three of these DACs were nonoversampling and battery powered.  I noticed on Charles Altmann's site that the Burr Brown/Texas Instruments 1704 chip is The Alternative to prevailing design.  Researching this chip, I found out that it natively accepts high-frequency inputs, is 24-bit compatible, and thought by many to be the best sounding converter chip available.

Onward to Lessloss.  Now, this is a hybrid AC/battery unit that does oversampling.  I was worried about that part.  What I found was that it is very detailed and neutral but somehow stays away from the hunched shoulders and problems of all the oversampling DACs I've heard.

Compared, the OS DACs in the TacT are edgy and put each performer or sound in separate compartments.  The context between the performers is lost and to me the illusion of reality is lost.

Lessloss claims the primary thing to look for isn't the oversampling/nonoversampling difference, but whether the converter is sigma/delta or parallel.  Based on their final results, I'm inclined to agree.