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  »  New  Antelope: might be an interesting DAC out there...  Antelope gnu?...  Didital Things  Forum     1  13778  06-17-2011
07-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,547
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 21
Post ID: 19658
Reply to: 19656
It shall be easy.
fiogf49gjkf0d
 de charlus wrote:
Due to this thread, I called the friend upon whose boat I heard the Vox Olympian in order to find out precisely which DCS DAC he was using with his TLOX to get the sound that I found so remarkable. It turns out that whilst the DCS unit was indeed present, he had given up on the thing - finding it too "clinical" in combination with the TLOX - and was running the TLOX into the decidedly old-fashioned Kondo DAC that I mistakenly thought was a power supply for the pre - or power-amps or something. So, I am nowhere nearer to knowing what was going on than before, since the remarkable results could have been the result of the Vox Olympian, the amplification, the transport and/or DAC, or the synergy of the whole thing. It does tend to lend justification to Romy's assertion that the TLOX is best employed with DACS employing more anachronistic topologies than I might consider if buying a DAC to use with hi-res computer files or a new universal player. It would have been nice to compare the Kondo to the DCS in said system, but since I didn't know what was going on at the time, I didn't ask for such a comparison. Furthermore, I cannot home-audition anything Kondo in Toronto - not that I would want to spend that kind of money on a DAC anyway - and cannot shop-audition the TLOX with the Kondo. So, what I have learned/had confirmed, is that the TLOX is most likely best employed with a specie of DAC that I don't want to afford anyway. I am increasingly of the belief that I should go the universal route with a DAC optimized for that unit, and accept some compromise in the playback of Redbook CD, which is compromised in and of itself. Thanks.

Honestly, if I were you I would not be in harry with any transport or DAC selection. You are good 1-2 years away from the time your installation will be running at full throttle. I absolutely assure that during the next 2 years at least 30 new DACs become available and surprisingly the prices for them are dropping rapidly. Even 10 years ago you would be able to see DACs with $10K-$20K price tag. They were peaty much empty boxes with $50 parts inside, genetically designed with oops in output stages. Even if they were discreet then they still cost pennies. Nowadays the prices are dropped and I think a good DAC shall not be more expensive than $1000-$2000. Take a look what Antelope DACs do – the top of the line machine are around $2000.

I am not surprised that DCS were no go DAC. It is very pure sounding machine; it is no surprise that it needs so much industry help to be sold. You might look into some old chip DACs that were surprisingly good and that cost nothing today: like old Parasoaund 2000, old CEC, old Musatech. It is possible that even looking into something like Linx card which has DACs abort would be fine as a temp solution if you will be screaming from PC.

Charlus, I personally feel that it is wrong to witness a great sound at some place and buy the same units presuming that it will assure your better sound. It never works this way.


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
07-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,547
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 22
Post ID: 19659
Reply to: 19657
So what is your solution?
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Stitch wrote:
Buy the identical CD multiple times but each from a different country (mastered in USA / Germany / Netherlands / Great Britain / Australia ....) and normally they all sound different (not always but very often) 

Yes, they all sound different. I agree and even from the same company but “pressed” during different vintages the also sound very different. Does it mean that you need to use a DAC that would further damage sound?


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
07-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
de charlus
Posts 94
Joined on 06-11-2013

Post #: 23
Post ID: 19660
Reply to: 19657
Emm Audition
fiogf49gjkf0d
Well, on Friday I will be bringing home the Emm Labs XDS1 Ref Universal Player and the DAC2X to listen to at home. I shall post comments as and when they arise.

de Charlus
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de charlus
Posts 94
Joined on 06-11-2013

Post #: 24
Post ID: 19661
Reply to: 19660
DACs and future-proofing
fiogf49gjkf0d
OK, Romy, I take your point. I'm still going to audition the Emm setup - why not, right? - but will not be doing so with the firm intention of buying them there and then. I have never even heard of Antelope, but will check them out and see if they can be found in Toronto.

de Charlus
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de charlus
Posts 94
Joined on 06-11-2013

Post #: 25
Post ID: 19662
Reply to: 19661
Antelope
fiogf49gjkf0d
From a technological perspective, these look very interesting. Unfortunately the nearest place i could audition these is Montreal, but it looks to be worth it. Have you heard these, Romy, or are you also impressed with the price/technology ratio?

de Charlus

Antelope Zodiac Gold+ w/ Voltikus


HD Audiophile 384kHz D/A Converter bundle with remote and Voltikus power supply

Antelope Zodiac Gold is an advanced digital audio converter engineered to deliver pristine audio with keenly articulated pitch and a spectacular soundstage. This unique sound is based on Antelope's 64-bit clocking technology used by the world’s top audio engineers. A custom designed USB controller chip streams digital audio at 480 Mbits, supporting sample rates up to 384 kHz with native drivers. As a preamp, the device allows up to 8 input sources with auto-detection of active channels with ease and flexibility to connect to virtually any device. A dual-stage headphone driver architecture unveils every sonic detail, while the relay based volume control assures superb stereo imaging at any listening level. For enhanced user experience your Zodiac comes with aluminum remote control and friendly PC/Mac software panel.

A sophisticated and powerful DAC, Pre-Amp and Headphone Amp for most refined tastes.

Features
  • Unibody machined aluminum Remote Control
  • Custom USB chip streams audio up to 384kHz
  • Matched to 0.05 dB Relay Volume Attenuator
  • Antelope Oven Clock for supreme stability
  • 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking (AFC)
  • Ultra Linear, Dual Stage Headphone Amps
  • Switchable (120 or 0 Ohm) HP amp impedance
  • De-jittered, re-clocked Digital Audio Outputs
  • 129dB Dynamic Range
  • Accurate level display for Main volume
  • Mono summing function
  • Mute (soft dim & full mute)
  • PC/Mac Software Control Panel
  • Audiophile Double-linear Power Supply option
    Connections
  • 2x Headphone Outputs on 1/4” TRS
  • Trim-able balanced Analog Outputs on XLR
  • Unbalanced Analog Outputs on RCA
  • Balanced Analog Inputs on 1/4” TRS
  • Unbalanced Analog Inputs on RCA
  • AES/EBU Digital Input
  • 2x S/PDIF coaxial Inputs
  • 2x Optical TOSLINK inputs
  • USB on standard B type connector
  • Word Clock Input on BNC
  • De-jittered AES/EBU Output
  • De-jittered 2x S/PDIF Outputs
    Up to 384 kHz Sampling Rate
    Antelope Audio is one of the first to offer 384kHz capability. In doing so, we hope to match and exceed the expectations of even the most critical of ears. Now audiophiles can enjoy the highest bandwidth that a USB 2.0 interface can provide for audio.

    Stepped Relay Volume Attenuator
    When adjusting volumes, it’s imperative that the stereo image remain completely intact. The Zodiac Gold achieves this by incorporating stepped relays that are matched to 0,05 dB to maintain the most accurate stereo balance at all volume levels.

    PC/MAC Software Control Panel
    Computer-based audio sources have become more and more popular in the audiophile community. To enhance the use of the Zodiac with USB, we designed a Software Control Panel that improves the interaction between computer and converter. Antelope’s Intuitive software helps combine great sound with ease of use.

    Remote Control
    The stylish champagne colored Zodiac Gold is matched perfectly to it’s elegant aluminum unibody remote control. This isn’t just another remote control to toss under a coffee table, it’s a beautifully crafted device that will enhance the experience of owning a Zodiac Gold.

    Professional features
    Added flexibility for the professional user makes for a distinctly powerful device: AES Input, fine trimmers on the balanced outputs, mono button, mute select (soft & full), transparent analog inputs, BNC word clock input, 384kHz USB.

    De-Jittered Audio Output
    Digital outputs on AES/EBU and S/PDIF offer all the benefits of Antelope’s 64-bit Acoustically Focused Clocking, so external devices gain significant sonic advantages when connected to Zodiac Gold.

    Source Switching
    With a number of different inputs available, you can monitor many sources such as CD, Laptop, DAW or Mixers and Keyboards. Balanced and unbalanced inputs at both +4db and -10db allows tremendous flexibility, while auto detection of connected devices means source selection is simple and convenient.

    The Antelope Voltikus is a sleek heavy-duty Power Supply Unit (PSU) designed to perfectly match your Zodiac DAC. Carefully tailored to deliver uncompromised power, Voltikus helps Zodiac achieve the punch and sonic richness of deep lows, a full range of mids, and tightly defined highs. This degree of performance is accomplished by incorporating a hefty, custom-wound, electrostatically shielded toroidal transformer followed by a unique concept of three cascaded power regulators. A precision laser-trimmed voltage reference (LT1021) serves as the backbone of this discrete design, achieving the stability impossible with off-the-shelf voltage regulators. Voltikus is a true engineering breakthrough from Antelope's respected team of high-end audio experts.

    Features
  • Audiophile grade PSU perfectly matching Zodiac DACs in aesthetics and performance
  • Unique multi-stage linear regulator topology achieves vastly superior stability
  • Toroidal transformer with custom electrostatic shield suppresses power line disturbances
  • Ground / Lift switch helps eliminate hum and buzz caused by ground loops
  • Wide (90-250V) input voltage range ensures dependable operation under varying line conditions
  • Advanced discrete design dispenses with the need for noisy off-the-shelf voltage regulators
  • Robust sturdy construction with custom machined aluminum front panel
  • 07-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    Romy the Cat


    Boston, MA
    Posts 9,547
    Joined on 05-28-2004

    Post #: 26
    Post ID: 19663
    Reply to: 19662
    Antelope DACs
    fiogf49gjkf0d
     de charlus wrote:
    Have you heard these, Romy, or are you also impressed with the price/technology ratio?

    Nope, I never heard them. They started a few years back making high quality clocks and now they spread themselves to DACs. I have no idea how bad or good they are but they are a good illustration of what today digital is: low price, half size. Even the industry former heavy players: Lavry, Weiss and many others do nowadays small and full-featured DACs. It is not to mention an army of small companies use to do USB-only DACs a few years back but now converted them into full future DACs.


    "I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
    07-08-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    de charlus
    Posts 94
    Joined on 06-11-2013

    Post #: 27
    Post ID: 19664
    Reply to: 19663
    Antelope
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    Nonetheless, very impressive technology for the price. That's their top-of-the-line unit, supplied with their top-of-the-line offboard PSU, with very impressive-looking fit and finish, and all for just over CAN$4k. It also appears to have very refined clocking technology for the price, which I suppose is unsurprising given what you just said. This does seem to be the direction that things are going, at any rate; the other day I heard an Esoteric universal player feeding a credit-card sized, Musical Fidelity DAC, and it sounded quite respectable, all things considered - could have been a lot worse....

    de Charlus
    07-09-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    Romy the Cat


    Boston, MA
    Posts 9,547
    Joined on 05-28-2004

    Post #: 28
    Post ID: 19665
    Reply to: 19664
    Igor Levin from Antelope
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    If look at YouTube Igor Levin and Antelope then you will see a lot of interviews with him about digital audio. He is kind of tricky and wily person in the way how he presents fact but it gives an idea about his thinking.  Again, it might have nothing to do with the way how the Antelope sound. Still, the way how he over-stress the importance and the “complexity” of oven-controlled crystal oscillator is very very fanny.


    "I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
    07-09-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    de charlus
    Posts 94
    Joined on 06-11-2013

    Post #: 29
    Post ID: 19666
    Reply to: 19665
    Oven baked crystals
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    You know, the more I look at the parts and construction of these things, the more impressed I am, for the price. I do like the look of that rubidium master clock too, again at an impressive price. Unfortunately, the closet dealer at which I can audition them is in Montreal, but given the potential for a really good buy here, I'm beginning to think that it'll be worth the drive into Francophone territory. The thing is that I really wouldn't mind getting high(er) quality CD playback in my little system now, and since a decent quality universal transport plus such a DAC will not break the bank, I'm getting somewhat enthused about the idea. I've got the Emm Labs transport and DAC for the weekend, so I'll have something of alleged quality to compare it to as and when I go. As for "oven controlled" crystal oscillators, you have me at a disadvantage; perhaps I should qualify my earlier statement with "the parts that I can comprehend" look good for the price:-)

    de Charlus
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    Romy the Cat


    Boston, MA
    Posts 9,547
    Joined on 05-28-2004

    Post #: 30
    Post ID: 19667
    Reply to: 19666
    Free and public
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    Well, the parts and construction of these things I do not think are relevant. We are not in position to evaluate this and the most important no one has idea how it relates to sound. Years back I asked my digital expert to evaluate the literature that Antelope put out at that time, then they did only master clocks and that was what I was looking for. They said that there is nothing wrong in what they do but the marketing spiels they take are targeted to dilatants. DACs are complicated, sometime it might be heavy-technology DAC that might sound good or bad and sometime it might be some exotic single-chip with output transformer that also sounds good or bad.  

    What surprised me that the people who run the industry do not make any efforts to generalize the DACs. Pretend some kind of DAC convention somewhere in mid US with a great system setup and a limited referent tracks by all formats. Then you have a line of let say 30-50 DACs makers who supply the DACs for listening evaluation and the data is published. No BS, no pay entrance, no review, just a free and true completion and free public data. This is how industry shall be run. Why sprinters, tennisists, boxers and  car makers compete publicly   but DAC makers do not? There are zillion ways to make DACs to compete and make the objective results available but no one does it.

    The Cat
     


    "I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
    07-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    decoud
    United Kingdom
    Posts 241
    Joined on 03-01-2008

    Post #: 31
    Post ID: 19671
    Reply to: 19667
    An experiment
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    Romy, have you ever considered trying with your three dacs the following experiment. You take a digital file and runit through each of the dacs. You then take the output and feed it back to your adc. You then take the resultant redigitized file and calculate the root mean square difference with the original. Obviously this measure is sensitive to the adc but comparatively between the three dacs it is valid.
    07-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    Romy the Cat


    Boston, MA
    Posts 9,547
    Joined on 05-28-2004

    Post #: 32
    Post ID: 19672
    Reply to: 19671
    … and how to interpret the result?
    fiogf49gjkf0d
     decoud wrote:
    Romy, have you ever considered trying with your three dacs the following experiment. You take a digital file and runit through each of the dacs. You then take the output and feed it back to your adc. You then take the resultant redigitized file and calculate the root mean square difference with the original. Obviously this measure is sensitive to the adc but comparatively between the three dacs it is valid.

    Yes, this experiment might be done. It is easy to do it and it is easy to recognize the difference. However, to but how would you interpret the meaning of the difference? My 3 DACs are different topologies. Bidat is faked up delta-sigma. I said faked-up is because it has different interpolation methodology for long and short signals. Still, being   kind of delta-sigma it out a lot of noise individual bits. Lavry Gold is true Multibit R2R converter.  Not only it is discreet Multibit but it is probably the most properly made Multibit ever, with individual reference resistors that are responsible for each bits thermo-stabilized and in constantly re-measured and interpolation re-calibrated. If you look at -100dB noise after the Lavry Gold you will see the perfect individual bits. Pacific Microsonics is also a true Multibit but they made a LOT of further processing in there as the output of Pacific does not look like Multibit but rather it looks like a very good delta-sigma. They will have quantifiable difference but I do not think that I will be able to associate those differences with the way how the DACs sound. It is not to mention that I use then for different purpose. With Bidat I play only CEC TLO. With Lavry I play my 2x and 4x DAW and with Pacific I play only 2x and 4x files that I record on Pacific.  I for sure could make the experiment you ask but what will I do with the result of that experiment?


    "I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
    07-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    decoud
    United Kingdom
    Posts 241
    Joined on 03-01-2008

    Post #: 33
    Post ID: 19673
    Reply to: 19672
    Fingerprints
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    Sure, this gives us no measure of sound, for sound is not reducible to any parameter. But it will tell us which of these DACs recreates the waveform closest to the original, i.e. which leaves the fewest fingerprints on what it does. It will not necessarily be the best DAC, of course, because it could be precisely the specific kind of contamination it introduces that for some hidden reason interacts favourably with the particular source and the particular system of playback. But if so, it would be very interesting, for it will be further evidence that fidelity to music is not necessarily fidelity to signal (though of course the RMS measure does not identify *which* part of the signal differs and it may be that the same RMS in different frequency bands (say) is better or worse). 
    DAC manufacturers must have done this, and it is strange that you do not see anyone saying: our dac costs $1000 yet it injects less error in the waveform than unnamed competitor dac costing $5000...
    07-11-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    de charlus
    Posts 94
    Joined on 06-11-2013

    Post #: 34
    Post ID: 19675
    Reply to: 19673
    DAC comparison
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    Such measurements give us ample information regarding the technical parameters of these machines, and if one is seeking to determine preeminence thus, then what you propose is not without merit. However, near-perfection in terms of measurable parameters does not always, as you allude to, equate to superiority of sound quality. As I said above, my friend purchased a TLOX with a DCS DAC, more upon reputation and technological brilliance than listening, and quite quickly found it almost unlistenably clinical and sterile - while still being impressive at certain audiophile tricks - and replaced it with a Kondo DAC, not exactly the last word in measurable accuracy or technological advancement, Nonetheless, in this case the anachronistic, "old-fashioned" Kondo unit triumphed easily in musical terms over the DCS unit commonly regarded as the "state of the art". So, whilst what you propose might be interesting in and of itself, so say nothing of diagnostic in the event of certain sonic peculiarities that it might take longer to isolate the cause of without employing such an expedient, it might be of limited value in the pursuit of satisfying musical reproduction. An interesting thought though.

    de Charlus
    07-12-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    Romy the Cat


    Boston, MA
    Posts 9,547
    Joined on 05-28-2004

    Post #: 35
    Post ID: 19676
    Reply to: 19666
    An impressive DAC?
    fiogf49gjkf0d
     de charlus wrote:
    You know, the more I look at the parts and construction of these things, the more impressed I am, for the price. I do like the look of that rubidium master clock too, again at an impressive price.

    Yes, the Antelope looks impressive for the price but I am afraid that they just to make it impressive to attract attention. Do not forget that the company started from atomic clock company for audio, which is pure BS and the Antelope guys do know it. Now they do DACs around the $10 chip and with all little relevant literature around it. It sound very fishy to me but… again I have no idea how they sound. The irony is that today even $10 DAC might sound perfectly fine in context of what you, I or anybody else want. Anyhow, I did not make any efforts over the years to hear the Antelope.

    Hm, interesting… if any DAC out there I would like to hear? I truly do not know….
     


    "I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
    07-12-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    miab
    Canada
    Posts 46
    Joined on 02-07-2008

    Post #: 36
    Post ID: 19677
    Reply to: 19621
    Special dac for little money
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    I was tipped off to a dac over at the proaudio forum Gearslutz. It is usually difficult to gauge those users references as most are responsible for many of the bad habits in audio record engineering. One user who I seem to agree philosophically with regarding the audio industry and his extreme experience with the technical side of audio recommended to me an inexpensive dac. His comments have mostly been erased from the forums for some reason. It is a Ross Martin audio dac but particularly the Gearslutz version. I purchased it with the intention of an office system for casual listening but soon came to realise that something very special was happening. I brought it down to my main system for proper evaluation. I compared it to a Bidat fully updated and another 16 bit dac of comparable quality. The Ross Martin does some things better than both not to mention the capability to play high data feeds. If not for the Bidat's wonderful upperbass/lower midrange grainy density it would now be permanently in my main system. In a different acoustic system or with different transport I could see the Ross being a better choice.

    I mention this dac to you because jumping from dac to dac at various listening sessions outside the home and in the home, over time you might find referencing each dac to each other might be difficult. This little inexpensive dac does very many things very well and it can travel with you to different auditions. It could be your ruler of sorts. I also would not be surprised if it did not better most everything out there. I have heard most. It is a little ugly, can run two or more transports (cd/16bit, higher res,...) and is very cheap. DON'T dismiss it because of price though.
    07-13-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    de charlus
    Posts 94
    Joined on 06-11-2013

    Post #: 37
    Post ID: 19680
    Reply to: 19677
    Antelope/Emmlabs
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    Miab, thank you for the recommendation; I will endeavor to check it out. Romy, you have a salient point, although as I'm going to Montreal next week, I am going to audition the unit in question, since I might as well whilst I'm there, particularly as I have the Emmlabs pair in my system this weekend, and thus have something modern to compare it to. Of course, the Emmlabs is the much-vaunted unit of the two, but a polarizing one at that, so we will see; I shall report on it after the weekend, and the Antelope next week. That said, the Antelope will be a shop audition, most likely with better components than my own but less well set up/positioned, whilst the Emmlabs is today going into my own system; it will be an interesting comparison.

    de Charlus
    07-13-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    Romy the Cat


    Boston, MA
    Posts 9,547
    Joined on 05-28-2004

    Post #: 38
    Post ID: 19681
    Reply to: 19680
    Hmmmmm.....
    fiogf49gjkf0d
     de charlus wrote:
    Miab, thank you for the recommendation; I will endeavor to check it out. Romy, you have a salient point, although as I'm going to Montreal next week, I am going to audition the unit in question, since I might as well whilst I'm there, particularly as I have the Emmlabs pair in my system this weekend, and thus have something modern to compare it to. Of course, the Emmlabs is the much-vaunted unit of the two, but a polarizing one at that, so we will see; I shall report on it after the weekend, and the Antelope next week. That said, the Antelope will be a shop audition, most likely with better components than my own but less well set up/positioned, whilst the Emmlabs is today going into my own system; it will be an interesting comparison.
    I wonder.... With all your additions and in context of different systems that you do not know.... What methodology will you be using to evaluate the cons and pros of the DACs? I mean you would go for better sound, which is fine, but how would you know that better or worst sound within the systems that you will be listening will come from DAC  and not from 64638 other reasons? I do not mean to be difficult  but I just feel that it might not be too sensible. Also, and sorry if it sound like a too personal question: what CD/s you will be using to play on those new DACs?


    "I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
    07-15-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    de charlus
    Posts 94
    Joined on 06-11-2013

    Post #: 39
    Post ID: 19686
    Reply to: 19681
    Emmlabs weekend
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    Romy,

    Well, in the course of a weekend I typically listen to a lot of music, but there are a few favorite CDs that I like to use when trying to evaluate things:

    Piano Music of Chopin, Brahms & Prokofiev, Lincoln Mayorga, Sheffield Lab SL505
    The Leinsdorf Sessions: Erich Leinsdorf Centennial, Sheffield Labs SL10043-52
    Debussy Preludes Books 1 & 2 Joan Rowland, Sheffield Labs SL10087
    Mozart Requiem, Herreweghe, Harmonia Mundi, HMG901620
    J.S.Bach Orchestral Suites 1-4, Harmonia Mundi, HMG501578.79
    Bruckner No.8 v. Karajan Weiner Philharmonica DG427611
    Bruckner No.7 v. Karajan Weiner Philharmonica DG439.037
    Tchaikovsky No.6 Pathetique Bernstein NY Philharmonic DG419 604-2
    Cello Suites 1-6 J.S. Bach Rostropovich EMI Classics 55365/4
    J.S. Bach Great Organ Works, Peter Hurford, Decca 443 485-2

    As for any other methodology, I borrowed my acquaintance's DAC - the effects of which I am quite familiar with in combination with my Marantz CD5004 - in order to have some point of comparison with the Emmlabs. This Audio Aero La Fontaine unit I used for about half a day in order to re-accustom myself to the effect of a halfway decent, if slightly saccharine-sounding DAC, upon my CD player. That done, I swapped in the (allegedly very superior) Emmlabs DAC for the majority of the rest of my listening period, before finally swapping in the Emmlabs transport for a few hours at the end. Hardly scientific, but it yielded some interesting results nonetheless.

    As I said before, I'm rather lacking in audiophile argot, but I will do my best to describe my findings. These two DACS are rather polar, in fact, as the Audio Aero isn't exactly the last word in detail, but does possess a sweet musicality that I find quite compelling; there is a great improvement in transient decay and soundstaging over the base CD player - not surprising, I suppose, given that it is quite old - and the sense of space between instrumentalists is more evident in chamber music in particular. There is a palpable warmth, particularly in strings and woodwind, that is not there without the DAC, and whether or not this is detail or coloration, I find it pleasant. Vocals, too, were greatly improved, particularly on a Diana Krall CD I like.

    As for the Emmlabs DAC in conjunction with my CD player, it's a little odd, but I can find precious little fault with any single aspect of the presentation, and yet I preferred the former DAC. The soundstage was broader, deeper and slightly better defined, something particularly evident on orchestral works. There was without question more detail, transients were more sustained, and yet there was a slightly clinical aspect to the presentation that remained throughout genres. Curiously, I cannot think of an aspect of the Audio Aero's presentation that was notably "better" than the Emmlabs, yet as a whole I found the latter, at least in conjunction with my Cd player, less compelling.

    Finally I swapped in the Emmlabs transport, which in conjunction with the DAC seemed to actually compound the sensation of sterility that was noticeable, albeit subtle, when the ye olde Marantz was in place. Again, I cannot fault these units for extraction of detail, soundstaging and/or any other audiophile tricks that I can think of, yet I found a subtle lack of emotive engagement even in pieces that I love as much as the Mozart requiem. Very curious. Suspecting that the transport was more or less jitter-free and extracting more of less as much detail as it was possible to extract from CDs, I swapped in the Audio Aero DAC, and voila; the combination of great detail, stability etc that the transport brought to proceedings when in combination with the sweetness of the Audio Aero - which could be coloration, but it was the most satisfying Cd presentation I've heard in my system by some distance - seemed as fulfilling in terms of musicality as I can imagine CD replay in my system to be.

    This is not an outcome that actually helps me much in the immediate, since as you, Romy, pointed out, it will be quite some time until my "big" system is constructed and firing on all cylinders; I was, however, hoping that spending a few thousand dollars on a DAC would greatly improve CD playback in the meantime, but unless I'm permitted to tout my old Marantz down to Montreal - not an unreasonable request, I would have thought - the Antelope audition that I've arranged for during my visit to Montreal would be of academic interest only, and even if I can bring my CD player, who knows what part of an unfamiliar system will be imparting what? This is the problem with certain, relatively obscure but interesting components only being available for audition here and there, but if it turns out that I like what I hear in Montreal, perhaps I will be able to work something out with the dealer in question. After all, from what I've read these units need 500+ hours of burn-in to perform at their optimum; if I'm able to put a deposit down and keep it for a few weeks, this is something that I may be able to achieve - otherwise, not. Since this long burn-in period seems to be commonly understood, it's hard to imagine the dealer not being aware of it, so the demo unit may already be fine, but all this remains to be seen.

    de Charlus
    07-16-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
    Romy the Cat


    Boston, MA
    Posts 9,547
    Joined on 05-28-2004

    Post #: 40
    Post ID: 19687
    Reply to: 19686
    Care to explore my route?
    fiogf49gjkf0d
    It sound like the Emmlabs I heard before. A few things. I am not familiar with Marantz CD5004 but I am pretty sure that it is not TL0, in fact nothing most likely is. If you use TL0 then it will be very different result as TL0 push a LOT of more out in each quantifiable sonic aspect. If I were you then I would make selection of DAC after you get your select transport, would it be TL0 or not. If you end up with TL0 then you might explore the rite that I took. You are in Canada and John Right who dose Bidats nowadays somewhere in Canada as well. Something is very interesting going on with TL0/Bidat combination. I do not know if I use Bidat with other transports however….


    "I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
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