Duckman

Some quick notes on the Level 1 PDX

90 posts in this topic

Bill kindly allowed me to audition his Level 1 PDX (with tube upgrade) which he has had for sale on the boards, and has asked me to write some impressions of the unit.

It may be worth noting that I am a headphone guy and that the PDX was auditioned exclusively in headphone rigs over the trial period.

As a short background, I've been on a bit of a DAC odyssey over the past year or so, and my system has been visited by a goodly number of some of the better known mid-level ones discussed here on Stereonet: I've owned or extensively trialed the Metric Halo ULN2, Anedio D1, Lite DAC 83, Wyred 4 Sound DAC1, JK Sabre, JDAC32, Metrum Octave, Metric Halo LIO-8, EE MiniMax Plus, NAD M51, Exasound E18, and Eximus DP1. I've also had the pleasure of hearing on numerous occasions the Audio GD Reference 5 and, on several occasions (and fairly intensely) the Audio GD Reference 7.1 and Reference 7. The latest DAC to have made an extended visit is the PDX.

At home, running through my Violectric V200 headphone amp and Audeze LCD2 Rev 2 headphones, the PDX revealed itself to me as a rough diamond. Most of my impressions were resoundingly positive and only one or two negative; and my negative thoughts were always seasoned with an anxious "but it's SO good".

In several ways it was the best DAC I've yet heard. It had a midrange realism I found extraordinary and addictive (as did two headphone buddies who also had a listen). Voices, stringed instruments and drums were a delight. My immediate reaction often went: "yep, that sounds like a real guitar; wow, that sounds like a real voice; that cello sound is eerily real. This is amazing!" It was very easy to get lost in the music, and exciting to have such life-like sounds coming through my headphones.

The rest of the audible spectrum was lovely too, plenty of deep textured bass, and sparkly clear highs.

The PDX was also perhaps the most 'fun' DAC to have graced my desk. In a word, it rocked. Probably the most toe-tapping, head-bopping DAC I've heard bar none. How to explain this, I don't know. Hi-rez acoustic music was particularly thrilling.

However, my overall response was always: "this is awesome, BUT…..".

The biggest drawback in my rig (I stress) was a narrow soundstage. Multi-tracked recordings were a bit squashed, noticeably more than any DAC I’d had in the rig: not a lot of space between voices and instruments in the mix. I'd like to stress, however, that this was with my rig - with the V200 and LCD2.2 in the chain. When I had the chance to hear the PDX with a heavy-weight balanced HP amp (Ray Samuel's Darkstar), the soundstage issue was somewhat relieved.

The other main drawback was a slightly higher noise floor than what I'm used to. The noise was pretty much inaudible at normal listening levels, and would not deter me from purchasing a PDX. It is also moot, because the newer PDXs (I've been assured) have a re-designed layout that substantially reduces the noise. However, in side by side comparisons with both an Audio GD Reference 7 and an Esoteric D-07x, I thought these DACs had a slightly blacker background when music was playing.

Thirdly, and this is difficult to put my finger on, but I think this PDX has an ever-so-slight ‘soft focus lens’ on the sound in comparison to some of the other laser sharp DACs I’ve heard. But I really need to stress that for many people this may not be a drawback at all. I get the impression (but this may simply be my ignorance speaking) that this is by design and that the Dueland capacitor option offered at Lenehan provides a sharper focus for those that want (and can afford) it.

I've decided not to buy the PDX, not because it was not the funnest, most realistic, toe-tapping DAC I've heard, but because the DAC I've settled on has (IMO) slightly better soundstaging and instrument separation (for my headphone rig), a slightly blacker background, perhaps slightly more detail, has a slightly smoother feel about the sound, and has more input and output options while maintaining a similar level of 'realism' as the PDX. It's also more than twice the cost of this pre-owned Level 1 PDX.

I would dearly love to hear a full-spec level 2 some day.

Whoever picks up this DAC will IMO have a slightly flawed diamond. But, in a sense, who cares… it's a diamond!

Many thanks to Bill for the opportunity of finally hearing a Lenehan Audio PDX.

Edited by Duckman
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Very, very nice write up. Which dac have you settled on?

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Thanks Vortex. Most likely the new Esoteric D-07x.

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Thanks for sharing your impressions (and kudos to Bill).

That is an impressive list of DACs you have trialled.

I have tried a number of sub $1000 DACs in my headphone system (Stax). For soundstage/imaging and detail a second hand metrum came out on top for me.

If you have a chance - may be worth trialling.

The metrum does require a reclocker to get the best out of it though.

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Ah... I should've put it on the list. Naggots loaned me his Octave for about three weeks :-)

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I love the Metrum but im using tubes. It wouldn't surprise if it's too honest for solid state amplification ie a Violectric or Stax.

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Ah... I should've put it on the list. Naggots loaned me his Octave for about three weeks :-)

I think that's a clear sign you have auditioned too many dac's Duckman!

Still find it humorous that after trying all those DAC's you are going to buy a teac. :P

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Man, don't talk it down. You'll spoil the resale value!!! :cool:

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Man, don't talk it down. You'll spoil the resale value!!! :cool:

lol! you are already planning to sell it. Personal loan + MSB DIamond IV looks to be in your future...

Looking forward to hearing it at some point (and not just at a store) :) I'm sure if you are thinking about it it will be very good - you think it is better than the PWD ii?

The PDX has lovely mids, for sure :)

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Ah... I should've put it on the list. Naggots loaned me his Octave for about three weeks :-)

In that case I need to try the Esoteric.

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PWD did not wow me, but it was only a brief listen. Need to hear it again. The Stax Mafia love it.

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Just a note thanking Duckman for his excellent write up of the level 1 PDX I have for sale.

Yea the Achilles Heel of the older PDX is it has a slightly elevated noise level that is, to my ears anyway, pretty much inaudible at sane listening levels. But guys like Kdoot with really good hearing notice it. The newer model though is dead quiet. Anyway some other guys have contacted me indicating they would like to hear it with a view to buying it so its over to them now.

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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Just a note thanking Duckman for his excellent write up of the level 1 PDX I have for sale.

Yea the Achilles Heel of the older PDX is it has a slightly elevated noise level that is, to my ears anyway, pretty much inaudible at sane listening levels. But guys like Kdoot with really good hearing notice it. The newer model though is dead quiet. Anyway some other guys have contacted me indicating they would like to hear it with a view to buying it so its over to them now.

Thanks

Bill

Hi Bill,

How else does the level 2 differ in your opinion?

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How else does the level 2 differ in your opinion?

I was talking about the older model - the current model I replaced the level 1 I have for sale with has a redesigned printed circuit board and some other changes to reduce the noise. The level 2 has Duelunds which sound more natural and have greater life and speed - the Russian Paper In Oils in the Level 1 sound very smooth and transparent but do not have the same naturalness to them or detail.

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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I was talking about the older model - the current model I replaced the level 1 I have for sale with has a redesigned printed circuit board and some other changes to reduce the noise. The level 2 has Duelunds which sound more natural and have greater life and speed - the Russian Paper In Oils in the Level 1 sound very smooth and transparent but do not have the same naturalness to them or detail.

Thanks

Bill

Thanks again, Bill.

Your last sentence has me thinking hard about a Level 2 with Duelunds option.

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I was talking about the older model - the current model I replaced the level 1 I have for sale with has a redesigned printed circuit board and some other changes to reduce the noise. The level 2 has Duelunds which sound more natural and have greater life and speed - the Russian Paper In Oils in the Level 1 sound very smooth and transparent but do not have the same naturalness to them or detail.

Thanks

Bill

Thanks Bill. I would also love to hear the maxxed out PDX :)

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Thanks Bill. I would also love to hear the maxxed out PDX :)

Mine Is really maxed out now - I got bybees put on the output, the power input, and the battery power into the USB converter. It really sounds amazing now - the best PDX yet - but not as good as when the bybees were connected to the speakers - wow - everyone that heard it was shocked at the difference it made.

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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Mine Is really maxed out now - I got bybees put on the output, the power input, and the battery power into the USB converter. It really sounds amazing bow - the best PDX yet - but not as good as when the bybees were connected to the speakers - wow - everyone that heard it was shocked at the difference it made.

Thanks

Bill

Excuse my ignorance, but what are bybees?

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Excuse my ignorance, but what are bybees?

They are special pods containing music smoothing potion concocted by the witchdoctor of a little known tribe in the Papua New Guinea highlands, at least that's the impression I got when I did some research on them. Some swear by them. Seriousdly though - HERE is the link that will tell you all you want to know about Bybee's

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Yea AJ's link tells you all you need to know. They work by reducing noise at the quantum level and are used in, and originally developed for, military equipment.

Some people consider them pure hokeum and I think at one time they even attracted the attention of Randini (the great debunker of guys like Uri Geller) as something that was obvious rubbish and in desperate need of debunking - but then again I seem to recall he has similar views on cables. A blind test was done on using them in speakers yesterday and was easily picked. They work 100% for sure - its just if you want to spend the money - like all things in audio.

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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I'd be interested in finding out which military equipment these were developed for?

Couldn't find anything but I guess that's covered because they claim that "many .. are still highly classified"

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What's inside these "Bybees"..?? The website just prattles on about super conductive this, and superconductive that,, operating at the "quantum level" using nano technology... etc...

But there are no photos or explanation as to what's actually inside these things.. Or how they work..??

Hmm...

CM

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I'd be interested in finding out which military equipment these were developed for?

Couldn't find anything but I guess that's covered because they claim that "many .. are still highly classified"

What's inside these "Bybees"..?? The website just prattles on about super conductive this, and superconductive that,, operating at the "quantum level" using nano technology... etc...But there are no photos or explanation as to what's actually inside these things.. Or how they work..??

Blowed if I know. I presume all this stuff is propriety knowledge that gives Jack Bybee an advantage in the market place. You can try contacting him - but good luck - if I was him I would stay mum.

The story I heard is they are an actually off the shelf item anyone can buy from military suppliers - the thing is you need to know just what they are - which is Jacks secret. Of course I have zero idea if its true or not.

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba

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I'm guessing these should make a big change to you interconnects to:

http://www.soundlabs...ddess RCA Tails

Maybe - maybe not. Like I said I got Bybees everywhere in my PDX and the improvement was worthwhile and audible - big change - perhaps - the speakers were a big change - on the PDX merely a good change. Without doubt the biggest bang for your buck is at the speakers.

Thanks

Bill

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