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A DAC shootout is going to be occurring on September 4th on the Gold Coast at Lenehan Audio. People like Joe Rasmussen of JLTI fame are coming and it will have the WFS, the Tranquility (providing I can get one in - I think I can - I am in discussions with Eric Hider about it right now), Joes JLTI modded Oppo, Mikes new DAC, and a $6K NOS DAC made here in Aus. It will be done blind and people will be giving rankings on each of the DAC's. If anyone wants to join us drop Mike a line and he will add you to the list. Hope to see you there.

Thanks

Bill

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A DAC shootout is going to be occurring on September 4th on the Gold Coast at Lenehan Audio. People like Joe Rasmussen of JLTI fame are coming and it will have the WFS, the Tranquility (providing I can get one in - I think I can - I am in discussions with Eric Hider about it right now), Joes JLTI modded Oppo, Mikes new DAC, and a $6K NOS DAC made here in Aus. It will be done blind and people will be giving rankings on each of the DAC's. If anyone wants to join us drop Mike a line and he will add you to the list. Hope to see you there.

Thanks

Bill

How about adding some other 1704UK based dac ? One of Audio GD Ref 7, 8 or 1 and possibly Lite Audio DAC 83.

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How about adding some other 1704UK based dac ? One of Audio GD Ref 7, 8 or 1 and possibly Lite Audio DAC 83.

I will chat to Mike about it but I have already had a suggestion to add an Isabella which being battery powered is different to other DAC's there so I would be inclined to think it should get a go. But with that the number may be getting a bit unwieldy so right off the top of my head I would say probably not. I will be seeing Mike Wednesday and can give you full skinny then.

Thanks

Bill

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Bill, who made the NOS DAC ? Sounds like a fun day to be had. Wish I could be there.

Mike did mention it but the exact name escapes me. I seem to recall it was Dr something or another and he is personally coming himself to participate in the shoot-out and bringing his DAC. Will get the exact details when I see Mike Wednesday.

Just got off the phone from having an excellent and very informative conversation with Eric Hider of DB Audio Labs the makers of the Tranquillity. Everything looks set to get it in no problemo. We discussed a number of things - some related to the Tranquillity, and some not. The main one is from his viewpoint since this DAC will be being compared to much higher priced gear he wanted to ensure the set-up was as optimal as possible so we were just firming those details up. That said he has not been able to find any DAC, regardless of price, able to best it. A bold claim indeed that we will put to the test. And even after the shoot-out I will be keeping the Tranquillity for a good deal longer and can provide a longer comparison to the WFS. I will be in fact be keeping the one I prefer and on selling the other. The other issue is transports. As of now no transport Eric knows regardless of price can best a Mac Mini - in fact it beats them all by a wide margin. Again we will find out.

We also discussed cables. Basically like a lot of guys I respect he thinks people are basically being ripped off by cables. The megabucks people pay for absolute rubbish is astounding in his opinion.

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba
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The other issue is trasports. As opf now no trasport Eric knows regardless of price can best a Mac Miini - in fsact it beats them all by a wide margin. Again we will find out.

Interesting. What will it be compared to?

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Interesting. What will it be compared to?

I see you got an earlier version I posted before I corrected my atrocious typos :):D:D:D:D

Mike is modding some Marantz's to use as transports and they will be outputting I2S. We are all really keen to find out, not just Mike, is the transports day in the sun dead and computer audio the go or not. For a bit more detail on this and other issues check out a similar shoot out that was recently done:

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=75402.0

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba
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Mike is modding some Marantz's to use as transports and they will be outputting I2S. We are all really keen to find out, not just Mike, is the transports day in the sun dead and computer audio the go or not.

Cheers, will be interested to hear the outcome. I'm assuming a cd94 will be on the cards, ya gotta go the best in order to rule out traditional transports.

Which dacs in the shootout will support an I2S connection?

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Cheers, will be interested to hear the outcome. I'm assuming a cd94 will be on the cards, ya gotta go the best in order to rule out traditional transports.

Which dacs in the shootout will support an I2S connection?

Hmmmmm. I think I might try to come along to this.......I'll email Mike.

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Which dacs in the shootout will support an I2S connection?

Not sure. The WFS does but uses a proprietary interface so it probably wont be used that way.

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba
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The main one is from his viewpoint since this DAC will be being compared to much higher priced gear he wanted to ensure the set-up was as optimal as possible so we were just firming those details up.

I find this comment interesting considering his DAC is hardly what you would call a budget DAC at 1500 USD?

I've also emailed Mike, hopefully there are spots left

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Hmmmmm. I think I might try to come along to this.......I'll email Mike.

Hope you can make it. With the number of DAC's you have heard your input would be very valuable.

Thanks

Bill

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I find this comment interesting considering his DAC is hardly what you would call a budget DAC at 1500 USD I've also emailed Mike, hopefully there are spots left

Well we will have a $6k DAC there and Joes modded Oppo is well over $3k so I see his point. Hope to see you there.

Thanks

Bill

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Hey that's really good news. I look forward to reading the impressions and outcomes.

Any chance that some cheaper dacs will be included? Something like a music streamer II+ or devilsound 2.1

According to Danny at audiocircle the $149 streamer II came a lot closer than it should to the more expensive dacs.

Edited by harthagan
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I wonder how my CS4398 based DAC with transformer out-put, would compare to the DACs in the shoot out :)

Have fun guys, should be a blast :D

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Hi

Does the NOS dac use the Philips 1541A or its crown type ,is it also made in NSW .Stevenvalve on the forum makes and sell these based dac's I'm wondering if it is his .

Cheers

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A Virgin Hallo, first timer here,

I think the $6K Dac is by Steve Garland,NOS components and apparently exceptionally matched in tolerances. I'm not a tech. so thats all I know.:)

BTW I'm lucky to have one of Mike Lenehans Dac prototypes. It sounds so 'analogue' in my system, that it's going no where . Regardless .

Edited by Francisco
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Hey that's really good news. I look forward to reading the impressions and outcomes.

Any chance that some cheaper dacs will be included? Something like a music streamer II+ or devilsound 2.1

According to Danny at audiocircle the $149 streamer II came a lot closer than it should to the more expensive dacs.

If I go, I could probably take my streamer ii.

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If I go

This is not 1 to miss. If I could, I would. It just so happens, that the given date is my wedding anniversary, so it's completely out.

Given the calibre of the dacs is so high, you guys need to make sure you have some quality transports on hand. If there is a Marantz CD94, this is a good start by all reports. I wouldnt mess around with dvd players as a transport when comparing dacs of this quality (given my recent experiences). I'd be tempted to do any transport comparo's at the end. Just my 2c.

Edited by ozmillsy
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I am seriously disappointed to say that I won't be able to make it down on the 4th. Hope the day goes really well, looking forward to reading the reports.

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$6K for a DAC! What on earth NOS components is he using? A bunch of rare valves or something. Surely nothing solid state can add up to that amount. I am happy to be put straight...

A Virgin Hallo, first timer here,

I think the $6K Dac is by Steve Garland,NOS components and apparently exceptionally matched in tolerances. I'm not a tech. so thats all I know.:)

BTW I'm lucky to have one of Mike Lenehans Dac prototypes. It sounds so 'analogue' in my system, that it's going no where . Regardless .

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Hello all I can confirm that we will have the following products for review.

1. Wyred For Sound DAC2

2. Tranquility DAC

3. Monarchy NM24 Full House upgrades by Craig Connor ! ( the best digital front end we have heard so far)

4. LenehanAudio PDX fully hardwired valve rectification and output stage (designed by Clayton Geisler)

5. Garland KillerDac NOS valve rectification and output stage.

6. CustomAnalogue Audio Oppo SE by Joe Rassmussen

The Tranquility DAC will be driven by the Mac Mini exclusively (by manufacturers request) The Wyred For Sound Dac2 will be driven by either the Mac Mini or our full house Marantz CD94Mk11 transport All other products will be driven by the Marantz CD94Mk11.

Designer attendees will be as follows. Joe Rassmussen CustomAnalogue Audio ! Steve Garland NOS KillerDac and LenehanAudio's digital valve consultants Craig Connor and the LenehanAudio PDX designer Clayton Geisler.and yours truly pretending he knows something about this stuff !!

The format will be regimented and efficient as it will need to be to attain a meaningfull outcome.

Reference system as follows. Transport Mechs..............Marantz CD94Mk11 and Mac Mini with proprietry USB cable

Digital SPDIF Cable.........LenehanAudio DTek

Pre-Amp.....................MonarchyAudio NM24 Craig Connor

Analogue Interconnect...... LenehanAudio RibbonTek and ETI Quiessence Ref

PowerAmplifiers.............Macintosh MC501 Monoblocks and VAC Phi200

Loudspeaker Cables..........LenehanAudio RibbonTek and ETI Quiessence Ref

Loudspeaker.................LenehanAudio ML3 and LenehanAudio ML1PlusR / TuneStands

Mains Power regeneration....Monarchy Audio

Mains Power

The day will start at 12noon sharp on Saturday 4th September and guests will be asked to RSVP by 23rd August. we will operate on a rotational basis, groups of 3 will enter the listening room and listen to 3 tracks (1 each) then rotate out to the forum area where conversation will be possible and refreshments provided (Tea Coffee Bikkies and light snacks) Each guest will be supplied with a Proxy scoring card ! the operation of which will be explained on the day. The results of these cards will be made known to all and sundry and will be tabulated by 2 guest volunteers.

I think the max we could accomodate will be 30 ! so far we have 9 so I guess it has to be the best dressed first in thing. Don't forget to bring at least 6 of your best reference tracks.

Best Regards Mike Lenehan LenehanAudio

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I'm working a day shift on that day so will have to pass. I don't care too much about the DAC shootout (who needs em with a vinyl rig) but would have come to hear the ML3's, and to meet fellow members. :)

Chris

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..........Best Regards Mike Lenehan LenehanAudio

OK, now Im impressed. That's some very nice gear lined up and doing it all blinded is going to be fun. I think you might need to decide early which speakers and cables you will use otherwise the possible combinations mean you will still be there Monday....

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Hello all I can confirm that we will have the following products for review.

1. Wyred For Sound DAC2

2. Tranquility DAC

3. Monarchy NM24 Full House upgrades by Craig Connor ! ( the best digital front end we have heard so far)

4. LenehanAudio PDX fully hardwired valve rectification and output stage (designed by Clayton Geisler)

5. Garland KillerDac NOS valve rectification and output stage.

6. CustomAnalogue Audio Oppo SE by Joe Rassmussen

The Tranquility DAC will be driven by the Mac Mini exclusively (by manufacturers request) The Wyred For Sound Dac2 will be driven by either the Mac Mini or our full house Marantz CD94Mk11 transport All other products will be driven by the Marantz CD94Mk11.

Designer attendees will be as follows. Joe Rassmussen CustomAnalogue Audio ! Steve Garland NOS KillerDac and LenehanAudio's digital valve consultants Craig Connor and the LenehanAudio PDX designer Clayton Geisler.and yours truly pretending he knows something about this stuff !!

The format will be regimented and efficient as it will need to be to attain a meaningfull outcome.

Reference system as follows. Transport Mechs..............Marantz CD94Mk11 and Mac Mini with proprietry USB cable

Digital SPDIF Cable.........LenehanAudio DTek

Pre-Amp.....................MonarchyAudio NM24 Craig Connor

Analogue Interconnect...... LenehanAudio RibbonTek and ETI Quiessence Ref

PowerAmplifiers.............Macintosh MC501 Monoblocks and VAC Phi200

Loudspeaker Cables..........LenehanAudio RibbonTek and ETI Quiessence Ref

Loudspeaker.................LenehanAudio ML3 and LenehanAudio ML1PlusR / TuneStands

Mains Power regeneration....Monarchy Audio

Mains Power

The day will start at 12noon sharp on Saturday 4th September and guests will be asked to RSVP by 23rd August. we will operate on a rotational basis, groups of 3 will enter the listening room and listen to 3 tracks (1 each) then rotate out to the forum area where conversation will be possible and refreshments provided (Tea Coffee Bikkies and light snacks) Each guest will be supplied with a Proxy scoring card ! the operation of which will be explained on the day. The results of these cards will be made known to all and sundry and will be tabulated by 2 guest volunteers.

I think the max we could accomodate will be 30 ! so far we have 9 so I guess it has to be the best dressed first in thing. Don't forget to bring at least 6 of your best reference tracks.

Best Regards Mike Lenehan LenehanAudio

I can see from this list there will be only lower priced dacs present. So i will only bring a dac priced accordingly about $1950. That will be a fair playing field and be inline with the parts and components used. The killer dac is not for this, pen in hand, one track, oppo transported, dact volume pot, solid state, circus. I will let you guys know when i have a demo killer dac ready that you can take home for at least a week or two. Remember i only make these as a hobby, and mainly because i use rare vintage parts from the 1940-50, i am lucky if i can make 1 every few months, Edited by stevenvalve
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Steve Garland rings a bell - I think that's it.

Thanks

Bill

I just got of the phone with him. He might be coming up with me but not necessarily with his KillerDAC, that's not a done deal yet.

I will have an Oppo SE there, with Terra Firma Lite, the internal 32bit ESS DAC in it will be running in current mode (Bill's WFS DAC2 uses ESS DAC in voltage mode) with Positive Feedforward error correction. It will be the same player that will be presented at August 29th ASoN meeting at Haberfield, Sydney.

It also makes for a great transport via the SPDIF output, so it may be pressed into service with the other DACs, which means they will benefit from the TFL fitted.

Cheers, Joe

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Hi Guys

Just returned form Mikes and the DAC shootout is still all go. The only thing, due to the extra work required if a lot turn up, is it may not be blind.

Thanks

Bill

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Just returned form Mikes and the DAC shootout is still all go. The only thing, due to the extra work required if a lot turn up, is it may not be blind.

These guys are pro's and know what they're doing. Blinded or not, i'm certain it'll be a rewarding and revealing experience. The only glaring gap, is a multiple input switching preamp. Running the other dacs into the NM24 for volume control, probably doesnt provide a level playing field - the NM24 will have an advantage.

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Wish I could be there. Very interesting.

Same here - wish you could turn up. I haven't posted this yet but will take this opportunity to put it out there. Speaking to Eric Hider at dB Audio Labs he says he has found no DAC able to best it yet. That includes DAC's a lot more expensive such as the Ayre and PS Audio and I seem to recall even a Wiess Minerva - but don't hold me to that. The only thing that has beaten it so far are uber expensive 10K and above vinyl rigs - evidently normal priced $1-2K vinyl rigs are no contest - but the expensive rigs do best it - however it is far from shamed in that comparison. These are bold claims that need to be throughly investigated. In fact Mike has mentioned it to some guys who say there is no way a USB DAC can compete. And on top of that it will be way out of its class unless it has a valve output. I have had a few technical discussions with Eric and take my word for it there are many many more issues involved here than just these two. I can't and won't get into it because it is proprietary - if you want to find out give him a ring - he may tell you. But I am not saying anything that is not available on its site in telling you many many factors beyond USB and tube outputs went into this design - all done by double blind tests to ensure it was an actual audible difference. It is the accumulation of all those little things that adds up to its performance. Again we will see.

Thanks

Bill

Edited by bhobba
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Same here - wish you could turn up. I haven't posted this yet but will take this opportunity to put it out there. Speaking to Eric Hider at dB Audio Labs he says he has found no DAC able to best it yet. That includes DAC's a lot more expensive such as the Ayre and PS Audio and I seem to recall even a Wiess Minerva - but don't hold me to that. The only thing that has beaten it so far are uber expensive 10K and above vinyl rigs - evidently normal priced $1-2K vinyl rigs are no contest - but the expensive rigs do best it - however it is far from shamed in that comparison. These are bold claims that need to be throughly investigated. In fact Mike has mentioned it to some guys who say there is no way a USB DAC can compete. And on top of that it will be way out of its class unless it has a valve output. I have had a few technical discussions with Eric and take my word for it there are many many more issues involved here than just these two. I can't and won't get into it because it is proprietary - if you want to find out give him a ring - he may tell you. But I am not saying anything that is not available on its site in telling you many many factors beyond USB and tube outputs went into this design - all done by double blind tests to ensure it was an actual audible difference. It is the accumulation of all those little things that adds up to its performance. Again we will see.

Thanks

Bill

We are certainly not lovers of valves to the exclusion of all else over here, in fact we generally prefer solid state power amps driven by valve DAC's and Pre's.

Indeed we are in fear and trembling of the Tranquility and the Mac Mini ! believe me if it knocks over our full house Monarchy NM24 then out the door it will go.

We are not respecters of hardware here we are lovers of music and what makes the music will certainly be inducted into our loudspeaker development system.

I am fully aware as are you guys that we have a barrow to push here ! our new LenehanAudio PDX Valve DAC but of course we are primarily a loudspeaker company. If we get trounced then so be it.

In the end run of course this cannot be a definative answer to which DAC is best ! it just an opportunity to for all present to get an idea of the general performance of these devices.

One more point I'm well aware we have the home ground advantage here but anyone wishing to have a tour of the playback system need just ask. System context and synergies are very real and the fact is the Connor Monarchy NM24 has the box seat . We will probably use the NM24 Pre to feed all the DAC's through unless someone has a better suggestion .

This format will have to evolve in respect of how many guests we get [we will have to clip it off at 30 however]

Don't forget guys I'm open to suggestions here on how to make this event fairer and more valid

Regards Audiophile Brothers Mike Lenehan

LenehanAudio

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We will probably use the NM24 Pre to feed all the DAC's through unless someone has a better suggestion .

I would go with a neutral sounding multi input preamp which has a buffer, to ensure any impedance mismatches are not a factor in the comparisons. An ME preamp would do the job. While I think my Lightspeed is slightly more transparent, the ME is pretty darn close, and offers both a buffer and multiple inputs.

You'd want to minimise the cable swaps Mike. The NM24 only has 1 set of analog inputs that I can see, and swapping over dac devices will mean a power down and delays etc.

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I would go with a neutral sounding multi input preamp which has a buffer, to ensure any impedance mismatches are not a factor in the comparisons. An ME preamp would do the job. While I think my Lightspeed is slightly more transparent, the ME is pretty darn close, and offers both a buffer and multiple inputs.

You'd want to minimise the cable swaps Mike. The NM24 only has 1 set of analog inputs that I can see, and swapping over dac devices will mean a power down and delays etc.

We won't be powering anything down, just pull out the leads and let it go bump. powering things down is a no no .

We have an ME25 with standard supply but it's just so far away from a SOTA valve pre that we feel the system would be bottle necked.

The WFS D2 has it's own poweramp drive system so we'll let it pull that advantage and drive the poweramps direct.

Theres also the problem of designers wanting their product to be continually powered up so it's ready to rock ! Hmmm I have a few idea's here and I must admit their concerns are valid !

Mike Lenehan

LenehanAudio

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We have an ME25 with standard supply but it's just so far away from a SOTA valve pre that we feel the system would be bottle necked.

You could be right about the bottleneck (depending on age of the ME), it'll level the playing field but at what cost? Pros/Cons either way. Is the NM24 really considered sota as a preamp though? It might be, with all it's upgrades, I dont know.

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I am fully aware as are you guys that we have a barrow to push here ! our new LenehanAudio PDX Valve DAC but of course we are primarily a loudspeaker company. If we get trounced then so be it. In the end run of course this cannot be a definative answer to which DAC is best ! it just an opportunity to for all present to get an idea of the general performance of these device

I don't think that DAC you are producing has any worries Mike - after all its $1k - not the $2k the Tranquility will be landed and it only does computer audio which is not everyones cup of tea. And speaking to Eric while his output stage is very transparent and open and actually designed to sound like a valve SET design he is aware of some valve output stages that are a bit more euphoric sounding which is some peoples preference. He could have used them but chose neutrality. There is always the need and a market for quality hand built stuff like you build.

Thanks

Bill

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I can see from this list there will be only lower priced dacs present. So i will only bring a dac priced accordingly about $1950. That will be a fair playing field and be inline with the parts and components used. The killer dac is not for this, pen in hand, one track, oppo transported, dact volume pot, solid state, circus. I will let you guys know when i have a demo killer dac ready that you can take home for at least a week or two. Remember i only make these as a hobby, and mainly because i use rare vintage parts from the 1940-50, i am lucky if i can make 1 every few months,

Hi Steven

Why don't you take both dacs along so people can hear what the basic/level 1 dac sounds like and by taking the circuit further what sound you can can end up with .

Cheers

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looking forward to the results here as I'm looking at a potential new dac in the 2k sorta price range. Our second system (2ch a/v) is sounding a bit dry - htpc into bel canto s300iu via USB into ML1's with sub. I'm pretty sure it's the dac - so the shoot-out verdict will be helpful. My shortlist has the tranquility and Teddy Pardo's TeddyDac on it so far.

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