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TomW

Sydney Audio Club Meeting - Sunday 10th February 2019 - DAC Comparison

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We’re often asked to have more club meetings where we compare equipment, music player software and even music file formats.

 

So for our February club meeting, we will be comparing three popular and well-respected DACs.  We will have the Mytek Brooklyn, the HoloAudio Spring Kitsune Level 3 and the Benchmark DAC2. The winner of the comparison will be the DAC of choice for our second half BYO session.

 

Mytek Brooklyn DAC – refer to https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/brooklyn/.  Uses the Sabre 9018 Pro delta-sigma chipset. It converts up to 384k, 32bit PCM, native DSD up to DSD256, DXD with 130dB dynamic range.

 

HoloAudio Spring Kitsune Level 3 DAC – refer to https://www.stereophile.com/content/holoaudio-spring-kitsuné-tuned-edition-level-3-da-processor.  The Spring DAC is a R-2R DAC, also known as a ladder DAC. Ladder DACs use cascaded voltage dividers consisting of resistors (valued R and 2R) to passively convert a bitstream to continuous analog voltages.  

 

Benchmark DAC2 – refer to https://benchmarkmedia.com/products/benchmark-dac2-hgc-digital-to-analog-audio-converter.  Uses four 32-bit ESS Sabre DACs run in balanced configuration. Like the Mytek, these are delta-sigma DAC chipsets.

 

Our transport will be the ubiquitous Oppo 105D universal player.  It will feed each DAC via SPDIF. 

 

The amplification will be the AudioGD Integrated amplifier.  Refer to http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/Master10/Master-10EN.htm

 

The speakers will be the lovely and musical KEF LS50s.


The second half of the music sessions will be our popular BYO.  Members and guests are welcome to offer music to share with us all.  Please bring along your favourite music on CD or USB thumb/flash drives (sorry, no vinyl this month).  All we ask is that the music and recordings be interesting.  We'll ask you to tell us a little about the artist/recording before it is played.  Tracks over 6 minutes will be faded out, to give everyone a fair go. 

 

Whether you are a novice or a seasoned veteran, you will have the opportunity to listen, learn and share your experiences with others.  Feel free to come and hear the capabilities of the system, or to just share the experience with like-minded music lovers in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.  

 

Guests are welcome – we are a very friendly club so you don't need to know anyone to join us for an afternoon of fine music and sound.

 

Venue:  Epping Creative Centre, Dence Park
Address:  26 Stanley Road, Epping 

When:  Sunday 10th February 2019

Doors open 1pm
Meeting starts at 2pm

 

Best regards,
Tom Waters
President
Sydney Audio Club
W: www.sydneyaudioclub.org
FB: https://www.facebook.com/sydneyaudioclub
E: tomwaters@sydneyaudioclub.org.au

Edited by TomW

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6 minutes ago, dorryman said:

Which DAC won?

 

On 03/02/2019 at 1:55 PM, TomW said:

 

 

When:  Sunday 10th February 2019

 

 

You'll need to ask that question after tomorrow ;)

 

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2 hours ago, pete_mac said:

 

 

You'll need to ask that question after tomorrow ;)

 

I'm not a smart man

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25 minutes ago, dorryman said:

I'm not a smart man

You are if you can laugh at yourself

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You should add a M Scaler/Chord Qutest into the mix   

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10 hours ago, Sime V2 said:

You should add a M Scaler/Chord Qutest into the mix   

 

You off to Sydney with the M Scaler for this meet?  :thumb:

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@Addicted to music I sent an email with the offer, but the point of no return is approaching. 

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Our February meeting was well attended – these comparison meetings definitely attract the interest of people.  We started our setup a couple of hours in advance – we tested all the gear and did an SPL check to ensure all three DACs output at the same level.  We then used the volume on the integrated amp whenever we wished to change the volume.

 

We had a late improvement in the DAC line up … we were able to source a Benchmark DAC3 rather than the DAC2.  The other two DACs were as previously stated, the Mytek Brooklyn and the HoloAudio Spring Kitsune Level 3. We determined in advance that the HoloAudio DAC setting of oversampling sounded best with the gear and in the room. 

 

People say that the first component to be listened to is usually handicapped – that the second one is typically perceived to be better.  So we choose the listening sequence at random.  The drawn order was the HoloAudio first, then the BenckMark, then the Mytek.

 

We had two rounds.  The first round was a comparison of all three DACs (with no volume changes of course).  We played 3 tracks from 3 separate albums on each DAC.  Upon completion, we voted.  The ratings were: HoloAudio 15 votes, Benchmark DAC3 9 votes and the Mytek 4 votes.  Unfortunately the Mytek developed a locking issue when playing the 3rd track, this undoubtedly hurt its chances in the voting.  With the least number of votes, the Mytek dropped out.

 

We then had our final round with the Benchmark DAC3 and the HoloAudio.  We increased the volume on the integrated amp by a few db beforehand.  We played one final track on each DAC.  It was acoustic rock guitar, very dynamic and well recorded.  We choose the order again at random, the Benchmark went first.  We then counted the votes: the HoloAudio took 16 votes, the Benchmark took 13 votes.  So the HoloAudio Spring Kitsune Level 3 took first place with the Benchmark DAC3 fairly close in second place.

 

People asked about the pricing of the DACs.  All DACs were within $400 of each other, the HoloAudio being the most expensive, but there wasn’t a huge price difference. 

 

And of course, there were a few people that didn’t like the music chosen for the comparisons, but that was inevitable.  All in all, it appeared that people quite enjoyed the afternoon.  Our feedback forms indicated a strong interest in even more comparison type meetings.  We’ll see what we can do.

 

Here’s some feedback lifted from the Feedback forms:

 

“Very interesting comparison. KEF speakers performed very well. Good music selection.”

 

“Very enjoyable meeting and interesting comparison. Loved the LS50s.”

 

 “Holo very natural sounding. Preferred Benchmark.”

 

 “Impressive small speakers.”

 

 “Very good DACs. Hard to pick the best. Usual problem with small speakers…?? .. bass”

 

 “Thanks for arranging another equipment comparison. System gelled together well. Holo smoother. Benchmark too detailed.”

 

 “Good to hear various DACs”

 

“Interesting and enjoyable meeting. All DACs sounded quite good.”

 

“Benchmark very detailed. Holo sounded more natural.”

 

Photos to follow…

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DSC_1519.JPG

DSC_1520.JPG

Edited by TomW

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There are never no winners, all DAC's were superb and the music chosen was great, good meeting and thanks to those who took the time to make it happen

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On looks the 'Holo' is a hands down winner (to my taste of course..)

All three contestants were great -in different ways - although the Mytec didn't really get a fair hearing due to some kind of software (?) malfunction which, at the end made it a two horse race.

 

I did like the detail of the Benchmark DAC and, in the right system, would be hard to beat. 

Overall though, the Holo - in the context of the set up available there - sounded somewhat more natural ( or analogue as some like to say).

 

Of course, as Tom pointed out, it's all about synergy and it doesn't mean one device is *better* than the other. Different, yes, but *better* ...well, it comes down to personal taste I guess.

 

It was a great shoot out though and I hope we will see more happening in the not so distant future.  Thanks to all that supplied the equipment and organized the event.

 

   

Edited by Arthur K

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