Jump to content

Recommended Posts

This audiophilia can be confusing as often attempts to move ahead are often only moves sideway - the sound might be different, but whether or not it is better is debatable!!

 

I've been able to set up the headphone system here so the balanced AES digital input feeds into a splitter and from there goes to both the LKS DA004 and the new toy.  Switch the input with the headamp remote gives an instant change to compare these two DACs. Fortunately the are are no clicks or thumps when that input is changed so comparison is simple and smooth.  Initially there seemed to be an odd change in the soundstaging and I soon woke up to the fact that two of the three splitter outputs reversed to channels so fixing that was simple.  After balancing sound levels (the LKS has a volume control) comparisons were commenced but with no result as the AQ from both DACs came though as identical so no move sideways or forward!!!

 

The audio-gd had 300 hours burn in before they sent it but more might be required and that could change the picture but I'm not holding my breath.  But there is a major problem - the Audio-gd is currently not able to play any DSD or 192/24 FLAC files and so far I've not found any combination of filters that are OK to do it.  I've contacted Audio-gd for advice but if they cannot come up with a fix I'll return the unit and be thankful the LKS up for sale is still here.

 

Bottom line it does seem that the problems of extracting nice analog from digital have finally been solved and there top end DACs are within reach under $3k.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Meh, personally I've found DSD completely unnecessary for getting spectacular results. The mix and the implementation of the DAC itself seems far more important. That's just me though and goes against popular opinion. That said, it seems strange that two DAC's would sound identical. I've never come across that before unless there was a bottleneck elsewhere in the system. Then again I've come across people who can't readily hear cable swaps between copper and pure silver interconnects too though clearly fit into the audiophile category so there really is no clear cut answer without having heard your system in person. Experience tells me though that if two DAC's from different vendors sound the same, something else is going on.

Edited by MattyW
Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, MattyW said:

That said, it seems strange that two DAC's would sound identical

I would have said almost the opposite (once volume matched, etc.)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, davewantsmoore said:

I would have said almost the opposite (once volume matched, etc.)

 

We've different experiences in this then. Different component sound signatures are plainly audible in my system to me.... Take me to listen to someone else's system though and I wouldn't likely notice too much difference if any.

Link to post
Share on other sites


You're treading down an ugly path.....and good on you! I've auditioned many DACs in the price range from $500 to $8000. From SMSL type stuff to Chord HMS+TT2. Chipset (AKM, ESS, Cirrus, Burr Brown), FPGA and R2R. People say Chipsets have "digital" glare, FPGA are more detailed and lean, R2R more "analogue". Others say the DAC in your phone is as good as your TT2. For the record, I think your modded LKS is a really nice piece of kit. I'd love to hear the DA005. I'm a fan of Gustard's dual AKM too.

Bottom line, your ears are your guide. Why spend more, if you can't hear the difference? When I've done the A-B, I'd say the differences come down to 5-10% max between a $500 DAC vs $5000. That's with HeadFi and my gear and ears. YMMV. 

Now I have a Sonnet Morpheus (NOS R2R) and I like it. Is it much better than Clay's Giesler Kompakt, to me not by much, if any. I just "like" it more. It's all subjective. You don't need to justify it to anyone but yourself. Live dangerously!

  • Like 4
  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

On a side note, I have an Audio GD R2R-11, which is their lower priced DAC+Headphone amp combo utilising an R2R DAC. I've been able to play DSD files through this DAC (off SPIDF output from my DAP, so not sure about USB). Given this, the higher spec R8 should be able to play DSD files

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

38 minutes ago, anandpkumar said:

On a side note, I have an Audio GD R2R-11, which is their lower priced DAC+Headphone amp combo utilising an R2R DAC. I've been able to play DSD files through this DAC (off SPIDF output from my DAP, so not sure about USB)

 

Yes, also via USB.

Link to post
Share on other sites


My understanding is DSD is only currently supported with the current/shipped firmware if you are using windows as the source.

 

They are working on a new firmware that will enable DSD playback from Linux also.

 

No issues here with DSD playback from Linux on the R27 which uses the R8 DAC.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

UPDATE:

 

The problem was NOT with the R8 DAC, but with the 3 way CANFORD splitter being used.  It has been in the house here for quite some time and never gave any problems but has now been replaced with a 4 way powered splitter.

 

Once the balanced digital AES was fed direct into the R8, it  played DSD and all formats fine.  When the LKS was working via the splitter input but the R8 was not, I incorrectly assumed the R8 was at fault..  It could be that the reduced signal caused by the passive splitter is the reason but I'm not sure but the final result was no audio via the R8 from any format.  I'll investigate further as I want to be able to directly compare as I did yesterday. 

 

And I agree with the surprise some of you expressed that I detected absolutely no AQ difference as I agree that all other items I've trialed do have individual sound signatures and that is what often drives us nuts and gives the illusion of an improvement in AQ when actually all that has happened is it sounds a bit different.

 

I'll play around with the new toy more today but it currently seems I might have wasted dollars on the R8 if it does not even marginally improve the AQ.  Bottom line currently is that the R8 is no better than the modded LKS.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A further correction.  It was not the splitter at fault but the cabling from it to the R8.  It was causing the distortion and the Canare splitter is now transmitting the signal OK.

 

So, I’m not having any problems at the moment but do concede it is unfair to compare a well run in LKS to a relatively new R8 so should hold back further comment until the R8 had another few hundred hours on it.  Currently I find it very difficult to distinguish between the sound via the LKS and the R8 but that could change.  I might (or might not) be hearing a slightly smoother sound on some classical music from the R8 but cannot detect any difference on a wide variety of non popular fare.  Later I will use the powered AES splitter to compare, eliminating any compromises caused by the splitter.

 

All very frustrating.  I had hoped to hear an obvious improvement in music reproduction, especially the classical fare, but currently there is no such obvious difference.  I might get some other ears to listen to see if that person can detect any difference.

 

I'll append the latest headphone setup FYI/

Headphone systems 2021.jpg

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read on other hi-fi forums that the Audio-GD R2R DACs do need significant hours of burn in before sounding their best. I did run my R2R-11 for 300-400 hours before any critical listening. They also need around half hour of warm up time (like tubes) before sounding their best.

 

Waiting to hear your comparison with the LKS once the R8 has run in more.....

Edited by anandpkumar
Link to post
Share on other sites


I'm no expert but I might suggest that the splitter is most likely the cause of your problems. I have found that with hires digital the most direct connection path is always best.  As for DSD...... sheer bliss.. It's my favourite format. Hope you get it sorted out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes all sorted thanks.  It seems there was a bad connection in a lead that misled me BUT I'm taking advice and letting it burn in for a few hundred hours before making any more critical comments.  It is noe nonnected direct with no splitter and the LKS is off.

  • Love 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Auralic’s Aries G1 Transport – How Important is the Bridge? Maybe more Important than the DAC?

I’ll answer that question first up by admitting that for me, the G1 has been far more important than I previously realized in my  pursuit of audio quality. You could find the same – it depends on the system of digital input being used for your DAC. In this house it is hard wired, not wireless, with quality Canare cabling being used to carry the balanced digital signal out from the  G1 and hard wired input to the G1 being from the home network..

 

Bear with my while I relate my recent audiophilia journey and the reasons for my re-admiration for the G1 will emerge.

 

Moving from a Meridian system into ROON over 4 years ago required a bridge so the first unit was the smaller Auralic Aries. Next move was a better DAC in the form of an LKS DA-004 modified by Rick Schultz. Several headphones were tried during this journey starting off with a Sennheiser HD800, then the 800S and finally the Focal Utopia. Headamps were the Auralic, the Violectric V281 & V280 and finally the Audio-gd Master 9, a unit which surprised me with the difference it made and had me reassessing the importance of the  amplifier.  At around the Violectric/Focal Utopia mark I purchased the Aries G1 to replace the smaller bridge.  All moves were positive with some very nice sounding music (generally classical), the result.

 

But the audiophilia bug kept nagging me despite the superb AQ having reached the stage where well recorded CD quality FLAC files sounded just as good as hi-rez.  

 

Could the highly regarded and well reviewed Audio-gd R8 DAC improve things further?  Unable to resist, I purchased one and  set  it up in the main headphone system so, with a passive balanced splitter feeding the LKS and the R8, a simple switching of the Master 9 could compare these two toys.

 

The result was I could hear absolutely no difference in the sound between them, something which frustrated me and annoyed some posters who owned the R8 and found it difficult to accept what I said.   All sorts of suggestions about what I was doing wrong followed with the only plausible one for me being that it was unfair to compare the well bedded in LKS to an R8 with only a few hundred hours on it.  BUT, the audio quality of the two DACs remained identical and a few hundred more hours of bedding in for the R8 made no difference.

 

Well I’ve finally woken up to what is going on with the  digital to analog processing here.

 

Both DACs are receiving a balanced digital signal from the Auralic’s Aries G1 Wireless Streaming Transport, a unit very positively reviewed for its ability to deliver a quality digital output, stripped of heaps of jitter.  So the following DAC has its hard work already done and sophisticated units like the LKS and Audio-gd are overkill!!

 

Therefore it is unsurprising I hear no difference between these two DACs but it also is not a valid conclusion to say there is no difference in their processing power because neither is really being challenged!

 

It all opens the question about how simple a DAC can be following on from the Auralic’s Aries G1 Wireless Streaming Transport?  And a very simple one might indeed do the job as I inadvertently discovered (but did not realise) recently when I bought a used Schiit multibit Bifrost DAC for a friend and was highly impressed with the audio it generated in this system.  I did not listen for long so did not compare it to the LKS but now wish I had as it might have prevented me from spending more in a useless attempt to improve AQ with a “better” DAC.

 

So folks, no need to be upset at my claims the R8 is no better than the less expensive LKS.  In different circumstances it might indeed be better but there is no question it is no better in this system.  That in no way reflects adversely on either the Audio-gd or LKS.  BUT it does  reflect very positively on the Auralic’s Aries G1 Wireless Streaming Transport, an expensive device, but one which can do far more  for a good system than I previously appreciated.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting to hear about your findings regarding the digital output quality from the Auralic. 

 

w.r.t the differences between the LKS & R8, if your ears can't hear any difference between them in your system, then that's all that matters. 

 

Good luck with the next steps - any further plans on the DAC?

Link to post
Share on other sites


This is all very good news I must say, since I don't have to spend 2K+ after all, on an R2R dac just to see what I'm missing out on ?

 

BTW did you try PCM, since maybe something about the DSD processing is masking the differences in dac technology?

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, anandpkumar said:

Interesting to hear about your findings regarding the digital output quality from the Auralic. 

 

w.r.t the differences between the LKS & R8, if your ears can't hear any difference between them in your system, then that's all that matters. 

 

Good luck with the next steps - any further plans on the DAC?

NO further plans re DACs - looks like I have one more than I need.  Decisions will need to be made!

 

If I can be bothered I might set up a comparison between the LKS and R8 avoiding G1 ROON input using SPDIF out (I have a splitter) from an OPPO 103,  If I do and anything significant emerges, I'll let you know.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, tripitaka said:

This is all very good news I must say, since I don't have to spend 2K+ after all, on an R2R dac just to see what I'm missing out on ?

 

BTW did you try PCM, since maybe something about the DSD processing is masking the differences in dac technology?

Yes I tried all formats and with both DACs, found CD quality for most albums as good as hi-rez.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I just received my R7HE DAC but i now require to purchase a SPDIF / COAX cable as the Oppo 105 doesnt output audio via USB. 

 

even the Oppo 105 sounds pretty good right now. just see how we go with the new R7HE.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Only a few hours of run in with the r7he. Its already has a larger sound stage with depth. While oppo lacks depth. Everything seems more realistic. 

 

So far its not a massive difference but my system has yet to be ran in. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
On 09/03/2021 at 9:04 AM, genkifd said:

I just received my R7HE DAC but i now require to purchase a SPDIF / COAX cable as the Oppo 105 doesnt output audio via USB. 

 

even the Oppo 105 sounds pretty good right now. just see how we go with the new R7HE.

My prejudice is that USB is a poorer link than SPDIF/Coaxial so IMHO you are ahead.

 

Yes the R8 is settling in nicely.  I still would not wager it is better than the modded LKS but the music is sounding very nice.  But I removed the FORZA headphone  cable from the  R8 system and am using it with the LKS system.  I prefer the MIT Vero and now have a spare which I should offer up FS.

 

The madness continues!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

from my little headphone experiences. one major benefit of Audio GD products is soundstage which headphone really lack. 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

No argument Audio-gd amplifiers improve the sound, including soundstage, but headphones can be impressive in that area, particularly the Sennheiser HD800S.  These are more comfortable than the Focals and usually have a better soundstage, but the Audio-gd headamp minimises that difference. in my experience.

Link to post
Share on other sites

you cant compare speaker soundstage to headphones. Even my cousins HD800 sound stage is miniature compared to speakers.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe so, but my comment is comparing headphones to one another.  I find the soundstage via headphones quite satisfying.  No, it is not surround sound but still very acceptable and listenable.

Link to post
Share on other sites

i have a friend who owns the R8 and also recently purchase the Gustard x16 and he indicated that R8 is far better. just no comparison even though Gustard measurements are far better.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...