Jump to content

Sign in to follow this  
SS-Audio

Conductor V2 USB Soundcard, 8Watt Head Amp, Preamp - Indiegogo Campaign

Recommended Posts

Fair enough

But for those of us who can't hear what your hearing, comparisons go a long way, me thinks. Even if they're not direct comparisons.

Having limited access to gear here, I've become enormously dependent on reading what feedback I can on stuff.

One guy on head-fi wrote a great review comparing a few DACs and headphone amps - with various cans - to the V2+. However, when someone reckoned the DAC on the V2+ was on par with the one in his Devialet, that made a much bigger impression on me than anything I'd read so far on the V2+.

I'll have the chance to hear the V2+ and timekeeper v here. But for those who can't, I will try to compare it the limited stuff I have here. Like I say, I am still most curious to read how well they stack up against alternatives

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fair enough

But for those of us who can't hear what your hearing, comparisons go a long way, me thinks. Even if they're not direct comparisons.

Having limited access to gear here, I've become enormously dependent on reading what feedback I can on stuff.

One guy on head-fi wrote a great review comparing a few DACs and headphone amps - with various cans - to the V2+. However, when someone reckoned the DAC on the V2+ was on par with the one in his Devialet, that made a much bigger impression on me than anything I'd read so far on the V2+.

I'll have the chance to hear the V2+ and timekeeper v here. But for those who can't, I will try to compare it the limited stuff I have here. Like I say, I am still most curious to read how well they stack up against alternatives

Yes you are right in what you say about relying on other people's comparisons. Only problem being not many people have multiple components hanging around long enough to always do justice to a fair comparison between them, even then varying hearing ability/preferences mean even those comparisons need to be taken with a pinch of salt - The Schiit Bifrost with Uber was an example in point - well regarded but for me (as a personal preference) was unlistenable, discordant and harsh (even after burn in) - WAAAAY to forward sounding - soundly beaten by the line out on a Fiio x5 2nd gen.

 

I will compare it to what I have and what I have heard in the past as much as I can, Had the Metrum Hex/Octave/Cyrus Dac+ a while back and have the Minimax with V5 Opamps now, have also owned numerous mid tier DAP's. Will also compare to the WA6SE, Metrum Aurix.

 

My intolerance of anything out of place in the high frequency area has lead me along the Valve/NOS path previously - I will be looking for something that has some of the  magic I have heard in the Hex/WA6SE/Aurix combined with the resolution/transparency of the ESS Sabre - The v5 opamp upgrade in the Minimax actually has been a large step in the right direction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brilliant, Greg :-)

I always take my own listening impressions with cup of salt...

You've had far more experience than I. Speaks volumes that you favour the Minimax over the Hex. Interesting that you didn't care for the Bifrost.

You've made me even more interested in what you make of the Burson duo :-)

What source are you using? Are you using any upsampling?

Edited by vegan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brilliant, Greg :-)

I always take my own listening impressions with cup of salt...

You've had far more experience than I. Speaks volumes that you favour the Minimax over the Hex. Interesting that you didn't care for the Bifrost.

You've made me even more interested in what you make of the Burson duo :-)

What source are you using? Are you using any upsampling?

 

My source is usually a mac mini if using USB or a Fiio X5 2nd Gen otherwise. The price difference between the Minimax (got mine for $350 + price of the Opamps ($280) and the Hex (rrp around 5k) is fairly substantial. The sound is different - If price were no object then I would have both...the minimax with the V5 has a far better more natural bass - less decay, more defined, more impact (but not boosted). The Treble on the Minimax is more extended - it was edging towards being harsh, grainy without the v5's but with them it manages to be highly resolving, defined but at the same time smooth and non fatiguing. For long term listening and with certain genres I would still favour the HEX but the financial reality meant that it had to go and get replaced by other hifi toys.  

 

I have also bypassed the v5 Opamps and upgraded internal caps to Silmic II and panasonic FC on the PSU with the minimax - So its not exactly comparing stock minimax to HEX - the Minimax with default Opamps or a decent tube with default internals was just 'okay' nothing special better than many in the Sub $1000 price range.

 

I tried to love the Bifrost - it just was too forward sounding and the treble to me was unnatural - metallic and not realistic at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Nice to have that point of comparison: Hex Vs Minimax on steroids.

Aural memory is sketchy at the best of times, let alone trying to remember the sound of times past. But all the same, your experience with the Hex and others will give you a much better perspective on how the V2+ fairs than I can. I'm sure your review will be read with interest. I'd encourage you to post it far and wide :-)

If you used Audirvana, I'd be curious to know what upsampling - if any - you favour with the V2+. It's been fun to tinker with the sound just through upsampling settings. It has taken me some time, but time well spent, me thinks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice to have that point of comparison: Hex Vs Minimax on steroids.

Aural memory is sketchy at the best of times, let alone trying to remember the sound of times past. But all the same, your experience with the Hex and others will give you a much better perspective on how the V2+ fairs than I can. I'm sure your review will be read with interest. I'd encourage you to post it far and wide :-)

If you used Audirvana, I'd be curious to know what upsampling - if any - you favour with the V2+. It's been fun to tinker with the sound just through upsampling settings. It has taken me some time, but time well spent, me thinks.

I do use Audirvana - tried other options but have found this to be the best/simplest solution. I did try some tweaking with the Octave but when I moved onto the HEX I was happy leaving the default settings. Have not really tried with the Minimax as the USB implementation is pretty average to say the least.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, improvements from using iZotope's upsampling haven't been vast, but very worthwhile - gaining a greater sense of presence and engagement.

I'm keen for Damien to allow A+ to convert PCM to DSD. (I'm too lazy and stingy to use HQ Player.)

The new ESS Pro chip has some appeal in that you can bypass its internal upsampling (ie. by feeding it upsampled material). Shame just swap chips, me thinks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, improvements from using iZotope's upsampling haven't been vast, but very worthwhile - gaining a greater sense of presence and engagement.

I'm keen for Damien to allow A+ to convert PCM to DSD. (I'm too lazy and stingy to use HQ Player.)

The new ESS Pro chip has some appeal in that you can bypass its internal upsampling (ie. by feeding it upsampled material). Shame just swap chips, me thinks.

Hadn't heard of the ESS pro. I got very satisfying improvements with the isotope's up sampling with the Octave due it being a NOS Dac - mainly for the same reasons as you have outlined - the settings added a sense of spaciousness to a lot of music when it was set up right - this for some reason didn't translate to the HEX which stubbornly sounded great regardless of the settings I put in. 

 

I am not sure of the advantages of converting PCM to DSD = DSD has largely bypassed me - haven't the bandwith to be downloading the albums!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


'... Shame we can't just swap out chips...', I was trying to say... D'oh.

The ESS Pro is very new and been used in only one DAC I've heard of (the name escapes me?). But perhaps Burson will bypass the Pro chip and devise their own fully discrete DAC next... which they'll offer as upgrade to swap out the Sabre boards ;-)

Nice that the Hex sounded good regardless of what you fed it :-)

In my excitement over the idea of upsampling to DSD, I've missed the fact that I'd need a new computer to do so. Leaving all the filtering to your computer seems to be appealing. But maybe not when you're using a 2010 Mac mini.... :-/

I hear you on the woeful state of download speeds in this country. We get what we vote for, I guess...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay so I can do a quick and dirty comparison and overview of my impressions so far of the V2+ - it's still burning in but at this stage has been running for around 25 hours.

 

However......early impressions - very very positive. Highlights - Classical music is just STUNNING through my T90's - same goes for well recorded Jazz, Acoustic guitar, Piano. The T90 are are ruthless pair of headphones - think almost HD800 fussiness regarding source hence they get passed over too often and are a bargain if you can get a second hand pair (or even new)- in fact I would go as far to say that the T90 with the V2+ is amongst the best I have heard classical music through headphones - that's compared to the WA6SE with good NOS tubes with Metrum Hex and HD800/HE500, Metrum Hex with Metrum Aurix/HD800/HD600 and Hex with Class A speaker amp and HE-6.........They all have their high points/strengths but for me the totally black background/wide airy soundstage and instrument separation and placement is exceptional with the T90/V2+ combination - there is a fantastic sense of being there with the orchestra. Considering the v2+ is the cheapest of all of the headphone amp/dac combinations I have owned so far I would say that it is giving nothing away in terms of build quality/refinement or anything else - just a different flavour of high end.

 

It also matches extremely well with my HD600 headphones - I think these are sounding the best out of any other amp combination I have tried them with - warm, engaging and detailed are words that come to mind- Great match for well mastered folk/rock music - where the T90 start to sound too strident the HD600 take over very nicely.

 

One thing to note is the detail and control extends to very low listening levels indeed - the hallmark of a very good preamp section - It's similar in this aspect to my ME25 preamp/Symphonia Opus 8 - absolutely perfect for late night very low listening levels.

 

I have the ESS9018 version and this can be a bit challenging when listening to badly mastered music (no surprises there) - I would say that the V2+ with a pair of oppo pm3 or similar Planar Magnetic phones for this genre (okay so badly mastered music is not a genre, but you know what I mean!) would be ideal - I have a portable ESS9018 based HA-2 which is pretty much a perfect match to the PM-3 (was designed for them) for this genre and I have no reason to think the V2+ with PM3 wouldn't display a lot more of the same goodness.....

 

The amp section is to all intents and purposes transparent - my HM802 line out into the V2+ sounds the same as with the IEM card - more impact in the bass but the same sonic signature, which in itself if very pleasing because the HM802 DAP is probably my favourite of all portable Daps so far....Amp section (as is the whole unit) is totally silent, no hiss/hum or otherwise.

 

Volume control is exceptional - virtually no transition between volume steps. Build quality is first class, Zero hum from the transformers.

 

There is no 1 amplifier/dac/headphone combination that is ideal for all genres of music from my experience, but the value proposition with the Conductor Virtuoso V2+ is astonishing for the asking price - the bonus here is that it will power any headphone on the market. If the V2+ could be adapted to have a cartridge load DAC section then I think I would be in Head-fi heaven :-) (any takers Burson :-))

Edited by Beyer guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Addition to this - all music through Audirvana, combination of music from 320kbs mp3 to 192/24 Flac. As with my previous experience with the XMOS chipset/OSX it is a seamless transparent solution. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brilliant read Greg!

Very exciting stuff.

Did you do a direct comparison with the Hex - DAC V DAC?

Anticipation builds! :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I can't use the V2+ Dac out on its own as I currently have no preamp/amp combination that will work in this way - in the process of a move......bad timing in that way...

 

I would say however that from plugging in my HM802S and also AK JR that the headphone amp section is essentially transparent as previously mentioned. If I added a preamp/second headphone amp I'm only going to introduce another factor into the equation....

 

I have listened to this a great many hours over the past 2 days and one adjustment that I have needed to make is in general listening levels. The Metrum Hex with either the WA6SE or Aurix allowed for fairly high listening levels - its a very laid back combination - probably not all that good for your hearing long term however. The V2+ ESS9018 with the T90 do not allow for this at all unless the material is very well mastered - it's a more forward combination but the payback is far more listening detail/pleasure at low/sane levels.

 

A summary would be

 

V2+ ESS9018 => Plusses- Exceptional Detail, great sound stage, great instrument separation, great at low listening levels, brings out the best in well mastered music, totally black background (many times I thought the track was not playing/had stopped). DAC itself is highly resolving - no fat here just the raw detail - no need to worry about the source/amp just choose the right headphone and it will reward you. It's also warmish - its not a clinical sounding combination at all.

 

 

                       => Minuses- Not that forgiving of some pop tracks especially where vocals are artificially boosted.

 

 

Metrum HEX with WA6SE => Plusses- Very good detail, Analogue warmish sound, More forgiving of badly mastered music, feel like you are listening a few seats further back in the performance, NOS nature means that it's strengths are more apparent with HD music (conversely it doesn't sound as good with standard redbook or lower)

 

                      => Minuses- Not as strong at low listening levels - loses definition, Higher noise floor of WA6SE means micro details are lost, Slight hum of WA6SE means that this can intrude into the music late at night (both the HUM of the rectifier/slight hum through the headphones)--> No one valve combination works well with all headphones. Metrum HEX is great with many genres, not as forward sounding but this means that ultimate enjoyment is lesser for genres like Classical where detail and frequency are all important (a lot of classical music energy is above normal hearing levels - I don't think the Metrum did this as well as the ESS9018 in the V2+

 

My only other additions are that 

 

1. It's not fully burnt in (probably 35 hours now) - Experience has demonstrated that there are marginal changes over time.

2. I'm VERY sensitive to anything that it not completely perfect - I can still hear frequencies up to around 19khz.

3. While typing this I've been listening to some 'pop' music at fairly low levels (Halo Effect) on my T90 headphones and it's a totally relaxing experience but not in a warm/fuzzy lacking resolution way - the detail is there but not to the extent that it's impossible to stop actively listening to the music - it's very hard to get out of 'analysis' mode sometimes and just listen for pleasure....

Edited by Beyer guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a head-fi guy, so have long felt I'm missing out on what most consider to be the Conductor's forte.

I've very much enjoyed it as a DAC+pre, though. Music is sounding awfully good right now... I wonder improvements your V1+ and the new V2+ bring.... Nice to see great gear like this being sold at such reasonable prices.

 

Just saw reference back to your previous post - I would say the improvements would be substantial regarding the PRE - the new volume control is sensational - I found the old conductor stepped volume control frustrating when I tried it, the new implementation and the lack of a gain switch works very well. The Pre out is very good - my brief test with the Timekeeper Virtuoso Amp show it to be a very capable preamp. Same observations apply really - it's got great detail and control at low volume levels which is where normally lesser preamps seem to fail. I would also say that the V5 opamps in my Minimax made a massive difference and since the V2+ uses the same circuit then it should be reflected in the preamp out quality. 

 

Hope this helps!

Edited by Beyer guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Greg for some great insights into your experience :-)

Interesting to read your comments on the Hex. Sounds like the Hex may still hold sway in the musicality/analogue department? I've read that Metrum's aren't necessarily the best for classical. My brief listening to a system featuring a Pavane sounded weakest on some classical material (but wouldn't read too much into that - as it may not have been a stellar recording - and did sound good with some electro-orchestral stuff).

Thanks for your thoughts on the low-listening levels. That is key. As my bachelor-pad days are numbered, I'll be doing more listening at lower levels. (Thankfully, she likes much of my music... although still needs more time with jazz... and Mahler...)

Good tip on the T90s. I may well need some headphones for an extended trip overseas...

Seems like you're more enamoured with the head-fi experience compared to what you're getting through your speakers. With the Timekeeper Virtuoso?

I'd be keen to get your thoughts on the Timekeeper too... If you care to humour me :-)

Enjoy the burn in process!

Hopefully, those lesser recordings become a little more enjoyable over time :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...