AMR DP-777, what am I missing ?


There are a lot of people here who love this DAC, I purchased one (used) based on the many glowing reviews, but feel like this DAC falls short.
To be sure it bested (by not a lot) my Wavelength Cosecant (better imaging and bass) but I still prefer my modest analog setup (Rega RP6, Shelter 500).

I am sure my digital front-end is not super tuned: IMac, audirvana, no-name USB cable to DAC. But before I spend more money I would love some advice from the good folks in this forum on how I can make this $5000 retail DAC at least come close to my modest analog setup that cost much less retail without spending too much coin.

Do I need to invest in a music server, or maybe a USB to SPDIF, or better USB cable or all of the above.

Rest of my system.
Coincident Line stage
Coincident Dragon mk2 monoblocks
Verity Parsifal Encore speakers.

Thanks.
essrand
I'll be interested in reading some of the replies here.

Your story is not all that unusual, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, I gave up chasing high end digital separates years ago when I rediscovered analog.

I have a nice Marantz CDP that handles my digital needs, and has kept me satisfied digitally for the last 7+ years. I'm sure that digital gets better, but it still doesn't compete with analog, IMHO.

Cheers,
John
I own the DP 777. The cabling and USB could add a smidgen more detail and decay but you are not going to replace the organic nature of analog. Unless your willing to spend much much more. The AMR sounds good and is real convenient for computer audio or even with a lower priced transport. But for critical listening or to enjoy music the way you have built your system save your money. AMR has just started shipping the boards for the SE update but I am going to save my money and buy LPs. You will probably get as many different opinions as the posts you receive.
I'm having similar issues but slightly different. I purchased a Resolution Audio Cantata here and so far this is my experience. Playing CD's on this device is absolutely glorious and terrific. Digital off the computer, no where close but my digital set up is similar to yours, generic cable etc. so who knows what it is capable of. Oh and my analogue front end which is a Rega P9, terrific as well in a different way but the Cantata CD playback is quite "organic" as well. I'm anxious to optimize the digital playback but not for crazy money. I'd Rather buy some more lps or CD's.
I was afraid that was going to be the answer.

Was considering selling my analog setup to reduce the number of stuff I own, but guess not yet.

Redcarerra, I am considering getting the ifi usb stuff to see if that could help. Mattshipln huge thread has considerable info on making digital sound better.
01-27-15: Jmcgrogan2
I have a nice Marantz CDP that handles my digital needs, and has kept me satisfied digitally for the last 7+ years. I'm sure that digital gets better, but it still doesn't compete with analog, IMHO.
John, you need to hear the Vitus SCD-025 paired with a Vitus SIA-025 and either Magico, Avalon or Martens speakers ;)
David, I need to hear a LOT of toys.
Too many toys, not enough time/money!!

Very little Vitus gear over here in the States.
That would be the most difficult find of those that you mention.
You need to work on the Transport side.

So much cahhetr about the Dacs (which have been improving) but benign neglect of the Transport.

Try getting a CAPs server running windows 2012 server and Audiophile Optimiser in core Mode, a Sonore signature Rendu outputting SPDIF, a SoTM 100 Network Audio Adapter, and a stripped down Win8.1 PC, Aurender, Baetis, Antipodes, etc.

This will bring a clean signal to the Dac and you will likey.
typo ...chatter about the dacs
While spinning Licorice Pizza, I don't feel the need to work on the transport side or the DAC side.

Spin an LP and forget about all of that digital hash. Why invest mega bucks on digital gear to try and beat your inexpensive analog rig? Just buy more LP's! ;^)
JOhhhhn, John you know why!..so you can lie back in your leather listening chair eating real pizza while flicking through your library on tablet & deciding which album you want to listen to next ;)
Can't argue with that logic David! LOL!
John,

That's cause a lot of music I listen to are not available on vinyl only CDs :(
I don'tknow this dac. What other DACs have you tried or compared? Are you using usb? Is it an asynchronous usb connection with this dac if so?
I wouldn't dream of running any file-based playback with a trash USB. It would eviscerate the sound quality. I have demoed about ten models from six or seven brands of them in my room and the sound quality differential was large, every bit as effective as tube rolling and nearly as large as switching a component.

I only takes one garbage connection to take down a system. One.
Essrand - if your DAC's USB circuits utilize the power provided via the USB cable, then this post may assist

Do You Use USB for Streaming?

I've found this cable to be the best I've tried to date

If your DAC does not use the power provided via the USB cable then this approach will not provide any benefit

I've used KLEI gZero3 and gZero6 IC's on my DAC with great success - they actually allow components to work considerably better than most conventional IC's due to their design. My DAC actually runs cooler with these cables

Regards...
I have no directly relevant experience, but it seems to me that you may gain some insight that would be helpful in formulating a course of action if you were to experimentally try a different computer; a USB 3.0 port if you are presently using a USB 2.0 port (on the different computer if necessary); a USB 2.0 port if you are presently using a USB 3.0 port (on the different computer if necessary); and different USB ports on each of the computers. And definitely also try a better USB cable.

Also, as an experimental measure, it may be worth TEMPORARILY trying a cheater plug to isolate the AC safety ground connection of either the computer or the DAC. Or both, for that matter. I'm envisioning the possibility that ground loops may be causing jitter or other issues in the DAC.

Very nice system you've got there, btw. Good luck. Regards,
-- Al
01-31-15: Douglas_schroeder
I wouldn't dream of running any file-based playback with a trash USB. It would eviscerate the sound quality...I only takes one garbage connection to take down a system. One.
+ 1. Single or preferably double-xlr connections from server transport to dac for me thanks.
Other dacs I have tried are: triode labs dac, nad m51, benchmark hgc, wavelength cosecant. Amr in my memory seems the beat of the lot.

The usb input is async for sure. Yes I use usb

Douglas, can you recommend some usb systems, I am assuming you mean a usb to spdif converter.

I believe that a better usb cable might help but don't think it will gve me the order of magnitude performance jump I am looking for.

Thanks for ic recos willie , will check them out.

Al, my current plan as you suggest, is to switch my iMac to a Mac mini, since my iMac seems to be really slow and unresponsive these days. Then next maybe try a USB filter system.

Am planning to start with the ifi USB filers and cables system by Amr , unless you guys think there is something better I should try first
Essrand, no, I do not mean USB to S/DIF converter; yikes, that would be horrid! Converters have a great capacity to suck life out of performance, and I try to avoid them whenever possible.

I did mean a quality USB cable to go from your Mac to the DAC. If you have no experience with aftermarket USB cables, you will be surprised at the difference they make. Simply because you don't think it will make that much difference is a poor reason not to pursue it. When I entered this hobby about30+ years ago I didn't think cables at all made that much difference, and I was way wrong about that! ALL wires, ALL connections are critical if one wants to pursue the best sound possible.

If you mean in your above post USB "filter", my opinion is to avoid filters like ferrite rings around cables, etc. My conclusion is that they do filter out noise, but also harm the micro dynamics. Opinions differ on this, as you can imagine. :)

I am currently running a $1K USB cable, the Clarity Audio Organic USB. Pricey, yup, but it bested about ten others including at least one more expensive. I wouldn't be without a premium USB cable, as it is the lifeline for the files to reach the DAC. Screw up that connection and you have fairly killed your chance at premium sound. :)
There are some obvious basics required. Quality isolation and power conditioning for your digital. (And I do the same for analog.) Heed the efforts of Wadia and Esoteric with respect to power supplies and assume similar effectiveness for Spectral digital and Alpha.Different digital components, and power supplies, discharge and/or have varying degrees of sensitivity to line noise. Briefly, if you don't address these items you will never know what any particular component or your system is capable of. "Sound Application" is an outright steal used and supremely effective. "Equitech" provides exc isolation via their patented process of achieving finely balanced (noise killing) transformers. Be prepared to enter a different realm of musical enjoyment :-) . Have fun.
The usb cable is extremely important. Try a Wireworld Platinum usb cable. I was surprised at the difference. My 2 cents.
Douglas, Elsneb

It would certainly make me a very happy camper if a simple USB cable solved my problems.
I am surprised with all the talk about USB Power supplies, SPDIF converters with clocks in them in the other threads that you think they harm the sound.

I will be posting my experiments as I perform them in this thread so maybe it will useful for someone else in the future.

step 1: replace imac with a mac mini that has a SSD and more RAM.
step 2: try a good USB cable, maybe wireworld platinum.
.....
Lets see if that works, before I try out specialized music servers or usb converters.
Williewonka,

Looks like the USB cable you mentioned is sold out.
Any ideas on how to get a cable like this elsewhere.

Thanks
Essrand - even though the available amount says "0" the advertisement still seems to be active.

Try contacting the seller - Doukmall and ask them if they will be getting more.

Go to this link and click on Contact Seller

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Power-supply-and-USB-cable-separate-audio-signal-cable-/251589388236?ssPageName=ADME:X:AAQ:US:

I don't know of anyone else that sells these

However there are alternatives - like the Aqvox
http://www.aqvox.de/usb-power_en.html

There are a couple of other brands but they are very expensive - Acoustic Revive is one - iFi Audio Gemini is another

That's about it - other that DIY

I hope you are successful :-)
Essrand - something else I've tried just this week - I now use dbPoweramp to rip CD's - the SQ is significantly better than using iTunes or MAX.

You can get a free 21-day fully loaded evaluation version - after that it reverts to a crippled free version

Just google dbpoweramp

Regards...
I am currently evaluating using a iMac 4GB with regular HDD, vs mac mini 8GB RAM and fusion drive.
Do not hear a difference worth changing to mac mini with more memory and SSD.
Next up will be trying a USB/SPDIF converter.

Thanks Williewonka, I will try out dbpoweramp.
Essrand - Did you setup Audirvana to up-sample or not?

I do not up-sample at all and disable the volume control - my DAC seems "happier" with that config

WRT iMac vs Mac-Mini
- When my iMac's hard drive failed the technicians really messed up the display while trying to fix the drive
- wished I'd gone with the Mac-Mini - also easier to transport to the Apple Store
- But I did get a new iMac due to their cock-ups :-)

Regards...
Yes.. powerconditioner, powerchords, the choise of cables and musical transparent amps with detail and soundstage to get the most out of the DP is necesseary. "There is no shortcuts to the perfect sound" said onkel Barbro! Vinyl for 5000$ should be a bit better in everything but its nice to get all this music from loosless streaming to search for new great music and the DP is not bad at all to enjoy music with! I will keep going for warm, transparent, detailed and musical sound myself.. see if I'll ever get there.. 😄
AMR digital gear is relatively a veiled sounding in my experience. I have no experience with the DAC but I have listened to CD-77 and CD-777 in my system. The filter options will not help much also.
Maybe better tubes will but I don't thing that these will make it a top digital anyway.
No offense please but this is just my experience based on my system.
Audiogon seems not to honor a freedom of speech.
So all answers must be extremely polite if some company name is mentioned.
Therefore it is impossible to give a straight answers here and therefore the forum is so rounded and nice...
Don't even think that I'm a reseller of some brand or someone whose related in audio business (expect buying as audiophile).
I tested CD-77 and CD-777. Both nice and musical but not very natural and not pleasingly detailed for me. Anyway enjoyable but not the top of a hill digital.
Hi, I have a Aurender x100L with an audioquest diamond usb cable.

Sounds very very close to vinyl. The Beauty is that it is so practical. At 192 it's so musical and with tidal it is just easy smooth audiophile listening to unlimited amount of music.

I hear that a separate power supply improves the aurender.
I forgot to mention that I am using a amr dp777se version. Most musical DAC I have heard. The 100% pure silver usb audioquest diamond makes a big difference. The aurender x100 is also a top quality streamer.

I still prefer my gyro se turntable with rondo red ortofon cartridge and Conrad Johnson premier fifteen tube phono stage (all siltech g7 cables) sonus faber Guarneri hommage with audio research ref210 monos (kt120's).

I use the amr dp777se as my new preamp for both analog and digital. It has replaced my arc ref5se preamp. Sounds just as good.

The versatility of tidal makes it a relaxed choice for music listening. Vinyl sounds a little better but sometimes you just don't feel like flipping records.
An update.

I think my AMR needed more burn-in time. It really sounds fabulous now.
For Mingus in Bohemia record. The CD and LP versions are almost indistinguishable.

Williewonka,
Replacing my slowwww imac with a dedicated mac mini also really helped.

I love the pre-amp of the AMR, not as good as my coincident line stage, but close. Wonder if the pre-amp section also needs burn-in, since for all this time I have been bypassing it.

Samsca, how much did the SE upgrade cost you ?
The preamp section definitely needs its own burn-in time and it is a long one, if memory serves. There are other long time or past owners on here that spoke of this a while back. Count on it needing more that 500 hours. Mine did and I remember someone saying another big tick in performance closer to 1000. Fills out with more body well after 500.
The digital source is just as, if not more important than the DAC. Trash in, trash out. If your DAC is capable and relatively transparent, you are hearing the digital source.
I believe the SE upgrade is around 1500$. I did not upgrade my unit. I purchased a SE unit. The SE is an impressive unit.
Essrand, did you stick with the DP777? Upgrading the tubes with great NOS helped a lot. Power is also, as always, important, I used at the end the SR Red fuse which has offers more dynamics than HiFiTuning Supreme and a CH X-20 power cord.

Essrand Hi.

Your DP777 is a great dac, we had A/B,s with it against some very heavy hitters using just Redbook cd using it's "Classic Multibit 16-Bit DAC" NOT THE "High-Definition 32-Bit DAC" section, and it won out easily.
But it was used direct into the amps using it's own volume control.

As AMR states
"The exceptionally precise 71-step resistor matrix-based Analogue Volume Control system delivers unmatched transparency. To attain the highest sound quality, no digital volume control is anywhere to be found."

Cheers George
Hi Jazzonhudson,

Yes I stuck with the DP777.
It's fantastic. It really came on its own after a 1000 hour or two burnin.
I might try your recommendations about fuses etc. at some point but for now am happy.

George, yes the preamp on dp777 is quite stunning.
Although I did prefer a shindo monbrison to going direct to amp.
But the dp777 preamp is so good that you wonder if that improvement with the shindo is worth the 10k expense.
Hi Essrand,
Did the Shindo replace your CSL?
Hi Charles,

Yes it did. It just felt so right and was the missing piece in my audiophile search.

The CSL I was surprised didn't do it for me, despite the high praise garnered for it on this forum. Maybe tube rolling might have helped but not sure. It didn't give me the goosebumps like the shindo did.

The CSL was closer to going direct to amp in terms of sound (better musically) but the shindo (less transparent) made music.
Hi Essrand,
Thanks for replying. I get your point and will add this. As you noted the CSL is transparent to the point of being nearly invisible in the signal pathway. It is what I'd call an ultra pure signal preserver. As a result it's very sensitive to tube swaps, cables,fuses, equitment stands/platforms etc. It allows the small nuance and information to be easily resolved and presented. Changing the 101D tube to the Pavane W.E.Replica makes a substantial difference,everything improves.

If your source or other components have a certain character the CSL won't alter it, be it musical or analytical.
Yet I do understand your preference for the Shindo, you have to trust your own ears and reactions. Shindo preamps have earned a superb reputation for their SQ, no question.

I get a very emotionally involving and natural presentation that pulls me deep into the music. I realize this is a reflection of the overall construction and voicing of the system. In combo with my 300b SET amp the dynamics, tonal body fullness and harmonic richness are terrific.

I have no doubt that your sound with the inclusion of the Shindo is truely wonderful and very engaging.I bet I'd love the Shindo as well. As we both have learned with experience, many roads lead to Rome.
Best Regards,
Charles,
After evaluating two new D A C around $10k last two weeks, I came around to re appreciate what the DC 777 can do; too bad it doesn't handle DSD. It's internal volume  / preamp function is awesome.

The presenter that showed us the new AMR DP777 SE version said it can do dsd. And that older versions can be upgraded to the new SE, we heard both versions compared on Redbook playback, and the newer SE one was slightly better, but the standard one would still do.

This was a quote on another forum.

" should have mentioned that AMR is about to come out with a new version of the DP-777. I believe it will utilize one DAC chip instead of two separate chips and will be DSD-enabled"

Whether this is just upsampled to dsd, or true native dsd, which to me there’s not much material that interests me on native dsd anyway.

Cheers George



I am not very interested in DSD so DP777 works fine for me.

if the new version has one chip instead of two it seems like a step backward as this was one of the best ideas of the Amr dac. 

Not tested this but I believe this dac does its best magic on redbook probably thanks to it having a dedicated chip for redbook.

holding on to my dp777 for now :)
essrand, what did you end up using for your cable from source to DAC?
I have 3 DP-777's I like them so much. Upgraded one to the SE version and found it worthwhile enough to upgrade the other two! (Better bass and more aire.) A friend with a high-end ($30k) turntable e/ Anna cartridge upgraded to SE and loves it, finds it very close to his analog rig. Just as good as my Metrum Hex but the AMR has the aforementioned preamp ability, phase, dedicated high rez dac. Mini Mac/Pro helps, ifi USB 3.0 helps, and switching out the one center chassis tube, 6922, for an nice NOS Amperex made a big improvement (switching the two 5670 tubes, one on either side of the chassis, made little difference). I do understand there is another DSD upgrade coming which I probably won't do, feeling it is "good 'nuf" right now.


I just purchased this DAC, I am still waiting for it to be shipped, it is the SE version. The dealer let me do an in - home demo, non SE, and I found the DAC, to be exceptional.... especially on RB, which it will be use 99% of the time when paired with the Aurender N-100H server. My CDP, will now be used as a transport.


@knownothing I just use a generic USB cable for now.

I tested a 200$ USB cable (audioquest) I think, against a generic one and couldn't tell the difference (or it wasn't enough for me to spend $200). I didn't investigate into other USB cables that people rave about.

@truman do you know if the SE version is also a 2-chip version, one for redbook and another for high-res? Also thanks for the tip on the tube rolling, think I will be shopping for 6922 tubes soon. BTW How do you compare the improvement of using iFi USB vs the NOS 6922, if I were to do only one of them, which one would you pick?