Another new DAC: Audio Mirror

Just ran across this last night. Never heard of them before but
as a Minnesota company tweaked my curiosity.
Audio Mirror Tubadour III non-oversampling tube DAC. Sounds interesting.
If anyone runs across one and has a listen please post.

Showing 24 responses by cal3713

Looking forward to it @teajay 
Tvad! Hadn't seen you around and just saw all you content has been deleted. What a shame, you have good ears and more people should copy your preferences.

Unfortunately I don't have the ability to provide the comparison information you're after, but I have the dac's lid off and Vlad is using Jensen jt-11p-11b transformers in that location. 

Also, given what I remember about your equipment preferences, I think you should take AM up on the home trial and just give it a shot. This dac just sounds so beautifully natural on my Coincident PREs.

As you've probably already read earlier in the thread better it is better than the Lampizator Amber 3, PS Audio Directstream & Perfectwave, Matrix X-Sabre Pro, ifi iDSD Pro, and Shiit Bifrost 2 in my system.
What pre are you using?
@rja I'd say yes.  I'd also been using DAC volume control (via PS Audio's PWD II and Directstream DAC).  Adding a preamp to my system improved every aspect.  I've got a Don Sach''s 6SN7 preamp.  

And I continue to fully recommend the AM dac.  Check my earlier posts for outcomes of my shootout if you haven't already.
I just ordered one (fully upgraded).  Will update at some point during the 10 day demo...  I have high hopes.  I tried to update my PS Audio Perfectwave DAC with a Directstream and ended up going back to the PWD after a month or two.  The DSD just didn't sound natural in my system.  This will be my second attempt at a new digital source.
I've talked to @1markr a bit via pm, but wondering if anyone else has tried tube rolling in this dac.  He recommended orange globe label Amperex JAN 7308s and Holland Philips SQ Miniwatt E188CCs, but not Amperex 6922 PQs. I accidentally bought the latter (pinched waste I think) for my trial period. At least I'll get to try them vs stock.

And for people considering the miflex. I had them on the outputs of my Don Sachs pre and didn't like them as much as he did. Good tonality, but flat and 2 dimensional. I replaced them with Mundorf Supremes and prefer the later. A lot more layering to the sound. Haven't tried them in the pre, but I do have duelund tinned copper casts on my speaker crossovers and love them. I doubt miflex would beat them there (Jupiters were quite a few steps back).
@audio123 That is most definitely a big plus for the miflexs...
This dac is soo much better than my directstream. Finally heard what my system ( is capable of (and I’m in trouble with my girl). Love it, you should buy it.
@musichead indeed. I think if you've either a) got a bright and detailed system, or b) love a natural, organic sound, then you should really audition this dac. It won't jump out and tell you how great it is, but the more carefully you listen, the more it rewards.

Unfortunately, I found the opposite to be true of the psa directstream. The more carefully I listened, the more I found that things didn't sound right. I honestly can't think of anything I preferred from that dac to the amt3.
Also, for people interested in tube rolling, I asked Vlad and got the following:

"My other favorite tubes are 6N1P(EV). The ones with “rocket” logo are in general better than others. There is been some hype about 6N5P triple mica.I tried them, to me they sounded same as 6N1P. It is hard to say what was the reason, because from batch to batch tubes differ and sound different. For example I had 6N1P EV sounding better than regular 6N1P and bought same tube again. Obviously different batch and the new batch was worse than regular 6N1P. Also ECC88 Tesla gold pins(old Tesla production) used to sound pretty good."
Good recommendations @vassils.  I would have said 1,3,4,5... with 4/5 being very close.  I think the Duelund caps are the clear winner for most important.
This dac will certainly grow on you over time. I'm still getting more and more impressed and I've had it for months. It just makes beautiful music. 
congrats @mesch hope you love it.  Please do report back regardless of your agreement...
Yes, normally there would be a fuse between the hot leg of your AC cord and the DAC circuitry, but if you want to live dangerously, you can directly connect the + leg of the circuit to the hot tab of your IEC outlet, bypassing the normal fuse position. 

Certainly, the best sounding fuse is no fuse, but if you get an AC surge, then some other component in the DAC is going to overheat and blow.  
@vassils Can you say what you’re using to run your woofers? I have Coincident PRE’s (94db) and just finally got dedicated subwoofer amplifiers to run their lower ends (2 x 12"). They’re the solid state Class AB Dayton Audio SA1000s that Audio Kinesis uses for their Swarm, supposedly based of a Bob Carver design. So much cheaper than everything else in my system, but made an amazing difference.

And thanks for the comparison to the Terminator, that’s good to hear, as it was another I had considered before buying the AMT3se.
@vassils.  Thanks for the information!
For people who are on the fence about buying a dac that uses an old chip when there are new dac's with better measurables to be had...

I got a demo of a Matrix X-Sabre Pro and the Audio Mirror TIII-SE is just so much better. 

The "modern" Matrix sounds good and is very clean, but lacks emotion and front-to-back layering.  Just so much less dimensional and engaging.  If you go to Audio Science Review, you'll see that the Matrix is the best measuring dac they've ever tested.  I will note that I only listen to standard 44.1k redbook, so that may be one limitation of my comparison.
A cross-post from the Lampizator Amber 3 thread that I think people here would be interested in too...

Finished my dac shootout today... had the Lampizator Amber 3, Audio Mirror Tubadour 3 SE, ifi iDSD pro, and Shiit Bifrost 2 on hand. Previously also had a Matrix x-sabre pro, PS Audio Directstream, and PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC MK2 in the same system. All were fed lossless Tidal with the SPDIF output of a Magna Mano Ultra streamer. Speakers are Coincident PREs, amplified by First Watt F4 monoblocks, and a Don Sach's DS-3 6SN7 preamp (see my system page for full details).

First, I'd like to echo Bill's comments about Colin of Gestalt Audio. Total class act, and highly recommended for any purchase. He's been responsive, helpful, and not at all pushy. Perfect service.

For review: In my system, the Audio Mirror was the winner. To my ears, it was the most real sounding of the bunch. It has beautiful "meat on the bones" and was the most holographic. The Amber sounded good, but in a very different way. For me, it was brighter and more lively. The soundstage was huge, but had less depth and liquidity than the AM. I also liked the iFi iDSD pro (used in tube+ mode with the bitperfect filter). It had great tonality, but was significantly flatter and less 3-dimensional than the AM. I think more people should give it a shot. The Shiit was good. Very even-handed and competent, but more "digital sounding" to my ears. My friend was listening blind and liked it the second best of the group (behind the AM).  

Despite its king-of-the-hill status in specs (see Audio Science Review), I did not enjoy the Matrix x-Sabre Pro. It was very quiet and clean, with a nice mellow sound, but also a bit "grey" and sterile. I also did not like the PS Audio Directream, which just sounded wrong in my system. It felt disjointed. I don't know what the situation is, but for some reason it doesn't work with my ears. Unlike others, I actually preferred the PerfectWave over it (twice - as I tried upgrading two times over a 4 year span).  

All in all, it was great to finally listen to a wide range of sources, and I could enjoy most of the ones in the stable. The experience also brought me closer to my AM T3-SE. A beautiful, highly recommended dac.
@teajay Obviously impressions are always heavily system dependent, but it's still good to have people agree with you.  Glad to read that we heard things similarly... looking forward to reading the full AM-T3 SE review.
Always nice to hear more positive outcomes for a dac you own. Thanks for the report @teajay
@gryphongryph I also use mine as part of the television/ps4 system. Fortunately, the replacement tubes are cheap and plentiful. I wouldn't (and don't) stress about it.
Also, if you are feeling stressed about tube life, you could consider the ifi idsd pro. I preferred the audio mirror to it, but did enjoy the ifi as well. It has the option to run either tube-based or solid state output stages, so you could go to SS when not doing critical listening.
Ahhh, sorry for missing that @tvad . Wish I could help out. I do know the pass labs diy crowd loves their Cinemag transformers and prefer them to Jensens... it's what Nelson runs in the front of the sit3. A good company too. They make those little audio transformers at a loss just to help people out (and for the advertising, I presume).
That's the worst part of using tubes in my opinion. Usually they just gradually lose their "vitality" over time rather than failing in a noticable way. Best thing to do in my experience is to get a second pair of your main tubes and try switching them with your primary pair every once in a while (6 months, a year). If they sound the same (or worse), you know the originals are still good. I'm over a year into my first set on the AM and still prefer that pair to the new ones.

Even though tubes have recommended life spans, some keep working well long after that time is up. Others don't make it that far...

Or get a tube tester (just kidding).