I'm just about to add a Sonic Frontiers Ultra jitterbug to my DIP Mk II, so I hope I get the same reaction.
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I have one DIP 24/96 between my Theta Pearl and DSPro Basic IIIa, and I think it works a treat. However, I cannot see adding yet another box (albeit small), power cable, and digital interconnect to my system here (where I formerly had just a CDP!). If Monarchy is confident of the benefits of daisy-chaining, why don't they just sell an upgrade version containing two units inside one chassis?
It is in my experience that dejitter boxes needs a powercord that is as good or better than your transport and dac.
I know most dejitter boxes don't accept iec cords. But, my Meridian 518 improved greatly with a Virtual Dynamics Power 2 cord: coherency and naturalness of human voice greatly increased.
Multiple jitter boxes work great and are highly recommended! I was using 75 ohm BNCs and cable between them. Then I removed all of the BNC connectors and hard wired Illuminati Ohm-Aha 75 ohm cable between the TLCs and DIP. This was another great improvement. I then hard wired DH Labs D-110 cable to the output of the DIP and the input to the UJB-1. I bought another TLC that I have not inserted into the chain yet, but I'm tempted.
What do you folks consider to be the main benefit of a jitter box ?
I tried a Monarchy Super Dip quite a while ago and did not really care for it. The most noticeable effects were that it made everything sound very "etched" and "hi-fi". Some might call that more "focused", but i found it un-natural. It also drastically leaned out the bass ( it was definitely quicker and tighter ) but it also took much of the PRAT of the system with it. Didn't mess with it too much or too long, so i'm kind of curious as to others' experiences. Sean
Sean, I found almost the exact opposite with my experiences. In my system, separation between instruments improved; I would describe it as only a slight increase in image depth and width, but that the instruments and vocals were better localized. It was almost as if the sounds filled out their respective locations with more authority, but increased air and distance from each other. I know that last comment reads as a physical impossibility, but that's the best way I can describe it. Again, in my system PRAT was improved, but only marginally. Bass was more tuneful, but not deeper. I did not notice any loss of bass fullness. I noticed the midbass definition was improved allowing me to hear notes beginning and end as well as the time in between. Everything I'm attempting to decribe here sounds more "hi-fi" less music, but it's not. My overall system musicality is improved.
I found the BNC out on the Super DIP to sound better than the SPDIF, but I had to find a BNC to RCA cable to make best use of it.
I guess that's what makes this pursuit enjoyable and maddening at the same time. Stuff I've heard sound amazing a friends is only marginal in my system and vice versa.
Actually in my system, I found both Sean's and Twylie's assessments to be true in a way. It took me about 3 hours of auditioning to decide that what I was hearing, while obviously a distinct change, was an unequivocal improvement. At first, I was put off by the seemingly "etched" quality Sean mentions, and wondered if the more yang-ish sound I heard was less musical. All the improvements in separation and delineation Twylie talks about were there, too, but I kept changing my mind on whether the bass was just cleaner, or really leaner.
But over extended listening and critical comparisions of revealing disks with and without the DIP, I was brought around decisively, no doubt in part through some gradual readjustment on the part of my ears. The DIP removes a certain "soft" and less distinct aspect to the reproduction that my digital separates (see above), though much improved over the relatively "hazey" sound of my previous CDP, still apparently possessed to a residual degree. The resulting sound is unapologetically "digital" in character, but only in the best way, and definitely more accurate, IMHO. With the DIP taken out now, I think the sound is clearly less faithful to what I perceive as the mastertape, mostly through subtraction. It sounds compromised in timing, frequency extension, spatial recreation, dynamic expression, and transient cleanliness. What I'm describing superficially sounds (both literally and figuratively) more "analog" than what you get with the DIP in, but this is not really true. Analog, while it suffers from its own brands of distortions, does not share in kind the underlying mechanism of jitter (the reduction of which presumably accounts for the DIP's benefits), and so the softer sound of the rig sans DIP is not really "more analog", just reduced in fidelity.
Now I wouldn't give up the clean'n'clear, impactful, extended, very present, and spacious sound I get with the inexpensive DIP 24/96 inserted (via Cardas Lightnings on RCA). I think also think its amazingly well-built outside and especially inside for the asking price. (I hasten to add that I can't vouch for any of the many older versions of the DIP in all these regards, including appearance, which was not the same as the new chassis.) The DIP, along with my new-to-me (thanks to the 'Gon) Theta digital components, has finally provided me with digital sound to stir my emotions and keep my attention without fatigue, as well as actually compete with my turtable for playing time and inspire me to buy more CD's. I'm with Sam Tellig on this one - the Monarchy DIP is spot-on if you ask me.
Re-reading my previous post, forgive me but I'm going to clarify a couple of points. In the final analysis, I do not believe that the DIP actually leans out tonal colors in the least. The "yang-ish" character I mentioned above was only in relation to the sound without the DIP, not in absolute terms. I believe its only effect on timbral balance at all is the lack of attenuation - the preservation, if you will - of the extended high frequencies. Any apparent leaness I perceived at first was due, I believe, to the removal of a certain "murkiness" in the sound that I was used to, before introducing the DIP cleaned that up. I want to also point out that poorly mastered CD's will still sound bad, albeit more accurately so. Your tolerance for edgy CD sound will have something to do with the balance struck by the rest of your system - mine has all-tube pre- and power amps. In addition, the DIP will not render the differences between transports academic. Although it is effective with all three of the transports I've tried it with, it does not equalize them. The best transport among them is still clearly the best with the DIP in as well.
Just read Greg Kong's review of the new DIP 48/96 Upsampler on Soundstage.com. He compares it to the 24/96 non-upsampling version (the new one is $50 more) and seems to find the Upsampler's sound less along the lines of what Sean disliked about the unit like mine. I haven't heard the Upsampler, but I have some questions about the theory of its operation.
Since my Theta, like a lot of DAC's out there, won't process a signal at a 96khz sampling rate, the DIP would have to be set internally to output 48khz. I fail to see how resampling the output from the transport to up the rate from 44khz to 48khz, which in theory would raise the Nyquist cutoff frequency from 22khz to 24khz (about 1/10 of an octave at that frequency), would have much potential benefit for the resulting decoded sound. Kong inexplicably does not mention any of his partnering equipment used for his positive review, but does imply that he was able to try both sampling rates with his processor.
He doesn't say anything about preferring one setting over the other, though, and does seem to feel that the Upsampler produced similar results when used with 96khz DAD's as it did with 44khz CD's. This leads me to assume that the different sound he heard was primarily caused by the added bits of random dither the Umsampler uses to extend word length to 24 bits. He notes that he sometimes thought the regular 24/96 DIP actually passed information more clearly than the new unit, but that the Upsampler sounded generally smoother through the treble, fuller in the bass, and more spacious. I wonder if these qualities could actually be spurious changes caused by the added dither, which of course is not taken into account by the designers of the user's DAC, and the results of which could vary unpredictably depending on DAC architecture. I'm sure Monarchy's intent here is to linearize DAC response, but some DAC's will already have some dither applied internally. Will all DAC's exhibit a lower (or unchanged) usable noise floor with the extra incoming dither, or will some actually experience a raised noise floor and less linear response?
To get back to the original question in this post, Kong decided that daisy-chaining a regular DIP and the Upsampler, as recommended by Monarchy, didn't result in a worthwhile benefit. With my current DAC (and the fact my only digital source at this time is Red Book CD's, mitigating against my quickly upgrading to a new 96khz-capable DAC), I think I'll stick with the regular 24/96 DIP for the moment. (BTW, Monarchy's nomenclature could be somewhat confusing here, but the regular DIP's "24/96" moniker is just supposed to indicate that it can interface with a high bit-rate source, not that it converts sampling rates.) Kong's piece seems to imply that, although he mostly prefers the new version, those who already have a DIP (which he previously reviewed positively) don't need to run out and get the Upsampler. Sean may want to give it a twirl, though - no doubt he'll let us know what he thinks of it if and when he does!