Anyone know how good MHDT Labs Paradisea DAC is?

There has been some talk on the net that it is a bit of a bargain. True or false?
do a search - there is a review out there. 6Moons? Soundstage? I know I read one somewhere, and it was exceedingly positive. I am also intrigued by this DAC. On the down side, there is no return option. However, they rarely are offered for sale used, which is a good sign. Plus, since they are made by hand in small quantities, the resale value should be pretty good. Just my $0.02 - I've never heard the thing.
True, although the price has increased due to word getting out it is well made (quality Parts) great sounding unit.
True's true. It is also very sensitive to transports.The better the transport the better the sound.
I have shown with the Paradisea at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest and again at T.H.E Show in Las Vegas. I have no connection to MDHT Labs other than being a satisfied e-bay customer. But I'm also dealer, so my showing with something that I don't sell can be taken as a sincere vote of confidence.

Frankly I kept my internet mouth shut about the Paradisea because I have friends who wanted one, and I didn't want to help drive the price up. But the cat's out the bag now anyway.

I compard the DAC to the Museatex Bitstream. The Paradisea is very seductive and musical sounding. The Museatex Bitstream had way better details allowing you to really hear into the musical performance. I perfer the Bitstream that can be found for under $500, modified for another $500 and resold for about the same. The Paradisea is very nice sounding overall.
I found the review:
Don't think enjoythemusic should be believed without corroboration. They also gave the Altmann DAC the big "thumbs-up".(See:

My own experience with the Altmann was that it was disappointing hence the reason for this thread; I would like to get feedback from those who have direct "hands-on" with the Paradisea. I think it is a mistake to buy gear on the basis of a single review; reviewers get it wrong like everyone else.
Just like everything else in is subjective. Scott(the reviewer) IMHO has a good ear for great sound. You can find a very long thread on Audio circle. You'll see Scott's as well as several others comment on this unit. It's not going to work for everyone..Just like any other component. There will always be something with higher highs or lower lows or a purer midrange. Finding a musical piece that makes you forget about all that nonsense isn't easy..this is one of those pieces. I do enjoy mine immensely.
Perhaps something else bears mentioning. I have over a period of a month tried to contact MHDT on several occasions by email. However, I have not been able to raise the smallest response; a veritable "black hole" of silence presents. Presumably Mr. MHDT spends his days building DACs and licking stamps and nothing else. One imagines, therefore, how a customer with a faulty product might be supported.
I would like to get feedback from those who have direct "hands-on" with the Paradisea. I think it is a mistake to buy gear on the basis of a single review; reviewers get it wrong like everyone else.
Raymondr (Threads)
I owned one and loved it. If I hadn't also purchased a $2500 digital front end that's better than the $500 Paradisea, then I'd still own the Paradisea. In fact, I might buy another one just for the hell of it.

However, I have not been able to raise the smallest response; a veritable "black hole" of silence presents. Presumably Mr. MHDT spends his days building DACs and licking stamps and nothing else. One imagines, therefore, how a customer with a faulty product might be supported.
You sound like a bitter, spurned lover who'd be much happier moving on with his DAC search for a more attentive suitor. If you're concerned with a faulty product, then perhaps a DAC sourced from a one-man operation in Taiwan isn't for you. There's certainly value in peace of mind.

Here’s news garnered from threads written by MHDT Labs customers. Very few who write emails to MHDT Labs ever get replies. It’s a common theme. Nonetheless, lots of audiophiles buy the MHDT Labs DACs and love them anyway.

Four out of the five people in your thread who own or have owned the Paradisea DAC have stated they like or love it. 80% positive. Pretty good in the world of hifi audio.

You’ve been an Audiogon member for 30 days, and you’ve authored five posts. From those five posts, we learn that you are underwhelmed by the sound of the Raysonic CD player, disappointed by the Altman Attraction DAC, distrustful of reviewers, and are offended by the lack of response from the owner of MHDT Labs. Is there a pattern here?

If you tell the community what kind of sound you like, and what gear you currently own, then you’ll start to get some more germane replies.
Tvad, the presumption about my love life is none of your business. Might I similarly speculate about yours? Let me know and I'll give it a try.

My point remains; even a "one-man operation in Taiwan" can answer emails, surely?

02-17-07: Raymondr
Tvad, the presumption about my love life is none of your business. Might I similarly speculate about yours? Let me know and I'll give it a try.
It was an analogy.

I assume the MHDT Lab owner's lack of response is due to his lack of confidence in his English language abilities. However, a look inside one of his DACs shows the traits of a thoroughly professional, careful and proud builder.
Tvad, is there anything you do not know? My love life and the language skills of a Taiwanese DAC builder who is "careful and proud" are things you seem to know with apparent authority. How do you know?

Please. Give it a rest and let someone else make comment.

02-17-07: Raymondr
Tvad, is there anything you do not know? My love life and the language skills of a Taiwanese DAC builder who is "careful and proud" are things you seem to know with apparent authority. How do you know?
It was an analogy. I wasn't commenting on your love life. Look up the word analogy for an explanation.

I owned the Paradisea. I looked inside the case when changing tubes. The DAC was shipped prompty, and I received it within four days of the E-Bay purchase. It was packed meticulously in three layers of bubble wrap.

I can tell when someone takes great care and pride in what they do. He has 422 transactions on E-Bay and 100% positive feedback.

It's not rocket science.
Tvad, Only three layers of bubble wrap..? The Altmann and came with four..
Nothing positive will change your tune, eh?

So much hand wringing over a $500 DAC. Too bad.
Hi guys
Let's cool it off. Normally I won't bother to respond to strong exchange of words. I ordered my Paradisea two weeks ago and received it 2 days later.
I wrote to the builder before buying but like many others, didn't receive any reply. Does that bother me? Yes, but did that stop me from ordering? No because it's only $500 and there are many rave reviews to back it up. I wanted to hear how good it is. Does the 3 layers of bubble wrap trouble me? Absolutely not. Would 4 be better - I don't see why. Most important is that the thing works and sounds great. Well, I will end here and enjoy the improvement in music brought about by this DAC.
Now Raymondr, if you are uncomfortable, please buy something else. Period.
I didn't get a response either. Yes it pissed me off at first. With all the buzz I couldn't resist! So I decided to give one a try anyway. Once I purchased a unit through eBay. It was much easier to contact the builder. I was able to order one for a friend buying it directly from the designer.

I take it he's trying to build his feedback and also doesn't want to get overloaded with orders as well. This way he can control the quality of his products.

As a side note, My buddy loves his and much prefers it to his Arcam($2600) player . The Arcam is now used to spin disc. A Monarchy DIP 48/96 feeds his Paradisea.
when I bought mine I asked several questions thru Ebay and each time got a response. I bought mine about 5 months ago and still love it ;) He also included 3 tubes instead of the usual 1 GE.

I have owned a Paradisea for several months now and am very pleased with it. Prefer it to a RAM modded BelCanto DAC2 and a Modwright modded CIA VDA1. A Monarchy 24/96 DIP improved the sound. I use plain old Blue Jeans digital cables on the Monarchy / Paradisea after having used DH Labs and VH Audio on the BelCanto. Stillpoints ERS cloth also helps with the Paradisea as does tube rolling (I use a Bendix 6385 which is hard to find).

For the money it's really tough to beat.
Stratosaur, interesting you should mention the DAC2; one of my favourite DACs. A few people have mentioned the Monarchy as being a good way to feed the Paradisea. I have tried the Monarchy Classic DIP into one of my earlier DACS and wasn't too impressed. Anyway, for me, Computer playback using empirical audio USB/SPDIF converter and SRC 24/96 upsample program is the way to go; startlingly good. Also, with regard to the Bendix, have you compared it to the recommended WE396A?
Raymond- I have not compared the 6385 to the 396 so I can offer no insight on their relative strengths and weaknesses. I believe that others have used NOS 2C51 to good effect. The 6385 is clearly better than any 5670 that I tried.

From the experiences of myself and a few other the Monarchy helps NOS DACS, which the Paradisea is. The BelCanto (I believe) already does some of the things that the Monarchy does so it offers no real improvement. With NOS DACS though the Monarchy improves the sound quality.

Agree on the computer playback. Just have not had the time or desire to convert. Since I burn my .wav files 24/96 DVD using Cirlinca (and they play as DVD-A discs on players that offer that capability or DVD video audio out for DVD players that do not) I am content for now. My PC is too noisy and is in the same room as my audio system. Eventually though I will be using PC audio. In fact I do so on my office system.
I am keen to try out the Monarchy DIP 48/96 Upsampler with the Paradisea? Can the Paradisea handle 24 bits / 96 KHz incoming signals?
Yes the receiver chip in the Paradisea can process 24/96. I prefer when using my disc player as a transport to run the Monarchy at 24/48. It just sounds fuller too my ears. Get a 1.5 or 5 ft digital cable to run from the Monarchy to the Paradisea. The Blue Jeans work great for this. My buddy bought the BJ after he tried mine out against his DH labs cable and another much more expensive cable that shall remain nameless.
Hi all. I just purchased a Paradisea and am waiting for it to come. It's amazing to find a piece that is so cheap, and pleases almost everyone who hears it. I read above that some are using a Monarchy to "feed" the DAC. Is this some processor between the transport and the DAC?
You must have been one of two buyers the other day. The DACs normally don't last long on Ebay. You can go here and read up on the Monarchy DIPs .
Gmood1, Yep. I bought it yesterday afternoon. I kept missing them so had Ebay alert me when one came up and I got lucky. It had been sitting there for five hours. An eternity with all the attention these are getting.
I owned the Paradisea for 6 months. I am extemely happy with it. I am using Squeezebox and FLAC for all my digital music. The setup is the original NAIM 5 integrated and NAIM Credo speakers. The Paradisea with WE 396 sounds richer yet as detailed and the NAIM CD 5. The Bendix Redbank 6385 sound very wierd. You get a kind of drunk and uneven sound with much base but noticebly less detail. Non redbank bendix and all other cheaper WE396 clones do not come even close.
I noticed two annoying build mistakes. The four feet are not level and the unit rocks back and forth a bit. I will unscrew a foot and shim it to level. Also, there is no central support for the top cover and the plastic sags 2 or 3mm in the center. I will cement two tiny clear blocks of acrylic to the front and back plates to make a brace. Beautiful construction inside and out, otherwise.
The feet are level on my unit..haven't noticed any rocking.Nor have I noticed the sag.

How does the unit sound?

03-03-07: Gmood1
The feet are level on my unit..haven't noticed any rocking.Nor have I noticed the sag.
Neither did I.

Dang! What luck! As far as sound; really full & smooth. Hard to describe, but there just seems to be fewer holes in the stream. The response seems balanced low to high. I have a Softone Model3 player that had 98% of the Paradesia sound except for a mild treble roll off. That is now corrected and I can just bask in the music.
That's the first thing I noticed about the sounds full in comparison to other DACs and CD players I've heard against it. The tube is definitely doing its job!
I really liked a GE 5 Star 5670 black plate in the Paradisea. It added a bit of extension while maintaining the smoothness that is so great in the DAC. However, the DAC sounds really nice with the stock tube, too.
I like the stock tube fine, too. I put in a NOS 1950's Raytheon 5670 blackplate just to get oldskool tube quality. I use a 75 ohm coaxial now, but am looking for advice / experience with fibre optic cable.
I see that Mhdt now offers a Paradesia+ for an extra bill. Has a torroid transformer and ??? I'm glad I don't suffer from Mark II envy or I would kick myself for buying my "standard" Paradesia two weeks ago.
I am seriously considering one of these. I tried out a DAC2 with my Rotel 1072 as the transport. The Rotel held it's own remarkably well against the Bel Canto, so I eventually sold the DAC2. The improvement was only marginal, it wasn't worth 750 bucks.

I'm hoping to remove some of the digital hash and smooth out the sound a bit.
I thought the main difference between the Paradisea and Paradisea + was the USB option???
You must be talking about the USB model. Yeah if I already didn't have the basic, I would buy the USB version. ;-)
From the Paradisea spec:
Output 2.0V, < 800 ohms

It appears to have pretty high impedance. If the transport's impedance is much lower, it may not work well with Paradisea and the overall sound would be rather dull (lack of dynamics).

The output impedance of my NAD C541i is 300 ohm and Paradisea does not work well with C541i, as I noted in another thread. The only reason I can think of is the impedance mismatching as suggested by Tvad.
Maybe thats why I didn't care for the Paradisea? I mated it to a Sony DVP 7700. I was very dissappointed with the Paradisea but this maybe the reason???
Samzx12, what is the input impedance of the preamp or integrated amp you
were using with the Paradisea?

An impedance mismatch between a high output impedance device and a low
input impedance device can result in weak bass, and roll-off at the
extremities, which produces a smallish image lacking weight and extension.

Does this sound familiar?
Here's some spec on impedance of my gears:
Linn power amp input impedance: 4700 ohms
Rougue preamp output impedance: 350 ohms
Paradisea Ouput: 2.0V, < 800 ohms
NAD C541i output impedance: 300 ohms
Marantz DR700: line output is 2Vrms, but no mention on output impedance

I've found that most NAD CD players have low impedance, e.g., C542 has 150 ohms. I did not care much about all those spec numbers since as long as one sound good it is OK with me.

Does anybody care about those impedance mismatching? If yes, why many vendors don't bother put them on the spec?
The missing spec required to know is the Rogue preamp's input impedance. If
it's lower than 47kOhm, then it could be a problem with the high output
impedance of the MHDT Labs DAC.
This is from Rogue. As you see they do not provide input impedance. Do we need to care for something the maker does not provide? Or, am I missing something?

- frequency response: 1Hz-200KHz ± 1dB
- THD: <0.1%
- gain: line stage: 23dB
- gain - mm phono: 65dB
- gain - mc phono: 75dB
- RIAA accuracy: ± 0.1dB
- rated output: 1.5V
- maximum output: 30V PP
- output impedance: 350 Ohms
- dimensions: 17"W x 5½"H x 14"D
- weight: 27 lbs.
- shipping weight: 32 lbs.
- power requirements: 115/230V - 50/60Hz
Yes, input impedance of the preamp matters as it mates with the output impedance of the source (MHDT Labs DAC).

For more information read the info on the Burson Audio Buffer, which is a device designed to correct impedance mismatch.
Tvad I am not sure at the moment. My preamp is a BAT VK5i. The Paradisea sounded just as you described. I was very sad to be honest because I was really looking forward to enjoying this dac especially with all the buzz about it.

I borrowed a friends Muse Model 9 Signature Gen III while I had the Paradisea and never gave it back to He preferred his Muse separate transport and dac over this player so it worked out for both of us :)
Stereophile's test measuremets for the BAT VK-3iX state:

"The unbalanced source impedance varied from 7k ohms at 20Hz to 1460 ohms at 1kHz and 2650 ohms at 20kHz, while the balanced figures ranged from a very high 14k ohms at 20Hz to 1850 ohms in the midband and above."

7k ohms would be too low for the MHDT Labs 800 ohms output impedance, and would likely result in weak bass performance.

Of course, the test measurements may or may not correspond to your BAT preamp, but this gives you an idea.

The Burson Buffer would correct the mismatch.

Another option would be to try the MHDT Labs DAC into the BAT's balanced inputs using adapters.
Different tubes in the Paradisea can have a major effect on the bass levels.

I've found the Tung Sol NOS 5730 equivalent tube delivers a significantly fuller and more robust low end than the stock GE 5730 that the Paradisea comes with. The GE 5730 has more sparkle and resolution to the high end however.

There are other tubes that might be tried as well. Do a google search on Paradisea tubes for info on how various people hear various tubes in the Paradisea.

My Paradisea runs into an ARC sp16 preamp. Not sure of the impedance #s here but I do not find bass levels or definition to be an issue with this particular combo.