Give it more time for sure 48 hours isn’t very long and leave it on at all times. It’s certainly possible you don’t like the sound but it likely just needs more break in. I’ve heard, and liked, the DAC but in a show setting not at home. Which input are you using? Is it possible to try the other input to see if it sounds any differently? Just to try and ascertain if its functioning properly. Also try reaching out to Gary Dews and tell him what your hearing he may have some ideas. Good luck and hang in there!
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I've heard it in a friend's system and assuming yours is working as it should, its one of the best sounding DACs I've heard. It does have a more rounded sound compared to my Schiit Modi Multibit but everything about our systems is different so that doesn't mean much. I also don't recall him complaining about the sound when new but I heard it after he had it for at least 6 months and he leaves his system on all the time mainly because he works from home. I'll ask him.
I wonder if the SMS-200 with the Border Patrol is the problem? I think I read several reviews that described the SMS-200 is warmer and rounded, and with the same DAC characteristics...... too much of a good thing perhaps?? Take it out of the loop and test it without if possible. Just thinking out loud.
More hours for sure on the unit but you should start to hear more definition as the tubes start to burn-in around 75 hours and will continue to improve as well as the circuits. A Mullard Square Getter and a fuse change will also improve things quite a bit...
Also, try turning the unit off for 15 mins and back on for the next couple of days.
Check out this post on another forum:
This user had the same kind of experience, and apparently Gary’s advice to turn the tube on and off periodically worked wonders.
No way, the Yamamoto is staying put! :-)
Actually although I did like the YDA-01 better than the Sig 3, I wasn't comparing them per se as I have two systems. It's nice but it didn't wow me like the Yamamoto did. Someday I would like to give the Border Patrol DAC a try though.
OP, please report back with your results. I'm curious to see how it works out for you.
I bought a used BP DAC SE 5 weeks ago. The previous owner said he put 50 hours on it. It made a good initial impression on me, with excellent 3-D presence and a full bodied sound. The bass is weighty, just right to my ears. As I put more hours on it, the highs seem to be getting more articulate. The soundstage is very natural to me with no artificial spotlighting of instruments/performers.
I am also a YDA-01 owner. I was using it with a Mac Mini and an Empirical Audio Off Ramp USB to SPDIF converter. The Yamamoto (stock, no mods) with the Off Ramp and a Dynamo linear power supply seems to have a more realistic top end and has better bass definition, but the Border Patrol DAC using the USB input is a lot of fun to listen to and it is just one box versus the three box Yamamoto/OffRamp/Dynamo setup. It has more presence, and it has more heft in the bass.
Also, changing USB cables on the BP made a noticeable, easy to hear, difference. Lots more clarity and articulation just from changing cables. I also enjoy the SPDIF input, it is excellent IMO.
Hope things improve for the OP. I'm a toe tapper and head bobber, and for me the Border Patrol DAC has been right up my alley, but I can see how others would prefer a different sound.
Quick update: it no longer sounds broken, and now sounds broken in. Hard to believe how much better it sounds frankly.
I'll post more details tonight after I've gotten to know it better. First impressions are that it's got good musical flow, nice full bodied mids, but still lacking in air and treble refinement.
I ended up returning it thanks to Gary's generous return policy. No complaints about the DAC in general, it just didn't work in my setup. My amp is a little sweet on top to begin with and the BP sweetness pushed it over the edge.
I'm starting to feel Dacs are a little overrated in my setup, or I just really like the sound of the Fostex. I have a Directstream dac in house now and really the Fostex is just as resolving and smooth. To be honest I experienced a much larger jump in sound quality moving from PC to SOTM renderer than I have with any DAC. Ymmv