You already have a very top tier DAC. You might want to consider adding one of Chord's Upscalers, either Hugo M scaler , or the Blu Mk. 2. This would help to take your digital playback up a few levels.
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I have had Dave in my system. Great Dac but for me a NOS DAC (Metrum Adagio) won the contest over all the others Dacs I have tried so far.
Saved me also 3K in direct comparison with the save and even more on the MSB.
I would recommend in general to try some NOS dacs .
Mayby you already don so.
Look also below your budget range and not at the Usual Suspects.
The DENAFRIPS Terminator was not around yet when I bought my new Dac. It does NOS , OS and DSD. The Rockna Wavedream does the same.
I have no need to change the Metrum it’s already at the level I can live with for many years to come. But those two Dacs would be on my list of options for shure.
@ricred1, I would like to suggest you take a look at the Mola Mola Tambaqui when it arrives later this month I understand. Going by the performance of the Mola Mola Makua (pre with dac module) it will be extremely good. Price £9k in the U.K.
Not sure if you are aware but there is a comparison between Dave and Makua in the Computer Audiophile Forum which might be worth reading.
I've owned a PS Audio Directstream, Bricasti M1, Jeff Rowland Aeris, Chord Dave, and today I auditioned the Rockna Wavedream Edition DAC. Out of all of the DACs I've heard, I could easily live with the Aeris, Dave, or Wavedream. The Wavedream only has a couple hours on it, but from the first note it sounds like a more transparent Chord Dave to my ears. My wife said it sounds just like the Dave. It's my understanding that the Wavedream only has 20 hours on it. Like a true audiophile with "issues", I'm saying to myself, if at $8300 list the Rockna Wavedream Edition sounds this good, how good does their $16K Signature DAC sound? More to follow.
The best upgrade for Dave... easy. Tellurium Silver Diamond USB and Chord Blu. It will kick your ass. I was upgrading it in this order and still could not believe every time it sounded better. I still did not found better audio source. It is worth every penny. And yes, you can improve it more by adding nice power source and cable.
Not sure why you would spend so much on a DAC when the Crane Song Solaris is available at $1,949. I've had many world class DACS in my studio over the years and the Crane Song is as good as any no matter the cost. They're very back ordered and are a pro unit with balanced only outputs and no remote but oh my do they sound spectacular.
I’d imagine that upscaling refers to increasing bit-depth (like from 16 to 24 bits) which adds "vertical" resolution to the waveform... in theory, improving amplitude resolution... making subtle low-level detail more natural and audible (among other things) if done correctly.
Whereas upsampling likely refers to increasing sampling rate (like from 44.1 to 88.2 kHz) which also adds resolution but in the time-domain (or horizontal resolution of the waveform). I’m not sure if there are algorithms that can add high-frequency information that wasn’t captured in the original sampled result... but who knows... maybe so as AI and pattern-recognition software improves.
Also, in conjunction with upscaling, having more sample points could also serve to increase resolution because a bit-word needs to be calculated and saved for each new sample... and the upsampler/scaler might do a more accurate job of this than the typical "oversampling" filter in most DACs. Some DACs may also sound better in terms of being less affected by jitter if they are converting higher sampling rates. I’m just throwing out various ways that adding new samples could improve, or at least change, the perceived sound quality we hear.
"I’m not sure if there are algorithms that can add high-frequency information that wasn’t captured in the original sampled result"
This is the most important statement , I believe upscaling or upsampling whatever you choose to call it is not more than a voodoo.
You can't add information that is not exist at the original recording it's not more than a manipulation process that might degrade the sound.
That statement makes sense in an analog paradigm. But digital, potentially, can change things.
Think of video. Upscaling an image (well) can most certainly improve the quality. That’s not to say that algorithms can restore *the same* detail that was originally present but lost in the lower-resolution digital capture. However, it can appear to be more like the original to our perception.
This is because scaling is now more sophisticated that merely "averaging new dots between the old" (what used to happen). Sony has had AI tools analyze millions of images in high resolution, and compare with the low-resolution rendering. Based on patterns, the AI learns to "restore" back detail in the low resolution images that appears to our senses to be real detail. It technically isn’t 100% accurate to the detail that was there in real-life, but it’s "more accurate", or at least it appears to be so to our vision, than the low resolution signal. And what’s especially impressive is that they can do all of this on an affordable chip, and in real-time, in their higher-end TVs and projectors.
Upscaling (and potentially upsampling) audio signals is exactly the same. There’s no reason why good AI couldn’t be trained with pattern recognition over time to perceptively restore natural detail into low-resolution digital audio the same way.