If possible, any comments on each DAC would be appreciated.
Another update: A cadre from Chord will now be present bringing with them an assortment of gear from their line. They will be set up in a couple of additional demo rooms and free to talk about their line and audio technology in general. If you are in the Phoenix area don't miss this opportunity to listen to an assortment of exceptional dacs and some top tier systems!
Just a reminder the event is happening this Saturday! There is still plenty of room for anyone interested in attending.
As mentioned above, there will be a second demo system showcasing Chord equipment. This system will consist of a Hugo TT2, Hugo MScaler, CPA 3000 pre-amp, and a pair of SPM 6000MKII amps driving a set of B&W 803D3s.
Interesting about the Dacs, as I was about ready to pull the trigger on a Chord Qutest Dac tonight but then I held off after reading some post on here. My current system consists of Belles MB-200 Monobloc with their VT-01 Tube Pre/Amp, I am a sucker for a good tube pre/amp, just not sure if the Chord would fit better in this system or going with the Jolida Black Ice Dac... I mean it doesn't surprise me that most liked it more, as Tubes tend to color the music in ways a lot of people prefer...
Write up on our webpage is live in the center column: www.AZAVCLUB.COM
First Place = Chord Qutest
Second Place (tie) = Holo Audio Spring DAC2 and NuPrime Evolution DAC
First Place = Schiit Yggdrasil
Second Place = iFi Audio Pro iDSD
Third Place = Benchmark DAC3
First Place = Black Ice Audio Glass FX DSD
Second Place = LKS MH-DA004
Third Place = PS Audio Direcstream DAC
Session 4) Finals:
First Place = Black Ice Audio Glass FX DSD
Second Place = Chord Qutest
Third Place = Schiit Yggdrasil
All dacs were fed the same source simultaneously via optical input from an optical splitter fed from the cd player. A professional recording engineer and myself spent the day before setting up and level matching all the dacs. For each listening session we played five test tracks from all different genres of music using high quality recordings. We cycled through the dacs using the various preamp inputs for a seamless transition during each test track with each dac playing for 10-30 seconds at a time with several transitions within each track.
Listeners knew which dacs were present in each bracket but not which dac was playing at a given time other than if it was dac A, B, or C. Votes were tallied at the end of each session and only afterward were the dacs unveiled as belonging to one of the given inputs (A, B,or C). Not even I, who set up the dacs knew which one was which until the unveiling. Participants then discussed why they liked a given dac and we discussed the dacs technology and feature set.
The event took place in a room custom built to showcase home theater design and thus was very well treated. The system consisted of:
@audionoobie, Black Ice sells through dealers as far as I know. Underwood Hifi is one of them. For the event, I just contacted them directly via the website information.
@toneranger58 , the test tracks are not listed anywhere. I am going to see if we can get them listed on our webpage somewhere. Off the top of my head some of them were:
Thank you very much for holding this demonstration and for your reporting of it. It's going to be one of the more popular readings on this site.
I would add my voice to that of toneranger58 and inquire about the tracks.
My second question is about the methodology although it may convey a misunderstanding. It looks as though you had three initial sessions, each ranking 3 DACs. You then took the three winners and had a 4th session choosing a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place overall winners. A DAC that took second place under the winner in one of the initial three sessions was then, in effect, knocked out of consideration for the final listen. Logically, though, a DAC placing second (or even third) in one of the initial three sessions might have been ranked above one of the three initial session winners--if given the chance.
Have I got that right?
I had the same concerns as @melm when I read the findings yesterday. As he correctly points out, even a third place finisher might have been ranked ahead of a "finalist."
I’m glad (very glad) you and your group went to the trouble you did and more should do the same, but March Madness this isn’t. All 4 sessions stand as unique entities. Crossover conclusions regarding the uncompared components do not hold up.
You must be kidding, did you guys read the test setup and protocalls?
A pair of $64k Focal Utopia EVO
a Chord CPA 5000 preamp a $20k preamp
a SAE ampliifer $20k?
Dac to preamp interconnect $239 AQ Mackinzie
Preamp to Amp inteconnect AQ Water $600
Speaker cables abount $15,000
Do you guys see anything wrong with this picture?
You are losing all your information from a $200 inteconnect not to mention you are feeding dacs with a jitter prone optical cable rather than a USB server which allows for much higher data rates then you are using a $600 Inteconnect from the critical preamp to amp junction.
We have done cable evaluations from the wind, water, earth series and you can absolutely tell the difference between the series.
For a system of this calibre you should have used much higher end intereconnects $2k at least up to the Dragon or higher series of cables.
Please try to re-run your demo with proper interconnects and a USB server and then see if your results don't change considerably.
Yes your testing everything was the same however, many of the better dacs what you are paying for is increased resolution, a much better soundstage and it is doubtful that your setup limitations allowed you to fully appreciate the quality differences which may appear subtle at first but then with proper inteconnects and a digital server should become much much greater.
Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Dave and Troy from Audio Doctor NJ beat me to it.
I own the Current Yggy dac. Optical sounds the worst compared to all other connections. AES/EBU and BNC are the best sounding in my system. I prefer BNC. Sure I’d love to save over $1k and get a Black Ice Audio dac, and I bet it is an excellent dac. Would be nice to compare the finalist dacs with different connections though.But, I’m sticking with my Yggy + I support American products as best I can. We make the best stuff here and don’t copycat. Oops... another topic for another time. Ha!