DAC significantly better than a w4s DAC2-DSDse?


I recently purchased a w4s DAC2-DSDse that sounds great in my system (dunlavy sc-v, pass xp20, pass xa100.5's fed by FLAC files from a "bit-perfect" Linux server).

I need another dac for a second system. Is there a < $8K dac that clearly sounds better than the DSDse or should I just get a second one?

Thanks!
dddrrreee
http://www.audiostream.com/content/empirical-audio-overdrive-se-usb-dacpre

You will sell your preamp with this DAC. It beats it.
"(dunlavy sc-v, pass xp20, pass xa100.5's fed by FLAC files from a "bit-perfect" Linux server)."

I've been using Linux as my main OS for the last couple of years and am very happy with it. Is it difficult to set up a bit perfect Linux server? It doesn't seem like many audiophiles are using Linux.
Steve,
Did you forget to mention that its your product?
Ha ha....what else is new :^P
I haven't heard the PS Audio DS DAC in person yet but my friend has heard it and he's raving quite a fair bit :)

This is against the Mytek DSD, the Bel Canto DAC3.5VB II, the Meitner MA-1 among others.
You will sell your preamp with this DAC. It beats it.

Maybe beats this one too DSD-S?

:-)

Best Wishes,
Alex Peychev
I heard lots of DSD at the Newport Beach show last week. We compared the same track, 44.1 PCM versus DSD. Namely track 1 from Kind of Blue. Sorry, but my PCM beat it.

My comment was specifically about my volume control technology. Beats 99% of preamps out there.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I heard lots of DSD at the Newport Beach show last week. We compared the same track, 44.1 PCM versus DSD. Namely track 1 from Kind of Blue. Sorry, but my PCM beat it.

There are so many PCM and DSD DACs, all sounding quite different. I've been doing PCM for the last 20 + years, including DSD converted to PCM. But recent vinyl developments clearly showed that such pure analog sound is quite impossible to beat with PCM, so this is the reason for DSD processing. :-)

My comment was specifically about my volume control technology. Beats 99% of preamps out there.

Beating 99% of the preamps is tricky, especially when you use the Vref of the DAC to adjust the volume. Namely, anything 0.5V below Vcc results in rather compromised DAC chip specifications. Been there done that. :-)

Best wishes,
Alex Peychev
Re: no pre-amp. Steve N: How do you handle volume control? Do you throw away bits to lower volume or do you attenuate the analog signal? Has anyone done an A/B of your DAC against a good pre at low listening levels?

I initially bought the w4s to use w/o a pre, but it discards bits to lower the volume. Music (to my ear) sounded better at quiet listening with the pass. But no guarantees it wasn't the placebo effect.
ZD542: I found configuring linux for bit-perfect relatively straightfoward for older versions of linux, where the machine was dedicated to just serving music. There are many threads on doing so if you search for "bit-perfect audio linux". The main high bit is to use mpd and configure it so send bits raw to the USB dac.

With that said, I tried to configure things w/o mpd on a multi-use linux and just managed to screw up the box. (This is probably b/c I removed pulseaudio and then messed up various configurations.)

I'm about to build a "silent" server that uses an SSD disk and no fan, so will have to reconfig everything again, so can let you know how that goes.
Other than from a manufacturer promoting his own product you've not actually bitten an answer. W4S gear is top notch- if you like what you hear go for another one
Other than from a manufacturer promoting his own product you've not actually bitten an answer. W4S gear is top notch- if you like what you hear go for another one

Agreed, and W4S is indeed a great value for its price range! However, I do believe that Dddrrreee can find a better performer with his $8K budget.

There are some great DAC contenders in this Audiogon thread, so this might be a useful information.

Best wishes,
Alex Peychev
APL Hi-Fi
"Re: no pre-amp. Steve N: How do you handle volume control? Do you throw away bits to lower volume or do you attenuate the analog signal? "

Neither. I adjust the D/A reference voltage. This is what is multiplied times the data words to achieve the voltage output. IT scales the volume naturally, without bit decimation or analog noise/distortion. As the volume is decreased, the S/N actually improves and the distortion drops. The opposite of what happens with analog controls and attenuators. This is the optimum way to volume.

See:

http://www.empiricalaudio.com/products/overdrive-dac

and:

http://www.audiostream.com/content/empirical-audio-overdrive-se-usb-dacpre

"Has anyone done an A/B of your DAC against a good pre at low listening levels?"

Absolutely. I just demoed this effect at Newport show. They were amazed:

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=125781.0

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
"anything 0.5V below Vcc results in rather compromised DAC chip specifications."

Alex - That depends entirely on the D/A and the supporting circuitry. You are correct that most D/A chips will not do this. I don't have this problem. The A/Bs have been done with several $20K+ preamps.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Alex - Reading your response again, I'm not sure you understand. I am not controlling Vcc. I am controlling Vref.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

There are some great DAC contenders in this Audiogon thread, so this might be a useful information.

Thanks Alex. I'd posted this b/c that thread muddied the waters enough I wasn't sure what to get.

Ideally I was looking for anyone that heard the new W4S + DSDse upgrades and thought another DAC sounded "better".

Were there any of the USB / async / XLR DACs in that thread that you particularly liked?
You're welcome Dddrrree.

Were there any of the USB / async / XLR DACs in that thread that you particularly liked?

To be quite honest, trying to answer your question from my perspective, there are really only two contenders from that thread.

1. The Lampi DAC, if you are OK dealing with tube rolling.

2. Steve's DAC

Why I am saying this is because I know the "cost no object" efforts such boutique manufacturers put into designing their products, unlike the rest that are made on a budged, mainly in China.

The third best would be the Rowland DAC, but despite that it uses the best in existence audio transformers by Lundahl Made in Sweden, it is far away from the above mentioned choices. IMHO, of course.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,
Alex Peychev
APL Hi-Fi
Steve --- sorry somehow I missed your response. Will your player work with Linux? Also, what's the return policy? (I searched around for awhile but seem to be missing it.)
You dont HAVE to roll tubes in the lampizator and even if you want to, on a Lampi Level 4, the typical NOS tube used would cost less than $30 delivered via Ebay. I scored some top tungsram locall for $10.

Lampi DSD is freaking awesome and I have yet to hear any PCM beat a quality DSD128 recording played back via the Chipless Lampi decoder.

That said, there are lots of choices in Dac-Land.
Lampi DSD is freaking awesome and I have yet to hear any PCM beat a quality DSD128 recording played back via the Chipless Lampi decoder.

Sure, this is the very reason I've converted to DSD and also have a proprietary PCM to DSD encoder, as well as "chip-less" DSD to Analog converter built in my reference DSD-M.

The DSD encoder can do DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256.

Funny thing is that my chip-less converter was developed pretty much at the same time with Lampi. I've have emailed Lukasz, but never heard back from him. :-)

Of course, Ed Meitner of EMM Labs has done this long time ago before anyone else, but the technology used for PCM to DSD conversion and chip-less DSD D/A converter is very important for the final sound quality. This is the reason why every such DAC example is sounding different.

All in all, as I've mentioned in the past, to my ears, and per my vinyl rig reference, the DSD is the only ticket coming close to pure analog.

Best wishes,
Alex Peychev
APL Hi-Fi