DAC Upgrade


I currently using a Bryston BDA-1 DAC and although it is a pretty good DAC, I want to upgrade to a 2r2 DAC. I recently purchased a Jays Audio cdt2 mk.ll transport and it is exceptional. My budget is in the $2,000 range and after careful review, I have narrowed the list to Schitts-Yagdrasil, Denafrips-Pontus and Holo Spring 2 level 2(new). Unfortunately, It is difficult to compare the three of them side by side, so I have to rely on expert reviews. I am looking for a DAC that is transparent, extended but smooth highs, 3D midrange and tight bass. My equipment is Prima Luna Prologue Pre Amp, Prima Luna Dialogue HP Amp and Silverline Sonata Mk.III speakers. Any thoughts?
cavy
This is a bit out of your price range, but it would be hard to beat this one with the Femto clock option:     https://www.wyred4sound.com/products/digital-converters/dac-2v2-series  

I have one and it is exceptional and beats all the other DAC's I tried, including ones at nearly 4x the price.
You mean R2R. If you’ve never heard one, why do you think you want one?

Holo Spring Level 3 measurements, it’s decent when in OS mode. So I assume the Level 2 is decent as well. I personally don’t see any practical benefit over a DS DACs, meaning not the theoretical benefits but the benefits from the products that exist.
If you can spring for a little more Resonessence mirus
Sorry, I did mean R2R and yes I have not heard any of the DAC's mentioned above which I am sure are very good. I have done research into the technology of the R2R and from what I have read from every review by audiophiles and professional reviewers is that they perform better than the Delta Sigma DAC's as far as being more musical than good digital. Yes they are only decent on OS mode but are outstanding in NOS. Just take a look at the components and build quality of these DAC's. I don't make my decisions on measurements but on there merits to bring music alive and non fatiguing which a lot of name brand Delta DAC's don't do. 
@cavy

If by outstanding you mean complete dog💩, then yes. I mean, look at the L3’s filter response in NOS mode, so much aliasing/images, as a reference to what is good, I present the Chord DAVE’s response, and also let’s look at the insane amounts of IMD, as a reference, I again present the Chord DAVE’s IMD.

Simply put, you are blindly believing what you read online by people who think they know what they are talking about and also likely believe in cable risers and cryo-frozen cables. I haven’t seen any R2R DAC on the market that is more transparent than an equally priced DS DAC. And yes, I did say “see” and not “heard”, if you believe you can evaluate a DAC once you know what it is, you are deluded, you have to look at measurements and/or do a scientific double-blind listening session.

Being “more musical” is a non-descript term, some people (like Paul at PS Audio) use it to mean transparent, whereas other say it’s the enjoyable audible THD and boosted bass of a tube amp, others describe it as something else.

A DAC converts digital to analog, it only controls a few things:
* Frequency response linearity
* Channel mismatch
* Channel crosstalk
* Noise floor level
* Volume linearity
* THD
* IMD
*Jitter reduction

As well as few other things, some being blown out of proportion, like phase mismatch (there is no time smearing by even good $9 DS DACs, despite what MQA proponents will lead you to believe).
Holo Spring Level 3 measurements, it’s decent when in OS mode.
 So very wrong, everyone that's heard it prefers NOS mode, even the designers when it playing PCM redbook, not dsd rubbish.

 https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/256748-holo-spring-dac-level2-review/?tab=comments#comment-40...

Cheers George
@georgehifi

Don’t belive everything you read, even if the ones saying so belive it. Unless by liking it better they mean they like the higher levels of IMD and aliasing. I describe better as transparent, no “colorations” added, I just want it to convert digital to analog.

If you can point to any technical benefit of R2R as it’s been implemented, I’d love to hear it. Same thing regarding DSD and MQA, there is no actual benefit over PCM in regards to a more accurate file, which I’ve also asked to be proven wrong.

One man’s recessed mids is another man’s overemphasized bass and treble. It’s the exact same thing but two people can have different take aways.
R2R is just another way to skin the cats. DS is cheaper, smaller and does the same functionality with better quality in term of measurements. I haven't seen by any mean any quantifiable proof that say good implementation of R2R DAC beat the same league DS ones. That being said if you must stick to your plan, look for soekris DAC. By measurements it's pretty decent. 
Cavy, check out border patrol DACs. A buddy of mine has one and it was fantastic sounding. 
Transparent, organic, 3d, orgasmic. 
Under 2k. Good luck!

The Real Reason Some People Prefer Analog To Digital

 

There’s a problem that has been ignored by the entire music industry which I believe is really important for music-lovers that I think you my want to investigate.  Approximately 35 years ago when digital media was introduced to the music consuming public as a media with “Perfect Sound Forever” the music industry made a huge screw up when it got the playback polarity of digital music on CDs and later DVDs, etc. in reversed (inverted polarity).  On a purely random basis that means that digital media and files are heard in the wrong polarity approximately 85% of the time and either 92% wrong or correct when audio systems are set to a fixed playback polarity.

 

The result is that the music played in inverted polarity sounds harsh and two-dimensional. And that’s probably the major reason that some music-lovers still believe (without knowing the real reason) that analog sounds better than digital.  Analog media plays in the correct polarity over 99.9% of the time but also sounds bad if played in inverted polarity.  It’s difficult if not impossible to make meaningful comparisons of the fidelity and musicality of media and audio components when they aren’t playing in absolute polarity.  The better the playback system the easier it is to hear the differences in polarity.  Confusion over polarity may cause music-lovers to expend needless time and money trying to smooth out the irritating and flat sound of digital media when the real problem is music played in inverted polarity.

 

This should be an object lesson on how an entire industry with its experts and electrical engineers can get it wrong and not do anything about if for over 35 years and counting!  So it should be an object lesson that the entire industry that creates recorded music and is based upon scientific principles continues to mostly get polarity wrong.

 

I've written two monographs that go into great detail about the problem at: http://www.AbsolutePolarity.com andhttp://www.PolarityGeorge.com.  If you or anyone you know might be interested in developing ThePerfect Polarizer™ that will detect and correct polarity in real-time, then please forward this email to them/encourage them to contact me, because I believe it could be accomplished with AI/App.  Now, do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?”

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

George S. Louis, Esq., CEO

Digital Systems & Solutions

President San Diego Audio Society (SDAS)

Website:  www.AudioGeorge.com

Email: [email protected]

Phone:  619-401-9876

 


OP you should check out the recent review of the Ifi Dsd pro, which was compared to the Yaggy and the Holosprings, Herb Richert was blown away by the Ifi which has a big warm sound.

We read the review and have requested a sample from Ifi.

If you check out the Sixmoons review and the What Hif review this sound like a true giant killer for $2,500.00

https://www.stereophile.com/content/ifi-audio-pro-idsd-da-processorheadphone-amplifier

It sounds like what you are describing to a tee. I am looking for a DAC that is transparent, extended but smooth highs, 3D midrange and tight bass.


"In previous reviews I’ve praised the HoloAudio Spring "Kitsuné Tuned Edition" Level 3 and Mytek’s Manhattan II for precisely those traits. I can now add the Pro iDSD to this short list of DACs that recover an enjoyable illusion of dense bodies playing music.

I’ve also noticed that audiophile DACs vary widely in their ability to transmit a believably natural-feeling transparency. My beloved HoloAudio Spring reproduces empty spaces that feel completely and uniquely nondigital, and that surround performers with a sense of breathable air that makes the forms of those dense bodies seem more three-dimensionally there. While the Pro iDSD’s air didn’t feel quite as naturally oxygenated, the iFi did consistently surpass the HoloAudio Spring in generating expansive soundstages that directed my attention toward the positions and corporeality of the performers and/or their instruments. This dramatic, wide-open clarity was the Pro iDSD’s most distinguishing characteristic.

Bottom line: iFi Audio’s Pro iDSD lived up to the hyperbole of its owner’s manual. It did actually play music like "a ’state of the art’ reference digital to analog converter." It did indeed sound like "an all-out assault" on what is possible in DACs today . . . and it did both of those good things at a ridiculously low price. Highly recommended."


Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/ifi-audio-pro-idsd-da-processorheadphone-amplifier-page-2#8xxPGm...

Herbs references are the Yaggy, the Mytek, the Holo so this review might be the perfect thing.

and for our detractors NO WE ARE NOT IFI DEALERS AT THIS TIME.

We read the review and were really impressed by Herbs findings for such an inexpensive little dac.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ




OMG! He's right! I reversed phase and now my Magnavox CDB-650 sounds better than Fremer's Continuum Caliburn! Mikey was shocked!
"Who knew???!" He said.

George S. Louis, Esq., CEO, that's who!
@mickeyb 
 
Did you just describe a tube DAC as transparent?
🤨
@audiolouis

If both channels are inverted, they now are in-phase, and sound identical.

Or, are you talking about how balanced cables work? Or are you saying since music isn’t recorded in one session with all the vocalists/musicians on one mic, that absolute polarity isn’t preserved?

Stereophile has an article on absolute phase, and basically calls it baloney.
For what it’s worth, since DAC choice is very subjective as is the choice of most equipment, my reference DAC is the Schiit Yggy. It is as you described in what you are searching for. I am in process of comparing the following additions to my collection to it: Bryston BDA-3 and the SMSL VMV DAC1. We will see how that shakes out. But I don’t think you will be unhappy with the Yggy if your goals are as you stated. I first got turned on to Yggy by the initial great Yggy reviews and then demoing the Yggy fed to Ragnarok to MrSpeakers Ether headphones at Axpona. Wow even in a noisy hall!
@georgehifi

Don’t belive everything you read,

Excuse me ! what did I read????? You obviously have no idea!

Did you even read the post above and the link I posted in it???
I WROTE THE REVIEW!!!
Ok, would some respectable audiophile respond to what @audiolouis is talking about when it comes to inversion or inverted polarity... I am starting to feel like trump is president over all music formats and owns gobouz, tidal and roon and we are all powerless to stop the chaos... 
don 
Post removed 
that would be an entirely private matter. However, it would appear you must be a trump supporter or one that likes invertedness or a pervert.. Keep it PG rated.. 
@georgehifi

I couldn’t use the link as it says too many page visits.

Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that NOS mode has no benefit in regards to transparency over OS mode, all it does is reduce the treble, add IMD, and introduces aliasing. It just shows you can’t trust your ears when you know what you are listening to.
I couldn’t use the link as it says too many page visits.
Your not trying hard enough, I'm getting no fine.

Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that NOS mode has no benefit in regards to transparency over OS mode, all it does is reduce the treble
Well, you’ll just have to stick to that belief, and be deprived.

In NOS mode with the Holo Spring dac playing PCM RedBook, there is more body to the sound, and the treble has more transparent and noticeable harmonic extension to it.

As for DSD it doesn’t interest me, maybe it sounds better in OS mode on the Holo, who cares.
@georgehifi

In NOS mode with the Holo Spring dac playing PCM RedBook, there is more body to the sound, and the treble has more transparent and noticeable harmonic extension to it.


Making claims in regards to frequencies you can’t hear are we?
https://www.stereophile.com/content/holoaudio-spring-kitsuné-tuned-edition-level-3-da-processor-meas...

It very clearly has reduced treble in NOS mode with 44.1kHz, and with 96 or 192 it is practically identical to OS mode.

Is “harmonic extension” the new marketing description for harmonic distortion. If so, that directly contradicts your statement about transparency, as we can clearly see it has more distortion in NOS mode.

It’s like arguing a bookshelf speaker has deeper bass than a 12” sub, it just isn’t true.
 
You should really consider the possibility what you are hearing is non-existent, which is common in Hi-Fi (power cords, headphone break-in, silver sounding different than copper (when conductivity is matched), etc.).
+1 @mzkmxcv

NOS will often roll off more than designs that upsample.

R-2R is inherently less linear overall and has differential non-linearities also as it is impossible to design precision resistors to the requisite degree of accuracy. Therefore you will get more correlated musically related distortion. This is a fact. This is why engineers prefer Delta Sigma for linearity.

Ultimate linearity is DSD or high resolution PCM through a delta sigma style DAC. The only issue with lower bit rates is higher noise. This is why the latest delta sigma designs are 6 bit - a hybrid between R-2R and a single bit delta-sigma which is achieved by massively parallel 1 bit delta sigma converters (equivalent to a resistor network that achieves bit depth through additionnof various resistors)

These models sweep the board at a variety of different price points.

http://sw1xad.co.uk/products/?prod_cat=digital-to-analogue-converters-dacs

Surprised not more people are talking about them.

Wow! I didn't realized I would create such a firestorm of opinions on DAC's and the various technology and  formats. I respect every opinion on the board but although measurements are important, I have found that great measurements don't always produce great sounding equipment. You can see the state of confusion we audiophiles are in when it comes to buying our equipment since we now choose from a plethora of really good products. I wish I could evaluate every DAC mentioned here but that is not possible so the only other choice other than system measurements is to rely on the findings of other audiophiles and reviewers. I am sure that any of the DAC's mentioned here would make me very happy at my price range. I will continue my search for now and probably add to my short list. 
Thanks everyone for your input
@cavy

I have found that great measurements don’t always produce great sounding equipment
It usually does when doing a double-blind session (and level-matched below clipping and quick switching). Measurements don’t mean squat when you have it in your home or go to a dealer’s demo room.

My main point was arguing against clearly incorrect statements that measurements can easily prove. It’s fine to say you prefer one over another, but to state that one is more transparent when more distortion/aliasing exist, just shows the flaws of sighted listening evaluations.

Ask anyone how owns a R2R Multibit dac or cdp while playing PCM Redbook that has the ability to switch on the fly between NOS and OS, and you'll get the majority saying the NOS sounds better to them for the reasons I mentioned above, which are:

" In NOS mode with the Holo Spring dac playing PCM RedBook, there is more body to the sound, and the treble has more transparent and noticeable "harmonic" extension to it."      
mzkmxcv
@cavy I have found that great measurements don’t always produce great sounding equipment
It usually does when doing a double-blind session (and level-matched below clipping and quick switching)
Please tell us about the double-blind listening tests you've conducted. Or, are you relying on the effort of others when you make this claim?
@cleeds

The effort of others who have hundreds of international participants ranging in age/experience/sex and are pretty much always in agreement.

I don’t have the money nor the time to buy dozens of equipment and setup level matched blind listening tests.

You are the one claiming the studies don’t prove so, so the burden is mostly on your end.

Also, using common sense to not belive in things just cause I’m good by others. For instance, 24Bit has no benefit over 16Bit in a residential environment, that’s because the only difference is the noise floor, and the noise floor of 16Bit is lower than any residential environment. 
 
I like being proven wrong with facts, not someone telling me so. I don’t buy into expensive digital cables the same way I don’t buy into essential oils over medical treatment.
mzkmxcv
The effort of others who have hundreds of international participants ranging in age/experience/sex and are pretty much always in agreement.
Please tell us to what tests you refer.
I don’t have the money nor the time to buy dozens of equipment and setup level matched blind listening tests.
You wouldn’t need to buy "dozens of equipment" to perform such a test. You know that, right?
You are the one claiming the studies don’t prove so, so the burden is mostly on your end.
I have made no such claim and suffer no burden. You’ve cited the results of blind testing - I’m just asking for details on those tests.
@cleeds

The studies/books/papers of Toole, Olive, etc. in regards to speakers/headphones.

The study by this team of people as well as others showing that no one has 70% confidence or higher is differentiating CD vs 320Kbps MP3.

The many AES papers and human trials (one done by Axiom Audio for instance) showing linear and non-linear distortion audibility.

Geddes’ work/papers for subwoofers, waveguides, etc.

Again, I welcome discussion, and have asked many times to be given points where my logic/reasoning fails. So, besides “this one sounded better to me”, I’d love to hear why the Benchmark or Chord DACs aren’t transparent enough, and not say Herb Reichert of Stereophile saying the Benchmark removed the sound of church walls in a recording.
mzkmxcv
The studies/books/papers of Toole, Olive, etc. in regards to speakers/headphones. The study by this team of people ...
The link you provide does not refute cavy’s claim:
I have found that great measurements don’t always produce great sounding equipment
It doesn’t even address that claim. Some of your other proclamations don’t even make sense:
Also, using common sense to not belive in things just cause I’m good by others.
Perhaps it’s time for you to conduct some blind tests of your own to support your beliefs. It confounds me that so few are willing to do that while at the same time they are so quick to invent the results of tests they don’t seem to know anything about.
+1!!!
He's got the Delta Sigma disease, I'm afraid it's terminal once it's got this kind of hold. Then again maybe he's a dsd/sacd stream/download junkie, then there's no hope for a cure.

Cheers George 
@cleeds

How does it not address the claim? Harman has done countless double-blind sessions (started by Toole), and he states/documents the better measured speaker wins every time, even regardless of room placement. Now, ideal bass and treble levels do differ slightly, but Toole is comparing speakers being sold, and none are close enough to where a worse imaging/soundstage or audible distortion would be ignored for better bass/treble.

Their work is peer-reviewed, so I don’t see how you can claim that since I haven’t participated in such a study that me referencing their solid findings doesn’t hold water.
Post removed 
@georgehifi FYI resorting to personal attack when you can't rebutt his points only make you look weak and clueless. 
You did say one good thing "look for soekris DAC. By measurements it’s pretty decent."
I’ve had the Soekris 1321 dac here it was good, but both Holo and Linn CD12 were better.

Cheers George
Everyone is entitled to their opinions but the final opinion belongs to us audiophiles, who love their music and the equipment that gives us our quest for musical pleasure. Like I said before, there is soo much good stuff out there for us to choose to achieve our happiness. To most of us, this is a passionate hobby so let the dialogue continue.
Here is another affordable  NOS R2R Multibit dac that's come to the market,

https://www.audiomirror.com/product-page/tubadour-iii-non-oversampling-tube-dac

Cheers George  
thanks George. 
I will check this one out
George,
It appears that you like the sound of R2R DAC's and I assume you had the Holo Springs DAC? Which level did you have and would you assume that the revision 2 will be even better.
George,
It appears that you like the sound of R2R DAC’s and I assume you had the Holo Springs DAC? Which level did you have and would you assume that the revision 2 will be even better.


It’s all written about here. From what I’ve been told the Level 2 is the one to get for sound value for dollar spent.
https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/256748-holo-spring-dac-level2-review/?tab=comments#comment-40...
Cheers George

What transport, and what cables are connecting to your dac? I replaced toslink with a WireWorld Coax and was blown away, but then...

How would you like to spend $39 and get far more than a dac upgrade?

Crazy, right? but it actually solves a big problem, which is scattered laser light inside the player, and that fellow philes is HUGE

The first thing I had to do was turn my subs down 3 full notches, after which bass became much more focused and potent, soundstage depth and width also vastly improved, AND, the emotion of the singer is very evident, much like texture

New Dark Matter from Machina Dynamica
Machina Dynamica
There is only one thing anyone should believe on the  Machina Dynamica   website and that it's  https://youtu.be/RmyucZa6wD0?t=9
I'm 59.  I've been an obsessed audio geek since I was a teenager.  Up-graded sooooo many times.  You could fill a good sized room with all the pieces I've sold.  My system now is comprised of Audio Research, B&W, PS Audio, McIntosh, Revox (B77 MKII), Kimber, Furutech and others.  I've got around 55K into my current system.  Which to some will be sound like a lot and to others a poor man's system: or a "drop in the bucket."

I inserted the Schiit 'Yiggy' into the mix and have never been disappointed.  It was a all I expected it to be.  It had (has) no sonic failures that I can detect.  I've been listening to it now for 9-10 months with no regrets.
@chisom1 
 
To be clear, when though I would say the Yggy doesn’t perform as well as some similarly priced gear, any defects shouldn’t be easily audible. The fact is even cheap DACs nowadays are very good. 
I recently received the Holo Spring 2 -level 3 “KitsuneTuned” Dac. Very open , detailed and never bright. Am using the Singxer “tuned”USB to I2R converter with satisfying results. Check out Kitsune Audio for more info. Much improvement over The fine Aurelic Vega it replaces.
Chord  Qutest is  really nice at around 2k
@mlapenta 

Yep, for those like me that belive measurements correlate to sound quality, both the Qutest and the Benchmark DAC3 are $1700-$2000 and are very transparent.
I have the Denafrips Venus. No wow factor there. So much for R2R.