boulder,kondo m7,audio note 5sig,burmester 970 ,and may be accuphase 101.
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I am not a big friend of Digital, because all the years I listened at Demo's to the most expensive units ( ML, Krell, Wadia etc....) I always thought: ".............the sound is not worth the price ...........I don't hear what is so good with these units .....and so on " The dCS Demo was the first were I really thought, that the presentation is SO MUCH better than everything before I heard, that I invested more time with these units. The Elgar / Delius alone ( DAC ) is very, very good. I think it is because they construct their own Processors. Believe me, I love Analog, and this unit is extremely good ( for Digital ). With the Purcell ( D/D Converter = Upsampling to 176,4 or 192 khz ) the Sun is rising. More high frequencies, more air, wide presentation and so on without the usual digital artifacts. A friend who listend to my combo went a few days later to someone else who wanted to sell a Wadia 860. After 5 minutes my friend asked the owner to stop the demo. It was total different, typical digital ............. I think upsampling alone is not the secret, it is the combination - like I wrote - with their own electronics ( processors ......), because some other maufacturers offer 192 khz too, but they don't reach dCS. These are really unique. The main advantage with these is - the upgradability for the future based on software, DSD possible - millions of used CD's are out there and all can be listened dramatically improved. I can wait total relaxed for the future, I survived the HDCD hype, I will see what is going on with SACD or DVD-A, and when something is going on with these seriously I send my dCS units back for upgrade when new outputs ( firewire ) are necessary. It is like a premium record player: It doesn't get old
There are some dealer demo's out there. Not because they are bad, because of the upgrade prices for dsd from dCS. It is very expensive for dealers, so they give them out to order new ones.
But for interested ones who are waiting with cash, they can do a REAL BARGAIN now.
While I think the dCS Elgar is an excellent piece, ultimately my preference in my system was and still is the Audio Logic 2400. I felt the AL to be more alive sounding and dimensional, the Elgar a little restrained in comparison. You're really talking about personal biases here, though, all of the units mentioned in this thread offer superior sound. However, I think the Purcell is the best upsampler/filter combination/whatever you want to call it I've heard and the best improvement to 16/44 CD out there right now. I can listen to Cds without it, but I can't get near the musical and emotional involvement that I get with it in my system. I have and greatly enjoy vinyl and SACD, and the Purcell makes CD much more competitive with those setups, particularly with respect to harmonics, dynamics and reduced harshness at higher listening levels. I've had mine for a year and a half and don't ever regret getting it.
After re-reading my post, I noticed I may have not been entirely clear. I recently sold my dCS gear to pay for a home remodeling project. I had every intention of replacing the dCS stuff in September with another Purcell and delius, until I heard the Audiomeca. I have listened to the Dodson, dCS, Levinson Reference, Wadia, etc. and the Audiomeca topped them all. Everything else sounded thin and distorted until I heard the Mephisto and Enkianthus. I did not realize it until I actually listened to the Audiomeca. I really thought the other products were outstanding. This is truly the first digital combination that I have heard that rivals vinyl.
Before you go out and spend a ton of money, give it a listen. You will not be disappointed.
Question for Jtinn, what kind of music do you primarily listen to? I'm going to check out the Audiomeca when I get a chance. The big difference I've heard in my dCS 972/Elgar compared to everything else I've heard including the Accuphase and the Burmeister, is the ability to unravel the sound of large scale orchestral works so that there is much more the impression of an orchestra playing Mahler or Stravinsky. I use a Sigtech and drive my monoblocks directly from the dCS so these difference are quite audible. Any comments?
Plsl: I listen to mostly Classical and Jazz. Large orchestral as well as small ensemble. The Audiomeca handles it extremely well and never thins out the sound. I really loved my dCS gear and I would not have parted with it, if it were not for the remodeling. By chance I heard the Mephisto II with Enkianthus and I was very surprised. It gave me the depth and separation that I got from the dCS gear but retained the warmth and naturalness of the music.
If I were you, I would not run out and sell the dCS stuff, but I would urge you to compare them to the Audiomeca equipment and see if it does the same for you as it did for me.
Some people seem to think that dCS gear gives you the absolute technical performance in digital reproduction in the form of accurately converted data. But dCS gear is in its best form an artistic tool, and admits the "analogue" element as much as the technical precision. I once heard a demonstrator take a Joni Mitchell recording with embellished chords (Joni's alternate guitar tunings!), a flowing melody, an organic groove, and warm room acoustics, and show how too little a wordlength and too short a sample rate can spoil the playback of a recording like this. "Yes dCS gear has purely technical strengths," it was implied, "but remember that music is one of the fine arts--the noblest, the most important, and the most difficult to reproduce--and that its fluent harmonies may be spoiled by the intrusion of a single harsh note, its vital pulse ruined by a single mechanical beat" and the dCS Delius/Purcell DAC/upsampler really seemed to capture most of the PRAT (pace, rhythm and timing) of Joni Mitchell's music that day, and impressed me as never before. But what I am saying here is more suggestive than argumentative: I wonder if it would be possible to combine the Audiomeca Mephisto II transport with the dCS DAC/upsampling gear to see if they can make the most of each other's strengths, since there are so many similar "analogue" merits in each of these products.
This thread has brought to the forefront some very subtle compartive differences. It would be very interesting to compare the DCS stuff with the Mepheisto II (new version, if it is forthcoming in September), and for good measure, the new 24/192 version of the EMC-1.
I'm currious as to just how close the new 24/192 one box players can come to the transport/upsampler/DAC combos that easily exceed $12K. And when you add Pls1's Sigtec and SACD into the equation, the equation becomes even more complex.
Audioguy, you're right. I use a Sigtech. Thanks for the reminder but I do have it set on 24 bits. A few comments. At the level of performance we are talking about, I believe that without VERY accurate DSP room correction and very impulse coherent speakers that the differences in the upsamplers/DACs cannot be accurately assessed because how the DAC converts the time based info is where many of the differences lie. Room and speaker interaction can not only obscure the difference but actually cause the DAC’s to act like mini DSP units analogous to using cables as tone controls.
I’ve played around with the 972 upsampler in front of some other DACs in addition to the Elgar. These experiments have convinced me that much of the difference in high end DAC’s subjective performance are due to the audible artifacts created by the D to A algorithms and the filters implemented in the DAC’s. I highly recommend the technical paper on this on the dCS site. This paper is not a self serving marketing paper but is some rather sophisticated musings on how the common choice of algorithms for the conversion back to analog and the filter implementation may have some rather fundamental flaws in the underlying mathematical assumptions. It is interesting that in the various threads that the DAC’s that vie for the top position, for the most part, use “nonstandard” algorithms or conversion circuit topologies.
Changing the upsampling in front of any DAC will change the audible analog artifacts. Changing the frequency, impulse characteristics of the music (Joni Mitchell vs. Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra) will change the analog artifacts created by the DACs. This makes getting a bead on “the best” very hard in my opinion.
Lornecherry is right that these points are subtle but they are real and do matter for the listening experience. Many of the performances I want to listen to are only available as digital recordings on Redbook CDs so I am quite interested in optimizing my digital chain. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.
I have listened to the Elgar for a long time through some very nice associated equipment at my local dealer. The staff and I compared the orginal EMC1 to it and felt that the Electrocompaniet EMC1 CD player had about 95-98% of the abilities of the Elgar grouping.
I recently had my EMC1 CD Player upgraded to the 24/192kHz DAC and the new player surpasses the Elgar in quality of sound. The staff and owner were in awe of the players abilities. I have never seen them so excited about a piece of gear, keep in mind that they sell the Elgar grouping!
Hearing is subjective and that is what makes it tough to have an opinion that others will share. I however, feel that this piece of kit is something special. I never thought a compact disc could sound so good. If you are in an area where you can audition it, make the trip and bring along some of your favorites. I hope this is a glimpse of the future. If it is, audio is headed in a very exciting direction.
I had a Sim Audio Eclipse CDP with DCS Purcell upsampler. DCS is excellent, however I was able to get rid of 3 pieces (Eclipse CDP; Purcell; ARC preamp) by moving to the excellent Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 one-box CDP. It even has a volume control so that I can drive my 4 tube amps direct in a bi-amp setup. Very analog-sounding as well, with a sub-miniature tube output stage. That being said, the DCS gear is very, very good- it comes down to a matter of taste really.
I had the Audiomeca Enkianthus DAC which was sweet, airy amd laid out an excellent soundstage. However, I found it just a little soft-sounding. Some have said that the Audio Aero gives a little bit more in the dynamics dept. Everyone seems to agree that both companies put out some of the best CDP/DAC's offered today. Thanks for your input.