I just took delivery of one this week. The 2013 version, which has a higher output voltage, asynchronous usb input. I plan on using it with a simple system: Mac laptop -> DSP -> VTL Tiny Triode amps -> Quad electrostats (57). I will likely use the DSPeaker as a preamp, with either a USB or an optical input to the DSPeaker. I'll let you know how it sounds, though it may take a week or more for me to get to it. Some people have reported losses in transparency. I assume with the Quads, I would notice something like that!
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I have one between pre-amp and power amps, analog-in to analog-out. It greatly improved the low end by removing big peaks. Main speakers now can play bass with no need for subs, booming is gone.
Most room problems are under 150HZ so this can make a big difference and I am not even using the other features, parametric eq, etc. Just set and forget. You do have to be OK with everything having an A/D/A conversion but, to my ears, it is transparent and its output drives my mono amps fine.
I've only played it for a couple hours, not broken in or anything (does it need break in???). It is playing in analog mode b/t my preamp and amps. What I notice so far is that it really cleans up the bass - not as muddy or resonant. That is nice. It may be removing a bit of transparency though. Listening to Greg Brown - I seem to lose a bit of the granularity and resonance of his voice. I'm not entirely sure yet. I also want to try it out entirely in the digital domain, so its analog output stage is not included in the picture, nor is another round of A=>D and D=>A. Overall, so far, I find myself happy listening with it in the chain, but see that there may be some tradeoff. I need to try it out in a different position in the chain.
Putting it in the tape loop allows you to more easily bypass its A/D/A conversion should you choose to do so for some reason. So the tape loop may be the most convenient way to hook it up for evaluation purposes. If you find its A/D/A + DSP beneficial in all cases after an evaluation using the tape loopthen between pre and amp would make sense.
Also, between pre and amp, if you are using it as a DAC, aren't you bypassing your preamp's volume control (and any other benefits the preamp provides)?
No, you're not bypassing the volume control. And the bypass function is so easy to control from the remote (rather than getting up to change the tape loop setting) that it seems to be the way to go (b/t preamp and amp).
I wrote to the manufacturer and they indicated that the cleanest way to use the unit was to keep it in the digital domain (i.e. put it between the digital signal and the DAC) or to use it as a DAC/preamp itself with no other equipment before the amps.
FYI - the USB input jack is a mini - so it's not like many USB DACs we are used to. This would entail either an adaptor or a USBA to mini cable.
You can't use it as a DAC between the pre and the amp. If you want to use it as a DAC, you either do so upstream of the pre (as an input into the pre) or you hook it up directly to the amps, and then you are using it as a DAC+PRE.
Are you talking about a digital out from the pre? If so, you are correct. Like for home theater???
Correct about the bypass (second statement)
Yes, you have the greatest flexibility from my POV by using the tapeloop. Allows as many analog inputs as your preamp has to be run through the Dual Core (which only has 1 set of analog inputs), and it allows you to use the Dual Core as a DAC.
Peter_s or anyone else, would there any reasons that the tape loop might somehow not be ideal? Really does seem the best of all worlds from a versatility standpoint.
Upstream from the pre but not in the tape loop, means only one analog input to the Dual Core.
Between pre and amp, you do not get the DAC functionality (unless you decided to use the volume control on the Dual Core as the volume control for your digital inputs, which seems to be a hassle and would bypass potential benefits of your preamp for your digital sources).
I use a 12v battery ps on mine and found that it sounds much better than the supplied wall wort. I use my Dual Core as a Dac-Preamp. The D/C sounds less "hard" with better sound stage, and imaging. I would highly recommend looking into an upgraded ps for the D/C. My BPS is a custom job and I'm trying to find a reasonably priced 12v linear supply for comparison.
I have a 12v car starter, which is essentially a rechargeable battery with both battery leads and a cigarette lighter output. It can be used for an audio power supply - and recharged between uses. I will try that out. I've been in touch with Toni at DSpeaker, and he told me that users have reported that the Musical Fidelity vPSU mkii ($129) has led to improved sonics. I ordered one from Audio Advisor to try on their 30 day trial. Parts Express sells a 13.8v regulated power supply for something like $40. Toni told me that 13.8 is OK, but not to go any higher.
Spent some time playing around with the unit today, and here were my observations:
- Definite benefit from switching to a battery power supply, when using the unit as a DAC/preamp. I haven't tested the affect of the power supply when using the unit in the purely digital domain.
- As a DAC/preamp, I like the clarity of my Wyred4Sound DAC2 better. But I want the room correction.
- The best sound I got was by placing the DSpeaker in front of my Wyred4Sound DAC and using it entirely in the digital domain. So far I've only tried optical cabling from my Macbook Pro to the DSpeaker and further to the W4S DAC. I will try the USB connection to the DSpeaker at some point soon.
Using the usb input form your Macbook Pro will sound better than the using the optical out. The optical out will produce a lot of jitter, and you have the latest firmware with the asynchronous USB. I have tried my D/C with lesser transports and there was a very noticeable difference. The battery charger that you are using is OK, but not the best for battery use. It will give you a window at what a battery ps can do, but without it being capasitor filterd you will get some noise from the battery. I know this since I have tried it both ways, and a capasitor bank after the battery is a must.
Look into an IFi IUSB it will take your computer audio sound quality up a huge notch.
I have had my Dual Core since August and have played around with many of the different features. The measurement feature will really help in dialing in your room. There is somewhat of a learning curve with the Dual Core since there are so many features that will improve your sound quality.
I had a Buffalo 32s dac (ESS Saber 9018 chip) and at first didn't like the D/C dac, but after a month or so of comparison the 32s found a new home.
The Dual Core is one serious little machine that will make huge differences to the sound quality to any system. I had mine for four months before I got a call from Tim Ryan (Dspeaker US Distributor) and he spent an afternoon showing me how to better dial in my system. I thought I had good sound,and when we were done I had GREAT sound!
It's more about the power on the cable coming from the computer. When the signal enters into the IUSB it is separated from the power on the line, regenerated and then sent to the decoding devise. In this case it is the Dual core. Many users are very pleased with what it does, the sound is fuller and much better detailed. I don't currently own one, but I have had the privileged or hearing the difference of what one can do at a friends house. I'm on the list for the next shipment.
Thanks Rodge. I may try that out. My conversations with Toni (engineer at DSpeaker) tell me that the USB cable should make absolutely no difference. Toni was emphatic about that as part of the asynchronous design. But of course, there are plenty of claims to the opposite in the world of asynchronous USB DACs.
Yeah, I had the same response from Tim Ryan about using my battery power supply. He was "perplexed" that the battery ps could sound better than the supplied wallwort. He said something about the wallwort's design being different than other wallwort power supplies....But in the end a few friends confirmed what I had heard, and the point was then moot.