I'm looking to improve the jitter control in my digital setup, which hopefully will create a more analogue presentation. I own a PS Audio PW Memory Transport, which sports a FPGA, and a Nuwave DSD DAC with a scaled-down version of the gate array.
I have owned a Chord which uses this technology and it was like listening to analogue recordings. I sold it only because it's soundstage was very forward, like sitting in the front row of a concert hall. My current PS Audio setup has wide and deep imaging, as does my Atma-Sphere preamp. I have auditioned the Schiit Grundir and it was a bit too fast in the attack and transients, but had the dynamics and deep imaging that I like. So, I guess what I'm looking for is a unit with a laid-back, realistic musical presentation.
The Mytek Digital Stereo192 DSD and Blue Circle DAC are in my price range, but there is no way to audition them. So any recommendation and advice is appreciated. DSD preferred, budget is about $1200 used.
Why do you think jitter reduction is the solution, lowrider? Those DACs you auditioned have much simpler reasons for their sonic differences than jitter. I owned the Hegel HD-12 and found it to have the sound character you describe, which coincidentally has the lowest jitter specification I have seen. Can be had used for much less than your budget. Now using Exogal Comet Plus which I bought used for exactly your target price and it is pretty amazing.
The Holo DAC shadorne recommends would be a top candidate in this price category also.
Have you tried different USB cables (if you use USB)? Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 is very fast sounding but can be mercilessly bright (not for you). Curious USB is very balanced sounding and could be what you are looking for in sound character. Purist Audio 30th Anniversary is better still but expensive.
Sorry guys, I forgot to include some details in my post. My primary need is for Redbook playback thru the PSA transport, computer audio via USB is secondary.
With a PS Audio setup, I am able to use the HDMI interface (I2S) which transfers the clocked signal and data on separate conductors, versus SPDIF which combines all data. The transport stores the data from the CD into a buffer, then clocks it, and sends a jitter-free signal to the DAC where it is reclocked. There is a major difference in performance between my budget PSA DAC and the higher-end DAC's using FPGA.
Yes, I'm very familiar with the Synchromesh. I spoke to Steve and almost bought one, but since I'm not using SPDIF, the I2S technology is already reclocking the data.
I have tried different coax cables (1.5 meter), but the HDMI always sounds best. I believe the Nuwave DAC is the weak link.
@dlcockrum , the Exogal Comet Plus is definitely on my radar, But I haven't seen one at my price point. Exogal, Wadia, Mytek all use proprietary devices to process and clock the signal; IMO, that is what makes a superior DAC in addition to how the analogue stage is implemented.
Right re: the DAC’s clock quality, lowrider. Especially with asynchronous USB where the reconstruction of incoming data packets is completely reliant on the DAC’s "clock".
However, Jeff Haagenstad, the CEO of Exogal wrote me that the Comet’s unique use of their FPGA topology actually eliminates its sensitivity to incoming timing and other anomalies addressed by reclockers, galvanic isolation, jitter reducers, etc. when I requested his advice re: adding an ISO Regen. Being one who has to try for myself, I have a ISO Regen and Ultracap LPS-1 power supply somewhere between the local PO and my home right now at the mercy of the PO's decision regarding delivery due to nearby flooding from the recent hurricane.
I will tell you that the Comet Plus is the most sensitive component I have owned to cabling, power cords, and vibration/resonance control. It pays back big dividends for careful selection and investment in these areas.
Be patient and a used Comet Plus will show up at your budget. Lots of DAC-rollers out there. ;)
I appreciate the solid advice, @dlcockrum . And I hope you were able to whether the storm. Watching the devastation on TV was terrible, can't imagine what it was like being there. Best to you and yours.
Thanks lowrider, much appreciated. I just found this and thought it to accurately and truthfully reflect my ownership impressions, including that it could use a bit more heft on the bottom. Nothing is perfect, yet the Comet is excellent IMO.
Read all the way through especially the bottom of the page.
Like the author, I also cheat by turning up the crossover frequency of my RELs with the Comet. Seems to nullify the DAC’s need for a smidge more oomph. The Curious USB cable and especially the Purist took care of any unwanted excitement on top.
Benchmark DACs have a smooth but detailed top end. They all have a forward presentation in the mid range. I think this works great for far field listening but might be too forward if you sit close to the speakers. Imaging is excellent if you like a tight precise sound field. The bass is extremely detailed and tangible (but not over emphasized) and this is probably the most noticeable difference versus other DACs.
The DAC3 is similar sounding but the clarity and insane industry leading low noise floor and channel separation is a surprisingly audible improvement provided you use it to DIRECTLY to drive your power amp and speakers. No point in running this device with a preamp that will dumb down the performance.
SNR -128 db Crosstalk -130 dB THD +N -119 dB
totally insane specs and I was surprised as I didn’t expect any of this to be audible but it is AS LONG as you don’t simply use it to feed another preamp.
I agree with eric_squires and dlcockrum above. Try a Curious USB cable, which gave me the most 3-D soundstage I have heard from USB cables, as well as a rich, full bodied sound with no edge on top. I use it on my Brooklyn DAC, which is also never edgy or up-front.
I have the ISO Regen/UltraCap combo in house (finally). Initial impression is favorable. More heft in the bass and improved harmonic texture/richness on strings/piano/vocals. I will post more later after more time with it.
Benchmark DACs have a smooth but detailed top end. They all have a
forward presentation in the mid range. I think this works great for far
field listening but might be too forward if you sit close to the
speakers. Imaging is excellent if you like a tight precise sound field.
The bass is extremely detailed and tangible (but not over emphasized)
and this is probably the most noticeable difference versus other DACs.
@shadorne , thank you for the very detailed description. Much more informative than any of the reviews. It doesn't seem like this is the DAC I'm looking for.
I'm using a PSA PWT Coaxial out to an iFi SPDIF iPurifier ($150.00 Music Direct 60 day return policy) with excellent results! It sound good out of the box. After 200 hours of run in it has really hit its stride. Better instrument separation, imaging, sound stage, nuances, and defined bass response to name a few things. I have owned the Syncro Mesh and though it is a good performer, but the cost is way too high especially since you need to purchase the upgraded Dynamo PS for best results. I just purchased an Uptone Audio Ultra Cap LPS-1 that will be delivered sometime next week. I'm not sure if it is needed but thought to give it a try. Super quiet power supplies are a must to get the best out of digital audio. Current Digital Front End: PSA PWT > Virtual Mode Coaxial Digital Cable > iFi SPDIF iPurifier> Digital Amplifier Company DAC TS version
I have had many different digital front end set ups over the years and this set up rivals the best of them.
I violated the audiophile cardinal rule and changed speaker cables right after adding the ISO Regen. I figure late this week will be enough time for the new SCs to settle and for me to adjust, so I will do some with and without ISO Regen trials and report back.
Dave, I’ve had a number of change ups of late also, which does impact evaluation. I’m repeating something you most certainly know...enjoy the gear for a few weeks and then remove the Uptone products. : )
I’ve had my replacement ISOREGEN for a couple of weeks now. It is powered by the UltraCap LPS-1 also. I’m in the same situation as you are.
@rodge827 That sounds like the way to go when using coax. Didn't know that iFi made a reclocker, looks good. I almost bought the Synchromesh when I was using an ARC as my transport, but I discovered the great deal on the discontinued PWT. As I stated earlier, I'm not married to I2S. I have Oyaide and Audience A24 SPDIF cables.
The reason I've been thinking it's a jitter issue is due the fact that music still sounds "digital" from my all tube system. I've read many positive results on the PS Audio Forum when using I2S, but this was when using Directstream or Perfectwave DAC's. The PWT outputs a bit-perfect stream thru HDMI, but I'm using a budget DAC. However, I do like the timbre and dynamics my system presents.
I would stay with DACs that you can audition before buying and/or those that are readily resalable and/or those that are highly recommended by persons whos ears you trust and that know your preferences and your system’s sound character. As they say, pick any two...
I had a thought and before I make a purchase on a new DAC, I'm going to upgrade the power source to my PSA. I'm currently using all Audience PC's, which I've learned are unshielded. I'm sure a shielded PC is recommended for digital devices. I've checked the archives and the JPS Digital AC-X is highly recommended, so I'm going to give it a try. It's possible the DAC is contaminating the AC, since my Blue Circle conditioner is passive and not a regenerator.
@dlcockrum , which two dac's are you referring to? thanks.
That JPS Digital PC is said to be a good one. I have had great success with the Synergistic Research CTS Digital and also the Triode Wire Labs Digital American PCs. Review here briefly contrasts the author's opinion on the JPS vs the SR:
"I actually pick the other two." statement was around the 3 choices I proffered to you re: how to select components. I value hearing before buying and/or advice from those I trust ahead of resale value as the former two pre-empt the latter.
I see you own Tommy's DAC. I'm curious why you decided on the DAC DAC and what other DACs you've had in your system prior to deciding on it. I own the HS version and really like it but haven't had a chance to voice many other DACs.
P.S. How much of an incremental improvement did you experience with the Uptone gear?
All (rpt all) DACs should be isolated from very low frequency vibration and some internal damping might also be advisable. All circuit boards should be isolated from the chassis, you know, as opposed to being coupled to the chassis.
@dlcockrum , the UltraCap LPS-1 looks like a great device. But what is the advantage of the LPS-1 over a traditional LPS with a toroidal transformer, e.g.; Teddy Pardo? According to the Uptone website, it has superior isolation to prevent AC leakage via the UltraCap™. The Teddy also claims to have isolation thru its proprietary low pass filter and series of capacitors. Also, what is the LPS-1 using as a transformer?
If I can get a better understanding of this new LPS, I'd like to make a purchase.
You have it right, the UltraCap LPS-1’s claim to fame is lower (none?) noise passthrough than the competition. I am disappointed to report that it uses a switching power supply as its "energizer". Alex at Uptone claims that the LPS-1 eliminates any noise from the latter, preventing it from entering the devices upstream/downstream via the digital signal. Even if true, what about the crap that the switching p/s passes back to the AC line and via the air to other components...
Seems to work as advertised to my ears with the ISO Regen. I have not tried it with other devices, although I plan to investigate using it with my router modem.
Read a report from a JS-2 owner on another thread that the UltraCap LPS-1 beat out his JS-2 in sound quality. Could just buy 2,3 etc of LPS-1 and get a much better switching p/s to feed them all. FWIW.
BTW - I plug the two switching power supplies I have into a completely isolated AC Line (only "components" not plugged into my PowerCell UEF) and cover the bodies and the DC cords with RF/EMI cloth. Planning to order some of this and try in place of the cloth:
"Chris, I'm interested in your thoughts on Tommy's (owner of Digital
Amplification Company) DAC - called the DAC DAC, of course. And the
Uptone gear that you have with it -"
Hi Gary, The Uptone LPS=1 will be delivered on Saturday 9/9/17 so I can't comment on it at this time. However I have had Tommy's DAC DAC in my system for about a month and I'm very pleased with it. I'm almost done building my system around a pair of Charney Audio Maestro Horns, built on the Tractrix theory. They are a full range single driver (Omega RS7)
rear loaded horn. Charney suggested that I look into a solid state dac over a tube dac due to the sound characteristics of the RS7 driver. I'm an emotional listener, I want to be moved and "get" what the artist is trying to convey. Tommy's HS DAC delivers on all counts and brings me deep into the soul of the music. Highs are well extended and not exaggerated, bass is deep and well defined without the mid-bass bump I experienced with many of the other dacs I had in my system over the last eleven months. The DAC DAC is clean, clear, tuneful, fast and precise, yet delivers music and not just good sound! This fall I hope to demo a pair of his Maraschino mono amps and compare them to the 300b integrated I'm using.
Current set up: PWT>Virtual mode Coaxial Dig Cable>SPDIF Purifier>DAC DAC>CR Electronic Designs Woodham 2.0 300b Integrated>Charney Audio Maestro's...IC's and Speaker wires are Jena Labs...Power cords are Aural Thrills Audio 9v Battery Active Shield...Power Conditioner-Tripp Lite Double Conversion UPS
Thanks, Chris, I'm with you in terms of what I'm looking for in the way of hearing that emotion from the music. I auditioned both the HS and TS versions of Tommy's DAC on my VAC Musicblocks/ME preamplifier/Quad 57s and didn't notice much difference between the two (although my ears aren't the best).
I'm quite interested in what the LPS-1 does for your system.