New Luxman DA-06 doesnt sound so great. Will it get better?


Hi, I recently received a Luxman DA-06 dac (new, gray market Japan import) and it the sound doesnt seem to have any life.  It sounds a bit dull, uninvolving, and just low fidelity.  The best way can explain it is that it sounds like when a phono cartridge has a bad impedance mismatch with a preamp or if the signal gain is too high and it is clipping .  The unit only has less than 15 hours on it.  I wanted to know if this is normal and it would clear itself up or I have received a bad unit.  I have tried it in 2 different systems and it sounds the same. I have tried both outputs, balanced and unbalanced.  I have read this dac requires 100s of hours break in time and I hope the sound improves.  Anyone has any experience with this and could share their thoughts?  I would greatly appreciate it.  
audioman2015
No direct experience with Luxman, but IMO, all digital takes some time to open up.  Assuming it has no tubes, I would not shut it off at all, unless I were going on vacation.  I would say give it a month and just live with it.  I have gone through several painful break in periods and it can take time.  I would also buy a break in CD like a Purist or whatever to speed things along.  Just hang in.  But it should get better in a couple of days.  
It doesnt have any tubes.  We had some storms down here in Texas but last night I left the unit on while looping a cd.  I will let it play 24/7 for the next month or so as long as the weather doesnt get bad.  So far I havent heard the lush magic that I have read so much that this dac can provide.  
Are you using a voltage converter. I assume your CDP is 100v which needs to be converted to 115v.
Yes, I am using a Nissyo 550w converter to bring the voltage down to 100v.  The DA-06 is a dac and not a cdp.  
First impressions usually indicate whether or not a piece of audio gear will do it for you...sorry to say.  I've owned a lot of gear and break in IS real, but only goes so far.  If there is an inherent problem like your describing then it will most likely simply suck a little less over time.  So...Asian sourced grey market aye?  Sounds like a counterfeit...Music Direct would give you 30-60days return just in case.  Lesson learned...sell it fast if you can!
If it requires hundreds of hours of break-in (per Luxman, I assume?), then give it the required time, and you should be rewarded for your patience. The Isotek/Esoteric burn-in disc is a useful tool.

Don't give up on it yet!
100s of hours is what I read on forums with owners of the DA-06, not sure what Luxman's policy is regarding burn in.  Ive had very good luck with gray market imports.  There is no reason for me to believe that this is a counterfeit.  The build quality is outstanding, came with paperwork, and the insides are genuine.  Yes, I opened it up and took a good look inside.  Heck if this was a counterfeit, why would they waste their time doing that when they could be designing their own equipment because they are that good!  
Wouldn't surprise me if that step down wasn't killing the music....

If it was me, I would see about sending it in to Luxman to get the right transformer put in it for your voltage requirement.
Yeah I read much about using step down transformers.  Some say it degrades the music quality others say it increases it.  There are several transformers from the plant to my home, not sure why another one would degrade the quality.  I dont see how but I could always put a scope to the 100v to see if there excess noise or a distorted waveform.  I will do that during the week, we have some nice Tektronix scopes at work.  
You can’t compare the power grid setup to what you have there. It is all about having low impedance power delivery for digital gear IME, so that transformer really cannot help things.... You need fast current delivery for these high speed digital devices.
Thats why all those caps are there for.  I completely agree that digital devices need very high speed instantaneous current delivery.  With the small power draw of the dac, I bet that those big luxman caps are never completely drained.  

I just did a compairson with my old Onkyo  C-S5vl player.  The Luxman sounds a bit better after about 20 hours of use when I compare it to the Onkyo (which sounds low end to my other dacs).  Im also using this Onkyo to loop a cd continously.  The Luxman still isnt anywhere near the level of what it should produce however.  
(Please don't take this as an insult but check to make sure the tag behind the power receptacle says 100V and not 120V. If it's an import they may have changed the xfmr)

The easiest way to see if there are problems with the unit is to check the voltage at each RCA output to make sure there is 2.5 Vrms.  

If the output voltage is correct then leave it powered on for at least 72 hours and then run a disc on repeat for 8 hours or so with the RCA outputs loaded to a preamp (off or on doesn't matter). What you hear after that should be very close to what the unit will sound like.
I missed the note about the step down transformer.  Not a good idea...also, don't assume you understand what's going on in the audio chain.  There is still some things that remain unquantifiable!
I have heard a Luxman DA-06  from an authorized dealer in the US so its voltage was set to the US 115v standard. Using the DA-06 out of a Macbook Pro computer up sampling to DSD using JRiver Media 21, the DA-06 has different digital filter settings that may have an effect upon sound. My advice: You may achieve better results depending upon the digital signal sent from your computer which may be impacted by the cable (I heard a USB) and the filters. Maybe the step down converter has a deleterious effect that none of these factors may overcome but with the US version, the DA-06 produces a great result. Try different filter settings, cables, high resolution PCM and conversion to DSD before you give up. You may get a great result if you can try these things.

Check out the threads on step down transformers as there is a plethora of info on them. One member in particular, renjy651, has a lot of experience with them regarding model types, switch outs, and the like.

All the best,
Nonoise
IMO, all this trendy mix and match DAC stuff with assorted degrees of crap accessories is quite pointless unless your pursuit is pure functionality alone.   For great sound, a one box source and simplified amplification stage with quality cables/cords into highly dynamic speakers will yield better results.  Computers and DACS and converters...why?  Sit down, put on a great disc and turn out the lights.  Relax then repeat!
Dave,
I think you are right. That is why I changed from a Spectral / dcs set to an all Nagra set: CD player, pre and power. No guess work involved. Still, Audioman, I hope you get things sorted out: contact Luxman and accept the costs if there are any. Good luck!
The US distributer " On a Higher Note" won’t touch a Grey market player with a ten foot pole. The OP is bound to the the country of origin for any service/support needs. If the player is legit Luxman, and no reason to believe it’s not. Then be patient for the player to break-in. Luxman is a great brand...sit back and enjoy.
It appears that the step-down transformer you are using probably has a two-prong plug and outlet, while the Luxman has a three-prong IEC receptacle. While in most circumstances that might be sonically advantageous, as it would break any ground loops with interconnected components, I’m wondering if in this case it might be causing or contributing to the problem.

For instance if the Luxman provides galvanic isolation of whatever digital inputs you are using, the lack of an AC safety ground connection may result in its digital and D/A converter circuitry being essentially "floating" in an uncontrolled manner relative to the ground of the signal source, perhaps resulting in noise issues and consequently in jitter issues.

I’m just speculating, of course, but it might be worthwhile investing $35 plus shipping in a converter such as this one, which provides three-prong connectivity:

http://www.voltageconverters.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=VC500J

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al

Thank you for all the replies - this was my first post on Audiogon.  Great place!

almarg:  The Luxman does have a 3 plug receptacle.  If you look inside, the 3rd or the ground wire is not connected to anything.  The Nissyo transformer that I am using is only 2 plug. If the ground connection was connected, I agree the voltage converter you are recommending could offer a better ground.

maxboy00:  Yes, I am stuck with sending the unit back to Japan for service if it requires it.  Shipping was less than $100 for 1 way and took less than 3 days including time in customs!  There was no customs charge as the seller devalued the item's value.

nirodha35: Thanks!  Yes I will have to accept any costs that occur.  The unit is under warranty in Japan so I would have to pay only shipping costs. 

dave_b:  You are correct!  There are many times that I just want to put some music on, turn off the lights and forget about the hardware.  I do like to tinker around and in the process have learned a lot.  Still lots more to learn though.  Sometimes it pays off and result in a more pleasing sound, other times it sets me back a step or two.   

nonoise:  I have read a lot on step down transformers.  There are so much information to sift through and a lot of it can be false.

casaross:  So far I have tried the coax and USB inputs.  Right now I am just feeding it directly from a cd player with the coax going through a reclocker.  When I tried it on USB, I was using Foobar.  I have tried upsampling to DSD and the Sox upsampler to 2x and 4x. 

gs5556: The seller supplied a transformer with the unit so I am sure it is the Japanese version.  I checked the voltage it is around 2.5V, varies a little bit because I am playing a cd.  It has been playing for 2 days and I agree it is going to sound very close to what it sounds like right now. 


I am now leaning toward that there is nothing wrong with the dac.  I purchased it without a listening demo (wish I could go some place close by to listen to another da-06).  I won't be giving up on it and will continue burning it in.  Perhaps my ears are just spoiled -  I have a Litedac 60 that I have modded heavily and I have been comparing all other equipment with it.  BTW, I don't have any buyers remorse - the seller does accept returns however I am not going to return it.  I would like to get to the bottom of this.  Anyone know where I could listen to another da-06 in the DFW area?
I checked the voltage it is around 2.5V, varies a little bit because I am playing a cd.
As you appear to realize but others may not, 2.5 volts is the specified **maximum** output voltage of the DAC, that will only occur when the digital data corresponding to the instantaneous volume of the music is at its greatest possible value. Most of the time that voltage will be much lower, especially on recordings having wide dynamic range. And to be completely precise, that voltage is defined on the basis of the RMS (root mean square) value of a presumed sine wave, as opposed to the peak or peak-to-peak voltages of the waveform.

Also, John Atkinson’s measurements of the DA-06 indicate 2.36 volts, rather than the specified 2.5 volts:

www.stereophile.com/content/luxman-da-06-da-processor-measurements

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al

Thanks for your help Al, I am getting close to 2.3 volts.  Yesterday I went out and purchased a hdmi de-embedder.  I played DSOTM and the bells at the beginning of the song Time sounded simply stunning.  I've never heard them sound so accurate, pure, and "tight".  I am using an Oppo BDP-95 and it is able to convert DSD to PCM at 88.2khz 24 bits.  I do hear the relay click occasionally during the middle of playback at 88.2khz and less at 44.1khz.  I know that the Luxman is very picky at the cable quality for its coax inputs.  I will try some other cables that I have to see if that fixes the problem.  It is most likely losing sync.
I recently purchased sacd player Luxman D-06.. Directly through On Higher Sound the USA distributor.. 9 grand..This is the DAC DA-06 with transport.. Sounded quite nice out of the box, but limited in what I know it will sound like after burn in period. Only about 40 hours on it and it sounding better by the hour. So don't listen to those who think burn in is a crock.. Any inexpensive cheaply made cables, interconnects, AC cables and especially 'in between' components like the regulator will DOWNGRADE any fine equipment to where you are hearing them instead of your costly stuff.. Like buying a $50 steak and slathering 10 cents worth of ketchup on it. Find out what voltage you are actually running and have it adjusted inside the unit by a trained engineer or authorized dealer if it's Asian or European voltage. Change the duplex you are plugged into, I recommend Furutech GTX-D $275).. This cleaned up my grid so well I tossed my conditioner and plugged straight into the wall. The Luxman DAC you have suggests a substantial outlay of $$ with the rest of your stuff. So if you haven't already, you should upgrade your interconnects (spend about 8/900.00), Your Speaker cables (spend about $3,000) and your AV/AC cable & plugs (spend about $3 to $500 apiece). I have Silnote's top 'o the line stuff and the difference upon connection was mind blowing. BUT GET RID OF THAT REGULATOR and fix the voltage correctly from the inside. Then you will be on the way to what you think you should be hearing with the DA-06 as I am with the D-06..
Hope this is helpful and makes sense.
I have direct experience with DA06 and  Luxman MQ88 and Vivid Audio B1....  Using MacBook Pro....  Sounds amazing....  

I I have also used it in a few other systems...  Always s sounded like a class A component to me.

Perhaps it has something to do with it being a Japanese version....  Plenty of USA versions for sale....   

It's not just about the step-down voltage. 
The cycles (hertz) is also different in Japan vs NA/Eu. They are at 50Hz I believe. 60Hz in NA/Eu. Makes a difference!
I have the US version DA-06 and it sounds great!
I have a Luxman integrated amp.  It took a long period of use until it really sounded its best.  First couple of days, I thought I made a big mistake buying it but am very happy now.
I did some research regarding using step up transformers with directly imported Luxman products.  No one actually using them reported any ill effects and a couple people suggested they were actually beneficial, working as power conditioners.
Luxman products are subject to a substantial mark up by the US distributors.  For some, this may be in some way justified.  I didn't have a pleasant experience working with an authorized dealer here and would consider directly importing next time.
About after over a week of burn in, the DA-06 now sounds "warm, dense, and clear".  It also has some magical sounding properties as the sound is very lush and polite.  I was laying down listening to some music streaming from my pc (Foobar using Sox upsampler to 174.6khz -> Schiit Wyrd -> Audiogd DI-2014 -> coax in DA-06, balanced out -> Goldpoint level controls -> Parasound A21 x2 -> custom speakers) and I was hearing sounds come from behind me.  I thought there was something outside but realized it was actually the music!  

It is an excellent dac that has a very unique sound but requires a very long time to break in.  I feel that there is no need to upgrade the transformer or the stock power cord (which is very nice btw) in my system.  Japan has both power systems 50hz and 60hz.  Consumer electronics will work on both.    

About the relay issue: it didn't like my Kanex Pro hdmi de-embedder.  Also on the USB input, the relay will click when skipping or fast forwarding tracks.  With the coax - there are 0 clicks.  I believe on the DA-06 the coax is treated as an asynchronous signal that further reduces jitter phase noise. Similar to the USB input.
 
Thanks for all the comments - I am a proud owner of a Luxman :).