Ed, as a regular concert-goer I appreciate how your comments are based around the context of real music and musical enjoyment. As an audiophile, however :-), there are some things I would like to know. In my searching I have not found any information about even the basic I/O of this new DAC. The picture on AC (and on the Ultra website)is only of the front. What sort of conectivity does the DAC-41 have? Does it have a built in PS or an external supply?
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Hi Tonyptony, I can't answer all of your questions; you'll have to ask Ultra Fi that; perhaps Larry will see these posts and get back to you. You could also email him through Audiogon.
As to I/O and connectivity: The DAC-41 has a single USB connection, a single pair of LR single-ended connections for output, and a single IEC AC power input. No LED as wtih the Tranquilities.
I am experimenting with power cables on the DAC-41 and so far PCs seem to make less of a difference than they did with the Tranquility and Tranquility SE. I think I recall in a phone conversation with Larry that the PS is built in, and is substantially different than the Tranquility or Tranquility SE.
Get your hands on a DAC-41; I think you'll like it.
Thanks for the additional comments from Istanbulu and Electromatic. I don't like assigning percentages either, as it is such a subjective valuation but how noticeable the DAC-41 A/B's with the previous designs is a good indicator of performance. I understand that you guys have high praise for Ultra Fi's designs. One additional question I have is whether you have tried other highly regarded DACs in the price range or even state of the art ($5K+) designs?
For the record, I own the Tranquility SE and I do like the sound. I think I have a pretty revealing system ($20K amp, $13K speakers, and about $12K in power distribution and cabling if we were going by retail numbers) and I have so far reluctant to invest big in digital because it apparently advances so fast. A few weeks ago, this would have been an inexpensive upgrade given the DAC-41's extremely aggressive pricing. However, with the current fire sale on Tranquility SE's, the upgrade has become more of a stretch. I have flashbacks of years ago when I was into computer gaming and picked up the new top of the line video card, and they come out with one twice as fast 6 months later for 3/4 the cost!
I can't dispute the claims on the DAC-41 because I haven't heard one, but to me, it is seems rather incredible that in under a year, the magnitude of refinement of iteration 41 (of presumably the same NOS DAC design) can far surpass the previous 2 iterations over a 5 year period. Typically, it is harder and harder to to extract further performance from an iterative process. It's like a car tuner being able to squeeze 400HP from a performance engine five years ago, 425HP two years ago, 440HP last year, and then 500HP this year, from basically the same engine, and it's 25% cheaper and 30% more fuel efficient to boot. Very hard to believe.
I will believe without a doubt the DAC-41 beats the previous designs, but my only question remains on how it would fare against the top current designs from the competititon in the $1K market, for instance, the new Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus...
I'm hoping that some guys can organize a DAC shootout of the current best efforts from the major players. :)
I'm glad the new DAC has brought such musical joy to those who have heard it.
I'm believer when first hear the Tranquility SE from friend's system.
Then I bought from Larry the new Tranquility SE 2 which turn out to be DAC 41. I start selling all my CD players and Dacs that I have in 2 systems and "the back up" as well :)
Recently, I bought the old Musicstream and older IROC to compare with DAC 41
In my system, all tubes, the Musicstream is sound smoother, wider stage, more musical than DAC 41. System synergy?
I'm talking about a good margin here.
I use dB audio labs, Ridge Street, and RAL cryosilver.
The IROC is a couple steps below these two, but one heck of value when you can find an used one here :)
Sorry, I'm not good at audio cliché but I like what I hear
BTW, my Mac Minis are tweak with SSD, upgrade RAM, PureMusic, and the whole list from Eric :)
Finally got a minute of breathing room what with the preparation for RMAF to respond.
First off, thanks so much Ed for the wonderful review. It's always nice to have your work appreciated.
And, similarly, thanks to Electromatic and Thuan98 for your follow ups.
Tonyptony, I think Ed answered your questions; but, if not, gimme a ring and I'll be more than happy to spend whatever time is necessary with you.
Hifinut604, I love your horsepower references being a car guy myself. Remember a few years ago when that age old E36 M3 placed extremely high overall at the 24 hours at Daytona? A car design that was some 20 years old?? Pretty cool stuff.
As to your comment on design, I wish it worked as you suggest, and I think once upon a time it did. However, practicing intellectual property law for some time now has taught me that today, it just doesn't quite work that way anymore. The days of "Eureka!" we have something new are a bit passé I'm afraid. Not to say it doesn't happen; but, we've just done a lot more things now and that makes it harder for that to happen.
Today's developments are more a matter of continuous iterative improvement of a particular item resulting from intense study and labor over time rather than wholesale changes or the Eureka moment I described earlier.
Design development is more of an institutional/corporate endeavor rather than spark from an individual in their garage....
That said, I think much of my DAC development mirrors this view.
I'd also like to add that many of the things, though certainly not all, I included in the DAC-41 were presented for consideration to what is now dB Audio Labs. For whether reason(s), the decision to include them in products were not made. So, I can see why you might conclude what you did.
In any event, thanks for your thoughts.
Thuan98, look at the free Snow Leopard OS optimizations that can be found on my website. I think there may be some things in there that Eric may not have told you.
Larry D. Moore, Esq.
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