The Six Moons.com review on the Mhdt Labs Orchid DAC just went up


This morning the review on the superlative Mhdt Labs Orchid DAC was just posted on Six Moons.com.  It gives all the details why I have made it my reference DAC.  I also share my position, with flexibility, that all all the hype regarding high resolution formats as being superior sounding to 16/44.1 kHz or 16/48 kHz R-2R ladder DACs is just that "hype".  

Hope you enjoy the review.
teajay
i have the DSD of pink floyd Wish You Were Here
even thru my 80 dollar dac it sounds wonderful
i am down with the hype ¡!¡!
I have a few DACs, some much more expensive, some with MQA, and I think they all support higher sampling rates. The Orchid is my favorite. 
Oops! I had the french nos dac of Starting point systems (bid on ebay for peanuts) his sound is 3 d imaging with a naturalness of timbre unheard of by all my other dac...It is so good that any upgrade will be foolishness...This is my own review ...For newcomers without big money,dont kill yourself buy it...
Do you have a link? because I can't find the Orchid review on thewebsite.
I have the Stockholm2 MHDT, how does the Orchid compare?
Teajay
I haven't read the article you posted about just yet. However, if i understand you correctly you are saying a DAC like the Lab 12 is an authentic DAC or superior to an upsampling DAC? I ask this only because i have been trying to sort through this very issue... I would greatly appreciate any of your insight with this issue. I am headed to the 6 moons website now... 
don
I got mhdt labs pagoda in balance configuration, you gotta give it a listen , some say it not romantic like orchid but to my ear it was so natural and sweet , soundstage is wide and tall , the detail is unbelievable real and lifelike presentation when pair with my Nola boxer s2 , only one thing I dd not like was it is too much gain in the voltage in xlr input I have to switch to -6 dB on my amp but it is perfect sounding if u using rca input , right now I have to find another set of xlr to match my system , the fun part of it is finding the perfect tube for your taste!
Ok, i just read Terry London's 6 moon review on the MHDT Orchid. It's a good thing he doesn't have the same propensity with women as he does with audio equip. What i mean by that is, it wasn't all that long ago he reviewed the Lab 12 and pronounced it one of the best, if not the best (or something to that effect) DAC he has heard in quite some time and proceeded to buy it.  I see now after Terry listened to the "MHDT Orchid" the Lab 12 is now in the upstairs listening room via the curb.. Early on I was pretty well sold on the Lab 12 but had not yet pulled the trigger, and I now see that it is a good thing i didn't.. So, in the end I suppose no harm, no foul. Anyone else have any experience with this unit that might shed some light on its worthiness?   

Magister. Could you please post a link on that dac you mentioned. Thx 
Hey Mrdon,

How did you know that I was married three times!

I find this somewhat amazing.  About a year ago I review a DAC (Lab12) that was at least the equal or better then DACs that  were in the 10K to 20K price range for around 2K.  I then review a DAC (Mhdt Labs) which is half the price of the first "giant killer" which is even a better performer and you sound upset with me for being honest.

As a reviewer I'm always looking for products that give the greatest ratio of performance/build quality vs cost.  Nothing stays the same, including great new products in high-end audio.

What you refer to as the "curb", were the Lab12 DAC-1 was placed is a terrific reference level SET based system and the Lab12 sounds great in it (take a look at the review again so you can see a picture of the system that we are talking about).  The Lab12 DAC-1 is still a wonderful piece, just because it was bested by another DAC does not make it worthless/inferior.

I never claimed that either DAC is the "BEST" in the world.  Based on performance vs price the Orchid is terrific, and for my tastes offers a higher level of performance then the Lab12 DAC-1 for less money. I would assume this is information that would be helpful to my readers.    
You have made it your reference to what?
Post removed 
Oh hey, i got a response form the man himself, Terry London. How about that. Let me clean my response up a tad. First of all, for those that don't know, (and no one on this site knows) i have a bit of a dry sense of humor. So, I was not really overly bothered by the review and was more or less popping off about the irony of how things can turn out. Shortly afterwards I felt and was able to see this new turn of events (Terry's review) is something that could definitely turn out in my favor (and others as well if they were in the market for a new DAC) so it was a "good thing" as the saying goes. In short, i know reviewing is a tough and maybe a thankless gig at times so i am thrilled at folks that put it all out there for the benefit of novices like myself. To sum it up, i am impressed by the fact Terry is impressed & I have been to MDHT's website and now know the prices and avenues to acquire an Orchid which is via Mirco Zolt website/ or eBay). Now all i have to do is wrestle with the remaining ambivalence before i click buy.... 
PS, Terry, i just retired from a position from a Tri-County Probation Department in Texas as a LCDC. I immediately noticed from your bio you have accomplished quite a bit by becoming an instructor at/for Albert Ellis institute. Cognitive is invaluable in treatment of substance use as you must know..     
don
I purchased an Orchid about 4 months ago. I read the avaiable reviews, corresponded with the designer and evaluated what I wanted from a reasonably priced DAC. I think I would have been satisfied with several out there. I was also intrigued by Metrum products. The Orchid seemed to be the best deal for me, and I liked the TDA1541 chip and the tube buffer. I am really pleased with the unit. I also like the ability to roll a single tube to tweak the sound. Right now I am finding the Tesla 6CC42 tube to be a nice match for me. The Orchid is also a nice match in my system of Exposure electronics and Harbeth speakers. I am not sure I could do better for the price in my system, in my room, with my preferences.
Is this DAC supposed to sound better than my balanced Havana? 
I am not using it balanced right now but have for many years!!
thanks
@cheche9 -- I recently got a tip from Emprical Audio that you should always run a balanced digital cable and use an SPDIF adapter if you’re not going balanced. According to him, and I haven't verified this but he knows what he's doing, digital cables can't be optimally terminated with SPDIF connectors, hence you're better off with RCA adapters from a balanced termination.  If you can, why are you not just using the balanced connections?
I had a Havana for several years and upgraded to a heavily modified Pagoda a few months back. I am very happy with this DAC. MHDT has always offered high performance products at very reasonable prices. I am sure the Orchid follows suit.

Oz
ozzy62
What mods were done to your Pagoda, and who did them?
The mods were done by the original owner. Some resistor and cap replacements. I don't have the details on hand right now, but will post them on Monday when back at work.

Oz
Soix thanks for the tip , I will see if I can find a XLR to rca adapter, I think cardas makes a couple.
Will this improve the sound?
No need for the over priced Cardas adaptors, just buy the Neutrik ones online or at places like Guitar Center.  
@teajay has been finding and telling us best price/performance equipments and yet he still get criticized for recommending a cheaper DAC with better performance. Hmmm OK:)
Facten,
As promised, here are the mods to my Pagoda.
(4) TX2575 resistors
2) Shinkoh 1W resistors
(2) RelCap .1uF TFT Teflon capacitors
(2) Jupiter HT 0.47 uF capacitors
(2) Sonicap Platinum 1uF output coupling capacitors
This DAC seems like an unbelievable bargain - top-level performance for about a grand sounds like a wonderful idea. I'll take two.  What holds me back is skepticism about the author of this review.  As he mentions himself, his review of the "New" Lab 12 Dac was largely responsible for the wave of hype about that 6-year old, re-heated, re-discovered device that has since been discontinued, once the truth eventually leaked out.  I'm not saying the Orchid is bad and everything he writes is bollocks - I'd just recommend a pinch of salt.
probably worth a listen but there are countless DAC and other products worth a listen....without the I bought the review sample conflict of interest......
@janehamble Your post throwing shade at @teajay may have been an attempt at humor but why does everyone have to be so aggressive, cynical or unkind? Buy it or don’t buy it, nobody cares, least of all Teajay. Everything he has recommended (based on personal experience or the preponderance of other posts) seems to sound pretty good for the money. Maybe its your taste, maybe it isn’t.

People seem to think that most reviewers are getting rich or getting kickbacks from manufacturers, which just isn’t the case. These guys have found a way to get the opportunity to listen to alot of gear, more power to them. Your post however implies that once someone identifies something as a world beater, they aren’t allowed to ever identify another...thats just unreasonable.
One thing I don’t understand why would Terry give false review for a company that is pretty small such as MHDT, Lab12?

Say these small companies pay him to do these reviews, how much they could pay? Let’s say MHDT gives the review sample to him for free, why would Terry replace his reference DAC with a cheaper model? He could still say good things about it but at least put the Orchid in his second system if he had to mention he keeps it.  

I am trying to understand but it just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I am naive. 

Now, if it was a bigger company say B&W, Sonus Faber, McIntosh, etc. it would make more sense. 

Terry used his Magnepans for like 10 years I think. Why wouldn’t he replace the Magnepans before? He used his Pass Labs for many years. Why wouldn’t he come up with a different amp to replace before? I cannot put the pieces together in the puzzle. 
This particular reviewer isn't the only one that has said a lot of good things about the MHDT labs DACs in general and the Orchid in particular.  I read a lot of good things before I bought my Orchid (which was before this review was posted) and am very happy with mine.  
Hey celo,

Actually, I had my Magnepan 20s for over 18 years until I replaced them with Lawrence Audio Cello speakers.

I get two major perks out of professionally reviewing:

1) I get to hear/audition equipment in my home environment, which is quite different then at show or store space.  It's a great pleasure to hear gear that I'm very interested in to see how good or different it is compared to my own reference pieces in my own two systems.

2) Yes, a great perk is then be able to purchase at a reduced price a review piece if I'm so inclined.  The cynics would and have accused me of being "bought off" or being payed to write a positive review.  I can honestly say I have never written a review for financial gain.  

I still get great pleasure of finding killer products at reasonable prices and sharing this information in my reviews.

  
@teajay I see no problem even if you receive the review sample for free AFTER you get to audition and love it enough to keep it. However, if you are given a free equipment in return for a positive review, then there is a problem. I think “some” people don’t think there’s a difference and again “some” people who know the difference think you do the latter.

Please keep finding killer products. When I buy a product for $1000 that surpasses 10 times more expensive products, I feel 10 times happier:)



Does this DAC (and this type of DAC) lend itself more to the human voice and unamplified instruments than, say, amplified instruments? So classical, jazz, maybe folk, as opposed to pop or rock. Or does it all work? Have still never heard an R2R DAC, all mine have been Sigma Delta.
Hey jaybe,

For my ears it does justice to all types of music.  Your Sigma Delta based DAC can be very detailed/dynamic, but tends to be more electrical sounding device with out the tonality/color of most R2R ladder DACs that I find much more natural/musical on all types of music styles. 
@ghasley you may or may not realize it, but these audio forums are pretty much inundated with manufacturers and associated influencers with business objectives.  That's all good - especially when they declare their bias and help enthusiasts understand their products. No problem per se, with that.

Where I draw the line is deliberate misinformation.  Sadly, it happens all the time.  In the case of the Lab 12,  the 'reviewer' proclaimed the product as a new model.  Innocent mistake?  Oh please....takes about 30 seconds of Googling to discover the history.  It may well be a lovely sounding DAC that somehow wasn't discovered when it was launched in 2013, but to call it new in 2018 is just a goofy attempt at deception.  And we  - the audio enthusiasts - should call out BS when we step on it.
Post removed 
@janehamble Thank you for the kind reply. I do not disagree with you in the least....in general. I do, however, disagree with you specifically as it relates to @teajay for the following reasons.

he has an impeccable reputation here on Audiogon. He was a hobbyist like the rest of us, with a day job, offering peer to peer type reviews of gear he had experienced. His reviews were good enough and well informed that he was asked to write for Home Theater Review and now, 6moons. Shouldn’t we celebrate that one of us crossed over? Your implication that he has ulterior motives is flat out unfair. For the conspiracy to be a valid option, you are asking us to believe that somehow Lab12 corrupted him somehow but was subsequently “outbid” by MHDT. That’s a bit of a stretch wouldn’t you agree?

I don’t know @teajay but the body of his review work speaks for itself. His enthusiasm for Tekton and Linear Tube Audio has opened doors for alot of fellow hobbyists as well as these small manufacturers to reach a wider audience. The audiophile community is pretty small and if he says something sounds good for the “following reasons” and it turns out that is not the case, he will get called out. His enthusiasm for Pass Labs has not been controversial nor have you accused him of being on the take in that case. Could it be because everyone knows Nelson Pass could give a rat’s backside about the outcome of a review so therefore, you assume that endorsement was arms length?

I just believe that your cynicism, inadvertent or intentional, questioning @teajay’s character and integrity is out of bounds and quite unfair.
mhdt Lab did pay 6Moons for this review. I own the Orchid, as well as Schitt Gumby, and PS Audio PWD Mark II.
@teajay is Terry London.  He's a product tester for rent, not just an audio buddy like us. Sorry if this is crushing information.
Not crushing at all. If any manufacturer wants a 6Moons review then they must pay 6Moons for it. As for the individual who actually writes the review, and how he/she is paid, I couldn’t care less.
Janehamble

Teajay is a great guy and I do consider him an AUDIO BUDDY! I contacted him several times and he always responded to my questions and inquiries. Based on his recommendations I realized we both like the same type of performance from our equipment. He recommended the Orchid to me a few months ago and he was spot on with his review. Besides being a bargain, it sounds wonderful especially with redbook cds. I personally preferred the sound of the Orchid over more expensive dacs such as the Metrum Onyx and PS Audio Direct Stream.

Based on my musical tastes he recommended the Lawrence Audio Violin SE speakers and again he was spot on. When I inquired about upgrading to their Cello speakers, he suggested I keep the Violins based on the size of my listening room. When I inquired about the Tekton Impacts, again he thought the Violins were more suited to my tastes and size of my room. 
@janehamble What is it you are saying exactly? Its no news at all that 6moons charges a fee to review a piece of gear. Is it your position that by doing so it should invalidate their findings? The fee is charged up front along with other rules governing shipping, returns etc. Most reviewers get extended “loans” of the gear they review. Does that bother you as well? Do you believe that the Orchid is not good, that the review is somehow misleading? What about the 6moons Pass reviews? Their reviews of the Lumin equipment? Is that equipment now bad because they were reviewed by 6moons?

Is your problem with 6moons in general or @teajay in particular? Or are you a Lab12 owner? You really should come out with what it is that truly bothers you...the review methodology, the review site or the reviewer. Full disclosure, I am not in the audio biz, I don’t own a Lab 12 nor an Orchid nor have I heard either.

@ ghasley I'll find to hard to be clearer than the simple statements I've already made about this subject - but just for you, I'll try.

My goal was originally to flag up a significant error when Terry London wrote a review about the Lab 12 DAC for HomeTheatre Magazine https://hometheaterreview.com/lab-12-dac1-special-edition-reviewed It's obviously a euphoric review.  TJ is highly impressed...which is fine.  But it's more than a little shocking he apparently has no clue that this same product has been available for 5 years. He's chosen to present the Lab 12 as an incredible new model. 

Having completed the product test, he then turns full-on brand disciple, spreading the word with his popular Audiogon post "A DAC that crushes price vs performance ratio". On and on he goes, post after post, about the fabulous Lab 12, using his @teajay name, of course.

A few 'Goners call him out for his apparent conflict of interest, but he bats them back quite confidently.  When I asked him about the Lab 12's history, he replied " The Lab12 DAC that we are discussing on this thread is the newer version called the SE. I do believe that the DAC chips and basic overall design is the same, with better/different internal parts in the circuit in critical places that improve the sound."  

This is complete bullshit, of course.  The original SE is exactly the same as the model he tested, and he knows it - preferring to maintain the misrepresentation.

So now, here we are 6 months later.  And TJ's got a new favorite DAC.  Even better than the last one, except it's half the cost.  What's not to love?

I have no problem with Six Moons, Home Theatre or any other magazine hiring 'influencers' to write reports. That's the name of the game these days - and as I've been in marketing 35 years, I know quite well how it works.

In this particular case, I'm noting that TJ's affections can be somewhat transitory.





@janehamble Fair enough then. Your problem is with @teajay and I gather had he never done the Lab12 review, you would have no problem?

I appreciate you taking the time to reply and if I somehow triggered the snarkiness at the end of your first sentence above, it wasn't my intent. Peace.
Yes you did, but your apology is accepted
Hey janehamble,

You have made some comments and sharp criticisms about me and my integrity based on false representations of what was actually written in my review on the Lab12 DAC.

1) In the review I never stated what year Lab12 started the original production for the DAC1. I did state, "last six months, the internet has been a buzz" regarding how many listeners really loved the performance of the DAC1.  So, when you state I have "no clue/a little shocking" about this or I'm an idiot for not knowing when the DAC1 was originally manufactured that's based on your false assumption.  It was not part of my review, and I knew that it had been in production for some time.

2) I was informed by the company that they had made some internal part changes during this production run and the DAC sent to me was the upgraded SE version. Again, I never stated when they had made this change. Unless, they lied to me, I stated what they had shared with me about the different generation change.  Therefore, for your personal attack on my honesty is your "BS" towards me.

3) Never called the Lab12 DAC1SE the best in the world, claimed that it competed with DACS that cost over 14K more, it replaced my reference that cost 10K and was a great bargain. Wrote the review for HTR and started one thread to share this GON members. True, if I was asked a question on thread I would respond to it.  So what, yet your words," full-on brand disciple" implies that I'm some type of lacky for this company.
Hum, six months later I discover and review the Orchid which performs at a higher level and costs half the price, and honestly share this information.  That sounds like I'm beholden to LAB12, does it not?

Lastly, your term "influencers" would imply I'm told what to write or payed off to give positive reviews.  Of course you have a right to your opinion. However, I have a day job, write for fun, and nobody ever tried to make write anything other then what I heard regarding a piece of gear in my auditioning process. 

The most amusing comment that you made about me is, " TJ's affections can be somewhat transitory".  If you mean that if I find a great piece of gear that out performs my reference and that I tell the truth and share the information, I guess you are right!   
Nice review @teajay . It almost made me wish I opted for the Orchid instead of the Pagoda. Almost.
@teajay

When you opened your post of 9-7-18 - you know, the one about the DAC that crushes price v performance ratio - with "I felt strongly that I wanted to inform the Gon members about a new DAC that ranks with the very best on the market" I stupidly assumed that you were implying that the LAB 12 was a new product, at the time of this comment.

Your famous report for HomeTheatreReview starts with "In the last six months, the internet has been abuzz with a handful of rave European reviews for a new DAC (digital to analog converter) from a Greek company called LAB 12". I should have realized you meant "new, in the past", or something.

Joking aside....are you seriously trying to tell us that you weren’t saying (then) that the Lab 12 is new?

Sorry, I’m too tired to address the rest of your email. You’re absurd drivel has worn me out. Good luck in your future product reviewing / blogging career.
Hey janehamble,,

Sorry, you wore yourself out over my "absurd drivel". Then you were "too tired" to address the rest of what I stated on this thread, not in an Email. What I would expect from someone who slings mud and then cops out over the objective details of what they had said.

Thanks, for wishing me well in my future endeavors in my career.