Tube Rolling the Jolida/Black Ice dsd Dac


So I recently purchased the Jolida/Black Ice dsd dac and and a pair of Psvane 12ax7’s.  Played thru about 50 hours and while the soundstage opened up some, in my system detail seemed a little rounded off.  They probably need more hours, and  I recognize these are highly subjective impressions and system dependent, but then a friend gave me a pair of Fisher-era Telefunken’s to play with and I have tons of inner detail, imaging and a wide soundstage.  What I do find, however, is I have turn the volume up further on my passive pre-amp.  I have a pair of 50’s era RCA grey plates coming next week.  Pretty easy to go down the rabbit hole playing with tubes, but that’s half the fun of it.  Curious as to what other tubes Jolida dac owners are using. My system: NuForce STA-200 amp, Luminous Audio pre-amp with Walker mod, Bluesound Node2, and DIY LeCleach horn speakers. Mix of Cullen and Transparent Cables.
renisnceman
I don't own a Jolida but I'll give you a bump here.  I wouldn't worry about having to turn up the volume on your pre.  As long as you can play your music loud enough you're OK.

You could try a pair of Siemens.  They're similar to Teles, but you may prefer them.  I like Amperex tubes.  They are pretty lively and are known for having a nice midrange.

You may experience something completely different with these tubes.  Their sound is system dependent, but Telefunkens, Siemens and Amperex are among the best vintage tubes.
I bought the Black Ice Audio FX DSD WiFi DAC a few weeks back. I ordered a pair of NOS JAN GE 12AX7WA tubes at the same time, and I swapped them for the stock tubes before I powered it up. So my reference is with the JAN GE tubes in place, having never heard the stock ones yet. Probably have 200-ish hours on the unit.

Observations: Liquid, analog, extended detailed highs, very tight bass. Good imaging, but not blown away. Guitar, percussion, vocals, jazz, acoustic music, they all sound amazing.
I’m very happy with the current sound, but in the never ending search for "better", I stumbled across your thread. I’m looking at possibly trying out the NOS Mullard CV4004/12AX7 tubes, but at almost $200/ea they’re twice the price I paid for the JAN GE tubes so I’m doing the research to see what others have done.

How did the RCA gray plates sound in the DAC? Any feedback on their sound character?
My system for reference:NUC10i7 w/ SBooster 19V LPS --> Roon ROCK (combo of local NAS and streaming services) --> Audioquest Jitterbug --> Audioquest Carbon USB cable --> Black Ice Audio FX DSD WiFi DAC --> Signal Cable Silver Resolution w/KLEI Silver bullets RCA --> Sugden ANV-50 --> Core Diamond Speaker cables --> LSA-10 Statement Monitors
Curious to know what is the 'wifi' feature on this Black Ice tube DAC.  The rest of it I understand but the wifi feature is confusing... is it its own Wifi streamer?  If so, using what interface?  
Ok, 3 months later, and following up on my post above.

I went ahead and splurged on the NOS Millard CV4004 tubes from Upscale Audio. I selected the “Kevin’s stash” and cryo treatment options. Roughly $200/ea.

I cannot overstate this. If you own this DAC, you are doing a disservice to your ears if you are not using these NOS Mullards. Oh. My. God.

It’s like I have an entirely new front end. Warm, clean, articulate, extended highs, HOLOGRAPHIC. Absolutely unreal decay and harmonics. Rhythm and timing is off the charts, and there’s just... more of everything... like MORE of everything there. I’ve heard new little background bits on music I’m intimately familiar with and have been listening to for decades across multiple platforms and formats.

Music just sounds correct. Effortless, spacious, correct timbre, correct timing, liquid, analog, warm, detailed. I’m listening to all my old favorites with my jaw on the floor.

Granted, the $400 tube upgrade is significant for a roughly $800 DAC, but I’m telling you, you will not be disappointed. I believe my DAC journey is over for a while. Time to turn attention to my vinyl front end, I could happily and easily live with this DAC and the NOS Mullards for the rest of my life. 
More notes...

My wife and I listen to music a lot together. Over the years, I’ve realized that she has a really good ear, and can usually articulate changes in equipment very well, often without being told changes have been made. She’s often my unwitting “blind” test for snake oil vs actual improvements.

Accordingly, she was unaware that I swapped the NOS Mullard tubes in a few days ago, and last night was our first chance to really sit down and listen to music together.

After about an hour, she turned to me out of the blue and said “I think your tubes may be finally... how do I describe it, warmed up!? It sounds like everything is just warm and ready to play music. Did you turn them on longer than normal? There’s more fullness and everything is blended together perfectly, even when there’s chaos in the mix.”

I told her about the new tubes, and we listened for a couple more hours, each taking turns pointing out how some part of some song sounded somehow new, and realizing that there’s a lot more detail and music and drive that’s just been unlocked. Nice to see that she has once again confirmed not only her ability to listen intently, but also the validity of the changes I was hearing as well.

I probably have 40-ish hours on the new tubes, so they may continue to settle in this week. Can’t say it enough, if you have this DAC, these are the tubes you want.

For roughly $1000 total (I got a deal on the Black Ice), I have a DAC that I would feel confident putting head to head with anything else out there. Absolutely fantastic!
Good to hear that you're enjoying the Mullards so much, jonstine.  It's amazing what a difference tubes or other small changes can make in our systems.


@jonstine I’m the OP- been using NOS Telefunkens that I’m pretty happy with.  Are these the British Mullards from Upscale you’re referring to?  Pretty tempting.  About 2 weeks ago I replaced the fuse with a SR Orange- pretty nice upgrade.
Old Mullards make everything sound great.  You can throw them in garbage and the trash collector will sing like Frank Sinatra on trash day..  
@renisnceman, yes those are the ones. I selected Kevin’s stash level and added cryo option (what the hell).

Now I need to go research the fuse replacement! Thanks for the heads up on that.
Which SR Orange fuse rating did you select? The writing on mine appears to be 500mA @ 250V, so I assume you went with the 500mA option, but wanted to check.
My Jolida dsd dac’s fuse is spec’d out at 1 amp slo-blo, so that’s what I purchased from SR.  Takes a while to burn in and it’s kind of a rollercoaster ride, but to my ears clear improvement in soundstage, bass and air between the instruments.  Worth the investment.
Ok, put me in the “even fuses can make an audible difference” camp. I ordered SR orange fuses for both my Black Ice FX DSD DAC and my Sugden ANV-50. They have both been burning in for only about 20 hrs.

Already, the soundstage is so much wider, the highs have just gone to another level in quality, female voices and acoustic guitars are so much more realistic and unconstrained sounding. I’d call it the “texture” of everything, it just got significantly better.

And I haven’t even tried flipping them to see if they make a difference in direction. Sounds so good already that I’ll let them go through at least 100 hrs before I try to flip them.

Its funny, lots of hate out there on other forums for “snake oil” fuse replacements. I have to wonder if they had the right fuse, and if they actually listened to it before dismissing it. I’m blown away. Not sure if it’s the amp, the DAC, or the synergy of the two, but I feel like my system just went up
another level in fidelity.

Thank you for the mention about the SR Orange, I’m excited to see what the next couple hundred hours on them might do.
Any updates on the Tube upgrade?
I’m looking at getting some new tubes for the fx dsd. 
I just purchased the Black Ice DAC - so far pretty let down.  The bass got really boomy.  Can't make the WIFI connect.  A/B'ed with my OPPO 105 - the internal Oppo DAC sounds much tighter in the bass.  Of course, no returns at Underwood HiFi.  Maybe I will try some new tubes.  I was thinking about the Denafrips too.
@plaw

sorry you don’t like it

i have one, enjoy it quite alot... i have tried some 20-25 dacs in the last 6 months since the shelter in place started, i feel the jolida black ice unit is quite a good one

suggestions - let it break in, replace the 12ax7’s with old stock ones, like philips ecg green labels - good sounding, affordable still, and use a good power cable

also check your linestage input impedance make sure you don't have a mismatch

i would say, this dac, despite having a tube output stage, is one of the ’clearer’ ones i have tried, with excellent frequency extension and imaging, not a smoothed over, warmed up, fattened sound that many other dacs strive for, to sound ’more analog’

good luck
@jjss49  

Thank you for the advice.  I am going to try some tube rolling and I just ordered a new cable - I can see how this dac would sound great with speakers like Focal / Magico / Elac - speakers that may be more analytical - but thus far it does not fit the best with Wilsons.  In all fairness, I have not given enough time for it to break in.  When you listened to the various DACs - did you listen to the Quitest, Denafrips, Yiggy, Linn or PS Audio?  What are your impressions please?  Thanks.
Also @jjss49 a gentleman above suggested Mullards.  But you suggest  philips ecg green labels - I am going into an ARC tube preamp - so I am thinking maybe too much tube on tube sound - any idea which tube would be the most analytical - not even sure if that is the correct term.

@plaw

i have not personally tried old stock mullard 12AX7’s but i have plenty of experience with old, real Mullard 12AU7 and 6DJ8 equivalents, for small signal tubes (not power tubes)

if the sound signature holds true to 12AX7’s you are asking about, yes, they are more rounded sounding, mid bass looser and fatter, highs rolled off... a very ’tube like’ tube, if you follow my drift

sometimes too much of a good thing, depending on the circuit they are used in, but very helpful when a user is trying to tone down harshness or stridency

philips ecgs are newer tubes (made in late 70’s and early 80’s) they are more transparent and extended, less midrange heavy
I’ve been pretty happy with the old stock Telefunkens.  After the SR Orange fuse, I added a Nordost Silver Shadow with bnc/rca adapter.  It replaced a Silnote cable and for the money it was a good purchase.  In my system, resolution went up another notch.  Still looking at those Mullards, though....
Regarding the fuse ,I mod the Jolida DSD wifi dacs I have modded several 
with a Substantial increase of fidelity on every level,the stock IEC is cheap tinned
brass , I put in a Furutech Gold Copper 3 x better conductivity much lower noise floor to start , the fuse you putin with theSR going in RS or facing << Thst is the correct way ,going towards the power side, then WBT copper connectors vs brass ,  then a choice of clarity Caps ,CSA or top of the line VH audio new ODam couplingcaps, not much room in there so a 400 v cap is the largest 250 v is sufficient 
from there you have tons more resolution , a good vintage tube will only make it better , NOS  50-60s Amperex are very balanced especially from the Herleen factory in Holland ,must’be tight matched ,Andy at vintage tube, or Brent Jesse audio , are the two best know out there . The psvane mk-2 tubes take at least 100 hours to settle in.
If youtruywant better detail send the dac back to Jolida 
fir sure don’t use the volume pot it robs detail period .Jarred said 
they can by pass the inexpensive static pot,
landforms $250  they will add 2 Vishsy naked resistors on the input ,and output and you can also upgrade to WBT rca connectors 
if you choose to ,butbypsssung the volume pot andthe 4 Vishsy naked resistors a worth wild upgrade, tubes maybe after That.
Jolida had a much better dac using 6 sn7 and the Sabre pro 38  coming out
with a. Bigger chassis in the spring .  That is what I am waiting for .
for with this current dac ,not even room enough inside to upgrade the coupling capacitors everything is crammed in their which is. Not good 
try turning the volume up and down you can literally hear static through your speakers . Forsure it is robbing detail low quality pots do ,thisis not even as good as the alps pot ,which is ok at best ,no microprocessor ,orresidtive ladder pot .
it should have been bare minimum a Alps pop st least that is relatively clean sounding.the psvane art series tubes at $85 is max I will personally spend 
knowing Thst for for under $1500 something designed by Fosgste is coming out soon and far better .
Regarding fuses the SR orange being currently the best one out there imo.
The Furutech IEC for $25 night and day better gold copper vs junk tinned brass
and buy a $28 box of the Yellow crimp on Furutech slide on bronze,gold terminals ,buy a pair of crimpers or you can use lineman plyers ,vh audio sells the terminals  with the shielded covers ,they slide on nice and tight ,then put in the synergistic fuse and it goes in with the SN writing on the fuses to the left ,towards the Hot or Line,example fuse writing,
RS<<<< this way no guessing ,rule of thumb if ground is on top writing goes backwards like above, if ground on bottom to the right SR  this eliminates experimenting .
I misplaced the manual.  Can someone help me get a copy of the wireless set-up directions?
I called and Jarred walked me through the WiFi setup. It was actually very simple for Apple airplay (I think windows is different) and he was super knowledgeable in helping me understand the product. He did mention being able to upgrade the sound of wanted, but wanted me to listen first and then describe what I would like more or less of... I’m considering trying the orange fuse upgrade as well. 
I did realize after getting it connected that I am able to bypass my bluesound node 2i and use the black ice as an endpoint to my Nuc/Roon Rock. 
I’m running a Nuc/Rock- Node 2i- black ice- Fisher 500b - Altec 604-8k for reference. 
Bypass the volume pot noticeably better ,replace the stock caps as i did withthe excellent VH audio ODam capacitors matched to under .05% per pair , which too gets rid of the molex connector 
WBT input rca, Neotech wire ,and a Furutech IEC input and synergistic orange 🍊 fuse. Great power cord upgrade $199
pangea AC awg 14 sig mk2 using Cardas Clare #1 Copper wire.
for less then $450 im parts totally transforms. This dac .
Liam using pangea. Tubes , Amperex 1950 s  D getter 1960s superb tubes but $$ 300+ .just taking the time here ,night and day 
better will meet or beat any dac under $3 k.