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Lavry DA-11


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Hello,

 

I'm looking for a good USB DAC with a reasonable price (under 2000$). I've read that since few weeks a Lavry Engineering is on the market with a 24/96 USB : the lavry DA-11, but I don't find any objective review of this DAC and very few feed-backs.

I've heard that the lavry DA-10 was better than the Benchmark DAC1, so the DA-11 must be interrested !

I'm certainly impatient because it's new, but does somebody know what it is worth ? (I mean what are its qualities, I know its price ;-) ).

Maybe Chris will have in the next week the excellent idea to make a (so interresting) review (as usual)??

It would be so cool !

Anyway, feed-backs on the DA-11 would be very appreciated !

Thanks !

 

Quentin, newby looking for building his computer audiophile...

 

Macbook (Itunes - library on HD) via USB --> Peachtree Audio Nova --> Kef XQ20 via cables Maxitrans

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  • 4 months later...

La-Bete-24,

 

You may want to do a search around the net. There was a shootout done by someone (no affiliation with me or with Ciamara) that compared Lavry and Benchmark. Lavry came out on top.

 

You asked for objective feedback. I will try ... but I must disclose that we have started to carry Lavry, so you may want to take what I say with a grain of salt. In my view, the DA11 is a very impressive sounding unit. I just received an Alpha Berkeley DAC today, and I have been trying to A/B it with the DA11. I am too early to make any definitive comments, but I so far, the Lavry DA11 is really holding its own. Both are connected via AES/EBU to a Lynx AES16e card in a Mac Pro and directly to a large analog system without a preamplifier.

 

Sanjay Patel | Ciamara Corporation | New York, NY | www.ciamara.com

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As a dealer or manufacturer, perhaps you should refrain from providing "so-called" objective feedback unless someone directs a question to you specifically. That said, I would love to hear your comparisons of the Berkeley and Lavry DACs. I have an audio friend traveling to NYC next week so perhaps he can visit your studio for a demo of Amarra and the DACs, if he has time. And I'm sure if you post any opinions, he will reply.

 

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Hi there

I owned the Lavry DA10 for about 2 years. It was (is) an excellent dac which held it's own well against many other dacs I have heard. I personally found it more musical than the Benchmark - which I dislike for a clinical if accurate sound. Lavry does have a "house sound" that is certainly present in the DA10 and no doubt the DA11.

I understand from ears I respect that the DA11 is very similar to the DA10 sonically with the addition of a few new features particularly the PIC which is particularly useful for headphone users. I don't know anything about it's usb input but Lavry is likely to have applied his considerable engineering expertise to it. I wish he would release a fire wire version.

At it's price point I doubt many dacs would challenge it with the exception perhaps of a Metric Halo ULN2 or Mytek 96 (both of which are limited to 24/96).

My last comment is that it doesn't come with audiophile jewelery - ie is utilitarian in appearance: but that didn't (doesn't) concern me.

Regards

A

 

 

Best Wishes

Andrew

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"Lavry does have a "house sound" that is certainly present in the DA10 and no doubt the DA11."

 

Andrew,

Can you describe the house sound?

 

The Lavry was on my shortlist before I did a trial of the Metric Halo. I never got a chance to listen to it, as I was incredibly with the ULN-2.

 

thanks

clay

 

 

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Hi Clay

I'm not very good at describing the sound - I guess it won't mean terribly much as my ears are going to be different to yours and everyone else's but since you asked here goes:

I would describe it as warm-esk, entirely musical, accurate but not harsh - almost slightly rolled off (which I like) with a gentle decay that allows the note to have body. Slightly Mosfet if you know what I mean....

Ultimately I found that it was limited in it's resolution in very revealing systems: ie when I plugged into into much more expensive and revealing systems than mine it sounded the same as it did in mine - ie their very high rez systems turned into my fairly mid fi system. It hit it's ceiling.

It's a great dac for the money and a pretty decent dac overall but not in the top echelon IME (unlike the Lavry Gold on the other hand). But then again you gets whats you pays for....

The one thing I did find interesting with the Lavry is that it was sensitive to transport, at least in my system. By that I mean when I tried the various transports I had around at the time (Meridian CDP, Transporter, modded SB3, pc with RME Card) it was easy to distinguish between them and what sounded "better" (which really equals "different" ). The best transport I had (the Meridian) sounded significantly better (more defined soundstage, deeper bass, blacker backgrounds, more extension and clarity to the highs) than the others with the Lavry, a result I did not anticipate. It did not matter if it was XLR or Spdif. I do not know why this was.

No doubt with a Lynx AE16 it would be very good indeed.

Bare in mind my system currently is very mid fi - MBP- Valabs (USB)- Cayin A55TP - Quad 57's. It is a reflection of the Quads that they make the Valabs sound as good as it does. In others systems it really collapses the soundstage, is horribly rolled off and produces an ill distinct fudged sound. But I digress....

 

 

Best Wishes

Andrew

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"Slightly Mosfet if you know what I mean...."

 

I'm getting misty (eyed) already, remembrances from back in the day.

 

EDIT: Actually, I just remembered that the amp I'm listening to now is a MOSFET - a Nelson Pass Aleph model.

 

thanks for sharing, Andrew.

And yes, you did walk right into that one.

 

Clay

 

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audiozoro,

 

Yes, I would be more than happy to have your friend visit our showroom for a demo. You can PM me, or you can find my contact information on our website. I would actually love this, because then we will have several people sharing their findings. Thanks!

 

Sanjay Patel | Ciamara Corporation | New York, NY | www.ciamara.com

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This is a great point. One of the drawbacks of the Lavry DA11 as well is that it is not entirely intuitive to switch inputs, until you learn how. Moreover, while the DA11 does accept basic Phillips IR remote commands for volume/gain control and the PIC playback features, there is no way to select the inputs from the remote. So you have to go to the unit to switch inputs. If, like me, you have 3 different inputs from 3 different sources feeding the DAC, you can't switch them from your chair. That said, I do like the sound. And I love the price tag (as a buyer, not a dealer!). For this price, you could actually get three DA11s and come in well under $5k.

 

Sanjay Patel | Ciamara Corporation | New York, NY | www.ciamara.com

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  • 1 month later...
  • 5 weeks later...

Hello, I would like to bump this thread. I am looking for a dac for my macbook pro to feed into a stax rig and into my poweramp/speakers so its preamp functionality must be good. I was wondering if anyone has compared the benchmark dac1pre and the lavry da11 directly?

Greetings, Anouk

 

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Hi,

 

I'm just now finishing up a review of the Lavry DA11 for Stereomojo.com. In it I compare it directly with the Benchmark DAC1 USB, which I own. I don't want to spill the beans, but I can tell you that the Lavry acquitted itself quite well and does sound somewhat different than the Benchmark. Color me impressed!

 

Good luck,

John

 

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the DA 11 is a great DAC for the $$ and at RMAF we stacked it up against the Ayre QB9 and it was a dead heat. Dan Lavry really knows his stuff and put out a great product that to my ears is near the top in its price class. I still prefer the ULN 2 in the under $3000 category but the DA 11 is a top flight choice particularly if you run windows

 

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Interesting news about the comparative review. I dont think there is much difference between the pre and the usb model. I just really wonder how the lavry functions as preamp. I did read somewhere that the lavrys userinterface is difficult though and that it isnt that easy to setup.

Also is it true that the lavry is a nonoversampling dac? I did read that someone found the stello p200 better if he used it in oversampling modes. Also i have a very powerful speaker system standing right next to my desk (i like listening at low volumes) and in my current setup i have to adjust the volume on my computer (in my media player of choice) which i hate because then it removes bits from the signal. I hear that for example with the overdrive dac this would not be a problem because it owuld oversample the signal to a higher bitrate so if you lower the volume it would not damage thse signal.

Greetings, Anouk,

 

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. The DA10 (the DA11 wasn't available yet) was on my shortlist to audition a year and a half ago, but I trialed the ULN-2 first, and the rest is history. Apparently, I didn't suffer from a hasty decision.

 

What do you personally prefer about the ULN-2 (as compared to the Ayre/DA-11), if you don't mind my asking?

 

cheers,

clay

 

 

 

 

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According to Priscilla Lavry, Dan contributed to the DA portion of the Pacific Microsonics design. Dan also mentioned that one of the designs he did for Analog Solutions way back when was repackaged by them, and sold as the DAC 20400, to high-end manufacturers to Wadia, Mark Levinson and Pacific Microsonics.

 

http://www.aes.org/sections/pnw/mtg_notices/sep2006.pdf

 

 

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Lavry Engineering recently sent me a DA-11 for review, and it's seen service in several systems in-house, ranging from a casual-listening office system, driving self-powered KRK Rokit 8s, to a reference-grade living room system. Presently it's driving an Odyssey Stratos Extreme "glass ceiling", which is roughly 250 WPC, dual-bi-wired Usher Be-718 speakers, and Wireworld Silver Eclipse 6 speaker cables. In a couple of weeks, the Stratos will be replaced by Odyssey Kismet monoblocks. All equipment is turned on 24 hours a day, and every bit of it has been conditioned for hours on end using the Reference Recording burn in track (sure speeds up the break-in process, that's for sure).

 

The Lavry is clearly a highly-refined product, in terms of its detailed, but natural rendition of the soundstage, timbre and dimensions. On James Taylor's Hourglass, for example, I've never heard the backup voices with greatly clarity. The DA-11 reveals all the complexity of the recording, and often there's a lot going on at once, with several performers cranking away. On the superb Reference Recording of Dick Hyman playing Duke Ellington, each key seems to be spatially separable. And on the Eleanor Rigby track of the Beatles Love remix, the closely-miked strings convey the sense of hollow, fragile, three-dimensional wooden instruments, easily differentiating violas and cellos. And this positive report is using the USB inputs, which is where I started given everyone's interest here in computer sources.

 

Trying out 2.0, 1.0, 0.5, and, finally, 0.1 m long Silverlight 6 USB cables (no, the 0.5 and 0.1 are not off-the-shelf parts) yielded progressive improvement in the overall sound quality. The longer lengths sound somewhat gritty and noisy, the shorter length considerably smoother and quieter. If you didn't have anything to compare it to, the sound would be quite good. The USB in this case is coming from a Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV650 multimedia laptop, using CDs ripped via losslessly-encoded Windows Media Audio at 24/96, and stored on the Qosmio's internal RAID 0 striped drives.

 

Results via the Wireworld Supernova glass optical fiber TOSLINK were similar to the best (i.e., shortest) USB, and a little smoother overall.

 

BTW Wireworld is one of the few sources of glass (not plastic) based TOSLINK, as well as having even rarer mini-TOSLINK connectors that are especially handy for Windows PCs (one of the headphone receptacles does double-duty as both an electrical and optical connection point). David Salz, CEO and lead designer at Wireworld, clearly has the computer audiophile in his sights, and has made the investment in specialized tooling to make these cables.

 

However, compared to regular old 16/44 PCM via RCA from a Denon DVD-5910 universal player, USB was clearly, in fact, dramatically, inferior. On the Denon, all video output was turned off, along with shutting down the display.

 

With USB, voices, though well-defined, also had an unnatural edge to them, while PCM is definitely smoother, and performers instantly became convincingly human. There's a much greater sense of palpable, clear space surrounding the artists. If one A/Bs the two inputs, the differences are obvious in the first second, well, actually the first one-half second. There's instant ease, as well as greatly increased detail, information, nuance, all at once.

 

Frequency extension at both ends of the spectrum increased via RCA, most noticiably at the lower end, where bass was radically deeper, with sharp, impressive transient impact. USB, by comparison, turned the thunder-claps of the giant drum in James Taylor's Gaia into pathetic little one-tone pops. It's really that bad, folks.

 

PCM via RCA reveals much more about each voice in the backup chorus, with tremendous detail coming through that simply isn't there via USB. There's a thrill to the music, via PCM, that simply isn't there with USB. In contrast, voices sounds a little hooty, hooded, and the overall sound seems somewhat strained.

 

These observations point out that getting top-notch sound from a computer-based media file is not going to be easy. The somewhat better results from TOSLINK, being glass, suggests that it's providing some protection from external EMI, ground loops, etc., between the Qosmio and the Lavry. Does this mean that the source of the issues associated with using the USB output of the Qosmio lies upstream? Well, maybe, but hard to say. By comparison, RCA PCM out from a high-quality transport is pretty simple.

 

Thus, it's clearly inappropriate at this point to speculate why USB sounds so well, but then, relatively poorly, in comparison to PCM. Are these results generally true? There are several variables. Clearly, more experimentation with other USB sources driving the same set-up will be required to tease this apart. And as soon as another high-end DAC comes in, let's see how well it does with USB. It may be worthwhile to try different encoding methods, as well.

 

To some it up, the improvement is in terms of sonic liquidity and continuousness, which induces a slippery, ecstatic experience that's say this is for real, rather than a artificial, music-like sound product that so many take for granted. One can hear the difference from anywhere in the house. It's music, it's alive!

 

Of course, the fact that the Lavry DA-11 can easily present the differences between various lengths of very high quality USB interconnect (and don't even think about using those OEM gray USB cables) and RCA is a testimony to its refinement.

 

After all, Dan Lavry was instrumental in the design of the Pacific Microsonics DACs, and that heritage comes through quite clearly in today's DA-11. And Lavry Engineering is a well-known supplier of gear to the recording industry. At $1850, the DA-11 is something of a bargain: As often noted here, recording industry gear often seems to offer superior value.

 

The main problem encountered with the DA-11 so far? It encourages one to stay up way too late, listening to all kinds of music.

 

Chapter 2 will deal with the DA-11's user interface, rather unusual soundstage control (for all your headphone users out there) and a promised redesign of the front panel.

 

Stay tuned.

 

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The Lavry has a bunch of LEDs, indicating the status of various functions, along with toggle switches. It certainly has a retro, instrumentation feel to it.

 

Basically, it takes about one minute to figure out how the interface works, given a careful red of the manual, and then away you go. It's definitely not as consumer oriented as other products in its quality range. Rumor has it that a front panel redesign is underway.

 

 

 

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Clay, I have not done direct comparisons so please take my words with a large grain of salt. THe ULN-2 is by far the best digital interface I have had in my system. The Lavry/Ayre combo was installed in a set up next to mine in the headphone room that I ran at RMAF. In that set up with the AYRE running USB and the Lavry running out of the macbook pro optical out they were roughly equal in SQ. The were being amped my the Ray Samuels Raptor amp and we used the Sennheiser HD800. The Ayre had better mids than the lavry to me but did not sound as open as the lavry. Neither sounded as good as the ULN2 to me but at home I use what I feel is a better headphone amp.

 

In the next week or so I there are plans to compare the sonic 302 (uln-2) to my friends amarra 4 (uln8) he also has a DA 10 so we may be able to throw that in the mix as well.

 

The Lavry would only be my choice if I was running windows and could not consider a mac for audio. Not to sell the Lavry short at all as it is very good and better than most for the money just not as good as the uln-2.

 

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Nice review Nicholas! I had much the same impression as you. It's interesting that I even used some of the very same descriptive terms as you did in my own review. While I definitely heard differences between usb/toslink/rca inputs, they didn't seem to be as distinct as what you heard. Seems that the system/computer probably makes a big difference in what you get.

 

My review has been sent to the publisher, so hopefully it will be out before too long...

 

Best,

John

 

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Hi Nicolas,

 

I believe "contributed to the DA portion of the Pacific Microsonics design" can be taken to imply Dan was on the design team, which to my knowledge is not the case.

 

The PM utilized a chip from UltraAnalog. The chip incorporated Dan's work. The chip was used in many devices and they all sound quite different from each other.

 

I believe it would be more accurate to say Dan contributed to the design of an OEM component that was selected by the Pacific Microsonics design team for use in their device.

 

To my mind, credit for the sound of the PM, belongs solely with the design team. In the same way, a chef selects ingredients for a dish but the farmer that grew the vegetables (fine as those veggies are, which is why the chef might have selected them), did not create the recipe or prepare the meal.

 

Just my perspective.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

 

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