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I have written to ECDesigns via their website form and received a confirmation by email, but I haven't heard back from them yet. Is that normal, do they take awhile to reply?

Audirvana+3.0 / Qobuz Studio / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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Hopkins,

very grateful for the review of the new PowerDAC-R.Thank you for the effort you selflessly offer.It seems to me that in order to fully get an idea of this DAC,it is necessary to answer two questions. 1. Is there immunity to different digital outputs of the same source, i.e. is the sound identical when connecting the NUC 5CPYH via its Toslink output and when connecting the NUC 5CPYH via its USB-adapter USB to Toslink output and then on to the DAC ? 2. This question is very important, in my opinion.Your review used the digital output from the Arcam FJM player.It seems to me that the CD transport built into this player is not of the highest quality.Is it possible to compare the rip of a CD that is played from the NUC and then on the DAC with this CD that is played from a fairly high-end CD player, for example: any old Philips (202,303,960) , Marantz 94 mk2 c, CDM-1(0), PS audio, Revox, and the like?Thanks.

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14 hours ago, pusto58 said:

Hopkins,

very grateful for the review of the new PowerDAC-R.Thank you for the effort you selflessly offer.It seems to me that in order to fully get an idea of this DAC,it is necessary to answer two questions. 1. Is there immunity to different digital outputs of the same source, i.e. is the sound identical when connecting the NUC 5CPYH via its Toslink output and when connecting the NUC 5CPYH via its USB-adapter USB to Toslink output and then on to the DAC ? 2. This question is very important, in my opinion.Your review used the digital output from the Arcam FJM player.It seems to me that the CD transport built into this player is not of the highest quality.Is it possible to compare the rip of a CD that is played from the NUC and then on the DAC with this CD that is played from a fairly high-end CD player, for example: any old Philips (202,303,960) , Marantz 94 mk2 c, CDM-1(0), PS audio, Revox, and the like?Thanks.

Hi pusto58,

 

Assuming Hopkins didn’t find any difference in SQ over the different output of the NUC, it seems that it should not be relevant (but may remain interesting) to compare high end vs basic CD player.

 

I personally found that using LMS as player on the RPi4B connected to a NUC used as a NAS through Ethernet was better than :

- CD Player

- UPL96

and perhaps anything else that is affordable. I am more than confident that you don’t need to have great Hifi streamer as a source, just a RPI4(B) would do perfectly the trick (even though I would love to be refuted) : doing that, more money can be spent on other (sometimes very important) parts of the chain (speakers and amplifiers).

 

You will have to purchase a PowerDAC-R unit to listen to it as the listening impressions is really what matters (scientifically) in our hobby.

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2 hours ago, Ben75 said:

Hi pusto58,

 

Assuming Hopkins didn’t find any difference in SQ over the different output of the NUC, it seems that it should not be relevant (but may remain interesting) to compare high end vs basic CD player.

 

I personally found that using LMS as player on the RPi4B connected to a NUC used as a NAS through Ethernet was better than :

- CD Player

- UPL96

and perhaps anything else that is affordable. I am more than confident that you don’t need to have great Hifi streamer as a source, just a RPI4(B) would do perfectly the trick (even though I would love to be refuted) : doing that, more money can be spent on other (sometimes very important) parts of the chain (speakers and amplifiers).

 

You will have to purchase a PowerDAC-R unit to listen to it as the listening impressions is really what matters (scientifically) in our hobby.

 

Sometimes the mere fact of changing inputs will give you the impression that the sound is a little different, even if nothing has changed. 

There are main ways in which we can be "tricked" into thinking that one source is superior to the other. So you need to do these tests repeatedly, and in different ways:

- compare a specific part of a song

- listen to a whole song on one, then to the whole song on another

- spend a few days listening to one, then a few days listening to the other

 

I've posted here about how to qualify differences here (another blog entry, sorry...), based on an article by Arthur Salvatore (if you read his blog, he has since added a "7th level"): 

 

If there are any differences left, they definitely seem to me as "level 1" - not significant. But we'll see what others have to say. Maybe with much better systems than mine, differences will be more apparent ? 

my blog

 

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3 minutes ago, hopkins said:

In addition, when we do those tests we can sometimes focus too much on details and forget to sit back and ask ouseselves: how do we feel when listening to A or B? Are we involved in the music or are we just sitting back from afar and dissecting it?... 

Basically this should be the right order: if you do not get more ‘moved’ by your improvement, then it is useless to focus on (micro) details imo. Furthermore you should be sure that other variables remain constant during assessing -in my area, at night power seems to be more clean than during the day (could also be the children that are asleep by then). Closing your eyes during sessions helps a lot for focus.

 

In the end it is and stays a personal experience and man is very poorly skilled when it comes to memorizing emotions in an exact way.

 

 

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The thing I am personally waiting for is an extensive review by a well respected hifi website including measurements and the whole she-bang.. Somehow ECDesigns is not keen on having their ‘magic’ reviewed. I asked Christiaan Punter (Dutch ex-enthusiast for ECDesigns (https://www.hifi-advice.com/blog/review/digital-reviews/spdif-dac-reviews/ec-designs-mosaic-t-dac/) to review my gear but the relationship with the bros. Brown has cooled down for some reason, so no more interest from Christiaan.

 

It seems like there’s ‘an elephant in the room’ with the Brown brothers and the review sites but I am strongly wondering why (or maybe there simply isn’t one?!).


On the other hand it is ‘cool’ to be part of a selected group that enjoys their gems.. but what if the gear is not that ‘magical’ as we all believe according to ‘professional’ reviewers? Nah, I don’t think I wouldn’t care that much..

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Another thing that Lynn Olson argues in the text I linked is also very true in my experience: measurements at "the box level" usually does not correlate much at all with audio perception, so they tend to be rather meaningless. On the other hand, during development, measurements are very powerful tools to evaluate a design change, subcircuit etc, provided the designer has skills and experience to select the right measurements and correlate them with perception. 

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Just wanted to add: If we focus on the source immunity aspect we may lose perspective of the main message: the sound quality is really good! I've also had a few friends confirm this recently, by the way. I don't think anyone who has the current DA96 DAC, whether using it with the U192 or UPL, will be disappointed with the upgrade. 

my blog

 

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19 minutes ago, hopkins said:

Just wanted to add: If we focus on the source immunity aspect we may lose perspective of the main message: the sound quality is really good! I've also had a few friends confirm this recently, by the way. I don't think anyone who has the current U96, whether using the U192 or UPL, will be disappointed with the upgrade. 

Darn! I was hoping the SQ improvement was not more than slightly and the need to upgrade would be less acute.. Let’s plan Xmas a bit earlier this year :-)

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Hi,

I have received a reply from John Brown regarding the possibility of a balanced version (XLR out) of PowerDAC. It seems unlikely due to the much higher cost implications.
I still would like to try the PowerDAC with a RCR to XLR cable. Let's see if I can get hold of one at some point. :)


 
 

Audirvana+3.0 / Qobuz Studio / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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4 hours ago, mevdinc said:

Hi,

I have received a reply from John Brown regarding the possibility of a balanced version (XLR out) of PowerDAC. It seems unlikely due to the much higher cost implications.
I still would like to try the PowerDAC with a RCR to XLR cable. Let's see if I can get hold of one at some point. :)


 
 

Sad news.. But I guess it should work great with RCA to XLR cable !

 

Perhaps should you ask to John if he can book you the first (customer) place when he will launch the PowerDAC?

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11 hours ago, hopkins said:

 

Sometimes the mere fact of changing inputs will give you the impression that the sound is a little different, even if nothing has changed. 

There are main ways in which we can be "tricked" into thinking that one source is superior to the other. So you need to do these tests repeatedly, and in different ways:

- compare a specific part of a song

- listen to a whole song on one, then to the whole song on another

- spend a few days listening to one, then a few days listening to the other

 

I've posted here about how to qualify differences here (another blog entry, sorry...), based on an article by Arthur Salvatore (if you read his blog, he has since added a "7th level"): 

 

If there are any differences left, they definitely seem to me as "level 1" - not significant. But we'll see what others have to say. Maybe with much better systems than mine, differences will be more apparent ? 

I would be agree with that too ! ^^' It was really good at your home !

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15 hours ago, Ben75 said:

Sad news.. But I guess it should work great with RCA to XLR cable !

 

Perhaps should you ask to John if he can book you the first (customer) place when he will launch the PowerDAC?

I have asked John if he could send one to my friend, who lives in Holland. :)
So, he could bring it to me when he is able to travel to Istanbul.

Audirvana+3.0 / Qobuz Studio / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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On 4/28/2021 at 1:55 PM, realDHT said:

Yes agree 100% with you guys on this. We really don't need to complicate it for ourselves when evaluating..either it moves us, or it doesn't. If it does not move us when listening, it is not good no matter what,  even if it has the best "tight bass" and "extended hights"

 

Lynn Olson described it very well

"What do audio systems do? At the most basic level, they are Illusion Engines. I'll repeat that: a hi-fi system is really an Illusion Engine, a type of mechanical contrivance that hypnotizes the audience into thinking musicians are somehow present (or at least nearby). If the contrivance fails in this, it fails utterly, just as a magic trick entertains or it doesn't."

 

http://www.nutshellhifi.com/library/illusion-engines.html

 

To me the the only worthwhile listening reports are the ones that say something along the lines of "I'm done with tweaking" :) I've always wanted to have a system at home where sung voices sound purely pleasurable and do not make me wince however subtly. EC designs U192 and Fractal DAC with clean power added to my system have achieved that goal. I'm very grateful as its been a long journey. System: Laufer Mini Memory player > U192 > Fractal DAC > (no preamp) Decware mono amps > Omega full Range Super Alnicos. Job done. PowerDAC R is on the horizon to see if this advances things further..

ATL DC Blocker > Topaz 2.5Kva Isolation Transformer > Sine SA5 Cryo 5 power strip > EtherRegen switch powered with Ciunas Supercaps 7.5v LPS > Laufer Mini Memory Player> EC Designs U192 USB Transport plus Fractal DAC > Decware SE84UFO3 Mono Amps > TNT UBYTE-2 Speaker cables > Omega Super Alnico Monitors. PH SR4 & Ian Canada UConditioner Ultracap 5V power supplies. 

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On 4/28/2021 at 2:58 PM, Vincent des Champs said:

.. but what if the gear is not that ‘magical’ as we all believe according to ‘professional’ reviewers? Nah, I don’t think I wouldn’t care that much..

😂

ATL DC Blocker > Topaz 2.5Kva Isolation Transformer > Sine SA5 Cryo 5 power strip > EtherRegen switch powered with Ciunas Supercaps 7.5v LPS > Laufer Mini Memory Player> EC Designs U192 USB Transport plus Fractal DAC > Decware SE84UFO3 Mono Amps > TNT UBYTE-2 Speaker cables > Omega Super Alnico Monitors. PH SR4 & Ian Canada UConditioner Ultracap 5V power supplies. 

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5 hours ago, hopkins said:

You will most certainly have to wait until the product is officially launched and available for sale on their web site.

I heard from John that in he thinks the PowerDac R with SE tube amp sounds better than the PowerDac S straight to Speakers. This could change but is an interesting development and explains their SE tube amp developments.

ATL DC Blocker > Topaz 2.5Kva Isolation Transformer > Sine SA5 Cryo 5 power strip > EtherRegen switch powered with Ciunas Supercaps 7.5v LPS > Laufer Mini Memory Player> EC Designs U192 USB Transport plus Fractal DAC > Decware SE84UFO3 Mono Amps > TNT UBYTE-2 Speaker cables > Omega Super Alnico Monitors. PH SR4 & Ian Canada UConditioner Ultracap 5V power supplies. 

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45 minutes ago, tapatrick said:

To me the the only worthwhile listening reports are the ones that say something along the lines of "I'm done with tweaking" :) I've always wanted to have a system at home where sung voices sound purely pleasurable and do not make me wince however subtly. EC designs U192 and Fractal DAC with clean power added to my system have achieved that goal. I'm very grateful as its been a long journey. System: Laufer Mini Memory player > U192 > Fractal DAC > (no preamp) Decware mono amps > Omega full Range Super Alnicos. Job done. PowerDAC R is on the horizon to see if this advances things further..

 

I'm done tweaking 😂 

(but just in case, don't take my visa card)

my blog

 

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22 minutes ago, hopkins said:

 

I'm done tweaking 😂 

(but just in case, don't take my visa card)

😂 yep and never believe an audiophile who says they are done.. there is no other area of life where I will hand over large sums of money on pure hearsay  🙃😂 however EC designs have my attention!

ATL DC Blocker > Topaz 2.5Kva Isolation Transformer > Sine SA5 Cryo 5 power strip > EtherRegen switch powered with Ciunas Supercaps 7.5v LPS > Laufer Mini Memory Player> EC Designs U192 USB Transport plus Fractal DAC > Decware SE84UFO3 Mono Amps > TNT UBYTE-2 Speaker cables > Omega Super Alnico Monitors. PH SR4 & Ian Canada UConditioner Ultracap 5V power supplies. 

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1 hour ago, tapatrick said:

😂 yep and never believe an audiophile who says they are done.. there is no other area of life where I will hand over large sums of money on pure hearsay  🙃😂 however EC designs have my attention!

And your Visa card ! ;-)

 

Admiring their work but being student I will certainly wait for some years (2 or 3) after the launch of the PowerDAC-R as I want to be sure that they have reached effectively the goal they wanted to reach 15 years ago ... I would be very curious if John is able to fill the gap between the R and the S version! It would be very great to delete cables from the chain (and the related losses) and to avoid any « potential improvements » from power amplifiers as it can be always « improvable » ! :-)

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