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Article: emm Labs DAC2X Follow Up


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Bring The Family is an absolute classic. Have the vinyl and a download (I think 44.1); mulling DSD (download or SACD, Chris?).

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Great review Chris.

 

I wish you would stick to this type of journalism and not put up these pieces that get 150 people who will never agree on anything screaming and calling each other names. We have CNN and Fox for that. I know it drives site visits up but in the long run I think they will go down due to shear fatigue. Just my two cents worth and I know that is all it's worth but I have wanted to say it for some time. I found myself avoiding this and other audio web sites for long periods and I finally realized why.

 

Thanks,,

 

Bob

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Bring The Family is an absolute classic. Have the vinyl and a download (I think 44.1); mulling DSD (download or SACD, Chris?).

Is this available for download? SACD is pricey!

NUC10i7 + ROCK > dCS Rossini Apex DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

Signal cables: Kondo Silver, Crystal Cable phono

Power cables: Kondo, Shunyata, van den Hul

system pics

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Is this available for download? SACD is pricey!

 

Got my PCM d/l from Pono, don't recall the resolution. Might be available elsewhere.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I know you don't do them, but I agree that comparisons would make for a better review.

 

For example, while this update may make this DAC sound better than the original release, how does it compare to your Berkeley Alpha DAC Reference which, if I remember correctly, you called "a DAC for the ages". Especially relevant since these DACs retail for the same amount.

 

BTW, for folks that want to get their EMM updated, what is the cost? I don't remember seeing this in your review.

ChrisG

Bend, OR

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From the article, "The best thing is..you will receive this new MDAT2 engine for free!"

The firmware update is free of cost itself for DAC2X/XDS1v2/MA-1 owners, but you might need your dealer to do it for you. The hardware updates cannot be free - but you shouldn't expect them to be.

NUC10i7 + ROCK > dCS Rossini Apex DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

Signal cables: Kondo Silver, Crystal Cable phono

Power cables: Kondo, Shunyata, van den Hul

system pics

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Got my PCM d/l from Pono, don't recall the resolution. Might be available elsewhere.

I like this album. Found a good price for the SACD on ebay so bought it.

NUC10i7 + ROCK > dCS Rossini Apex DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

Signal cables: Kondo Silver, Crystal Cable phono

Power cables: Kondo, Shunyata, van den Hul

system pics

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I know you don't do them, but I agree that comparisons would make for a better review. For example [...] how does it compare to your Berkeley Alpha DAC Reference which, if I remember correctly, you called "a DAC for the ages". Especially relevant since these DACs retail for the same amount.

 

I second that. I appreciate that when you (Chris) want to say something you say it clearly: "[this] is without question the best DAC I've heard anywhere... I've never heard detail, delicacy, and transparency with my favorite music like I have when listening through this DAC" (BADA RS) or "[it was] unequivocally the best DAC I've heard in my system" (DAC 2X).

 

But other times readers are forced to read between the lines to try and ferret out your meaning--often times by what you don't say. In this case, since you did not repeat that the updated DAC 2X was, again, "unequivocally" the best you've heard, I must surmise that it is not and that the BADA still wears that crown. But, also, maybe not? It's hard to say. I can also sometimes be frustrating (not CA or the reviews in general, both of which I like and respect a lot, just that one thing).

 

I trust my own ears more than any reviewer's for that to which I (and I alone) will enjoy listening--I have never bought something based on a review alone. That said, given that you have had more experience listening to more different gear than I ever will, your opinions and comparisons still are/would be very valuable. Even if you said I liked that x did this thing better than y but y did this other thing better and I value that more, it would not only help us get a handle on the gear, but also your listening priorities, which helps us to better read your (future) reviews.

 

So, even if you you purposely didn't and don't want to do a EMM vs. BADA for the DAC championship, at least you might give us some comparative impressions? Thank you.

Roon --> ultraRendu/Uptone LPS-1 --> Kii CONTROL --> Kii THREE active speakers (everything on Black Ravioli bases and footers)

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The comments on the MDAT2 firmware are interesting. I recently updated my MA1 to the latest firmware, and found that it did make a big difference, but that I preferred the previous firmware. The MDAT2 firmware clearly produced a bigger, dynamic, more detailed, more three dimensional image. However, it also sounded brighter, harsher, tonally bleached and strangely lifeless. After living with it for a week, I rolled back to the late 2013 firmware (pre-MDAT2) and immediately found it preferable. While some of the accentuated 3D imaging had gone, the sound was once again tonally rich and colourful, and had the rich, organic sound that had disappeared with the new firmware.

 

I seem to be in the minority here, since others seem to have reported only improvements. But if I hadn't been able to roll back the firmware my MA1 would soon have been in the "for sale" section.

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The comments on the MDAT2 firmware are interesting. I recently updated my MA1 to the latest firmware, and found that it did make a big difference, but that I preferred the previous firmware. The MDAT2 firmware clearly produced a bigger, dynamic, more detailed, more three dimensional image. However, it also sounded brighter, harsher, tonally bleached and strangely lifeless. After living with it for a week, I rolled back to the late 2013 firmware (pre-MDAT2) and immediately found it preferable. While some of the accentuated 3D imaging had gone, the sound was once again tonally rich and colourful, and had the rich, organic sound that had disappeared with the new firmware.

 

I seem to be in the minority here, since others seem to have reported only improvements. But if I hadn't been able to roll back the firmware my MA1 would soon have been in the "for sale" section.

I have an XDS1v2 (DAC2x with a transport built in basically). I do agree with your comments on MDAT2 except the brightness and harshness. If anything I would say the sound is more nuanced with more inner detail. But I gather that this depends on your whole setup, mine is not particularly bright to start with. MDAT2 has been fantastic in my personal experience.

NUC10i7 + ROCK > dCS Rossini Apex DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

Signal cables: Kondo Silver, Crystal Cable phono

Power cables: Kondo, Shunyata, van den Hul

system pics

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So, even if you you purposely didn't and don't want to do a EMM vs. BADA for the DAC championship, at least you might give us some comparative impressions? Thank you.

+1. I have great admiration for Steve Rochlin bc he doesn't hold back comments like this. Just check his Sony NW-ZX2 review... But I get that could put you at odds, and out of the "send stuff to this guy" lists.

NUC10i7 + ROCK > dCS Rossini Apex DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

Signal cables: Kondo Silver, Crystal Cable phono

Power cables: Kondo, Shunyata, van den Hul

system pics

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Could you do a comparison to other DACs please?

 

 

Unfortunate Chris does not do comparisons in his reviews which is a shame as it undermines their usefulness for prospective purchasers. Given that he has a Berkley Audio Design DAC which is at a similar price range, I'm sure a comparison would have been easy.

Aurender N100H> USB(Darkside Cable) > Mcintosh D1100 Digital Preamp > Darkside Cable balanced interconnect  >  Mcintosh MC302 Amp  > SpectralMH-770  Speaker Cables  >  Martin Logan Prodigys

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Unfortunate Chris does not do comparisons in his reviews which is a shame as it undermines their usefulness for prospective purchasers. Given that he has a Berkley Audio Design DAC which is at a similar price range, I'm sure a comparison would have been easy.

Religious objections?

NUC10i7 + ROCK > dCS Rossini Apex DAC + dCS Rossini Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V 9” + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo

Signal cables: Kondo Silver, Crystal Cable phono

Power cables: Kondo, Shunyata, van den Hul

system pics

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