Jump to content
IGNORED

Simaudio Moon Evolution 780D


Recommended Posts

  • 2 months later...

I did hear it as a demo at the local store but I wasn't a fan. But I'm totally biased because I really like Chord DACs and I was once ignored by a Simaudio sales rep so I am holding a silly grudge even though everyone else I've encountered in the past has been great. With that said, the system I heard the 780D has been burning in for 2 weeks and was paired with the 860A and 750P and mind streamer and Dynaudio Excite X44. It was super transparent with great soundstage and detail. To me, it's a great Sabre DAC implementation but there is still that little bit of digital harshness and unnaturalness in particular for instrumental timbre, particularly for violins that I pretty much hear with all Sabre DACs that I've heard. For that price, I would and did go with the Chord DAVE. But it might suit your taste.

Link to comment
I did hear it as a demo at the local store but I wasn't a fan. But I'm totally biased because I really like Chord DACs and I was once ignored by a Simaudio sales rep so I am holding a silly grudge even though everyone else I've encountered in the past has been great. With that said, the system I heard the 780D has been burning in for 2 weeks and was paired with the 860A and 750P and mind streamer and Dynaudio Excite X44. It was super transparent with great soundstage and detail. To me, it's a great Sabre DAC implementation but there is still that little bit of digital harshness and unnaturalness in particular for instrumental timbre, particularly for violins that I pretty much hear with all Sabre DACs that I've heard. For that price, I would and did go with the Chord DAVE. But it might suit your taste.

 

How would you describe the sound of Chord vs. Simaudio ecwl?

Link to comment
How would you describe the sound of Chord vs. Simaudio ecwl?

 

If I'm being facetious, I'd say Chord DAVE vs Simaudio 780D = analog vs digital, except that'll under-represent how nice Chord DAVE sounds.

 

On its own, 780D sounds superb, don't get me wrong. But if you're spending that kind of money, you're thinking state of the art so one becomes more choosy, either based on personal taste or based on quality. Both DACs have very low noise floor, black background, great soundstage width. Both my local dealer and my personal setup have our speakers to the wall so soundstage depth is always limited but I think both DACs have great soundstage depth (although from other Chord DAVE owners, they claim the soundstage depth is tremendous in their setup. I think it's better than most DACs but I'm not sure if it's better than 780D without a direct comparison with the optimal speaker setup). Both DACs have incredible detail and have great macrodynamics and microdynamics. There is great instrument separation for both DACs. On its own, 780D sounds very natural and realistic, mainly because it's just better than most other DACs that most of us can get our hands on. But here's where the two DACs start diverging... With respect to air, I think most recordings with the 780D has a fair amount of air that I don't always hear with DAVE and to me, DAVE makes more sense because not every recording should have extra air and it should be recording dependent. Another thing is that 780D can play gentle, smooth warm passages but there is always a slight dynamic edge to them, whereas it feels that DAVE will sometimes play smooth warm passages without the extra dynamic edge and depending on the recording, it will sometimes capture that dynamic edge perfectly. Personally, I suspect the extra air and extra microdynamic edge in the 780D are actually artifactual but you may like it (or maybe I'm the one in the wrong). But ultimately, for me, the parts where DAVE wins out are two main things: timbre and transients. When you listen to DAVE, you hear instrumental sounds, particularly timbre, more accurately than the 780D and pretty much any other DAC I've heard (Berkeley Alpha Reference, Esoteric D1 Grandioso, MSB Diamond DAC IV, Resonessence Invicta, Burmester 111). This is true whether the instrument is playing softly or loudly. As a result, all the instruments and vocals just sound quite a bit more natural than the other DACs. The other aspect is transient/timing. When you hear a piano note strike or a violin or guitar string being struck or a drum sound, if it is struck quickly, there is a dynamic transient with great timing. With all my previous DACs, if you have a 24/192 track played back as 16/44, you can actually hear that transient and timing being less accurate or less dynamic. And if you go to a live piano or drum performance without amplification, you can hear that the strike is more dynamic than most DACs can reproduce. With Chord DAVE, the transients and timing feels very dynamic when a note starts or stops when it is appropriate, but when the note is supposed to be soft without a hard strike, the sound is much gentler. I find with most other DACs, they either completely gets their transients and timing are always slightly worse than the Chord DAVE or every note always sounds dynamic regardless of whether the note is supposed to be gentle or not. The same problem applies to 780D for me. When I listened to What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong through the 780D (their choice, not mine), there is a harshness to the violins likely due to incorrect timbre and they are excessively dynamic with each strike while the drums are a bit soft with their strikes. When I got home to listen to the same track on Chord DAVE, the drum strikes are much more dynamic with better timing and transients and the violins are much less harsh and sound smooth. Now, I know that's a very old and maybe substandard recording to some people. But I can tell you both the 780D and DAVE rendered it beautifully even with its age.

 

Now, I can't speak for 780D as I don't own it and have no chance to try to optimize it in my system. With respect to DAVE, you get a lot more performance by bypassing the preamplifier and maybe even using unbalanced instead of balanced output into the amplifier (which I haven't tried, whereas most DACs work better via balanced output). Moreover, DAVE is functionally paradoxical because its best inputs are USB and Toslink regardless of digital source as RCA/BNC S/PDIF input can potentially inject RF noise to reduce its performance slightly. I know your Meridian system uses S/PDIF digital coaxial output. That said, I think people who had to use S/PDIF digital coaxial, preamplifier and balanced analog output with DAVE have been exceedingly happy with its performance. The bottomline is that if you have a chance to hear 780D and DAVE, you should. And if you have a chance to try them at home first, you should. I personally would not recommend anyone to go out and buy 780D before hearing DAVE. In fact, I forgot to mention that I also prefer Berkeley Alpha Reference DAC to 780D where the instruments also sounded more natural but it's been a while since I last heard it.

 

The problem with digital audio is that when you just read what I wrote above, I can tell you, if my only exposure to DACs are Resonessence Herus or Audioquest Dragonfly or Peachtree products, I would say, those <$1000 DACs do everything that I was talking about above well. But once you move up to another level of DACs and you start comparing the higher end DACs that's when you realize what sonic improvements people are really talking about. So without hearing it, it's actually very difficult to explain why something is more holographic or more natural or with more accurate timbre.

Link to comment

Wow, thanks so much for the detailed description ecwl! This is fantastic! I'll definitely check out the DAVE. I'd also be interested in hearing the Berkeley Reference but the price went way up since the Canadian dollar fell. I think it's over $20k now and that's too much to spend on a DAC, in my opinion. At least the 780D comes with a built in MIND streamer, which adds some value. It doesn't, however, have pre-amp capability.

 

Have you had any experience with the Chord streamers as well? Wondering if they are comparable to Meridian with a better selection of interfaces with the DAC?

Link to comment

Had the Chord DAVE not come out or it not performing at its sound quality level, I probably would have bought the Berkeley Reference instead. I think at this price range, one should be strategic and be sure it's the right DAC for you. Do you really need your P8? If not, get rid of it and get DAVE or Berkeley Reference. You can hook your Sooloos to either and use great digital volume control. MIND streamer has improved but the UI still lags Meridien. Chord streamer DSX1000 is based on the old QBD76HDSD design with a generic OEM streamer and user interface.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...