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9 minutes ago, sbenyo said:

 

I wonder how these compare to high end RCAs. I have very good expensive Sablon RCAs and I am not sure if going semi-XLR will improve anything. I know that usually XLR to RCA requires some quality transformation and that there were dedicate adapters for that (e.g. Jensen Transformers). I wonder if this works well.

 

I was once looking for these Cardas adapters to use with my own RCA cables. At the end I decide not to buy them but I still wonder if this is a good solution that really makes any difference. I also know it's device dependent and that T+A may have an advantage on XLR output.

https://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=CRCGAMXLR

 

I would not recommend using any adapters, ever, except for testing purposes.  My experience suggests that the additional connector adds more degradation; indeed, connector quality and termination quality can sometimes be more important than the wire itself.

My preferred solution is always to go with custom terminated XLR cable, with RCA connection at the appropriate end.  If you like Sablon, I am sure Mark can make you a Sablon cable with XLR to RCA termination, considering Sablon cables are generally made to order.   Sablon may even be willing to take a trade in of your RCA cables and apply credit to the new XLR-RCA cable...

 

As to transformers, if you can add a transformer to the input of your amp, then you will get all the benefits of balanced drive as the transformer will basically sum the balanced input to single ended.  But, there is no free lunch here, transformers will add some sound of their own, although that sound may be pleasing as well, just beware that adding even a really good transformer input (Jensen, Lundhal, Sowter) will add a bit of coloration.  There is another benefit of transformer coupled input, especially from a DAC: it will reduce the amount of RF interference which gets into the amp circuitry, which may be a benefit (most amps will have RF filtering in their input circuits, but not all).

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Orange Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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4 hours ago, sbenyo said:

 

I wonder how these compare to high end RCAs. I have very good expensive Sablon RCAs and I am not sure if going semi-XLR will improve anything. I know that usually XLR to RCA requires some quality transformation and that there were dedicate adapters for that (e.g. Jensen Transformers). I wonder if this works well.

 

I was once looking for these Cardas adapters to use with my own RCA cables. At the end I decide not to buy them but I still wonder if this is a good solution that really makes any difference:

https://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=CRCGAMXLR

 

I agree with Barrows comments and I also don't use any adaptors.  After a day long of reading I found this amazing article, best I've read, and completely answers all of my questions and convinced me to go full balanced.

 

https://audioxpress.com/article/a-transformer-coupled-balanced-output-for-solid-state-preamps

 

Pseudo balanced is good, but only for short runs as you loose circa 6dB and you need to impedance match.  So rather than bothering with this I've ordered the Oyaide TUNAMI TERZO RR as a temporary measure whilst I wait for a pair of Jensen JT-11P-1 Premium Line Input Transformers to arrive (no reseller in the UK, so I'm getting them shipped from Parts Express in the USA).  I will fit these to my single ended DIY amp to make it accept true balanced.  I'll use mundorf silver/gold as internal hookup wire and will keep the unbalanced connection from the transformer to my amp modules really short (I'm hoping for just a couple of cm).

 

Jensen transformers as also pretty good value really when you consider the alternatives.  For example, another way of building an balanced amplifier based on SE modules is two run two of them + and - but that comes with significant expense and size/thermal considerations.  Thing is that most amplifiers are SE, only a few are true balanced.  Also probably best to choose an amplifier based on how it sounds rather than SE / Balanced...  it's nice to have found a solution since the amps I want to listen to/build are all natively SE (Neurochrome and Purifi do interest me though).

 

I have considered the neurochrome universal input buffer, Douglas Selfs board, Eltim Audio also do some THAT based ones to allow SE amps to accept true balanced, but these Jensen transforms seem the best... very small distortion and great CMRR.  Based on specs alone, the other transformers I could probably take or leave (closest I found was the Hammond 140, which looks really nice, but CMRR is 'only' 65 dB so for the marginal price difference might as well go for the Jensens). Usings a transformer also allows you to stay in class A if this is how your DAC outputs (no op amps in the way) and transformers are also passive devices so don't need any power - easy retrofit.

 

I'll be able to feedback subjectively on true balanced using the jensen transformers, vs pseudo balanced vs single ended using the Oyaide TUNAMI TERZO RR in a couple of weeks time once I have the means.  It'll not be scientific, but it will be interesting.

 

Cheers

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@Gavin1977, Cool!  Please report back on how it sounds to you.  I have a pair of the same Jensens here I originally got for putting at the input of a class D amp project to provide RF reduction (balanced to balanced connection) but i never got around to trying it.

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Orange Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've not tested the Jensen transformers to convert to SE, but yesterday I tested the following batch of interconnects with DAC 8 DSD:

 

1. XLR-XLR, Switchcraft plugs with NeoTech nemoi-5220

2. Pseudo balanced, switchcraft XLR/RCA plugs , Van Damme tour grade microphone cable xke

3. RCA-RCA Oyaide TUNAMI TERZO RR

 

IMG_0480.thumb.jpg.55f9c6402b35149d2f3f68912c0c3330.jpg

 

These are all pretty decent interconnects, all OCC, some silver plated conductors, some using teflon.

 

Anyhow, not a completely robust comparison because each cable type is different, but the cable capacitance and resistances are pretty similar.

 

The use of XLR-XLR compared to Pseudo balanced was pretty obvious, much better sound stage dimentions - also I should note that being the cheapest of all of the cables I believe that the Van damme cable was not audiably as good as the others.  Using the Oyaide cable RCA-RCA against the  XLR-XLR was a closer call, I believe the higher quality cable (actually quite a similar makeup to the 5220, except the neotech has rectangular teflon coated OCC wires) made the difference and was a close match to the neotech.  But the soundstage dimentions remained the same as the pseudo balanced and 'calmness' not as good as the true XLR-XLR.

 

So anyway, answered a few questions for me and I think I'll gravitate towards using amplifiers that include true balanced connections.  TUNAMI TERZO XX must be pretty good, and @guiltyboxswapper gave me a nice heads up on Sommer 'Epilogue' XLR interconnects that also look like a very good bargain / spec.

 

So my findings kinda back up what was expected.  Given the differences I've heard, RCA can sound really good, but I'm not sure if it has the potential to scale up as well as XLR-XLR.  I think XLR-XLR will maintain the lead.

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  • 5 weeks later...

@Gavin1977: I am looking very much forward to hear about your impressions when comparing the tambaqui with your DAC8. Did you ever compare your DAC8 with DSD512 with the Chord DAVE? Another interesting alternative might be the Holo Audio May, of course. There are some reporting DAC8 with DSD512 being better than DAVE which is quite a statement I believe.

 

Too bad that HQPlayer Pro with its offline upsampling cababilies is so much more expensive than the other variants HQPlayer. It would help enormously to have it in a more affordable package. Large disks would be necessary instead of powerful servers. Still probably a less noisy solution.

 

Unfortunately, I had only briefly experienced the power of HQP since my OpticalRendu in NAA mode was only recognized once. Still it was a magical experience to hear my little Chord Mojo fed with DSD256 files from HQP ... but even without HQP and just on OpticalModule/OpticalRendu powered by power banks, the Mojo sounds amazingly good. Without HQP working, I am using JRMC27 and ROON both with very good results already. Extrapolating from there, I believe that Chord DAVE must be sonic nirvana ;-) ... and if T+A DAC8 with DSD512 will be even better than that. Wow.

Apple Powerbook G4 15\", iTunes, Metric Halo LIO-8, active speakers

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I don't have experience with other NOS dacs, tried to get hold of a Terminator, but impossible in the UK as the local distributor just won't ship them out.

 

My previous dacs have been Chord Hugo, Naim DAC V1, Hugo 2, Hugo TT and then T&A DAC 8 DSD in that order.  I have never heard a DAVE but can imagine what it may sound like, e.g. Hugo TT has much better analogue stage than the Hugo 2 and therefore it actually have a larger soundstage (like higher end DAC's do), but the detail retrieval due to lower number of taps is obvious on the older TT.  So gives me an idea how things evolve the higher you go up the chain.

 

I did have a mojo at one point, I found the Naim DAC V1 better personally.

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10 hours ago, georgios said:

Hey guys, I’m a bit late for this pary, am I not? :) Does T+A DAC8 DSD still stand in this cult? I’m eager to join as I’ve got i7 and HQPlayer. :)

 

I've had this DAC since 2016, did have a dual ESS sabre unit replace it for a little while, but kept it aside.  As my source quality improved (dramatically), and so did cables + vibration control, the T+A leaped ahead in many ways.  

 

6 minutes ago, fds said:

@Gavin1977: I am looking very much forward to hear about your impressions when comparing the tambaqui with your DAC8. Did you ever compare your DAC8 with DSD512 with the Chord DAVE? Another interesting alternative might be the Holo Audio May, of course. There are some reporting DAC8 with DSD512 being better than DAVE which is quite a statement I believe.

 

 

I borrowed a DAVE twice.  First time was awful - I had too much gain for its digital vol control to work well.  Second time was much better with amps set to 11db gain, but the T+A really did outgun it in a meaningful way.  

 

Was nice not having to use HQP though, but these days HQP embedded is virtually bulletproof reliability wise in a single box configuration so its no longer an issue.  Amanero's latest Linux firmware is also bulletproof quite frankly for DSD 512.

 

I'm sure the newer DACs are better in some ways or another, that is technological progress for you. 

 

For me the T+A signature / tuning is exactly what I prefer, plus the output stage is powerful enough to drive Purifi's IET400A's directly without a buffer activated (I tried with buffer, but extra gain genuinely not needed).

 

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Just to add... my journey in Hifi has largely followed @guiltyboxswapper as of late and we've exchanged a large number of conversations.  So I can vouch for the experience he shares... that's why I now own a T+A DAC 8 DSD.

 

Works brilliantly with the Purifi 1ET400's by the way.

 

My reasoning at looking at other DAC's is to potentially move away from the high CPU demands of upscaling everything to DSD, I like the idea of Terminators high res PCM as well and the Mola Mola which does it all in one box. 

 

Also, the T+A has it's own 'sound' (like all pieces of hifi equipment) so needs matching... it's a very dynamic performer.  Sometimes my mood does remind me how much I like the 'idea' (footnote 1) of the less detailed, but warmer sound of the Hugo TT.  Anyhow, I'm still running with the T+A as I think it can continue to improve my system, I just need to spend some more time adjusting other components around it.

 

We'll see when the mola-mola arrives for demo early next month I'll then have a reference point... or a very light wallet :-)

 

Footnote 1: Must say, if you run PCM through the DAC 8 DSD (burr brown if I remember correctly), it sounds a lot closer to the  Hugo TT.  And you know what, I choose to avoid it even though it's very decent.  Memory and aural recollection are never really that good.

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Thanks a lot for the shared experiences. Yes, also in my experience, cables and vibration control are very important as is clean power and clean digital feed ... and it is in such an environment where the Mojo impresses me after it was sitting for years on the side with only very occasional mobile use. Looking forward to hear from the DAC8-Tambaqui shootout ... and although I am using an Ayre KX5 pre with very good results, I still have a sweet spot for DAC-power amp direct settings. Should probably get the DAC8 here for some testing as well ... with a powerful CPU.

Apple Powerbook G4 15\", iTunes, Metric Halo LIO-8, active speakers

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11 hours ago, fds said:

@Gavin1977: I am looking very much forward to hear about your impressions when comparing the tambaqui with your DAC8. Did you ever compare your DAC8 with DSD512 with the Chord DAVE? Another interesting alternative might be the Holo Audio May, of course. There are some reporting DAC8 with DSD512 being better than DAVE which is quite a statement I believe.

 

Too bad that HQPlayer Pro with its offline upsampling cababilies is so much more expensive than the other variants HQPlayer. It would help enormously to have it in a more affordable package. Large disks would be necessary instead of powerful servers. Still probably a less noisy solution.

 

Unfortunately, I had only briefly experienced the power of HQP since my OpticalRendu in NAA mode was only recognized once. Still it was a magical experience to hear my little Chord Mojo fed with DSD256 files from HQP ... but even without HQP and just on OpticalModule/OpticalRendu powered by power banks, the Mojo sounds amazingly good. Without HQP working, I am using JRMC27 and ROON both with very good results already. Extrapolating from there, I believe that Chord DAVE must be sonic nirvana ;-) ... and if T+A DAC8 with DSD512 will be even better than that. Wow.

I'm not sure that Chord DACs are in the same category as a DSD DAC like the T+A's.  If I remember correctly, the Chords upsample DSD and convert it to hi-res PCM.  I believe it's apples/oranges.  But, I'd love to hear a shootout with T+A  vs a Chord DAVE.

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That is what I had read about Chord DACs as well. Indeed, both upsampling to max PCM and to DSD256 sounds great, even if the latter is done in JRMC27 ... and there are clear differences between both that I am still exploring right now. Somehow I have the feeling that timing is better when feeding DSD whereas extension up high is better when feeding PCM. Also ROON vs JRMC27 is quite interesting with ROON being somewhat warmer with more depth and JRMC27 somewhat more accurate and maybe a tad more natural. Still all early impressions. Goting OT here sorry.

Apple Powerbook G4 15\", iTunes, Metric Halo LIO-8, active speakers

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Fatalethal. Thanks a lot for reporting so clearly on the differences ... Any chance for a 2nd round with souce DSD512 Files from HQP or so? That seems to be the setting where D88 performs best.

Apple Powerbook G4 15\", iTunes, Metric Halo LIO-8, active speakers

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14 minutes ago, fds said:

Fatalethal. Thanks a lot for reporting so clearly on the differences ... Any chance for a 2nd round with souce DSD512 Files from HQP or so? That seems to be the setting where D88 performs best.

Or DSD256 with EC modulator which many prefer on DAC8 DSD to DSD 512 with non-EC modulators. 

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My friend and I thought it would be "fair" to compare both DACs with PCM playback instead.

 

Unfortunately, I have not gotten myself HQP because i reckon that mini PC thermals will shoot right out of the chassis. In my earlier posts (months ago) in this thread, I got clarification to use my gaming PC as Roon core + HQP, and then HQP NAA stream it to the mini PC. However, I always get pulled off the HQP course to secure good deals shared by friends. One of the many good deals is the Thiel CS 2.7 speakers. It is mint in condition, and I could not let this deal get away from me as I desired and dream to own a Jim Thiel designed speakers. Year 2020 is really a "hifi good deal" year... I get to enjoy music while working at the comfort of my home! 

 

I am hoping I can get myself HQP in the coming months, get it installed on my gaming PC which has AMD 1700 CPU @ 3.4 GHz, 16GB ram, and Geforce 1080 Ti. Anyway just to check again, can I use the cuda cores on the 1080 Ti to reduce load and heat from the CPU, right? I am hopeful to keep thermals no more than 75 degrees Celsius respectively on CPU and GPU.

 

 

Also, since there is an interest to compare HQP+D8D DSD playback and Tambaqui PCM playback.... Well, I'll be back to report when the stars are aligned.

 

FYI, my buddy sold off his Chord DAVE+Mscaler for the Tambaqui. In his words (paraphrased), he said, "Both DACs are really good. But what caught my attention was the analog/flow that the Tambaqui possesses. It is also a huge bonus to take up less footprint on the Hi-Fi rack, cables + power related costs compared to Chord DAVE+Mscaler".

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7 minutes ago, FatalethaL said:

Unfortunately, I have not gotten myself HQP because i reckon that mini PC thermals will shoot right out of the chassis. On the other hand, we thought it would be "fair" to compare both DACs with PCM playback instead.

 

To be fair your results and findings is absolutely what I'd expect (i.e. Mola Mola clearly ahead) in PCM mode.

 

There's a problem with the T+A; whilst its "bargain" priced it does require some dedication and a HQ source to shine, as I found out the hard way.  It is rewarding though as adding the HDPlex 500w lately to my source system revealed. 

 

Problem is, it ends up costing as much if not more than the Mola Mola....

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8 minutes ago, FatalethaL said:

I am hoping I can get myself HQP in the coming months, get it installed on my gaming PC which has AMD 1700 CPU @ 3.4 GHz, 16GB ram, and Geforce 1080 Ti. Anyway just to check again, can I use the cuda cores on the 1080 Ti to reduce load and heat from the CPU, right? I am hopeful to keep thermals no more than 75 degrees Celsius respectively on CPU and GPU.

You should be able to run most the filters with the AMD 1700 without GPU tbh apart from the EC modulators.  I actually found the GPU to leave a negative fingerprint on the output, especially when CUDA was activated (try for yourself ofcourse).

 

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13 minutes ago, guiltyboxswapper said:

You should be able to run most the filters with the AMD 1700 without GPU tbh apart from the EC modulators.  I actually found the GPU to leave a negative fingerprint on the output, especially when CUDA was activated (try for yourself ofcourse).

 

 

Thanks for the heads up. Sounds like I can only do DSD512 without EC modulators. And is EC modulator a new thing? It seems new to my eyes. I am out of touch with HQP and DSD playback in general.

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57 minutes ago, FatalethaL said:

Thanks for the heads up. Sounds like I can only do DSD512 without EC modulators. And is EC modulator a new thing? It seems new to my eyes.

 

Yes, relatively new thing, introduced in HQPlayer in July 2019. They are about three times heavier to process than regular non-EC modulators that have been around for a long time.

 

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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3 hours ago, musicbuff said:

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to downplay the Mola Mola or say it isn't an outstanding DAC but I feel FatalethaL's comparison is a bit premature. Forgive me for being the odd one out by asking, if you're going to compare the Mola Mola Tambaqui with the T+A DAC 8 DSD, shouldn't both items be compared at their highest levels of performance? Why limit the T+A to PCM when it sounds best at DSD 512? The DAC 8 DSD is known for its outstanding sound quality when coupled with HQPlayer. I run HQPlayer on my computer and all my music (including mp3 files) is set to play 48/512. And I must say the sound is exquisite. So, FatalethaL I'm looking forward to a "fairer" comparison when you get HQP and the ability to run your music files at 48/512.

Agree. We just care how much we can squeeze out from one equipment to make the best out of it. DAC8 DSD shines at relatively low price when feeding DSD512 signals. I’m very interested in how good it is. Is it really ultimately analogue like? I’ve listened some very high quality DACs, if I want to buy it I want to make sure it is really worth the trouble swapping.

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