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Slightly premium DAC slugfest


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From what I can tell, a "Barry" is about the only one here to have thrown down a few of the slightly premium dacs. (NO disrespect intended to be made here towards you Barry) For example, this might include:

 

Weiss DAC2 & Minerva (~$3,000 & ~4,500, respectively)

Berkeley Alpha (~5,000)

Metric Halo's ULN 2 & 8 ($1,700 & ~$6,000, respectively)

Audio Research DAC7 (~$3,500)

Prism Orpheus (~$4,500)

 

I certainly mean no disrespect to Barry. Just wish he'd get around to doing some more throw-downs between his beloved ULN8 and some of the other semi-premium DACS. I think he has some interesting perspective.

 

With that in mind, I'd really be curious to learn what anyone's experience has been with any of the above referenced DAC's, or other similarly positioned DAC's. I know eventually I will need to try and audition these. But that does present some initial logistical challenges. So please pardon my inquiry and request for your input, as this significantly helps weed out some players and also allows me to discover some (read Metric's products) that I had not even considered.

 

Ultimately, though, I'd love to find out what anyone has experienced and discovered in comparing these types of DAC's. And, Barry, it's time. You need to do some more throw downs like you did with the Alpha and your ULN-8. Fun reading, and also challenging, because it now has me looking at the ULN2, despite it being a 24bit/96k setup.

 

----

 

PS - 1. whatever happened to getting this throw-down? http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Metric-Halo-review

 

2. what about the improvements of the ULN2 expanded vs the ULN8, how much of an improvement is anyone (read Barry or Clay, since you two seem to be ULN fans) hearing, appreciating, etc. Just curious about the value there.

 

3. From the looks of the ULN-8, the only viable input, without having to secure other hardware, appears to be firewire, is that correct? If so, then how are people connecting it up to their systems? Is it just being used to run the firewire connect? What about the transport, via RCA or toslink?

------

 

Thanks in advance everyone. Really, Thanks!

 

 

Jonathan[br]-------------------[br]Still finding my way, but soaking it all up like a sponge!

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I guess I've just gotten used to using it when thinking of competition. Bobby Flay, on Food Network does a "throw-down" and tries to go up against locals who have developed reputable skill at a particular food item. We've used it for years, and it is generally understood as slang for a fight. Here, though, like Flay's show, it's intended for a competition. Sorry for the confusion.

 

Jonathan[br]-------------------[br]Still finding my way, but soaking it all up like a sponge!

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That's funny. Language is a curious thing, hey. If you don't get it, you just don't get it.

 

I have a few comparisons I can offer. I recently compared the Playback Designs DAC ($11K) to Empirical Audio's Overdrive ($4K thereabouts). I preferred the Overdrive. The difference wasn't large, but it was enough to ground what I would call a considered but clear preference. Thus if the Overdrive were the more expensive DAC, I'd shell out the extra cash.

 

The Playback Designs unit has a digital out. I've compared it to an Empirical Audio Pace Car ($1.3K), and prefer the Pace Car. Between the PD unit and a Weiss AFI1 ($2K thereabouts), I would say the two are a toss-up, though I think the PD has the edge.

 

Fwiw, I've owned Emm Labs gear in the past. I consider the PD unit to better the Emm Labs, from memory of course.

 

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Berkeley Alpha, Byston and Ayre dacs. I also stated, on the Metric Halo thread, that I'll be getting a ULN-2 to compare to the DAC2 soon. Not sure why the OP believes Barry is unique here (for the ULN-8 maybe). He has a darn good reputation (for good reason), and has certainly sampled some good DACs, but as we've documented ad nauseum, so have quite a few of us.

 

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Weiss DAC2 & Minerva (~$3,000 & ~4,500, respectively)

- Input: Firewire, S/PDIF, AES/EBU, Toslink

- 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz 24-bit

- D/A chip: Burr-Brown PCM1792

 

Berkeley Alpha (~5,000)

- Input: AES/EBU, S/PDIF

- 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz 24-bit

- D/A chip: Analog Devices AD1852

 

Audio Research DAC7 (~$3,500)

- Input: Non-Async USB, S/PDIF, AES/EBU, Toslink

- 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz 24-bit

- D/A chip: Burr-Brown PCM1792 PCM2702

 

Metric Halo's ULN 2 & 8 ($1,700 & ~$6,000, respectively)

- Input: Firewire, S/PDIF, AES/EBU, Toslink + Recording Interface

- 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 24-bit (ULN-2) 176.4, 192 kHz 24-bit (ULN-8)

- D/A chip: AKM AK4393 (ULN-2) AK4395 (ULN-8)

- A/D chip: AKM AK5383 (ULN-2) AK5384 (ULN-8)

- SRC, built-in

- patch cables needed (ULN-8)

- Premium A/D and mic-preamp, built-in

- State-of-the-art digital mixer, software controlled

- Headamp included

 

Prism Orpheus (~$4,500)

- Input: Firewire, S/PDIF, Toslink, MIDI + Recording Interface

- 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 176.4, 192 kHz 24-bit

- D/A chip: AKM AK4395 (of Dream DA-2) ?

- A/D chip: Cirrus Logic CS5381 ?

- SRC, built-in

- Premium A/D and mic-preamp, built-in

- State-of-the-art digital mixer, software controlled

- 2 Headamps included

 

They are really different beasts. Different D/A chips sound different. Once I got my ULN-2, I really love the AK4393's sonics (on Firewire) !!

 

I found a long list of DACs with nice photos here.

 

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Bordin,

 

first, your link is dead.

Second, I've thrown a hodge lodge of options as an illustration. I'm looking for world comparrisons. When I first asked for input on a dac, I was introduced to the mh products. So they've been included. The key here is trying to find comparrisons. I've gone throughthis site looking for definitive comparrisons, but have not found them. Right now I'm inclined to get the dac2. But the uln2 is very intriguing. Just looking for the best way to finish off my system for now. I have zu speakers and new amps. Just need the dac... So let's get a throw down going and put these and others through the paces and find some differences. Candidly, I think the differences are ultimately individual, as some like one and others another.

 

Jonathan[br]-------------------[br]Still finding my way, but soaking it all up like a sponge!

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Jonathan,

 

Sorry for the broken link. Here it is:

 

Les Cartes Son Audiophiles et les Convertisseurs Numérique / Analogique

 

Regarding DAC comparisons, they are around but as pieces. I've personally tried Minerva, Prism Orpheus and ULN-2. I found the Minerva's very detailed but forwarding. The Orpheus sounds great but not the same league as the ULN-2's.

 

Once I heard the ULN-2 (2D+DSP) in my system, all my doubts were gone. ;-)

 

The BADA sounds similar to my OMZ DAC's, but you need a very good AES/EBU source for it such as the RME Fireface or the Lynx AES16e. I have the latter one.

 

The ULN-2's Firewire really does the difference !

 

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So, it sounds like you preferred the ULN over the Minerva (DAC2). Is that correct? If so, why. Also, in terms of the ULN-2 "expanded", I note they offer it with improved transformers and a DSP license. Thoughts on getting either or both?

 

Jonathan[br]-------------------[br]Still finding my way, but soaking it all up like a sponge!

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Hi Jonathan,

 

"I certainly mean no disrespect to Barry. Just wish he'd get around to doing some more throw-downs between his beloved ULN8 and some of the other semi-premium DACS. I think he has some interesting perspective."

 

"And, Barry, it's time. You need to do some more throw downs like you did with the Alpha and your ULN-8. Fun reading, and also challenging, because it now has me looking at the ULN2, despite it being a 24bit/96k setup."

 

"2. what about the improvements of the ULN2 expanded vs the ULN8, how much of an improvement is anyone (read Barry or Clay, since you two seem to be ULN fans) hearing, appreciating, etc. Just curious about the value there.

 

3. From the looks of the ULN-8, the only viable input, without having to secure other hardware, appears to be firewire, is that correct? If so, then how are people connecting it up to their systems? Is it just being used to run the firewire connect? What about the transport, via RCA or toslink?"

 

I've done quite a few shootouts with the ULN-8, I just haven't written about all of them here. Early on, there was a *blind* shootout among some of the beta team where the ULN-8 beat (or shamed) the "best" from:

Apogee, Benchmark, Burl, Cranesong, DAD, Lavry, Lynx, Meitner, Mytek, MOTU, Pacific Microsonics, Prism, UA, Weiss. Since then, there was the shootout with the Berkeley I posted about (and have since heard of other tests with the same outcome).

 

The 2D expansion for the ULN-2 (and 2882) added a lot of processing capabilities that are of most use to those making recordings (or doing mixes, either for live musical and theatrical performances or recordings). For the audiophile, the 2D expansion also brought improved clocking to the ULN-2 (and 2882). I loved the ULN-2 before the 2D. It is noticeably improved (at least to me) with the 2D.

 

As to "viable" inputs, I find all of the ULN-8's inputs quite viable. It does not take much effort to purchase or make connectors with DB25s at the ULN-8 end. Further, adapters for the monitor outs can also be TRS (these cost only a few dollars from places like Markertek and allow the use of one's interconnects of choice). I've got my computer connected via Firewire and my transport's SPDIF output feeding the ULN-8's AES input via a Neutrik transformer. I feel the extra "effort" to make the adapters (or to purchase them for those less inclined to soldering) is a miniscule price to pay for the sonics this unit delivers.

 

Much will depend on the sound you seek. If you want something that makes bad digital recordings sound easier on the ear, the silkiness of a Prism or a Weiss may be more to your liking. The Metric Halo units don't supply this "soft focus lens" on blemishes. At the same time, their clear window lets me hear further into recordings than other units I've tried.

 

While I'm flattered you would single me out, I must say please don't take my word for any of this. My best suggestion is to try and audition a ULN-2 (or '8) yourself and draw your own conclusions. You may agree or you may not. I can only report on my own experience, of course. As you'll find, there are plenty of points of view to be found in this and other forums.

 

For my ears (I may have said this elsewhere), if I couldn't have the '8, I'd very happily live with the '2 over anything else I've heard. (Well, maybe the Pacific Microsonics - at $25k(!) beats the ULN-2... but for my ears, not the '8.)

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Barry,

 

Thanks for the input and response. It is appreciated. I apologize for singling you out. You were one of a few that chimed in with some positive input on things to my prior inquiries or had previously discussed some relevant (at least to me) observations. Again, thanks.

 

Here's a few follow-up for you or others:

 

1) Is it fair to say that you find the ULN-2 or 8 to provide much more detail, and that is why you prefer it? Is it drawing out the finer details and allowing you to hear more of what was recorded? Does that then mean that the sound you are striving for is detail, and then you are using your amp/pre-amp to provide your "silkiness"? Does that then mean you find the weiss to provide a premature silkiness? Even still, I'd really be curious about a weiss DAC2 comparison with the ULN-2 and ULN-8. I'm leaning toward the DAC2, but you and others have me considering the 2, but I'm crazy enough to splurge on the 8...

 

2) How would you configure the ULN-8 with a computer and transport based system.

 

3) Am I correct in reading that the DB25 would allow me to incorporate 8 lines in - presumably via digital RCA's? If so, that would solve a major issue for me, allowing me to use my 3, and later possibly 4, transports, which provide either toslink or RCA outs.

 

4) Are you able to run the DB25 out to an XLR or RCA for the pre-amp? If so, what are you doing with the other 6 leads that seem to always be connected... LOL

 

Thanks in advance to you or anyone else that chimes in.

 

Jonathan

 

Jonathan[br]-------------------[br]Still finding my way, but soaking it all up like a sponge!

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Jonathan says:

"...because it now has me looking at the ULN2, despite it being a 24bit/96k setup."

 

Listen to a lot of 192k material do you? :)

 

Yes, this is a limitation of the ULN-2, AFAIC, it's the only one, and it doesn't bother me in the least, and won't until there is a significant amount of 'real' music available even at 96k, which there isn't now and probably won't be for some time to come. I stopped buying/listening to audiophile music years ago. My first hi-res recordings came with the Amarra Demo disc. Yes, I'm no longer a card-carrying audiophile.:)

 

"2. what about the improvements of the ULN2 expanded vs the ULN8, how much of an improvement is anyone (read Barry or Clay, since you two seem to be ULN fans) hearing, appreciating, etc. Just curious about the value there."

 

I've not heard the ULN-8. Despite my curiosity, I'm afraid to. :)

I don't need to spend that much on a DAC yet. I need to update my speakers next. Between the ULN-2 and my new First Watt J2, my speakers would now appear to be the limiting factor, esp. after I get some balanced cables and drive the amp direct.

 

"3. ... If so, then how are people connecting it up to their systems? Is it just being used to run the firewire connect? What about the transport, via RCA or toslink?"

 

Don't have the ULN-8, but I use a $15 Firewire cable to connect via Firewire. (note: Barry said recently he used the Firewire cable provided by Metric Halo). I also use the Toslink input (available ONLY with the 2D models) to connect output from my Apple TV or Oppo DVD player. Toslink never sounded so good (to me).

 

Barry said:

 

"For the audiophile, the 2D expansion also brought improved clocking to the ULN-2 (and 2882). I loved the ULN-2 before the 2D. It is noticeably improved (at least to me) with the 2D."

 

definitely add the 2d Card, if you purchase a used ULN-2 without it.

Someone asked earlier about the Jensen Transformers. I believe these are only used for the mic pres. I don't have the DSP, and so can't comment, but have never considered getting it for audio playback.

 

"Further, adapters for the monitor outs can also be TRS (these cost only a few dollars from places like Markertek and allow the use of one's interconnects of choice)."

 

Like Barry, I use adapters, which some audiophiles consider a no-no.

 

Barry said:

"If you want something that makes bad digital recordings sound easier on the ear, the silkiness of a Prism or a Weiss may be more to your liking. The Metric Halo units don't supply this "soft focus lens" on blemishes. At the same time, their clear window lets me hear further into recordings than other units I've tried."

 

I agree, the ULN-2 gets out of the way of the music. I can't discern a sound, but I'm no golden eared audiophile. I'm just easily annoyed by certain types of faults in (perhaps engineered into?) audiophile gear. It does not have the false detail of some other devices, most notably the Benchmark IMO, which are fatiguing at best, and annoying at worst.

 

Barry said:

"My best suggestion is to try and audition a ULN-2 (or '8) yourself and draw your own conclusions."

 

You can try out the ULN-2 on a 7 day trial with B&H Photo/Video for $1495. That's what I did and I've never looked back. The ULN-8 is on serious backorder.

 

Barry said:

"For my ears (I may have said this elsewhere), if I couldn't have the '8, I'd very happily live with the '2 over anything else I've heard. (Well, maybe the Pacific Microsonics - at $25k(!) beats the ULN-2... but for my ears, not the '8.)"

 

Thanks Barry, you might just have saved me $6k. :)

 

BTW, Jonathan, the Pacific Microsonics Model Two is a discontinued unit in very hig demand. Might cost as much as twice the ULN-8, IF you could even find one. The same guys who designed the PM gear, designed the Berkeley Alpha.

 

enjoy your search,

clay

 

 

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discussion here. To the OP, I would never expect to get definitive responses as to the sonic superiority of DACs at this level. To be sure there will be differences, but every system is different as well, and some DACs will suit some systems better than others. Additionally, shoot out style comparisons are fraught with problems, as in a short term test the component will likely not be optimized to produce its best performance. Something as simple as adequate warm up, or break in can make a significant difference in sonic performance, not to mention vibration control, power cabling/conditioning and interconnect choice.

I have some concerns and questions regarding the pro audio converters being discussed here (disclaimer: I have not heard them, and am not making any claims about how they actually sound).

The necessity of dealing with non standard connectors really bugs me-going to XLR via a very high mass TRS plug adapter made out of some crap material really seems problematic. Barry, you seem to use a lot of Nordost cabling, so you must be aware of how much loss there can be with cabling and connectors (I use Nordost Frey for playback) how do you handle the analog output of the ULN-8? I guess one could modify the analog outs of the ULN-2 for high quality XLRs?

Typically pro gear like this uses high feedback, very low noise, low distortion opamps as output buffers-having some experience comparing such analog stages with well designed discrete FET input bipolar output analog stages I must admit I am a little suprised at the reports of sonic performance we are hearing form those who own/audition the pro devices.

The other thing is the power supplies, I guess here the best thing to do is to replace cheap switchers with HQ linear supply, despite having very good power conditioning in my home system, everytime I get a switching supply off my homes AC I get better sound through the hi fi.

 

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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"The other thing is the power supplies, I guess here the best thing to do is to replace cheap switchers with HQ linear supply"

 

Barrows,

I use a custom linear power supply that Gordon made for ULN-2, as he had done for John Atkinson.

 

clay

 

PS, I agree on the comparisons. I personally don't see the value of doing a comparison outside my system, although I trust that someone like Barry has a more well grounded sense of sound.

 

 

 

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Hi Barrows

The main culprit with SMPS is the obligatory(?) High Voltage capacitor(s) between the Primary and Secondary sides of the SMPS, even with plugpacks. If you rub your fingers across the metalwork of a headphone amplifier etc. that uses an SMPS, you will often feel a vibrating sensation. Graham Slee from GSP Audio investigated this after we reported this and a slight "veiling " of the audio during pre release testing. Graham Slee then fitted an earth terminal at the rear of these units, which did indeed give a subjective improvement when earthed. If you connect a DMM between the output RCA sockets of the CD/DVD/STB etc. that uses an SMPS, you will often read more than 100VAC 50HZ on a 230VAC system. The effects of these supplies are additive when you have several items which use SMPS supplies, and you are using an amplifier which has a 3 pin mains plug, and can give quite a nasty bite if you plug./unplug leads to your amplifier, even when these items are not switched on. Furthermore, all this rubbish degrades S/N of your main system unless you take added precautions. In my home brew preamplifier, I also switch the "earth" side of inputs, to help reduce this problem.

SandyK

 

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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I am sure you found a nice improvement in performance with the linear supply right? It looks like it would be pretty easy to build a nice linear supply for the ULN-2, as its specs indicate it has the necessary voltage regulation on board. Are you using pro audio cables with it, or TRS to RCA or XLR adapters? It looks like there might be just enough room to take out the TRS jacks and install some nice XLRs. I have some adapters (TRS to XLR) I used to test the analog output of my Fireface, but they are crap!

 

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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>> If you rub your fingers across the metalwork of a headphone amplifier etc. that uses an SMPS, you will often feel a vibrating sensation.

 

Yes I get that with all the thinkpad I have ever used, it was like I was being mildly electrocuted. Strangely enough I believe I get that even when the Thinkpad is running on battery.

 

My Macbook Pro doesn't do that though. I wonder if the aluminum casing has something to do with that?

 

Macbook Pro/MacMini/dCS Debussy/Cambridge 650BD[br]Vitus Audio SS-010/Living Voice OBX-R2 Speakers/Ultrasone Edition 8 phones[br]Airport Express/Meridian AD88[br]

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Hi Jonathan,

 

1) Is it fair to say that you find the ULN-2 or 8 to provide much more detail, and that is why you prefer it? Is it drawing out the finer details and allowing you to hear more of what was recorded? Does that then mean that the sound you are striving for is detail, and then you are using your amp/pre-amp to provide your "silkiness"? Does that then mean you find the weiss to provide a premature silkiness? Even still, I'd really be curious about a weiss DAC2 comparison with the ULN-2 and ULN-8. I'm leaning toward the DAC2, but you and others have me considering the 2, but I'm crazy enough to splurge on the 8...

 

For me, it isn't about "detail". It is about sounding the same as the input, regardless of the characteristics of the input. This takes the form of tonality, texture, soundstage dimensions (where many others fail), image solidity and dimensionality (where others create a somewhat 3D field of flat images), dynamic performance (not just at the ends but in the middle and low level areas and evenly throughout the frequency spectrum - a feat I find rare among any type of component, much less digital ones), frequency extension (the ULN-8 is unique to me in how natural its bass sounds) and low level detail. There are probably a few other areas but these come to mind right away.

 

It isn't about detail or "premature" detail. It is about neutrality or its absence. This is one of those things that depend heavily on what the listener is seeking. Not everyone really wants neutrality and I can understand this. Some folks want their gear to massage the signal into a more "pleasant" state. My personal preference is a match for the input, without regard for the sound of that input. I call this "neutrality". The Weiss, along with the Prism are (for my ears) not "prematurely silky", they are so throughout and apply this texture/character to whatever is passing through them. These are certainly fine pieces of gear; my ears just want something other than what they are offering.

 

 

2) How would you configure the ULN-8 with a computer and transport based system.

 

FireWire from the computer, using the Metric Halo Console software (which comes with their gear) to assign different busses for routing different computer signals. For example, I usually use the first pair of channels for my mic feeds, so channels 1 and 2 feed output bus 1. I assign the second pair of channels to the input from my CD/DVD player to feed bus 2, etc.

 

On the Console software's Monitor Control, I have output buttons set up (like the source selector on a preamp) where I can choose the output sent to the power amps and monitors. Each output bus gets its own selector button. (This, like the rest of the Console, is customizable and can be anything you can imagine.)

 

The only other input regularly connected in my system is the DB25 connected to the AES input. My CD/DVD player's SPDIF output feeds this via a small, in-line Neutrik transformer, connected to a short XLR-DB25 adapter I made. (A two channel version of this: http://www.barrydiamentaudio.com/zadapter2.jpg )

 

 

3) Am I correct in reading that the DB25 would allow me to incorporate 8 lines in - presumably via digital RCA's? If so, that would solve a major issue for me, allowing me to use my 3, and later possibly 4, transports, which provide either toslink or RCA outs.

 

The digital input is AES and yes, there are 8 lines.

 

 

4) Are you able to run the DB25 out to an XLR or RCA for the pre-amp? If so, what are you doing with the other 6 leads that seem to always be connected... LOL

 

I created short adapters of my own, in order to be able to use the cables of my choice rather than those offered on the pre- or custom-built DB25 snakes I've seen. Each adapter uses only the number of connections I'd need. The photo in the link above showed one for four connections. One with a single pair of female RCAs is here:

http://www.barrydiamentaudio.com/zadapter1.jpg

 

For the main monitor pair, you can also take the outputs from the TRS jacks that are paralleled with outputs 1 and 2 on the DB25. Markertek has TRS to whatever adapters, that make it simple to use any cable you like.

 

Again, I can only write from my own perspective. With an audition, you may find you agree or that you don't agree. Please keep this in mind.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Barry:

"For my ears (I may have said this elsewhere), if I couldn't have the '8, I'd very happily live with the '2 over anything else I've heard. (Well, maybe the Pacific Microsonics - at $25k(!) beats the ULN-2... but for my ears, not the '8.)"

 

Clay:

Thanks Barry, you might just have saved me $6k. :)

 

BTW, Jonathan, the Pacific Microsonics Model Two is a discontinued unit in very hig demand. Might cost as much as twice the ULN-8, IF you could even find one. The same guys who designed the PM gear, designed the Berkeley Alpha.

 

Hi Clay, the PM was $25k the last time I looked.

It was my all-time favorite unit - before I heard the ULN-8.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Hi barrows,

 

All good points you raised.

Personally, I would not compare anything or test anything until it has been fully burned-in. I also like to listen across systems in order to get a better picture of what a component is doing. (If the ULN-8 is "system dependent" in any way, it would appear to benefit from systems that have speakers. ;-} That's how much it's character changes from system to system.)

 

I'm also an advocate of vibration control and use a combination of roller bearings (my own Hip Joints design) and air bearings under all components.

 

As to adapters, I use them and find the sonic price of an adapter with my Nordosts to be an order of magnitude lower than I feel it to be using other cables without adapters. This is a reality with DB25 connections. Without them, a component like the ULN-8 would require a much larger back panel (hence a much larger enclosure) to fit all the inputs and outputs.

 

There are links to a couple of the short adapters I made in my previous post. One could always ask Nordost to wire up a pair of cables using TRS at one end.

 

My feeling about these is the same as it is about the other points you raised regarding the internal topology, use of feedback, opamps, etc. I find these all valid issues from a theoretical standpoint but ultimately I don't really care if the designer used baling wire and bird's nests. The only thing I'm interested in is what it sounds like when I play music through it.

My feeling is if a product that uses opamps and feedback sounds more neutral than one with discrete components and no feedback, where is the advantage in the latter two?

 

I want to connect my microphones and hear the same signal at the output of the DAC as I hear at the input of the ADC. There are numerous examples of gear using the very "best" parts but not achieving the performance one might expect from such. This is fairly common in the audiophile world, as we all know. The ads tout parts, the modifiers tout parts. The only part I'm really concerned with is the one between the designer's ears. That is the only one I've found to consistently offer a realistic sense of how the finished product will sound.

 

As always, just my perspective.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Yes, I noticed an improvement in the sound with the linear PS. I wouldn't call it night and day, but then, I never do. :)

 

The low end was improved (initially i wondered if it was too good to be true, but more likely a room node was excited), and the 'annoyance' region seemed subtly smoother on occasion, as well.

 

The GF asked if I turned up the bass. :) I never tell her when I introduce changes, although she is usually aware when new packages arrive. This package came in just after Christmas (Gordon made it up on 12/26).

 

I use the dreaded TRS to RCA (Granite Digital or Markertek) adapters for now, connected via Analysis Plus cables, either Silver Oval (currently in use), or Solo Crystal Ovals to my Dehavilland Ultraverve 6SN7-based preamp.

 

I just received Neutrik TRS to XLR adapters, so that I can try some AES cables direct into the Nelson Pass's new J2 via balanced inputs, using the ULN-2 as the preamp.

 

Besides, the MIO software offers 'Character' feature, which allows selectable colorations to mimic various mics/pres, including tube-based These are still quite subtle, which speaks to the lack of coloration in the ULN-2, IMO. You want some coloration, some silkiness, click on a button, you want transparent, click it back off.

Actually, I've never really played with it, preferring the ULN-2 pure.

 

Any recommendations on AES cables? How do you find the Nordost?

 

clay

 

 

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Clay and Barrow,

 

You both make good points. No, Clay, I do not have a lot of super-high resolution material. But when I look at the progress of material that has come out over the past year vs say the past 6 months, I see a trend that indicates this will increase. So I expect a notable increase in material. While I'm hesitant to use this phrase, I don't think it's inappropriate - I'm trying to future proof to the best of my ability.

 

My situation is slightly different than yours, as I have already spent the time on the system upgrades and now find myself left with the need to implement a new dac solution. I'm very interested in the ULN-2, based upon some of the comments and peoples experiences. I still can't help but to wonder about the Weiss, and will look into that further. As for demoing, I will do what I can, but local yocal vendors are not as easily accessible to provide these products. So I will look at BH. But, the insane audiophile knucklehead in me does wonder more and more about the ULN-8... It's not that I have money to burn, but I'm really looking to finish this system project and forget about it. I simply do NOT want to be regretting a purchase or yearning for a different product.

 

Barrow, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your straightforward look at how effective analysis can be outside one's own system. You are also spot on about the overall set-up, and how one product may be doomed for failure. That said, I think you can still glean a lot from people's reviews. For example, I found Barry's (sorry for the singling out of you again) and Nicholas's insight into comparisons and or their own real world examples particularly helpful.

 

So, as crazy or inappropriate as this may seem, I really am trying to weed out products to get to the best 2 or 3, and maybe 4. I really like the Weiss, subject to review. I'm very interested in the ULN-2, based upon it's value. And I am extremely curious about the ULN-8, but puzzled on how to implement it within my system. I've also just learned there is a new promising product from Bel Canto, of all things, from a reviewer who raved about the Weiss. I'm still also interested in Wyred 4 Sound's new dac, as they (Cullen circuits) were the one's who used to modify the PS Audio products. Somewhere, between now and Christmas..., I'm sure I'll decide.

 

And, you know, all of your inputs are appreciated. It's helpful, especially when you filter through the comments.

 

Jonathan[br]-------------------[br]Still finding my way, but soaking it all up like a sponge!

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Barry,

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide such in-depth and detailed responses. You really have helped!

 

Respectfully and appreciatively,

 

 

Jonathan[br]-------------------[br]Still finding my way, but soaking it all up like a sponge!

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The inestimable Mr Paul Hynes, is making a linear supply for my ULN8, I will report back when it arrives, Paul says that if I can't hear an improvement I can send it back, ( he obviously doesn't realise just how deaf I am ). Clay the 'annoyance region' I have never heard a GF called that before! regards Keith.

 

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