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Chord DAVE


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I'm really anxious to hear more opinions about this DAC and noticed that DAVE hasn't got a thread of its own (only together with Mojo). Any owners around here?

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To cut a long story short: A burnt in MSB Analog DAC with Power Base demoed side to side to a burnt in DAVE was no challenge for the MSB. Both DACs connected directly to power amp using each DACs volume controle. The MSB simply offered more of everything and to my ears proved again that a true multi bit converter/ladder DAC is superior to delta/sigma or FPGA DACs. We used PCM (16/44,1 to 24/192) and DSD 64 and 128 for the comparioson. The MSB simply sounded more real to my ears and offered a more convincing soundstage and tonality and all the tiny informations in the music where integrated in the musical flow whereas the DAVE simply sounded flat and not realistic to my ears and even lacked those tiny informations. Others might disagree but these are my findings. Besides that the MSB looks so much better.

In the middle of old school hifi and computer based hifi...

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I have listened to MSB Analog DAC and Diamond DAC IV but not in the same setup as DAVE. I think my DAVE sounds great with everything. I listen mostly to classical music, particularly with symphonic work, I prefer DAVE to MSB. My friend who owns the Diamond DAC IV prefers the MSB. I think people buy what they like. To me, the instrumental timbre seems more accurate with DAVE than any other DACs I've heard. But DAVE also seems to me to highlight the original recording so if the recording is flat, the playback sounds flat (still with great accurate timbre) but if the recording really showcase the soundstage and the 3-dimensionality of the instruments and vocals, DAVE really portrays that well. Btw, my MSB friend and I used the internal analog preamp for MSB and built-in digital preamp for DAVE. You'll be shocked by how much you lose by going through a separate preamp.

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You'll be shocked by how much you lose by going through a separate preamp.

 

I think is a good general rule of thumb, but there are some very transparent passive pre-amps out there. I recently bought a DAC with a digital volume control precisely to bypass the preamp, but when I compared the two approaches there was very little between them.

 

It would have been a different outcome though with the Cyrus pre-amp I previously owned, which cast a veil over everything.

 

Guess what I am trying to say is: preamps are important. :)

Front End: Neet Airstream

Digital Processing: Chord Hugo M-Scaler

DAC: Chord Dave

Amplification: Cyrus Mono x300 Signatures

Speakers: Kudos Titan T88

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I think is a good general rule of thumb, but there are some very transparent passive pre-amps out there. I recently bought a DAC with a digital volume control precisely to bypass the preamp, but when I compared the two approaches there was very little between them.

 

It would have been a different outcome though with the Cyrus pre-amp I previously owned, which cast a veil over everything.

 

Guess what I am trying to say is: preamps are important. :)

 

Couldn't agree more. I've yet to see a system with direct connections eliminating the preamp which wasn't improved by a adding a good preamp back into the mix!

 

JC

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I've had some excellent preamps in my system (Dartzeel, Absolare, Robert Koda, Kondo). But even with great preamps, a great DAC in a low noise environment, will produce a more transparent sound going direct to the amps than through the preamp. That is not to say that a preamp doesn't produce value with respect to other sound quality characteristics that may affect the personal appeal of the musical reproduction (e.g., soundstage), or that the extra transparency won't reveal system issues, but there is no question that transparency is higher when going straight to the amps. And in the case of a great DAC with great amps in a system with very low noise, going direct to the amps can be magical.

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I've had some excellent preamps in my system (Dartzeel, Absolare, Robert Koda, Kondo). But even with great preamps, a great DAC in a low noise environment, will produce a more transparent sound going direct to the amps than through the preamp. That is not to say that a preamp doesn't produce value with respect to other sound quality characteristics that may affect the personal appeal of the musical reproduction (e.g., soundstage), or that the extra transparency won't reveal system issues, but there is no question that transparency is higher when going straight to the amps. And in the case of a great DAC with great amps in a system with very low noise, going direct to the amps can be magical.

Thanks for the post, cmarin.

 

So your dac of choice is . . .?

 

Joel

 

Sent from my SM-G928V using Computer Audiophile mobile app

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Thanks for the post, cmarin.

 

So your dac of choice is . . .?

 

Joel

 

Sent from my SM-G928V using Computer Audiophile mobile app

 

Hi Joel,

 

First let me preface my comments by stating that I have not heard a lot of high end DACs in my system. I have heard a lot of top DACs at shows or other systems but not in my own. And I've learned to be careful and not generalize how a component will sound based on show conditions or other systems.

 

Right now my favorite DACs in my system are the Pacific Microsonics Model 2 (for PCM), Phasure NOS1a (for PCM), Meridian Ultra (for MQA), and the Playback Designs MPS5 (for DSD128).

 

I hope to also have an opportunity to listen to a T+A DAC8 (for DSD512) and a Chord Dave (DSD256) in my system soon (with HQPlayer).

 

I've also learned that a DAC's performance will depend heavily on the music player. Right now my favorite music player is from the same manufacturer of the Phasure NOS1a DAC: Stealth LPS running XXHighEnd software; again with the same caveat that I haven't heard a lot of the other highly regarded music players in my system.

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I hope to also have an opportunity to listen to a T+A DAC8 (for DSD512) and a Chord Dave (DSD256) in my system soon (with HQPlayer).

 

When you get the chance to hear Chord DAVE, try playing files bit perfect instead of upsampling them to DSD256 with HQPlayer. There are separate optimal PCM and DSD modes for playbacks and bit perfect playback is how DAVE performs optimally as the FPGA up samples and noise shapes everything to 104MHz 5-bit.

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When you get the chance to hear Chord DAVE, try playing files bit perfect instead of upsampling them to DSD256 with HQPlayer. There are separate optimal PCM and DSD modes for playbacks and bit perfect playback is how DAVE performs optimally as the FPGA up samples and noise shapes everything to 104MHz 5-bit.

 

Thanks for the suggestion ecwl. Much appreciated. Will do.

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Thanks for the suggestion ecwl. Much appreciated. Will do.

Chord for DSD? No thanks.

 

The Dave is VERY lovely on PCM, and pretty decent on DSD, but DSD is not its raison d'etre.

T&A Dac8 (for DSD512) or Lampi Atlantic for any native rate DSD playback.

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Chord for DSD? No thanks.

 

The Dave is VERY lovely on PCM, and pretty decent on DSD, but DSD is not its raison d'etre.

T&A Dac8 (for DSD512) or Lampi Atlantic for any native rate DSD playback.

 

Thanks for the suggestions Wisnon. Hope to try different formats on both DACs to see what works best in my system.

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Hi Joel,

 

First let me preface my comments by stating that I have not heard a lot of high end DACs in my system. I have heard a lot of top DACs at shows or other systems but not in my own. And I've learned to be careful and not generalize how a component will sound based on show conditions or other systems.

 

Right now my favorite DACs in my system are the Pacific Microsonics Model 2 (for PCM), Phasure NOS1a (for PCM), Meridian Ultra (for MQA), and the Playback Designs MPS5 (for DSD128).

 

I hope to also have an opportunity to listen to a T+A DAC8 (for DSD512) and a Chord Dave (DSD256) in my system soon (with HQPlayer).

 

I've also learned that a DAC's performance will depend heavily on the music player. Right now my favorite music player is from the same manufacturer of the Phasure NOS1a DAC: Stealth LPS running XXHighEnd software; again with the same caveat that I haven't heard a lot of the other highly regarded music players in my system.

 

Thanks for the interesting reply, cmarin.

 

Well, you may not have heard a lot of high-end DAC's in your system, but the one's you've listed are pretty darned good.

 

I have the Berkeley Alpha Reference DAC, waiting for an upgrade. Given your appreciation of the Pacific Microsonics DAC, I hope you'll get a chance to hear the Berkeley in your system as well.

 

All the best.

 

Joel

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Thank you Joel.

 

The BADA Ref is a great DAC and I understand the new version takes it to even another level.

 

Congratulations on the upgrade and enjoy it in good health.

 

The PM2 is very special. As the noise in my system keeps getting lower, the PM2 keeps reaching deeper to find even more musical engagement and purity in standard 16/44 files.

 

I did have the BADA Ref in my system for a short audition, and the Trinity And CH Precision C1 for a longer stay during a previous iteration of my system.

 

They are all excellent DACs and at that level of performance, it's ultimately about system synergy, personal preferences and the limitations of our hearing. :)

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Chord for DSD? No thanks.

 

The Dave is VERY lovely on PCM, and pretty decent on DSD, but DSD is not its raison d'etre.

 

I thought the DAVE was just as stunning with DSD as PCM.

 

I know it is a standard talking point by some to suggest that Chord DACs aren't as good with DSD as PCM. I have personally not observed this - with either the DAVE or my Mojo.

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I just heard DAVE directly connected to MacBook Pro via USB without any expensive cables, headphone amplifier, power conditioner. The SQ is amazingly good. This is the main advantage of DAVE (i.e. To build a simple and good system). If I want to build a complicated system, I won't consider DAVE because for the position of DAC, I can choose from other brands (Totaldac, NADAC, Rockna, Prismsound 8XR etc) at the same price.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Computer Audiophile

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Thank you Joel.

 

The BADA Ref is a great DAC and I understand the new version takes it to even another level.

 

Congratulations on the upgrade and enjoy it in good health.

 

The PM2 is very special. As the noise in my system keeps getting lower, the PM2 keeps reaching deeper to find even more musical engagement and purity in standard 16/44 files.

 

I did have the BADA Ref in my system for a short audition, and the Trinity And CH Precision C1 for a longer stay during a previous iteration of my system.

 

They are all excellent DACs and at that level of performance, it's ultimately about system synergy, personal preferences and the limitations of our hearing. :)

 

You're very polite about how you describe your preferences, cmarin.

 

You absolutely can say that you prefer other DAC's to the Berkeley Alpha Reference.

 

As a matter of fact, I'd appreciate getting your impressions.

 

Thanks again for the information.

 

Joel

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You're very polite about how you describe your preferences, cmarin.

 

You absolutely can say that you prefer other DAC's to the Berkeley Alpha Reference.

 

As a matter of fact, I'd appreciate getting your impressions.

 

Thanks again for the information.

 

Joel

 

Hi Joel,

 

It's not just a matter of being polite, it's also about acknowledging that what we hear and what we prefer is uncertain and changes; that the comparisons were made at different points in time wherein my system had varying levels of resolution/ noise; the fact that making a change requires greater energy and usually more money than staying with what you have; and that sometimes the differences between components are not significant or actionable.

 

I'm not an absolutist, and frankly, I could be happy with any of the DACs I mentioned. I haven't yet come across one DAC that is best and will completely dominate other great DACs across all audio evaluation parameters. So I personally prefer to listen to different DACs just like I prefer to listen to analog as well as digital. Different songs will sound better with different sources - Different horses for different courses.

 

But in the specific case of the BADA and PM2, if you wish for me to be more precise, then taking into account that I only had the BADA ref for a very short time, the bottom line was that I didn't feel at the time that the difference between the PM2 in my system was significant enough to make it worth the energy to change components or the potential financial loss involved in a trade.

 

And thinking more about it, the differences at the time could have been small because the noise level in my system at the time of the comparison were relatively higher than they are now. And now that my system is much more resolving, it's possible that the differences could be larger and my preferences could change.

 

The bottom line for me is that great DACs can make a difference over good DACs. But the differences between great DACs is small. Ultimately, reducing noise in a system or improving room acoustics can have a bigger effect.

 

So yes it's a question of being polite, but it's also about acknowledging the limitations inherent in making absolute pronouncements about differences between high performing components. And differences at that level can be good. :)

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I thought the DAVE was just as stunning with DSD as PCM.

 

I know it is a standard talking point by some to suggest that Chord DACs aren't as good with DSD as PCM. I have personally not observed this - with either the DAVE or my Mojo.

 

For sure with Hugo and Qute...not even debatable. Less experience with Dave on DSD, plus Rob claims to no longer decimate. Mind you, I have chipless DSD with 1 bit processing, so the bar is set VERY high for me.

 

Dave gets a "thumbs up" overall from me though.

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So DAVE gets a lot of praise... Thank you all for your answers. I don't understand why Chord DACs have to be so damn ugly! :(

Triangle Magellan Concerto 2 < AQ Everest < Vitus Audio SS-010 Mk2 < AQ Dragon High Current < AQ WEL XLR < Chord Qutest DAC w UpTone JS-2 & AQ Dragon Source < AQ Diamond USB < Innuos Phoenix USB w AQ Dragon Source < Aurender N100H & AQ Dragon Source < NetGear GS105GE Switch w UpTone LPS1.2 < Supra CAT8 Ethernet < Gryphon PowerZone w AQ NRG-Wild < Stillpoints UltraSS, Ansuz Darkz D-TC & D2, Omicron Harmonic Stabilizer, Gold Evolution SE & Classic < Furutech FT-SWS (R) < Synergistic Research Orange Quantum Fuse < Solid Tech Hybrid < GigaWatt G-16A 2P Circuit Breaker

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To cut a long story short: A burnt in MSB Analog DAC with Power Base demoed side to side to a burnt in DAVE was no challenge for the MSB. Both DACs connected directly to power amp using each DACs volume controle. The MSB simply offered more of everything and to my ears proved again that a true multi bit converter/ladder DAC is superior to delta/sigma or FPGA DACs. We used PCM (16/44,1 to 24/192) and DSD 64 and 128 for the comparioson. The MSB simply sounded more real to my ears and offered a more convincing soundstage and tonality and all the tiny informations in the music where integrated in the musical flow whereas the DAVE simply sounded flat and not realistic to my ears and even lacked those tiny informations. Others might disagree but these are my findings. Besides that the MSB looks so much better.

 

There is no such thing as a "FPGA DAC"! An FPGA does not have analog output, in the Chord DACs, the FPGA handles digital processing only, not conversion from digital to analog. A Chord DAC converts to analog via Chord's "Pulse Array DAC" which is a discrete circuit, similar to the discrete circuit used in the MSB DACs (but not the same). MSB DACs also use a processing chip to handle oversampling and digital filtering (not sure if this chip is an FPGA or other type processing chip, but it is a high speed digital processing chip).

Concluding that there is some kind of problem with using an FPGA vs. what MSB does is not technically supportable.

 

Of course your opinion on sound quality is your own, and valid, but to suggest that the reason for the difference is because the Chord is an "FPGA DAC" is technically incorrect.

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There is no such thing as a "FPGA DAC"! An FPGA does not have analog output, in the Chord DACs,

 

Can it output a Low or High Voltage on a single pin in a bitstream?

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