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Next steps from BADA DAC II (not the RS)


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Sorry this is a bit open ended but any advise appreciated.

My current setup is

· MacMini with Roon, PureMusic (and others – I tend to alternate)

· BADA Alpha USB

· BADA DAC II

· Merrill Audio Veritas Monos

· Wilson Audio Sasha 2

· Purist Audio Cables

I am happy with the sound but know it can be better. I’d like to do something with the DAC or Mini to get some improvements. I haven’t heard the new BADA RS DAC though this site and TAS really like it. I may be able to stretch to that but I’d rather find a sweet spot that offered a noticeable improvement for about $10K or so vs the $20K for the BADA RS 2.

 

I forgot to add - I am using the BADA to drive the power amplifiers directly. I don't have a pre-amp in my system.

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Do you use Less is More mode with Pure Music? Then build a temporary playlist. This really gets all my dacs sounding very good.

I have found upsampling to a multiple of original is an improvement. Red book to 176.4k/24 or 352.8/24 and 96/24 to 192/24 or 384/24. Not sure the BADA limits.

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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Thanks for the replies. I'll have to give it some thought. The MicroRendu might be a good option to explore as it should benefit any future DAC change. I was very skeptical of this making a difference but it seems like people have found it to offer a real improvement. I toyed with the idea of the Schiit Yggdrasil but there seems to be no place to listen to it and I don't want to waste the 5% restocking fee to try it but I might buy the Freya just to have a cheap pre-amp.

 

On the Pure Music, yes I use less is more but I hadn't used a temp playlist or up sampling. I'll give these a try

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  • 2 weeks later...

And?

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I would upgrade your digital transport side of things by adding microRendu or SOtM sMS-200 prior your BADA USB. Those things do make a difference compared to your Mac.

 

Personally, I would go with SOtM sMS-200 as I liked it more in my system than microRendu. Whichever you get, don't forget to buy an UpTone Audio LPS-1 PSU to power it, as it is absolutely essential plus another PSU to power the LPS-1 (ifi Power for those on a budget or UpTone Audio JS-2 for those with a bigger budget).

 

My recommendation would be:

 

SOtM sMS-200 ($499)

Uptone Audio LPS-1 ($399)

Uptone Audio JS-2 ($899)

 

As an alternative, you may sell your DAC (~$3000) and get an used BADA RS 2 (~$13.000) for a total of $10.000.

Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, Jcat Femto USB card, UpTone Audio JS-2 + 2x LPS-1.2 combo, Jcat SSD battery PSU, Jcat SATA cable, TotalDAC D1 USB cable, SOtM sMS-200, W4S Recovery USB, Jcat USB Isolator, Win 2012, AO v2.10

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

Cables: AudioQuest WEL Signature IC / Shunyata Anaconda Z-Tron SC

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And?

It is a little too soon to be able to give a detailed update. I literally just bought it. I had a short evaluation period where I thought the DAVE presented an immediate noticeable improvement on the Alpha DAC, enough to go ahead with the purchase. There was no huge night and day difference, the biggest thing was it seemed less veiled and had very good tonality. I'll try to write something a bit more detailed after I have had some time with it. Unfortunately I am traveling for the next week or so where all I'll be listening to is my dragonfly.

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  • 2 weeks later...
And?

 

Now that I have had a bit more time I can say a bit more. I did have some worries when I first got it home. While I was expecting some break in period I still expected it to perform well out of the box. I decided to feed it via my Berkeley Alpha USB and an AES connection to the DAVE (just like I had with the BADA II). While there were improvements (mainly in resolution) it was very unengaging and the vocals just seem lifeless. A few hours of that and I was getting seriously worried but then I took the Alpha USB out of the loop and went direct to the DAC via USB and it was night and day, I was back to what the Berkeley had provided but with improvements. I haven’t tried it with DSD yet nor have I tried the headphone connection. I didn’t get the stand but have Stillpoint Ultra minis ordered and I am also going to try a few different USB cables.

 

This is replacing a very good DAC so improvements are incremental but I am very happy with them. One thing that is immediately obvious is the higher frequencies, cymbals in particular just seem to linger forever and have such air around them. Separation is generally a little better and the sound stage and imaging is just a little better defined. Resolution is definitely better, pace and realism is spot on, I’m not sure that I am hearing much improvement on vocals (but it is still very early) but the tonality of instruments is excellent.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Just bought a microRendu, looking forward to trying it with the DAVE

 

Just a hunch but I will bet you find the improvement from the microrendu to be very large- even shocking, as compared to your current mac mini, as I believe your mac mini is very much a bottleneck in your otherwise terrific system. I'll wager you will find the improvement from the microrendu to be greater than the improvement from upgrading from the BADA 2 to the Dave.

 

The caveat here is you absolutely must use the Uptone LPS-1 to power the microrendu to fully realize the improvement that is possible with the microrendu. If you get the LPS-1, don't bother buying anything expensive to power the LPS-1. It won't make any difference. Just use the $50 iFi iPower to power the LPS-1.

 

With respect to the Dave, CA member cycleman sold his Berkeley RS to acquire the Dave as he slightly preferred it to the RS.

Home: Melco N1A/2 | EtherRegen+Farad | UltraRendu+Farad | Denafrips Gaia | Denafrips Terminator Plus | Jeff Rowland Coherence II Series 2 pre | Blue Circle Audio BC-202 amp | Raidho XT-1 | 2 Revel Performa3 B112 subwoofers  | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12 

Home Office: IsoRegen+LPS1.2 | Denafrips Iris | Denafrips Venus 2 | Blue Circle Audio SBT preamp|  Eddie Current Zana Deux Super | Hifiman HE-1000SE | PS Audio DS Power Plant 12

Office:  Holo Audio Spring 3 KTE w/preamp module | Blue Circle Audio BC-28 amp | Raidho X-1 | REL T/5x sub

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On 3/17/2017 at 9:48 PM, Blake said:

With respect to the Dave, CA member cycleman sold his Berkeley RS to acquire the Dave as he slightly preferred it to the RS.

+++++

In fact, the longer I've had the Chord DAVE, the more I love the music through my system. Over the past two years, I've tried various other DACs in my Aurender music server system. These include:

  • Luxman DA-06
  • Burson Conductor Virtuoso (version 1 and 2)
  • Berkeley DAC II
  • Berkeley Reference DAC (version 1)
  • Bricasti M-1
  • Schiit Yggy

The multiple DACs don't necessarily mean I know any better. But I did have the Berkeley Ref, Bricasti, and Yggy in my system at the same time as the DAVE, so I was able to compare directly. And the wide soundstage, warmth, and details of the DAVE surpassed all the others. Yes, as Blake writes, sometimes only slightly. But definitely.

Dave, who notes that Chord is coming out with add-ons to the DAVE that while expensive are supposed to increase its sound quality by bounds and leaps

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Thanks, I actually tried a few of these myself. The BADA Series 2 (since this is what I replaced), the Bricasti (non SE version) and I had a few days with both the DAVE and the BADA Reference Series 2. I was surprised out how much more detail and separation the DAVE had over the BADA RS 2 but I thought the vocals on the BADA RS 2 were nicer, to me they just seemed a little warmer and more forward. That said, that one area of improvement (to my ears) wasn't enough to offset everything the DAVE brought to the table and certainly not at the price differential. 

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On 3/20/2017 at 1:19 PM, Cycleman said:

Dave, who notes that Chord is coming out with add-ons to the DAVE that while expensive are supposed to increase its sound quality by bounds and leaps

 

I noticed this at the end of your post - are there rumors of add-ons?

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28 minutes ago, jmjohnson said:

 

I noticed this at the end of your post - are there rumors of add-ons?

 

This is one of those rare non-rumor situations.

 

Over on a long-standing thread on the Head-Fi forum, information starting somewhat before this page and after - Head-Fi Chord DAVE - has details about how Rob Watts has programmed two devices that up the DAVE's performance to 1 million taps from its standalone current 164,000 taps.

 

But that information comes directly from Rob Watts (screen name Rob Watts), the digital designer of the DAVE and other Chord products, and John Franks (screen name Mojo ideas), Chord's founder and managing director. Directly, as in they both post on that thread and others, more posts from Mr. Watts than from Mr. Franks.

 

The two devices are a soon-to-be-sold CD player (Blu 2), that has a passthrough to the DAVE to reach 1 million taps, and the later-coming Davina, an ADC (analog-to-digital converter) that will have the same type of passthrough.

 

This capability is called the M-Scaler. And several people on the Head-Fi thread would love to also see a standalone M-Scaler unit, sans CD player and sans ADC. But nothing about that yet.

 

Those few people who've heard the M-Scaler capabilities in action say the improvements over the standalone DAVE are very large and far from subtle.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Music is love, made audible.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/1/2017 at 11:43 AM, jmjohnson said:

 

. A few hours of that and I was getting seriously worried but then I took the Alpha USB out of the loop and went direct to the DAC via USB and it was night and day, I was back to what the Berkeley had provided but with improvements.

What connection where you using? It seems the XLR of the Dave is limited to 24/96. What about higher than 24/96 sample rates with BNC? Do you have to use dual mode to get higher rates with BNC?

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