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CHORD qbd76 or Ayre qb9 ----> which should I buy?


r2d2
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I unfortunately cannot audition/test these two dacs, and will be purchasing one of the two very soon.

 

I will pay slightly more for the qbd76. But not bothered about the price difference.

 

I have read here that the ayre has a burr brown dac by TI, and the chord has its own in house "pulse array dac" etc etc. I have read that the ayre also uses FPGA chips, in its digital filters, etc etc, this confuses me lol

 

I will be mostly using the USB inputs for the both dacs, although I do like the multiple input options of the CHORD.

 

What are the main differences in sound quality between these two? If someone knows I would love to hear thanks,

 

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I've can't help with the Ayre, but I have heard the Chord and its predecessor, the DAC64. For me, Chord units have a 'house sound' that is quite unmistakeable. I would describe it as clinical. Others may use words like accurate or uncoloured. I found both units to be incredibly detailed and revealing but not very good at emotion, if you know what I mean. They were ultimately quite tiring to listen to and the music seemed to be somehow less involving, for all that it was extremely accurate. That is what I mean by clinical.

 

What are you amp and speakers like? If either, or both, could use a little extra 'precision' then the Chord may well be a good match but if things are as tight as you need them to be then I would look elsewhere. In other words if your system is a little on the cold and clinical side then the Chord will make it more so, if it's a little on the warm and soft side then it may well brighten and tighten things up just nicely.

 

Hope this helps.

 

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I will use as a headphone setup source mainly.

 

I have the lehman black cub linear head phone amp, and the sennheiser hd800 headphones.

 

I want an accurate detailed sound, and love hearing the details in instruments and vocals.

 

I am still torn between these two!

 

Will there be a noticable difference the two? Does one use a "better" more accurate dac than the other?

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

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I would say that the Lehman would benefit from the control and accuracy of the Chord but the HD800's don't need it! Talk about sitting on the fence! That is one very revealing pair of 'phones, if it's getting out of the amp then the HD800's will give it to you. In this respect the musicality and flow - two descriptions that pop up regularly when reading reviews of the Ayre - might be a really, really good match. It's all down to the Lehman, I would say.

 

I think the Chord will get as far in to the mix as you could possibly want, it does detail in spades, it's just a question of whether or not that would be tiring when coupled with the HD800's. Personally, I have a pair of Stax which, through a Chord, are absolutely great in small doses. Long listening sessions are tiring though, particularly the brightness of the mid-band detail. But the Lehmann does have a reputation for a smooth 'creamy' sound - with that sat between the Dac and your phones you might get the best of both worlds. I'd say if you like the overall balance of what you have now, but just want more detail, then the Chord will do it for you. If you feel you need a bit more 'emotion' in the music then the Ayre would be well worth a look.

 

One thing I would say, if you really can't get to try out at least the Chord before you buy it, is to have a really good listening session in which you take notes of things you would like to be improved. Armed with the list, read as many reviews of each product on your short list as you can and see how many ticks you get out of each review. It's not as good as actually listening to each product but it is better than nothing if your gut instinct can't make up its mind!

 

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One thing to be aware is that you may not get the best out of the Chord via it's (inbuilt) USB interface whereas the Ayre was designed around it's USB interface.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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The USB functionality of the Ayre is the reason I chose the QB9, plug-n-play. I have heard the HQBD76 in an all Chord setup, tough to compare to my system, but I enjoyed what I heard. I am biased, but my vote is Ayre.

 

Mac Mini>Bryston BDA-1>CJ ET2>Parasound A-21>Evolution Acoustic Micro Mini's

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I am in the same situation with r2d2, i.e. QBD76 or QB-9 and still undecided. Having read all good reviews about QB-9, I auditioned QB-9 with a high expectation. It was indeed very good with very detailed and clear sound. After auditioned QB-9 for an hour, I switched to QBD76 and was shocked with it. It was even better! QBD76 made every music livelier and enjoyable. QBD76 sounds very different from other DACs I auditioned -QB-9, Esoteric D-07 and Berkeley Alpha. Weakness may be that QBD76 could be tiring for long listening. I am undecided due to its price tag: QBD76 US$5,500 vs. QB-9 US$3,000 here in Tokyo.

 

Umetaro, Tokyo, Japan

Dela(Melco)N1A/2012 i5 Mac Mini with 16GB memory - Audirvana/Pure Music/Amarra/JRMC - Devialet 800 - Wilson Audio Sasha

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that price difference I would go with the QB-9 and spend more money on music, or on making your computer set up the best it can be (SSD, Amarra, etc.). I do not know for sure, but I would expect the Async USB interface on the QB-9 to beat the Chord-I would think the Chord will only offer its best performance through its SPDIF inputs.

 

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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I am leaning towards QB-9 due to its price tag and delivery date. I would have to wait for QBD76 until Feb while I can buy QB-9 now and enjoy year-end holidays with good sound. BTW, can anyone tell me what the retail prices for QBD76 and QB-9 in the US? I come to New York twice a year and possibly buy one in the US if price differences are huge.

 

Umetaro, Tokyo, Japan

Dela(Melco)N1A/2012 i5 Mac Mini with 16GB memory - Audirvana/Pure Music/Amarra/JRMC - Devialet 800 - Wilson Audio Sasha

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difference in vocals while comparing preamps, tube amp to SS amp and speakers, but how a DAC affects vocals? Great question, I have only been able to compare my QB-9 to the Wolfson 8741 DAC in my Arcam CD player, I actually went and had a listen to answer your question. IMO the QB-9 is less analytical than the Wolfson, the QB-9 is smoother.

 

In general I couldn't be happier! If I wasn't satisfied I would own a different DAC.

 

Mac Mini>Bryston BDA-1>CJ ET2>Parasound A-21>Evolution Acoustic Micro Mini's

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I have the qb9, know the lehmann pre and own a lehmann black cube se phono pre and have listened to the HD800 (but with a different amp).

I love a very revealing sound, but hate clinical and thin sounding gear. The Lehman stuff is on the edge to being overly analytical but at its pricepoint there are hardly any competitors. I know the lehman pre is supposed to sound sweet. My speakers are also very revealing and if not placed properly can sound thin. So I am allways on the edge between having exactly the sound I like and the sound I hate. The Ayre I love. I preferred it to the Weiss Minerva/DAC2. Back then I was surprised, because the Weiss is more expensive. Now I think this is not surprising because the AYRE is a USB only device and the Weiss has SPDIF, AES/EBU and Firewire input and digital outputs. All this has to be properly implemented! So actually I think they are exactly in the same league. I imagine, that it is the same with the Chord. And the chord does not have async usb!

In Germany there was a review in a well known magazine (Image HiFi). It was Chord, Weiss and Ayre. In this Magazine they never declare winners or make direct comparisons, they just comment on technical quality and sound. But the reviewer bought the Ayre, saying that it has the sound quality of 5 figure CD Players. The Ayre has sweet treble (it is a little rolled off compared to other dacs, but that shouldnt matter with the HD800), a sometimes magic midband (Actually on some days it sounds better then on others - maybe a power issue where I live) and a very well defined bass. I like the sound of voices very much. Some report that the Ayre has a tubelike quality with voices. I do not know all tube gear, but the ones I know sound much more tubey than the Ayre. For me the Ayre is ideal - you can get carried away or you can listen to subtle details, all in one! ;-)

The advice with Amarra is really a good one. With the Lehmann and the HD800 you should very easily hear a huge difference in soundquality. Amarra Mini is not that expensive and I do not know if the chord works with amarra. There is also a new software coming out called twilight (they are just beta testing - I am on the beta list ;-) ), which works like Amarra and will probably not be as expensive as Amarra. So if you go for the QB9 buy Amarra Mini and a good ssd you still have some money left for good high rez material. Up to 24/96! And Ayre will probably update to 24/192 very soon. So it is a future proof investment.

Greetings from Germany

Claude

 

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I will be payin slightly more for the qbd76. So its not really a matter of price. Chord stuff is cheaper in the UK compared to elsewhere. Plus I got a deal as well for being a long term customer.

 

When you guys say fatiguing to you mean there is so much detail is tiresome etc?

 

I am still undecided lol. I think I will be happy whichever I get.

 

Thanks for all the feedback.

 

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Something to point out here regarding the sonic differences of the QB-9 and the Weiss DAC2/Minerva. Do not overlook the importance of the design of the analog output stage as a big influence on the sound character of these DACs. The Ayre uses a fully discrete, no feedback, output stage made of individual transistors and resistors. The Weiss uses high feedback, integrated circuit opamps. IMO experience there can be a pretty big difference in sound between a device designed with a good discrete circuit, and one using IC opamps.

 

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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I have them both at home for the moment. I use a mac mini and BM12 speakers. The difference between the Chord and the Ayre are really big. The Chord has generally much more power and a better transparency. I´ve tested them the last three days with a couple of friends around, for me, on my equipment there is no question what I am going to buy. Maybe there is a difference because my speakers are fully active?

 

Andreas

 

 

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...can you let us know, in which country you are ?

 

Best....EMW
Audirvana Plus ->15"MBP 16GB 1TB SSD -> USB-> Intona USB Isolator -> USB -> Chord DAC ->Borbely Balanced Preamp->Active X-over-> 4 Class A Monoamps->3 Way SpeakerHeavens SE

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like the Weiss DAC2 , or any other ?

How do you feed the Chord with the digital signals - USB or SPDIF BNC or ?

Do you use the Cord output stage in balanced mode to your speakers and what preamp are you using ?

Thx.

 

Best....EMW
Audirvana Plus ->15"MBP 16GB 1TB SSD -> USB-> Intona USB Isolator -> USB -> Chord DAC ->Borbely Balanced Preamp->Active X-over-> 4 Class A Monoamps->3 Way SpeakerHeavens SE

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Hi guys. An update from me. I have all weekend researched, read various review/forums and have bought the ayre dac today. It arrives tommorow.

 

My main reason for purchase is that I will only use this dac with a pc setup and usb. The ayre is obviously designed around the usb with async etc. I didnt want to fiddle with buttons either.

 

The chord was going to cost me around 2.5k and the ayre cost 2k pounds so price was not the issue really.

 

If I am not happy with the ayre I can always exchange it with the chord lol.

 

 

Guys thanks for much for your feedback and advice. This is an awesome forum.

 

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I just compared this three DACs. The Chord is connected via USB. There is no preamp. The buffer settings is set to "max" which gives you a delay in iTunes when you change a track or adjust the volume. What do you mean by "balanced mode"?

 

Andreas

 

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I placed an order for Chord QBD76 after auditioning AYRE QB-9, Alpha DAC and Esoteric D-07. QBD76 produces the best and most enjoyable sound. It will be delivered next month and I can't wait. Thanks for the great site and forum comments which helped me a lot to make a decision.

 

Umetaro, Tokyo, Japan

Dela(Melco)N1A/2012 i5 Mac Mini with 16GB memory - Audirvana/Pure Music/Amarra/JRMC - Devialet 800 - Wilson Audio Sasha

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My qbd76 ia almost two year old now. I use it in setup with notebook PC/Foobar2000/EMU0404 external usb sound card. For last two months I use m2tech hiface interface. Sound is much better when using spdif connection than with usb which is limited to 24/48. I did a lot of listening using Stax tube amp and their headphones. Rest of the system is McIntosh 2300pre/501power amps/Quad 2905 speakers. Balanced xlr connection is used through the system.

Before deciding on qbd i listened to many high end cd players and dacs including Meitner, Metronome, Wadia, AudioNote and dcs. Haven t heard new Ayre dac.

In my system qbd sounds very dynamic, transparent with deep and wide soundstage. Midrange sounds natural I enjoy listening to female singers or cello recordings. Firm bottom end and opened highs no listenig fatigue. So far I haven t heard dac that would make me think of upgradeing.

 

Cheers,

 

Goran

 

 

 

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Hi guys. I have bought the qb9, its burning in now. The retailer I purchased the qb9 from will send out the chord qbd76 to me to test. If I like it more the qb9 he will let me keep it and just pay the difference, and send the qb9 back obviously.

 

 

 

 

 

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