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Resolution Audio Cantata 3.0

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I hope my words will help someone find a DAC that will make him or her happy for many years. The Cantata is a technical marvel that is not as aggressively promoted nor cheap. 

 

I will try to be short, all those years I have been reading tons of reviews, comments and I always tried to read between the lines yet I was almost never satisfied with the flavour of the month DAC. Truth is that there are many advanced DACs but there are very few designers that actually know how to preserve that magical spark that makes music alive. Alive does not always means lots of details, huge stage or fantastic cymbals, we have heard a lot of these. 

There is a certain emotional link to the music that people who love NOS DACs cannot trade for anything. But the 3D, the fine detail that oversampling reveals from the ones and zeros is something that is not easy to forget...

 

I have had several well regarded DACs from the past, all R2R because somehow I could never feel emotionally attached to a sigma-delta based one, trust me I tried. Of all those I really enjoyed the Audio Synthesis DAX2, the Chord Hugo 2 and most of all Mark Levisnon 360s. The players I liked were Muse Electronics Erato II and Thalia.

 

The Resolution audio Cantata 3.0 is like a mixture of all that I liked in those - it is detailed yet warm, gentle with flute but fierce with drums,  it is intimate with Norah Jones and a guitar but a wall of sound with Scheherazade and Fritz Reiner. For the first time I found the DAC that has it all, all the detail you could ask for but always remaining truthful to the way the music was recorded. 

 

My system uses the C50.2 amplifier which was the way I got to the Cantata, it was the first solid state amp that did not make me want to turn the music down, speakers are Suesskind Audio Progress by Joachim Gerhard, these three components are the first ones in more than 25 years that do what I imagined audio should be doing - make you smile.

 

Now you see that I did not call this a review because words don't matter any more. But please, check all reviews of Resolution audio gear - it is all about music. It is not cheap, not at all but it is worth it. Not to mention it is a DAC, a CD player, a network player, Jeff Kalt is developing a phono board that could be added as well. Please add it to your list in the 10K price range, I have a guy who is a dealer in Singapore who would like to stay anonymous who has all the good stuff up to 35K and his go to demo machine is the Cantata 3.0, it is that good.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read.

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Just wanted to add something that I was hesitating to write. I hope no one will feel offended by it or try to tell me I don't know what I am saying. I am only trying to reach the people who will relate to what I am saying honeslty, not willing to start a war.

 

One of the DACs that I spent considerable time with hoping to be my last DAC was the T+A DAC 8 DSD. I could not afford a SG music server but I bought a very powerful one to try HQplayer at full power. I found the PCM section quite nice but my hopes were for the DSD section to create magic. Somehow it sounded great - smooth, organic, no shortage of dynamics at all but I had that strange feeling of overprocessed sound, one of those things that you cannot put your finger on yet you feel... I tried all filters(there were no closed form ones at the time) but in the end there was just something that prevented me from fully connecting to the performance. And I did try - I am deep into cables, power cords, vibration control, connectors and so, not to the level of mpingo discs but I have the time and patience to extract the best of what I am spending the money on, I have a family and I try to repsect both the family and the designers of the devices by giving it all that I know can make a difference for the positive and not do the:"Not good enough, next" routine. 

 

The Cantata has all that feeling of NOS fluidity, all the transparency and none of the glare, I guess Jeff Kalt has his recipie of what he likes and as it is sometimes with cars and food it turned out he is my Chef :) I greatly respect all other truly smart engineers out there who are literaly fighting physics to make DACs sound great,I just wanted to say that there is a humble guy in California who knows how to create magic. 

 

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i own a Cantata 3.0 as well and i agree with the above statements. what it accomplishes with 16/44.1 and higher pcm files is amazing. i am hearing spatial and ambient information that is superior to anything i've heard from the DSD or MQA equipped dac's i've heard or owned, all with the natural flow that R2R dac's do best.

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I currently have the 2.0 version and am seriously debating if I go in another direction or not. the fact that there is no DSD does bug me, since it complicates a possible resell in the future.

I am wondering if any of you were able to test the preamp in it. Have you compared it to your current preamps? I am considering the option of going direct into the amp section.

If any of you are coming from the 2.0 or know it well would you be able to elaborate your perceived differences? Has the UPNP implementation become more intuitive and stable?

Thanks in advance


System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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there are plenty of people who like the sound of r2r dacs, and don't care about DSD. personally, i think that both the 2.0 and 3.0 sound better than any DSD or MQA that i have heard (and i have owned several dacs that played those files). 

 

the preamp is analog, and sounds great. i stopped using preamps long ago and have been using dacs straight into amp and have never looked back. most reviewers will tell you the same.

 

the difference from the 2.0 to 3.0 is substantial soundwise. goes from being a very good dac to a world class one, imo.

no change on the stability of UPNP, but it is just as intuitive as UPNP device.

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11 minutes ago, saturdayboy said:

there are plenty of people who like the sound of r2r dacs, and don't care about DSD. personally, i think that both the 2.0 and 3.0 sound better than any DSD or MQA that i have heard (and i have owned several dacs that played those files). 

 

the preamp is analog, and sounds great. i stopped using preamps long ago and have been using dacs straight into amp and have never looked back. most reviewers will tell you the same.

 

the difference from the 2.0 to 3.0 is substantial soundwise. goes from being a very good dac to a world class one, imo.

no change on the stability of UPNP, but it is just as intuitive as UPNP device.

thank you for the swift response. could you give me some more information on what changed from the sound of one preamp to the other? and also on your perceived differences on the DAC sound? thank you again.


System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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not sure what you are asking about preamps. i don't use preamps, and as i stated the preamp in the cantata works well. there are plenty of reviews online. i posted my thoughts already on this thread, the biggest improvements i hear are spatial (i.e. where the different sounds in the recording are located) and the decay of notes. not really good and describing that kind of stuff, so check out what the others are saying. definitely found the upgrade substantial and worth the price.

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6 hours ago, saturdayboy said:

not sure what you are asking about preamps. i don't use preamps, and as i stated the preamp in the cantata works well. there are plenty of reviews online. i posted my thoughts already on this thread, the biggest improvements i hear are spatial (i.e. where the different sounds in the recording are located) and the decay of notes. not really good and describing that kind of stuff, so check out what the others are saying. definitely found the upgrade substantial and worth the price.

Apprecate it. I actually have seen very little comments on the 3.0 version so hence my questions. 

I was told that the preamp in the 3.0 received a significant overhaul so was just curious as to what the perceived differences are between the preamp in the 2.0 and 3.0.


System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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On 11/1/2018 at 10:44 PM, saturdayboy said:

i am hearing spatial and ambient information that is superior to anything i've heard from the DSD or MQA equipped dac's i've heard or owned, all with the natural flow that R2R dac's do best.

 

May I ask which DSD DACs you listened to?

Thanks

 

Matt

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Well, I have listened to both the Yggdrasil and the 3.0, there is no contest. Difference is not that big, definitely the 3.0 is not several times better as the price but once you hear it and if you can afford it I cannot imagine I could do without the Cantata. The 3.0 is a technological marvel but it is also fine tuned by someone with great ears, I think the other guy that works with Jeff Kalt comes from the Great Nothern Sound company. The Yggi is great but the Cantata is simply a world level dac. I wish I could save the money...

 

The preamp section of the 3.0 is quite good and it takes a preamp in the 7-10K range to make it better and that means another 3-4K in interconnects as well. And the greatest about it is that if you turn the Cantata volume to 100 it switches the preamp off. 

 

I was hoping that the DSD512 was the magic bullet but I was sad to need to move to a real R2R dac for the natural sound I like. Sad because it is quite expensive. But worth it. 

 

The upnp part did not work for me, I will admit that I was just tired of switching devices and just went for the USB part, I had already gone through dad, the app that comes with the 3.0  is not good for anything.

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IMO, it is  a pity that the customer is forced to buy the complete package.

So I do need neither a cd player nor a streamer nor a preamp.

The DAC section with an USB input for maybe 3k or less, that would be interesting.

 

Matt

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8 hours ago, matthias said:

 

May I ask which DSD DACs you listened to?

Thanks

 

Matt

I have owned an Auralic Vega 2 and a Mytek Manhattan but have also heard a lampizator Golden Gate and dcs Rossini. Of course the later two were not in my system,  but the 3.0 is in the same league as those imo.

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48 minutes ago, kravi4ka said:

I use the Phasure Lush USB cable and plan to add the Lush 2 but I am a bit scared to have so many options to choose from, life should be simple... :)

 

Agree, more than 10000 options.......

 

Matt

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8 hours ago, kravi4ka said:

Well, I have listened to both the Yggdrasil and the 3.0, there is no contest. Difference is not that big, definitely the 3.0 is not several times better as the price but once you hear it and if you can afford it I cannot imagine I could do without the Cantata. The 3.0 is a technological marvel but it is also fine tuned by someone with great ears, I think the other guy that works with Jeff Kalt comes from the Great Nothern Sound company. The Yggi is great but the Cantata is simply a world level dac. I wish I could save the money...

 

The preamp section of the 3.0 is quite good and it takes a preamp in the 7-10K range to make it better and that means another 3-4K in interconnects as well. And the greatest about it is that if you turn the Cantata volume to 100 it switches the preamp off. 

 

I was hoping that the DSD512 was the magic bullet but I was sad to need to move to a real R2R dac for the natural sound I like. Sad because it is quite expensive. But worth it. 

 

The upnp part did not work for me, I will admit that I was just tired of switching devices and just went for the USB part, I had already gone through dad, the app that comes with the 3.0  is not good for anything.

Agreed 100%

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I own the Cantata 2.0 and already my most modest preamp made such a big difference that I don't want to listen without preamp anymore.

I wanted to ditch the pre and only listened without preamp directly into a lot of different amps and was satisfied with the sound...

...until a guest hard pressed me to insert one of my preamps.

Oh boy, what huge step up in sound quality.

So much more fluid and palpable and so much more alive. No way to go back to without preamp for me.

Btw. I have several different Lampizator DAC models in house and already a modest Atlantic Plus bested my trusty Cantata 2.0 sonically that I felt pity for my beloved Cantata 2.0.

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I'm new to this forum and I came across this thread on the Cantata MC 3.0. I have been a fan of Resolution Audio components since the days of the Opus 21 system. The sound of RA components have always appealed to me, and like others it focuses the mind on the music, not pyrotechnics. When the Cantata system came out I bought into that and sold the Opus 21 (sadly). Physically, they are works of industrial design art. 

 

I also have the Cantata integrated and both components have been updated along the way. The 3.0 update was fairly extensive as far as I can tell, but Steve Huntley was quick with the turnaround. Each update costs money, but I appreciate the modern approach to product design rather than having to buy whole new components. They are components for the long haul. 

 

The Cantata system is a musical wonder and I absolutely adore what it does. Up till recently, I use DNM cables and Harbeth P3esr speakers with the Cantata. It is a small system tucked away in my home office. Recently, I added a Rupert Neve RNHP headphone amp and Focal Clear headphones to the system and oh my goodness I'm in heaven. Such a delight! I've ordered a second DNM balanced cable because according to Jeff Kalt I can run both outputs from the Cantata MC and switch amps for other headphone or speaker listening. 

 

My previous favorite DAC was an Audio Note NOS DAC; I also have other Audio Note components for a time. That system was amazing, but overall the Resolution Audio Cantata system brings a similar but different POV to the music, one which I ultimately prefer. 

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7 minutes ago, Andrewteee said:

... the music, not pyrotechnics. ...

 

Tchaikovsky joke?


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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Just for the record - the Cantata 3.0 just murdered mercilessly a Chord DAVE plus M scaler and S.I.N. audio links( a substantial upgrade indeed)... It was so shocking! Some parts of the music was missing with the Chords, I would not believe it myselsf after all the rave reviews of the DAVE/Msc... I am owner of both, I was hoping the DAVE would be the new benchmark and I even had a customer for the Cantata,not good as it did cost a lot.

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1 hour ago, kravi4ka said:

Just for the record - the Cantata 3.0 just murdered mercilessly a Chord DAVE plus M scaler and S.I.N. audio links( a substantial upgrade indeed)... It was so shocking! Some parts of the music was missing with the Chords, I would not believe it myselsf after all the rave reviews of the DAVE/Msc... I am owner of both, I was hoping the DAVE would be the new benchmark and I even had a customer for the Cantata,not good as it did cost a lot.

 

Thanks,

and how does it compare to your Phasure NOS1a G3?

 

Matt

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Can’t really answer that question... I am struggling to make the Phasure work most of the time and I have just a Gen1 computer. The Phasure is at work and there I can only use the Ether 2 so not a direct comparison.

 

But the Phasure has a certain ease in the way it presents music that is intoxicating, if only the software was not so damn difficult to play and a bit less ugly... The Cantata is more demanding, it is not a relaxed player, it is fast, detailed and a bit dry, especially compared to the Wadia s7i which is warm, lush and even more details are evident but the Cantata makes it all come alive somehow. Like real people in the room, like a real cello in front of you, it gets the essence of the music as nothing else I have heard.

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A guy on Audiogon Forum whose verdict I trust directly compared the Cantata to the Sparkler Audio S503 CD player and prefered the Sparkler because of its real organic natural truth to the music.The Cantata was good HiFi where the Sparkler had great realism in sound quality.

 

Matt

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8 minutes ago, matthias said:

A guy on Audiogon Forum whose verdict I trust directly compared the Cantata to the Sparkler Audio S503 CD player and prefered the Sparkler because of its real organic natural truth to the music.

 

Matt

i remember reading that as well, i think he might have been referring to the 2.0. 

as i have mentioned i have the 3.0 and i think its spectacular. i actually brought it to my friend's house and i thought it sounded better than his dcs Rossini (he even admitted "that sounds really damn good").

by the same logic, does that mean that a Sparkler may be preferable to a dcs Rossini as well? 

it's all a matter of taste, and bias (and probably some sour grapes) has a lot to do with it as well.

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