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Article: ELAC Alchemy DDP-2 DAC Review

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I have the DDP-2 and I do like sound from the dual AK4493EQ DACs through my Carver 350s mono block amplifiers that I feed with an Audiolab 6000 CDT transport.  This is my main system just updated starting in April of 2019. I had all Vincent components previously.

 

Would you please consider a review of this CD transport?  Perhaps with the Cambridge transport or others?

 

Thanks

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I'm putting together a system, and I'm intrigued by this piece of gear- and as a relative neophyte, I'd be eager for advice. I currently have a two channel system with a schitt vidar amp and an ifi micro idsd I use as a preamp/dac, powering two-channel speakers (ascend sierra towers). Until I read this review I had been planning to drop around $2500 on a schiit freya+ and gugnir (probably waiting until they implemented the new USB they just put in the bifrost), and a microrendu. Should I consider buying this instead? Pros of the schiit would be the tube stage in the preamp. Pros of the DDP would be overall simplicity. In terms of overall sound quality/signature, what would the differences be? I listen to a lot of orchestral music and fairly heavy guitar-based rock, FWIW, as well as a lot of old recordings of 60s garage rock.

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8 minutes ago, mcsmcsmcs said:

I'm putting together a system, and I'm intrigued by this piece of gear- and as a relative neophyte, I'd be eager for advice. I currently have a two channel system with a schitt vidar amp and an ifi micro idsd I use as a preamp/dac, powering two-channel speakers (ascend sierra towers). Until I read this review I had been planning to drop around $2500 on a schiit freya+ and gugnir (probably waiting until they implemented the new USB they just put in the bifrost), and a microrendu. Should I consider buying this instead? Pros of the schiit would be the tube stage in the preamp. Pros of the DDP would be overall simplicity. In terms of overall sound quality/signature, what would the differences be? I listen to a lot of orchestral music and fairly heavy guitar-based rock, FWIW, as well as a lot of old recordings of 60s garage rock.

Hi MCS - Welcome to Audiophile Style. Good and logical questions, but only some of them are answerable by anyone other than you. 

 

I look at your approaches as equally good, but very different.

 

Schiit Freya, Gungnir, and mRendu - This is a very modular system that enabled you to change or upgrade any single piece in the future pretty easily. Based on what I know and what I've heard you may want to upgrade tubes in the Freya, should you go that route. 

 

ELAC DDP-2 - This is a very simple solution. If you use Roon it's terrific. If you use DLNA / UPnP it isn''t the best solution currently because it needs a firmware update to fully support high resolution via DLNA / UPnP and this update isn't available yet. The DDP-2 also has a high output voltage which I like. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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5 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Hi MCS - Welcome to Audiophile Style. Good and logical questions, but only some of them are answerable by anyone other than you. 

 

I look at your approaches as equally good, but very different.

 

Schiit Freya, Gungnir, and mRendu - This is a very modular system that enabled you to change or upgrade any single piece in the future pretty easily. Based on what I know and what I've heard you may want to upgrade tubes in the Freya, should you go that route. 

 

ELAC DDP-2 - This is a very simple solution. If you use Roon it's terrific. If you use DLNA / UPnP it isn''t the best solution currently because it needs a firmware update to fully support high resolution via DLNA / UPnP and this update isn't available yet. The DDP-2 also has a high output voltage which I like. 

 

thanks for the response! It actually brings up a secondary question re: Roon, which I don't currently use-- I'd say 90 percent of my listening is TIDAL lossless and the rest my own collection of FLAC files via JRiver. I don't even really understand what DLNA/UPnP is or why I would use them! I guess I ultimately will just buy both setups and intend to return one after auditioning...

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Hi 

Great review. But I think the HT bypass in not implemented well.  Sadly, instead of being able to assign either a fixed or variable input to a set of analog outputs, it simply has two analog outputs that are variable and one that is fixed. This would mean that I would have to physically move the output cables between these two output type depending on whether I wanted to listen to two-channel (variable out, using the Elac as preamp) or listen to home theater (fixed output on the Elac, using the preamp in the AVR).

Is this correct or am I missing something? The manual is not entirely clear about this!

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Great review. I have been enjoying my DDP-2 with a pair of ELAC Navis ARB-51 powered speakers and a SUB3010 subwoofer. I love the ability to connect speakers via balanced XLR. It sounds truly great. 

 

Question: User guide states the following...

"After connecting your ROON server and powering up, you will see the DDP-2 has three available endpoints
named I2S–D1, I2S–D2 & I2S–D3. You may pick any or all of these as your ROON endpoint. If you pick multiple
endpoints then you can send independent streams to each of them, as desired. Once you have your endpoint(s)
selected you can start playing. Select the appropriate input on DDP-2 to play that stream. If you selected to
play independent streams, then selecting each on the DDP-2 will give you the stream you selected."

 

 

 

Hmmm....

Anyone have any experience with this? What is the point? IF the DDP-2 had three independent outputs and could feed multiple, independent speaker zones simultaneously (eg - in a distributed audio system), that would be useful. But, this does not do that. With one set of outputs, what is the point of having 3 independent ROON endpoints? 

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11 minutes ago, Temporal_Dissident said:

Great review. I have been enjoying my DDP-2 with a pair of ELAC Navis ARB-51 powered speakers and a SUB3010 subwoofer. I love the ability to connect speakers via balanced XLR. It sounds truly great. 

 

Question: User guide states the following...

"After connecting your ROON server and powering up, you will see the DDP-2 has three available endpoints
named I2S–D1, I2S–D2 & I2S–D3. You may pick any or all of these as your ROON endpoint. If you pick multiple
endpoints then you can send independent streams to each of them, as desired. Once you have your endpoint(s)
selected you can start playing. Select the appropriate input on DDP-2 to play that stream. If you selected to
play independent streams, then selecting each on the DDP-2 will give you the stream you selected."

 

 

 

Hmmm....

Anyone have any experience with this? What is the point? IF the DDP-2 had three independent outputs and could feed multiple, independent speaker zones simultaneously (eg - in a distributed audio system), that would be useful. But, this does not do that. With one set of outputs, what is the point of having 3 independent ROON endpoints? 

 

When connected in my system I only see a single DDP-2 zone. 

 

I suppose you could send three different playlists or radio streams to different "endpoints" and switch what you're listening to by switching inputs. That's about the only thing I can think of. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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23 hours ago, Temporal_Dissident said:

Great review. I have been enjoying my DDP-2 with a pair of ELAC Navis ARB-51 powered speakers and a SUB3010 subwoofer. I love the ability to connect speakers via balanced XLR. It sounds truly great.

 

I’ve been using my Navis Arb-51’s with a chord Mojo, and whilst it’s sounding very nice..I will be upgrading to a Elac DDP-2  soon..may I ask what xlr interconnects you are using between Dac and speaker? My shortlist is studio connections black star(bought second hand!) or Tellurium q ultra black 2 or Audioquest Water..it’s hard for me to audition all 3 so will probably just have to take a punt.

 

btw TCA I very much enjoyed reading this great review..thanks 

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40 minutes ago, Malka07 said:

may I ask what xlr interconnects you are using between Dac and speaker? 


One of the entry level cables from Transparent. Not exactly certain which model. I am also not a cable junkie, although I do appreciate the option to run balanced.

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34 minutes ago, Temporal_Dissident said:


One of the entry level cables from Transparent. Not exactly certain which model. I am also not a cable junkie, although I do appreciate the option to run balanced.

Thanks for your response...I will have a look at those Transparent cables. I’m also looking forward to trying the DDP-2 to Navis With balanced connections. Did you audition any other DAC/pre’s before purchasing the ddp2? 

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