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Torq

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  1. Thanks ... though that's how it looked when I was in the midst of doing the comparisons between the M-Scaler options and Hugo TT 2/Hugo 2. In actual use, today, it looks like this (since the M-Scaler and Hugo TT 2 are now in the office): The amps are Woo WA234 MKII MONOs (with a Chord Étude nestled under the Blu Mk2/DAVE to drive the SR1a).
  2. I think a proper answer to this depends on what you plan to do in the future, but lets start with the present. And for some context, I own a Hugo TT 2 and M-Scaler (office rig), Hugo 2 (portable) and a Blu-Mk2 and DAVE (primary rig), so I've had the opportunity to compare all of the combinations directly, and in my own system and at leisure (picture is from when I was doing the comparisons): My personal opinion, is that the hierarchy of performance is as follows: Blu Mk2 -> DAVE | Hugo M-Scaler -> DAVE DAVE Hugo M-Scaler > Hugo TT 2 Hugo TT -> Hugo 2 <> Hugo TT 2 (no M-Scaler) Hugo 2 The most interesting parts to me were: That DAVE on its own beat the Hugo M-Scaler/Hugo TT2 combination. Though the M-Scaler/TT 2 yielded better dimensionality and depth than just DAVE on it's own, DAVE on it's own was ahead everywhere else. The M-Scaler/Hugo 2 combination traded blows with the Hugo TT 2 on it's own and which was preferable would depend on personal tastes and priorities (and what headphones you were driving). So, now, if I was looking at making the choice you are, which way I would go would depend on a) what headphones were being driven (from a power/balanced drive perspective) and b) whether there were potential upgrades to the rig going forward. I'd likely go with just the Hugo TT 2 if I was going to be sticking with it for the long-term. Otherwise I'd add an M-Scaler to the Hugo 2 right now, and then replace the Hugo 2 with either a Hugo TT 2 or DAVE in the future while keeping the M-Scaler. Of course, if you use the Hugo 2 in a portable/transportable context at any point, that's another point in favor of that approach.
  3. No. I use the RME as a consistent and neutral reference. Mostly because it’s affordable, relatable, and is both objectively and subjectively a very high performer. And its relatively low price and small size makes it easy to keep around for long-term consistency. Yggdrasil (and later Yggdrasil A2) used to be my reference DAC for such purposes ... again because it is relatable and relatively affordable (if less so than the RME). It was taking up more space than I wanted for that purpose. Oh, and I do not consider the Chord DAVE or TT 2 or Klimax DSM to be “euphonic”. I do consider them better than the RME. —- My primary chain gets used in reviews too ... but the “review rig” is intended to be more relatable than a $25K source in a $100K overall headphone rig. Especially when I am as likely to review a $100 dongle-DAC as I am a $4,000 flagship headphone.
  4. Yggdrasil A2 remains one of my favorite DACs for simply enjoying music with. When fed with either the Blu-Mk2 (as an M-Scaler) or Hugo M-Scalers I wound up preferring DAVE. Subsequent firmware updates to the Klimax DSM (when used as a DAC for analog output) and to the Exakt-equipped speakers pushed them ahead also. Though conventional DACs aren’t useful (don’t work) in an all-Exakt setup anyway.
  5. To be fair, I haven’t posted in that thread for over a year. And a lot has changed in my systems in that time. My primary headphone rig is now a Chord Blu-Mk2 feeding DAVE which then feeds both a Chord Étude (to drive my SR1a) and Woo WA234 MkII Mono for all other headphones (though I do use the direct headphone output on DAVE when I want solid-state output with non-pathologically-power-hungry cans). My office rig is a Chord Hugo M-Scaler feeding a Hugo TT 2. Speaker system is an all Linn Exakt setup driven by the latest Klimax DSM. I use an RME ADI-2 DAC fs with an SPL Phonitor X as a consistent, neutral, reference for review purposes. —- Of all the other stuff I’ve auditioned, DACs in particular, most I’ve not bothered to even comment on unless specifically asked. And only the TOTL MSB and dCS systems have really performed as well for me as the Chord combo, but since they were only different, not better, there was little incentive to buy into either.
  6. Having previously owned the Spring DAC L3/KTE, which I enjoyed a great deal, and had previously reviewed, I was intrigued by the idea of a cheaper option. I kept putting off reviewing it as I was a bit skeptical as to how good it could be, compared to it's bigger stablemate, given that it lacks the Spring DAC's "linear compensation" feature (and that many other discrete R-2R DACs I've come across haven't been all that great). Anyway, after a recent local meet I got chatting with @Bimmer100 and the next thing you know he has kindly loaned me a Holo Audio CYAN with both PCM and DSD modules. It didn't take long at all to realize that my skepticism about it's potential performance was misplaced and the CYAN turns out to be an excellent sounding unit in both PCM and DSD guises. And that applies whether used as a DAC/amp (with the PCM module) or just as a DAC (with either module). The CYAN retains the same striking aesthetic and solid-build as the Spring DAC, all the way down to the included remote. It's a really substantial feeling bit of kit and has a much higher-end feel/look than anything else I can think of in it's price range. And it's very nicely featured - with a full array of digital inputs, balanced and single ended line-outs and both 4-pin XLR (balanced) and 1/4" TRS (single-ended) headphone outputs. And that's rounded off with selectable output impedance and the ability to run in NOS and OS modes. Cutting to the chase, I enjoyed this unit the most in PCM NOS mode, especially the incisive delivery and sweet tone - which I found very reminiscent of the Spring DAC. And I felt it the most technically capable using the DSD module (particularly when fed by HQPlayer with suitable upsampling, filtering and noise-shaping settings). In fact it's the first DSD DAC I've come across that showed a definite improvement driven that way vs. just sounding different. As a DAC/amp (or all-in-one) I wound up preferring the CYAN to both the RME ADI-2 DAC and the Soekris dac1421/1541. While those two units are both excellent, their respective DAC sections are, I feel, rather let down by the their headphone outputs. And while the CYAN definitely benefits from an external amplifier, the built-in headphone output is a lot more convincing than those of either the RME or Soekris units. More demanding cans faired far better with the Holo Audio unit - even things like the the Abyss AB-1266 Phi or LCD-4. If I was in the market for an all-in-on or DAC/amp at this price point it would be an easy decision to go with the CYAN and the PCM module and I would buy one in a heartbeat. And if I was the type that leant towards DSD replay (native or via OTF conversion), but couldn't quite spring for a Spring DAC, then this is a VERY close alternative at 2/3 the price. Highly recommended that you get your ears on one if you're at all interested in this sort of unit. And if you want to read my, much more detailed, full review you can find it on headphone.com (I am discinclined to repost the entire thing repeatedly, especially given my general annoyance with forum-post text editors).
  7. I'd love to say something positive about it, particularly after my experience with it's "spiritual predecessor and 'big' brother", (the Singularity S19) but the problem is ... I've heard it. At best I can say, "for people that like that sort of thing; it's the sort of thing they like.".
  8. I was on a similar "quest" to find a new, preferably, R-2R (multi-bit) DAC a while back. I'm not going to link to it, as I think that'd be poor form for a first-post in a community I'm new to, but I wrote up a bunch of comparisons with many DACs to what had become my "reference" DAC at the time. To answer the OP's initial questions. The R-2R DAC I started with was the Schiit Yggdrasil. I was extremely happy with it - but it kick-started a desire to see if there was anything better, which led to a multi-month series of auditions of a pretty broad variety of high-end DACs, with a bias towards things that were not just run-of-the-mill D/S data-sheet designs. At one point I had two Yggdrasils. I'm back down to one now, which has been upgraded to "Analog 2" and "USB Gen 5" status. I'm still very happy with it, and it lives in my office rig. Did I buy a "NOS" R-2R DAC? Not initially, but I did add one, specifically the Holo Audio Spring DAC KTE/Level 3, since it did somethings either better, or interestingly-different to Yggdrasil. I ran that, side-by-side, with my Yggdrasil for quite a while. Chip vs. discrete? It's all in the implementation ... but most of the "discrete" units I've heard have fallen short on some level. The Holo Audio Spring DAC, the Soekris dac1421 and dac1541, Metrum Pavane (L1 & the new L3) have all been excellent, however. In my primary rig I wound up retiring both Yggdrasil and Spring DAC in favor of a Chord DAVE. But I keep an Analog 2/USB Gen 5 Yggdrasil in the office (which probably gets more listening time anyway). If I had to buy a different R-2R DAC (or at least a multi-bit design), I'd be looking at things like the Aqua Formula, the upcoming "May" DAC from Holo Audio, or poking around MSB or dCS.
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