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Hi folks, I've been shopping around the past couple of months for a DAC for my main speaker system (I'm currently using a Hugo feeding into my Woo Audio 300B tube amp). My budget started out at around $3k, but (surprise, surprise!) it's been creeping up! I was planning to audition the PS Audio Directstream (DirectStream DAC | PS Audio) next week, but when I called my local store to arrange a visit the salesperson there told me they didn't carry it, but that I should consider trying out the Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum instead, together with the Antelope Atomic Clock (Zodiac Platinum DSD DAC, Audiophile 10M Atomic Clock and Volticus PSU Bundle | Antelope Audio E-Store). I've read a few reviews online about the Antelope at The Ear (Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum DSD | The Ear) and at Stereophile (Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum D/A processor–headphone amplifier & Voltikus power supply | Stereophile.com), but I'd really like to know if anyone's had a chance to A/B the Antelope DAC against the PS Audio Directstream. Additionally, since the Antelope DAC can be purchased without the 10M Atomic Clock, I was wondering if anyone here could comment on the necessity of this device. Does having such an (expensive - around 6,000 euros) device make a tangible difference in sound quality? Many thanks in advance for any advice or comments! Art
Hello everyone! You'll notice this is my first post, so apologies if I have picked the wrong forum! So many questions… Never mind I'm not even a native speaker. I'm new to computer audio, and feel that before I pick a USB- (or FireWire-) interface/converter and player software, I have one fundamental decision to make first: whether or not to add a master clock to my system. I'm the proud first owner of the latest versions of dCS Delius DAC (v. 2.13) and Purcell Upsampler (v. 1.25), without 1394-interfaces (no DSD upsampling or playback, but up to 24/192 via Dual AES). I say proud because after some tweaking (cables, fuses etc.), I've been happy ever since (and same as my audiophile dealer at the time, later dCS incarnations never seemed to surpass a well set-up and tweaked system using the "old" models). I mainly listen to CDs from a Sonic Frontiers SFT-1 CD-Transport (again tweaked - friends who brought along transports for comparison by CLC and Mark Levinson left the building with their heads hanging, the former actually wanted to buy mine, much more air, spaciousness, deeper bass, detail, resolution etc.), setting Purcell to upsample to 24/192 Dual AES. In short, no word clock, and yet, happy with the sound quality. Legendary Spectral DMA-200 Class A monster (in the adjacent room because of fan noise) driven direct (no preamp) with extremely wide-band cabling (same as used for all AES-EBU connections, Swiss aerospace subcontractor, best I've ever tried regardless of price category, irreplaceable since never marketed for audio purposes, plus got it for free, merely paid for connectors and assembly - but now sorely stuck with what I have, since my contact changed jobs). Speakers are my own, with time alignment and my own phase-coherent filters. Sound quality is subjective. But let me tell you this: I've suffered from migraine triggered by glaring light or sound since my teens. I can listen all day long to digital thanks to dCS upsampling. Told them, too, but they won't quote freaks in the marketing of their products… My computer audio experience is limited to trying a Trends UD-10.1 with and without battery power supply (since rewrapped and -packaged to keep it from collecting dust) with MAX and PLAY on a MacBook G4 once, as well as eavesdropping on other people's systems. Been thinking about adding computer audio to my system lately (having spent weeks lying on my back due to a lumbago). Not sure I want to spend too much money on it, though. Then again, unless it's good (= beware of my understatements!), I won't use/listen to it. I'm a Mac guy, as yet undecided whether to pimp a MacBook Pro (8 or 16 GB RAM and 120 GB SSD) or Mini Mac (several accessible, like the idea of using a pre-2010 because of their external DC PSU, which could easily be replaced with something more serious, e.g. Core Audio or Paul Hynes). The good part is, I haven't even started yet, so all suggestions are welcome! Now to my questions - the fundamental decision I need to make is, do I want to use the word clock ability of my dCS: 1. If not: need to pick an interface/converter and player software to fit my system without clocking (e.g. Weiss INT202, Yellowtec PUC2 Lite, SOtM, Empirical Audio Off-Ramp etc.). FireWire makes more sense with Macs, but the decision ultimately depends on sound quality alone. 2. If yes: need to a) find a studio master clock with 3 wordclock outputs (BNC preferred), at least 1 of which must be individually adjustable (by halves/fourths) within each "family" (e.g. 44.1 to 88.2 kHz and 48 to 96 kHz) because of the requirements of Dual AES (i.e. dCS Puccini U-Clock won't work, but e.g. Antelope Isochrone OSX would), and b) pick an interface/converter and player software to fit my system with external master clocking (e.g. Weiss AFI1, M2Tech Evo etc.). The latter (external system master clock) seems the technically speaking "neat solution" (how Swiss of me…), and yet, Daniel Weiss tells me my dCS gear may be so good at extracting the clock signal from an AES source without external clocking that it may not be worth it. (If dCS gear were indeed invulnerable in this respect, I wonder why CD-transports sound so different in my system…) I'm also concerned that the resident "Computer Audiophile" Chris appears to have had negative experiences using the Antelope Isochrone OSX with dCS gear. My dCS use VCXOs (voltage-controlled oscillators), and while I may be able to afford myself a studio master clock using OCXO (oven clock), any truly superior, e.g. atomic, clock is simply out of my reach right now (guess why I have so much time on my hands listening to music these days…). Anyone gone down this path who could give me some pointers? Thanks in advance! Greetings from Switzerland, David.