Aasbakk

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Nov 26, 2023
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Comparing HifiBerry DAC and Bel Canto DAC


I decided to do this comparison during a -30° celcius weekend.
Sitting in sweet spot, looking at the warm tubes in my amplifier, and listening to music was my best idea of spending the weekend

This is not a technical comparison, just my listening report with these two DACs:

- HifiBerry DAC2 HD
- Bel Canto e.One DAC 1.5. (This is my reference DAC).


Not a fair comparison I know, but I thought it would be interesting to actually hear the differences, and not necessarily only nuances.

Almost every DAC comparison I´ve read concludes that you have to decide for your self, and sometimes you don’t want that answer. You want a simple answer to: «Which is best of a good USB DAC and a cheap Raspberry Pi DAC».

I was fairly sure the Bel Canto would be the winner, but I wanted to hear it, not think it.

Does DACs sound different? Yes indeed! Bel Canto is the winner without doubt.


My setup for listening is as follows:

IMG_3319.jpg
  • Roon ROCK Intel NUC
  • Streamer: Rpi4 with 5v LPS. Ropieee software with Qobuz
    • HifiBerry DAC2 HD, HAT connected, Audiotubes RCA to amp
    • Bel Canto e.One DAC 1.5, USB Connected, Audiotubes RCA to amp
  • StereoKnight Lancelot S-40 integrated tube amplifier
  • Osborn Eclipse speakers
  • DSP Room correction with REW measurements

Test tracks: (Track, Artist - What I listen for)
All songs played at exactly same level. Except for «Into The Void» and «Tlon». Those have to be played LOUD. But of course same level on Bel Canto and HifiBerry.

1. Eye Of The Soundscape, Riverside - [Soundstage]
- Bel Canto really makes this track magic. It’s feels almost like floating with the music. And the soundstage Is huge, both in depth, height and width. The deep, rumbling bass is perfectly presented. There are also some micro details past the middle of the track, that can be hard to hear. No problem with that.
- The Hifiberry lost the magic. The music is presented in a very precise way with all details present, but the musical float isn’t there. Bass is presented, but lack the feeling in my stomach. The micro details is as clear as with Bel Canto. Soundstage flattened out.

2. Moma Sed, Puscifer - [Bass and guitars]
- Bel Canto makes this track impressive!. It sounds dry and crisp as it should, and the bass is so nice and cool. The vocals were spot on, just like Maynard James Keenan had dropped by for a visit.
- HifiBerry sounded a bit flat, and far from as engaging as the Bel Canto. Vocals were a bit muffled, but the soundstage and treble were good. In fact the speakers disappeared more with HifiBerry than with Bel Canto. But I’m not certain that the speakers should disappear with this track. Ill let the benefit of the doubt go to the HifiBerry.

3. Galleon Ship, Nick Cave - [Bass and vocals]
- Bel Canto, Wow. Nick Cave is standing in front of me :). The vocals are perfect in this track, and reside in front of the instruments. The bass is very clear and deep. The whole album is just astonishing.
- Hifiberry did a real nice job here. But Nick Cave had stepped back a couple of feets. It was yet impressing, but I didn’t get the feeling he was right in front of me. Bass 90% as good as Bel Canto.

4. Six Blade Knife, Dire Straits - [Guitar, Bass, Drums]
- Bel Canto. This track should be played on vinyl. I have the MOFI 45 rpm edition, and it is far superior to streaming. So this was kind of a downer. Not bad at all, but I’m used to it better presented by my turntable
- HifiBerry did almost as good jobb as Bel Canto. Only the drums hit a bit harder on the latter. Both did great job in presenting positions of instruments.

5. Stockholm, OSI - [Bass, attack, soundstage, variations from left to right]
- Bel Canto makes it very enjoyable. The bass on this track is somehow constrained, yet very powerful. Soundstage fills the room and the instruments are all over, easy to pinpoint. The guitar riff hits you right in the face. The louder you play, the more impressive it gets
- Hifiberrys soundstage was very flat compared to Bel Canto, and bass less colourful. Details of the instrument variating from left to right wasn’t as impressive (due to missing depth). The guitar attack was on the other hand impressive. The Bel Canto invites me to play louder - the HifiBerry not so much.

6. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down), Nancy Sinatra - [That warm cozy sound]
- Bel Canto did (as always) a nice job. It’s a bit hard for me to criticise it, as it is my reference. Nevertheless it brings me right in the mood. Turns back time to the sixties, even though I was born in the seventies.
- HifiBerry did almost as good job, but sounded/felt just a bit more clinical. Digital maybe if that's even possible with this song.

7. Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge, Marilyn Manson - [Didn’t know exactly what to listen for]
- Bel Canto surprised me here with hard sound, unpleasant for my ears. I wanted to turn the volume down, but didn’t. It was kind of hard to concentrate, but at least I got a feeling of soundstage and treble. Treble was harsh, and impossible for me to enjoy. The soundstage was narrow, but had some interesting variations to the vocal. Sometimes in the middle, sometimes you here it from both speakers. Guess that is the mix though. Listen to when Marilyn makes that har exhale sounds - that is suddenly in a larger soundstage.
- HifiBerry does in fact sound better for this track. It’s not making it pleasant, but less unpleasant by quite a bit. Soundstage felt more right also, but as I said, it was difficult to concentrate while playing it on Bel Canto. Well done HifiBerry!
PS! I heard this track on Gryphon/Audiovector once, and it sounded fine. A little hard sound maybe, but not unpleasant. Dont know what volume, but not louder (I think/hope).

8. Slow, Leonard Cohen - [Vocals, Soundstages]
- Bel Canto. Warm, tight, overwhelming and astonishing vocals. Impressive and enjoyable. Leonard Cohen isn’t my mostly played artist, far from it. But that voice is just massive. And again I could easily visualise this legend of an artist.
- HifiBerry was a bit on the boring side after Bel Canto. Again the vocals took a step back, and the soundstage was not as deep. But it does the wideness very well. There was also some strength missing in the voice that I could almost feel in my own throat with Bel Canto,

9. Trains, Porcupine Tree - [Guitar, vocal, dynamic, soundstage]
- Bel Canto does it’s magic and presents to me my all time favourite band: Porcupine Tree. It’s impossible for me to not enjoy «Trains» whatever source or other equipment in use. The guitar is exceptional sweet-sounding in this track, and the vocals are also very nice. There are some dynamic variations here that I tried to hear any differences between the DACs, but I couldn’t hear any. The soundstage is more on the intimate side, but theres a lot going on here. Things appearing, disappearing, and very nice mixed.
- HifiBerry did really well. The soundstage flattened a bit, but not much. Well done!

10. Electrified, Boris Blank - [Bass, treble, soundstage]
- Bel Canto brings life to Electrified. I mean, it feels like the music are physical objects residing in my living room. Well, that may be Boris Blanks profit as much as my stereo setup :- The soundstage is phenomenal, both in depth, height and width. Bass is as always very much present, and the treble is crystal clear.
- HifiBerry looses the magic. Its presentation does very well, but the music isn’t alive as with Bel Canto. Sound Stage suffers again, and flattens out. Width and height are there but no depth. Yet very nice.

11. Into The Void, Nine Inch Nails - [ATTACK in center of soundstage, clarity]
- Bel Canto just punched me in my torso and reminded me of my tinnitus. At high volume «Into The Void» gives you a real punch directly from the center of the soundstage. A blind test could convince anyone that you have a center speaker. The clarity and treble is also top notch, although it’s hard for the ears I think at such volume.
- HifiBerry surprised big time! And actually it was a bit more forgiving to the ears. The bass punch was what surprised most. It did hit as hard as Bel Canto. I was certain it wouldn’t. I actually give a win for the HifiBerry

12. Ages, Jens Lysdal - [Acoustic reality, instruments clarity, whistling]
- Bel Canto present a very credible presentation of this song. You can tell you are close to the musicians as fingers glide over stings, and whistling reaches you in a natural way. Good warmth, nothing clinical here.
- HifiBerry did almost as good, but again lacking depth. As with song number two, this also got a bit muffled sound. But by saying that I’m very critical. Whistling was good sounding. The HifiBerry did this track well, but not with the same realistic acoustic sound as Bel Canto.

13. Tlon, Nils Petter Molvær - [DYNAMIC, ATTACK, trumpet clarity]
First I´ve got to say this track is INSANE. Especially when you get to 3 min, 50 sec. I´ll explain a bit further down.
- Bel Canto completed the track without anything (for me) to criticise. The trumpet is on spot in front, and I almost feel the air blowing out of it (well… - a bit exaggerated). Clarity is impeccable, and when you get to the middle of the track everything around you explodes, and your speakers will have their first true dynamic orgasm. You know what I mean when you listen to it. LOUD!
- HifiBerry did in fact create some depth here. The Soundstage was not bad at all. But something was not right. The trumpet felt a little dull, but when the track advanced it was almost like the HifiBerry struggled. The sound turned into mush. Not dramatically much, but definitely noticeable. I don’t know what could cause that, and it never behaved this way with anything else. Please leave a comment

14. With All My Love, Melanie DeBiasio - [Soundstage, vocals, background, goosebumps]
- Bel Canto. This is one of the most emotional songs I know. It makes me catch my breath and I guess I look like a ribbed chicken with all those goosebumps. The soundstage is as much feelings as music, and this is a live recording! Vocals are once again extremely present and precise, and all the other instruments live their own life everywhere around in an enchanting way. The background… Is there some things that shouldn’t be there? I don´t know, but I guess they’re supposed to as everything is in harmony. Listen for all the details. I guess it can be heard on whatever hifi setup, but to really enjoy this you should at lest have something better than a surround receiver. I´ve listened to this song on a ~300.000$ setup once. I´m not embarrassed to say my eyes got wet.
- HifiBerry… Sorry. That didn’t work. The 3D sound flattened out to 2D, and lost all the magic. Bass was also not as strong and deep. And as stated some times before, vocal took several steps back. You could pinpoint the sounds, but not in depth.

End of testing.

Planned 10 songs, but there came a couple of bonus tracks along.

Two conclusion

1. Bel Canto wins. Hands down! But…

The Bel Canto was about 1.750$ when it was new.
The HifiBerry DAC2 HD is a 109 $ DAC.
So there’s a huge amount of money in difference

Pros: (Hard to tell as it is my reference, and I´ve not compared it to another USB DAC on my specific setup)
  • Good for most genres
  • Great soundstage and timbre
  • Very revealing (this is both a pro and a con)
Cons: (Also hard to tell for me)
  • Price
  • Very revealing (harsh recordings can be harsh sounding)

2. HifiBerry is worth every penny

Pros:
  • Price
  • Soundstage width
  • Treble clarity,
  • Forgiving to hard sounding music
  • Seems to suit rock and heavy metal very well
Cons:
  • Soundstage depth - especially noticeable with vocals (Big con for me)
  • Deep bass punch and clarity
  • More suitable for some genres than other
  • Needs Raspberry Pi and some software tinkering
And thats mainly it…
Loss of soundstage is devastating if you’re used to it being good, so that’s the biggest con. The bass is by my opinion not something to worry too much about, but it is not as good as with Bel Canto

Recommendation​

As I own both, I would say the Bel Canto is worth it. For someone looking for a DAC - it depends on the budget. Can you afford a pricier USB DAC, you will be rewarded. You might even find a relatively cheap USB DAC that comes closer to Bel Canto than HifiBerry
 

landco

Well-known member
Aug 26, 2023
126
33
120
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How many times has it been said, written, tests carried out... there is no difference between expensive DACs and cheap, external, integrated, etc. 🤦‍♂️
 

Holden Caulfield

Well-known member
Jan 2, 2023
25
8
545
Visit site

Comparing HifiBerry DAC and Bel Canto DAC


I decided to do this comparison during a -30° celcius weekend.
Sitting in sweet spot, looking at the warm tubes in my amplifier, and listening to music was my best idea of spending the weekend

This is not a technical comparison, just my listening report with these two DACs:

- HifiBerry DAC2 HD
- Bel Canto e.One DAC 1.5. (This is my reference DAC).


Not a fair comparison I know, but I thought it would be interesting to actually hear the differences, and not necessarily only nuances.

Almost every DAC comparison I´ve read concludes that you have to decide for your self, and sometimes you don’t want that answer. You want a simple answer to: «Which is best of a good USB DAC and a cheap Raspberry Pi DAC».

I was fairly sure the Bel Canto would be the winner, but I wanted to hear it, not think it.

Does DACs sound different? Yes indeed! Bel Canto is the winner without doubt.


My setup for listening is as follows:

View attachment 5969
  • Roon ROCK Intel NUC
  • Streamer: Rpi4 with 5v LPS. Ropieee software with Qobuz
    • HifiBerry DAC2 HD, HAT connected, Audiotubes RCA to amp
    • Bel Canto e.One DAC 1.5, USB Connected, Audiotubes RCA to amp
  • StereoKnight Lancelot S-40 integrated tube amplifier
  • Osborn Eclipse speakers
  • DSP Room correction with REW measurements

Test tracks: (Track, Artist - What I listen for)
All songs played at exactly same level. Except for «Into The Void» and «Tlon». Those have to be played LOUD. But of course same level on Bel Canto and HifiBerry.

1. Eye Of The Soundscape, Riverside - [Soundstage]
- Bel Canto really makes this track magic. It’s feels almost like floating with the music. And the soundstage Is huge, both in depth, height and width. The deep, rumbling bass is perfectly presented. There are also some micro details past the middle of the track, that can be hard to hear. No problem with that.
- The Hifiberry lost the magic. The music is presented in a very precise way with all details present, but the musical float isn’t there. Bass is presented, but lack the feeling in my stomach. The micro details is as clear as with Bel Canto. Soundstage flattened out.

2. Moma Sed, Puscifer - [Bass and guitars]
- Bel Canto makes this track impressive!. It sounds dry and crisp as it should, and the bass is so nice and cool. The vocals were spot on, just like Maynard James Keenan had dropped by for a visit.
- HifiBerry sounded a bit flat, and far from as engaging as the Bel Canto. Vocals were a bit muffled, but the soundstage and treble were good. In fact the speakers disappeared more with HifiBerry than with Bel Canto. But I’m not certain that the speakers should disappear with this track. Ill let the benefit of the doubt go to the HifiBerry.

3. Galleon Ship, Nick Cave - [Bass and vocals]
- Bel Canto, Wow. Nick Cave is standing in front of me :). The vocals are perfect in this track, and reside in front of the instruments. The bass is very clear and deep. The whole album is just astonishing.
- Hifiberry did a real nice job here. But Nick Cave had stepped back a couple of feets. It was yet impressing, but I didn’t get the feeling he was right in front of me. Bass 90% as good as Bel Canto.

4. Six Blade Knife, Dire Straits - [Guitar, Bass, Drums]
- Bel Canto. This track should be played on vinyl. I have the MOFI 45 rpm edition, and it is far superior to streaming. So this was kind of a downer. Not bad at all, but I’m used to it better presented by my turntable
- HifiBerry did almost as good jobb as Bel Canto. Only the drums hit a bit harder on the latter. Both did great job in presenting positions of instruments.

5. Stockholm, OSI - [Bass, attack, soundstage, variations from left to right]
- Bel Canto makes it very enjoyable. The bass on this track is somehow constrained, yet very powerful. Soundstage fills the room and the instruments are all over, easy to pinpoint. The guitar riff hits you right in the face. The louder you play, the more impressive it gets
- Hifiberrys soundstage was very flat compared to Bel Canto, and bass less colourful. Details of the instrument variating from left to right wasn’t as impressive (due to missing depth). The guitar attack was on the other hand impressive. The Bel Canto invites me to play louder - the HifiBerry not so much.

6. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down), Nancy Sinatra - [That warm cozy sound]
- Bel Canto did (as always) a nice job. It’s a bit hard for me to criticise it, as it is my reference. Nevertheless it brings me right in the mood. Turns back time to the sixties, even though I was born in the seventies.
- HifiBerry did almost as good job, but sounded/felt just a bit more clinical. Digital maybe if that's even possible with this song.

7. Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge, Marilyn Manson - [Didn’t know exactly what to listen for]
- Bel Canto surprised me here with hard sound, unpleasant for my ears. I wanted to turn the volume down, but didn’t. It was kind of hard to concentrate, but at least I got a feeling of soundstage and treble. Treble was harsh, and impossible for me to enjoy. The soundstage was narrow, but had some interesting variations to the vocal. Sometimes in the middle, sometimes you here it from both speakers. Guess that is the mix though. Listen to when Marilyn makes that har exhale sounds - that is suddenly in a larger soundstage.
- HifiBerry does in fact sound better for this track. It’s not making it pleasant, but less unpleasant by quite a bit. Soundstage felt more right also, but as I said, it was difficult to concentrate while playing it on Bel Canto. Well done HifiBerry!
PS! I heard this track on Gryphon/Audiovector once, and it sounded fine. A little hard sound maybe, but not unpleasant. Dont know what volume, but not louder (I think/hope).

8. Slow, Leonard Cohen - [Vocals, Soundstages]
- Bel Canto. Warm, tight, overwhelming and astonishing vocals. Impressive and enjoyable. Leonard Cohen isn’t my mostly played artist, far from it. But that voice is just massive. And again I could easily visualise this legend of an artist.
- HifiBerry was a bit on the boring side after Bel Canto. Again the vocals took a step back, and the soundstage was not as deep. But it does the wideness very well. There was also some strength missing in the voice that I could almost feel in my own throat with Bel Canto,

9. Trains, Porcupine Tree - [Guitar, vocal, dynamic, soundstage]
- Bel Canto does it’s magic and presents to me my all time favourite band: Porcupine Tree. It’s impossible for me to not enjoy «Trains» whatever source or other equipment in use. The guitar is exceptional sweet-sounding in this track, and the vocals are also very nice. There are some dynamic variations here that I tried to hear any differences between the DACs, but I couldn’t hear any. The soundstage is more on the intimate side, but theres a lot going on here. Things appearing, disappearing, and very nice mixed.
- HifiBerry did really well. The soundstage flattened a bit, but not much. Well done!

10. Electrified, Boris Blank - [Bass, treble, soundstage]
- Bel Canto brings life to Electrified. I mean, it feels like the music are physical objects residing in my living room. Well, that may be Boris Blanks profit as much as my stereo setup :- The soundstage is phenomenal, both in depth, height and width. Bass is as always very much present, and the treble is crystal clear.
- HifiBerry looses the magic. Its presentation does very well, but the music isn’t alive as with Bel Canto. Sound Stage suffers again, and flattens out. Width and height are there but no depth. Yet very nice.

11. Into The Void, Nine Inch Nails - [ATTACK in center of soundstage, clarity]
- Bel Canto just punched me in my torso and reminded me of my tinnitus. At high volume «Into The Void» gives you a real punch directly from the center of the soundstage. A blind test could convince anyone that you have a center speaker. The clarity and treble is also top notch, although it’s hard for the ears I think at such volume.
- HifiBerry surprised big time! And actually it was a bit more forgiving to the ears. The bass punch was what surprised most. It did hit as hard as Bel Canto. I was certain it wouldn’t. I actually give a win for the HifiBerry

12. Ages, Jens Lysdal - [Acoustic reality, instruments clarity, whistling]
- Bel Canto present a very credible presentation of this song. You can tell you are close to the musicians as fingers glide over stings, and whistling reaches you in a natural way. Good warmth, nothing clinical here.
- HifiBerry did almost as good, but again lacking depth. As with song number two, this also got a bit muffled sound. But by saying that I’m very critical. Whistling was good sounding. The HifiBerry did this track well, but not with the same realistic acoustic sound as Bel Canto.

13. Tlon, Nils Petter Molvær - [DYNAMIC, ATTACK, trumpet clarity]
First I´ve got to say this track is INSANE. Especially when you get to 3 min, 50 sec. I´ll explain a bit further down.
- Bel Canto completed the track without anything (for me) to criticise. The trumpet is on spot in front, and I almost feel the air blowing out of it (well… - a bit exaggerated). Clarity is impeccable, and when you get to the middle of the track everything around you explodes, and your speakers will have their first true dynamic orgasm. You know what I mean when you listen to it. LOUD!
- HifiBerry did in fact create some depth here. The Soundstage was not bad at all. But something was not right. The trumpet felt a little dull, but when the track advanced it was almost like the HifiBerry struggled. The sound turned into mush. Not dramatically much, but definitely noticeable. I don’t know what could cause that, and it never behaved this way with anything else. Please leave a comment

14. With All My Love, Melanie DeBiasio - [Soundstage, vocals, background, goosebumps]
- Bel Canto. This is one of the most emotional songs I know. It makes me catch my breath and I guess I look like a ribbed chicken with all those goosebumps. The soundstage is as much feelings as music, and this is a live recording! Vocals are once again extremely present and precise, and all the other instruments live their own life everywhere around in an enchanting way. The background… Is there some things that shouldn’t be there? I don´t know, but I guess they’re supposed to as everything is in harmony. Listen for all the details. I guess it can be heard on whatever hifi setup, but to really enjoy this you should at lest have something better than a surround receiver. I´ve listened to this song on a ~300.000$ setup once. I´m not embarrassed to say my eyes got wet.
- HifiBerry… Sorry. That didn’t work. The 3D sound flattened out to 2D, and lost all the magic. Bass was also not as strong and deep. And as stated some times before, vocal took several steps back. You could pinpoint the sounds, but not in depth.

End of testing.

Planned 10 songs, but there came a couple of bonus tracks along.

Two conclusion

1. Bel Canto wins. Hands down! But…

The Bel Canto was about 1.750$ when it was new.
The HifiBerry DAC2 HD is a 109 $ DAC.
So there’s a huge amount of money in difference

Pros: (Hard to tell as it is my reference, and I´ve not compared it to another USB DAC on my specific setup)
  • Good for most genres
  • Great soundstage and timbre
  • Very revealing (this is both a pro and a con)
Cons: (Also hard to tell for me)
  • Price
  • Very revealing (harsh recordings can be harsh sounding)

2. HifiBerry is worth every penny

Pros:
  • Price
  • Soundstage width
  • Treble clarity,
  • Forgiving to hard sounding music
  • Seems to suit rock and heavy metal very well
Cons:
  • Soundstage depth - especially noticeable with vocals (Big con for me)
  • Deep bass punch and clarity
  • More suitable for some genres than other
  • Needs Raspberry Pi and some software tinkering
And thats mainly it…
Loss of soundstage is devastating if you’re used to it being good, so that’s the biggest con. The bass is by my opinion not something to worry too much about, but it is not as good as with Bel Canto

Recommendation​

As I own both, I would say the Bel Canto is worth it. For someone looking for a DAC - it depends on the budget. Can you afford a pricier USB DAC, you will be rewarded. You might even find a relatively cheap USB DAC that comes closer to Bel Canto than HifiBerry
This is silly. Comparing a cheap, not so good DAC against one costing thousands. How about a slightly more expensive DAC that isn't skimping on quality due to cost in the $300 to $400 range? Differences would be much smaller at that point. All you're doing is comparing a cheap DAC to justify spending $2000 on a DAC.
 

Aasbakk

Active member
Nov 26, 2023
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Visit site
This is silly. Comparing a cheap, not so good DAC against one costing thousands. How about a slightly more expensive DAC that isn't skimping on quality due to cost in the $300 to $400 range? Differences would be much smaller at that point. All you're doing is comparing a cheap DAC to justify spending $2000 on a DAC.
The quality/price difference was, as I wrote in the description exactly why I wanted to do this. Of course I was certain this was an unfair test, but what if I was mistaken? Was it possible that I could like the HifiBerry better? The DAC2HD is also new compared to the Bel Canto. And these were the two DACs I had by hand and own myself.
Comparing two “equal” DACs is done many times before by others. Not so much cheap vs expensive. Silly maybe, but nevertheless interesting for me
 

Dom

Well-known member
The quality/price difference was, as I wrote in the description exactly why I wanted to do this. Of course I was certain this was an unfair test, but what if I was mistaken? Was it possible that I could like the HifiBerry better? The DAC2HD is also new compared to the Bel Canto. And these were the two DACs I had by hand and own myself.
Comparing two “equal” DACs is done many times before by others. Not so much cheap vs expensive. Silly maybe, but nevertheless interesting for me
But isn't a shame that the more expensive DAC won. What a twist it would have been had the cheaper option took the crown.
 
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Jasonovich

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2022
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Comparing HifiBerry DAC and Bel Canto DAC


I decided to do this comparison during a -30° celcius weekend.
Sitting in sweet spot, looking at the warm tubes in my amplifier, and listening to music was my best idea of spending the weekend

This is not a technical comparison, just my listening report with these two DACs:

- HifiBerry DAC2 HD
- Bel Canto e.One DAC 1.5. (This is my reference DAC).


Not a fair comparison I know, but I thought it would be interesting to actually hear the differences, and not necessarily only nuances.

Almost every DAC comparison I´ve read concludes that you have to decide for your self, and sometimes you don’t want that answer. You want a simple answer to: «Which is best of a good USB DAC and a cheap Raspberry Pi DAC».

I was fairly sure the Bel Canto would be the winner, but I wanted to hear it, not think it.

Does DACs sound different? Yes indeed! Bel Canto is the winner without doubt.


My setup for listening is as follows:

View attachment 5969
  • Roon ROCK Intel NUC
  • Streamer: Rpi4 with 5v LPS. Ropieee software with Qobuz
    • HifiBerry DAC2 HD, HAT connected, Audiotubes RCA to amp
    • Bel Canto e.One DAC 1.5, USB Connected, Audiotubes RCA to amp
  • StereoKnight Lancelot S-40 integrated tube amplifier
  • Osborn Eclipse speakers
  • DSP Room correction with REW measurements

Test tracks: (Track, Artist - What I listen for)
All songs played at exactly same level. Except for «Into The Void» and «Tlon». Those have to be played LOUD. But of course same level on Bel Canto and HifiBerry.

1. Eye Of The Soundscape, Riverside - [Soundstage]
- Bel Canto really makes this track magic. It’s feels almost like floating with the music. And the soundstage Is huge, both in depth, height and width. The deep, rumbling bass is perfectly presented. There are also some micro details past the middle of the track, that can be hard to hear. No problem with that.
- The Hifiberry lost the magic. The music is presented in a very precise way with all details present, but the musical float isn’t there. Bass is presented, but lack the feeling in my stomach. The micro details is as clear as with Bel Canto. Soundstage flattened out.

2. Moma Sed, Puscifer - [Bass and guitars]
- Bel Canto makes this track impressive!. It sounds dry and crisp as it should, and the bass is so nice and cool. The vocals were spot on, just like Maynard James Keenan had dropped by for a visit.
- HifiBerry sounded a bit flat, and far from as engaging as the Bel Canto. Vocals were a bit muffled, but the soundstage and treble were good. In fact the speakers disappeared more with HifiBerry than with Bel Canto. But I’m not certain that the speakers should disappear with this track. Ill let the benefit of the doubt go to the HifiBerry.

3. Galleon Ship, Nick Cave - [Bass and vocals]
- Bel Canto, Wow. Nick Cave is standing in front of me :). The vocals are perfect in this track, and reside in front of the instruments. The bass is very clear and deep. The whole album is just astonishing.
- Hifiberry did a real nice job here. But Nick Cave had stepped back a couple of feets. It was yet impressing, but I didn’t get the feeling he was right in front of me. Bass 90% as good as Bel Canto.

4. Six Blade Knife, Dire Straits - [Guitar, Bass, Drums]
- Bel Canto. This track should be played on vinyl. I have the MOFI 45 rpm edition, and it is far superior to streaming. So this was kind of a downer. Not bad at all, but I’m used to it better presented by my turntable
- HifiBerry did almost as good jobb as Bel Canto. Only the drums hit a bit harder on the latter. Both did great job in presenting positions of instruments.

5. Stockholm, OSI - [Bass, attack, soundstage, variations from left to right]
- Bel Canto makes it very enjoyable. The bass on this track is somehow constrained, yet very powerful. Soundstage fills the room and the instruments are all over, easy to pinpoint. The guitar riff hits you right in the face. The louder you play, the more impressive it gets
- Hifiberrys soundstage was very flat compared to Bel Canto, and bass less colourful. Details of the instrument variating from left to right wasn’t as impressive (due to missing depth). The guitar attack was on the other hand impressive. The Bel Canto invites me to play louder - the HifiBerry not so much.

6. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down), Nancy Sinatra - [That warm cozy sound]
- Bel Canto did (as always) a nice job. It’s a bit hard for me to criticise it, as it is my reference. Nevertheless it brings me right in the mood. Turns back time to the sixties, even though I was born in the seventies.
- HifiBerry did almost as good job, but sounded/felt just a bit more clinical. Digital maybe if that's even possible with this song.

7. Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge, Marilyn Manson - [Didn’t know exactly what to listen for]
- Bel Canto surprised me here with hard sound, unpleasant for my ears. I wanted to turn the volume down, but didn’t. It was kind of hard to concentrate, but at least I got a feeling of soundstage and treble. Treble was harsh, and impossible for me to enjoy. The soundstage was narrow, but had some interesting variations to the vocal. Sometimes in the middle, sometimes you here it from both speakers. Guess that is the mix though. Listen to when Marilyn makes that har exhale sounds - that is suddenly in a larger soundstage.
- HifiBerry does in fact sound better for this track. It’s not making it pleasant, but less unpleasant by quite a bit. Soundstage felt more right also, but as I said, it was difficult to concentrate while playing it on Bel Canto. Well done HifiBerry!
PS! I heard this track on Gryphon/Audiovector once, and it sounded fine. A little hard sound maybe, but not unpleasant. Dont know what volume, but not louder (I think/hope).

8. Slow, Leonard Cohen - [Vocals, Soundstages]
- Bel Canto. Warm, tight, overwhelming and astonishing vocals. Impressive and enjoyable. Leonard Cohen isn’t my mostly played artist, far from it. But that voice is just massive. And again I could easily visualise this legend of an artist.
- HifiBerry was a bit on the boring side after Bel Canto. Again the vocals took a step back, and the soundstage was not as deep. But it does the wideness very well. There was also some strength missing in the voice that I could almost feel in my own throat with Bel Canto,

9. Trains, Porcupine Tree - [Guitar, vocal, dynamic, soundstage]
- Bel Canto does it’s magic and presents to me my all time favourite band: Porcupine Tree. It’s impossible for me to not enjoy «Trains» whatever source or other equipment in use. The guitar is exceptional sweet-sounding in this track, and the vocals are also very nice. There are some dynamic variations here that I tried to hear any differences between the DACs, but I couldn’t hear any. The soundstage is more on the intimate side, but theres a lot going on here. Things appearing, disappearing, and very nice mixed.
- HifiBerry did really well. The soundstage flattened a bit, but not much. Well done!

10. Electrified, Boris Blank - [Bass, treble, soundstage]
- Bel Canto brings life to Electrified. I mean, it feels like the music are physical objects residing in my living room. Well, that may be Boris Blanks profit as much as my stereo setup :- The soundstage is phenomenal, both in depth, height and width. Bass is as always very much present, and the treble is crystal clear.
- HifiBerry looses the magic. Its presentation does very well, but the music isn’t alive as with Bel Canto. Sound Stage suffers again, and flattens out. Width and height are there but no depth. Yet very nice.

11. Into The Void, Nine Inch Nails - [ATTACK in center of soundstage, clarity]
- Bel Canto just punched me in my torso and reminded me of my tinnitus. At high volume «Into The Void» gives you a real punch directly from the center of the soundstage. A blind test could convince anyone that you have a center speaker. The clarity and treble is also top notch, although it’s hard for the ears I think at such volume.
- HifiBerry surprised big time! And actually it was a bit more forgiving to the ears. The bass punch was what surprised most. It did hit as hard as Bel Canto. I was certain it wouldn’t. I actually give a win for the HifiBerry

12. Ages, Jens Lysdal - [Acoustic reality, instruments clarity, whistling]
- Bel Canto present a very credible presentation of this song. You can tell you are close to the musicians as fingers glide over stings, and whistling reaches you in a natural way. Good warmth, nothing clinical here.
- HifiBerry did almost as good, but again lacking depth. As with song number two, this also got a bit muffled sound. But by saying that I’m very critical. Whistling was good sounding. The HifiBerry did this track well, but not with the same realistic acoustic sound as Bel Canto.

13. Tlon, Nils Petter Molvær - [DYNAMIC, ATTACK, trumpet clarity]
First I´ve got to say this track is INSANE. Especially when you get to 3 min, 50 sec. I´ll explain a bit further down.
- Bel Canto completed the track without anything (for me) to criticise. The trumpet is on spot in front, and I almost feel the air blowing out of it (well… - a bit exaggerated). Clarity is impeccable, and when you get to the middle of the track everything around you explodes, and your speakers will have their first true dynamic orgasm. You know what I mean when you listen to it. LOUD!
- HifiBerry did in fact create some depth here. The Soundstage was not bad at all. But something was not right. The trumpet felt a little dull, but when the track advanced it was almost like the HifiBerry struggled. The sound turned into mush. Not dramatically much, but definitely noticeable. I don’t know what could cause that, and it never behaved this way with anything else. Please leave a comment

14. With All My Love, Melanie DeBiasio - [Soundstage, vocals, background, goosebumps]
- Bel Canto. This is one of the most emotional songs I know. It makes me catch my breath and I guess I look like a ribbed chicken with all those goosebumps. The soundstage is as much feelings as music, and this is a live recording! Vocals are once again extremely present and precise, and all the other instruments live their own life everywhere around in an enchanting way. The background… Is there some things that shouldn’t be there? I don´t know, but I guess they’re supposed to as everything is in harmony. Listen for all the details. I guess it can be heard on whatever hifi setup, but to really enjoy this you should at lest have something better than a surround receiver. I´ve listened to this song on a ~300.000$ setup once. I´m not embarrassed to say my eyes got wet.
- HifiBerry… Sorry. That didn’t work. The 3D sound flattened out to 2D, and lost all the magic. Bass was also not as strong and deep. And as stated some times before, vocal took several steps back. You could pinpoint the sounds, but not in depth.

End of testing.

Planned 10 songs, but there came a couple of bonus tracks along.

Two conclusion

1. Bel Canto wins. Hands down! But…

The Bel Canto was about 1.750$ when it was new.
The HifiBerry DAC2 HD is a 109 $ DAC.
So there’s a huge amount of money in difference

Pros: (Hard to tell as it is my reference, and I´ve not compared it to another USB DAC on my specific setup)
  • Good for most genres
  • Great soundstage and timbre
  • Very revealing (this is both a pro and a con)
Cons: (Also hard to tell for me)
  • Price
  • Very revealing (harsh recordings can be harsh sounding)

2. HifiBerry is worth every penny

Pros:
  • Price
  • Soundstage width
  • Treble clarity,
  • Forgiving to hard sounding music
  • Seems to suit rock and heavy metal very well
Cons:
  • Soundstage depth - especially noticeable with vocals (Big con for me)
  • Deep bass punch and clarity
  • More suitable for some genres than other
  • Needs Raspberry Pi and some software tinkering
And thats mainly it…
Loss of soundstage is devastating if you’re used to it being good, so that’s the biggest con. The bass is by my opinion not something to worry too much about, but it is not as good as with Bel Canto

Recommendation​

As I own both, I would say the Bel Canto is worth it. For someone looking for a DAC - it depends on the budget. Can you afford a pricier USB DAC, you will be rewarded. You might even find a relatively cheap USB DAC that comes closer to Bel Canto than HifiBerry
Kudos to you, tremendous amount of work putting this together, love your setup.

Granted, you mention this wasn't a technical comparisons but I am curious, which digital format did you use in your listening tests; DSD, FLAC, APE, Wave, ALAC etc.? Just to get an understanding of parity, was it like for like comparison?
Also, what digital oversampling / frequency was used to carry out your tests between the two DACs?
 
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Aasbakk

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Kudos to you, tremendous amount of work putting this together, love your setup.

Granted, you mention this wasn't a technical comparisons but I am curious, which digital format did you use in your listening tests; DSD, FLAC, APE, Wave, ALAC etc.? Just to get an understanding of parity, was it like for like comparison?
Also, what digital oversampling / frequency was used to carry out your tests between the two DACs?
Thanks 😊
All the music was streamed with Qobuz. Some of the tracks are 44/16, but some hi-res also. The same track version for both DACs.
HifiBerry supports up to 192/24, same as Bel Canto. But the latter is limited to 96/24 while using USB. Didn’t think of that while performing the test, but I don’t think any of the test tracks exceeded 96kHz.
 
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Holden Caulfield

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Comparing HifiBerry DAC and Bel Canto DAC


I decided to do this comparison during a -30° celcius weekend.
Sitting in sweet spot, looking at the warm tubes in my amplifier, and listening to music was my best idea of spending the weekend

This is not a technical comparison, just my listening report with these two DACs:

- HifiBerry DAC2 HD
- Bel Canto e.One DAC 1.5. (This is my reference DAC).


Not a fair comparison I know, but I thought it would be interesting to actually hear the differences, and not necessarily only nuances.

Almost every DAC comparison I´ve read concludes that you have to decide for your self, and sometimes you don’t want that answer. You want a simple answer to: «Which is best of a good USB DAC and a cheap Raspberry Pi DAC».

I was fairly sure the Bel Canto would be the winner, but I wanted to hear it, not think it.

Does DACs sound different? Yes indeed! Bel Canto is the winner without doubt.


My setup for listening is as follows:

View attachment 5969
  • Roon ROCK Intel NUC
  • Streamer: Rpi4 with 5v LPS. Ropieee software with Qobuz
    • HifiBerry DAC2 HD, HAT connected, Audiotubes RCA to amp
    • Bel Canto e.One DAC 1.5, USB Connected, Audiotubes RCA to amp
  • StereoKnight Lancelot S-40 integrated tube amplifier
  • Osborn Eclipse speakers
  • DSP Room correction with REW measurements

Test tracks: (Track, Artist - What I listen for)
All songs played at exactly same level. Except for «Into The Void» and «Tlon». Those have to be played LOUD. But of course same level on Bel Canto and HifiBerry.

1. Eye Of The Soundscape, Riverside - [Soundstage]
- Bel Canto really makes this track magic. It’s feels almost like floating with the music. And the soundstage Is huge, both in depth, height and width. The deep, rumbling bass is perfectly presented. There are also some micro details past the middle of the track, that can be hard to hear. No problem with that.
- The Hifiberry lost the magic. The music is presented in a very precise way with all details present, but the musical float isn’t there. Bass is presented, but lack the feeling in my stomach. The micro details is as clear as with Bel Canto. Soundstage flattened out.

2. Moma Sed, Puscifer - [Bass and guitars]
- Bel Canto makes this track impressive!. It sounds dry and crisp as it should, and the bass is so nice and cool. The vocals were spot on, just like Maynard James Keenan had dropped by for a visit.
- HifiBerry sounded a bit flat, and far from as engaging as the Bel Canto. Vocals were a bit muffled, but the soundstage and treble were good. In fact the speakers disappeared more with HifiBerry than with Bel Canto. But I’m not certain that the speakers should disappear with this track. Ill let the benefit of the doubt go to the HifiBerry.

3. Galleon Ship, Nick Cave - [Bass and vocals]
- Bel Canto, Wow. Nick Cave is standing in front of me :). The vocals are perfect in this track, and reside in front of the instruments. The bass is very clear and deep. The whole album is just astonishing.
- Hifiberry did a real nice job here. But Nick Cave had stepped back a couple of feets. It was yet impressing, but I didn’t get the feeling he was right in front of me. Bass 90% as good as Bel Canto.

4. Six Blade Knife, Dire Straits - [Guitar, Bass, Drums]
- Bel Canto. This track should be played on vinyl. I have the MOFI 45 rpm edition, and it is far superior to streaming. So this was kind of a downer. Not bad at all, but I’m used to it better presented by my turntable
- HifiBerry did almost as good jobb as Bel Canto. Only the drums hit a bit harder on the latter. Both did great job in presenting positions of instruments.

5. Stockholm, OSI - [Bass, attack, soundstage, variations from left to right]
- Bel Canto makes it very enjoyable. The bass on this track is somehow constrained, yet very powerful. Soundstage fills the room and the instruments are all over, easy to pinpoint. The guitar riff hits you right in the face. The louder you play, the more impressive it gets
- Hifiberrys soundstage was very flat compared to Bel Canto, and bass less colourful. Details of the instrument variating from left to right wasn’t as impressive (due to missing depth). The guitar attack was on the other hand impressive. The Bel Canto invites me to play louder - the HifiBerry not so much.

6. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down), Nancy Sinatra - [That warm cozy sound]
- Bel Canto did (as always) a nice job. It’s a bit hard for me to criticise it, as it is my reference. Nevertheless it brings me right in the mood. Turns back time to the sixties, even though I was born in the seventies.
- HifiBerry did almost as good job, but sounded/felt just a bit more clinical. Digital maybe if that's even possible with this song.

7. Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge, Marilyn Manson - [Didn’t know exactly what to listen for]
- Bel Canto surprised me here with hard sound, unpleasant for my ears. I wanted to turn the volume down, but didn’t. It was kind of hard to concentrate, but at least I got a feeling of soundstage and treble. Treble was harsh, and impossible for me to enjoy. The soundstage was narrow, but had some interesting variations to the vocal. Sometimes in the middle, sometimes you here it from both speakers. Guess that is the mix though. Listen to when Marilyn makes that har exhale sounds - that is suddenly in a larger soundstage.
- HifiBerry does in fact sound better for this track. It’s not making it pleasant, but less unpleasant by quite a bit. Soundstage felt more right also, but as I said, it was difficult to concentrate while playing it on Bel Canto. Well done HifiBerry!
PS! I heard this track on Gryphon/Audiovector once, and it sounded fine. A little hard sound maybe, but not unpleasant. Dont know what volume, but not louder (I think/hope).

8. Slow, Leonard Cohen - [Vocals, Soundstages]
- Bel Canto. Warm, tight, overwhelming and astonishing vocals. Impressive and enjoyable. Leonard Cohen isn’t my mostly played artist, far from it. But that voice is just massive. And again I could easily visualise this legend of an artist.
- HifiBerry was a bit on the boring side after Bel Canto. Again the vocals took a step back, and the soundstage was not as deep. But it does the wideness very well. There was also some strength missing in the voice that I could almost feel in my own throat with Bel Canto,

9. Trains, Porcupine Tree - [Guitar, vocal, dynamic, soundstage]
- Bel Canto does it’s magic and presents to me my all time favourite band: Porcupine Tree. It’s impossible for me to not enjoy «Trains» whatever source or other equipment in use. The guitar is exceptional sweet-sounding in this track, and the vocals are also very nice. There are some dynamic variations here that I tried to hear any differences between the DACs, but I couldn’t hear any. The soundstage is more on the intimate side, but theres a lot going on here. Things appearing, disappearing, and very nice mixed.
- HifiBerry did really well. The soundstage flattened a bit, but not much. Well done!

10. Electrified, Boris Blank - [Bass, treble, soundstage]
- Bel Canto brings life to Electrified. I mean, it feels like the music are physical objects residing in my living room. Well, that may be Boris Blanks profit as much as my stereo setup :- The soundstage is phenomenal, both in depth, height and width. Bass is as always very much present, and the treble is crystal clear.
- HifiBerry looses the magic. Its presentation does very well, but the music isn’t alive as with Bel Canto. Sound Stage suffers again, and flattens out. Width and height are there but no depth. Yet very nice.

11. Into The Void, Nine Inch Nails - [ATTACK in center of soundstage, clarity]
- Bel Canto just punched me in my torso and reminded me of my tinnitus. At high volume «Into The Void» gives you a real punch directly from the center of the soundstage. A blind test could convince anyone that you have a center speaker. The clarity and treble is also top notch, although it’s hard for the ears I think at such volume.
- HifiBerry surprised big time! And actually it was a bit more forgiving to the ears. The bass punch was what surprised most. It did hit as hard as Bel Canto. I was certain it wouldn’t. I actually give a win for the HifiBerry

12. Ages, Jens Lysdal - [Acoustic reality, instruments clarity, whistling]
- Bel Canto present a very credible presentation of this song. You can tell you are close to the musicians as fingers glide over stings, and whistling reaches you in a natural way. Good warmth, nothing clinical here.
- HifiBerry did almost as good, but again lacking depth. As with song number two, this also got a bit muffled sound. But by saying that I’m very critical. Whistling was good sounding. The HifiBerry did this track well, but not with the same realistic acoustic sound as Bel Canto.

13. Tlon, Nils Petter Molvær - [DYNAMIC, ATTACK, trumpet clarity]
First I´ve got to say this track is INSANE. Especially when you get to 3 min, 50 sec. I´ll explain a bit further down.
- Bel Canto completed the track without anything (for me) to criticise. The trumpet is on spot in front, and I almost feel the air blowing out of it (well… - a bit exaggerated). Clarity is impeccable, and when you get to the middle of the track everything around you explodes, and your speakers will have their first true dynamic orgasm. You know what I mean when you listen to it. LOUD!
- HifiBerry did in fact create some depth here. The Soundstage was not bad at all. But something was not right. The trumpet felt a little dull, but when the track advanced it was almost like the HifiBerry struggled. The sound turned into mush. Not dramatically much, but definitely noticeable. I don’t know what could cause that, and it never behaved this way with anything else. Please leave a comment

14. With All My Love, Melanie DeBiasio - [Soundstage, vocals, background, goosebumps]
- Bel Canto. This is one of the most emotional songs I know. It makes me catch my breath and I guess I look like a ribbed chicken with all those goosebumps. The soundstage is as much feelings as music, and this is a live recording! Vocals are once again extremely present and precise, and all the other instruments live their own life everywhere around in an enchanting way. The background… Is there some things that shouldn’t be there? I don´t know, but I guess they’re supposed to as everything is in harmony. Listen for all the details. I guess it can be heard on whatever hifi setup, but to really enjoy this you should at lest have something better than a surround receiver. I´ve listened to this song on a ~300.000$ setup once. I´m not embarrassed to say my eyes got wet.
- HifiBerry… Sorry. That didn’t work. The 3D sound flattened out to 2D, and lost all the magic. Bass was also not as strong and deep. And as stated some times before, vocal took several steps back. You could pinpoint the sounds, but not in depth.

End of testing.

Planned 10 songs, but there came a couple of bonus tracks along.

Two conclusion

1. Bel Canto wins. Hands down! But…

The Bel Canto was about 1.750$ when it was new.
The HifiBerry DAC2 HD is a 109 $ DAC.
So there’s a huge amount of money in difference

Pros: (Hard to tell as it is my reference, and I´ve not compared it to another USB DAC on my specific setup)
  • Good for most genres
  • Great soundstage and timbre
  • Very revealing (this is both a pro and a con)
Cons: (Also hard to tell for me)
  • Price
  • Very revealing (harsh recordings can be harsh sounding)

2. HifiBerry is worth every penny

Pros:
  • Price
  • Soundstage width
  • Treble clarity,
  • Forgiving to hard sounding music
  • Seems to suit rock and heavy metal very well
Cons:
  • Soundstage depth - especially noticeable with vocals (Big con for me)
  • Deep bass punch and clarity
  • More suitable for some genres than other
  • Needs Raspberry Pi and some software tinkering
And thats mainly it…
Loss of soundstage is devastating if you’re used to it being good, so that’s the biggest con. The bass is by my opinion not something to worry too much about, but it is not as good as with Bel Canto

Recommendation​

As I own both, I would say the Bel Canto is worth it. For someone looking for a DAC - it depends on the budget. Can you afford a pricier USB DAC, you will be rewarded. You might even find a relatively cheap USB DAC that comes closer to Bel Canto than HifiBerry

The quality/price difference was, as I wrote in the description exactly why I wanted to do this. Of course I was certain this was an unfair test, but what if I was mistaken? Was it possible that I could like the HifiBerry better? The DAC2HD is also new compared to the Bel Canto. And these were the two DACs I had by hand and own myself.
Comparing two “equal” DACs is done many times before by others. Not so much cheap vs expensive. Silly maybe, but nevertheless interesting for me
I have switched from 4 different DAC's in the last 12 months, all crap. Two were built-in DAC's (one from a streamer and one from an Integrated Amp) , one was an old Musical Fidelity V-DAC, and one was a cheap DAC to bridge whilst waiting for my Geshelli J2 DAC to be built. So when I saw you were comparing a cheap $99 DAC, I knew it would be like NY Yankees playing the Tupper Lake Riverpigs (that's a real team). I'd like to see you compare a J2 or iFi Signature One DAC (or something comparable) to your fancy Bel Canto. Although you're likely biased so an objective test would be needed.
 
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Aasbakk

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I have switched from 4 different DAC's in the last 12 months, all crap. Two were built-in DAC's (one from a streamer and one from an Integrated Amp) , one was an old Musical Fidelity V-DAC, and one was a cheap DAC to bridge whilst waiting for my Geshelli J2 DAC to be built. So when I saw you were comparing a cheap $99 DAC, I knew it would be like NY Yankees playing the Tupper Lake Riverpigs (that's a real team). I'd like to see you compare a J2 or iFi Signature One DAC (or something comparable) to your fancy Bel Canto. Although you're likely biased so an objective test would be needed.
Comparing my Bel Canto to a iFi would be interesting indeed. And a more fair comparison.
If I decide buying a new DAC some day, I’ll surely compare them. But most likely I will consider a Hifi Rose RS250, and with that my current streamer will be redundant.
 

njprrogers

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Aug 12, 2015
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That's a great setup you have there and a nice way to spend a weekend. Interesting to hear your thoughts... I have a few more changes to make further up the chain before I delve into optimizing for DAC's!
 
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AJM1981

Well-known member
How many times has it been said that everyone has different ears so all these analyses are pointless.....
Different ears.. not so much; a different taste; absolutely.

I would like to add that these kind of tests are well doable with high quality stereo / Binaural microphones. So we would be able to hear the difference here instead of reading about it. There are channels online that give a good audible impression about these basic things, no magic about it.
 
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Gray

Well-known member
Different ears.. not so much; a different taste; absolutely.

I would like to add that these kind of tests are well doable with high quality stereo / Binaural microphones. So we would be able to hear the difference here instead of reading about it. There are channels online that give a good audible impression about these basic things, no magic about it.
You might be able to hear a difference if the DACs were wired directly into the recorder.

There's at least one channel that compares cartridges, level matched, into a digital recorder and differences can be heard.
Another cart comparison channel I saw though, used mics (because his recorder didn't have line inputs).
Obviously, he wasted his time....all you could hear very clearly, was the sound of his room.

If microphones were used, the subtle differences between DACs would almost certainly be lost (regardless of how good the mics were).
 

DiggyGun

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Just changed my Linn DSM streamer.

In addition to the basic cost of the DSM and cartridges, they offer three levels of DAC modules;
  • Standard @ £220
  • Katalyst @ £1500
  • Organik @ £3200
I never demoed the the Standard , but did demo the Katalyst and Organik.

To cut a long story short, went with the Organik. The difference was so noticeable. With the Katalyst being good, whereas, the Organik was stonkig.

Presently enjoying my Linn Selekt DSM; Edition Hub listening to Jazz.

DG….
 

Rui

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How many times has it been said that everyone has different ears so all these analyses are pointless.....
the ears ,ok , what about hearing ,if we have those that seem to be far from the head in a spoon shape would capture direct sound better but more important hearing capabilities,hum!?

again i´m late
 

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