Looking for Dac info please.

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
Hi All,

I bought a Rel Sub about a month ago to help with the lower reaches of my P3esr speakers and it has done a good job in that respect. But I'm not sure why but I have now started to notice that the higher frequencies have started to sound a bit thin and female vocals at the higher pitch have a bit of a edge to them,. So I am thinking of listening to a few Dac's to see if it might help, I currently have a Arcam irDac that I have had for about 7/8years, there are 3 at the Dealer I usually use which I would like to listen to if I can which are in ascending price the Audiolab M-Dac +, Chord Qutest, Project Dac Box RS2. I can't find any reviews for the Project is this Dac not very popular? , lots of reviews for the Qutest and it does get very good reviews in the main but a number of reviewers have said that for the Qutest to work at it's best it needs the power supply that comes with it chucking and a Linear power supply added if that is the case it makes the Qutest even more less good value as that's another issue some reviewers had saying it is over priced. Anyway sorry for the long winded question basically looking for people's input on the 3 Dac's mentioned before I consider a Amp change, the Amp by the way is a Sonneteer Alabaster that I have had for about 8/9 years nice Amp I wonder if a more powerful Amp might make more of a difference.

Regards Kev.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Your listening will be the key Kev.
All I can say is that the IR DAC and M-DAC (not the +) are two of the DACs I've previously had at home.....and ended up buying cheaper ones.
If I was considering spending big money on a DAC right now, the SMSL SU-10 would be on my list.
 
There are several reasons why I’d look at your setup before trying new DACs, such as:-.

1. have you tried disconnecting the sub to see if you still hear the new shrillness?
2. have you recently installed any new electrical devices like led lights, DECT chargers, switching power plugs, etc?
3. how are the P3 aimed? Straight at you or straight ahead?

What source are you playing through the DAC?
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr

SteveR750

Well-known member
There are several reasons why I’d look at your setup before trying new DACs, such as:-.

1. have you tried disconnecting the sub to see if you still hear the new shrillness?
2. have you recently installed any new electrical devices like led lights, DECT chargers, switching power plugs, etc?
3. how are the P3 aimed? Straight at you or straight ahead?

What source are you playing through the DAC?
Agree with this - it's common for excess bass (from a sub) to colour the rest of the Fr spectrum. In my experience, you don't need to add much using a sub, it's a case of less is more. DACs have become much cheaper for similar quality, so you won't need to spend much, assuming you'll even get much of an improvement anyway over the Arcam.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nopiano

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
684
480
2,270
Visit site
This might be as simple as a placement issue. I’d certainly look at that avenue before spending money.

Having said that I’m chord qutest user, and it’s a very nice thing, the build quality and the made in Britain thing is what your paying for mostly, that and custom fpga chip/code.

It could help with shrillness as it does have class A output stages which give that “analogue” feel and will bring a touch, a touch mind! of warmth, but make no mistake though it is a ruthlessly detailed device but I have no problem with my supposedly “bright” klipsch heritage speakers. Though I do run sugden amplification.

And no you don’t need a linear power supply. Just make sure the power is clean/uninterrupted it’s only taking in 12 volts so it’s very easy to trip up. It’s also quite susceptible to static normally from other devices such as laptops. Give the laptop a jolt and the dac will need to be restarted.

Can you get cheaper? Sure. But they are the apple of the dac world.
 

newworld

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2015
60
27
18,570
Visit site
Hi All,

I bought a Rel Sub about a month ago to help with the lower reaches of my P3esr speakers and it has done a good job in that respect. But I'm not sure why but I have now started to notice that the higher frequencies have started to sound a bit thin and female vocals at the higher pitch have a bit of a edge to them,. So I am thinking of listening to a few Dac's to see if it might help, I currently have a Arcam irDac that I have had for about 7/8years, there are 3 at the Dealer I usually use which I would like to listen to if I can which are in ascending price the Audiolab M-Dac +, Chord Qutest, Project Dac Box RS2. I can't find any reviews for the Project is this Dac not very popular? , lots of reviews for the Qutest and it does get very good reviews in the main but a number of reviewers have said that for the Qutest to work at it's best it needs the power supply that comes with it chucking and a Linear power supply added if that is the case it makes the Qutest even more less good value as that's another issue some reviewers had saying it is over priced. Anyway sorry for the long winded question basically looking for people's input on the 3 Dac's mentioned before I consider a Amp change, the Amp by the way is a Sonneteer Alabaster that I have had for about 8/9 years nice Amp I wonder if a more powerful Amp might make more of a difference.

Regards Kev.
Take a deep breath. If you just want to get a nicer DAC that's one thing, but I doubt if it will cure the high frequency edge you say you are experiencing. The industry would lead us to believe that we need the next and the greatest thing, but I simply don't find it true. The Arcam DAC is, if anything, a rather smooth sounding unit. I do know that the Harbeth's love power (again, contrary to some belief). Some amplifiers do come alive in the bass when cranked up. I kind of suspect that you were already trying to fix brightness by adding a subwoofer. Do you listen at high volume?
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
There are several reasons why I’d look at your setup before trying new DACs, such as:-.

1. have you tried disconnecting the sub to see if you still hear the new shrillness?
2. have you recently installed any new electrical devices like led lights, DECT chargers, switching power plugs, etc?
3. how are the P3 aimed? Straight at you or straight ahead?

What source are you playing through the DAC?
Hi, I have recently changed the mains leads for the Amp and CD Transport from the bog standard ones to thicker shielded cable from Beldon, and the coaxial to a Chord c line. I have tried the speakers straight on and toed in they sound better toed in.
 

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
Agree with this - it's common for excess bass (from a sub) to colour the rest of the Fr spectrum. In my experience, you don't need to add much using a sub, it's a case of less is more. DACs have become much cheaper for similar quality, so you won't need to spend much, assuming you'll even get much of an improvement anyway over the Arcam.
Thanks I will try a bit more experiment with the Sub.
 

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
Hi, I have recently changed the mains leads for the Amp and CD Transport from the bog standard ones to thicker shielded cable from Beldon, and the coaxial to a Chord c line. I have tried the speakers straight on and toed in they sound better toed in.
Forgot to say the source components are a Bluesound Node and a Cambridge CXC Transport.
 

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
Take a deep breath. If you just want to get a nicer DAC that's one thing, but I doubt if it will cure the high frequency edge you say you are experiencing. The industry would lead us to believe that we need the next and the greatest thing, but I simply don't find it true. The Arcam DAC is, if anything, a rather smooth sounding unit. I do know that the Harbeth's love power (again, contrary to some belief). Some amplifiers do come alive in the bass when cranked up. I kind of suspect that you were already trying to fix brightness by adding a subwoofer. Do you listen at high volume?
Thanks, I mainly listen at low to moderate volumes I don't listen to heavy rock, hence just using small speakers.
 

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
This might be as simple as a placement issue. I’d certainly look at that avenue before spending money.

Having said that I’m chord qutest user, and it’s a very nice thing, the build quality and the made in Britain thing is what your paying for mostly, that and custom fpga chip/code.

It could help with shrillness as it does have class A output stages which give that “analogue” feel and will bring a touch, a touch mind! of warmth, but make no mistake though it is a ruthlessly detailed device but I have no problem with my supposedly “bright” klipsch heritage speakers. Though I do run sugden amplification.

And no you don’t need a linear power supply. Just make sure the power is clean/uninterrupted it’s only taking in 12 volts so it’s very easy to trip up. It’s also quite susceptible to static normally from other devices such as laptops. Give the laptop a jolt and the dac will need to be restarted.

Can you get cheaper? Sure. But they are the apple of the dac world.
I do have very limited space for the Sub so can't move it around much, but I will do more experimenting with the crossover and gain.
 

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
The dac in the Node leaves something to be desired according to many but cannot comment personally.
Yes it's not that good I am by passing it and using the Arcam irDac, I do think my system is quite nice sounding but I quite often think I wish the higher frequencies were just a bit nicer sounding if I could get that I think I would be happy.
 

robdmarsh

Well-known member
If you do want to go down a DAC upgrade route, then the ifi Zen One signature DAC has taken my system to a different level. A good quality DAC is super important to me as I have a streaming only system. I've also just upgraded the power supply from the ifi iPower to the iPower X, another very noticeable upgrade at £100. As a side note I'm one of the ones complaining about the DAC in the Node. I didn't like it all, but then again the whole product just left me cold.
 
Hi, I have recently changed the mains leads for the Amp and CD Transport from the bog standard ones to thicker shielded cable from Beldon, and the coaxial to a Chord c line. I have tried the speakers straight on and toed in they sound better toed in.
I know you’ll hate me, but try swapping the old ones back. One at a time. Start with the Chord as that’ll make the most difference. Then leave them in for a few days and tell us what you discover.

(Fact of the evening:- I’m sure you know that the cables and the DACs aren’t made by the same Chord company?)

I‘d expect them to sound better toed in, so that’s good. Are the grilles still on, as they’re not meant to be listened to without?
 

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
I know you’ll hate me, but try swapping the old ones back. One at a time. Start with the Chord as that’ll make the most difference. Then leave them in for a few days and tell us what you discover.

(Fact of the evening:- I’m sure you know that the cables and the DACs aren’t made by the same Chord company?)

I‘d expect them to sound better toed in, so that’s good. Are the grilles still on, as they’re not meant to be listened to without?
Thanks yes I know about the two different Chord companies, I did wonder about the cables didn't think the power cables would have done that but who knows, I will put the generic Coaxial in and see how that sounds compared to the Chord c line.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nopiano

newworld

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2015
60
27
18,570
Visit site
Yes it's not that good I am by passing it and using the Arcam irDac, I do think my system is quite nice sounding but I quite often think I wish the higher frequencies were just a bit nicer sounding if I could get that I think I would be happy.
Is it really the high frequencies? The harshness could come from upper midrange as well, which the Node has in spades. I've been using the Bluesound through its first two generations and fought it in every way imaginable. It was an eye-opening experience when I tried the Cambridge CXN v2 at home, but it was way too expensive. Now I just use the Wiim Mini in the living room. I still use the Bluesound in the library where I pay less attention to music.
 

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
Is it really the high frequencies? The harshness could come from upper midrange as well, which the Node has in spades. I've been using the Bluesound through its first two generations and fought it in every way imaginable. It was an eye-opening experience when I tried the Cambridge CXN v2 at home, but it was way too expensive. Now I just use the Wiim Mini in the living room. I still use the Bluesound in the library where I pay less attention to music.
Hi, I have the latest generation Node and I must admit it sounds pretty good most of the time I am not using it's internal Dac. I'm pretty sure it's the high frequencies it all sounds good until the likes of female singers go to high pitched notes same with guitarists great until they hit those high notes where it then sounds edgy.
 

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
684
480
2,270
Visit site
Hi, I have the latest generation Node and I must admit it sounds pretty good most of the time I am not using it's internal Dac. I'm pretty sure it's the high frequencies it all sounds good until the likes of female singers go to high pitched notes same with guitarists great until they hit those high notes where it then sounds edgy.


TBH it's hard for us to give guidance on such a problem as we are not there and it sounds like it a very subtle problem you're having that may need large amounts of time devoted to finding the route of the problem.

What i'd do is turn the subwoofer off for now, and start with the basic placement of the speakers. Start with them bang up against the wall, and bring them forward till everything at your listening position falls away, bass and mid-range wise, at this point move them back very finely till everything starts to come into focus, 9 times out of 10 they are exactly the same distance as your sofa/seat is from the wall behind you. Then adjust to taste, in general, the further forward the more presence the tweeter has. (forward is forward) Then play with the distance between them and then the tow angle.

Now you need to deal with the time alignment of the subwoofer, not just the phase (you'll know when phase is wrong there won't be a lot of bass), this is hard and will require very keen ears, play a track with LOADS of bass you want everything to reach you at the same time, and without bass management, this actually may prove impossible! This is why AVRs have distance measurements and those distances are not normally the physical distance seen in the room. The sub might not sit in line with the main speakers at all, often a meter or 2 behind or in front of your speaker baffle. This is why i don't own a subwoofer.


It could be really simple! a simple toe-in, a simple 5mm movement here and there. Even a slight tilt back to the stands can solve reflection problems and sibilance.

Are your speakers actually in line/is the sound actually equal in the room? ie is your centre image actually in the centre? out of phase music effects is good for this.

Are the stands actually level in the first place? did you use a spirit level?

Are the spikes making contact with the floor under the carpet.

Do you even have a carpet? perhaps you need a rug in front of the speakers and stands

Speaking of stands are your speaker actually at the right height? Not all speakers should be ear-level with tweeters.

Heck, do you listen with grills on or off? if they're off put them back on.

If you have all this dialled and use a level OCD to set up the system. Then it s time to think about the room. Do a clap test does your room have a reverb/echo. If its really bad then you need to find a way to lessen the effect. I'd start by AS AN EXPERIMENT putting some cushions behind the speakers and see if that absorbs a little. There are other technics where you can find the room's reflection points where you sit using mirrors. If you can see the speaker in the mirrors where you sit you should add something soft/absorbent there (where the mirror is).

I very often find that these sorts of problems are nothing to do with the electronics but normally to do with the speakers one way or another. There is so much you can diagnose and try before you even think of spending money, only once have you gone through everything that is free would I start to look at electronics.

If all else fails sorry to say but i don't think the speakers are the right fit. Electronics add "flavour" at best, to expect them the change the fundamental sound just isn't going to happen. Your room and speakers are 98% of the sound of the system sound. Everything else is just seasoning.

Sorry to ramble but its amazing how many don't know this stuff and if not you, someone may gain some insight from it.

hope you find the problem but if you take anything away from this don't throw money at the problem until you know the route casue.

Sorry for bad grammar and spelling in advance.....
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr

skutters

Well-known member
Feb 10, 2013
57
30
18,570
Visit site
TBH it's hard for us to give guidance on such a problem as we are not there and it sounds like it a very subtle problem you're having that may need large amounts of time devoted to finding the route of the problem.

What i'd do is turn the subwoofer off for now, and start with the basic placement of the speakers. Start with them bang up against the wall, and bring them forward till everything at your listening position falls away, bass and mid-range wise, at this point move them back very finely till everything starts to come into focus, 9 times out of 10 they are exactly the same distance as your sofa/seat is from the wall behind you. Then adjust to taste, in general, the further forward the more presence the tweeter has. (forward is forward) Then play with the distance between them and then the tow angle.

Now you need to deal with the time alignment of the subwoofer, not just the phase (you'll know when phase is wrong there won't be a lot of bass), this is hard and will require very keen ears, play a track with LOADS of bass you want everything to reach you at the same time, and without bass management, this actually may prove impossible! This is why AVRs have distance measurements and those distances are not normally the physical distance seen in the room. The sub might not sit in line with the main speakers at all, often a meter or 2 behind or in front of your speaker baffle. This is why i don't own a subwoofer.


It could be really simple! a simple toe-in, a simple 5mm movement here and there. Even a slight tilt back to the stands can solve reflection problems and sibilance.

Are your speakers actually in line/is the sound actually equal in the room? ie is your centre image actually in the centre? out of phase music effects is good for this.

Are the stands actually level in the first place? did you use a spirit level?

Are the spikes making contact with the floor under the carpet.

Do you even have a carpet? perhaps you need a rug in front of the speakers and stands

Speaking of stands are your speaker actually at the right height? Not all speakers should be ear-level with tweeters.

Heck, do you listen with grills on or off? if they're off put them back on.

If you have all this dialled and use a level OCD to set up the system. Then it s time to think about the room. Do a clap test does your room have a reverb/echo. If its really bad then you need to find a way to lessen the effect. I'd start by AS AN EXPERIMENT putting some cushions behind the speakers and see if that absorbs a little. There are other technics where you can find the room's reflection points where you sit using mirrors. If you can see the speaker in the mirrors where you sit you should add something soft/absorbent there (where the mirror is).

I very often find that these sorts of problems are nothing to do with the electronics but normally to do with the speakers one way or another. There is so much you can diagnose and try before you even think of spending money, only once have you gone through everything that is free would I start to look at electronics.

If all else fails sorry to say but i don't think the speakers are the right fit. Electronics add "flavour" at best, to expect them the change the fundamental sound just isn't going to happen. Your room and speakers are 98% of the sound of the system sound. Everything else is just seasoning.

Sorry to ramble but its amazing how many don't know this stuff and if not you, someone may gain some insight from it.

hope you find the problem but if you take anything away from this don't throw money at the problem until you know the route casue.

Sorry for bad grammar and spelling in advance.....
Thanks for your detailed reply, I think I have cured the issue and it was so simple. I had my speakers too straight on I turned them in giving them a good toe in this not only seems to have stopped that bit of HF edge but has made the Stereo image better with vocals coming bang out of the centre. Just goes to show make sure one's setup is right before jumping the gun.😁
 

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
684
480
2,270
Visit site
Thanks for your detailed reply, I think I have cured the issue and it was so simple. I had my speakers too straight on I turned them in giving them a good toe in this not only seems to have stopped that bit of HF edge but has made the Stereo image better with vocals coming bang out of the centre. Just goes to show make sure one's setup is right before jumping the gun.😁

Glad to hear it! enjoy!
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts