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Warmer sounding DACs ?

Cpt.Issues

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Oct 17, 2010
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Firstly, Merry Christmas all!

As it says in the subject, any suggestions? I've also noticed some tube dacs and such like on the internets, anyone had any experiance with these?
 
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Anonymous

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Cpt.Issues said:
Firstly, Merry Christmas all!

As it says in the subject, any suggestions? I've also noticed some tube dacs and such like on the internets, anyone had any experiance with these?
I would call the sound of the Beresford DACs quite warm of neutral. And they are extremely good value for money.
 

spockfish

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Jan 18, 2011
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I'm not sure the Rega could be clarified as 'warm', but it has a more 'analogue' sound and with that no 'could digital' one.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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This DAC might fit the bill if you can get hold of one:
http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/mhdt-labs-havana-~-nos-valve-dac-~

The Rega and MF V-Dac Mk 11 are more analogue sounding, but of course it is subjective. It is easier to get warmth through amp / speakers.
 

Cpt.Issues

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Thanks for the suggestions so far, I'm aware the amp/speakers will have a far greater effect on colouration than the DAC but my guess is although being fairly neutral each DAC also adds its own particular sound. I find my current setup nicely detailed but very slightly bright/thin in the mid range and its interesting to see which DACs people rate as having a warmer taint to them.

Funny you mention the Beresford DACs, I currently run a Beresford Caiman. If this is a warm sounding DAC already then it could well just be that I've changed from particulary warm sounding speakers to more detailed slightly brighter sounding ones (B&W DM602 S3s to Monitor RS1s).
 
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Anonymous

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Cpt.Issues said:
Thanks for the suggestions so far, I'm aware the amp/speakers will have a far greater effect on colouration than the DAC but my guess is although being fairly neutral each DAC also adds its own particular sound. I find my current setup nicely detailed but very slightly bright/thin in the mid range and its interesting to see which DACs people rate as having a warmer taint to them.

Funny you mention the Beresford DACs, I currently run a Beresford Caiman. If this is a warm sounding DAC already then it could well just be that I've changed from particulary warm sounding speakers to more detailed slightly brighter sounding ones (B&W DM602 S3s to Monitor RS1s).
I would stick with it for a while.

I use a 7520 in front of the ADM9Ts (for the analogue volume control) and to be quite frank it makes no difference to the sound from the DAC in the ADMs. The "law of diminishing returns" hits quite soon with standalone DACs IMO.

And yes, you have. I have heard some friends comment on the sound of the RS1s as "brittle".
 

Cpt.Issues

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Thanks for the advice snivilisationism,

Current setup is a Roksan Kandy Liii amp, Monitor Audio Silver RS1s, B&W ASW8 sub, Beresford Camian DAC.

Its more just to get some opinions on how the different DACs sound, in particular ones have a warmer tone to them. Budget would be <£500.
 

kevinJ

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Nov 2, 2008
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Remember that a £200 dac is the bottleneck when you start using better components. (and I believe your amp deserves a better dac)

Does it really have to be a seperate dac, or would you also go for a cdplayer with optical/usb input? If you do, have a look at the NAD C565BEE cdplayer. It comes with a USB2 and optical input and sounds very nice. (made my dacmagic sound "empty")

Regular dacs, try auditioning Rega and Arcam. Both sound warmer and are great value for money.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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Cpt.Issues said:
Thanks for the advice snivilisationism,

Current setup is a Roksan Kandy Liii amp, Monitor Audio Silver RS1s, B&W ASW8 sub, Beresford Camian DAC.

Its more just to get some opinions on how the different DACs sound, in particular ones have a warmer tone to them. Budget would be <£500.
Thx

I would try the Rega, but my preference would be to consider some speakers from the likes of Dynaudio. I suspect that tweeking from the source end will give limited success.....but I could be wrong. :)
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Cpt.Issues said:
Thanks for the advice snivilisationism,

Current setup is a Roksan Kandy Liii amp, Monitor Audio Silver RS1s, B&W ASW8 sub, Beresford Camian DAC.

Its more just to get some opinions on how the different DACs sound, in particular ones have a warmer tone to them. Budget would be <£500.
Well. there is another DAC I have, which cost me around £400-£500. It is rather good IMO, and if I could be bothered would be put in the chain. I fear you would probably have no way of auditioning though.

It's the Harmony DA9

http://www.harmonydesign.se/index.php?sid=62&katID=4&prodID=3

It's in Swedish by the way :)

I do think though, once you start trying to engineer the sound via DAC/CD player, then to me it says that the speakers (the most important part) are not right, and you are getting into terminal box-swapping land :) (One reason I went for the ADMs)

Other than that, I have no experience :)
 

Cpt.Issues

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Oct 17, 2010
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Not limited to standalone though I do need SPDIF Optical Input. I was only aware of CD players like the Audiolab CDQ which had this functionality which are above my budget. Thanks for flagging up the NAD C565BEE.

I also have until Thursday to decide whether I want to keep the RS1s, there is also a set of RX1s that I can try. I've read these are similar to the RS1s but are smoother sounding and have lost some of their brightness perhaps then it'd be worth hearing the newer series, (I notice the What Hi-Fi review for the RX1 says 'Bags of warmth and detail'[/b]).
 

kevinJ

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Nov 2, 2008
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Cpt.Issues said:
Not limited to standalone though I do need SPDIF Optical Input. I was only aware of CD players like the Audiolab CDQ which had this functionality which are above my budget. Thanks for flagging up the NAD C565BEE.

I also have until Thursday to decide whether I want to keep the RS1s, there is also a set of RX1s that I can try. I've read these are similar to the RS1s but are smoother sounding and have lost some of their brightness perhaps then it'd be worth hearing the newer series, (I notice the What Hi-Fi review for the RX1 says 'Bags of warmth and detail'[/b]).
There are more cd players like that. My Marantz SA15S2 also has an optical input, but that one costs twice as much as the NAD (but it leaves the NAD standing... luckily)

And I wouldn't exactly say the RX series have "bags of warmth". I'd rather call them "neutral". Or at least "less bright" than the RS series ;)
 
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Anonymous

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Cpt.Issues said:
Not limited to standalone though I do need SPDIF Optical Input. I was only aware of CD players like the Audiolab CDQ which had this functionality which are above my budget. Thanks for flagging up the NAD C565BEE.

I also have until Thursday to decide whether I want to keep the RS1s, there is also a set of RX1s that I can try. I've read these are similar to the RS1s but are smoother sounding and have lost some of their brightness perhaps then it'd be worth hearing the newer series, (I notice the What Hi-Fi review for the RX1 says 'Bags of warmth and detail'[/b]).
I think you should take back the speakers. If I was upgrading, I would make sure they sounded great with the kit I had.

One piece of advice...ignore reviews. Take your kit into a shop for a demo, and try different solutions. Pick the best to your own ears, not to a review. It isn't as good as a home demo, but it gives an idea. Buying 5 star speakers and then trying to make them fit by chabging other stuff is a road to disappointment and expense.
 

Cpt.Issues

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Thankfully my local hifi dealer is very helpful, he doesn't have room for a demo room so let me demo the RS1s at home over Christmas. I really like the sound of the RS1s (especially in terms of clarity) and also aethetic appeal so I think I'm probably along the right lines with the Silver series. I'll see if I can't demo the RX1s or perhaps some alternatives at home too before making a decision.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Lite DAC-60 and DAC-72 use tubes for their LPF and analogue output stages and sound warm, with natural mids and sweet highs. However, as nothing is perfect in this world, the warmth comes with a tradeff. Bass lines are a bit flabby and transient attack is weak.

Among British midpriced ss output DACs, Rega DAC is one of the best available in Europe. If you don't mind purchasing a Chinese product, other good choice is Audio-GD NFB-2. It's cheaper than Rega and is as good as the latter. Both sounds warm like a turntable and has great dynamics. Teradak Camaleon DAC (8 X Philips 16-bit TDA-1543) is also well regarded as a warm DAC and cost as much as Audio-GD ($450 in HK).
 

Cpt.Issues

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Oct 17, 2010
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Thank you for the suggestions / advice, I will start looking further into the DACs/CD players. Especially intruiged by the 'analouge' sounding DACs..

In the meantime took the RS1s back and swapped them for a pair of RX1s in Rosenut (as this is also the warmest colour of the range :p ).

Already they sound smoother and have lost some of the brightness I was getting through the RS1s which is what I was after. My only critiscm of the RX1s is that they seem more fussy with positioning. I've had to use the bung to avoid booming whereas with the RS1s which were also rear ported I did not have this problem.

Audio Maniac The Audio GD looks quite interesting - anything with a 'flavour' button on it has to be good :grin:
 
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Anonymous

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I have my rx1's about a foot from the wall, i sit near field about a metre from them, they sound great, no boom, if you still need a bit of extra warmth the mf v-dac 2 is a good bet :grin:
 
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Anonymous

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Someone who owns a Arcam FMJ CD37 posted a review of Audio-GD NFB2. According to him, both sounds very close tonally and, as regards some points, such as dynamics, the latter was slightly better.

John Darko, an Australian audio reviewer, found NFB2 very close to Rega DAC.

All of them uses the same Wolson's top of the line DAC. It's not surprising their sound is so similar.
 

SteveR750

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Don't dismiss the CA DACmagic Plus - it's a different animal (better) than the standard one, it's a lot smoother and more detailed. Whether it's got to Rega or even MF levels of laid backedness can't comment, as I haven't heard them.
 

Cpt.Issues

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Oct 17, 2010
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The other option I've considered is getting the Caiman upgraded. The TC models use a Burr Brown DAC whereas the Caiman is already fitted with a Wolfson chip (WM8716). What puzzles me is sites such as Fidelity Audio http://www.fidelityaudio.co.uk/beresford_caiman.html offer upgrades for the Caiman to the tune of £460 and custom upgrades but as far as I can see the actual chip isn't replaced. I assume the Rega uses a superior chip to start with, is it worth upgrading the Caiman versus buying a new DAC ~£500?

I notice the NFB-2 also uses a Wolfson chip (WM8741). The Rega uses (WM8742). I assume one of the fundemental differences between these and the Caiman is that the former bits of kit use both use superior DACs and in parallel?

Incidentally, in the same price range, has anyone heard Fidelity Audio's DAC-150?
 

Cpt.Issues

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kevinJ said:
Remember that a £200 dac is the bottleneck when you start using better components. (and I believe your amp deserves a better dac)
Ok didn't go for the warmest sounding in the end but I picked up a Benchmark DAC1 (second hand) for a hundred squid cheaper than I could find the Rega or Audio GD.

Being well run in already the difference was noticeable straight from the off, the clarity is excellent. Bass response has got deeper, not that it has any more bass in comparison with the Camian it just sounds more even across the board. Also has balanced xlr outputs which may come in handy if I decided to go down the active speaker route later on.

Thankfully to me it doesn't sound bright which was my main concern, just sounds clear and neutral. :dance:
 

SteveR750

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Cpt.Issues said:
kevinJ said:
Remember that a £200 dac is the bottleneck when you start using better components. (and I believe your amp deserves a better dac)
Ok didn't go for the warmest sounding in the end but I picked up a Benchmark DAC1 (second hand) for a hundred squid cheaper than I could find the Rega or Audio GD.

Being well run in already the difference was noticeable straight from the off, the clarity is excellent. Bass response has got deeper, not that it has any more bass in comparison with the Camian it just sounds more even across the board. Also has balanced xlr outputs which may come in handy if I decided to go down the active speaker route later on.

Thankfully to me it doesn't sound bright which was my main concern, just sounds clear and neutral. :dance:
I agree they do have differences, but maybe the relative benefit/£ ratio is not the same as an amp or speakers. The jump from a £300 Dac to a £900 one is not as big sonically as making the same change to your donwstream kit. Having said that, the Chord QDB76 is a pretty special thing, but at £3k it should be; however, for me I am sure I will have got a bigger change from spending £1500 on a speaker change than spending the same on a DAC upgrade
 

Cpt.Issues

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I agree entirely, by far the biggest difference has been changing the speakers from B&W DM 602s to the Monitor Audio RX1s. Didn't intend to spend more than £400 on a DAC for this system. (Picked up benchmark for £410, offset by in part by sale of the Camian).

Upgrading the DAC has further enhanced the level of detail i.e. made a tangeable difference but hasn't made anything like the difference I first experianced when going from onboard soundcard to the Camian DAC!

My headphone sound different depending on whether they are plugged into the DAC or amp. Amp wins, just sounds more 'pleasant' to listen to for lack of a better word.
 

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