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Thread: Dartzeel NHB-18NS or ARC Ref 5 se?

  1. #91
    Addicted to Best! Cascais's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpinist View Post
    I would say the batteries in the Dart Pre were never right from day one. If they were right, the dynamics would have equaled AC operation.

    Ken
    Now that I have new batteries installed the 18NS is running on battery power flawlessly although I still have some "range anxiety" about how long they will last. So I am splitting my time between AC and battery power and appreciate the flexibility with little loss in fidelity. To me the best argument for upgrade to Mark 2 is acquiring modern battery technology in the new model.
    I wouldn't belong to any club that had me as a member - Groucho.

  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cascais View Post
    Now that I have new batteries installed the 18NS is running on battery power flawlessly although I still have some "range anxiety" about how long they will last. So I am splitting my time between AC and battery power and appreciate the flexibility with little loss in fidelity. To me the best argument for upgrade to Mark 2 is acquiring modern battery technology in the new model.
    It seems this would be a worthwhile upgrade so you could run on battery power 100% of the time with no concern of battery failure. This is the way the preamp was intended to be used. Just a thought.

    Ken

  3. #93
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Mike Lavigne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cascais View Post
    Now that I have new batteries installed the 18NS is running on battery power flawlessly although I still have some "range anxiety" about how long they will last. So I am splitting my time between AC and battery power and appreciate the flexibility with little loss in fidelity. To me the best argument for upgrade to Mark 2 is acquiring modern battery technology in the new model.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alpinist View Post
    It seems this would be a worthwhile upgrade so you could run on battery power 100% of the time with no concern of battery failure. This is the way the preamp was intended to be used. Just a thought.

    Ken
    +1.

    speaking to Herve about the changes to the Mark '2' 18NS he says that the new battery and charging system and the effects on the performance in terms of power supply related issues are significant. I don't understand the technical issues involved, but lowered noise, increased dynamics, improved weight and authority and greater sense of vivid 'there-ness' are all related to these improvements. of course; the 'forget-about-it' aspect of the whole battery issues in the Mark 2 is also a big plus. I can listen (and often do) all day long (10 to 12 to 14 hours) and as long as I shut it down when i'm gone for short periods it seems like I never have an issue of it reverting to AC power. over 2 years now I see zero change in battery life. it's suppose to be good for something like 30,000 charging cycles.

    my MSB Select II has a phenomenal internal passive preamp. reports I have about it are that universally it surpasses other active preamps in pretty much every system it's used in. in my system I was able to go direct with the 'zeel' interface from the MSB to the dart mono blocks. sounded great. but not as good as with the Mark 2 18NS inserted into the system. would the MK 1 be as good? my guess is no.

    the MK 2 upgrade is a sweet step up in performance and peace of mind. much better phono stage too. and the numeric read-out for volume improves the ease of use.
    Wave Kin. NVS tt, AS-2000 ord. (2) Durand Telos (1-Sapphire) arms, CA Gold Stat, Ort Anna carts, -2- Studer A-820 RTR (1/4" + 1/2").*MSB Select II dac w/33 Femto clock + mono powerbases, SGM serv + (2x) 30 tb NAS. *darT NHB-18NS w/2 phonos, King-Cello. *dart 458 mono blocks. EA MM7. *Equi=tech 10WQ, (10) Abso Fid PC & (2) Evo Acou PC. *Evo Acou 12' TRSC and 8m + 1.25m 'zeel' ic's, *Tripoint Troy Sig + Elite, Entreq Sil Tel + Pos, *Herzan TS-140 & TS-150, Wave Kin. A10 U8's + 2NS, Adona GTX.

  4. #94
    Addicted to Best! Cascais's Avatar
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    Hervé states that the difference between battery and AC operation depends on the condition of your AC current. I must have clean AC since the difference between Automatic and AC is minimal, helped along maybe by some Nordost power cords. However the change in battery technology between the time the NHB-18NS was introduced (2007?) and 2018 is immense which must have a significant effect on performance as well as ease of use.
    I wouldn't belong to any club that had me as a member - Groucho.

  5. #95
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Mike Lavigne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cascais View Post
    Hervé states that the difference between battery and AC operation depends on the condition of your AC current. I must have clean AC since the difference between Automatic and AC is minimal, helped along maybe by some Nordost power cords. However the change in battery technology between the time the NHB-18NS was introduced (2007?) and 2018 is immense which must have a significant effect on performance as well as ease of use.
    no doubt a/c quality matters. but even though I had the 10kva Balanced Equi=tech 10WQ isolation transformer for the last 5 years of the Mk1 18NS the battery advantage was still evident, although reduced. with the new Mk2 I've rarely had a chance to hear the difference, except at an audio show where the 18NS is on dawn to dusk, and there it was significant (hotel power grid). but that was also the Mk2 prototype and not the production version.

    I did have my Mk1 updated to better charging software around 2010-2011 which did work better. battery life then was about twice what it had been. but still an issue.
    Wave Kin. NVS tt, AS-2000 ord. (2) Durand Telos (1-Sapphire) arms, CA Gold Stat, Ort Anna carts, -2- Studer A-820 RTR (1/4" + 1/2").*MSB Select II dac w/33 Femto clock + mono powerbases, SGM serv + (2x) 30 tb NAS. *darT NHB-18NS w/2 phonos, King-Cello. *dart 458 mono blocks. EA MM7. *Equi=tech 10WQ, (10) Abso Fid PC & (2) Evo Acou PC. *Evo Acou 12' TRSC and 8m + 1.25m 'zeel' ic's, *Tripoint Troy Sig + Elite, Entreq Sil Tel + Pos, *Herzan TS-140 & TS-150, Wave Kin. A10 U8's + 2NS, Adona GTX.

  6. #96
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
    (...) reports I have about it are that universally it surpasses other active preamps in pretty much every system it's used in. in my system I was able to go direct with the 'zeel' interface from the MSB to the dart mono blocks. sounded great. but not as good as with the Mark 2 18NS inserted into the system.(...)
    Probably other users are not connecting it to amplifiers with a 50 ohm input impedance. In my experience with the Dartzeel's (old version, almost no experience with mk2) I found it was a "closed system" - you should have both preamplfier and amplifier to get the best of it. Although it is possible to have electronics modified for the 50 ohm interface standard, most probably it will not be optimal - for example, the power supply needs for such systems is completely different.

    Even with Vivaldi, there is some "magic" when you connect it directly to a power amplifier. I am still wavering on the subject ...
    Under construction around the DCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack and a pair of Wilson XLF's : Forsell Air Force One, ARC Phono 2SE, cj GAT + Lamm M1.2 ref, TA OPUS MM2 +TA XL digital, TA XL gen V power cables and CenterStage footers ...

  7. #97
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Mike Lavigne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    Probably other users are not connecting it to amplifiers with a 50 ohm input impedance. In my experience with the Dartzeel's (old version, almost no experience with mk2) I found it was a "closed system" - you should have both preamplfier and amplifier to get the best of it. Although it is possible to have electronics modified for the 50 ohm interface standard, most probably it will not be optimal - for example, the power supply needs for such systems is completely different.

    Even with Vivaldi, there is some "magic" when you connect it directly to a power amplifier. I am still wavering on the subject ...
    MSB (the manufacturer) was of the opinion that their RCA output module could properly drive the 50ohm 'zeel' interface with no problem. and they were absolutely right. it worked great; either directly to the 18NS pre's 'zeel' input, or the 458 mono's 'zeel' input. I was surprised. evidently; not all output circuits are created equal.

    MSB is very impressed with the dart's design culture in terms of it's minimalist and pure, simple approach and I won't be surprised to see MSB adapt the 'zeel' interface. they may do a module with the BNC outputs.

    in any case, my opinion is that it's not the interface advantage that allows for the dart pre to sound better; it's the dart pre itself. just an opinion.
    Wave Kin. NVS tt, AS-2000 ord. (2) Durand Telos (1-Sapphire) arms, CA Gold Stat, Ort Anna carts, -2- Studer A-820 RTR (1/4" + 1/2").*MSB Select II dac w/33 Femto clock + mono powerbases, SGM serv + (2x) 30 tb NAS. *darT NHB-18NS w/2 phonos, King-Cello. *dart 458 mono blocks. EA MM7. *Equi=tech 10WQ, (10) Abso Fid PC & (2) Evo Acou PC. *Evo Acou 12' TRSC and 8m + 1.25m 'zeel' ic's, *Tripoint Troy Sig + Elite, Entreq Sil Tel + Pos, *Herzan TS-140 & TS-150, Wave Kin. A10 U8's + 2NS, Adona GTX.

  8. #98
    VIP/Donor [VIP/Donor] microstrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
    MSB (the manufacturer) was of the opinion that their RCA output module could properly drive the 50ohm 'zeel' interface with no problem. and they were absolutely right. it worked great; either directly to the 18NS pre's 'zeel' input, or the 458 mono's 'zeel' input. I was surprised. evidently; not all output circuits are created equal.

    MSB is very impressed with the dart's design culture in terms of it's minimalist and pure, simple approach and I won't be surprised to see MSB adapt the 'zeel' interface. they may do a module with the BNC outputs.

    in any case, my opinion is that it's not the interface advantage that allows for the dart pre to sound better; it's the dart pre itself. just an opinion.
    Probably it is only semantics, but IMHO a system that sounds better with a preamplifier inserted in the chain of an high level signal is not "minimalist". If, as you say and I easily believe, the Dartzeel preamplifer manages to make your system sound better with the preamplifier in the chain, contrary to what happens with the other users you refer, the only explanation I can imagine is that they did not manage to reproduce yet this non standard interface. Or do you think we are addressing a level where it is mainly a question of preference?
    Under construction around the DCS Vivaldi 2.0 stack and a pair of Wilson XLF's : Forsell Air Force One, ARC Phono 2SE, cj GAT + Lamm M1.2 ref, TA OPUS MM2 +TA XL digital, TA XL gen V power cables and CenterStage footers ...

  9. #99
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] Mike Lavigne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    Probably it is only semantics, but IMHO a system that sounds better with a preamplifier inserted in the chain of an high level signal is not "minimalist". If, as you say and I easily believe, the Dartzeel preamplifer manages to make your system sound better with the preamplifier in the chain, contrary to what happens with the other users you refer, the only explanation I can imagine is that they did not manage to reproduce yet this non standard interface. Or do you think we are addressing a level where it is mainly a question of preference?
    well......a few years back i dived into headphones big time. i wanted to see just how close they could come to speakers. so i acquired both stat and dynamic SOTA phones and amps, and even ordered what is still considered the best stat amp and the newest stat cans; the BHSE and Stax 009's headphones. i plugged my digital player directly into the amp and listened. then i plugged my digital player into the dart pre, plugged the amp into the dart pre, and listened. it was better through the dart preamp. even into an amplifier that had no brand synergy.

    i seem to consistently come back to the same conclusion. you, as an engineer and much higher technical understanding than myself maybe see it somewhat differently. i know you have your ARC Ref 10 (?) <-> dart pre experience which is contrary. maybe your dart pre was not optimal.
    Wave Kin. NVS tt, AS-2000 ord. (2) Durand Telos (1-Sapphire) arms, CA Gold Stat, Ort Anna carts, -2- Studer A-820 RTR (1/4" + 1/2").*MSB Select II dac w/33 Femto clock + mono powerbases, SGM serv + (2x) 30 tb NAS. *darT NHB-18NS w/2 phonos, King-Cello. *dart 458 mono blocks. EA MM7. *Equi=tech 10WQ, (10) Abso Fid PC & (2) Evo Acou PC. *Evo Acou 12' TRSC and 8m + 1.25m 'zeel' ic's, *Tripoint Troy Sig + Elite, Entreq Sil Tel + Pos, *Herzan TS-140 & TS-150, Wave Kin. A10 U8's + 2NS, Adona GTX.

  10. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cascais View Post
    Now that I have new batteries installed the 18NS is running on battery power flawlessly although I still have some "range anxiety" about how long they will last. So I am splitting my time between AC and battery power and appreciate the flexibility with little loss in fidelity. To me the best argument for upgrade to Mark 2 is acquiring modern battery technology in the new model.

    Don't know how old your Dart is, I had one for a for just over two years. Mine was about 5yrs old when I got it, I know the MK1 went through several iterations. The one I had had the stepped vol control and a later phono stage.
    The dealer I bought it from put in new batteries when I purchased it, I used it on battery all the time I had it and they never went down.
    So it could have been dodgy batteries or, possibly, the one I had did have a better implementation of the charing cycle.

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