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Thread: DACs that excel at DSD playback (other than Lampi GG)?

  1. #1
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    DACs that excel at DSD playback (other than Lampi GG)?

    Hi Everyone,

    It is time to replace my ageing Lampi L4, and I am looking for a new DAC in 15 000 euro range. Most of my music collection is in DSD format, so I need a DAC, which is very good with DSD and supports at least DSD256.
    I have had extensive listening sessions with Lampi GG in my system and liked it very very much, so this is the obvious choice. But I want to at least consider other options. So far, I am thinking about the new Aqua Formula. Anything else out there?

    Thanks,
    Aziz

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    Addicted to Best! sbo6's Avatar
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    I have the Aqua and can vouch for its sound as can Mike L. I haven't heard the upgrade yet which does native DSD as I'm sure you know. Then there's TotalDAC Seven which sb in your range.
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    The Nagra HD Dac is DSD designed. I believe several upgrades have or will be made available. Optional output transformers if you need true balanced output.

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    Addicted to Best! sbo6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan31 View Post
    The Nagra HD Dac is DSD designed. I believe several upgrades have or will be made available. Optional output transformers if you need true balanced output.
    I believe the Nagra HD starts at €20K and is over his budget which is why I omitted it.
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    Thank you for the suggestions. The new Aqua Formula is definitely on my radar. Although, I've just read in the Audiostream review, that it sounds a bit on the analytical side comparing to the Totaldac that the reviewer has. This is not good, as I am used to the Lampi sound, and Lampis are not analytical at all.
    One of the Totaldac models would be an excellent choice, but they only support up to DSD128, and I really want to try those DSD256 recordings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abeidrov View Post
    Thank you for the suggestions. The new Aqua Formula is definitely on my radar. Although, I've just read in the Audiostream review, that it sounds a bit on the analytical side comparing to the Totaldac that the reviewer has. This is not good, as I am used to the Lampi sound, and Lampis are not analytical at all.
    One of the Totaldac models would be an excellent choice, but they only support up to DSD128, and I really want to try those DSD256 recordings.
    The Aqua Formula with the XHD upgrade which then accepts DSD 256, is sounding very tonally dense and rich. HQ Player converting all PCM tracks to DSD 256 brings a lot to the sonic table. Very much recommended for an audition
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    As one that has compared DAC's to the direct A-D feed from several converters, I would look no further than the Merging NADAC. I have had the Lampi GG as well as other high-end DAC's and can without a doubt, highly recommend the NADAC.

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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by EuroDriver View Post
    The Aqua Formula with the XHD upgrade which then accepts DSD 256, is sounding very tonally dense and rich. HQ Player converting all PCM tracks to DSD 256 brings a lot to the sonic table. Very much recommended for an audition
    Interesting. Does this actually add anything sonically. If you convert to DSD doesn't it add extra noise, that then has to be filtered out. Maybe the filter in DSD does the apparent treble smoothing that some seem to enjoy? If the Formula has no filter, would it be best to feed it pure PCM at the original sample rate?

    Only saying. I haven't tried the above yet with a DAC capable of handling both. But there is a camp that says best to run it untouched, not altered or messed with.

    There was a cluster of PCM to DSD folk on here in the GG / Formula threads, but it seems to have since gone quiet somewhat.

    Anyway, it would be useful to find a DSD capable DAC if you have lots of DSD originals. But also wouldn't you need an equality capable PCM function as well? I think it will be hard to find a DAC that does both at the best level possible. Most DSD engines are FPGA so there is a cost there, and adding that to dedicated PCM conversion function.
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    Quote Originally Posted by astrostar59 View Post
    Interesting. Does this actually add anything sonically. If you convert to DSD doesn't it add extra noise, that then has to be filtered out. Maybe the filter in DSD does the apparent treble smoothing that some seem to enjoy? If the Formula has no filter, would it be best to feed it pure PCM at the original sample rate?

    Only saying. I haven't tried the above yet with a DAC capable of handling both. But there is a camp that says best to run it untouched, not altered or messed with.

    There was a cluster of PCM to DSD folk on here in the GG / Formula threads, but it seems to have since gone quiet somewhat.

    Anyway, it would be useful to find a DSD capable DAC if you have lots of DSD originals. But also wouldn't you need an equality capable PCM function as well? I think it will be hard to find a DAC that does both at the best level possible. Most DSD engines are FPGA so there is a cost there, and adding that to dedicated PCM conversion function.
    Last week I had the pleasure of listening to a Lampi single ended GG using HQ Player to convert all tracks to DSD. This owner has lot of experience with tube rolling, and his voicing of the GG was deliciously sweet, yet precise and detailed. The sonics of the Lampi was significantly uplifted by a D-2 Setchi hooked up to the SPDIF input, and a A1 Setchi hooked up to an unused RCA
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    Quote Originally Posted by astrostar59 View Post
    Interesting. Does this actually add anything sonically. If you convert to DSD doesn't it add extra noise, that then has to be filtered out. Maybe the filter in DSD does the apparent treble smoothing that some seem to enjoy? If the Formula has no filter, would it be best to feed it pure PCM at the original sample rate?

    Only saying. I haven't tried the above yet with a DAC capable of handling both. But there is a camp that says best to run it untouched, not altered or messed with.

    There was a cluster of PCM to DSD folk on here in the GG / Formula threads, but it seems to have since gone quiet somewhat.
    this was mostly earlier GG's and the Nagra HD both optimized for dsd conversion. and there were many of these GG's out there. later GG's (or upgraded one's) had improved PCM.

    Anyway, it would be useful to find a DSD capable DAC if you have lots of DSD originals. But also wouldn't you need an equality capable PCM function as well? I think it will be hard to find a DAC that does both at the best level possible. Most DSD engines are FPGA so there is a cost there, and adding that to dedicated PCM conversion function.
    not hard to find, just hard to pay for. the MSB Select II with it's hybrid dac design, is easily both the best PCM and best DSD that I have heard.

    and at a more modest price point, likely the Aqua Formula with the recent upgrades, would be a pretty good choice to do both. and it's modular and shown to be upgradeable.
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