Abbas dac 2.1 se

cal3713

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jespera

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Comparing the 3 dacs: 2.1se (2018), 4.1se (2022)) and 3.2se (2021) these are my main conclusions:

0/ they are all three _very_ good and musical dacs. If live non-synthetic music and analog is your reference then look no further. If some other dac is your reference then look somewhere else.

1/ 2.1se and 4.1se sound remarkably similar. To the point that using only straight a/b comparison youd easily fall for the objectivist idea that the only difference between dacs is the analog stage. There are differences though. They are subtle. But real.

2/ The 3.2se is superior. Size and big bottles do matter. More of everything: dynamics, details, tone, refinement, 3d, bass, etc. You hear it instantly.

On the subtleties:

a/ abbas has been constantly refining the basic construction particularly with attention to power supplies on both the analog and digital sides and i/u conversion.

Chrome can translate:


The result is that the more recent 4.1se (and 3.2se) has a tad more together, darker character.

b/ My 2.1se also has a new production cirrus input chip whereas the 4.1se and 3.2se have a proper original. Abbas has sent me an original chip but i havent gotten around to replacing it — it requires unscrewing boards and soldering. My theory is that the original chip is better and more sympathetic to streaming sources.

c/ the tda 1541 (2.1) has something that the other chips and particularly the delta-sigmas dont have. I hear it here, on the 3.2, the abbas marantz, and an old modded valved sony cd player i have. A bit of extra sparcle. Some of that magic that separates digital from vinyl and vinyl from tape and tape feom the real thing. Or at least an illusion of it. This also contributes to the 2.1se coming across as slightly lighter tonally balanced than the 4.1.

On the other hand the pcm 58 (4.1) has a sniff of that metronomic drive that i like so much in lenco turntables (and bizarrely, a few early digital recordings). But here with digital, id go with the tda 1541.

So which one of the two would i choose? the new 2.4se. It has tda 1541 and a bigger tube in the output stage which I suspect will give it more 3.2 character. The tda 1540 based dac x is also interesting. But obviously a bit on the wild contrarian side.

On the 3.2:

Going from the 2.1se and 4.1se to the 3.2se is like going from a 4 to an 8 cylinder car. Or from 10” to 15” vintage tannoys. Forgetaboutit. A more full fat presentation in all directions. Theres a reason why abbas calls it his best (serially produced) dac to date. Its awesome. I love it. Its the one for me.

Ps! For the 2.1/4.1 comparison i used the same tung-sol 5687 output tubes and cables and streamers.
 
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djsina2

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So which one of the two would i choose? the new 2.4se. It has tda 1541 and a bigger tube in the output stage which I suspect will give it more 3.2 character.

My 2.4SE should be shipping this week. It has different tubes in the output stage.

DAC 2.4SE 6X5 + EAA91 + E180F + TDA1541 + 2x 6SN7 + "GD workshop" EI power transformer
 
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Artnet

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Thank you for the comparison, no mean feat.
the pcm 58 (4.1) has a sniff of that metronomic drive
Its what my ears tell me, but don't have the opportunity for comparison. Just enjoying the music with the 4.1 paired to a CEC transport :)
Back in the ebay day I bought some Abbas speaker cables that I rotate through. Dont know if he is still doing cables but they are good!! with the right DAC/Amp combo of course.

But here with digital, id go with the tda 1541.
Eventually I'll get there.

DAC 2.4SE 6X5 + EAA91 + E180F + TDA1541 + 2x 6SN7 + "GD workshop" EI power transformer
Very much like the spec on this model nice choice.
 
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limberpine

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On the other hand the pcm 58 (4.1) has a sniff of that metronomic drive that i like so much in lenco turntables (and bizarrely, a few early digital recordings). But here with digital, id go with the tda 1541.
With my 4.0 which has the PCM 58P in it, I can attest to what you're saying. There is a power that comes through the music music akin to an idler drive TT. It also seems like the DAC also places emphasis on certain portions of the music to make it feel more real in the room. And the last thing I have noticed is that the DAC coupled with the La Scalas is unforgiving with how good the recording is. I've had multiple people sit down and listen with me and they are rather disappointed in music they believed to be amazing, played through my system. Which I can only surmise that it was poorly recorded and mastered....?

Thanks for your thoughts! I'd love to hear a 3.2 at some point now. : )

Any maybe play around with tubes on the DAC and the Abbas USB to SPDIF converter
 
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jespera

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Happy to hear that artnet and limperpine confirm some of my observations about the pcm 58.

As for 6sn7, i can recommend the sylvania 7n7 sold by jac music. It requires an adapter that he also sells. Oddly, one of the adapters i bought was faulty.
 
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Artnet

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that the DAC coupled with the La Scalas is unforgiving with how good the recording is.
Hi Limberpine I was hoping to hear your thoughts on the 4.0.
While the difference between the 4.1 and the 4.0 is real, the 4.0 with its Kondo output stage.
I think its the pcm 58, and i don't dislike its honesty with the recordings I listen to. I run mine into some Thoeress 2CD12's
If it disturbs I try for a better recording if it exists or swap the amps and cables or just enjoy the music.

What bottles are in the 4.0?
 

jespera

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As for the honesty with respect to recordings and input in general: i think this is a general abbas dac trait. To my ears pcm 58 and tda 1541 are equally revealing.

The abbas dacs are musical but they arent putting lipstick on pigs.

The syntheticness and compression of much modern music is exposed. And as an abbas owner you’ll learn to stear away from the worst digital remasters of classics. For me personally, its not a big loss.

In comparison, the audio note dacs, for example, come across as more forgiving. This can be nice enough but it comes at the cost of less resolution. Imho.

Ps! Been to quite a few shows and demos of very high end stuff where they played a lot of noises made by one man and his computer. I dont get it.
 
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