Best redbook 16bit/44.1kHz DACs?

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,548
2
38
#22

Joe Whip

New Member
Feb 8, 2014
1,099
0
0
Wayne, PA
#23
Which is why I always recommend an in home audition. I haven't heard the Berkeley. If I see one, I will give it a listen, but would never spend that kind of money on a DAC.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,881
12
38
Greater Boston
#24
Which is why I always recommend an in home audition. I haven't heard the Berkeley. If I see one, I will give it a listen, but would never spend that kind of money on a DAC.
I know. I thought I'd be happy with an NAD M51 or a Hegel DAC25 and was disappointed when that was not the case; my wallet would have appreciated it. Yet I couldn't take a step back from my 20-year old Wadia 12 DAC, which sounded more lively and dramatic than either of these (I needed another DAC because I needed a digital volume control). The Berkeley DAC sounded just as lively and dramatic as the old Wadia, but then with much more resolution and better bass. Soundstage is substantially better too.
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,548
2
38
#26
Lloyd, are you also mainly a redbook listener?
Exclusively a redbook listener...many years ago, i promised myself to focus on ONE source...so as not to split my resources. And here we are...nearly 8 years after the Zanden and still extremely happy, even after having auditioned and/or brought home other digital equipment. I have heard an SACD, hi-res download and CD version of the same track played thru an Esoteric player a few years ago...and it occurred to me that i did not wish to spend on the multi-format...when i guestimated that the quality of the mastering was probably more important than the format itself.

In the end, redbook is not perfect, but its sounds remarkable when done well thru a great player, and with so many more variables that make a far bigger difference than the DAC...i am perfectly happy with the Zanden...and to enjoy music first, play around with other areas of the system second...and only third, even think about source.
 

slowGEEZR

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2010
1,263
0
0
66
Round Rock, Texas
#27
Exclusively a redbook listener...many years ago, i promised myself to focus on ONE source...so as not to split my resources. And here we are...nearly 8 years after the Zanden and still extremely happy, even after having auditioned and/or brought home other digital equipment.
I understand that, as I too am extremely happy with my DAC, the Ayre QB-9 DSD. I recently migrated to a new MacMini and the latest JRiver software and the DAC seems even better than before, with the older MacMin and Amarra. One thing I'd like to point out is I think it is great having a company that will upgrade their DAC for a minimal charge, in order to keep it current or whenever they discover a way to improve it. Ayre has done that twice to my DAC, pushing it's performance ever higher.
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
0
0
#28
Hi

I haven't heard these in the same system but I have been very impressed by the follwoing DACs

Burmester 069
CH Preiscion C1
Bekeley DAC 2
Auralic Vega

I listen mostly to Redbook. I have not heard the Berkeley Reference yet. Looking forward to.
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,548
2
38
#29
I understand that, as I too am extremely happy with my DAC, the Ayre QB-9 DSD. I recently migrated to a new MacMini and the latest JRiver software and the DAC seems even better than before, with the older MacMin and Amarra. One thing I'd like to point out is I think it is great having a company that will upgrade their DAC for a minimal charge, in order to keep it current or whenever they discover a way to improve it. Ayre has done that twice to my DAC, pushing it's performance ever higher.
Nice...and agree...upgrades can be important and being able to do so without buying a new model is very, very good to build customer loyalty. I have heard very good things about the Ayre DAC from both a few users and reviewers. Enjoy!
 

Ronm1

Member Sponsor
Feb 21, 2011
1,746
0
0
wtOMitMutb NH
#31
Apr 26, 2012
193
0
16
#33
Burmester 069.
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#34
amirm you can ask questions directly to the guy who did the Yggdrasil measurements here:
http://www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,2405.0.html

(also contains good discussion and a second set of measurements with the DAC fully warm/settled ~400hrs uptime)
I had seen his measurements and forum posts before. What I am looking for is his credentials and better documentation of what he is measuring. In his profile it says he is an "acoustic researcher" or some such thing. That is not the right type of background for testing DACs. Maybe he knows more than that but I don't know it.

His measurements are odd. In this day and age for example I could care less about the frequency response of a DAC. Almost all have ruler flat response. Zooming in to 0.01 db just to show some roll off makes no sense to me. Neither do the distortion measurements unless they are measuring the headphone amp.

I like to see jitter reduction and isolation from the source. From brief look at his tests, it looks like he is using the automated test scripts in the dScope analyzer for these. That is the wrong approach. Those tests are for verification of a device functioning. They are not revealing in regards to what needs to be tested and hence the reason I created my own tests with dScope. Here is his "jitter" test:



The test signal is at 1 KHz. I have never seen anyone measure jitter at 1 Khz. Jitter is frequency dependent and the higher it is, the higher the level of jitter. The standard in the industry is J-test which runs at a quarter of sampling rate so for 44.1Khz, it is at 11.05 Khz.

I can't imagine someone having a dScope but not knowing these things so it is a puzzle. Until the answers appear, I suggest not trust any of that data.

As to me asking him questions, I have none. Per above, I can see what he is doing which is generating data that is not useful. My warning remains that people get trusted objective data. If you don't know the person, don't understand the nature of his tests, my suggestion is to ignore the information.
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#35
As a way of comparison, here are two measurements I have performed using the same hardware he is using, but with standard and proper test signal and graphs:



Notice the proper 12 Khz J-test signal for 48 Khz sampling I am using. And how revealing that is when comparing two pieces of equipment, this time the Pioneer SC-63 AVR against my Mark Levinson N36S driven by Berkeley USB to AES/EBU converter/bridge. I am not throwing the whole dashboard of the instrument at you, hoping your eyes glaze over and make you trust the data blindly.
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#36
One other comment about his measurements. He is testing the gear after some warm up time and says there are differences. He can't claim that. He needs to re-test the instrument itself to make sure it doesn't have that kind of variability on its own. And rule out his source PC is not changing over time either. When differences become small, you need to deploy very careful protocol to make trustworthy data.

Mind you, everything he says may be right but as a person who does this work routinely, I am bothered by most of what he is showing.
 

Joe Whip

New Member
Feb 8, 2014
1,099
0
0
Wayne, PA
#37
Perhaps, but I really liked what I heard from this DAC. Once I can get it past the wife, I hope to test one out in my system. It s amazing that my wife can buy yet another hand bag for up to $2k but if I want a DAC for that price, well, it isn't easy. I guess I am not the only guy with this problem! :D
 
Last edited:

Chris F

New Member
Oct 17, 2014
47
0
0
Ottawa, ON, Canada
#38
amirm you linked the wrong picture, it is from the 1Khz@-90dBFS frequency response test. The jitter test is the one above it.

Here is the image and indeed the signal is at 11.05Khz:


Looks pretty good to me.... (jitter? what jitter?)
 
Last edited:
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#39
amirm you linked the wrong picture, it is from the 1Khz@-90dBFS frequency response test. The jitter test is the one above it.

Here is the image and indeed the signal is at 11.05Khz:

Looks pretty good to me.... (jitter? what jitter?)
Thanks. That is the same picture I was commenting on previously. Oh there is jitter. It is hidden by misconfiguration the graph. I took that same image and made it easier to read in Photoshop:



As I have highlighted, there are jitter components there. It is just that the scale both horizontally and vertically are set such that they are hugely compressed, causing some to land directly on top of the main signal itself (tall spike) and hence almost invisible. When you see components as I have highlighted, the mandatory next step is to magnify the scale and see what is there.

Here is me approximating his scaling using my measurement of Mark Levinson No 36S:



Notice how much cleaner it looks than my previous graph. But it is not a proper or standard way to show this type of data unless you aim to hide flaws in the system.

What's that you say? The Shiit has lower noise floor of 160 vs 140 in mine? Well, that value is impacted by the analysis parameters. Without that, you can't compare one noise level to another.

My measurements are from my laptop playing the test signal, through the Berkeley, driving the ML DAC. His measurements on the other hand, seem to be from the dScope's super clean digital output. If he wants to show what happens when the DAC is used with a music server, that is the connection he needs to instrument. Indeed this is why I borrowed the dScope to perform my measurements even though I own an Audio Precision Analyzer. dScope gives you the choice of the PC or the instrument itself being the signal generator.

In his previous measurement which i showed by mistake he did use the PC as evidenced by the dialog box that says "Sound Cards" interface is used. In his jitter measurement that is not there making me suspect he is using the instrument's digital output. This will impact both the jitter and noise floor measurements.

Ultimately the right graph is one that compares different DACs together as I have shown. That way you know under identical setups how much better one is than other.

Again, he may very well have the right conclusions but little of what he has put forward gives confidence in them.

As it is, I can just as well impress anyone with my 15 year old DAC. :)
 

wisnon

Active Member
Dec 12, 2011
2,480
5
38
#40
Perhaps, but I really liked what I heard from this DAC. Once I can get it past the wife, I hope to test one out in my system. It s amazing that my wife can buy yet another hand bag for up to $2k but if I want a DAC for that price, well, it isn't easy. I guess I am not the only guy with this problem! :D
Hahahaha, so funny Joe. We all have to sneak stuff in from time to time past "customs".

Good morning, BTW.
 

Members online