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 Post subject: Tube DAC
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:14 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:35 am
Posts: 387
Location: Stoney Creek, ON, CA
I'm considering buying a tube DAC
I have had tube gear before and loved it, But now I have moved to s/s
All the music I listen to are FLAC files running from my WD box to a Audiolab 8200cd then to my YBA amp
I'm assuming that running my source through a tube DAC would give my the tube sound back
I'm just wondering?? I know it will sound different than my Audiolab but will it be better
If anyone has switched from a s/s DAC to a tube DAC please let me know what you think
Also let me know if you have any suggested DAC's to buy

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Tube DAC
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:24 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:34 am
Posts: 240
Location: Ardrosssan, AB, CA
There will be lots of opinions out there.

I have numerous DACs, mostly solid state but my latest tube dac is the Musical Paradise MP-D2. If it is within your budget, it cannot be beat, plus you can roll tubes (and even capacitors) to your heart's (and musical taste) delight.

Another very nice tube DAC is the Grant Fidelity Tube DAC-11. I have two of them!

If you are looking to reintroduce tubes to your setup I really think you will not go wrong with either of the two I have suggested.


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 Post subject: Re: Tube DAC
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:20 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 12:47 pm
Posts: 120
Location: Leduc, AB, CA
I went from a tube DAC (Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 MK II) to SS (Bryston BDA-3). I also auditioned the BDA-2, but you could barely squeeze a single piece of paper between it and the Sonic Frontiers, sound wise. I'm intending to question Chris Johnson about the possibility of swapping out the Sonic's converter chips for something newer. That said, there was no appreciable change in the character of the overall sound when moving to the BDA-3. If there was any character change, it was completely swamped out by the incredible overall improvements in clarity, focus, imaging and pacing of the Bryston.

I can assemble complete systems with either brand. I have found that both sound remarkably similar. I doubt that, in a blindfold test, very many people could tell which was which. They would be able to discern that one provided more information, but, I really doubt that tube versus solid state would ever even enter their mind. Remember, I said blindfolded. I attribute this meeting of the ways to the quality of my Shunyata power conditioner and power cables and my Cardas interconnects and speaker cables. Of course, the overall voicing of both brands is, I find, very similar, and is a strong factor.

Lots of tube equipment is specifically designed to have a "tube" sound. If you have something like that in mind, I'd be looking at amps and preamps only. Unless one's amp and preamp are lacking in overall design and engineering, there are but small gains to be made generally except for throwing a lot more money that way. And that's the way it should be! You could also become a "tube roller" some day; you never know until you catch the bug. But think of the choices - that's the hook! Tubes have been historically known to be more forgiving of digital hash; but, today's better products have chipped away much of those concerns.

With DAC's, you decide on the budget and get the best that you can find therein. I choose the BDA-3 in part because I read the golden phrase about it repeatedly, i.e., "sounds better than anything else at 3 to 5 times the price". Every other consideration was in place and the audition was a no-brainer, for me. I would also say that waiting to save up for the BDA-3 would be a wise decision - it won't matter if you are listening through tubes or solid state. The BDA-3 takes me to a concert with almost every CD or flac file I own. I've settled in for the long haul.

This is the classic case of hidden value; by only buying higher quality and value, you pay less in the end because you don't participate in a series of upgrades that nickel and dime you to death. And all along you have much better sound.

Another hidden dilemma is trying to solve problems simultaneously. I feel this is the real centre of your quest. Logically, you can't do it - you can only get lucky - and the percentages are completely against you. It's a classic mistake everyone makes until they take a university course in experimental design or someone else points it out. Tube sound should not be conjoined with DAC quality. If, for example, your doctor wants to change your medications, he will only change one at a time. If he changes two or more at the same time, and if there is an effect on your condition, he will not know which one was responsible. In audio, someone may decide to scrap their amp and preamp for an integrated model because it sounds better than what they have at home. Seems straightforward, right? Not so fast; they will most likely benefit far more by improving the interconnects between the amp and preamp. Until you try it you won't know. One step at a time! Perhaps my two cents may have given you some valuable new information or perspective. I hope you can step back and re-evaluate your goals and how to better achieve them. Best wishes!


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 Post subject: Re: Tube DAC
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:37 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:02 am
Posts: 1071
Location: Kingston, ON, CA
I've gone a from tubed DAC to SS (Grant Fidelity DAC-09 -> Teac UD-501), mainly for DSD. But I also have a tubed preamp, amp and phono stage, so I have a lot of tubes in my system.

SS DACs are a lot cheaper to do well than tubed ones.

If your budget can swing it, Lampizator DACs are the best bang-for-the-buck DACs in their price range.

They run from US$2,150 (http://www.audioasylumtrader.com/ca/listing/Preamplifier-Tube/LampizatOr-TUBE-DAC-DSD/LampizatOr-TUBE-DSD-DAC/LampizatOr-TUBE-DAC-DSD-PREAMP-Remote-Control-Dueland-Hi-end-Capacitors-Amane/167782) to +US$5,000, depending on the model.

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"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." (Aristotle, 384-322 BCE)


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 Post subject: Re: Tube DAC
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:22 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:49 am
Posts: 74
Location: kemptville, ON, CA
I have been going through this for the past six months. Finally took the plunge into digital music.

Up until 2 weeks ago I was running;

Musical Paradise MP-303 Tube from end , Class D amp in the back end and a built in Ciruus Logic DAC. A Dell XPS Studio i7 laptop with SDD drive running Jriver MC 22 and Rega Ela speakers. ( I also have many speakers in rotation)

The sound was ok. but only ok. I rolled a few different 5670 tubes, but it did not really change the sound. I really had to read up on DAC's and Jriver mostly. Since I knew the speakers character.

After tweaking Jriver DSP settings I could get a more liquid (tube) sound. But I missed a MP-301 I had rotated out to use the MP-303. The best bang for my money I could find for a DAC was the HIFIMEDIY SABRE ASYNCHRONOUS USB DAC 2 (EXTERNAL PSU HiFimeDIY PSM3 8V AC PSU) Total cost roughly $250 CDN. It also has a couple Windows 10 ASIO driver choices. Which was important to me.

I put the MP-303 (running Sovtek 5881 & Winged C EF86 ) back in the setup after receiving the new DAC. It does have a more tubey sound now. I ran that for a week. I picked up a IFI USB Purfier and put that in last night. The Purifier has made a difference. Greater separation in instruments, greater detail and a quieter sound floor. When I fired it up last night my foot started tapping. Always a good sign. Jeff Buckley Hallelujah made the hair on my neck stand up. Very engaging.

For now, this is the best of both worlds for me. ( Analog, Tubes and Digital)


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 Post subject: Re: Tube DAC
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:48 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:48 pm
Posts: 364
Location: Vancouver, BC, CA
The first decent DAC I purchased was a McIntosh D100 - and this was the first time I quite enjoyed listening to digital files. This year I purchased a Lampizator Atlantic and now I'm really enjoying digital files. I did a 3-way shootout between the D100, the Atlantic and my vinyl setup. All input sources were playing the same piece of music - I simply had to select the input source on the preamp to switch between. The Atlantic was much closer to my vinyl setup, but had even more separation of instruments and sounded more dynamic. It almost made the D100 sound a little bright and too "in your face".

The Atlantic doesn't have the build quality of the Mac, but it sounds very, very good. It's not cheap though.

_________________
Turntable: VPI ScoutMaster Sig, Cart: Dynavector 20*2L, Phono: Audia Flight
DACs: Lampizator GA, Mac D100
Preamps: Mac C500T, MX121
Amps: Mac MC7270, MX205
Headphone amps: Glenn 300B, Woo WA22
Speakers: B&W 805S, B&W 804S
Phones: LCD-3F


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 Post subject: Re: Tube DAC
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 8:22 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:00 pm
Posts: 61
Location: Scarborough, ON, CA
I had a Rega, PS Audio DL 3 and recently sold my Music hall tube doc.

I bought Unison Research CDP with DAC out, so sold the MH. Music hall 25.3 was the best bang for the buck, i now wish i didn't sell it. I have SS and Tube amp, the tube dac worked well with both.

I overall prefer tubes over SS.

Currently trying out AMR DP 777 with Parts Connection upgrades, that was recently traded to my dealer. Love this DAC, i think ill almost end up buying it, tubes are just so much better.


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 Post subject: Re: Tube DAC
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:36 pm
Posts: 3644
Location: Vernon, BC, CA
Currently using a Musical Paradise MP-D2. I'm enjoying it quite a bit more than the Bryston BDA-3 it replaced in my main rig. For the record it is similar sounding to the Bryston. Before that I was using a Chord Hugo TT and a long list of others. I really like the ability to change coupling capacitors and tubes with the MP-D2. You can certainly get better but it's going to cost you.


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