Chord Dave

It won't be for everyone. I'm not saying it's the best. I've owned several DACs and after owning the Dave for a couple of weeks all I can say is WOW! This is the closest to hearing a night and day difference between components that I've experienced. The Dave differentiates between recording venues better than anything I've owned. Detail, soundstage, air, vocals, attack and dynamics are truly outstanding. I'm saying all of this and I'm using the standard power cord. If you're looking for a new DAC, give the Dave a listen.  
ricred1 congrats on your new DAC that's great! I've never heard a Chord DAC but my last CD player was a Tube Technology Fusion which used the same WTA FPG DAC technology and sounded fantastic. I can only imagine how good the Dave sounds.
Thanks. This is a crazy "hobby"! As the saying goes, one man's medicine, is another man's poison. My friend tried the Dave and wasn't overwhelmed with it in his system. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. I submit it's the most significant change that I've done to my system.
Greetings limniscate,

I haven’t had the opportunity to hear the Blu MkII upscaling CD transport. I have a music server and can’t justify getting the Blu least not yet:)! My friend asked me to try one, but I refused. I'm going to play around with the Dave this weekend without my preamp. I said I wouldn't try direct, but I've changed my mind. Have you heard the Blu MkII? If so, what are your thoughts?
It's my understanding that you can connect a media server to the Blu mkII and it will upsample to improve the sound. Can anyone comment on the sonic impact of combination of the Blu mkII with the Dave?
Well I tried the Chord Dave direct tonight. I had my wife play her favorite songs. She immediately asked me what I did. She simply said, "something didn’t sound right." I started writing down my thoughts:
1. two dimensional-height, width, and depth collapsed
2. either too loud or not loud enough
3. vocals are recessed
4. reduced spacing between instruments

I still absolutely love the Chord Dave, but I have yet to hear a DAC that I prefer directly into the amplifier. The Corus may not be the best preamplifier, but for now I’m keeping it. Ladies and gentleman I think I’m done for a while!

Yes, I've heard the Blu MkII, and it blew my mind.  I actually was underwhelmed by the DAVE in my system, but may consider the DAVE with the Blu MkII.

I still absolutely love the Chord Dave, but I have yet to hear a DAC that I prefer directly into the amplifier. The Corus may not be the best preamplifier, but for now I’m keeping it. Ladies and gentleman I think I’m done for a while!

I have definitely noticed this with a lot of DACs.  It entirely depends on what the I/V and output stage of the DAC is.  If it's general solid state or op amp, you will definitely need some sort of preamp to help with waveform smoothing or attack.  I suspect that a DAC that uses a very nice Class A or tube output stage (with some sort of volume control) could potentially sound very good direct to an amp.

I noticed this with Oppo bluray players (both the 103 and 105).  As good as the audio is from these players (and it's VERY good for the money), it sound very dry and somewhat flat coming straight form the player.  It really starts to shine when you put a Class A preamp in the mix.

You say, "I was underwhelmed with the Dave in my system." That's why I always say, no absolutes in Audio, only preferences. I submit we put too much focus on individual components and forget it's a system. The Chord Dave is just outstanding in my "system ". 
If the Dave sounded good direct, I would have sold my Corus to purchase the Blu mkII. Unfortunately funds prevent me from pursuing the Blu mkII at this moment. 
" I actually was underwhelmed by the DAVE in my system ."
At present a reviewer friend is doing a review the new Chord Hugo, he has the top Total dac himself, passive preamp, Wilson Alexia and Gryphon Antilion Evo as his reference system.
He told me he is very impressed with the new Hugo up against his Total dac getting very close to it.
We found that it uses a discrete type of Delta Sigma conversion technique. He said it was the first DS dac that he has heard that he’s been impressed with up against the R2R ladder multibit Total Dac.

This is the sort of systems (even better than his) that he listens to on his reviewing journeys.

Cheers George
I just sold my Chord Dave, I do miss it, I can not listen to music more than a few minutes without being bored with the DAC I currently have till I get a new one. The Dave worked great in my system (Wilson Audio Sasha’s and T +A amp, High Fidelity Reveal cables, Aurender MS). With the Chord Dave, I could listen for hours. Miss the big soundstage and the eerie vocals and the lifelike clarity of the Chord Dave. Would definitely buy it again. 
the dave is a killer dac. there is just so much resolution AND soul to the sound. i have the baby brother, the chord qbd76's no slouch.

have you tried the pre in the chord? is it any good?
I've tried the Dave direct and prefer the Dave with a preamp. In my system it's not close, but every system is different.
Ricred, did you give the volume control stage sufficient time to break in like 50 plus hours or just perform a quick AB comparison?  I would expect the Dave to sound very competitive direct.
I would love to hear the Dave as I,m still in love with my original Hugo.
Hi guys i have chord qutest ,i want an advice i can afford chord dave but donno what better upgrade? chord dave or qutest with m scaler
my dealer told me he will take back the qutest to an make me buying the dave so what is ur opinion guys?!?

Actually In my audition of the M-scaler with my Dave I was undecided. The m-scaler presentation to my ears was a little too smooth and lost a little of the dynamics. But that was in my present system with tube amp and preamp which I had gone to from solid state because of the lack of smoothness. Perhaps with solid state or transistor system I would have preferred the inclusion of the m-scaler.
   I would recommend getting the Dave and going from there. It is an amazing Dac to my ears.  The resolution is amazing without being overwhelming now in my setup.
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Statements such as "after owning the Dave for a couple of weeks all I can say is WOW!”, or "it's the most significant change that I've done to my system’ and "The Chord Dave is just outstanding in my "system “ are very impressive posts above.  

The Chord DAVE is 13.2" Wide by 2.8" High  by 6.1" Deep and weighting 15.4 pound,  The Bricasti M1 SE DAC is 17” x 12“ x 2.5” and weighs 12 pounds and the Debussy DAC is 17.6” x 15.5”x 2.6” and weighs 19.4 pounds.

How is it possible for the Chord DAVE DAC to be so small and yet provide such amazing sound quality?   I know the Chord DAVE DAC uses a new version of the advanced Spartan 6 Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA).  Has there many many software upgrades to the FPGA?

Is the Chord Ensemble Stand for the DAVE DAC required or can it just sit on 4 Stillpoints Ultra minis?   The Chord stand cost $1,895 and I need to know if it really required.

Based on the above, I plan to audition the Chord DAVE DAC.  Does any one have any additional comments on the Chord DAVE DAC?   Thanks…..  

I've talked to you several times about the Dave and with all due respect, you need to listen to the Dave in your own system and let your own ears decide. If you can't listen in your own system,  take what ever DAC you own and compare it to the Dave and/ or other DACs at the dealers store. No matter what I think or anyone else,  it's just our opinion. Only your opinion counts.
I’m just trying to say what I always say, no absolutes in Audio, only preferences. Someone highly encouraged me to listen to the Rockna Wavedream Edition DAC. I had easy access to it, it was in my price range for DACs, so I had nothing to loose. My initial thoughts were it had more detail than the Dave, but after a few days my wife and I decided we preferred the Dave. Who’s right? The answer of course is no one...I have a different system and different preferences. You may hear the Dave and not like it or conclude it’s not worth the money.
I just listened to Audioquest FireBird Zero speaker cables for three days. They are a step-up from my current cables, but at $14K for an 8’ pair I can’t justify the cost. If money weren’t a concern I would immediately purchase them. I put components in specific price ranges of what I’m willing to spend. $14K far exceeds my budget for speaker cables.

I have a Gryphon Diablo 300 with a Chord Dave and prefer the Dave without the m-scaler.  To my ears the sound was very smooth, but I missed the dynamics as well.  Similar to your experience.    I’m sure many out there will love the relaxed presentation, though.

I've compared the Hugo TT mk2 to the Dave in my system. To my ears there is a easily discernible difference between the two. I submit most people wouldn't be able to live with the TT mk2 after hearing them in the same system.

ricred 1,

Thanks for your input about the Hugo TT2. I thought they might have been closer in sound to each other , but makes sense that they are not considering price difference.


Someone told me a long time ago,  companies have price points for a reason. Sure there are dimensining returns, but a company's top of the line component sounds better than everything below it. Is the difference between the two worth it is a question only you can answer. 
I disagree.

I owned the DAVE/Blu 2 for about a year and recently sold them. For me, they re-defined what digital could do, and almost closed the gap to vinyl in terms of naturalness and non-fatiguing listening. But at the end of the day there was something niggling me about the DAVE/Blue 2 sound. It sounded just a shade dry and thin, lacking that last degree of liquidity and fullness of sound I was looking for. So I sold the DAVE and Blu 2 and went looking for something else.

But nothing else I listened to really satisfied the way that the Chord DACs did. I brought home my little Chord Mojo and even that wiped the floor with some vastly more expensive DACs in terms of musical satisfaction, as did the Qutest I bought as a stopgap.
So I have just bought a TT2 and M Scaler to replace the DAVE/Blu 2 I sold only a short time ago. They have been running over the last week (and improved considerably over that time). I bought the TT2 rather than another DAVE because I had read that it sounded fuller and more dynamic than the DAVE. This was closer to what I was looking for.
And this has proved correct. The TT2 is immediately recognisable as from the same family as the DAVE. The sound is very similar. But it is fuller, a little darker, more dynamic. It is possible that it gives up a tiny bit in transparency to the DAVE, but I am not convinced of that. I do know that the TT2/M Scaler produces a sound I prefer to the DAVE/Blu 2. It produces the same sense of musical engagement at a deep and satisfying level that the DAVE did, but with a richer, darker and more dynamic sound I find more appealing. No doubt others will prefer the DAVE’s sound signature (which they should, given that it is double the price). But as someone who has owned both, I prefer the TT2/M Scaler.

rossb ,
Our systems and what we hear are different. I have the Dave and went back and worth between the Dave and TT2/M-Scaler. I couldn't disagree with you more based of what I heard in my system. I don't want to exaggerate, but the TT2 with M-Scaler doesn't sound close to the Dave. Just my opinion based on what I hear in my system.
Our systems and what we hear are different.
I guess that was my point.

Also, I didn't say they were close. While clearly from the same family, the two have distinctive sounds and someone may prefer one or the other. 

I'm not sure if you're addressing your question to me, but I'll give my opinion?

What amp and pre would you recommend to play with Dave? The amp should be matched to the speakers they are driving. The preamp should be matched to the amplifier. Will you use a subwoofer, how many inputs and outputs, do you require HT bypass are other things to consider when choosing a preamp. 
Yes I was referring to you, sorry. My speakers are Dynaudio contour 60 and I always wanted Dave so now what is still open are pre and amp. I would like them to be from one company for warranty reasons, optics and so on. I tried bryston didn't like it, mcintosh was not bad but I don't think their non tube pre was good enough and I don't want tubes in my system. I want neutrality, precision and control. I still need to hear moon and spectral. Speakers are stereo only and will always be in my case. :) 
I can't tell you what to purchase. I will provide some suggestions to listen to: Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated amp, T+A PA 3100 HV integrated amp, Parasound JC5 amplifier(I don't like their preamps), Constellation Inspiration 1.0 amp and preamp, Jeff Rowland 625 S2 and Corus preamp. I've heard all of the aforementioned components.  
Hey guys,

sorry if this steer off-topic but folks here seem familiar with the sound of the DAVE DAC so I'd like some advice...

I've got a Hegel HD30 DAC now being fed by an Aurender N100H. The sound is *very* affected by the USB cable and power-cord and isolation (still points) I use under the N100H. I was thinking to upgrade to an N10 which sounds better (based on almost all other reports), but then I heard an owner of the DAVE dac say that this particular dac is remarkably jitter-resistant... he had compared the sound using multiple USB cables and servers (including Aurender n10 and macbook etc) and could hear virtually no difference.

So now I'm wondering what's a better way to go:

* Keep Hegel HD30 DAC and upgrade to Aurender N10
* Keep Aurender N100H and upgrade to CHORD DAVE DAC

Naturally, I would love to audition all of these options in my own system but this may not be possible. Any advice is welcome!

Have any of u compared the dave and the optional gryphon diablo 300 dac? Im currently running qutest w my diablo 300. Thinking of upgrading. I want the sound to be “thicker”, your suggestions would really be appreciated.

Had the bartok also in mind. Or lampizator?

I just read a post saying the dave/blu/mscaler combination blew the bartok? Comments are welcomed. 
Having owned the DAVE/Blu2, I doubt it would be "thicker" than what you have. It has many strengths - forensic detail being one of them - but it is quite lean sounding and somewhat thin. Claims by Chord fanboys should be treated with scepticism, particularly when you're spending this much money.

I haven't heard the Bartok so don't know how it compares.
My audio pal just got a Dave and in a short period of time, thoroughly prefers it to his fully upgraded Denafrips Terminator.  Now that I am a pensioner, I think I will content myself with the performance of my Ayre Codex.  My upgrade from 4 different ~$1K DACs to the Ayre QB-9 and then the Codex offered a huge improvement in SQ in my system.  In fact, when I got the QB-9, I sold my SOTA Sapphire TT and never looked back. 
@ whitestix

Have your pal try Hugo Mscaler on Dave!

He will be surprised at how much more details and extension are available.

Trusted member looking for a demo/hangout with a Dave... 
Anyone in the Indianapolis area with a Chord Dave DAC wanna bring it over to a pretty good system and room, drop me a message. Or if you know of one around here, let them know. 
After 2 years owning the Dave I finally tried to go singleended (rca) from Dave to Diablo. Quite a step up. Then I changed Dave to preamp mode and set input 3 in Diablo to AV - connection, thus skipping the Diablo preamplifier. This also a step up and now I really understand how good the Dave is. Should have done it long ago.
The conversion in Dave from unbalanced to balanced is not good enough. Better to use singleended. 
I moved the xlr-cables from Dave to the Scorpio cd-player, so going directly to Diablo. But it doesn’t provide the rhythm, attack, speed and 3-d like the Dave does. 
Pitching in to add a bit-from @verdantaudio post: 
"  In a non-covid world, the Dave is in line to be update to a Dave 2 but that is not that close and is probably still a couple years away. "

The comparison / listing of previous generation gear is  noteworthy as well ... for more insight though  some may enjoy input from ' the man ' himself Robb Watts.

Also a Review and discussion of the differences in Chord components
from Passion for Sound.