New DAC issues


I have been on a steady system upgrade path over the last year and one of the last pieces to be updated is my DAC, a Schiit Gungnir Multibit. I have no complaints with it, but I am always in search of more and better. The majority of my upgrades have been a big success.

I recently purchased a new DAC that shall remain unnamed, I don't want to throw it and the builder under the bus, but it is about a 5x multiple in cost over the Gungnir. I have had the new DAC for four days now, and I have been playing it continuously. When I installed it, I simply unplugged the other DAC and substituted this one, so minimal change. Initial impressions were that it sounded pretty lean and the soundstage was not great, but I figured it would sound better after warming up. There has been some improvement, but it is not significant.

Playing music with the Gungnir in place, bass was plentiful without being overbearing, and very clean. With the new DAC, bass is almost an afterthought. The Gungnir presented a beautiful soundstage and my speakers disappeared. The new DAC presents a good center image, though smaller than the Gungnir, and the speakers are pretty apparent on most tracks. In general, the magic is gone from the music, there is detail in the mids and highs, but not a lot of life.

I expected a different sound of course, but I cannot imagine that this is the way a DAC at this level is supposed to sound. I think that the Gungnir is considered a warmer DAC, but the contrast in this case is extreme. I am wondering if there is either an issue with the unit or somehow a mismatch with my gear. It provides a 3V output vs the Gungnir's 4V, which may make it a little less lively, but 3V is not out of the ordinary.

The rest of my systems is Pass XP-12 -> Coda #8 -> KEF Reference 1. I am in between streamers right now and using my DigiOne/Pi with LPS over RCA SP/DIF. One could question the streamer, but it sounds great with the Gungnir. I had an Aurender N10, but I did not get along with the Conductor software and now have an Innuos Zenith on the way. Connections are all balanced with Wireworld Eclipse 8's, Acoustic Zen speaker cables and an Acoustic Zen digital cable. Power is dedicated and runs through a Furman Elite 20.

I listen mostly to jazz and lower levels and I have always had a full sound, however with the new DAC the system is no longer engaging. Thoughts? Can a DAC just be incredibly lean?

 

 

zlone

The 2017 TAS review of the Yggi that raved about it and compared it $20k DACs said it needed 1 month of break-in. My Yggi+ OG has about 100 hours and a few days ago I was getting some fatigue while using my slightly bright RAAL CA-1a phones with a tube amp. However, last night after some more hours that fatigue I experienced did not reoccur with the same gear. I am assuming the DAC is still breaking in.

Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC - The Absolute Sound

Although Moffatt warned me that the Yggy wouldn’t sound good right out of the box, I gave it a quick listen anyway after an hour of warm-up. He was right; the Yggy was hard, bright, forward, and flat. I checked in with it a couple of times over the next week and heard it improving somewhat, but it was still disappointing. I decided to let it sit in my rack, powered up, for a full month before revisiting it.

When I returned to the Yggy I discovered a DAC that wasn’t superb. It wasn’t even good. And it certainly wasn’t “good for the money.” What I discovered, to my amazement, was a DAC that was stunningly great, period. Price aside, the Yggy turned out to be a world-class contender in the same league as cost-no-object digital-to-analog converters—and I’ve heard some good ones. How could this be?

I can’t tell you how Moffatt did it, but I can describe how the Yggy sounds, and why its one of the three best DACs I’ve heard regardless of price. (The other two are the $19,500 Berkeley Alpha Reference and the $35,000 dCS Vivaldi. I suspect that the MSB Select is outstanding, after hearing it many times at shows, but I haven’t evaluated it in my own system.)

The Yggy is not just a tremendous value in today’s DACs, it’s one of the greatest bargains in the history of high-end audio.

The DAC has to fit your system and your ears. That has to be the final determination despite a DAC's reputation. I've had a used ifi iDSD Pro for several years now and I think it sounds great. I got sucked into the buy a more expensive DAC ethos and I bought a T+A 200 DAC and I didn't like it. I was able to very quickly A/B test it with my ifi and it didn't sound any better. All it did is add a digital glare which was annoying. 

@ejr1953 I'm not sure if that helps, but I suspect that, when you get your digital setup to a certain point, cleaner AC power might make a significant difference.

 

Clean power is super important. I just moved into a new room and I now have two dedicated lines, one for the amp and one for a Furman Elite that handles everything else. Maybe a Puritan someday?

@gkelly Might I suggest a AES/EBU Cable for the Innuos to that sweet looking Merason DAC. 

An excellent suggestion, and I have an Acoustic Zen MC2 in my cable bin just waiting for the right streamer. Unfortunately the Innuos Zenith only supports USB, my new one is coming with a DH Labs USB cable, probably a good place to start. I have never used USB before, so I will be interested to hear it.

As for the Yggy, I have seriously considered just going up the Schiit chain, (sounds like something from Trailer Park Boys :-), but thought I would venture out and see what other vendors sound like. My favorite room at AXPONA this year featured Merason, and a friend has one, so it seemed like a good path. Soix and I have a side chat going on other things and he suggested a look at the LAIV DAC, quite intriguing.

I will say that I am relieved that things are now working, however I am not satisfied that I do not know what caused the change. My feeling is there is a bad connection either in the Merason or the Pass, nothing else makes sense. Gonna pop the lids and check it out today.

 

 

 

I haven't found many reviews of the Reuss so will be interested to hear your impressions of how it sounds once the bugs are ironed out.