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?




@rikkipuu Very interesting! I took a quick look at the UltraRendu, it seems there are multiple modes that are supported to interface with the streamer, how did you configure your Innuos to work with the Rendu? Roon? Can you use the native Sense app? 


I recently replaced the UltraRendu with a SignatureRendu SE and Sonore OpticalModule to feed the Antipodes S20 and then feed S/PDIF to the GG3.  The gains in coherence and fluidity are almost matched by the reduction in "Noise".   Its just spooky good.

That is pretty much my experience using a SignatureRendu SE optical into a Singxer SU6 DDC and then S/PDIF or AES/EBU into my DAC (currently trying 3 different DACs).  Adding the SignatureRendu SE optical was a clear step up and the DDC seemed to improve things again, although not to the same degree. 

@zlone Sonore has many products that convert input and output.  They are single purpose.  The UltraRendu converts Ethernet to USB.  The SignatureRendu SE converts Fiber to USB.  ThenOpticalModule converts Ethernet to Fiber.  

Sense recognizes the UltraRendu or SignatureRendu SE as an Audio output.  Sense allows flipping between Audio outputs on the fly.  As both USB and Ethernet are live on the Statement comparing them is easy.

@mitch2 I Agree the Antipodes S20 makes an improvement but the SignatureRendu SE makes it magical.  

I also had a Yggdrasil and thought the Denafrips TP was in every way, and and among other things the TP had way more and cleaner bass, it made the Yggy seem lean.  I have 2 REL S510 subs so my system goes low and is sensitive to muddy bass.  The Denafrips did OK on the bass but is no where close to the Lampizator in quality or quantity.

In my experience bass quality and quantity can vary a lot between DACs.

Maybe that was with an older iteration. Reason I say that is that after my 1 month break in of the latest Yggi+ OG the immediate thing I noticed was the increase in bass on every single track I listened to. I was on a Classic Rock bender one day and songs I know really well showed way more in the bass department. It was nice to hear Geddy Lee's bass guitar more prominently on RUSHs Moving Pictures with the OG.


At one time I had 3 streamers in the house at the same time

  • Sonore Optical Rendu
  • Playback Designs Stream-IF
  • Lumin X1

Surprisingly they all sounded different. The only streamer I was not able to use fibre optic input was the PBD Stream-IF (I did not have a PBD DAC for Plink input). They were all excellent with the Sonore being the most laid back. The Lumin the most aggressive, and the PBD (using SPDIF) in the middle and maybe my fav. I never expected the PBD to compete with the other 2 fibre streamers. I sold the Lumin X1 and the Stream-IF and only have 2 Sonore OpticalRendu's today.

Another great thing about using these 3 streamers is that my ROON Core music server (a cheap computer) was nowhere near the audio gear.