I never understood buying equipment on specs, just buy what sounds good to you. You may be surprised that the best measuring equipment doesn't always sound the Best.
4 responses Add your response
I agree totally. Otherwise the only DAC for sale might be the DO300. No surprise here. I still like my MOSFET amp and still hate every class D I have heard, am "meh" to tubes and prefer paper cone, soft dome speakers. The cheap Lumina IIs are still the best sounding to me bookshelves under 5 grand even with their distortion at higher levels. I do like my own better though.
I posted as I was surprised that my sound preference seemed to follow the specs and the specs seem to follow the introduction timeline and were inverse to the price. Do note, the SABAJ was normally $300 but I guess overstocked so cheap! These are all ESS top line chips in budget level units. It does make one wonder the difference between a $200 CH-FI DAC and a $1000 one. I doubt much.
Unfortunately. a vast amount of equipment is now direct sales or WEB store only. You can't go to the store and listen to a Geselli, JDS, Schiit, Ladder, Gustard, Denafrips, SMSL, Topping... ad nauseum. You can a Chord at least, maybe a Cambridge, and some obsolete not very good ultra high priced ego dacs that only work with $1000 USB cables. So, you need to find some point to narrow the search to ones you want to get on trial. Subjective reviewers are not much help as they never dislike anything as if the did, they would never get anything from that company again. So we are left with a limited set of objective measurements as our only starting point. You have to start somewhere. Get something, then compare on your system with your music on your timeline with only your better half interrupting you the baseline and the next potential step.
Price as a guide? Not entry level by my quick test. High end? Saw a review of an $80,000 ss preamp. I would bet a pint I could not hear a difference to a good $800 ss one. A really clean line stage is not very hard. RIAA a little harder but not much. Tubes and any intentional distortion profiles costs a bit more. I guess narcissisum is expensive. :)
Sending the Sabaj back. Not for audio performance, but because the line out gain (gain of 1) is not enough to use on my desk without a preamp. It has a hi/low setting but only for the headphones. I guess when I go over to the high end shop, I'll take my Topping. I suspect I will wind up with a Chord.
In the mean time, the JDS Atom+ stack remains on my desk doing just fine. For that vocal sibilance, going through the Schiit Rekkr into my own mini-monitors (XT-25 tweeters, Dayton RS mids) I did not hear a discernable difference where I thought I did on the main system. Above 4K, those cheap Vifas are just fantastic at reasonable levels. For sure I'll be selling the Schiit Asgard.
I do love the little Schiit Rekkr. It is so neutral. The Sabaj probably would have been fine on the Gjallahorn with 10W and more gain. Or if I went crazy and bought a small tube amp.