High End Audiophile Thread Part 2

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by vbetts, Sep 24, 2018.

  1. mikeysg

    mikeysg Ancient Guru

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    The Tri Audio I3 came today, leaving it overnight with one of my DAPs to 'burn in' the drivers, but from my initial impression of it, I think I've found my go to ChiFi IEM. As promised, some pics...
    [​IMG]
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    Edit - I've found my Soundblaster Zx and I'm thinking of using it on my gaming rig. I think Win10 64bit allows for multiple drivers, so I ain't too concern about that. But, the quality of Creative drivers is notoriously......shoddy at best, that's my big concern. What's the best driver for the Zx (64bit Win10 v2004)? Also, the cable on the Zx controller has only one plug (for stereo) to the soundcard, does that mean I can only get stereo, or can the card do some DSP magic to simulate surround? This is for the headphone output on the controller as I want to get surround effect on my headphone. If it can do stereo and only stereo, then it'd be a non-starter for me as I already have my iFi Micro iDSD BL for stereo.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2020
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  2. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    Just use the latest driver available. It can do HRTF by DSP simulation (SBX surround). Games should be set to 5.1 and Windows speaker config should be also set to 5.1. You can then control the surround effect through the Sound Blaster control panel. Setting Sound Blaster control to headphone mode will do that.

    Ordered Topping L30. It will match with my E30.
    topping-l30-headphone-amplifier-preamplifier-nfca-black.jpg
    Looking forward to those better gain options. -9,9dB gain is extremely handy - it might allow me to just rely on adjusting the volume through the L30 alone. Measurements wise it's rather massive upgrade from O2 in every possible way (power, distortion, noise, crosstalk). It's has incredible performance for the money.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
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  3. sverek

    sverek Ancient Guru

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    Nice stack, been using Topping A30/D30 combo for a while now, seems like a decent quality products, holds up nicely.

    Enjoy!
     
  4. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    The good thing about this is that I can finally enjoy the music properly when working. The RealTek crap in my work laptops is beyond horrible. I still get all the DSP benefits from my AE-5 so I don't loose any functionality (win-win). L30 will nicely complete the stack (well, I'll be using them side by side...). It's basically the stack to get at them moment for best price/performance/features ratio.

    So far I don't have anything bad to say about E30. For technical reasons I would have preferred ESS ES9038Q2M over AKM AK4493 (it has benefits like no pop when switching sample rates for example, less leaky filters than what AKM offers - shouldn't be audible though). It does seem that it's it's harder to implement Sabre DACs properly but Topping did a wonderful job with D10s.

    The improvements in amp and DACs has been rather crazy lately.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
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  5. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    If your DAC is popping when switching sample rates, then blame your manufacturer/designer (Topping), and not AKM. It could be the USB interface causing it and not the DAC at all. My SMSL M300 MKII doesn't have this issue at all, and it's an AK4497 solution. I haven't read about this on other forums regarding AK4493 rigs.
     
  6. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    It's simple and cheap to solve when using Sabre DAC, AKM requires workarounds. With AE-5 you can't hear anything when it switches sample rate. It's hardly audible "tsup" when using E30 (depending on what you are playing it may be really hard to even notice) - a non-issue in practice since basically all my audio content is CD quality save some bluray live stuff which are 24-bit 48kHz (and I don't usually even use exclusive WASAPI or ASIO).
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  7. mikeysg

    mikeysg Ancient Guru

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    I was thinking of getting a new DAP to go with the IEM's, not only my ChiFi ones (I do have a few mainstream higher end ones), but I've discovered that my unlocked (paid) version of Onkyo HF Player can be set to:

    1. Output music in DSD 2.8 or DSD 5.6 straight to my iBasso DC02 which decodes and amplifies the music, so I can enjoy my DSD files on my both my phones as well as on my Tab S5e.
    2. Real time convert my FLAC/WAV files into DSD2.8 or DSD5.6 onto my DC02 for PCM->DSD music (though I don't bother as I don't believe that'd be any appreciable benefits). I simply leave it to output in their native formats.

    Both my Huawei P30 Lite and Fold can handle the real time conversion if I wanted them to, but I leave that part out, more keen to load some of my DSD albums into my phones. Looking to get a new phone in a few months, so I'd prolly be looking for one with at least 512GB of internal storage (bare min would be 256GB) + mSD slot with support of up to 2TB, just hope that by that time, fast 1TB mSD cards are out in greater number and are cheaper.
     
  8. alanm

    alanm Ancient Guru

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    The new KEF LS50 Meta Speaker

     
  9. OnnA

    OnnA Ancient Guru

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    Last edited: Nov 4, 2020
  10. alanm

    alanm Ancient Guru

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    Good detailed DACs review comparisons:

     

  11. Sovsefanden

    Sovsefanden Active Member

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    What is the best USB DAC for sub 200 dollars, maybe 300 dollars

    Mic input would be nice ... Would be crap to have to enable onboard audio to just get mic input ?
     
  12. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    If you need mic input, then you could go with the Schiit Fulla, or you can look at a Creative G6.

    If not, then the SMSL M300 MKII is still one heck of a deal for just a DAC. (flagship AK4497 for $239)
     
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  13. Tuoni

    Tuoni Member Guru

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    Hi there!
    I'm looking to replace my Mayflower Electronics ARC MKI as it is kinda broken since my cat got a hold of it and used it for mice catch practice. :confused:

    I've been browsing around and so far two options have cought my attention.
    SMSL M500 V2
    Schiit Modius/Magnius stack

    The M500 has going for it that it is an all in one package so small(er) desktop footprint. Also the components used are all pretty high end although the implementation of them is more important then the loose components.
    The headphone amp is not all that powerful though and might become an issue further down the road. It also requires the Xmos usb driver so it not a driverless design. How is the stability of the Xmos driver on windows 10?
    Not that is has anything to do with the SQ or anything but the look of the M500 comes over as somewhat "tacky" a Chinese play toy instead of looking like serious audio product.

    The Schiit stack is slightly more expensive, even more so if you take the XLR interconnect in account. I really do prefer the looks over that of the M500, too bad Schiit doesn't make it in silver.
    The added balanced in and out are nice. Not going to use it right away but a new 2.0 speaker set is on the list...
    Headphone amp has more then enough power and then some for anything that I'm willing to throw at it price wise. The components used in the Schitt are less impressive when compared 1:1 with the M500 but again implementation...

    What are your ideas/thoughts about these two options?
    Why pick one over the other? And how much would they differ in SQ?

    Like to hear some input :)
     
  14. tunejunky

    tunejunky Maha Guru

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    hey the XMOS driver is super stable in Win10

    of the two i'd say the SMSL for a few reasons
    while it's Chinese it has the best dac short of tuned fgpa like Chord

    the Chord Mojo is by far the best dac/headphone amp under $700. not just my opinion but that across the board of the audio press (or what's left of it).
    but it is more expensive than Schiit stack or SMSL

    Schiit is better in theory than in practice as they have been known for QC and noise.
    they have a good sound but far too high of a noise floor which limits its dynamic range.
    the SMSL is a feature laden beast, so it's more of a traditional integrated amp in a SFF.
     
  15. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

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    I use a SMSL M300 MKII (AK4497) ($239) + Schiit Asgard 3 ($199)

    The SMSL is very nice, and not as expensive as the AK4499 solutions. Plus you get to choose your favorite Impulse Filter, which you cannot on Schiit DACs.
     

  16. Tuoni

    Tuoni Member Guru

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    Interesting combination.
    I checked but it seems that Schiit Europe has absolutely nothing in stock. When I asked about when they expect new stock they said "we don't know, could be 2 weeks, could be 2 months, could be even longer then that".

    Main concern about the M500 I have now is the rather "weak" headphone amp. Not sure how well my Fostex planar headphones will like that headphone amp.
    Even the Sound BlasterX AE-9 (maybe even the AE-7?) has higher output...

    Thanks a bunch for the imput though, would love to hear other peoples opinions too! ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2021
  17. Tuoni

    Tuoni Member Guru

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    I know that the ess 9038pro is a better dac chip then the ak in the Schiit. But more important then just the dac is the implementation of the dac and the design. A lesser dac chip can still sound better then the top ess 9038pro dac when the implementation and design around that lesser dac is better.

    That's why I'm asking if anyone has listening experience with them. Spec numbers only tell half the story.

    Doesn't take away that the M500 with its specs, except hp amp, looks really tempting. But so does the more eye pleasing Schiit.
    I'm torn..
     
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  18. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Its not just the implementation but the sound signature they designed in.
    I had the Oppo 205 with the 9038Pro DAC chip and found it very clear and detailed but quite dull to listen to, far too laid back.
    There was no pizazz, the sound lacked life/energy. My brother complained of the same on his Oppo 205.
    (we both use ribbon tweeter speakers which dont lack in those regards!)
    I sent mine back and bought a Holo Audio Spring which was wonderful, what I was looking for.
    These are different price bracket DACs but it highlights your comment of what they sound like, it needs to be questioned if you prefer certain traits.

    See if you can find a shop that will send you a few DACs with a view to returning the ones you dont want.
    It might be your best option.
     
  19. tunejunky

    tunejunky Maha Guru

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    i've listened to both
    a lot depends on the headphones you're going to be using. both can drive high or low impedance headphones well. this is where i talked about the noise floor of the Schiit and it being less dynamic.
    smsl is a real winner as is sabaj at this price point.
    i prefer an extremely detailed neutral presentation - mastering spec i use Focal Elegia cans with an RME Babyface Pro FS
    but i can't have my studio everywhere so i use the Sabaj D5 (with the same dac chip as the SMSL)

    any good headphone would love either the Schiit or SMSL, your ear and whether you do detailed listening or not should be a factor. if you're looking for "warmth" the Schiit is weighted heavily in that area (but you pay for that with noise) the SMSL has a more detailed and nuance sound but not expansive as you will get when you spend more money
     
  20. tunejunky

    tunejunky Maha Guru

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    oh!

    you need the punch of the Schiit
     

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