High End Audiophile Thread Part 2

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

  1. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    896
    GPU:
    Nitro 5700 XT
    @Tuoni The Creative cards only put out about 100mW @ 300 ohm, vs 600mW of the Asgard 3. The Asgard 3 really is the price/performance king, but barring Schiit, you have some other options. The SMSL SP200 is also a very nice amp, with equal strength via SE and Balanced connections.
     
  2. Tuoni

    Tuoni Member Guru

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    6
    GPU:
    Denise
    Looks interesting. Did some reading and most people seem to agree that the Asgard sounds better then the Magnius especially when using SE.
    Would be awesome if the Asgard would come with a good DAC module with USB input for a nice and clean all-in-one solution.

    BTW
    Why does Schiit uses micro USB-B for USB input??? Full size USB-B is so much better, less fragile connector and it stays better in the socket. For the small formfactor devices like Modi I could understand it (although Mayflower Electronics ARC MKI and MKII uses full size USB-B in an even smaller formfactor) so for a device with the formfactor like the Modius I don't see why micro USB-B can possibly be better then USB-B

    So the general census is that the SMSL M500 headphone amp can't drive my Fostex T50rp MKIII? Would've been a nice all-in-one solution for my limited desktop space.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
  3. Tuoni

    Tuoni Member Guru

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    6
    GPU:
    Denise
    What made you choose this combination of DAC + AMP?
    Have you considered the Schiit Modius over the SMSL M300 MKII?

    After reading around the webs I've settled for the Schiit Asgard 3 as headphone AMP. (my use case is like 80% headphones and 20% speakers)
    Just can't decide on the DAC yet. Modius formfactor looks nice, stacks and looks really well with the Asgard 3.
    SMSL M300 MKII has the better DAC chip and more features. But the odd formfactor makes it kinda awkward to stack with the Asgard 3.

    I wonder how much noticeable difference there actually is between the SMSL and Schiit...

    Got an email back from Tyler over at Mayflower Electronics and according to him the Fostex T50rp MKIII should do fine with the specs of the M500 headphone amplifier I gave him...
    This seems to be the opposite of the popular opinion I read on the interwebs.
     
  4. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    896
    GPU:
    Nitro 5700 XT
    The Asgard 3 is modular, and supports add-on DAC cards from Schiit. They have a phono amp module, a AK4490 based DAC card, and a Multibit DAC card. These cards only support USB input. I prefer external units, since this allows more options, and more connections. (I use toslink for connecting my G6 to my DAC, plus I use a tube preamp) However, if you want a simple all-in-one setup, you can do it.

    As for micro-USB-B vs USB-B, I don't share your assessment about how fragile micro-USB-B is. I have found the cable is more the annoying factor. The add-on cards use full size USB-B, btw.

    The T50P MKIII are 50 ohm, with 92dB Sensitivity. That's rather low sensitivity, and means they will benefit from higher voltage output. The M500 specs: Headphone amplifier output power: 570mW(32Ω) 290mW(64Ω) 125mW(150Ω) 65mW(300Ω), which shows the power output is lean. The AE sound cards from Creative output more power (My USB powered G6 will do 85mW@300) So, while it will do well at 50 ohms, it won't be very dynamic, and sound a bit flat. The amp of the M500 seems more to be an afterthought, and would pair better with a standalone amp. Other DACs in the series just don't have an amp output.

    I prefer a modular setup, and require USB and toslink connections. I use a G6 as a 7.1 Virtualizer (SBX) for gaming purposes, along with Dolby Access and DTS Sound Abound Windows Sonic plugins. The G6 can output HRTF 7.1 mix over SPDIF optical out, which I send to my M300 DAC. From my DAC, I send line-out over RCA to a tube preamp, which then goes to my Asgard 3 amp. The tubes really do some wonders. :)

    The modular setup also makes it easy to upgrade and sell off old gear. (Tho I wind up not selling old gear)

    Why the SMSL M300 MKII? For starters, it uses a flagship AKM DAC (AK4497) which being available in a $239 price was unheard of at the time. Even the Modius uses a AK4493, tho it's a tricked out AK4493. (Also, at the time of purchase, there was no Modius) Also, Schiit DACs don't allow access to the DAC's Impulse Filters that the delta-sigma DACs have. These allow you to shape the DAC's output to your preferences, and to better match your gear / headphones. Even my G6 has access to the Impulse Filters.

    The M300 design has 2 PCB boards, with the audio circuits above the power PCB. The separation allows for a lower noise floor. The only lacking is the USB input circuit lacks power isolation, and dirty USB power can make the DAC hissy, despite being self-powered. I use a USB isolation dongle to address this. (The Modius has the same issue, despite being Unisom. Only Schiit's upper DACs have the isolation circuit.)
     

  5. Tuoni

    Tuoni Member Guru

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    6
    GPU:
    Denise
    Thanks for clearing that up about the add-on cards.
    I only saw the picture of the Agard 3 with on the back a sticker with on it reserved for optical or something alike. So I assumed that the DAC 4490 add-on card would be optical in.

    Schiit could really do a much better job of explaining the whole eco system of add-on cards for the Asgard 3 on their website/product page IMHO.

    Thanks for elaborating on the M300.
    Logic says that I should go for the M300. I will have to order from Schiit america as europe has nothing in stock. So I could end up paying even more for the Modius then the M300 I can buy locally if I don't win the customs lottery.
    But damn the Asgard 3 looks so good on top of the Modius! :rolleyes:
     
  6. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    896
    GPU:
    Nitro 5700 XT
    Have you looked at the SMSL M200 + SP200?
     
  7. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    6,070
    Likes Received:
    52
    GPU:
    XFX 5700 XT Thic II
    Finally got my Schiit Magnius today, have it paired with my existing SMSL SU-8 with XLR cables, my Sundara sounds much better to my ears on the magnius then it ever did on the SMSL SH-8. With the SH-8 it did felt like there was something missing, i didn't know what til i got the magnius.
     
  8. Tuoni

    Tuoni Member Guru

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    6
    GPU:
    Denise
    I looked at it just now :)
    DAC has nice specs, wonder how it fares against the M300 MKII. Is the M200 placed under the M300 MKII or next to it or above it in the SMSL lineup. Hard to tell from their messy website.

    Reviews on the SP200 AMP are quite positive. I have to be honest and say that I'm not really familiar with the THX 888 branding and how it stacks against regular AMP like the Asgard.

    I like the small footprint of this stack.
    SP200 doesn't have lineout though, only headphones out.
    Would it be possible to connect my powered speakers using rca out on the M200 and then connect the SP200 with the M200 using XLR balanced?
    Will have to research how the rca and xlr outputs on the M200 work, both at the same time, or is it one or the other. Is it possible to bypass volume control like on the M300.. If not should you have it at max volume to the amplifier?

    Need to look more into it, but might be a nice stack for me.

    *Edit*
    Interesting video
    Sounds like the Asgard might be a better match for me.

     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  9. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    896
    GPU:
    Nitro 5700 XT
    The M200 is a newer M300, just with more BT support.

    yes

    Wasn't sure on availability on your side of the pond. Figure I'd give you an alternative.
     
  10. Tuoni

    Tuoni Member Guru

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    6
    GPU:
    Denise
    Very much appreciated!

    I had to take a step back and take a breath and put things in perspective.
    I got taken away by spec sheets and 0.0001% differences, never watched so many reviews in the last couple days.

    I calculated the import tax and customs tax together with the high shipment costs and came to the conclusion that it's not very logical to buy Schiit from USA. Also in case of an RMA I would face these high shipping costs again.

    Even more because SMSL offers some great equipment for a very compelling price, often with better chips onboard then a Schiit.

    In the end I settled for the SMSL M200 / SP200 stack.
    Schiit Asgard 3 might sound better, I don't know, I never heard one. I'm sure the SP200 will sound great too and those little differences.. well you can't miss what you don't know.

    To be honest if Schiit had it stock in order in Europe I probably would've went for the Modius / Asgard 3 stack. But they don't and I'm not willing to wait what could be many months while other manufacturers have stock on the shelves. And as said above to me personally it doesn't make sense to pay the premium markup to import it from the USA.

    Leaves me with a question..
    What is a good brand for some XLR cables?
    And no I'm not interested in 500+ euro AudioQuest cables but I want something better then the no name tinfoil core cheap cables. Preferably something that is available in Europe.

    Thanks for all the help and input!
     

  11. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    896
    GPU:
    Nitro 5700 XT
    Monoprice XLR cables have a good reputation and very affordable.
     
  12. mezball

    mezball Master Guru

    Messages:
    515
    Likes Received:
    14
    GPU:
    EVGA RTX2080 Super
    Just a heads up to anybody who has purchased a Topping L30, some units might have defects that can short out the headphone amp, and possibly damage your headphones. Seems to be units with serial numbers starting with the first 4 digits 2011 and less that might have this issue. https://www.facebook.com/topping2008

    "To our customers,

    We are very thankful for the support of the L30 you've shown us. Recently, we received a few cases that L30 failed causing headphones being damaged. We are extremely sorry for the people involved.
    Even this is a low probability extreme event. But we still attach high importance to it.
    We have since implemented numerous improvements to the protection circuit in the L30. With the revision, sensitive headphones and IEMs would still be protected against unintended damages even in the most extreme failure scenario. L30 with this revision can be identified by a serial number starting 2012 or higher.
    In the meantime, we are working very closely with our partners to offer support to our customers. If you have one of the L30 with a serial number starting 2011 or less, you can reach out to your dealer to coordinate an exchange should you feel so inclined. This exchange only for the unit itself and does not involve other accessories such as adapters.

    Sincerely,
    TOPPING Team"
     
  13. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    896
    GPU:
    Nitro 5700 XT
    Thought this might be appreciated:

    [​IMG]

    It's a mic stand. It's a headphone stand. It's BOTH!

    Bought a gooseneck mic stand for the mic, and discovered a hidden feature. :)
     
    tunejunky, drandiiski and mikeysg like this.
  14. Andrew LB

    Andrew LB Maha Guru

    Messages:
    1,188
    Likes Received:
    191
    GPU:
    EVGA GTX 1080@2,025
    So you're looking for cables of high build quality but without the additional dip in pure snake oil and and cryogenic freeze? If you're a DIY kind of person, you can make outstanding cables at a fraction of the cost. I've been making my own cables for a while now. Here's the new cable i finished yesterday for my HD6xx Headphones.

    Viablue.jpg
     
    tunejunky and mikeysg like this.
  15. OnnA

    OnnA Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    12,736
    Likes Received:
    3,171
    GPU:
    Vega XTX LiQuiD

  16. tunejunky

    tunejunky Maha Guru

    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    434
    GPU:
    RadeonVII RTX 2070
    i love this thread! right now listening through my Focal Elegia (i need a closed back phone) through the amazing-for-the-money Sabaj D-5 balanced DAC. i went for this after buying the Sabaj Da3 (also balanced) for my laptop as i take my phones on the road with me when i travel.
    i had used an RME Babyface Pro (non FS) at double the money, but my niece wanted a studio on a budget and that could handle the mic as well as D/A so she got mine and an old (but awesome) Sennheiser TLM 102 as a graduation gift.

    i'm a guy who is a dyed-in-the-wool audiophile... and i'm mad for mods (as i'm handy w/ a soldering iron). back in the day i used to make my own parametric EQ's (easier than sounds) to tune a room. i sold a few as well as in the right space i could get a +/- 3dB flat response... as long as the room didn't have major issues which would need bass traps etc...

    the Sabaj D-5 is imho the best non-fgpa D/A converter under a $1k bucks, and it's less than half that.
    fgpa D/A's are totally different, more expensive, and fewer features under $1k but if you don't need those features the Chord Mojo (around $600) achieves remarkable sound through custom fgpa's and NO Power Supply - it uses batteries. the power supply IS the worst offender in the audio world unless you spend mad cash. you will definitely hear more differences on the same piece of equipment (like the ESS 9038) from differing vendors depending on the quality, grounding design, and proper implementation.
    for example - the Babyface Pro and Sabaj D-5 use the same ESS chips, but as the babyface Pro runs on the USB power the D-5 has a real fine power supply that opens up the "airiness" vs the more expensive implementation. i do miss the cool as hell machined aluminum chassis of the Babyface Pro, but squeezing out a hair more performance for less money makes me smile.
     
  17. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    896
    GPU:
    Nitro 5700 XT
    They are starting to make DACs with USB circuits having isolation chips, which isolate the USB power from the PC. An example of this is the Schiit Bifrost 2. My SMSL M300 MKII lacks this, and I had to invest in a USB isolation dongle to remove PC USB power. Hopefully, more designers will incorporate this.
     
    tunejunky likes this.
  18. theoneofgod

    theoneofgod Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    4,580
    Likes Received:
    237
    GPU:
    RX 580 8GB
    I had to faff around with my USB DAC to prevent audible interference so this becoming the norm would be great.
     
  19. Andrew LB

    Andrew LB Maha Guru

    Messages:
    1,188
    Likes Received:
    191
    GPU:
    EVGA GTX 1080@2,025
    Yeah. Schiit's new Unison USB has full electrostatic and electromagnetic isolation from the source and apparently works incredibly well. Amir did some testing over at audio science review that i'd give a link to but apparently the asshole banned me for taking issue with some clown calling people racist for not wanting to buy Chinese stuff. Typical closed minded people who can't handle life outside the echo chamber...

    Schiit has put the Unison USB into their full line up of Dacs whether its the $99 Modi 3+ or the $2499 Yggdrasil


    And as for Drop selling the HD800's (HD8xx) for $1100... i'm sooooo tempted. i've wanted those for years.
     
  20. Chastity

    Chastity Ancient Guru

    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    896
    GPU:
    Nitro 5700 XT
    The lower end Unison USB solutions do NOT have the isolation circuits. That's in Bifrost 2 and up.
     

Share This Page