DAC comparison - Topping d50s or e30

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sudhirdamerla

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I have been hearing so much about these DACs and was wondering how they would stack up to a old r2r tube DAC in terms of musicality. Willing to bring my DAC to compare or would be happy to host at my place. Have adequate ventilation as the listening area opens into the garden space. Choice of beverages available! ;-)
Regards,
Sudhir
Ps: location Bangalore!
 

mannukiddo

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IMO these old R2R DACs are still excellent for most music and I use mine along with a modern ESS DS and a Discreet Ladder R2R DAC. Unless you have a lot of music above the Red Book resolution I don't see any reason to upgrade to a higher spec DAC especially if you are looking for sound quality improvement.
 

Passive_audio_enthusiast

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I have been hearing so much about these DACs and was wondering how they would stack up to a old r2r tube DAC in terms of musicality. Willing to bring my DAC to compare or would be happy to host at my place. Have adequate ventilation as the listening area opens into the garden space. Choice of beverages available! ;-)
Regards,
Sudhir
Ps: location Bangalore!
If musicality is defined as a factor distortion then older r2r and tube dacs win. But if accurate reproduction is what’s concerned the topping e30 is truthful right away.
 

sudhirdamerla

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Yes, all these are relative terms. I want to see how much compromise each of these attributes can be given before it starts becoming muddled! I have experience with older DACS of sorts but want to hear how much improvement the modern DACs have.
 

Nippy

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Wouldn't the hearing experience be relative? Considering dac is just one part of the total system, wouldn't other systems also matter when comparing.. for example bright vs warm speaker would behave differntly and would certainly impact the listening experience.. so when making such comparison what all would one consider?
 

sidvee

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I have/had both and the e30 is a better dac imo due to the AKM chip. It sounds warmer, less sterile than the d50s which is based on ess chips. In fact, I cannot stand to listen to ess sabre based dac's anymore - to my ears they sound thin in the all important midrange. Coming to comparison with r2r dac's, I haven't tried tube ones but had a few metrums in my system. To my ears the AKM chip based dac's approach the sound of the r2r dac's (even the burr brown chips are very good). There is another type of DAC, the FPGA DAC, and to my ears these sound the best (of-course based on the implementation of the designer), I have/will have these types in both my systems.
Cheers,
Sid
 

kapvin

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I have/had both and the e30 is a better dac imo due to the AKM chip. It sounds warmer, less sterile than the d50s which is based on ess chips. In fact, I cannot stand to listen to ess sabre based dac's anymore - to my ears they sound thin in the all important midrange. Coming to comparison with r2r dac's, I haven't tried tube ones but had a few metrums in my system. To my ears the AKM chip based dac's approach the sound of the r2r dac's (even the burr brown chips are very good). There is another type of DAC, the FPGA DAC, and to my ears these sound the best (of-course based on the implementation of the designer), I have/will have these types in both my systems.
Cheers,
Sid
Thank you, for sharing. It was very interesting to read. I have always liked AKM chips. The old 4393 chips in a former dsp were a gold standard for price performance.

And I was always prepared to dislike Ess because of what I read in the past. Bit off topic to the OP, But wanted to share two direct experiences which have left me in a state of confusion about ESS.

The first was the allo katana, which is ess9038 based. Stand-alone and tri-powered, I found it very hard to find fault with. I have heard with a variety of headphones and amps And always found very pleasing in subtle way

the second was the dragonfly red. I never thought it to be particularly Hifi. And I purchased the highly rated by “audioscience review” Hidizs S8. A back to back comparison using roon as source, HiDizs S8 sounded clean and adequately loud. But i kept going back to the dragonfly. Just nicer to listen to, if you know what I mean.

got me puzzled, are these (katana and dragonfly) better implementation of the chips, or has AKM moved the game so far forward that I should change my reference. ( have not heard any modern AKM chips)? the perspective of FMs would be valuable.
 

sidvee

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Ultimately implementation will make a big difference, I am sure there are ess based dacs that sound good as well, I had 2-3 in the past, but if one has to buy blind, then akm may be the way to go, especially in the budget segment.
Cheers,
Sid
 

mannukiddo

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I have owned and heard some good and bad implementations of ESS, Cirrus Logic, Burr Brown, AKM chip based DACs. There is no out right good or bad chip but it all depends on the implementation. So I personally would be very careful about branding a chip maker bad based on just a few auditions or ownership of some implementations of some of these chips.
 

kapvin

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Ultimately implementation will make a big difference, I am sure there are ess based dacs that sound good as well, I had 2-3 in the past, but if one has to buy blind, then akm may be the way to go, especially in the budget segment.
Cheers,
Sid

I have owned and heard some good and bad implementations of ESS, Cirrus Logic, Burr Brown, AKM chip based DACs. There is no out right good or bad chip but it all depends on the implementation. So I personally would be very careful about branding a chip maker bad based on just a few auditions or ownership of some implementations of some of these chips.
thank you. you are both saying essentially the same thing . I think perhaps for ESS many budget implementations might have followed a template which is ultimately not pleasing and possibly AKM standard implementations sound a bit better.

The essence of that is I have also experienced: There is more to DACs than SINAD, as the HIDIZS has SINAD of 114dB and I think the dragonfly cannot cross 100DB. yet not just me with my somewhat compromised hearing, but my budding musician son preferred the Dragonfly Red.

thanks for you the perspective.
 

sidvee

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thank you. you are both saying essentially the same thing . I think perhaps for ESS many budget implementations might have followed a template which is ultimately not pleasing and possibly AKM standard implementations sound a bit better.
In my case I have heard good and bad ESS implementations (both in budget/higher end) but have yet to hear a bad AKM implementation in any segment. Of-course one cannot hear all chips, in all segments (maybe some can), best I can do is go by what I have heard, hence I avoid all ESS based DAC's in all segments now. Anyways this is just my limited experience - I am certainly no expert, I am sure there are FM's who have heard and owned many more DAC's than I have in better systems, and perhaps have a better understanding, but this is influencing my buying habits strongly as I go forward. My recent 3 purchases of DAC's have been either AKM, R2R or FPGA and will be that way going forward.
PS: I read somewhere that there was a damaging fire in the AKM factory in Japan, and that there is going to be shortage of these chips in the market for the next year or so.
Cheers,
Sid
 
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Murlidher

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Interesting insights! Thank you all! Now the E30 seems to be the safe bet. Where in India can I get one? HFZ says it is out of stock.
I think i bought their last stock :) Currently paired them with Sony stereo receiver to Elac B6.2. Clean sound with tonal clarity. I was not getting this sound signature earlier with directly connected to Sony Amp.
 
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