DACs that do tone and timbre right

Yelamanchili manohar

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Hi all ๐Ÿ˜€

As @reignofchaos rightly mentioned. Now iam looking to make my digital sound as realistic as vinyl. Iam chasing tone and timbre now. Detail resolution is actually secondary, as I already have a dac that is a detail hound. I was dead set on a lumin P1.. But had to rethink what I wanted out of the sound.. My current digital sources are a Cambridge audio azur 851N and a esoteric K-01.

If digital can never sound like vinyl, then I'd be happy to abandon the endeavour and pocket the monies ๐Ÿ˜‚. So all suggestions welcome please.

By the way, the effect of vinyl has been so profound that I bought a new tube preamp too. I could be mistaken, but I think tubes do tone and holography better than solid state. And my two tube preamps till now are solid state, though the amplification is all tubes. So please share your findings. I won't be buying anything till next summer anyways, so we have time ๐Ÿ˜ ( I need to save and build up the war chest ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ)

From my online reading, below are some names that have cropped up ๐Ÿ˜…
1. Audio note 2.1x and upwards
2. Abbas audio 4.1 se
3. Jolida / Black ice ( this is the cheapest of the lot, and I would be grinning cheek to cheek with the savings)

I don't know if it is a coincidence, but all the above 3 are tubed. And that's one reason why I decided to have tubes in my preamp too ๐Ÿ˜›. So please post your findings and suggestions. Thanks

Thanks and best regards
Manu
 

DB1989

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Hi all ๐Ÿ˜€

As @reignofchaos rightly mentioned. Now iam looking to make my digital sound as realistic as vinyl. Iam chasing tone and timbre now. Detail resolution is actually secondary, as I already have a dac that is a detail hound. I was dead set on a lumin P1.. But had to rethink what I wanted out of the sound.. My current digital sources are a Cambridge audio azur 851N and a esoteric K-01.

If digital can never sound like vinyl, then I'd be happy to abandon the endeavour and pocket the monies ๐Ÿ˜‚. So all suggestions welcome please.

By the way, the effect of vinyl has been so profound that I bought a new tube preamp too. I could be mistaken, but I think tubes do tone and holography better than solid state. And my two tube preamps till now are solid state, though the amplification is all tubes. So please share your findings. I won't be buying anything till next summer anyways, so we have time ๐Ÿ˜ ( I need to save and build up the war chest ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ)

From my online reading, below are some names that have cropped up ๐Ÿ˜…
1. Audio note 2.1x and upwards
2. Abbas audio 4.1 se
3. Jolida / Black ice ( this is the cheapest of the lot, and I would be grinning cheek to cheek with the savings)

I don't know if it is a coincidence, but all the above 3 are tubed. And that's one reason why I decided to have tubes in my preamp too ๐Ÿ˜›. So please post your findings and suggestions. Thanks

Thanks and best regards
Manu
Somebody who's sampled a lot of DACs upto 10000usd said the Merasound DAC-1 was the sound to beat for tone and timbre. Since it isn't one of the usual suspects, worth checking out?
 

bornfi

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Hi all ๐Ÿ˜€

As @reignofchaos rightly mentioned. Now iam looking to make my digital sound as realistic as vinyl. Iam chasing tone and timbre now. Detail resolution is actually secondary, as I already have a dac that is a detail hound. I was dead set on a lumin P1.. But had to rethink what I wanted out of the sound.. My current digital sources are a Cambridge audio azur 851N and a esoteric K-01.

If digital can never sound like vinyl, then I'd be happy to abandon the endeavour and pocket the monies ๐Ÿ˜‚. So all suggestions welcome please.

By the way, the effect of vinyl has been so profound that I bought a new tube preamp too. I could be mistaken, but I think tubes do tone and holography better than solid state. And my two tube preamps till now are solid state, though the amplification is all tubes. So please share your findings. I won't be buying anything till next summer anyways, so we have time ๐Ÿ˜ ( I need to save and build up the war chest ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ)

From my online reading, below are some names that have cropped up ๐Ÿ˜…
1. Audio note 2.1x and upwards
2. Abbas audio 4.1 se
3. Jolida / Black ice ( this is the cheapest of the lot, and I would be grinning cheek to cheek with the savings)

I don't know if it is a coincidence, but all the above 3 are tubed. And that's one reason why I decided to have tubes in my preamp too ๐Ÿ˜›. So please post your findings and suggestions. Thanks

Thanks and best regards
Manu
Not sure if I agree with the title because why would any renowned brand build a DAC NOT to do tone and timbre right??? :) but, based on my experience, I think that it is not the DAC that is the culprit, rather it is the data transport mechanism that kills the beauty of digital music. With that, I would recommend you to get an Ethernet switch (since you use CA streamer) from Innuos, Ediscreation or MELCO and please introduce Synergistic Research's fuses to your system. I know this may sound one of the controvertial advises but I am very confident in recommending this to anyone who is after doing the digital right.
 

manek

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Hi all ๐Ÿ˜€

As @reignofchaos rightly mentioned. Now iam looking to make my digital sound as realistic as vinyl. Iam chasing tone and timbre now. Detail resolution is actually secondary, as I already have a dac that is a detail hound. I was dead set on a lumin P1.. But had to rethink what I wanted out of the sound.. My current digital sources are a Cambridge audio azur 851N and a esoteric K-01.

If digital can never sound like vinyl, then I'd be happy to abandon the endeavour and pocket the monies ๐Ÿ˜‚. So all suggestions welcome please.

By the way, the effect of vinyl has been so profound that I bought a new tube preamp too. I could be mistaken, but I think tubes do tone and holography better than solid state. And my two tube preamps till now are solid state, though the amplification is all tubes. So please share your findings. I won't be buying anything till next summer anyways, so we have time ๐Ÿ˜ ( I need to save and build up the war chest ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ)

From my online reading, below are some names that have cropped up ๐Ÿ˜…
1. Audio note 2.1x and upwards
2. Abbas audio 4.1 se
3. Jolida / Black ice ( this is the cheapest of the lot, and I would be grinning cheek to cheek with the savings)

I don't know if it is a coincidence, but all the above 3 are tubed. And that's one reason why I decided to have tubes in my preamp too ๐Ÿ˜›. So please post your findings and suggestions. Thanks

Thanks and best regards
Manu
Digital wont sound like vinyl but one can get closerโ€ฆโ€ฆ
I dont think only a dac can get you where you want to be.

I would start with collecting music on DSD first. Using tubes is the next part but not necessarily so. Get some vinyl rips from friends and you will be surprised at how โ€œvinylโ€ those rips can sound on a normal dac you use. No dac manufacturer would make a dac and not try to be true to timbre.
 

arj

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If digital can never sound like vinyl, then I'd be happy to abandon the endeavour and pocket the monies ๐Ÿ˜‚. So all suggestions welcome please.

Manu, Digital cannot sound like vinyl since its more than the electronics but the mastering. Esoteric is about as true to source as can be and if the recording has it it will show it and making it sound like something else will only be distortion and thats not good to hear

You are better of spending your money buying the music on vinyl than buying equipment to make it sound like it . Else Maneks suggestion of getting good rips and playing on your esoteric
 

drkrack

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Now iam looking to make my digital sound as realistic as vinyl. Iam chasing tone and timbre now. Detail resolution is actually secondary, as I already have a dac that is a detail hound.
What you're asking for is self contradictory I feel, Title says DAC with Right Timbre and Tonality, Explaination asks for a DAC to Sound like Vinyl. Neither Vinyl or tubes or Digital can claim to be accurate with timbre and tonality ; they're essentially colored versions of actual tonality, chasing that Vinyl kind of tonality is okay but calling it right or expecting DACs to seek that as a Benchmark is quite a stretch.
Any Topping or Smsl DACs with very good measurements will be near accurate in well measuring speakers with decent room treatment. Timbre and tonality depends more on speakers, room, DAC and room-speaker interaction I believe. Though the whole chain matters, but these are the major determinants.

What Vinyl/Analog gets absolutely right is the DENSITY of the sound, which is more thinner on the digital side. There are many DACs that concentrate on This aspects rather than mind blowing resolution, especially Tube DACs from Lampizator, MDHT labs , AudioNote etc. DACs From Luxman, EAM labs seem to be tuned in that direction. European DACs seem to be more tuned in that direction compared to Chinese / American Manfacturers. You should be looking for boutique European Manfacturer DACs which don't measure well but are concerned about the tonality. They do sacrifice resolution to certain extent but tonality and presentation leaves you very much pleased. They're not chasing a Vinyl sound per se but something much better taking into account the advantages of a digital chain. Again YMMV.
 

aeroash

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Hi all ๐Ÿ˜€

As @reignofchaos rightly mentioned. Now iam looking to make my digital sound as realistic as vinyl. Iam chasing tone and timbre now.
Close to Vinyl? possible. Chasing Tone and Timbre, and making one sound like Vinyl are two different spheres.

I had the pleasure of listening to the MHDT Havana and the Croft integrated at @Analogous and it was a smasher of a combination for a tube/vintage/mellow/romantic/holographic sound signature. The Harbeths did help with the final output, but the heart of the chain integrated and synergised for exactly the sound you're chasing.
 

sachinchavan 15865

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Hi all ๐Ÿ˜€

As @reignofchaos rightly mentioned. Now iam looking to make my digital sound as realistic as vinyl. Iam chasing tone and timbre now. Detail resolution is actually secondary, as I already have a dac that is a detail hound. I was dead set on a lumin P1.. But had to rethink what I wanted out of the sound.. My current digital sources are a Cambridge audio azur 851N and a esoteric K-01.

If digital can never sound like vinyl, then I'd be happy to abandon the endeavour and pocket the monies ๐Ÿ˜‚. So all suggestions welcome please.

By the way, the effect of vinyl has been so profound that I bought a new tube preamp too. I could be mistaken, but I think tubes do tone and holography better than solid state. And my two tube preamps till now are solid state, though the amplification is all tubes. So please share your findings. I won't be buying anything till next summer anyways, so we have time ๐Ÿ˜ ( I need to save and build up the war chest ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ)

From my online reading, below are some names that have cropped up ๐Ÿ˜…
1. Audio note 2.1x and upwards
2. Abbas audio 4.1 se
3. Jolida / Black ice ( this is the cheapest of the lot, and I would be grinning cheek to cheek with the savings)

I don't know if it is a coincidence, but all the above 3 are tubed. And that's one reason why I decided to have tubes in my preamp too ๐Ÿ˜›. So please post your findings and suggestions. Thanks

Thanks and best regards
Manu
YM, go for the best musicality you can get from digital and donโ€™t aim to mimic the analog sound you are fascinated by. If you do the later (like many of us) you go the route of adding tube pre et al and end up with neither here nor there.

Apart from R2R options on the market, you could check out for older DACs with Philips TDA 1541/1543 chips.
 

eastofthesun

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Whoa!!! some heavy duty comparisons happening there. To my untrained ears the bottom line is "bas mazaa aana chahiye " lol... have owned only 2 stand alone DAC's in my journey so far one was an MSB platinum and now its a Mola Mola tambaqui and one thing i can say for sure " bahut mazaa aa raha hai " lol
Cheers guys !
 

sydney

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First try some PureDSD files on your current digital setup . Download from nativedsd.com they have some offers goign on. Try DSD256 bit rate. Well I own an AudioNote Dac 2.1x sig. However would say Digital cannot sound like vinyl, but using good media we can enjoy digital the same way we enjoy vinyl.
Try it.
 

DB1989

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Somebody who's sampled a lot of DACs upto 10000usd said the Merasound DAC-1 was the sound to beat for tone and timbre. Since it isn't one of the usual suspects, worth checking out?
If it's the vinyl sound you're chasing, you ought to check out PS Audios direct stream DAC.

As many have pointed out, it's a combination of the digital source and DAC which could result in getting the formula right. The DirectStream fulfills both briefs and a third one as well - no guess work involved regarding synergy within the two.

A consensus amongst most people who've sampled it is that it comes close to a vinyl like sound. Me thinks worth adding to the shortlist.
 

Yelamanchili manohar

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Manu, Digital cannot sound like vinyl since its more than the electronics but the mastering. Esoteric is about as true to source as can be and if the recording has it it will show it and making it sound like something else will only be distortion and thats not good to hear
Thanks a ton arj ๐Ÿ˜...

Your advise that 'if it is there in the digital recording, then the esoteric will show it' sounds very convincing. So I've shelved my plans to chase a new dac. My digital transport has always been a weaklink. So will probably invest in a Innous or aurender instead. Thanks

First try some PureDSD files on your current digital setup . Download from nativedsd.com they have some offers goign on. Try DSD256 bit rate. Well I own an AudioNote Dac 2.1x sig. However would say Digital cannot sound like vinyl, but using good media we can enjoy digital the same way we enjoy vinyl.
Try it.
Thanks for sharing that ๐Ÿ˜„. I was centered on the audio note to be honest. But having heard from your first hand experience, I've reset my goal posts ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ. Will enjoy vinyl for it does best. Thanks again ๐Ÿ˜€

If it's the vinyl sound you're chasing, you ought to check out PS Audios direct stream DAC.
Thanks for the very valid suggestion. Will keep an eye out if I can get a listen to the direct stream dac during my travels โค๏ธโค๏ธ

.

Apart from R2R options on the market, you could check out for older DACs with Philips TDA 1541/1543 chips.
Thanks Sachin ๐Ÿ˜

I did have a TDA 1541 chip based and tubed dac at one point of time and loved it. Sadly it has died too ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ
 
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fLUX

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Would like to add a general point not related to Manohar's speakers , your speakers are fab :) . The speaker also should be having the capability to bring forward the right tonality and timbre which you are trying to reproduce else no amount of mix and match in the chain will bring the desired tonality & timber.
Amongst DACs I have tried so far I feel Metrum (Jade) does a good job in the same & Pavane is supposed to do be even better with further improvements in the top end presentation and seperation. Holo DAC's are more neutral than Metrum, also feel the top end & imaging/separation a little better than Metrum.

P.S : The above DAC comments are observations basis keeping the rest of the chain same. The system may or may not have influenced the same :)
 

Passive_audio_enthusiast

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Hi all ๐Ÿ˜€

As @reignofchaos rightly mentioned. Now iam looking to make my digital sound as realistic as vinyl. Iam chasing tone and timbre now. Detail resolution is actually secondary, as I already have a dac that is a detail hound. I was dead set on a lumin P1.. But had to rethink what I wanted out of the sound.. My current digital sources are a Cambridge audio azur 851N and a esoteric K-01.

If digital can never sound like vinyl, then I'd be happy to abandon the endeavour and pocket the monies ๐Ÿ˜‚. So all suggestions welcome please.

By the way, the effect of vinyl has been so profound that I bought a new tube preamp too. I could be mistaken, but I think tubes do tone and holography better than solid state. And my two tube preamps till now are solid state, though the amplification is all tubes. So please share your findings. I won't be buying anything till next summer anyways, so we have time ๐Ÿ˜ ( I need to save and build up the war chest ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ)

From my online reading, below are some names that have cropped up ๐Ÿ˜…
1. Audio note 2.1x and upwards
2. Abbas audio 4.1 se
3. Jolida / Black ice ( this is the cheapest of the lot, and I would be grinning cheek to cheek with the savings)

I don't know if it is a coincidence, but all the above 3 are tubed. And that's one reason why I decided to have tubes in my preamp too ๐Ÿ˜›. So please post your findings and suggestions. Thanks

Thanks and best regards
Manu
The analog sound you are hearing and liking is a resultant of your combination of tone arm and phono preamp. The distortion pattern and the signal to noise ratio of both of this is letting you hear that particular sound you like. A perfectly made dac wonโ€™t have this โ€œcolorationโ€ hence subjectively you will hear it as more โ€œclearโ€ but less smooth. If you chase behind tube based dac that can add some harmonics to the sound, you may end up having a smoother signature but not essentially the Same as your analog gear, but can be better sometimes even subjectively
 

ZzZzZ

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The analog sound you are hearing and liking is a resultant of your combination of tone arm and phono preamp. The distortion pattern and the signal to noise ratio of both of this is letting you hear that particular sound you like. A perfectly made dac wonโ€™t have this โ€œcolorationโ€ hence subjectively you will hear it as more โ€œclearโ€ but less smooth. If you chase behind tube based dac that can add some harmonics to the sound, you may end up having a smoother signature but not essentially the Same as your analog gear, but can be better sometimes even subjectively
How much difference in sound colouration do exist between tube DACs and tube amps if same set of tubes are used in both of them or is it more or less similar ?
 

Passive_audio_enthusiast

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How much difference in sound colouration do exist between tube DACs and tube amps if same set of tubes are used in both of them or is it more or less similar ?
Depending on the rest for the circuit and the amp. So we cannot quantify it without measurements. Again tube sound is a pattern of distortion that provides, hearing of you like what you hear only matters here.
 

fLUX

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How much difference in sound colouration do exist between tube DACs and tube amps if same set of tubes are used in both of them or is it more or less similar ?
Based on my understanding the tube in DAC exists on the analog output stage and is similar to adding a tube buffer. A tube amplifier would in all likelihood impart the characteristics of the tube in conjunction with the implementation even more so than a tube dac or a preamp. The extent of coloration is largely dependent on the tube being used (including the tube brand RCA/Tungsol etc) and the implementation.
 

Yelamanchili manohar

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The analog sound you are hearing and liking is a resultant of your combination of tone arm and phono preamp. The distortion pattern and the signal to noise ratio of both of this is letting you hear that particular sound you like. A perfectly made dac wonโ€™t have this โ€œcolorationโ€ hence subjectively you will hear it as more โ€œclearโ€ but less smooth. If you chase behind tube based dac that can add some harmonics to the sound, you may end up having a smoother signature but not essentially the Same as your analog gear, but can be better sometimes even subjectively
Thanks ๐Ÿ˜...

But if it is a distortion of the combination of my arm and cart and phoinostsge. Then it is still sounding way more real than my digital I wouldn't call it outright superior as everyone's goals are different. But I will take your advise ๐Ÿ˜

How much difference in sound colouration do exist between tube DACs and tube amps if same set of tubes are used in both of them or is it more or less similar ?
They sound very different, depending on the implementation of the circuit to be honest.

Would like to add a general point not related to Manohar's speakers , your speakers are fab :) . The speaker also should be having the capability to bring forward the right tonality and timbre which you are trying to reproduce else no amount of mix and match in the chain will bring the desired tonality & timber.
Amongst DACs I have tried so far I feel Metrum (Jade) does a good job in the same & Pavane is supposed to do be even better with further improvements in the top end presentation and seperation. Holo DAC's are more neutral than Metrum, also feel the top end & imaging/separation a little better than Metrum.

P.S : The above DAC comments are observations basis keeping the rest of the chain same. The system may or may not have influenced the same :)
You are actually very right flux ๐Ÿ˜..

I did try a falcon gold badge ls3/5a in my room at the end of my own chain. And it did vocals and tone more realistically than my speakers. The vocals were spooky real. But since my speakers are bigger, the panel vibrations increase exponentially, colouring the sound. So a change of speakers could help in the tone part, but apart from the tone, my speakers do everything much better. And on vinyl it still sounds realistic, I can only imagine how spooky it will sound on BBC type speakers.

Thanks for the dac recommendation too. But I think I will invest in a digital transport first and see how that goes ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘
 
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