Recommendations for a R2R DAC

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kratu

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I’m exploring a DAC upgrade. I own a Pioneer N50-A Network Player with ESS Sabre ES9011S dual-chips. It sounds fine but I’m wondering if I could improve on the this further. I know that source is one of the critical components that defines audio performance.

I also own a Peter Daniel NOS DAC based on Philips TD1543. With a tube amp, I felt it lacked detailed and transparency. I prefer a good balance between accurate harmonics/tonality while transparent and revealing. I'd like to play hi-res files above the standard 44Khz.

I notice that R2R based DACs tend to have favourable reviews among few audiophiles.
Having said that, I also understand the implementation makes a difference. Any brands that I should consider?

Based on my research some of the brands that I found are:

Border Patrol,
Monarchy,
Denafrips,
Audio-gd,
MHDT,
Holo,
Soeskris,
Metrum,
MSB,
Audio Note,
Schiit.


A few questions:

What are the strengths of R2R DACs? Why do some prefer these?
Are there any downsides to R2R architecture? (A deal breaker for me is lack of agility, macro-dynamics.)
 

oracle1974

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Good reviews on this one:

 

jai1611

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I've been on the r2r dac train for a few years. What draws me to them is a mix of two things - naturalness / tone, and resolution (not the bright kind sabre dacs do)

There are dacs based on older chips like Philips or pcm1704 or ad1865, those based on repurposed new chips (Schiit and Metrum / Sonnett) and those based on discrete resister ladders (Soekris was the first one to do this at a reasonable cost, denafrips and Holo seem to have been inspired by them) .

Besides the chip type used, there are also oversampling vs non oversampling dacs (nos).

The only way to see if you will like r2r sound is to hear a few. Only other rule of thumb I can share is that newer chips or discrete ladders do a better job at resolution than the older ones. Among the older ones, ad1862 ones are my favourites. Found the Soekris better than a tricked out vintage dac with that chip. Eventually the Sonnet Morpheus bested the Soekris
 

jai1611

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Qutest has a very different presentation. Closer to delta sigma. Someone who likes the Qutest won't really like the ad1862 dacs. I had tried out a Qutest and preferred the Soekris
 

yogibear

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I've been on the r2r dac train for a few years. What draws me to them is a mix of two things - naturalness / tone, and resolution (not the bright kind sabre dacs do)

There are dacs based on older chips like Philips or pcm1704 or ad1865, those based on repurposed new chips (Schiit and Metrum / Sonnett) and those based on discrete resister ladders (Soekris was the first one to do this at a reasonable cost, denafrips and Holo seem to have been inspired by them) .

Besides the chip type used, there are also oversampling vs non oversampling dacs (nos).

The only way to see if you will like r2r sound is to hear a few. Only other rule of thumb I can share is that newer chips or discrete ladders do a better job at resolution than the older ones. Among the older ones, ad1862 ones are my favourites. Found the Soekris better than a tricked out vintage dac with that chip. Eventually the Sonnet Morpheus bested the Soekris
Tried AD1856 / PCM56P / 61P ?
 

Yelamanchili manohar

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Apr 27, 2021
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I’m exploring a DAC upgrade. I own a Pioneer N50-A Network Player with ESS Sabre ES9011S dual-chips. It sounds fine but I’m wondering if I could improve on the this further. I know that source is one of the critical components that defines audio performance.

I also own a Peter Daniel NOS DAC based on Philips TD1543. With a tube amp, I felt it lacked detailed and transparency. I prefer a good balance between accurate harmonics/tonality while transparent and revealing. I'd like to play hi-res files above the standard 44Khz.

I notice that R2R based DACs tend to have favourable reviews among few audiophiles.
Having said that, I also understand the implementation makes a difference. Any brands that I should consider?

Based on my research some of the brands that I found are:

Border Patrol,
Monarchy,
Denafrips,
Audio-gd,
MHDT,
Holo,
Soeskris,
Metrum,
MSB,
Audio Note,
Schiit.


A few questions:

What are the strengths of R2R DACs? Why do some prefer these?
Are there any downsides to R2R architecture? (A deal breaker for me is lack of agility, macro-dynamics.)
I have tried a few. And then realised, that iam not in the details and resolution group. So I like tubed dacs :).

Not that tubes can't do resolution or transparency. They do it in tons...but it is the wholesome blend of musicality and details . And it is not shouty in the face :)

I prefer all day long playability with a very forgiving nature. Sadly my most beloved tubed dac died recently, and I wouldn't ponder twice about buying the replacement, had it not been for a completely different direction iam heading in now, just to scratch a itch :)

The above said, some ears I trust and who have heard my own setup with my dacs, are using denafrips terminators with stunning results. So that would be my advise... select your budget where you are comfortable, and plonk the moolah on the denafrips that matches your budget . All the best :)
 
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Yelamanchili manohar

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Messages
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I’m exploring a DAC upgrade. I own a Pioneer N50-A Network Player with ESS Sabre ES9011S dual-chips. It sounds fine but I’m wondering if I could improve on the this further. I know that source is one of the critical components that defines audio performance.

I also own a Peter Daniel NOS DAC based on Philips TD1543. With a tube amp, I felt it lacked detailed and transparency. I prefer a good balance between accurate harmonics/tonality while transparent and revealing. I'd like to play hi-res files above the standard 44Khz.

I notice that R2R based DACs tend to have favourable reviews among few audiophiles.
Having said that, I also understand the implementation makes a difference. Any brands that I should consider?

Based on my research some of the brands that I found are:

Border Patrol,
Monarchy,
Denafrips,
Audio-gd,
MHDT,
Holo,
Soeskris,
Metrum,
MSB,
Audio Note,
Schiit.


A few questions:

What are the strengths of R2R DACs? Why do some prefer these?
Are there any downsides to R2R architecture? (A deal breaker for me is lack of agility, macro-dynamics.)
Another less known but stonking brand is musical paradise... not exactly cheap... but not exotic also...there are lot of my friends abroad, running them albeit with upgraded Mundford and deuland caps, in some exotic setups,

Iam just posting a link below, incase you are willing to give it a try :)


And with the right tube upgrades supposed to be stunning too :D

Atleast that will be the path I will tread on, once iam done with my crazy experiments :)

All the best bro :)
 
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kratu

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Messages
164
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Location
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I've been on the r2r dac train for a few years. What draws me to them is a mix of two things - naturalness / tone, and resolution (not the bright kind sabre dacs do)

There are dacs based on older chips like Philips or pcm1704 or ad1865, those based on repurposed new chips (Schiit and Metrum / Sonnett) and those based on discrete resister ladders (Soekris was the first one to do this at a reasonable cost, denafrips and Holo seem to have been inspired by them) .

Besides the chip type used, there are also oversampling vs non oversampling dacs (nos).

The only way to see if you will like r2r sound is to hear a few. Only other rule of thumb I can share is that newer chips or discrete ladders do a better job at resolution than the older ones. Among the older ones, ad1862 ones are my favourites. Found the Soekris better than a tricked out vintage dac with that chip. Eventually the Sonnet Morpheus bested the Soekris
Sure, I'll look for those with newer generation chips. Also, this should work for hi resolution beyond the standard CD bit rate. Soekris 2541looks interesting. I'll check Sonnet Morpheus as well.

@jai1611 Any suggestions on differentiating between new and older chips?
 
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kratu

Active Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
164
Points
28
Location
AP
I have tried a few. And then realised, that iam not in the details and resolution group. So I like tubed dacs :).

Not that tubes can't do resolution or transparency. They do it in tons...but it is the wholesome blend of musicality and details . And it is not shouty in the face :)

I prefer all day long playability with a very forgiving nature. Sadly my most beloved tubed dac died recently, and I wouldn't ponder twice about buying the replacement, had it not been for a completely different direction iam heading in now, just to scratch a itch :)

The above said, some ears I trust and who have heard my own setup with my dacs, are using denafrips terminators with stunning results. So that would be my advise... select your budget where you are comfortable, and plonk the moolah on the denafrips that matches your budget . All the best :)
I prefer having both resolution/details and harmonics/tonality. I know this is asking too much. I believe those DACs exist.

What is the tube DAC that you had? What other DACs have you tried before getting there?

Denafrips is definitely in the list.
 

jai1611

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Sure, I'll look for those with newer generation chips. Also, this should work for hi resolution beyond the standard CD bit rate. Soekris 2541looks interesting. I'll check Sonnet Morpheus as well.

@jai1611 Any suggestions on differentiating between new and older chips?
I prefer having both resolution/details and harmonics/tonality. I know this is asking too much. I believe those DACs exist.

What is the tube DAC that you had? What other DACs have you tried before getting there?

Denafrips is definitely in the list.
On resolution plus harmonics / tone, Soekris is damn good. Even the first generation Diy ones do this very well with a good power supply. Only weak spot is bass slam is not as good.

Older chips like the Philips tda ones or burr brown pcm ones don't do resolution well. They also top out at 48 or 96.

The Sonnett adds more resolution and fixes the bass slam relative to the Soekris.

If direct imports are an option, the new Soekris commercial dac is supposed to be damn good.
 

Miany

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Oct 19, 2009
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I prefer having both resolution/details and harmonics/tonality. I know this is asking too much. I believe those DACs exist.

What is the tube DAC that you had? What other DACs have you tried before getting there?

Denafrips is definitely in the list.

I too can vouch for Denafrips. I have used a Denafrips Terminator for few months and was really happy with its sound. My prior experience of R2R DAC was a Schiit Yggdrasil, which was easily outperformed by the Terminator. Later I changed to a dedicated CD player, only to get to get the convenience of a single box solution.
 

drkrack

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R2r dacs have a Natural Tonality, the higher end ones will get you better resolution and Soundstage.
The uncanny familiarity with the sound (Especially to people who have heard those tracks via Analog Sources, sometime in their audiophile journey) is quite impressive. The nostalgia of Analog sound with user friendliness of Digital Format makes R2R DACs a quite compelling buy.

My Experience from :
Phillips Tda based R2R
Schiit Gungnir Multibit
Denafrips Ares2
AMR 777
Metrum Amethyst
AudioNote level 1/2 DACs
&
I own Denafrips Terminator currently ; I have owned/heard multiple D/S DACs in the past few years and Denafrips Terminator beats most of them in Tonality and Resolution as well. Obviously you need a good resolving system to make out the differences. The Sound Signature of the R2R DAC never goes out of fashion, so it is mostly timeless device for long-term ownership.

If you are a discerning listener who emphasize on Tonality over THD & Sound Signature Over SNR ; Then R2R DAC is a must for you. Go ahead with the best R2R DAC you can afford and you will be content for a long time.
 

yogibear

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My list so far:

Objective DAC
R2R AD1862 (DIY)
R2R Cyrus Logic chip (Custom DIY)
AD1856 / PCM56P / PCM61P (DIY)
ECDesigns Fractal DAC

Forth coming:
TDA1387x8 (DIY)
TDA1541A R2R (DIY)
TDA1540P (DIY)

So far Fractal DAC topped all. Darkest background beyond imagination. Very natural rendering with details unheard before.
 

manueljenkin

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Oct 25, 2020
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For NOS (but not r2r) DAC, dddac1794 seems to be quite well regarded online. It is a diy project and has a massive thread on diyaudio. There is every option to configure and tweak (if I were to pick I'd want to try 4 deck dddac + transformer coupled output).

I haven't tried much r2r dacs, but I do have a suggestion. Phasure NOS1a. It uses 8x PCM1704 crown chips designed for high slew rate (bandwidth), and runs at 705.6 or 768khz sample rate (to be paired with his custom interpolation software).

I haven't heard the dac but I've tried his custom interpolator tool, that comes with a custom music player he designed called xxhighend (with my geek out and apogee groove) and it sounds stunning! I am trying to diy an ess dac to pair up with the tool better but the ideal pairing will be NOS r2r dac with high bandwidth (I donot have much budget or skills to make a good quality r2r dac, not interested in sign magnitude ones commonly available so sticking to ess chip dac for now).
 
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