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Stereo Setup in progress

Audiolab M-DAC Mini

Mayank Shah

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
556
Points
63
Location
Madras
From a DIY amp with TDA 1011 chip with drivers from Universal Radio Company, which were way ahead of the time in 1986, to my first hifi setup with NAD 356bee and Polk Rti A7 4 years back, with many unremarkable systems in between, it has been an incredible ride. I don't recollect as to how I came to know about this forum, but it really helped me tremendously to wash away many misconceptions I had and still learning a lot.

Always wanted a rack system with mean looking separates but my sonic orgasm were limited to magazines and the net on a 56 kbps dial up modem.

Recently the upgrade bug bit, and I still wanted to retain the setup but introduce one good component the NAD Masters M51. Coincidentally one came up for sale here and I grabbed it. But as my sonic fate would have it, the M51 didn't work. Probably due to issue while transportation or something. Put that aside and dejectedly, I moved on. Then one day, sensing my dejection my wife encouraged me to go and get whatever I wanted and I was born again.

I had almost finalised an all Emotiva setup, the complete shebang, pre, dac, FS and power amp. Also decided to get a TT in memory of my father who had 3 of them. Emotiva always reminds me of Star Wars and Darth Vader, both my favourites. Had even planned a Star Wars theme untill..........

The Tannoy XT8F entered courtesy of FM @celester340. I was reluctant initially, but after some online research, prodding and coaxing, I picked them up after a few weeks from his place. This changed everything.

I had a feeling that the 356 may not do justice to the tannoys, but I was very surprised. They pair quite well. Maybe not in the Dom Perignon connessiuer way but a big leap from the A7. Since I was attached to the 356, my focus shifted to a good DAC.

Went through Prism Callia, Meytek Brooklyn, Marantz HD1, Teac and a few others. Some expensive, some not available. Then a thought about an all in one thingy like Cambridge CXN and Arcam CDS50 popped up. But all those vanished when I bumped into the RME ADI 2 DAC on some site and I was sold. The PEQ feature really had me, and it would be good to tweak a bit with an intention (hope) to make the 356 sound better.

By this time I had already got the Project Primary TT, lying packed waiting to be rigged up. There were numerous rave reviews about the Rega Elicit amp with the XT8F. So courtesy of FM @Imtiyaz Ahmad (a gentleman of his word) I picked up his Rega Elicit with an added advantage of a phono input.

Hooked up with an existing Schiit Modi DAC, I was worried as I was only mildly surprised. The Schiit wasn't strengthening the chain. Confirmed with a borrowed chord qutest dac. The chord per se is good and heaps better than the schiit, but I found it a bit too superficially airy kind and often to be surgically precise.

So ordered for the RME DAC. It was hand carried from Germany to Chennai via USA and Saudi Arabia. Took about 4 weeks to get home. Meanwhile I was trying to convince my wife about the importance of proper listening space (read as moving the furniture around) and hatching a plan to buy or get a rack made.

I was getting a good deal on the Marantz CD 6006 and picked that up before the divine blessings from the wife were to wear out. A rack has to be complete right.

I was planning to hook up the pi and digione for streaming, untill courtesy of FM @superczar who introduced me to the Paradigm PW Link. The perfect little thing with pre/dac/streaming and ARC was hard to pass up on.

Then arrived the RME DAC, one pair of SVS Soundpath RCA, vinyl cleaning kit and 1 dozen brand new vinyls. Picked up a few good CD's courtesy FM's celester340 and Mash.

I was blown away and in floating in space. The rme dac gave new life to my FLAC collection, the first things to hit me were the analogueness, channel separation, clarity, weight and the sparkle. Being a hardcore Iron Maiden fan, and having heard all of their songs a gazillion times, it was the first time I heard the guitars of Dave and Adrian so separately and clearly. Even the slide of the fingers on the frets is crystal clear even at low volumes. Steve's bass had more clang and heft. Nicko's bass drum has a hair raising slam and punch. I can hear Bruce taking a breath while singing. Metallica, Judas Priest, White snake, Jethro Tull, Eminem, Beethoven, Ravi Shankar, MS Subbalakshmi, Agam, Avial, Masala Coffee were home. The Tannoys literally begged for more power, the Rega got better as it picked up heat. The spectrum Analyser on the DAC, the PEQ are exquisite. Neighbours got very intrigued. Blessed to have good ones.

Was never much into cables and interconnects. Was using the older DAC brand RCA, but the SVS Soundpath is a revelation for me. Have ordered for a few more pairs. Had Chord UK speaker wires earlier, untill the Mogami (courtesy of @celester340 again) blew it out of the water. Nothing wrong with the chord. It is like how you start hearing after a good dewaxing of the ears or when the air pops when you are in a flight and the ears adjust back to normal atmospheric pressure.

The XT8F produce astonishingly good amount of taut bass and mid bass. These are the kind of speakers which makes you sit back and listen to them seriously. Highs have a wonderful sparkle, mids are very clear and vocals are very live sounding.

My hectic travelling was not helping me set up the system properly. Things were very untidy, a spare room was filled with boxes, packets, pre owned records, old cables, power cords, nad, A7 etc. My wife stopped talking to me for a few days ( we men tend to exxagerate). Was not getting an appropriate ready made rack and my regular carpenter was busy.

So decided to put all my tools back into service and embarked upon a 10 day DIY rack. I had a very clear and a different design for a rack in mind, but since I was going to DIY, didn't have the courage to go through that. Was proud to acknowledge and be within my creative limits, but over estimated my physical capacity. This DIY after a long time was a good wake up call to my fitness levels. Took a bit longer than planned. Lucky to have had a helper for a few hours a day.

Courtesy of FM @elangoas and @liverpool_for_life and others on my local group and also FM's here, I stepped into the world of nulls and peaks and for the first time I ran REW measurements. It is planned for some interior work in the near future, so wanted to see if I could incorporate some kind of basic room correction along with that. I am very happy with the SQ of the setup as it is now so won't be loosing sleep if I won't be able to get the correction done. Wife has also started showing uncharacteristic interest in the sound and now wants a Spotify account after she understood how streaming works and the volume of content available. My 10 year old daughter who loves music has already taken ownership of the setup saying that it's hers.

Attaching a few pics of the DIY and the not so final rack. Waiting on some cables and small hardware to finish it all up. Will connect all RCA out to the amp and also CDP coax and streamer optical to Rme dac.

Thanks for your time in reading this rant.

Top to bottom
Project Primary TT
Sliding shelf for laptop
Marantz CD6006
Rme ADI 2 DAC with Paradigm PW Link
Rega Elicit R
NAD 356 bee ( not connected)
Bottom removable open box with stabilizer, ups and power strip.

My Setup.jpeg
Side view.jpg

The back is a 3 inch box design which conceals all the cables. Bottom 2 shelves are adjustable/ removable in case of a bigger Poweramp or something.
 
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square_wave

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2006
Messages
3,075
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
Lovely. Had question.

You said you went through the Mytek Brooklyn and Prism Callia. Did you actually use them in your system and finally settled in with the RME ?

That rack is superb. Custom made by a carpenter ?
 

Mayank Shah

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
556
Points
63
Location
Madras
Lovely. Had question.

You said you went through the Mytek Brooklyn and Prism Callia. Did you actually use them in your system and finally settled in with the RME ?

That rack is superb. Custom made by a carpenter ?
Hi, Meytek (pre-owned) was going to be a blind buy but with a faint possibility of a demo but never worked out. Was able to check out the Prism Callia at home for a couple of hours, but did not like it on a few genres like metal and rock - hard to describe, but felt something was touch lacking. Had checked out the Arcam SA10 amp and Arcam CDS50. A bit airy for my taste. Rack is DIY. Had a very junior level carpenter kind of helper for a few hours a day though, which was a great help.
 

newlash09

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Messages
809
Points
93
Location
hyderabad
@Mayank Shah

Excellent write up and lovely setup :)

Really happy that you are happy with your sound. That is something that eludes a lot of us here. Was very nice following your inspiring journey. Enjoy your music now to the hilt :)
 

nanacp76

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
38
Points
8
Location
chennai
From a DIY amp with TDA 1011 chip with drivers from Universal Radio Company, which were way ahead of the time in 1986, to my first hifi setup with NAD 356bee and Polk Rti A7 4 years back, with many unremarkable systems in between, it has been an incredible ride. I don't recollect as to how I came to know about this forum, but it really helped me tremendously to wash away many misconceptions I had and still learning a lot.

Always wanted a rack system with mean looking separates but my sonic orgasm were limited to magazines and the net on a 56 kbps dial up modem.

Recently the upgrade bug bit, and I still wanted to retain the setup but introduce one good component the NAD Masters M51. Coincidentally one came up for sale here and I grabbed it. But as my sonic fate would have it, the M51 didn't work. Probably due to issue while transportation or something. Put that aside and dejectedly, I moved on. Then one day, sensing my dejection my wife encouraged me to go and get whatever I wanted and I was born again.

I had almost finalised an all Emotiva setup, the complete shebang, pre, dac, FS and power amp. Also decided to get a TT in memory of my father who had 3 of them. Emotiva always reminds me of Star Wars and Darth Vader, both my favourites. Had even planned a Star Wars theme untill..........

The Tannoy XT8F entered courtesy of FM @celester340. I was reluctant initially, but after some online research, prodding and coaxing, I picked them up after a few weeks from his place. This changed everything.

I had a feeling that the 356 may not do justice to the tannoys, but I was very surprised. They pair quite well. Maybe not in the Dom Perignon connessiuer way but a big leap from the A7. Since I was attached to the 356, my focus shifted to a good DAC.

Went through Prism Callia, Meytek Brooklyn, Marantz HD1, Teac and a few others. Some expensive, some not available. Then a thought about an all in one thingy like Cambridge CXN and Arcam CDS50 popped up. But all those vanished when I bumped into the RME ADI 2 DAC on some site and I was sold. The PEQ feature really had me, and it would be good to tweak a bit with an intention (hope) to make the 356 sound better.

By this time I had already got the Project Primary TT, lying packed waiting to be rigged up. There were numerous rave reviews about the Rega Elicit amp with the XT8F. So courtesy of FM @Imtiyaz Ahmad (a gentleman of his word) I picked up his Rega Elicit with an added advantage of a phono input.

Hooked up with an existing Schiit Modi DAC, I was worried as I was only mildly surprised. The Schiit wasn't strengthening the chain. Confirmed with a borrowed chord qutest dac. The chord per se is good and heaps better than the schiit, but I found it a bit too superficially airy kind and often to be surgically precise.

So ordered for the RME DAC. It was hand carried from Germany to Chennai via USA and Saudi Arabia. Took about 4 weeks to get home. Meanwhile I was trying to convince my wife about the importance of proper listening space (read as moving the furniture around) and hatching a plan to buy or get a rack made.

I was getting a good deal on the Marantz CD 6006 and picked that up before the divine blessings from the wife were to wear out. A rack has to be complete right.

I was planning to hook up the pi and digione for streaming, untill courtesy of FM @superczar who introduced me to the Paradigm PW Link. The perfect little thing with pre/dac/streaming and ARC was hard to pass up on.

Then arrived the RME DAC, one pair of SVS Soundpath RCA, vinyl cleaning kit and 1 dozen brand new vinyls. Picked up a few good CD's courtesy FM's celester340 and Mash.

I was blown away and in floating in space. The rme dac gave new life to my FLAC collection, the first things to hit me were the analogueness, channel separation, clarity, weight and the sparkle. Being a hardcore Iron Maiden fan, and having heard all of their songs a gazillion times, it was the first time I heard the guitars of Dave and Adrian so separately and clearly. Even the slide of the fingers on the frets is crystal clear even at low volumes. Steve's bass had more clang and heft. Nicko's bass drum has a hair raising slam and punch. I can hear Bruce taking a breath while singing. Metallica, Judas Priest, White snake, Jethro Tull, Eminem, Beethoven, Ravi Shankar, MS Subbalakshmi, Agam, Avial, Masala Coffee were home. The Tannoys literally begged for more power, the Rega got better as it picked up heat. The spectrum Analyser on the DAC, the PEQ are exquisite. Neighbours got very intrigued. Blessed to have good ones.

Was never much into cables and interconnects. Was using the older DAC brand RCA, but the SVS Soundpath is a revelation for me. Have ordered for a few more pairs. Had Chord UK speaker wires earlier, untill the Mogami (courtesy of @celester340 again) blew it out of the water. Nothing wrong with the chord. It is like how you start hearing after a good dewaxing of the ears or when the air pops when you are in a flight and the ears adjust back to normal atmospheric pressure.

The XT8F produce astonishingly good amount of taut bass and mid bass. These are the kind of speakers which makes you sit back and listen to them seriously. Highs have a wonderful sparkle, mids are very clear and vocals are very live sounding.

My hectic travelling was not helping me set up the system properly. Things were very untidy, a spare room was filled with boxes, packets, pre owned records, old cables, power cords, nad, A7 etc. My wife stopped talking to me for a few days ( we men tend to exxagerate). Was not getting an appropriate ready made rack and my regular carpenter was busy.

So decided to put all my tools back into service and embarked upon a 10 day DIY rack. I had a very clear and a different design for a rack in mind, but since I was going to DIY, didn't have the courage to go through that. Was proud to acknowledge and be within my creative limits, but over estimated my physical capacity. This DIY after a long time was a good wake up call to my fitness levels. Took a bit longer than planned. Lucky to have had a helper for a few hours a day.

Courtesy of FM @elangoas and @liverpool_for_life and others on my local group and also FM's here, I stepped into the world of nulls and peaks and for the first time I ran REW measurements. It is planned for some interior work in the near future, so wanted to see if I could incorporate some kind of basic room correction along with that. I am very happy with the SQ of the setup as it is now so won't be loosing sleep if I won't be able to get the correction done. Wife has also started showing uncharacteristic interest in the sound and now wants a Spotify account after she understood how streaming works and the volume of content available. My 10 year old daughter who loves music has already taken ownership of the setup saying that it's hers.

Attaching a few pics of the DIY and the not so final rack. Waiting on some cables and small hardware to finish it all up. Will connect all RCA out to the amp and also CDP coax and streamer optical to Rme dac.

Thanks for your time in reading this rant.

Top to bottom
Project Primary TT
Sliding shelf for laptop
Marantz CD6006
Rme ADI 2 DAC with Paradigm PW Link
Rega Elicit R
NAD 356 bee ( not connected)
Bottom removable open box with stabilizer, ups and power strip.

View attachment 38091
View attachment 38092

The back is a 3 inch box design which conceals all the cables. Bottom 2 shelves are adjustable/ removable in case of a bigger Poweramp or something.
It shows how passionate you are into HT setup. Nice write up and neat setup Mayank ji
 
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raghupb

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
1,899
Points
113
Location
Bengaluru
Look at that rack! Looks fantastic, sounds amazing too I am sure. The best part is you have her on board now, makes things a lot easier, ha ha.
This is one risque comment. You put "rack" "fantastic" and "her on board" in the same post.
The dirty minded me went "What rack? Where? Did I miss it?" :p
Cheers,
Raghu
 

bornfi

Active Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
395
Points
43
Location
USA
Was able to check out the Prism Callia at home for a couple of hours, but did not like it on a few genres like metal and rock - hard to describe, but felt something was touch lacking.
Just curious if you tried Callia connecting to one of the inputs on NAD or directly to power amp section of NAD (by removing the jumper) and using Callia as preamp?

And, what was the input used on Callia?

I find all the DAC reviews useless that are done using USB. Except of Schiit Eitr, whatever DAC I have used in past, I realized that USB input still needs to sorted out. But again, this is my opinion :).
 

Mayank Shah

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
556
Points
63
Location
Madras
Callia USB and into nad line level.

Please correct me, as from what I infer, is that you are saying all dac usb you've used are not worthwhile except on the one you mentioned.
 

square_wave

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2006
Messages
3,075
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
I thought you had used the Rega Elicit for the comparison. I used to own a c350 a decade ago. Maybe the 356 is a much improved version. My c350 could never reveal differences between cables, sources etc. clearly.
 

Mayank Shah

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
556
Points
63
Location
Madras
When I went through the DACs, I had the NAD. I had no intention of buying another amp, of course until someone (there is always someone), urged me to look at the Rega. I was able to check out a friends Rega Brio with my existing Schiit DAC and liked it not because of the Schiit, but how Rega went well with the tannoys. Not that the 356 is bad. And hence the more beefier Elicit. Rme dac was a blind buy based on reviews and none of them were negative. A close musician friend also uses a lot of Rme gear in the studios.

Would be interesting to know about your beef with USB inputs.
 

bornfi

Active Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
395
Points
43
Location
USA
Callia USB and into nad line level.

Please correct me, as from what I infer, is that you are saying all dac usb you've used are not worthwhile except on the one you mentioned.
Now that you have RME DAC, assuming that its line out is variable (controlled by volume knob on the front), please try connecting it directly to power amp section of NAD (by removing the jumper). You may like the quietness that it presents.

As for USB, since I use something called Dante and use either coax or AES in on DAC, I did not find USB on any of the DACs (Benchmark DAC1, Mytek 192, Prism Sound Callia, MSB Analog, Playback Design Merlot, Bricasti M1) as clean and precise what Dante is.

Please note that I even once used Audiophilleo that too is something I did not like because it made the music artificial. Schiit Eitr is something I would preferred had I not found Dante.

These are all my personal opinion and I do not have any intent of contesting with current users/owners of the products mentioned here.
 
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