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PostSubject: USB DACs news   Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:13 am

Hello Tunees (I also like the term "Zonees", which even has a psychedelic overtone to it Twisted Evil ),

A friend recently lent me his Musical Fidelity V-DAC USB dac to try out in my system. This is a small, simple-design dac that is intended for use with computer/hard drive based music libraries. It has both USB and coaxial inputs. As you can see from the photo, I'm currently burning it in using iTunes on my old MacBook G4 and a basic USB cable.

So far it sounds pretty good. Lots of bass fullness and punch. Maybe a little bit too much here, but it's still burning in. I'll give it some time, then I'll open it up and provide some more photos. I'll probably try it out down the road with the new Samsung DVD P-190 (also in the photo, being auditioned) as a transport.










Update to follow....



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PostSubject: Re: USB DACs news   Wed Dec 09, 2009 12:24 pm

Greetings Drewster!

How's the Musical Fidelity V-DAC settling in? Have you started to take it apart and tune it?

Sonic
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PostSubject: V-DAC   Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:42 pm

Hello Zonees,

I think the V-Dac is probably burned in by now. I have been running and listening to the Samsung P-90 DVD player primarily (which I received about the same time as the V-DAC), and I have resumed listening to the V-Dac only recently.

It's interesting how USB has changed the way we now can listen to our music -- through disk-based systems rather than through disc-based systems. The high-end is being forced to adapt to what heretofor has been considered a low-fi transfer medium. Even to the extent that some manufacturers are now producing and marketing "audiophile grade" USB cables.

In my reviews of course, I am and will continue to use mass-produced, generic USB cables, aiming for lightness in weight and construction, and simplicity. I am curious to see just how many of the better-know manufacturers -- both mass-market and high end -- move into the business of music reproduction products for the computer and USB interface, and if it will become more popular than the cd or dvd player for home music reproduction.

Popularity does not mean quality, as we all know (and vice versa!).... But small lightweight designs such as this V-DAC are what we who desire tunability are looking for, so in this area we may be benefitting even before the high end has a chance to get into the act. We certainly learned from the life and death of SACD and DVD-A that the tail (hi-resolution formats producing purportedly higher quality sound) does not wag the dog (mass market appeal). With USB, though, it's a case of the dog wagging its tail. Smile I am expecting significantly more products and hopefully some really innovative ideas to come along on a mass-market level, and possibly from the high end as well.

Back to the V-DAC. Further listening has shown my initial impressions to have been accurate, though not complete. The sound has gradually gotten smoother, while retaining the bass punch and drive I initially noticed. I haven't heard any dramatic shortcomings. As you can tell from the photo, I have not attempted any tuning of the device yet. I plan to listen a bit more to the dac as-is, and then begin applying various tuning techniques and describe for you what happens. Much more to follow....


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PostSubject: Re: USB DACs news   Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:08 am

Hi Drewster

Good to hear from you!

Thanks for that report on the V-DAC. I'm probably going to pick one up soon once i get the shelves sorted out. I am about to take my shelves apart and turn my system into sort of a model train.

If you been following my posts, the Tune has progressed well in my room and I am very happy with the ambient field. Now we could be moving to the next phase of the Tune here.

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PostSubject: Re: USB DACs news   Thu Dec 17, 2009 6:48 pm

Hi Sonic,

Yes, I've been following your thread very closely. You are doing remarkable things with tuning your system cheers .

Initial indications are pretty good for the V-DAC, but don't forget there are other USB dac solutions out there as well. I hope to get a hold of a few to check out. There are also many options for "hard drive" based systems ... so I suggest you investigate what options you have and determine what kind of system will work best for you. I am still in my process of figuring that out. But for now, when I'm not evaluating a USB dac, I simply use an Airport Express (which has a built-in dac) with it's analog audio output (converted from 2.5mm jack via adapter to stereo RCA outputs) fed directly to my preamp. I control it with the Remote app on my iPhone. I'm still on the back nine of ripping my 2000 CDs in .WAV format to a dedicated 1.5 terabyte hard drive.


Enjoy!




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PostSubject: New approach...   Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:38 pm

Hello Zonees,

I realized that the VDAC has a Toslink input. My Airport Express that I've used via the analog outputs (and therefore the AE's built-in dac) also has a "mini optical Toslink" output than can be used with the Toslink input of the VDAC as long as you have the right cable (Toslink male/miniToslink male), which I happen to have on hand....

So I hooked up the VDAC to my system using the AE mini optical output. I then compared it directly to CDs playing on the Samsung P190. Unfortunately, there was no comparison. The sound with the VDAC/toslink/AE combo was dark, muffled, dull, and uninvolving. No upper harmonics. When I went back to the Samsung DVD player, the music came back alive, with crisp and clear transients and the high frequency energy that was missing with the VDAC combo.

I don't know where to put the blame for this poor sound quality as yet. But I'll try some different combinations with the AE (using analog output) and VDAC (direct feed from my laptop via USB, and possibly the Toslink cable) and see what happens and report back. Also, this comparison was made without any tuning of the VDAC or AE. The Samsung was on harmonic springs, but not top tuned.

More to come....



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PostSubject: quick update   Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:31 pm

I reconnected the VDAC to the laptop as in my first configuration, and it sounds much better than through the AE/Toslink connection. Smile Next I'll try some tuning practices on the VDAC, like loosening screws and using some harmonic springs.


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PostSubject: So easy   Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:05 pm

The VDAC's case comes off by removing the six screws and leaves just a single circuit board. Cool So I popped it out and hooked it up to the system, resting on two pieces of Magic Wood.

Take a look.

www.michaelgreenaudio.com/2010TechnoZonePICS/VDACphotos/VDAC1.jpg" border="0" alt="" />



www.michaelgreenaudio.com/2010TechnoZonePICS/VDACphotos/VDAC2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />



More to come after allowing the dac to settle and some listening.



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PostSubject: Re: USB DACs news   Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:31 am

Hi Drewster

After seeing these pics I'm thinking that I should think about making a Canopy/tuning shelf combo for these. This has some very nice places to top tune on it.

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PostSubject: Re: USB DACs news   Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:03 pm

Great Exclamation

Just hooked it up using the Samsung as a transport. Makes it easy to compare the computer-based and cd-based system.

More to come Cool


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PostSubject: Re: USB DACs news   Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:19 pm

Greetings Drewster!

Taking apart the V-DAC circuit board out of the box is a great idea. This culd open up the sound a lot. I have a spare MW canopy (you've probably seen my question on my thread) where Michael said will be only able to take something very lightweight. The V-DAC board alone should be lightweight enough. Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: USB DACs news   Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:53 pm

Hi Guys

This is very good stuff!! I think you guys are getting a jump on the future and that's a good thing.

Andy can't wait to hear your reports on the comparison.

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PostSubject: Update   Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:13 am

I've been listening for a while now to the laptop-based system and the Samsung dvd transport based system, both through the V-DAC. More on that below.

First, in comparing the V-DAC processor to the one in the Samsung, I like the V-DAC slightly better. Initially, I thought the Samsung dvd player (using its own dac) sounded smoother and more natural. It is smoother, but it also has less resolution than the V-DAC, as well as less delineation/articulation of musical instruments and of space. The V-DAC also has tighter and punchier bass. I find that the Samsung has an attribute that the music seems to come from a piece of whole cloth. Initially I valued that character, but I noticed myself preferring to listen through the V-DAC more and more. It seems to me now that there is much more musical information coming from the V-DAC than the Samsung processor. As Michael mentioned, it shows promise for top tuning too.... Cool

My laptop system now consists of my old iBook G4 and a 1.5 terabyte external hard drive that contains an iTunes library of my 2000 uploaded CDs in .wav format connected via USB to the computer. The computer to dac connection is also USB. I'm finding that the sound quality is inconsistent. Some albums played this way sound great, and it's difficult to distinguish them from the CD playback version. Others, however, experience significant distortion on guitars, pianos and other instruments, almost like there is overload even though the volume is not high. For some reason ECM label CDs seem consistently to have this kind of distortion. The ECM CDs likely have less compression and more dynamic range than most others, so I am suspicious that the problem lies with the limits of the USB cables I am using, which are generic in nature. Hopefully, an upgrade to these cables will take care of the distortion. Since MGA doesn't make a USB cable, I'll be trying other manufacturers' cables, and let you know what I find.

I have to say it's cool to have all of my music available to me through the Remote app on my iPhone, rather than have to find a CD on a bookshelf (my CDs take up almost two full 6-ft bookshelves). If I can solve the distortion problem, I'll be one happy camper.


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PostSubject: Re: USB DACs news   Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:16 am

News Flash Exclamation

I replaced the external hard drive to computer connection and the computer to dac connection with new USB cables (the external hard drive has a mini-usb female and the dac has a B female, so I needed two different configurations of cables). The new cables are just basic Belkin cables. Total cost was $40. They appear to be of a slightly higher gauge than the ones I was using.

Right off the bat I noticed a difference. New added clarity. More punch. And most significantly, additional dynamic range. Cool I haven't tried the ECM albums that I noticed distortion on yet. But I've been enjoying the added dynamic range on Johnny Cash, Patrick O'Hearn and Pink Floyd albums. I'll get to the ECMs to check them out soon enough. Giving the new cables some break in time.


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PostSubject: USB or RCA digital output   Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:43 pm

Hi Drewster

Sonic found a Samsung K390 DVD player available here for about $50. It is very light and appears tuneable. Sonic is going to pick one up.

There is a USB port on the front panel that the instruction book says is to be used to take a signal for ripping CDs.

Can I use this USB port to connect the Samsung to a V-DAC? To your ears, which gave better tuneable musick -- by using the RCA digital output jack or the USB?

Sonic
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