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high quality balanced DAC (small-ish, lightweight a plus)


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  • 3 months later...

I have never liked the sound of the Benchmark DAC1 and yet Ric is right that I was also impressed the DAC2 HGC. Very good sound and handles a lot of formats and inputs. No SD or USB stick input directly, but maybe some external device can allow such connections to the USB input?

The seriously impressive sounding device was the Playback Designs MPD-5. The MPS-5 version also has a CD/SACD player that would be super sweet, but not smaller or lighter than your Sony monster.

What is Dinny's DAC?

a straight external card reader probably won't work. However, depending on the hardware/os choices, you can probably connect the usb input to a nas and read in music that way.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did a DAC-off between the Anedio D2 and a borrowed Resonessence Invicta (not the current version) as well as my Audio-gd Master 7, all straight out of a regular power strip rather than my PPP and fed via USB from my MacBook Air using Audirvana Plus without up-sampling.


The Anedio uses USB bus power for the USB receiver, which is otherwise great. It's a bit on the thin side and straight out of a power strip is a bit forward and aggressive in the mids and the bass a bit boomy. It is far nicer with better USB power and plugged into the PPP.


The Invicata (being Aussie every time I read that name I think it sounds like the name of a lawn mower) fared quite a bit better with a darker, more effortless sound giving the full sound of each instrument note, eg: drum hits had the full texture and echo in the studio. You can hear all the crazy micro detail in the Chesky binaural recordings, such as the performers shifting in their seats and the birds chirping outside, a bit of which is lost with the Anedio. It runs quite warm.


The last DAC I had compared to the Invicta was the Eximus DP1 which is so engaging that it makes the Invica sound cold, even if it doesn't deliver as much detail. Other than that, compared to the Master 7 there was pretty much nothing in it, but I felt the Master 7 conveyed more emotion in each note, that is, I just wanted to sit and listen more with it than the Invicta, similarly to how the DP1 and Zana Deux have that effect, but without seeming to sound coloured.

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Hello Geoffrey,

The choice to upgrade is strictly up to you. When we have developed enough improvements to warrant improving a product, we do so. (In other words, we don't just bring out a new one every year because we didn't do it right the first time or because we add a few whistles and bells.) Unlike most companies, when we introduce an upgrade, we design it so that the previous models can be fully upgraded to the latest specification. Then if you want to improve your system, you don't need to sell the old unit or trade it in or anything like that. This is a much more cost-effective approach to purchasing stereo equipment.

In the case of the QB-9-DSD, which we just started shipping, customers in the US will be able to upgrade their units for the cost difference between the earlier model and the current model. So there is no price penalty whatsoever as far as upgrading your unit goes. As the name "-DSD" implies, we are adding the ability to decode "DSD over PCM" (DoP) so that you can play downloaded DSD files. (It's kind of ironic as SACD was on the verge of extinction when Sony released a new spec called "DSD-Disc" that is essentially an SACD but without the pit-width modulation, so it can be played on a computer. With this spec came the possibility for labels to sell DSD downloads, and now there are several (very) small labels selling these downloads.

Adding the DoP capability was a no-brainer as the DAC chip was already DSD-capable. But since the unit was about five years old, we thought it was a good time to see if we could make some sonic improvements at the same time. We had learned some things from designing the QA-9 A/D converter and the AX-5 integrated amplifier that we could apply to the QB-9 that made a much larger improvement than I was expecting. We also gave the ESS DAC chip a listen and found that it raised the performance another notch. It requires higher master clock frequencies to give the best performance so we replaced the existing clock oscillators with low-phase-noise modules running at twice the previous speed.

So the only added feature is the ability to play DoP. But the improvement in performance is quite significant and something that I wasn't expecting. I was quite happy with the sound of the unit before and was frankly taken aback by how big the improvement was.

It is strictly up to you. It's a great DAC as it is, and it is even better with the upgrade. Personally I wouldn't buy the upgrade just for the DoP capability, as I don't think there is enough software available to justify it. (Although we could have done that upgrade alone for less than $50 -- it was just a firmware change.) But if you are looking to give your system a boost, I think you would have a very hard time finding an equal improvement for even 5x as much money. For example let's say that you have a $500 Brand X power cord. I would be shocked if you could find any brand of power cord for $1000 that would come anywhere near to providing as much improvement as the "-DSD" upgrade.

Hope this helps,

Charles Hansen

Ayre Acoustics, Inc.


Doesn't say anything about changing the receiver and their Web site still says it's async, so ...

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(Although we could have done that upgrade alone for less than $50 -- it was just a firmware change.) 




I love the quality, build, and sound of Ayre products, and they are from my home town, but I will be Goddamned if I approve of a state of affairs where a firmware change merits a charge of 50 dollars.

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Doesn't say anything about changing the receiver and their Web site still says it's async, so ...


quote_icon.png Originally Posted by barrows viewpost-right.png
I can understand if you are no longer monitoring this thread, but if you are I have a few tech questions on the new QB-9:

1. I understand that you are running the ESS chip synchronously, that is with master clock and bit clock synchronous, disabling any intervention from the onboard ASRC and DPLL, right?

2. I also understand that you are running your own OSF (on FPGA), and I would guess that this is the same set of filters as in the previous QB-9, outputting 705.6 kHz and 768 kHz to the ESS chip, with your minimum phase/slow roll off "listen" option, right?

3. Given if my understanding above is correct, I suspect that you are using fixed oscillators at 45.184 and 49.152 as master to the FPGA and ESS chip, right?

4. And, that the OSF in the ESS chip is off, eliminating the onboard OSF, right?

Thanks again for sharing so much information here, I liked the previous QB-9, and I bet the new version sounds fantastic!

Hello Barrows,

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and I think so. YMMV. It's always best to listen for yourself especially with recording with which you are extremely familiar.



Am I reading it wrong, is #1 referring to something independent of the ASRC that they licensed? I'm kind of a dumbass when it comes to this stuff tbh.

Edited by nopants
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  • 4 months later...

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