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Supercharged - Maverick Audio TubeMagic D2 DAC

Discussion in 'DACs' started by bce22, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. bce22

    bce22 Active Member

    Messages:
    332
    Location:
    Blackstone, MA
    EDIT: OpAmps need to be installed in the right orientation. Use my photos below for orientation. If you have questions about the correct way to install them ask first!

    Also, I play my digital files through Foobar2000 on my laptop feeding the DAC. I have many 24 bit files but I play even 16bit files with 24/96K set in my windows settings. Sometimes I drop the settings to 24/48 for certain files based on what sounds best.
    ____________________________________________


    Good Evening A/Kers,

    I am so thrilled with the quality of my D2 DAC that I thought I would share it. I purchased this DAC in October directly from Maverick Audio. I purchased the unit with the upgraded OPA627 OpAmps and the
    GE5670W tube upgrade for $289. The unit can be purchased on Maverick Audio's website here: http://www.mav-audio.com/store/index.php/dac/tube-magic-dac-d2-5670-627.html

    After using the DAC for a couple of months and finding it to be a big improvement over the HRT Music Streamer II+ I decided it was worth putting some money into. What I decided to do was:

    1. Buy Tubes

    WE2C51 (D-Getter), Tesla 6CC42 (D-Getter), Sylvanias, GEs and a Bendix 6385 from 1964 that has yet to arrive. The WE2C51 was a massive upgrade over the GE tube that came with the unit. I also find the Tesla to be a big improvement in my system over the WE2C51. I am really looking forward to comparing the Tesla to the Bendix tube when it arrives.

    I can say without a doubt that tube rolling really makes a difference in this DAC. I haven't found a single situation where I preferred the standard outputs over the tube outputs. This is true with the DAC hooked up to the Fisher KX-200 tube amp or the 1970s solid state monster Kenwood KA-907.

    Even though tube rolling provides big gains in this device, it pales in comparison to the #2 upgrade which is...

    2. Upgrade OpAmps to DISCRETE OpAmps

    I read alot of great information and reviews on Audiokarma and elsewhere about the Sparkos Lab OpAmps and knew that I definitely wanted to try them. Here is a link to Sparkos Labs OpAmps page: http://sparkoslabs.com/product/discrete-op-amp-ss3602/ This links to the dual discrete OpAmps that are needed for the D2. You actually need 3 of them. As you can see they are pretty pricey, however Sparkos Labs does offer these on ebay and you can make an offer and he may give you a break for buying 3.

    All I can say is WOW! These really open up the device, the soundstage is trully impressive with these installed. The DAC really sounds hugely improved over the OPA627s that came with the unit. I can't believe this DAC at this point with the upgraded opamps started as a $250 unit!


    If you only do one upgrade to this device I truly recommend doing this!

    3. Upgrade Output Capacitors

    I wanted to see if I could push the sound even further by replacing the 2.2ohm output WIMA capacitors with boutiques. I replaced them with 2.2ohm 800V Jantzen Z-superior audio caps from parts express. They can be found here: http://www.parts-express.com/jantzen-audio-22uf-800v-z-superior-capacitor--027-482

    These are really large and required me to move two small caps to the underside of the PCB in order to accommodate these caps. I believe they help tighten up the sound over the WIMAs however I also admit that it may be placebo. I had them around as extras from another job so I figured I would use them.


    When it comes down to it, I couldn't be happier with this DAC. I use the USB input exclusively from a Laptop and Foobar. I have it outputting to both a Kenwood KA-907 and a Fisher KX-200. I really prefer the tube out, but the regular output is definitely in the same ballpark. Those Sparkos Labs OpAmps are really something.

    The sound from the DAC rivals my TT setups! I have many albums in 24/96k quality and the vinyl as well. I even have a number of 24/96k rips of the same vinyl I own. I can say that there are some albums I prefer the digital files through this DAC over the vinyl. I thought that the setup was just shy of my vinyl with the WE2C51 tube, but when switched to the Tesla 6CC42 it is equal to in many cases.

    Here are some nude shots of the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D2 DAC with the Tesla tube, Sparkos Labs OpAmps and Jantzen caps installed.

    If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask!

    Best,

    Brad

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
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  2. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8642 Subscriber

    Big fan of the Maverick DACs here myself - you can pay a helluva lot more for a helluva lot less. Started a while back with the D1 first edition, and am currently flying a D1+ with the OPA627 upgrade. I got the D1+ with the standard chipset and Chinese tube just so I could hear the difference, and am glad I made the investment. Those got swapped around into the new box.

    [​IMG]

    I passed on the D2 even though it did have better spec, but I didn't want to lose the analog in. I plug my turntable into that via an external stage and get some of that tooby goodness there too. The box makes a surprisingly decent pre as well ... I have my HD Radio tuner plugged into AUX with a DIY interconnect.

    Also running a Tesla 6CC42 as my go to tube. Has a very refined tone to it. My setup is also more of a tube buffer kinda thang, as my system uses tubes for the final amps as well. I find the Maverick does a real nice job of fine tuning the sound, and gives me more options for rolling in the main amps as well. Drivers I'm running there would be a bit dark for my tastes without the Tesla tube to calm them down.

    And ya ... rolling is fun!

    [​IMG]

    That's box one of two. <G>

    Oh. Keep an eye on the big caps as well. Only problem I've heard of is those going south. Check for swelling, or just replace them.
     
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  3. bce22

    bce22 Active Member

    Messages:
    332
    Location:
    Blackstone, MA
    Hi sKIZo,

    Thanks for your reply. You were instrumental in my decision to purchase the D2 and I'm glad I did.

    If you haven't tried the sparkos labs opamps in your D1+ you owe it to yourself to pick them up. The D2 has 3 but doesn't the D1+ use less? I was able to get all 3 for about $155 on ebay from him. This cost ups the DAC to just over $400. With a Tesla tube your still under $500.

    I can't imagine a better, more flexible DAC for the cost. It's amazing. I still can't believe the DAC makes this much difference in the sound. It is very, very far superior in its current state over my HRT Music Streamer II+.
     
  4. bce22

    bce22 Active Member

    Messages:
    332
    Location:
    Blackstone, MA
    Tubes rock completely and in this DAC is no exception however if your budget doesn't allow for both I recommend saving for the discrete OpAmps first. They really make a much bigger difference in this DAC than the tube.
     
  5. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    This digital stuff is so damn cool.

    I just got this DAC a few days ago......got about 50 hours on it so far. Comparing it to my other DAC, the Maverick had more of a neutral sound to it in comparison. A slight bump at about 12k on my digital EQ and I'm really digging this DAC now.

    The D2 has what seems to be very good build quality and is solid. I got the op-amp upgrade as well as the tube. Can't wait to try some NOS tubes in it.
     
  6. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8642 Subscriber

    The GE tube is actually quite tasty, so no big rush there. I can say for sure, the Chinese tube lacks ... well ... pretty much everything in comparison.

    If you do get into rolling, here's a nice lil pOOp sheet from HeadFi to help you sort through the options ...

    1st class,
    WE396A (D getter)
    WE2C51 (D getter)
    Bendix 6385 (toooo expensive)
    Tesla 6CC42 (rare but sometimes will show up in the market)

    2nd class,
    WE396A/2C51 (O getter)
    Tung-sol 2C51 (they invent this tube, 1950s, D getter)
    Raytheon CK5670 (1950s, D getter)
    * Raytheon CRP 5670 windmill getter
    RCA 5670 (1950s, D/Plate 2 supporting rod getter)
    * RCA Command Series 5670
    GE 5670 (3 mica structure, mostly 5 stars tube)

    3rd class, (after 1960s)
    GE 5670 (this is the two mica version Maverick supplies as an upgrade option)
    RCA 5670
    Tung-sol 5670
    Sylvania 2C51
    Sylvania 5670 (sometimes marked Mullard)
    RTC 5670
    Philips 2C51

    4th class,
    Russian and Chinese 6N3P, -E, -EB, -EV (stock Maverick tube)

    One thing I'll add ... I have BOTH a '56 and '72 series Western Electric 2C51, and prefer the tone of the '72. Both were purchased as NOS (take that with a grain of salt, but they test good), but the '72 has much more ... muchness. As always, your results may vary. As mentioned, the Tesla is my go to tube for the current tube set I'm running in my tube amps.
     
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  7. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    Yeah, it's sounding that way. As far as how the tube compliment accents the sound vs. without the tube, I'd compare it to my Jolida JD100 tube cd player. It's almost entirely in the mids-highs which in turn puts a nice accent on the bass.

    I'm tempted to just live with the GE tube because it's sounding so good.....but what fun would that be?
     
  8. bce22

    bce22 Active Member

    Messages:
    332
    Location:
    Blackstone, MA
    NOS tubes in the first tier listed by sKIZo are awesome tubes. I have the WE2C51 D-Getter, the pinched waist Tesla 6cc42 and a 1964 Bendix 6385 on the way. This tier of tubes cost between 50 to 90+for a single tube unless you find a real score. Tube rolling is fun and makes a difference for sure. I can't recommend the discrete opamp upgrade enough. The tubes change the flavor, the opams change the SOUND.

    Love this DAC. It's amazing!!!
     
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  9. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
  10. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    What is all involved with replacing the op-amps? I'm no electronics tech by any means.....just wanna rock out.
     
  11. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
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    Uh....I don't even know what an op-amp is so go easy on me.
     

     

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  12. rwartner

    rwartner Super Member

    Messages:
    1,165
    Location:
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    OP-AMPs are in the second photo the 3 green squares. They unplug and plug easily I did it so anybody can. Different models have different op-amps so check that out before you get them. I have D1 and got op-amp upgrade directly from Maverick.
    I have been happy with the DAC, it is very versatile.

    If you are like me you set the volume knob and forget about it. Discovered I need to exercise the volume control once in a while.
    If you have left it alone for a year (like me), turn it off and twist it 20 times. Was surprised it sounded better. It must have slowly deteriorated and didn't notice.
     
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  13. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    That's awesome. I thought you had to do some soldering or something. Thanks for the info. I might just have to order these on Monday!
     
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  14. bce22

    bce22 Active Member

    Messages:
    332
    Location:
    Blackstone, MA
    Yup, that's it. It's a great tube. Not quiet as good as the pinched waist Tesla 6cc42 but pretty darn close! You won't be disappointed.

    It's as simple as unscrewing the top case, sliding it off and pulling out the original OpAmps from their sockets and plugging in the new ones. You don't need technical skills for this one.

    Edit: Just make sure you plug the OpAmps into the sockets with the correct orientation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
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  15. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    bce22.....thanks for starting this thread and offering the advice. After finding this thread I did some research and found that guys were saying how the DAC wasn't overly impressive with the standard opamp upgrade from Maverick Audio.....good but not 'over the top'. Also, comments were made that it lacked detail but made up for it in warmth. I noticed the same and wasn't overwhelmed with it but liked it. It wasn't until I made a slight bump in the 12k range in my digital EQ and this made all the difference in the world. I am now sooooo impressed with this DAC. Detail, warmth etc. etc. Absolutely loving this DAC.

    So that's making me think to just leave well enough alone. However, you are only one of many that are raving about this opamp upgrade from Sparkos Labs so screw it....I'm gonna go for it and order these pronto and hopefully have them in a few days. Can't wait.
     
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  16. bce22

    bce22 Active Member

    Messages:
    332
    Location:
    Blackstone, MA
    SWL,

    He sells them on ebay as well. He has the OpAmps on sale with "make an offer". I was able to get 3 of them for $160ish about a month and a half ago. You may want to try there.

    Make sure you post your results when you get them.

    Best,

    Brad
     

     

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  17. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
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    I sure will......just ordered them today. Should get them in a few days.
     
  18. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    I gotta say, that after doing much more listening and comparing the tube output vs the other one....the tube output sounds quite a bit better unlike initially there didn't seem to be that much of a difference.

    If the discrete opamps sound better than the tube output, I just might shit myself because this sounds awesome.
     
  19. bce22

    bce22 Active Member

    Messages:
    332
    Location:
    Blackstone, MA
    The discrete opamps are in the signal path for both the tube out and the standard out. That is why it's such a huge improvement. The benefits are heard all the time.
     
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  20. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    That's great news! Because I read some posts that said otherwise but they weren't really sure. Thanks for clearing that up.
     
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