(Was) not hearing a difference between my NAD DAC and CD player: Border Patrol DAC SE Update

Discussion in 'DACs' started by grundigger, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. grundigger

    grundigger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I'm really hating my OTL preamp. Terrible NOS tubes! Just awful! :rflmao:

    But you might be right about tubes limiting how good a DAC can sound in a less than SOTA system.
     
  2. grundigger

    grundigger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Opted for BorderPatrol DAC SE. Report forthcoming in a week or two.
     
  3. gvl

    gvl Well-Known Member

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    Ouch. Hopefully you got it used as you could do much better than a NOS TDA1543-based DAC at those list prices. But it will sound different than your CDP for sure.
     
  4. Mark B

    Mark B Yamaha Fan Subscriber

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    What is this based on? Have you heard this DAC?
     
  5. gvl

    gvl Well-Known Member

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    I have a TDA1543 NOS DAC and that I paid 1/10 of the cost of BP. I like it and I believe there are some improvements that can be made by a better design around this chip. However no TDA1543 based DAC can be made sound 10x better as the chip is the bottleneck. For that kind of money you can get a Metrum Acoustics Amethyst which is based on a modern NOS R2R module with claimed 24-bit resolution that doesn't limit you to 16bit/96kHz. I have their Musette which is a previous generation and it is 10x better than my TDA1543, I'd rather give my money to a real engineering company that advances the technology in the field than to a boutique shop that uses smoke and mirrors around ancient budget tech. I suspect that BP is a good (or rather pleasant) sounding DAC, but it is overpriced for what it is.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
  6. E-Stat

    E-Stat Super Member

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    Not surprising to me given their close pricing - especially when you're necessarily limited to comparing 44/16 content using single ended outputs which limits the DAC's strengths. Both use similar TI op amps for analog output which is what I find makes the most audible difference. The 546 uses OPA2134s while the 1050 uses LME49860s.

    Also, the CDP uses a superior linear power supply as opposed to the comparatively noisy SMPS wall wart for the 1050.
     
  7. grundigger

    grundigger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I regret creating this thread. Not referring to you, E-Stat.
     
  8. Mark B

    Mark B Yamaha Fan Subscriber

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    Don't regret it. If you're like me you judge gear by how good it sounds to you. I'm looking forward to your listening impressions!
     
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  9. WobblySam

    WobblySam Active Member

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    First, sorry you didn't get the results you were hoping for. Second though, good for you! Like me, you seem to have been at it long enough to have established your own personal baseline for your system. You know what sounds good, different or better. As others have noted, the DAC IC is often not the most important part of the chain. Like you, I don't care for upsampling - some folks like it as it does impart its own flavor to the sound. The filter used will sometimes have the biggest impact on how the DAC sounds. All kinds of nasties can develop from the filter. For some, it's a plus and others it's a negative. I still listen to a lot of CDs and half the time I use my old 16 bit DAC from the 90s. It just sounds "right" to me. I have a couple of newer DACs and one of them is probably the best (for me) that I've heard in years. The other is a bit pricey too, but for CDs, I just just don't like it. It was one of those "deals" I couldn't pass up. But long term, not such a good investment. So, price is not the last word on how well something will sound to YOU.
    Hang in there and keep looking - you'll find it, though you may have to audition a dozen DACs to find it.

    Merry Christmas
     
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  10. Johnny 007

    Johnny 007 Active Member

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    Sometimes, what we hear doesn't seem to make much sense. You can pay a lot of money for a piece of equipment, hoping to get a better sound. And yet blindfolded, you might not be able to identify the piece of equipment you just bought. But you pretend the investment was worth it.
     
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  11. grundigger

    grundigger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks, Mark. I can be a little hot-headed and over-sensitive at times. I go primarily by my direct experience and not by preconceived notions of how things ought to be. I used to do that, and I learned I was often wrong.
     
  12. grundigger

    grundigger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yep. I've had a bunch of DACs, and a bunch of CD players. My first CD player was a CAL Icon (the original, not the more common MkII), which my girlfriend at the time (1990?) was shocked to learn cost $600 or so. I really liked the sound of that one. More recently, I have found that the ESS Sabre DACs that I've heard often leave me feeling bored and restless after enjoying their initial startling clarity--I just don't get into the music as much. Perhaps it's just the implementation of the PS and analog output circuitry. I'm no expert, but I know what I like! I'm also a dinosaur who prefers to play CDs. I work with servers all day. I don't want to configure and troubleshoot any computer problems before hearing my stereo. It doesn't happen often, but it's aggravating as hell when it does. I like physical media better. I also listen to a lot of classical music and most meta-tagging is woefully inadequate or just plain wrong for classical music. And of course one of the big advantages of classical music is that there is no crushing of the dynamic range. Listening to (and playing) unamplified instruments is very satisfying to me. I hate headphones and how the sound statically follows your ears when you turn your head. It sounds accurate yet simultaneously fake to me. Yeah, I'm one of those guys.

    I will get the BP DAC on Friday and I'll give it enough time to account for new-gear-love-syndrome before rendering a verdict on it. But I'm pretty sure my first impressions will be the ones that last--they usually do. I am very happy with my MicroZOTL through my First Watt F6. It's a quick, smooth, extended, dynamic, quiet combination--all that good hi-fi verbiage. My first OTL amp is a preamp!

    Merry Christmas!
     
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  13. grundigger

    grundigger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I've been guilty of believing the emperor was wearing clothes. But time removes the scales from our eyes (or wax from our ears?). I loved Magnepans until I didn't. I still love big Maggies driven by big amps. They do so much right. But the smaller 1.7s and MMGs just don't do dynamics very well, and I've come to realize over many years that unfettered dynamics is high on my list of priorities. It sounds more real to me when it's jumping. To me, DACs are trickier. I think the sound of most of them is more similar than different. I think my NAD DAC sounds similar to the one in my Yamaha A-S501. In fact the Yamaha's sound is fantastically neutral (I wasn't crazy about it at first and have come to love it) and works great as a TV/movie amp. So the Yamaha is a counterexample of "hoping to get a better sound," then not thinking you are, and then coming to realize that it was great for its purpose (video dialog, primarily, for me) all along. That's a rare exception, I admit. Still, its sound is not quite good enough for me--for the music I listen to.

    Bottom line with regards to your statement is that you're right. But in case it isn't clear, I bought the DAC last year and was sort of content with it. I was using a DVD player as a transport and gave up on that since it was such a PITA. So I used my computer-based audio system for a while and came to realize that I wasn't enjoying music very much (sound and interface were not good). I bought the CD player a couple of weeks ago, simply to use as a transport. I was dismayed to find out that I couldn't hear the difference between the CD player's sound and the DAC's. Maybe I should be happy instead? Anyhow, onward with a new DAC!
     
  14. Archguy

    Archguy Life's 2 short 4 plastic speakers Subscriber

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    The next step is to send me your money because I'm running out and there are still speakers I haven't tried yet. Bigger Maggies, for example [​IMG]

    Your thread caught my eye because I was reading reviews of $3500 and $5000 DACs last night and wondering what I might be missing.
     
  15. seminole54

    seminole54 AK Member Subscriber

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    grundigger

    I will be interested to hear your thoughts on the BP DAC as it is well reviewed plus the guys at LTA like it enough that they sell it along with their gear. As for your preamp, that is one well respected little piece. I've got a friend running it in front of Triode Corp. 845 mono's into SF Stradivari and he thinks it may be the best sounding he has had in his system including a CJ GAT. The system is fronted by a Lumin U1 and the Directstream DAC.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  16. grundigger

    grundigger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Your check is in the mail!
     
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  17. grundigger

    grundigger AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    That is one impressive system. Dang!

    I'm waiting for Louis of Omega Loudspeakers to finish up my speakers. Once I have them in and have had a chance to get to know them a bit, I'll do a little write up on the Border Patrol DAC. That might be a few weeks from now. I'll create a separate thread for that. I just bought a demo WT Simplex/Ortofon Black/Sugden A21 phono stage. That will keep me busy, too!
     
  18. seminole54

    seminole54 AK Member Subscriber

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    Yes it is and the way things go with him there is no telling how long any of that stuff will stay put. I've never heard any of Louis' speakers but know he has a large devoted following on AC and many are using LTA gear with them. An amp I always wanted to try but even my Spatial Triode Masters are not really efficient enough in a large room is the Coincident Dynamo SE Mk II. Similar power as the ZOTL 10 for about half the price.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
  19. mythrenegade

    mythrenegade New Member

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    Don’t be discouraged by the fact that your CD player sounds excellent. You can return the DAC if you aren’t using it for other sources. I am with you, buy what you can hear the difference for, and ignore the rest.
     
  20. EyeGee

    EyeGee Big Ears

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    I have an old Assemblage DAC which is fed optically by my Yamaha CDP (has a Burr-Brown PCM5142 to produce analog). Both sources are plugged into my Mc 4300V receiver and can be A/B'd. There is a slight yet maddeningly distinct "presence" difference brought by the DAC. I would characterize it as a deeper, wider soundstage particularly in the mid frequencies. As I listen to a lot of vocal music, I prefer the DAC sound, but I am still searching for that elusive (expensive?) DAC which would really clear things up in an organic fashion .... i.e., more "musical". cheers everybody.
     

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