It is an understatement to say that my measurements of Schiit products create tons of discussions and arguments across multiple forms. So much so that I think they parallel any reality show on TV! Much of that is driven by passion people have on either side of the fence. What I like to address is the accusation that my measurement techniques are incorrect, or cooked in some ways as to generate unfavorable results for Schiit.
As shown there, the performance of Schiit Yggdrasil DAC is simply not competitive at almost any price, let alone at its retail price of $2399. Importantly though, I always measure two devices side-by-side. This has two benefits:
As mentioned elsewhere I have just purchased a Motu UltraLite mk4. I already use a Motu 8A for driving my active 3 way DSP speaker system, however being only 8 channels I am unable to run the centre speaker from it. The EasyLite mk4 caught my eye as it has been upgraded over the mk3 to include the same ESS9016 dacs as the 8A and has the extra 2 channels I require. I have measured the 8A previously and its performance is excellent. The paper specs for the Ultralite claim they have improved the THD+Noise figure by 2dB to 112dB over the 8A.
More info about the product below. Casework is an excellent. Cost is around $595 US.
This is a review and detailed measurements and comparison of Musical Fidelity V90-DAC against Topping D50. The unit is on kind loan from a member who has been patiently waiting for its review. The V90-DAC retails for $300 from what I can tell (it is sold through a dealer channel) so a bit more expensive than Topping at $250.
The V90-DAC is quite attractive and has a high-end feel to it despite the diminutive case:
There is a certain elegance to it that you don't normally find in this price category. Compared to it, the Topping looks decidedly industrial.
It comes with a nice little switching power supply no bigger than a USB phone charger.
From format support point of view, the V90-DAC trails the D50 by only supporting PCM up to 192 kHz and no DSD. The Topping goes up to 768 kHz and DSD512. And while the Topping has a volume control, the V90 has none.
This is a review and detailed measurement/comparison of SMSL SU-8 DAC and Topping D50. It is on a kind loan from a member who had it drop shipped to me from Massdrop. Since there has been so much interest in this product, I decided to test it immediately.
Overall, the first impression is quite positive. Package is very nice and the unit has quite a heft and quality feel to it. It is a far more substantial unit than the Topping D50 due to inclusion of mains power supply and balanced outputs:
The display is kind of tiny but does the job. It came with a remote which is a great bonus (I did not unpack it). The only minor gripe is the very short AC cable. I think it is 2 feet or something as opposed to typical 6 foot. So like me, you may need to supply your own.
The retail price is $249 with free shipping on US Amazon right now. I am assuming Massdrop price was lower. The Topping D50 is also $249 so if the SMSL SU-8 matches its performance, it...
This is a review and detailed measurements of Schiit Eitr. It is a on a kind loan from the same member that provided me the the excellently performing iFi iDSD Black Edition. It retails for $179 plus shipping from Schiit direct (they don't sell through any other channel).
If you are not familiar with it, the Schiit Eitr is a USB to S/PDIF converter. Yes, Schiit DACs already have USB interfaces but the quality there is not what it should be. So Schiit took the design of their "Gen 5" USB interface from their higher-end units and is providing it in the form of an external USB to S/PDIF bridge/converter.
The Eitr comes in the same enclosure as Schiit Modi 2 series. Here you see it below my Schiit Modi 2 Uber which I used for this review and testing:
In my review of Schiit Jotunheim by chance I noticed that the upper part of the case is not grounded. As such, it allowed the transformer to induce hum into the output of the amplifier. Here are the measurements showing such:
A jumper between the drilled holes that are not insulated and the back RCA jack shield got rid of the noise:
This quick article is about accomplishing the same without said jumper.
Note that this is both a performance issue and potential shock hazard. Metal cases on a three-pronged outlet must be security connected to mains safety...
This is a review, detailed measurements and comparison of Schiit Jotunheim Headphone Amplifier (with its optional Multibit DAC) and iFi micro iDSD Black Label DAC and Headphone amplifier. Both are on kind loans from members and arrived on the same day. Seeing how their prices are similar, I decided to compare them to each other. The iFi however, has built-in battery, is far smaller and less power hungry, making it suitable for portable use in addition to desktop. The Jotunheim on the other hand, is firmly a desktop product, in a pretty heavy case for its size and is mains powered. Here they are together:
I say the minimalist look of Schiit products is best represented in this form factor. I also like the heft and feel of the large volume control.
The ifi is quite cute and nicely done from style point of view. Alas, I don't like switches spread everywhere on the side and bottom. Placement is more optimized though so perhaps that is good for...
This is a review and detailed measurement of Benchmark DAC1 USB DAC. I recently reviewed the much newer Benchmark DAC3 which did very well. So question was posed how much progress has been made since the original DAC1. As luck would have it, someone brought a DAC1 USB over for me to measure at our latest Pacific Northwest Audiophile Society meeting.
From overall form factor and design language, not much has changed:
It had maybe a little bit less polish than current units.
TIme was limited so this review will be short. Let's get into measurements and see how she did.
Let's start with our Dashboard view as usual:
As you can see from the bottom text in green, all the measurements are for unbalanced analog output driven by AES balanced digital input. I think we tried USB but it was...
This is a review and detailed comparison of two car head units: the Sony MEX-XB120BT and Dual AM505BT. Yes, you read that right: car stereos! I needed to replace the Pioneer car stereo in my boat with something that had bluetooth and much more power to play over the loud engine noise. I was pleasantly surprised to see both of these models sport much higher power/more efficient class-D amplification. This allowed me to get more volume without having to mess with an external amplifier.
The Sony MEX-XB120BT retails for $200 with Prime shipping on Amazon. The Dual costs more at $253, again with Prime shipping from Amazon.
Searching I was surprised to see that there is no measurements or detailed review of either unit. Specs are wild in car stereo and is hard to know what is real, and what is fantasy when it comes to power and such. So I decided to buy both from Amazon and return the one that didn't perform as well.
The Sony is a traditional CD player plus new formats such as...
This is a very brief measurement of Klyne 7px 3.5 Phono pre-amp. It is designed locally in washington state where I live and was brought to me for measurement at our local audiophile society meeting. It originally retailed for $2,500 and I think the owner said he bought it for $1,800. So not cheap.
Alas, I did not save much of the measurements other than one spectrum of 1 kHz. Before that, the unit looks pretty nice inside:
The unit came out in early 1990s so not available anymore (company doesn't seem to be building phono pre-amps anymore).
As noted, I did not save the rest of the measurements but the 1 kHz distortion and noise tells the story anyway:
(please ignore the cursors). As we see, the noise from mains is highly dominant with the primary spike at 60 Hz just 40 dB down from our main tone. That causes a spray of...
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Auralic Vega DAC. From my quick search seems like this DAC was released sometime in 2013 but it is still current (about to be replaced?). It was brought to our local audiophile society meeting for me to measure so my time with it was very limited. As such, this review gets right to the point with measurements. Retail price as of this writing seems to be around $2,000 with the original cost of $3,500.
If you are not familiar with Auralic, they are a chinese company whose streamers are a fixture at audio shows. They have cornered the market for "high-end" audio streamers.
I have to say going into this review I just assumed this is an over-priced unit, surely with some faults. Read on to see if that came through.
As soon as I fired up the dashboard measurements, I knew my bias was incorrect:
113 dB SINAD (signal above power of noise+distortion)? This is near the top of any DAC...
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Oppo UDP-205 UHD player's audio subsystem, specifically its DAC performance. It is on loan from a kind member. The retail price of UDP-205 used to be $1,300. Alas, Oppo has discontinued the unit so it is no longer for sale as a new unit. I see crazy prices like $4,000 now for them!
NOTE: My company is a dealer for Oppo. "Dealer" is a stretch of the term here as the discount for dealers will buy you a cup of tea and not the usual margins that exists for audio. But you should take this account in reading my review here.
There are probably hundreds of reviews of the Oppo UDP-205 out there. My focus here is only as a USB DAC to see how it compares to dedicated DACs. For this evaluation, I am testing its USB input and balanced analog outs. As a way of comparison, and as you see below, I also compared it to Schiit Yggdrasil DAC ($2,400), RME ADI-2 Pro (DAC version of which is $1,000), and Topping DX7s ($499)...
This is a review and measurements of ELE EL-D02 ebay-special DAC and headphone amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member and the balance of budget DACs he has sent me. I see this unit selling on ebay for $16 including shipping.
From over build quality and feel, this is one of the most crusty, and cheap feeling DACs I have laid my hands on. It is light, and feels like there is nothing in there. An attempt at texturing the front and back panels results in even cheaper looking:
I suggest hiding it behind something if you care at all about your audiophile image!
Unusually this DAC has both line out and headphone output with up/down volume controls no less. Let's start with our dashboard view of line out:
"Good news" is that nothing is badly broken. The displays were stable. Bad news is that 0.7 volts of output is quite anemic for line out (2 volts is more like it) so unlikely it is able to...
This is a Review and Measurements of budget SMAKN X5 DAC and Headphone Amplifier. It is on kind loan from a forum member. It retails for just $25 on Amazon including prime shipping in US!
It is a cute little box with sturdy build:
It worked plug-and-play in Windows 10 Creators Edition so no driver install was necessary. I tested it using ASIO4ALL wrapper to create an ASIO driver for my Audio Precision APx555 analyzer in bit-exact mode.
Let's see how it measures.
As you know, I always start with my Dashboard view and this is sort of what it looked like:
I say sort of because while the scope, output voltage and frequency were stable, the distortion figures were jumping all over, varying by as much as 20 dB! You can't see that in the static display so I put the analyzer in real-time mode and asked it to show the THD+N distortion figure as time marched on:
This is a detailed comparison, Review and Measurements of Sony PHA-1 and Teac HA-P50 Portable DAC and Headphone Amplifiers. They are on kind loan from forum member. The Sony retails for $250 and seems was released back in 2013. The Teac is likewise being sold on Amazon for $200. Both have that "cool" rack-mounted style albeit in tiny packaging. Here you see them on my Keysight/Agilent bench power supply for scale:
Between the two, the Sony feels more solid. On the test unit, the headphone jack on the teac is all but lose. It could barely hold the headphone jack. With owner's permission, I plan to open it up and see what is going on.
Both have high/low gain. I tested only the high gain.
Plug-and-play worked on Windows 10 Creators edition with no driver install for either unit. For my testing, I used ASIO4ALL virtual ASIO interface as that is the only one that my Audio Precision APx555 understands.
This is a review and detailed Measurements of Melokin DA9.1 ES9038PRO DAC and Headphone Amp. I purchased this for a discount after contacting the manufacturer to get such. I have gotten quite a few requests for measuring it due to it sporting the high-end ES9038Pro DAC chip.
Unboxing is pleasant with the unit being double boxed and inside, covert with nice plastic bag. Once removed, you are greeted with above average machining and construction:
You can see the Topping D50 on top of it which I used as a reference for measurements which uses the lower end ES9038Q2M version of the same DAC chip from ESS. The topping retails for $249 but is frequently on sale for $199. The retail price of Melokin DA9.1 is $360 (plus $80 for USB input) but it includes a headphone amplifier which the D50 does not have.
Purchasing was a pain as I had to pay in advance to the manufacture using paypal and then wait 2-3 weeks (?) for delivery. Definitely not in the same...
This is a detailed review and measurements of Schiit Yggdrasil with upgraded "Gen 5 USB" interface and "Analog 2" DAC+analog board. I see this informally called Yggdrasil V2 even though there is no such model name on Schiit website. The retail price as of this writing is USD $2,399 plus shipping. I think it is the most expensive product Schiit makes (?). It is by far the most expensive DAC they make. In the world of high-end, this is actually "cheap." In the world of personal audio, it is of course quite expensive.
I won't review the operational aspect as they remain the same. So let's get into measurements and see how they compare.
For this test I only measured the performance of balanced inputs (which is all the jacks they have anyway). To simplify the insane matrix of different configurations, I limited my testing to +24 dBU max input level. Both units have programmable input range which allows one to optimize the input for different devices feeding it at varying output voltages.
Let's start with our dashboard view:
Here, my APx555 Audio Precision analyzer is the source analog device whose...
This is a review and detailed measurements and comparison of Lynx Hilo professional DAC and ADC. The unit is on kind loan from member DallasJustice who uses it as an 8-channel DAC to drive his active JBL M2 speakers (together with Benchmark DAC3). In this review, I will be evaluating its DAC performance and comparing it to Benchmark DAC3. In Part 2, I will be measuring its ADC performance and comparing it to RME ADI-2 Pro.
The Lynx Hilo is a few years and today it retails for $2,300 from US major supplier of pro products, sweetwater. The Benchmark DAC3 despite being the same price, is DAC only. The Lynx Hilo has a large (though a bit grainy and low contrast) color touchscreen. That makes navigation far easier than competing devices. Its companion host control panel allows easy control just the same. So if you want a pro soundcard that is not a nightmare to navigate, this is it.
The unit is quite chunky but still desktop sized. Here you see it compared to Benchmark DAC3...