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Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Review (DAC)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity DAC. It is on kind loan from a member. Can't quite find the cost for it but seems to have sold for $2,500 or so when it came out in 2018 (?).

I must say, this is one of the heavies DACs I have measured:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Review high-end DAC USB.jpg


If you are paying for weight, you are certainly getting your money's worth! I was surprised that there is no volume control on the unit. The only control is to select one of 6 different inputs:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Review back panel high-end DAC USB.jpg


I get a kick out of the tape (upper left) that is supposed to tell them if you opened the unit because to change its settings, you have to change jumpers inside!!! Speaking of inside, here is a shot of it:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Teardown high-end DAC USB.jpg


There no jumpers set in there but I can't figure out from their "manual" what that means. The English is quite poor. Owner had not modified it and I tested it as is. Company says after "May 15" settings are one way versus before. Problem is, it doesn't say which year!

Speaking of the manual, it starts this way:
Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Burn in.png


Unbelievable.

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity
Man, this DAC was an adventure to measure. I started with USB input whose jack is kind of crooked in the back. The clock in the dashboard was jumping back and forth every few seconds so I plotted the frequency by itself and got this:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Measurements Clock Accuracy DAC.png


So every two seconds or so, it jumps precisely from 1 kHz to 0.9993 kHz! Clearly there is a bug in the clock locking algorithm here. Fortunately it doesn't happen with the other two inputs (Toslink and Coax) which I tested. Because of the disturbance, I could not filter the FFT for USB so it looks more fuzzy than it would be otherwise:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Measurements USB DAC.png


Nominal output is around 5.3 volts or so. To make the comparison more fair I brought that back down to level you see with -2 dB attenuation on the input (it doesn't change the results hardly at all). We see that there are some 8 dB difference in distortion between one and the other channel. Averaging the two SINADs we get 85 dB which puts the Master 7 squarely in the poor category of all DACs tested:
Best high-end DAC review.png


Zooming in you can see its competitors better:

Best high-end DAC review zoomed.png


Two notches higher is the Google phone dongle!

Back to our dashboard, this is what you get when you switch to Coax and Toslink:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Measurements Coax DAC.png


Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Measurements Toslink DAC.png


So much garbage and variability.

Moving on to dynamic range we get another poor result although not as bad as distortion:
Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity DNR Measurements Toslink DAC.png



I went testing IMD and for kicks, I also measured RCA out in addition to balanced which was used above:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity RCA Measurements Toslink DAC.png


The balanced output is not much better than a phone dongle but what on earth is going on with RCA out in green? So I went back and ran the dashboard with RCA Out:
Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity RCA Dashboard Measurements Toslink DAC.png


What on earth are you doing here Audio-gd? Why produce so much more distortion with RCA as opposed to balanced?

Jitter test shows distinct difference between USB and coax+toslink:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Jitter Measurements USB DAC.png


So much for fancy PLL implemented in FPGA and such.

Considering what we have seen so far, Multitone results were much more decent:
Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Multitone Measurements USB DAC.png


Since the output is higher than 4 volts, let's sweep it to find the sweet spot:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity THD+N vs Level Measurements Toslink DAC.png


Oh come on now, what is with that ditch at 1.5 volt? This curve should smoothly climb up and then maybe drop a little. It should never have this kind of nonlinearity.

Speaking of non-linearity, let's run our linearity test:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Linearity Measurements Toslink DAC.png


Notice how the level shifts as you get to some amplitude with a constant error. There is some kind of design problem here.

Filter in the output stage is quite slow (and hence wrong):
Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Filter Measurements Toslink DAC.png


This is partially responsible for poor response in our THD+N versus frequency which uses wideband measurements:

Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity THD+N vs Frequency Measurements USB DAC.png


The total noise and distortion literally jumps out of the chart above 500 Hz! Switching to 192 kHz sampling eliminated the effect of the slow filter (green and brown). Sadly performance is still quite poor and gets worse with frequency above 1 kHz. In that regard, our dashboard which also runs at 1 kHz is showing the best case response, not the worst.

Conclusions
Some of the earliest DACs I tested were from Audio-gd. Results were not only poor but different than what company advertised. This DAC was kind sent to me to see if their newer products do better. Sadly they do not. The Master 7 Singularity has a suite of problems in many areas. Clearly it has not benefited from proper design verification and optimization. Tons of parts are thrown at the problem which look good on paper and website but perform very poorly. Performance is simply unacceptable at any price let alone what they charge.

Needless to say, I cannot recommend the Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
Last edited:

YSC

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Kind of. Expected… but I have to say… at least in balanced mode it isn’t as broken as their other offerings
 

a.dent

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I bought an Audio GD ref 5 a few years ago after reading a load of hype on our local audio forum.
Now I know why it sounded so bad.
I put up with it for about a week before moving it on.
It looked nice inside though.
I’m glad I’ve never risked Audio GD again.
 

sarumbear

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From their website:
The 7-group stand-alone class-A parallel regulated power supply separately supplies power to the regenerative power driver and each part of the analog audio.

A class-A power supply! Regenerative power driver? This is not a translation issue. They are basically tricking gullible audiophiles. I see it as fraud.
 

Matias

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Love these reviews. Way better then yet another SINAD 120 dB DAC. This is pure gold to read. :D
 

Mike2fr

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But it has all the prerequisites for an Audiophile piece of equipment.....Heavy, Expensive, Blue Light and a cult-following at Head-Fi.

Even with all the poor measurements, it must sound fantastic:cool:
This is the first DAC I bought in the US so I had nothing to compare it with.... I decided to upgrade and buy a Topping D90Se (3X less expensive upgrade lol).

It took me a good 15 seconds to be blown away. I could not believe it.

So if someone want it for the price of metal and the electronic It is for sale.
I can give you a Audiosciencereview.com members special discount
 
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