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Chord DAVE Review (DAC & HP Amp)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 262 61.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 108 25.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 40 9.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 18 4.2%

  • Total voters
    428

Angsty

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Back to expensive audio components for a minute. If someone spends $50K+ for an audio system it's because they want to, not because they have to. Since the days of Julian Hirsch we've known that there is a terrible price/performance correlation for most components over a certain break-point. There will always be people who spend more than they have to, simply because they can.

I'm a minor example: I have a Bryston 4B-ST amp for which I paid a few times more than my NAD C272. The two units, when in my system, are likely not reliably distinguishable in blind testing. Economic good sense might say sell the Bryston and use the proceeds to get more recordings. Yet, the Bryston sits in the rack and the NAD is on a storage shelf simply because I like the Bryston more, despite its lack of significant performance differentiation. I also have a Topping D70s in the rack that I can't reliably distinguish from my Schiit Modi 3, which is a fraction of the cost of the Topping DAC. But, I also like the Topping better.

Even if the Chord DAVE isn't your thing, somebody who can comfortably afford it buys it because they like it more. I don't fret about those guys. I worry about the one who swallows the whole million-tap thing and maxes out his credit card to buy "the best" without knowing it's less capable than my Topping. Yet swears to his grave that it has to be better because it cost so much more.
 

VQRex

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Oct 15, 2021
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Back to expensive audio components for a minute. If someone spends $50K+ for an audio system it's because they want to, not because they have to. Since the days of Julian Hirsch we've known that there is a terrible price/performance correlation for most components over a certain break-point. There will always be people who spend more than they have to, simply because they can.

I'm a minor example: I have a Bryston 4B-ST amp for which I paid a few times more than my NAD C272. The two units, when in my system, are likely not reliably distinguishable in blind testing. Economic good sense might say sell the Bryston and use the proceeds to get more recordings. Yet, the Bryston sits in the rack and the NAD is on a storage shelf simply because I like the Bryston more, despite its lack of significant performance differentiation. I also have a Topping D70s in the rack that I can't reliably distinguish from my Schiit Modi 3, which is a fraction of the cost of the Topping DAC. But, I also like the Topping better.

Even if the Chord DAVE isn't your thing, somebody who can comfortably afford it buys it because they like it more. I don't fret about those guys. I worry about the one who swallows the whole million-tap thing and maxes out his credit card to buy "the best" without knowing it's less capable than my Topping. Yet swears to his grave that it has to be better because it cost so much more.
The aesthetic and experential arguments are definitely valid. I can't fault anyone preferring good-looking or pleasing-to-use products over other products that perform about or just as good; I buy vinyl records and use a turntable all the time, and would be an absolute hypocrite when my draw to vinyl is the aesthetics (LP cover, masterings compared to digital counterparts) and the experience of carefully optimizing and playing my MCS 6602 turnable.

I know better than to claim my vinyl rig is better than digital. I will unrelunctantly admit my 2022 Sabaj A10D measures better and fully is capable with the right sources of sounding far better than vinyl equivalents.

I do still roll my eyes at people raving about the DAVE: the thing looks like a de-rotered 10 year old drone, barely used, and the unfortunate owner had to scrap after losing the remote.
 

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Jimster480

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Back to expensive audio components for a minute. If someone spends $50K+ for an audio system it's because they want to, not because they have to. Since the days of Julian Hirsch we've known that there is a terrible price/performance correlation for most components over a certain break-point. There will always be people who spend more than they have to, simply because they can.

I'm a minor example: I have a Bryston 4B-ST amp for which I paid a few times more than my NAD C272. The two units, when in my system, are likely not reliably distinguishable in blind testing. Economic good sense might say sell the Bryston and use the proceeds to get more recordings. Yet, the Bryston sits in the rack and the NAD is on a storage shelf simply because I like the Bryston more, despite its lack of significant performance differentiation. I also have a Topping D70s in the rack that I can't reliably distinguish from my Schiit Modi 3, which is a fraction of the cost of the Topping DAC. But, I also like the Topping better.

Even if the Chord DAVE isn't your thing, somebody who can comfortably afford it buys it because they like it more. I don't fret about those guys. I worry about the one who swallows the whole million-tap thing and maxes out his credit card to buy "the best" without knowing it's less capable than my Topping. Yet swears to his grave that it has to be better because it cost so much more.
I guess you have a point there. If you have a lot of money and you like to waste it then that is your prerogative as long as you understand that what you are buying is not the best thing and you only are buying it because you like it..
However for me it just seems hard to spend so much money on something you know is worse...
 

Veri

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In the field of sound, we have progressed to a stage where the teamwork of multiple knowledge engineers and a real design shift of the DAC chip is needed. The companies ESS and AKM are advancing it professionally, not on the basis of some dubious solutions. Using chip companies has always proven to be the best solution. I am personally looking forward to the ESS 9039PRO and its counterpart AK4499EX. Surely the TOPPING is already being prepared. Amir too....AP ready....;)
First measurements of ESS 9039PRO:
 

Jimster480

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By the way: what exactly is this ?
Loopback THD+N or just generator ?
I guess that's pure analog path, anyway ?
And I suppose the APX555B is a tad better ?
Looks like a graph of the capability of the analyzers.
 

jaymusic

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I was headed down the rabbit hole of audiophile gear until I discovered this forum, lol. Saved me a fortune.
I was tempted by the Chord Dave being fed into my Rega amp but ended up not taking that route thankfully. Can’t believe it measures so badly for a £10k piece of equipment that only does the digital to analogue part of what is needed to actually play music.
Got an M33 instead. Great bang for buck considering it does everything i need in one box with my Roon set up and sounds great to me.
The one thing I will remain on the upgrade path for is speakers. Just my opinion but I think they make the single biggest difference in any system.
 

Adi777

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I'm curious, which DAC's could be as good like Mola Mola Tambaqui, or maybe even better. I think about this more expensive and exotic DAC's, just like Tambaqui.
 

Mart68

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I'm curious, which DAC's could be as good like Mola Mola Tambaqui, or maybe even better. I think about this more expensive and exotic DAC's, just like Tambaqui.
Had a listen to a system incorporating the Dave a few months back. If it was doing something that justified the extra $12400 over the cost of a Topping E30 then I couldn't hear it.
 
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