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Chord DAVE Review (DAC & HP Amp)

Rate this DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 294 60.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 120 24.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 46 9.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 24 5.0%

  • Total voters
    484
OP
amirm

amirm

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How old is the unit under test? I note that SMPS does degrade over time given the complexity and off the shelf quality parts used in Dave. If it's over 5yrs old, @amirm should really source a new unit to test.
A faulty power supply would destroy the performance of the unit, if it leaves it working at all. What knowledge you have of a degradation anyway? Has Chord acknowledged it? If so, where?
 

AlephAlpha001

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How old is the unit under test? I note that SMPS does degrade over time given the complexity and off the shelf quality parts used in Dave. If it's over 5yrs old, @amirm should really source a new unit to test.
Hohoho... 'SMPS Degradation' is the current Copeium Pipe Puffing thing over at the Head-Fi DAVE thread where things are just beginning to crank up. Come to think of it, your handle looks familiar.
 

AndreaT

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Is the dancing SINAD on Ch 2 an indication that there is something broken in the box, or just sloppy design? Recently I discussed Weiss Engineering high price vs SMSL/Topping/Gustard much lower prices (and similar very high competence in digital to analog conversion). At least, so far, each test of Weiss Engineering products have shown impeccable signal processing. Not so for this ultra-expensive Chord DAVE: its only peculiarity is a very sharp digital brick filter that might (and probably it does not) offer some audible benefits in decreasing digital aliasing. If you wish to make me pay so much for your product, you should at least have impeccable credentials.
 

chesebert

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A faulty power supply would destroy the performance of the unit, if it leaves it working at all. What knowledge you have of a degradation anyway? Has Chord acknowledged it? If so, where?
I remember talking to someone at Emm Labs and they said SMPS can go out of spec over time. From the internal pics of Dave, I understand they use an off the shelf SMPS modules sourced from a major OEM. I also note that the test done by Stereophile did not indicate any such power modulation as you have measured. Based on the foregoing I am simply making some educated guess as to why you might be seeing power modulation on one of the channels. I could be wrong.

1658627269055.png
 
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amirm

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I remember talking to someone at Emm Labs and they said SMPS can go out of spec over time. From the internal pics of Dave, I understand they use an off the shelf SMPS modules sourced from a major OEM. I also note that the test done by Stereophile did not indicate any such power modulation as you have measured. Based on the foregoing I am simply making some educated guess as to why you might be seeing power modulation on one of the channels. I could be wrong.
Why would one channel have that problem but not the other? But yes, I have seen other measurements without this modulation. Whether it is a manufacturing, design or environmental issue, I don't know. If the company cares, they could send me another one to test. If they don't, well, that is that then.
 
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amirm

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Is the dancing SINAD on Ch 2 an indication that there is something broken in the box, or just sloppy design?
Hard to know for sure. Only the company can get to the bottom of it by taking this unit back and looking at it. And giving me another random sample to test. With a high power FPGA whaling here and another processor driving the display, either could be causing interference.
 

YSC

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Why would one channel have that problem but not the other? But yes, I have seen other measurements without this modulation. Whether it is a manufacturing, design or environmental issue, I don't know. If the company cares, they could send me another one to test. If they don't, well, that is that then.
I kind of agree that might be due to some faulty parts degraded overtime, but hey, this cost almost a new corolla... you better stay healthy for more than a few years at that cost
 

Jomungur

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How old is the unit under test? I note that SMPS does degrade over time given the complexity and off the shelf quality parts used in Dave. If it's over 5yrs old, @amirm should really source a new unit to test.
I received it January 2020. Dealer had to order it so it took a few weeks. Warranty is 5 year incidentally.

I find it funny how no one seems to wonder whether products loaned by the manufacturer for official reviews might be cherry picked the other way.
 
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chesebert

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I received it January 2020. Dealer had to order it so it took a few weeks. Warranty is 5 year incidentally.

I find it funny how no one seems to wonder whether products loaned by the manufacturer for official reviews might be cherry picked the other way.
That’s a fairly new unit, which means my original comment is moot. I have no idea why your unit performs so much worse than the ones tested by Stereophile and others.
 
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amirm

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That’s a fairly new unit, which means my original comment is moot. I have no idea why your unit performs so much worse than the ones tested by Stereophile and others.
Performance is actually pretty close to that of others. The difference is that their commentary makes you think it is great with no comparison to competing units objectively. Here is the GS dashboard for example:

Dac-Mode-0dBfs-WM.png


SINAD is very similar. GS however incorrectly attributes a workflow issue to the DAC with those 100 Hz spikes. In reality that is his testing problem, not that of the DAC.

There is a long road from here to 123 dB SINAD that competitors at a fraction of the price achieve.
 

Jomungur

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That’s a fairly new unit, which means my original comment is moot. I have no idea why your unit performs so much worse than the ones tested by Stereophile and others.
That’s a fairly new unit, which means my original comment is moot. I have no idea why your unit performs so much worse than the ones tested by Stereophile and others
That’s a fairly new unit, which means my original comment is moot. I have no idea why your unit performs so much worse than the ones tested by Stereophile and others.
I’m not sure (edit: looks like Amir answered you directly).

But if you scan the headfi forums you will read complaints by a number of DAVE users. Like BNC inputs 3 and 4 sound better than 1 and 2, or inputs 1 and 2 don’t work in dual mode with M Scaler but 3 and 4 do. Or the XLR output doesn’t sound as good as the RCA output. it’s all anecdotal data but for quality control may not be consistent, which would not be unusual for a niche product.

I do wonder why it’s so heavy. Maybe the aluminum casing? The Topping is light as a feather in comparison.

Edit: sorry if I sound weary it’s just when I sent the M Scaler and Hugo2 some people raised a similar theme which is my units might be defective. Sure it’s possible but I guess I have some kind of luck to get 3 bad Chord Units.
 
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chesebert

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Performance is actually pretty close to that of others. The difference is that their commentary makes you think it is great with no comparison to competing units objectively. Here is the GS dashboard for example:

Dac-Mode-0dBfs-WM.png


SINAD is very similar. GS however incorrectly attributes a workflow issue to the DAC with those 100 Hz spikes. In reality that is his testing problem, not that of the DAC.

There is a long road from here to 123 dB SINAD that competitors at a fraction of the price achieve.
Looks like GS also shows Dave has about 18-19bit resolution (but slight better than the unit under test), which is worse than 20bit resolution from stereophile’s test.
 
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dfuller

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How old is the unit under test? I note that SMPS does degrade over time given the complexity and off the shelf quality parts used in Dave. If it's over 5yrs old, @amirm should really source a new unit to test.
If a decent quality SMPS wears out that fast, I have to wonder wtf is going on.

Hard to know for sure. Only the company can get to the bottom of it by taking this unit back and looking at it. And giving me another random sample to test. With a high power FPGA whaling here and another processor driving the display, either could be causing interference.
It could also be the display itself - I know a similar-ish issue has popped up when @Julian Krause tested an interface from I believe Antelope Audio where the screen brightness measurably impacted performance.
 

DonR

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Hard to know for sure. Only the company can get to the bottom of it by taking this unit back and looking at it. And giving me another random sample to test. With a high power FPGA whaling here and another processor driving the display, either could be causing interference.
Given that the M scaler was spewing RF energy willy-nilly it could also be the case here. They need some more EMI testing.
 

AM88

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The display is slanted back and I had to tilt the unit forward to take the above picture from nearly up top. Otherwise, everything but the top two squares wash out due to low contrast. Forget about putting this in a stereo cabinet and using it remotely. You won't be able to see anything.
Possibly a rather sad and cunning plan by the manufacturer to make you purchase their accompanying stand, which by the looks of things slants the unit forward the appropriate amount to make the display readable.
2306277-8e4789d6-chord-dave-ensemble-stand-680x342.jpg
 
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