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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

phoenixdogfan

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Aren't we all tired of Chord yet? From the gumball lightshow controls to the preposterously overpriced but underperforming $14k K Dac/Amps, to the scientifically couched claims about audibility down to -300db (wtf?) with million tap filters, to the ultra pretentious acronym (Digital to Audio Veritas in Extremis) on their flagship product that, once again, employs a design language most suited for a prop fabricated out of aluminum foil for set of Barbarella than anything else--aren't we all just fed up with all this shite?
 

bennetng

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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.

View attachment 220056
Assume it is the best it can get, it is possible to get another product with several dBs lower noise floor and several times cheaper.

okto.png
 

Beershaun

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Amir’s reasoning in the past is the Piggy Bank is for products that say they do things they don’t. Or serve zero purpose or make things worse by using them. In this case the product mostly does some of what they say it does. Might be a poor performer but it is a functional DAC and such. @amirm will correct me if I have this wrong.
Understand. It does what it says it does. It's also not a poor performer by any objective measure.

It is clearly overpriced by 10x. So my commentary is, what should the verdict be for being completely overpriced and not worth the money? It's not snake oil, it's not great, it's not broken, and not fine. So what is the category for obsolete and overpriced?
 

Arnas

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Thank you very much, Amir, for your excellent, much needed corrective work in the ocean corrupted by all the paid reviews, paid forums, and influencers who get these expensive devices for free (high resale value).

This is the test I had been waiting for all the time!!
I was always hoping for someone to ship you his Dave.
Many many thanks to the nice person (Jomungur ?) who shipped his expensive device for testing :).

Because this thing was praised so much as the absolute flagship, absolute top.
I auditioned it a number of times, without and without the M-Scaler.
In my first auditions, I had the subjective feeling that the Dave was making the Utopia headphone sound much better than anything else. At some point I also felt that the M-Scaler was bringing in additional improvement.
Such is the psycho-social power of paid internet reviews and especially of company-sponsored sites such as Head-Fi, all the praise had conditioned me in a high expectation bias.
Luckily, the crazy price and the awful (so unpractical) design of the Dave had holden me back from a wrong purchasing decision.
At a later audition, I was disappointed by the M-Scaler, and at another one I felt the Benchmark DAC3 was cleaner with the Utopia than the Dave. I guess I had started to be less deluded by the group effect of these influences, and was less unconsciously biased.

So I am still there with my RME ADI-2 Pro as my desktop device, the volume button doesn't do what it should do when I turn it, but the RME allows me to control so many things, that I have kept it, and not even bought yet a Topping.

Thank you again, Amir!
There are so many people still unfortunately psychologically misled by Web influencers and company-sponsored sites with a strong (marketing induced) group-think. Hopefully they will be helped with such a review and have their eyes open, people can for sure waste their money, but hopefully not by being deceived.

The king of the so-called audiophile "summit-fi" (= extracting the most money from customers), so much praised, up to heaven (including by me years ago, shame on me...) has been weighted and found wanting, swept away. The king is definitely naked, so many thanks to you, Amir.

And be gone all the paid reviews and the too delusive impressions.

(I now voted "poor" because it is way too expensive, and yet does not even deliver as very cheap devices = unacceptable on the take, a mere audiophile myth for which the company gets all the hardly earned money of many deceived persons).
I heard story how snobs tasted 2 bottles of the same wine.
They were told that 1 was worth 70 bucks and other 10. Majority preferred 70 bucks wine lol .
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Arnas

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No worries. I feel I have a better DAC now and never would have had I not visited this site. I bought and listened to the Topping 90DSE before sending the DAVE to have a backup and I ended up liking it better (I picked the Topping solely based on its position at the top of Amir's rankings).

This was also a test for me too. If Amir's objective measurements didn't roughly line up with my subjective impressions of the products I've sent in, I would have thought less of the objective measurements and just moved on from this site. But they do line up (at least with DACs), and so that says something to me about their usefulness.

If anyone reading this thread is Chord fan, just take a deep breath. It seems to me Chord has put too much faith in their proprietary WTA, has sat on their laurels and has not paid enough attention to things like noise and some basic stuff. This stuff should be fixable with better engineering and the next Chord statement product can benefit from it. And if it's priced more sensibly, all the better.
Chord and other botique fans are clueless.
They think that: Chips cost pennies it shouldnt be able to compete vs Proprietary tech...
Guess what? Manufacturers like Ess, Akm spend a lot more money into research than botique stuff developers.
It might be cheaper to manufature, but im sure reasearch is much more expensive and they got their money back by selling huge quantities of chips.
 

simbloke

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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.
Amir gets all the faulty gear to review. The more it cost, and the worse it performs, the more faulty it must be!
 

chesebert

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Assume it is the best it can get, it is possible to get another product with several dBs lower noise floor and several times cheaper.

View attachment 220097
That’s a nice graph. However given the dac is based on an IC with predefined reconstruction filter, I’m guessing it may sound “digital” if you know what I mean.
 

GXAlan

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Manufacturers like Ess, Akm spend a lot more money into research than botique stuff developers.

Exactly. The other thing which isn’t described in the datasheets but available under NDA is that companies can pay extra to get higher performing or lower performing chips. This was seen with the Burr brown DACs and the different letters after the numbers.
 

Rja4000

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Hu Amir
Thanks for this review :)

With the noise jumping up and down, you may have a (half) broken sample.
Hard to say.
But still unacceptable at that price.
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

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That’s a nice graph. However given the dac is based on an IC with predefined reconstruction filter, I’m guessing it may sound “digital” if you know what I mean.
Considering that a DAC plays a digital file, it is the best praise for a DAC that it sounds digital!!! :D
 
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