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Ladder Schumann R2R DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 42 19.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 111 51.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 48 22.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 16 7.4%

  • Total voters
    217

gvl

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Is this
What was Shenzhenaudio thinking? Why did the distributor ask a popular measurement site to measure a DAC that is obviously not designed to please the measurement crowd?

Is this some sort of covert brand assassination?

Did you know that the Ladder Schumann "FPGA" (R2R) balanced DAC existed? Now you do.
 

DonR

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"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

"any publicity is good publicity"
 

Blumlein 88

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Looks like for half the money the Denafrips Ares is better.
 

Migel83

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Hello,

The measurements are fine with me.
I don't know what you have.
To be honest, I find it presumptuous how you deal with things like this!

As I said, the measurements are OK, but where is Amir's assessment of the sound, which is usually found everywhere else?
There is not a word about it and the thread is torn to shreds about any measurements, assumptions, even lies.
If it was a Holo Audio Dac, you would have heard it for sure, wouldn't you?

On YouTube there are a few positive reports about this R2R Dac, up to a sound sample between 2 other devices that are higher priced and purely sound-wise the Ladder does a good job.
The Ares 2 looks less good in direct comparison and people still buy the Ares 2 just to save a few $/€,which is okay.

Sure, it almost looks like an Ares 2, but it's not.
It also has some technical stuff that is better than the Ares 2.

Another point to note is that it will probably work a lot better under I2S.
Ladder is also not a Shenzenaudio brand, as there are other products from the Ladder company.
You would know that if you had looked into it.

The only thing you can really criticise is that the spec data is missing, as well as the missing manual.
 

Blumlein 88

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Hello,

The measurements are fine with me.
I don't know what you have.
To be honest, I find it presumptuous how you deal with things like this!

As I said, the measurements are OK, but where is Amir's assessment of the sound, which is usually found everywhere else?
There is not a word about it and the thread is torn to shreds about any measurements, assumptions, even lies.
If it was a Holo Audio Dac, you would have heard it for sure, wouldn't you?

On YouTube there are a few positive reports about this R2R Dac, up to a sound sample between 2 other devices that are higher priced and purely sound-wise the Ladder does a good job.
The Ares 2 looks less good in direct comparison and people still buy the Ares 2 just to save a few $/€,which is okay.

Sure, it almost looks like an Ares 2, but it's not.
It also has some technical stuff that is better than the Ares 2.

Another point to note is that it will probably work a lot better under I2S.
Ladder is also not a Shenzenaudio brand, as there are other products from the Ladder company.
You would know that if you had looked into it.

The only thing you can really criticise is that the spec data is missing, as well as the missing manual.
How is it better than the Ares 2? The measurements are worse, not by a lot, but definitely not equal or better to an Ares 2.

Oh, and please tell me you aren't making judgments of audio quality via youtube vids.
 

DonR

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Hello,

The measurements are fine with me.
I don't know what you have.
To be honest, I find it presumptuous how you deal with things like this!

As I said, the measurements are OK, but where is Amir's assessment of the sound, which is usually found everywhere else?
There is not a word about it and the thread is torn to shreds about any measurements, assumptions, even lies.
If it was a Holo Audio Dac, you would have heard it for sure, wouldn't you?

On YouTube there are a few positive reports about this R2R Dac, up to a sound sample between 2 other devices that are higher priced and purely sound-wise the Ladder does a good job.
The Ares 2 looks less good in direct comparison and people still buy the Ares 2 just to save a few $/€,which is okay.

Sure, it almost looks like an Ares 2, but it's not.
It also has some technical stuff that is better than the Ares 2.

Another point to note is that it will probably work a lot better under I2S.
Ladder is also not a Shenzenaudio brand, as there are other products from the Ladder company.
You would know that if you had looked into it.

The only thing you can really criticise is that the spec data is missing, as well as the missing manual.
If you were expecting @amirm to wax poetic about liquid chocolatey mids and PRaT I am afraid you are going to be disappointed.
 

DonR

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He's gonna completely ignore the plankton as well.
EvilPlankton24.png
 

horias2000

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I wouldn't hold my breath. But if we see even 75dB that would be nice.
It's possible. I've made a tube amp (https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/hpa-glow-one-diy-kt88-amplifier.39332/) that has a sinad of 77dB at 1W. It's the best I could get from these tubes (JJ). The full development is here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...g-a-valve-amplifier.29903/page-4#post-1385454 . I made it out of curiosity and the target was to get a THD as low as possible. The THD at 1W into 8OHM is at -81dB, so I'm pretty happy with the outcome. I must say it sounds very good. As I was expecting after seeing the measurements.
 

ObjectiveSubjectivist

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Seems like a competently designed dac.
It has limitations because of R2R design, still I appreciate that.
And I really like how these r2r dacs look inside.
These ladders made from resistors looks kinda cool.
 

JanesJr1

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maybe save your time and uninstall it, the magic is no magic
I have had luck with tapping into the recording-venue ambience without adding artifacts, once 25 years ago with free-standing speakers, and more recently with headphones...
 

Multicore

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AFAIK, no. They don't ....?
A few years ago (not sure exactly when) I recall browsing shenzhenaudio.com and seeing Geshelli there, which I recall as being mid-priced and featuring vacuum tubes. Maybe my recollection is confused.

Anyway, my point was that shenzhenaudio.com has a wide selection of products, it seems to me to as to be able to tickle the fancy of people with all sorts of different audio fetishes.
 

Leiker535

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I don't get it.

I've spent many hours tinkering with things to extract the natural (i.e. recording venue) spatial cues.

But I just don't get crossfeed. I try it with EAPO and it just contracts the spatial image. The Meier and Chu filters just seem to add capricious artifacts to the FR (e.g. boomy bass). It never sounds natural or spatially expanded at all to me.

This is probably off-topic, but if there is someone who can point me toward a good reference on cross-feed, thanks in advance....I do seek good soundstage, but have never heard artificial spatial cues that worked for me without seeming to degrade fidelity. (Other than stereo, which is not perfect, but works for the most part...)
I have the exact experience. It is hard for me to fathom that others like it but I am told some people are like you and I.

My personal experience with crossfeed has been that until I counteracted it with EQ boosts on the higher frequencies: normal crossfeed for me is akin to mono, it makes the mix less detailed and muffled/bloated. That is why I recommended the ifi implementation, it does up to 60% crossfeed while also delaying one channel by a very minute margin, but, most importantly, it adds back mid-high frequency energy that the original mixing seem to take out of our perception.

As per Golden Sound measurements on the Zen Can:

1671208203107.png

@Resolve has also measured the effect that the 3d/xspace has on the Sennheiser HD 6xx/650 when fed through the OG Zen Can or the 6xx variant (the one I have), which makes the FR rotate anticlock-wise:

1671208406974.png


Compare it with the blue line, which is the 6XX with no filters engaged (or even the red, which is similar to the harman EQ amirm, oratory etc. apply):

1671208482679.png



This 3D effect is what kept me from selling this amp, because although I have had others that measure better than it and that can provide more clean power at lower Zs, I could never replicate the compensation effect digitally. It certainly brings life to 60s "fake stereo" recordings or even classical ones, as they often benefit from more clarity.


Problems with the ifi implementation are that they vary per product, I think, so the older ones might not be the same.

Surely it is something I'd like to read more about, as it is ingrained in psychoacoustic and might be important moving on to the 3D processing DSPs like Atmos and so on (which also suffer from the congesting effect with HPs IMO).
 

dtaylo1066

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What was Shenzhenaudio thinking? Why did the distributor ask a popular measurement site to measure a DAC that is obviously not designed to please the measurement crowd?

Is this some sort of covert brand assassination?

Perhaps to prove that an R2R Dac can have sufficiently good enough numbers and design to be deemed worthy of purchase -- or of sufficient quality level. It may not meet the standards of the typical ASR member or the golfing panther, but it is not deficient, as many other R2R units tested here have been. Its numbers are good enough that one curious of the veracity of the debated sonic benefits of R2R might purchase it to determine the benefits, or lack thereof, for themselves.
 

JanesJr1

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My personal experience with crossfeed has been that until I counteracted it with EQ boosts on the higher frequencies: normal crossfeed for me is akin to mono, it makes the mix less detailed and muffled/bloated. That is why I recommended the ifi implementation, it does up to 60% crossfeed while also delaying one channel by a very minute margin, but, most importantly, it adds back mid-high frequency energy that the original mixing seem to take out of our perception.

As per Golden Sound measurements on the Zen Can:


@Resolve has also measured the effect that the 3d/xspace has on the Sennheiser HD 6xx/650 when fed through the OG Zen Can or the 6xx variant (the one I have), which makes the FR rotate anticlock-wise:

View attachment 250458

Compare it with the blue line, which is the 6XX with no filters engaged (or even the red, which is similar to the harman EQ amirm, oratory etc. apply):

View attachment 250459


This 3D effect is what kept me from selling this amp, because although I have had others that measure better than it and that can provide more clean power at lower Zs, I could never replicate the compensation effect digitally. It certainly brings life to 60s "fake stereo" recordings or even classical ones, as they often benefit from more clarity.


Problems with the ifi implementation are that they vary per product, I think, so the older ones might not be the same.

Surely it is something I'd like to read more about, as it is ingrained in psychoacoustic and might be important moving on to the 3D processing DSPs like Atmos and so on (which also suffer from the congesting effect with HPs IMO).
Thank you for the thorough and thoughtful comments! I will follow up; it is the kind of guidance I was looking for.
 

Resolve

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My personal experience with crossfeed has been that until I counteracted it with EQ boosts on the higher frequencies: normal crossfeed for me is akin to mono, it makes the mix less detailed and muffled/bloated. That is why I recommended the ifi implementation, it does up to 60% crossfeed while also delaying one channel by a very minute margin, but, most importantly, it adds back mid-high frequency energy that the original mixing seem to take out of our perception.

As per Golden Sound measurements on the Zen Can:


@Resolve has also measured the effect that the 3d/xspace has on the Sennheiser HD 6xx/650 when fed through the OG Zen Can or the 6xx variant (the one I have), which makes the FR rotate anticlock-wise:

View attachment 250458

Compare it with the blue line, which is the 6XX with no filters engaged (or even the red, which is similar to the harman EQ amirm, oratory etc. apply):

View attachment 250459


This 3D effect is what kept me from selling this amp, because although I have had others that measure better than it and that can provide more clean power at lower Zs, I could never replicate the compensation effect digitally. It certainly brings life to 60s "fake stereo" recordings or even classical ones, as they often benefit from more clarity.


Problems with the ifi implementation are that they vary per product, I think, so the older ones might not be the same.

Surely it is something I'd like to read more about, as it is ingrained in psychoacoustic and might be important moving on to the 3D processing DSPs like Atmos and so on (which also suffer from the congesting effect with HPs IMO).
Ah... Those screen grabs make me look like I just ate a lemon lol.
 

Blockader

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It's not possible to design NOS dacs with DS topology.

The reason is, delta sigma modulators have to operate at a certain speed(and get the information at a certain speed) to clear out the quantization noise until 20khz. All DS dacs oversample incoming information to feed the data to DS modulators.

R-2R dacs can be designed as NOS dacs. They do not have DS modulators. They do not need them to clear the quantization noise.

As for distortion, I can assure you that you can't hear -100db distortion(which is the highest distortion spike for this dac), especially in low orders. People here get quite triggered when an audiophile claims to hear differences between R-2R dacs and DS dacs but only few people seem to be aware of how hard it is to hear distortion beyond -70db. If you are wondering how golden your ears are, try Klippel's listening test with normal music and do not choose L(x). Because L(x) adds intermodular distortion which is known to be more audible simply because the distortion products can be far from the auditory masking threshold of fundamental signals.

If you -for some reason- enjoy NOS sound and looking for a transparent, reasonably priced dac: this is it.
 
Last edited:

DSJR

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I have the exact experience. It is hard for me to fathom that others like it but I am told some people are like you and I.
Maybe I'm not talking of 'crossfeed' per se, but my ancient preamp offers a 'Panorama' dial which progressively reduces separation to mono half way round and then inverts the channels increasing the separation the rest of the way. Using headphones, I discovered than in addition to the hf losses my ears now suffer, I lose deep bass in one ear which I'm told isn't otosclerosis, but more adult 'glue ear' which kind of sticks around. Music with extreme L-R effects can sound most odd sometimes and using this panorama control can help hugely when my issue is really bad. No idea at all if this helps others understand it though, but *for me* it's a nice thing to have and set fully one way or the other, it doesn't seem to affect conventional stereo crosstalk either L on R and R on L.
 

solderdude

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It's not possible to design NOS dacs with DS topology.

The reason is, delta sigma modulators have to operate at a certain speed(and get the information at a certain speed) to clear out the quantization noise until 20khz. All DS dacs oversample incoming information to feed the data to DS modulators.
One can simulated filterless NOS DACs using DS chips. There are several of those around.
 
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