• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Massdrop Airist R2R DAC Review

restorer-john

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 1, 2018
Messages
2,772
Likes
4,909
Location
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
#41
I read an article on the Benchmark website that said you can't even get the SINAD values the DAC is capable of if you limit yourself to 2Vrms outputs. To me, I think a selectable output voltage should be a standard feature to help match the amp gear selected. The standard output levels are pretty outdated and don't match current technology.
Benchmark just want bigger numbers to advertise, so, like plenty before them, they want to play with output levels to push their signal further away from the relatively fixed (on SOTA gear) residual noise floor.

Amplifier makers have also realized they can also tout bigger numbers if they dispense with, or at least reduce the gain of (and the consequent noise) their front end (VA) stage.

It's just a case of playing hot-potato with the consumer stuck in the middle.

2V was 13 times and 22dB above the standard for consumer gear at the time. It was a marketing number driven figure and was changed at the absolute last second to get better numbers.

Now we seem to have few real preamplifiers out there, so the 150mV sensitivity for full rated output is disappearing and the inroads of the 'pro' level and XLRs are creeping into the home. It's funny, for many decades, the ubiquitous Cannon XLR was seen as defining gear made for the sound reinforcement scene and not of audiophile quality. Just the presence of an XLR immediately turned audiophiles off. In the 90s, they started sticking them on anything and everything- mostly with a degraded performance when compared to the RCAs. Now audiophiles can't bring themselves to lust after products without the silly things. Swings and roundabouts.

So where will it end and, what's next? Until we have a D/A converter that can drive +/-70V into a separate power stage, the games will continue. And we'll need a new connector of course. A safety retractable multipin derivation of the XLR because you don't want a fatal shock from your D/A converter do you? :)
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2019
Messages
48
Likes
19
#42
Waiting for one of the "fleeced" to start defending it...
BDWoody for sure, he believes that at the end all DAC hardware will sound and perform the same, he also believes that a $50 USB stick DAC or dongle will sound and perform same as full DAC system from Macintosh.

he calls it 'ignorant confidence' if you find this device not sounding as good as rest of top 10 DAC's tested here. So yes, he will defend this product, but lets hope not.
 
Last edited:

raif71

Active Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
Messages
169
Likes
85
#43
If it's from drop, it must be good right, even though measurements are off ? I mean measurements are good and all but if some people actually enjoy it, hmm hmm :D
 

RickSanchez

Active Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
118
Likes
194
Location
Austin
#44
BDWoody for sure, he believes that at the end all DAC hardware will sound and perform the same, he also believes that a $50 USB stick DAC or dongle will sound and perform same as full DAC system from Macintosh.

he calls it 'ignorant confidence' if you find this device not sounding as good as rest of top 10 DAC's tested here. So yes, he will defend this product, but lets hope not.


Ummmm, what? @BDWoody is more than capable of explaining his position, and has done so before ... directly to you in fact.
... what I claim, is that competently designed, transparent by measurement DAC's will be effectively indistinguishable in terms of sound quality, regardless of features or price.
As Amir has shown via his measurements, this Airist R2R DAC is neither competently designed nor audibly transparent.
 

BDWoody

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
1,125
Likes
1,747
#46
BDWoody for sure, he believes that at the end all DAC hardware will sound and perform the same, he also believes that a $50 USB stick DAC or dongle will sound and perform same as full DAC system from Macintosh.

he calls it 'ignorant confidence' if you find this device not sounding as good as rest of top 10 DAC's tested here. So yes, he will defend this product, but lets hope not.
Seriously?

You really have a reading comprehension problem... either that or you're a below average troll.
Which is it?
 

Tks

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
616
Likes
570
Location
NYC
#47
BDWoody for sure, he believes that at the end all DAC hardware will sound and perform the same, he also believes that a $50 USB stick DAC or dongle will sound and perform same as full DAC system from Macintosh.

he calls it 'ignorant confidence' if you find this device not sounding as good as rest of top 10 DAC's tested here. So yes, he will defend this product, but lets hope not.

I’ll put myself in his defense. In the same way I thought this DAC would be a failure just by virtue of the pointless decision to employ the R2R architecture (for seemingly marketing/talking point reasons rather than any sensible pursuit of performance).. I’d say the E1DA would also obliterate every single McIntosh that ever existed. That’s how bad I see these companies like it, and Marantz, and whatever other you can conjure that have had a long history of mystically good standing amongst supposedly acute listeners of the years past. Their laurels betray them as they are put to true objective tests, we see this pattern rarely broken - where I feel comfortable enough stereotyping them all as borderline pathetic with comparison to their near-untouchable legendary status.

So while the E1DA is nearly $100, I hope pendantry isn’t something I’d need to suffer in a reply?
 

BDWoody

Major Contributor
Patreon Donor
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
1,125
Likes
1,747
#49
I’ll put myself in his defense. In the same way I thought this DAC would be a failure just by virtue of the pointless decision to employ the R2R architecture (for seemingly marketing/talking point reasons rather than any sensible pursuit of performance).. I’d say the E1DA would also obliterate every single McIntosh that ever existed. That’s how bad I see these companies like it, and Marantz, and whatever other you can conjure that have had a long history of mystically good standing amongst supposedly acute listeners of the years past. Their laurels betray them as they are put to true objective tests, we see this pattern rarely broken - where I feel comfortable enough stereotyping them all as borderline pathetic with comparison to their near-untouchable legendary status.

So while the E1DA is nearly $100, I hope pendantry isn’t something I’d need to suffer in a reply?
@IVX does indeed make some very clever stuff... Reading the threads he's involved with are always interesting.

This DAC, however, is anything but...
 

RayDunzl

Major Contributor
Central Scrutinizer
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
7,472
Likes
4,188
Location
Riverview FL
#51
100% of this person.
 

GrimSurfer

Major Contributor
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
1,238
Likes
1,299
#53
Seriously?

You really have a reading comprehension problem... either that or you're a below average troll.
Which is it?
Ha ha. I am usually sucked in by average trolling but the one from Lotus seemed less average and more troll-like.

I also had a beer or two before reading and my judgement, and looks, is always better for it!
 
Last edited:

GrimSurfer

Major Contributor
Joined
May 25, 2019
Messages
1,238
Likes
1,299
#54
As some of us might be aware, Japan is hosting the great 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The competition is entering into the last final week, we are going to have the semi-finals over this weekend.
In honor of this great sport event, @amirm it would be good if - for the forthcoming reviews of yours, you could replace the current set of soccer' / golf' Panthers with the Rugby ones ...
The final match will be played on Saturday-2nd of November ... then you can take the usual Panthers back on the scene ...

Thank you so much Sir!

View attachment 36922 /QUOTE]
If the All Blacks lose, @amirm, feel free to use your headless panther.
 

sosolar

New Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
1
Likes
29
#55
Thank your for your detailed review. They stole my production R2R module and didn't make good use of the module:facepalm: because they didn't know the details of the development and probably changed the configuration of the circuit.
I have newly developed new module using delta-sigma modulation that allow any pcm/dsd upsample to DSD1024. After our new model is released, I will send one to you for another testing. Many thanks.
 

maxxevv

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 12, 2018
Messages
1,110
Likes
864
#58
Thank your for your detailed review. They stole my production R2R module and didn't make good use of the module:facepalm: because they didn't know the details of the development and probably changed the configuration of the circuit.
I have newly developed new module using delta-sigma modulation that allow any pcm/dsd upsample to DSD1024. After our new model is released, I will send one to you for another testing. Many thanks.
That would be awesome ! At least you and @soekris know what you are doing with your designs. Would be great to show to the greater world what a properly implemented R2R DAC looks like.

Multimultimeters? Didn't you once work for the Department of Redundancy Department?
LOL .... I had a really cheap US$15 one from my university days.
But some project work made me realize that the AC rms measurements for that one was too low on resolution to be usable for my more recent work needs, so had to "upgrade".
 

trl

Addicted to Fun and Learning
King of Mods
Joined
Feb 28, 2018
Messages
737
Likes
619
Location
Iasi, RO
#59
@amirm, I wonder if lowering the output voltage a bit will help in improving the THD. Maybe the design is wrong and has a gain stage that distorts when feed with 0dB sines.
 

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
22,079
Likes
32,215
Location
Seattle Area
#60
@amirm, I wonder if lowering the output voltage a bit will help in improving the THD. Maybe the design is wrong and has a gain stage that distorts when feed with 0dB sines.
There is no 0 dB sensitivity as you see in this IMD graph:

 
Top Bottom