• 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). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Mhdt Labs Pagoda Review (R2R Tube DAC)

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 245 91.8%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 4 1.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 1 0.4%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 17 6.4%

  • Total voters
    267

solderdude

Grand Contributor
Joined
Jul 21, 2018
Messages
11,394
Likes
25,271
Location
The Neitherlands
3. The Topping has a nice display, but it's a shame it always quickly reverts to showing only the volume, because it always shows zero dB - as I don't use it for a volume control, and thus it is always set at full volume. I control system volume with the line stage preamp. I would rather see the data rate, and wish there was a choice.

There is a choice.
The E30 standard comes in pre-amp mode. You must switch it to DAC mode.
Just set it to standby, press and hold the On/Off button on the touch panel for about 3 seconds until you see “DAC” written on screen, release the button and power it on.
 
Last edited:

Svperstar

Active Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
216
Likes
160
What I found most interesting was that going from one DAC with a SINAD probably sorted all the way to the right edge ("bad"), to another DAC with a SINAD sorted close to the left edge ("great") wasn't a very noticeable "upgrade" to us, and it took several minutes of continued listening to conclude that the Topping was indeed ever so slightly clearer and better overall from a transparency standpoint. Clearly we did not feel this was a major system upgrade from a listening standpoint - although it was apparently so from a test and measurement standpoint.

As I said earlier in the thread on my MHDT Labs Paradisea+ I had a non-audiophile friend listen and she said "Its like there are parts of the song missing". The Paradisea+ cost me $600 + shipping in 2006. My X-Fi Elite Pro($400 top of the line soundcard for 2006) sounded leaps and bounds better.
 

antennaguru

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2021
Messages
363
Likes
315
Location
USA
As I said earlier in the thread on my MHDT Labs Paradisea+ I had a non-audiophile friend listen and she said "Its like there are parts of the song missing". The Paradisea+ cost me $600 + shipping in 2006. My X-Fi Elite Pro($400 top of the line soundcard for 2006) sounded leaps and bounds better.
You probably had a bad tube. The problem with using tube output circuits on a DAC is that not all tubes are actually good in the first place nor do the good ones all actually sound good. My Steeplechase with the delivered tube didn’t sound as good as the Moon 100D DAC I was replacing until I tried two different replacement tubes, and one of them was far better sounding than the rest. Once it had a good tube installed it sounded comparable to the Moon 100D DAC I was updating. The good news is that the good tube sounded good for some 10 years.
 

antennaguru

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2021
Messages
363
Likes
315
Location
USA
There is a choice.
The E30 standard comes in pre-amp mode. You must switch it to DAC mode.
Just set it to standby, press and hold the On/Off button on the touch panel for about 3 seconds until you see “DAC” written on screen, release the button and power it on.
THANK YOU! That trick worked, and now it shows the data rate instead of the volume control. Appreciate your advice!!!
 

srkbear

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
373
Likes
435
Location
Dallas, TX
People don't like scratches, the don't like pops and clicks, they don't like too much noise.

Beyond that, those paying customers will pick a less than accurate but pleasant reproduction 9 out of 10 times.

It is in fact those audio professionals who have shown that people like distortion, that they like noise, that a non-flat frequency response is preferable, etc. etc. whose research I am using, not to mention my own. I could take a studio recording, mix in a realistic, but fake crowd subtle in the background (synced to the music) and most will prefer it to the original even though there is a loss of dynamic range and low level detail. Why? They perceive it as more real.

In fact, just the opposite is often done. Various plug-ins to simulate tape artifacts like compression. Plug-ins to add distortion. Even plugs ins to add noise. All of these are used, and used regularly in recordings, not to mention fake reverb, etc.etc. You confuse audio with music. Audio is the science, but this is not about science this is about music, and that is an art. We just use aspects of science in the creation and reproduction. We even use aspects of that science that take the result away from perfect because science tells us that people will prefer the result.
Forgive the belated response, but this old argument for the supposed sterility of accurately rendered audio, man. Once and for all, it is the prerogative of the listener to apply whatever effects they please to suit their own listening preferences. It is the responsibility of the DAC to convert the digital facsimile of the original recording, however it was reshaped during the mastering process, into the most accurate analog reproduction possible.

Some folks prefer how music sounds when it is distorted by tubes or vinyl. That doesn’t mean we should bake the distortion into the master. Since everyone’s subjective preferences are different, the goal should be to start with a clean palate, and to add condiments to taste—thus is the origin of the phrase “high fidelity” and the gold standard of the industry since its inception.

I’m not sure what you were up to in this thread, but once again it suggests the defensive, contrarian stance of someone who has dropped a wad of cash on a product, and is determined to use whatever tactics possible to gaslight the hard evidence borne out of rigorous and objective analysis. If you like how the thing sounds, no one can argue with that—wouldn’t it be easier and more intellectually honest just to own that, instead of attempting to rewrite the rules arbitrarily?
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom