Digital upgrades and a new DAC in my future?

Bob Boyer

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#1
Anyone tried this DAC (https://www.audioadvisor.com/prhbs2d-blk?sku=NEW-PRHBS2D-BLK)?

I'm about to give up the good fight and invest in a new Mac laptop sometime in the next year. My Mac Mini is overloaded by the OS upgrades I've been required to make so I can run Turbotax - at this point, it barely falls off a log when I kick it. And while this 2010 iMac I'm currently on communicates nicely with my Tascam UH-7000 interface, Firefox can't be upgraded further because of the old OS that allows the computer to work with the Tascam. Which means keeping track of finances is tough as a lot of sites I access are running newer builds that require much newer versions of Firefox, which would require much newer version of Mac OS, which means it won't work with the Tascam. So I still have to use the Mac Mini for everything but music playing duties, Hmpffff...

And I can't stand two large monitors of different shapes and colors just overcrowding my desk.

Given that this next computer will be needed while traveling and photographing, I plan to buy the biggest honkin' Mac laptop with the fastest processor I can afford while I still have my academic discount and hope the constant OS upgrades don't overwhelm the processor like they've done to my Mac Mini since 2014. I'd like to think the computer could make 15 years (that would put me at 85 and probably not traveling much by then). But a new computer won't interface with my Tascam any more than my Mac Mini will so I need to look into a new interface and I think it will just be a DAC, not a full studio interface that processes both ways like the Tascam.

Which brings me to Pro-Ject's new DAC/headpone amp in the link above. Same case as my VNRS Box, plays everything up to 32 bit/768 kHz and my few DSD files, with a reasonable price - $450. That way, I can hook it up to the Mac Mini now and have a single computer on my desk but which will do both computer things and play my digital files. I'll still bitch about the thing's speed but at least it will again do everything. and then get the new laptop next year.

I've got new hard drives coming, as well to make sure I'm covered for if/when these rocstors crap out. They've been great (and I don' t leave them turned on except when in use) but these things don't last forever. So new Glyph drive are headed my way, courtesy of my friend Adam at Nashville Recording Supply.
 

Bob Boyer

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#6
So that Pro-Ject DAC/Headphone amp is on its way, scheduled to arrive Thursday, just in time for me to not have any time to play with it before Saturday until after I wake up from a morning nap. Have the Kruger Brothers and Kontras Quartet playing a Friday evening concert and then have to get one of the Kontras to the airport for a 6:45 am flight Saturday morning. And you thought show business was glamorous...

Here's a taste if you haven't heard them:


Anyway, purchased the JRiver 32 upgrade before my subscriber pricing went away. My last version was 26 and it won't run on the Mac Mini (old OS, etc...) And have the new Glyph hard drives installed with all the music copied over so it's back to grumping about how slow this Mini is with the third OS update installed but at least I'll be ready for a new laptop next year.

I'll be curious to see if I can tell a difference in SQ between the Tascam and the Pro-Ject.
 

J!m

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#7
I’d be curious about that too.

I can’t tell much difference between the (well regarded) Alesis compared to the Tascam I have. Tascam is newer but…
 

Bob Boyer

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#8
A couple of preliminary observations from an hour or two last night. As I remarked over in the "What Are You Doing..." thread, on a variety of different files, I noticed the Pro-Ject seems to have a bit less bass than my Tascam converter. I tried to parse this a bit further with my go-to bass accuracy cut, Hotel California from the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over album. I have a digital download, a ripped CD file, a ripped vinyl file, the CD itself, and the vinyl. And there are variations between them to begin with but the ripped files just seemed to have a little less in that drum intro on the song. I have to discount the vinyl as my Pyxi phono preamp has a stronger bass presence than my old Phonomena, which I used to rip the vinyl. I may need to dig deeper into my digital files to find a better song for comparison sake; this one has too many variables.

Second observation is that I'm not sure I'm crazy about buss-powered devices as if you leave them plugged into the computer, they are always on. I get the convenience and size factors, but I'm not one to spin my hard drives unless I need to and while I assume the little light bulbs in the status bars on the Pro-Ject's face are all LEDs, they'll burn out sooner or later. I prefer later.

It's pretty transaparent as it comes out of the box. There are five filters you can switch between but I've not been able to discern a difference in their impact on the music as yet.

Finally, it's not long on volume. With the pot cranked hard right, I still find my normal listening volume with the new DAC is between 10 and 11 o'clock, where before, the Tascam matched the Pyxi's and the Nak's coutput levels fairly closely at 9 o'clock. This holds true for the headphone jack as well. As I have medium-resistance cans, that doesn't translate to a lot of volume when listening to headphones.

However, and this is the biggie, it works with the newer Macs, so it's already ahead coming out of the gate. All in all, I'd say the sound is most similar to my Astell & Kern DAP - just a tad shy in the bass and not a lot of headphone amplifier power. Not bad for a little box.

More later, gotta go get ready for my show tonight.
 

J!m

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#9
Qualifying bass is tricky as you well know.

You are familiar with the recording, but it would be better to use a recording you made of a live event (preferably acoustic) and then decide if what you are hearing is "correct".

One may be shy on bass compared to the other, but the other may have "enhanced" bass to make up for... whatever. And I would not rely on vinyl for evaluation of upper most and/or bottom frequencies, as we all know what to takes to get a "full" dynamic range onto an LP. CD is the bare minimum and I'd prefer higher-rez files or high-speed 1/2" tape as the source to make the call.

This is part of the reason Mark Levinson made his own reference recordings- he could then accurately determine the performance of the reproduction chain. If there is no reference, the output conclusions will always be wanting. No one else has really gone to that length that I am aware of, but the testing equipment is much better now, and that is generally the path a serious hi-fi company takes. (and perhaps why the best measuring is not necessarily the best sounding?)
 

Bob Boyer

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#10
Been reading a couple of reviews while waiting on either half of tonight's group to show (the quartet is delayed an hour getting out of Chicago and the Krugers themselves are on schedule, driving in from North Wilkesboro, NC). A couple of the reviewers noted a slightly "lean" sound, so it's good to hear a little confirmation while I can't do any more testing on my own.

The issue with my 24/192 recordings is they are all made from vinyl. It's pretty rare for me to run across a 24/192 album, most are 24/96 or lower so far. So I need to find something I've purchased that is more than an acoustic singer songwriter, or, as you say, go make a recording somewhere. Hmmm... wonder where that might be tonight?

Qualifying bass is tricky as you well know...

One may be shy on bass compared to the other, but the other may have "enhanced" bass to make up for... whatever. And I would not rely on vinyl for evaluation of upper most and/or bottom frequencies, as we all know what to takes to get a "full" dynamic range onto an LP. CD is the bare minimum and I'd prefer higher-rez files or high-speed 1/2" tape as the source to make the call...
 

Bob Boyer

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#11
So the missing link showed up. Now there's some more bass to help the DAC.

IMG_3705.jpg

Scott found nothing amiss with the amp after all these months. Only supposition is a speaker wire was grounded across both outputs and I missed it.
 
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