As mentioned in the other thread, the W4S DAC-1 has not been a perfect match for my Q900 towers. For the LSi9s it's great, as they are laid back speakers and can take a little bit of 'shine' around the high end. The Q900s are not bright like my old RTi A7s were - but they are more sensitive to gear that have those kinds of characteristics. I didn't even realize it until I put the DacMagic in and the highs mellowed out; of course, in other aspects the W4S is just better. So, I decided to look for a new DAC that is closer to the W4S in terms of clarity, midrange, bass response, and imaging, but a bit more neutral on the top end.
Picking a DAC based on my limited experience is going to be total guesswork :) The Rega DAC and the WM8741-based Audio GD DAC look interesting, as well as the Musical Fidelity M1A - but the dual AKM4399 based Schiit Gungnir caught my eye. Basic specs / marketing jargon:
- 2 x AKM4399 hardware balanced 32bit DACs
- up to 24/192 on all inputs (except 176k via USB)
- NO Upsampling / Resampling
- Instead it features VCXO re-clocking for good sources, and defaults to VCO clocking for high jitter sources.
- Balanced outputs, 2 x RCA single ended outputs
- Coax, Toslink, BNC, USB 2.0
Rest of the specs: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=11
It's as wide as a typical CD player or receiver and has nice heft to it. It has a mechanical relay that clicks when you change the input between two different res audio files (ex. 24/96 -> 16/44); and there is a slight delay as the reclocker is doing some source checking, etc. apparently.
I'm a believer in burning in the DAC for 100+ hours to start getting an idea of what it's actually going to sound like - was true with the W4S, and after 24hrs is true with the Gungnir.
Thoughts at zero hours yesterday:
- Bass!! Better than the W4S or DacMagic, but doesn't sound like someone turned the bass knob up. Just more body and thump.
- Top end started off a little gritty as expected, but nowhere near as harsh as the W4S was on Day 1.
- Midrange was OK - needs to open up.
Played through the usual suspects that tend to sound bright on these speakers: A couple of Dave Matthews Band tracks, Rogue Wave, my Brothers in Arms 24/96 DVD-A rip, etc. . So that's my baseline.
Thoughts at ~24 hrs of burn in today:
- Aforementioned bass :)
- Biggest gainer of the day: the treble! Has neutralized the occasional gripes I have had about these speakers with certain albums. Strings, vocals, and cymbals sound like they should in real life now - no edginess. Very very happy about this.
- Midrange: improvement, better separation of instruments & vocals; nice layering effect w/ synths.
Overall: moving in the right direction