Chord Dave vs. DAC-V1

My dealer lent me a new Chord Dave to demo at home for a few days, I set up my system by using two PCs, one is connected to the DAC-V1 (USB) and the second PC is connected to the Chord Dave (USB), both the DAC-V1 and the Chord Dave are then connected to my NAC, I setup a linked zone in Roon grouping the Naim and Chord output so that whenever I playback a track I can instantly switch between both DACs as sources by a mere remote control button click, this gave a good way to compare both DACs "side-by-side" while any given track was playing.

First impressions are that the Dave definitely has a wider, more rounded sound, the soundstage is really big with the Dave, there seems to be extra body to the music, the DAC-V1 holds it's own ground pretty good, however compared to the Dave I noticed that the DAC-V1 sounds a bit "contained", boxed-in, with a narrower sound-stage.

What I found interesting is that the Dave is always louder than the DAC-V1 (I set both to use the NAC volume control bypassing the DAC's own volume control)..

Will test my DSD playback tomorrow, curious to see how the DAC-V1 will hold then given that the Chord seems to be far more versatile with DSD.

Cheers,

 

Regards,

 

Tareq

Original Post

It will be interesting to see your findings. When I compared DAC-V1 DSD playback (and Hugo) to my Sony ES players I found the Sony players to be better than both in soundstaging. Hugo DSD was better than DAC-V1 in that regard too, so I suspect DSD playback is not its strength.

I will try it again with my current setup using the microRendu which so far (PCM) gives an amazing soundstage with the DAC-V1!

I did an extensive one week session comparing a Hugo to the DAC-V1 and at least for me, the DAC-V1 stayed in the system and the Hugo went back to the dealer, there was nothing I found in the Hugo that I didn't get with the DAC-V1, the current setup is different though, the DAVE is sounding better specially in DSD playback... Will try to lower its volume for a fairer comparison to the DAC-V1.

I wish Naim would release a roadmap of their next direction in DAC-LAND... would so much rather stick with a better Naim DAC (and a USB one while we are at it please :-))

All Chord DAC's that I remember have 3V output.

It has no analog volume control, all in digital domain, so it is quite ok to lower the volume on Dave to match the DAC V1.

The Dave volume control is very complex and advanced, as it involves also changing the settings in the DAC noise shaper also, so way more sophisticated than what is done in software in a laptop.

The noise shaping part of DAC is quite huge, and the code for it wouldn't fit on the large FPGA in the Hugo.

I think this happens are -7DB on the Dave where it matches the fixed output of a DAC V1.

Not sure which interconnect you are using for Dave into your 552, but with all Non Naim sources, I prefer a RCA to DIN connection. I can easily hear the difference, as the musical experience is more involving and energetic with a DIN connection to the preamp

Depends on your budget, but worth asking Dubai Audio what your options are for the interconnect if you are going ahead with the Dave.

 

 

 

I also found a good quality USB cable will make a difference with DAVE, the Vertere DFI is a good example of such a cable. 

as to why different USB cables sound different, one can always google Gordon Rankin why do USB cables sound different.

Gordon Rankin pioneered USB audio with Asynchronous USB.

If you are using J river, then it would best to select the Chord Asio driver which according to Rob Watts, ensures bit perfect delivery to the Dave DAC.

Brilliant,

Please tell more about your good experience on uRendu and V1. Which power supply you have in uRendu, did you do something special to connet it and did you change anything else than just added uRendu? Any special recommendations to connect uRendu?

I have had V1 and recently also Hugo with laptop (Tidal+JRiver21). I consider V1 more dynamic and having more weight in bass. For me Hugo is more clean and lean. I have 282+SC2+300DR.

Thanks, Tuomo

Tuomo posted:

Brilliant,

Please tell more about your good experience on uRendu and V1. Which power supply you have in uRendu, did you do something special to connet it and did you change anything else than just added uRendu? Any special recommendations to connect uRendu?

I have had V1 and recently also Hugo with laptop (Tidal+JRiver21). I consider V1 more dynamic and having more weight in bass. For me Hugo is more clean and lean. I have 282+SC2+300DR.

Thanks, Tuomo

Hi Tuomo,

I understand what you say about the V1 vs Hugo. As for the mR please have a read of the last two pages of this thread and I will follow up with a summary soon.

http://forums.naimaudio.com/to...-of-streaming?page=7

Regards.

B.

A slight deviation, but over the last couple of weeks, I had decided to put aside my Hugo and use my NDX DAC natively via a hiline into my 252DR. The sound was different, a bit thicker and a bit less specific than the Hugo...but I let myself get used to it... and I did get used to the new presentation... What was interesting after severeal days I felt the music was from the NDX was somewhat lacking in involvement.. I couldn't hear into the music just to it... I started to loose interest in the music.. albums that I really enjoy were simply not engaging me...

Yesterday I re applied my Hugo.. and yes initially there was a noticeable presentation change, but despite that..I found I was being pulled into my music again and it was engaging... it held my interest ... I wanted to listen to those albums again

I found this little excursion interesting and to me shows there is perhaps more going on in audio replay with our sub conscious than we might be aware of... and this has become my test  for DACs. I will be checking for this affect when I audition the Nova, and to some limited extent this also insightful replay occurs with my CDX2

Simon,they call it evolution,we adapt to the environment around us,after you live in a hot or cold climate for some time,it becomes"normal" to you.I believe our ears work the same way,at first upgrades seem very obvious,then after we live with them for some time,that is the "new normal",and many of us go looking for more,which brings on the next upgrade.

Exactly, you need to ignore the obvious sound presentation differences, as essentially they are in my experience superficial and our brain adjusts... it's what is going on deeper in the audio replay... and with digital replay and audio reconstruction that's a lot that seems to go on that we can't  immediately recognise in the sound we hear.. but does affect our engagement.. and the extent our brains have to 'decode' the audio into higher level functions like music..

Thanks for posting that Simon, that is exactly what I found when I got the Hugo.

I think many people compare Hugo to another source, and can't find much difference initially (although it was obvious to me the moment I switched on the Hugo and played the first song)

The issue really is in this area. 44,100 samples per second. Some companies think this is enough, and the brain doesn't need to hear the missing information between 44,100 samples per second.

However Chord do think it is audible and go to extreme lengths with massive FPGA processing, to recreate the missing samples (mathematically), and certainly this is audible to me.

this is some technical information from their first DAC 64

"The WTA filter algorithm has taken twenty years of research to develop. It solves the question as to why higher sampling rates sound better. It is well known that 96 kHz (DVD Audio) recordings sound better than 44.1 kHz (CD) recordings. Most people believe that this is due to the presence of ultrasonic information being audible even though the best human hearing is limited to 20kHz. What is not well known is that 768 kHz recordings sound better than 384 kHz and that the sound quality limit for sampling lies in the MHz region. 768 kHz recordings cannot sound better because of information above 200 kHz being important – simply because musical instruments, microphones, amplifiers and loudspeakers do not work at these frequencies nor can we hear them. So if it is not the extra bandwidth that is important, why do higher sampling rates sound better?

The answer is not being able to hear inaudible supersonic information, but the ability to hear the timing of transients more clearly. It has long been known that the human ear and brain can detect differences in the phase of sound between the ears to the order of microseconds. This timing difference between the ears is used for localising high frequency sound. Since transients can be detected down to microseconds, the recording system needs to be able to resolve timing of one microsecond. A sampling rate of 1 MHz is needed to achieve this!

However, 44.1 kHz sampling can be capable of accurately resolving transients by the use of digital filtering. Digital filtering can go some way towards improving resolution without the need for higher sampling rates. However in order to do this the filters need to have infinite long tap lengths. Currently all reconstruction filters have relatively short tap lengths – the largest commercial device is only about 256 taps. It is due to this short tap length and the filter algorithm employed that generates the transient timing errors. These errors turned out to be very audible. Going from 256 taps to 1024 taps gave a massive improvement in sound quality – much smoother, more focused sound quality, with an incredibly deep and precise sound stage."

 

 

No quarter posted:

Simon,they call it evolution,we adapt to the environment around us,after you live in a hot or cold climate for some time,it becomes"normal" to you.I believe our ears work the same way,at first upgrades seem very obvious,then after we live with them for some time,that is the "new normal",and many of us go looking for more,which brings on the next upgrade.

More like acclimatisation rather than evolution. Acclimatisation is about getting used to something, which is what's happening here, whereas evolution is about gradual change over time. Whatever, I'm sure you are right. Some things are hard to explain. It's not about bass, treble, detail, separation or whatever, but about whether music sounds more real, more engaging, flows better, or is simply nicer. It's exactly what I found when I changed my network switch. 

Out of interest, please would someone explain (simply) what these 'taps' are and why they are important. The quoted article mentioned tap length, then went on to talk about tap number, which seems odd. 

in a very simplistic way, I think (and maybe Simon Can elaborate more) taps means how many additional samples the FGPA processing is re-creating.

Hugo re-creates 26,000 additional samples (between the 44,100 samples)

Dave does 168,000 samples

Dave also has much superior pulse array DAC compared to Hugo and Hugo 2. 

Nigel... regarding 'taps'.. one of my pet subjects. 

A sample stream is a continuous stream of discrete samples. If one needs to modify or filter that stream of samples, one has to process that stream, or multiply that stream by another sampled waveform, i.e. The filter function,.. over a period of time.. like a moving window over the original sample stream where the result at a point in time is also derived by what is before it and ahead of it.. Now for the infinitely best response, the filter window needs to be infinitely long.. otherwise digital distortions or inaccuracies are introduced. Clearly one can't have an infinitely long filter function, so it is reduced in size to be practical. Now with this reduced size the more inaccuracies are introduced .. now mathematicians have developed special windowing functions to reduce these inaccuracies,  but despite this, having a larger window size and filter function waveform tends to give better results. 

Now the word 'tap' refers to a discrete sample of this filter function or filter waveform. So the more taps you have the more samples in your filter function or filter waveform you have. This means when the window of this filter function is passed over the continuous bit stream, the modified result will be more accurate..

The above is simplistic, and there other ways of filtering such as recursive filters, but genereally this approach is often preferred, where the processing power can be provided with undue side effects such as noise.

The reason we need to filter is another topic... but simplistically apart from low pass filtering, you need to force the DAC to treat each sample as an infinitely short spike of a value rather than a step.. this requires multiplying (convolving) the discrete sample stream by a sinc filter function waveform.. often what is termed the reconstruction filter function.

So in short, the more taps, the more accurate the filter waveform, and the more accurate with less artefacts the reconstructed analogue signal.

In the limit the more processing you do the more side effects through noise you create, which acts against the increased resolution. That is why until the relatively recent arrival of very low power FPGAs, there was little point in having larger filters as in doing so produced too much noise / complexity.

Just spent the best part of the day listening to the Dave in DSD Plus mode and the music is stunning. This ability to "Reconfigure" the Dave for either DSD or PCM optimized playback is one of the main reasons I wanted to test it... The improvement from the DAC-V1 in FLAC file playback is notable but in my humble view hardly justifies the price delta. In DSD though, it is a totally different game, the Dave is totally at home with DSD playback..

Never tested an nDAC with a 555DR although I would love to stick to Naim for most of the gear... I am not sure how that would work given that I am nowadays rely totally on Roon. If I move to nDAC/555DR then I would have to rely on the Naim app for music playback (or am I not understanding this correctly??)...

@analogmusic I did borrow the Dave from Dubai Audio, (you are sharp :-)).... Using an Audioquest Big Sur RCA interconnects so not too bad there.... Have older Chord VEE3 DIN-2-RCA interconnects however their pin configuration does not fit the NAC552 (I used them with the NAC202 in the good old days)... Will order new ones if I end up keeping the Dave...

I am also researching the PS Audio DirectStream and the totalDAC options....

 

Simon, thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive and helpful reply. One of the main problems I have from my acquired brain injury is that I have real problems processing complex information - it sounds very much as though I need more taps!! I'll re-read your reply a few more times and hopefully will then grasp it all. 

Tareq not sure but the Chord DIn to RCA would fit the 552 also, maybe the 552 needs to be reconfigured to allow RCA inputs rather than DIN for that input. 

As for price delta, between DAC V1 and Dave, it is exactly as Simon explained, Dave does something completely different, after couple of days of owning Hugo and listening to it then clicked on me  - this has all the excitement and dynamics of live music. Bingo, Rob Watts has hit the bulls eye !

I can hear this with any amplifier I have connected Hugo/ Dave to by the way, there is a "stressless", free flowing, just like live concerts. You can hear more clearly how the musicians are performing and the emotions, with other DACs, they play a little mechanically. It isn't immediately obvious it does take careful listening, Dave has a lot more refinement, much better small signal resolution, and you should hear increased 3d soundstage with suitable recordings that have it to begin with.

And once I latched on that quality (free flowing, stressless, live concert fee, or as what hi-fi says :  fluidity of Vinyl) of Chord Hugo, Mojo and Dave, it become intoxicating, and I cannot go back now from that.

I wouldn't bother with the alternatives you mentioned, others who did the comparison on head-fi reported that Dave beats both of them.

Hi Nigel, thanks, sometimes it's difficult without diagrams and I find many so called web wikis are too simplistic which lead to more confusion. This has some good diagrams. More formally you see the term 'coefficient' instead of the marketeers preference of the word 'tap'.. but they are the same.

http://lavryengineering.com/pd...ding-fir-filters.pdf

Yes we are talking with filter windows and taps FIR (finite impulse response filters) and sin(x)/x is the sinc function I referred to...

 

Ali, glad you still enjoying your DAVE 

well to see the difference again, I plugged in my trusty Mojo into my 282/250 Dr rig, along with my Dave.

one can hear they came from the same company, but the Dave is just more musical, refined, clear, and has much better microdynamics and macrodynamics both. Listening to the same song on Mojo, compared to Dave, well, just not the same...

It is obvious from the first guitar note : much more musicality, emotion and clarity from the Dave (tidal Billy Idol - BFI Live album - track "eyes without a face")

Both fed from the same laptop. So no software differences....

 

analogmusic posted:

I wouldn't bother with the alternatives you mentioned, others who did the comparison on head-fi reported that Dave beats both of them.

It's really important to do comparisons yourself in your own system and not rely solely on others' opinions.

This is been an extremely interesting thread and I thank all of the participants. The main reason I have been following it is I have just recently rediscovered headphone listening as an accompaniment to my 552/ 500 system. Chord products have been the dominant ones on the Headfi forum ever since the introduction of the Hugo and I myself just purchased a Mojo to bide my time while I await the Hugo 2's release next month.

Since recent postings have been technical in nature I would like to ask a question. Someone above just mentioned DSD playback. Can someone please (Simon or others) expand upon this with some further explanation as my knowledge is quite rudimentary.  During my research for headphone Dac/amplifiers I recently came across a new Sony product which upsamples EVERYTHING (for example 16/44 rips etc) to DSD 768. 

Why?  I would have thought that upsampling is inherently bad as it is trying to recreate what is not originally there IE trying to polish a turd for example turning a 320 mp3 into a 16/44 cd or in this case a DSD 768 file.

Best

Gregg

PS from the land of headphones Naim's "1/2 brother" Focal truly established a new reference point.  Their Utopia has really turned the headphone world upside down and has been extremely successful

tonym posted:
analogmusic posted:

I wouldn't bother with the alternatives you mentioned, others who did the comparison on head-fi reported that Dave beats both of them.

It's really important to do comparisons yourself in your own system and not rely solely on others' opinions.

Maybe it is my duty to explain to my friends from UK that HOME DEMO, is very but very rare event in many parts of the world.

The retailers neither have the volume to dedicate a unit for demo nor the stock. Even basic things are on order only.

Also isn't it to all point of this forums is to share knowledge, your opinion as well the other people's Opinions?  Don't we have all magazines reviewing everything from cd to Gloves? 

So why the negative Tone? 

I really don't get it! 

It certainly isn't my intention to be negative Emre. I do understand the difficulty in arranging home demonstrations in most places, but I'm just sounding a note of caution; having been a hi-fi aficionado for some fifty-five years, I've read many glowing reviews in magazines, and enthusiastic recommendation on forums, for items of hi-fi kit that, when settled in my home system, have not worked for me. DAVE being a case in point, despite my keen anticipation of its announcement and being a fan of Chord DACs generally. I have no doubt that many folks love what it does in their systems, with their ears, but it does not work in my system. Who knows why? It's easy to get carried away by specifications and opinion, I confess to this myself, but I've learned the hard way that you really need form your own opinion.

This situation reminds me of when a friend asked me to look over a Mini Cooper "S" for him many years ago (I was pretty knowledgeable about them). It became clear to me the car was not what it should have been and I told him so, but he was so set on buying it he got quite angry with me over my opinion. Thing is, we really want to acquire the things we perceive as being good and we don't want to be deflected away from our decisions by alternative opinion.

 

Individual tastes and system interaction often come into play making it hard to assess the component under review.  What are the chances that our hearing is all the same? Our other senses show differences between individuals ?! It helps when one has more insight about the reviewer and the system used. There are recordings I consider to have bad sound on my setup but yet I have friends that  like them. Components can have  different strengths or weaknesses making it impossible to 'weigh' them on the same scale.

Before I scaled down I had different setups based on Audio Research/Bryston, Copland/ Simaudio Moon and Naim. They all sounded different yet each pleasing in its own way and equally loved, none better than the other.

tonym posted:

It certainly isn't my intention to be negative Emre. I do understand the difficulty in arranging home demonstrations in most places, but I'm just sounding a note of caution; having been a hi-fi aficionado for some fifty-five years, I've read many glowing reviews in magazines, and enthusiastic recommendation on forums, for items of hi-fi kit that, when settled in my home system, have not worked for me. DAVE being a case in point, despite my keen anticipation of its announcement and being a fan of Chord DACs generally. I have no doubt that many folks love what it does in their systems, with their ears, but it does not work in my system. Who knows why? It's easy to get carried away by specifications and opinion, I confess to this myself, but I've learned the hard way that you really need form your own opinion.

This situation reminds me of when a friend asked me to look over a Mini Cooper "S" for him many years ago (I was pretty knowledgeable about them). It became clear to me the car was not what it should have been and I told him so, but he was so set on buying it he got quite angry with me over my opinion. Thing is, we really want to acquire the things we perceive as being good and we don't want to be deflected away from our decisions by alternative opinion.

 

Yes but it is not a choice, it is take it or leave it.

I bought some stuff with store demo but some stuff mainly thanks to this forum

I don't place a trust to professional reviews because everything gets a good review 

But I am trusting you when you say that Dave might not be the best thing after sliced bread, so I don't jump in and buy with buzz, it is a lot of money for a working, family man

This is why I am here, to benefit from an experienced gentlemen like you who have more experience and also more opportunities to hear the stuff I only read about, I really do appreciate all the comments, even "you need to hear it first"

So thank you all

One thing to keep in mind Tareq is that Dave has signal earth connected to the mains, just like a Naim CD player, so if you are connecting DAC V1 at the same time as Dave, the switch on DAC v1 should be set on floating rather than chassis

 

Having 2 sources with signal earth connected to mains earth makes it very difficult to hear differences between them and Naim have advised even when comparing Naim CD players, only one at at time should be connected to a Naim preamp (as their CD players have no switch)

If you want a Chord USB DAC to compare to the V-1 commensurate to its value, wouldn't a 2Qute be a fitting comparator? Good as it is, the Hugo is optimised as a portable device whereas the 2Qute is designed to do just one thing well. I don't own either but have read others' assertion that for USB optimised playback, the 2Qute is preferable to the Hugo. It might also be near enough to the Dave to leave you a few £000 to spend elsewhere.

I would have liked to test the 2Qute, I did test the Hugo versus the DAC-V1 and did not find the sound any more engaging than I have with the DAC-V1, the Dave is definitely an improvement sonically and musicality wise. In my system today the DAC-V1 is the weakest link and ever since I upgraded to the 552 preamp, the source seems to be my weak spot. Thus the Dave testing taking place now

Pity I cannot test the Dave with DIN-2-RCA cables, today I am stuck with RCA interconnects and would like to keep my pre on DIN connections as much as possible.

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