Chord Dave vs. DAC-V1

cat345 posted:
analogmusic posted:
cat345 posted:

If Dave is that good connected to a power amp, why does Chord offer 2 preamplifiers that are far more expensive than Dave? Only for analogue sources?

Yes, and also these preamps were designed before Dave was invented.

If preamplifiers have become obsolete with today's digital sources, why is manufacturers still making them? Shouldn't all modern dacs have volume controls and a couple of analogue inputs for a few of us prehistoric audiophiles?

You might find Chord abandons the preamps when it releases Davina, its ADC - but in saying that, I have no idea whether or not it is likely, nor what the perceived benefits might be (unless using a DSP either for room correction or as an active crossover to three Daves to drive three power amps for best tri-amping...!)

Well, I will make this simpler for all, for some reason I thought the NAP had RCA connectors but I was wrong, in the end I borrowed a pair of cables and out pure curiosity bypassed the NAC552 and had the DAVE connected straight into the NAP300... I thought that I will find small differences in sound, but I was totally wrong, there is a substantial difference in sound, mainly in the energy of music, there was a flatter more timid sound, it did not sound as real and had appeared far more closed, less body than I am used to. At first I thought maybe I changed the phase on the Dave configuration, so checked that but things were set right... I tried it again one day later and the same impression, some of the very familiar tracks I tried appeared far less engaging to me...

Part of me to be honest did not want to be impressed by the sound of the DAVE going direct to the NAP300, I guess it is my "cheap" way of resisting having to discover that the Dave was as good sounding as the much more hefty in price 552, but it was not that, there is clear advantage in the 552... Funny enough, I had the same feeling when I borrowed a Devialet Expert system and tried it connected to my speakers, the results were not too impressive for me..

Now back connected to 552 and loving every minute of it...

Thank you for doing the comparison - it is indeed interesting. When I compared Hugo with and without my TAg McLaren PA10 preamp there was not a lot of difference, but I felt it was mildly better without the preamp, so I abandoned it. (When I got Dave Isimply substituted for Hugo, without trying the preamp again.) Power amp originally was Musical Fidelity P270, then Bryston 4Bsst2.  

I wonder to what extent the difference is whatever the Naim preamp does in generating the 'Naim sound', or to what degree it is the power amp needing the pre. One day I will get around to comparing for myself, but with no Naim dealers nearby it has never presented itself as an opportunity, and may have to wait some time.

The preamp is the heart of a hi-fi system and matches the impedance requirements of source and amplifier so that full dynamics are retained.

Thanks Tareq for laying this one to rest. 

I wasn't doubtful at all the 20,000 GBP Naim 552 preamp would show how good it is, (and also glad you didn't have to waste money in buying the cable needed to find this out)

 

 

 

 

 

I constantly test things, that is why I love this hobby so much, always room for something new....  I will try next to convince my supplier to loan me a pair of DIN-2-RCA SuperLumina cables and see if that makes any difference compared to the Chord VEE3 Crimsons I have today.

Have to say though, the Chord Dave with the NAC522-----> SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! well beyond my expectations.

thijazi posted:

"Sweet" as in I don't get tired of the music, sounds just right...  For the cost of this thing I hope this feeling stays for a few years to come

I'm now in my ninth month of Daveness (NDX>Chord Sig TA>Dave>Chord Sarum SA>552) and it's one of those upgrades that keeps you discovering and smiling and saying "MORE!".

thijazi posted:

How would that compare with the Chord VEE3 Crimson cable? anyone tried them out in comparison to the SuperLumina version?

Hi-line and Superlumina in a different league as they use WBT connectors on the RCA side, and better DIN connectors for the preamp side.

 

analogmusic posted:

Strange request then Richeroo, when you already knew the answer?

The original suggetsion was Dave into 500, not into 300 that Richeroo had heard. I've no idea whether there would be any significant difference.

analogmusic posted:

The preamp is the heart of a hi-fi system and matches the impedance requirements of source and amplifier so that full dynamics are retained.

Thanks Tareq for laying this one to rest. 

I wasn't doubtful at all the 20,000 GBP Naim 552 preamp would show how good it is, (and also glad you didn't have to waste money in buying the cable needed to find this out)

 

I don't think impedance of the preamp output is the factor in question, rather whatever the 552 does to create the 'Naim sound', which of course Dave does not do.

Whilst I didn't expect any different outcome from someone already using the 552 into the 500, it was interesting to have that confirmed.

So, a bizarre development, in my eagerness to further test the Dave directly to the NAP300, I borrowed some higher quality XLR cables and listened in to the Chord Dave connected directly to the NAP300 bypassing the NAC552. I listened for a couple of days, and then reconnected everything back to how it was before the test... Now I only get music through my left channel, I tried everything, for some reason the NAC552 or my NAP300 is refusing to playback on the right channel... I tested again with the Dave connected directly to the NAP and everything works!

I wonder if there is a setting or some configuration that I need to do now that I reconnected everything... I tried a separate set of interconnects and even a separate set of DIN-to-XLR cables from Naim (just to test in my SuperLumina DIN-to-XLR was damaged) but same result, I get only left channel... Swapped the speaker cable to see if it is a speaker issue and nope, the speaker works fine.

Any ideas?

I did, they are exactly the way they were originally setup...  The cables are color-coded so it is pretty clear, I am tempted to swap the cables (use the red labled cable for the right channel and the green one for the left channel), not sure if the cables themselves are setup not to work in this configuration or if this would in any way damage my equipment. 

I sent the unit back to my dealer, they opened up both the NAC552 and the 552PS and with the help of the Naim support folks apparently determined that the issue is related to a dead discreet regulator in the 552PS, there is no word on what caused this and the feedback is that this is an extremely rare case. Naim shipped a replacement regulator which the dealer will fit into the 552PS next week and hopefully this fixes the issue.

I am very curious if anyone else had a blown DR, what would cause it? electricity issue or simply a faulty component (simple bad luck).. What could I do to prevent this from happening? I did a bit of research on power conditioners, etc. and from what I gather these are a "no-no" with Naim equipment and may do more harm to sound quality than benefit...

Opinions welcome....

Yep, I am fortunate I have a good dealer that has been pretty helpful, I just hope the diagnostics are correct and that indeed it the DR at fault, I also hope this kind of repair does not require any special re-calibration, or any other "Factory only" post-maintenance wizardry to ensure proper operation and sound quality post repair... Will keep you posted, next week we will know if it is really the DR that blew.

Going back to the Naim sound my brother when he worked at Heybrook .... did an extensive study into the sound of op amps... they all had a superflat frequency response...but they all sounded different...allot were based around hot versions of the industry std cheap op amp can't remember the ref number.... my brothers investigations led him to believe that the earthing  and the ancillary supplies were fundamental .... to getting good performance. I think Naim has pushed this to the limit with their circuits....with good results... there is definitely a naim signature...and the substitution of the 552 with the Dave goes to prove it.... I heard it at the Bristol hi fi show.... Dave direct into Nap300 = disappointing results...

Given that it is the same Dave output and the same 300 input in both scenarios, the difference being direct path vs through the 552, I'm not sure that the difference proves that either grounding or power supply with the 552 are the significant factors. (And as an aside, the 300 presumably has similar attention to detail re grounding and PS .)

Either i) the 552 is itself changing something in the sound, or ii) the 300's behaviour is being affected by the source (552 differently from Dave), or iii) Dave is being affected by the amp (552 differently from the 300).

Some people have suggested that performance of Naim power amps is affected in some way by being used with a Naim preamp. One suggestion as to the reason is a high frequency filter in the preamp, preventing any adverse effect in the power amp if very high supersonic frequencies are present - however Dave does likewise. Another suggestion has been "impedance matching", but I don't see that as likely in this instance: The 552 has a quoted output impedance of <50Ω (though unclear if this means close to 50 or a lot lower), while Dave has a quoted output impedance of 5.5mΩ. With an input impedance of 18kΩ I would not expect the 300 to be adversely affected by a source impedance lower than that of the 552 (cause ii above). With Dave's very low output impedance I would not expect it to be affected by connection either to the 300 or to the 552 (47kΩ) or the 300 (18kΩ), and the 552 quotes a minimum load impedance of 10kΩ so I would not expect it to be affected by the 300 (cause iii above).

These all suggest that in the difference between direct connection or through the 552,  the 552 is doing something in its added circuitry that is modifying the sound - or is there something I have missed?

 

This is what I was getting at .... the circuit layout and its earthing strategy do effect the sound perceived .... not the classic measured frequency response ......... music is transient in presentation - how the amplifier deals with this imparts a characteristic to the sound .... so I think the 552 does do that, as would any amplifier.... however, it is a question of degree and presentation....I suspect the perceived quality has been carefully engineered by Naim.... and the earlier this injected into the system the more impact it will have when further amplified by the power amp. The Chord amp within the Dac will have been engineered - differently. ..... 

Richieroo posted:

This is what I was getting at .... the circuit layout and its earthing strategy do effect the sound perceived .... not the classic measured frequency response ......... music is transient in presentation - how the amplifier deals with this imparts a characteristic to the sound .... so I think the 552 does do that, as would any amplifier.... however, it is a question of degree and presentation....I suspect the perceived quality has been carefully engineered by Naim.... and the earlier this injected into the system the more impact it will have when further amplified by the power amp. The Chord amp within the Dac will have been engineered - differently. ..... 

However a preamp can't add sound quality, though it can modify the sound - i.e filter it, shape it, colour, whatever term might be appropriate - so that it sounds different, and of course that might be perceived by a listener as a beneficial change (or not). The 552 in this scenario is not replacing Dave's internal amp, as it is the same output that goes to either the 552 or to the 300, so whatever Dave's internal amp that might have been engineered to do "differently" is still happening when played through a preamp.

Innocent Bystander posted:
However a preamp can't add sound quality, though it can modify the sound - i.e filter it, shape it, colour, whatever term might be appropriate - so that it sounds different, and of course that might be perceived by a listener as a beneficial change (or not). 
 

Exactly. Some like their music with a bit more seasoning. 

james n posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
However a preamp can't add sound quality, though it can modify the sound - i.e filter it, shape it, colour, whatever term might be appropriate - so that it sounds different, and of course that might be perceived by a listener as a beneficial change (or not). 
 

Exactly. Some like their music with a bit more seasoning. 

Seasoning: I like that, it is a very apt simile! I might like something far less (or more) salty than the next person (ditto degrees of heat if it is a chilli dish etc): it doesn't make either right or wrong.   ...although if produced by a good chef, only the one he or she tasted and seasoned will be what the artist created.

Ok ... I see what you are saying ....however,  if you plug it into 552 the poweramp will still be influenced by 552 .....  or 252,272 etc... and influenced/shaped. The lack of the 'right shape' is very apparent when the Dave drives the NAP300 direct..... to me it sounds flat and un-dynamic. I know what you are suggesting ..... see Thijazi comments.......

Innocent Bystander posted:
james n posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:
However a preamp can't add sound quality, though it can modify the sound - i.e filter it, shape it, colour, whatever term might be appropriate - so that it sounds different, and of course that might be perceived by a listener as a beneficial change (or not). 
 

Exactly. Some like their music with a bit more seasoning. 

Seasoning: I like that, it is a very apt simile! I might like something far less (or more) salty than the next person (ditto degrees of heat if it is a chilli dish etc): it doesn't make either right or wrong.   ...although if produced by a good chef, only the one he or she tasted and seasoned will be what the artist created.

Or rather metaphor!

Well about a month and a half later, I finally have my NAC552 back (it was sent back to the UK for repairs, apparently one of the channels went on permanent mute due to a faulty relay as rare as that is).

During this time I had the Chord Dave hooked up directly to the NAP300 so I really got an extensive listening experience while I waited for the NAC to be fixed, the results are two-fold:

1- The level of improvement with the NAC is huge, the Chord Dave sounded good, but never managed to get me to enjoy the music as much, it tired me after a while and always felt flat compared to my older setup. For any doubters out there (many asked me to test this), the NAC is far superior, once I hooked it back into my system it was a massive improvement even totally cold. Brought a big grin on my face!

2- The flip side of all of this was that I now feel once more as if I just upgraded , I get the fun factor and the excitement of setting up the NAC552 for the first time all over again with the same investment.

The only thing I did note is that the NAC is sounding a little edgy and stressed with some music that I always listen to, and while I am a huge sceptic of the notion that these boxes need "burn in and warm up" time that would impact sound, it may just be the case that the NAC will go back to its old paces once it has been up and running for a few weeks, we will see.... maybe this also proves another theory.

Cheers,

Tareq

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