....things are sounding really very good and I'd rather just listen to music.
Fatal words of course!
A felloe Wammer popped over with his Chord Hugo, as he was thinking of the Border Patrol SE DAC, which I own, for his own system. I then visited him taking the BP with me.
The two systems:
Me: Files > RPi3 (LPSU) > ultraRendu (LPSU + LT3045x2) > AQ JB > Uptone USPCB > Singxer F1 > BP DAC > EAR868PL > EAR534 > Focal 1008be II
Him: NAS > Bespoke PC > dCS Bridge > Chord Hugo > Modwright 36.5 > Pass X250 > Bowers & Wilkins speakers.
We heard the same issues/highlights through both systems when swapping the DACs.
Example test tracks:
War of the Worlds – Thunder Child
War of the Worlds – Spirit of Man
ACDC – Thunderstruck
Meatloaf – Bat Out of Hell
Greater resolution and finesse with high frequencies.
Mid band anaemic.
Propels you into the music
Real meat and heft to the music
......certain sharpness with rock and pop in the mid/high frequencies.
If you play either of the War of the Worlds tracks and listen to Richard Burton ‘S’es you hear an over-emphasis.
Bat Out of Hell has a souring guitar wail early on left field, through the BP it screeches.
When I got home I put in my Oppo 105D via its coax input – sabre ESS DAC.
All the problem files were STILL problems, perhaps even worse. This was also my experience when listening to the Schitt Yggdrasil (slightly less) and the Lampizator L4G5.
As a result of this I bought an IFI iDefender 3.0, and then did some listening tests. As soon as I plugged it in ALL the edge issues vanished, but so did some resolution. As the widget settled down over the next couple of hours the detail returned, as did some of the edge. This made me bite a bullet I have been avoiding:
My SingXer F1 was powered from the ultraRendu (uR), it has built in tech to clean the DC.
I made up a couple of cables, blocked the DC from the uR, and supplied the power from an LT3045 (0.5A 5v).
I then played with combinations of adapters, settling for the moment on:
IFI iDefender 3.0
SBooster VBus2 (Blocks the DC)
USB A > B adapter (This is the Sonore one, which in this arrangement I preferred slightly to the USPCB)
More body and detail.
Edge mainly gone - the Richard Burton hard 'S'es are still there, but there impact is reduced. Played a couple of other tracks which I know can be a bit hot in places, same result.
Yesterday I returned to my Wammer friends house where with another Wammer we did a four way DAC comparison:
Metatron supplied the venue, the base system & the Chord Hugo;
George the Audio Note 2.1 DAC and Esoteric D-03 DAC; and
I supplied the Border Patrol DAC.
Bottom Line: I am very happy.
The tracks included problems (War if the Worlds & Simon & Garfunkel - The Dangling Conversation), Difficult (Nina Simone) & tests (Bela Fleck).
All four DACs are good and will shine in different systems and your preference will be based on your tastes, for me:
As above, mids just don't grab you, sounds to me a bit academic - doesn't communicate the joy.
Now this was more like it. The fun came back. Emotional communication. Perhaps a touch rolled off.
Audio Note 2.1:
Oh! The emotional connection of the BP, but greater transparency.
Initially AWFUL, this was connected via the AES dual leads from the dCS Bridge. Changed to the spdif, yes - this was more like it. Chord on steroids? But, for me, lacked the magical middle.
AN 2.1 > BP > Esoteric > Hugo.
Even better, the problem files were problems via all the DACs (apart from the Hugo - see above).
I think the essential DNA of the AN & BP are the same, but the BP is 1/3rd of the cost and is no way shamed by the comparison. For me this reconfirms the superb quality and VFM of the BP; but, I now have an idea of where I would be looking at going if I was willing to spend more.