T+A 1- bit converters in the PDP-3000HV and DAC 8 DSD

EuroDriver

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My first encounter with T+A's home grown DSD implementation was last year with their PDP-3000HV, and it did not go well due to driver problems

6 weeks ago I bought a DAC 8 DSD and was stunned by the quality of the play back at DSD 512, with the bit stream supplied by HQ Player, running on a tricked out PC, converting from 16/44 PCM and DSD 64. Good DSD 64 recordings achieve a level of realism I have not heard from any other source, vinyl, or tape, only live sounds better IMHO.

I was expecting a sonic improvement to be about half the difference that we were hearing between DSD 128 and DSD 256. Completely unexpected, DSD 512 is so much better than DSD 256. It's hard to say how much of this is due to HQ Player doing a more precise job of creating a bit stream that converts nicely, and how much because the ultrasonic noise is at a higher frequency than with DSD 256.

Here is Lothar Wiemann, head of Resarch at T+A talking about the DAC 8 DSD on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guXH_D4HXMw

I am bringing a European DAC 8 DSD to NYC tomorrow and will get together with some Computer Audiophile inmates to listen and discuss about the unit's sonic merits converting DSD 512

Looking forward to WBF members experiences with this unit



I have to confess, that the tricked out PC was a pre production model of the Sound Galleries Music Server
 

Priaptor

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My first encounter with T+A's home grown DSD implementation was last year with their PDP-3000HV, and it did not go well due to driver problems

6 weeks ago I bought a DAC 8 DSD and was stunned by the quality of the play back at DSD 512, with the bit stream supplied by HQ Player, running on a tricked out PC, converting from 16/44 PCM and DSD 64. Good DSD 64 recordings achieve a level of realism I have not heard from any other source, vinyl, or tape, only live sounds better IMHO.

I was expecting a sonic improvement to be about half the difference that we were hearing between DSD 128 and DSD 256. Completely unexpected, DSD 512 is so much better than DSD 256. It's hard to say how much of this is due to HQ Player doing a more precise job of creating a bit stream that converts nicely, and how much because the ultrasonic noise is at a higher frequency than with DSD 256.



Here is Lothar Wiemann, head of Resarch at T+A talking about the DAC 8 DSD on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guXH_D4HXMw

I am bringing a European DAC 8 DSD to NYC tomorrow and will get together with some Computer Audiophile inmates to listen and discuss about the unit's sonic merits converting DSD 512

Looking forward to WBF members experiences with this unit



I have to confess, that the tricked out PC was a pre production model of the Sound Galleries Music Server

What were your settings with HQP? Your observations provide a potentially "cheap" and unique option compared to the competition.

HiFi news recently did a review FWIW after recently reviewing the DAVE and liked DAVE a little better but didn't really test the T&A as you are using it. They still raved about it so in the optimal setting of upsampling all things to 512 with HQP there is lots to interpolate between how much they liked it and the optimum as you report.

Curious if you did or have to engage any of T&A filters provided on the front.

If you could give us insight on how you had both the T&A and HQP setup I would appreciate it. I am thinking about the unit myself. Just wanting some more info.

Thanks
Howie
 

EuroDriver

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What were your settings with HQP? Your observations provide a potentially "cheap" and unique option compared to the competition.

HiFi news recently did a review FWIW after recently reviewing the DAVE and liked DAVE a little better but didn't really test the T&A as you are using it. They still raved about it so in the optimal setting of upsampling all things to 512 with HQP there is lots to interpolate between how much they liked it and the optimum as you report.

Curious if you did or have to engage any of T&A filters provided on the front.

If you could give us insight on how you had both the T&A and HQP setup I would appreciate it. I am thinking about the unit myself. Just wanting some more info.

Thanks
Howie

Hi Howie

First let me quote Larry's post at CA about our get together at his house last Saturday

Wow! What a DAC! Everyone, zorntel, hifial, Ed and me were blown away by 512DSD! Hifial said it was the best he has ever heard the live version of Hotel California. Even with a redbook copy, it was amazing. We listened to Gregory Porters version of "God Bless the Child", also Redbook. It's just him singing. Totally spine tingling! Lastly we upsampled Patricia Barbers " Let it Rain" from Companion from DSD 64 to 512. This was the biggest surprise for me. You were in the room with ambient sound from the venue all around.

This was with a hastily built PC purchased by Edward, built by me, with a I7-6700k, Asus z170 mobo, 8gb crucial ballistic RAM, Seasonic fanless 400 watt PSU, and ISCSI boot. The 220 volt T+A was powered by a step up transformer.

Hifial brought along Stillpoint minis. It's crazy, but they sounded great under both the DAC and computer case. Not a small difference at all! He also brought along a Curious USB cable. Also changes the sound, votes still out on the benefit.

Anyway, very cool! Thanks to Edward for pulling this together. We had great fun!

The settings which we used for the session were Polysinc Short mp, ASDM7

The front panel setting was WIDE for the DSD filter

We have done extensive tests with the Chord DAVE both in it's PCM mode and DSD optimized mode being fed by a close to production of version of the Sound Galeries Music Server

the DAVE internal up sapling of 16/44 is very very good. To our ears, the DAVE does a better job of up-sampling PCM than HQP does upsampling. I's the first time that we have heard a DAC that does better PCM to PCM upsampling than HQPlayer can do

However the DAVE in DSD mode, and receiving DSD 512 from HQ Player does not sound as realistic as the T+A being fed the same DSD 512 from our pre production server. For us, the lesson learnt, is you can improve PCM a long way with brute force computation, but the relative simplicity of DSD wins the day.

The realism, timbre, and sense of space that we got from the T+ A was in another class

We did some tests of the DAVE from other PC's and found that DAVE was sensitive to the RF noise signature of the various PC's
 
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EuroDriver

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Today, I had the chance to listen to a Merging NADAC being fed DSD 256 from HQP over Ethernet Ravenna

The sound was very good and clean, but to my old ears the T+A at DSD 512 did a better job at conveying the sense of space, more texture to the instruments and better attack of the percussion

The NADAC is a jolly good SABRE DAC, but the T+A at DSD 512 is something else again

One significant advantage of the NADAC, is that you can use an external power supply. It could well be with a really tricked out power supply, the NADAC could significantly narrow the gap with the T+A
 

Ric Schultz

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Yes, its too bad Nadac cannot take 512. However, the $870 Gustard X20 can via I2S. And it has two ESS DACs so will have more resolution there than Nadac. And the modified Gustard will have a more transparent output stage than Nadac (probably uses op amps). Will be interesting to see if modded Gustard via I2S is as good or better than T+A playing 512. What is for sure is there is a revolution going on here. We have a $4000 DAC and maybe a less than $2000 DAC playing DSD 512 upsampled pcm that sounds like super analog? Maybe pure pcm DACs (R2R, etc.) are now obsolete?!?.....and now we have orgasmic digital sound for pennies of what was just the reference only days ago.....WOW! I am excited.
 

EuroDriver

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Yes, its too bad Nadac cannot take 512. However, the $870 Gustard X20 can via I2S. And it has two ESS DACs so will have more resolution there than Nadac. And the modified Gustard will have a more transparent output stage than Nadac (probably uses op amps). Will be interesting to see if modded Gustard via I2S is as good or better than T+A playing 512. What is for sure is there is a revolution going on here. We have a $4000 DAC and maybe a less than $2000 DAC playing DSD 512 upsampled pcm that sounds like super analog? Maybe pure pcm DACs (R2R, etc.) are now obsolete?!?.....and now we have orgasmic digital sound for pennies of what was just the reference only days ago.....WOW! I am excited.

Hi Ric,

Nice to cross paths with you again, gosh I think it's almost 18 years that we first had contact via Audioasylum !

Our suspicion that one of the significant reasons / drivers of the better SQ from the T+A is due to it being a relatively discrete component implementation and not a in chip implementation.

Whilst a good implementaion of DSD on a SABRE chip should be fairly direct, I suspect there is a lot more code and logic steps in play than with T+A's implementation. All this activity could well be generating a noise signature that finds its way into the analog stages of the DAC
 

bibo01

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Yes, its too bad Nadac cannot take 512. However, the $870 Gustard X20 can via I2S. And it has two ESS DACs so will have more resolution there than Nadac. And the modified Gustard will have a more transparent output stage than Nadac (probably uses op amps). Will be interesting to see if modded Gustard via I2S is as good or better than T+A playing 512. What is for sure is there is a revolution going on here. We have a $4000 DAC and maybe a less than $2000 DAC playing DSD 512 upsampled pcm that sounds like super analog? Maybe pure pcm DACs (R2R, etc.) are now obsolete?!?.....and now we have orgasmic digital sound for pennies of what was just the reference only days ago.....WOW! I am excited.
I wouldn't bet on that Gustard's capability.
Let me explain.
- Sabre ES9018 has never declared to support DSD512.
- The fact that manufactures (especially Chinese) claim their input interfaces support DSD512 it does not mean that the converter actually does support it. Sometimes when you ask them about it, the reply is that they have never tried!
- I have seen DSD512 playback on ES9018, but most of the times it's extremely unstable. I suppose it is due to the high frequency used on the master clock oscillator.
 

Ric Schultz

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Jun 22, 2013
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So few DACs actually support 512 so very few have played with it and HQ player is new to many as well. We shall see whether the Gustard/ESS can handle DSD512 via I2S. No doubt there are those that are looking into it right now. Anyone have information on those who have tried DSD512 through I2S into a Gustard? We shall see....er hear. Maybe Gustard is working on a usb input board that can accept 256 and maybe 512 (assuming that it can work with 512)

The ESS DAC chips more than likely have more processing of DSD than the simple circuit in the T+A. However, the resultant sound via anything is the sum total of technology and tweaking done on the unit. The single 15 watt transformer in the T+A is a not a great thing. The bigger the transformers and the more of them there are (in my experience) the better the sound. The Gustard has two 50 or more watt transformers in it (one for digital and one for the output board). And there are tons of other things that make a sonic difference anywhere in a product. I have no doubt that the stock Gustard ($870 delivered...no tax and including shipping) and the $4000 T+A are the leading edge products today. The mods on the Gustard take it to another level....whether it is at the T+A level....we shall see.
 

EuroDriver

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So few DACs actually support 512 so very few have played with it and HQ player is new to many as well. We shall see whether the Gustard/ESS can handle DSD512 via I2S. No doubt there are those that are looking into it right now. Anyone have information on those who have tried DSD512 through I2S into a Gustard? We shall see....er hear. Maybe Gustard is working on a usb input board that can accept 256 and maybe 512 (assuming that it can work with 512)

The ESS DAC chips more than likely have more processing of DSD than the simple circuit in the T+A. However, the resultant sound via anything is the sum total of technology and tweaking done on the unit. The single 15 watt transformer in the T+A is a not a great thing. The bigger the transformers and the more of them there are (in my experience) the better the sound. The Gustard has two 50 or more watt transformers in it (one for digital and one for the output board). And there are tons of other things that make a sonic difference anywhere in a product. I have no doubt that the stock Gustard ($870 delivered...no tax and including shipping) and the $4000 T+A are the leading edge products today. The mods on the Gustard take it to another level....whether it is at the T+A level....we shall see.

The T+A has an Austrian SMPS for the digital section, and a Linear for the analog section

The PCB is kind of dense to hack into, never mind the warranty
 

joaovieira

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Hello EuroDriver. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

Would you please tell us what you think about a comparison between T+A and Lampizator Big 7? I know you had experience with both.

Thank you.

João
 

EuroDriver

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Hello EuroDriver. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

Would you please tell us what you think about a comparison between T+A and Lampizator Big 7? I know you had experience with both.

Thank you.

João

Last years Lampi B7 with DSD 128 was very close in overall SQ with ExaSound E22 at DSD 256 with a good linear power supply.

The T+A with its 1-bit converter receiving DSD 512 is in another sonic category above these 2 DACS
- more texture, better timbre, sense of space, larger distance front to back of the sound stage

All of the above is in the context of HQP Player converting PCM to DSD 128, 256 and 512 respectively

Waiting to hear what Lampi does with DSD 512 ! It has to be good :)
 

hifial

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I posted this over on CA Forum and that it would be of interest here.

First Impressions of T+A DAC 8 DSD

I was one of the lucky ones at lmitche house for the T+A DAC 8 DSD GTG this past Sat.
First I want to say it was a pleasure meeting Larry (lmitche) and Robert (zorntel) and seeing Ed (EuroDriver) again. All our fine gentlemen and a lot of fun.

I will not mention the specific equipment we used. I will leave that to lmitche to decide if and what he would like to mention on the web. But I can assure everyone that what was used was worthy of this "review" and of just about any other one could want to do.

So, how would I describe the T+A DAC 8 DSD...

Huge dynamics, well-defined transients, very low distortion, true timbrel detail, true textural detail.
The sound is engaging, you are there. Room tells that are not heard with others. A sense of THE room that the band is playing in.
Decays that can be easily heard and are very natural sounding.
There is a presence that most equipment can not produce. A liveliness that brings the music to life. There is an openness to the sound
The highs are extended. Brass has bite but never bright or harsh in an unnatural or a digital way.
Bass has weight, body and a slam that is lifelike. You can hear the air when a drum is struck.
Midrange has a rightness to it. Voices feel like they are with you in the room. There is a body to the voice.
All frequencies have a naturalness to them. There is a smoothness to the sound without being rolled off or soft in anyway as there is still leading edge attack.

Is it live? No, but it comes closer then most. It is in a handful that are in this category.

Now, this is using HQ Player up-sampling all rates, PCM/DSD, to DSD512.

So in conclusion, I think 1 Bit Discrete DSD Converter using a program like HQP on a powerful but quiet PC and up-sampling to DSD512 is the future, here and now.

Oh, by the way, anyone want to buy my exaSound e20 MK III with .082 Clock upgrade? I also have a Paul Hynes Design SR12-3 external power supply that goes great with the exaSound or anything else that needs 12v/3.5amps.
 

spiritofmusic

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Eurodriver, I believe I have an invite to the BMW World of the SG server/T+A 8 Dac-dsd512/Taiko amps/Vivid Giya G1's.
I'm a diehard vinylphile, but maybe a tad unusual in seeing where sorted rbcd has the edge on analog (my Eera Tentation cdp is the best one-box cdp I've ever heard, by a massive margin), and am open to having my worldview challenged by well-implemented dsd.
For me, 512dsd will only win over good analog if it shows tonal variety (so much digital sounds like everything is mastered from the same source), true tonal density, and organic flow. If 512dsd can get all this, and not be filled w/subliminal artefacts (from jitter?) that take me out of the moment, I may become a convert.
 

EuroDriver

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Eurodriver, I believe I have an invite to the BMW World of the SG server/T+A 8 Dac-dsd512/Taiko amps/Vivid Giya G1's.
I'm a diehard vinylphile, but maybe a tad unusual in seeing where sorted rbcd has the edge on analog (my Eera Tentation cdp is the best one-box cdp I've ever heard, by a massive margin), and am open to having my worldview challenged by well-implemented dsd.
For me, 512dsd will only win over good analog if it shows tonal variety (so much digital sounds like everything is mastered from the same source), true tonal density, and organic flow. If 512dsd can get all this, and not be filled w/subliminal artefacts (from jitter?) that take me out of the moment, I may become a convert.

I can not guarantee nor test if HQ Player software found all of the artifacts created during the original A>D, nor the quality of the tonal flow of the music created by the 7th order modulators used by HQ Player software.

I can say, that the sound we are getting to my old ears is better than the best vinyl rig I heard at the Warsaw Show last year.

I am very much looking forward to hearing your unvarnished comments. If we have not achieved a sound quality better than your vinyl rig, then that incentivizes us to push further :b
 

spiritofmusic

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Sure, that's all one can hope for. I've really grown to appreciate good digital playback in the last 3 years after more than two decades of railing against digititis.
I have an a'phile friend whose system is well sorted, and is truly bowled over by the T+A Dac 8 and 512dsd.
After the TRULY poor Metronome cd/dac at the ML Neoliths launch in the UK, I'm looking fwd to yr demo w/high anticipation LOL!
 
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Blue58

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Spirit, your senses will be rewarded once you hear the T&A DAC8DSD, plus you will be one of the select few to hear the combination of DAC and Server at Munich. Not to mention the new amps driving Giya1. Phew!

I'd just like to clarify that presently I can only play up to DSD128 due to playback limitations of MacBook/Audirvana+2/iPad remote but can categorically say that I've just been CONVERTED from PCM to DSD.
It's official!

I'd heard DSD from the Golden Gate, though the 256 wasn't working while in residence, and still I heard this overall smoothness that, to my ears, robbed the music of its life. That feeling of music 'happening' rather than 'recording'. On the GG I preferred the PCM which was a step up from the Audio Aero in resolution but lacking in a natural/organic feeling that I much prefer. I attend a lot of live music, predominantly, pop/rock and I want to hear the dynamics and life in my music with a sense of an event in front of me. With DSD on the GG I wasn't getting that. Far too smooth. With PCM I was getting life but hyper life similar to the dynamic setting on the TV. With the AA I get life, a human-ness, and a performance. Ultimately that's why I never bought the GG.

Yes, the DAC8DSD has bowled me over and Spirit knows how hard I am to please being damning of many HiFi setups at shows etc. and most recently the ML presentation.

The presentation of the T&A in DSD mode is giving me dynamics above and beyond either the GG or AA and giving resolution on par with the GG but ALSO the human-ness of the AA. The noise floor is lower than both. Is this because the AA and GG use tubes in the output stage? Most likely.

PCM on the DAC8DSD is similar to the GG presentation though not quite as upfront. Do I prefer it over PCM in the AA? I DO. Something about that low noise floor with just enough human-ness that I don't think I'd miss the AA.

Now all this is without extensive burn in but better footers and a Sablon PC are helping lift the performance.

I can only salivate as to what up sampling to DSD512 will bring to the table. That show demo will be
Something special.

Blue58
(SET45 into Avantgarde helps)
 
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bonzo75

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Last years Lampi B7 with DSD 128 was very close in overall SQ with ExaSound E22 at DSD 256 with a good linear power supply.

The T+A with its 1-bit converter receiving DSD 512 is in another sonic category above these 2 DACS
- more texture, better timbre, sense of space, larger distance front to back of the sound stage

All of the above is in the context of HQP Player converting PCM to DSD 128, 256 and 512 respectively

Waiting to hear what Lampi does with DSD 512 ! It has to be good :)

I thought the Lampi at Munich sounded very poor. Audiophile Bill thought the same. In fact he was then not willing to buy one after the Munich trip though he was a fan. He then heard it again at home and now talks about nothing else. Btw, Lampi is coming with a DSD 512 to too from what I hear, though I don't think it's required.
 

bonzo75

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Spirit, your senses will be rewarded once you hear the T&A DAC8DSD, plus you will be one of the select few to hear the combination of DAC and Server at Munich. Not to mention the new amps driving Giya1. Phew!

I'd just like to clarify that presently I can only play up to DSD128 due to playback limitations of MacBook/Audirvana+2/iPad remote but can categorically say that I've just been CONVERTED from PCM to DSD.
It's official!

I'd heard DSD from the Golden Gate, though the 256 wasn't working while in residence, and still I heard this overall smoothness that, to my ears, robbed the music of its life. That feeling of music 'happening' rather than 'recording'. On the GG I preferred the PCM which was a step up from the Audio Aero in resolution but lacking in a natural/organic feeling that I much prefer. I attend a lot of live music, predominantly, pop/rock and I want to hear the dynamics and life in my music with a sense of an event in front of me. With DSD on the GG I wasn't getting that. Far too smooth. With PCM I was getting life but hyper life similar to the dynamic setting on the TV. With the AA I get life, a human-ness, and a performance. Ultimately that's why I never bought the GG.

Yes, the DAC8DSD has bowled me over and Spirit knows how hard I am to please being damning of many HiFi setups at shows etc. and most recently the ML presentation.

The presentation of the T&A in DSD mode is giving me dynamics above and beyond either the GG or AA and giving resolution on par with the GG but ALSO the human-ness of the AA. The noise floor is lower than both. Is this because the AA and GG use tubes in the output stage? Most likely.

PCM on the DAC8DSD is similar to the GG presentation though not quite as upfront. Do I prefer it over PCM in the AA? I DO. Something about that low noise floor with just enough human-ness that I don't think I'd miss the AA.

Now all this is without extensive burn in but better footers and a Sablon PC are helping lift the performance.

I can only salivate as to what up sampling to DSD512 will bring to the table. That show demo will be
Something special.

Blue58
(SET45 into Avantgarde helps)

I think the with the GG you would have had much more mileage going up from those stock 45s which are my least favorite. In fact I don't like them because they are lifeless.
 

EuroDriver

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I thought the Lampi at Munich sounded very poor. Audiophile Bill thought the same. In fact he was then not willing to buy one after the Munich trip though he was a fan. He then heard it again at home and now talks about nothing else. Btw, Lampi is coming with a DSD 512 to too from what I hear, though I don't think it's required.

The sound conditions at Munich MOC are very challenging, dirty power, and poor acoustics.

A major problem at shows is that many audiophiles get a better sound quality result in their system at home than the best sounding room at a show

We are optimistic that we will get a good sound at BMW World, we will find out soon.

Interestingly last years Warsaw Show in the National Stadium had the best level of sound I have heard at any show, any where

Some of the rooms were built as broadcast studios and were acoustically treated

Whilst the size of the space at BMW World is good, 13 m x 12 m x 4.75 m, the wall covering is plastic laminate ! !

We are putting in some Basotect panels and some acoustic curtains to tame flutter echo

Regardless of the extent to which we are succesful to mitigate the room oroblems, the sound of DSD 512 is sure to please
 

spiritofmusic

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I really do hope so.
I find it totally fascinating to consider the concept that all those early 80s cd presentations that were cold and lifeless are about to be revived w/verve, energy and texture on a par/beyond the best analog.
Those cd's are sure going cheap on Ebay, maybe I'll be stocking up after Munich LOL.
For me, I'm aware of the shortcomings of vinyl, even as I'm listening to the stuff. But the way vinyl weaves it's illusion w/creamy tone and organic flow, I've only heard hinted at w/dsd128.
I'll know intuitively if this presentation is what vinylphiles like myself have been hoping for from digital. If this comes to pass, and the dsd512 demo flows seamlessly, then the other positives of digital will become truly apparent too.
 

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