I agree with your assessment, especially about piano rendition.. The Yggdrasil is truly amazing on redbook CD’s in general.. it changed my life ! After many years of dissatisfaction with digital.. Mike Moffat gave us something musical without breaking the bank. I was using a BC Ref link to AES as input to the yggy.. I tried the unison USB and now I use it exclusively.. It’s that good.. Compared to the unison, the Gen5 interface sounds broken..
Me: So far, the Yggy2 fed through AES/EBU and this Spectral SDR-3000SL transport offers the cleanest, most resolving redbook sound I have heard to date [in here, and that includes the dCS Vivaldi 2.0, the Spectral SDR-4000SV player and the MSB Premier+outboard PS & stock clock; I don't do tube DACs]
Harley: "It’s a spectacular performer on an absolute level, and an out-of-this world bargain. The Yggy is not just a tremendous value in today’s DACs, it’s one of the greatest bargains in the history of high-end audio."
I have determined that the Yggy2's RCA outputs are a little colored, partly due to its summation circuit, so I run it XLR-to-RCA, and always AES/EBU in. In addition, as wonderful and super dynamic as it sounds with that connection (for a claimed max 4V output), it does cause the preamp to distort at loud crescendos, so I have to engage the preamp's -6dB filter for that input.
The Yggy2 (v2.01 analog board) via AES/EBU and as connected is a new benchmark for me in here. Let me explain:
1) it has enabled me to fine-tune my speakers' crossover, to a point that analog sounds best as is as well
2) it has pushed me to fix that Pass XP-25 phono preamp, and I can now use its 76dB gain plus 47K "loading" for additional dynamic headroom, with simultaneous very low noise at loud levels and very life-like timbre and articulation; other changes were also necessary
3) it has enabled me to voice my modded Berkeley Alpha DAC even further to a point that it actually surpasses the Yggy2 with HDCD material
Let me start with #3; here's how I recently summarized the two DACs on HDCD (the Yggy does not decode HDCD, the Alpha does):
a) The Alpha outshines the Yggy2 with HDCD in terms of dynamic headroom and harmonic structure (at least with strings); the difference in macro-dynamics is really staggering
b) It does so - especially the macro-dynamics - even with its output volume slightly less than the Yggy's (51.5; output voltages are equal at 52.5)
c) By virtue of their analog section designs, the Yggy's bass is rounder and more well defined, with all material (HDCD or not)
d) The HDCD encoding is responsible for raising the Alpha's performance and dumbing down the Yggy's, and in addition, the HDCD process does affect timbre. One of the HDCD algorithms is to compress and expand dynamics
e) The Alpha's superiority with HDCD (excepting the bass) is evident despite the SPDIF input and the "lesser" Shunyata Venom RCA interconnects, which I think are a fascinating cable for some $400 on the street. I use the famed Illuminations D-60 SPDIF cable
Along the way and over the past few months, the Yggy2 with redbook guided me how to best voice the Alpha with HDCD, in terms of mods and output volume setting (51.5)
Among the DACs I've had in here, the modified Alpha, Yggy2 and MSB Premier stand out because they have an extremely similar sound character, which indicates truth to the recording. They are not euphonic, they are not lush, they are not fake, just limited in what they can do with the format. The Yggy2 and Premier stand out for their clean sound with redbook.
Regarding #2, and how it compares to my analog now, there is no mistaking that analog is still the higher resolution format over redbook (with or without HDCD). But it took a lot of analog tweaking to get that: from anti-skating, to the XP-25 mods, to a new turntable suspension, and cartridge isolation with Isodamp. All these have been described elsewhere on this site.
As compared to the other DACs, excepting the 4000SV player, the Yggy2 excels at rendering complete notes which raises truth of timbre and articulation, thus realism. It does piano unlike anything else so far in here but the 4000SV - but the latter's presentation is still slightly euphonic (which for me kills its rendition of complete notes), though less so than their old SDR-2000 DAC and much less than the Vivaldi's. It is incredibly low in noise, which increases transparency, palpability, realism and separation of instruments. It does still require a very low-noise and -jitter digital source, despite the manufacturer's reclocking claims. No experience so far with the Unison USB.
Its bass matches that of the 4000SV in tightness, roundness and musicality, and leaves the Alpha far behind in that respect. It is really very well defined and refined, but perhaps not as deep as other DACs. With the right recordings, strings can be phenomenal, with real palpability - out of redbook. This DAC has LIFE.
I posted sonic impressions with certain music material under Al's thread, but one thing that stands out is the BSO/Shostakovich recordings on DG (of all!), which render a very good replica of Boston Symphony Hall's acoustics as experienced from near and above the orchestra (basically, Balcony 1, seats A1-3), very much where the microphones would be. Symphony #11's second movement is just Wow material.
Al himself does a better job at describing sonic attributes, and he's done a very good job at that over the years; so I defer to him, plus I am out of time... I hope he'll chime in.
At the end of the day, I can listen to this DAC all day, every day; and I am obviously keeping the Alpha for HDCD.
Just a name one of the founders, Jason came up with to be “different”, to jive with their business model..
Norse naming conventions on most of their products.. Yggdrasil is the Central “Tree”. it actually makes their site difficult to use, according to some I heard back from after recommending schiit to them..
Their documentation and views on cables, etc are quite humorous.. but can be insulting to some.. I find some of their products to be excellent sounding, but lacking frills, looks that some desire.. but they use all discrete components, all made in the USA, circuit boards and all..
Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat both have their bio and Company stories posted up on Head-fi ..
I am seriously considering moving to the Yggy from my PSAudio DS after many years, and I am trying to sort out which streaming transport or server would best serve the purpose. I listen mostly to Tidal HiRes, and Master. I have a Pass XP-22.
My understanding it that the streamer will have to be able to fully 'unfold' MQA and present it to the Yggy. Input selection to be determined. I'd like to keep it under $5K.
Any recommendations? Currently I am looking at the Auralic Aries G2.
Hi Tony. No, I have not yet done that yet. As soon as I get a streamer/transport identified and bought for the Yggy I will give it a comparison run through with the DS DAC and Bridge II I am running now.
I will be sure to report my findings. The DS DAC is very good, highly detailed and very smooth. It will be interesting.