Tube DACs vs. Delta Sigma DACs vs Ladder DACs vs. Multibit DACs? Sonic Signatures readily evident for TOP Designs? Tubes give up Anything?

213Cobra

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For this matter of R2R vs. Delta Sigma or "math" DACs, there is more a dial than a switch. My experiences-informed preference lands on the R2R side of the fence. But The AKM chips, like the 4497, are admittedly unusually-organic-sounding delta-sigma chips. For example, the excellent m2tech Young Mk4 DAC using this AKM sounds unusually natural, and more so than their earlier, PCM1795-based Young MkII, which wasn't a slouch DAC in the grand scheme of things.

It's not so much that you want a "tube dac" as you might want a DAC with tubes in it in some useful way. Right now, I use an MHDT Pagoda Balanced R2R DAC built around the BB PCM1704. The 1704 chip is no longer produced and one of the reasons we are seeing discrete transistor ladder DACs from makers like Denafrips is that that his BB chip became too expensive to produce. It's more economical now to put hundreds or thousands of discrete matched transistors on a motherboard than to laser-trim microscopic resistors in a chip architecture.

Hence we have Denafrips, Holospring, etc. out of China. Not that that's a bad thing. It isn't. It's different.

What we care about is what sounds better. MHDT out of Taiwan builds to a consistent physical quality. They built their DACs around NOS vintage R2R chips. Some of the lower models drive I/V output stage from the chip itself. Others have separate, post-DAC-chip, discrete transistor I/V conversion, and some have op-amp post-DAC I/V conversion. Regardless, they all retain an organic, family sound.

The MHDT DACs respond nicely to tube-rolling. The stock GE 5670 triode is bland but not off-putting. Ranging through the family you might get snagged by the organic and dynamic boldness of a Bendix 2c51, for example. You have lots of direct replacement options. BUT, if you look beyond, via the world of socket adaptors, you can run MHDT DACs on 6922 family and 6sn7 tubes. This opens up significant further possibilities. For example, I run my Pagoda and Pagoda Balance DACs with NOS German CCa tubes, via adaptors, and have sample same with NOS Sylvania and RCA 6SN7 tubes. The basic lesson is there is a lot more to appreciate from digital if you are an organic analog aficionado than you probably think possible now. The soundstage, organic elasticity and range via NOS CCa, NOS 6922 tubes is more than palpable. Pushing on the 6sn7 conversions in my mind is more controversial but worth discussing.

All that said, after a 3 years project to perfect-bit rip 5500 CDs to inform a media server, plus incorporating Tidal HiFi/Masters in an analog-dominant domicile, I'll say that the most valuable addition I made was an Auralic G1 Ares streamer. There are two things this outstanding streamer does in addition to its basic attention to sonic excellence. First, it includes a 1gb SS RAM into which any input music is loaded, dejittered, and processed for output. It's a FIFO intermediary real-time system (you'll never recognize the delay). The dejitter and clocking effects relax all inputs without compromising resolution and details.Hate over-resolved, odd-distortion digital? The G1 won't be your reason.

MHDT DACs have tube buffers on the outputs. The tube you use has some sonic effects on the output voicing, vut fundamentally, MHDT DACs are not "tube DACs). Yet they sound more objective and organic at the same time as many more exalted DACs when tubed appropriately (i.e. not stock GE 5670) . I am looking at Lampizator.

Today, a Pagoda Balance costs almost $2600 US, which puts it in contention with Denafrips Venus II and some Holospring offerings. Is it worth it? I haven't done the side-by-side yet. But I'll say that one of the reasons we have discrete transistor Denafrips and Holospring out of Asia is because of how difficult and expensive it became to make the laser-trimmed-micro-resistors PCM1704 chip.

It's now much less expensive to make a discrete transistors ladder DAC in China than it is to make a laser-trimmed ladder dac chip routed into a production DAC, in the US or anywhere. else. To the point that the last and greatest BB PCM1704 has been irrevocably gone for a decade. I've heard many of these contending DACs but not enough to be conclusive. Early impressions are that in the $2000-$3000 BAL DAC category, MHDT Pagoda is still standing for any appropriate fight. The Yggdrasil isn't even a contender if you tube the Pagoda or Pagoda Balanced correctly. Even the supremely musical MHDT Atlantis 20bit DAC is a best friend when you need one. Just play with the buffer tube.

Phil
 

spiritofmusic

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Phil, Terry London who was a big advocate for MHDT dacs, giving the same sort of invaluable exposure to their various models that Sjraen on 6M gave Zu in the early days, seems to have moved on from them saying there are potentially better sounding Dacs like the Audio Mirror Tubadour.
And then there are other burgeoning tube-based brands like SW1X, and Abbas.
 
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Lampie519

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As a designer (and DIY'er) i need to make a choice which way to go. My guess is that ladder dac's or current source dac (similar but nor equal) are the least combersom and easier to achieve "audio nirvana" then any other aproach (that is why so many small companies and especially the chinese are so succsessfull).

If however you have a team of developers at your disposal (as the big guy's have) then, yes a delta sigma or DSD etc. aproach can also reach that same goal (tubes or non tubes as mostly a marketing decision).
 

Al M.

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As a designer (and DIY'er) i need to make a choice which way to go. My guess is that ladder dac's or current source dac (similar but nor equal) are the least combersom and easier to achieve "audio nirvana" then any other aproach (that is why so many small companies and especially the chinese are so succsessfull).

If however you have a team of developers at your disposal (as the big guy's have) then, yes a delta sigma or DSD etc. aproach can also reach that same goal (tubes or non tubes as mostly a marketing decision).

Actually, the designer of Schiit, Mike Moffat, would argue the other way around. Their $100 and other cheap DACs are delta sigma, because that is the only way to make them so cheap. They have on paper a nominally greater resolution than their multibit DACs (32 bit vs. 20 or 18 bit) and they measure better -- yet he will tell you that all this is meaningless in practice. When Moffat is really serious about sound though he uses a multibit ladder design.
 

Lagonda

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Actually, the designer of Schiit, Mike Moffat, would argue the other way around. Their $100 and other cheap DACs are delta sigma, because that is the only way to make them so cheap. They have on paper a nominally greater resolution than their multibit DACs (32 bit vs. 20 or 18 bit) and they measure better -- yet he will tell you that all this is meaningless in practice. When Moffat is really serious about sound though he uses a multibit ladder design.
Theta used a lot of BurrBrown PCM 1704 dacs in my old Casablanca processor, a good place to source one if you are desperate and need one for repair. :) The separate Casablanca dac cards come up for sale once in a while used.
 

Al M.

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Theta used a lot of BurrBrown PCM 1704 dacs in my old Casablanca processor, a good place to source one if you are desperate and need one for repair. :) The separate Casablanca dac cards come up for sale once in a while used.

Mike Moffat, who used to be the designer of Theta, and who is now at Schiit, would say that the expensive ladder DAC chip that he currently uses, AD5791BRUZ, is superior to the PCM1704. But it is a precision DAC chip that is normally used for military and medical devices, not audio. It is in fact not recommended by the manufacturer for audio at all, because of its pronounced zero crossing distortion. Moffat though found a technical way to not just lessen, but virtually eliminate that distortion in his DAC circuits (you can see this in a clean 1 kHz sine wave at -90 dB in the current Yggdrasil DAC).
 

Lampie519

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I would say that Shiit is no newcomer in the audio business and they do have the knowledge in house to create great things using delta sigma dac's.
 

Lagonda

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The Yggdrasil is one of the better dacs i have heard. A no brainer for a primarily analog user like me, i would never go all in, cost wise on digital, it represents very good value and excellent sound for the many, many CD's with good music that have never been issued on vinyl. I like it ! :)
 
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213Cobra

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Phil, Terry London who was a big advocate for MHDT dacs, giving the same sort of invaluable exposure to their various models that Sjraen on 6M gave Zu in the early days, seems to have moved on from them saying there are potentially better sounding Dacs like the Audio Mirror Tubadour.
And then there are other burgeoning tube-based brands like SW1X, and Abbas.
Maybe he's right. Who knows? There are few *practical* ways to get every boutique DAC contender in the same place at the same time to compare. There is an explosion of $1500 - $3000 DAC alternatives coming out of Asia. I haven't heard the Tubador; just know about it. At the heart of it, AD1865 vs BB PCM1704. Both have great reputations as late R2R chips, though 1704 is more widely revered. The MHDT Atlantis uses the AD1862 20 bits chip and over a decade ago I swapped out the PCM56 in the Havana Balanced for AD1856. Both were sonically successful. So then the question becomes what's around the chipsets?

But my question to Terry London is, what output tube(s) has he listened to in the MHDT? And which MHDT? For example, their DACs that use the Philips 1541 and 1545 chips have a strong following for their organic, vintage sound. They are musically sweet. But the PCM1704-based Pagoda is a different (and to me, better) decoder. Both organic and objective. It lays out a more spacious and dimensioned soundstage. And the Pagoda's improvement in resolution of fine detail and nuance even on 16/44 is in a different league from the 16bit and 18bit MHDTs. I moved on from the still-beautiful-sounding Havana Balanced....to Atlantis and Pagoda (SE and BAL). Then, the kicker is that after years of running the Bendix 2C51 in place of the stock, bland 5670, I made another leap -- having found socket adapters to use the 6922 family in the 5670 socket. I've done cap and chip changes in MHDT DACs. The tube change to 6922 family overwhelmed any prior gains. That was transformative to tone, dynamics, shove, punch and spatial projection. I use CCa tubes in my Pagoda Balanced on the Zu Definition 4 system, and Mullard CV2492 in the Pagoda in the Druid 6 system.

Next, an advice-seeker asked for an opinion on using 6sn7 types in MHDT DACs, via a socket adapter. He even sent a link for the adapter. Why not? I already had some fab NOS 6sn7 tubes in the tubes closet. That was good too in the same ways over the stock 5670 and improvements available in that compatibility family. But I reverted to premium 6922 family, namely the CCa. Overall, despite others telling me I'd get bigger sound and deeper bass from the octal socket dual triode, I did not agree. CCa, CV2492, various NOS e88cc outperformed a range of NOS 6sn7 types.

So, is Terry London advocating moving on from MHDT after hearing the Pagoda 24bits I/O DAC with converter sockets and CCa tubes in the output buffer? If no, he hasn't heard everything MHDT is capable of.

I had a Schitt Yggdrasil in for two months a few years ago. At the time is was almost 2X the price of the MHDT Pagoda BAL. The Ygg was good in the same ways that R2R DACs are generally more musically-convincing than delta-sigma DACs. It had one advantage over the Pagoda BAL, which was marginally-more-authoritative bass through Zu Definitions. The Ygg had one major disadvantage, which was that on music surging in complexity and crescendo, the Ygg smeared details on simultaneous events, with congestion building in the midrange. Pagoda kept its composure under same circumstances. The Ygg's surge congestion was particularly annoying and distracting on symphonic music. I suppose if I'd heard an Yggdrasil in 2008 it would have been a revelation compared to DACs available at the time. But it wasn't an item to be had then. Today, Pagoda and Pagoda BAL are still better if tubed well.

Now, also, today a Pagoda is a $1500 DAC, new. And Pagoda BAL is $2600 so I'm getting a new round of questions about challenges to the MHDT Pagoda BAL, primarily centered around Denafrips, HOLO and Audio-gd. The Denafrips Venus II and Terminator are interesting in part for ability to decode DSD in R2R. And even a Venus II is materially magnificent next to the physically-modest MHDT. Reviews are strong. But I haven't found any that include comparative comments on the Pagoda BAL. Eventually I will compare some of these myself. Just not today.

In hifi, there is often an urge to move on from something just for moving on. I drag my feet a little...

Phil
 
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Al M.

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I had a Schitt Yggdrasil in for two months a few years ago. At the time is was almost 2X the price of the MHDT Pagoda BAL. The Ygg was good in the same ways that R2R DACs are generally more musically-convincing than delta-sigma DACs. It had one advantage over the Pagoda BAL, which was marginally-more-authoritative bass through Zu Definitions. The Ygg had one major disadvantage, which was that on music surging in complexity and crescendo, the Ygg smeared details on simultaneous events, with congestion building in the midrange. Pagoda kept its composure under same circumstances. The Ygg's surge congestion was particularly annoying and distracting on symphonic music. I suppose if I'd heard an Yggdrasil in 2008 it would have been a revelation compared to DACs available at the time. But it wasn't an item to be had then. Today, Pagoda and Pagoda BAL are still better if tubed well.

Interesting. Clarity of musical lines, without any congestion and smearing, through symphonic surges and crescendos was particularly striking when I first heard the Yggy on a friend's high-resolution system. Now that I have a high-resolution system myself, I enjoy that very much too. In fact, this is a strong point of the Yggy not just in my experience, but also in that of Robert Harley, who reviewed the DAC in 2017:


"One of the qualities that makes the Yggy special is its ability to reveal, with startling clarity, individual musical lines within complex arrangements. Every instrument, voice, and sound is spatially and timbrally distinct. This had the effect of revealing each musical line with great precision, and with that precision comes a fuller, richer, and more complex presentation of the composition and arrangement, as well as the intent of each musician. The Yggy is the antithesis of congealed, homogenized, flat, confused, or thick.

[...]

"Frankly, I was shocked to hear musical relationships between instruments or sections as though for the first time in recordings I’ve been listening to for years through some of the world’s best DACs and disc players. This information was no longer buried, uncovered only through focused concentration, but rather brought to the fore with a life and vibrancy that were startling. These qualities were musically rewarding whether the music was densely layered or spare."


He writes in his conclusion:
"I don’t know how Schiit Audio has done it, but the $2300 Yggy is in many ways competitive with any DAC I’ve heard regardless of price. In some criteria—transient speed without etch, clarity of musical line, whole-body involvement—the Yggy is as good as digital gets."


It will all depend on system context. In my friend's system we compared complex symphonic music from a CD transport with the file of the same music (both via AES/EBU input). The file sounded congealed. In the meantime file replay in my friend's system has caught up with, or even surpassed, replay from CD transport (in my own system, the CD transport now runs through an Empirical Audio re-clocker, which brings jitter down to computer audio levels, but without the noise problems that often plague the latter).

I don't use the USB input, but while the USB input of the current Yggy appears to be top notch, the USB Gen 3 input from a few years ago now has the reputation of having been a weak point.
 
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213Cobra

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Interesting. Clarity of musical lines, without any congestion, through symphonic surges and crescendos was particularly striking when I first heard the Yggy on a friend's high-resolution system. Now that I have a high-resolution myself, I enjoy that very much too. In fact, this is a strong point of the Yggy not just in my experience, but also in that of Robert Harley, who reviewed the DAC in 2017:


He writes in his conclusion (emphasis added)::
"I don’t know how Schiit Audio has done it, but the $2300 Yggy is in many ways competitive with any DAC I’ve heard regardless of price. In some criteria—transient speed without etch, clarity of musical line, whole-body involvement—the Yggy is as good as digital gets."

It will all depend on system context. In my friend's system we compared symphonic music from a CD transport with the file of the same music (both via AES/EBU input). The file sounded congealed. In the meantime file replay in my friend's system has caught up with, or even surpassed, replay from CD transport (in my own system, the CD transport now runs through an Empirical Audio re-clocker, which brings jitter down to computer audio levels).

I don't use the USB input, but while the USB input of the current Yggy appears to be top notch, the USB Gen 3 input from a few years ago now has the reputation of having been a weak point.
If one listens to the Yggy in isolation and out of context of hearing anything better, it sounds very credible and is on its own musically-convincing. It was in extended, side-by-side comparison with the Pagoda Balanced using 2C51 and later CCa tubes that the relative congestion and smearing of the Yggy in dynamic and complexity surges became obvious. In fact it was easily the most glaring difference between the two DACs, and the kind of difference that once you hear it, you cannot unhear it. Now, every time I hear a system with an Yggy I hear the flaw before I see the DAC or know that's what's in the system. It's an Yggy signature to me. Very well-built DAC, by the way. Far more physically impressive than the MHDT. The two DACs were more similar, or the Pagoda's advantage was much narrower with its stock, and bland, GE 5670 tube,. The Yggy began with more advantages if compared only to the Pagoda Balanced running that stock tube.

I never pay attention to Robert Harley, however. I still have no idea why he has any credibility for evaluating the musical authenticity of hifi sound. But that's me. In any case, I suspect Robert Harley has never bothered to hear something as alt as an mhdt DAC, let alone one that's been tube-rolled. Has he gotten around to Denafrips yet?

I had the Yggy in-house long enough to listen through all the inputs, with a mix of CD drives as well as downloaded and ripped content. Reclocker and no reclocker. While there were some input-to-input SQ differences on both DACs, the relative presence of the Pagoda's ability to better keep its composure under dynamic stress remained the same. As did the Yggy's relatively more authoritative bass. I found all of this consistently audible through Zu Definition 4 and Zu Druid 6 speakers, and through Stax electrostatic headphones driven by a Stax tube headphone amp/energizer. On simpler music, the Yggy sounded sublime.

Phil
 

Al M.

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If one listens to the Yggy in isolation and out of context of hearing anything better, it sounds very credible and is on its own musically-convincing. It was in extended, side-by-side comparison with the Pagoda Balanced using 2C51 and later CCa tubes that the relative congestion and smearing of the Yggy in dynamic and complexity surges became obvious. In fact it was easily the most glaring difference between the two DACs, and the kind of difference that once you hear it, you cannot unhear it. Now, every time I hear a system with an Yggy I hear the flaw before I see the DAC or know that's what's in the system. It's an Yggy signature to me. Very well-built DAC, by the way. Far more physically impressive than the MHDT. The two DACs were more similar, or the Pagoda's advantage was much narrower with its stock, and bland, GE 5670 tube,. The Yggy began with more advantages if compared only to the Pagoda Balanced running that stock tube.

I never pay attention to Robert Harley, however. I still have no idea why he has any credibility for evaluating the musical authenticity of hifi sound. But that's me. In any case, I suspect Robert Harley has never bothered to hear something as alt as an mhdt DAC, let alone one that's been tube-rolled. Has he gotten around to Denafrips yet?

I had the Yggy in-house long enough to listen through all the inputs, with a mix of CD drives as well as downloaded and ripped content. Reclocker and no reclocker. While there were some input-to-input SQ differences on both DACs, the relative presence of the Pagoda's ability to better keep its composure under dynamic stress remained the same. As did the Yggy's relatively more authoritative bass. I found all of this consistently audible through Zu Definition 4 and Zu Druid 6 speakers, and through Stax electrostatic headphones driven by a Stax tube headphone amp/energizer. On simpler music, the Yggy sounded sublime.

Phil

Phil, obviously I and others have different experiences than you have with the Yggy, and we can simply leave it at that.

As for the Denafrips Terminator, in my system it exhibited an artificial, synthetic sound. I sent it back.
 
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213Cobra

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Well, sure. I am not questioning your view of the Yggy in isolation. My only point is that context is influential. Knowing how you hear the Yggy I am confident that if you heard it in direct comparison to the Pagoda Balanced or Pagoda tubed as I described, you'd notice the same differences. The Yggy sounds more together in dynamic stress than some other DACs it competes with. It's not the best nor by any means the worst in this respect. Whether you'd weight or value those differences the same as me, is another matter entirely.

Good to know about the Terminator. I have not heard it yet. Discrete resistors ladders aren't assured to beat a ladder chip.

Phil
 
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Al M.

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Well, sure. I am not questioning your view of the Yggy in isolation. My only point is that context is influential. Knowing how you hear the Yggy I am confident that if you heard it in direct comparison to the Pagoda Balanced or Pagoda tubed as I described, you'd notice the same differences. The Yggy sounds more together in dynamic stress than some other DACs it competes with. It's not the best nor by any means the worst in this respect. Whether you'd weight or value those differences the same as me, is another matter entirely.

We both do not know how the exact circumstances and contexts compare under which each of us has heard the Yggy, and they will undoubtedly differ.

Good to know about the Terminator. I have not heard it yet. Discrete resistors ladders aren't assured to beat a ladder chip.

Phil

I would be interested in your opinion once you have had the opportunity to hear it. Frankly, after all the positive reviews I was disappointed. Its initially perceived transparency seemed alluring, but then I discovered that the enhanced transparency was fake, an artificial phenomenon caused by, as I assume, subtle emphases on certain frequency bands. Such emphases are probably in part responsible as well for the less than natural tone -- very obvious on solo violin, for example.
 

morricab

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For this matter of R2R vs. Delta Sigma or "math" DACs, there is more a dial than a switch. My experiences-informed preference lands on the R2R side of the fence. But The AKM chips, like the 4497, are admittedly unusually-organic-sounding delta-sigma chips. For example, the excellent m2tech Young Mk4 DAC using this AKM sounds unusually natural, and more so than their earlier, PCM1795-based Young MkII, which wasn't a slouch DAC in the grand scheme of things.

It's not so much that you want a "tube dac" as you might want a DAC with tubes in it in some useful way. Right now, I use an MHDT Pagoda Balanced R2R DAC built around the BB PCM1704. The 1704 chip is no longer produced and one of the reasons we are seeing discrete transistor ladder DACs from makers like Denafrips is that that his BB chip became too expensive to produce. It's more economical now to put hundreds or thousands of discrete matched transistors on a motherboard than to laser-trim microscopic resistors in a chip architecture.

Hence we have Denafrips, Holospring, etc. out of China. Not that that's a bad thing. It isn't. It's different.

What we care about is what sounds better. MHDT out of Taiwan builds to a consistent physical quality. They built their DACs around NOS vintage R2R chips. Some of the lower models drive I/V output stage from the chip itself. Others have separate, post-DAC-chip, discrete transistor I/V conversion, and some have op-amp post-DAC I/V conversion. Regardless, they all retain an organic, family sound.

The MHDT DACs respond nicely to tube-rolling. The stock GE 5670 triode is bland but not off-putting. Ranging through the family you might get snagged by the organic and dynamic boldness of a Bendix 2c51, for example. You have lots of direct replacement options. BUT, if you look beyond, via the world of socket adaptors, you can run MHDT DACs on 6922 family and 6sn7 tubes. This opens up significant further possibilities. For example, I run my Pagoda and Pagoda Balance DACs with NOS German CCa tubes, via adaptors, and have sample same with NOS Sylvania and RCA 6SN7 tubes. The basic lesson is there is a lot more to appreciate from digital if you are an organic analog aficionado than you probably think possible now. The soundstage, organic elasticity and range via NOS CCa, NOS 6922 tubes is more than palpable. Pushing on the 6sn7 conversions in my mind is more controversial but worth discussing.

All that said, after a 3 years project to perfect-bit rip 5500 CDs to inform a media server, plus incorporating Tidal HiFi/Masters in an analog-dominant domicile, I'll say that the most valuable addition I made was an Auralic G1 Ares streamer. There are two things this outstanding streamer does in addition to its basic attention to sonic excellence. First, it includes a 1gb SS RAM into which any input music is loaded, dejittered, and processed for output. It's a FIFO intermediary real-time system (you'll never recognize the delay). The dejitter and clocking effects relax all inputs without compromising resolution and details.Hate over-resolved, odd-distortion digital? The G1 won't be your reason.

MHDT DACs have tube buffers on the outputs. The tube you use has some sonic effects on the output voicing, vut fundamentally, MHDT DACs are not "tube DACs). Yet they sound more objective and organic at the same time as many more exalted DACs when tubed appropriately (i.e. not stock GE 5670) . I am looking at Lampizator.

Today, a Pagoda Balance costs almost $2600 US, which puts it in contention with Denafrips Venus II and some Holospring offerings. Is it worth it? I haven't done the side-by-side yet. But I'll say that one of the reasons we have discrete transistor Denafrips and Holospring out of Asia is because of how difficult and expensive it became to make the laser-trimmed-micro-resistors PCM1704 chip.

It's now much less expensive to make a discrete transistors ladder DAC in China than it is to make a laser-trimmed ladder dac chip routed into a production DAC, in the US or anywhere. else. To the point that the last and greatest BB PCM1704 has been irrevocably gone for a decade. I've heard many of these contending DACs but not enough to be conclusive. Early impressions are that in the $2000-$3000 BAL DAC category, MHDT Pagoda is still standing for any appropriate fight. The Yggdrasil isn't even a contender if you tube the Pagoda or Pagoda Balanced correctly. Even the supremely musical MHDT Atlantis 20bit DAC is a best friend when you need one. Just play with the buffer tube.

Phil
this is why Aries Cerat uses the Analog Devices AD1865 (8x chips per channel) with tube output (transformer I/V conversion).j...no transistors. It is also why I hang on to my Monarchy Audio M24 DAC, which uses the BB PCM63P, which is an arguably better sounding chip than the PCM1704K. It too has tube output but with resistor I/V conversion (again no transistors). Oh an I have two SS dacs that use the famous UltraAnalog 20 bit DAC modules...those really make music. Now I have coming an Ayon Skylla 2, which uses the PCM1704K (2 chips per channel) with a full blown tube analog preamp output stage (4 x 6z4 recitfiers and 2 x 6N30s per channel output). Maybe some of the newer delta/sigma chips are getting closer to the naturalness I hear in R2R dacs vs. d/s dacs but I still prefer the what i hear from the R2Rs.
 

Lampie519

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Discrete resistors ladders aren't assured to beat a ladder chip.
I totally agree here, this as we not only need to use resistors that have no TC but also extreem low tolerances plus the PCB layout will be a challenge.

It can be done and maybe has been done but will be more costly and not necessarily better.

Does a discrete digital clock using tubes work more accurate then a digital watch?

I found this on the web:

Digitale Nixieröhrenuhr von Friedhelm Bruegmann (jogis-roehrenbude.de)
 

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