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low budget tube DAC's or tube buffer?


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I'm currently using a Pacific Valve Fathom NOS DAC using eight Philips TDA-1543 chips. It works well for me, but I'm looking to add tubes to the system, so I want to try adding a tube buffer and/or tube DAC. I ended up ordering a Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1+ and some OPA627 op-amps for it. I also want to try a JJ 6386LGP tube in it. It has a line-in function, so I want to run the Pacific Valve Fathom into it. Then I will run the tube output to my preamp. I'm wondering though if I will prefer the built in Crystal 4398 DAC in the TubeMagic D1+. Also just curious what others are using for a tube DAC and what products are available now. 

Edited by olds1959special
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@ctsooner, turned me onto the Brinkmann Nyquist II, though it isn't 'low budget', it really makes digital sound close to vinyl. Mind you, I don't like spending this much on equipment, but since I am totally digital, I wanted the best so I can stop the 'upgraditis' path.

Bob

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Posted (edited)

Wow Bob. What kind of tubes does it use?  

I got the DAC today. After prying open the case, I noticed there was a third op amp in a socket, which I replaced with another dual OPA627. I thought there was only supposed to be 2 op amps in this unit. I also put the 6386 tube in but had to remove the tube retainer wire. Then I switched the jumpers disabling the volume control to the line output. I had to use a hammer to get the case back on and cut my finger on the sharp edge of the metal casing because it was so hard to handle! But now it’s working fine and the sound is good. I prefer the built in DAC and the sound is kind of nicely spread and warm, and has some tube sparkle which I like.

Edited by olds1959special
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@GdnrBob  Were you able to get a home demo with that Nyquist DAC? I don't have any dealers near me that have the Nyquist to audition. I called the US sales rep (Anthony Chiartella) but he wants to charge me for 2 way shipping ($300- $400) to the nearest dealer miles away.  I did listen to an MSB Discrete last week and will be doing a home demo in April once I get back from visiting my daughters NY. 

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Posted (edited)

I pried open the Maverick audio Tubemagic D1+ again so I could do some tube rolling. I took out the JJ 6386 LGP I had put in and replaced it with a JAN GE 5670WA, which is the generally recommended upgrade tube for this unit. I found the bass to be a bit lacking in depth and it seemed a bit fuzzy, and I wan't sure if I preferred it to the 6386, which seemed deeper and fuller. Then I tried a Heinz and Kaufman 5670 (which I think is made by GE?) - it has a square getter. This tube brought everything to life. The bass is not lacking any more, and the sound is very punchy and full. I still have some other tubes to try, one is an an RCA and Raytheon, but for now I have no desire to tube roll. This is sounding great.

(I took out the tube retainer wire, I can't imagine that makes a difference, it's probably there to keep the tube in place during transit?)

This is how I'm using everything: I'm using the TubeMagic as a tube buffer only. It's being fed by the Bifrost 2 / 64, running in NOS mode by a pair of Mogami IC's, soon to be replaced by solid silver IC's. I use solid silver IC's for everything else in the system. The output of the TubeMagic goes to the remote-controlled Schiit Saga S pre-amp with the pre-amp circuitry turned on (active mode) which feeds the two Halfer DH120 amps in mono mode. My Vandersteen 2Ci's have a .75db increase on the tweeter level using the contour controls on the back.

 

I have included some pictures to share. Note the three op-amps in the TubeMagic D1+ which I replaced with dual OPA627's. 

IMG_4273.jpg

IMG_4272.jpg

Edited by olds1959special
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Guys, the MSB DAC is outstanding.  When going to Johnny's, please give a listen to the new Grimm unit if they have it.  I can't wait to get an audition with it myself.  for the price, it may be the best DAC/Streamer/Server on the market.  Too many folks I know have sworn that it's one of those special products and I love the background of the designers.  Go look into the designers etc..  

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Posted (edited)

It was really interesting to try the TubeMagic D1+ tube buffer in my system, but in the end, I didn't feel it offered me a sonic benefit. I went back to my MHDT tube DAC which has a tube buffer built in. I am still curious to try the other tube buffer options, though, when given the opportunity.

I also tried the TubeMagic D1+  in my second (desktop) system and overall didn't really like it there either. Even with the upgrades I did, there was some fidelity missing from the sound, and I didn't like the built-in DAC in the unit at all.

Edited by olds1959special
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Back in town from visiting my daughters and I am already doing a home audition of the MSB Discrete w/ dual PS. I have to say that it is the most analog sounding DAC I have heard. However, I have never heard a tube DAC so my experience is limited.

This is the first time I can listen to many recordings that sounded strident with my Altair G1 (used as a DAC only being fed with my Aurender N20) without clenching my jaw.  The music is really getting close to that analog sound. Not that I want them to sound identical as they most likely never will. But the Aurender > MSB combo is VERY involving & enjoyable; in addition to great soundstage, imaging, timbre of instruments,,,,,,  And this is their entry level DAC. 

Whatever DAC I end up with (demoed DCS Lina and Ayre QX5-20 so far), I have fully embraced digital music. Not that I'm selling off my TT and records as I still find analog more involving. However, I now have a world of music available to me where I'm not feeling fatigued after hours of listening. And that says it all.

What a journey this past 50 + yrs. has been

Bruce

 

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I hate to say it, but DAC's in that price range seem to be the last step to getting something sounding like vinyl.

7 hours ago, Bruskie said:

Not that I want them to sound identical as they most likely never will.

B

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