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I'm dreaming of a monitoring DAC that… Digital Converters
Old 12th November 2018
  #1
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I'm dreaming of a monitoring DAC that…

…has the I/O capabilities of a Hilo to interface with my DAW and transfer ADDA, with a reference grade DAC for monitoring but without the extra DAC and ADC. Make sense?

Does anything like this exist? I've looked at the offerings from Dangerous, Benchmark, RME, etc and they either don't have the connectivity to host the analogue loop converters, or the DAC isn't 'mastering grade', or the features are overkill for my needs (e.g. Hilo).

I currently use a Hilo but have purchased a Forssell MADA-2 for my analogue loop. I will continue to use the Hilo for monitoring in the short term but this seems like overkill so I'm wondering if there's something with the features described above.

Failing that, any recommendations for a good value single DAC around the $1000-1500 US (or less) to use with a Lynx AES card? I'm happy to consider used and older models from Mytek, Benchmark or Lavry or even some esoteric hifi model but I'd like it to at least match the Hilo in sound quality.

Any experiences or suggestions?

Thanks.
Old 12th November 2018
  #2
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I love my Lavry Black DACs, have one for the chain and one for the monitors. They sound great and have been rock solid for a decade now. Around a grand if I remember right.

I've not heard a Hilo, but I a/b'd the Lavry's with the converters in the Lynx Two and the Lavry's were clearly better. They easily beat a Benchmark DAC 1 as well, that guy now serves as a (very overqualified) D/A for my humble office stereo.

If I won the lottery I'd get the Golds, but until then I'm perfectly happy with the Blacks.
Old 12th November 2018
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
I love my Lavry Black DACs
Thanks Scott. The DA10/11 are contenders for sure. The reviews I'm reading tend to indicate they're more accurate than the DAC1 and the Mytek Stereo 96, which matches your comment.

Have you compared them to the Blue? I'm familiar with those. I also have a LynxTWO here which I actually used for monitoring once upon a time, so that's a familiar reference point too (not in the same league as the Hilo).

Appreciate your perspective. Fingers crossed for your Golds...
Old 12th November 2018
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
…has the I/O capabilities of a Hilo to interface with my DAW and transfer ADDA, with a reference grade DAC for monitoring but without the extra DAC and ADC. Make sense?

Does anything like this exist? I've looked at the offerings from Dangerous, Benchmark, RME, etc and they either don't have the connectivity to host the analogue loop converters, or the DAC isn't 'mastering grade', or the features are overkill for my needs (e.g. Hilo).

I currently use a Hilo but have purchased a Forssell MADA-2 for my analogue loop. I will continue to use the Hilo for monitoring in the short term but this seems like overkill so I'm wondering if there's something with the features described above.

Failing that, any recommendations for a good value single DAC around the $1000-1500 US (or less) to use with a Lynx AES card? I'm happy to consider used and older models from Mytek, Benchmark or Lavry or even some esoteric hifi model but I'd like it to at least match the Hilo in sound quality.

Any experiences or suggestions?

Thanks.
To point 1. You would be looking for something with just mastering grade DAC, and digital IO to connect external AD/DA. Hmmm, not sure what exists like that. Most interfaces will have mic inputs or line inputs (aka AD), and most will have at least one pair of outputs (aka DAC). But to have something that also has the routing and touchscreen of Hilo, I don’t think that exists. The closest would be if Apogee made a Symphony card that only had their mastering grade DAC and stereo digital IO. Not sure they would ever make that though.

Congrats on the Forsell. Not sure why you would need another DAC. People have had positive remarks about the Tascam DA3000 as a good bargain DAC for monitoring. But if you have to have another DAC, look into the Cranesong Solaris. At $1800, you probably can’t find a better bargain. Adding that to Hilo and Forsell, if you can’t make great music, it wouldn’t be the converters. Hell with Hilo and Forsell, you should be able to get to anything as well.
Old 12th November 2018
  #5
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I use a Lynx E44 card for this... works great. 4 channels of digital 4 channels of analog (I only use the digital in / outs).

I use a HEDD 192 for my round trip converter for my analog chain.
Old 12th November 2018
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
Have you compared them to the Blue?
No. I have Blue A/D's but haven't heard the D/A. I imagine they've gotta be pretty similar to the Black though.
Old 13th November 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
To point 1. You would be looking for something with just mastering grade DAC, and digital IO to connect external AD/DA. Hmmm, not sure what exists like that. Most interfaces will have mic inputs or line inputs (aka AD), and most will have at least one pair of outputs (aka DAC). But to have something that also has the routing and touchscreen of Hilo, I don’t think that exists. The closest would be if Apogee made a Symphony card that only had their mastering grade DAC and stereo digital IO. Not sure they would ever make that though.
Thanks for the info. I'm not fussed about the touchscreen. Antelope Zodiac+ seems to fit the bill in terms of features and price (used) but I'm not sure how it sounds.

Quote:
Congrats on the Forsell. Not sure why you would need another DAC. People have had positive remarks about the Tascam DA3000 as a good bargain DAC for monitoring. But if you have to have another DAC, look into the Cranesong Solaris. At $1800, you probably can’t find a better bargain. Adding that to Hilo and Forsell, if you can’t make great music, it wouldn’t be the converters. Hell with Hilo and Forsell, you should be able to get to anything as well.
Thanks again. I'm not a 'multiple converters to choose from' kinda guy so I'm looking to replace the Hilo because with the Forssell I'll just be using it for monitoring. If the various reviews of the Solaris are to be believed then it seems like it's the best value monitoring dac around, if not one of the best dacs period. If my run of luck for finding crazy deals continues then it's a possibility for sure.

For now I'll stick with the Hilo as I familiarise with the Forssell. Appreciate your thoughts.
Old 13th November 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
I use a Lynx E44 card for this... works great. 4 channels of digital 4 channels of analog (I only use the digital in / outs).

I use a HEDD 192 for my round trip converter for my analog chain.
Hey Larry, what are you using for monitoring? Can you say how the E44 analogue outs sound?
Old 13th November 2018
  #9
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The blue D/A has the (echt-)CrystalLock clock. It's (I believe) a 10-sec averaging 'economy' version of the 15-sec. averaging 'price-no-object' pullable crystal that's in the gold D/A.

The DA10 (first black Lavry, w/o PiC) sounds very good, but it has a different scheme called, simply, 'Crystal'. It's supposed to be very similar to 'CrystalLock', but to my ears was not quite as pure. Maybe it was some other quality I was hearing, but I blamed the modified CrystalLock that ends up being only 'Crystal'.

The blue sounds extremely good. The DA10 I have sounds (only) very good. (; It does sound better than my old Benchmark, but that sounded way better than anything else I had...

Unfortunately, the DA10 has a very little metal rod (not even a paddle) for up/down gain control (with digital readout). It works for my application which entails leaving it at a specific setting all of the time, but I'd get an outboard attenuator for regular studio use.

So, here's a short list of DACs for you to evaluate:

Weiss DAC1 MK3 (I only have a '2', but it's still the best DAC I have - better than the Lavry blue - It sounds like 30 ips 1/2" tape, but post-Plangent and, of course, without the hiss.) No gain knob - just trimmers.

Lavry gold D/A (expensive, too, but notoriously 'killer') No gain knob...

Lavry blue M-DA-824 (exceptionally pure sound that's relatively affordable and in a modular design, so expandable, but you will need to buy at least a $600+ attenuator from Shallco to make it rock, since it has no gain controls)

Mytek Digital (I once had Michal's prototype for another company (Red Rose?). It was great at the time. I still have his silver-faced 8X96 ADC which continues to sound superb for tracking, but I haven't tried his 'Mytek' DACs.) They're reasonably priced and probably excellent, too! Got knob?
Old 13th November 2018
  #10
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I’m using Chris Muth’s latest DA which is in my Dangerous mastering console for monitoring. This is the 3rd set of converters he has installed for me. He even gave me a spare DA card in case one ever went down. Funny as the first set in that rig was Troisi converters. My Dangerous console even have DA converters by Troisi silk screened on the front.

I mainly use the E44 in digital mode. That said I do have two channels of analog hooked up to my mastering console. When I switch that in I feel a hair less low end. I say feel as that is what I experience. Friends, clients, my wife, etc... hear no difference. Your ears are trained so you would probably hear or feel a slight difference I think.

To quote Rupert Neve (who was quoting an archbishop) “ what is truth”? To me all conversion and every capture method from tape to 0’s and 1’s alters the sound. I can only listen to the source and hope to retain (or enhance) all that it is giving me. I think that above a certain build quality level we get close to the source but each still device/system has its own sound. We go with what feels right to us individually... which is acceptable in my book.
Old 13th November 2018
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmoothTone View Post
Thanks for the info. I'm not fussed about the touchscreen. Antelope Zodiac+ seems to fit the bill in terms of features and price (used) but I'm not sure how it sounds.



Thanks again. I'm not a 'multiple converters to choose from' kinda guy so I'm looking to replace the Hilo because with the Forssell I'll just be using it for monitoring. If the various reviews of the Solaris are to be believed then it seems like it's the best value monitoring dac around, if not one of the best dacs period. If my run of luck for finding crazy deals continues then it's a possibility for sure.

For now I'll stick with the Hilo as I familiarise with the Forssell. Appreciate your thoughts.
Great plan! I have Hilo and just picked up a Dangerous AD+. Pitching with Hilo DAC, catching with Dangeous AD+, and for now I’m monitoring with a Prism Lyra2 through Hilo digital output. For now I’m really loving this and things are translating really well for me. I do want to demo Solaris for monitoring. I know it’s gonna blow me away. Hopefully by end of year, but they are running out of stock quickly at most places. But either way I’ll keep my Hilo. It’s just a great piece of kit and provides tons of flexibility for routing different converters. And if I ever had to sell everything else, it would probably be the one piece of gear I would keep because of the converters and it’s utilitarian functions.
Old 13th November 2018
  #12
I'm using a modified Topping DX7S here for the monitoring DAC. It's an ESS 9038 32 bit based DAC with BurrBrown OPA1612 opamps, their best. It has several filters, AES, S/PDIF, optical and USB digital inputs. It has headphone, RCA and XLR balanced outs. It's pretty darn good for $499. I did replace the BurrBrown chips with Analog Devices, sounds perfect now. It beats the DSD1704 Mytek/Levenson DAC and the PCM1792 easily. Yes, you hear new stuff on old, familiar recordings, it's audio archeology.

No MQA rendering but most won't miss that feature.
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