DAC-11, It's Here!

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  • 12-25-2011, 07:29 PM
    blackraven
    DAC-11, It's Here!
    Well, Santa was good to me this year. He brought me a Grant Fidelity DAC-11 DAC/Preamp. (and almost a new AVA 400R amp, but Santa has 2x tuition payments and thought better of it).

    After 6 hours of burn in, I am pleasantly surprised (I have read that it needs about 100hrs of burn in). I have it hooked up to my panasonic RP56 DVD player as a transport, JVC VBK 8000 AVR and my MMG speakers. The sound from the DAC out is good but the unit shines from the Tube outputs. Unfortunately it does not bypass the volume control on the tube outputs like the Maverick TubeMagic D1 which this clearly out performs. So you have to adjust the Volume control and leave it. I have mine set at about 2/3 which is about where I estimate the output corresponds to the AVR. If you are using it both as a preamp and DAC, then this is not an issue.

    The sound is smooth, clear, with nice tight, well controlled bass, and clean treble. There really is no digital edginess. Resolution is good but limited by the JVC AVR. The sound leans to the warmer side slightly.

    Tomorrow I will swap out the JVC for the Class D Audio CDA-254 amp that I recently bought and will report on it as preamp-dac combo. After New Years day I will give it a try in my reference system and give another report.

    As far as build quality goes, it is very solid and well built, especially for its price point. It is definetly a step up from the Maverick TubeMagic D1 which is a very good DAC in its own right.

    The DAC-11 clearly out performs it price point and is well worth the money for anyone wanting a budget system that over achieves.
  • 12-26-2011, 04:05 AM
    Poultrygeist
    Thanks for the update. Since Grant Fidelity rebrands existing Chinese models is there an ebay version of this DAC?
  • 12-26-2011, 09:18 AM
    blackraven
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    Thanks for the update. Since Grant Fidelity rebrands existing Chinese models is there an ebay version of this DAC?

    I haven't seen or heard of any. Ian Grant from GF says that this was designed from the ground up for his company for what that is worth.
  • 12-26-2011, 12:40 PM
    blackraven
    I just hooked up the DAC-11 to my Class D Audio digital amp and I am stunned at the sound. It is absolutely fabulous. The amp made the sound more neutral but the bass is powerful, deep, articulate and well controlled. The combo has tremendous air and transparency without losing any depth to the music. Treble is crisp, clear and well defined. The midrange is liquid without any sharpness. To tell you the truth, I was not expecting it to sound this good. The sound is very natural and detailed. Now I have not tried out the straight analog input bypassing the DAC nor have I tried the USB input, but based on the DAC and Preamp section through the tube outputs I would easily pay $700-800 for the DAC-11. One of the great things about this unit is that you can tube roll different varieties of tubes. I am going to replace the stock 6N11 tube for a Telefunken ECC88 and maybe an Amprex Bugle Boy or Mullard. Other tubes that you can use are 6922,6H23N and CCa's. I like my sound to lean slightly to the warmer side.
  • 12-27-2011, 03:04 PM
    Ajani
    Congrats on the new toy and thanks for the feedback...

    I really hope to hear your impressions of how the DAC11 / CDA combo compares with your reference system...
  • 12-27-2011, 03:13 PM
    mlenda
    Do you have your Class-D amp going to a sub to complement those MMGs?

    -m
  • 12-27-2011, 04:49 PM
    Enochrome
    Congrats on the new Dac!!!

    Glad to see it is making you happy! What is the difference from the DAC-09?
    Keep us posted for a future "after break in" review.

    Want to hear what the USB input is like.
  • 12-27-2011, 10:58 PM
    blackraven
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mlenda View Post
    Do you have your Class-D amp going to a sub to complement those MMGs?

    -m

    No I dont. I have my MMG's pushed out to the corners of the room with sound absorbing material directly behind the MMG's. The bass is pretty darn deep with this placement with no boominess and the Class D amp puts out a lot of tight, deep bass.
  • 12-27-2011, 11:05 PM
    blackraven
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Enochrome View Post
    Congrats on the new Dac!!!

    Glad to see it is making you happy! What is the difference from the DAC-09?
    Keep us posted for a future "after break in" review.

    Want to hear what the USB input is like.

    I dont have the DAC-09 but I do have the Maverick Tube Magic D-1 which is a clone of the DAC-09. The D1 has a slightly warmer less detailed sound (this is with diy opamp upgrade and tube upgrade which every one does that greatly improves the stock sound). Bass seems better controlled and treble is smoother with the DAC-11. The build quality for the DAC-11 is a step above with a higher end volume pot.

    I cant wait to roll an ECC88 tube in the DAC-11. I think it will warm things up a bit and probably add more transparency.
  • 12-28-2011, 06:16 AM
    Poultrygeist
    BR, you would be shocked at the musical bass a pair of OB Alpha's would add to your MMG's.
  • 12-28-2011, 08:14 AM
    Feanor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    BR, you would be shocked at the musical bass a pair of OB Alpha's would add to your MMG's.

    Actually that sounds quite appealing. Best to high-pass the MMG's at 80 Hz..
  • 12-28-2011, 09:56 AM
    blackraven
    I have never heard of the OB Alpha's. Do you have a link to them, I cant seem to find them.

    Thanks!
  • 12-28-2011, 10:18 AM
    mlenda
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    No I dont. I have my MMG's pushed out to the corners of the room with sound absorbing material directly behind the MMG's. The bass is pretty darn deep with this placement with no boominess and the Class D amp puts out a lot of tight, deep bass.

    Interesting. I was at a HiFi store in Denver yesterday where a salesman demoed some B&W 685s ($650/pr + $100/pr stands) for me going through a $600 NAD integrated amp. Luscious sound and good bass without any subwoofer. I was very impressed. Probably had to do with the quality of the room I was in. I looked up their specs and their frequency range is nearly identical to that of the Maggies, and the Maggies have many more rave reviews.

    Anywho, that's for another sub-forum... :smilewinkgrin:

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    I just hooked up the DAC-11 to my Class D Audio digital amp and I am stunned at the sound. It is absolutely fabulous. The amp made the sound more neutral but the bass is powerful, deep, articulate and well controlled. The combo has tremendous air and transparency without losing any depth to the music. Treble is crisp, clear and well defined. The midrange is liquid without any sharpness. To tell you the truth, I was not expecting it to sound this good. The sound is very natural and detailed. Now I have not tried out the straight analog input bypassing the DAC nor have I tried the USB input, but based on the DAC and Preamp section through the tube outputs I would easily pay $700-800 for the DAC-11. One of the great things about this unit is that you can tube roll different varieties of tubes. I am going to replace the stock 6N11 tube for a Telefunken ECC88 and maybe an Amprex Bugle Boy or Mullard. Other tubes that you can use are 6922,6H23N and CCa's. I like my sound to lean slightly to the warmer side.

    Out of curiosity, what is your audio source? If you're not using USB or the analogs, you must be using the Optical or S/PDIF... right? :confused5:

    -m
  • 12-28-2011, 03:16 PM
    Poultrygeist
    I would bi-amp these and the MMG's.

    http://forums.audioreview.com/speake...ild-37376.html

    Alpha 15A's are $65 at Parts Express and the 80hz low pass XO is $17.
  • 12-28-2011, 10:14 PM
    blackraven
    I am using an old Panasonic RP56 DVD player as a transport. Digital optical out to the DAC-11.

    The B&W's are a totally different animal than the MMG's. I actually like the sound of the 685's but I prefer the planar sound. The MMG's really come alive with good gear and proper placement. And pushed out to the corners of a room bass goes much deeper than their rated 50hz.