2nd Sound Check, a listening session at Triodedick
I am for sure not the best one to write a biography about Triodedick, but let me try... Dick and I know each other now for several years
and I learned he is one of those (few) people who continue to look for ways to reproduce music by means of affordable DIY designs.... The number of
tube amplifier designs he made is almost uncountable :-) What I like from Dick, is the fact he LOVES music, has a set of good ears and also is a good engineer.
This results in designs where good sound and good engineering practice go together. Like documenting and doing measurements to test the outcome versus the design idea.
Look for correlations between sound and measurement...
We both share this and that is probably why we are good friends and on regular intervals seek each other's help and knowledge. Clearly we had to
meet and check out the new DAC, for music and for the technical stuff :-)
Of course Dick was very curious to see my new DAC, as he is also very deep into HD music. On top, thanks to his work as an audio test-journalist
and blogger, he has had many pieces of all price and quality classes in house over the years. A good and very objective reference to try the DDDAC!
And most important, currently he has two very good DACs at home. A Cambridge Audio Azur 851C with XMos driven USB (like the WaveIO). The Cambridge
is also used to convert USB to Spdif and drive the very affordable NOS / 8-chip parallel (yes!) Metrum Octave
(Dick did a review of this DAC on his website by the way). It is good to compare to some commercial equipment as well of course....
Dick has two great audio websites:
His new www.audio-creative.nl
His vintage www.triodedick.com
Setting up the equipment
As the equipment was warming up for some serious testing, Dick showed me his iMac and the way he organizes his music collection. If you have
thousands of tracks and albums, it is so difficult to make it easy to find and play something. I was indeed impressed and might want
to have a look around for an used iMac, as it will only serve as an audio player.
Little to do with equipment, but Dick is also a good host and I always enjoy the great spaghetti he makes to feed the hungry audiophile!
Thanks Dick, for taking care so well of us...
|Dick uses iMac to play music:|
I was impressed by the user friendliness and possibilities of the iMac solution...
(it won't take long I am afraid ;-)
Triodedick's sound system
On his own website, Dick explains in more detail all the equipment he built for him self. Most important for the listening tests is indeed the
fact, that Dick and I (no BIG surprise, I hope?) have very similar equipment. We both have home brew loudspeakers with Thiel Units, which
I still count to the best to have for DIY. Passive filtering with high quality Mundorf parts do the final trick in making these speakers very spatial,
extremely neutral and with a wealth of small detail. Driven by his own design Tube amplifiers (MU Stage pre amp, 300B SE power amp)
this set produces absolute HIGH End sound...
|In front of Dicks VERY good sound system:|
Dick has a quite similar sound (-print) setup as I have (no surprise ...) Thiel drivers, 300B single ended amps, lots of tubes...
How did it sound?
According to Dick, the DDDAC1794 delivers a highly spatial sound stage and extreme (low level) detail. We agreed that
the power of the DDDAC1794 lies clearly in the open, natural and detailed sound. The reproduction of good recordings is really awesome.
The other two DACs were definitively great to listen to. Interesting to hear, that all I have been preaching on NOS and paralleling chips,
was confirmed with these test as well. The Metrum NOS DAC gave a very good room definition and was nicely direct in its approach.
Does digital filtering sound that bad than? No! Also the Cambridge DAC plays in the upper class, sounding very sweet, high level of detail,
very natural sound and quite relaxed. In fact I can understand why Dick has both; depending on mood and music, you could choose for the one or the other...
However, when we switched to the DDDAC1794, we got it all, best of all worlds and on top more space, more detail, more dynamic. Goose pimples came up ;-)
|The DDDAC1794 working hard to convince|
It was very easy with the set up from Dick to quickly compare sound performance of all 3 DACs
Of course we wanted to have a deeper look inside the DAC. The outputs section with the Sowter transformers and the Mundorf capacitors are seen in the middle.
Specially on the transformers we had some in depth discussions. We anyway agree that companies like Sowter and Mundorf or
both nicely contribute to the DIY community. The power supply section (5 and 12 volt) at the left. I told him I was surprised that so far almost
everyone contacting me for the DAC, had interest in these power supplies. Good and affordable power supplies for the DIY is probably some thing
we pass by too easy.
The DAC and the WaveIO module look pretty lean. We discussed how "easy" in the meantime
it has become to design great PCBs and have them produced in relatively hobby quantities at industrial standard levels. The same goes for the SMD parts.
Instead of having them soldered manually, it is now absolutely affordable to have small series made by professional companies at a price which
does not kill the typical DIY budget!
Dick has an enormous technical background and knowledge, so it was obligatory to have a peak inside :-)
Dick always has been very honest and direct with listening tests. I remember two occasions, where he said "well, still a bit sharp edges, right?".
and he was right, not well designed that time. Only this way you can keep improving. Or the time he told me to better put the new power supply on the balcony, haha!
This time however, the reaction was simple: "when can I have a kit to start building?" Of course I like Dick to build this DAC, as
it will be another reference and it will most likely lead to possible tweaks or new ideas :-) All in all we had a great day and that is why we have hobbies, right?
We just want to have fun (That was also something with Madonna I believe....but that's a different story for another time....)
Keep reading ...... the story continuous with some background on the USB receiver ( USB )