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    The SP14 and your dac

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    bluemeanies

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    The SP14 and your dac

    Post by bluemeanies on Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:47 am

    I would like to know how many people here have the SP14 pre-amp.
    What upgrades if any and most important do you use a dac along with the SP14.
    if you are using a dac what kind and do you alternate between your dac and just using the SP14.

    Thanks
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    Roy

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Roy on Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:04 am

    *just a quick link for you perhaps of some interest - good site run by a well known audio industry engineer and it has many ( budget and not so budget ) dac tests
    https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?articles/ *
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    Dave_in_Va

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Dave_in_Va on Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:09 pm

    ?
    I have an SP 14 and I use a Moon 100 D DAC. My CD player goes digital out into the DAC into the SP 14 into the VTA ST 70.
    I mainly listen to vinyl so I only use the CD player when I have to.
    I'm thinking I missed the point of the original post?
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    Roy

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Roy on Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:27 pm

    There is a wide variety of dacs out there with  a wide variety of output stages - some things mix better with some other things.. Some dacs put out as much as 2.5v  some dont get close to half that.. Some have good output stages with impedances some amps get along with better than others - Blue was asking for tips for a dac I think ^^ I got a raspberry pi 3 with the Allo Boss dac btw - greAt sound Blue and very nice price.
    There is also the Allo Piano 2.1 model - that actually has a programmable crossover.. Very handy.

    But if you are looking for a standalone dac - Topping D30 have a look at that. Puts many 'brand' names to shame. Cheap enough to consider putting together a stainless case for it to match the looks of Bob's amp..

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    Peter W.

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Peter W. on Sun Feb 11, 2018 3:56 pm

    Question to the DAC aficionados out there - and this is a question, not a put-down:

    Why? To the extent that some digital devices have crappy audio outputs, I can *barely* understand the need. But, given that there are, perhaps $40 worth of actual active chips ($9 for the TOL Texas Instrument device, $35 for the TOL Burr-Brown chipset), and that they all come from a very few manufacturers - what is the justification for spending more than perhaps $60 or so for a device that will accept the digital output from any given device and provide a reasonable analog audio output?

    audiobill

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by audiobill on Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:16 pm

    Peter, with all due respect this is like saying that all phono cartridges are equal.

    As the major gateway these days into vast selections of music, dacs come in all levels of design, complexity, price, format and quality of implementation including the analog output stages.

    I highly recommend you do some research online and you'll soon answer your own question.

    As for me, I happily use a highly sought after Theta Digital DSpro GenV(a) dac, a multibit unit that produces the most realistic music I've ever heard. It was $6,995 in 1995.......
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    Peter W.

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Peter W. on Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:59 pm

    audiobill wrote:Peter, with all due respect this is like saying that all phono cartridges are equal.

    As the major gateway these days into vast selections of music, dacs come in all levels of design, complexity, price, format and quality of implementation including the analog output stages.

    I highly recommend you do some research online and you'll soon answer your own question.

    As for me, I happily use a highly sought after Theta Digital DSpro GenV(a) dac, a multibit unit that produces the most realistic music I've ever heard.  It was $6,995 in 1995.......

    If you say so. But the issue is, at least for me, that I *have* done some considerable research on line, and have found no discernible logic other than subjective opinion, and that not backed by any hard, repeatable or independently verifiable data.

    There are thousands of phono cartridges by dozens of manufacturers (even today) that are dimensionally, physically, and mechanically sufficiently different from each other as to be evident to the naked eye. There are many different tone arms, platters, so on and so forth.

    There are, perhaps, a dozen different chip-sets, if even that many. They form the core of _EVERY_ DAC system on the planet, and every CD player from the $8 portable to the mega-buck McIntosh to the even more mega-buck DACs available. The most expensive chipset on the planet is $20 these days, and the typical DAC will use two (2) of them. What I have found after a good deal of smoke, mirrors, blather and obfuscation is that those rendering opinions, after admitting to 'nothing measurable' defer to "the rest is execution". Is that really the only place that differentiation occurs? It is fine, if it is. But as the discussion around the Canadian ST70 has shown, there is but so much that can be put into a box, after which... . So, I ask the question again. Why? If it is because you like it - that is entirely fine with me, and I have no issues with that position. After all, I like cats (and dogs) - an equally intangible position.
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    10-E-C

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by 10-E-C on Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:06 pm

    Peter W. wrote:
    audiobill wrote:Peter, with all due respect this is like saying that all phono cartridges are equal.

    As the major gateway these days into vast selections of music, dacs come in all levels of design, complexity, price, format and quality of implementation including the analog output stages.

    I highly recommend you do some research online and you'll soon answer your own question.

    As for me, I happily use a highly sought after Theta Digital DSpro GenV(a) dac, a multibit unit that produces the most realistic music I've ever heard.  It was $6,995 in 1995.......

    If you say so. But the issue is, at least for me, that I *have* done some considerable research on line, and have found no discernible logic other than subjective opinion, and that not backed by any hard, repeatable or independently verifiable data.

    There are thousands of phono cartridges by dozens of manufacturers (even today) that are dimensionally, physically, and mechanically sufficiently different from each other as to be evident to the naked eye. There are many different tone arms, platters, so on and so forth.

    There are, perhaps, a dozen different chip-sets, if even that many. They form the core of _EVERY_ DAC system on the planet, and every CD player from the $8 portable to the mega-buck McIntosh to the even more mega-buck DACs available. The most expensive chipset on the planet is $20 these days, and the typical DAC will use two (2) of them. What I have found after a good deal of smoke, mirrors, blather and obfuscation is that those rendering opinions, after admitting to 'nothing measurable' defer to "the rest is execution".  Is that really the only place that differentiation occurs? It is fine, if it is. But as the discussion around the Canadian ST70 has shown, there is but so much that can be put into a box, after which... . So, I ask the question again. Why? If it is because you like it - that is entirely fine with me, and I have no issues with that position. After all, I like cats (and dogs) - an equally intangible position.


    There are some DACs that are based on FPGA technology (Field programmable gate array). You can change the characteristics of D to A conversion through software.

    audiobill

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by audiobill on Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:47 pm

    As well as various oversampling, filter design and r2r ladder designs.....Peter, again I really do think you’d benefit from at least listening and reading more. Best,
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    Maintarget

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Maintarget on Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:16 pm

    Ive had the SP-14 since 2014 with Mundorf Silver oil PIO caps and have about 800 hours play time the only thing I have done is swap out the the supplied tubes with 1944 JAN RCA 6SN7-GT VT-231smoked glass man O Man absolutely love the sound.
    I'm using the SP-14 with a ST-120 with the Russian cap upgrades and Klipsch Hersey's speakers
    I have a Schitt Gungnir DAC the reason?
    The difference in sound quality to my ears anyway is notable and more realistic in my opinion.
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    bluemeanies

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by bluemeanies on Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:01 pm

    Thanks everyone for all opinions but (not being obnoxious here) the question was whether you have a dac using the SP14 pre AND if you alternate on & off using said dac.
    The only ONE response that came close to my question was from audiobill.
    It's not important to me whether you like or dislike dacs in your system..not revelant to the question.
    I am not in the market for a dac as my system employs two of them. One is a SABRE dac from the GRACE design m920 and a THETA DS PRO basic ll multibit. Comparing these dacs is like comparing the tortoise to the hare. Who won? IMO the THETA takes the win by a nose, but a BIG nose. One example is the difference in imaging is which is a bit more pronounced.
    Having these dacs and recently the Theta has bought that live IN HOUSE performance main stage. My music is more accurate now in the pass two years then it has been for decade. Guitar virtuoso the likes of Jim Bruno and Joe Pass are analytical or highly detailed. While vocals from Eva Cassidy and Diana Krall remain articulate.

    As far as data and specifications are concerned they take a back seat to what my EARS
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    Roy

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Roy on Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:14 am

    ..the EE here has a nice saying - if it measures good and it sounds wrong you're not measuring the right thing; if it measures wrong and it sounds good - stop messing with it!

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    Peter W.

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Peter W. on Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:34 am

    As far as data and specifications are concerned they take a back seat to what my EARS.

    And that is entirely enough!

    buchela

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by buchela on Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:41 am

    I will try to answer your question:
    I've been trying to eliminate the Preamp from the audio chain with no success, since many years ago.
    It all started with the Denon 1520 CD player. Only three components in the audio chain CD player+ amplifier + speakers, (no boutique wires). sounded crappy, lifeless. Tried with different amps, different speakers, same result.
    Lately I tried : DAC + SP14 + amp,....... and DAC + amp, this last setup has a sonic signature that I don't like. I was expecting the DAC connected directly to the amplifier to sound better but I experienced the opposite. Impedance issues ?.
    Equipment : SP14 preamp, Tandberg 3002 preamp, M-125 amps, McIntosh 2100 amp, McIntosh 2120 amp, usb DAC with twin Phillips 1541A chips, JBL L7 towers, Mirage L7-si towers.
    For whatever the reason the audio system with the Preamplifier in it, sounds better whether tubed or solid state.
    Note, when the Pre was not used, it was physically removed/disconnected.
    I will try again with a better sounding DAC maybe one with ESS sabre 9018 chip, but this time with optical input capabilities.

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    Roy

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Roy on Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:42 am

    Have the DCD1460 and DCD2560 here - sound far from lifeless ^^  but  they do have rather a lót of hardware in them that after the many years since their production can definately use some TLC on the bench.. The 1520 also has a very good output stage with both fixed and variable - don't recall if the 1520 had motorized variable though for with the rc -  but   if the 1460 and 2560 are anything to go by in comparison - I would definately have that 1520 looked over if it sounds   dull.   One great sadness - the lasers are no longer available new, and  even more sadly,  the lasers used are also deployed in some very sought after high end models which has prices for NOS lasers soaring sky high and even some fakes being sold...
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    Tube Nube

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Tube Nube on Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:43 am

    I'm not sure if this answers the question. Yes to SP14.

    My digital music reaches the system by way of a SqueezeBox, which has a built in DAC, but also allows connection of an external, which I've added in the form of a Monica3 DAC.

    The improvement in sound was obvious and dramatic.

    After that, I added an external power supply kit from Wellborne Labs for the SqueezeBox, and this too made and obvious (but not as dramatic) difference over the wall wart that had powered the SqueezeBox. Wish I could have a similar power supply for the Monica3.

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    bluemeanies

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by bluemeanies on Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:56 am

    Thanks guys! Now we are cooking.
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    corndog71

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by corndog71 on Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:55 pm

    I have the SP13 which is right up there with the 14 but with different tubes. Best tube preamp out there for the money! I replaced the output caps with Clarity Cap CMR and a couple of electrolytic power supply caps closest to the first stage tubes were swapped for Clarity TC series caps.

    I've been using a Musical Fidelity V-DAC II for a few years now and it's served me well. I would like to try some newer dacs but have been currently focused on rebuilding a pair of M125's.
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    bluemeanies

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    SP14

    Post by bluemeanies on Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:43 pm

    corndog71 wrote:I have the SP13 which is right up there with the 14 but with different tubes.  Best tube preamp out there for the money!  I replaced the output caps with Clarity Cap CMR  and a couple of electrolytic power supply caps closest to the first stage tubes were swapped for Clarity TC series caps.  

    I've been using a Musical Fidelity V-DAC II for a few years now and it's served me well.  I would like to try some newer dacs but have been currently focused on rebuilding a pair of M125's.


    I am having a custom SP14 built.. IMO much more industrial strength...thicker gauge metal.
    Looking forward to the experience.
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    Fitero

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Fitero on Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:50 pm

    I made a SP-14 several years ago, and have modified, and re-wired it many times.  Beyond the standard tube rolling, I've changed out all of the resistors and capacitors several times. I leave it alone now.  It's marvelous.

    This is how it is now, except with Shuguang Treasure tubes;  https://photos.app.goo.gl/U6ifrbeGIVWkLQT02

    I stream Roon through a Logitech Transporter which I connect to the SP-14.
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    Maintarget

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Maintarget on Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:14 pm

    Fitero What changes have you made for resistors and caps, values and why, Looks awesome!
    Thanks
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    jfine

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by jfine on Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:13 pm

    Fitero wrote:Sorry for the slow response.

    Where I did do extensive comparisons were with the output capacitors.  That's why I soldered in the terminals, so that I could swap capacitors quickly without ruining the boards.

    This last week or so I have brought home a couple of preamps to compare; a McIntosh C47 and a Primaluna Dialogue Premier.  Ron's preamp again, as usual, was much more musical and pleasant than the others.  Nothing I bring home beats this thing.  

    Soldered in terminals, huh, looks like something I would do. Tried a Jupiter in there yet?

    Agreed the SP14 is hard to beat.
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    Fitero

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Fitero on Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:44 pm

      [/quote] Tried a Jupiter in there yet?[/quote]

    Why you gotta be that way and tempt me....huh?! Very Happy

    I had been saving to try a pair of the Jensen Copper caps in my amplifier but I just sold it. So now I plan to try a pair in my preamp. I'll be able to compare them to the Audyn True Copper that I have in it now. I'll wait until Sonic Craft has another sale first.


    Bennyhaha812

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    Re: The SP14 and your dac

    Post by Bennyhaha812 on Sun Mar 25, 2018 2:25 pm

    I have only used the SP-14 with a Music Hall dac25.3, but I modded much of this dac when I bought it.

        I built an SP-14 about a year and a half ago and bought the PCB with parts kit and purchased everything else on my own.   I used 0.33uf Jupiter copper foil in paper and wax output caps which sound sublime.  I also replace many of the signal resistors with other parts such as Takman, PCP, and a Kiwame in a selected spot.  The power supply was upgraded to all film caps.  I also purchased a high quality volume pot with remote from a company called Khozmo.  I had to build my own walnut case and matching cover plate in the remote.  I had the face and back plate manufactured by a gentleman in California.  I use Psvane tubes on top.  One of the biggest upgrades I did to the unit was adding a Bendix 5852 rectifier tube.  I was lucky enough to find a pair locally for $40.  I had been skeptical that something that is not in the direct signal chain could have such a profound effect!!  It blew me away TBH.  I think the only thing I would change about my unit if I did it again would have been to use a pair of mono Khozmo instead of the stereo one with left and right channel gain pots.
       

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