SW1X DAC

I have an dead ART Legato SPDIF convertor that I just loved. Unfortunately I can't get a hold of the small manufacturer for service. He disapeared and stopped responding about the beginning of covid... so who knows?

I liked it because it was designed from the ground up to pass a very low jitter low- rez, non-upsampled signal with a very well though out power supply.

I cant find another unit like it. I'm using a cheapo Douk Audio which seems to be universally liked on the intraweb. I think it's OK for now but would like to find a Legato knock off.

I'm not sold on the ABBAS SPDIF units. Do things really need tubes? Looks too complicated as well.
What about the Audiophilleo as a replacement?
 
I don't recall his cause of death, but there will be no more new Legato DDCs coming out of ART Audio. :( Mine is still going strong - possibly because I don't use it year-round. At the same time I bought my Legato, I bought a DDC from Ciunas Audio that I decided to keep as a backup in case the Legato died. Well, the backup Ciunas DDC died and the manufacturer is no longer in business and doesn't reply to emails. I don't know if he is alive.

I bought a CDT recently and I've been rediscovering my CD collection, so I've only used my Legato a couple times in the past 2 months.
So, he died? RIP if so.

Any ideas on who could service mine? I fear it’s the chip which I suspect is not replaceable.
 
Welp, I will have an Abbas 4.0 Gold with Kondo SRPP Output Stage en route to me this weekend. Here is some more info:

Abbas Esoteric Audio DAC 4.0 Gold
This is a custom built non-oversampling (NOS) DAC by Abbas Zulfugarov, It is arguably Abbas' highest-end offering, built around two new-old-stock Burr Brown PCM58P R2R (multibit resistor ladder) chips. The now-discontinued PCM58P had the highest true bit depth of any mainstream R2R chip owing to its unique outboard trim pots that allows each chip to be individually compensated at installation. The presentation is a bit more honest/less romantic than TDA1541 and PCM63. This DAC has one of the most natural timbres of any DAC I've tried. Far superior to Hugo products, Metrum's Pavane/Adagio gets closer but I still think Abbas wins on naturalness. This DAC sounds analog! It is not souped up and edgy like the delta-sigma Mytek stuff.

I will have the Abbas Spdif to USB converter coming with it as well to "try before I buy" with the converter. We'll see if it outperforms the Audiophilleo.
 
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Welp, I will have an Abbas 4.0 Gold with Kondo SRPP Output Stage en route to me this weekend. Here is some more info:

Abbas Esoteric Audio DAC 4.0 Gold
This is a custom built non-oversampling (NOS) DAC by Abbas Zulfugarov, It is arguably Abbas' highest-end offering, built around two new-old-stock Burr Brown PCM58P R2R (multibit resistor ladder) chips. The now-discontinued PCM58P had the highest true bit depth of any mainstream R2R chip owing to its unique outboard trim pots that allows each chip to be individually compensated at installation. The presentation is a bit more honest/less romantic than TDA1541 and PCM63. This DAC has one of the most natural timbres of any DAC I've tried. Far superior to Hugo products, Metrum's Pavane/Adagio gets closer but I still think Abbas wins on naturalness. This DAC sounds analog! It is not souped up and edgy like the delta-sigma Mytek stuff.

I will have the Abbas Spdif to USB converter coming with it as well to "try before I buy" with the converter. Well see if it outperforms the Audiophilleo.
Wish I could hear both of those.
 
Arrived today.

Here on some pics. Definelty going to have a listen tonight!

Spdif - USB came with an Abbas Spdif and Abbas USB cable.
 

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Listening on La Scalas with Erhard Audio Aretha Preamp, Velodyne ULD-15 sub, Oliver Sayers Korneff Clone SET 45. Speaker cables are Audioquest type 5 and all interconnects made by me with Blue Jean cable and WTB locking RCAs. (Still need to hook up Lii Audio F-15 in open baffle for a listen)

DAC: Abbas 4.0 Gold with Kondo output stage, PCM 58p with Abbas USB to Spdif Converter (I did have to run USB from my laptop to use this converter, which is not ideal. The converter didn’t want to work with the RPi4).

My thoughts:

-Soundstage has much more room in it than Audio GD (PCM1704) and SW1X(PCM 56), where there is more space between instruments spanning the full 12ft wall that the speakers are in front of.

-It centers the vocals really really well, provides depth of soundstage, enhances mouth sounds. In some recordings hearing the artist approach the microphone and inhale before singing which all adds up to it sounding real.

-Instruments sound real: Picking on the guitar, violins/cello notes slice through the air and sound like they’re right next to me, kick drum hits, tom hits, all of it sounds real.

-Lots of decay in cymbals and other instruments. Some song endings feeling like the heart has stopped beating as the song wanes away and dies.

-Power, it has this force to it where the music in some instances feel like it hits you and you jump a little in your chair.

-Refines bass and enhance it in some songs, where I have dialed my subwoofer down.

-The overall sound is very pleasing, not shouty or hard.

-Some recordings make my room feel alive, as if the speakers are putting out music in a way that my speakers are dancing or there is movement within the music that is flowing around the room.

-Ruthless with source material. If it's poorly produced or mastered, you can tell.

-I would also categorize this DAC on the less warm side of romantic. It’s not as romantic in its warmth, its romantic in its accuracy if that makes sense? Which makes it feel real in a very different way than the SW1X

- There are moments when I look around the room as if someone was in the room with me, which is a very interesting feeling and reaction to the music.

Cons:
-Still a little bit of sibilance, no matter which DAC I've listened to, it just doesn't seem to get rid of sibilance, but this one has the least of it that I've heard. This is regardless of it being Redbook, High Res, old or new recordings, although I will say recordings like Muddy Waters: My Captain have less sibilance than something that is new and has been digitally mastered.

-Seems to take about 45-60min to fully warm up and start flowing the music.

Abbas vs SW1X:

Where the SW1X differs is creating a smaller bubble of a soundstage from which the music flowed out into the room. Instead of the rectangular, larger soundstage of the 4.0. The SW1X, seemed to create this bubble of sound in the middle of the wall that the music flowed out from. Which created this feeling of warmness, it had less musical separation, but made it feel very real in a much different way.
Each time I listened to the Abbas, I just feel addicted to the music. Many of the nights listening for 2+ hours.

At this point “different” is really the best word I can use. Not better, not worse. Solidly different than the SW1X. Which is interesting given how they're related.

If we're just talking dollars and cents. To me there doesn't seem to be a reason to spend an additional $2k on the SW1X. Where the SW1X was $6k new and the Abbas 4.0 was $4k new.

Vs Vinyl:

As I did some back and forth listening between vinyl and digital, I find that the mediums are still pretty different, but each have their own appeal and that actually might be just fine. I think that while someone who prefers vinyl would argue that it’s the exact reproduction of the signal that the artists produced, I keep wondering if the reason it’s so appealing is because it’s not perfect. Where digital is much more "perfect" or is trying to be and that becomes a hard thing for our senses to adjust to and experience making digital feel hard around the edges etc.. Even a live concert isn't perfect, and I again think that is a reason its enjoyable.

Merely an opinion, observation and thinking out loud here for reflection. I don't want to get into the big ole Digital vs Vinyl debate.

Both the Abbas and the SW1X help the music feel less perfect, which funny enough is what Peter at Audio Note said they have been doing with their DACs for years, and consequently why people feel the music is real.

I think I was chasing that exact vinyl reproduction's and I'm coming to the conclusion that might not be the correct goal. Maybe good for the DAC manufactures, but not the best long term solution for enjoying the tunes. That goal might just be trying to get to Eden when it doesn't exits. There is no place of pure audio nirvana, instead there are the limits of the physical world which includes compromise, with each medium having its own.
 

MikeyFresh

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Abbas USB to Spdif Converter (I did have to run USB from my laptop to use this converter, which is not ideal. The converter didn’t want to work with the RPi4).
That's odd considering that device is said to work with the Allo USBridge, which is a Raspberry Pi CM3. You probably just needed to reselect the USB output (SET) in Moode's settings, as sometimes when you break and make a USB connection without a power cycle the unit will revert to the Pi's headphone jack or HDMI output.

Manufacturer says that device is Linux compatible too, so the other possibility is it likes a certain specific start sequence, likely make all cable connections with the units powered down, then first power up the SPDIF converter, then boot the RPi 4B, and only then will proper USB handshake take place.

Some units are fussy that way, but this likely has zero to do with any Raspberry Pi or Linux incompatibility.
 
That's odd considering that device is said to work with the Allo USBridge, which is a Raspberry Pi CM3. You probably just needed to reselect the USB output (SET) in Moode's settings, as sometimes when you break and make a USB connection without a power cycle the unit will revert to the Pi's headphone jack or HDMI output.
I tried to reset the Pi and reconnect with the converter on and then turn the Pi on and it still didn't find it. So, I may have to try going into the Moode Settings? But I don't have a display that I use for the PI, so I will need to connect it to a display and then hook the converter to it to get the setting correct? Or connect to it via Wifi and toggle the settings?
 

MikeyFresh

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But I don't have a display that I use for the PI, so I will need to connect it to a display and then hook the converter to it to get the setting correct?
No just dial up the RPi's IP address in any web browser to access the Moode Settings panel, just like when you did the original setup, then:

m -> Configure -> Audio -> MPD Options -> MPD settings (EDIT) -> Output device (SAVE)
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
Great write up. Your impressions mirror my own exactly. There is a power to the output of the Abbas that drives music out like crazy. This is why in my other thread I mentioned having to re-learn the sound of everything the DAC is connected to. It is whole system transformative.

As for sibilance have you tried pinpointing the source of this through trying different speakers, different preamp or different amps?

Also I had a customer who bought a previous DAC of mine and had trouble using RPI. Turns out he had a setting in his that was upsampling the signal which wasn’t compatible with the DAC I sold him. After he figured out that he can only send 16/44 and needed to downsample his Hi-res he was very happy with the RPI and the DAC.
 
Great write up. Your impressions mirror my own exactly. There is a power to the output of the Abbas that drives music out like crazy. This is why in my other thread I mentioned having to re-learn the sound of everything the DAC is connected to. It is whole system transformative.

As for sibilance have you tried pinpointing the source of this through trying different speakers, different preamp or different amps?

Also I had a customer who bought a previous DAC of mine and had trouble using RPI. Turns out he had a setting in his that was upsampling the signal which wasn’t compatible with the DAC I sold him. After he figured out that he can only send 16/44 and needed to downsample his Hi-res he was very happy with the RPI and the DAC.
I don't have a different preamp, but it is consistent across multiple power amps.

I will see if it differs speakerwise when I put the Lii open baffles in. I will likely bring my Lynn Olsen Ariels which are transmission line speakers down to my room for a listen to at some point.

@MikeyFresh that sampling comment above, would that be a setting in Moode that I should also check?
 

MikeyFresh

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@MikeyFresh that sampling comment above, would that be a setting in Moode that I should also check?
No, not unless you had been experimenting with upsampling and you had set Moode to do that previously. In your initial setup there was definitely no upsampling going on, however if that DAC is only 16-bit/44.1kHz compatible then you might try to force only that output in Moode with:

m -> Configure -> Audio -> MPD Options -> MPD settings (EDIT) -> SoX resampling -> Enabled (YES) -> Bit depth (16) -> Sample rate (44.1) -> (SAVE)

I don't think there should be a need for SoX resampling and you should definitely explore the Audio output Setting I described in my previous post first, and do so completely separate of this (in doing any troubleshooting only change one thing at a time).

What source are you listening to, CD rips, or Qobuz?
 
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