Audiophiles on BCMT !

anupmathur

Super Moderator
Staff member
I am a lucky owner of Yamaha DSP-Z9 A/V multi-channel amplifier in India. .....
This is a seriously good piece of kit! :cool:

Subjective Review
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Yamaha DSP-Z9 + Bower & Wilkins 802 Diamond floorstanders [This is not my setup!!!]

....
I don't see the point of posting this review of somebody else's system, which is not yours! :eek:

Somehow, Rishi, whatever you post comes across as hard sell! A little bit of restraint and understatement goes a long way to elicit better credibility!
 

rishiguru

Member
Now this is some serious hardware...I know i may not be able to own one of these, however i am thinking of buying an Yamaha…
Are you a two channel guy? This is what you have to decide first as music mostly comes in stereo. If so stick with stereo integrated amplifiers. If you want a Yamaha stereo integrated, vouch for their A-S1000, A-S2000 or A-S3000.

For an equal amount of money, a stereo amplifier will always have better sound quality than an AV amplifier like DSP-Z9. The reason is stereo amplifiers deal with only audio & just 2 channels, while a standard AV amplifiers/ AVRs have to deal with 7 or more audio channels along with video. The truth is HT is a tougher business than stereo HiFi, is ten folds technically challenging and needs extensive development time with big budgets to produce a successful, descent sounding AVR with an equal video prowess. AVR business is so technically challenging and resource intensive now-a-days that even manufacturer like Arcam & Cambridge Audio had initial hiccups with their TOTL avrs a few years back in terms of reliability and overall performance. Only big manufacturers like Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Sony, Pioneer & Yamaha have the budget and money to provide cutting edge technology in their AVRs.

Also AVR's have so many more options, it is a very versatile device. It versatility is also its Achilles hill, as it has to sacrifice some sound quality for the sake allowing multiple audio/ video outputs, up scaling video ...etc. But as you climb up the ladder into zone of high-end AVR's the difference between stereo amplifiers & AVRs in terms of audio quality & power output diminishes dramatically being next to nothing. I have heard quite a few high-end AVRs (INR 4 lakhs plus), and indeed they are very very musical. Downside is you have to spend big bucks for them. In return it will provide you the liberty to have single setup that does it all, from critical stereo/ multi-channel audio listening to earth shaking, window rattling THX Ultra 2 level theater sound. My DSP-Z9 does just that which negated any need for a separate stereo setup.

One thing I really like about Cowon, besides VFM .. They use Wolfson DAC which are number one, Even the very expensive DAP don't use Wolfson
While DACs are important, they are not everything. DACs are important as almost all our audio files are digital now-a-days, and since our headphones are analog they are the ones at the end of the digital chain that finally converts the digital audio signal to analog before being fed to an analog power amplifier.

All Wolfson DACs are not good and same goes for even more renowned brands like Burr Brown & ESS. You have to understand an el chepo Wolfson WM8728 will be nowhere near to the performance levels of their best & 4x costlier Wolfson WM8741. And yes a relatively unknown DAC brand like AKM with its AK4399 will blow the WM8728 out of the window in terms technical measurements & performance while the WM8741 will do the same to AK4399. And then the Burr Brown PCM1796 will beat both the Wolfson's while Burr Brown PCM1792 will grind them all.

But my point is you are happy with your Cowon and that what really matters. Forget the DAC and its manufacturer, if you like its sound quality and tonal signature then nothing else matters.

I am not much of a headphone guy, but I do have a low end Sennheiser HD518. It has good resolution and balanced sound from both music & movies which I do use sometime during night. I once had the Asus best, Xonar Essence STX sound card in my PC which many claims to be one of the best audio cards one can have for headphones. The reason I bought it was raving reviews and implementation of the best and the most expensive DAC of last decade -> Burr Brown PCM1792. This DAC is so good performance wise; it took their opponents a decade to create the ESS E9018 which holds the crown as of now.

Burr-Brown PCM1792



Asus did a good job with their STX and sound quality was exceptionally good and the best I have heard from any sound card till then. Then one fine day I just connected the PC to my DSP-Z9 via co-axial digital feed and used its internal (pre + headphone power) amp of DSP-Z9, connecting my HD518 to its headphone out and then… I was blown apart.

DSP-Z9 used the same uber expense Burr Brown PCM1792 of STX, and that too not one but six of them but in the end the same DAC implementation produced very different sound signatures, Yamaha just being more musical. There will always be a difference in implementation and tuning of sound signature between a PC component manufacturer and a true blue HiFi audio/video component manufacturer with over 100 years of experience like Yamaha. I sold the Asus next week not because it was bad, it was excellent actually but I do not see any use of it.
 
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Not entirely a 2 channel guy. As I enjoy my 7.1 souncard with razr gaming headsets, most of the time when i don't play games I use to listen to same concerts which have different channels, However yes Right now I don't have right speakers for it, hence i use headphones which are designed to be used with 7.1 channel.

One thing that i really like is to carry my music with me everywhere. Since it is not possible with other high end hardware which normally are not portable. DAP'S let me carry music everywhere. Listening to music on a relaxing vacation is my kind of thing.

I bought Ipod and Cowon both in i think 2010 and ever since I have listened to many players from colorfly, hifiman, rocco's, and some other known brands in audiophile world, I like somebit of all players in their sound signature however owing them all is out of my reach. However all DAC'S which i heard with Wolfson sounds bit Warm and not tiring at all, Even the sounstages on most of wolfson's are better than others, IPOD nano with other audio chip sounds crystal clear more than wolfson however after some hours of listening i tend to feel tired/hurting ears may be because of extra bright signature of sound.

One thing that I really noticed is only beat audio chips are not always better, The circuitry, other electronic components also tends to change sound in drastic way. I had cmoybb amplifier which had option of changing op-amps. However just changing op-amps doesn't really change the sound, I once changed the capacitors of my amp to another rating and those really benefited the overall sound.

So designing is very important for atleast sound quality.

My friend lend me fiio e10 for a couple of days with wolfson 8740 audio chip which In terms of technicality is the best right now. However the warmness is more or less same. Now this can be because of the headphones that I use.

So after a year I thought to strike a balance between the two. How much I can afford/How good a player sounds.

Because for some warmness/richness in sound I don't want to pay another 10K.

So at this point of time I am settled with something which can be used for most purposes with minimum hassle and in budget.

I really like to build a dedicated room for home theatre with projector sound proof walls with may be 4-6-8 seater, however at this point of time it is far from my reach in terms of money, space.

May be someday I may have one of my own ..
 

anupmathur

Super Moderator
Staff member
.... In return it will provide you the liberty to have single setup that does it all, from critical stereo/ multi-channel audio listening to earth shaking, window rattling THX Ultra 2 level theater sound. My DSP-Z9 does just that which negated any need for a separate stereo setup.
....
Which speakers are you using Rishi?
 

omega

Active Member
I have an Onkyo CR 315 bought many years ago. Now, since the way we listen to music has changed, I was thinking of investing in Bluetooth speakers. What do you guys suggest? JBL Flip?

Another question, where do you get high quality music from. All this equipment is utter waste without a good source to begin with.
 
Here are the two which makes me Jamming

The Aluminum and Timber Wood combination for deep bass and no resonance/vibrations.

The Sony's monitor headphones which lets me hear even minute details.

Both burned in for more than 100 hours.



 

rishiguru

Member
My friend lend me fiio e10 for a couple of days with wolfson 8740 audio chip which In terms of technicality is the best right now.
My experience says, sound quality should be judged subjectively. However if measured objectively i.e technically the Wolfson WM8740 is no way the best DAC available currently. I would rather say it to be a mid end DAC at best.

These are all stereo DACs and the one having highest signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) are considered the best performance wise. Below are the figures @ (‘A’-weighted stereo @ 48kHz)

1) ESS E9018 -> 129 dB
2) Burr Brown PCM1792 -> 127 dB
3) Wolfson WM8741 -> 125 dB
4) ESS E9016 -> 124 dB
5) Burr Brown PCM1796 -> 123 dB
6) AKM AK4399 -> 123 dB
7) ESS 9006 -> 120 dB
8) ADI AD1955 -> 120 dB
9) Cirrus Logic CS4398 -> 120 dB
10) AKM AK4395 -> 120 dB
11) Wolfson WM8740 -> 117 dB

I have compared a few DACs and the WM8740 came 11th on the above list. The can see the PCM1792 having a 10 dB advantage over WM8740 which is sea apart performance wise.

There are two DACs that stands out of the crowd right now, ESS E9018 & Burr Brown PCM1792.
 
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My experience says, sound quality should be judged subjectively. However if measured objectively i.e technically the Wolfson WM8740 is no way the best DAC available currently. I would rather say it to be a mid end DAC at best.

These are all stereo DACs and the one having highest signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) are considered the best performance wise. Below are the figures @ (‘A’-weighted stereo @ 48kHz)

1)ESS E9018 -> 129 dB
2)Burr Brown PCM1792 -> 127 dB
3)Wolfson WM8741 -> 125 dB
4)ESS E9016 -> 124 dB
5)Burr Brown PCM1796 -> 123 dB
6)AKM AK4399 -> 123 dB
7)ESS 9006 -> 120 dB
8)ADI AD1955 -> 120 dB
9)Cirrus Logic CS4398 -> 120 dB
10)AKM AK4395 -> 120 dB
11)Wolfson WM8740 -> 117 dB

I have compared a few DACs and the WM8740 came 11th on the above list. The can see the PCM1792 having a 10 dB advantage over WM8740 which is sea apart performance wise.

There are two DACs that stands out of the crowd right now, ESS E9018 & Burr Brown PCM1792.
I was talking of it subjectively ... technically no audio chip can be perfect because sound is a analog signal and there will be distortion .. no manufacture can make one audio chip perfect ..
 
Here is some Test What Stereo Can do with Binaural Recording. Don't Listen to Speakers, Use Headphone or Earphone with your eyes closed and Feel to be a Secret Agent Caught in Russia...

[video=youtube;u163wC6mP2A]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u163wC6mP2A[/video]

Or if you like going to Barber Shop often, Then below is for you.

[video=youtube;8IXm6SuUigI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IXm6SuUigI[/video]
 
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