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At last... (Audiolab) - part I

Discussion in 'audio' started by sq225917, Aug 5, 2010.

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  1. Pete the Feet

    Pete the Feet pfm Member

    Thats a good way of classification.

    Are you anti Break My Windows per chance?
  2. Space is the Place

    Space is the Place pfm Member

    Ditto, ive had a few good Dacs, the Lyngdorf being the most expensive at £4500 (although obviously it does much more besides!) and the Benchmark Dac pre, the latest version.

    The Dacmagic is still here, the Lyngdorf and the Benchmark long gone, i liked the little Matrix Dac i had too, if i hadn't sold it in deal with some monitors, i might have sold the Dacmagic and my preamp instead, and kept the Matrix.
    Of course people wont take the Matrix Dac seriously because its so cheap.
  3. Pete the Feet

    Pete the Feet pfm Member

    Sounds like you could be a Dacaholic. Whats your preferred Dac after the expensive one and how are they used; server source, CD whatever. I am keen to see what else is available but its a jump in the dark and an expensive one at that.
  4. Space is the Place

    Space is the Place pfm Member

    The Dacmagic is still here (Ive still got the old Dacmagic and a DPA Dac too ) I think it partly comes down to system synergy too, i can imagine in some systems that are a bit more forward and less controlled the Dacmagic sounding a bit brittle. I dont like the USB input with the Dacmagic, and i use the balanced out (less opamps in the signal path).
    I just use either a Macbook, PC Teralink X USB thingy or transport for playback.

    Like i put in an earlier post my brief experience with the Matrix Dac has made me question spending considerably more on a Dac (W4S DAC 2 for example)
    Before buying the Matrix I noticed that someone had bought one, and then sold his Bel Canto Dac 3, keeping the Matrix Dac. Reading things like this on the internet makes me wonder if its being shilled. After my experience with the Matrix i can say i preferred it to the Benchmark, warmer, bigger soundstage, more depth etc, not quite as controlled detailed or textured, but, and im loathed to say it, the Matrix is more 'musical' Im very tempted to buy another, but ive waited two years for the Westlake Dac so...maybe that will be the next Dac purchase due to be realised in Oct (2015:D)

    The good thing about the original Westlake design that it was supposed to be £399, hopefully the Audiolab design will come in at under £500 (if there ever is a Dac lets not get ahead of ourselves!)
  5. Space is the Place

    Space is the Place pfm Member

    Another interesting Dac (although not as functional as some) Is the Eastern Electric Minimax Dac.


    What id like to know is why its $750 in the USA, € 600 in Germany, and £895 here ?

    If it was the same price as its is in other parts of the world it would be excellent value for money, as it stands the UK price is a total rip off!
  6. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    Import tax, pp and 20% vat adds up.
  7. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    Anyone got experience with the Grace902b DAC pre?
  8. Space is the Place

    Space is the Place pfm Member

    So if you got one from inside the EU youd have to pay import tax and VAT on it when you brought it into the UK?

    Its nearly double the price!
  9. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    IIRC they're made/manufactured outside the EU. I imported an optical cable from the US which was $69 Inc PP. When I finally finished paying all the charges (stated above) the price came to £82... it's not called rip-off Britain for nothing :D
  10. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    I’m glad to see interest, just some quick comments about our design (for those of you who are not aware, The unit’s internals and software have been conceived and designed by Dominik Peklo and myself, and are based upon a design which was originally going to be lunched under own brand).

    1. The 8200CD/CDQ/DQ designs have something like 250,000uF of internal electrolytic capacitors distributed across the PCB - these capacitors need time to run-in from new. With a brand new unit, it takes at least 6 hours before the unit start to open up, loose the “cold sound”. Once the initial "run-in" is completed (a week or so), the units require about half and hour to "Warm up" fully from power-up.

    I believe the run-in period is more pronounced with these designs due to the huge amount of total capacitance (Power amplifiers commonly have only 10,000uF to 20,00uF – 10 times less), and also due to the use of a large number of High-Quality Organic capacitors situated around the critical Clock and DAC sections - these seem to require more time to "re-form"

    2. Please forget the selling price – these are VERY high quality designs. During my recent travels visiting UK reviewers with the CDQ, I had a chance to compare against a 20K GBP DAC + Transport, lets just say the conversation went like this:-

    “OK, (on 5th attempt), let’s give this DAC (the 20K DAC + Transport) one more chance to redeem itself”, 15 to 20 seconds into the track…. “Well no it has not…. What’s the retail price of this unit going to be??” (Asking about the CDQ selling price).

    Also: - “I could never believe Digital can sound so different” – I took that as a complement!

    The problem is to find partnering Amplifiers / Speakers that will do the 8200CD/CDQ/DQ justice at ANYWHERE near the price (Really don’t ask me….) I well (maybe) be designing a new amplifier for AudioLab to match – but this is still 6 to 9 months away…

    3. Do try the different filter digital filter settings – without any doubts, my favourite filter is “Optimal Transient” – for reference I prefer “Analogue sound” such as turntables etc…. Also, if using the CDQ or DQ directly with power amps, then I also prefer using the “Digital Pre-Amplifier” mode, (meaning the Volume Control is performed in the Digital Domain).

    Although the vast majority who have listened preferred the “Optimal Transient” Filter, others strongly preferred “Optimal Spectrum” mode and that’s why we designed it to be directly selectable via the Remote Handset… (Actually my DEAREST wife complained while using our Peachtree Audio designs, that she hated having to get up and change the rear panel mounted Digital Filter switch for different recordings)…

    4. Both Dominik and myself 100% agree that the “Central full size window” of AudioLab of old looks a LOT better – in fact our early prototypes DID have the full size window!!!, but the “All Wise” marketing Dept. changed the design to what you see today… needless to say, it can be very hard working here…

    Any questions, we well be happy to answer – and looking forward to feedback if any of you have a chance to audition the units…
  11. Space is the Place

    Space is the Place pfm Member

    Hi John, Better than a 20k setup you say? I was hoping it would be better than a 30k setup tbh, try a bit harder next time will you! ;)

    What about the Dac? any news on the realise date yet, if its any longer i fear my ear hair will block out any improvement ;) And what about about the new amps have you had a hand in designing those?

    Its like trying to get blood out of a stone from the "all wise" Audiolab marketing dept on anything!:D
  12. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    Na, the shop would've had to pay those to whom ever imported it in the first place and they would've had to pay their dues too - I agree with you it's a proper skank and is a reason we miss out on so many wonderful designs and bargains.

    JohnW, can I ask, you've stated at one point you and your business partner were going to release the DAC under your own brand. Why did you go to Audiolab to produce, manufacture and Market your designs instead?

    Regards, Raj

    PS, I'm glad you think the older fascia/full sized screen was way cooler. It was understated in a timeless way that could've marked it out from the 8000 series as a 'return to form' for the brand.....
  13. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    Hi Muz,

    I've been recently working more closely with the guys in the UK offices of AudioLab and they are really a great bunch of people - the issues are literally further a field...! however, now that’s stock has started to slowly arrive in the UK, and the communications channels have been established these issues you have experienced well resolve themselves in due course. The 8200CD, CDQ & DQ are Audiolab’s first new designs for many years… I have full faith in AudioLab UK supporting the products, they are extremely professional and competent group – the issue well be one of shortage of units, and that’s a very real concern. Component shipment dates are shooting though the roof in Asia – cannot really understand why… apparently due to the iPad and the like!!!

    Talking about the iPad, you can use the 8200CD,CDQ & DQ with the iPad using the USB input and the Apple iPad “Camera” adaptor – currently Apple only supports 16Bits up to 48KHz, but it is Bit accurate (with the correct settings), and makes the best media player I can think off!! Word on the street says Apple well remove the 16 Bit restriction, not that the most of us have any easy excess to higher Data rate Audio – or at least to any kind of Music we would normally listen too – there’s only so many times you can listen to the “Scottish Highlands Fisherman’s Wives Nose Flute Quartet” recorded at full 24/96…

    The DQ should be in the UK in next couple of months (I’m not 100% sure, but expect retail around GBP500), the smaller footprint MDAC released just after Christmas, around GBP399 - Digital only form... (No Analogue Line Level Pre)

    There’s couple of DQ’s floating around, I well hunt one down and take some pictures. They are basically the CDQ but without the CD… but with a nice volume control knob on the front panel – I hate pressing buttons to adjust Volume…
  14. dss

    dss Musical Bons


    Great to see the designer of the gear posting is it. Keep at it.

    Also, where can we buy the “Scottish Highlands Fisherman’s Wives Nose Flute Quartet” recorded at full 24/96?

  15. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    From the Scottish Highlands Fisherman’s Wives Husbands... or HMV
  16. Space is the Place

    Space is the Place pfm Member

    At least the Dac exists! yeah it would be great if you can post a few pictures of the DQ, well done for putting a knob on the DAC, there is nothing worse than a fascia with no knob to fondle.
    Talking of (stop) knobs, you still doing the rounds with your organ ;)

    The different filters and analog inputs were a surprise too.
    Excellent, if theyve got the MDAC coming in at £399 too.
    Cheers for all the info John, here and especially at the DIY audio site, its been a long journey! I hope its a massive success. :cool:
  17. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    Hi Raj,

    Dominik and myself are best at being "Designers", and to that end our time is best served designing products - endless number of people have tried and failed in the HiFi industry... We still plan to release our products via direct sale channel, we have the design’s and even toolings ready (however no time) - if only so we can launch our own product range "How we want - the way we want”

    I've now reached a point in my life where I'm thankfully financially secure even if I never worked a day again in my life - so our brand would be to do what we believe in – but I know this industry well enough…. Fools we would be to entertain such thoughts!!! I’m nobody’s fool, but still not to say these thoughts will not get the better of me…!

    I guess I’m getting to that point where I’m going to make the decision very soon, however I’ve made personal commitments to AudioLab, and I firmly believe in the products we are designing for AudioLab, and in Audiolab itself – no matter how hard its proving to stay working here in China. Without wishing to sound ungrateful, or disrespectful to those who are currently unemployed - trust me I don’t have the words to express how hard its to live and work under daily conditions in China (I’ve worked in Asia for almost 20 years now), there is just ZERO quality of life here – and that’s coming from someone who’s considered a workaholic!

    Even if the latest Audiolab 8200CD, CDQ & DQ do not look as good as it could have done, sonically they are a completely different league to AudioLab of old – forget that cold, hard, emotionless sterile “Clinical sound”, think more along the lines of a good old analogue turntables, where you found yourself listening to music… I believe they are performance game changers, just like my designs for Pink Triangle and Cambridge Audio...

    !!! They had better be, because I've been though and am still living in hell !!!!
  18. martin clark

    martin clark pinko bodger

    JohnW - it's great to see you here; welcome and long may you contribute when you can.

    I look forward to finally hearing these products - long awaited by many :)

    Best regards
  19. bec143

    bec143 pfm Member

    I know that you are highly respected by members here, so you deserve a lot of leeway, and I'd like to hear your DAC for sure. But these sorts of statements really raise red flags IMO. There really aren't any value priced amps that would be good enough for your DAC unless you designed it?
  20. spur07

    spur07 pfm Member

    Music to my ears John.
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