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Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 D/A Converter
Review by John (Head-Fi.org forum member):
"The Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 is a stunning example of just how much you can get for your money these days. It has so many functions and not one of them is a weak link – each is well implemented and performs to a very high standard. The nex cheapest product I can think of that offers this much functionality in such a small box (the Matrix Quattro DAC) goes for twice the price. I can absolutely see the TubeDAC acting as the very capable heart of many an audio system................If you are strictly looking for a stand-alone headphone amp, or a DAC with USB input only, then the TubeDAC-11 may not be on your radar. Then again, being smart means realizing that your system may expand, and planning for that occurrence. In that respect the TubeDAC-11 has you covered. You just have to get over the idea that more features for the money equates to some compromise. That’s just not my experience with this device.
I commend Yulong for once again delivering a stellar product for a reasonable price, and I commend Grant Fidelity for making the right choice in aligning themselves with Yulong. In my humble opinion there is simply no better buy at $350 than the TubeDAC-11." Read full review here.
Marvin Bolden - StereoMojo Review:
"The midrange is bigger with the Piano but the TubeDac-11's midrange is mesmerizing. The Tube DAC 11 retains the "tubaresent" sound but is much more extended in the high end. The smoothness and the overall balance is to die for and I can't say this enough: that dead silent background just makes it so much easier to experience finer details in the music. It seems that as you introduce the TubeDac-11 to better equipment, the better it sounds.
I know baseball is an American (of the United States variety) sport but Ian and Rachael, you have hit this one out of the park in value, versatility, fun , and sound." Read full review here
Dean Seislove from Positive Feedback Online:
'There seems to be a concerted effort to retain the delicacy of a musical performance, an accomplishment largely achieved by an impressive spatial separation and depth. Recommended" Read full review here
The TubeDAC-11 Turns up to 5 of of your source players into High-End Tube Source Players.
This newly designed Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 replaces the hugely popular previous TubeDAC-09 but still keeps all the popular features and will process uo to 24/192 high res signals plus a much more refined sound.
High fidelity re-design from ground up, and still with a reasonable budget in mind. This vacuum Tube Digital-to-Analog Converter will connect you with modern media technologies without sacrificing the sound quality of analog.
It is a 5-in-1 unit: can be used as 1) external USB DAC for laptop through any output, 2) headphone amp, 3) tube processor for analog signal, 4) digital decoder for optical and coaxial signal, 5) pre-amplifier with volume control
You can use it directly with your digital source such as laptop and music server and play music back through your existing amplifier or powered speakers. Or you can simply get a pair of high quality headphones and enjoy the music in private!
Breath new life into your older CD or DVD players either by connecting them to the digital or analog inputs. Turn your Blue Ray Player into a higher-end music/audio player.
Computer game music will also become less fatiguing with the tube processing of the TubeDAC-11.
- (5) sets of selectable inputs to allow you plenty of choices - including 2 sets RCA, 1 coaxial, 1 optical and 1 USB
- (2) sets of RCA Outputs tailored to your taste - one with transistor and one with a single 6N11 vacuum tube (can be replaced with 6922, E88CC, 6DJ8, 6H23n and CCa tubes) with passive volume control
- DAC direct output - by pass tube buffer stage and volume control for you to match the DAC with other high end amplification (amp must have its own volume control as DAC direct output pass signal at full volume)
- Built-in transistor headphone amp to allow you enjoy music in privacy (standard 6.5mm jack). Alternatively, you can use a RCA to 6.5mm jack adapter to connect headphones directly to the rear tube output. Note: front solid state headphone out can accept headphone with impedance as low as 16ohm; rear tube out only work properly with headphones with impedance over 300 ohm.
- Key parts are of audiophile quality throughout
- High efficiency low noise custom toroidal transformer which is usually only used on high end audio
- Separate power supply to tube circuitry to reduce interference
- Gold coated signal connectors throughout
- No over-samping - input singal pass through at original sampling rate
- TE7022 USB 2.0 decoding chip is used to process data at 24/96kHz
- High quality Cirrus Logic CS4398 for main D/A converter - provide rich mid-range and low clock jitter
- ADA4075-2 as opamp for sweet midrange
- Dual voltage (115/230V +/-10% wide range) for you to take it with you anywhere in the world
- Brushed aluminum faceplate and complete casing
- Complete set of cables included: (1) IEC power cord, (1) RCA, (1) Coaxial, (1) Optical and (1) USB
- Input: Optical, Coaxial, USB，Analong x 2
- Input digital signal format: 32-192 KHz, 16/24 Bit auto detection. (USB 2.0 supports up to 24Bit 96KHz)
- Output: DAC output, pre line output , tube buffer output.
- SNR: >120dB.
- Dynamic Range: 115dB.
- THD+N: <0.0008% at 20-20KHz (tube out :0.02%)
- Frequency response: 20-20KHz -0.2dB.
- Output Level: DAC output: 2V, pre line output/ tube buffer output:max 6V
- Output Impedance: Line out and Tube out - <20 ohm, DAC out < 600 ohm
- Headphone output power: 110mW at 300 Ohm, and 600mW at 32 Ohm
- Channel separation: DAC and Headphone output - 105dB; Tube output - 90 dB
- Power consumption: <20W.
- Net Dimensions: 10" W x 7" D x 2" H
- Net Weight: 1.6Kg (3.5 lb)
- Package Size: 12" W x 12" D x 4" H
- Color: black faceplate or silver faceplate
There are so many ways to use the TubeDAC-11.... the chart below is for your inspiration :)
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How to set the DAC-11 to the correct voltage?
A: There is red switch at the back panel of the DAC-11. You need to switch it to the position that your local voltage (either 115V or 230V) is visible to you. After this you can safely plug in and turn on your DAC-11 to enjoy.
2. Why my DAC-11 doesn't sit flat on my desk?
A: It has been brought to our attention that a few of the first production batch have the 4 rubber feet uneven - one foot may appear to be short by 1 to 2mm. As the rubber feet are parts provided by 3rd party and the factory assembly bench has a soft surface to avoid scratch to the casing, this problem wasn't identified before shipping. We recommend to use a small felt pad on one of the feet to compensate the uneven height if needed. Next production run will address this issue from factory by using a different parts supplier.
3. Why my DAC-11 doesn't appear to sound balanced with left and right channel when I turn the volume to very low?
A: The DAC-11 uses a high end mechnical potentiometer volume control to give you the best sound quality at normal listening level (left and right level volume difference no more than 0.5dB). However, mechnical potentiometer volume adjustment is not linear at very low and very high level. This is normal and it's not a defect of the volume control. Digital volume control will be 100% linear all the way but the sound quality is no where near the high end mechnical one. There are several ways to adjust your playback system to make the DAC-11 NOT to operate at the non-linear gain section, then the left and right channel will be balanced properly at your listening level.
a) When using low impedance headphones and if you find the imbalance bothers you at low volume, you can consider to use an impedance adapter.
b)when using computer as digital source, you can adjust your computer volume to less than full, then turn the DAC-11 volume up to skip the non-linear gain section.
c) when using DAC-11 with an amplifer with its own volume control, you can turn up the volume of DAC-11 and turn down the amplifier volume to get to your preferred listening volume.
4. What is the DAC-11's output via DAC out and Line Out / Tube Out? Where do I set the volume to optimize the performance?
A: The TubeDAC-11's maximum output is 6V RMS thru the Tube and Line outputs, 2V RMS on the DAC Direct Out. The entire output stage was tweaked to make a volume control that can be used for the various scenarios.
1). As a traditional DAC the volume knob sets Tube and Line Outs to the right level for your pre-amp or integrated from the 5 sources (typically 1/2 to 3/4 volume, with 3/4 typically being about 2.5v). We find that with our showroom equipment just under 3/4 volume is where we like it, probably just over 2v. The DAC Direct of course has no volume control and only the 3 digital inputs comes out the DAC Direct Out. We expect most will use both the DAC Direct Out and the Tube Out to their pre-amp stage and switch between to suit your music library selection and sources. We run all 3 outs at the same time into our pre-amp stages on our showroom systems, always fun to be able to get 3 flavours of sound at the switch of your pre-amps input control. We found that adding a switch to take the volume control out of the circuit was more of detriment to the sonics than have the volume control always present. Plus you can always run the DAC Direct out thru something like our B-283MKII tube processor loaded up with the Treasure/Psvane CV181-Z/T upgrade tubes or your favourite 6SN7 for a whole new world of high-end TubeDAC. Or run the DAC Direct Out to a dedicated headphone amp, which can sometimes be difficult incorporate into a system without manually switching cables around.
2). As a standalone pre-amp the TubeDAC-11 is vastly improved over our DAC-09 in that the range of the volume is much expanded, with vintage amps that produce full power at typically 1v, you will likely get to half volume before your amp clips, with more modern amps that range from 1.5 to 2.5 v to develop full power, you will get closer to 3/4 volume before clipping, for more stubborn amps that need lots of drive, the TubeDAC-11 is quite capable up to full volume.
3). As a standalone Headphone amp (both tube and SS) DAC-11 was designed in such a way that that both front (SS) and back (Tube with RCA to headphone jack adapter) will drive just about any normal headphone design out there, again giving a useful volume control range.
4). Computer Audio, Home Theatre, Recording Studios all bring lots of other requirements that the TubeDAC-11 can (hopefully) handle and most of this because of volume control design.
When setting the TubeDAC's volume control as a DAC to your pre-amp stage we suggest using the DAC Direct out as your reference to see where the TubeDAC-11's volume control matches that, just switch between the two outputs on your pre-amp. Then do some careful listeing as to where the Tube Out volumes starts to sing with your system, for low power SET amps we find a little boost helps a lot, for big power we find backing off relaxes the system a lot, experiment and you will find the right synergy between the TubeDAC-11 and your equipment.
The TubeDAC-11 Turns up to 5 of of your source players into High-End Tube Source Players. including:
CD Player, DVD Player, Blue Ray Player, SACD Player, iPad, iPod, MP3 Player, MP4 player Computer, Netbook, Notebook, Laptop, PhonoStage, SS DAC, TapeDeck, Tuner, X-box ™, Wii ™, Playstation ™, Sattelite Box, Cable Box, TV, Internet Radio, Wireless Audio, Sonos ™, Airport Express ™, Squeezebox ™ and anything else with digital or analog audio outputs.
By adding the TubeDAC-11 before any Solid State amplification system from a few dollars to multi thousand dollar systems you will get a dramatic improvement to your music enjoyment.