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View Full Version : Poll: Which DAC do you prefer SBR or SB3?



Howard Passman
2008-11-15, 07:50
Played through a relatively (I know, I know) decent two channel set up, which DAC do you prefer, the SBR's Wolfson W8501 or the SB3's Burr-Brown PCM 1748E? This is assuming you have both.

Throw in a few words about why. Warmer? More transparent? Better transients?

Howard

aubuti
2008-11-15, 09:07
I haven't done the AB testing, blind or otherwise, yet to answer this. But I will mention that the analog output on the SBR is lower than that on the SB2/SB3, so you'll need to have the volume adjusted accordingly for a fair comparison.

Howard Passman
2008-11-15, 09:16
I haven't done the AB testing, blind or otherwise, yet to answer this. But I will mention that the analog output on the SBR is lower than that on the SB2/SB3, so you'll need to have the volume adjusted accordingly for a fair comparison.

I noticed that also. I only spent a few minutes so far listening to the two, but initially I like the SB3 better. Of course a lot of it boils down to personal preference, but the SBR seems a hair muddy. Please don't hold me to that yet, because like I said, I haven't put any time in it.

Let me know if you do try a careful comparison and have a great weekend.

Howard

pablolie
2008-11-15, 20:25
I have compared the 2 in the bedroom only, which is of course just mostly background music type of venue. And the other limiting factor is that in the bedroom I have the system simply connected to Acoustic Energy's Aego M
http://www.acoustic-energy.co.uk/Product_range/Aego_series/Aego_M.asp

I too found that the valume levels are markedly different. Other than that I think that in that environment they perform identically. Meaning they system sounds great for a bedroom system. The reason why the SB3 rules now in the bedroom over the Duet is because my wife prefers the interface of the SB3 - it is much easier to set the sleep function with the older remote, a big advantage for a bedroom system. She does not like the whell based navigation at all, and it is frustrating for large collections. A touch screen is a must for the next device, I'd say. In fact, I think a combination of the SB3 with one of the high end Logitech remotes is the way forward. But I am digressing. In a nutshell, no I do not hear a difference, but in my main system I always stayed with my original SB3 connected to a DAC - why mess with a great thing? I am sure that given my reliance on optical to the DAC I would not hear a difference between the SB3 and the SBR, either. :-)

I do wonder if the choice for the new DAC was an improvement or a cost cutting measure, though. Any thoughts on that?

autopilot
2008-11-17, 03:36
There was quite a lot of discussion about this at one stage, so when i first received my beta SBr, i hooked it up to the same medium end AMP as my SB3 and did about half a day's worth of A-B testing. TBH, while there are slight differences in characteristics, they are so similar overall i can't say i prefer either really. I would like to have voted "No preference" However if held at gun point, i would probably blurt out "SBr". I say this because it found it to be a touch brighter, and i like the sound. The SB3 was a bit warmer, and i think most people will prefer it. I guess its also down to the music you like. I'm also quite prepared to accept my ears/brain where biased because i'm so used to the SB3's sound. At this level, there is not much in it.

Howard Passman
2008-11-18, 04:19
There was quite a lot of discussion about this at one stage, so when i first received my beta SBr, i hooked it up to the same medium end AMP as my SB3 and did about half a day's worth of A-B testing. TBH, while there are slight differences in characteristics, they are so similar overall i can't say i prefer either really. I would like to have voted "No preference" However if held at gun point, i would probably blurt out "SBr". I say this because it found it to be a touch brighter, and i like the sound. The SB3 was a bit warmer, and i think most people will prefer it. I guess its also down to the music you like. I'm also quite prepared to accept my ears/brain where biased because i'm so used to the SB3's sound. At this level, there is not much in it.


I tend to agree with your assessment, but to be honest I still haven't had the time to really AB them. Kinda why I was asking others opinions. The whole reason I was curious is because I replaced my "main" system SB with the SB3 and relegated the SBR to "roaming" duty. Then one day I got to wondering if I had done the right thing since my "main" system is the best one in the house. I AB'd them a bit, but because of something I added to my set up, it's very hard to get behind my equipment to switch back and forth.

I do like warmth and that's what I htought the SB3 was better at.

Thanks for putting your opinion out there.

Howard

Khuli
2008-11-18, 09:47
It's probably one for a thread of it's own, but if 2 DACs convert an identical signal at an identical rate, how can they sound different?
I always assumed any differences were due to different analog circuitry on the output stage...

2eleven
2008-11-18, 15:58
The SB3 suffers from a high pitched whine on the right channel. This is not from the DAC, but it gives the SBR my vote for sound quality. That said, I like the display and IR blaster/power switch capabilities of the SB3, so overall I prefer the SB3.

John