Spec Sheets - Listening experience - natural sound
First: I am not natively English speaking so please forgive any (minor) mistakes!
It is very interesting to read all of the stuff about the (relatively) new ESS Sabre DACs.
The numbers and spec sheets are impressive.
For me, one thing only matters, always: HOW DOES IT SOUND?
I did have the opportunity to compare an "older" Yamaha RX-A820 AV receiver to a new Yamaha RX-A1040 AV receiver. Both are high quality receivers.
The 820 uses Burr Brown. The 1040 uses ESS Sabre DACs.
Now, to better understand this, I am a professional musician, I am classically trained (highschool), but currently active in both pop and jazz music.
My RX-A820 with Burr Brown sounds far better than the newer 1040, which uses ESS. Voices sound more natural with the 820 / Burr Brown DACs. Mid- and low ranges are very transparent / natural sounding. ESS is good at extreme highs and extreme lows as well as channel separation and S/N ratio. They are brilliant to that extend.
But frankly, my ears are not interested in extreme highs, extreme lows or stellar high S/N ratio. My ears are interested in what comes closest to reality...
To me it's clear: Burr Brown easily wins this contest! They definitely sound more natural. So to me ESS Sabre is a bit of a hype, created by technicians, for technicians. Burr Brown is for musicians...
Sadly enough Yamaha chose ESS Sabre for it's latest Aventage receivers. I hope they will revert to Burr Brown again in the near future..!
Update September 3rd: I fumbled around a bit with the settings of the new RX-A1040, did a new measurement with the mic. I now have ALL settings to neutral (default) and the EQ of the Setup to "Natural". It actually sounds quite nice now and I am gaining a bit of affinity for the newer ESS Sabre chips. But still not fully satisfied. Still lacking a bit of "purity" in the mid ranges that I liked so much from the Burr Browns in my older RX-A820. But otherwise the sound is crystal clear. Does anybody have any suggestions here?
Last edited by JerryZ; 09-03-2014 at 08:56 AM.
Reason: More positive opinion on the ESS Sabre chips.