Theta DS Pro Prime II DAC

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Howard Stone

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Apr 2, 2019, 3:22:35 PM4/2/19
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I’ve just ordered one of these with a 14 days return period from eBay, I’ve heard that Theta made some outstanding DACs, though the one on its way to me is clearly not top of their range.

Has anyone any experience of this DAC? Internet comments suggest that their equipment was very well built, but they’re getting on for 30 years old now, I wonder how serviceable they are.

Peter Wieck

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Apr 3, 2019, 8:56:38 AM4/3/19
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Please do not get me started on DACs. Just the highlights:

a) There are a limited variety of chip-sets out there. Whether for the knock-off portable $19 CD player or the $15,000+ Moon DAC.
b) It is what happens outside of the chips that one hears.
c) Which is subject to the law of diminishing returns.
d) And, whereas the threshold is probably above $19 (about the cost of a very good chip-set), it is considerably below the $15,000 Moon.

I expect you will be pleased.

Peter Wieck
Melrose Park, PA

Howard Stone

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Apr 5, 2019, 9:50:24 AM4/5/19
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In fact twice now I've been bowled over by the difference that a DAC made, once with a DAC made by a little Canadian company called Museatex, and now with this Theta, which arrived a couple of days ago.

I have it in a system with an a little Quad 303 amp, and Mission 770 Mk2 speakers. It sounds fabulous! Suddenly you can hear the sound of a string starting to be plucked, or the texture of a horsehair bow on gut.

The Missions are a new buy, and they are surprisingly good!

Trevor Wilson

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Apr 6, 2019, 5:02:22 PM4/6/19
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On 3/04/2019 11:56 pm, Peter Wieck wrote:
> Please do not get me started on DACs. Just the highlights:
>
> a) There are a limited variety of chip-sets out there. Whether for the knock-off portable $19 CD player or the $15,000+ Moon DAC.
> b) It is what happens outside of the chips that one hears.
> c) Which is subject to the law of diminishing returns.
> d) And, whereas the threshold is probably above $19 (about the cost of a very good chip-set), it is considerably below the $15,000 Moon.
>
>

**Yeah, well, I've worked on a couple of Moon amplifiers. You can stick
'em where the Sun don't shine. Average topology, lost of air inside the
box and careless construction. Sound quality - ho hum. A classic case of
style over substance, IMO. I hope their DACs demonstrate more appealing
attributes.

One more thing: I am of the opinion that DACs DO make a difference.
After listening to delt/sigma DACs for a long time, a client brought in
an ancient Marantz CD-80 for service. Nothing special. No fancy OP amps.
I serviced it and placed it in my system. Whoo-hoo. The thing blew me
away. Something about those old multi-bit DACs. Dynamics seem to be far
more interesting and 'alive'.

--
Trevor Wilson
www.rageaudio.com.au

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Peter Wieck

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Apr 8, 2019, 11:58:12 AM4/8/19
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I picked Moon out of several options as one of the most obviously overpriced sources out there - much like $1,500-and-more cables and interconnects.

Trevor Wilson

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Apr 8, 2019, 6:32:14 PM4/8/19
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On 9/04/2019 1:58 am, Peter Wieck wrote:
> I picked Moon out of several options as one of the most obviously overpriced sources out there - much like $1,500-and-more cables and interconnects.
>

**Wait 'till you put one on the bench. YIKES!

Peter Wieck

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Apr 9, 2019, 9:59:16 AM4/9/19
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I would never!

"How It's Made" did a segment on Moon - I have maintained for years that there is but so much that can be put in a box, which could only be worth so much money. Moon proves "Less is more".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzWy5xbNKjE

Trevor Wilson

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Apr 9, 2019, 7:06:10 PM4/9/19
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On 9/04/2019 11:59 pm, Peter Wieck wrote:
> I would never!
>
> "How It's Made" did a segment on Moon - I have maintained for years that there is but so much that can be put in a box, which could only be worth so much money. Moon proves "Less is more".
>
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzWy5xbNKjE
>

**I did see one thing that heartened me in that vid. It is clear that
Moon are comfortable employing disabled workers in their factory. Still,
I question the wisdom of employing someone with Parkinson's to perform
delicate soldering tasks.

Peter Wieck

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Apr 16, 2019, 4:24:59 PM4/16/19
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After a little bit of time - what are your continued impressions?

Howard Stone

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Apr 20, 2019, 6:17:56 PM4/20/19
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I have it now in a system with some Spendor SP1s and an Electrocompaniet EC1. All input streamed.

I am very happy with the sound, which is rather "BBC" style. But what I can't say with any honesty is how much of this synergy is due to the DAC.

It does not have the holographic imaging of the system with my Mission 770 Mk2s (Deltec Bigger Bit and Quad 303), but is sweeter. It does not have the sheer presence of my system with the Quad ESL 63/Gradient subs (Musatex DAC and Quad 520 amps) -- but nothing I've heard does.

Of these three systems the Mission is my favourite, it is the most like being at a concert, a live musical event.

The JR149s are currently with my kids!

My Krell KSA50 is being serviced still, so I've not had a chance to hear the effect it will have. It weights 60kgs, I'm going to do my back in moving it from one place to another! I think the obvious thing to try it with first is the Missions, since I suspect that the 303 is a weak link.

Trevor Wilson

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Apr 21, 2019, 8:42:31 AM4/21/19
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**A Krell KAS50 weighing in at 60kg? I doubt that. I can easily lift a
40kg amp onto my bench. A 50kg amp requires considerable effort and a
60kg amp requires assistance. I've lifted several KSA50 amps onto the
bench without raising a sweat. I'd guess it's more like 30kg.

Let's check:

Oops, I was wrong. It's more like 27kg:

https://www.stereophile.com/content/krell-ksa-50-power-amplifier-specifications

Howard Stone

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Apr 21, 2019, 3:54:11 PM4/21/19
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sorry, 60lbs! Slightly less that 30kg, I remember that 30kg was the max that the postal people in the UK would handle, and they delivered the Krell.

Happy easter, and thanks for all your support on my little hifi adventure. I now have a system, a good one, in every room of my house!

Peter Wieck

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Apr 22, 2019, 5:56:50 PM4/22/19
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All good then!

I must state that I am not overly fond of Quad equipment - and I also think that the Krell will be a significant change (and improvement).

In any case, enjoy!

Howard Stone

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Oct 28, 2019, 1:00:38 PM10/28/19
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Having just spent some time switching DACs around and listening, much to my surprise the Theta makes a very substantial difference for the good. Where the impact of the DAC is most clear is in the tone, the Theta is not especially bright, and that's good.

DACs matter it seems!

Peter Wieck

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Oct 28, 2019, 1:22:38 PM10/28/19
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On Monday, October 28, 2019 at 1:00:38 PM UTC-4, Howard Stone wrote:

> DACs matter it seems!

I will agree that DACs, as with any other component in the chain, do matter.

What does not matter in any meaningful way would be the particular chip-set in use, after minimum QC standards are met. What would matter and be meaningful is how the analog signal is processed to the pre-amp (amp).

It all gets down to the fact the Theta is pleasant to you. And, that is all that really matters!
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