For the past two days and today morning I kept my MS-1 plugged into the Zhaolu and my Yulong T-amp off.
And I thought I'd be able to get use to the sound of MS-1 and like it more.
To the contrary it had the opposite effect. After taking the MS-1 off and turning the speakers on, I was blasted by a wide soundstage, impactful bass, extended highs.
Signs of my speakers telling me that the MS-1 is shit.
The MS-1 does feel a bit more analytical and musical (in the sense that the notes are more seperated and distinguishable), but the Atoms just have a much better overall presentation.
$300 DAC (~$250 + $50 for the op-amps) + $160 headphones, vs $300 DAC + ~$500 amp + speakers.
Ok, maybe I'm playing fking unfair. $460 vs $800. Or $160 vs $500 if you're looking at drivers only.
With $500 I can get MS-2, K701, HD600.
But will they be worth it? Actually I don't think so.
Also since I already know that the Atoms (and MS-1, and many other drivers in general) sound largely the same even as I switched sources from DAC to on-board, I think it is safe to hypothesize that Atoms with on-board ($500) will still sound better than MS-1 with DAC-Amp ($460).
Testing only proved it correct. With the on-board, the sound is more dead, more jumbled, less space, less extended highs, and more noisy, but overall presentation still wins the Zhaolu-MS-1 combo.
I knew drivers make the largest difference. Now I also know the extent of which in more detail. And that statement (that drivers make the largest difference) is hell of an understament when people say it to others.
So the Zero-MS-1 bundle selling in Jab*n is doing a huge injustice to the DAC. Same for Zero-Aego-M, Zero-MX5021, Citypulse-Audioengine A5, (any DAC the price usually used with)-Travagan 3", any a whole lot of DACs out there. The only exception is Go-Vibe, which a friend of mine found something interesting about it.
No wonder people can use the Zero and Zhaolu in systems that are so much more expensive compared to the norm in HWZ. Because the point of diminishing returns is hit fast on DACs. It's all about balance.
I already know my self-repaired Atoms are bottlenecking the system. Maybe I should upgrade to the Primus 160?
W A R N I N G !
W A R N I N G !
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