Eastern Electric Minimax DAC is a very popular DAC running in Class A and feature both opamp output and tube output. This 32bit 192K DAC has been winning many award around the world. This wonderful little DAC is also great for tweaking not only it allow for easy opamp rolling but also easy tube rolling. Many Head-Fer is passionately supporting this wonderful little DAC (http://www.head-fi.org/t/495800/eastern-electric-minimax-tube-dac-32-bit-dac)
One of the Head-fier gets their hands on the latest V5 SS opamp and he modded his Minimax with it and this is his project: (http://www.head-fi.org/t/784790/burson-supreme-sound-audio-v5-opa-d-v5-opa-s-review/15#post_12030233)
I have played a wide variety of music, different sources, different bit rates….approaching 20 hours over the past 3 days so I think I have a hang of the general characteristics of the V5
I have been able to compare it to my (never sell hahaha) Metrum Hex which has been a joy to listen over the past year (spoiler it doesn’t beat it, but I’m missing it less than I was prior to the Burson upgrades) and also to the stock Minimax unit.
Music listened to during test
Infected Mushroom Friends on Mushrooms
John Hopkins Insides
Lorde Pure Heroine
Mozart – Requiem in d Minor
I listened to each album in its entirety as I base my impressions on my emotional attachment to the music, how easily I can goosebumps and how easily I can get to a place where the music just flows over me in waves rather than having to actively listen and analyse.
My impressions were uniform across the various genres of music played – the first is that the sound stage DEPTH is substantially increased, there is far more separation of instruments but also there is more sense of where the instruments are spatially. I very quickly started to feel surrounded by the music whereas before it was far more 2 dimensional.
Secondly BASS quality is substantially improved – in this area I would for my listening preference rate this over the Metrum Hex – the BASS was tighter, better defined and controlled. Drums/deep sub bass sections of music quickly gave me a great emotional involvement in the music. With dance music they added additional excitement/energy to the music, and with Classical music a greater sense of scale or grandness.
Thirdly the background is blacker – hence the sense of increased depth to the music but also more transparency – I can’t exactly describe it but it’s the X-factor for me that defines a good piece of Audio equipment – the silence between the notes and the lack of anything getting in the way, no Veil – the V5 Opamps have this characteristic in spades (and the Stock Minimax did not Tube/Opamp or otherwise).
I was afraid that the V5’s would add too much additional treble energy to the DAC as I have experienced this with some of the Opamps I have tried in the past – trying to increase sound stage and ending up with a thin sounding harsh sound that did nothing for my music pleasure. There is more treble extension with the V5 Opamps but this is smooth and non fatiguing rather than artificially extended – i.e. quality rather than quantity – it gives more impact to cymbals and vocals but without the harsh sibilance that can accompany brighter sources.
A few of the reviews I have seen have alluded to the fact that the EE Minimax Dac has a very high potential to be a giant killer if those (pesky) not very good stock Opamps are swapped out. My impressions would mostly support this, the Burson V5 turn this (CHEAP now) Dac into a very very competent source. I didn’t mess around with other combinations of Opamp due to the wealth of impressions and threads on exactly that – Most pointed to the final (logical) conclusion that discrete Opamps are the way to go – I’m glad I cut out the middle man and went for the best option.
My Litmus test for a piece of audio equipment is how quickly I can relax, close my eyes and go to sleep – I have had a few technically great DACs where I was NEVER able to switch off critical analysis mode – revelling in the detail and sheer clarity but ultimately going nuts when I just can’t relax…..These DACs wow with their sheer excitement and energy long enough to get it them out of the showroom and into the front room.
The Minimax DAC with the V5 does pass the Litmus test for me – The V5’s haven’t turned it into a giant 5k DAC killing monster but it’s pretty damn close – close enough for me to just listen to the music and revel in the fact that I am more than $2k better off with my new DAC/Opamp combo and getting more than 90% of the enjoyment :-) – done deal!
Hmmmm might have to try the capacitor bypass and also change out the cheapo power supply capacitors!!
Tried it with Tube mode on and Just 2 V5 Opamps – step backwards for me now – plus from what I can gather the best way to run the Minimax if you use Opamps only is to pull the tube out.
Disclaimer – As well as using headphones for this review (SE535, Oppo Pm3, HE-6) I also used a pair of Usher Diamond Mini Dancer 2 speakers….is this even legal on Head-Fi?”…