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magiccarpetride
10-05-2010, 22:12
I've started hearing about some people who, after purchasing the Caiman, ended up shrugging their shoulders and going 'meh' and returning the DAC (sic!)

Then I read some testimonials, and true indeed, there are such creatures out there, roaming the wilderness. This is totally baffling to me. I mean, of all people, I was the one who was the most skeptical and the most cynical that a 200 GBP DAC could really make a noticeable improvement in my multi-thousand dollars audio chain. And even after I've received the Caiman, I was non-impressed. Then, after some decent burn-in time, I've suddenly changed my tune.

But to return this magic component to the manufacturer? It's like returning a BMW and claiming that, hey, my Hyundai or my KIA is as good and as smooth performing in every possible way as this high end BMW! (believe it or not, there are such people who cannot distinguish between the high quality product and a cheap ass one)

There are only three possible explanations as to why would someone return The Caiman:

1. They haven't allowed it to burn-in properly (right out of the box this DAC is pretty underwhelming, to say the least)
2. They have allowed it a proper burn-in time, but they are listening to it on a shitty audio chain
3. They are overall clueless, as in not being able to taste the difference between a good home cooked meal and some McCrap sandwich

Have I missed anything?

The Grand Wazoo
10-05-2010, 22:30
Have I missed anything?

Yes,

4. Some people are more able to believe what they read, or what they are told, more readily than what their own experience tells them.


P.S. I don't know this for sure with respect to the Caiman, but it's a situation that happens all to often.

dave2010
10-05-2010, 22:33
Alex
I've started hearing about some people who, after purchasing the Caiman, ended up shrugging their shoulders and going 'meh' and returning the DAC (sic!)

...

Have I missed anything?One possibility might be that quality control isn't perfect, so there are significant differences between units. [I'm emphatically not saying this is the case though.] I feel sure that Stan would fix that for anyone who experienced a problem like that.

I was definitely not certain about mine in the first week or so, before it seemed to improve. I didn't expect that to happen, and I was sceptical. I find it very odd that these things burn in. Is it heat that does it? What changes? Maybe Stan's design takes into account how components change with time, so that he designs the circuits, then chooses components which will converge on to the ideal values over time. Perhaps other manufacturers design circuits then use components which have the correct nominal values, which then diverge from the ideal over time. It's very strange.

dave2010
10-05-2010, 22:41
Yes,

4. Some people are more able to believe what they read, or what they are told, more readily than what their own experience tells them.


P.S. I don't know this for sure with respect to the Caiman, but it's a situation that happens all to often.Another couple of possibilities are:

5. that the perceived quality depends on the type of music a user wants to play.

6. the quality of the recordings being played is inferior to the equipment being used, so the faults are blamed on the kit, not on the recordings. [not sure if you had that one already ...]

magiccarpetride
10-05-2010, 23:27
Another couple of possibilities are:

5. that the perceived quality depends on the type of music a user wants to play.

6. the quality of the recordings being played is inferior to the equipment being used, so the faults are blamed on the kit, not on the recordings. [not sure if you had that one already ...]

True, that's a good one. Yesterday I tried to play Alex Cuba's "Aqua Del Pozo" CD (http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=7994990), but had to switch to listening to something else. Reason? Loudness war! The Caiman doesn't seem to suffer loudness wars gladly. Even though Alex Cuba's music is very, very good, due to the criminal amounts of compression/limiting that the mindless promoters/marketeers insisted on smothering over the master tapes, that music is now not listenable. Sad to say, it is irreparably damaged. While before having the Caiman I could somehow sail through this CD, now with the Caiman in the audio chain this super loud, super dynamics-less CD just grates my ears to no end. Was forced to push the virtual "Eject" button on my remote.

If that CD and the ones similar to it were the only ones I was using to evaluate the Caiman, then yes, I'd too consider returning the DAC.

StanleyB
11-05-2010, 06:27
I have has less than ten Caimans returned for a refund. The latest one is from a guy who found a little scratch on the top cover after he used a magnifier o find it. Mind you, I suspected he was a dodgy buyer in the first place.
From the others, a couple of them bought/got on loan another DAC to compare against the Caiman and decided to send back the Caiman. A few sent their back because it did not do Dolby Prologic decoding. Two people could not hear a difference between their Sonos and the Caiman, and two had a sound compression issue. The latter can happen if the input sensitivity of the amp is 1Vrms or less. The Caiman puts out 2Vrms as per CDP spec.

Taking into account that I sold close to 1000 pieces of the Caiman I wouldn't consider 10 returned items as a problem. But saying that, I wouldn't be surprised if some people claimed to have returned a Caiman, when they never owned one in the first place. This happened to me when I started off with the TC-7510. I used to read all sorts of stories on that Canadian forum of ill repute where people made all sorts of wild claims about me and the TC-7510, even though I had never sold a DAC to them in the first place.

The Vinyl Adventure
11-05-2010, 09:24
Have you ever called people up on it, and defend your self? I guess it's not really worth the trouble ... But I can imagine that would be pretty funny! I find it very odd that people get opiniated about something they have no experience of almost just for the sake of it...

StanleyB
11-05-2010, 10:01
Since the days of the TC-7510 I have always offered customers the option of returning their purchase if they didn't get the bangs for bucks that they are looking for :). It appears to have been such a good offer, a lot of other DAC sellers around the world ended up adopting a similar policy. But since most of them can only be bought from China and return postage is astronomical (sometimes as much as the cost of the DAC or even more), their customers tend to re-sell their DACs on forums or eBay, audiogon etc.

DSJR
11-05-2010, 11:34
Lets be honest, this is a highly subjective industry (sadly) and a properly measuring, uncompressed and good sounding unit will always initially sound "worse" than a highly characterful, possibly distorted and coloured "impressive" item....

giorgino
11-05-2010, 11:53
7. The Caiman (or any piece kit) may be just a matter of personal preference.

Audio and music is very personal and works more on an emotional level than on an intellectual / measurable way for many (though not all) audiophiles. Since we are on a subjectivist forum most of us are probably more in the former than the latter category. :)

magiccarpetride
11-05-2010, 16:35
I have has less than ten Caimans returned for a refund. The latest one is from a guy who found a little scratch on the top cover after he used a magnifier o find it. Mind you, I suspected he was a dodgy buyer in the first place.
From the others, a couple of them bought/got on loan another DAC to compare against the Caiman and decided to send back the Caiman. A few sent their back because it did not do Dolby Prologic decoding. Two people could not hear a difference between their Sonos and the Caiman, and two had a sound compression issue. The latter can happen if the input sensitivity of the amp is 1Vrms or less. The Caiman puts out 2Vrms as per CDP spec.

Taking into account that I sold close to 1000 pieces of the Caiman I wouldn't consider 10 returned items as a problem. But saying that, I wouldn't be surprised if some people claimed to have returned a Caiman, when they never owned one in the first place. This happened to me when I started off with the TC-7510. I used to read all sorts of stories on that Canadian forum of ill repute where people made all sorts of wild claims about me and the TC-7510, even though I had never sold a DAC to them in the first place.

Sorry Stan, my bad, wrong choice of words. Instead of saying 'returning', I should've said 'selling off'. Most incidents I'm aware of involves people ordering the Caiman, evaluating it, and then deciding to get rid of it (usually by selling them on ebay, audiogon etc., or by trading them in).

And, like you've said, there's a lot of agenda peddlers as well:)

magiccarpetride
11-05-2010, 16:37
7. The Caiman (or any piece kit) may be just a matter of personal preference.

Audio and music is very personal and works more on an emotional level than on an intellectual / measurable way for many (though not all) audiophiles. Since we are on a subjectivist forum most of us are probably more in the former than the latter category. :)

True. That's why I've mentioned people who find McCrap sandwiches to taste better than the most sublime food. To each their own.

BlueMax
11-05-2010, 20:56
Active speakers has been the prefered choice among pro-audio folk for very long time. Now they are making in roads to the world of hi-fi, as more and more people are discovering various advantages of active speakers. Many of these active speakers have digital inputs and built in DACs optimised to work with built in amps and speakers.
Will external DACs and external amplifiers, soon or later, become things of the past or do they still offer anything to music lovers?

magiccarpetride
11-05-2010, 22:11
Active speakers has been the prefered choice among pro-audio folk for very long time. Now they are making in roads to the world of hi-fi, as more and more people are discovering various advantages of active speakers. Many of these active speakers have digital inputs and built in DACs optimised to work with built in amps and speakers.
Will external DACs and external amplifiers, soon or later, become things of the past or do they still offer anything to music lovers?

It's been demonstrated under various conditions and circumstances that audio components such as DACs, preamps, power amps etc. benefit from having separate electrical power sources fed into them. In other words, bundling them all up into one uber component which has a single source of electrical power (and, horror of horrors, hosted inside a super noisy speaker cabinet!) is guaranteed to mess things up and to deliver unbearably inferior sound.

For that reason alone I don't see external DACs and separate standalone power amplifiers ever going away.

giorgino
12-05-2010, 00:49
True. That's why I've mentioned people who find McCrap sandwiches to taste better than the most sublime food. To each their own.
IMO it is possible to prefer lobster to steak and not have to categorise one as "McCrap" and the other one "sublime". "To each their own" is a statement I happen to believe in with regard to food and audio.

BlueMax
12-05-2010, 12:37
It's been demonstrated under various conditions and circumstances that audio components such as DACs, preamps, power amps etc. benefit from having separate electrical power sources fed into them. In other words, bundling them all up into one uber component which has a single source of electrical power (and, horror of horrors, hosted inside a super noisy speaker cabinet!) is guaranteed to mess things up and to deliver unbearably inferior sound.

For that reason alone I don't see external DACs and separate standalone power amplifiers ever going away.I am not an electronic engineer but I have also wondered about these:
1. benefits of having separate PSUs (as u said)
2. huge magnetic fields of the drivers affecting electronic components
3. vibrations from the drivers affecting electronic components

Has anyone compared an active speaker by:

1. feeding the digital input and so using the built in DAC
and
2. using an external DAC and feeding the analogue inputs

StanleyB
12-05-2010, 12:45
What has any of this got to do with the topic?

trailer
12-05-2010, 13:52
Back on topic. I can't say tht I've seen too many Caimans for sale on the usual sites. You're more likely to see 7510's.

BlueMax
12-05-2010, 15:53
I have been using various models of DACs for 10 years or more and have been involved in upgrading them. However, recently I have noticed the popularity of active speakers spreading from the pro-audio world to hi-fi enthusiasts also.

IF people compare DAC/amplifier with active speaker and find that active speakers are superior, return rate of the DACs (including Caimans) will increase and their popularity will decrease.

I am not stating that is happening but simply trying to find out by asking,
Has anyone compared:
1. feeding the digital input and so using the built in DAC of the active monitor
and
2. using an external DAC and feeding the analogue inputs of the active monitor

'Expert reviewers' from commercial magazines, somehow avoid making such comparisons.

DSJR
12-05-2010, 16:08
It's been demonstrated under various conditions and circumstances that audio components such as DACs, preamps, power amps etc. benefit from having separate electrical power sources fed into them. In other words, bundling them all up into one uber component which has a single source of electrical power (and, horror of horrors, hosted inside a super noisy speaker cabinet!) is guaranteed to mess things up and to deliver unbearably inferior sound.

For that reason alone I don't see external DACs and separate standalone power amplifiers ever going away.

With respect, I don't believe any of this at all and it's possible to make some wonderful active monitors with DAC's built in - and by a gradually increasing number of manufacturers too. Sticking the whole lot in a noisy speaker cabinet may not be an issue when the distortion caused is still 50db below the distortion in the drive units.

Single source of electrical power? Whatr about star wiring - taking everything back to one point?

Sorry, the support for HiFi separates systems is with us oldies only, as so few youngsters are buying such. The performance of little active monitors (and so many of the bigger ones too) is potentially so much better and takes up so little room I really do think that this is the future. The few of us separates freaks will mop up the old stuff, as happens on PFM for instance..

magiccarpetride
12-05-2010, 16:18
With respect, I don't believe any of this at all and it's possible to make some wonderful active monitors with DAC's built in - and by a gradually increasing number of manufacturers too. Sticking the whole lot in a noisy speaker cabinet may not be an issue when the distortion caused is still 50db below the distortion in the drive units.

Single source of electrical power? Whatr about star wiring - taking everything back to one point?

Sorry, the support for HiFi separates systems is with us oldies only, as so few youngsters are buying such. The performance of little active monitors (and so many of the bigger ones too) is potentially so much better and takes up so little room I really do think that this is the future. The few of us separates freaks will mop up the old stuff, as happens on PFM for instance..

That could very well be the case. I was speaking from a deductive reasoning standpoint (strictly out of my arse), because I've never had an opportunity to evaluate active monitors side by side with the traditional audio chain.

I still believe that the old maxim "divide and conquer" applies also to the world of high end audio reproduction. I may be proven wrong, and perhaps a new maxim "combine and conquer" will prove to be more suitable.

I am also a big fan of specialized devices (I'd rather use iPad than a general purpose personal computer when browsing the web, for example). Also, I prefer to use my Nikon camera for shooting high quality stills only, and use a different, more specialized gadget when shooting high quality videos. I don't like those "everything and a kitchen sink" gadgets that are flooding the market right now (you know, the phones that also take photos, videos, record music, act as food blenders and espresso makers, take blood pressure and blood sugar level, monitor your heartbeat AND take your dog for a walk).

Clive
12-05-2010, 16:26
My valves would get rather hot inside a speaker cabinet, not to mention rattled. Come to think of it I prefer speakers without cabinets anyway. Oh well, I'm just a dinosaur.

magiccarpetride
12-05-2010, 16:30
My valves would get rather hot inside a speaker cabinet, not to mention rattled.

I hear ya. Still, what if the distortion caused by all that overheating and rattling is still 50db below the distortion in the drive units?

DSJR
12-05-2010, 20:37
:D

Themis
12-05-2010, 20:41
You really don't thing that distortion is just dBs and percentages, do you ? ;)

magiccarpetride
12-05-2010, 21:13
You really don't thing that distortion is just dBs and percentages, do you ? ;)

I do, but only if I'm holding my tongue firmly planted to my cheek.

Themis
12-05-2010, 21:42
:lol:

Even with THD, anybody can hear that 1% coming from a speaker has not much to do with 1% coming from an amplifier. :)
Even if they are both 1%... of THD.

MartinT
13-05-2010, 07:47
The Caiman, even in its original state, is a very transparent and neutral device and will pass through the quality of the CD or stream in all its glory (or ugliness). I believe that some systems are just not sympathetic to this truthfulness and sound harsh when presented with such an unadulterated input. Many low cost systems veer towards the harsh and clinical end of the spectrum rather than lush.

Now that my Caiman has been modified, I believe it stands up to some of the best DACs out there regardless of price. This is a phenomenal level of performance, especially regarding the total cost (probably about 300 in my case). No apologies need be made for the Caiman, but beware the system that cannot cope with its highly detailed and transparent presentation.

magiccarpetride
13-05-2010, 16:55
The Caiman, even in its original state, is a very transparent and neutral device and will pass through the quality of the CD or stream in all its glory (or ugliness). I believe that some systems are just not sympathetic to this truthfulness and sound harsh when presented with such an unadulterated input. Many low cost systems veer towards the harsh and clinical end of the spectrum rather than lush.

Now that my Caiman has been modified, I believe it stands up to some of the best DACs out there regardless of price. This is a phenomenal level of performance, especially regarding the total cost (probably about 300 in my case). No apologies need be made for the Caiman, but beware the system that cannot cope with its highly detailed and transparent presentation.

My most recent findings seem to corroborate your claims. I would just add that the vanilla Caiman does all that only after it's been properly burnt-in (after its 200 hour milestone, or so).

Right out of the box, the Caiman wasn't nearly as revealing to me as it became now, once I've cracked the 200 hour burn-in threshold. During its first few days, this DAC was glossing over some of the harshness that is now presented very clearly.

When I listen to it now, my mood and enthusiasm changes like a yo-yo -- if I'm playing a well crafted track, I just can't wipe the idiotic grin off my face. But as soon as I cue in a shitty, over-compressed track, I start feeling suicidal, because I feel as if my precious audio system is full of crap:(

You're right, the Caiman does not lie.

Marco
13-05-2010, 18:05
OMG what? :scratch:

Let's keep to the thread topic on this one, chaps. Any further off-topic material posted will be moved to a separate thread.

Cheers! :cool:

Marco.

Peter Galbavy
14-05-2010, 07:59
Can I put forward a counter point to the "returning" or "selling" theme ?

My friend makes/crafts/records (whatever your preference) electronic music but because of restrictions at home she needed a decent set of headphones. She selected the HD600s but then needed a headphone amp to get the best out of them. During the selection process, which tended towards the Graham Slee etc. I suggested she borrows my Caiman.

Within an hour she wanted one and I let her have mine while I popped 'round to Stan's to buy a new one - which I have been burning in nicely ever since.

So - I would suggest that because of the quality of the device and not being over marketed the Caiman sells itself.

Joe
14-05-2010, 12:15
OMG what? :scratch:

Let's keep to the thread topic on this one, chaps. Any further off-topic material posted will be moved to a separate thread.

Cheers! :cool:

Marco.

But surely thread drift is an integral part of the AoS experience?

Marco
14-05-2010, 15:39
Hi Joe,

You're right, but if possible I'd like this one to stay on-topic.

Marco.

P.S Nice to see you back :)