Anyone heard a Chord Dave?

Has anyone here heard a Chord Dave in a sort of comparison way to the Directstream Sr with a more recent mountain top firmware (Redcloud and/or Snowmass)?

If you have, what were the observations you had between them in sound quality and usability?

The Dave has come up quite a few times. In comparison listening, all reports here I recall expressed a preference for the DS (not surprising). At nearly twice the price the Dave should be considerably better.

The Dave is one silly looking device.

I agree it looks ugly. But if the sound were better I might be willing to forgive it.

The Dave and other DACs (not necessarily Chord) are regularly compared to the DSsnr. Often the DS is not considered the top performer.
Denafrips Terminator is one and (in Australia) Gieseler Grob DAC + Kraftwerk PSU are very popular comparisons.

much of the result of comparisons is subjective.
I think that whether or not the DS is considered better doesn’t matter - the fact that the DS DACs are in these comparisons gives you an indication of pedigree. Ultimately you have to undertake them yourself to answer the question.

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I agree the Dave looks like a hideous contraption. BUT it is a really good sounding DAC. As is the Hugo TT. Is it better than a DS Sr? It’s personal preference if you ask me. Sound aside I prefer the ergonomics and full desktop build of other brands. I think the family of the PWT, DSD Sr. and P5 build is on point.

Above a certain price point, around $5k-$6k and up all DACs in this category sound really really good, as they should of course. It just comes down to personal preference. There isn’t one that’s significantly better than the other in my opinion in this category for pure sound as you start running out of things to improve and tweak and get into the diminishing returns category. Maybe only a 50K plus MSB R2R but even still I bet with really good cables, power conditioning and equally great power amps youd still have to really listen to pick out the differences between a 6K to 12K DAC and even still they’d be just a little different rather than one being that much better than the other.

Personally I think for musical finesse and enjoyment the custom FPGA based DSD upsampling DACs like the DS Sr or Playback Designs Merlot in particular are king for me. Theres just something about their sound, it’s probably the DSD, but it just sound right.

Extremely well implemented off the shelf chip based designs (except Sabres, they are harsh and awful no matter how impressive their technical specs or supporting hardware is) like the Bricasti’s are also really good, just a little more analytical in my opinion. Still amazing for music just not as good as a DS IMHO. Which is why I use my M1SE in my sound effects studio in a pro audio application where pure pcm bit perfect accuracy is paramount and the DS Sr in my main music listening setup area. The DS Sr is in a class by itself in that it’s a top tier DAC and network music player all in one. There are virtually no other products 1 box solutions that do this together remotely on the level of the DS.

I own all 3 of the aforementioned DACs and have previously owned others like the Yggdrasil and Holo Spring, but the 3 I named are in a class well above and the price reflects that. Classic high end R2Rs like the Anodyne’s and Thetas are also really good too if you can find one. Great for redbook hooked up to a high end CD player.


Thanks for your response. That seems to be what the consensus is among many of the DACs talked about here. They are all state of the art performance with no real weakness and that it’s more personal preference as to what sound signature you’re looking for. Even on the used market, I see most Dave’s selling for above the Directstream’s MSRP so it would be quite the investment to get one in house to play with.

Sometimes you find things out in unusual ways…

YouTube audio blogger John Darko has both a DS and a Dave.
He posted a video on his vinyl experience which mentioned both Dacs.

The DS is in his main system and the Dave is “on his desk upstairs”.
Interesting that.

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To me this is the wrong forum to ask if someone likes something other than PSA gear. I’m sure if you were on a Chord forum the responses would lean toward the Chord.

Like all audio gear people like different things. I have never heard a Chord Dave but people do rave about them. I’m sure if you went with a Chord Dave you will love it. I’m sure of he same with a DS Sr.

This is what makes audio so fun/crazy.

I own both, the Dave is a wonderful DAC

It’s interesting to read here and there that the Chord is compared to the DS like to a more euphoric sounding record player with less detail and transients in your face, therefore a more natural sound.

I think for many digital still mainly means a maximum of obvious and invasive information. I’m glad the Directstream passed this even before Snowmass. To me this other kind of digital always sounded wrong and not like information I know from live experiences.

By the way: Darko’s speakers and record player in this video somehow didn’t look like something to base judgements on :wink:

But I never heard the Dave…I just read those similar reviews of it compared to the DS.

How would you describe the difference in sound between the two?

In the UK market, and probably many outside the USA, the Chord Dave probably leads the pack in high-end, below the reference level dCS DAC systems. If I was willing to spend Dave money, I’d just go up to dCS.
Chord, and the size of the products, means that they are fully merited in their own right (Mojo, Qutest, Hugo2, Dave), ranging from a pocket FPGA DAC to a main system top product, also offering an upgrade path.
The DSD was £6,000 from launch until recently, the Dave is £8,500. The DSD is now down at £4,500, which suggests there is difficulty selling it in the UK. Bear in mind you can’t get one on trial and there is no trade-in available, with a weak resale value compared to Chord. You can also get a Devialet 140 Expert Pro for £4,500.
I have heard the Dave and it is the next best thing I’ve heard to dCS Vivaldi. I’ve never heard a DSD, but I did have a PWD.

Check out this review

Are you able to state which one you prefer?

I use the Dave for my headphone listening since it is set up for that…the PS Audio is used with my loudspeaker system…tough to give an answer since the Dave is twice as expensive but if forced to i would give the edge to the Dave although I love them both

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Out of curiosity, have you sampled the Dave on your loudspeaker setup?

yes i have