VentureCraft Go-DAP DD Socket 1 (MUSES 01, MUSES 02, OPA627)

The guys at VentureCraft know how to make a good looking portable audio gear. From the first iteration of the Go-DAP, we’ve been given nothing but first class product design and build quality (check out the new VentureCraft bracket for Iphone on my Tokyo Show article). While my impression of the Go-DAP 4.0 and Go-DAP X was quite disappointing (the 4.0 especially was disappointing from a sound quality perspective I scrapped my plans to write a review on it), I see some light on the current generation Dac-only Go-DAP DD Socket 1 models.

The DD Socket 1 comes with an AKM AK4353 chip but is available with several different output stage flavors. The stock model is equipped with a standard OP275 while the upgraded models (higher price than stock) are offered in the following flavors: OPA627, Muses01, and Muses02. I happen to have all three models with the upgraded op-amps, one belonging to a customer while the other two I bought while in my Japan trip.

Between the three, the Muses01 is definitely the most impressive of the bunch. The widest and the most spacious of the three by quite a margin. Character of the Muses signature, the tonal balance is quite flat and with a good amount of air that reminds me a lot of the sound signature of the Asus Xonar Essence Muses Edition. Aside from the strength of a large soundstage the Muses01 is the grainiest and the dryest sounding of the three however, and so it’s recommended that you pair it with warm sounding amps (there’s plenty to choose from: Portaphile 627, ALO International & Continental, Leckerton Audio, Ray Samuels, etc).

The Muses02 model has a blacker background and a cleaner sound than the Muses01 though it’s narrower in soundstage. Like the Muses01 the tonal balance is quite flat though with less air than the 01 but again with the benefit of having a blacker background.

The OPA627 model sounds like *surprise surprise* an OPA627 with its forward midrange-centric sound. Obviously the most colored of the three though the coloration is quite subtle and doesn’t quite sound as warm as a typical OPA627 amplifier (well this is an amplifier after all). Being the narrowest sounding of the three may sound bad but with the right amplifier and headphone combination you can get a fairly expansive soundstage out of it and so I wouldn’t really hesitate to recommend the OPA627.

 

Comparisons with other brands

The VentureCrafts do have their own sound signature and together with Fostex HP-P1 are the two flattest sounding offerings in the market. Furutech’s ADL X1 seem to also belong to this camp from my brief listening session in Tokyo, but I’d rather not say too much about the X1 as I don’t have the unit here to compare to. The other camp which is the darker, warmer sounding camp represented by CypherLabs Solo (-R, dB, and the first generation Solo) and Sony’s PHA-1.

Between the VentureCraft Go-Dap DD to the Fostex HP-P1, the HP-P1 is signficantly smoother, cleaner, and more refined. Other than the Muses01 possessing a wider soundstage than the P1 (the other DD models being roughly comparable in soundstage width), the P1 excels in having a superior depth and blacker background. The Muses01, while is extremely wide, does sound a bit flat and lacking in soundstage depth. The Muses02 has roughly the same soundstage width but again not the depth of the Fostex, slightly darker background on the Muses but a bit more grain and less clear. The OPA627 is the most colored bunch of this camp, mid-centric with a noticeably less accurate timbre and soundstage space.

Obviously everyone know that CypherLabs is a site sponsor but long time readers should know by know that my preference lies in a dark sound with weighty lows and that means I easily gravitate towards the CypherLabs & Sony camp. Perhaps most surprising is the Sony PHA-1 I got from Tokyo which is markedly improved from the last unit we listened to. Still the same warm signature but this PHA-1 is extremely spacious, possessing strong depths as well as width. The bass is a bit loose and the detail retrieval a bit lacking compared to the CypherLabs/VentureCraft/Fostex devices, but the Sony is extremely enjoyable with its spacious dark and warm signature.

It’s a good thing that we have more choices these days with i-Devices DACs compared to when we only had the CypherLabs Solo and Fostex HP-P1 some two years ago. Perhaps we should start an i-Devices vs Android USB OTG DAC comparison in the near future, but from experience pairing an OTG DAC with my Samsung S4 with the USB Recorder Pro softwareย has been a fairly buggy ordeal and definitely less reliable than a typical i-Device DAC pairing. Maybe it’ll improve in the future.

 

godap4_94Q1017 godap4_94Q1010 godap4_94Q1008 godap_94Q1011 godap4_94Q1002

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

29 Comments

  • Reply July 9, 2013

    dalethorn

    This review gives me a pretty clear picture of which way the Go-DAP people are aiming their product, and it looks like they’re playing it safe. I would like to read more about the convenience of handling this in actual use situations.

  • Reply July 10, 2013

    admiralwiem

    Mike, how about the photos from the S4? *wink*

    • Reply July 10, 2013

      Mike

      Super grainy didn’t make the quality cut. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply July 10, 2013

        Ryan Adiputra

        got to have Full Frame man, got to have Full Frame

      • Reply July 11, 2013

        admiralwiem

        Can’t beat the 1Dx -_-. That ‘Zeus’ full frame is awesome.

  • Reply July 11, 2013

    Twinster

    Regarding the Android & OTG setup. If you enable the USB Debugging mode under the development option you will be able to use any of the application (not only USB Recorder Pro ). At least it’s working fine for me with my Samsung S3 with ALO PanAm.

    • Reply July 12, 2013

      Mike

      Thank you, I will make sure that Usb debugging is on.

  • Reply August 10, 2013

    George Lai

    An interesting product as this makes it a direct competitor to the CLAS being DAC only? As a side question, of the DAC/amps (HP-P1, PHA-1, ADL X1) which of them do not allow you to bypass the amp?

    • Reply August 10, 2013

      Mike

      The HP-P1 and the ADL X1 (http://headfonia.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/A94Q9887.jpg) allows you to bypass the amp. The PHA-1, I think not but I need to double check.

      • Reply August 10, 2013

        George Lai

        Thanks Mike. I’m looking at DACs smaller than my CLAS to carry around. So far they’ve been DAC/amps so this looks interesting. The X1 looks small enough that if one is too lazy to bring along a slim-sized amp, at least it’s got one built in. Decisions decisions.

        • Reply August 10, 2013

          Mike

          The Venture Crafts here are not smaller than the CLAS. Maybe slightly narrower but longer. The ADL X1 is looking to be the smallest i-Device DAC/Amp around.

  • Reply August 10, 2013

    George Lai

    Was the stock opamp that bad and not worth considering? I see from their website it is USD100 cheaper.

    • Reply August 10, 2013

      Mike

      I wouldn’t say bad but the difference is quite noticeable. I figured that if people would bother carrying a separate external DAC may as well go for the better one.

      • Reply August 10, 2013

        George Lai

        Ha Ha, slippery slopes ahead.

  • Reply August 11, 2013

    rich

    Referring to the Sony PHA-1, is there an improved version ? What is the serial number of the new PHA 1 that you bought from Tokyo if it is acceptable ? I was an early adopter and wonder if Sony can update my PHA-1 ? Yes the signature is dark but the stage, width and depth are mediocre. A price to pay for being the first few to buy this when the model was out.

    • Reply August 12, 2013

      Mike

      Rich,
      I didn’t take note of the serial number of the first PHA-1 I listened to. The one I have right now, I bought it in Tokyo and the sound though still dark has an excellent width and depth comparable to or maybe a tad better than the Fostex HP-P1. I don’t know what they did, if it was just a different batch. I need to look into this further but I have very limited information on it.

  • Reply September 12, 2013

    Steven

    Quote: …Perhaps we should start an i-Devices vs Android USB OTG DAC comparison in the near future…

    Sony PHA-2 announced. The train keeps on rolling

    Re: ADL X1. Head-Fi thread says line-out is as computer dac only. Line-out is disabled when using with iDevice. Go figure that stupidity. Custom Cable UK shop in stock if you are desperate to get your hands on it Mike

    • Reply September 12, 2013

      Mike

      I should be getting the ADL X1 few weeks back if not for the Indonesian customs. We’re going to sell the ADL X1s at the store, as well as the new CLAS Theorem (Lieven already got his hand on that one).
      I listened to the PHA-2 in Europe. Weird. I didn’t think it was that spacious, a bit congested in the mids.

      • Reply September 12, 2013

        George Lai

        Lieven, is the Theorem charger identical to the Solo-R/dB?

        • Reply September 12, 2013

          L.

          Good question, I was wondering that myself last night but was too lazy to check. I’ll get back to you (but vs CLAS solo)

          • Reply September 12, 2013

            George Lai

            Jude of Head-Fi says it’s the red cable. My Solo-R red cabled charger is Input 100-240V, 50/60 Hz, 0.55A and Output DC 9V, 2A. So Lieven if it is the same as your Solo original you have two chargers ๐Ÿ˜‰

            • Reply September 13, 2013

              L.

              it’s not the same as the Solo George. Theorem is .55A and 9V but CLAS is .3A and 5V. But it is the same as the Solo

              • Reply September 13, 2013

                George Lai

                Ok thanks Lieven

      • Reply September 13, 2013

        Steven

        Re: PHA-2
        I am sure you will still be delivering proper sit-down non-meet / trade show impressions at some point ๐Ÿ™‚

        Re: Theorem
        Theorem is interesting, seems to be going head-to-head with the HiFi M8. David told me this: http://www.head-fi.org/t/679788/cypher-labs-theorem-720-dac-a-new-portable-24-192-usb-idevice-android-dac-amp/15#post_9776646

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.