Up for sale is my Empirical Audio Overdrive Diamond SX - Low hours use. I live close to the builder/designer Steve Nugent. This unit is in immaculate condition as are the internal boards. Everything is current with most updated boards and updates. I am upgrading to the TotalDac 12 system. The Ethernet input is one aspect that sets this unit apart. No need for a server. Empirical Audio never goes on sale and Diamond SX rarely is seen for sale used on the market, especially one in this mint condition.
Although I prefer Ethernet direct to I2S "Interchange" unit. This can be switched to a new XMOS properly galvanically isolated USB module.
A new design USB board is available this week, mid-April, 2019.
"First new fab USB module PCB is back for the Off-Ramp 6. Built one by hand and it worked first-time. Complicated board because it's galvanically isolated (the right way). " I have seen this new board first hand and it is the best design on the market. To successfully galvanically isolate without introducing new jitter.
There are advantages both ways. If USB is your preference, we can discuss a swap out.
See Empirical Audio Interchange - The Interchange is built into this dac but has the advantage of direct I2S conversion with shortest signal path possbile: http://www.empiricalaudio.com/products/short-block
**This dac is also in Steve's possession to be the first to receive the new oscillator upgrades for the turbo clock module!
Direct Ethernet to I2S traveling less than 2" to the clock!
Look at the most recent review for more details.
Software compatible with Empirical Interchange (Built into the dac)
**CAN RUN ROON with this additional unit from Sonore:
Low D/A noise and distortion
Low Analog Stage noise and distortion
Volume Control technology with low noise and distortion
Fast-reacting power subsystem for exceptional dynamics
This high-performance solution is unprecedented and delivers a totally new sound quality level.
“The Overdrive SX puts out an enormous, wide soundstage with excellent depth perspective...The Overdrive SX DAC is very revealing from top to bottom and is superb in resolving inner detail with a lifelike presence in both timbre and dynamics. The Overdrive has extremely low noise and overall coloration.”
Steven Plaskin, Feb. 2018
“If I were to sum up the Overdrive SE's sonic qualities in just a few words, those words would be clean, accurate, precise and fast. By comparison to the Overdrive SE, most of the other DACs I've auditioned sound veiled and slow... The Overdrive is incredibly resolving, and its detail is a result of exceptional clarity..It is outstanding in every way, outperforms many more expensive DACs and I unequivocally give it my highest recommendation.”
Laurence Borden, Dagogo, Jan. 2015
“…my independent impressions of the Overdrive DAC were confirmed when I made direct comparisons to other highly-regarded DACs. The Overdrive emerged as my preferred DAC.”
Ed Momkus, Dagogo, Mar. 2011
“…regardless of how I employed the Overdrive DAC I was aware that I was listening to the best USB DAC I had ever reviewed.”
Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound, Feb. 2010
Award Tas Golden Ear 2010 Small
The Overdrive DAC received The Absolute Sound ‘Golden Ear’ Award 2010
Overdrive® SX USB DAC/Pre:
A World-Class Digital to Analog Converter with volume control and either USB or Ethernet interface, as well as other interfaces
The Overdrive SX DAC is a breakthrough audio product, our third generation of this DAC. Our original Overdrive and the follow-on Overdrive SE won awards and accolades, but the sound quality of the SX is in another league. If you want the music experience that moves your soul, the Overdrive SX can deliver this. It is detailed without being harsh, dynamic from top to bottom, quiet enough to deliver the blackest backgrounds and precise enough to deliver the deepest, widest and most focused image you have ever experienced. Very 3-D presentation, provided your room setup is optimum. You will easily hear the difference between different formats, like FLAC, ALAC and .wav. Even 44.1 PCM tracks will sound like hi-res DSD or MQA. It actually makes these hi-res formats unnecessary. The Overdrive SX does not support DSD.
It is available with our excellent low-jitter 192 asynchronous XMOS-based isolated USB interface or our excellent low-jitter 192 Ethernet Renderer interface (DLNA/UPnP) built-in. Either of these deliver data to the D/A with 10psec of jitter (jitter plots below). In addition to one of these two interfaces, the Overdrive also has S/PDIF coax input on BNC connector and single-ended I2S input on RJ-45 connector. The Overdrive SX has balanced and single-ended outputs, but the single-ended RCA outputs should primarily be used for a subwoofer. The Overdrive is best used with balanced outputs. If your equipment does not accept balanced signals, we can provide our Final Drives to change from balanced to single-ended. Even though the Overdrive SX is a Sigma-Delta modulator architecture, it delivers the live sound quality of NOS and R2R tube DACs, without having the tubes to wear-out. It is more accurate and more dynamic than any R2R DAC we have heard.
Because of the excellent volume control technology, the Overdrive SX DAC enables you to play music from your computer directly to your amp, achieving unparalleled sound quality. All you need is the Overdrive and a PC or a Mac, an amplifier and speakers and you are ready for music. The Overdrive will also improve the playback from your CD transport or other devices like Sonos, but we recommend using our Synchro-Mesh re-clocker to reduce jitter from those first. Once you start using the computer for music, you will never go back to spinning CDs. Playback using the computer will be superior to the best CD transport you have heard, even when playing low-res CD rips, provided you use optimum playback software and quality cabling. Once you have an Overdrive, we can assist you with the ancillary things needed to achieve optimum performance, like cables, software, re-clockers, isolators etc..
The Overdrive design philosophy is minimalist, with one of the simplest analog paths ever devised. The Overdrive provides innovative solutions for the five most important issues with digital sources:
I wanted to update you regarding Steve Nugent's Empirical Overdrive Diamond SX with the optional internal galvanic isolated Ethernet direct I2S converter cpu. I have run the unit 24/7 for over 1000 hours and I must admit the caps needed this time to break in. This will be the first dac that I felt needed over 6 weeks of almost continuous play to break in. However, this is one instance where patience paid dividends.
Since we all have our own perception and certainly favor different qualities, I am not going to delve into a lengthy review. The qualities that stand out and I believe most would agree, the dac is well balanced on all fronts and certainly demonstrates design implementation is more important than the dac chip itself. Historically, I have been approached by others who felt the ODSE was overly analytical. I humbly disagreed as I found it to be detailed, accurate and perhaps unforgiving. While I found the SE emotionally engaging, the SX is addictive. The more dacs I audition, I find myself with a preference to non-oversampling design implementation. My goal is to compare this unit to a R2R ladder dac, Totaldac, and will report my results. At 4x the price, it would have to engage me on an entirely different level. Steve's dac chip is proprietary and I feel discussing design theory should be left to the electrical engineers.
At first blush, I had found little difference between the ODSE and the ODSX. Over time the Diamond SX bloomed, creating an even more precise presentation of the music. Well-recorded intimate recordings immersed me into a room of musicians. Big venue live recordings placed me back from the stage, closer to the soundboard, creating a deep and viable soundstage. Both the ODSE and the ODSX have been the best interpolating PCM data and recreating an accurate presentation of the recording, especially piano, wind instruments, and particularly the mid and upper range of percussion decay. I still hold to my initial assessment years ago. I have yet to find a DSD dac that performs better than Steve’s implementation of PCM. However, I have not heard a ground up designed DSD only (non PCM) dac.
The chassis is no different that the ODSE. The faceplate now states SX in place of SE and the knob has a very subtle recessed diamond. Nice touch but for those who upgrade their SE to SX, I would keep your old faceplate and save money. The rear panel is the same. Mine had a manual cutout where the Ethernet input replaced the USB. This does bring me to another point: For those of you who will upgrade, the ODSE/X run hot. The morphology of the circuit boards change and this will affect the soldering. I highly recommend you pay the extra nominal fee and use a virgin board. Longevity is essential. While I am sure Steve will service these units well into retirement, save yourself the headache.
Those of us who owned these units before know these units run hot. While breaking in, I ran the unit in my office on my desk, which is quartz composite. The unit ran hot, up to 208* over the Ethernet board. Steve assured me this is not an issue. When I placed in my system on Bubinga wood, the temperature dropped by 50* while being relocated in direct sunlight and reset to high-output line out. Surfaces matter, ventilation matters. I have run this dac hard without failures on any level.
The Ethernet DNLA/UPnP is simpler, more robust, and strait forward. Unlike USB, Ethernet packets of data are checked for errors and packets with errors are resent. The more I read about USB implementation, more validating why I despised it and found it universally inferior to AES/EBU. ROON uses its own RAAT protocol in place of DNLA/UPnP. The third party company which designed the Ethernet to I2S converter CPU chip has no interest in RAAT. ROON states they will implement DNLA but with no timeline. Because of this current incompatibility, I have not pursued ROON at this juncture. One manufacture who uses this CPU has figured a work around and was able to implement ROON RAAT. However this was not to an I2S conversion. Through Bubble UPnP and Linn Kazoo (both free) I am able to stream Tidal without any issue. Linn Kazoo is not on the same league as ROON or even Tidal’s own controller. To say it plainly, the user interface sucks.
There are many third party controllers. Some are free, while some are cheap to purchase. They all work well, and I give credit to this third party manufacturer. Not all Ethernet dacs/Renderers have this level of performance. Please note: I find those controllers that send a file direct from NAS to the DAC without processing sound better. Those who have interest in this topic please PM me for more detail and discussion. I would love to learn where others have found success and discovered absolute ‘do not’s’.
I wish to commend Steve on a well designed dac. Thank you for reigniting my passion for this hobby. This last year has been somewhat frustrating for me. High-end components do not necessarily play well together and this certainly has been a journey. When my wife leaves a concert and says that sounded as good as listening at home, she is complementing the venue…and Steve the credit belongs to you."