Audio-GD top range are the so called HE series. In addition, these custom built HE series include a tuned built-in regenerative power supply that offers a much cleaner power to the rest of the electronics. A built-in would theoretically be better than an external because they are accommodated for only one application. A while ago I’ve been able to compare the Master 7 with a HE-7 and that made quite a significant difference. The HE-7 featured more power and a better demarcation of instruments and voices.
I’m listening for a while now to the “new” R2R 7 DAC, and it’s really fabulous. Its not that I am not satisfied but of course, as a true audiophile, I always want more or better or both maybe? And with the HE7 in my mind still I couldn’t resist to try the R2R 7HE version. Direct comparison is a bit tricky because a device must be disconnected and put away every time, and then connect the 2nd device. Since the Audio-GD DACs respectively are 15 and 19kg. It was hard working!
Future buyers should also take into account the size of this DAC with a depth of over 50cm! The difference between the two DACs was immediately heard, but not directly in favor of the more expensive R2R 7HE! There was a lot more rest in the sound image and what is noticeable is that it is layered better layered but it also missed some balls in the mid-high to high. When switching to the R2R 7 it is apparent that the sound is immediately resurrected and has more bite. Less open, less rest but it had something I missed in R2R 7HE. And I guess I’ve often switched between the DACs to listen to that phenomenon, and that was because of my overloaded back because, as I said, they are heavy!
Of course I have discussed this with Jos from Magna Hifi and after some research we concluded that the R2R 7 was using the *the latest smooth” software and the R27HE a previous release. It is considered the FPGA processor chip does a lot of calculations and that can make a difference. So 10 minutes later, the R2R 7HE was provided with the same software version (smooth) as the R2R 7 and I was ready to listen again. (Magna Hifi includes the USB Blaster for free now, that helped)
It was immediately clear, the software certainly makes difference! Period. The lack of power and attack in mid-high and high has disappeared and made way for the punch and attack as with the R2R 7.
I hear you thinking: “Now they are the same?” Certainly not. Of course they have similarities and sound both very well. However, the R2R 7HE goes beyond “very good sounding”. The sound image is cleaner with the R2R 7HE, and voices and instruments even better defined in the HE7.
Everything sounds very natural and it seems to play all “easier”. The depth of the sound image is also greater. Not only to the rear but also to the front, very different, the experience is greater. Together with the powerful and beautiful layered bass, a beautiful and realistic reflection of the recording in front of you!
A small selection of the music used for comparison:
To start with Sara K, the song Runnig Away From You from the Waterfalls album I know very well. Each and every echo or tickle.
What strikes me is the R2R 7HE sounds wider and bigger compared to the R2R 7. Also the depth is greater in the HE version and as mentioned earlier, also in the front. It feels more realistic.
The low end in this track is beautiful and complete with the R2R 7HE.
It’s quite a fragile number and can sound very fast and restless. Here again with the R2R 7HE the sound is more polished. It may sound strange but in fact you pay more to get more silence!. It sounds cleaner without giving any detail.
The low end sounds pretty similar on both DACs.
Patricia Barbers Black Magic Woman is always a grateful number for comparison like this. Beautiful voices, powerful bongos and beautifully played by the musicians
In fact, here is the same thing again: The openness, yet beautiful detail, tighter placement, depth and phenomenal low end.
It’s funny how the two different DACs differ. Especially considering there are many similarities in terms of technology. The biggest difference, of course, is the regenerative power supply which supplies ultra clean power to the DAC.
After this regenerative power, the construction, looks like with my limited technical knowledge, almost equal to the R2R 7. Three R-CORE transformers, one of which for the digital input part and two for left and right separately, where the digital signal is converted by the R2R ladder converters to analog buffers.
I think I believe the board in the middle, on which the digital signals come in and are being processed is also different compared to the “standard” R2R 7.
Of course, there is an additional price for the HE version of these beautiful R2R DAC. You have to decide for yourself whether or you want to invest the additional money. On the other hand, a lot of people spent money on e.g. a good cable with possibly less positive effect!
By the way, it is not the case that the “ordinary” R2R 7 suddenly sounds less good, it remains an extremely strong design with above average sound quality in my humble view.
The R2R 7HE is highly recommended and I can only suggest and recommend to contact Magna Hifi.in case you are interested.
Watch out! It’s likely to cost you money…
Used equipment (in Dutch):
Audio-GD Master 10 geïntegreerde versterker
Audio-GD R2R 7 DAC
Audio-GD R2R 7HE DAC
Xanadu HRS80 NEO luidsprekers
Xanadu LS80 luidsprekerkabel
Van den Hul Thunderline XLR
Pink Faun IL-1 HDMI interlink