02 May, 2024

Douk H7 Pro T8 Pro Nobsound

Click pic to enlarge. Left rack, beneath the TT is the Marantz 94 Limited DAC, beneath which the Marantz CD63 used as Transport (with Belden 1694A); Right rack, The Douk pair atop the MFA Magus Preamp.
Brief Review: Douk H7 Pro, Part II; Douk T8 Pro, Part III

Douk T8 Pro, Part I, II
Douk H7 Pro, Part I

This is to tie up loose ends. I brought these over to Hong Kong, partly to see if the H7 Pro (with 24V PS) can drive my B&W Matrix 801 Mk II, partly to further and properly assess the XLR functions of these 2 devices.

I wish I had 2 pairs of XLR cables, but I didn't. So, although my Marantz DAC has XLR out, I had to use its RCA Out into the T8 Pro RCA In, which was in turn connected by my only pair of XLR cable (the super Gotham GAC-3) to the H7 Pro. Loudspeaker cable has always been my trusty Belden 1810A, 4 conductors used as bi-wire.

Burmester "Art of the Ear" Test CD II Due to time constraints, I used only 1 CD, the Burmester Test CD II. Too bad my Manger CD is in NYC. As this by-now collectible CD has long been OOP, my copy is a Chinese Counterfeit. I bought it in SZ 万商 many years ago, but similar copies are still available on TaoBao (search "Burmester CD II; best price is RMB 15 for a bare-bone copy; don't spend too much more as even the more expensive ones are counterfeits; I won't give links due to its counterfeit nature; :-) Principle, huh?). Funny, I don't like at all Burmester the company, but this Test CD is useful (much better content than the other volumes). Most tracks I just sample for 10-20 seconds, but a few favorites I can listen for longer (Tracks 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15). Now, this "replica" is a little more digital sounding than the original, so sometimes a little unwanted hash is expected. Also keep in mind many of the original CDs can still be bought, no doubt in superior sound, though that'd be without the convenience of being all under one roof.

(Before) Douk Preamp XLR Out to Bryston 4B Amp XLR In (Gotham GAC-3) This was chronicled in the Douk T8 Pro Review, Part II, link above. It was not entirely successful.

1. Douk Preamp XLR Out to Douk Amp XLR In (Gotham GAC-3). Sound was quite decent. Instantly, I felt the imaging, soundstage and layering were definitely superior to whatever I had used before, be them NAD 3020 Integrated or MFA Magus or Counterpoint SA-3000 Preamps into Bryston 4B. Even at my usual listening volume, the amp was pretty unfazed. Not the most dynamic, but decent enough and no sign of struggle. Definitely more power than the NAD 3020. However, at least initially, the sound still sounded a trifle lean at times. Part of this can be ascribed to the CD.

2. Douk Preamp RCA Out to Douk Amp RCA In (with Sommer SC Club Mk II) I did this to see if a change in cable would mellow out the sound a little. Yes, as I predicted, it did sweeten the mix, but the level was lower, and volume had to be turned up pretty high. At least I know if I had more cables I could do more.

3. Douk Preamp XLR Out to Bryston 4B XLR In (Gotham GAC-3) This was a Repeat of what I had done before, but this time around, the sound was significantly better. I attribute this to the extra use the GAC-3 had received since before. Although lacking the extra air the Douk Amp brought about, the Bryston seemed more composed than the Douk (it has tons more power than the Douk).

4. Douk Preamp RCA Out to Bryston 4B XLR In (Sommer thru Neutrik Adaptors) This was to use the Sommer cable, which again did sweeten things a bit. But, now, the difference between (3) and (4) was small. Not much grain remained.

  • Douk XLR In and Out They perform excellently. When properly configured, the XLR I feel is superior in power and confidence of delivery. In this price range, it's insane to get this! Of course, only if it's useful to you, and most readers of this blog would not be XLR users.
  • Douk H7 Pro vs Bryston 4B The H7 Pro cannot begin to match the sheer oomph of the Bryston, but it does a decent job, and surpasses it in air, soundstage and imaging, even refinement. Not bad at all!
  • Tonality As a tube afficionado, this combo still lacks the ultimate in tonal opulence, but it's not that far away. Cable changes should close the gap significantly.
  • Cabling IMHO, my cables, almost all cheap professional cables, are highly neutral whether used with tubes or sand. BUT, cable matching with sand amps is not at all my forte. Perhaps in due time I shall construct a few more XLR cables (like Sommer).

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