Creek Audio OBH-14 DACs

4.67/5 (9 Reviews) MSRP : $350.00


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Reviews 1 - 5 (9 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Arni a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 20, 2003

Bottom Line:   
Whow! Can this little thing make that much of a difference? Never have experienced so much improvement in my system. I had changed preamps before, going from a basic Adcom to the legendary GFP 565.. and heard improvement, upgraded speakers and heard improvement.. but this little unit, used as a DAC and replaced the preamp too, took things to a different level. The sound is much more open, transparent... I'm in the middle of the music now. More air, more crisp. Tighther bass, more precise imaging.
Not that my California Audio DX-1 CD player was that bad before... I really liked it.. until I heard the Creek in my system. This experience has convinced me that the source is the most important part of your system.
Too bad Creek does not make these anymore, but they are available as a bargain on the used market. I had initial concerns whether the preamp section would work with my Rotel RB 980BX, which has input impeadance lower than 50 kohms (see review below) or at 39 khoms respectively, but have not had any problems... althoug dynamics may be less than with the Adcom preamp.. but I'm not actually sure. Dynamics have never been the strength of my speakers, Super Zeros with SWPi sub anyway...
The bottom line... if you have a mid-fi CD player and preamp.. you can't go wrong... this is the best, and at the same time, the least expensive upgrade I've ever done to my system.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $225.00

Purchased At:   Audiogon



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by John a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: February 10, 2003

Bottom Line:   
Well...what a surprise! cool little box. I heard one of these at a shop hooked up to a system that vastly outclasses mine and liked it but was hesitant at that time to pick it up. A year later my old marantz player died I switched to dvd w/ coax output and needed a dac ...stumbled across this on auction and decided to get it for the dac (my parasound pre was still fine). Since then I sold my old parasound pre and came to learn the love of the passive amp! Also simply delighted with the smooth, detailed, and just georgous full sound this little thing makes! The pre output mated well to my para amp and have noticed that it is very sensitive to what interconnects u use...have tried bettercables, mit, tara and am still looking for that special one! but some rather large differences in sound...maybe because it is Passive? I dont know but this is the best 250 $'s I have spent on sound in years and dont really care about volume control not being remote because i never turn it off!
Raging good stereophile value!!!!

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2002

Price Paid:    $250.00

Purchased At:   private owner



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Woody a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: April 10, 2002

Bottom Line:   
I felt, at first, that I had been screwed by the hype about this little device. I used it for quite a while, and would switch back and forth and could not tell the difference from the built in DAC in my CD player. I never believed that electronic components had to "burn in." They do. They also need good cables, not ones that cost more than your original equipment, but good ones. It's a great tweak for a system that seems to lack something

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2001



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Tom Schuman a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: October 3, 2001

Bottom Line:   
Pros: Small, cute package, decent-sized power supply, enough output voltage from the D/A to drive most power
amps (2.2 volts), accepts up to 24 bit input and up to 48 kHz sampling frequency, can be used as a D/A only.
Accepts an additional souce, and both coaxial (RCA) and toslink inputs.
Cons: Will only accomodate one external source!, tight rear panel means little room for cables, so changing them
is a bit of a pain. The accompanying amplifier must have a high input impedance (probably over 50k ohms)
otherwise dynamics will be less than satisfying; dynamics obtained will of course also depend on sensitiviy of
speakers.
I would actually keep using this as my preamp if there were just one or two other inputs; and if the output from the
D/A were a little higher. Apparenty the volume control in the circuit adds to the output impedance; while the
output impedance of the D/A alone is 620 ohms, it is listed as about 5k ohms from the variable outs, which means
that the variable outs would work best with an amplifier with about a 50k ohm input impedance. I suspect that
Creek’s own amps have that specification.
With my amp, running the fixed D/A unit into the power amp, bypassing the volume control, gave the best sound.
The dynamics and volume level improved. This depended on the CD. With some CDs, for example many recent
pop recordings, the output was just too ‘hot’ this way. I guess this means the volume control is a necessary evil,
(yes, I know, this is part of why we have to deal with preamps at all). The auxiliary input also has to be up to
driving the power amp directly; there is no gain for the auxiliary input and its output impedance is listed as less
than 10k ohms “dependent on source.” - does the switch and the RCA input add to the impedance?
I may soon be upgrading to a nice tube pre from Decware, I’ll report on how that affects the DAC’s sound when I
get it.
Pretty good results on higher sampling rate recordings, the ones that are mastered or recorded at 24/96 can sound
startlingly good, but I don’t know if it’s because of the better mastering or the DAC, or a little of both.
The DAC is a “1bit 128 X FS Delta-Sigma” chip. The resolution is supposedly from 16-24 bits depending to the
input, while the unit can accept sampling frequencies of 32 through 48 kHz. Why the unit doesn’t accept 96 kHz
input I do not understand. I think it has something to do with the fact that it’s a single-bit, rather than multibit
design. I believe the ‘128’ figure refers to the 1 bit oversampled 128 times. As opposed to 16-bits oversampled eight times.
The sound does improve on the internal DACs on my cheapie Panasonic DVD player. The sound is a little more
full-bodied.
I think that at these ‘price points’ the sound has more to do with the implementation of the DAC, i.e., the power
supply to the DAC and the output stage, than it does to with number of ‘bits’ or the sampling frequency. Either
way, or both, the OBH-14 is an improvement on the circuitry of the Panasonic.
I have not tried different digital cables, but some Mapleshade ones are on the way. Currently using a Kimber V-21, a serviceable and nice looking digital/video cable.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $250.00

Purchased At:   Stereophile show, NYC 2001



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Greg Falken a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: February 18, 2001

Bottom Line:   
For the past few years I have been very happy listening to a minimalist system consisting of a Denon DCD-820 driving an Adcom GFA-545 directly from its variable analog outputs. Speakers are NHT Super Zeros and an NHT MH-1/SWP-2 subwoofer. The problem was how to upgrade the digital front end of this system. The solution turned out to be the Creek OBH-14.

The OBH-14 satisfies my preference for simplicity. It is little more than a 24 bit DAC with a passive volume control. Input is switchable between digital coax and analog interconnects. Output is variable or fixed. I was able to locate a new unit on rec.audio.marketplace for $269 (about 25% off list price) and paired it with a $70 digital interconnect from BetterCables.com.

As soon as the OBH-14 was inserted into the system, there was an immediate improvement in the bass. Instead of going thump-thump-thump, the bottom end was actually playing musical notes. In fact, I was able to increase the volume level of the subwoofer so that it blends better with the Super Zeros, which in the past had resulted in a muddy mess.

The high end received a similar improvement, with additional layers of music being revealed. Vocal harmony parts are more easily distinguished and much of the previous top end harshness disappeared.

After 72 hours of continuous play and about 3 weeks of regular listening for break in, there has been a slight but noticeable improvement. Both the OBH-14 and the BetterCables interconnect performed very well, right out of the box. The only unfortunate result of adding the OHB-14 is that the weak link in my system is now the Adcom power amp. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of a Creek A52SE, which I hope will be a great match. Watch for a review in a month or so.

I cannot imagine a greater system improvement that $340 could buy. Sure, there’s no remote but that’s a tradeoff I’m more than willing to make. And I actually gained inputs, given my previous direct connect setup. Larry makes a good point that this is a very lightweight unit. I used a wire-tie to eliminate downward pull on the input jack and a removable adhesive called Fun Tack (made by DAP, although I’m not sure what’s fun about it) under the feet to keep it sitting straight on top of the Denon.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1999

Price Paid:    $269.00




Reviews 1 - 5 (9 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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