AudioByte Vox | Zap vs Rockna Wavelight

These 2 DACs are from the same guys and cost about the same. Has anyone compared them? What firmware was on the AudioBtye when you heard it?

It seems to me that the AudioByte is technically advanced. I do not know enough about the Rockna to comment. However, the sound that it produces is the most important factor. So how do they compare?
The Rockna is about four time the price 16k vs 4k. OCD Guy on you tube has done several videos on both and he is the importer.
The unit that is 4x the price is the Wavedream Signature.  The Wavelight is $4950 while the HydraVox/Zap combo $4500 list.  The difference is the Audiobyte is a pure FPGA DAC while the Wavelight is an R2R DAC with an FPGA front end.  

OCD Guy is not the sole importer of any of these products.  The US and Canadian distributor for Rockna is Worldwide Wholesalers in Canada.  Audiobyte is sold in the US direct from Rockna/Audiobyte in Romania.  I buy Audiobyte direct from Romania.   

I have Wavelights in-stock and am waiting on my Audiobyte stock so I can do a side-by side comparison of the two.  I am going to try each firmware option on the Audiobyte and will be writing up a detailed POV on each.  

@verantaudio Thanks for the feedback. The idea of tuning the AudioByte via firmware sounds interesting. Just like the PS Audio DirectStream,

I had the AudioByte on my mind now for about 2 years. The Wavelight was something that people said to also consider.

I sold my AudioMirror Tubadour III SE yesterday and moved my Gustard X26 Pro to act as DAC/peamp in another room. So now I have my Benchmark DAC3B connected to a CODA 07x preamp and it sounds very good. I have rack space and fibre optical streaming already setup for a second DAC. So looking around for another DAC.

Looking forward to your comparison. It would also be interesting to know how the HUB changes the sound.
I thought you really liked the Audio Mirror ... did something change in your setup?
I did like the AMT3SE for my RAAL SR1a. I only used it for those headphones since I preferred my other 2 DACs on the floorstanders. The guy that created my Convolution files for my floorstanders just created Convolution files specifically for the RAAL SR1a ($250). SR1a owners are really loving these filters.

(27) Raal Ribbon Headphones - SRH1A | Page 266 | Headphone Reviews and Discussion -

Once those were installed on ROON and run the AMT3SE became redundant. I liked my other 2 DACs more on the SR1a. I sold the AMT3SE in about an hour with many offers to buy. A very popular DAC.

Taking the RAAL-requisite SR1a Headphones To Another Level - Reviews - Audiophile Style
I expect two pairs of Vox/Zaps to ship around the 20th of this month.  I will get the compare done as quickly as possible after.  The Hubs will most likely be about a month behind.  

My plan is to compare both of these to a Chord TT2 as well given they are obviously competitive products.  

Does the VOX require the use of the Android app? Can it be controlled by the physical controls if the DAC will be hooked up to a preamp?

That is a great question.  It can be controlled directly on the touch screen or via the app.  
Unfortunately the guys at DHL are killing me and my Wavelight has been sitting at the Cincinnati airport since April.  They tell me customs is holding it.  

My Audiobyte Vox/Zap arrived two days ago.  It takes time for the Caps to charge in the Zap power supply and until they are fully charged, the Vox does not turn on.  It does not say this in the manual.  Once up and running, it was easy to setup.  There are two cable (one 5 pin and one 8 pin) that run from the two devices.  Easy to screw in.

After everything warmed up, I did some initial listening vs. the Chord Hugo 2 with 2Go and Weiss 501 as those two I have on hand at the moment.  For streaming to both the Audiobyte and Weiss, I used the same 2Go/2Yu combo.  

The Hugo is is much less expensive and it is obvious.  There is a graininess and sibilance on some tracks along with general lack of detail vs. the other that make it unfair to include further.  I will get my TT2 out of storage in the near future as that is a fairer POC.

The Audiobyte filters have a huge impact on the sound.  Initial test is with Bullet firmware and I found the linear filter a bit bright.  Tonally similar to the Hugo 2 with much sibilance.  Switching to Minimal softened this and the DAC is pretty neutral.   

It is slightly more forward than the Weiss.  The HUB would need to be added to be more comparable to the Weiss as this would add in a Roon ready rendered and more functionality.  

I used three tracks, Be Still My Beating Heart from Sting, Blackbird from Sarah McLachlan and In a Sentimental Mood from Duke Ellington and John Coltrane.  I am using my reference Art Audio Opus 4 mono amps with KR KT88s into Verdant Nightshades.  

Detail was VERY similar between the two DACs.  Tonally the AB is slightly brighter than the Weiss which is not a bad thing.  The Weiss is very warm and tonally is similar to MSB.  Tiny details, especially in Be Still My beating heart come through.  Separation on drumrolls and the complex notes in In a Sentimental Mood were very similar.  

Decay, both in terms of fine notes of the guitar in Blackbird and the piano in Be Still My Beating Hear and In a Sentimental mood were better on the Audiobyte than the Weiss.

In terms of staging and definition, the Weiss has a deep and defined central image.  Instrument placement is focused and clear.  The Audiobytes central image is not as deep and the image is wider than the Weiss.  Placement of instruments isn't quite as focused.  

Basically, initial reaction to the Audiobyte is that it is KILLER for $4500 and is definitely competitive with products that are more expensive.  Looking forward to the Hub arriving next month to see what it can do.  

@verdantaudio Great feedback on this AB. Have you tried the AB direct to amp. AB is touting the preamp section as being pretty good. The HUB is also something I think would add to the system with the upsampling and I2S connectivity. So I hope you can update your observations once you get the HUB.