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The State of DACSES

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I've been looking at alternative output/IV stages for the AD1853. Balanced by design and I have a circuit that is using the default output circuit on the Analog Devices datasheet for the DAC IC. 

Kevin what do you think about a output design using something similar to Borbely's JFET output circuit in place for an I/V converter?

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On 5/6/2017 at 5:29 AM, kevin gilmore said:

r2r chips that are 24 bit seem impossible to make, or not enough demand yet to develop them.

soekris,totaldac,msb,holo,denafrips etc all use the same lvc595 for the switches, and all are exactly the same idea. but the new soekris is the only one yet with a discrete class A output stage. And a rational price.

What about dcs? I've heard about them a few times but I'm pretty in the dark as to what they do differently, if anything at all. Anyone heard their stuff?

I like their casework!dCS-Vivaldi-DAC_Front1.jpg

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DCS is top drawer gear. The relatively small design team there are massively experienced and innovative. They started off designing electronics systems for defence applications back in the 80's, and then morphed into professional audio and then high end audio.

Instead of using an off the shelf DAC, they use an FPGA and their own "ring DAC" (whatever that is...)

I have heard one of their pieces of kit in a high end system owned by an ex-colleague and it was truly superb.

The only "but" is that their gear is expensive - the Vivaldi above is the blunt end of $35k

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  • 2 months later...

my soekris 1541 arrived, the knob is a bit wonky - it's misaligned, scrapes against the faceplate for a portion of its rotation. luckily it only matters for the headphone connection.

need to listen more but it's not bad so far. one advantage it has over the yggdrasil is that it's like 1/10 the size

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6 minutes ago, nopants said:

the knob is a bit wonky - it's misaligned, scrapes against the faceplate for a portion of its rotation.

This is often due to a 1/4" knob on a 6mm shaft. If that's the case, a layer or two of masking tape on the shaft will add about enough thickness.

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I first tried it out with the Focal Elears, only have an AQ Dragonfly Red to compare. Less fatiguing to listen to than the dragonfly, and the headphone out seems to coax a lot of bass out of the Elears - overall very enjoyable, though I don't really use dynamic headphones for critical listening anymore. I think the headphone out combined with the size makes it a good alternative to the Yggdrasil based on the features. I'll definitely use the headphone out more though, electrostatics and summer weather don't get along.

I haven't messed with the crossfeed too much, but I can say it works. Overall I'm not the biggest fan of the selectable filters and crossfeed, makes me feel like they were trying to please too many people at once.

I left it running for like 8h (accidentally), the case got to around 110 F but it was still chugging along fine. Probably a fair bit hotter inside. Maybe worth noting that the 1541's enclosure is vented, while the Yggdrasil seems to be sealed as far as I can tell. 

Just set it up with the T2 > 007 mkii chain, feeding it with a Wavelink HS so I can try out some of my Hi-Res PCM stuff. This is the same setup I use for the Yggdrasil, no direct USB connection.

I'll hold off on more detailed impressions, but in comparison to the Yggdrasil the soundstage is a lot smaller - definitely don't get that same impression of spacing & air between voices/instruments/etc. In general vocals seem to be up close and personal, that's the first thing that caught my attention while listening on the electrostatic setup. The treble is also a bit harsher on the 1541, which you can tune a bit with the filter selections. There's also a bit more bass impact. Maybe it's from the differences in filtering? Or maybe I just bought into Schiit's filter marketing pitch haha. Overall it seems like the 1541 is a bit livelier and intimate in its presentation, but more fatiguing to listen to. Of course things like fatigue have to be assessed over a longer listening period, so grain of salt etc.

To-do (vs. Yggdrasil)

Compare USB inputs

Hook up a Legato II, compare redbook performance

Get a picture for size comparison, it's pretty amusing

Find a balanced input selector - any suggestions?


Edited by nopants
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  • 2 weeks later...

That spelling is what attracted him in the first place!


Playback Designs says it is a combination of Swiss - German engineering and American entrepreneurship so how can you go wrong? I still really like my Playback Designs DAC -- especially for DSD but also for PCM -- and they have a fancy new line that is not out yet as far as I can tell. Here are links for the current one and a press release for the new one:





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British and Aussie people know how to spell analogue, and solder, and aluminium, and say petrol instead of gasoline, etc, etc ad hoc, ad addendum, ad nauseum........

Also gaol is not spelt jail......  :ph34r:

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