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My Ref Music Server - Lampizator meets Red Baron

Posted 11th September 2013 at 01:31 AM by wlowes
Updated 29th November 2014 at 09:44 PM by wlowes

This is another personal build diary. Don't expect to see any new engineering.. just my take on a lot of other people's innovation...
Sept 2013 Concept complete and chassis design kicks off.

I had really good results over the past 2 years building/tweaking and enjoying a Lampizator inspired TDA1541a DAC with 6n2p tube output. It was prototyped to death and now that I understand it I want a clean, reference build.

Inspired by Lampizator, I am shamelessly using his case design and level 6 output. This means:
-dual mono power supply,
-5C3S rectifier tubes,
-40H chokes,
-6n2p tubes mounted inverted for easy wiring,
-200u polypropylene filter caps
-separate B+ tranny for each channel

Like many, I have followed ecdesigns and Oliver Mai projects. I decided to use Oliver's Red Baron PCB and Salas shunts. Really nicely done and contains all the stuff that makes for a great tda1541a without all the restrictions of an all in one PCB.

This project is a one box Reference Grade music server. It will contain Alix PC driving WaveIO USB to I2S converter.

To pack it all in, I've gone to a 2 story design with the Alix down below and the WaveIO and Red Baron upstairs. All are packed in 3D to minimize wire length for USB and I2S. The digital transformers are Hammond 229 semi torroidal for R core like properties. I will wire the banks of filter caps pt to pt and reuse a bunch of BG caps from the current dac. Signal wire will be pure silver.

A fellow Canadian contributed a very nice S2 double crown to top it all off. As with my current set up, the device will connect via RJ45 to a wireless router and 1 TB NAS. It is controlled wirelessly by my Samsung phone. There is a second wireless tablet with a keyboard to SSH into the Alix to tweak configs.

Resistors in the output stage are Shinkoh Tantalums. The IV resistor will initially remain the Caddok TF020. Later I'll play with self made Manganan non inductive wire wound. I have the wire but want to get everything debugged before taking that step.

Initially also staying with Russian 4u PIO on output. But I am leaving space for the Duelund CAST-PIO-Cu in case I win the lottery. Seems Oliver loves them and now Lukas has discovered them as well. That will be the final step.

Layout is almost done. Most Alu will be cut with waterjet. At 17x13.5x5 it will be a big fellow, but should fit right in with my amps. Hope to get some nice walnut for the base to blend right in.

edit - Jan 2, 2014
Finally, this project is back in gear! With time over the holidays I visited the exotic wood yard and found a nice piece of Walnut. This will make the base of the music server and enough left over for matching case for AVC attenuator which will sit on top.

Design morphed a bit as always to match material on hand. It is now 18x18x5.5. It is basically a separate power supply and a music server built in the same frame. I basically want to pay attention to dampening vibration. I believe the wood frame starts by reducing ringing associated with typical metal box. The PS will be on its own wood frame which will float inside the frame. The idea is the vibration from transformers will be dampened already by the wood. I'll further isolate by mounting them on silicone. The entire PS will have silicone barrier between it and the frame. The digital section will be mounted on both sides of a separate wood plank also isolated from the frame and separate from the PS. I have decided to put all the AC and transformers at the back, and only very clean DC up front where the electronics and the output tubes will live. I have decided to expose the rectifier tubes. One for each channel will sit toward the rear. These coke bottles are just two darned nice to have buried inside. The small 6n2p signal tubes will remain inside an upside down to allow easy access to wiring to play with resistor substitution.

At time of writing, the base is cut, rough sanded and glued. So ground has been broken. Only a matter of time until this is playing music.

Nov 2014 - Case finished and Distinction new PCBs

Last xmas I built the walnut case. It turned out really nice. Then I kind of stalled waiting for a couple of PCBs to become available. Finally I have laid my hands on Ian's very fine I2S to PCM board, and RyanJ's Distinction 1541a board. I assembled Ryan's board this weekend. This was my first foray into SMD. After watching lots of Youtubes I bought a toaster oven and took the plunge. Beautiful. It really turned out to be easy with great results. The Distinction board incorporates all the advice from luminaries such as ThorestonL, and ECDESIGNs. This combined with Lampizator's level 7 layout and power supplies I am confident this will be the reference device I am seeking. I will continue to use DVProjekt Salas Shunts. Happy that it is now really modular so I could change out DAC chips / PC embedded processor, and digital sections.

I think I will use the existing WaveIO which has also evolved. Might drive it with a BBB. Now have Ian's I2S to PCM board. Have also been keeping my eye on twisted pair's BBB cape. Will see how the price and performance is. I am pretty happy this WaveIO, so not sure I want to abandon it and incur expense of the Cape. Also eying up Dueland Caps as an upgrade path. Pics added of the Distinction Board.
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