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Design ideas for Aune M1 DAC card

Posted 15th November 2014 at 03:51 AM by abraxalito
Updated 19th November 2014 at 06:43 AM by abraxalito

I'll outline here some thinking in choosing the major building blocks (aka ICs) for this card - any comments welcome as this progresses.

First up the DAC chip will be the TDA1387 initially. I don't know for sure that the output from the ARM/Xilinx card is I2S but I'm going to verify that fairly soon. There's nowhere near enough room for the passive shunt I've adopted previously so the bass performance probably is going to have to suffer. I shall pay considerable attention to the power supply arrangements though in an attempt to make up for the LF lack.

After the DAC, passive I/V will follow and then a filter using the TDK 7mm inductors I've used previously. I've slotted them into the gap between the PCB and the case and there's just enough height available. Since space is at a premium I'll experiment with a 3 inductor design - the stop band attenuation will suffer but probably I'll add a secondary LC filter at the output to make up for that somewhat. The secondary...
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Old

DAC filter for discrete buffer

Posted 15th August 2014 at 12:44 AM by abraxalito
Updated 22nd August 2014 at 04:56 AM by abraxalito

Here's the next experiment - a higher working impedance anti-imaging filter which allows operation without any active voltage gain stage following it. Its also one you can build with Mouser parts - Fastron make inductors suitable for this - substitute their 27mH for the 30mH for only a modest degradation in the FR. Or add a Panasonic 2.7mH in series with the 27mH if you'd like to go the whole hog.

The frequency response is -3dB at 18.5kHz and about -55dB by 24.1kHz. Passband ripple is <0.3dB.

Update - after winding all the coils I realized that I don't have a system right now to slot a full bandwidth DAC into - mine at present is fully activated. So to test out the buffer design's audible qualities I need to build a limited bandwidth DAC (for my bass/mid, up to 3.5kHz). Hence another version of the bass/mid LPF is called for, with the highest possible working impedance. Turns out I can wind a 125mH coil with wire which doesn't break too easily (0.13mm dia)...
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Old

Cheapest 32bit CPU to date...

Posted 22nd July 2014 at 08:22 AM by abraxalito
Updated 22nd August 2014 at 05:17 AM by abraxalito

These Cortex M0 modules are 14rmb on Taobao, just over $2 a pop, with more number crunching speed than my first ever PC (40DMIPs).

The CPU is the STM32F030, a 48MHz devuce with limited I/O (I2C, SPI) in a 20 pin TSSOP. The going rate for this chip is 2.4rmb ($0.40).

I have an idea to build a DAC with a handful of these little beauties carrying out some of the filtering.

Update - a price drop just happened on Taobao to a similar board, now down to 9.9rmb - http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=...32&ns=1#detail

Pic attached of this mind-numbingly affordable board.

Aliexpress has the boards I bought now, priced at $6.20 but this includes 'free' shipping - http://www.aliexpress.com/item/stm32...701304725.html
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Old

First prototype PCB-based hexacap

Posted 22nd July 2014 at 12:59 AM by abraxalito

Seeing as building hexacaps with wire is very time consuming, I'm investigating ways to get the production cost down. Here's my first attempt at a PCB hexacap, using 2oz copper - I did the layout on EasyEDA - Web-Based EDA, schematic capture, spice circuit simulation and PCB layout Online

Once I've ironed out the minor errors on the groundfill I'll make the PCB public so anyone can order up their own. There are 127 caps on this board giving a 50Hz capacitive reactance just under 8mohms.
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Old

Tweeter DAC

Posted 22nd June 2014 at 05:24 AM by abraxalito
Updated 25th June 2014 at 06:49 AM by abraxalito

Hexacaps have their limitations - they provide a great low impedance for lower freqs but according to my LCR meter, turn inductive for frequencies in the mid-single digit kHz. Which is about the lower edge of the passband for a tweeter. So what to do to get a low impedance power supply to a DAC chip from 4kHz and up? Here's my first attempt - there are 7 TDA1387s each sandwiched between two low ESR 4700uF lytics. Sandwiching them together is an attempt to get the inductance as low as possible - the loop area can't practically get any smaller than this. Getting the wires in has tested my patience and that's even before powering the beast up....

Update - well I could have been knocked over with a feather - this worked first time I plugged it in. So now I'm thinking about how to build a markII version, considering if I can get more decoupling close in....
Oh I'm now not sure that my bandpass tweeter filter is really delivering the goods as per its simulation. Connecting...
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Old

Stack-a-DAC filter module taking shape

Posted 28th April 2014 at 02:27 PM by abraxalito
Updated 29th April 2014 at 01:36 AM by abraxalito

I'm prototyping this baby which will probably be the first Ozone board to go to PCB layout. It implements the 10th order Chebyshev filter shown earlier and is intended to be mounted atop a 'hexacap' passive shunt. The DAC stack in the centre is made up of six TDA1387s. Input will be I2S and output unbalanced audio 40mV RMS.

Update - over on a thread about AD815 Eldam asked about the inductors - how many I need to buy to get the values in the schematic - so I'll talk about that a little here.

I have bought a big reel of 1k pieces of these 680uH inductors. The price was around $100 but I think I probably should have paid a little more as although the reel is marked up as TDK, they might well be fakes. I suspect that because their appearance isn't as professional as some 1mH parts I bought earlier from another seller. Added to that is the spread of values - having measured at least 100, only one has shown up as 680uH (within 10uH). The rest have varied from 800uH...
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Old

First transportable Ozone incarnation

Posted 27th April 2014 at 03:48 PM by abraxalito
Updated 28th April 2014 at 06:33 AM by abraxalito

I took this to the park this morning, it survived the journey in my backpack but it exposed a dodgy RCA connector. The case I used (temporarily) for it is a cylindrical tea carton - the red 'tower' behind. Battery power comes from 3 NiMH AA cells giving around 10hrs of listening.

I've just done a mental estimate of the BOM cost of this DAC (labour cost is way dominant, but this is DIY right?) and it turns out to be dominated by the cost of the caps in the top three tiers (the small black ones). These are real Japanese Rubycons, chosen for their diminutive height (16mm) vs the Chinese ones at 25mm height. So if you didn't mind adding 3cm to the overall neight you could build this with all Chinese caps and save a few dollars. As it is the total parts cost is under $30 including batteries. If you wanted S/PDIF input (currently its I2S) you'd add a couple more $.
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Old

Ozone Chebyshev filter

Posted 18th April 2014 at 03:39 AM by abraxalito

I've munged the earlier 8 inductor filters down to only 5 - this one is using off-the-shelf TDK inductors, SLF7045-681, albeit they need to be hand-selected to get the correct values as the production tolerance is 20%. X7R caps sound just fine, surprisingly

FR is -3dB at 17,8kHz with around 0.25dB of passband ripple.
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Old

Hexacap-based Ozone DAC

Posted 20th March 2014 at 04:18 AM by abraxalito
Updated 31st March 2014 at 02:07 AM by abraxalito

Here's my current bench lash-up DAC based on three hexacaps. Total capacitance of the order of 1.3F.

32fs EIAJ is fed in, balanced, from the left, the central hexacap feeds two TDA1545ATs. Filters are TDK inductor based, six stage balanced with X7R caps (gasp!). Caps in the centre provide the mid-rail power (2.5V) which the I/V resistors are fed from. The two hexacaps on the right power the post amps based on AD815ARBs, gain set roughly to 26dB with a little NOS droop correction. They're the postage-stamp sized boards roughly in the middle. Output is differential and fed to ferrite-cored transformers to convert to SE.

I'm blown away by the dynamics of this, given the right recording. Next up is an amp based on paralleling 8 or 10 AD815s. Each fed from its own hexacap, of course....

Update1 - the DAC supply has now been upgraded to two tiers of the 4700uFs, interconnected by six 1.5mm diameter solid copper wires. Capacitive reactance measures 2.5mohm...
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Old

Adventures in low impedance power supplies

Posted 10th March 2014 at 09:01 AM by abraxalito
Updated 17th May 2014 at 04:52 AM by abraxalito

Here's my latest crazy project, intended to answer the question 'How low can you go?' in power supply impedance. No listening tests yet, I've just finished assembling this stack of hexagon capacitor arrays out of cheap electrolytics. Total capacitance of the top 4 tiers is comfortably above 1F. The top tier is designed for lowest ESR at HF using Nichicon 1500uFs, the next tier is a trade between ESR and uF. The last two are the highest capacitance density I could find (a total of 182 4700uFs). I've yet to connect the bottom two hexagons to the upper tiers but the top two are connected by wires running through the gaps between caps.

The whole is intended to push the limits of low frequency noise in powering a couple of TDA1545s which will sit on a small PCB supported on thick wires from the centre of the top tier. I am aiming to get a capacitive reactance (at 50Hz) at the DAC supply pins below 3mohm and ESR below 1.5mohm.

Update1 : connected the bottom two tiers...
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