Upgrade opamps in Asus Xonar Essence One DAC - advice needed? - diyAudio
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Old 24th September 2012, 08:59 AM   #1
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Default Upgrade opamps in Asus Xonar Essence One DAC - advice needed?

I am new to all this, so have been trying to piece together information from forum posts/user feedback etc... Being able to speak to someone who knows their stuff directly would be very helpful!

As stock the DAC uses the following opamp setup (all swappable via DIP8 sockets)

I/V Stage = 4 x NE5532P
Low pass filter stage = 2 x NE5532P
RCA Output buffer = 1 x 4562NA
XLR Output buffer = 2 x 4562NA (I don't use the XLR outputs, so no need to change)

I have also read comments claiming the 49720HA is superior to the 4562NA/49720NA (same chip?) due to the metal cap shielding so that is the most obvious choice for upgrading the RCA output stage... I have also heard good things about the single version (49710HA) which I could incorporate using a dual TO99>DIP-8 adapter. This gets a bit more pricier though, so and I'm not sure it's worth the expense?

The NE5532P is widely reputed as cheaper/mass market chip and there is apparently more room for improvement here than anywhere else... so my main priority is to upgrade the I/V and LPF stages (which both use this chip - 6 in total).


A few users have reported excellent results using
dual soic LME49990 DIP8s on adapters. I can get these from eBay:

DUAL SOIC LME49990 DIP8 ADAPTER | eBay

To upgrade all 6 will work out at 60. However I've read a few reports that these run very hot on the I/V section, and can oscillate if used on the LPF. Given that people use them regardless, is this a serious issue? Would it be a better idea stability to replace the NE5532s with 49720HA aswell?

Please bare in mind that the Xonar E1 DAC has swapabble opamp sockets through out, so I hope that the surrounding circuitry is designed to cope with different configurations as "upgrading" is encouraged.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I've been trying to get my head around this for a couple of days now - it's a real mindfield of information!!

Dawson

Last edited by daws0n; 24th September 2012 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 24th September 2012, 09:44 AM   #2
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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Why the smaller than default font?

Advice:
Don't.
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Old 24th September 2012, 09:48 AM   #3
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My mistake Andrew, and was copying/pasting some text and it messed up the formatting - I thought it was back at default!

Is your advice relating to the small font or the proposed upgrade?
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Old 24th September 2012, 10:50 AM   #4
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The soundcard is provided with the facility for changing the opamps because people like to change the opamps, it costs very little to socket them, and it probably swings a sale or two. The fact that people change them is indicative of the fact that people can't resist changing them, not that it results in any improvement or that there is any rational motivation whatsoever. People say that they can hear an improvement, but they hear these improvements under conditions which are known to result in unreliable observations. This doesn't stop them making the claims, or changing the opamps. That's people for you, or as I b'lieve they say in Yorkshire, 'There's nowt so queer as folk'.

If you could really get a significant improvement in measured performance by designing in different opamps, however, I think Asus would design them in. The NE5532s are cheap because they are produced in huge numbers, because they are very good.

If I had one of these Asus soundcards, I'd leave it as is. The only likely results of changing opamps are that the soundcard will run hotter, be less reliable as a result, may possibly oscillate and you will be 60 worse off. I think that's what AndrewT means, when he says 'don't'.
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Old 24th September 2012, 11:30 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daws0n View Post
Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I've been trying to get my head around this for a couple of days now - it's a real mindfield of information!!
What's the DAC chip in this device? If its the same as the Xonar ST which I think is PCM1792 then I found LM6172 the best upgrade amongst those I tried. It got even better when the feedback caps were reduced. There's already a thread about opamp rolling for the Xonar STX - Choosing op amps for Essence STX I/V stage
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Old 24th September 2012, 12:17 PM   #6
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You raise some good points there counter culture - I tediously trawled through many pages on headfi thread and there is very little in the way of academic advice/guidelines with regards to what to upgrade. There are however a "try it yourself" mantra and tonnes of subjective user opinions, some of which seem happy to let their gear run hot/oscillate as it sounds so good(!)

The NE5532 seems to have a bad rep, despite the fact it's used in some top gear (e.g the Benchmark 1 DAC).

@abraxalito

It uses twin PCM1795 dacs, so is a bit of step up from the Xonar ST/STX. Funny you should mention the LM6172 - I've read: it's an extremely fast opamp, and there's a risk that you might come into stability problems and high frequency oscillation.

I've yet to buy an chips for the Essence one, but I've bought 3 for my STX last night... Decided on 3 x LME49720HAs to replace the poor(?) JRC2114Ds in the I/V stage. I chose because Asus used to sell their own "upgrade" kit which included two of the plastic LME49720NAs to do just this.

Last edited by daws0n; 24th September 2012 at 12:38 PM.
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Old 24th September 2012, 12:29 PM   #7
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I've found the LM6172 is worth the effort because the sound is a step up above the typical audio range of opamps. If you were to put a spectrum analyser on the current steps emanating from the PCM DAC, you'd find the bandwidth extends into the 100's of MHz. Lynn Olson did this with a much older (hence considerably slower) DAC, the PCM63 and found a 3dB bandwidth of >20MHz. Audio type opamps really aren't designed to take such high amplitude wideband RF signals, the LM6172 is better suited.

I doubt that stability would be an issue where the layout already has planes for power as I expect the Asus has.
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Last edited by abraxalito; 24th September 2012 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 24th September 2012, 12:44 PM   #8
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Thanks for the explanation - plenty to think about there! Do you use those for I/V stage or output buffer (or both?).

Since the LME49820HAs are on their way now I'll try those first - I bought another one for the output stage too as it seems like a logical step up from the stock 4562NA.

So I'll be running three of them vs asus's stock "upgrade" of 2 x LME9720NAs/ 1 x 4562NA.

Last edited by daws0n; 24th September 2012 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 24th September 2012, 12:51 PM   #9
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Back when I was listening to my Essence ST I only used the 6172s for the I/V stage and kept the NJM2114 (I think) for output duty. But I've had good results recently building them into active filters. I have also modded a CS4398 DAC stage with them and they work OK driving line outputs but that's because the output stage there is also the differencing/filter stage.
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Old 16th October 2012, 05:54 PM   #10
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Hmm interesting development... Asus are releasing a special "MUSE" edition using 6 x NJRC MUSE 01 opamps for the I/V and LPF stages:

6moons audio reviews: ASUS Xonar Essence One Muses Edition

It's considerably more expensive, so I checked out these chips are they're $50 each on digikey?! Wow, I sure hope they're worth the money - strange how Asus have gone for this seemingly little known estoric chip and not something reputable from Texas Instruments, Burr Brown et al.
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