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Old 27th February 2008, 07:03 AM   #1
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Default Ultra High-End DAC designs for DIY?

Hey guys,
I'm in need of a very high quality DAC, and I'd like to build it myself for the experience and to save money. I need it to handle 16 or 24 bit signals and 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, and preferably 176.4 and 192 KHz sample rates. I will be interfacing it with my computer and using it to play back music including hi-rez files, and a piano sample library (my piano keyboard will be interfaced with my computer). With this in mind, the DAC needs to do a good job of rejecting jitter, and it would be best if it could accept input via USB, Firewire, Ethernet or some other protocol, but this is not a necessity: If necessary, I can purchase or build an s/pdif or even I2S interface for my computer. I will be using this DAC with the ExtremA Power Amplifier in a nearfield monitor setup, and I'm not sure about the preamp yet. It'd be great if I could integrate that into the DAC, but that of course would also need to be of very high quality. I'm going to set my budget for the project at $2000 for parts, max.

Thanks!
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Old 27th February 2008, 01:25 PM   #2
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I don't have the requisite knowledge for designing a DAC worth building myself, so I'm hoping to follow an existing design. I'm just having trouble finding a design to use. I'm hoping that people will post links to designs I could follow.
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Old 27th February 2008, 01:47 PM   #3
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Look at the twisted pear site; they have some kits.
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Old 27th February 2008, 04:15 PM   #4
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by PigletsDad
Look at the twisted pear site; they have some kits.
Seems like a hot tip.. Should answer the need of the original poster I would think, and my newly found need.

I took a look at the site based on your recommendation since I am about ready to give up on the Zhaolu dac I've discussed on another thread, and these modules look very interesting. I'm thinking the COD mono option, the spdif receiver and the metronome..

Anyone using this combination of hardware?

Is the Wolfson spdif receiver better than the CS8416 which at moment might be a big part of what I don't like in the Zhaolu?
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Old 27th February 2008, 04:21 PM   #5
xaudiox is offline xaudiox  Philippines
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Quote:
Originally posted by kevinkr

Is the Wolfson spdif receiver better than the CS8416 which at moment might be a big part of what I don't like in the Zhaolu?
yes... see here :http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f6/new...ml#post3620461
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Old 27th February 2008, 04:37 PM   #6
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Just the sort of useful information I'm looking for.. I did read the datasheet for the Wolfson part, but reading that thread you linked to has got me convinced that I will try the twisted pear modules next.
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Old 27th February 2008, 05:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by PigletsDad
Look at the twisted pear site; they have some kits.

They look very nice. Would you call them "Ultra High-End" or just " Extremely High-end" ?

My personal feeling is that "Ultra High-end" dac is significantly outside the abilities of most diyers. No project based on ready made commercial solutions and app notes really stands a chance.

So, sadly, there seem to be no particularly ambitious diy designs. I really like the originality of ECdesign's dac and the complexity of Peufeu's ethernet dac but while the first does not meet the required design criteria, the second (afaik) is not quite finalised.
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Old 27th February 2008, 05:44 PM   #8
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You may want to take a look at the RAKK DAC sold by K&K Audio. It has tube outputs and transformer coupling. RAKK is well received by users and will fit into your budget nicely.
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Old 27th February 2008, 06:08 PM   #9
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Default uwe beis' DAC

Might I suggest the DAC made by Uwe Beis - see www.beis.de -and go to the electronics section. It accepts sample rates from about 30 kHz to 192 kHz.

Personally I would not consider it a high-end DAC as it is - but I assume that the basic digital design is sound - and it can be surrounded by other opamps, filtering components, and better power-supply components - all which may improve the sound.

Good luck with your project ;-)

Regards,

Jesper
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Old 27th February 2008, 06:32 PM   #10
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Default Re: uwe beis' DAC

Quote:
Originally posted by gentlevoice
Might I suggest the DAC made by Uwe Beis

This dac is quite similar to Zhaolu, which retails for around $130. No amout of fancy componets, tube output stages, battery power, etc can turn it into a silk purse.

Realistically, i think the best use for $2000 is to buy a used Wadia for around $1500 and use the rest of the budget for mods. Not to mention it will retain more value than any diy project.
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