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Old 22nd December 2009, 03:42 PM   #1
mattmcl is offline mattmcl  United States
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Default Gamma-1 DAC build thread

After looking at the different DAC kits available, I chose the Gamma1. This is my first project, so I wanted good instructions and support- Ti was very helpful and the instructions have been excellent. I chose the SPDIF Dac-only option, because I don't need USB connectivity.

Some of the parts, notably the wall wart that Ti recommends, are no longer available, so I was forced to use a switching regulator rather than linear, which Ti says will be a bit noisier. This is OK for now, but I'll likely build a suitable power supply if it causes problems.

I had to order from Mouser, Digikey and AMB (Ti's site) to get all the parts, but everything showed up last week. The boards and parts from Ti were perfectly packaged and labeled.

I started with the SMP components. Once I got the hang of getting the iron to the part before the flux dried, I moved through this pretty quick. Everything checked out with the DMM, the only trouble I had was getting solder to stick to the iron.

I worked through the resistors and am currently populating the caps. The boards are clearly labelled with part numbers and polarity where required, so it's going very quickly. I'll post a pic later tonight.
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Old 23rd December 2009, 12:12 AM   #2
mattmcl is offline mattmcl  United States
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Here are some pics of where I'm at. I'd appreciate any feedback on my soldering.
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File Type: jpg IMG_2329.JPG (145.5 KB, 365 views)
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Old 30th December 2009, 08:34 PM   #3
mattmcl is offline mattmcl  United States
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I have the board finished, and it passes all the tests listed at The γ1 Modular Miniature DAC. I plugged it in and set Foobar to use the spdif outputs. The switch on the DAC turns green, indicating it is picking up a signal from the spdif connection, but there is no sound output.

Any thoughts?
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Old 30th December 2009, 09:48 PM   #4
mattmcl is offline mattmcl  United States
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Ti got back to me via email, I had to reflow the joints on an SMP and all is good. Five minutes of listening, and this is a BIG improvement over my on-board sound (Realtek Audio on a Gigabtye P35-DS3R, which isn't bad to begin with.)

I'll post pics of the finished DAC and more listening impressions shorty.
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Old 30th December 2009, 10:25 PM   #5
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Ya, let us know how it sounds. I've been wanting to build this dac based on all its numerous features. I'm just trying to figure which method would be easiest for the smd parts, howd you go about yours ? Are you planning to upgrade it with the y2 board ?

Last edited by audioaction; 30th December 2009 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 30th December 2009, 11:58 PM   #6
mattmcl is offline mattmcl  United States
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I've been listening for a couple of hours, and I am very impressed. The staging is much wider, it sounds like I have four speakers now instead of two. It's very open and clear, with very good detail. There's a lot more bass compared to my previous setup as well. For the money, this would be a tough DAC to beat.

On the SMD parts, I put a very small amount of solder on my iron, held the chip in place with tweezers, sprayed on some liquid flux and touched the iron to right where the pad and pin meet. I did them one by one, and checked each part as I finished it. The hardest part was getting the iron to the board before the flux dried. I used spray on flux, which has an alcohol base, so it evaporated pretty quickly. I'd like to try paste flux next time, as I hear it helps hold the part down and doesn't dry up so quickly.

To be honest, my thinking was that since this was my first project, I'd do something inexpensive now and build a Buffalo once I got some more experience. I'm pretty happy with the gamma1 though... I may very well build on the y2 board and a better power supply, and put it all in a bigger chassis. The little Hammond enclosure is so light it gets pulled by the weight of my cables. AMB actually has the boards for a suitable power supply.
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Old 31st December 2009, 12:06 AM   #7
mattmcl is offline mattmcl  United States
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Here's a pic. Not much to look at, just had to show how TINY this thing is.
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Old 31st December 2009, 12:24 AM   #8
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I've been using a Gamma-1 for a while now, it's a great little DAC. I'd suspected it of producing high frequency noise, but I just tested my headphone amp on battery power, and it turns out the cheap switchmode powerpack I'd been using was the culprit for that.
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Old 20th January 2012, 11:27 PM   #9
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Lightbulb 2 1/2 years later

I have a very similiar Gigabtye mother board with the Realtek Audio and am in the process of going completely PC for CD, DVD and Blu-ray...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattmcl View Post
Five minutes of listening, and this is a BIG improvement over my on-board sound (Realtek Audio on a Gigabtye P35-DS3R, which isn't bad to begin with.)
I am finishing up an Avebury speaker build along with Peter G's chip amp kits. It sounds good, but I have only heard this system thru the Realtek Audio and an old Pioneer Laser Disc player, so I have not really heard this system yet! Mikasa, next? I am considering having a AMB y2 built by MisterX as the components are too small given my current soon to be fixed eye problems. Did you ever upgrade to y2 or did you go all out and build the Buffalo III?

I would be curious to know what your long term listening impressions of y1 was or still are. If you went with the Buffalo III, what improvements? What amps and speakers are you using?

Thanks, Allen
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