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Old 16th August 2010, 11:58 AM   #1
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Default DAC for a first time DIYer?

Hi,

I have been looking around at DAC's and if I am honest I am getting a little lost by all the different types etc there seems to be. I am after a DAC to connect to my PC so I can play my FLAC files on my hifi. At the moment I am playing it through my onboard soundcard so as you can guess the quality isn't the best!

What DIY dacs do people recommend? I had seen ones like the Bantam DAC though I have seen the Gigaworks ebay DAC's spoken about a lot. Would it be easier to modify a dac than to build from scratch? I'm not wanting to spend a huge amount too if I am honest, certainly wouldn't want to go too far north of $100.

Any help will be greatly appreciated!
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Old 17th August 2010, 09:56 PM   #2
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Hi

Do you intend to use S/PDIF / optical or USB? Generally speaking S/PDIF / opt is better if you can. It would be cheaper and easier for you to get a kit from ebay rather than building from scratch.

The Gigaworks 'Big' DAC is is a superb value for money. Great sound and a good start to DIY and will cater for all input types. However with a decent case and connectors you will be closer to $150. Then after a while you may want to upgrade the op-amps and ultimately convert to using output transformers which really take the DAC into the high end league.

The Big DAC is available from two sellers on ebay:

Hi End 24/192 DAC DA CONVERTER CS8416+CS8421+CS4398 USB on eBay (end time 19-Aug-10 18:49:58 BST)

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/UP-SAMPLING-24...efaultDomain_0

A huge thread on tweaking this DAC is here:

Experience with this DIY DAC ?

Alternatively for less money is this one:

High Grade 24bit/192khz DAC with fully assembled kits on eBay (end time 29-Aug-10 10:48:28 BST)

Supposed to very good and also has it's own discussion thread:

New Small DIY Gigawork Dac?

If you want more detailed advice regarding the Big DAC feel free to send me a PM (click on my name and choose 'send personal message').
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Old 18th August 2010, 01:50 AM   #3
mikje is offline mikje  United States
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RichLund,
Is the lower priced DAC that's on eBay all-inclusive? IOW, is there anything else needed to use it? And do you know if will work with 120VAC? Thanks for all the info you posted.
Mike
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Old 18th August 2010, 02:18 AM   #4
grael is offline grael  France
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Code:
This is an assembled KIT 
& Come with a High quality Encapsulated Power Transformers
Code:
2. Come with High quality Encapsulated Power Transformers x1pcs  ( 110V or 220V )
You just need to ask for right voltage when ordering (110 v)

Then you need a box...

If you want to modify it, have a look at the thread that RichLund gave :
New Small DIY Gigawork Dac?

[edit] And yes, you need cables. For power supply too (standard computer power supply cable)

Last edited by grael; 18th August 2010 at 02:33 AM.
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Old 18th August 2010, 02:20 AM   #5
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Hi Mike

Yes It's pretty much all inclusive apart from the case to put it in. And yes it comes with a transformer that will work with 120 or 240V if you ask.

It really is plug and play. You will need either a S/PDIF coax or optical cable from your source to your DAC. If your'e in the states you can get a Blue jeans cable which are very good for the money:

Digital Audio Cables at Blue Jeans Cable

Or cheap one off ebay to get you started but it's worth spending a few extra bucks on the cable to benefit. Get one at least 1 metre in length.
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Old 18th August 2010, 02:30 AM   #6
mikje is offline mikje  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichLund View Post

It really is plug and play. You will need either a S/PDIF coax or optical cable from your source to your DAC. If your'e in the states you can get a Blue jeans cable which are very good for the money:

Digital Audio Cables at Blue Jeans Cable

Or cheap one off ebay to get you started but it's worth spending a few extra bucks on the cable to benefit. Get one at least 1 metre in length.
Thanks for the info RichLund,
Another question though... I'll be using my laptop for my source; what type of output connection is required on my computer? All I have is the regular 3.5mm headphone jack, USB, and firewire.
Thanks again,
Mike
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Old 18th August 2010, 02:35 AM   #7
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Ah, is it a Mac? If so you can use a special s/pdif cable from the audio out socket.

If it's a normal Windows laptop you can use the USB port - BUT this small DAC doesn't have USB input. You will need to get the 'Big' DAC mentioned above.

The 3.5mm headphone socket isn't suitable for digital output I'm afraid.

edit: You can do a search on ebay for loads of usb capable ready made DAC's. Some good, some average. But then this is a DIY forum and you will probably want to assemble your own. If so you won't get better value than the 'Big' DAC. It's really up to you.

Last edited by RichLund; 18th August 2010 at 02:42 AM.
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Old 18th August 2010, 02:43 AM   #8
mikje is offline mikje  United States
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OK, another reason to replace my 3 year old laptop (PC, normal Windows laptop). I'll make sure I get one with a digital audio out.
Thanks for all your help, RichLund.
Mike
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Old 18th August 2010, 02:58 AM   #9
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No problem Mike
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Old 18th August 2010, 03:49 AM   #10
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What about Ti Kan's Gamma 1?
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