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Old 4th June 2013, 08:53 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Arrow DIY ES9018 Hi-end USB DAC


I came across a DIY kit on ebay which uses Hi end ES9018 DAC chip.
ES9018 Hi End USB DAC 192K 32bit USB CM6631A Balanced Output Fiber Coax | eBay
ES9018 32bit 192kHz Hi End DAC Optical Coax and Balanced Output DIY Kit | eBay

Click the image to open in full size.

I need your view regarding similar kits.
Do they sound good?Close to similar high price DACs?
Anything to check before purchase?

Please guide me.
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Old 4th June 2013, 11:29 AM   #2
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The IC is hi-end. The PCB is same as many other so the IC will not work at the hi-end. See the missing usb receiver ? This design is common, not made for this special DAC IC.

The question - this es9018 is better than other DAC for this money ? I think probably no. ES9018 is the difficult IC. Unlock problem is common.

Ask the seller about the unlock problem ?
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Old 4th June 2013, 12:56 PM   #3
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Thanks for reply,
I would like to know about unlock issue.Is that the DAC may not work?
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Old 4th June 2013, 02:18 PM   #4
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Not reliable. Have sound drop out.
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Old 5th June 2013, 01:00 AM   #5
jerry g is offline jerry g  Uzbekistan
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I would like others opinions: Is a product using the ES9018 shown above which is built by an experienced designer, but built to a price point, better sound wise, than a ES9023 built as an ultimate HiFi effort but at a fraction of the cost?
In other words, can the ultimate ES 9023 fully tweaked out, better the ES2018 with better specifications?
Both are almost so inexpensive by audiophile standards that a comparison could answer the question, but just wondering what others have to say....

Last edited by jerry g; 5th June 2013 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 5th June 2013, 01:42 AM   #6
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Read the description

Is the ES9018 included in the price?
My system is here
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Old 5th June 2013, 02:24 AM   #7
jerry g is offline jerry g  Uzbekistan
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The total cost of the ES9018 from weiliang above, comes out to about $250 with the chip, case, upgraded op amps, caps and transformers.....way way less admittedly than a twisted pear buffalo, or perhaps any other ready made, which is the hook that is nudging me....
I'm not entirely sure what a diy 9023 board plus a power supply and isolator etc will cost, much less my skills at micro soldering....but I am willing to give it a try if the sound is "better" or comparable.
I also want to know if the man who designed the ES 9018 (forgot his name?) is coming out soon with anything new.....
Has anyone used eight ES9023 to build a discrete ES 9018, the way multiple chips in parallel are said to be an improvement?

Last edited by jerry g; 5th June 2013 at 02:34 AM.
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Old 5th June 2013, 04:10 AM   #8
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this board in the first post is a very poorly designed one and is using only SPDIF for feeding the dac chip (even from the async usb card); that manual switch toggles the SPDIF signal between the USB card and the external SPDIF signal fed to the COAX or optical inputs;
so no I2S mode available with this DAC, not even in async usb mode - this is why I'm telling it's a very poor design, not taking advantage of the audiophile, low jitter propreties of this DAC
== There are no limitations to the self except those you believe in ==
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Old 5th June 2013, 05:32 AM   #9
glt is offline glt  United States
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ESS Tech makes a big deal on the SPDIF receiver in the Sabre DAC (you can check the white paper in their site). It is very jitter resistant. After that both I2S and SPDIF stream passes through the same ASRC.

The unlock problem is really a "problem" of the DAC chip. It cannot be "solved" if the DAC is operating under normal asynchronous operation. You can read all about it in my blog. In fact, it is not really a problem. It is just that the DAC has overaggressive settings for the DPLL.

Not being able to see the board in detail, I can't say whether this is a poor design or a "standard" design.

Last edited by glt; 5th June 2013 at 05:39 AM.
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Old 5th June 2013, 06:04 AM   #10
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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its easy to see its poor, the AVCC reg (and clock reg) is plain vanilla elcheapo IC reg, so that alone will mean the analogue performance is not so hot. the layout is the worst ESS ive sen yet, vias hopping critical signals all over the place, a crapload of parts and vias in the way of the AVCC return from the IV stage. bad quality, small and somewhat distant decoupling caps etc etc. i'd like to know what experience this experienced designer has, because it sure isnt in designing high quality dacs.

cost cutting is the main motivation for everything here

Last edited by qusp; 5th June 2013 at 06:08 AM.
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