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Old 11th November 2013, 05:41 AM   #61
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Just read your post but could not find out if the version with the alu pearl caps sounded better or not compared to polymer caps !? Did you measure the one with the Wima caps all over it ? IMO the alu pearl SAL-RPM are slightly better than polymer caps, that is why I am curious. The SAL-RPM have some BG like features. Special caps in a jungle of electrolytic caps of all sorts and they're dry caps too so no deterioration or drying out of the electrolytic fluid.

BTW I also tried Wima MKS but then the smaller MKS2 1 F version (2,5 mm pitch) and liked it for C35. That is one of the reasons that the track became shorter. The Wima 10 F MKS-XL won't fit on the final PCB anymore I guess. Again I found that SAL-RPM 10 F performed better here and thus a footprint for those was added. Parts preferably need to be small on this DAC, please check tracks/pins with an oscilloscope to verify differences after modding.

Did you also try alu pearl SAL-RPM caps for the Avcc (C22) ? I got hold of a few 68 F which I think is the largest value and that was OK too on a prototype. In fact one of the 3 examples of the final V3 DACs I am building will have those.

As you can see the verdict slowly became that SAL-RPM was the best performing of all (except for the rare BG NX HiQ) and I switched over to these and added footprints. I only tested SAL-RPM 122, the older series as I think they're a tad better than SAL-RPM 128.

Hint for the people that want to experiment, you could use these in 1 F for C35 but please use the 1 F ceramic cap close to the pins too and a 4.7 F tantalum in parallel at the underside of the board:

http://www.wima.com/EN/mks02.htm
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Last edited by jean-paul; 11th November 2013 at 06:10 AM.
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Old 11th November 2013, 06:47 AM   #62
GaryB is offline GaryB  United States
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Originally Posted by jean-paul View Post
Just read your post but could not find out if the version with the alu pearl caps sounded better or not compared to polymer caps !? Did you measure the one with the Wima caps all over it ? IMO the alu pearl SAL-RPM are slightly better than polymer caps, that is why I am curious. The SAL-RPM have some BG like features. Special caps in a jungle of electrolytic caps of all sorts and they're dry caps too so no deterioration or drying out of the electrolytic fluid.

Did you also try alu pearl SAL-RPM caps for the Avcc (C22) ? I got hold of a few 68 F which I think is the largest value and that was OK too on a prototype. In fact one of the 3 examples of the final V3 DACs I am building will have those.
JP,
I borrowed a version of the v3 DAC from Subbu with the Alu Pearl Caps (SAL-RPM) for C21, C22, and C35. C21 10uf, C22 68uf, and C35 4.7uf. I compared it to the DAC with 470uf Polymer cap for C22 and Wima MKS2 everywhere else. The two DACs are pictured below. The sound of the Polymer cap / Wima MKS2 DAC was better than the Alu Pearl DAC with fuller bass and better soundstage. Both sound good but the Polymer/Wima DAC was noticeably better. The Alu Pearl DAC was very good and better than my original v2.6 DAC build. But as I said in my previous message, the ES9023 seems very sensitive to the C22 capacitor and likes a very big value for this cap. The sound kept improving when I went from 100uf to 220uf to 470uf. I didn't see much additional benefit when I went to 560uf. The quality of C21 was not that critical but polymer was better than conventional electrolytic. Wima MKS2 was as good but not better than the polymer. For C35, the Wima MKS2 4.7uf is better than polymer in this location. The 4.7uf Wima will fit on the top of the board. You can mount the 10uf Wima below the board if you want to experiment with bigger values.

---Gary
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Old 11th November 2013, 07:11 AM   #63
GaryB is offline GaryB  United States
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JP,
I tried to send you a personal message but your mailbox is full. PM me your email address and I'll send you a note.
---Gary
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Old 11th November 2013, 11:36 AM   #64
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Will clean up my inbox this evening. Did the SAL-RPM caps have some hours of duty when you compared DACs ?

BTW both DACs have different XO's it seems ? Am I right ? Comparing is difficult then.
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Old 11th November 2013, 12:40 PM   #65
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Gary,
when you installed the C22-470uf polymer cap did you uninstalled the ceramic 1uf bypass C36 ? I know polymers dont like to be bypassed especially with ceramics.
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Old 11th November 2013, 02:37 PM   #66
GaryB is offline GaryB  United States
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Originally Posted by jean-paul View Post
Did the SAL-RPM caps have some hours of duty when you compared DACs ?

BTW both DACs have different XO's it seems ? Am I right ? Comparing is difficult then.
JP,
You sound like a skeptic, which is probably a good thing when considering audio tweaks. I did mention that the XO didn't make much of a difference. I also retrofitted some of these changes in my older v2.6 DAC with good results. I did this because I was dissatisfied with the sound of the v2.6 DAC after completing the v3 DAC with polymer and wima caps. And my v2.6 used Black Gate NX for Avcc and NEG. It also uses a standard 50Mhz XO. Adding the bigger polymer cap for AVcc, the 4.7uf Wima for NEG, and a 10uf polymer cap for Vreg raised the sound level to a good degree. I also added the bigger SPDIF input cap (3.3uf Wima) but didn't bother changing the other WM8804 caps. Sound quality was close between the builds at this point, so I think the XO isn't a critical part change. Regarding the hours on the SAL-RPM caps, I don't know how long Subbu had played it but I ran it in for at least 48 hours before doing serious listening. Probably longer but that was 6 months ago and I don't recall exactly.

Quote:
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Gary,
when you installed the C22-470uf polymer cap did you uninstalled the ceramic 1uf bypass C36 ? I know polymers dont like to be bypassed especially with ceramics.
I have not heard about polymer caps not liking ceramic bypass. Can you point me towards more information about that? I didn't remove the 1uf bypass cap (C36 in ver3, C10 in v2.6) and didn't hear any bad effects.

---Gary
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Old 13th November 2013, 07:19 AM   #67
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Hi I am a skeptic regarding hardwired "tuned by ear" devices and need part numbers and values for real comparisons. "V2.6 had Black Gate NX" really says nothing, sorry

The polymer caps have such an incredible low ESR that they might cause a resonance circuit when paralleled with small value ceramic caps. I read all this yesterday evening and think polymer caps are very exciting but should be used with attention. Solid polymer caps can not just be used as a replacement in many many cases ! Manufacturers advise to use larger value bypass ceramic caps and explain the whole matter in white papers.

I ordered 220/10 for Vpos/Avcc and 2.2 uF ceramic caps for decoupling Vpos and Vneg just to test.

Ears are not the best instrument when comparing tweaked DACs. The mind also influences matters. You should back up listening with measuring. Also testing should be done and then changes could be implemented by changing footprints, BOM etc. Better than hardware mods after production.
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Old 13th November 2013, 09:34 AM   #68
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Please note that polymer capacitors are not new (think of OSCON etc). It is only with the most recent generation that ESR is incredibly low.
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Old 13th November 2013, 12:27 PM   #69
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Has anyone found a 2.5mm four position terminal block for X6 (audio out) on the DAC board? I can't find one at DK or Mouser.
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Old 13th November 2013, 01:09 PM   #70
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Has anyone found a 2.5mm four position terminal block for X6 (audio out) on the DAC board? I can't find one at DK or Mouser.
Bob, Did you mean terminal block? The BOM calls for header pins, but of course this means that you would have to terminate your cable with a socket. However, mouser have these: 571-282834-4, 282834-4 TE Connectivity / AMP | Mouser
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