Ultra Analog AES-21 Upgrade / Replacement Project - diyAudio
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View Poll Results: Have an AES-21?
Yes - still works fine 4 50.00%
Yes - broken like yours need a replacement 2 25.00%
Yes - still works but interested in performance upgrade / better jitter reduction 1 12.50%
No - just answering this poll for fun 1 12.50%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 6th February 2014, 06:21 PM   #1
nacc18 is offline nacc18  United States
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Default Ultra Analog AES-21 Upgrade / Replacement Project

Hello Everyone,

I believe I have searched forums long enough to re-start this topic (everything I found is dead and at least 3 years old)...

I am on my second AES-21 in my Classe DAC-1 and it's starting to fail again. I know many others with Parasound DAC 2000s or other Ultra Analog DACs have the same pain with their AES-21s (or 20s).

So it's about time I (or maybe someone already has?) made a plug-and-play replacement with new parts, maybe a quality crystal re-clocker, that for whatever reason doesn't die so easily. I'm thinking CS8416 with tolerant filter -> some nice crystal-based PLL with tight filter. This will go (at least in my Classe) straight out to the PMD-100 HDCD filter so I should have some room to work with on the module for good power supply, decap, etc.

In summary the idea here is to put a good RELIABLE receiver and 21-st century clock (whatever will fit!) in these great old DACs with minimal fuss.

If anyone knows anything or has any recommendations it would be appreciated. Or if you've already done the same thing a starting point would be a time-saver. I'll make a PCB that matches the AES-21 pinout so if anyone is REALLY interested let me know if you'd like a finished one once I get around to parts (several months from now...)

Thanks in advance everyone
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Old 7th March 2014, 12:04 PM   #2
Korrah is offline Korrah  Malaysia
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Out of curiosity, how does the AES-21 "fail"? Does it just stop locking onto the SPDIF signal?
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Old 7th March 2014, 12:45 PM   #3
nacc18 is offline nacc18  United States
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Hi Korrah,

I have experienced two types of failures, one of which a friend also with an AES-21 shares.

1) My DAC (classe DAC 1) worked perfectly for years until finally zero lock could be achieved on anything. incoming frequency showed 32 kHz (lowest f display on front panel) and lock failure light came on, no sound, dead. I swapped out the AES-21 and it worked perfectly again on power-up.

2) My second AES-21 is having seemingly random pauses in sound, as if dropping samples. Sometimes it's like a CD skipping, sometimes I get 40 minutes of perfect before failure, sometimes just 1 minute between a slight hiccup. This behavior a friend of mine also experiences although much less often and he has a different DAC than mine (parasound 2000).

Both of us have clock-upgraded CD players so our incoming SPDIF streams are much cleaner than normal - the cirrus part in the AES 21 (i think it was an 8412 they used) might be failing or maybe the XO they use to re-clock afterward is (pretty sure from pictures I've found that there's a second PLL in the AES-21 that re-clocks).

I will have a schematic for the new AES-21 module very soon. I've explored a few different options and will upload once I finish with the details.
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Old 7th June 2014, 08:24 AM   #4
KnyazHM is offline KnyazHM  Russian Federation
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I use Sonic Frontiers Processor 3 DAC with UA AES21. It's support 20/48.
Is it possible to upgrade and install receiver for 24/192 support?
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Old 7th June 2014, 08:03 PM   #5
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It absolutely can be done, but your Sonic Fronteirs' digital filter chip, listed as the awful PMD100 hdcd chip, can't handle anything above 20/48. But, if it were my dac, I would buy a conversion module from ASE audiotuning to replace the PMD100 with a non-hdcd DF1704 or SM5847, either of which will make your dac sound DRAMATICALLY better. You will still be limited by the UA dac chips to 20bit(don't know how high sampling rate they can handle), but it should nonetheless benefit from the above.
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Old 8th June 2014, 04:09 AM   #6
KnyazHM is offline KnyazHM  Russian Federation
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I should try to find PMD100 to DF1704 or SM5847 converter
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Old 8th June 2014, 06:28 AM   #7
KnyazHM is offline KnyazHM  Russian Federation
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May be try

ASE-Audiotuning
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Old 18th June 2014, 12:36 PM   #8
Korrah is offline Korrah  Malaysia
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Sonic Frontiers Repair Parts

Partsconnexion is offering a replacement for the AES-21/20 now.
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Old 21st August 2014, 07:30 AM   #9
murrays is offline murrays  New Zealand
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Korrah View Post
Sonic Frontiers Repair Parts

Partsconnexion is offering a replacement for the AES-21/20 now.
Thank you. That is very interesting, as I have recently tracked down intermittent dropouts in my Adcom GDA-700 to the AES-21 module.
Has anyone here tried out one of these repalcement modules?
Does anyone know if they are a straight pin-for-pin functional replacement?
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Old 14th September 2014, 04:37 AM   #10
murrays is offline murrays  New Zealand
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I had been experiencing intermittent failures of the Ultra Analog converter in my 20 year old Adcom GDA-700 DAC.
I took the plunge (it's not cheap) and ordered one of the replacement modules from Parts Connexion.
The new module is a direct drop-in replacement. It has been working flawlessly for over a week now.
I have attached "before" and "after" pictures.

P9040003.jpg P9040005.jpg
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