ebay SPDIF dac "CS8416 + CS4398" only $25 - worth a try? - diyAudio
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Old 13th April 2014, 05:15 AM   #1
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Default ebay SPDIF dac "CS8416 + CS4398" only $25 - worth a try?

I'm shopping around for four stereo DACs of the inexpensive variety, e.g. FiiO D03k, etc. After poking around Ebay for awhile I came across a couple of these built DAC boards for $20-$25. These have a single SPDIF coax input and analog stereo output. Description indicates CS8416 (receiver) and CS4398 DAC. Looking at the pic of the board, there is no transformer on the SPDIF input. For $20 I am not expecting the world, but was wondering if anyone had taken the plunge with this board or could give some comments on the expected performance.

I need coax SPDIF to analog conversion 24bits at 48kHz minimum. This will be put in a case with other stuff, so pcb is fine. Suggestions for alternates welcome.

Link: CS8416 CS4398 24bit 192K Coaxial DAC Decoder Board Assembled | eBay


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Old 13th April 2014, 02:56 PM   #2
Eldam is offline Eldam  France
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Location: At home, sweet sound home...
Maybe good enough for your kitchen and if you don't spend time in it !

from my seat :

smd but not compact ?
I can not see the crystal XO
no polymer cap or not visible ?
CS8416 in software mode (not external clock) : i believe thi schip has far more jitter than let say: Wolfson 88004/5.
it seems there is an oap buffer, but wich one ?
DC blocker output capacitor seems very poor and not bipolarised.

the one of hifimediy is 3 time expensive but maybe you have more in SQ for dolar to dolar : Hifimediy CS4398 DAC "direct out", TCXO oscillator


- TCXO oscillator
- DSP for spidf input (but mayber noiser than CS8416... I don't know)
- sanyo polymer cap
- direct output (no buffer) with Mundorf cap at DC blocker
- Panasonic FM for DC supply

In fact maybe this one is more economic at the end

Just 2 cents, but IMHO your link is for me a perfect exemple of crap kit, you have even the shipping cost with it, for 25 dollars
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Old 13th April 2014, 07:10 PM   #3
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Any other thoughts on this board?

Suggestions for an alternative low-cost DAC having reasonable performance?
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Old 13th April 2014, 09:49 PM   #4
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How about this SPDIF--> R/L analog DAC kit?

I have seen it sold in many places, including here at NewEgg:
Newegg.com - CS4398 CM102 CS8416IC DAC Kit 192K 24bit SPI I2S Amplifier Board

This is an LJM designed board I believe. I would need to build it, but it is doable for me.

Thoughts?
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Old 15th April 2014, 12:25 PM   #5
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On the picture @newegg I see AK4393 DAC chip, only SPDIF input. I had one in picture - with AK, it performs... well it has some sound coming out However my attempts to attach Tenor board to it to use with USB were unsuccesful - a lot of dropouts and errors. SPDIF from CD player works fine.

Last edited by tornislv; 15th April 2014 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 15th April 2014, 10:02 PM   #6
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Update: I decided to buy the DAC board in the opening post to see what shows up. I will test it out and give my impressions when I finally receive it.
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Old 16th April 2014, 09:39 AM   #7
Eldam is offline Eldam  France
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Location: At home, sweet sound home...
Bad Chineese DAC are good to learn and test personal tweaks...(I did on a AD1865 DAC Kit) and for 25 bucks it's like to go to cinema... you will have a good time to test better value caps, change the buffer OAP and output caps... But of course special needs or joy of tweaking I'm not sure this is a great deal because if your are on DIYA this is because you are demanding with listening.. You will tell us if you are pleased wit it unmodified. Maybe it can be a surprise for the bucks ?

Do you think the DAC chip is fed by the internal X0 from the CS8016 spidf receiver ? ... I can not see any crystal on the captched pictures ?

I saw there are good 4 layers PCB kit with ES9018 tested at Hifiduino if you have more specific needs. This one is maid by the official chineese distributor of ES. Very good construction and PCB quality... but it stays a PCB maid for diyers (not SOTA layout).

Last edited by Eldam; 16th April 2014 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 26th April 2014, 06:35 PM   #8
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Default First inspection of DAC board

Well, I purchased the DAC board and have just received it, about 10 days later. Not bad for free shipping.

I can now look at the board close up. It's labeled "X6M VER 1.0" and "2013-07-27". No hand soldering, it's all professionally done. Power comes in as 12-0-12V AC and is then rectified and filtered with discrete diodes and two 2200uF caps. There is a pair of 7812 and 7912 regs, as well as a separate 5V and two separate 3.3V regs (not sure yet of the part, but might be 317 type). The input to the 8416 from the coax is via an R to ground and an SMD cap. I have seen this scheme used before and its fine but not transformer isolated. The output of the CS4398 is buffered through a TI N5532.

I plan/hope to test this out soon and will post some results.
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Old 27th April 2014, 01:17 AM   #9
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Ah, now we are getting to the thick of the matter! Can our little el cheapo board measure well at least, and sound good? Note: see attachments for measurements.

I connected a dual secondary 12VAC transformer to the board, and used an M-Audio ProFire 610 to run some tests. I connected the SPDIF output on the 610 using a short section of Belden 1505A cable that I had lying around (75 ohm characteristic impedance) and then one channel of the analog output section back to the #3 line input of the M-Audio.

I ran frequency response and distortion tests at 48kHz and 96kHz. I could not get output from the DAC at 192kHz although it is listed as 24/192.

As you can see from the attached files, the frequency responses at 48kHz and 96kHz look fine. No problems.

The problems appear when you look at the distortion. I first measured the distortion at 48kHz and 96kHz at -3dB level. THD starts low, around 0.001% at 20Hz, but increases with frequency and has reached a whopping 0.1% by 10kHz, consisting of odd order products. The even order distortion products are significantly lower (See plots).

Next I re-measured the distortion with the level 20dB lower for both sampling rates. The results were quite different - this time only 3rd order distortion was rising with frequency, only reaching about 0.02% by 10kHz. All the other distortion products essentially remained in the noise floor.

Seeing that this is a bargain basement DAC, I am wondering if the two larger grey caps labeled 10uF 63V that are on the analog outputs are junk and what we are seeing is primarily distortion from these caps. I might try and replace them with something else, although the only 10uF film caps that I have are physically too large for the board.

If the question is "can a $20 DAC perform well" I think the answer is a resounding "no" for this one. The rising distortion performance is really unacceptable for this kind of equipment (a DAC). I would not use this DAC for full range listening.

On the other hand, if your requirements are for a very low cost DAC that will only be used at "lower" frequencies this board may still be passable. For instance if you only need this for a subwoofer, below 100Hz, the distortion is very low (circa 0.001%) and the frequency response is -3dB at 4Hz. Excellent. You could even use it below 1kHz if you can live with distortion levels rising up to about 0.01% at full scale output, less (<0.003%) for levels around -20 or less. This would be fine.

I have not yet "listened" to the DAC. I will do that thru some headphones to check for any sonic issues, clicks, pops, etc and post them if I find any.

-Charlie
Attached Images
File Type: png X6M FR 48kHz.png (34.9 KB, 195 views)
File Type: png X6M FR 96kHz.png (36.5 KB, 29 views)
File Type: png X6M distortion 48kHz.png (39.5 KB, 33 views)
File Type: png X6M distortion 96kHz.png (37.2 KB, 31 views)
File Type: png X6M distortion 48kHz -20dB.png (38.2 KB, 26 views)
File Type: png X6M distortion 96kHz -20dB.png (45.7 KB, 27 views)
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Old 28th April 2014, 03:15 AM   #10
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Update: I did some listening today, as well as some A/B comparisons with an M-Audio ProFire 610 that I use for measurements and so on. I also was able to get the Ebay DAC to operate at 192kHz - the earlier problem had to do with how I set up the measurement software and not the DAC itself.

I listened to a variety of music for several hours through headphones. It was surprising to discover that I really could not discern any of the distortion that I had measured, or any differences between the DACs. I actually was "listening for" the distortion at first, but then I realized that I couldn't really hear it. This might be due to the average level being lower where the distortion performance is much better and only brief transients reach the higher digital levels that resulted in the high odd order distortion.

This DAC is so inexpensive, you might want to try and pick up one and see for yourself if you also find its performance acceptable. Not a top contender by any means, but I did not find any major faults either.
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