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Best DAC-chip out there?
Best DAC-chip out there?
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Old 2nd January 2018, 01:38 PM   #11
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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Based on my research and experience I would recommend a Benchmark DAC-3. Hard to go wrong, Stereophile rates it as state of the art, it's used by many mastering and recording engineers as a reference standard. and so on. That being said, I haven't heard the other DACs you mentioned or most of the DACs other people have mentioned so far. Most of them probably haven't heard DAC-3 either. So, basically what you have is a bunch of people telling you what they think is satisfactory to them. If it helps you at all to know, I have compared the DAC-3 with my old DAC-1, with a Lynx-2 soundcard, with a Crane Song HEDD DAC, a DAC Magic Plus, and a few others. Of the DACs with which I am familiar, DAC-3 is the best in terms of jitter rejection, low noise, low distortion, and extremely fine and accurate detail. If that's what you want, you should be quite happy with one.

On the other hand if you want to DIY, that would be something totally different. Benchmark does a few tricks to get the most of of the chip they use. Incoming digital audio is upsampled to 211 kHz with a TI ASRC before going into the DAC chip and so on. It's not a straightforward design, and its possibly to get rather bad performance using the same chip they use in a different design.

Last edited by Markw4; 2nd January 2018 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 01:51 PM   #12
analog_sa is offline analog_sa  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
Incoming digital audio is upsampled to 211 kHz with a TI ASRC before going into the DAC chip
You are presenting this as if it were a brilliant idea and not just a horrible cheap-skate solution
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Old 2nd January 2018, 02:20 PM   #13
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by analog_sa View Post
You are presenting this as if it were a brilliant idea and not just a horrible cheap-skate solution
It simply is what it is. It measures well and sounds good, however they do it.

My point was that while many DACs use the same DAC chips, they don't all come out sounding the same for a variety of reasons. One shouldn't think the whole story is in the DAC chip itself and the all rest is secondary.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 03:48 PM   #14
wlowes is offline wlowes  Canada
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IMHO, your second question is the most important. While most DAC's today are fine, outstanding can be achieved but everything counts. The Chip is important but also the power supplies, output stage, clock, clock isolation, PCB layout, grounding, USB cable, USB isolation (better still no USB), and vibration dampening. I think if I were buying a commercial DAC, I would read some articles on shoot outs as sometimes something very good pops out hitting above it's price point. Likely, I would buy Lampizator and be happy.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 04:20 PM   #15
billshurv is offline billshurv  United Kingdom
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Best DAC-chip out there?
ok.you talk about all the important things then mention the lamp word. This is an oxymoron you realise?
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Old 2nd January 2018, 04:37 PM   #16
wlowes is offline wlowes  Canada
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Originally Posted by billshurv View Post
ok...oxymoron you realise?
You may well be right.

I was inspired by his blog which kicked off my DYI path. Have not heard one of his commercial products ... Seems to get good reviews by people who buy such things. Personnally happier building my own stuff at a fraction of retail.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 05:06 PM   #17
Nico Ras is offline Nico Ras  South Africa
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As I explained, you would get a recommendation from everyone. No-one can explain in words why their choice is so good, but each would obviously recommend what he has.

What I said earlier is go and look at the equipment then choose one that would fit nicely among the rest of your equipment. It should be aesthetically pleasing in the way that it would impress your neighbors.

It does not really matter what it sounds like, you would not really know what sounds best anyway, at least it looks great and you could always mention the price or even leave the price on so friends don't have to doubt that it must sound among the best.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 07:06 PM   #18
MarcelvdG is online now MarcelvdG  Netherlands
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlowes View Post
You may well be right.

I was inspired by his blog which kicked off my DYI path. Have not heard one of his commercial products ... Seems to get good reviews by people who buy such things. Personnally happier building my own stuff at a fraction of retail.
Well, if you want to build your own valve DAC:

The valve DAC - submicron silicon meets submillimetre vacuum

Valve DAC from Linear Audio volume 13

Interest for GB for MarcelvdG valve DAC

Last edited by MarcelvdG; 2nd January 2018 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 09:43 PM   #19
Joseph K is offline Joseph K  Hungary
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Originally Posted by canvas View Post
My DAC is based on PCM63P-K2, OPA861 I/V, Sparko Lab's discrete OP, Ian's FIFO and Andrea's SC-cut oscillator. I thought it's pretty good already. Yesterday, I listened to JenH's RTX6001 (based on AK4497) and amazed by the performance of this equipment. I did a AB test on these 2 DACs and they sound almost equally good. I synchronized 2 DACs on Daphile and I can switch the input through the preamp, so that they can be evaluated very quickly. All I can say is that new delta-sigma DAC chips does show their strength over the old technology.
Dear Canvas!
Very interesting observation.. (and beautiful features on your pcm63 dac..)

I suppose you compared using upsampling (of Daphile)
I imagine that in PCM upsampling mode..
Did you try to run the 4490 dac in DSD mode?
Then you could forget alltogether about comparisons..
I mean a further step up for the modern technology..
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Old 3rd January 2018, 07:01 AM   #20
chris719 is offline chris719  United States
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Best DAC-chip out there?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colakurt View Post
I would classify this as a DIY related question, so bare with me.
I am looking for a new DAC/preamp, and it has come to my attention that a lot of the DACs out there are using the same DAC-chip. So part one of my question is, what is the best DAC-chip out there?

I can see that quite a few manufactures are using the ESS SABRE series, especially the ES9018 and the ES9038PRO. But which of these two are the better version?

Part two of the question is not really DIY related, can anyone recommend a pre/DAC of high quality, with at least one analog input and volume control? The DAC section is of the most importance in my setup. So far I have looked at:
OPPO Soniac DAC
Lyngdorf TDA2200/TDAI2170
Benchmark DAC3
Quad Artera Play
Objectively, the best measuring DAC ICs are the ES9038, ES9028, and AK4497.

I am not entirely familiar with the others on your list, but the Benchmark is well designed.
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