Chinese DAC in a Box: CS8416 / CS4397 - diyAudio
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Old 25th December 2006, 10:49 AM   #1
Franz G is offline Franz G  Switzerland
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Default Chinese DAC in a Box: CS8416 / CS4397

Hi

At the ETF06 I participated at the DAC shootout with my (before) loved Marantz CD63, heavily modified.

You may not believe it: I voted against my own player, at the shootout...

Time for a new start?

Yes! So I had a look, what the winner DAC based of: A Zaholu 2.0 DAC followed by an Aikido balanced stage, transformer coupled (look John Broskies Tubecad blogs , the "Triode centennial" blog).

The Zaholu 2.0 DAC is based on CS8416 and CS4398.

Looking for a Zaholu 2.0 I realized there is a newer version available, the 2.5. A little bit more expensive.

Mr. Wu in Hong Kong is offering various chinese DAC's:

Mr. Wu's sales pages

I found a very cheap (59US$) chinese DAC, based on CS8416 and CS4397, called "DAC in a Box". The datasheet for the CS4397 does not look very different as the CS4398 datasheet.

It's a matchbox sized DAC, just the DAC board. 12VDC, SPDIF optical and RCA in, RCA out.

I immediately ordered on of this boxes, including a small wall-psu. The first tests I made battery operated. I realized, that the DAC is consuming relatively high currents and as soon as the battery voltage is lower than 11V, some clipping occurs (maybe the LT1364 opamp, as the receiver and dac chips are supplied by a low drop AMS1117 regulator with 5VDC).

So, I built a small LM7812 regulated psu and the beast beats my (after ETF06 newly modified) Marantz CD63.

There is no remarkable difference between the California Audio Labs Sigma DAC and this small box!

Of course, I bought this box, to play with my own analoge stage, bypassing the internal opamp.

Maybe, this thread could get as long as the Marantz CD63 thread, as soon as more users start playing with this little box?

Kind regards
Franz
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Old 25th December 2006, 10:51 AM   #2
Franz G is offline Franz G  Switzerland
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Here a picture from the new module, I am building:

a Broskie Cathode Follower, based on 6111 double triodes.

Franz
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Old 25th December 2006, 10:55 AM   #3
Franz G is offline Franz G  Switzerland
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Inside the DAC in a Box:
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Old 26th December 2006, 07:51 AM   #4
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I'm really interested in this little DAC, thanks for posting your thoughts!

Looking at the photo, it seems the opamp is a SOIC package mounted on the PCB. It also looks like there are DIP mounting holes, is this correct?

I've seen another picture showing a SOIC opamp mounted on a kind of DIP converter (I think).

The reason I'm asking is because if I buy one of these, I'd like to replace the opamp with a DIP LM4562.

Best regards,

Andrew.
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Old 26th December 2006, 09:08 AM   #5
Franz G is offline Franz G  Switzerland
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Hi Andrew

Indeed, there are DIP-mouting holes! I did not remark it before!

But not a lot space left for desoldering. Maybe one output RCA has to be removed.

Kind regards
Franz
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Old 26th December 2006, 09:11 AM   #6
Franz G is offline Franz G  Switzerland
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Here the backside of the pcb.

Before replacing the opamp: I think, the opamp is driven by single supply, 5VDC. Therefore coupling caps are sitting in the signal path.

I think, it is better, to bypass this opamp circuit by a complete new, positive and negative rail driven solution.

Or a broskie cathode follower.

Franz
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Old 26th December 2006, 09:53 AM   #7
Franz G is offline Franz G  Switzerland
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I really regret, not to have bought two pieces of this fantastic DAC's!

One as reference, the other as base for improvement trials.

Actually, I am layouting the breadbord for my testbed (look foto): in the upper left corner the high voltage PSU, tube rectifying (EZ80, resulting in a nice slowstart). CLCRC.

Lower right corner the broskie cathode follower, based on 6111 triodes. The big cans nearby are paper (MP) caps, 4uF.

BTW: I am not in any relation with Mr. Wu, just a customer


Kind regards
Franz
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Old 26th December 2006, 12:37 PM   #8
Franz G is offline Franz G  Switzerland
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Quote:
Before replacing the opamp: I think, the opamp is driven by single supply, 5VDC. Therefore coupling caps are sitting in the signal path.
I must correct the above sentence:

The opamp is feeded by a single positive voltage, 11,25 VDC. It comes directly from the power supply over a 1N4407 protection diode, bypassed by a small SMD cap (marked as 336V: is this 33uF 6V?).

That must be the reason, why this DAC begins clipping when the supply voltage is dropping below 11VDC.

Franz
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Old 26th December 2006, 03:02 PM   #9
Franz G is offline Franz G  Switzerland
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Doing some more reverse engineering it is obvious:

I just have to remove the four greenish through hole caps and I will get 4 solder pads for the balanced voltage output from the CS4397 DAC freely accessible and hanging in the air.

So, it will be easy and low risk for the print, to bypass the opamp and add my own audio stage.

Franz
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Old 26th December 2006, 10:53 PM   #10
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Hi Fanz, thanks for the head up on this DAC. I've ordered one to play around with. I think there was a thread about it at head-fi , but can't find it now. Anyway, let us know how you get on with the mods.

Dan
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