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Old 18th November 2007, 08:53 PM   #1
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Default DAC kit to buy

Hello all,

I am looking for an inexpensive DAC kit to buy. I dont want a TDA15XX type of DAC, I want to try something else.
I dont want just any DAC either I want something that can really compete with the hi end commercial stuff.

I was thinking of the Zhaolu 2.5 from http://www.diykits.com.hk/ it has received a lot of praise. It costs $200 with shipping which is a bit more than I want to spend.

I want to go with something cheaper without losing sound quality.
I am wondering if the SUPER Pro DAC 707 (from the same web site) would give the same performance as they both share the same receiver and DAC (but with a power supply and output buffer upgrade)?

So shoud I:
-suck it up and spend the $200
-buy the SUPER Pro DAC 707 and mod the crap out of it to get it to the level of the Zhaolu
-or go with something else


What do you guys think?




Thanks

Lawrence
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Old 18th November 2007, 09:05 PM   #2
hifiZen is offline hifiZen  Canada
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Check out the Twisted Pear stuff. The Wolfson chip is a nice part, and the cost is in line with your budget. Unfortunately, I don't have much to say about the sound quality at this point, as I didn't get much opportunity to listen to it at BAF, and haven't been able to pull together a listening session since. If you search the forum, you can find the DAC's design thread, and probably some reviews as well.
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Old 19th November 2007, 04:23 AM   #3
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This looks pretty cool: http://www.kandkaudio.com/digitalaudio.html
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Old 19th November 2007, 04:29 AM   #4
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the K an K audio stuff is cool but tooooo expensive.
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Old 19th November 2007, 05:27 AM   #5
Luke is offline Luke  New Zealand
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The Opus thread seems to be very active, but every time I try to get a review or comparison I cant find one, its almost like builders are keeping it a secret Any comments out there on how good the Opus sounds?
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Old 19th November 2007, 06:38 AM   #6
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I was one of the builders of the beta version while the OPUS was under development. I am very happy with the sound quality of mine, with it being the primary source I use for my listening sessions. Since then Russ and Brian from Twisted Pear have made improvements on the design based on the responses from the dozen or so beta testers. If you want the ultimate in performance, you'll want to look at having the Metronome ASRC module and buffers etc, but no matter which combination of modules you go with, it will perform far above it's cost would suggest.

My 2 cents!

Terry
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Old 19th November 2007, 06:32 PM   #7
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You should also consider an Analog Devices 1955 or TI 1792/4 eval board. They are cheap and VERY good. Both boards are loaded with only high-end passive parts and decent voltage regulators.

Just add a PSU and a chassis, and you are done.

-David
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Old 19th November 2007, 07:38 PM   #8
Luke is offline Luke  New Zealand
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Thank Terry, I like the idea of building an Opus. I may have to to do it one day.
David how to you buy these eval boards, dont you need to be a company? I recall someone saying on the forum that generally they wont sell them to you if your not a company?
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Old 19th November 2007, 07:50 PM   #9
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Luke,

You can order the eval boards direct from TI for the 1792/4.

While I agree that the AD1955 and TI PCM1792 are great DAC chips, in my opinion the eval boards are only good for that, evaluating possible design options. Because they are designed primarily for flexibility of configuration, there are significant compromises sonically. I roughed out my design for an SRC4192/PCM1798 DAC on the eval board, and then prototyped it on an etched pcb leaving out all the extras, and focusing on proper ground plane and loop isolation, and the end result was night and day in comparison. Don't get me wrong, the eval boards are a great tool, but like anything, they have their compromises.

Terry
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Old 20th November 2007, 08:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by metalman
Luke,

You can order the eval boards direct from TI for the 1792/4.

While I agree that the AD1955 and TI PCM1792 are great DAC chips, in my opinion the eval boards are only good for that, evaluating possible design options. Because they are designed primarily for flexibility of configuration, there are significant compromises sonically. I roughed out my design for an SRC4192/PCM1798 DAC on the eval board, and then prototyped it on an etched pcb leaving out all the extras, and focusing on proper ground plane and loop isolation, and the end result was night and day in comparison. Don't get me wrong, the eval boards are a great tool, but like anything, they have their compromises.

Terry
Hi Terry and others,

I agree with you about eval board quality, they are usually built to measure well and sound quality is a far distant objective. The ADI and TI boards (especially the AD1955 board) are built to sound great as well as measure well. The AD1955 board selectively uses only Yageo and Dale resistors for best sound quality. The other passive parts are also first rate.

For people who cannot build boards or understand the "dark art" of DAC layout, these boards are an awesome DIY alternative. They will absolutely blow a Zhaolu 2.5 into the weeds. The boards are usually sold at a break even price or for a loss to stimulate demand.

The boards can be purchased from distributors or directly from the manufacturers. ADI is a little more of a hassle, since you need to contact ADI to get the name of a distributor. Sometimes ARROW stocks them in the US.

For around $200usd, they are a bargin and would be a better alternative to the Asian DAC products.

BTW, I also have a few commercial DAC's that are widely regarded and the eval boards still sound better. They were a fraction of the overall cost as well.

Get an eval board and try it. Both the TI and ADI boards make a great reference for building one from scratch. If you can exceed the sonic quality of these boards, great. You can always sell them here and someone will quickly buy them on the Trading threads.

-David
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