DAC 2496 (AK4393) DAC KIT With CS8416+AK4393+5532 - Page 2 - diyAudio
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Old 10th April 2011, 12:11 AM   #11
erin is offline erin  Australia
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Compared to my Raindrop_hui TDA1541 2.0 DAC, the AK4393 DAC has the edge in a few areas which are: I find that low level detail, and overall detail is resolved just a little bit better, and when playing the same music, I find that the lowest notes go much lower, and the high frequencies go just a little higher.

My previous comment about lack of dynamics was a little premature. The ability of the AK4393 DAC to go much lower, when compared to the TDA1541, means that I think that the TDA1541 is somehow not resolving the data stream as correctly as the AK4393 and thus shifting the low notes a bit higher, which gives the perception of greater bass attack, but is in fact its not playing what is actually on the recording.

Some recordings sound more punchy on TDA1541, and subjectively more fun to listen to, even though perhaps the reproduction is not as accurate.

The AK4393 reveals a lot more detail in the recording and separates instruments better making it easier to follow individual instruments in complex passages.

I still prefer the thicker and more "brassy" sound of high hats with the TDA1541.
On the AK4393 high hats sound a little thinner, and not as "brassy"

Either DAC I could live with. The TDA1541 Kit was about $250, the AK4393 about $30.
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Old 10th April 2011, 12:20 AM   #12
sendler is offline sendler  United States
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Default AK4396

The AK4396 dac chip is a drop in replacement for the 4393 and sounds much better. The AK4395 sounds even better than that but requires a 5v digital supply.
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Old 10th April 2011, 12:35 AM   #13
erin is offline erin  Australia
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Thanks for your comments. Have you actually heard this for yourself?

What is the main improvement when swapping to an AK4396?
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Old 10th April 2011, 01:08 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erin View Post
I am using 22,000uf!! Not a typo!
I actually have now also put 22,000uf on the digital section and this has made a fantastic improvement to the sound.
I am using 220uf silmic after the +/-15V regulators, and where the 100nf bypass caps were on the op-amp, I have removed these, and put 470uf silmic there instead, and bypassing these underneath the board.
The Silmics on the op amp give much better dynamics than just running the silmics after the regulators.

This DAC kit is really outstanding. It is incredibly smooth, has great detail, and strong bass. I have a hard time finding anything to criticize, but If I had to criticize, I would say that I would like some greater dynamics, but perhaps this could be corrected by using a better op amp, discreet output stage, or tube output? I'm not sure its just a theory.
For $30 this DAC is a very safe bet. It is very responsive to changes you will make to it.
I would not bother buying any other kit. This DAC is just so good. Perhaps others can try it and advise their thoughts.
How bout start working with the 3 pin regulators. You could change it to a better ones.
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Old 10th April 2011, 04:43 AM   #15
erin is offline erin  Australia
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Of course I could, there are only so many hours in the day. I have the LM317/337 here and ready to go, just need to find the time.
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Old 10th April 2011, 09:27 AM   #16
erin is offline erin  Australia
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Upon further listening, I find that the TDA1541 reproduces the woody tone of acoustic guitar in a more realistic way. The AK4393 seems to concentrate on the initial attack of plucking the strings, but does not reproduce the resonance of the guitar body as well as TDA1541.

FWIW. I still much prefer the TDA1541 on 90% of recordings.
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Old 10th April 2011, 12:31 PM   #17
sendler is offline sendler  United States
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Default AK4393, 95, 96 comparisons

Quote:
Originally Posted by erin View Post
Thanks for your comments. Have you actually heard this for yourself?

What is the main improvement when swapping to an AK4396?
There are many threads here about the AK4395 and 4396. You will also want to try a direct out mod with caps or transformers.
.
AK4395 vs. AK4396 listening comparisons
.
AK4395/4396 ultrasonic noise spectrum graphic
.
Experience with this DIY DAC ?
.
AK4396: best solution for output stage
.

.
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Old 10th April 2011, 12:49 PM   #18
erin is offline erin  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sendler View Post
There are many threads here about the AK4395 and 4396. You will also want to try a direct out mod with caps or transformers.
.
I tried direct out mod on another V-out DAC I had and I did not like it at all. And personally, I would not recommend it to anyone. YMMV
I do not wish to experiment with expensive transformers, costing many times the price of this kit, nor muck around with cheap inferior transformers. From my understanding of transformers on the output of DACs is to use the natural roll-off of the transformers frequency response to filter out alias frequencies. The AK4393 uses a high sampling frequency well away from the audible band, so no need to use transformers here, unless trying to add some "pleasant" colouration. IMHO.

Any criticisms I have with the sound, are more likely to be with the sonic signature of the DAC chip itself rather than with the op-amp output.

I like the op-amp in this DAC kit, using the balanced signals into the op-amp negates the use of caps on the output. This design feature was one of the main reasons I got the kit.

I have already read the threads you suggested, I was hoping you had heard them for yourself and could offer some personal opinion on the sound differences. Those other threads seemed a bit vague on details. My interpretation of the results of testing was that each chip was different from one another, but what you gain in one you loose in another area. It seemed to come down to personal preference rather than an outright victory to one or the other. Or did I misinterpret?

Last edited by erin; 10th April 2011 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 10th April 2011, 12:57 PM   #19
sendler is offline sendler  United States
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Default Myself

Quote:
Originally Posted by erin View Post
I have already read the threads you suggested, I was hoping you had heard them for yourself and could offer some personal opinion on the sound differences.
Those are all written by myself.
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Old 10th April 2011, 01:06 PM   #20
erin is offline erin  Australia
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OK, sorry, I read them a while ago, in which case could you please in plain terms, outline which one is the victor and why? - not trying to be difficult.
For reference I quote what you wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by sendler View Post
The AK4396 has been around for a couple of years now and I have had a lot of people asking me about it as a possible upgrade to the AK4393 that comes stock in the Behringer 2496 audio gear but I have just now been able to get my US distributor to supply them. I installed an AK4396 dac chip in a direct out modified DEQ in order to compare it with the AK4395 that I have been recommending. The 4396 drops in to the board space vacated by the AK4393 and works fine on 3.3v with no other mods whereas the 4395 needs an extra regulator to provide 5v to pin 2, assuming that you don’t want to share the analog 5v with the digital pin. It’s interesting that the two chips do sound quite different. Although I usually have little trouble picking one component I like best from listening trials, it has been very difficult for me to choose a clear winner this time. These chips both offer stratospheric performance. It’s funny that I actually started to feel some pressure from my indecision. I also swapped the boards into the opposite chassis to make sure that I was minimizing the variables and tried both 4k and 20k stepped attenuators even though the 20k attenuators don’t work as well with my 22k amps. The 4396 has a more powerful sound even working into my 4k stepped attenuators despite it’s lower stated power consumption. It throws it’s soundstage closer to the listener, more toward the front line of the speakers and actually plays about 1db louder depending on the program material. The 4395’s bass was heard to extend much further than the stock 4393’s, along with a big improvement in resolving ability, and the 4396 has just as much extension, with a higher level, up into the mid bass. This makes the 4395 sound a bit lean in comparison. On the other hand, the 4395 throws it’s sound stage much deeper, starting just behind the plane of the speakers and going back beyond the front wall of the room. The 4396’s stage is pleasantly a bit taller. The 96 lights the stage more brightly, making each instrument stand apart from the others but lacks the ultimate resolution of the 95’s ability to follow the sounds right to the fine end. Some tracks favor the 4396’s closer presentation as feeling more involving and easier to follow. On other cuts I preferred the 4395’s extra ability to resolve reverberation tails and ambient information, making the 96 feel like it is leaving something behind. So the trade offs went back and forth causing one of those listening binges where you just keep pulling one cd after another off of the shelf, and can’t wait to get home the next day to do it all over again. At this point, with my current associated equipment, I will have to choose the AK4395 for it’s extra resolving ability even though I was hoping the 4396’s more focused and powerful sound would win as it would be easier to install. With different equipment I can see where this might go the other way so I will check back on the 4396 as things in my system change.

I see that you say the 95 bass extends lower than the 93, but I can tell you that the 93, i'm quite sure goes as low as possible.
Im using 22,000uf on the analog rails, and you were using a Behringer. They are different implementation with power supplies.
Perhaps when you give the AK4393 a very smooth power supply as I have done, the differences are not so obvious??

I originally noticed when I was using the stock 2200uf caps on the analog stage, that the bass was not deep or impressive at all, but when I gave it 22000uf the bass was all there

So, you say the 96 does not go as low, but hits harder in mid bass, which your description, sounds like how I would describe TDA1541 - which I actually prefer.

I guess I'm just looking for a bit more detail on which one is better and why? or are they just different, and really any of them are good, and it comes down to personal preference rather than necessarily a "winner" ?

Last edited by erin; 10th April 2011 at 01:22 PM.
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