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Old 25th November 2002, 01:45 AM   #1
s0rce is offline s0rce
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Default Cheap DIY DAC

I have a sony CDP-C900 that I want to build a DAC for it only has a toslink output though so I was wondering which DAC I should build and if I should build or buy a toslink to coax converter.
I dont want to spend very much money, right now I am considering the TNT-Audio Convertus and the SDS Labs transistor DAC.

Lyle Gordon

P.S. I want to use this dac even after I upgrade my integrated amp and speakers to something better. (aka I want it to perform well)
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Old 28th November 2002, 11:30 AM   #2
halcyon is offline halcyon
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you will find that there appears to be very little useful comparative information between various DIY DACs. No measurements and hardly any third party objective listening comparisons.

DIY community operates mostly out of joy to build and to solve problems and not many are interested in whether the DAC they design is better than some brand XYZ. They build it and end up tweaking it, because DIY is about learning and building.

Of course, if you ask anyone, they will say that the DAC they designed themself is the best

My suggestion is to pick the most expensive, most talked about, least conroversial and least difficult DAC that you can still build yourself (and get parts for without spending huge amounts of time searching).

The ones you mentioned could be good start, perhaps.

I'd also pay attention to at least the described sound quality (if listening comments exists) and immunity to jitter. YOu should aim for the kind of soudn quality you prefer yourself and also for high input jitter immunity. Different DIY DACs will more than likely have different sonic characteristics.

Best of luck with your search.

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Old 28th November 2002, 11:53 AM   #3
Pjotr is offline Pjotr
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Hi Lyle,

Half a year ago I was faced with the same question. I finally obtained a ready-made M-Audio SuperDac for around $250. It has Tos-link, coax and EBU inputs. And, despite Halcyon’s comments about sound: It sounds good. It is well build with first rate components. For the amount of money I can’t do it better myself. And there is a load of possibilities for upgrading if you like.
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Old 28th November 2002, 12:08 PM   #4
Elso Kwak is offline Elso Kwak  Philippines
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Lightbulb Comparing DAC's

Hi Halcyon,
I did compare a lot of DAC's all NON-OS.
See f.a.
I liked the TDA1543 the most, then AD1865N-K then AD1865N, then perhaps TDA1541AS1 then????? I found the TDA1543 having the most natural analog like sound. Also the TDA1543 lacks all listening fatigue of the AD1865N-K. The only aspect of the AD185N-K I find better is the bass. Slightly more controlled and more slamm.
As a foot note I feel the AD DAC's are far more jitter sensitive than the TDA DAC's. Also the AD DAC's react far more allergic to a metastable when I apply my Asynchronous Reclocker. [Reclocking LATCH, BITCLOCK and DATA with 74VHC74's]. And the Asynchronous Reclocker brings more improvement on the AD1865N-K than on the TDA1543.
Please note my current Asynchronous Reclocker does NOT produce metastables as a second flip-flop is incorporated in the design.

Lyle you can't go wrong with the TNT-convertus.
Two points I disagree :
Paralling the TDA1543 smears the highs.
+5V supply produces the best sound. 8 or 9 V gives the highs a agressive metallic quality. Passive conversion gives a lack of dynamics in the music. The TDA1543 is supply sensitive. A 7805 or LT1086 or LM1086 might not be the final solution. And a Jung regulator sounds hopeless in this application. Currently I am experimenting with a triple Darlington connected capacity multiplier without any feedback from the output. Will post the schematic shortly.
The 2mA maximum output current of the TDA1543 as promised in the datasheet is not obtained. I get 2 V out with a 2k55 feedback resistor from output of IV-converter to inverting input. Non-inverting input connected to ground. With a resistor connected from Vref to ground the offset can be nulled but sound was better without any resistor here, regardless of value.
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Old 28th November 2002, 12:20 PM   #5
Hamish is offline Hamish  Australia
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Elso Kwak,
i would be very interested to see your dac design. i am looking for one at the moment. not too complex?
keep us posted on progress.
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Old 28th November 2002, 01:33 PM   #6
Peter Daniel is offline Peter Daniel  Canada
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Cheap DIY DAC Send a message via AIM to Peter Daniel
Here are some links:
“Do something really well. See how much time it takes. It might be a product, a work of art, who knows? Then give it away cheaply, just because you feel that it should not cost so much, even if it took a lot of time and expensive materials to make it.” - JC
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Old 28th November 2002, 07:09 PM   #7
halcyon is offline halcyon
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I appreciate your efforts and I'm sure many others do as well.

However, I do believe the poster was asking for a ready-made schematics and parts list and maybe even instructions for assembling a DIY DAC.

A comparison of DAC ICs is not the same as comparison of fully assempled DIY kits (with differing design choices) compared by somebody else than their actual designer/builder

I'd really like to see a DIY DAC shoot-out.

People get together with various designs, listen to them and also let people who have not designed any of them to listen to the whole bunch.

Then everybody posts their opinions publicly.

It doesn't have to degraded to the level of 'A is better than B', but it could provide very useful clues to various DIY DAC kits sonic character and how people in general perceive them.

This kind of get-togethers happen a lot in the speaker DIY community.

Why not in the DAC DIY community

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Old 28th November 2002, 07:23 PM   #8
Elso Kwak is offline Elso Kwak  Philippines
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Cool Complete DIY DAC kit

I shared my experiences as I feel these are appreciated by other forummembers. Also get a lot of e-mail where I talk in more detail about this subject. The title of the thread was <B>cheap DIY DAC</B>. I belive any DAC with the TDA1543 will be simple and cheap as the TDA1543 is about US$ 1.
If you want a complete cheap simple DAC-project go for Scott Nixon's kit:

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Old 28th November 2002, 08:46 PM   #9
jean-paul is offline jean-paul  Netherlands
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I'd really like to see a DIY DAC shoot-out
Although I would like the same I think the TDA1543 DAC's are slowly becoming de defacto nr. 1 in DIY DAC land.( regardless of the used topology)
Must be the simplicity I thought at first. Or the cost. Must sound like s**t I thought too.
At first you laugh about this El Cheapo, then you build it and you compare it to other stuff. And the moment will come that you seriously ask yourself why this El Cheapo sounds better than your friends $$ 24 bit 96 kHz DAC...
Just this evening I entered TDA1543 in Google. I was astonished by the enormous amount of DIY schematics of more or less the same DAC. Locations vary from Hong Kong to Germany. I certainly won't be surprised that the TDA1543 will be obsolete in a short time considered its popularity today and the fact that it is out of production.Thank God that there aren't Silver Crown's of this one.

As a complete DIY project including PCB I can recommend Scott Nixon's variant, like Elso did. He launched his new tubed baby this week.
It's only audio. Member of the non modular PCB design committee
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Old 28th November 2002, 10:27 PM   #10
fedde is offline fedde  Netherlands
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In the late 2000's TDA1543's will be more valuable than gold :-)

Yesterday I had a bad experience with my local TDA supplier. I ordered 30 and received 3, they are out of stock :-(
There must be large supplies left all over the world, but I wonder for how long. Luckily, I have still a hand full...

If you want to make something very simple and good try to find a used Philips CD880, CD960 or something comparable. They have I2s dacs (TDA1541). It's fairly easy to make a small print with a regulator, TDA1543 and some resistors and caps as a DAC. The TDA1543 DAC can be directly connected to the cd-player without sp/dif receiver. I you really want to go all the way insert a good quality clock (from Elso or Guido) and connect the clock also directly to the DAC chip. You will have a very good built in DAC then for <$40 (with three black gates).

You will have to insert a receiver chip if you want to have a sp/dif input for the computer or so.

BTW: the transports of the two mentioned cd-players are considered as very good.

Good luck,

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