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Old 19th July 2015, 01:39 PM   #1
AAK is offline AAK  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Default AAK Blackbird Multi-Channel ES9018 DAC Group Buy

Hi All,

This group buy is for my Blackbird ES9018 DAC design. The group buy includes individual boards and fully assembled stereo and multi-channel units.

To start off here is the original thread from the Vendor Forum to help those that are not familiar with my design. Post #1 is worth reading – it pretty much summarizes what I was trying to accomplish when I started this project.

My ES9018 DAC/Amp/Controller..

Since the thread has been around for sometime I’ll try to consolidate as much information as I can from the original thread and post it here - like pics and drawings to make things easier to follow.

The group buy will start off with a minimum of 5 units with a maximum of 20 units. The GB includes all individual boards listed below plus fully assembled stereo and multi-channel units. The goal is to deliver within the limits however many items are requested and paid for within the next 6 weeks. Five of any item paid for in full at the six-week mark officially kicks off the group buy for that particular item.

Here’s a list of individual items available with pricing followed by a list of features. I’ll follow up with the different options available for fully assembled units with introductory pricing.

Blackbird ES9018 8-Channel DAC Board Features: $275.00/each
  • ESS Technologies ES9018 Sabre32 Reference Eight Channel DAC. Supports 2, 4, 6, and 8 channel outputs. Optional vertical stacking of up to four DAC boards in parallel for a maximum of 16 DACs/Channel. On-board MCU supports dual-mono operation.
  • Twelve dedicated LDO low noise regulation stages including two on-board ultra low noise high precision (<20nV total integrated noise) series regulators for the critical 3.3 AVCC (set to 3.5V for added dynamic range).
  • Optional 100Mhz 0.082 ps (82fs) Femto Crystek crystal for on-board Asynchronous clocking. Dedicated LDO regulator. Not populated unless Asynchronous clocking is requested. Not included in the price.
  • Optional Low jitter Potato-Semi 1-to-4 buffer for clock distribution when paralleling DACs. Dedicated LDO regulator. Not populated unless DAC stacking is requested. Not included in the price.
  • On-board U.FL clock input connector for external Asynchronous (for S/PDIF) / Synchronous (for I2S/DSD) clocking.
  • On-board Micro-Controller (PIC16F866) with Galvanic I2C isolation from DAC section eliminating ground loop noise and computer originated interference. Also controls the OLED display, eight front panel tactile switches and input select relays.
  • Optional I2C input header for external ES9018 control.
  • 0.1uF COG/NPO decoupling capacitors throughout.
  • 4 layer PCB measuring 3.2” x 2.7”. 1 oz copper - immersion gold plated.
I/V_ 1 Board, Single Stage Op-Amps Throughout: $150.00/each
  • Texas Instruments LME49990 Ultra-Low Distortion, Ultra-Low Noise Op-Amps throughout. Selection of different Op-Amps is optional.
  • Simultaneous balanced and single ended outputs filtered using a 3rd order Bessel Filter. Cutoff set to –3db@100Khz.
  • Balanced-to-single ended headphone stereo outputs using an LME49990 for the balanced inputs an LME49600 as an output buffer providing up to 250ma of drive current.
  • Shunt relays on the balanced and single ended outputs to eliminate turn on/off thump.
  • 0.1uF COG/NPO decoupling capacitors throughout.
  • 4 layer PCB measuring 3.2” x 2.7”. 1 oz copper - immersion gold plated.
I/V_ 2 Board, Dual Stage Op-Amps Throughout: $140.00/each
  • Texas Instruments LME49720 Ultra-Low Distortion, Ultra-Low Noise Op-Amps throughout. Selection of different Op-Amps is optional.
  • Simultaneous balanced and single ended outputs filtered using a 3rd order Bessel Filter. Cutoff set to –3db@100Khz.
  • Balanced-to-single ended headphone stereo outputs using an LME49720 for the balanced inputs an LME49600 as an output buffer providing up to 250ma of drive current.
  • Shunt relays on the balanced and single ended outputs to eliminate turn on/off thump.
  • 0.1uF COG/NPO decoupling capacitors throughout.
  • 4 layer PCB measuring 3.2” x 2.7”. 1 oz copper - immersion gold plated.
I/V_ 3 Board, For Stacked Configurations 8 // DACs/Channel: $165.00/each
  • Texas Instruments LME49720 Ultra-Low Distortion, Ultra-Low Noise Op-Amps throughout. Selection of different Op-Amps is optional.
  • On the input I/V stage a pair of LME49600/Channel buffer each voltage output to help handle the added current of 8 parallel DACs/Channel.
  • Simultaneous balanced and single ended outputs filtered using a 3rd order Bessel Filter. Cutoff set to –3db@100Khz.
  • Balanced-to-single ended headphone stereo outputs using an LME49720 for the balanced inputs and an LME49600 as an output buffer providing up to 250ma of drive current.
  • Shunt relays on the balanced and single ended outputs to eliminate turn on/off thump.
  • 0.1uF COG/NPO decoupling capacitors throughout.
  • 4 layer PCB measuring 3.2” x 2.7”. 1 oz copper - immersion gold plated.
Controller / OLED Display Board: $75.00/each
  • Controller data distribution board for controlling the OLED Display, Input Switches, and Input select Relays.
  • Six tactile switches connect to the controller board to control power, selecting inputs (8 x S/PDIF, or 2 x I2S/DSD), up/down selection of 24 different ES9018 functions and their settings (all displayed on the OLED). Settings are stored EEPROM.
  • Two tactile switches for controlling volume. Separate stored volume settings for S/PDIF, USB1/2.
  • NewHaven 4 x 20 OLED. Colors Blue/Green/Yellow are optional.
  • Sample rates for S/PDIF and I2S/DSD inputs are displayed on the OLED.
  • I2S/DSD input indicator displayed on OLED.
  • IR Remote. Not included in the price.
S/PDIF Input Board: $75.00/each for 6 x S/PDIF Inputs
  • The board supports up to 8 x S/PDIF Inputs. Standard setup is 6 x S/PDIF, 2 x Toslink, 2 x Coaxial, 2 x AES/EBU Balanced Inputs. Other Input setups are optional.
I2S/DSD Input Board: $100.00/each
  • The board stacks on top of the S/PDIF board and provides switching between up to eight S/PDIF inputs, up to 4 x I2S pairs, and up to 8 x DSD inputs. Includes a Crystek 100Mhz 0.082 ps (82fs) oscillator on-board for Asynchronous clocking for the S/PDIF inputs, two U.FL connectors for external Synchronous clock inputs from the Amanero adapter board, and two Potato Semi high-speed buffered outputs to connect to the DAC board via U.FL connectors. Supports 2 x I2S/DSD inputs. The quoted price is for one I2S/DSD input. $125.00 for two.
Amanero: $97.00/each + shipping for GB of 5 Units, GB of 20 units TBD
  • USB Audio Class 2.0 Interface.
  • Supports 2 Channel Outputs.
  • Supported PCM Sample Rates: 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0, 176.4, 192, 352.8, 384 Khz/ 16, 24, 32-bit.
  • Supported DSD Sample Rates: DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DSD512.
  • KS/Wasapi/WDM/ASIO drivers for MS OS XP to Win8 32-64bit included.
  • MAC OSX 10.6+
  • Linux with UAC2 compliant kernel.
MiniDsp USBStreamer: $105.00 + Shipping for 5 Units, GB of 20 Units $TBD
  • USB Audio Class 2.0 Interface.
  • Supports 8 Channel Outputs over I2S (PCM), Asynchronous USB audio.
  • Supported Sample Rates: 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0, 176.4, 192.0Khz.
  • Windows Thesycon driver.
  • Mac OS X driverless.
  • Linux Alsa complaint.
  • USB Bus powered
  • External DC supply header
MiniDsp USBStreamer I2S galvanic isolation adapter: $30.00/each

Amanero Adapter Board Synchronous Re-Clocker: $125.00/each
  • The board provides High-Speed Galvanic Isolation and Synchronous data re-clocking between the USB input Amanero board and the DAC via the I2S/DSD board. Two Crystek low jitter oscillators provide Synchronous clocking to the Amanero board. The board also includes separate low noise LDO regulators for the clock and digital sections, high-speed low jitter flip-flops for re-clocking, Potato Semi high-speed buffer for the clock output. A U.FL connecter connects the Synchronous output clock via a high-speed coax to the I2S/DSD board.
External DAC Power Supply Module: $75.00/each
  • The module provides two completely isolated power supplies. Each supply uses a 3 Amp LT1764 adjustable regulator and Panasonic FM capacitors for power supply filtering. The module is powered using an Amgis dual winding 115V/230V 25VA toridal transformer.
External I/V Power Supply Module: $75.00/each
  • The module uses a 3 Amp LT1085 adjustable regulator for the positive rail, 3 Amp LT1033 for the negative rail and Panasonic low ESR capacitors for power supply filtering. The module is powered using an Amgis dual winding 115V/230V 25VA toridal transformer.
External MCU, I2S/DSD + S/PDIF Power Supply Module: Same as DAC Power Supply:
  • The module provides two completely isolated power supplies. Each supply uses a 3 Amp LT1764 adjustable regulator and Panasonic FM capacitors for power supply filtering. The module is powered using an Amgis dual winding 115V/230V 15VA toridal transformer.
Enclosure: Sold at Cost
  • All aluminum 16.0” x 12.25” x 3.0” enclosure in Matte Black, Low Gloss finish.
  • Aluminum 16.375” x 3.3125” front panel 0.25” thick in Jet Black, Medium Gloss finish.

Assembled Unit Options:
1. Stereo DAC, Everything Included - $1350.00 + Shipping
Includes: 1 x DAC + 1 x I/V_2 + Controller + OLED Display + S/PDIF + I2S/DSD + Amanero + Amanero Adapter + 3 x Power Supply Modules + Enclosure.
2. Stereo DAC, I2S/DSD Input Only - $1200.00 + Shipping
Includes: 1 x DAC + 1 x I/V_2 + Controller + OLED Display + Amanero + Amanero Adapter + 3 x Power Supply Modules + Enclosure.
3. Stereo DAC, S/PDIF Input Only - $1050.00 + Shipping
Includes: 1 x DAC + 1 x I/V_2 + Controller + OLED Display + S/PDIF + 3 x Power Supply Modules + Enclosure.
4. Eight Channel DAC, I2S Input Only - $1775.00 + Shipping
Includes: 1 x DAC + 4 x I/V_2 + Controller + OLED Display + MiniDSP Streamer + DAC Power Supply + 4 x I/V Power Suppies + Enclosure.
5. Eight Channel DAC, I2S + S/PDIF Inputs - $2000.00 + Shipping
Includes: 1 x DAC + 4 x I/V_2 + Controller + OLED Display + MiniDSP Streamer + DAC Power Supply + 4 x I/V Power Supply + Enclosure.
I’ve listed just a few options for the assembled units. Please feel free to make your own custom changes. I’m pretty much open to anything. I’ll leave the individual board options open for discussion since there’s far too many to list.

To get the group buy going I’ll need the item you’re interested in buying and I’ll start a list for that item and go from there. Like I mentioned above, five of any item paid for in full at the six-week mark officially kicks off the group buy for that particular item. Components will be ordered the following week and assembly will start as soon as the components arrive. I estimate delivery time will be four to six weeks but could vary some depending on the number of orders. To keep your privacy you can send order information to my email address at alsaudiokits@yahoo.com, or through diyAudio Private Message. Or you can post it on this thread if you’d like.

I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to share my work with all of you and hope it leads to many years of enjoyment.

Best regards,

Al
__________________
Love when you can, Cry when you have to, be who you must, that's part of the plan.

Last edited by AAK; 11th October 2015 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 20th July 2015, 02:50 AM   #2
AAK is offline AAK  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Here are some pics of a my stereo Blackbird ES9018 DAC with everything included.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg CIMG2627.JPG (726.0 KB, 1826 views)
File Type: jpg CIMG2628.JPG (711.3 KB, 1732 views)
File Type: jpg CIMG2629.JPG (722.1 KB, 1676 views)
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Old 20th July 2015, 06:50 PM   #3
micfre is offline micfre  Canada
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Toronto
Hi AAK, glad to see this in action again.

I am trying to work up the costs in one of your examples. Can you please confirm I am interpreting correctly?

4. Eight Channel DAC, I2S Input Only

Includes:
$275 for 1 x DAC
$165 x 4 = $660 I/V
$75 Controller + OLED Display
$105 MiniDSP Streamer
$75 DAC Power Supply
$75 x 4 = $300 I/V Power Supplies
$285 Chassis

= $1775.00 + Shipping

Is this correct?
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Old 21st July 2015, 02:23 AM   #4
AAK is offline AAK  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Hi micfre,

Here's the cost breakdown for option 4.

$300.00 for 1 x DAC with the 100Mhz 0.082 ps (82fs) Femto Crystek crystal
$140.00 x 4 I/V_2
$75 Controller + OLED Display
$105 MiniDSP Streamer
$75 DAC Power Supply
$75 x 4 I/V Power Supplies
$360.00 chassis at cost for 5 units.

= $1775.00 + shipping.
__________________
Love when you can, Cry when you have to, be who you must, that's part of the plan.
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Old 21st July 2015, 12:56 PM   #5
micfre is offline micfre  Canada
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Thanks for the clarification AAK.

Question: is there an option to power the I/V boards with a single power supply (presuming I would have to source myself)? 4 seems excessive.
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Old 21st July 2015, 01:47 PM   #6
Can you say Audio?
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Location: Aurora, Colorado
:-) 4 is excessive - but it's also why this DAC is the best sounding 9018 I've heard. That level of isolation, along with supplies tuned for the component it powers - we'll, it's noticeable.
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Old 22nd July 2015, 01:05 AM   #7
AAK is offline AAK  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Hi micfre,

On your supply question. I don't have a single bipolar power supply to power four I/V boards. I wouldn't recommended it but if you decide to go that way I'd gladly install it and test it for you. I like the modular approach - not big on switching PS or using a big linear supply with one transformer and a single regulator powering multiple stages.

Let me know what you decide.

Thanks,

Al
__________________
Love when you can, Cry when you have to, be who you must, that's part of the plan.

Last edited by AAK; 22nd July 2015 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 25th July 2015, 02:50 PM   #8
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Hi Al,

It is great to see you are back!

Put me down for 1 Assembled Stereo DAC, Everything Included.
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Old 25th July 2015, 06:27 PM   #9
pchw is online now pchw  United States
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Location: Fremont, California
Put me down

1. Stereo DAC, Everything Included - $1350.00 + Shipping

as well.

Thanks,
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- Fred -
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Old 25th July 2015, 11:11 PM   #10
AAK is offline AAK  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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Thanks Samuel and Fred. You guys rock! Samuel, thanks for hanging in there. I really appreciate it. I'll put you both down for option 1.

Thanks again,

Al
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Love when you can, Cry when you have to, be who you must, that's part of the plan.
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