Diyparadise Monica 3 vs current ebay offerings. Opinions please. Dec 2010

Hi

I am about to embark on a new all-in-one sytem build to replace my last one:
http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digi...-music-centre.html?postid=1403097#post1403097

My new system will be: The transport from Cambridge Audio D500SE > Tentlabs XO3.2 Low jitter clock > Diyparadise Monica 3 DAC > Nelson Pass B1 Buffer > Hypex UCD180HG hxr.

I have gone for a relatively no compromise choice, and I want to check with you guys that my DAC selection is in keeping with the rest, and that it will not be a bottleneck in terms of sound quality.

There are so many dac modules available on ebay these days, at what look like great prices. How do the following compare with the Monica 3 (which I have already bought)?

One good avantage of the Monica 3, for me, is that it is a very compact pcb, and it can be powered by an existing supply via a peranders super reg.

Small Gigawork: High Grade 24bit/192khz DAC with fully assembled kits on eBay (end time 27-Dec-10 09:48:28 GMT)

Big Gigawork: DA CONVERTER Gigawork 24/192 Up-sampling DAC W USB kit on eBay (end time 03-Jan-11 18:01:38 GMT)

DAC La VOCE: DAC LA VOCE kit 24 bit CONVERTITORE AUDIO con PCM1704 on eBay (end time 31-Dec-10 21:00:53 GMT)

AD1955: DAC Kit AD1955 + AD1896 24BIT / 96KHz Balance Output on eBay (end time 28-Dec-10 19:28:05 GMT)

PCM1798: PCM1798/4 Up Sample DAC PCB DIY Kit High End HLLY on eBay (end time 26-Dec-10 02:23:05 GMT)

PCM76U: HIgh End CD Player DAC Upgrade/Mod Kit,BB PCM67U/DAC-AE on eBay (end time 25-Dec-10 17:36:13 GMT)

CS4398: Upsampling 24/192 DAC KIT, USB input,mainboard CS4398 on eBay (end time 26-Dec-10 12:10:51 GMT)

TDA1541A: Hi-End CD DAC TDA1541 A ( CS8412 & SAA7220 ) Kit Deluxe on eBay (end time 04-Jan-11 03:27:20 GMT)

That is plenty for now, but feel free to recommend others.

Ideally, I would like to stick with the Monica 3, unless it is poorly regarded.
 
I am also wondering on what DAC kit to buy and how good the different kits really are. What DAC kit(total below around 300USD) have the best sound? Is the big gigawork dac really that good compared to other alternatives?

The mega thread on the gigawork is a testament to how good it can sound. Consider that Decware sells a retail version of it on sale for $900 (albeit with better caps probably and opamps). There are way too many DACs out there to sift through opinion - you will just have to jump right in and buy one knowing you will probably buy another and another until you find the 'right one'. The gigawork with output transformer mod is so simple and you just can't beat it for anywhere near the money. However, personally I prefer the AD1865 kit from raindrop_hui on ebay. But that's because I like the NOS-sound. I highly recommend his DACs and outut stages in general - good quality

Don't forget Audio-GD DACs. The NFB-3 comes to $360 shipped but it's very well made and you would pay a LOT more if it was a brand name. It's cheap enough to give the hassle of building a kit a second thought; but again, as far as simple mods and price/performance, get the gigawork and some output transformers and call it a day - at least until you'e ready to try something else.
 
I am also wondering on what DAC kit to buy and how good the different kits really are. What DAC kit(total below around 300USD) have the best sound? Is the big gigawork dac really that good compared to other alternatives?

The Chinese upsampling 4398 boards are much better than their price would suggest. I'm not a fan of NOS dacs, but I do appreciate the analog like sound, and the upsamplers do a great job of providing it, along with the definition and detail you don't usually get with NOS.

As Sendler said, it is a total waste to hang a couple opamps on the output of a dac chip that already has 2Vrms available at its pins. The trafo OP mod using good trafos like Jensens or Cinemags puts the dac in an entirely different class. Pure cream!

Ultimately, the true bottleneck with any outboard dac is the SPDIF conversions from the transport or player through the dac's receiver chip, it is inherently inferior to the native I2S inside the player. If you want a superior player, mount the dac board inside the player, eliminate the receiver chip, and feed I2S direct to the board. PSAudio developed a transmission system for I2S that looks very good also, using balanced line drivers. Very DIY friendly, they posted here about it.

Reclocking the SPDIF does improve things but it's still a compromise, much depending on your cabling and wiring.

I guess that's enough out of me, there are plenty of other opinions.
 
Thanks for your opinions.

I will be putting the dac in with the player , so 12S is an option.

Is it simple to locate the 12S inside the Cambridge Audio player?

Which DACs can input 12S direct?

There is the DDDAC1543 MK2 DDDAC 2000 Though this is another NOS dac.

Now you have a quest to find out what chips are inside your player to find the I2S. AFAIK, all dac chips can input I2S.

I bought a 1543MK2 a few yrs ago. I don't want to offend any NOSers out there so I'm maintaining silence.
 
I forgot to mention that I am keen to have multiple digital inputs, so that I can add a Sonos music streamer for convenience. I have bought a Twisted Pear MUX reciever to allow this, so the direct 12S route from transport will probably not be possible, although the reciever can output 12S. http://www.twistedpearaudio.com/digital/cs8416mux.aspx

Whilst we are on the TP subject, is their Sabre Dac that far ahead of the others? The thing that is putting me off it, is the necessity for the IVY stage, 2x power supplies etc. I have asked over on the TP forum, whether I can use the Nelson Pass B1 buffer instead of the IVY stage. Any ideas?
 
You give up too easy, I2S can be switched with a simple 4 pole switching chip.

Unless I am mistaken, the Sabre can be used as voltage out or current out. I don't know how much performance you would give up with voltage out, no one has compared it AFAIK.

NP designed a new I/V stage recently, and some of the folks were hard at work adapting it to the Sabre. The B1 would work fine for voltage out mode.
 
Thanks again for your advice.

You give up too easy, I2S can be switched with a simple 4 pole switching chip.

With no degredation of signal? This is good news.

I can use a spdif to 12S converter for my spare input. Dede at DDDAC makes one. Who else?

12S direct into a Buffalo 2 (via a 4 pole switch), and utilising voltage out to a B1 buffer is looking like the way to go for me.

This makes my Tentlabs low jitter clock redundant, I suppose?

Not to mention the MUX reciever, and Monica 3!
 
Honestly, the difference between I2S and spdif in a setup like you are proposing won't make a difference. Theres a lot of talk about I2S being far superior, but the truth is that's only true if the layout is absolutely optimum. And that means carefully designed PCB traces etc. Personally I have the buffalo dac in a fairly pimped out implementation. I tried 2 USB-I2S and USB-SPDIF convertors, and the SPDIF was not worse than I2S. I would say that switching the I2S through a 4 pole switch will work, but will not be optimum.

My buffalo does slightly shade out the Peter Daniels NOS dac, would significantly out perform the DDDac, but thats only with all shunt PS, discrete IV output stages (counterpoints) etc etc etc. Of course YMMV. That buffalo probably has about 500 euro of parts in it. at least!

The big issue here is that you can't go along and hear any of these before buying - unless you live near someone with them. I'd suggest you have a look over on pinkfishmedia.net to see if any of the lads there are near you.

Theres a few who make SPDIF receivers I think - do the TP fellas not make one?


Fran
 
Thanks again for your advice.



With no degredation of signal? This is good news.

I can use a spdif to 12S converter for my spare input. Dede at DDDAC makes one. Who else?

12S direct into a Buffalo 2 (via a 4 pole switch), and utilising voltage out to a B1 buffer is looking like the way to go for me.

This makes my Tentlabs low jitter clock redundant, I suppose?

Not to mention the MUX reciever, and Monica 3!

There will always be some degradation, everything is a compromise. It will still sound much better, despite opinions to the contrary.

Your TP Mux should work fine used with the stated I2S output.

The clock could improve the transport and I2S, although I believe the Sabre asychronously reclocks everything anyway.

I've heard all these arguments pro and con. I did it, and I'll never go back to SPDIF. It made a profound difference in my system, but others with lesser systems might not reap the same benefits. As always, YMMV.

If you need anything just holler.

Best, Bill
 
I love my original monica. It sounded good as designed. I tried a couple of analog output circiuts but eneded up with a tube buffer. It sounds pretty smooth.

The transport is a modified Parasound that is at least 15 years old. I added a trafo coupled spdif output circuit that seems to work well. Ihave no test equipment so who knows what is realy going on. I wouldnt mind trying a trafo on the receiver side but need to start fron scratch. Its been about 5 years since investigating this circuit. I never bothered to build the receiver circuit because this set up sounded so clean and smooth that once i started listening, i never opened up the cases again. on to other things.
 
You give up too easy, I2S can be switched with a simple 4 pole switching chip.

Unless I am mistaken, the Sabre can be used as voltage out or current out. I don't know how much performance you would give up with voltage out, no one has compared it AFAIK.

NP designed a new I/V stage recently, and some of the folks were hard at work adapting it to the Sabre. The B1 would work fine for voltage out mode.

you give up about 20-30db, owen (opc) compared the different modes in detail in his d1 iv for sabre thread. there is no switch, the more impedance the sabre sees at its output the more voltage it puts out. you can plug it straight into your amp and the input impedance will cause it to be a 100% voltage out dac, though not under ideal circumstances. output into a very low impedance and biased to around avcc/2 (1.65v) you will get best current out performance at closer to 135db
 
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