USB DSD DAC and ADC by ElectrArt

alexcount

Member
2004-10-29 2:13 am
NYC
OK so I pulled the plug and managed to order a USB-Dual Audio PCB from ElectrArt, a japanese company selling a board with an FPGA that can record and playback Normal rate DSD (64fs or 2.82mhz) and even dual rate dsd (128fs or 5.6mhz!!!) over USB, also PCM.
This is groundbreaking as its the only way short of $10k of equipment to play back 128fs DSD from a PC.

I haven't seen much talk about it in English, though I found ElectArt on a lead from a single post in a thread about the Buffalo-II on this forum from member 'Bunpei'.

The board as it comes will input or output either I2C or DSD bitstream, and needs to be hooked up to your favorite dsd capable DAC (Buffalo-II, DSD1794a based etc.)and ADC (ElectArt offers an unpopulated PCB based of of the TI PCM 4022)

I paid $384USD for 1 USB-DUAL-AUDIO PCB built and tested and 1 each of a level meter, ADC and DAC pcb unpopulated. I hope to use a stock TI PCM4022 2ch or PCM4024 4ch development ADC board, available for $200 and a TwistedPear buffalo-II kit as the DAC for testing until I build the DSD1794a board. My own plans involve class a input and output stages for the ADC and DAC, either tube (12b4a, single plate 2a3) or all discrete.

Anyone else interested in the ability to play DSD over usb?
It currently only has drivers and software for windows machines (xp-7), but mac os x development seems to be on the horizon, with 24bit 192khz working now on 10.6.3, really hope dsd for os x comes.....
They talk a lot about use of an Asynchronous USB design, the same design methodology used on the USB port implementation on the Ayre QB-9.

Personally I welcome these developments, and can't wait to get my board and be among the first in a new wave of affordable DSD soundcards. The possibilities to make my own ADC or DAC for dsd with a tube/discrete analog section, for archiving my vinyl/tape masters and live recording, is very exciting.

I have read through (poorly) translated pages of every forum in japanese I could talking about this, as far as I can gather they have had this for almost a year, but in different levels of development, not sure how long its all been fucntioning properly...
forum link (translated)

Please lets start a discussion, I would like this to be the English reference page for information on this. I feel we are breaking new ground here. I am waiting for the package, I will keep everyone posted on my progress.

btw, USBPAL from RigiSystems, a swiss company is the only product like it i've seen, seems more commercial. It doesn't offer input for a ADC, but it is a way for product developers to add DSD input to a DAC's, might be what the new Mytek DAC is based off of....
-Alexander Countey
 

alexcount

Member
2004-10-29 2:13 am
NYC
bump
comeon, Anyone else up for a DSD ADC or DAC with usb connections? This is DSD and PCM project so it's 2 birds with 1 stone. There is a lot for us all to learn about DSD here. I know that real information on dsd is lacking in the DIY community.

I'm still waiting on the board, will post pics when it arrives. Someone speak up if interested in my progress, otherwise I wont update as often.
I am just trying to build a better more 'analog' sounding digital frontend (isn't everyone), thought I would get more interest (debates over dsd vs pcm aside)

Disclaimer: I have NO connection with any of these companies, other than buying this kit from them.
 

jgazal

Member
2008-12-03 1:31 am
I see people would like to read DSD digital files if they record their own material with a recorder such as this or this. :D

Something I still do not see is high definition DSD tracks being sold on internet. :(

I have seen just linear pcm (which includes DXD) and lossless codecs (for instance flac).

Is there a way of ripping SACD disc's? I thought they were copy protected (even those proprietary links that output such files from the transport to a external DAC).

Where are you sourcing DSD, DSDIFF, DSF or WSD material/files to store on your hard-disc?
 
I am planning on testing this with some of the DSF files available from 2L, and some live material recorded with a korg mr1000 (from punk group bad brains), I also plan to record some of my vinyl with a custom ADC.
The software ElectrArt have written for this project will playback DSDIFF, DSF files and possibly WSD, but I will have to check to be sure. It's called PlayAudio, very basic software, it's used for recording and playback.
 
I am planning on testing this with some of the DSF files available from 2L, and some live material recorded with a korg mr1000 (from punk group bad brains), I also plan to record some of my vinyl with a custom ADC.

hahahaha, you are using Bad brains to test for quality of a high resolution datastream? too funny. I used to love bad brains when in my teens and early 20's, but their recordings, and live performances (yes i've seen them live too) are not what I would call 'reference' even live the sound is raw and the recording is likely to be overdriven.:devily:

an interesting product and project for sure, but it really isnt all that useful IMO, until more content is available recorded and supplied in 1bit format, t will be more of a gimmick, or tool for archival purposes rather than listening
 

alexcount

Member
2004-10-29 2:13 am
NYC
Maybe you didn't have a good enough turntable at the time. 'I against I' was mastered by Bob Ludwig at masterdisk, and I find it very well recorded, but you need a clean first pressing lp to truly respect it.... I simply thought as such a fast paced band with so much happening simultaneously might be a good stress test:devily:

I mostly plan to test using the professionally recorded files from 2L.no, which I find sound very well recorded PCM, and I have read they are a good reference for what DSD is capable of. My testing of the ADC and DAC will involve standard test equipment (signal generator/oscilloscope) and careful listening tests. Ultimately I want this to be a 'mastering quality' ADC and DAC, no easy task of course, but I will not stop development of the analog side until I am satisfied this is met (I can dream can't I).

RANT/
Well source material aside, one of my goals is to simply create the environment where average people COULD possibly playback dsd, and with that maybe a means of 'backing up' existing SACDs might come around. With the current state of affairs, if we DID have bit perfect backups of SACD's sitting on a harddrive, we would still have no means of playing those files without some very expensive gear (Mytek, Meitner, DAD etc). I like to think about how CD's were around for awhile before people got into backing them up, but not until music playback from PC's became commonplace. Of course there no real copy protection on CD's, but my point stands. the DMCA of outright forbids breaking or bypassing copy protections, but as fair-use DVD backups are a legal grey area, I feel this should have the same protection. I am hesitant to invest in any digital media I can't make fair-use bitperfect backups of.
/END RANT
 
It Works!

I have received the last part I needed, the Buffalo-II DAC. After wiring up all power supplies and boards I got DSD playback working. another hour figuring out jumper settings and I got recording working. Testa so far are preliminary, with only a few records and some radio recorded. I am impressed so far with the sound quality, the buffalo-II certifiably blows away my previous DAC with 16/44.1 and 24/96 sources (not surprising).

The DIY part of my project is just starting, but this proof of concept is working. I am excited to have access to this format on my computers, arguments aside about dsd/pcm debates....
I am planning a few custom analog stages, both for the DAC and ADC. First tests with the buffalo are with the Legato I/V stage, impressed so far.

My plans are to experiment with other discrete class a stages and definitely going to try SET tubes at some point, maybe some 2a3 single plates.... Really the analog end is endless, so many schools of thought on the subject, just know I am ideologically opposed to using IC opamps, just seems lazy/cheap.

The ElectrArt has 2 modes, a usb 1.0 generic driver mode, that works on os x and windows 24bit/96khz without dsd support, and USB 2.0 asynchronous mode, with a proprietary driver that only supports DSD 2.8mhz and 5.6mhz on windows so far. Playback and recording also only with proprietary very basic software, with no English documentation.

On the digital side adding SDIF-3 I/O, possibly also DSD over optical cable via the meitner spec (thx Ted). Modding a sacd player with SDIF-3 is also on the horizon (gotta figure it out) . I am a firm believer we need real standards here for greater acceptance of the format, many people want a pure connection for feeding DSD to there DAC without downsampling, but the only options now are VERY expensive. (ie. boutique audiophile or high end professional gear) SDIF-3 is found on more gear AFAIK (Neve DSD ADC, Tascam dsd recorders, DAD, Prism, Meitner.) Also looking into a method of sending DSD over HDMI, probably not for compatibility with modern receivers or other DAC's, but only for a high quality cable...

If anyone else wants to follow in my footsteps all the parts are available to anyone, and there are many options for ADC and DAC, depending on whether dsd 128fs is needed. the AKM chips are very interesting, but i could only find ones suporting 64fs, and I wanted 128fs for my first tests.

If you have the cash the ESS9018 Evaluation Kit is $666 with powersupply and I/V stage, not sure if it sounds better than a Buffalo-II, but it is a plug and play solution for those not wanting to build a buffalo kit and all of its associated powersupplies/analog boards. The ADC was a evaluation kit ordered from TI, chosen because it's internal logic is 1-bit DSD, making the dsd files very much like a "raw" format. The PCM- 4222 has better specifications and dsd 128fs, but is internally 5-bit Delta sigma, though it is possible to feed out raw 5-bit delta sigma signal for custom mathematical interpretation, which I believe is what DAD is doing.... If anyone knows of or can help find other dsd compatible DAC's and ADC's from other manufactures I'm all ears. Let's start a DIY DSD community!!!

BTW, still blown away by Ted Smith's Discrete DSD DAC. You guys seen that? I want to make one so much it hurts ;) It's amazing you can search for hours if not weeks and not find something online, then it just appears!
 
Alex,
Congrats on getting your system together. You are pioneering and that is why there are not to many people participating. Maybe more people are just reading but not posting. Honestly there is much to absorb. I will join you here to give you support.

I am on the different path, but my approach certainly doesn't exclude DSD. Here is where I am now. I just ordered today Buffalo II with Legato. Since you are analog lover, like myself, you will love this. I have California Lab Sigma II DAC already long time. That is DAC with tube output. Long time ago I did some updates and exchanged all PS caps to Black Gates. But that is old 16/44.2 DAC. I checked today and it will be very easy to pull digital parts and to instal Buffalo II. The case is very big, and I will be able to easily drop in Buffalo. I will use complete tube output that is already there. Additionally there is already 5V regulated supply, and that is all needed for Buffalo. I am planning to install relay to switch output btw. tube and Legato, so that I could use any one any time.

I just learned today about I2S to HDMI converter. I would be very much interested in finding how to tap into my Denon 2910 SACD player. I also have Pioneer BlueRay player. I am wondering if I would be able just to plug HDMI cable into it and than go to that converter that will take signal to Buffalo? It seems like there are so many options and so little info available. I will share here what I find. Did you follow thread about the SD card player?

My ultimate goal is to find some DSP processor that outputs digital signals to outboard DACs for phase perfect crossover. I will see how good is Buffalo, and if I like it I will end up with three DACs for that purpose.
 

lgo51

Member
2002-03-10 9:29 am
MileHigh
...and then there were two

If anyone else wants to follow in my footsteps all the parts are available to anyone, and there are many options for ADC and DAC, depending on whether dsd 128fs is needed. the AKM chips are very interesting, but i could only find ones suporting 64fs, and I wanted 128fs for my first tests.<snip>... If anyone knows of or can help find other dsd compatible DAC's and ADC's from other manufactures I'm all ears. Let's start a DIY DSD community!!!
:D count me in :D
BTW: do you have any pix of your creation?
BTW, still blown away by Ted Smith's Discrete DSD DAC. You guys seen that? I want to make one so much it hurts ;) It's amazing you can search for hours if not weeks and not find something online, then it just appears!
Link? :confused:
 
Here is a link to Ted's reply to my post on audioasylum in the hi-rez forum http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/hirez/messages/26/269994.html
Here is a link to ted's post in the pc-audio forum, once again amazing.
http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/messages/8/80732.html


he also helped give details on a dsd optical link used by meitner on some boutique gear... here

About to post another update with pics, I was having my first problem with the clock loosing sync (afaik, i'm not the first to have this problem), so far SOLVED by using a car battery as a isolating supply to power the digital section of the ADC.
-Alex
 
if there is no writeup on your given sacd player, the only way to tap dsd is find the DAC ic your sacd/bluray player uses, than find the data sheet on that DAC and find which legs of that IC take DSDL DSDR and DSDBCLK and GND, than find the ic and trace the best solder point, worst case scenario you have to solder 4 legs to an IC. if you can find a repair manual for your SACD player it makes life easier....
 
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Bunpei

Member
2008-08-30 10:31 am
Updates on USB DUAL AUDIO board

As this thread seems to be deserted for almost one year, I will post updates on ElectrArt's USB DUAL AUDIO(UDA) board.

Since, April, 2012, he has been releasing two versions of UDA boards,
DoP version, its domestic price is 23,500 JPY.
AUDIO? FPGA?? (In Japanese)
USB_DUAL_AUDIO.jpg

and Standard version, its domestic price is 22,800 JPY.
AUDIO? FPGA?? (In Japanese)
(The Standard version has an identical physical appearance to that of the DoP version.)

Both versions have two modes which can be selectable by a jumper setting at a power on. One mode is "Bulk Transfer" mode and another is "Isochronous/USB Audio Class" mode. The former is his proprietary one and the latter is compatible with "USB Audio Class 2.0".
The DoP version supports "DSD Audio over PCM Frames Version 1.1".

A combination of the "Bulk Transfer" mode in the DoP version and an associated player program "PlayAudio" running on Windows supports a play of DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 DFF sources in addition to usual PCM 44.1 - 192kHz WAV sources.
On the other hand, a combination of the "Isochronous/USB Audio Class" mode and "DoP"-ready players lacks the play of DSD256.

There are many users of these boards in Japan.
 
Hi Bunpei,

Really like to know about this kit more but Google translator really isnt helping..


-This is PCM to DSD256 converter?
-Is it just plug&play ex. ES9018 dac?
-What is needed?
-Tried and proofed design? Not beta version?
-What is achieved by this?
-How about DSD high fr. rising nature, is it a problem? Or is it cutted allways good enough when PCM conversion has been done?

Thanks in advance,
na
 

Bunpei

Member
2008-08-30 10:31 am
The board is not "PCM to DSD256 converter" but a usual USB DDC.
I connected it to TPA Buffalo II and III models as well as TI BB PCM1795 DAC. ElectrArt distributes his original TI BB DSD1794A DAC board.
Driver software can be downloaded from his site. You need to prepare +5V power supply when you don't use USB bus power.
In Japan, hundreds of the boards were distributed to domestic DIY users so far.
Two modes can be selectable by a jumper setting at power on. One is USB Audio Class 2.0 compatible mode. Another is its original bulk transfer mode. In the both mode, you can play DSD64 and DSD128 in addition to PCM 44.1kHz/16bit - 192kHz/24bit. DoP is supported. In the bulk transfer mode, you can play DSD256(DSDIFF) sources by using a proprietary simple player program, PlayAudio. The sound qualities of DSD play are better than those of PCM play in general.
 

Gahlord

Member
2012-09-11 4:53 am
Any word on Mac OSX drivers?

I'm looking to build 2 or more channels that capture and AD to DSD without passing through other formats first. I want to do this for music recording/mastering. A stereo pair is fine for now (mastering from live or analog sources).

Once I get this part what else do I need to do in order to start plugging in and recording? Thank you for finding this!!
 

Bunpei

Member
2008-08-30 10:31 am
Hi, Andrey and Gahlord,

I'm not an official spokesman of ElectrArt. I will explain what I know about the product here.

1.Can this board receive the JRMC17 DSD bitstream of the SACD ISO or some software driver is need?
2. Does this board have any internal I2S and/or DSD outputs beside the SPDIF?
They say nothing about ASIO "genuine" DSD bitstream compatibility. They just say an ASIO driver on Windows supports up to PCM 192 kHz. DoP up to DSD128 is supported.

Yes, I2S/DSD digital output is available. I have connected it to TPA Buffalo II DAC.

Any word on Mac OSX drivers?

I'm looking to build 2 or more channels that capture and AD to DSD without passing through other formats first. I want to do this for music recording/mastering. A stereo pair is fine for now (mastering from live or analog sources).

Once I get this part what else do I need to do in order to start plugging in and recording?

When you boot the board on USB Audio Class 2 mode, you need no special driver. The mode is said to be fully compatible to Mac OSX.

You can record DSD64 and DSD128 stereo on PC (not Mac) via USB when you connect his optional board ."PCM 4202 DSD raw" The optional recording board is manufactured on your actual order. AES balanced input connectors are on board. I guess available recording software is his proprietary and simple "PlayAudio".

Bunpei