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ackoDAC based on ES9018
ackoDAC based on ES9018
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Old 25th October 2011, 11:18 PM   #381
deandob is offline deandob  Australia
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I'm interested, and have read this thread, but still have a couple of questions:
1) Its not clear if there are any functional or audible improvements over the buffalo solution, especially as the prices for a total module (with regulators) is more for AckoDAC. Has someone done a comparison between the two vendor solutions?
2) I want to build a multichannel DAC, however its not clear what the IS2 solution is for multi-channel (4 x Hi-Face boards from qusp?)
3) I don't see a lot of details on the MCU solution. As I want to integrate this solution with a PC, I'm thinking of writing my own MCU solution (Pic based). Is this viable?

Postage should be less as I'm local :-)
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Old 25th October 2011, 11:44 PM   #382
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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if you've read the thread, seen the layout and haven't noticed that most of the owners or at least many of us, also have buffalo but use ackodac in preference i'm not sure what else i can say. I've also mentioned many other differences in this thread and others i.e. cleaner uncluttered layout, cleaner impedance controlled spdif and i2s connection scheme, higher quality parts, all smd parts (A big plus in my book if they are high quality) the possibility of master synchronous clocking already, true aes if that matters to you.

the mcu provides a direct and total link to the dac registers as well as tactile controls, not a lot can be said, you need to get the es9018/12 data sheet to see whats possible there, it doesn't provide any functionality of its own, just brings out hardware and software control of the dac. there is a data sheet/manual for it, you'll have to ask acko

shall i go on? the MCU already provides the control that has been in the works from tp for ages and looks like shouldn't be too far off now (but then thats been the case for a while). theoretically you could do multichannel with the hiface boards, although i'm not sure what that has to do with me and its not the way i would do it, i don't have any affiliation with them and don't sell them. you could easily use the exadevices board for multichannel.

i have no idea why you would bother designing your own mcu, the time involved to match it would be huge, i know how long it took acko, its not trivial, you would be much better off writing software to interface with what is there either with the wifi module, or via ftdi serial connection; then share it with us go the iPad imo, thats what i'm working towards; rudimentary control by iPad is already possible via the ftdi connection and 3rd party console apps on the iPad, but something dedicated and graphical would be excellent!!

local shipping is free afaik, or at least very cheap.

and just to be clear, i'm just a vocal user/owner. please contact acko for more info

Last edited by qusp; 25th October 2011 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 26th October 2011, 12:32 AM   #383
deandob is offline deandob  Australia
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qusp, thanks for the feedback. Please appreciate for someone new to this topic its not so obvious about the differences when wading thru 39 pages... But good to know there is a higher emphasis on quality vs the TP solution.

Definitely don't want to duplicate work if its not needed, basically I want to control the volume (8 channel ganged) from the PC, if there is a serial port were the volume function is accessable then I can control that from my MCU (and happy to share any code/schematics I develop for interfacing).

I have probably missed it in the thread, and I can't see it on the web site, but I can't locate any information about interfacing serially with the DAC. Do I need to purchase the AKC18 then there is serial connections on the AKC18 I can use, or is the MCU on the main DAC board and I have a choice of using the AKC18 or something I can brew up & connect via i2c?

I'd prefer the hiface boards as it can use WDM drivers, the EXA board is only ASIO, but again its not clear how that would work (and I assume it wouldn't as each HiFace module would create a unique device in Windows which won't work with home theatre player software which expect to use a single but multichannel device).

I consider myself to be experienced with DIY audio but I can't work out exactly with AckoDAC how to put together a multichannel solution for home theatre use. Sorry for so many questions and if I missed something earlier in the thread - It would be great if there as a single document that explained in more detail than the couple of bullet points per product on the Ackdac web site, like the TP Buffalo integration guide.
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Old 26th October 2011, 01:02 AM   #384
AR2 is offline AR2  United States
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I have purchased two Acko's premium boards with ESS9012, dual set of regulators, master clock and MCU. Still working on the 4 channel active set up with Light harmonic USB to I2S. Since I am not finished with my project yet, I cannot comment on sound, but just based on concept and built quality these DAC should sound like a million bucks.

As for the support I would say that I am so impressed with Acko's dedication and willingness to go to any length in order to make sure that I succeeded. I think it is quite fair saying that he spent more supporting me than what I paid for my order. Quite amazing and rare to have such an outstanding experience.
If you are thinking about it, here is extremely happy customer.

Thank you Acko!

Vladimir - AR2
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Old 26th October 2011, 05:39 AM   #385
mcspack is offline mcspack  United States
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Deanbob,

if your looking for a really good multichannel MCU that will work with ackodac, please look into the exaU2I usb-i2s solution. They also just released their osx drivers. The interface is capable of very high playback resolutions too.
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Old 26th October 2011, 05:47 AM   #386
mcspack is offline mcspack  United States
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Also Exau2i has wmd support through virtual audio cable software.
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Old 26th October 2011, 07:12 AM   #387
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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ermm, not sure you have quite the understanding of what an mcu is mcspack (its a term that spreads further than this one). the exadevices unit will allow volume control of the i2s streams, that is all, no control of the dac chip parameters whatsoever, which is what the mcu is all about the exadevices unit will not replace the mcu, without it you have no control of any dac settings and must use it in the default

Last edited by qusp; 26th October 2011 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 26th October 2011, 08:41 AM   #388
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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btw deanbob, sorry for being a bit of a jerk yesterday, was a long shitty day and what may be obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to you. the multiple hiface thing would work as a composite device on macOS, but still not the best solution. this project is not like the twisted pear 'DIY' stuff where you get spoonfed stuff like the integration manual (which it took a user to produce and compile, not TP themselves) Acko is very helpful and the manuals and datasheets for the devices you are asking about will go a long way to explaining things to you, but they cannot be just published as they include IP.

this project assumes a certain amount of knowledge of your own about setting things up. agreed the website has outgrown the project and needs a comprehensive facelift to make it clear what is needed for a full system. for sure this dac takes more work to set up right, but it rewards you when you do. it also provides functionality unavailable any other way if you are a hardcore tweaker. the sound is what you make of it, its a superb design with all the hard work done for you, but you must fill in the blanks. it is actually DIY

the Light Harmonic Titan multichannel usb-i2s board mentioned above also does what you want, although i'm not sure of win support yet.
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Old 26th October 2011, 11:50 AM   #389
Jackal29a is offline Jackal29a  Spain
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Anyone knows about this?
USB Audio - Rigisystems
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Old 26th October 2011, 12:06 PM   #390
deandob is offline deandob  Australia
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No problems, we all have those days

I'm OK for this project aimed at advanced users, and I don't need to be spoonfeeding either although some level of documentation is required (eg. is there a i2C connector that I can control the volume from an external MCU without needing the extra controller board?). I had a closer look at the PCB photos on the web site to try to understand this kit a little better, and there is no MCU on the main board unless its on the bottom of the PCB, so I guess the controller board is needed.

Looking at the pricing, it gets pretty steep pretty quickly for a DIY solution:
- $375 for the DAC board
- $148 for the controller
- $365 for regulators
- $165 x 4 for 8 channel hiface i2s
- $130 x 4 IV modules
- $178 x 2 power supplies

Total for an 8 channel DAC is over $2400 for DIY modules, albiet a pretty high end build. I'd prefer to support an Aussie DIY vendor but I'm struggling with the price difference compared to the significantly cheaper Buffalo, even if the Buffalo might not be quite up to the standard of this DAC. I'd like to pay under $1000 for a 8 channel setup.

Great vote of support from AR2!

I will be mating the DAC with a set of DIY Hypex Class-D amps (will be using their new nCore high end modules, with separate supplies per module), and I have a set of Dunlavy SC/IV-A speakers as mains, in a dedicated & acoustically treated home theatre, using blu-ray 24 bit source material via a HTPC. I consider this a pretty high end setup but unsure if the extra cost for the AckoDAC will be audibly better than the Buffalo even with my setup (I'm sure the others commenting who have purchased the AckoDAC and can hear a difference have a better setup than I do).

I have a number of Paul Hynes regulator PCBs from a previous project never started, so I could save a few $$ on the regulators, and I see the EXA I2S board is also cheaper for 8 channels but if possible I don't want to use the Virtual Serial Cable software to bridge WDM to ASIO (Also I'm a Windows user, not Mac). Acko mentioned early in the threads that bare PCBs are an option so this might be the way to go, as the ESS chip with its fine pitch can be soldered DIY if you are careful. A decent IV board is not hard to whip up, and I can get quality boards made in China from a supplier I have had success with previously.

I looked into the Light Harmonic solution as mentioned here and I can only find a built up DAC for $12K with a similar design, no mention of a Titan USB to I2S module.

I assume I have to send Acko a PM to get more information.
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