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ES9038Q2M Board
ES9038Q2M Board
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Old 20th November 2019, 08:00 PM   #5191
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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The old MCU will likely reset things the way it is programmed to do. You can see what it does now by hooking up a cheap $10 logic analyzer to I2C bus and play a variety of sample rates and some DSD. Chances are you will see it addressing registers you would need to modify.

If you can get synchronous mode working, what do you need the old MCU for? Running the display? Its easy enough for you to adjust volume with Arduino or other MCU that you program.

Regarding AK4499, it doesn't have the Sabre dac sound that some people find hard to listen to for very long. If the implementation is done well it can sound marvelous, completely in another league from a modded D-50. However, best to start out with an evaluation board, not a home brew board.

Last edited by Markw4; 20th November 2019 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 21st November 2019, 03:29 PM   #5192
laserscrape is online now laserscrape
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Keeping existing MCU would be for the sake of convenience and neatness, it could stay in its nice compact aluminium enclosure and keep the nice display and controls it has.

There is still another option for a DAC to try, the DSC1.
not expensive or complicated and could be a better choice for getting the most out PC based PCM to DSD conversion, even if measurements dont reflect it.
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Old 25th November 2019, 08:37 PM   #5193
johncurtis is offline johncurtis  United States
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Default You may unlock the ES9038Q2M capabilities with PBA

Quote:
Originally Posted by bogi66 View Post
such a board for an upgrade is better
I bought this AC powered ES9038Q2M board as well for the sake of having less electrolytic caps in the signal path. It has a dual power supply, and a better 3.3V handling than the other two ES9038Q2M boards I bought before. The sound was really bad. I needed to do something with that. I started with the output opamp, which was plugged into an 8-pin dip socket. I was able to get some improvement with NJR8920. The harshness was gone, but the highs were still cloudy. Then I pulled an OPA2604AP from one of the Academy Audio volume control boards, that I have, and got a much better sound altogether.
I went to the Academy Audio website and found their new PBA opamp replacement boards. They are essentially SOIC8 to DIP8 adapters with some extra circuitry on the bottom to force the opamps into a pure Class A mode. They offer a bare board model, where you can solder any dual opamp of your choice, and also two models with decent opamps installed - OPA1652 and OPA2604. I got all three last week, and tried them on that ES9038Q2M board. The one with the OPA1652 was dead quiet and smooth. The one with the OPA2604 further improved the sound adding more clarity on the highs, but there was unexpected dryness. I decided to leave it in running for a few days for a burn-in. My G-d, three days later the sound got soooo fluid, clear and easy, I could not believe it! It sounds probably better than my ready made DAC that runs on ES9038PRO and AD797s on the output. Will order more PBAs to try them on other audio boards. I am curious what will the burn-in do to the cheaper OPA1652 PBA unit.
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Old 26th November 2019, 01:55 AM   #5194
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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johncurtis, Hi and welcome to the thread. May I ask if you have been following the ES9038Q2M dac modding journey for long, or just arrived here?
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Old 26th November 2019, 03:23 AM   #5195
johncurtis is offline johncurtis  United States
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Default New to this thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
johncurtis, Hi and welcome to the thread. May I ask if you have been following the ES9038Q2M dac modding journey for long, or just arrived here?
Hi Markw4! I am relatively new to this thread. I played with an earlier models of the Sabre chips, albeit with little success. Playing with ES9038Q2M for the last two month, and read everything I can find on the Web. I thought my success story may be helpful to other members.
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Old 26th November 2019, 04:02 AM   #5196
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johncurtis View Post
Playing with ES9038Q2M for the last two month, and read everything I can find on the Web.
Perhaps you happened to find the schematics in post #3003 of this thread for our recommended AVCC power supply and a proper 3-opamp output stage? If not, you might find them interesting.

They are similar to what ESS recommends in the document on their website's downloads page: http://www.esstech.com/files/4514/40...PCB_Layout.pdf
...If you haven't read that document yet, it is well worth some study.

With a 3-opamp output stage and everything else done properly, ES9038Q2M can reach a -120dBFS distortion level. With a one opamp output stage like you have now it has to operate in voltage mode which increases distortion to closer to -70dBFS. That's a huge difference, of course.

EDIT: Sorry I don't have better news for you than the above. If you had only dropped by and asked about what you were thinking of doing a couple of months ago we would have been happy to help. We still would be of course, but don't know if you have any interest in making further progress. If you are happy with the dac you have that's all that really matters

Last edited by Markw4; 26th November 2019 at 04:22 AM.
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Old 26th November 2019, 10:52 AM   #5197
starbender is offline starbender
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
in voltage mode which increases distortion to closer to -70dBFS
Really? Wow! That is insanely high.
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Old 26th November 2019, 12:53 PM   #5198
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Yes, it is quite high. Someone measured it before way back in the thread. It might have been -73dBFS, but it was around in that area. Sounds like it too.
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Old 27th November 2019, 08:58 AM   #5199
JensH is offline JensH  Denmark
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ES9038Q2M Board
Yes, I posted some measurements here: ES9038Q2M Board

And yes, the THD was -74.5 dB at full scale, when using the original output circuit (voltage mode).

I would actually like to see performance measurements after modifications have been done. There is a lot of talk about what sounds best, but as this can be subjective, I would like to see objective measurements.
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Old 27th November 2019, 02:52 PM   #5200
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Sorry, Jens. My ES9038Q2M setup has been increasingly cannibalized to supply parts for use with AK4499. Given the difference in sound quality I can't see any reason for ever going back to a Sabre dac.

However, Allo continues to work with ES9038Q2M and they announced they were able to reduce distortion on their latest one to as low as -127dBFS, as measured on an AP they have. They have made a few changes since then to improve subjective sound quality which has slightly worsened measured distortion.
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