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Digital Line Level DACs, Digital Crossovers, Equalizers, etc.

Why Do DACs Always Contain an Op-Amp?
Why Do DACs Always Contain an Op-Amp?
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:28 PM   #11
Nanoloop is offline Nanoloop  Hong Kong
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Many ES9023 DACs don't have an external op amp - guess why :-) And they are cheap and sound very good.

Last edited by Nanoloop; 26th September 2018 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:32 PM   #12
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman5 View Post
I understand that you say this not because of the DAC chips (which some of them are ESS, Burr-Brown, and more),
but because of the implementation, as we spoke about.

What in your opinion is a (starting) price for a DAC that is not junk?
(and would you narrow the chip also to 1-2 companies?)
First of all, those were not the best dac chips from the manufacturers you cited. They were they bottom of the line low cost parts. They don't sound as good as top of the line parts can. You might want to take a look at the Stereophile recommended equipment list. A very accurate dac at the low price end of the really good sound quality range might cost $2,200.

--------------------------------
Not junk? That's tough. For me the minimum price for a dac I can be happy with that I know of right now is probably about $1,800. That's what it costs to make and sell one of sufficiently high quality.

I could tell you how to make your own pretty good dac for maybe around $200 (a lot of work, however). I don't know where you can buy a finished one that good for less than $1,000. Maybe when Allo Katana v1.2 is released there will be something in the $250 range, but can't say for sure til I hear the final version.

Unfortunately, making dacs that actually reproduce all the data on a CD accurately is still not easy or cheap. That's where we are right now with dacs. It would be nice if it were otherwise, but it just isn't.

Last edited by Markw4; 26th September 2018 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:33 PM   #13
kstagger is offline kstagger  United States
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The old DIY/kit RAKK DAC I once owned used a Lundahl transformer to do the I/V conversion. It had a rather high-z out (3000 ohms? if my memory serves me).

A rather exotic solution.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:43 PM   #14
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kstagger View Post
The old DIY/kit RAKK DAC I once owned used a Lundahl transformer to do the I/V conversion. I
Usually current out dacs with transformers attached use low value resistors to do the IV conversion. The transformers bridge the resistors and connect to an external amplifier of whatever type.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:43 PM   #15
abraxalito is online now abraxalito  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman5 View Post
What in your opinion is a (starting) price for a DAC that is not junk?
If we're talking costs of components and PCBs, transformer for PSU I'd say about $50. But then plenty of DIY time in building, pre-selecting components and testing. That's an estimate based on my lingDAC which is only a 16bit design. Aiming lower than -92dB (roughly the noise floor for RBCD) pushes up costs quite quickly.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:44 PM   #16
spaceman5 is offline spaceman5  Israel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanoloop View Post
Many ES9023 DACs don't have an external op amp - guess why :-)
From what I understood, it's because the ES9023 is a chip that has most of the surrounding circuitry inside it, built-in.
Is that the reason?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
First of all, those were not the best dac chips from the manufacturers you cited. They were they bottom of the line low cost parts. They don't sound as good as top of the line parts can.
In the ES9018K2M's case, it's Stereo, 384KHz 32bit.
There are higher ones, like the ES9038Q2M (Stereo, 768KHz 32bit), and other versions of the ES9038 which are 8-Ch,
but as we spoke in that other thread, I do not need 8-Ch,
and from 192KHz to 384KHz or 768KHz, well, I think you need a good enough source file, in order to enjoy the higher sample rates..



Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
Not junk? That's tough. For me the minimum price for a dac I can be happy with that I know of right now is probably about $1,800.
That's what it costs to make and sell one of sufficiently high quality.
Wow
I wish I could connect one like this here, and hear it for a week, to try and see If I notice a difference (and how much of it)..
And more importantly, to see if the difference justirifes moving from paying several tens of dollars, to several thousands of dollars.. on a DAC.

But trying something, that costs 1800$, is a bit problematic..
(for the case where it would not feel a big enough of a change)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
Maybe when Allo Katana v1.2 is released there will be something in the $250 range, but can't say for sure till I hear the final version.
OK hopefully it will come out
Haven't heard about it yet..


Quote:
Originally Posted by kstagger View Post
The old DIY/kit RAKK DAC I once owned used a Lundahl transformer to do the I/V conversion. It had a rather high-z out (3000 ohms? if my memory serves me).

A rather exotic solution.
Nice..
And heavy..

Last edited by spaceman5; 26th September 2018 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:44 PM   #17
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanoloop View Post
Many ES9023 DACs don't have an external op amp - guess why :-) And they are cheap and sound very good.
Sure, that's why you just bought an ES9038Q2M dac instead?
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:46 PM   #18
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman5 View Post
I think you need a good enough source file, in order to enjoy the higher sample rates..
Not really. I upsample CD audio to 11.2MHz DSD format and find the dac clearly sounds better that way, IME.

Regarding trying an $1,800 dac, obviously you would need a power amp and speakers good enough to reproduce everything the dac is outputting. That costs more, unfortunately, unless perhaps you are willing to use some good use headphones.

Last edited by Markw4; 26th September 2018 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 26th September 2018, 01:55 PM   #19
spaceman5 is offline spaceman5  Israel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
Sure, that's why you just bought an ES9038Q2M dac instead?
The difference between the ES9018K2M's chip price and the ES9038Q2M's chip price is not what causes the expensive DACs to cost hundreed or thousands of dollars.

Example:

Here you can see a ready made board with the ES9038Q2M, for 43$:
(Breeze Audio)

ES9038Q2M I2S DSD256 DAC HiFi Optical Coaxial Audio Decoder Assembled Board 384K 358962408632 | eBay

It's still far from 200$, 1800$, etc..

So even If you will really benefit from 768KHz 32bit, you can still buy the higher end chip, without going to a high end price..
The question is if the implementation is worth it, so much as to justify ~2000$ instead of 40$..


Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
I upsample CD audio to 11.2MHz DSD format and find the dac clearly sounds better that way, IME.
How do you upsample?
Software I assume?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
Regarding trying an $1,800 dac, obviously you would need a power amp and speakers good enough to reproduce everything the dac is outputting. That costs more, unfortunately, unless perhaps you are willing to use some good use headphones.

BTW
Did you see this review?
Review and Measurements of JDSLabs ODAC Rev. B Compared to Fiio E10K | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum

The winner from the 2 mentioned is none of them,
but the Topping D30, which appears to be not bad at all.

It's a 120$ DAC.

Topping D30 Multi-Function S/PDIF and USB DAC


What do you think about it?
Still junk?

Last edited by spaceman5; 26th September 2018 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 26th September 2018, 02:00 PM   #20
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman5
If the definition of a DAC is that it outputs Line Out, (which you should then connect to your amplifier)
It isn't. Maybe you are confusing a DAC chip with a domestic audio DAC box?

Quote:
then why is the Op-Amp needed?
It isn't. That is, if you want unfiltered current output then you don't need an opamp. If you want a filtered voltage at low impedance then you need something, and a suitable opamp in a good circuit can do the job.
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