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ES9038PRO Q9?
ES9038PRO Q9?
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Old 10th October 2018, 12:48 PM   #1
craigtone is offline craigtone  United States
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Default ES9038PRO Q9?

I read the thread about the older Chinese ES9038PRO DAC and this one seems to address some of the issues. The power supplies are MUCH better and they have a decent clock and USB isolation, etc. Just curious if anyone here has any experience with this board yet:

Latest Q9 ES9038PRO ES9038 9038 DAC HiFi Audio Decoder SUPER DAC assembled board | eBay

The only thing that scares me is there is an awful lot of "namebrand" audiophile components on there and I am afraid of counterfeits.
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Old 10th October 2018, 01:59 PM   #2
tubesguy is offline tubesguy  United States
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Expensive, but on a parts per dollar basis, not that bad. Let us know if you pull the trigger.
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Old 10th October 2018, 04:28 PM   #3
craigtone is offline craigtone  United States
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It is pricey but seems a good midpoint between the cheaper 9038 eBay boards and the Buffalo. It looks promising anyway assuming the parts are real!
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Old 10th October 2018, 06:06 PM   #4
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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It might be a good collection of parts for the money. There is no way it will meet the specs they quote for the dac chip, of course. Discrete opamps are a gimmick that is unnecessary to get the best out of ES9038PRO. Those guys are in the business of selling brand names and eye candy, not sound quality, IMHO. But, hey, no doubt there will be happy customers who never heard a dac so good before.

Thing to perhaps be aware of is you could almost certainly get a dac that sounds better for much less, but the downside is there would be some DIY work involved.
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Old 10th October 2018, 07:48 PM   #5
craigtone is offline craigtone  United States
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The good thing is the discrete op-amps are socketed, so I can put in anything. I looked at Twisted Pear but by the time I add it all up, it is significantly more money! Even doing my own layouts would be expensive by the time I get PCB's, populate the SMD parts, etc.

Are there other boards out there that are comparable for less money?
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Old 10th October 2018, 09:24 PM   #6
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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Likely superior sound quality for much less money, but only if you are willing to DIY a fair bit: ES9038Q2M Board

A dac fully modified as described in the linked thread can probably hold its own against some dacs selling for $1,000 or more. Your cost to do it yourself might be in the range of something like $200 - $250. But, be prepared to spend some time on it.

Last edited by Markw4; 10th October 2018 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 10th October 2018, 10:02 PM   #7
tubesguy is offline tubesguy  United States
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The board you're looking at may be a good starting point, especially if you're willing to do some experimenting on the I/V and output stages that are appropriate for the 9038PRO. You could order it without the discrete opamps, and do your own with DIP adapters.

If you want to do the Q2M board, price it with the display, etc, figure out what you are going to do about USB in, plan your heroic mods, and acknowledge that you're still using a mobile phone DAC chip. It's a question, perhaps, about how long you might be keeping this and how much you want to invest in time and money.
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Old 10th October 2018, 10:19 PM   #8
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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A mobile phone dac? How about this use of one in a very sophisticated dac? My Quest for a new DAC, Part 2 - Ayre QX-8 - Reviews - Computer Audiophile

Or for Allo Katana: New FIFO buffer for RPI/SBCs

I think we know most of the things needed to make the chip perform at its best. Looking at the specs for PRO vs Q2M, PRO can get 2dB lower distortion -122dB vs -120dB. PRO can also get lower noise especially if multiple channels are used in parallel, but Q2M is quite good at -122dB for that metric.
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Old 11th October 2018, 11:34 AM   #9
craigtone is offline craigtone  United States
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What I like about the Q9 PCB is the power supplies to the DAC. He is using very quiet Linear Tech regulators. Yes, those can be added to any PCB but with extra lead inductance, trace impedance, etc. to "tack" it on. I got more specifics from the seller last night. The DAC regulators go through a traditional 3-terminal and then the LT low noise regulators for 2 stages of regulation. The supplies for the I/V stage are adjustable series shunts so they can be adjusted depending on the op-amp or device used in the sockets.

I am a PCB layout engineer by trade and his design looks very well done from what I can see. I even had him send me some close-up shots of the DAC area.
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Old 11th October 2018, 01:41 PM   #10
Markw4 is online now Markw4  United States
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Have to agree it looks like the best Chinese Sabre dac board I have seen so far.

Still, highly unlikely it uses harmonic distortion compensation, or fine adjustments of DPLL bandwidth to optimize sound quality. Also, sure hope none of those LT1763 regulators are for AVCC. They are fine to use one for the clock, and one for VCCA, something like that. Not sure sure that film caps for decoupling DVCC are better than ceramic. Don't know at what frequency the particular film caps become inductive. They still don't seem to know about using AK4137 with a Sabre to avoid some limitations of internal PCM interpolation filtering. Wonder if they use a custom interpolation filter with this with double the standard number coefficients, or only the 7 or so standard bulit-in filters?

While doubtful it would sound quite as good as well modded ES9038Q2M board in some respects, for a more or less finished board that only needs a case and some transformers it looks much better than most.

Last edited by Markw4; 11th October 2018 at 01:43 PM.
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