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Need recommendation on DAC output stage
Need recommendation on DAC output stage
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Old 19th April 2019, 11:04 PM   #1
salavat is offline salavat  Russian Federation
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Default Need recommendation on DAC output stage

I recently started re-assembling my Buffalo III DAC (inspired after brave replacement of ES9018 to ES9028 ventured by DimDim ). So it has ES9028 Pro on board. I have assembled and fully working IVY stage (from TPA), but I would like to try something else, because IVY has DC on balanced output and my amplifier (Beta 22) is not 'truly' balanced amp, thus I have to tweak output of IVY with caps and etc. Also, it has been 10 years ago, since IVY was introduced)), probably there is something more cool came up). I prefer DIY one (SMD with smallest size is no problem, I actually very much prefer SMD project over THT one), would like to have it balanced, and due to the nature of ES9028 (Buffalo III) design it has to be current to voltage stage (as I understand).

What is popular with DAC stage nowadays? Could you recommend, please, some top (in term of audio quality) projects?

Thanks!
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Old 20th April 2019, 12:45 AM   #2
amb is offline amb  United States
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Check out AMB α24.
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Old 20th April 2019, 12:54 AM   #3
salavat is offline salavat  Russian Federation
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Check out AMB α24.
Thanks! Have not thought about it yet))
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Old 20th April 2019, 01:08 AM   #4
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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ESS evaluation boards now use OPA1611/OPA1612 opamps for I/V conversion. They can handle enough current for use with ES9038PRO (although TP uses diamond buffer output ICs along with opamps for their Mercury output stage, which makes driving high current I/V a little less hard on the opamps).

For best sound quality, of course, there is more to it than just a dac chip and output stage. Lots of things have changed since ES9018. Power supplies and voltage regulators are often better. In particular, AVCC for ES9028PRO is one of the more critical loads that has a direct effect on sound quality. It could be somewhat costly to upgrade all the components that can affect sound quality coming out of the output stage.

However, if an output stage is all you want, a standard 3-opamp design can sound quite good with good quality +-15v power and good quality AVCC voltage regulators. In fact the output stage we recommend in the 'ES9038Q2M board' thread should work fine with only a change of I/V resistor (and perhaps I/V cap) component values.
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Old 20th April 2019, 03:24 AM   #5
ggetzoff is offline ggetzoff  United States
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Class-A, discrete I/V feeding a 12AU7 buffer is the best I've heard.

Battery powered endpoint also makes any DAC sound nice!
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Old 20th April 2019, 04:02 AM   #6
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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You can read the ESS recommendations for Sabre dacs which is available on their downloads page: http://www.esstech.com/files/4514/40...PCB_Layout.pdf
Obviously, lots to think about to get it right.
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Old 21st April 2019, 01:08 AM   #7
salavat is offline salavat  Russian Federation
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Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
You can read the ESS recommendations for Sabre dacs which is available on their downloads page: http://www.esstech.com/files/4514/40...PCB_Layout.pdf
Obviously, lots to think about to get it right.
Thanks for information! Interesting).
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Old 21st April 2019, 01:08 AM   #8
salavat is offline salavat  Russian Federation
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ggetzoff View Post
Class-A, discrete I/V feeding a 12AU7 buffer is the best I've heard.

Battery powered endpoint also makes any DAC sound nice!
Thanks! Any project or kit based on that design?
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