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ES9018K2M, ES9028Q2M, 9038Q2M DSD/I2S DAC HATs for Raspberry Pi
ES9018K2M, ES9028Q2M, 9038Q2M DSD/I2S DAC HATs for Raspberry Pi
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:11 PM   #671
Forane12 is offline Forane12  Bulgaria
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There are many things that affect the sound of a digital device, we have discussed that ad nauseum. My experience (and I am relieved that there are others) comes from a project that a lot of smart people worked on and who WANTED to make it sound good, nothing was spared. But in the end the 4137 has an algorithm that was classified as very good for mid-range devices, at first listen it is quite good and many people will be in love with the sound but not for the top level devices.

I was just hoping that sharing my experience will provide the option of switching it off, nothing more, I am just not interested in any device that relies on it.
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:28 PM   #672
pinnocchio is offline pinnocchio  Canada
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Well... We all can debate for days about this but in the end, it is the listener's ears (brain) that decide if she/he likes it or not. Too bad the RPi2-3 cannot output native DSD on I2S and that we have to rely on is DoP which is limited in most cases to 128... Same applies here, if we have a bunch of native DSD material, we need to re-sample to PCM or DoP 64-128 and thus cannot listen to it natively.

I'm 100% ok with Ian's implementation just it would have been great that 1-Pi support native DSD over i2s and 2-ES90XX can process DSD stream natively. That being said, I won't feel bad about it and it'll still sound amazing I'm sure.

Do
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:36 PM   #673
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Understood AK4137 is not expected to be the path to a high end dac. The question I have been working on is how to make a low cost, entry level dac so more people can access better sound than they can now.

For those wanting the very best sound quality I don't think there is any way around it costing more than a few hundred dollars, which unfortunately leaves out many people from being able to experience a move upward.

Starting from ES9038Q2M and a building with high quality circuitry can only get one so far. At the cost of around $15 for another chip, AK4137 does sound better than not in most respects. Without it there is other distortion that appears to be associated with ES9038Q2M PCM interpolation filtering, which is not top quality for the most discerning listeners. It is possible to to do better there with ES9028PRO or ES9038PRO, the latter for sure having an option to use more taps if limited to stereo operation.

Last edited by Markw4; 4th October 2018 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 6th October 2018, 02:36 AM   #674
Greg Stewart is offline Greg Stewart  United States
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ES9018K2M, ES9028Q2M, 9038Q2M DSD/I2S DAC HATs for Raspberry Pi
Quote:
Originally Posted by iancanada View Post
Very interesting. I'll do some research into it.

Regards,
Ian
See this thread by Bunpei of SDTrans384 fame:

Applying GaN transistor as a replacement of SiC rectifier

Greg in Mississippi
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Old 6th October 2018, 02:44 AM   #675
Greg Stewart is offline Greg Stewart  United States
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ES9018K2M, ES9028Q2M, 9038Q2M DSD/I2S DAC HATs for Raspberry Pi
Quote:
Originally Posted by iancanada View Post
@redjr,

I'm not very happy with the dynamic performance of single ES9038Q2M HAT. So, I might be more interested in the ES9038Q2M dual mono configuration DAC HAT. I'll post the picture the next. Connections and system integration are coming soon.

Please keep asking for update.

Regards,
Ian
Ian,

In my testing of your single-ES9038Q2M prototype, I found the Onetics 600:600 transformer to be the best sounding so far, bettering the Lundahl LL1570XL. I HAVE NOT yet tried the Lundahl LL1684's I have here, largely because the quality of the sound with the Onetics over the LL1570XLs. That included better dynamics.

From casual listening, that setup did not seem to have less strong dynamic performance than my 2 Twisted Pear ES90x8Pro setups, both with one of their active output stages.

Shall I send the Onetics up to you for a listen? While I mounted them on a DIY protoboard, they do you the same plug-connection as your custom boards. All you'll need to do is arrange for output connectors.

In the meantime, as I get some audio time freeing up from another pressing project, I'll assemble a board for the LL1684's so I can give them a whirl.

Greg in Mississippi
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Old 7th October 2018, 09:59 PM   #676
Greg Stewart is offline Greg Stewart  United States
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ES9018K2M, ES9028Q2M, 9038Q2M DSD/I2S DAC HATs for Raspberry Pi
Quote:
Originally Posted by iancanada View Post
<SNIP>
As you mentioned the 100MHz Crystek clock, I think you are still using ESS DAC at async mode. I would highly recommend you trying the true sync mode, it really makes big difference.
<SNIP>

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
Actually, I was thinking before about how to run an SRC4392 instead of an AK4317 in synchronized mode, but the same scheme should probably work the same for either chip. The way I was thinking of doing it would not require me to change the existing 100MHz clock, since I can divide it down and use it to clock the SRC. Although it would not be using a standard sample rate it should still work fine. I wrote a short explanation of the idea in the other thread in this post: ES9038Q2M Board - Page 230 - diyAudio

By that means, they could run in master mode (synchronous), or use ASRC, whichever is configured by register programming. Should be doable so long as there is still a separate clock that can be enabled for AK4137. Might use a NB3L553 to buffer the ES9038Q2 master clock output so I could disable that signal and enable another clock for the SRC, if wanting to run in ASRC mode. So, maybe nice to be able to switch it either way in software is all I was thinking. Certainly would make for quick comparisons or perhaps some ability to use synchronous or ASRC depending on what works best for a very high jitter incoming source.

Yes, I have been interested. The thing that puzzles me is that Allo Katana runs in synchronous mode and so far my modded dac using ASRC has sounded as good or better. I do have to tweak the Q2M DPLL bandwidth register to get the best sound quality though. Also, the Benchmark DAC-3 here always sounds better than my modded dac and Katana, and DAC-3 runs with ASRC enabled. It may be doing upsampling of some kind though. However it works it seems to show there is some way to make ASRC give excellent sound quality. Maybe the actual problem is figuring out how they do it.
<SNIP>

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundcheck View Post
<SNIP>
* Sync mode has always shown quite a step up on these Sabre DACs,
if you run async you could still be talking about a different subject.
The worse the DAC or it's implementation the more impact had these ASRCs
in the past. The better the DACs the more it became obvious that you better pass these devices by. Things might have changed.

AND

<SNIP>
* I just clocked my ES9023 HAT synchronously with the Allo Kali. And removed the single onboard clock. That pretty well showed me what's happening if you swap sync/async.
<SNIP>
I've had a similar experience to those of Ian and Soundcheck on synchronous reclocking of ESS DACs. I've taken 3 different DACs (a slightly earlier ES9023 Mamboberry than the one Soundcheck has, Ian's ES9018K2M DAC prototype, and Ian's ES9028Q2M DAC prototype) and converted them to Sync mode, in each case using an Allo.com Kali FIFO reclocker to provide the appropriate clock signal. In each case, I found the SQ took a step toward a more natural, closer to the source experience. The SQ with the ESS ASRC is a bit more 'technocolor' than real in my experience, though the difference is MUCH smaller in the later chips (ES902x & ES903x versions).

Also, I wouldn't compare the Katana in master-sync mode to the DAC-3 in ASRC mode to generalize about the superiority of a feature in one over the other. As Soundcheck said above "Bottom line. All this crap is much too complex to draw any generic conclusions." There are too many differences between the implementations of those two DACs to compare them and say that a feature of one is better than that of the other. BUT when I've modified a ESS-chip-based DAC from ASRC to Sync with a roughly equivalent clock, I have preferred Sync mode.

Ian's ES9028Q2M DAC with his controller is so far unique for us DIY'ers, in that it can use the 'pure sync' mode available in the later chips which turns off the DPLL. This has been discussed some in the Twisted Pear Buffalo-IIIPro DAC boards main thread and those who have tried it have been very happy with the results... I'll be very happy when the release firmware for their boards enabling that functionality!

Still, the latest ESS chips with their latest filters and processing make the difference between ASRC & Sync modes smaller than with the earlier generations.

Finally, Mark, I haven't looked at the AK4317 datasheet in awhile, but I believe (if I'm not confusing it with another ASRC chip) that it can be run in synchronous mode with a DAC, using a single clock for both, similar to how Ians' FIFO can do the same.

Greg in Mississippi
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Old 7th October 2018, 10:54 PM   #677
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stewart View Post
Finally, Mark, I haven't looked at the AK4317 datasheet in awhile, but I believe (if I'm not confusing it with another ASRC chip) that it can be run in synchronous mode with a DAC, using a single clock for both, similar to how Ians' FIFO can do the same.
Sure. Don't know of any reason why that couldn't work. I would still like a dac that can run with ASRC when I want to play music or other sound from a different clock domain. What if I want to watch a movie instead of listen to a recording of a concert? I can't make the DVD player or the computer sync to the dac clock. I need real time, non-delayed sound for some use cases.

So, it would be nice if the sync mode (ASRC or SYNC) could be controlled by software. Most SRC chips allow for two clocks, one for 44.1 and its multiples, and one for the 48kHz set. The clocks are for determining the output sample rate, so one clock could be used for whatever the sweet spot sample rate of the dac is (just convert all inputs to that sample rate if using ASRC mode), and the other clock input could be used as in input for sync mode clocking.

There are various ways to do that, but using the MCLK output from the dac chip to clock the SRC guarantees that setup and hold times should be in the correct phase for what the dac needs. Then it would be possible to change that clock rate using Clock_Gear if desired. However, although the above may be a potentially interesting way to do sync mode (seems to me anyway), it is no doubt not the only way. Ian's existing way might work fine.

However, I don't know if conversion to DSD can be done synchronously. I also don't know if it's even necessary to go to DSD to get better sound quality if certain other things are done such as external interpolation filtering in an ASIC. The thing about DSD with AK4137 is that it is an easy way to get better sound quality at low cost with an off the shelf item. If custom DSP can be used then that would be a whole new ball game to think about.

Last edited by Markw4; 7th October 2018 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 8th October 2018, 12:47 AM   #678
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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By the way, some info about how DSD is handled in Sabre dacs here: Introducing the Buffalo III-SE-Pro 9028/9038 - Page 15 - diyAudio

It explains that DSD doesn't go through the PCM oversampling filter, which is probably why it sounds better, IMHO. That's why it would make sense if wanting to use PCM rather than DSD, to use an external higher quality "oversampling filter" which is the same thing as the interpolation filter. It is the filter for which there are 7 or so built-in choices, none of which ever sounds exactly right. Part of making it sound better 'the DAC-3 way' involves clocking an SRC4392 with a 27MHz clock to convert all PCM to 211kHz, then operate the Q2M clock at 30MHz, a frequency that leaves some frequency space for wider transition band for the interpolation filter that is calculated in Spartan 6. It also leaves some room for Q2M to use ASRC to minimize any remaining jitter at that point. So long as the 30MHz clock is ultra low jitter, and Q2M is configured for the tightest DPLL bandwidth, SQ can be excellent even though there is still ASRC.

For the most part, it appears that people complaining about the sound of ASRC are not using smart firmware that tries to minimize DPLL bandwidth as much as possible for PCM, and for DSD (two different settings). It does help, although there appears to possibly be more room for improvement with DSD, given that the default setting is rather loose for that mode.
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