More Amazing DACs for Peanuts

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flavo

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #220 on: 10 Jan 2018, 12:24 am »

On a mac mini, isn't your headphone out also an optical out? You could run a Toslink to 3.5 cable like this? https://www.amazon.com/FosPower-Toslink-Digital-Connectors-Strain-Relief/dp/B00T8HWUVS/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_23_tr_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=NH7HG9WXVDK5G74V4BTF

I dont have a pre at this point. The one I plan to build or buy in short time is a Tortuga and they only have RCA in. Unless I've missed something in the chain, which is entirely possible. The optical cord won't work for me.

And thank you Wushului

o0o

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #221 on: 11 Jan 2018, 11:20 am »
Don't get too comfortable with that new SMSL. Look what's within striking distance of that price: click
even cheaper here: click

Like I said earlier, the upgrade cycle on DACs is now 6mo. or less. I'll wait another cycle then maybe get one of these es9038s once the price comes down.

This is a very interesting device indeed! With a flagship mobile ES9038Q2M DAC, battery, etc... But is it a major upgrade or even a different league comparing to SMSL IQ or Sabaj Da3 ? Technically on paper for sure it is but how different is it in real life in that particular device? Let's not forget IQ & Da3 have a dual mono/balanced configurations with SABRE9018Q2C - which is a DAC+Amp (ES9018K2M+SABRE9602) with completely black BG and quite strong output. (For instance my single-chip Da2 drives my not so beloved 250Ohm DT990 with no troubles at all.)

What's the amp chip used in Topping NX4 DSD? Is it the same OPA1642+LMH6643 combo found in the original NX4 or a different set?
Using SABRE9602 amp will make 9038Q2M sound very close if not identical to 9018Q2C. Using TI's stuff like OPA1622 will make it sound different I guess, maybe even better.
EDIT: Ok, it's OPA2140-based, no additional info though.

Btw check this out - prices of different ESS chips as seen on ismosys.com
ES9010K2M - $ 5.95 (DF Black)
ES9016K2M - $ 10.50 (DF Red)
ES9018K2M - $ 10.35 (Hifime, etc)
SABRE9018Q2C - $ 23.10 (IQ, Da3, Da2/idea, etc)
ES9038Q2M - $ 13.80 (NX4 DSD, Vivo Xplay6 phone, etc)
ES9038PRO - $ 74.18 (Oppo Sonica DAC, Melokin DA9.1, upcoming HiFime dac)

These prices make me wonder why AudioQuest didn't use ES9018K2M instead of ES9016K2M? Well, now it's time for them to release a "revolutionary" new "blue label" ES9038Q2M-based DF DAC with SABRE9602 amp for $300 :icon_twisted:

EDIT: Actually talking again about comparison of DragonFly Red vs SMSL Idea / Sabaj Da2 - definitely the later two have an edge in terms of SQ and higher bitrates + DSD, on the other hand DragonFly sticks are much better with low power consumption. Think of it as ES9016K2M+ESS amp vs ES9018K2M+SABRE9602 amp and XMOS XU208 vs Microchip PIC32MX. Original DragonFly + v1.2 + Black - out of this league because of slightly inferior DAC chips and noisy TPA6130A2 amp with analog volume control.

IMO, it would be cool to see Sabaj Da3 and SMSL IQ with double ES9038Q2M+SABRE9602 sets or maybe even ES9038Q2M+OPA1622 instead of SABRE9018Q2C which already perfectly fits Da2/Idea concept, size & price.

Actually there's one double ES9038Q2M+SABRE9602 DAC out there already - Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital. Not exactly made for portable use, no balanced outputs, 2x expensive but has remote control, 8 user-selectable filters and MQA support (if someone cares).

At the same time for a similar price there's Melokin DA9.1 with ES9038PRO+OPA1622. ;)

Even if an amateur like me, the sound quality is higher than sabaj da3.
(At least the built-in power supply did not adversely affect.)
SQ shouldn't be really higher than Da3, considering SABRE9018Q2C is an integrated solution (DAC ​with Headphone Amplifier & Output Switch) which should lead to almost identical SQ in both IQ and Da3 and be quite similar to Da2/idea as well.

Yes the DA3 excels on 2 channel out of my main speakers. I think that's how you have to really appreciate its performance. It's sound quality is kind of wasted on portable use (IMO). I think some people have had issues with Mac and DSD playback. Non-PC DSD playback seems to work fine for some and not others.
I agree that Da3 is not exactly meant for portable on-the-go use, since it's power-hungry and has no battery.  It's more like a very compact desktop DAC that you can take along with a laptop on a trip. Da2/idea is a more logical choice for portable use even though it's also quite power-hungry...
« Last Edit: 17 Jan 2018, 02:22 pm by o0o »

Lol999

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #222 on: 27 Jan 2018, 08:22 pm »
I don't know if anyone has heard a dac with the 5242 chip in it but I have one made by Iquadio fastened to my Pi3 and it leaves the Sabaj Da2 in the mire for overall musicality, detail and soundstage.

Dadbeh

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #223 on: 27 Jan 2018, 09:29 pm »
I don't know if anyone has heard a dac with the 5242 chip in it but I have one made by Iquadio fastened to my Pi3 and it leaves the Sabaj Da2 in the mire for overall musicality, detail and soundstage.

you mean this?
http://iqaudio.co.uk/hats/47-pi-dac-pro.html

zek

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #224 on: 27 Jan 2018, 10:02 pm »
This DAC does not support DSD files. :(

Dadbeh

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #225 on: 27 Jan 2018, 11:38 pm »
This DAC does not support DSD files. :(

which is of absolutely no importance whatsoever to 99% of the people. and only a percentage of mutant freak audiophiles :)

wushuliu

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #226 on: 28 Jan 2018, 01:55 am »
you mean this?
http://iqaudio.co.uk/hats/47-pi-dac-pro.html

If that's what he means then it's an apples to oranges comparison since the Sabaj/SMSL are usb dacs, not Pi-attacheable dacs. The RPi dac *should* sound better in that application since it's specifically designed to be attached directly to the RPi and uses i2s for data, etc.

Dadbeh

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #227 on: 28 Jan 2018, 02:36 am »
If that's what he means then it's an apples to oranges comparison since the Sabaj/SMSL are usb dacs, not Pi-attacheable dacs. The RPi dac *should* sound better in that application since it's specifically designed to be attached directly to the RPi and uses i2s for data, etc.

exactly. i do have a Pi3 lying around and i do need a kind of a streamer so i might give it a try.

Lol999

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #228 on: 28 Jan 2018, 09:03 am »
you mean this?
http://iqaudio.co.uk/hats/47-pi-dac-pro.html

Yes that. Just needs a couple of line tweaks in Rune and it's good to go.
Apples and oranges? Really? It was my understanding that the usb outlet on Pi 3 was quite devoid of noise such that the path taken by the signal to dac would be irrelevant.

zek

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #229 on: 28 Jan 2018, 02:09 pm »
We are not talking about USB output on RPi3, but about USB connectivity to PC or MAC. :?

Lol999

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #230 on: 28 Jan 2018, 02:28 pm »
We are not talking about USB output on RPi3, but about USB connectivity to PC or MAC. :?

I compared them both on a Pi3 as the Sabaj was usb connectivity so draw your own conclusions :-)

zek

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #231 on: 28 Jan 2018, 03:50 pm »
This is not a good comparison because rpi3 usb is bad. :(

Lol999

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #232 on: 28 Jan 2018, 06:02 pm »
But is it bad? I thought someone called Archimango had tested the output and found no problems with noise on it?
I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure that was the outcome.
There are also folks on this forum who feed some pretty expensive dac's from their Pi usb port.

Wayne1

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #233 on: 28 Jan 2018, 08:54 pm »
"RPIs are great and very energy efficient, but on USB they have 2 major flaws. First is that bandwidth is shared between the 2 USB ports (so in fact there is only one USB), and second is that ethernet is also shared on same bus! Of course, you also have the noise on USB at about 60mV."

Take  look at the Allo USBridge

I have been using an Odroid C2 which works just fine for me with Roon into a separate AKM4490 based DAC,
and I do upsample everything to DSD256. I guess I am just one of those mutant freak audiophiles  :wink:

wushuliu

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #234 on: 29 Jan 2018, 02:57 am »
But is it bad? I thought someone called Archimango had tested the output and found no problems with noise on it?
I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure that was the outcome.
There are also folks on this forum who feed some pretty expensive dac's from their Pi usb port.

Archimago's site has its uses, but I'm pretty sure he would also say you're listening impressions are subjectively flawed and that there's no difference between the DACs  :?

I don't know the quality of the RPi usb, but the Allo Pi DAC is *specifically* designed to connect to the Pi *directly* using i2s, correct?  whereas a usb dac like the sabaj/smsl has to take the signal via usb and THEN convert the data. So I would certainly hope the Pi DAC sounds better since it was created specifically for that application. If it didn't sound better than a dac on the RPi usb, that would be disappointing. It's apples and oranges.

@Wayne1 The USBridge looks great. Even Allo points out the poor quality USB on the stock board, hence the USBridge. If I had an RPi I would either get one of the attacheable DACs or a USBridge/DigiOne to an external DAC.

Dadbeh

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #235 on: 29 Jan 2018, 03:57 am »
Wush :) is correct, there is a huge penalty  in sound quality for using RPi3's usb port. that is why the ALLO Boss and recently the very nicely engineered (definitely the best for RPi 3) mamboberry Dac have made sch impact in quality by going to extreme lenghts fixing the problems with the usb off of Rpi.

Mamboberry not only is not getting its power from the Rpi (I always thought that we need more double negatives in our lives :)) but it powers Rpi itself which is absolutely unique. the older version was powered by a toroidal tranformer (5V) while the new version has an amazing linear power supply (optional) for around 160 bucks. it is the best RPi based solution bar none.

Lol999

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #236 on: 30 Jan 2018, 04:18 pm »
[quote  it is the best RPi based solution bar none.
[/quote]

This guy begs to differ http://www.dimdim.gr/2017/03/mamboberry-ls-dac-vs-boss-dac-vs-piano-2-1-hi-fi-dac-with-and-without-kali-fifo-reclocker/

Dadbeh

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #237 on: 30 Jan 2018, 04:51 pm »
[quote  it is the best RPi based solution bar none.


This guy begs to differ http://www.dimdim.gr/2017/03/mamboberry-ls-dac-vs-boss-dac-vs-piano-2-1-hi-fi-dac-with-and-without-kali-fifo-reclocker/

Kudos for doing research .I love it when people do research before just taking a side and sticking with it.

Also the dimdim blog is one of the best.this is a man who knows what he is telling about. Avery good reference. Probably the best.

But you made one mistake. The product that I'm talking about is the mamboberry hd dac. The product that you linked is the la dac that has long been discontinued.the hd Dac is a 100 % different product.almost no similarity at all. You can see that plainly if you just look at the two boards.

Lol999

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Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #238 on: 30 Jan 2018, 06:00 pm »
tbh I'm not in a position to buy and compare the items so I have to stay with what I have, which I'm very happy with.

I used the Sabaj Da2 via usb on Pi3 and laptop through Fbar2K and I still didn't like it. Too shrill, splashy and lacking in texture for my tastes to the extent that I got no pleasure form music. Plug the old Muse pcm2704 in and the feet started tapping again, just as they do with the Iqaudio I have now.

One mans meat etc

wushuliu

Re: More Amazing DACs for Peanuts
« Reply #239 on: 30 Jan 2018, 06:28 pm »
tbh I'm not in a position to buy and compare the items so I have to stay with what I have, which I'm very happy with.

I used the Sabaj Da2 via usb on Pi3 and laptop through Fbar2K and I still didn't like it. Too shrill, splashy and lacking in texture for my tastes to the extent that I got no pleasure form music. Plug the old Muse pcm2704 in and the feet started tapping again, just as they do with the Iqaudio I have now.

One mans meat etc

Plugged in my modded Muse this weekend, still very enjoyable. Especially the mids. Such a great dac. I don't doubt a lot of people would prefer it to the Sabre-based dacs. Your impression of the Sabaj still makes me think there are other issues at play though. Unfortunate thing about Dacs, especially usb dacs is all the effort that has to be put into removing noise and keeping the signal clean...