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Mighty tempting stuff in this thread. Could anyone comment on how any of these DACs sound, both before/after the various mods, as well as in comparison to some other DACs to which you may have been able to compare them?
GIGO. No matter how you upgrade and tweak the opamps and power supply capacitors, the sound you get will be limited by the quality of the output of the DAC chip and the output of the DAC chip will be limited by the quality of the digital output of the S/PDIF receiver chip. In the Gigaworks design, both the receiver and the DAC are hobbled by the use of daughter boards and through-hole components. However, when it comes to modding, the daughter boards are a blessing.I suggest replacing both the DAC and receiver daughter boards with ones that are augmented with ultra low noise voltage regulators, ferrite beads, C0G and X7R surface mount capacitors, and surface mount resistors. Of course, observing good PCB layout practices to minimize the digital nasties. Only then can you realize the full potential of the Gigaworks board.
Have you made these mods w/ the Gigaworks board? Do you have pics? Can you do a step-by-step tutorial on implementing these mods? Do you have any soldering tips to prevent damaging the sensitive board since quite a few components will be handled?
No, I don't have a Gigaworks board, nor do I want one. I have enough DACs and I dislike delta-sigma types. I've done digital mods on a similar scale and the results are worth the effort. I posted one such mod in this circle. See: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=54998.0
Then it does not appear there's much more to be shared on the subject of this thread which is Easy. Kit. Mods.
I thought my suggestion was apropos. The CS8412 mod I linked to was my very first scratch designed PCB and the first time I worked with surface mount components. I thought it was very easy. Also, the Audio Note DAC I modded was built from a kit. It was an Easy Mod for a DIY DAC Kit. My suggestions for the Gigaworks DAC would be even easier because they don’t involve any digital circuits, just voltage regulators, ferrites, capacitors, and resistors.Step by step:1: Study pinouts of the Gigaworks daughter boards.2: Study datasheets of the chips involved.3: Choose components.4: Design circuits.5: Layout PCBs.6: Order PCBs and components.7: Receive PCBs and components.8: Solder components on PCBs.9: Install PCBs.10: Enjoy.Below is another view of the CS8412 mod. Left is the CS8412 it replaced. Center is the finished mod. Right is the view from below showing the CS8415A with bypass caps soldered directly to the chip leads. That eliminates ALL trace inductance and reduces lead inductance; both of which reduce noise and ground bounce. For the Gigaworks I would put the CS8416, PLL filter, and bypassing surface mounts on one side of the daughter board and the voltage regulators on the other. Neat, simple, and easy.
You are basically saying that one would need to design a tiny pcb from scratch (literally!) with a bunch of smd components. There is no way someone without solid soldering experience with smd's to begin w/ would want to tackle any of that.
It just seems that you're taking for granted the abilities of those for whom this thread is primarily oriented.
Maybe you missed it. I said the CS8412 project was my very first PCB and my first try at soldering SMD. Hand soldering SMD looks intimidating until you get the courage to try it. It's really very easy. In fact, and most assemblers will agree, it's easier and faster than through-hole! Yes, it takes a little practice and a good soldering iron, but those requirements are no different then when first soldering through-hole components.I take nothing for granted except that anyone interested in getting the most from a DAC will do what I did: Read, Think, Study, and Learn. Then use that knowledge to evaluate what others have done and try to improve upon it. BTW, I don’t have any formal education or training beyond high school. If I can do it, anybody can.
Tutorial all done. Just let your Soul Glo.w
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