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DAC Preamp wish list

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Maybe we could trade for gourmet coffee beans Joz?

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I will definately work out a cost structure next week. Ballpark figure was in the 2 to 2.5k range depending on input/output options required. It is a modular design so it will be easy to upgrade down the track. When the new AK4497 DAC chip becomes available I will be offering a trade back on the digital board so it will be quite reasonable to upgrade to the newer chip version if desired. It should be a simple board swap so it won't be necessary to return the unit for the upgrade.

Edited by Gieseler Audio

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Looking good Clayton ......... but ........ I can only see two toggle switches ..... it definitely needs more ...... :-)

Edited by Ancientflatulence

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Cameron they are rear mount switches for XLR/RCA output selection & a ground lift option. Definately no toggles on the front panel!

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Well finally after a super busy week filling DAC & PSU orders I managed to get the prototype up & running.

All good which is a relief as there was a lot of new PCB cad work & one mistake can stop everything.

I will take it home for the weekend & see how she sounds after an overnight run in.

 

 

 

Super-impressive work Clay! I tip my hat to thee!

 

You've probably already mentioned this, but is the DAC stage in the DAC/PRE combo the same as your latest DSD DAC in terms of sonic performance?

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Hi Pete,

The digital/DAC circuit is the same but the power supplies have been improved a little. It terms of performance they are probably very similar. The DAC section in the DAC/Pre is a much smaller PCB than the Klein II because it has no filter/output stage, all that part is on the main preamp board. Also the main raw DC & pre filtering for the DAC is on a seperate PSU board. I think maybe because those two important sections are physically seperated from the digital part the overall sound is a little cleaner too if you follow. I will probably make a higher end DAC only based on the DAC/Pre layout/topology so suit customers who already have a good preamp or intergrated.

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Hi Adam & everyone else wanting an update.

Last week was a mega one for Klein DAC's & PSU orders plus my BAS return so it was not until Friday that I finally got a chance to spend a little time with the DAC/Pre. There were a few little things that needed sorting & that went fine. The new power supply at 20v raw DC output has a lot more headroom so I needed to carefully adjust the Gyrators & final discreet regs for even heat distribution. Currently there are two LCD displays - one for the digital section & one for the preamp side so I'm trying to decide the best arrangement for them on the front panel.

Sound! I'm extreamly happy with the audio quality I'm getting out of it. Mike L called in & Friday so I sat him in the hot seat for a listen.

With a serious look & eyes closed he left me dangling for a minute before I got the big thumbs up. I have been informed to get it over to his place one night next week for a serious listen. He recons one good bottle of Shiraz between us should be enough for a serious evaluation. Tomorrows morning I will take it over to BAM's (Bruce) as he has very good system & top DAC so that will be a good test.

Next week I can get serious with with some front panel test runs & hopefully end up with a good looking final result!

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Great to hear Clay, getting closer every day :)

I've got a nice bottle of Laphroaig waiting for when I finally get to hear this beauty.

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Now that is a seriously good whisky!

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Bruce's - Sunday morning listening session

Well I have just come back from BAM's after a serious two hour listening session.

First up a quick run down on Bruce's system which is highly desirable.

Source is an Antipodes DS Music server followed by an Intona USB isolator & then into a PS Audio Direct Stream DAC running Torreys firmware. This is connected to Musical Fidelity integrated amp but using the preamp section only. This is a temporary setup until a new Aesthetics Calypso preamp arrives. He did have a Musical Fidelity KW preamp but it was a tad bight with some material.

The preamp is followed by a pair of MB 90 KT150 Icon mono block amplifiers & finally into a gorgeous pair of Sonus Faber Amarti Homage four way speakers. All power interconnect & speaker cabling is seriously good.

First up we both listened to some well know tracks to get a feel for the sound.

Pretty good but not spectacular.

Then we removed the PS Audio Direct Stream DAC & Musical Fidelity pre section & dropped in my new DAC/Pre prototype.

Now what follows is IMO only.

Wow! whole new ball game absolutely everything is better, Bruce stops making the coffee, walks over over & says "now that's more like it!"

We crank up the volume & listen to some well know reference tracks & both agree it is sounding pretty darn good.

I'm keen to see how the Direct Stream sounds via the pre amp section of my DAC/Pre so we reconnect it that way.

Wow the Direct Stream is sounding really good now - even a little better than the DAC in my DAC/Pre. A bit more weight & maybe a bit more air to the soundstage.

I was still extremely happy though that my DAC section even got close considering the huge price difference.

I'm sure Bruce will chime in with his version to give you a more unbiased view.

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post-112957-0-41157100-1469938488_thumb.

Edited by Gieseler Audio

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Here's my unbiased opinion of our listening session today.

Clays DAC preamp combo easily beat my PS Audio direct stream + musical fidelity A5.5 intergrated (using preamp only). The Musical Fidelity produces a very forgiving sound but lacks detail. My previous Musical Fidelity KW preamp was very good but was not compatible with the tube amps, designed to match the kW amps.

Clays DAC preamp produced just the right amount of detail without being fatiguing. Bass was very good. I would have to say my system has not sounded better or as good for that matter.

Connecting the PS Audio direct stream to Clays preamp was a further improvement, slightly smoother, a bit more bass but was not chalk vs cheese.

It looks like Clay has produced an exceptional product which can compare favourably with products in a much higher price bracket.

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Here's my unbiased opinion of our listening session today.

Clays DAC preamp combo easily beat my PS Audio direct stream + musical fidelity A5.5 intergrated (using preamp only). The Musical Fidelity produces a very forgiving sound but lacks detail. My previous Musical Fidelity KW preamp was very good but was not compatible with the tube amps, designed to match the kW amps.

Clays DAC preamp produced just the right amount of detail without being fatiguing. Bass was very good. I would have to say my system has not sounded better or as good for that matter.

Connecting the PS Audio direct stream to Clays preamp was a further improvement, slightly smoother, a bit more bass but was not chalk vs cheese.

It looks like Clay has produced an exceptional product which can compare favourably with products in a much higher price bracket.

Thanks for sharing. Did you play PCM or DSD or both?

Matt

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Thanks for sharing. Did you play PCM or DSD or both?

Matt

Only pcm files Edited by BAM

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Wow the Direct Stream is sounding really good now - even a little better than the DAC in my DAC/Pre. A bit more weight & maybe a bit more air to the soundstage.

I was still extremely happy though that my DAC section even got close considering the huge price difference.

Clay, now that you have some extra space to work with.. Have you thought about experimenting with dual ak4490eq chips and/or boutique caps in the output stage? It'd put you over the line.. leave that Direct Stream behind for good  :P

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I did think about dual dac chips but I'm not totally convinced that would actually make much difference.

No caps in the output just some nice nickle core Jensen transformers.

You are right though it would be nice to close the gap on the Directstream.

I think once it is mounted properly in a case & all that tempoary skinny wire is replaced with some good stuff it will sound a little better too.

More run in will help as well - only had about twelve hours on it.

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I think if you tried native DSD, or PCM that is well upsampled to DSD, the gap will be closed.

The directstream is internally converting everything to DSD.

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Hi Guys,

I should just point out that that the digital board in the DAC/Pre I demo'd at Bruce's

was a new experimental USB only version, zoom in & you can see this. I actually discovered today it had a couple of faults so that would have had a detrimental effect on the sound.

The production DAC/Pre will be using the proven Klein II multi input board with the upgraded PSU. When I get time I will re-run the test at Bruce's with the final cased version.

AudioGeek - yes a comparison using DSD would be a better way to go.

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I like DAC Preamps that support various connection options............like the one being discussed here.  :thumb:

 

A USB only DAC limits itself to PC use only and is not relevant to this thread.........(or MY system needs) :)

Edited by JohnL

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Small update.

On Friday I finally managed to do the first test run of front & rear panels out of black 5 mm acrylic on the cnc machine.

They turned out extreamly well - 400 mm wide by 50 mm high so a nice wide low profile look. The main filter caps just fit under the lid.

All text is engraved with a .5 mm bit so the next step is to paint fill it. Guys I'm sorry this taking so long but Klein I & II plus PSU orders have been really steady lately & that has been taking up all my time.

I took the prototype (on mdf board) over to Mike Lenehan's & we had a brief listen on some new ML1 References he had just finished. We played a few PCM tracks & then Diana Krall Wallflower in DSD64. Well - I think Mike was actually shocked how good the DSD sounded. It should be even better once it is installed in a proper chassis with decent wiring.

Stay tuned!

Edited by Gieseler Audio

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Hi Guys,

At last I have finally built a relatively finished version. The production model will have will have a different text layout & a model name that will be a bit easier to read. I’m very happy with the sound & performance so there will be no more changes to the circuit or boards. The cased up version with better wiring sounded considerably better than the prototype on the MDF board. The only area I’m not totally happy with is the display which is too small to read from a listening position. We finally obtained an OLED display that works with our micro controller. There are stacks of displays out there but finding one to work with our control software has been quite challenging. At this stage it is all finished except for some fine tuning with the firmware to give the correct large display info.  It will be a single display, OLED & larger size with good output level readability from across the room.

Unfortunately I underestimated the build time which now works out to a full week by the time all the different processes are complete. This will bump up the final cost quite a bit. I’m now in the process of doing an accurate parts cost so I will have a final cost shortly.

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Edited by Gieseler Audio

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