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Chord DACs and FPGA Updates

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Many FPGA based DACs have the ability to be upgraded by their respective manufacturer. PS Audio is well known for this with their Direct Stream DAC.

 

I am contemplating purchasing a Chord DAC which uses FPGA electronics. Despite trying I have not been able to discover whether Chord offer upgrades to their FPGA DACs like other manufactures.

 

Can anyone on SNA enlighten me?

 

Thanks

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The can’t and never will be updated. 

 

And im glad for this. 

Edited by Sime V2

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Interesting.... Have you had a bad experience with this brand? Could you please elaborate?

Edited by Beacon

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2 minutes ago, Beacon said:

Interesting.... Could you please elaborate.

I don’t want my DAC’s sound to be changed. 

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22 minutes ago, Sime V2 said:

The can’t and never will be updated. 

 

And im glad for this. 

When you say can't, is that wishful thinking? By definition they can. And from their website:

Quote

Compared with other DAC designs an FPGA-based DAC has several unique characteristics, the most important being the amount of custom programming and proprietary algorithms that can be applied to a design. Over-sampling, digital filters, and the way the DAC works on a very basic level all can be dictated by the firmware in the FPGA. Also, an FPGA DAC can be updated incrementally, or have its operating system completely changed by a firmware update.

Chord FPGA DAC

 

However, not having played with FPGA's for a while now, I don't think it could be done by the customer.

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Well I can now see that you have not had a bad experience with Chord considering your gear. However, I am still a little confused as to why Chord don't offer firmware upgrades considering that FPGA electronics provided the means to do this. No worries, you have answered my question and thanks for taking the time to do so.

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4 minutes ago, bob_m_54 said:

When you say can't, is that wishful thinking?

Ok, yes, the consumer Cannot do this themselves, and Rob has stated many times that it won’t happen at their end either. Once he finishes a dac, he moves on. 

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49 minutes ago, Beacon said:

Many FPGA based DACs have the ability to be upgraded by their respective manufacturer. PS Audio is well known for this with their Direct Stream DAC.

 

I am contemplating purchasing a Chord DAC which uses FPGA electronics. Despite trying I have not been able to discover whether Chord offer upgrades to their FPGA DACs like other manufactures.

 

Can anyone on SNA enlighten me?

 

Thanks

 

Hi Beacon, the designer, Rob Watts says:

 

"Code updates - my background in chip design forces you to make hardware that is right first time, which means lots and lots of testing before tape-out. And I treat FPGA design as hardware, not software. "

 

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/chord-electronics-dave.766517/page-204#post-12596126

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9 minutes ago, Sime V2 said:

Ok, yes, the consumer Cannot do this themselves, and Rob has stated many times that it won’t happen at their end either. Once he finishes a dac, he moves on. 

That's a  bit sad really, you'd think that if they developed a better firmware when designing new product, that they'd offer a retrospective upgrades to customers. I suppose it wouldn't be beneficial to their sales of new gear though.

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Like I said 😉

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Just now, bob_m_54 said:

That's a  bit sad really, you'd think that if they developed a better firmware when designing new product, that they'd offer a retrospective upgrades to customers. I suppose it wouldn't be beneficial to their sales of new gear though.

I don’t think it’s sad at all. I’d be mega annoyed if Chord did a change and it became to my ears, worse than before. 

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You could always revert to the last version if that were the case.

Edited by Beacon

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@Beacon buy an M Scaler and a compatible DAC and you won’t be disappointed. 

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59 minutes ago, Sime V2 said:

I don’t think it’s sad at all. I’d be mega annoyed if Chord did a change and it became to my ears, worse than before. 

Ah, but how much happier would you be if it improved.

The thing is, to me it seems to be a "it's done now, not interested in it any more" kind of attitude.

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10 hours ago, bob_m_54 said:

Ah, but how much happier would you be if it improved.

The thing is, to me it seems to be a "it's done now, not interested in it any more" kind of attitude.

You could say that about the every  single other piece of gear that’s un-upgradable. That’s a situation where you pull an non existent issue out of the air and make a deal out of it. 

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11 hours ago, bob_m_54 said:

Ah, but how much happier would you be if it improved.

The thing is, to me it seems to be a "it's done now, not interested in it any more" kind of attitude.

I agree with Sime, as I own a Qutest and not even remotely interested in changing the sound.

Oh hang on- Chord in their wisdom have given me a choice of 4 different filter settings to tweak at will.

However I rarely deviate from the neutral setting as find it perfect!

 😄

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1 hour ago, evil c said:

I agree with Sime, as I own a Qutest and not even remotely interested in changing the sound.

Oh hang on- Chord in their wisdom have given me a choice of 4 different filter settings to tweak at will.

However I rarely deviate from the neutral setting as find it perfect!

 😄

Having had the Qutest for a week with the M Scaler I actually preferred the sound of the Qutest without the M Scaler - it is a very handy little dac as is.

 

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7 minutes ago, PKay said:

Having had the Qutest for a week with the M Scaler I actually preferred the sound of the Qutest without the M Scaler - it is a very handy little dac as is.

 

That’s interesting. I’m the opposite, it tames my Diamond tweeters. 

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2 hours ago, PKay said:

Having had the Qutest for a week with the M Scaler I actually preferred the sound of the Qutest without the M Scaler - it is a very handy little dac as is.

 

Same with my Hugo2 - really enjoy it without M-Scaler. Just a personal preference.

 

Edited by rand129678
Typo

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2 hours ago, Sime V2 said:

That’s interesting. I’m the opposite, it tames my Diamond tweeters. 

It just goes show how it impacts on different systems. In my system I found it added a harder edge to the music. My preference is towards Clay’s Gross with Gold Tunes PSU which has a bit more of an organic sound. The Chord combo was very clinical in my system. 

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On 09/08/2019 at 8:03 AM, Sime V2 said:

You could say that about the every  single other piece of gear that’s un-upgradable. That’s a situation where you pull an non existent issue out of the air and make a deal out of it. 

The way I see it, everything that is born of software, is able to be improved upon, and is susceptible to design flaws, no matter how small. While the software written to implement the FPGA DAC is nowhere near as complicated, this concept was immensely demonstrated in the recent Boeing 737 Max debacle. And I bet those engineers thought they had it right when released too, even after thousands of hours of debugging.

 

Anyway, at the end of the day, it is only a DAC, so why bother with improvement, even if it is so easily implemented.

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Because the only person at Chord who programs the DAC’s is Rob Watts, and thankfully he has better things to do. 

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On 08/08/2019 at 7:46 PM, Beacon said:

Many FPGA based DACs have the ability to be upgraded by their respective manufacturer. PS Audio is well known for this with their Direct Stream DAC.

 

I am contemplating purchasing a Chord DAC which uses FPGA electronics. Despite trying I have not been able to discover whether Chord offer upgrades to their FPGA DACs like other manufactures.

 

Can anyone on SNA enlighten me?

 

Thanks

So I guess you have the answer... Manufacturer isn't interested.

Edited by bob_m_54
spelling

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6 minutes ago, bob_m_54 said:

Manufacturer isn't interested.

Nor required. 

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Yes PSAudio equipment owners of DACs, Transports, Power Regenerators, are very lucky (even spoilt) to have software upgradeable FPGA systems, and have invested in SIM card technology and auto programming so home users can do this.

 

And yes it shows up companies like Chord who could but don't offer FPGA updates, but as said by people in other posts, Chord have there many reasons including getting a mature product to market, and besides their DACs, Blu Transports, M-Scalers etc don't seem to have the hardware to import an update anyway.

 

dCS do very occasional FPGA updates, so that top company may be an option to consider.

 

I recently auditioned the Chord DAVE DAC and was blown away by its rhythmic timing and sound stage depth, and how it sailed through congested musical passages including higher frequency ones, where by comparison the PSAudio Directstream DAC struggled.  So brilliant Ted Smith of PSAudio has a challenge to reach the Chords top DACs abilities, and we will find out in late 2019 or early 2020 how the upcoming TSS Obsidian goes.

 

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