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The Paul

Tube dac

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Hi I’m looking for some advice on dacs 

Ive had two thus far ,one was music fidelity dac1 ,-and the other was peachtree dac itx 

I didn’t think much of both of them - sure you could hear a difference but nothing that made me think wow .

so any advice on a good tube dac that might give me a bit of air in the sound stage and a bit more seperation in instruments?

budget is $800 max 

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HiFiDIY TDA1541A is an amazing piece of kit for the money - a few went here for $400-500 (and are worth a good deal more) - if you match it with a NOS USB input stage (suggest Audial USB series 2 if you can find one) they can go as hard as 384kHz (though 192kHz is probably the sweet spot). Between DAC+USB purchase and someone to retrofit, you're probably at $800. 

 

Have one so equipped (link is to that I purchased), not selling, though a few were made by a well-respected forum member and if you post a WTB they may crop up. 

 

Will take 6DJ8 family tubes so you can roll nearly infinitely through some very, very amazing options and all price points. 

 

 

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Guest Muon N'

A real tube output rather than a buffer after op amps, first I have seen of that one, looks interesting.

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3 hours ago, Muon N' said:

A real tube output rather than a buffer after op amps, first I have seen of that one, looks interesting.

 

Not tube rectified but it'll do. It was a very nice DAC stock - admittedly the three or so that were sold here were put together with expert care. With a good USB implementation it became a very flexible, very good thing - better than an L2 PDX I owned at the time IMHO when equipped with the same tubes. The extra bits weren't missed.

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Guest Muon N'
2 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

 

Not tube rectified but it'll do. It was a very nice DAC stock - admittedly the three or so that were sold here were put together with expert care. With a good USB implementation it became a very flexible, very good thing - better than an L2 PDX I owned at the time IMHO when equipped with the same tubes. The extra bits weren't missed.

I've heard a difference between kit put together by an obsessive expert vs a random, it can make a noticeable difference :thumb:

 

Not that this would be the difference in that comparison because Clay is good. I see the difference there is the PDX was based on the PCM1704? and this the TDA1541A.

Edited by Muon N'

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36 minutes ago, Muon N' said:

I've heard a difference between kit put together by an obsessive expert vs a random, it can make a noticeable difference :thumb:

 

Not that this would be the difference in that comparison because Clay is good. I see the difference there is the PDX was based on the PCM1704? and this the TDA1541A.

 

Would suggest looping @eltech into this thread, as he assembled the HiFiDIY DAC in question. Did a really nice job.

 

Admittedly my PDX was a very early serial number. Had Duelunds, had a Hiface (not fantastic but contemporary for the time), probably ran its tubes a little hot. It certainly wasn't bad... I understand people that have replaced the Hiface for something more recent experience a serious upgrade. 

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Guest Muon N'

Yes, they went though some improvements through time.

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22 hours ago, The Paul said:

Hi I’m looking for some advice on dacs 

Ive had two thus far ,one was music fidelity dac1 ,-and the other was peachtree dac itx 

I didn’t think much of both of them - sure you could hear a difference but nothing that made me think wow .

so any advice on a good tube dac that might give me a bit of air in the sound stage and a bit more seperation in instruments?

budget is $800 max 

 

Anyway mate... The point is to put out a WTB for just what you state. PDX L2 is also a candidate, plenty of others... Go for something boutique-made that's intended for being played with, and find someone to play with it... sky's the limit.

 

None do DSD in that range but you can get silly fast NOS PCM. Very useful.

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Thanks for all the info 

ive already started investigating what you have said. Fingers crossed I’ll get something soon . I just can’t believe how many dacs are out there! My head is spinning. 

 

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22 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

 

Would suggest looping @eltech into this thread, as he assembled the HiFiDIY DAC in question. Did a really nice job.

 

 

Thank you Ric. 👍

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18 hours ago, The Paul said:

Thanks for all the info 

ive already started investigating what you have said. Fingers crossed I’ll get something soon . I just can’t believe how many dacs are out there! My head is spinning. 

 

Hi Paul,

 

From my experience, of which I have a reasonable amount of, I suggest what you're looking for is a multibit / R2R DAC.

 

The tube / valve is not essential to get the sound you want, however the DAC chip typology is critically important.

 

Of course, do feel free to use valves if you really like them.

 

The TDA1387 DAC chip is a  very analoge sounding chip

 

You can get TDA1387 DACs on AliExpress for a good price. Myself, I'm experimenting with the TDA1387 chip at the moment, although it's mounted into a TDA1541 board I have at home.

I like what I hear.

 

It has a very open and dynamic sound.

 

But the NOS DACs should be used with upsampling to get a flat frequency response (if you're a stickler for technical correctness)

 

If you've already tried Peachtree DAC with the ESS chip, which to be honest, for a delta sigma DAC is one of the better ones, and if you're not satisfied with that you absolutely must go for a multibit DAC, because whatever your looking for isn't in the output stage, it's in the DAC chip.

 

All in my opinion, with humble respect,

Eltech.

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23 minutes ago, eltech said:

But the NOS DACs should be used with upsampling to get a flat frequency response (if you're a stickler for technical correctness)

 

This is absolutely what one should do with a NOS DAC that can run silly fast :)

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Probably not what you want to hear, 

 

But if you want that nice tube-y sound it may be be better to try achieve it later in your chain i.e on your amp rather than on your DAC :)

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Line Magnetic do a tube DAC I believe.

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Guest Muon N'
9 minutes ago, Hydrology said:

Line Magnetic do a tube DAC I believe.

Just a buffer I understand, but still is reported to be a very good sounding unit, even more so after some minor mods.

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On 15/01/2020 at 2:45 PM, eltech said:

Hi Paul,

 

From my experience, of which I have a reasonable amount of, I suggest what you're looking for is a multibit / R2R DAC.

 

The tube / valve is not essential to get the sound you want, however the DAC chip typology is critically important.

 

Of course, do feel free to use valves if you really like them.

 

The TDA1387 DAC chip is a  very analoge sounding chip

 

You can get TDA1387 DACs on AliExpress for a good price. Myself, I'm experimenting with the TDA1387 chip at the moment, although it's mounted into a TDA1541 board I have at home.

I like what I hear.

 

It has a very open and dynamic sound.

 

But the NOS DACs should be used with upsampling to get a flat frequency response (if you're a stickler for technical correctness)

 

If you've already tried Peachtree DAC with the ESS chip, which to be honest, for a delta sigma DAC is one of the better ones, and if you're not satisfied with that you absolutely must go for a multibit DAC, because whatever your looking for isn't in the output stage, it's in the DAC chip.

 

All in my opinion, with humble respect,

Eltech.

I stumbled on a mint marantz HD-dac1 for $650 on gumtree 

and I just had to have a try 

it was a bargain. The sound I’m getting now is what I was after.Also I have used it as a preamp for my Yamaha AS2000 which works great for jazz but not so much most other music

Although my speakers are  pretty ordinary as I have recently sold 

bookshelf M-audios and now have a set of of Boston’s.... they are my back up for the up grading . Now to complete the chain buchardt s400 

 

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