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Ok, so I've been curious about TDA1540D for some time as it has been described as even better than the TDA1541 in some circles. I found a very nice looking DAC out of China that appears to have been done right, so purely out of curiosity I ordered one. I've had it ship to my mate @muon* so he can try it also. It was delivered today.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/TDA1540-DAC-enhanced-version-of-the-whole-machine/274387268158?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

 

Delivered

316556212_20200706_130856.thumb.jpeg.6afb49121742a447772bebd25ac7aafa.jpeg

 

Unboxed.... It's a big bugger

2097590974_20200706_131307.thumb.jpeg.5738c6ab8fb82ecaedfbbffdc670b48e.jpeg

 

Looking forward Ian's listening impressions  :)

 

Truth be told I'm not sure what I'm going to use it for. I've two "end game" DAC's already in the Abbas Audio DAC2.2SE TDA1541A R1 and the Muji Studio DAC II. Might have to use it in the gym system though that really is a bit of a waste. Ah well. The cost of curiosity I guess.

Edited by MattyW
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Ok, so I've been curious about TDA1540D for some time as it has been described as even better than the TDA1541 in some circles. I found a very nice looking DAC out of China that appears to have been d

More bad news  I burnt my fried chicken while distracted listening to it

Did you mean NOS and not NOD?   Good news and bad, Matt!   The bad news first, as you have said it is too big to replace the Muji, and that's a shame as the good news is IMO straig

Did you mean NOS and not NOD?

 

Good news and bad, Matt!

 

The bad news first, as you have said it is too big to replace the Muji, and that's a shame as the good news is IMO straight out of the box It's slightly ahead of the Muji.

 

It has better detail retrieval than my Modded Marantz CD-60 no doubt due to the discrete output section in it being better than my simplistic way of just taking the signal from the first half of the Burson V5i and through Andyn Copper caps in my Marantz. 

 

It has a better sense of space and atmosphere too, Birdy's CD is sounding very satisfying, piano is solid, and with nice ambience as do he vocals too.

 

I think it may still be behind the Abbas for realism but you will have to be the judge of that.

 

It shares a lot of the sound signature of the later TDA1541A chip, great tonality and a full rich sound ect'.

 

I'm not great at this review stuff so leave it there.

 

The connectors seem good quality as does the clean understated case, at switch on the power light blinks red a few times and stays green once it establishes a signal lock, it seems.

 

It can only improve some what from this point, with some run time :D

 

Using the standard CD-50 as transport.

 

20200706_155636.jpg.024a52651c182d83e9ec1ee150f1c0bb.jpg20200706_155552.jpg.b43521e157a400d661644d4f543e1830.jpg20200706_155602.jpg.c1ac2356a54cf687219675ec16aea588.jpg20200706_155622.jpg.aec1609d03c4f2e8ffcb053667e01164.jpg

 

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More bad news :lol: I burnt my fried chicken while distracted listening to it :emot-bang:

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@MattyW

 

If you have nowhere to put it there you can leave it here as long as you like :lol: It does sound nicer than my modded player, quite lovely sounding actually.

 

Amazing what can be done with 14 bits.

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Interesting.  I may need to shoehorn it into my equipment rack.... See if it can be made to fit.... If it's only 2U without feet it should fit ;)

 

Seems that this is a real find in terms of both sound quality and value for money. Definitely a win. It seems to me that from your description it may be more of a sideways step as I find the upgraded Muji to be incredibly close in performance to the Abbas though if I had to decide between them I'd keep the Abbas. More down to personal preference.

 

I look forward to picking up on Saturday and using it next week. After living with for a bit I can add my own thoughts.

 

In fairness it will be tested and used in my "B" system with the little Pass Amp Camp Amp and Oatlon W2-1000F speakers though that system really is no slouch.  It's just that main is better is all. :)

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56 minutes ago, Mickstuh said:

I look forward to this adventure with interest! (PS Should it be 'NOS' in the thread title?)

Ah, thanks for that. Nod was interesting though  ;)

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6 hours ago, muon* said:

@MattyW

 

If you have nowhere to put it there you can leave it here as long as you like :lol: It does sound nicer than my modded player, quite lovely sounding actually.

 

Amazing what can be done with 14 bits.

My understanding is that they used "noise shaping" technology to move the noise out of the audible range,  which allowed them to achieve the same dynamic range with 14 bit as they did with the later 16 bit TDA1541A, which being 16 bit did not have noise shaping.

 

Apologies for the 3 posts in a row guys. I've never figured out how to quote someone and cut that and edit and existing thread then paste it. Not as easily done here as on Audiokarma. :(

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27 minutes ago, MattyW said:

My understanding is that they used "noise shaping" technology to move the noise out of the audible range,  which allowed them to achieve the same dynamic range with 14 bit as they did with the later 16 bit TDA1541A, which being 16 bit did not have noise shaping.

 

Apologies for the 3 posts in a row guys. I've never figured out how to quote someone and cut that and edit and existing thread then paste it. Not as easily done here as on Audiokarma. :(

In both situations they used over sampling to move noise to a higher frequency (SAA7030 and later SAA7220) Meh, I find non over sampling with both chips fine to my ears.

 

But yes, the SAA7030 used a few techniques including noise shaping to get better than 14 bit resolution.

https://www.dutchaudioclassics.nl/Philips-TDA1540-16bit-da-conversion/

 

The noise shaping was indeed to get that extra resolution from the 14 bit chip, but the SAA7030 also did over sampling to move noise to a higher frequency as did the SAA7220 chip that they I think moved to in partnering the TDA1541.

Edited by muon*
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Ah, no matter. It sounds very nice which is the main thing. Hoping I can get it into my second system sooner rather than later. Will try it with both my Pass ACA copy and Oldchen K3. Need to get around to selling that amp. I just hope that using it with this DAC doesn't change my mind as I would like to keep this system low wattage class A solid state for a bit of a difference from my main upstairs.

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The Old Chen will sound different now with Jantzen Superior coupling caps and the Russian 6p3s-e tubes, both needing burn in.

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I'm very comfortable with the sound of this DAC, if I hadn't already invested in the player modding route I would have been very happy with a DAC like this.

 

Will have at least 20 hours on it by the time you pick it up, Matt.

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Yes, from what you've told me I suspect this will displace the Muji Studio DAC II from my second system.

 

I believe I still have the box that came in so I may very well sell off the Muji if that's the case as it will be safe to post. Least I hope I kept the box.....

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Hmmmm, so the NOS TDA1540D is certainly more detailed and accurate than the upgraded Muji Studio DAC II.... Piano sounds like real piano etc.... That said it's missing the tube magic of the Muji, which I guess is more euphoric in comparison.

 

20200711_221635.thumb.jpg.b0d21673eb4773205eb932677df8201b.jpg

 

Unfortunately it's rather hard to miss in the rack. Very noticeable.  Going to have to let it burn in before I can decide I think.

 

I prefer the Muji with Dave Beubecks Concorde on a summer night....  Norah Jones Little broken hearts is a bit mind blowing with the TDA1540D though.  More listening required with more CD's I think.

 

Certainly more body with this....  Impressive.

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Fits nice in the rack!

 

If it does piano better that's a winner in my books, one instrument that's hard to get right in reproduction............but we all have different preferences and likes ect'.

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I'm finding the more I listen the more I find it does right @muon*. Very interesting.

 

Makes everything else in the rack look.... Cheap. For me that's presently a negative.  If I can survive discovery by my wife then it will be fine.

 

20200711_222940.thumb.jpg.c79e6bcc7656762075737a23402d271e.jpg

Edited by MattyW
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Only has around 20 hours on it, will get better still, will open up a little more IMO.

 

Amp does look nice with It's tube cover on :thumb:

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Yes, I like the tube cage too. I used to like to see the tubes but now really don't care.  I'd rather my daughter not burn her little fingers.

 

This DAC is so present and detailed that I think I need to try it with the Pass Amp Camp Amp. Could prove really rather interesting though probably a bit sharp on the ears without any tubes in the chain. Guess I'll have to try it and find out.

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It really is a very pretty component. Very clean and elegant. Had to take a photo in the morning light. :)

 

20200712_101951.thumb.jpg.04a82ac036a831da1d89094dad6d6f05.jpg

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12 hours ago, MattyW said:

probably a bit sharp on the ears without any tubes in the chain

Interesting you should say this. I don't think tubes should be there to mitigate 'sharpness', but more to give air and breadth/depth to the soundstage. Just my thoughts.?

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3 minutes ago, Lazz said:

Interesting you should say this. I don't think tubes should be there to mitigate 'sharpness', but more to give air and breadth/depth to the soundstage. Just my thoughts.?

I'll be trying with the Pass Amp Camp Amp during the week.  Should prove interesting.

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Now you need the rest of those components in the rack to match the DAC :D

 

 

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20 minutes ago, muon* said:

Now you need the rest of those components in the rack to match the DAC :D

 

 

Nah, apart from the AVR it's all pro audio gear. Price and performance have been the only considerations with the gear in that rack.

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Mmmmm, system just warming up for the day with John Denvers Rocky Mountain High. This thing has real impact and bass response.... Really missing just that last bit of presence vs the Abbas Audio DAC2.2SE TDA1541A R1...... Definitely ahead of the Muji. Quite impressive. Incredibly detailed and real sounding.  Very impressed with this, irrespective of cost.

 

The best of Louis Armstrong..... Very very lifelike. As good as I've ever heard it on my second system.

 

Now putting Chillout In Ibiza 4 on.... I'm not really sure I can review this.... The DAC has the usual problem I run into when writing about reference level pieces of equipment. It changes chameleon like from one recording to another. No real sound of its own. You got it right @muon*.

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Certainly has greater bass authority with the Oldchen K3 integrated, though I think the copy Pass Amp Camp Amp is sweeter sounding and better detailed. Sounds even more as though you're there than the Oldchen though with clearly less headroom. At about 3 o'clock on the volume compared to almost all the way down on the Oldchen. To be fair though at max volume the ACA is dead silent so more of it's range is useable.... That said the Oldchen has FAR more power than I will ever use.

 

Mmmmm, makes me want to try a Pass Aleph or some such with just a little more power.

 

The crazy thing is this DAC paired with the Pass ACA copy is just magical. It has the thereness that I get in my main system. I'll take that over the superior bass impact of the Oldchen. Just spectacular. I'm absolutely blown away by this combination.

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Nah, already had a Aleph Mini (cut down Aleph-3 using FET's) copy delivered to a mate in Melbourne. He'll be stripping it down and replacing the caps with genuine and doing a little cap rolling. Also getting a nice paint job, metallic black face plate and satin black for the rest of the case. Should prove interesting. Will likely pair it with a Stereo Coffee passive and replace the Little ACA.  :)

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@MattyW Any idea where they are sourcing the TDA1540 chips for the DAC's?

Are they 'pulls' from old players or new production?

Just curious as I have always thought there was potential for that chip & have a few

players with that chipset laying around.

 

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32 minutes ago, Blood_Red_Bird said:

@MattyW Any idea where they are sourcing the TDA1540 chips for the DAC's?

Are they 'pulls' from old players or new production?

Just curious as I have always thought there was potential for that chip & have a few

players with that chipset laying around.

 

Unfortunately not. Could be factory rejects for all I know. Performance on the other hand is second only to the Abbas Audio DAC2.2SE TDA1541A R1. I freaking hate typing that long model, but Abbas has so many variations it's necessary.

 

That it comes so close to the Abbas at 1/3 the cost is extraordinary considering the Abbas is itself an great value component for the performance level.

 

They are the ceramic package TDA1540's though. Can't be too many of those about I'd have thought. Pretty well impossible to create a fake as no one makes this sort of thing any more.

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Wouldn't think they would be factory rejects, no reason for it, they are sounding very nice in that thing, likely just New Old Stock.

 

Edit: be far too costly and difficult to make fakes that work and sound good, these early chips including the TDA1541 that followed were expensive to manufacture.

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1 hour ago, muon* said:

Wouldn't think they would be factory rejects, no reason for it, they are sounding very nice in that thing, likely just New Old Stock.

 

Edit: be far too costly and difficult to make fakes that work and sound good, these early chips including the TDA1541 that followed were expensive to manufacture.

The "fakes" with the 1541 tend to actually be genuine Phillips product that failed QA and somehow snuck out the back door....  Or people restamping chips as S1 or S2....

 

None of that goes on with the 1540 as they did not yet have different grades. The D was ceramic package and I believe the non D was plastic like all the later chips? 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just an update, this DAC continues to improve with burn in. I've had tears come to my eyes a few times.... Most recently a few minutes ago with John Denvers "A country girl in Paris". Just beautiful.

 

I now use the DAC not just for CD's but also for Roon with content both from my NAS and Tidal. I just use a Luxman RCA switch to switch between an inexpensive XMOS 208 USB interface and the coax output from my Denon DVD player. Works very well and has no issues with streamed content. I really don't find any limitations with these old DAC chips. It's all in the implementation.  :) 

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I have a Revox B225 , Philips CD202 and Philips CD100 all fully restored and with the Philips TDA1540D Ceramic mono dac chips and Philips CDM0 mechanism.

There is something that just sounds right about these first gen players utilizing the ceramic mono TDA1540D chips and tank like transport CDM0 mechanism.

 

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Very very interesting @MattyW I followed your Abass story with interest. Seems this one is even more affordable. What was the landed cost out of interest? 

 

How is it developing after a few weeks now? Are you down sampling from the other inputs? This could be fed nicely from my Halcro :) 

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41 minutes ago, lemarquis said:

Very very interesting @MattyW I followed your Abass story with interest. Seems this one is even more affordable. What was the landed cost out of interest? 

 

How is it developing after a few weeks now? Are you down sampling from the other inputs? This could be fed nicely from my Halcro :) 

It was $1,100 though the Aussie dollar has dropped somewhat since then. :(

 

It is an incredible value.  The Abbas is the better of the two,  though I could happily live with just the TDA1540D DAC if I had to. I'd happily recommend either of these.

 

My Muji Studio DAC II on the other hand needed quite a few part upgrades and modifications to get to this level. I prefer the TDA1540D with my current Pass ACA, whereas the Muji Studio DAC II was the better of the two when paired with (the now sold) Oldchen K3 tube integrated amp. I will likely sell the Muji in the not too distant future.  No point having 3x reference level DAC's.  ;)

 

I believe @Carnelian is currently having the Abbas Audio DAC2.2 TDA1541A R1 built for him. That's essentially the same as my SE except less expensive choice of tubes, caps etc..... I'm really looking forward to seeing how he likes it.  The price of the regular 2.2 is quite a bit more palatable around the $1,100 to $1,200 mark so in terms of price it's the direct competitor to the TDA1540D  :)

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Sounds good. That guy has some nice stuff on his ebay store. DACs, FM Acoustics copy amps etc. If the other gear is as good as your experience then it's definitely worth considering.

 

p.s. Good to hear you sold the Chen.. one less temptation ;) 

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40 minutes ago, lemarquis said:

Sounds good. That guy has some nice stuff on his ebay store. DACs, FM Acoustics copy amps etc. If the other gear is as good as your experience then it's definitely worth considering.

 

p.s. Good to hear you sold the Chen.. one less temptation ;) 

Kind of sad to see the Oldchen go.... It's a beautiful amp and really has something special in its sound,  and aesthetically it's a pretty thing to look at. It's another piece of gear I've parted ways with that I'll think about wistfully for years to come.  It's in good company with darTZeel NHB108B copy, Ariston RD110 SL and Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 monoblocks, Hashimoto HM7 SUT and Valab LCR-1 Mk2 phono stage..... Supex SD900 Super LOMC.....

 

You're right.  They've a nice selection of gear there though nothing which piqued my interest like the TDA1540D DAC with its fully discrete output stage. That it's not a copy of anything is a nice touch too. ;)

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