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Gieseler Audio

KLEIN DAC SPECIAL EDITION

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I'm very happy with the sound of the Klein DAC but just wanted to see if I could extract a little more sound quality from it using a bigger budget. The component quality, layout & power supply are all already very good so it was a bit of a challenge. In the new Klein Preamp I'm using a new shunt regulator design which I very happy with so I'm using that in the SE version of the DAC. That is probably the most significant difference between the two versions. The shunt regulators power the output stage & analogue section of the DAC. The other differences are, AK4495EQ (AK4490EQ in std model), low phase noise clock with seperate psu for the S/PDIF section (crystal only in std), slightly upgraded inline signal resistors & filter caps. It is a longer build time & requires a bit of final hand tuning of the shunt regulators so this has pushed up the price up quite a bit. Cost is $1200 delivered Australia wide. The million dollar question, how does it sound compared to the standard version? This has been difficult because I rarely have a fully run in standard Klein DAC arround but finally managed to do some comparisons last week. First up the differences are not huge however after some extended listening secession this is what I find. A little more resolution & air arround instruments. Soundstage jumps up & out a little & the whole sound presentation is more involving. Is it worth the extra dosh?, probably not for existing Klein DAC owners as the differences are subtle but on new purchase with a good budget I would think so. There is a small bonus with the shunt regulators too, they seem to be more resistant to noise spikes from the mains. No owner reviews yet but I currently have a good friend with a serious high end system auditioning one this weekend. I will endeavour to slot one into a few decent systems & post the feedback. I currently have all parts in stock so lead time is under a week.

Edited by Gieseler Audio

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Hi Clay,

Hopefully you would use the special edition in the upcoming DAC that will have a preamp built in.

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Absolutely!

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Quick update, my friend who was listening to the the SE Klein just called me & told me I'm not getting it back & bill him. His set-up was Sonus Faber Olympica's, Sanders Magtech Power amp, DEQX PreMate & custom PC Music server so serious stuff.

He said the improvement in sound quality was very noticeable compared to the previous source.

:)

Damn, I will have to build another one for home now.

:P

Edited by Gieseler Audio

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Hi Bill,

Yes I was expecting this so I am offering a $500 trade in value to existing Klein owners on the new SE version. Sorry if this seems like a big drop on the initial purchase but I have to factor in postal costs, GST ect & then I have a S/H DAC that I obviously can resell as new.

The sound differences are subtle so what I would suggest is to wait for feedback from existing standard Klein owners that have upgraded to the SE version & see what they think. Naggots is moving from standard to SE & possible Johannes so best to see what they think before rushing into an upgrade. The Klein provides excellent sound quality at it's price & to improve on this requires a disproportionate input of components & design technology so the cost has to jump. Anyway it will be interesting to see the feedback.

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Interesting developments, Clay. Mind you, I'm not in the market for the special edition unfortunately. The Klein DAC is excellent value though! The most grain-free experience of a DAC I ever had!

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Quick update, my friend who was listening to the the SE Klein just called me & told me I'm not getting it back & bill him. His set-up was Sonus Faber Olympica's, Sanders Magtech Power amp, DEQX PreMate & custom PC Music server so serious stuff.

He said the improvement in sound quality was very noticeable compared to the previous source.

:)

Damn, I will have to build another one for home now.

:P

Was Klein DAC his previous source? 

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The other differences are, AK4495EQ (AK4490EQ in std model).....

 

Clay, what do you think about AK4495 vs. AK4490? Is the former the better one?

For DSD playback the AK4490 does DSD256, the AK4495 is able to do DSD128.

Which one do you want to use for your upcoming Klein DSD DAC?

 

KR Matt

Edited by matth

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Hi Leo,

It was the DEQX.

KR Matt,

It's hard for me to fairly compare the sound of the AK4490 vs AK4495 as the power supplies are different & that definitely effects the sound.

On paper they should be very similar but as you correctly point out the AK4490 does the higher rate on DSD (256) so that will probably be the better one to use when I do the DSD DAC. I like the using the AK4495 a couple of reasons though. It's about twice the physical size & with bigger pin spacing so much easier to solder on the board. Also the DC balance is better so it is much easier getting my final DC offset minimised with the AK4495. Intrestingly the Ak4495 is about double the price Of the AK4490.

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I'm going to have to hit you up for an SE when I start work again, I want a DAC for Apple Music.

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I like the using the AK4495 a couple of reasons though. It's about twice the physical size & with bigger pin spacing so much easier to solder on the board. Also the DC balance is better so it is much easier getting my final DC offset minimised with the AK4495. Intrestingly the Ak4495 is about double the price Of the AK4490.

 

Interesting, I did not know that.

 

Matt

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Hey guys thanks for all the support. Three confirmed Klein SE DAC orders plus one standard all in the last twenty four hours.

Looks like another intense week on the soldering iron comming up, time to get serious about a pick & place machine I think!

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I must admit Clay, I'm extreamly happy with the standard Klein.

Just seems to bring new life into listing to music again

Still hearing things from the recordings that I have never heard before

Cheers

Bill

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I must admit Clay, I'm extreamly happy with the standard Klein.

Just seems to bring new life into listing to music again

Still hearing things from the recordings that I have never heard before

Cheers

Bill

Feel the same.

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Hi Bill - I too still find the Klein excellent but critically comparing the two the SE is just that little bit better in a few areas. As I think I have mentioned before it is probably not a worthwhile upgrade for existing Klein owners but definately an option for a new buyer that is not budget limited. Maybe naggots & jventer can tell us what they think of the differences once they have had a good listen to their SE's.

Leo - now the preamp is finished I can start work on a higher specked DAC with DSD, display etc. Timeframe? Hopefully only a couple of months away & well before Christmas.

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Hi Bill - I too still find the Klein excellent but critically comparing the two the SE is just that little bit better in a few areas. As I think I have mentioned before it is probably not a worthwhile upgrade for existing Klein owners but definately an option for a new buyer that is not budget limited. Maybe naggots & jventer can tell us what they think of the differences once they have had a good listen to their SE's.

Leo - now the preamp is finished I can start work on a higher specked DAC with DSD, display etc. Timeframe? Hopefully only a couple of months away & well before Christmas.

 

Clay,

 

you're the man :thumb:

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Leo - now the preamp is finished I can start work on a higher specked DAC with DSD, display etc. Timeframe? Hopefully only a couple of months away & well before Christmas.

Clay,

there is a top-of-the-line chip, the AK4497 in the pipeline. On the AKM homepage they rank the sound quality in descending order as follows:

4497

4495S

4495

4490

No specifications yet, but THD and S/N are the best for AK4497.

IMO, if it has DSD256 support it is certainly the best one for your DSD DAC.

Matt

Edited by matth

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Hi Clay - are their demos around - I've been keen to hear one in my system.  I'm on the Gold Coast and been to a few GTG at Mike's.

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Hi Damo,

I have sent you a PM

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Hi Matt,

Ak4497 looks great, wonder how long before Digikey will have them?

Thanks for the info

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Wonder how the "S" special sound quality version of the ak4495 differs to the regular version sound wise?

Edited by naggots

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