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Klein DAC II

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Hi Clay,

coming back from the HighEnd Munich I would like to share some impressions.

 

I talked to a German DAC manufacturer who launched four DACs in various price ranges.

All DACs make a default converting of files with the AK4137SRC to DSD256. The DAC chip is the AK4490.

He told me that a great majority prefers the converting to DSD256 and that converting with the AK4137 is superior to software converting with JRiver.

In his opinion a prototype AK4497 he was able to listen to was much superior to the AK4490.

 

As I regard the design of your DACs superior to the DACs of this manufacturer IMO your upcoming AK4497 DAC (with AK4137SRC?) will be a Killer-DAC.

 

Matt

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Hi Matt,

Thanks for the all the info. I have AK4137SRC sitting on the shelf so I better start testing out some prototypes asap.

Was his prototype AK4497 DAC using the AK4137SRC as well?

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Hi Clay,

 

IIRC, he tested the prototype with the AK4137 as well.

AFAIK, the AK4137 is able to convert to DSD256 but not to DSD512.

 

Matt

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Reading this thread is getting me a bit confused so i want to know and I want to confirm if and when i buy another Klein Dac that I'm getting the latest, my understanding Dac II has the AK4490EQ and I'm reading something about an up and coming Klein DAC is it going to be number III maybe and will have the newer chip AK4497?

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Correct - the new Klein DAC II is using the AK4490EQ AKM DAC chip. This is the current top of the range DAC chip from AKM.

However there is a new AKM chip called the AK4497EQ coming & this will be their new top of the line chip with the 4490 going to second spot. The ETA on the new chip is "summer 2016" Quite often they are behind schedule so I did not want to delay the release of the Klein II untill the 4497 was actually available which may end up being near the end of the year. The performance specification of the 4490 is already incredibly good so depending on the system not everyone will necessarily hear much difference. Unfortunately the 4497 is not a drop in replacement for the 4490 so will require a total board redesign & a larger micro controller.The DAC chip is a very critical part but there are certainly quite a lot of other parts that also contribute to the overall sound quality. EG - output stage, power supplies, USB board & component quality. You can can buy a AK4490 DAC board on EBay for arround $50 but it will sound worlds apart from even the standard Klein. Currently Just to name a few, Denon & Marantz are using the AK4490 in their flagship models. Arcam actually used a 10+ years old DAC chip in their relatively recent irDAC but did a nice job of it so it stacks up quite well against the competition.

Anyway I just want to let everyone know I'm very aware of current new DAC chip releases. The latest chips are getting rather complex so the design process takes a fair while but rest assured that I am working on it. Hopefully near the end of the year I will have a well tested product available incorporating the AK4497.

Cheers Clay

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Reading this thread is getting me a bit confused so i want to know and I want to confirm if and when i buy another Klein Dac that I'm getting the latest, my understanding Dac II has the AK4490EQ and I'm reading something about an up and coming Klein DAC is it going to be number III maybe and will have the newer chip AK4497?

I have followed Clay's products for a couple of years, if not more, and am on my second Klein DAC an SE. I am perfectly happy as I do DSD via software

It is type of sad that when one buys a DAC (or a Server) it does not remain the top of the range for that long as Computer Audio is developing at an increasing rate, but such is life.

I have now learned the lesson a few times.  I have a Mytek Dac here for sale for $850, new it was US $1,595. Same with my Cary and my Klein.

AFAIU Clay has a business model of providing a range of DAC's e.g. Klein, Klein SE, Klein II etc. His pricing IMO is way too cheap so I am happy to buy from him and the range means that there is something available in various price ranges.

Clay and all other manufacturers that uses dac chips will always have the issue that they can only use the latest chip available.

 

I think we have to look at it like this:

  • What do I need and what can I afford - buy it and enjoy (and don't look at the new products  :D )
  • Make a decision re DSD - are you interested or not. If you are not interested don't worry about the new products. If you are interested in DSD decide if this is DAC related, computer related or both. Does not matter how you wish to address DSD IMO things are changing and will be changing for a while so be prepared to lose money if you wish to invest in the latest and greatest.

There are 2 other alternatives:

  • Go for the "old" ladder type dacs. Dont have to worry about upgrades.
  • Buy a PS Audio Directsream Dac that works differently and get upgraded via software. To me that is a long term solution, it is just that at $8,295 it is way out of my budget.

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I think a Klein DAC with both AK4137(hopefully) and AK4497 will be worth the wait.

 

Matt

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I think a Klein DAC with both AK4137(hopefully) and AK4497 will be worth the wait.

 

Matt

I can tell you with confidence Matt, Clay's latest DAC is available now and is the ducks nuts!

Why wait and die wondering.... ;)

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I am a DSD lover and like to have a DSD512 capable DAC.

 

Matt

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I am a DSD lover and like to have a DSD512 capable DAC.

 

Matt

 

There doesn't appear to be much native DSD512 material around from what I have seen. Most of it is conversions of PCM to DSD512 which kind of defeats the purpose. DSD256 capability is probably the maximum performance you need at this stage ;)

 

cheers

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Guys,

last Friday I attended the DSD512 Fest in Munich. It was a pleasure to experience first-hand what upsampling of all files to DSD512 brings to the party.

Matt

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I am not an expert, but I think we have some misconceptions here.

 

I have posted earlier that IMO one has to decide what type of dac you want, e.g ladder type, the latest and greatest or DSD. There are different dacs for different purposes and tastes and it is not that anyone is wrong, it is just that we are different.

 

Where DSD comes in is not so much the source material. This is a BIG misconception. Source material is not the issue. 

 

What is happening now is that computers and software are used to upsample music to DSD 512 and then fed to the dac. 

 

A DSD512 dac is able to play source material up to DSD512, but at this stage it is more aimed to play the music upsampled by software like HQplayer. 

 

Edit: Thanks @@matth for clarifying - I am wrong then

Edited by Jventer

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With a DSD512 capable Klein DAC you get all you need and with an additional SRC chip inside the DAC you do not need a software player for converting the files.

Matt

Edited by matth

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Hey any chance of some feedback on the sound difference on DSD when using the bypass option.

This is implemented by pressing the mute button (lowest button) on the remote control. "B" shows on display

When on it bypasses quite a bit of the AK4490's internal circuitry.

Taken out of the loop are;

soft mute/attenuation control,  interpolator & the Delta sigma Modulator.

see block diagram

 

post-112957-0-24219200-1462916569_thumb.

 

Unfortunately there is a twenty five percent drop in level during bypass so you need to quickly level match during comparisons.

I still can't quite decide myself if there is a big improvement or not.

Anyone tried this?

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@Clay:

Do you know if there is a DSD to PCM conversion for volume control of DSD signals in the AK4490 or is volume control for DSD signals performed in the DSD domain without conversion to PCM?

@Jventer:

Thanks, no problem.

Kind regards

Matt

Edited by matth

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