Upgrading CD playback- big black box

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  • JonMarsh
    Mad Max Moderator
    • Aug 2000
    • 15213

    Upgrading CD playback- big black box

    This isn't quite finished, because I've got more tests to do to document things, but a project I've been working on which is sort of kit/DIY DAC(actually, a kit which I built into a different chasis with just a few tweaks) has exceeded it's original goals, and so I'm a bit excited about this.

    Some background- I've got my trusty old Sony XA7ES in the shop to repair a transport problem, and I've very much wanted to upgrade it's performance on the DAC converter side- it was a great unit at it's pricepoint when introduced in 1997, is built like the proverbial tank, but experience with my SCD 777ES shows that more transparent and clearer CD playabck is achievable - at the usual price, of course.

    This afternoon I'm listening to the DAC kit I bought for the XA7ES, connected to the SCD-777ES. I was hoping that it's Redbook CD performance would approach the 777ES.

    Wellll, folks, we overshot the mark a little bit!

    Which means I'm going to have to build two of these. Good thing it's not very expensive- just a bit time consuming.

    What I'm listening to is an MP-DAC III, from Hawk Audio, in the Netherlands.

    Hawk Audio

    This is an interesting DAC design using a Crystal Semiconductor reciever chip with an SPDIF isolation transformer, a Crystal Semiconductor 4390 24 bit Delta Sigma DAC, and a discrete zero feedback output buffer with a five pole passive CLCRC filter. Yup, no opamps in the signal path, only one buffer stage. The power supply is very well designed, using separate analog and digital transformers, with multiple regulators, combining both series pass regulators for primary regulation, and dedicated shunt regulators at every digital power pin and all analog supplies for both channels. It has more storage capacitance than a lot of power amplifiers I've opened up. That includes good names, like Aragon.

    The one in the pic below which I've nearly finished building is in my own chasis (saves money, I had one around already, though you can also buy it with a black rack chasis). Also, this one has an EMI/EMC filter on the input for additional isolation and noise suppression.



    More details later. Gotta do a work out, and off to the theater tonight- "Chorus Line".

    Did I mention the parts kit without chasis is under $550 Euro's?

    -Later

    Jon




    Earth First!
    _______________________________
    We'll screw up the other planets later....
    the AudioWorx
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    In Development...
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    Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
    Just ask Mr. Ohm....
  • ThomasW
    Moderator Emeritus
    • Aug 2000
    • 10934

    #2
    Hey, what's wrong with you? Haven't you been paying attention? EVERYONE, even Brian Cheney knows that the 'best' outboard DAC is the little ART DI/O with $300 worth of mods

    BTW you might want to compress that image just a little. 250K is ok for those with a high speed connection but not everyone has one. Just because you recently got DSL doesn't mean that you can abuse the bandwidth.......




    theAudioWorx
    Klone-Audio

    IB subwoofer FAQ page


    "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson

    Comment

    • JonMarsh
      Mad Max Moderator
      • Aug 2000
      • 15213

      #3
      BTW, that price includes shipping from the EU to the US. All of their prices inlcude shipping.

      JPG shrunk down a bit. Heck, I made 'em big even when I had a phone line only.

      This AM I need to finish the front panel and button it up, plus do final pics.

      Re the modded Art DIO:

      "The sound of the DI/O was audibly less good with 9.81 VAC or 9.85VAC inputs, the smallest changes in either direction available from the variac I used. If you ignore this requirement do not expect the results I describe."

      Common guys, this is more than a skosh implausible. Of course, unless I got one myself and tried *9.84* VAC, I guess I'll never know!

      "Ball is in your court.

      Big B"

      Jeeesssh!

      And Brian didn't even mention how he had the "tube warmth control" of the ART DI/O set!


      -Jon




      Earth First!
      _______________________________
      We'll screw up the other planets later....
      the AudioWorx
      Natalie P
      M8ta
      Modula Neo DCC
      Modula MT XE
      Modula Xtreme
      Isiris
      Wavecor Ardent

      SMJ
      Minerva Monitor
      Calliope
      Ardent D

      In Development...
      Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
      Obi-Wan
      Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
      Modula PWB
      Calliope CC Supreme
      Natalie P Ultra
      Natalie P Supreme
      Janus BP1 Sub


      Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
      Just ask Mr. Ohm....

      Comment

      • JonMarsh
        Mad Max Moderator
        • Aug 2000
        • 15213

        #4
        Well, I finished wiring up all the piddly stuff, and bolted it together. Doesn't look too bad; the "yellow" LED turns RED when it locks onto an SPDIF data stream.





        Now I've got to get back to more urgent chores, like laundry, vacuuming, etc. All the "fun" stuff for the weekend.

        -Jon




        Earth First!
        _______________________________
        We'll screw up the other planets later....
        Last edited by ThomasW; 26 April 2009, 17:41 Sunday.
        the AudioWorx
        Natalie P
        M8ta
        Modula Neo DCC
        Modula MT XE
        Modula Xtreme
        Isiris
        Wavecor Ardent

        SMJ
        Minerva Monitor
        Calliope
        Ardent D

        In Development...
        Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
        Obi-Wan
        Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
        Modula PWB
        Calliope CC Supreme
        Natalie P Ultra
        Natalie P Supreme
        Janus BP1 Sub


        Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
        Just ask Mr. Ohm....

        Comment

        • John Holmes
          Moderator Emeritus
          • Aug 2000
          • 2703

          #5
          Very sweet!




          "I came here, to chew bubble gum and kickass. And I'm all out of bubble gum!!!" My DVD's
          "I have come here, to chew bubblegum and kickass. And I'm all out of bubblegum!!!"

          Comment

          • Andrew Pratt
            Moderator Emeritus
            • Aug 2000
            • 16507

            #6
            Very nice job jon..ever think of getting into selling these type of projects? If van Evers can do surely you could to




            Comment

            • JonMarsh
              Mad Max Moderator
              • Aug 2000
              • 15213

              #7
              Thanks for the nice comments, guys!

              These things are labors of love- I love build stuff, and I love to listen to them! If I had to do audio for a living (which I did during the seventies), I'm not sure if I'd be able to retain my love and enthusiasm. It might be like trying to run a business with your wife.

              I have a lot of respect for the people like Dan Wiggins and Charles Hansen who do make a go of it with integrity and great products, while remaining independent of the larger companies. It takes a lot of work and guts to pull it off.

              Did some more listening last night- Acoustic Alchemy's "live studio" album Arcanum, and some other stuff I'm quite familiar with. Very natural, lots of focus and detail, not the least bit edgy, though. Really happy with how it mates up with the Ayre amp and my current small speaker proejct, the M8's (eight inch two way, described also in DIY section).

              Regards,

              Jon




              Earth First!
              _______________________________
              We'll screw up the other planets later....
              the AudioWorx
              Natalie P
              M8ta
              Modula Neo DCC
              Modula MT XE
              Modula Xtreme
              Isiris
              Wavecor Ardent

              SMJ
              Minerva Monitor
              Calliope
              Ardent D

              In Development...
              Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
              Obi-Wan
              Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
              Modula PWB
              Calliope CC Supreme
              Natalie P Ultra
              Natalie P Supreme
              Janus BP1 Sub


              Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
              Just ask Mr. Ohm....

              Comment

              • EMT
                Member
                • Aug 2000
                • 44

                #8
                Jon,

                Pretty spiffy. Nice job.

                The one in the pic below which I've nearly finished building is in my own chasis (saves money, I had one around already, though you can also buy it with a black rack chasis).
                May I ask where you got that cool looking chassis? Is it an off the shelf enclosure that anybody can purchase?

                Ellen

                Comment

                • JonMarsh
                  Mad Max Moderator
                  • Aug 2000
                  • 15213

                  #9
                  Its an off the shelf SESCOM enclosure.

                  Since 1975, Sescom has been the leader in professional audio cables, converters, extenders and more. We serve the television production, rental, live events, stage and sound, sports, educational, and government markets due to our competitive pricing and dedication to quality production.


                  Not real heavy, but solid, and great bang for the buck.

                  Regards,

                  Jon




                  Earth First!
                  _______________________________
                  We'll screw up the other planets later....
                  the AudioWorx
                  Natalie P
                  M8ta
                  Modula Neo DCC
                  Modula MT XE
                  Modula Xtreme
                  Isiris
                  Wavecor Ardent

                  SMJ
                  Minerva Monitor
                  Calliope
                  Ardent D

                  In Development...
                  Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                  Obi-Wan
                  Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                  Modula PWB
                  Calliope CC Supreme
                  Natalie P Ultra
                  Natalie P Supreme
                  Janus BP1 Sub


                  Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                  Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                  Comment

                  • ThomasW
                    Moderator Emeritus
                    • Aug 2000
                    • 10934

                    #10
                    Jon

                    Can you compare/contrast the Hawk with THIS?




                    theAudioWorx
                    Klone-Audio

                    IB subwoofer FAQ page


                    "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson

                    Comment

                    • JonMarsh
                      Mad Max Moderator
                      • Aug 2000
                      • 15213

                      #11
                      I have heard of the Millenium DAC, the models preceding the II (the two is quite recent). However, I have never "heard" a Millenium DAC.

                      Some claims I would be inclined to take with a grain of salt- such as the parts cost of $540. Perhaps in small quantities. But then they may be doing things only in small quantities. Who knows?

                      The Crystal chip they must be using is the 8420, which technically is a receiver and sample rate converter, not actually an upsampler. As discussed many places, up sampling and oversampling are really the same thing. Just that one buzz word is more in vogue. Note, CD (44.1 kHz) does NOT upconvert especially cleanly to 96 kHz- 48 kHz would, but what this requires is interpolating and resampling mathematically.

                      The 1704 Burr Brown is a great PCM part in the K grade- same part Charlie uses. Though he doesn't mention which digital filter he uses, I'm presuming/hoping it's the Burr Brown DF1704, the matching part to the 1704 DAC. This is a good combo, which requires a very clean, low jitter master clock for good results. It sounds like he understands that, and, considering the necessity of an SPDIF source, is cleaning up the clock as much as possible. This could be an advantage over the Hawk DAC. OTOH, the packet architecture (as opposed to current source DACs) is less susceptible to jitter; jitter doesn't appreciably alter the energy transfered on each bit (once it's in the single bit mode- it's a one bit 128X oversampling converter, like many earlier Sony DACs; unlike them, it uses the packet based architecture, which Sony's DSD DAC (777ES, SCD1, etc) does.

                      Analog stages? Who knows, without listening?

                      The interior of the Millenium DAC is "interesting" - particularly the stand up board and the "flying" caps.

                      I could speculate at length, but without listening, no one really knows. I wasn't able to turn up any reviews in a brief examination of Google search results- too many people like the word "Millenium".

                      I got an interesting mail from John van der Sluis, I'll have to tell you tomorrow about the contents. He recommended I *not* buy another MP-DAC for myself for now; I'll explain why.

                      Regards,

                      Jon

                      PS. Tie dyed drape cloth?!?!?




                      Earth First!
                      _______________________________
                      We'll screw up the other planets later....
                      the AudioWorx
                      Natalie P
                      M8ta
                      Modula Neo DCC
                      Modula MT XE
                      Modula Xtreme
                      Isiris
                      Wavecor Ardent

                      SMJ
                      Minerva Monitor
                      Calliope
                      Ardent D

                      In Development...
                      Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                      Obi-Wan
                      Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                      Modula PWB
                      Calliope CC Supreme
                      Natalie P Ultra
                      Natalie P Supreme
                      Janus BP1 Sub


                      Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                      Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                      Comment

                      • JonMarsh
                        Mad Max Moderator
                        • Aug 2000
                        • 15213

                        #12
                        ThomasW and some others were asking about a more "HT" looking version of the enclosure for the DAC, so this is what I've come up with -








                        I'm probably going to do my next PXO crossover in this chassis, and I've got some ideas for a preamp.... 8)

                        But there's other stuff to finish first! I promise not to start anything else new till the V3 of the M8 is "signed off" and the first AragonX mod is running. :roll:

                        Slaving away in Northern CA,

                        Jon




                        Earth First!
                        _______________________________
                        We'll screw up the other planets later....
                        Last edited by ThomasW; 26 April 2009, 17:42 Sunday.
                        the AudioWorx
                        Natalie P
                        M8ta
                        Modula Neo DCC
                        Modula MT XE
                        Modula Xtreme
                        Isiris
                        Wavecor Ardent

                        SMJ
                        Minerva Monitor
                        Calliope
                        Ardent D

                        In Development...
                        Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                        Obi-Wan
                        Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                        Modula PWB
                        Calliope CC Supreme
                        Natalie P Ultra
                        Natalie P Supreme
                        Janus BP1 Sub


                        Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                        Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                        Comment

                        • ThomasW
                          Moderator Emeritus
                          • Aug 2000
                          • 10934

                          #13
                          I like that a lot

                          Sign me up for a assembled version to be shipped ASAP :B




                          theAudioWorx
                          Klone-Audio

                          IB subwoofer FAQ page


                          "Complicated equipment and light reflectors and various other items of hardware are enough, to my mind, to prevent the birdie from coming out." ...... Henri Cartier-Bresson

                          Comment

                          • JonMarsh
                            Mad Max Moderator
                            • Aug 2000
                            • 15213

                            #14
                            Your order has already been entered.

                            But remember; slow work takes time! :LOL:


                            BTW,

                            this


                            has been discontinued, as of yesterday.




                            -Jon




                            Earth First!
                            _______________________________
                            We'll screw up the other planets later....
                            the AudioWorx
                            Natalie P
                            M8ta
                            Modula Neo DCC
                            Modula MT XE
                            Modula Xtreme
                            Isiris
                            Wavecor Ardent

                            SMJ
                            Minerva Monitor
                            Calliope
                            Ardent D

                            In Development...
                            Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                            Obi-Wan
                            Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                            Modula PWB
                            Calliope CC Supreme
                            Natalie P Ultra
                            Natalie P Supreme
                            Janus BP1 Sub


                            Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                            Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                            Comment

                            • EMT
                              Member
                              • Aug 2000
                              • 44

                              #15
                              Another cool looking chassis, Jon. May I ask where you got this one?

                              Comment

                              • JonMarsh
                                Mad Max Moderator
                                • Aug 2000
                                • 15213

                                #16
                                This one is a 10 Series aluminum and steel rack chasis from PAR-METAL Products Inc.








                                PAR-METAL Products

                                They do a variety of metal chasis and racks, and have good volume pricing breaks; a lot of finish options, also. They also have rack mount computer chasis.

                                Best regards,

                                Jon




                                Earth First!
                                _______________________________
                                We'll screw up the other planets later....
                                the AudioWorx
                                Natalie P
                                M8ta
                                Modula Neo DCC
                                Modula MT XE
                                Modula Xtreme
                                Isiris
                                Wavecor Ardent

                                SMJ
                                Minerva Monitor
                                Calliope
                                Ardent D

                                In Development...
                                Isiris Mk II updates- in final test stage!
                                Obi-Wan
                                Saint-Saëns Symphonique/AKA SMJ-40
                                Modula PWB
                                Calliope CC Supreme
                                Natalie P Ultra
                                Natalie P Supreme
                                Janus BP1 Sub


                                Resistance is not futile, it is Volts divided by Amperes...
                                Just ask Mr. Ohm....

                                Comment

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