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    Tube DAC Build

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    jfine

    Posts : 164
    Join date : 2017-06-19

    Tube DAC Build

    Post by jfine on Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:21 pm

    Hey Bob and Roy,

    How about building a DAC, something like the PH16, tubes, likely at least USB in and whatever the latest transport is, RCA outs and for the hardcores XLR maybe.

    I think the trick with these is the logic for a computer to recognize it as a sound card, or maybe not. From there you could use files, CD's, whatever. The CHORD Qute2 did this easily, but too much bling and not enough sound, as usual.

    I ask because I have tried a few DACS in the 1000-2500 range, and while they sounded better than my $25 woolfson DAC sound card from 2003 (yes it's PCI!), not by much. I think tubes in there somewhere would be the ticket.

    Thoughts?
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    CletusB

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by CletusB on Sat Apr 14, 2018 7:50 am

    I just love my Raspberry Pi / Allo Boss DAC with 2TB HD.


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    jfine

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by jfine on Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:31 am

    Yep people sure do love their devices, sadly (or not) I don't own one, I design for them and that's enough for me.

    deepee has an expensive tube DAC which I'm sure can give most vinyl playback a run for its money, (mastering aside), but waaaay too much $$$, seems to me guys like Roy and Bob could come up with something that can rival a 5000 unit just like the SP14....
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    jfine

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by jfine on Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:25 pm


    I know about the AN kit, this is a great example, but my bet is that if AN charges 2,635.00, it can be done cheaper, AN stuff while good, is normally overpriced?
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    bluemeanies

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by bluemeanies on Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:54 pm

    You get what you pay for.
    Also the idea of something being overpriced is relative to the individual IMO.
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    bluemeanies

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by bluemeanies on Wed May 09, 2018 1:53 pm

    Just wanted to add..as far as price I paid under $2600.00 for my audionote 4.1 dac with C-core transformers and USB connection.
    I believe I got a deal, and with a custom SP14 it is a sweet combination.
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    sKiZo

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    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by sKiZo on Wed May 09, 2018 10:13 pm

    I've got around $300 into my Maverick TubeMagic +1 ...



    Not a full on tube dac, but it does insert one into the audio out, or you can just go straight digital. Pronounced difference in the results for A/B comparisons. Also handy for fine tuning the ST120 - my current tube set would normally be a bit dark for my tastes, but put a hot lil Tesla in the DAC, and it's just right. I prefer the 96/24 USB out too - that runs rings around the hi-res 192/24 optical and coax for sounmd quality.

    Anyway - you could pay a LOT more, but this lil gem performs well above it's price point.



    PS - only other upgrade other than the tube was the op amps. Those are now dual mono on browndog adapters.

    stewdan

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by stewdan on Wed May 09, 2018 11:54 pm

    CletusB --- where did you buy the case for the Raspberry PI and what is the monitor?

    Stew
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    CletusB

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by CletusB on Thu May 10, 2018 9:26 am

    stewdan wrote:CletusB --- where did you buy the case for the Raspberry PI and what is the monitor?

    Stew
    Stew
    The case for the Allo Boss / Rpi came from
    https://chicagodist.com/products/acrylic-case-for-allo-boss-and-raspberry-pi

    The monitor is Nexus 7
    https://www.amazon.com/Google-Tablet-7-Inch-Certified-Refurbished/dp/B00NVINE88/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1525956920&sr=8-5&keywords=nexus

    Application is Volumio
    https://volumio.org/get-started/

    Power Supply for DAC is
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MARDJZ4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Wireless Charger for the Nexus 7 is
    https://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Charger-Charging-Station-INCLUDED/dp/B01FMDQK80/ref=sr_1_45?ie=UTF8&qid=1525957997&sr=8-45&keywords=qi+wireless+charger

    ....and, not that it's really needed, I had this laying around and found it to be a great little follower (strangely enough) for the Allo Boss / Rpi DAC, when fitted with a matched GE JAN 5654W pair
    https://www.amazon.com/FX-Audio-TUBE-01-Preamplifier-Black/dp/B01HEQJGPC/ref=cm_cr_othr_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

    https://www.amazon.com/Riverstone-Audio-Tested-Matched-Fully-Tested/dp/B01BFJDTW0/ref=pd_bxgy_107_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B01BFJDTW0&pd_rd_r=M4NGC78KJ65BYBFGFN88&pd_rd_w=WUsyb&pd_rd_wg=fJLdN&psc=1&refRID=M4NGC78KJ65BYBFGFN88
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    Kramer

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    Location : Chicago

    New Pi Dac

    Post by Kramer on Fri May 11, 2018 9:48 am

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1844799967/applepi-dac-highest-performance-raspberry-pi-dac

    New dual chip raspberry pi dac. Looks awesome and reasonably priced.

    I love my SMSL M8a with this linear power supply, super quiet. Power supply powers dac and the pi separately.

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Mshow-P2-25VA-upgrade-Talema-Ultra-Low-Noise-Linear-Power-Supply-psu-output-DC-5V-9V/32796705987.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.d08dFH

    I use a raspberry pi as my player though with rune audio.
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    CletusB

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by CletusB on Fri May 11, 2018 9:54 am

    Interesting, but seriously doubt it would present any discernible performance improvement to my present setup  ....just my opinion at this time. Very Happy
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    bluemeanies

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    Tube Dac Build

    Post by bluemeanies on Mon May 14, 2018 8:08 pm

    The inner of the Audionote 4.1LE now in my system
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    CletusB

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by CletusB on Mon May 14, 2018 8:30 pm

    bluemeanies wrote:The inner of the Audionote 4.1LE now in my system
    Hmmmm   .....very nice indeed!
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    bluemeanies

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by bluemeanies on Tue May 15, 2018 8:18 am

    Custom SP14 pre-amp & Audionote kit 4.1LE dac
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    deepee99

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    Location : Wallace, Idaho

    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by deepee99 on Sat May 19, 2018 7:45 pm

    jfine wrote:Yep people sure do love their devices, sadly (or not) I don't own one, I design for them and that's enough for me.

    deepee has an expensive tube DAC which I'm sure can give most vinyl playback a run for its money, (mastering aside), but waaaay too much $$$, seems to me guys like Roy and Bob could come up with something that can rival a 5000 unit just like the SP14....
    Be nice if they would.
    My Aqua DAC is of Italian design and build. Its tube-pair  is used in an unusual way. Each ECC81 tube has dual duties; buffer and volt amp, the latter duty being shared with a MOSFET. It's all very proprietary.
    Here's a link:
    http://www.aquahifi.com/la_scala.html
    And it's built like a tank.

    JFine is right; it ain't cheap, about $5k, but considering the cost of the better kits I've seen, not beyond range. But the sound is utterly liquid and indeed equals or rivals the very best vinyl played through an SP-14 and one of Roy's phono preamps.
    We all (well, most of us) rely on digital sources in addition to our precious vinyl and RTR tapes, so consider a good DAC a vital component. Digital doesn't have to stink. But you'll pay for it.
    I don't believe it's possible to make an all-tube no s/s DAC. The switching speeds are simply too fast for tubes. Doesn't mean you can't have the best of both worlds, IMHO. I'll take advances in audio quality any old time.
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    tubes4hifi
    Admin

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by tubes4hifi on Sat May 19, 2018 9:17 pm

    since there are at LEAST well over 100 different DACs out there, and probably 20-30 tube DACs, not much point in making another one.
    Alot of hassle and no profit in it. I'd say the AudioNote has about $300 worth of parts in it, not including the transformers, those are probably adding another $700.
    You get what you pay for. For my money, I'd buy a Schiit Gungnar and run it thru an SP14 preamp. On a budget, go with the Bifrost.
    Schiit products have less $markup than any other Hi-Fi products I'm aware of.
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    bluemeanies

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by bluemeanies on Mon May 21, 2018 9:50 am

    It seems like there is disapproval of the Audionote. It is a performer and high quality and a good value.
    Realizing the Audionote is a dac and the SP14 is a pre-amp the quality of the Audionote chassis alone is superior. A thicker gauge.
    Comparing the SCHIIT's to the AUDIONOTE 4.1LE is like comparing a YARRIS to a MERCEDES.
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    peterh

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by peterh on Mon May 21, 2018 11:31 am

    bluemeanies wrote:It seems like there is disapproval of the Audionote. It is a performer and high quality and a good value.
    Realizing the Audionote is a dac and the SP14 is a pre-amp the quality of the Audionote chassis alone is superior. A thicker gauge.
    Comparing the SCHIIT's to the AUDIONOTE 4.1LE is like comparing a YARRIS to a MERCEDES.

    Aggree, a toyota yaris will work much longer then a mercedes, with less
    service cost and better reliability.



    Last edited by peterh on Mon May 21, 2018 12:12 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Spelling, spelling.)

    audiobill

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by audiobill on Mon May 21, 2018 12:15 pm

    And far, far less pride of ownership, as that matters to many.
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    Peter W.

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by Peter W. on Mon May 21, 2018 12:51 pm

    audiobill wrote:And far, far less pride of ownership, as that matters to many.

    Let's get into a few truisms - almost cliche-like and so discounted:

    a) There are not many Yaris out there with 250K on them, either in KM or miles. And neither as a percentage-of-those-sold or as a pure quantity. It is not so much that they are badly built, it is because they are tiny and get beaten up badly on American roads. Perhaps not so much in Europe.

    b) Any originally well-made vehicle, scrupulously maintained, will last very nearly indefinitely. Exceptions being tiny things being chewed up by environmental conditions.

    At the same time, I would not allow my grandkid into a Yaris. Not here in the US where the SUV is the most common type of vehicle on the road, mostly driven by scatterbrained individuals distracted either by texting or being on the phone. And being driven far too fast for conditions.

    So, a bad analogy.

    How about an Audio Research VT80se vs. a VTA Dynaco ST120?

    New2Tubez

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by New2Tubez on Mon May 21, 2018 1:02 pm

    Forget about those SUVs.
    I know who'd win between a Yaris and an ST120 power transformer...
    Wink
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    cci1492

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by cci1492 on Mon May 21, 2018 4:14 pm

    Schiit also has a $2399 dac the Yggdrasil. I have to me honest, I never heard any dac other than the one inside the CD player. They must be worth the money since so many are available for purchase. Maybe I'll give the Schiit a try at some point since they have a 15 day trial return policy (-5%). So there should be a subtle difference or a night and day difference when you ad one of these?
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    Peter W.

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by Peter W. on Mon May 21, 2018 4:32 pm

    cci1492 wrote:Schiit also has a $2399 dac the Yggdrasil. I have to me honest, I never heard any dac other than the one inside the CD player. They must be worth the money since so many are available for purchase. Maybe I'll give the Schiit a try at some point since they have a 15 day trial return policy (-5%). So there should be a subtle difference or a night and day difference when you ad one of these?

    Don't forget - the Popeil Veg-A-Matic was available by the uncounted millions - the simple Mandolin still rules the roost.

    First, build the product. Then create the demand for it irrespective of actual merits. Once that demand is created - hype the bejesus out of it to get the price up.

    Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of all ages! This is a DAC. The chip end of the system, even the most expensive DAC chipset on the planet, costs about US$30. Many are substantially less, and do _exactly_ the same thing with _exactly_ the same data for _exactly_ the same result. What is under discussion is the analog side of the equation. Is that worth another US$2,000? Is it really worth $119 (+ shipping) to find out?

    audiobill

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by audiobill on Mon May 21, 2018 4:46 pm

    I titled this post Observations rather than Review because it will not follow the usual form of features, bass, mids, treble etc.

    After owning many great dacs over the past 5 years, including the DC-1, the PS Audio Perfectwave, the NAD M51, the Grace m920 and the Theta Gen V(a), I have become increasingly aware of the importance of the power supply and analog output stages to the sonic quality of a dac.  And while all these are great sounding dacs, I had a real revelation listening to the Theta, my first multibit dac.  Mike Moffat from Theta also started Schiit who has led the way forward to multibit dacs.

    So, knowing that, for me, tubes are just plain better at creating wonderful images and soundstages while sounding impressively musical, I was intrigued by the Audio Note 4.1 LE, which I built from the kit.  While not inexpensive at $3,100 (the assembled version in the UK is 13,000 lbs UK or about $17.000 USD so quite a bargain in kit form) , it includes these goodies:

    -Tube rectified and regulated power supply with very substantial transformers

    -Multibit AD1865 dac chip - considered among the very best

    -No upsampling or oversampling, sidesampling, reconstruction etc etc anywhere - just clean digital to analog conversion

    -Transformer coupled I/V and C-Core transformer coupled output

    -Tube output stage

    I considered the Schiit Yggdrasil, but if you look at the inside pics on their site compared to the Audio Note 4.1 you will feel that you're looking more at a computer than an audio component.  Remember, the power supply and analog output stage are critical to great sound.  Just gaze at the Audio Note transformers and remember this is a dac....not a power amplifier!

    www.schiit.com/products/yggdrasil

    ankaudiokits.com/Non-Oversampling-Valve-Rectified-Tube-DAC.html

    As for the sound, all this attention to design and detail comes through. For example, the bass is so solid that I disconnected my subwoofer, and the harmonics on bass instruments are clear, solid and satisfying.

    The clarity, transparency, and overall presence are nothing short of amazing.  I find myself surrounded by the musicians, with no thought of fatigue, irritation or discomfort.  Just the music, and how!

    I really don't want to engage in an engineering analysis, and will leave that to others.  You can buy specs on the cheap, but I've learned they don't always translate to the best sonics.

    Simply put,  if you can afford and seek this level of sonics and musical satisfaction I know you'd be as overjoyed as I am with this dac.

    And that's it!

    www.whatsbestforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=12666&d=1385227741


    Peter, trust me you're suffering from a limited view.
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    CletusB

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

    Post by CletusB on Mon May 21, 2018 7:37 pm

    Being very happy with my "el-cheapo" system, including my Rpi DAC, I went out and spent a bunch on that Breitling Navitimer I always wanted! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

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    Re: Tube DAC Build

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