NEW SUB-PAGE ABOUT MAXI-LAMPUCERA IS
LAMPUZZERA LAMPIZZATA E BOXATA
CATHODE FOLLOWER PHOTO SESSION - QUICK GUIDE
OPAMP TWEAK IN LAMPUCERA MAX
Lampucera inside KEN CD player
This is my GEM found by
The ultimate solution ?? Or is it ?
April 2 2008
After checking out what is going on inside all the CD players, my
conclusion from just few MONTHs AGO was that I know what is going on:
"There are many different DACs, all are more or less Okay, and TDA1541A
is the best".
Well, I was wrong. Not much, but wrong anyway.
There are better DACs, but quite rare, not that common to find in our
regular players. There are no more CD players made today, so many of
interesting DAC chips end up in expenceive PC sound cards, or
in DVDs, or SACD's
looked for long time on the internet for tips which is the best, and
I narrowed down my hunt to two chips. Wolfson DAC WM4870 is one of them
but it is damn hard to find.
Then I ordered from Hong-Kong a
custom DAC evaluation board, which has this great DAC chip - Cirrus Logic
CS4397 which I currently consider to be the best there is, paired
with the world's best receiver chip - Cirrus Logic
CS8416. Nothing more - just two IC's
together on a smallish printed
circuit board. All is a size of a credit card. Now I know that Cirrus
also called Cristal Semiconductors, I don't know which is their proper
name. Now they produce the next chip - the CS4398 but it is not better
for what we need it for.
Back to my board, this is a SACD compatible, DVD compatible, ultra
modern and ultra
fast 24 bit / 192 kHz format DAC, which also reads the CD
format of 16/44.
On the photo above -
Lampucera is cleared of al low quality SMD electrolytic capacitors and
awaits the capacitor upgrade. Note that there is no clock so upgrade is
It has silly size, silly
price, and my silly nickname to match, but seriously - if you want to
end the search for CD source - your search is over. My search is over
The red dots are where we connect the lampizator - from top this is L-,
L+, R+ and R-. I recommend to tap to the minus outputs.
The empty socket on the right is for output stage op-amp, which is
removed now. If you put there a quality op-amp. the output stage is
really kosher - one half opamp per channel and nothing more. Even
without tube stage it sounds like a million dollars.
But with signal directly from red-dotted points - C27 and C30 - sounds
better than from OP-AMP. For most people - this will be GOOD ENOUGH.
Two black chips on the photo are: the DAC and the receiver.
The silver cans are power supply electrolytes, we may change these for
Blackgates, os-cons, TEAPO, Jackon Low ESR and stuff like that.
You may also experimnt with tantalum caps - the result I havent yet
tested but of course I will.
On the above photo - the electrolytes are de soldered and we may
the proper caps.
We need 8 electrolytes - larger in size than 47Uf and larger in rating
than 6,3 V.
We also need 11 small foil caps.
All we need to add is a regulated +5V power so we buy a 10 VA
transformer for 6 V DC, and put it through a zener bridge to a 10 000
uF/16 V capacitor and then through a regulator chip 7805 and then we
add a cap - I suggest a 100 uF MKP not lytic.
Or we just order from Hong Kong the ready kit with a complete power
Remember that 7805 needs a small radiator to dissipate heat. Without
radiator - depending on supply voltage etc - the 7805's tend to burn
easily. Even smallest radiator will do.
Lampization of Lampucera
We can connect this Lampucera board to any transport - any CD or SACD
or DVD player
exists, and the output of the DAC chip has 4 signals - balanced stereo
music signal. It can be used as it is straight from DAC to connectors,
or apmplified by one op-amp of
high quality, or connected directly to the lampizator.
I will call my adaptor DAC board a LAMPUCERA. The feminine "wife" of
If you want to stick to the
OP-AMP - thats fine with me. Just upgrade the PCB of the analog section
with oscons or tantalums and use a GOOD OP-AMP - LM4562s . A nice
person Richard Abdilla pointed me these great sounding opamps. I admit
never trying them but I will.
The optimal combination of Lampucera and lampizator will be that
of a cathode follower triode. This schematic is extremely transparent,
pure and simple. It has the lowest output impedance of all schematics -
just 70 Ohms !!! Its gain or amplification is circa 1 so the DAC signal
- which is on normal CD level 0f 2 V pp will be just OK.
Personally I prefer my signal to be loud and I would use the SRPP which
I describe elsewhere, but many people complain that 10 Vpp is too loud
for them. That really depends on the amp.
So for those who like to stick with redbook level - this schematics is
These plans are for DAC type VOUT and not IOUT. So this plan applies
also to the Wolfson DAC. Other Vout dacs are not worth the effort.
SCHEMATIC 1 - cathode follower
CATHODE FOLLOWER PHOTO SESSION - QUICK GUIDE
SCHEMATIC 2 - Anode follower
Also for those more ambitious - the Cristal DAC would play very well
the board DAC connected to 6N13C triode amplification stage
(megalampizator) just like in the Yamaha
BUT First - I upgrade it sans tubes.
There is not much we can "upgrade" about two integrated chips, but the
power supply can be improved by removing or bypassing SMD capacitors (I
hate them for their sound. SMD is a NO-NO in hifi world !!!)
and electrolytes - they can never be good enough.
To evaluate the impact of
capacitors - I created FIVE lampucera boards:
1. Standard as it is
2. fully upgraded by WIMA MKP and TEAPO lytics low esr shitty but cost
3. As above but with the best OS-CONS - Sanyo caps regarded to be the
best for digital.
4. Totally electrolyte- free "lampucera MKP" with 2,8 uF MKP's in place
of electrolytes (crazy job - fitting these !!!)
I am able to connect them and A-B side by side to see which money is
Verdict is not yet ready !!! Hold your breath .
Tantalum lampucera - 33 uF / 35 V
Tantalum (green heads )
Jackcon TEAPO low esr version with red WIMA bypass
Fully os-coned version
I was really very excited doing the capacitor games. Having ALL of
thecaps on one PCB - all of them
from one maker - should be finally AUDIBLE without a doubt. I wanted to
nail down the characteristics of all these types.
First the easy one - the standard SMD type - on my subjective scale
gets very low. There is no magic, no real high end sound.
The MKP type did not make it to the games - it will be evaluated in
For the three other types the story is different.
All three mods rank VERY HIGH. Teapo, Os-con and Tantalum all upgrade
the oryginal board significantly.
Now to tell the difference - I would have to be hard pressed except one.
To make the description easier - I will divide the criteria into 4
categories: Bass, Midrange and Trebles plus the Sensation of being
there: respectively B,M,T,S
The Teapo gets in this context : 9, 8, 7, 7
The Os-Con gets:
8, 9, 8, 10
The Tantalum gets:
8, 9, 10, 8
and the naked untweaked board gets 7, 5, 4, 5
It is worth noting that:
each electrolytic capacitor has a SMD bypass on the board PLUS a red
Wima cap 0,22uF/50V except the Tantalum which did not have the wima
Teapo were 470 uF, the originals - 100uF, the oscons - 150 and the
tantalums - 33uF.
Everything else was the same
Decoupling caps between the Lampucera and Lampizator were new chinese
2uF (FABULOUS !)
Digital signal was from Sony 557 ESD with KSA190A transport/laser.
The subjective feeling was that the trebles from Tantalum were so much
superior to the other four that it was shocking. They were airy, pure,
beautiful. Just the best I ever heard. But the rest of the spectrum did
not match. The balance was tilted.
Os-cons on the other hand sound ..... like nothing at all. Equipment
disappears and the musicians simply come to me. No trebles no bass -
just total transparency and insight into the event. Quite spectacular
feeling. I was amazed.
Teapo had very strong bass and everything else was really good. I could
live with that. Considering its low price and good availability - a
great value. MUCH above the standard board.
Now - any halfway intelligent reader would conclude at this point, that
this could be the basis for MIX AND MATCH to achieve a 10 10 10 10
combination. Considering, that EACH CAP plays a DIFFERENT ROLE - I
should be able to guess which cap should go where and what the result
Well - you would be right. Thats what I am doing right now. If I could
have the bass of teapo (I guess this is due to capacitance being so
huge) and the magic of oscons, and the total treble power of the
tantals. Oh My God !
I already made 4 test boards with the mixes and we will see.
In general - I would put the big teapo in the initial power supply
delivery - say - in C19 (as marked by silkscreen not the schematics
which says C20). Then I would bypass the smd small caps with a smallish
Tantalum like a few uF instead of the Wima, and then - OS-CON
That would be the ultimate recipe ala Fikus.
For the impatient people out there - if you want quick and straight
advice - go all the way os-con. You cant go wrong with os-cons.
Tantalums may be interesting as an intelligently applied addition. Like
spices in cooking. But spices dont make a meal.
Each SMD capacitor gets bypassed with a MKP - you can use any cap you
find, I used Vishay 0,22 uF / 63 V which is also good for TDA
decoupling. I do not remove small SMD caps - they can stay as long as
they are bypassed.
I leave SMD in place - I am lazy.
DO NOT TOUCH THE circuit consisting of
C22, C23 and R2 !!! This is a
Change the values if you want - foillowing the link for which I
Probably the long legs of these caps - at these huge frequencies -
cancell any positive effect of the tweak. In reality the parts should
so R2 becomes 3k, C22 becomes 22nF, and C23 becomes 1 nF
Just like here:
So first step - remove all electrolytes. Second step - bypass SMD caps.
This will be impossible once the new electrolytes are added.
Third step: put new electrolytes - the type for digital circuits: I use
OS-Con from Sanyo, and blackgates are good.
Size is unimportant - disregard what was on the PCB and inslall all the
same size - above 47 uF and below 1000 uF, voltage min. 6,3 V , 10 or
(the power to the receiver cirrus is 3,3 V only, DAC takes 5 V)
Do not waste time on the caps for the removed opamp - these would be 16
V minimum anyway.
This corner cap is one of two most important ones. Power to the DAC.
The SMD all bypassed - most important are C9 and C10.
This big C17 oscon is critical for jitter - it sits in the RECEIVER
chip power supply. C10 bypasses it for improved impedance matching.
IMPORTANT! The jumper goes CLOSER TO
THE CORNER !!!
Less critical places - I used TEAPO caps not os-con.
The tapping points for single ended operation. Of course - for balanced
would be all four points.
This is power supply. Plus is red wire, minus is black.
It can be taken from:
CD player motherboard - find the 5 V regulator (7805)
or a gel battery 12 V plus add-on 7805
or 4 cells AA without regulator
or a dedicated power supply
or find 12 V or 20 V on the motherboard of the CD player and add a 7805
to get 5 V. Add one huge cap like 2200 uF/10 V after the 7805.
that 7805 needs a small radiator to dissipate heat. Without radiator -
depending on supply voltage etc - the 7805's tend to burn easily. Even
smallest radiator will do.
Don't forget that this ground
(black) must also serve for signal minus.
WARNING! The attached schematics does reflect the reality - only parts
connections - but the part numbers - are DIFFERENT from PCB
these are from real PCB not schematics.
leg 23 = L+ output - cap decoupling C31
leg 20 = R+ output - cap decoupling C28
leg 24 = L- output - cap decoupling C30
leg 19 = R- output - cap decoupling C27
c9 is digital input signal from RCA - in series - CRITICAL to use MKP
cap of any value below 1 uF.
Power supply - legs 7 and 8 - plus 3 V - capacitor C3 and bypass SMD C11
Leg 22 - analog supply for DAC + 5 V C20 and its bypass C13
leg 28 - reference analog - plus5V, also C20 and C13.
legs 27-26-25 - small MKP bypass on C12 and C8
leg 6 - critically low noise analog supply (jitter !) C21, C17,
C10 (MKP) Put your best blackgate here and o,1 uF MKP
Leg 23 gets the same supply as leg 6
Leg 21 - as above.
C3 is unimportant (reset circuit) and it can stay as it is. It is the
one NEAR R3 - it is marked on PCB in such way that it can be mistaken
ATTENTION: If you are using TOSLINK - it is critical to replace C2
which powers Toslink with something like generic electrolyte 330 uF /
6,3 V or larger. I used Low esr generic 2200 uF by 6,3 V. It improves
toslink signal shape.
MAke the main power input caps LARGER, say 470 uF till 3300 uF. IO
suggest to make the first cap - the power input before regulator 3,3 V
(schematics C20, PCB silkscreen C19 )- larger than the second one
AFTER regulator - C21 which should be smaller. In my succesful test I
used C19 2200 uF and C19 470 uF. If the second cap is too large, after
switch-off the cap after regulator may discharge too slowly and
eventually the regulator will be negatively polarized. It may burn.
The total tuning cost is circa 4 euros.
Without tuning it is also very good already.
DAC chip datasheet PDF CS4397
CS8416 RECEIVER DATASHEET
The sound from LAMPUCERA is nothing short of phenomenal. Immediately it
walks over any CD which I tried before. The transparency, the airy
soundscape, the details, the bass, the liquidity, the natural
timbres - EVERY ASPECT of the reproduction is in a higher class than
what I used to know before. With Lampizator it immediately creates the
new reference category of quality.
And on top of that - the good news is that I love this sound, it is
friendly and lovable from the first note. On every CD it excells. I
just can't get enough of it. When I play my collection via LAMPUCERA, I
just sit and turn my head in disbelief. How could such simple device be
so much superior? So much better period? No exotic megabuck
sophisticated stuff, nothing like that. Just the wall of sound which
nails me to the chair.
I stopped putting CD's to the boxes and back on the shelve. I pile them
up on the table naked, pulling new ones and new ones.
The closest sound to Lampucera was coming out of the other CS chips -
Meridian's 506.20 and 508.24, and from similar Zhaolu Dac 2.5C or
Very lively, vibrant, open and analog-like sound. But LAMPUCERA takes
it to another league.
Lampucera, with a proper power supply of regulated 5 V DC and digital
SP/DIF input can be used as external DAC box. Or it can be hooked
directly to digital signal inside the player. The output I like
most is via a balanced megalampizator and it's mighty 6H13C tubes. It
could also play from a SPDIF output of a PC, MAC or Laptop soundcard.
An interesting option is to use a battery (6 V GEL) to supply the
board. People swear by this solution. Even a car battery with 12 V
running through one 7805 regulator will be OK.
To learn about the ultimate quality of CD playback of LAMPUCERA against
the World's best, please read my SHOOTOUT page.
I am happy to report, that I found the best solution for achieving the
Hi-Fi NIRVANA of CD playback at a low price.
board can be obtained as a complete KIT by circa 100 USD which is a
laughable price for
this level of quality !!! Not that I am selling it, but I know where to
Search in EBAY.COM:
24bit/192KHz DAC DIY KIT , FULL ASSEMBLED KIT
Or just write here:
and ask for Lawrence. Tell him I sent you.
I even tried it with a 5 Euro worth of used CD-rom as a transport with
(without PC, just on its own) and it played almost equally well as with
a highend transport.
I just discovered that CREEK uses the very similar chip in almost all
their players except the CD60 - which is another superplayer with
the single crown TDA1541A/S1
and MAGNIFICENT main board.
CD42 Mk 2
CD43 Mk 2
CD50 Mk 2
ENSEMBLE DICHRONO HI-DAC CS4397
Data taken from :
VASILI's List of DAC chips: http://www.vasiltech.nm.ru/files/cd-players/CD-Player-DAC-Transport.htm
Now concerning the upsampling
frequencies: the board does not work as advertised. It works only with
Herre is a thread from some very kind members of DIY community
discussing the issue. Apparently - the Lampucera PCB has a soldering
error. Probably that's why they sell it without box and very cheaply.
Excellentissimo! All sampling rates
now working, and 96kHz sounding very good. Thanks a lot for your help.
Here is the connection for balanced configuration of Lampucera:
it could not be simpler than that.
There are 4 signals R+, R-, L+, and L-.
First remove the 4 caps standing in the row which block the DC from DAC
Careful - because the tracks on PCB can peel off when heated longer
than 2 seconds. Keep the soldering iron under 230 C.
Then add new caps - foil type - MKP or something, value 0,22uF (220nF)
or larger, voltage unimportant. Solder them to the place after old
caps, the position near the DAC.
Wire them to XLR - plus to pin 2 and minus to pin 3. Ground from PCB is
wired to pin 1 of XLR. Just see the drawing attached.
Thats all. In balanced mode you dont need lampizator - the DAC is
Although the lampizator output would of course be even better.
Lampucera inside CD player