nos dac AD1865
best DAC chip in the most user-friendly application.
I bought my unit
with a decent transformer for USD150 from H-K shop
Raindrop_Hui. The shipping, handling and packing was perfect.
A similar story
about the same DAC chip is
On a general
note: this is one of series of DACS which appeared on Ebay
recently. It comes from China and it is marketed from H-K. It shares
many features with 1500 similar DACS - like power supply concept, some
input topology, etc. For example - the massive power supplies - a
dedicated power for EACH chip consumer - is based on transistors not
regulators. These guys in radiators are transistors ! Very very very
rare approach (hopefully less noisy than integrated three leg
Similar DAC is
my older kit - Bloodac s described HERE
- the DAC part seems to be Andrea Ciuffoli design with
one of the best DACs AD1865 (by many considered THE best chip ever
made) and the arguably best receiver chip - Cirrus CS8414.
As much as I love AD1865, I think that TDA1541A is arguably more
musical, and ESS sabre or AK439X series are slightly better DACs.
On the other hand - if Audio Note use AD1865 in their top dac, that
means they tried them all and they chose AD1865 for a reason.
My frequent encounters with Audio Note DAC4 confirm, that this DAC is
the worlds best commercial DAC and if I could disconnect my own guilt
concerning the children in Africa etc and if I had that money - I would
be listening to DAC4 full stop.
Back to the Chinese board:
is a transistor discrete HDAM lookalike.
is very decent toroid, surprisingly good at this price
On the above
picture: in red frame is the DAC power supply (digital part of the DAC)
need - +5V and +5V - one for DAC chip, one for receiver chip.
area is power supplies to the transistor "fake HDAM"
output stage. We may use it - actually this stage sounds quite okay!
The lampizator version can do without three crossed areas. (ooops
- not true)
crossed area is the 8 transistor per channel output stage.
I like it MORE than any op-amp stage I heard, in fact - despite
sounding dark - I really like the sound of it.
In my opinion,
for many people who are not just ready for lampization -
this DAC is a hell of a starting point. It is one of the best bargains
in the world of DACs.
It is really
plug and play, ready to rock for USD150.
These are the
parts I decided to remove: from the small area crossed in
yellow ink: digital input transformer and digital input buffer chip. I
just twisted both with pliers , sans soldering gun. I also do not
like the silver caps they use close to all chips. I tried oscons there
and sounded much better. On this DAC project I used the Tantalums (just
for the hell of it) and their addition audibly opened up the sound. Go
for blackgate if you have any chance of finding non-fakes (good luck).
( A week
later! I tried my own recipe and --- tadadadada - no music at
all. I should not have disconnected the power supply section which I
crossed on the picture with yellow ink.
Apparently - the
DAC chip needs 4 supply inputs, not two. And the output stage supplies
also supply so called analog part of the DAC chip. So when I
disconnected the 17-0-17 V supply - DAC went mute. It gave me a silent
day, just like a woman.
I reinstalled all power
supplies and it started singing again).
Oh just look - this chip is a N-K best selection, just like in DAC5
from Audio-Note !
Above - 6
tantalums installed (47uF/25V)
In the red
circle are two resistors which take the signal from DAC to
the output stage. If we lift them, we can steal signal to the
lampizator directly from I out outputs (current type).
A quick test
with Gucci RCA sockets for analog output.
input RCA is installed with a complete bypass of
digital input transformer as well as the input buffer chip. I went
directly by silver wire - from RCA hot to CS pin 9 (Rxp) , and from
cold RCA to CS8414 pin 10 (Rxn)
bypass. It is so audible - I can tell you - it is a real
thick blanket being removed.
The messy SMD
solder job is not me - it is the poor woman in China.
From me is the melted blue terminal ;-)
transformer connection: 2 x 9 VAC for making 2 x +5V DC and
2 x 17 VAC for making +5VDC and -5VDC for HDAM stage.
The centre wires
of primaries - 2 x 115VAC are connected to make 230 V
lampizator - I can recommend this DAC.
soldering - out of the box - the sound is very okay.
If you know what I mean.
weakness is top end quite dark and shy.
of digital transformer and input chip - trebles open up
After adding 6
decent caps to the DAC section - sound improves further,
it becomes listenable in Lampizator's High End terms.
stage is a very safe and solid performer. Not nearly as
good as a triode can be, but nevertheless - worth recommendation.
I used for I/U
conversion a resistor 300 Ohms.
double tube lampizator:
configured as SRPP, in cathodes 200 Ohms. In grid to ground resistor -
pin 7 to 9 - the converter 300 Ohms. No input cap. I bias = 1 mA
U Supply = 190 V
The pins 4 and
21 are I outputs, I floated them by lifting two resistors as on my
picture circled in red.
The signal sees
ONLY THE TUBE and nothing else.
No filtering in
analog domain is necessary.
The circuit is a
The sound is
really excellent - as I expected from this chip. In my opinion, the
circuit is exactly the same as my heavily modded Rockna dac. It is
therefore - a Ciuffoli DAC scheme.
over the transistor stage is not big. All aspects of the music were
already there, they just slightly improved - namely the trebles open
up, the micro-clues and plankton form an enveloping, engulfing cloud
around me and fill up the room. The 3-d effects are totally
The sound does not have character of its own, it is VERY neutral and
clean, just the way we like it.
With the simplest tube output - this DAC is an immediate easy ticket to
Nirvana. Very much recommended, especially over similar TDA1543 and
TDA1541 DACs. Also over the CS4397 and 98 DACs like Lampucera and
similar. At the time of writing this DAC can only be in the same league
with the ess-tech Sabre dacs, AKM AK 43xx series and with the Wolfson
8741 and 42.
A week later
Ooops - another DAC from Raindrop Hui (what a name) the so called Bloodac - which uses
4 TDA1541 was very well lampized by me - 5 evenings worth of
testing - and finally I arrived at the following: removed the upper
dual DAC board and I made it a double TDA dac. Two is enough.
I removed the digital input transformer.
I removed the digital chip with 14 legs - the buffering logic - 74HCxxx
and I went directlt with the i2S signals to TDA legs 1, 2, and 3. Two
chips in parallel. I floated the old inputs of i2s coming via three
DALE brown resistors. That HC74xxx was just wasting my time in that
circuit - its role was maybe maybe questionably necessary for 4 times
TDA, but not for 2.
I lifted completely the DAC pins 6 and 25 and wired them in parallel to
I used massive power supply with 8 secondaries and 4 cores in total.
I upgdraded 28 decoupling caps on the TDA and I also used oscons for
all supply decoupling close to pins 28, 26 and 15 of these chips.
I added 12 earth wires connecting all earth sections of that PCB. I had
a feeling that there is too much ground PCB too far away and on too
thin traces. So I built a real star from 0,7 mm copper wire.
That DAc - let me tell you - plays like a killer. It beats the SATCH
(almost the same scheme except one dac in the SATCH) and it generally
has very serious pretensions to be the best DAC that I know of. I am
now listening and already preferring it to the AD1865. Very very small
difference, but the TDA - being a TDA - has that something that no
other DAC has.
If they were women, AD1865 would be the pretty one, but the TDA would
be the pretty AND WISE one.