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  1. #26
    You play. I listen. Enochrome's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Well your observation is consistent with the general vib. The DAC-11 is cheaper, i.e. not so much the price but the fact that it's shipped in Canada which avoids brokerage, etc. I can't find any local or Canadian online seller for the V-DAC.

    On the other hand Emotiva is clearing their XDA-1 on clearance for $250.
    From what I have noticed online, the Emotiva has not received great reviews. Also, it only does 16/44 via USB. Just a FYI.

    It seems that this forum is not Cambridge Audio fans, but the DacMagic has received good reviews, although said that the USB had some jitter issues.

  2. #27
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enochrome View Post
    From what I have noticed online, the Emotiva has not received great reviews. Also, it only does 16/44 via USB. Just a FYI.

    It seems that this forum is not Cambridge Audio fans, but the DacMagic has received good reviews, although said that the USB had some jitter issues.
    Yes, the Emotiva has had mixed reviews; anyway, I've decided against it. I might have considered the Cambridge but it's just a little too pricey. The DacMagic also uses a DSP chip in addition to the DAC, etc., which is a bit unusual.

  3. #28
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    a little off the above subject but I am not allowed to post yet untill I got more posts??? Anyway I run a laptop and as with most the speakers are practically silent, does anybody know of any bluetooth/wireless speakers I can use with it?

  4. #29
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    I really wouldn't recommend the emotiva. I still have mine, but other than a decent feature set (especially the remote) I don't think it's anything special for the price.

  5. #30
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Well, well, what diya know: the hum problem I mentioned wasn't caused by my cheap DAC. The problem is rare & intermittent, caused by some other, undetermined factor.

    However before figuring this out I went to good ol' eBay and ordered another cheap DAC, namely this one, also sold by a couple of other eBay vendors ... New design S.M.S.L SD-1955 DIR9001 AD1955 mini DAC Optical coaxial | eBay




    It uses:

    • Analog Devices AD1955 chip for a DAC; this current chip is capable of 24/192.
    • DIR9001 S/PDIF receiver, capable of 24/96; an older chip but well regarded for jitter reduction
    • Tenor TE7022L USB interface, capable of 24/96 -- however I only use the S/PDIF coax input
    • Two dual OP275 opamps for I/V and one dual 5532 for an output buffer.
    • 9 VDC wallwort power supply


    The DAC doesn't do asynchronous upsampling but the AD1955 has internal oversampling which feature I presume is used.

    Because I had them around I used OPA2134 opamps to replace the OP275's, and an OPA2604 to replace the 5532. I'm considering replacing the cheap wallwort with a regulated PS.

    The unit sounds at least as good, probably better, than my previous cheap DAC. BTW, I started to use this DAC the same day as I started with the Magneplanar RFI/EMI choke mentioned elsewhere -- which means unfortunately that I'm not really sure which change is causing such improvement as there might be!

  6. #31
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Looks nice, how would you describe the sound? It looks like a good buy at $99. It looks ripe for modding with some higher end caps. I still really like my son's Maverick Tube Magic DAC-1. We did the diy op amp up grade and tube upgrade and it sounds great. My GF DAC-11 has broken in and has really smoothed out and warmed up and sounds great.
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  7. #32
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    Looks nice, how would you describe the sound? It looks like a good buy at $99. It looks ripe for modding with some higher end caps. I still really like my son's Maverick Tube Magic DAC-1. We did the diy op amp up grade and tube upgrade and it sounds great. My GF DAC-11 has broken in and has really smoothed out and warmed up and sounds great.
    I'd say that it sounds smooth, grain-free, highly-resolved, and airy.

  8. #33
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I am wanting to buy another budget DAC and I will have to consider this one.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  9. #34
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    I am wanting to buy another budget DAC and I will have to consider this one.
    Based on my own experience you won`t go far wrong with this one for 100 bucks including shipping.

    There are a lot of cheap DACs out there. I was looking for a few things to distinguish one from the other ...
    • S/PDIF receiver with a reputation for low jitter, e.g. DIR9001 or Wolfson WM8805; I meant to avoid the CS8412,4,6 series
    • No, or defeatable, asynchoronous upsampling
    • Late model DAC chip; nice would be Wolfson WM8740,1,2 but others are acceptable, e.g. Analog Devices AD1955. The ESS Sabre32 DACs would be sweet but so far are found only in more expensive equipment. (Note that most modern chips provide built-in oversampling)
    • Output stages with socketed opamps


    I didn`t require USB because my computer has SPDIF output.

    Personally I wasn`t really interested in upgrading capacitors, though there would be potential for improvement. Opamps in sockets are easy to change on the other hand, and there are subtle differences between their sounds.

  10. #35
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Update: sounds great!

    I'm very pleased with this latest cheap DAC -- my third eBay special and they just keep getting better & better.

    I believe this is the best sounding DAC yet -- not necessarily by a huge margin but by some margin. The instrument timbres seem clearer, (notably strings and brass), imaging more precise, the soundstage deeper, and the mid-range somewhat fuller-bodied.

    I attribute these improvements to a greater freedom from grain and sonic crud. Get rid of the hash and the music is liberated. Where does the hash come from? Possibly ...
    • Jitter (if a digital source)
    • Digital filtering, e.g. "pre-echo"
    • Opamp noise and/or negative feedback
    • RFI/EMI


    But the result, IMO, is much of the "harshness" attributed to digital. Minimize the harsh and you'll find your CDs sound a lot better than you ever thought they could. This isn't the first case in my experience that improving my reproduction chain, (not just the DAC), as made CDs relatively listenable that I'd previously figured were a sonic write-off.

  11. #36
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    Thanks for the insight

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post

    I attribute these improvements to a greater freedom from grain and sonic crud. Get rid of the hash and the music is liberated. Where does the hash come from? Possibly ...
    • Jitter (if a digital source)
    • Digital filtering, e.g. "pre-echo"
    • Opamp noise and/or negative feedback
    • RFI/EMI


    But the result, IMO, is much of the "harshness" attributed to digital. Minimize the harsh and you'll find your CDs sound a lot better than you ever thought they could. This isn't the first case in my experience that improving my reproduction chain, (not just the DAC), as made CDs relatively listenable that I'd previously figured were a sonic write-off.
    I like your conclusions about what this DAC is not doing...not adding digital grit to the sound stream. I am gonna have to look into this one.
    My audio lab:
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  12. #37
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeRoy View Post
    I like your conclusions about what this DAC is not doing...not adding digital grit to the sound stream. I am gonna have to look into this one.
    Remember, you're dealing with cheap Chinese stuff so QA might lead to variable results. But my experiences is that is a great DAC out of the box, even it it were several times the price.

    I recommend the opamp upgrades. The sound improvement is small but so is the cost of the better opamps -- like under $10 for the set of three.

  13. #38
    Forum Regular winston's Avatar
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    feanor?

    FEANOR, do you think this one is same as above more or less? it doesn't show any internal details as the one in your post? SMSL SD-1955 DIR9001 AD1955 DAC Optical Coaxial Decoder with Power Adapter Black | eBay I just needed your 2 sense on the matter Thanks
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  14. #39
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by winston View Post
    FEANOR, do you think this one is same as above more or less? it doesn't show any internal details as the one in your post? SMSL SD-1955 DIR9001 AD1955 DAC Optical Coaxial Decoder with Power Adapter Black | eBay I just needed your 2 sense on the matter Thanks
    It appears to be identical, Winston. All lot of these devices are sold by more than one eBay merchant.

  15. #40
    Forum Regular winston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    It appears to be identical, Winston. All lot of these devices are sold by more than one eBay merchant.
    thanks Bill
    Chet Baker-Trumpet
    Pepper Adams-Baritone Sax
    Herbie Mann-Flute
    Bill Evans-Piano
    Paul Chambers-Bass & Connie Kay-Drums
    (....ALONE TOGETHER....) DEC. 30 1958
    produced by...Orrin Keepnews...

  16. #41
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    A few questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Well, well, what diya know: the hum problem I mentioned wasn't caused by my cheap DAC. The problem is rare & intermittent, caused by some other, undetermined factor.

    However before figuring this out I went to good ol' eBay and ordered another cheap DAC, namely this one, also sold by a couple of other eBay vendors ... New design S.M.S.L SD-1955 DIR9001 AD1955 mini DAC Optical coaxial | eBay




    It uses:

    • Analog Devices AD1955 chip for a DAC; this current chip is capable of 24/192.
    • DIR9001 S/PDIF receiver, capable of 24/96; an older chip but well regarded for jitter reduction
    • Tenor TE7022L USB interface, capable of 24/96 -- however I only use the S/PDIF coax input
    • Two dual OP275 opamps for I/V and one dual 5532 for an output buffer.
    • 9 VDC wallwort power supply


    The DAC doesn't do asynchronous upsampling but the AD1955 has internal oversampling which feature I presume is used.

    Because I had them around I used OPA2134 opamps to replace the OP275's, and an OPA2604 to replace the 5532. I'm considering replacing the cheap wallwort with a regulated PS.

    The unit sounds at least as good, probably better, than my previous cheap DAC. BTW, I started to use this DAC the same day as I started with the Magneplanar RFI/EMI choke mentioned elsewhere -- which means unfortunately that I'm not really sure which change is causing such improvement as there might be!
    Hi Feanor

    I have ordered the SD-1955+, a plus model as it is now known.

    Can I ask if the DAC is still giving you good service? Do you still like the sound? After many months of listening do you still feel the Op-Amp upgrade is worth the extra spend? Did you change the PSU and if so did this improve anything in the sound?

    I hope I am as pleased as you are and thanks for the great review. This allowed me to give this DAC a try knowing how it performs.

    Cheers
    Andy

  17. #42
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a0r0a7 View Post
    Hi Feanor

    I have ordered the SD-1955+, a plus model as it is now known.

    Can I ask if the DAC is still giving you good service? Do you still like the sound? After many months of listening do you still feel the Op-Amp upgrade is worth the extra spend? Did you change the PSU and if so did this improve anything in the sound?

    I hope I am as pleased as you are and thanks for the great review. This allowed me to give this DAC a try knowing how it performs.

    Cheers
    Andy
    Hello, Andy,

    Yes, I'm still enjoying this DAC very much. For air & resolution in particular it is the best I've tried. I should remind you that I'm using only S/PDIF inputs, not the USB.

    I have not changed the original PSU which is a smallish wall-wort. I believe it is switching mode but it isn't specific and I have attempted to take it apart. I would be fun to get construct as DC battery supply but I haven't gotten around to this, nor do I feel much need.

    Among modern opamps the differences are subtle so you might not hear any significant difference. On the other hand, even very good opamps are cheap. The unit requires three dual opamps, so for example, a set of OPA2604 can be had for about $15 (plus shipping) from an electronic component supplier such as Newark.com, or LME49720's for about half that.

    The opamp long popular with audiophiles is the OPA627 which is a 'single' opamp. You would need three paired OPA627's. From a highly reputable source such as Parts ConneXion, (HERE), this would run about $165 which makes the value dubious. Or you could try a less reputable eBay source, such as HERE, for a lot less money, but you risk getting counterfeits.

  18. #43
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    Great News!

    Hello Feanor

    Thanks for the prompt response to my questions.

    That is reassuring to know it is working well and it sounds great. I will be using the Co-Ax S/PDIF input on the DAC as well. I will try the DAC first straight out the box and compare the sound quality to my CD player internal DAC. I will most likely buy the Op-Amp upgrade you have made as its plug-n-play and your results are sucessful for minimal outlay!

    My CD player sound is very detailed but, I do wish the highs were more refined, I guess 'harshness'. Your experience with this DAC seems to prove a positive in this respect and other areas as well, a real bonus

    I will keep you posted on my results with the SD-1955+ when I have the DAC in place. Just waiting for it to arrive in the UK

    Cheers
    Andy

  19. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    My old Assemblage 1.5 DAC is pretty decent
    I used to really like those Assemblage units and all the different options you could choose from...

  20. #45
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    I'm very pleased with this latest cheap DAC -- my third eBay special and they just keep getting better & better.

    I believe this is the best sounding DAC yet -- not necessarily by a huge margin but by some margin. The instrument timbres seem clearer, (notably strings and brass), imaging more precise, the soundstage deeper, and the mid-range somewhat fuller-bodied.

    I attribute these improvements to a greater freedom from grain and sonic crud. Get rid of the hash and the music is liberated. Where does the hash come from? Possibly ...
    • Jitter (if a digital source)
    • Digital filtering, e.g. "pre-echo"
    • Opamp noise and/or negative feedback
    • RFI/EMI


    But the result, IMO, is much of the "harshness" attributed to digital. Minimize the harsh and you'll find your CDs sound a lot better than you ever thought they could. This isn't the first case in my experience that improving my reproduction chain, (not just the DAC), as made CDs relatively listenable that I'd previously figured were a sonic write-off.
    Hi Feanor,
    I'm watching this thread for some time, because I was also interested in some cheap DAC. My goal was to use it with my TV, as it has no analog output and also with AirPort Express+iPad, as a better alternative to the built-in DAC in the AE, in both cases using the optical line.
    Finally I bought the DAC, but … it just won't work I hope it would. I can get sound only if I connect it to my computer and switch it to USB. When I switch it to "digital output" it's dead, no sound.
    I get the same result when I connect it to my TV, STB or AirPort Express - simply no sound.


    I expected some problems with my TV, as I read somewhere that it should be switched to PCM stereo (correct me if I'm wrong) and I couldn't find any switch in the set-up of the TV for PCM stereo, but why it doesn't work with optical output at all?


    I send an email the seller about this problem, but I'm not expecting much help from him, so any input in this issue from you would be much appreciated.


    Sorry for my english, but it isn't my first language

  21. #46
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dag View Post
    Hi Feanor,
    I'm watching this thread for some time, because I was also interested in some cheap DAC. My goal was to use it with my TV, as it has no analog output and also with AirPort Express+iPad, as a better alternative to the built-in DAC in the AE, in both cases using the optical line.
    Finally I bought the DAC, but … it just won't work I hope it would. I can get sound only if I connect it to my computer and switch it to USB. When I switch it to "digital output" it's dead, no sound.
    I get the same result when I connect it to my TV, STB or AirPort Express - simply no sound.


    I expected some problems with my TV, as I read somewhere that it should be switched to PCM stereo (correct me if I'm wrong) and I couldn't find any switch in the set-up of the TV for PCM stereo, but why it doesn't work with optical output at all?


    I send an email the seller about this problem, but I'm not expecting much help from him, so any input in this issue from you would be much appreciated.


    Sorry for my english, but it isn't my first language
    Hi, Dag,

    I'm sure I understand your problem entirely; (your English is fine though).

    To cover the basis, the SMSL DAC has three inputs: USB, S/PDIF optical, and S/PDIF coaxial. There is a front panel button you have to push to select the input that that you want to used. (Personally I use both S/PDIF inputs, but mostly the coax.)

    Do your TV and AirPort Express have S/PDIF digital outputs? (Often TVs don't have digital outputs. If I'm thinking of the right model, the Airport Express has some sort of weird combined digital/analogy output.) Of course, only digital outputs will work with the DAC's inputs.

    If you are using proper digital outputs from these devices and you have selected the appropriate input on the DAC using the front panel button, then you ought to have sound. It's possible your unit is defective.

  22. #47
    Dag
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    Hi, Feanor,
    thanks for your quick reply, although not very pleasant for me

    Well, yes I did everything like you suggest - my TV has optical out and also the AE has it (indeed it's a combined analog/digital output and you need a small converter for 3,5mm jack if you use it with optical cable) and I switch on the front panel of the DAC to optical output, but with no joy.

    I will try also the coaxial output just to see if this works, although it wouldn't help me as I need optical outputs to work for my setup, but I'm just curious if it would work.

    The seller answered my email, so I will see how it will end up.
    I will leave feedback later.

    Again, thanks for your suggestions and Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year for You and Your family.

    Dag

  23. #48
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    So it does sound like your unit is probably defective; I hope you get satisfaction from the dealer at some point.

    Best of Christmas season to you & yours.

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    SMSL SD1955 arrived Xmas eve

    The SMSL DAC arrived. A nice Xmas pressie. I have made a switch fuse UK adapter so I can power down the PSU rather than leave the SD1955 in standby. Although I see no issue with the unit being left in standby.

    I hooked up the DAC to my CD player SPDIF CoAx out and moved the RCAs off of the CD player onto the SD1955. Turned the SD on, very quiet in standby. The moment of truth!

    I have sound. Now my thoughts on the SD1955.

    Wow! Out of the box the sound is open, smooth, detailed with tight controlled bass with nice pace. This DAC out of the box is an improvement over my CD players DAC. I compared track for track on a number of my favs and the SD1955 has the edge in a way I was wanting.

    The DAC arrived in 9 days, was really well packed. The unit is built very well with a nice finish and not only sounds great but looks fab!

    Thanks Feanor a great find that has allowed me to upgrade my system when funds were tight.

  25. #50
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a0r0a7 View Post
    The SMSL DAC arrived. A nice Xmas pressie. I have made a switch fuse UK adapter so I can power down the PSU rather than leave the SD1955 in standby. Although I see no issue with the unit being left in standby.

    I hooked up the DAC to my CD player SPDIF CoAx out and moved the RCAs off of the CD player onto the SD1955. Turned the SD on, very quiet in standby. The moment of truth!

    I have sound. Now my thoughts on the SD1955.

    Wow! Out of the box the sound is open, smooth, detailed with tight controlled bass with nice pace. This DAC out of the box is an improvement over my CD players DAC. I compared track for track on a number of my favs and the SD1955 has the edge in a way I was wanting.

    The DAC arrived in 9 days, was really well packed. The unit is built very well with a nice finish and not only sounds great but looks fab!

    Thanks Feanor a great find that has allowed me to upgrade my system when funds were tight.
    I'm glad the SMSL is working well for you at last. It was my impression from the start that it would be a very fine DAC for several times the money. It is certainly a better DAC that what is in my older Sony SD-CE775 SACD/CD player -- so much so that on hybrid SACD discs, CD layers sound better through the SMSL that do SACD layers through the Sony.

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