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Thread: Cheap DAC working well

  1. #51
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    Hi Feanor

    Further listening has revealed just how detailed this DAC is. I agree with how well instruments are defined and separated in the soundstage. The best part for me is the smooth balanced sound, nothing lost but really nice to listen to. As I said before my CD players DAC was just a little to forward for my liking. The SD has rid my system of that trait.

    Now, do I change the OpAmps? I really do like the sound now. Will I be more amazed at the gain?

    Cheers
    Andy

  2. #52
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a0r0a7 View Post
    Hi Feanor

    Further listening has revealed just how detailed this DAC is. I agree with how well instruments are defined and separated in the soundstage. The best part for me is the smooth balanced sound, nothing lost but really nice to listen to. As I said before my CD players DAC was just a little to forward for my liking. The SD has rid my system of that trait.

    Now, do I change the OpAmps? I really do like the sound now. Will I be more amazed at the gain?

    Cheers
    Andy
    Andy, any change for swapping opamps will be relatively small. It's unlikely that you'll be amazed but you might hear some difference.

  3. #53
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    Hi Feanor

    I must admit for now I will listen to the DAC as it came out of the box. It has made the refinement in sound I wanted.

    It is a gamble changing the OpAmps as one person may like the subtle change v the other person may not.

    Cheers
    Andy

  4. #54
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    I have decided to get an Anedio D2 DAC when a AN 3.1 Sig comes up for sale on Agon. Any comments? I'd use a USB/spdif converter until I could install WaveIO | Luckit in the AN.
    d HC b

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post
    I have decided to get an Anedio D2 DAC when a AN 3.1 Sig comes up for sale on Agon. Any comments? I'd use a USB/spdif converter until I could install WaveIO | Luckit in the AN.
    Forcing one to do homework sometimes opens other options. My new darling (and one I like for it's capabilities) is the Lynx Hilo. Call for pricing as I've been given 25% off list quotes. It's a pro audio co. with a good reputation in the industry.
    d HC b

  6. #56
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post
    Forcing one to do homework sometimes opens other options. My new darling (and one I like for it's capabilities) is the Lynx Hilo. Call for pricing as I've been given 25% off list quotes. It's a pro audio co. with a good reputation in the industry.
    Hi, Happy,

    Since you mention it, I looked up the Lynx Hilo. It looks pretty sweet but definitely isn't in the "cheap" category. B&H Photo Video is selling them for $2500: HERE


  7. #57
    music whore Happy Camper's Avatar
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    I've been quoted $1850 for a new one. You see all the front end capabilities this thing has?
    d HC b

  8. #58
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    Based on this thread I ordered one of the S.M.S.L mini DACs. Should be an interesting experiment.

  9. #59
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkiFastBadly View Post
    Based on this thread I ordered one of the S.M.S.L mini DACs. Should be an interesting experiment.
    Should work out well for you. Are you presently using a DAC?

    From this thread we see there occasional quality control problems but they have been solved.

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Should work out well for you. Are you presently using a DAC?

    From this thread we see there occasional quality control problems but they have been solved.
    Yes, I'm currently using an Adcom GDA 700 with which I'm quite pleased, but I wanted to try something with higher bit rate capability to take advantage of some of the high definition music available, for example, from HDTracks. I intend to split the signal coming out of my computer and do an A/B comparison. Should be interesting.

  11. #61
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    How SMSL 1955+ is achieving.

    Quote Originally Posted by SkiFastBadly View Post
    Yes, I'm currently using an Adcom GDA 700 with which I'm quite pleased, but I wanted to try something with higher bit rate capability to take advantage of some of the high definition music available, for example, from HDTracks. I intend to split the signal coming out of my computer and do an A/B comparison. Should be interesting.
    I just connected a new SMSL 1955+. I agree to all threads here about the SQ of 1955+. The sound is impressive. My beloved CDP is still better but not much. I had only 3 hrs of operation and the RCA & Toslink are new too, 1955+ is definite a steal at US$100. I am sure it will be much better soon.
    I am interested to know how far it is when comparing with Adcom GDA 700 or some other DAC. I like it for upgrading CAS for 2.0 and feed to preamp.

    SMSL is a comparatively newer Chinese company (nearby me ). The set up has Germany and Japan running. The interior components and external finish are very seriously productions. I bought the matching Class D (T) amp, same box as DAC 1955+ with unbelievable power of 80W !!
    Last edited by TLCW; 01-28-2013 at 06:51 AM.

  12. #62
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    BTW, folks, I've temporarily reverted to the WM8740+DIR9001+CM102S-based DAC that started this thread; (picture below). (See more of the DAC's specs HERE on eBay.)

    I had to do some computer redeployment and end up with using an old XP computer for my music server; this machine doesn't have S/PDIF output. Thus I am constrained to output to my DAC using USB.

    The bad news is that my SMSL DAC doesn't handle USB properly, at least in that the DAC's output is reduced to an unacceptably low level when using USB input. The better news is that this previous DAC of mine with its CM102S USB receiver works quite well. I used the AUDIO4all music player => device interface software presently whereas I used my S/PDIF-capable sound card's custom ASIO driver before the computer switch.

    I won't say that this setup sounds as good as the SMSL+S/PDIF but it's quite acceptable for now.


  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    B

    The bad news is that my SMSL DAC doesn't handle USB properly, at least in that the DAC's output is reduced to an unacceptably low level when using USB input. The better news is that this previous DAC of mine with its CM102S USB receiver works quite well. I used the AUDIO4all music player => device interface software presently whereas I used my S/PDIF-capable sound card's custom ASIO driver before the computer switch.
    SMSL manufacturer is here:

    Shenzhen shuangmusanlin electronic Co., LTD

    You may contact them about the USB issue. They may have a USB firmware update for download- now is empty in the download section.

  14. #64
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLCW View Post
    SMSL manufacturer is here:

    Shenzhen shuangmusanlin electronic Co., LTD

    You may contact them about the USB issue. They may have a USB firmware update for download- now is empty in the download section.
    Thank you for this information about the SMSL manufacturer of whom I wasn't aware.

    As for a downloads, there might be computer driver USB for the SD-1955 DAC although it isn't available at the moment. I'm not aware of any firmware as such since the DAC itself is apparently all hardware.

    BTW, the website is a classic example of "Chinglish" language usage.

  15. #65
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    I tested the USB input. As the manufacturer stated somewhere. It works for Windows XP and Windows 7. I found it is not working in Vista. For me, I cranked up my pre-amp from 10 o'clock ( Optic) to 12- 1 o'clock for USB on XP notebook, the volume is fine. The USB interface seems OK for my audio setup.
    The Web and user manual are bad BUT the products are quite GOOD. This is common in MIC electronics. even bearing Western brands - Frigidaire, Toshiba, Delonghi. Same as the English translation in my Italian made electric oven manual.
    Last edited by TLCW; 01-29-2013 at 06:36 PM.

  16. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLCW View Post
    I tested the USB input. As the manufacturer stated somewhere. It works for Windows XP and Windows 7. I found it is not working in Vista. For me, I cranked up my pre-amp from 10 o'clock ( Optic) to 12- 1 o'clock for USB on XP notebook, the volume is fine. The USB interface seems OK for my audio setup.
    I'm glad it's working for you. My machine is an XP but it doesn't work well in my case.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    I'm glad it's working for you. My machine is an XP but it doesn't work well in my case.
    Hello Feanor,

    Im new here. Ive been reading alot from your Thread. I too am looking for a cheap DAC, not too cheap(sound quality).
    Here's my situation; I just got a new Panasonic VT50 plasma and like all 2012 and newer models they are removing analog outs. I have an optical cable running to my reciever(Pioneer Elite SC-27). Works great together. The problem I have is I am using Zones in my home and in order to send audio to zone 1 or 2, they must be analog. Except for the ipod input. Im guessing the internal Wolfson WM8740 handles that.
    I am lookin at the DAC you recommended SMSL AD1955+ and also the SMSL SD-793II

    My goal is to stream pandora and other services to other zones or hear TV shows in diff rooms. So i am focused on a quality chip. The "cheap" DAC is only needed for the TV. I also was looking at the HA INFO DA1 due to its Optical out that i can reroute to the receivers optical. Hence allowing me to run RCA's to the zone and Optical for the main TV room?

    Thanks for your help.
    Elite

  18. #68
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    If your plasma TV has digital out ( optical or coaxial ), SMSL 1955+ is DAC (all : optical, coaxial , USB ) sd-793II is DAC with headphone amp but not for USB input . 1955+ has very good SQ (sound quality -image and sound stage ). They may serve
    serve your purposes. Especially, 1955+ is really better than many many separate / built-in DAC in AV receivers.
    BTW, In Elite Sc27 user manual: "It is possible to play (selected source) when using the main zone and ZONE 2 or the main zone and ZONE 3 " ( P. 91-92)
    Last edited by TLCW; 02-26-2013 at 02:16 AM.

  19. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLCW View Post
    If your plasma TV has digital out ( optical or coaxial ), SMSL 1955+ is DAC (all : optical, coaxial , USB ) sd-793II is DAC with headphone amp but not for USB input . 1955+ has very good SQ (sound quality -image and sound stage ). They may serve
    serve your purposes. Especially, 1955+ is really better than many many separate / built-in DAC in AV receivers.
    BTW, In Elite Sc27 user manual: "It is possible to play (selected source) when using the main zone and ZONE 2 or the main zone and ZONE 3 " ( P. 91-92)
    I wish that were the case, unfortunenately with these receivers only Analog Audio inputs can be outputed to Zone 2 or three 3. And I have confirmed this via self testing and calling the Elite support team at Pioneer. All HDMI, Dig Co-ax, optical audio can not be sent to Zones. For that same reason I'm using an OPPO BDP-83SE with the upgraded dacs and power supply, so that i may get the most from the stereo outputs(analog). For $450-500USD used these universal disc players are superb. It uses 8-channel Sabre32 Ultra (ES9016) DAC chip by stacking 4 DACs for each of the Left and Right channels.

    The Elite uses a Wolfson Wm8470 DAC. In your Opinion do you think the 1955+ will better the DAC in the SC27?

    Thanks,
    Elites
    It looks like Ill take your recommendation and get the 1955+ dac for the plasma.

  20. #70
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    One last cheap DAC - Schiit MODI

    Based on good reports from "inmates" over at Audio Asylum, I decided to try a Schiit Audio MODI DAC, (see HERE).



    This DAC is a USB-only, USA made product from a cutely named maker. It features an up-to-date AKM4396 DAC, C-Media CM6631 asynchronous USB receiver, and low-voltage AD8616 opamp filter/output stage. This for US$ 100. The obvious limitation is no S/DIF input.

    The C-Media CM6631 USB receiver is notable. It's an asynchronous and therefore potentially very low jitter device -- that's the good news. Mildly disappointing is that Schiit doesn't provide the custom driver that would be necessary to support 24/192, so the MODI is limited to 24/96. They say that at the $100 price point they can't provide the support necessary to offer a custom driver.

    The MODI is probably the best "cheapo" DAC I've had so far, (I've reported four if you're counting). It has almost the detail and resolution of the SMSL DL-1955 I report few months back, but more than compensating for any minuscule loss there is a significantly smoother presentation (or greater "musicality" as some would describe it). I'm quite certain that the majority of enthusiasts/audiophiles will prefer the MODI over the SMSL, and that includes me.

    I can endorse the MODI without reservation at the price provided you need a USB only interface.

    However MODI will be my last "cheapo" DAC for a while: I have decided to upgrade to medium priced DAC, Schiit's BIFROST DAC which I will comment in a separate post.

  21. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elitesc27onribbons View Post

    The Elite uses a Wolfson Wm8470 DAC. In your Opinion do you think the 1955+ will better the DAC in the SC27?
    It looks like Ill take your recommendation and get the 1955+ dac for the plasma.
    The WM8470 is good for sure. I like 1955+ as it is good, cheap and allows optical, coaxial and USB inputs.
    I throw in a source: cheapo DVD transport, Computer DVD drive, CAS USB via foobar2000 on downloaded files, all provide me good music listening.
    Let us know how you like it if you do have it for plasma TV.

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    hi Feanor ,

    After going thru the review of SMSL SD1955 by yours , I bought a same piece .

    just out of the box , it performed well . What I observed that , Its clear but having the gain down by atleast 4 DB. The sound is bit thin ( Bass ) , high are bit rolled off at the end , mid is clear .

    I am using Yamaha Receiver RX-V450 with Usher V-601 BS and for source I am Using Pioneer DVD and also Desktop ( Reaktek HD Chipset ) taking the onboard SPDIF .

    Peculiarly the sound degrades while I connect to Desktop compared to DVD Digital Out . In Desktop the bass has a mechanic sound seems cracked , High are not so clear , Mid are OK .

    To Be noted , that same SPDIF from Desktop when connected to the Receiver Digital-IN , it perform very fine .

    Can you please help me by referring OPAMP no. which can help me to upgrade the sound ?

    I like a bit of heavy thick lows with balanced mid and high , and a bit of laid back spreaded soundstage .

    Does upgrading the capacitors can improve the sound ?

    Having a better PSU other than the supplied one can improve the sound ?

    In another forum I have seen that the capacitors and OPAMP are changed which soothes the sound .
    troca de OpAmp (DAC SMSL SD-1955 rev.B) OP275G - algumas duvidas - Página 2


    In India / Kolkata its bit difficult to get OPAMPs in shop or by Ebay still wanna try that .

    I don't have complete electronics knowledge but minor changes if suggested can be done for the DIY purpose .
    Last edited by kaushik741; 03-20-2013 at 10:50 PM.

  23. #73
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    I emailed you on this subject, relying in some detail.

    My experience with the SMSL hasn't given rise to the issues you seem to have. On the whole the SMSL sound is well-resolved & transparent but perhaps a bit bright on the top high frequencies, (not at rolled off as you experienced).

    I think some of you problems are related to your other equipment.

    A well regarded opamp is the OPA2134, but the change will be fairly small. An upgrade power supply might bring more improvement, but in this regard it's as important to have good RFI/EMI filtering as anything else. Capacitor upgrades might yield some improvement but I have no suggestions.

    Bear in mind that the SMSL is an inexpensive DAC and I don't think spending a lot of time, effort, or money to upgrade it worthwhile (unless your hobby is electronics).

  24. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    I emailed you on this subject, relying in some detail.

    My experience with the SMSL hasn't given rise to the issues you seem to have. On the whole the SMSL sound is well-resolved & transparent but perhaps a bit bright on the top high frequencies, (not at rolled off as you experienced).

    I think some of you problems are related to your other equipment.

    A well regarded opamp is the OPA2134, but the change will be fairly small. An upgrade power supply might bring more improvement, but in this regard it's as important to have good RFI/EMI filtering as anything else. Capacitor upgrades might yield some improvement but I have no suggestions.

    Bear in mind that the SMSL is an inexpensive DAC and I don't think spending a lot of time, effort, or money to upgrade it worthwhile (unless your hobby is electronics).

    Hi Feanor ,

    Thanks for the reply and mail . I had also reverted back to your mail .

    Just to be clear about the FR/EMI factor , as the PSU is outside the unit shall RF/EMI still can affect the audio output if same PSU is Used .

    For OPAMP , did you tested LM 4562 or LME49720 ?

    Neither its my hobby or have surplus money and time , but still have a keen knack to have a better output by small changes possible .

    I will let the forum know the results what I am testing today .

    1. Changing OPAMPs ( dont know which are will be available in market today ).

    2. Also change to dedicated sound cards like SB Audigy and Yamaha 744B .

    3. Thought of changing the capacitors but the after the above changes .

    Regards

    Kaushik

  25. #75
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaushik741 View Post
    Hi Feanor ,

    Thanks for the reply and mail . I had also reverted back to your mail .

    Just to be clear about the FR/EMI factor , as the PSU is outside the unit shall RF/EMI still can affect the audio output if same PSU is Used .

    For OPAMP , did you tested LM 4562 or LME49720 ?

    Neither its my hobby or have surplus money and time , but still have a keen knack to have a better output by small changes possible .

    I will let the forum know the results what I am testing today .

    1. Changing OPAMPs ( dont know which are will be available in market today ).

    2. Also change to dedicated sound cards like SB Audigy and Yamaha 744B .

    3. Thought of changing the capacitors but the after the above changes .

    Regards

    Kaushik
    Kaushik,

    See my second email.

    I haven't tried the opamps you mentioned; I've only tried the opa2134 and paired opa267's. The latter opamps are very expensive unless you get them from China -- and the Chinese ones are very likely to be counterfeits !!!

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