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Thread: Cheap DAC working well

  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by keilau View Post
    I picked up the idea of the OPA2227 in posts exchanges between you and TLCW in May. I mistakenly thought that you recommended it.

    I don't know how the Chinese sources can sell the OPA627 so cheap. I went to DigiKey to check their price. A pair of OPA627 needed to replace one OP275 will cost $50 at DigiKey. I will need 4 for the SMSL1955 which is pricier than the DAC itself!!

    I ordered the OPA627 with the single to dual adapter from this Ebay seller.
    I made a mistake. Those are single OpAmp, not the dual. It took 3 weeks to ship. I am giving up and will go back to the OP275.

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by keilau View Post
    I made a mistake. Those are single OpAmp, not the dual. It took 3 weeks to ship. I am giving up and will go back to the OP275.
    Ah! That ad is confusing although the when one looks closely, it's clear enough that all the adopter does is convert a single surface-mount to DIP. What we actually want is TWO surface-mounts convert to a single DIP; (these are available). The extreme cheapness of these Chinese OPA627 makes me suspect that they are counterfeits but the ones I have work well just the same.

  3. #103
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    Does anyone have an opinion on how ES9023 compared to the SD1955?

    In Case ES9023 TE7022 192K 24bit USB DAC Coaxial Fiber DAC 110V or 220V | eBay

    Price is comparable. This ES9023 box uses internal power supply.

  4. #104
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    I have an expensive RME fire face and an very cheap Behringer Dac UCA 200.
    I do not think I can tell the difference when playing back through my Sound Devices HP amp.
    Is there a DAC blindfold A/B test?

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterBj View Post
    I have an expensive RME fire face and an very cheap Behringer Dac UCA 200.
    I do not think I can tell the difference when playing back through my Sound Devices HP amp.
    Is there a DAC blindfold A/B test?
    I have no experience with any of these components.

    As for a blindfold test, there has been endless debate about the validity and relevance of so-call "DBT" -- double blind testing. In my opinion, scientifically rigorous testing is not necessary for practical purposes in audio.

    It's sufficient that the 'A' and 'B' that the components being compared are the only ones that are different, and that the listener is completely unaware of which of the component he/she is listening until several trials (listenings) have are completed.

  6. #106
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    opa2134 swap with opa2107 (opa627 alternative)

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    Ah! That ad is confusing although the when one looks closely, it's clear enough that all the adopter does is convert a single surface-mount to DIP. What we actually want is TWO surface-mounts convert to a single DIP; (these are available). The extreme cheapness of these Chinese OPA627 makes me suspect that they are counterfeits but the ones I have work well just the same.

    I have now replaced the opa2134(s) with opa2107(s) in my sd1955+ DAC. The opa2107(s) are not cheap but not as expensive as the opa627, in the Uk 30 for two opa2107 from RS Components. I can advise that the opa2107(s) have given the sd1955+ a more natural detailed sound. The bass is more defined but not quite as deep as the opa2134(s) sounded. The highs are sweet the midrange very much the same. I can also tell an improvement in the soundstage a little, its wider.

    To sum up my SMSL SD1955+ is now as far as I wish to upgrade, I am very pleased with the results. Some might say upgrading the power supply (Teradak 9VA) and OpAmps (2 opa2107, 1 opa2604) is false economy and they are most likely right but I have enjoyed the tweaking exercise and improvements along the way

    cheers
    Andy

    HAPPY 2014

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by a0r0a7 View Post
    I have now replaced the opa2134(s) with opa2107(s) in my sd1955+ DAC. The opa2107(s) are not cheap but not as expensive as the opa627, in the Uk 30 for two opa2107 from RS Components. I can advise that the opa2107(s) have given the sd1955+ a more natural detailed sound. The bass is more defined but not quite as deep as the opa2134(s) sounded. The highs are sweet the midrange very much the same. I can also tell an improvement in the soundstage a little, its wider.

    To sum up my SMSL SD1955+ is now as far as I wish to upgrade, I am very pleased with the results. Some might say upgrading the power supply (Teradak 9VA) and OpAmps (2 opa2107, 1 opa2604) is false economy and they are most likely right but I have enjoyed the tweaking exercise and improvements along the way

    cheers
    Andy

    HAPPY 2014
    Happy New Year to you too, Andy

    Yes, the opamp swapping exercise was a lot of fun and a good deal cheaper than, say, swapping interconnect cables. With more discernible results too I'd say.

  8. #108
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    Hi all,

    I have been following this thread with interest and hope i can contribute something to the discussion.

    I purchased my first SMSL SD1955+ over a year ago and intended to use it in USB INPUT mode with a Samsung NC10 netbook (Windows XP)/external HDD as a music server. I experienced lots of problems connecting the SD1955+ USB to the netbook,
    it was not reliable and would often crash when I was using my preferred audio player WINAMP. When it did work, it sounded really good and I agree with other reviewers comments here that for 70 ($100) it is very good value and has a sound quality that is worthy of a DAC several times the price. Anyway, the regular system crashes finally got to me and I moth-balled the SD1955+ until I could upgrade my netbook.

    Fast forward a year later and I have finally replaced the Samsung with an Acer Aspire One running Windows 7 Ultimate. Even better, the Windows 7 has a proper device driver and the SMSL is recognised as "SMSL SD1955+" and works perfectly! No unexplained audio drop-outs and computer crashes!

    OK, the tweaker in me got the better of me and I did a bit of op-amp substitution, replacing the JRC5532 output buffer with a selection before finally choosing the LM4562. It sounded better - better sound stage, top-end and tighter bass. I kept the other two I/V converter op-amps (OP275) the same. Intrigued by this apparent beneficial change, I looked more closely at the DAC to see if there was room for further improvement. An obvious area is the +9V SMPSU. Why would the manufacturer of a high quality DAC compromise its quality with a cheap, noisy switching power supply? To answer that question, I coupled a linear +12V DC supply to a very basic hand-made LM317K linear regulator, output DC adjusted to 9V. The results were very impressive sound-wise, and I can only agree with other reviewers that the SD1955+ sound is much improved, mostly by the marked reduction in digital "hash" appearing on the analogue output signals.

    At about the same time, I was trawling on eBay and spotted an SMSL SD1955 (the original, first version) starting at 28 in auction. No-one else bid, so I got it for that price :-) . The specification of the original SD1955 looks better on paper (more dynamic range and lower distortion) but there is another significant difference - it comes complete with a linear 24VDC supply instead of the cheap, nasty 9V supply provided with the SD1955+. On listening tests, it did sound very good but not markedly better than the SD1955+. I popped open the lid and found there were 3 off OP275 fitted (not sure if it was tweaked by previous owner or if that was factory build) and so I substituted the output buffer for an LM4562, so I could compare the two DAC's in the same configuration. The result was pretty impressive - before the op-amp swap, the bass had been quite boomy and the top-end very muted and thin. After the swap, it sounded more like the SD1955+ but to my ears so much cleaner and musical. I could not resist opening up the SD1955 power supply case and not surprisingly found a hefty transformer, PSU capacitor and an LM317T regulator on a heatsink - quelle surpris! So, the moral of the story (if there is one) is that it would appear that SMSL manufacturer has probably compromised the performance of this lovely little DAC over the past few years for purely commercial reasons, cheap (and lightweight!) SMPSU versus low noise linear regulator (heavy, so increased overseas postal charges) and cheap, low-cost (even by Chinese standards) op-amps.

    I hope I have added something informative to this thread. Keep on listening to that lovely (when sympathetically modded!) DAC. :-)

    roclite
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cheap DAC working well-rimg0735.jpg   Cheap DAC working well-rimg0734.jpg  
    Last edited by roclite; 02-22-2014 at 01:55 AM. Reason: add some pics

  9. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by roclite View Post
    Hi all,

    I have been following this thread with interest and hope i can contribute something to the discussion.
    ...
    roclite
    Yes indeed, roclite,

    You comments are very interesting indeed, and welcome to AR Forums.

    My original recommendation for the SD-1955 was for S/PDIF only, specifically coaxial connection. I found the USB connection unsatisfactory.

    I have documented my opamp substitutions above in this thread. The smoothest had dual OPA627's in the I/V stage; (or they were from China so maybe they were counterfeit, but they work pretty well).

    I always used the power supply that originally came with the SD-1955 that is a SMPS, so I have no experience with linear supplies. There is a school of thought that SMPS are actually better with DACs of the modestly price variety, but I don't recall the explanation which beyond my limited technical understanding.

  10. #110
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    Thanks for warm welcome Feanor.

    I was just happy that I quickly found a sound component combination that I am very happy to listen to and engages me with my music. I was surprised at the difference in tonal quality of my sound system by making a few simple component substitutions. OK, not that simple if I had to replace the SMSL DAC with the original 2010 version. The OPA627 might offer some further improvements but probably a bit too pricey for my budget. As to why you would want to connect a high frequency "switching" mode power supply to a low noise digital-analog amplifier (the DAC), I would probably think that a linear PSU has intuitively less additional noise that can find its way onto the analog outputs. Maybe the school of thought that a SMPS is better with cheaper DAC's is that the additional switching noise generated in effect competes with the digital noise produced by the DAC itself to mask the amplitude of certain dominant noise frequencies. I really don't know either :-). Suffice it to say, the early adopters who bought the first version of the SD-1955 were the lucky ones who bought a really nice sweet sounding, well-designed piece of audio kit. As for the second version SD-1955+ and probably its latest incarnation, the "Sanskrit", the performance has already been compromised for commercial reasons in my opinion. I hope other people like me get lucky on eBay.

    roclite

  11. #111
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    I need clarify that the SD-1955 that I have, (which is not labelled SD-1955+), came with the 9VDC 2.0 amp SMPS, not the the 24V linear supply. So it seems that some changes were made before labelling was changed to the latter designation.

    Nowadays I'm using a Schiit Audio Bifrost DAC with Uber analog upgrade. It is more transparent and airy than the SMSL but, of course, several times as expensive. I still believe the SMSL SD-1955, and probably also its successors, are great value for very little money.

  12. #112
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    I agree that the SD-1955+ is a very good DAC and if I had not stumbled across its predecessor, the original version SD-1955, I might have been very satisfied. It does appear that SMSL quietly made several changes or "upgrades" to the design from the first version. Whether these changes enhanced the sound of the DAC is a matter of opinion. I attempted to make the SD-1955+ sound like the SD-1955 by replacing the supplied 9V, 1.5A SMPS with a home-brew LM317K regulator powered by a Stontronics 12V linear regulated PSU (14W).
    I also followed your lead by using the S/PDIF Coax output from my NAD C542 CD Player. It does sound very good, and the more I listen to it the more I like it. However, when I switch to the original SD-1955 with its 24VDC regulated supply, I am listening to a different DAC. The sound-stage is wider with far more depth, instruments and vocals are much more precise with greater clarity, without being clinical. I can hear the percussion of instruments as well as the resonance. I am hanging off every note waiting for more. By comparison, the SD-1955+ just sounds good. I am now happily re-discovering over 7000 tracks from my HDD music collection. The newer SD-1955+ may shortly appear on eBay as I don't need 2 DAC's. I will leave the last words to the eBay seller who sold me the SD-1955 DAC, "older better version" as he described in his listing. He knew too. Thanks for giving your insight to this discussion.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cheap DAC working well-rimg0738.jpg   Cheap DAC working well-rimg0739.jpg   Cheap DAC working well-rimg0742.jpg  

  13. #113
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    Very interesting, roclite,

    There might have some change to the SD-1955 prior to the introduction of the SD-1955+. My SD-1955 (if such it is) looks like the SD-1955+ on the left of the first picture even though it is labelled SD-1955; also, as mentioned, the power supply that came with it is the 9 VDC SMPS variety.

    Possibly my SD-1955 is actually the SD-1955+ before the maker got around to correcting the model number -- who knows? Anyway, I'm keeping my SD-1955 (+ or whatever) as a backup for my latest DAC.

  14. #114
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    Feanor, you are probably correct and you have SD-1955+ electronics in an SD-1955 labelled case. From experience, Chinese Quality Assurance leaves a lot to be desired and lots of different versions of the "SD-1955" probably exist with different op-amp configurations and other key components, depending on the actual manufacturer, not necessarily SMSL :-) i.e. the manufacture may be sub-contracted out to other Chinese electronics manufacturers. This probably explains much of the variability in other SD-1955 users listening experiences.

    For the benefit of others who might be reading this thread, it would appear that the original SMSL SD-1955 with 24V PSU may still be available direct from some Chinese suppliers as opposed to the newer revisions currently being sold on UK/USA eBay and Amazon:


    Smsl Sd-1955 Dir9001 Ad1955 Dac Optical Coaxial Decoder & Power Adapter - Buy Optical Coaxial Decoder & Power Adapter,Digital Audio Decoder,Digital Amplifier Product on Alibaba.com

    If nothing else, the internal pictures serve to show that there are considerable differences in the design, layout and components on the circuit boards. Therefore, you might expect them to sound different, because they are.

  15. #115
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    Hi all ,

    Unfortunately the DAC is now powering on but not emitting any sound output .

    I mailed couple of times to smsl@smsl-audio.com m about the problem but there is zero response from them , not even a auto mailer .

    Local technician told the DAC chip gone bad and its tough to get it in Kolkata .

    Chinese are imitating good but I believe the components are 3rd grade and protection circuits are not there .

    Too much disappointed with the failure and behavior of the manufacturer .

    Regards
    Kaushik

  16. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaushik741 View Post
    Hi all ,

    Unfortunately the DAC is now powering on but not emitting any sound output .

    I mailed couple of times to smsl@smsl-audio.com m about the problem but there is zero response from them , not even a auto mailer .

    Local technician told the DAC chip gone bad and its tough to get it in Kolkata .

    Chinese are imitating good but I believe the components are 3rd grade and protection circuits are not there .

    Too much disappointed with the failure and behavior of the manufacturer .

    Regards
    Kaushik
    I have no useful advice, unfortunately. Support for products bought from Chinese is poor to non-existent, which we need to understand before we buy from there. Could be you'll just have to order another one or some other DAC.

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    hi Kaushik,

    Assume you have done the usual fault-finding process and checked all 3 inputs (S/PDIF, OPTICAL, USB) and verified your amp is OK. In that case, either DAC or power supply/standby circuit feeding the DAC - the Power LED being lit does not tell you much. Its a cheap audio DAC from China, not part of a human life support system :-). Probably not worth trying to fix, unless you happen to have the proper surface-mount repair tools. As Feanor said, just buy another one or really blow your budget and buy a better quality Schiit Bifrost Uber like me :-)

  18. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor View Post
    I have no useful advice, unfortunately. Support for products bought from Chinese is poor to non-existent, which we need to understand before we buy from there. Could be you'll just have to order another one or some other DAC.
    The performance per price ratio of Chinese electronics is hard to resist. I have had good luck the last few time. I live in the US. I buy the Chinese electronics only from Ebay seller that provide reasonably good protection in DOA parts. Extended warranty? Forget it.

  19. #119
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    Talking S.M.S.L. SD 1955+ USB problem

    help please ,

    im using smsl 1955+ dac

    my amp is akai aa39, pc win 8

    dac is connected to the computer using usb cable..

    while playing music, when i power off the amplifier (only amp), the dac stop working, showing like it stuck (or in a loop like state) , in the window play back device list......also the winamp shows the same , stuck!! no sound when switching on amp back...TOTALLY STUCk


    only way i find is to power off/on the Dac, or in the play back device list in windows , just disable and then enable the DAC device , it will work ..

    any USB driver update available

    Help please

  20. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by muralikundoli View Post
    help please ,

    im using smsl 1955+ dac

    my amp is akai aa39, pc win 8

    dac is connected to the computer using usb cable..

    while playing music, when i power off the amplifier (only amp), the dac stop working, showing like it stuck (or in a loop like state) , in the window play back device list......also the winamp shows the same , stuck!! no sound when switching on amp back...TOTALLY STUCk

    only way i find is to power off/on the Dac, or in the play back device list in windows , just disable and then enable the DAC device , it will work ..

    any USB driver update available

    Help please
    Hello, welcome to AR Forums.

    It is strange that turning off only the would should cause the DAC to stop working -- actually it's your computer music player that stops working, not the DAC itself.

    The SMSL uses only the standard Windows USB audio device although this really should not be a problem. If your computer has S/PDIF output, either coax or optical, try that. If not try one of the music player tweaks below; I believe that Winap and some other players will accommodate either of them. Also, in principle the either of the following ought to improve the sound though they might -- or might not -- fix your particular problem

    Try a WASAPI plug-in. WASAPI simplifies the sounds' path from the player to USB or S/PDIF output versus Window's standard "audio stack" interface. When installed, you would select it as the output device in your music player

    Along the same lines you might try using ASIO4ALL, (see HERE), which also replaces the standard Windows audio stack with a simpler path to audio output, either USB or S/PDIF.

  21. #121
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    thanks for the reply....
    winamp and VLC showing the same problem let me check other software..
    i just found that disturbance in the main (AC) Supply, ie, devices plug and unplug causing the same problem..

    it working good when using Optical input (sony Tv/DVD player), but my pc
    doesn't have optical out..

    i need PC to play my wav or flac files ( i Have large collection)

  22. #122
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    Quote Originally Posted by muralikundoli View Post
    thanks for the reply....
    winamp and VLC showing the same problem let me check other software..
    i just found that disturbance in the main (AC) Supply, ie, devices plug and unplug causing the same problem..

    it working good when using Optical input (sony Tv/DVD player), but my pc
    doesn't have optical out..

    i need PC to play my wav or flac files ( i Have large collection)
    I'm wondering why it is that you need to turn off you amp while you computer music player is still running? If you shut down your music player then switch off the amp, then when you turn on the amp back on and then start your music player, is the playback still frozen?

  23. #123
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    You are right...but
    the amplifier is 200-250w
    i need to pause movie or music some times..
    each time i need a re start (it required a stop and play from beginning)

    computer will be on for morning to night..

    amplifiers im using in home are akai aa39, akai AM u 41 (x2), maratz pm225, akai 4.1, creative etc. (power consuming things)

    now im going to do like .. PC hdmi - media-player optical - smsl - amplifier

    Thank you -----------------

  24. #124
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    I moved an older LCD TV (LG Model DU-37LZ30) to my main audio setup. The TV has only SPDIF Toslink in DTS format without option for PCM. It generates only white noise on the SMSL SD-1955 DAC. What is a good DAC that takes DTS/AC-3 signal?

    Cheap = $100 or less.
    Good = SD1955 level of performance or better.

    Any link to the review or forum post is appreciated.

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    I tried a Filo D07. It works but I found the sound quality awful. I do not expect real high fidelity from TV sound, just reasonable. In that sense, the Filo is very different from a quality DAC such as the SMSL SD-1955.

    I have been spoiled by the SMSL SD-1955 and am looking for something comparable in sound quality. It is hard to believe that there is no reasonably priced DAC with good sound that can handle DTS.

    But it is NOT easy to find. I have a Tianyun Zero DAC that sounds really good, but is PCM only too. I use it with my computer setup.

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