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  1. #1
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    GigaLab MOON DAC - just ordered

    For a while I've been hankering to try a different DAC. My old Assembage DAC 1.5, even modified with better op amps, is has a slightly bright and lean presentation -- not bad, but like I say causing me to want to listen something else for comparision.

    I wasn't disposed to spend north of a grand on the likes of Benchmark, PS Audio, Van Alstine, or Monarchy. At US$400 the Cambridge DacMagic was at the top end of my budget and I like the features, however audiophile reviews have been a bit tepid. Thus I was intreged by an item that has gain some recent notoriety -- the GigaLab MOON. I ordered one from Pacific Value & Electric, though you can get them direct from the east on eBay for a bit less money.

    The Moon is an NOS (non-oversampling) DAC with USB input; the unit uses the reputedly superior DIR9001 receiver chip plus eight Philips TDA-1543 DAC chips in parallel to supply 2.1V output without op amps. The clincher for me was that Pacific Valve & Electric rated this US$185 DAC up with DACs cost 3x as much or more -- see their DAC Sound Guide.

    My first setup will be a direct replacement for the Assemblage, that is, using S/PDIF from my M-Audio Revolution 7.1 sound card using ASIO driver from Foobar2000. I'll likely get around to testing the USB interface at some point; since my music machine is WinXP, I try ASIO4ALL for the interface from Foobar.

    No doubt I'll be waiting two weeks or so for delivery from Pacific Valve and will be stung with brokerage and taxes however that's the reality of life in the GWN. I'll update with a review in due course.
    Last edited by Feanor; 02-02-2009 at 08:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Nice one! Definitely let us know what you think of it

  3. #3
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    Cool. I'll be curious. They give it some very impressive scores for the price!

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Kevio's Avatar
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    Interesting design. It's not a very impressive DAC chip on it's own. Robust though - I've used them for non-audio digital to analog conversion conversion applications.

    Ganging 8 of them together could potentially bring system dynamic range into the low -90 decibel range.

  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Interesting!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevio
    Interesting design. It's not a very impressive DAC chip on it's own. Robust though - I've used them for non-audio digital to analog conversion conversion applications.

    Ganging 8 of them together could potentially bring system dynamic range into the low -90 decibel range.
    Kevio,

    Since you obviously have some technical insight, I'm curious to know where the DACs , receiver, etc. are located. The unit is quite small and most components seem to be surface mounted. Is this a good thing or bad? Not that I expect to be swapping anything.
    ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails GigaLab MOON DAC - just ordered-gigalabmoon_inside.jpg  

  6. #6
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Update: come & gone

    The GigaLab Moon DAC has come and gone back to Pacific Valve & Electronics. My thanks to Pacific Value for their prompt shipping and response to my emails.

    The unit was DOA despite that Pacific Valve tests before they ship. Presumably the unit was damaged in shipping though there was no sign of damage. I did see that Canadian Customs had opened the package for inspection, (I guess they didn't know what "GigaLab Moon DAC" meant), but the unit had been properly repacked.

    Pacific Valve was willing to replace the unit but I declined -- shipping stuff back & forth across the border runs up the brokerage and taxes. So I sent it back for refund.

  7. #7
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    The GigaLab Moon DAC has come and gone back to Pacific Valve & Electronics. My thanks to Pacific Value for their prompt shipping and response to my emails.

    The unit was DOA despite that Pacific Valve tests before they ship. Presumably the unit was damaged in shipping though there was no sign of damage. I did see that Canadian Customs had opened the package for inspection, (I guess they didn't know what "GigaLab Moon DAC" meant), but the unit had been properly repacked.

    Pacific Valve was willing to replace the unit but I declined -- shipping stuff back & forth across the border runs up the brokerage and taxes. So I sent it back for refund.
    FYI, shipping is one thing, but brokerage and taxes are avoided if Pacific Valve uses "Warranty Replacement" on the declaration...
    Just in case you want to try another.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    That's a shame.
    What now?

  9. #9
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Might work

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    FYI, shipping is one thing, but brokerage and taxes are avoided if Pacific Valve uses "Warranty Replacement" on the declaration...
    Just in case you want to try another.
    Thanks, Kex. Funny that PV didn't mention that. I've never had occassion to do this before, but I know that Customs is skeptical of declarations; note that they felt the need to open the package. I dare say I would have to offer some evidence of an earlier return, (which I might be able to do).

    Any way, a DOA didn't conduce to confidence in the quality of the product, so basically I just said to heck with it.

  10. #10
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Nothing

    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    That's a shame.
    What now?
    I'll likely hold off doing anything about a new DAC for awhile. I don't have a huge problem with my current DAC, I really just felt like trying something different.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    That's a bit bland

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    I'll likely hold off doing anything about a new DAC for awhile. I don't have a huge problem with my current DAC, I really just felt like trying something different.
    I'll send a few bucks your way when I start makin' 'em

  12. #12
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Thanks, Kex. Funny that PV didn't mention that. I've never had occassion to do this before, but I know that Customs is skeptical of declarations; note that they felt the need to open the package. I dare say I would have to offer some evidence of an earlier return, (which I might be able to do).

    Any way, a DOA didn't conduce to confidence in the quality of the product, so basically I just said to heck with it.
    They probably didn't know it. Most shippers aren't aware of the subtle rules of Canadian importation legislation. It's frustrating, I don't know why Canadians allow that system to exists - they've just got bigger worries all the time I guess. I try to bring stuff back with me when I visit across the US now to avoid those draconian importation fees the shipping companies charge. Ugh.

    Given your first experience, can't say I blame you for holding for now.

  13. #13
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    The Big Scam

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    They probably didn't know it. Most shippers aren't aware of the subtle rules of Canadian importation legislation. It's frustrating, I don't know why Canadians allow that system to exists - they've just got bigger worries all the time I guess. I try to bring stuff back with me when I visit across the US now to avoid those draconian importation fees the shipping companies charge. Ugh.

    Given your first experience, can't say I blame you for holding for now.
    The biggest rip-off is the brokerage fee charged by FedEx and UPS. They have cashed in on the government requirement to collect GST and PST, (and duties, but that's often nil) -- it's a license to print money. The brokerage fee is always proportional to the value of the merchandize.

    Canada Post's handling fee, on the other hand, very reasonable relatively speaking: a flat $5 for ground or $8 for expedited post. When ordering from the US, always stipulate shipping USPS where that's an option.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular Kevio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    Kevio,

    Since you obviously have some technical insight, I'm curious to know where the DACs , receiver, etc. are located. The unit is quite small and most components seem to be surface mounted. Is this a good thing or bad? Not that I expect to be swapping anything.
    ...
    I'll guess that the DACs are attached to the under-side of the board in the upper left.

    Surface-mount is generally considered to give better performance than through-hole construction:
    • Everything is smaller so signals don't go all over the place.
    • Leads to components are shorter or non-existent reducing stray inductance.
    • With surface mount, you don't have to drill as many holes in the circuit board. At some level, the holes can affect integrity of your ground plane.

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