main use to me is as a usb->SPDIF convertor; not worth $87 in my opinion; definitely needs an amp

A Review On: Breeze Audio PD05 XMOS + PCM5102 DAC

Breeze Audio PD05 XMOS + PCM5102 DAC

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Purchased on:
Price paid: $87.00
ag8908
Posted · Updated · 1508 Views · 0 Comments

Pros: it works

Cons: needs an amp, unremarkable

First the preliminaries, like, where do you find this and does it work? You can find this on ebay by searching for PCM5102 (called that because it has the high-end Burr Brown i.e. Texas Instrument PCM5102 chip), and you get the drivers from the link below (the purple baidu link) http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=35324113465 which work fine with both windows 7 and windows 8. I don't even know if the brand is really Breeze Audio but that's what it says on the case.

 

As another preliminary, please note that I am reviewing this amped. I connected its coaxial/SPDIF out to the coaxial in of my 500W yamaha stereo receiver, and plugged my Sennheiser HD800 into the receiver's headphone jack. Unamped this sounds listenable, I guess, but it also sounds intolerably bright and it's missing warmth. It's really a severely distorted listing experience unamped; an amp makes a night and day difference and I would not recommend buying it if you don't have an amplifier. Its built in amp is the worst amp I have ever heard, including all of my cell phone and laptop amps. But I can't penalize it for that because it's sold as a DAC not an amp. I'm also powering it via an external 9v power supply (not a fancy one) but I haven't tested if that makes any difference relative to using USB power, which you can also use.

 

Eventually, I learned that if I connect the coax/SPDIF out of this DAC to the coax/SPDIF in of my Yamaha receiver, then I am really using my Yamaha receiver's DAC, and this DAC is being bypassed. The maker built this into this DAC to let you use it as a means of converting a USB signal into a SPDIF/coax signal, for high-end DACs that only have a SPDIF/coax input. If you use the SPDIF/coax output of this DAC you are completely bypassing its DAC. So the review I originally wrote was for my Yamaha receiver's DAC, lol, which I have updated below. I now connect the headphone out of this DAC to the RCA L/R in of my Yamaha stereo receiver, to make sure that it's this DAC, and not the Yamaha's DAC, that is being used to convert the digital signal to analog. This method still warms up the sound significantly. Edit: Note you can get away with not having an amp if you drive a low impedance headphone, which I verified by connecting this to my SE846 and my SRH940. But you need an amp if driving a high impedance headphone like the HD800.

 

Now that I was actually listening to this DAC -- in summary, I'm not sure this DAC sounds better than my other DACs. It's OK, but a modern laptop/phone already has a pretty good DAC. I'm not sure you gain much if anything buy using this thing. Also, I heard some line noise. Very slight line noise but I can hear it if I try. Edit: Actually I later hooked this up to a different headphone amp and discovered that the line noise was caused by my stereo receiver and not the DAC. The receiver doesn't cause line noise with other DACs but for some reason when combined with this it created line noise.

 

At $80 + $7 shipping, due to its lack of remarkable characteristics and a terrible amplifier, this is a 1 star product. But I guess it has value in that its SPDIF out allows me to use the DAC of my Yamaha receiver, which was previously inaccessible.

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