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Zhaolu 2.5 - Page 8

post #106 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by El Condor View Post
Do you know where can I get those opamps?
You could try ordering samples from National Semiconductor
post #107 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean H View Post
The "analog-out" is straight from the DAC's analog output, fixed in level. The "phone-out" is a signal from the headphone amp and so this output is volume controlled and essentially let's you use the Zhaolu as a preamp with an external amplifier. I use it with a Parasound ZAMP amplifer and Paradigm Atom speakers in an office setup.
Ahhh! Great! Thanks alot for that . I'm guessing that with a Zapfilter upgrade, phone out would loose it's meaning, or would it. Analog out would be straight out the DAC and Zapfilter would be through phone out?
post #108 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by El Condor View Post
Ahhh! Great! Thanks alot for that . I'm guessing that with a Zapfilter upgrade, phone out would loose it's meaning, or would it. Analog out would be straight out the DAC and Zapfilter would be through phone out?
Yeah, unfortunately there just would not be enough room in the Zhaolu's chassis to accomodate for a headphone amp (stock or discrete) so you would lose the preamp output (phone out) capability. In the one and only Zhaolu I know of with a Zap filter installed (it was a Zhaolu 2.0) you can see there needs to be room for the Zap Filter's new analog output board and a secondary transformer. Even though the 2.5 has a modular design allowing you to actually remove the analog output board (the 2.0 had one single PCB), where the new Zap Filter analog section could possibly fit, you still need room for the second transformer. Simply not possible. So, yes, you lose preamp capability if you go with a Zap Filter in the 2.5 because you have to lose the headphone amp.
post #109 of 150
I am interested in buying the Zhaolu 2.5, but I am a little bit confused by people talking about the "discrete amp" part. I think I don't need it since I want to connect the analog output of the DAC to my stereo receiver. Could someone confirm to me that I can connect the DAC like that and that I won't use the builtin amp of the Zhaolu that way please?

My chain would be:
Squeezebox 3 -> Zhaolu -> Denon DRA-455 stereo receiver -> speakers
post #110 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by egraaf View Post
I am interested in buying the Zhaolu 2.5, but I am a little bit confused by people talking about the "discrete amp" part. I think I don't need it since I want to connect the analog output of the DAC to my stereo receiver. Could someone confirm to me that I can connect the DAC like that and that I won't use the builtin amp of the Zhaolu that way please?

My chain would be:
Squeezebox 3 -> Zhaolu -> Denon DRA-455 stereo receiver -> speakers
Well, as Sean H mentioned, analog out would be fixed level output coming straight out of the analog output of the DAC. This signal wouldn't go through the headphone amp module. If on the other hand you want to preamp your signal through the Zhaolu (phone out instead of analog out), getting the discrete amp upgrade is probably a good idea.

Basically, If you're only interrested in using the DAC, don't bother with the headphone amp.
post #111 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by egraaf View Post
I am interested in buying the Zhaolu 2.5, but I am a little bit confused by people talking about the "discrete amp" part. I think I don't need it since I want to connect the analog output of the DAC to my stereo receiver. Could someone confirm to me that I can connect the DAC like that and that I won't use the builtin amp of the Zhaolu that way please?
El Condor pretty much answered your question. Simply put, all Zhaolu's come with a stock headphone amp for headphone listening which you can upgrade to a better quality version that is made up of "discrete" components.

The Zhaolu has two analog outputs - one is straight from the DAC's analog output, fixed in level just like any other DAC, which is the one you would use in your stereo set up. The other analog output is a signal coming from the headphone amp which allows you to use the Zhaolu as a preamp, where you can control the volume coming out of the unit, it's a bonus feature is all but this would not be used in your case. You could use this output with a two-channel amplifer and speakers for example. Hope this helps.
post #112 of 150
Hi Sean H, How about Musiland MD10?
post #113 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by chengzhe View Post
Hi Sean H, How about Musiland MD10?
Hello - Yes, the Musiland MD10, it's a very nice DAC! I've been listening to it for a couple weeks now and it's a unique little DAC. It's very neutral and detailed, quite musical and easily goes head to head with my Zhaolu 2.5. Very nice sense of 3-d and layering. The LCD display is pretty cool and the USB/BNC digital inputs are nice. The small package is really nice too. Surprisingly the headphone output is amazingly good with Grado's! I saw in their manual it states it's best suited for cans with low to mid impedance ratings, likely not the best with higher Z cans. It seems to be more of a convenience or bonus feature suited for highly efficient, low Z cans and use with something like computer speakers being a mini output. They do claim it to be Class A though. With my HF-1's it's sweet. Pretty cool little DAC, very high "coolness" factor!
post #114 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean H View Post
Hello - Yes, the Musiland MD10, it's a very nice DAC! I've been listening to it for a couple weeks now and it's a unique little DAC. It's very neutral and detailed, quite musical and easily goes head to head with my Zhaolu 2.5. Very nice sense of 3-d and layering. The LCD display is pretty cool and the USB/BNC digital inputs are nice. The small package is really nice too. Surprisingly the headphone output is amazingly good with Grado's! I saw in their manual it states it's best suited for cans with low to mid impedance ratings, likely not the best with higher Z cans. It seems to be more of a convenience or bonus feature suited for highly efficient, low Z cans and use with something like computer speakers being a mini output. They do claim it to be Class A though. With my HF-1's it's sweet. Pretty cool little DAC, very high "coolness" factor!

The Musiland MD10 looks interesting. I like how it has a USB input. Have you tried it with the USB input? If it is at least as good as the Zhaolu D2.5, I am tempted to try one.

Also, do you know what kind of output stage it uses for the lineout? If it uses opamps, is opamp-rolling an option?
post #115 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by cclragnarok View Post
The Musiland MD10 looks interesting. I like how it has a USB input. Have you tried it with the USB input? If it is at least as good as the Zhaolu D2.5, I am tempted to try one.

Also, do you know what kind of output stage it uses for the lineout? If it uses opamps, is opamp-rolling an option?
I have been using the USB input and have compared it to the Coaxial and in my system can't tell much of a difference. It's not a 12s USB input btw (sorry Jon L). The DAC is definitely on par with a Zhaolu. I have not done an heavy comparisons but it's right in there. It uses a digital volume that seems to be really good, I don't hear any noise or blatent degradation at all. Both the line out and the headphone out is controlled by the volume. I just set the line out to 0 dB so it's not attenuating the signal and then my amp controls the volume. the sound is nicely layered and dimensional and neutral.

I believe the analog stage is opamp but I am no expert here. Reason I do not know for sure is it does have one tiny SOIC opamp in the analog stage, an AD275, so the opamp is not socketed (DIP), but given this is the first DAC design I have had with one opamp I am not 100% sure.

The LCD display is really cool. There is a button on the unit that operates a menu of options you can scroll through using the volume up/down buttons to select digital input (BNC, USB, Toslink, Coax), output (headphone/line), volume, bitdepth (16, 20, 24), current settings and an option for HiFi or AV which I have not figured out yet. It remembers your settings when you power down too. Pretty cool unit.
post #116 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean H View Post
I have been using the USB input and have compared it to the Coaxial and in my system can't tell much of a difference. It's not a 12s USB input btw (sorry Jon L). The DAC is definitely on par with a Zhaolu. I have not done an heavy comparisons but it's right in there. It uses a digital volume that seems to be really good, I don't hear any noise or blatent degradation at all. Both the line out and the headphone out is controlled by the volume. I just set the line out to 0 dB so it's not attenuating the signal and then my amp controls the volume. the sound is nicely layered and dimensional and neutral.

I believe the analog stage is opamp but I am no expert here. Reason I do not know for sure is it does have one tiny SOIC opamp in the analog stage, an AD275, so the opamp is not socketed (DIP), but given this is the first DAC design I have had with one opamp I am not 100% sure.

The LCD display is really cool. There is a button on the unit that operates a menu of options you can scroll through using the volume up/down buttons to select digital input (BNC, USB, Toslink, Coax), output (headphone/line), volume, bitdepth (16, 20, 24), current settings and an option for HiFi or AV which I have not figured out yet. It remembers your settings when you power down too. Pretty cool unit.

That sounds great. Thanks a lot!

I would prefer socketed DIP opamps, so I can try my OPA2107 and OPA2111 opamps, but I guess it doesn't matter too much if it sounds good already (and it must be pretty good if it is on the same level as your D2.5C with OPA2107 and cap-bypassing). It will probably also prevent me from opening up the unit and voiding the warranty.
post #117 of 150

I finally jumped

Here it is,

I finally decided to modify my Zhaolu D2.5A (caps bypass)!

http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showp...&postcount=866.

I'm certain there will be other mods eventually. If you guys have any recommendations, let me know (anything and everything) .
post #118 of 150
By using the phone out, I understand that the zhaolu acts as a preamp. Now this may seem like a newb question, but when using the zhaolu as a preamp, the digital signal (sent by my sound card in this case) STILL GOES THROUGH THE DAC IN THE ZHAOLU, correct? If this is so, why wouldn't I use the zhaolu as a preamp?

Also, would you recommend using my speakers (klipsch promedia 2.1) through the phone out and my hd650s through the analog out or vice versa (rigs are in my sig).
post #119 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mher6 View Post
By using the phone out, I understand that the zhaolu acts as a preamp. Now this may seem like a newb question, but when using the zhaolu as a preamp, the digital signal (sent by my sound card in this case) STILL GOES THROUGH THE DAC IN THE ZHAOLU, correct?
It depend weather you're plugged in through "optical S/PDIF" or "digital Coax" vs "Phone in". If you're plugged in S/PDIF or digital Coax then your digital signal will get processed by the DAC. There are 3 places where you can recuperate your signal:

1- Through the headphone out in the front to drive a pair of headphones
2- Through phone out in the back to use the Zhaolu as a preamp
3- Through analog out in the back to get a fixed line output coming directly out of the DAC (No amplification or amplification control from the Zhaolu)

If on the other hand you're feeding a signal through "Phone in", you're only using the amp portion of the Zhaolu and you can recuperate the signal in 2 places:

1- Through the headphone out in the front to drive a pair of headphones
2- Through phone out in the back to use the Zhaolu as a preamp

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mher6 View Post
If this is so, why wouldn't I use the zhaolu as a preamp?
I'm not sure I understand. This doesn't seem to follow logically from your question. Can you clarify?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mher6 View Post
Also, would you recommend using my speakers (klipsch promedia 2.1) through the phone out and my hd650s through the analog out or vice versa (rigs are in my sig).
It depends if you have something in between the DAC and whatever you want to drive (headphones or speakers). If you're feeding your headphones straight out the "Analog out", then you won't have any volume control capability through the Zhaolu. If you feed them through either the front phone output or through the Phone out in the back, then you'll get volume control capabilities.

If you feed speakers through Phone out, you'll get the Zhaolu volume control capability also (this also depends of your speaker impedance, Of course, you still have to feed to spec with the Zhaolu not to bust it ).

Hope this helps a bit.
post #120 of 150
To clarify, what I really wanted to know is what are the benefits to using the zhaolu as a preamp (phone out vs analog out). Should it/will it sound better if I use the zhaolu as a preamp? Or would you suggest using only my H5 to control the volume.
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