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Chameleon DAC listening and modifications - Page 68

post #1006 of 1144
Quote:
x

 

With all these mods scattered on the thread, and now the Chameleon is in production, I propose that we start an open, editable list, that orders mods by bang for buck and skill level based on our experiences. (For example number one has to be removing the filter caps). Must be remembered that in a sense we have 2 dacs here, USB and SPIDF. So the list will have to split at some point when covering input. But a reference point will make the mod options clearer and more easily accessible for new owners to try, and expand on.

 

 

Great idea, I nominate you to handle this process! Perhaps people could just send their DAC's to you to Mod for free, that way they wouldn't have to read or learn anything. With all that free time they could put all their effort into complaining how Woody modded their DAC but it still doesn't sound quite right in their system. You could learn the finer points on how to listen closer to what these golden ear audiophiles have to say. Perhaps a chain of progressively small flaming hoops would offer even more refinement to your labor of love.Sounds like fun!

 

(I probably shouldn't be responding at this wee hour)
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by taiphan View Post

Yep I direct wired the d+/d- directly to the board. However you will need to wire the ground and + wire too, as this acts as a switch for the dac to select usb input, otherwise it will default to coax.

 


 


Yea I took a closer look and yes that's the way it is indeed wired. I guess one could hard wire a 5 VDC jumper wire in place of using the power off the USB cable. Perhaps if the whole 5 VDC rail was running on a battery then maybe the jumper thing might help. However now you have a USB only DAC.

post #1007 of 1144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Allen View Post


 

Rhodes- yes better dynamics and resolution but more on a global level. I described it earlier as akin to adding a more powerful and better quality amp to your system. Which of coarse you are doing as every change to the 8 VDC rail for the DAC chips will change how the DAC sounds. After all ... the 16 DAC chips in the Chameleon are collectively our source amplifier.
 

Will you be powering the 8 VDC rail for the DAC chips with any of your new power supplies?

 

I have thinking about trying to power the entire DAC on the new LiFePo4 batteries. In the past I tried using lithium ion and lead acid batteries but just couldn't capture the dynamics. The LiFePo4 batteries on the other hand offer exponentially lower internal resistance, close to that of the best film caps. This should translate into much greater speed and dynamics and off coarse much lower noise. If we can get the batteries really close to the DAC chips we might not even need a Film Reservoir Mod (FRM).

 

As I said ... Game On!

 

Ok, you convinced me :-) Let me order a few bags of those 0,1uF MKP's. Now think of a plan how to implement them because the 0,01uF where already hard to fit let alone these ones...

 

The two power supplies will replace the DC-30W and each supply will get its own transformer. I expect a lot from this upgrade as the output impedance of these supplies is virtually zero so this must give an increase in dynamics and overall performance. I noticed this already when I implemented the supply to the Valab DAC.

The reason I added the Z17 regs is because it would be stupid to leave a those noisy LM1117's behind such a low noise power supply.
The best solution would be 3 supplies (+8V, +5V and +3.3V) and remove the regs completely but that is definitely over my budget and besides that hard to fit in the enclosure as that would require another transformer. ;-)


Edited by rhodes54 - 6/5/10 at 2:03am
post #1008 of 1144

I'm going to try Ero MKT1817 0.1uf combined with the 0.01MKP's in this position. They are polyester, so less detailed then polypropelene, but they are damn cheap and smaller, so hopefully will fit with the existing MKP which will do the speed (lower charge time) and finer detail work.

 

post #1009 of 1144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Allen View Post
........... A much simpler and lower cost alternative is to use the latest battery technology (LiFePo4) to power the 5 VDC rail on the Chameleon. While you will still be using all the same stock parts, logic dictates that reducing the ripple on the 5VDC rail will lower overall jitter/voltage distortions. I propose using a battery & charger for RC cars with a built in low voltage auto cut off for safety. We can lower the voltage to 5VDC using a simple inline resistor hopefully not needing a regulator. Perhaps recyling the Spdif switch to select from stock 5VDC supply or Battery 5 VDC.

 

..............

 

Yes, I also believe that you are on the right track here & will be interested in your results. My personal experience is that the right battery beats all regulators that I (& others) have heard. I've tried batteries in the past & found them to be clean but somewhat lifeless, lacking dynamics. I always thought that this was due to their internal impedance & lack of speed in delivery of the current needed.  At these low current requirements this is probably not a big issue but who knows - the ears will tell.
 

post #1010 of 1144
Thread Starter 

game over.

 

I have been watching but have felt content with the sound of DAC that I am no longer compelled to make any changes. I am not striving for the highest rung on the bar. Probably could nudge this thing forward but I KNOW I have hit the sweet spot.

 

full disclosure: I am waiting for a CD transport from little dot to arrive. My NAD CDP gives a small burst of sound periodically or will lose SPDIF signal to the DAC. Green light goes out. This never happened with the3 VALAB but in switching back I did notice a very small burst of noise - now that I was sensitive to it after all this time.

 

So I do expect better signal fidelity from the new transport, which equals less jitter, which means better sound. But dat's it amigos. I'm done B.

 

Been waiting, too, to hear positive or negative on output transformers. If it's negative I want to hear. Damn, I love mine.

 

Is anyone just plane satisfied?

 

Next stage for me is tube amp and horns.

 

logo.JPG


Edited by PatOMalley - 6/5/10 at 12:06pm
post #1011 of 1144

Hi Pat,

Am I reading CMOB-2S on your OTs and if so what do those cost per pair? I cannot find prices on the Cinemag website.

Jay

post #1012 of 1144
Thread Starter 

i can not remember exactly if it was 60 each or 60 total.

just email them and they will give a quote.

post #1013 of 1144

Pat- yes there has to be a balancing point at all times within your system and while the source is very crucial you cannot neglect the system as a whole. Give me a call I have a really cool direction you could head.

 

That said I really think this LiFePo4 battery technology is what hi-end audio needs to really move forward. Every designer runs into the issue of the dirty AC grid that we are all forced to drink from. The very best products mitigate these issues with very complex power supplies and top secret grounding schemes that can take years to perfect. While these new batteries are just starting to hit the scene they provide a chance to seriously simplify the audio circuits for us DIY types. The Chameleon DAC is just begging for "one" or as Rhodes explains "three" ... a 3.3V, 5V. and 8V. Jkeny has already proven success using a LifePo4 to run the 3.3 V for the HiFace. Stands to reason we might be able to simply remove the regulators inside the Chameleon and replace them with just these batteries. While this has yet to be proved it is damn intriguing, not to mention running the 8V DAC chip rail on these new batteries.

 

I got my meter out this morning and discovered the only thing that requires 5V is the VCXO clocks and the HC157. Think of this HC157 as our I2S amplifier, yes it provides switching but mainly it boosts the I2S voltage. (At least I think that's what it does). If so then a Hiface with 3.3V I2S out and a single HC157 could theoretically be used as a Poor Man's Pace Car. Mount the Hiface internally, eliminate the main circuit board, and wire I2S direct from the HC157 to the DAC chips like I already had done. How exciting. (I believe Jkeny can already supply a Hiface with I2S out.)

 

If not this is the latest news from M2Tech.

http://www.m2tech-hiface.com.au/index.php/news

post #1014 of 1144

I know computer audio is just now becoming economically and technically viable solution for hi-end audio. The fact was the software and hardware interface was simply not up to the task until now. I have been playing with computer audio for the past 5 years and the M2Tech device is a real game changer and works like a dream. You would be hard pressed to find a transport that could sonically match its performance, and the price is unbeatable. Here is a really good guide from DCS to get started with computer audio.

 

http://www.dcsltd.co.uk/page/assets/dCS_Guide_to_Computer_Audio.pdf

 

My friend Gary just hooked me up yesterday with a really amazing tweak that was the sonic equivalent of the Blackgate/Film bypass mod. No kidding it was that big. I understand this tweak can work with any Apple computer with a Intel Core2Duo.

 

http://blog.leanopen.nl/2010/04/23/doesnt-your-mac-mini-want-to-boot-in-64-bit/comment-page-1/#comment-70

 

Yes my Mac Mini with SSD is now running in 64 bit mode and it was like adding jet fuel. The Amarra Music Player along with the OEM Hiface I2S card inside my Pace Car are now humming along at blinding speed. Even the stock TeraDak USB driver improved drastically, with perhaps double the soundstage size along with better dynamics and all the rest. I thought like Pat I was near the end of road of with my digital source, this tweak really blew my mind. Thanks Gary.

 

By the way Amarra will be releasing a $79 version in July called Amarra Jr.

 

Computer Audio is here to stay!

post #1015 of 1144


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Allen View Post

I know computer audio is just now becoming economically and technically viable solution for hi-end audio. The fact was the software and hardware interface was simply not up to the task until now. I have been playing with computer audio for the past 5 years and the M2Tech device is a real game changer and works like a dream. You would be hard pressed to find a transport that could sonically match its performance, and the price is unbeatable. Here is a really good guide from DCS to get started with computer audio.

 

http://www.dcsltd.co.uk/page/assets/dCS_Guide_to_Computer_Audio.pdf

 

My friend Gary just hooked me up yesterday with a really amazing tweak that was the sonic equivalent of the Blackgate/Film bypass mod. No kidding it was that big. I understand this tweak can work with any Apple computer with a Intel Core2Duo.

 

http://blog.leanopen.nl/2010/04/23/doesnt-your-mac-mini-want-to-boot-in-64-bit/comment-page-1/#comment-70

 

Yes my Mac Mini with SSD is now running in 64 bit mode and it was like adding jet fuel. The Amarra Music Player along with the OEM Hiface I2S card inside my Pace Car are now humming along at blinding speed. Even the stock TeraDak USB driver improved drastically, with perhaps double the soundstage size along with better dynamics and all the rest. I thought like Pat I was near the end of road of with my digital source, this tweak really blew my mind. Thanks Gary.

 

By the way Amarra will be releasing a $79 version in July called Amarra Jr.

 

Computer Audio is here to stay!

 

I have been trying to get my Mac Mini to run in 64bit for ages!  This is the first time I have listened in 64 bit....  This is f***in incredible!  I completely agree with Bill.  This is a MUST do!  I can't believe HOW MUCH BETTER IT IS!  I have a 2009 Mac Mini with a HiFace & Pure Music player.  Thanks once again Bill.
 

post #1016 of 1144

Here is what Apple says about the Snow Leopard operating system.

http://www.apple.com/macosx/technology/

One of the main features of the 64 Bit architecture is its more efficient use of RAM. I have the current maximum of 4 GB installed but the sky's the limit in 64 Bit mode. With Amarra working like a memory player the more RAM the better and I have to say I am curious what even more RAM would sound like.

 

My friend Jonathan just dug up this new device, Blue Ray and Solid State drive in one.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2364364,00.asp

The current Mac Mini is available for $599, and with a few simple tweaks it can provide stunning performance as a music server. I have created this pictorial guide to opening and upgrading a Mac Mini.

http://picasaweb.google.com/baulsaudio/MacMiniMod?authkey=Gv1sRgCPmsgJje9K_E9AE#5397371113381425506

 

 

post #1017 of 1144


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Allen View Post

Here is what Apple says about the Snow Leopard operating system.

http://www.apple.com/macosx/technology/

One of the main features of the 64 Bit architecture is its more efficient use of RAM. I have the current maximum of 4 GB installed but the sky's the limit in 64 Bit mode. With Amarra working like a memory player the more RAM the better and I have to say I am curious what even more RAM would sound like.

 

My friend Jonathan just dug up this new device, Blue Ray and Solid State drive in one.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2364364,00.asp

 

The current Mac Mini is available for $599, and with a few simple tweaks it can provide stunning performance as a music server. I have created this pictorial guide to opening and upgrading a Mac Mini.

http://picasaweb.google.com/baulsaudio/MacMiniMod?authkey=Gv1sRgCPmsgJje9K_E9AE#5397371113381425506

 

 

Bill,  I was thinking about adding a SSD drive using the Firewire 800 connector (the fast one) using a case like this:

 

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150436588133&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

 

Means the SSD is external though.  I am currently using a 2.5" HDD I ripped out of a friends old laptop that sounds very good via USB. 

 

The 2.5" drive sounds better than a 3.5" drive I tried.  Maybe lower jitter in a smaller format drive?  Who knows......

 

They key thing here is do NOT have your music on the same drive as your OS.

 

I am not sure if the 4Gb memory limit on ther Mac Mini is hardware or 32/64 bit related.  I will do some research on this.

 

I have also been thinking about the Mac Mini power supply.  Looks like other people have also:

 

http://www.boldercables.com/servlet/-strse-412/Power-Supply-for-Mac/Detail

 

That's a bit pricey but there is some info out there how to build your own...


 


Edited by skibum - 6/7/10 at 12:15am
post #1018 of 1144


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wood View Post

Very nice work Taipan, did you notice any improvments, any chance of a pic so others could give it a try?


Hi Wood,

 

It's pretty straight forward, there's already labels on the Chameleon indicating which is D+/ D- etc. I just wired direct from the ultravox to these. Then I broke the four corresponding legs off the input board so that it's no longer making a connection with the trace on the main board.

 

Just a tip, if you hardwire all four wires, you will need to make a switch if you intend to use the coax input. The switch is to cut USB 5v power to the Chameleon so that coax input is selected when u want to use coax.

 

 

SQ wise, can't say for sure if there is any improvement to the sound however i always prefer to go direct.

 

I tapped into the Chameleon's own power supply to power the Ultravox, i did notice a degrade in the sound, the sound was a little flatter. So now i am powering the ultravox with a seperate 12v psu. sound quality came back to the way it was.

 

i am 90% happy with my system, but is considering the hiface. Anyone compared the hiface with the ultravox before?

 

 

 

 

post #1019 of 1144
post #1020 of 1144

anybody have a chance to compare this unit with a modded Lite Dac 60? it's what i have and am wondering if chameleon could be considered an upgrade from the dac 60 when all the mods here are applied on it. 

 

 

 

ARG PLEASE WON'T ANYBODY HELP ME WITH MY QUESTION? i've been looking for a dac to replace my modded lite dac 60 so that i can finally trade away its analytical highs and aggressiveness for warmth and 'vinylness' and feel like this dac could be the ticket to it. of course it would be regretful still if i lost dynamics and soundstage in the process. so please, i'd like to ask again- modded dac 60 < modded chameleon? your answer= my gratitude 


Edited by curiousmuffin - 6/19/10 at 5:16am
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