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Chameleon DAC listening and modifications - Page 69

post #1021 of 1144

Hi curiousmuffin,

 

I guess nobody has replied to your question because there is nobody around who has made this comparison.

 

I can tell you that you would defiantly not lose soundstage and dynamics with a modded Chameleon, but you would lose aggressiveness and yet retain clarity in the highs.  Oh, and It rocks!


Edited by Wood - 6/19/10 at 12:50pm
post #1022 of 1144

Well gentlemen I finally put the finishing touches on my Black Chameleon I2S today,

 

CIMG4991.JPG

 

To recap, I completely removed the main circuit board and had Steve Nugent from Empirical Audio re-map and hard wire I2S direct, they are the 3 twisted pairs in the foreground and the re-wires on the board. (I use a Northstar I2S cable to feed the I2S via an Empirical Audio Pace Car USB, Mac Mini with SSD booted into 64 Bit mode, and the Amarra Music Player.)  To continue the Black and Blue theme are 16 each 47uf Blackgate FK's with 16 blue .1uf Vishay Roderstein poly/film bypass caps on each DAC chip, voltage is set right at 8 VDC. If you look real close you can see the back side of a Texas Instruments 175 ohm naked foil I/V resistor at the end of the first row. Output caps are copper Duelund 2.7uf Virtual Stack Foil caps, hard wired from the board to the RCA output jacks. The RCA ground wires are pure silver wire to a common ground point at the end of the ground plane. The Red and Green power/ground wires are 18 gauge single crystal copper, as is the custom power cable I made from the DC-30 power supply to the DAC. The only thing else in the picture is the FRM in the upper left corner. It consists of both recycled 10uf Wima file caps wired together with a 1000uf Blackgate FK bypassed with yet another .1uf film cap. I stripped the 18 gauge power/ground wire long, ran it through the bottom of the board and soldered them direct to the film caps just for good measure.

 

I think I have taken the Chameleon DAC as far as it can go, I know I know, there is always LiFePo battery supply and silver output transformers but that is some serious icing for this cake. It's been a long and winding road from my first Mod on the original Valab DAC 18 months ago to this minimalistic Black Chameleon I2S ... its been one hell of a ride. The fact is this DAC sounds way beyond even my wildest imagination .. but now it's time to just sit back and listen.

 

Peace!


Edited by Bill Allen - 6/20/10 at 2:31pm
post #1023 of 1144

You need to have us all over for libations and listening to prove it.

post #1024 of 1144

Bravo Bill!

I applaud your perseverance. I do hope to hear your findings when you power that whole thing with Lifepo4 batteries someday ;-)

post #1025 of 1144

No doubt the reference level Chameleon Bill. You have set the bar very high, gives the rest of us something to aim at. You have no doubt listened to a lot of dacs on you path to audio Nirvana, perhaps you might let us know how it compares with some of the 'could of beens' left on that road?

post #1026 of 1144

looks like a lunchbox full of candies for the mod junkie. yummmie 

post #1027 of 1144
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Allen View Post

Well gentlemen I finally put the finishing touches on my Back Chameleon I2S today

 

To recap, I completely removed the main circuit board and had Steve Nugent from Empirical Audio re-map and hard wire I2S direct, they are the 3 twisted pairs in the foreground and the re-wires on the board. (I use a Northstar I2S cable to feed the I2S via an Empirical Audio Pace Car USB, Mac Mini with SSD booted into 64 Bit mode, and the Amarra Music Player.)  To continue the Black and Blue theme are 16 each 47uf Blackgate FK's with 16 blue .1uf Vishay Roderstein poly/film bypass caps on each DAC chip, voltage is set right at 8 VDC. If you look real close you can see the back side of a Texas Instruments 175 ohm naked foil I/V resistor at the end of the first row. Output caps are copper Duelund 2.7uf Virtual Stack Foil caps, hard wired from the board to the RCA output jacks. The RCA ground wires are pure silver wire to a common ground point at the end of the ground plane. The Red and Green power/ground wires are 18 gauge single crystal copper, as is the custom power cable I made from the DC-30 power supply to the DAC. The only thing else in the picture is the FRM in the upper left corner. It consists of both recycled 10uf Wima file caps wired together with a 1000uf Blackgate FK bypassed with yet another .1uf film cap. I stripped the 18 gauge power/ground wire long, ran it through the bottom of the board and soldered them direct to the film caps just for good measure.

 

I think I have taken the Chameleon DAC as far as it can go, I know I know, there is always LiFePo battery supply and silver output transformers but that is some serious icing for this cake. It's been a long and winding road from my first Mod on the original Valab DAC 18 months ago to this minimalistic Black Chameleon I2S ... its been one hell of a ride. The fact is this DAC sounds way beyond even my wildest imagination .. but now it's time to just sit back and listen.

 

Peace!


Great work Bill! If I should have I2S available I would definitely think of a way to add an I2S input. I'm very curious about the performance against my fully upgraded version. I tested with the two Paul Hynes power supplies this week and all I can say is: Go and test with a better power supply or the LiFePo. The Paul Hynes supplies give so much more dynamics and bass slam! Don't get me wrong: the stock DC30W is a very well designed power supply but build to a price, which is fully understandable. It will do for most Chameleon owners, except for the few crazy heads. ;-)

 

I am also putting the finishing touch to my Chameleon and I'm currently designing the front and back panel for the new enclosure. This was about time as the chameleon parts are getting dusty. ;-)

It was quite a puzzle to fit all parts into the enclosure (see the first picture).

 

design1.jpg design2.jpg design3.jpg


Edited by rhodes54 - 6/20/10 at 12:35pm
post #1028 of 1144

looks nice Bill, though your signal wires could use a twist or two...

Am I reading correctly that you are using LiPo batteries to power the beast? (if so could you share what type and voltage? I was planning to use these so I'm curious whether they work)

 

post #1029 of 1144

Hi Rhodes,

How did the 3.3 volt regulators work out? Did they give you much of an improvement?

Thanks, Tony

post #1030 of 1144

A report on a few new mods.

First a cheap and easy mod. I will let fellow members give more of a review of the sound. When posting a new mod I will try to give a general description of the sound since it is too easy for me to get carried away with perceived success of my own ideas. IMO adding a 10uF cap across the 5 volt power supply where it comes into the DAC card seems to add some clarity to the sound. Very cheap and worth a try if you have one sitting around. I just used an MKP that I had in my cap box. As usual, film caps highly recommended in this spot. In this instance the cap is more of a final filter than a power reserve as the load on the 5 volt rail is relatively steady. Remember, all those caps in the power supply are before the transistor used for setting the voltage. All that noise gets passed along.

Second mod: Tentlabs clock module and power supply for the re-clocker. This is the same mod that Rhodes has done. This mod is rather expensive but to me the results were worth it. A lot cleaner sound, better soundstage and focus. This one will really push the performance of the DAC to another level rather than just a refinement of the sound it currently has. Cost is about $280 with Paypal, shipping and conversion fees.

Third mod: After the success of the clock mod I had to try improving the 12 Mhz clock. I did not go for the full separate power supply as per the re-clocker. I purchased a shunt regulator and clock module from Tentlabs (cost is about $80 all in). This is one VERY cost effective mod. Of course, I cannot say what the improvement would be with a dedicated power supply as I did with the re-clocker but as is it really makes a dramatic improvement. Soundstage is wider and  more focused. The level of detail has increased significantly. Yes, that old adage, "I heard things that I had not heard before" comes into play for sure. Hokey, but true. I could hear musicians breathing while playing where I had not before (I listen to a lot of jazz). Instruments and voices had that last little bit of edge (hardly noticeable until it was gone) taken away and of course they sounded more real and natural in the process.

One last thing, please remember that all of our mods are cumulative. In other words; how much of the improvement of your last mod would you have heard if you had not done the other mods first? This is my caveat regarding these two clock mods. Personally, if I was really watching my pennies I would still do both clocks but I would use the shunt regulators (one each) for the clock power supplies. Total cost would be about $150.

Tony

post #1031 of 1144
Quote:
Originally Posted by desertrat View Post

Hi Rhodes,

How did the 3.3 volt regulators work out? Did they give you much of an improvement?

Thanks, Tony


Yeah they absolutely give an improvement although this was most noticable in combination with the SR1MR. I expect it will do an excellent job in your setup as you haven't got a clean power supply for your 12MHz XO yet.

post #1032 of 1144
Quote:
Originally Posted by desertrat View Post

A report on a few new mods.

First a cheap and easy mod. I will let fellow members give more of a review of the sound. When posting a new mod I will try to give a general description of the sound since it is too easy for me to get carried away with perceived success of my own ideas. IMO adding a 10uF cap across the 5 volt power supply where it comes into the DAC card seems to add some clarity to the sound. Very cheap and worth a try if you have one sitting around. I just used an MKP that I had in my cap box. As usual, film caps highly recommended in this spot. In this instance the cap is more of a final filter than a power reserve as the load on the 5 volt rail is relatively steady. Remember, all those caps in the power supply are before the transistor used for setting the voltage. All that noise gets passed along.

Second mod: Tentlabs clock module and power supply for the re-clocker. This is the same mod that Rhodes has done. This mod is rather expensive but to me the results were worth it. A lot cleaner sound, better soundstage and focus. This one will really push the performance of the DAC to another level rather than just a refinement of the sound it currently has. Cost is about $280 with Paypal, shipping and conversion fees.

Third mod: After the success of the clock mod I had to try improving the 12 Mhz clock. I did not go for the full separate power supply as per the re-clocker. I purchased a shunt regulator and clock module from Tentlabs (cost is about $80 all in). This is one VERY cost effective mod. Of course, I cannot say what the improvement would be with a dedicated power supply as I did with the re-clocker but as is it really makes a dramatic improvement. Soundstage is wider and  more focused. The level of detail has increased significantly. Yes, that old adage, "I heard things that I had not heard before" comes into play for sure. Hokey, but true. I could hear musicians breathing while playing where I had not before (I listen to a lot of jazz). Instruments and voices had that last little bit of edge (hardly noticeable until it was gone) taken away and of course they sounded more real and natural in the process.

One last thing, please remember that all of our mods are cumulative. In other words; how much of the improvement of your last mod would you have heard if you had not done the other mods first? This is my caveat regarding these two clock mods. Personally, if I was really watching my pennies I would still do both clocks but I would use the shunt regulators (one each) for the clock power supplies. Total cost would be about $150.

Tony

 

Great to hear that you like the improvement it gives. They improvements I noticed are the same as you very well described. A nice thing to test is to bypass the resampler, put the 12Mhz in the Tentlabs XO and connect it to the WM8805. Then you can hear what a clean power supply does. That's why I think it is worth investing in low noise regulators.

 

I agree that it is a lot of money but I personally think the improvement it's definitely worth the investment.

 


 

post #1033 of 1144

HI All,

 

Just wondering if any tried SLA battery to power the dac board?

The Red Wine Audio Black Ligthening uses SLA battery and had good review, so maybe we can make our own SLA battery supply.

 

post #1034 of 1144

Complete waste of time and setting the project back many years. SLA cannot satisfy the demands of audio. No dynamics, high internal impedance and on and on. Played with them for years.


Edited by zzodhi - 6/27/10 at 12:01pm
post #1035 of 1144

Where did everybody go? Watching football (or for the US people: Watching soccer)?

Hup Holland Hup!

 

The vuvuzelas never sounded better through the Chameleon. LOL

 

huphup.jpg

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