Head-Fi.org › Forums › Misc.-Category Forums › DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Discussions › Is it worth the trouble to build a DAC with TDA1541?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Is it worth the trouble to build a DAC with TDA1541?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Supposedly the 1541 is one of the oldest dac chips, is it worth the trouble to build a DAC with it? ( I have read that some folks think it is still the best out there.)
post #2 of 27
I'm a big fan of the 1541. But are you thinking of scratch building a DAC with it? That sounds intense. Here is the schematic I'd use. Thorsten is less involved in DIY today, as he is now designing for AMR! (last I knew)

If you are looking for a less involved project, there are several TDA1541 PCB's on ebay. Or, my personal take to is buy an old CD player that used the chip and convert the DAC to NOS (non oversampling) mode. There are plenty of fairly pedestrian Philips and Marantz Models that used the chip. (They circuits are identical, the made in Japan Marantz's are purported to be better than the made in Belgium Philips models). Magavox CD players from the late 80's are Philips players too. Look through this list to figure out which players have the 1541.

I can find them for $10-40 on craigslist (just got a Magnavox 582 in great shape for $10). I'd look for the later players with the 1541A and a CDM 4 transport, but if you can find an early machine cheap, go for it. All of the mid-fi Philips players had similar parts quality. Some models just had more functions that you should disconnect anyway (variable output levels, extra control logic, etc). The Marantz CD-40 is simple, for example, where as the CD-50 and CD-60 have progressively more stuff. The basic mods are free: pull out the muting transistors, disconnect the extra junk, and convert to NOS.

If your budget is a little higher, I would strongly suggest getting a Rotel 855 or 955 (the latter is newer with the A chip). They run around $100, but are a much better value: robust power supplies with Black Gate caps, film decoupling caps on the 1541, etc. Basically, for another $50, you get a huge upgrade in parts quality. There are even nicer machines with the 1541 (the high end Philips, audiophile units like Arcam, Revox, etc). I'm not sure they are worth the $$ over the Rotel. And, keep in mind that old players are a gamble. You will find units with shelled out transports and lasers. If you aren't interested in NOS (the mod is too complex) there are some incredibly well made high end Sonys out there. (227ESD, etc).

I know that you may not be interested in shiny silver discs. I have pondered getting a USB to I2S converter and trying to hook it up to one of these old players to just use the DAC. I haven't tried it yet though. If you do play shiny discs, the nice thing about these old machines is that the transports are quiet, unlike most newer reasonably priced machines. No matter what, they are good cheap fun. Save those 1541s from the dump!

Paul
post #3 of 27
Several commercial products still use the TDA1541A, including Thorsten with AMR IIRC. I believe the Altmann Attraction DAC is also a TDA1541A. Both the Rotel 855 and 955 use the TDA1541A (not the plain 1541). This is a good list of CD/DACs with the DAC chip, receiver and transport listed:
http://www.marantzphilips.nl/the_com...verter_list/#M

Pedja Rogic's DACs sem to be well thought of and I believe are still available in DIY form:
Audial :: Do It Yourself
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
I was thinking about building from scratch, using perf boards. The Chip is full size dip and circuitry is simple enough.

my main concern is what kind of limitation the 1541 has by itself. This chip ask for a lot of external support components and three voltages (good thing, since the design was not compromised for simplicity), build cost can be very high, if I throw in $400 (1541 x2) will I get the sound of commercial $1000 DAC's?
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
do you guys know where I can find these chips? any version, doesn't matter if it is a "A" or "S" or crown or anything..... Preferably from a US vender.

Thanks
post #6 of 27
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
I am looking for chips, not boards...

Anybody?
post #8 of 27
Check on diyaudio.

diyAudio - Search Results
The ones that jean-paul has are quite good. I have one in my Rotel 855 right now, and like it; wouldn't mind having another one. I would be very suspect of any single or double crown chips. Remember that the different grade chips were simply specially selected TDA1541as. Since they didn't test all chips for grade (probably low % of total production), you could get a plain chip that really is a double crown.

Philips' fabs were in asia, so many for sale will be from that region; no need to doubt them if the seller seems legit.
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks.

The search link doesn't work for me, I might have to register first...

any idea what kind of price Jean-paul might be asking right now?
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by digger945 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioCats View Post
I am looking for chips, not boards...
Well, I have neither
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
dsavitsk, if I remembered right you have mentioned there are better NOS chips than the 1541, do you mind share some "secrets"? and what is the main limitation of the 1541's?

Thanks
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioCats View Post
dsavitsk, if I remembered right you have mentioned there are better NOS chips than the 1541, do you mind share some "secrets"? and what is the main limitation of the 1541's?
Better is a stronger word than I'd use -- lots of folks with more experience than me prefer the 1541 to anything else. In my own builds, I have had better luck with the AD1865N-K. I find it has a less dark sound, clearer midrange, and overall less distortion. But, I am comparing the K version of that chip to the basic version of the 1541. The J version of the 1865 does not sound as good to me as the basic 1541, so maybe a crown or two on the 1541 would elevate it over the top.

No real secrets other than that the power supply matters a lot, and the output stage matters even more. I also found with the TDA1543 that using it differentially was a huge improvement over using it single ended. Though, again, it may be the output stage that matters there.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioCats View Post
Thanks.

The search link doesn't work for me, I might have to register first...

any idea what kind of price Jean-paul might be asking right now?
That would be a good idea. IIRC, the one from jean-paul was around $30 or so. There are a number of tda1541a's on ebay as well. Probably legit?
post #14 of 27
The TDA1541 is a great sounding DAC. I prefer it when running in non oversampling mode.
You can buy them easily on ebay.
There are NO fake TDA1541 IC's. (only the S1 and S2 variety)

There is an ebay seller selling an AD1865N-K fully assembled DAC kit.

You can also get a TDA1541 DAC kit off ebay - I recomend the one sold by analogmetric. TDA1541A DAC DIY Kit (CS8412 & NE5534)_USB DAC/DAC Kit_Analog Metric - DIY Audio Kit


If you just want something to do because you are bored I would recomend building and or modding the above kits to suit your own taste.

If you want to design one from scratch on vero boards you would most likely at best get something that sounds as good as the above kits but it would take you much, much longer to build than the kits, and at worst would not sound good due to the track layout etc.

Save yourself the time and get a kit.

Modding a TDA1541 CD player is a resonable idea, but results will vary as the PCB layout is not good on some of them and simply converting to NOS is not a guarantee of good sound with these players.
For example the Marantz CD40 is a POS no matter what you do to it, it does not sing. The PCB is all wrong. This is from personal experience.
Just my 2c.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul J. View Post
I'm a big fan of the 1541. But are you thinking of scratch building a DAC with it? That sounds intense. Here is the schematic I'd use. Thorsten is less involved in DIY today, as he is now designing for AMR! (last I knew)

If you are looking for a less involved project, there are several TDA1541 PCB's on ebay. Or, my personal take to is buy an old CD player that used the chip and convert the DAC to NOS (non oversampling) mode. There are plenty of fairly pedestrian Philips and Marantz Models that used the chip. (They circuits are identical, the made in Japan Marantz's are purported to be better than the made in Belgium Philips models). Magavox CD players from the late 80's are Philips players too. Look through this list to figure out which players have the 1541.

I can find them for $10-40 on craigslist (just got a Magnavox 582 in great shape for $10). I'd look for the later players with the 1541A and a CDM 4 transport, but if you can find an early machine cheap, go for it. All of the mid-fi Philips players had similar parts quality. Some models just had more functions that you should disconnect anyway (variable output levels, extra control logic, etc). The Marantz CD-40 is simple, for example, where as the CD-50 and CD-60 have progressively more stuff. The basic mods are free: pull out the muting transistors, disconnect the extra junk, and convert to NOS.

If your budget is a little higher, I would strongly suggest getting a Rotel 855 or 955 (the latter is newer with the A chip). They run around $100, but are a much better value: robust power supplies with Black Gate caps, film decoupling caps on the 1541, etc. Basically, for another $50, you get a huge upgrade in parts quality. There are even nicer machines with the 1541 (the high end Philips, audiophile units like Arcam, Revox, etc). I'm not sure they are worth the $$ over the Rotel. And, keep in mind that old players are a gamble. You will find units with shelled out transports and lasers. If you aren't interested in NOS (the mod is too complex) there are some incredibly well made high end Sonys out there. (227ESD, etc).

I know that you may not be interested in shiny silver discs. I have pondered getting a USB to I2S converter and trying to hook it up to one of these old players to just use the DAC. I haven't tried it yet though. If you do play shiny discs, the nice thing about these old machines is that the transports are quiet, unlike most newer reasonably priced machines. No matter what, they are good cheap fun. Save those 1541s from the dump!

Paul
You seem to have a lot of knowledge about these DACs. I have one Technics CD player, that has PCM54 DAC. Would it be possible to extract that circuit from that cd player and some how utilize the PCM54 dac chip?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Misc.-Category Forums › DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Discussions › Is it worth the trouble to build a DAC with TDA1541?