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Audio Note Tubed DAC 3.1 SE Build! (None Oversampling)

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi all

I am a tube lover, and run an all Audio Note DAC-Pre-Power system, but also use SR-007 MK2 and a Stax SR-717 amp.

 

I have owned quite a few DACs over the years from Naim, Meridian and Musical Fidelity. 7 years ago I came across the None Oversampling DACs and fell in love with the organic and smooth sound. I would characterise the sound of the Meridian and Naim DACs as good but 'HiFi'. I liked them on demo in the shop, but sold them inside 3 months of owning them. They just didn't do it for me. I was picking my favourite CDs on SQ replay, and avoiding those that sounded harsh or brittle.

 

Don't believe the rumours, None Oversampling DACs can sound VERY detailed and yet have the smoothest treble possible in digital replay. I have learnt to re-love my RedBook collection as it is now so close to a good vinyl rig. I listen all day with no problems. Ok tubes need replacing every 2 years, and it needs to warm up for 1/2 hour, but it glows in the dark and the sound is just so right!

 

I am using a Mac Mini and Pure Music into M2Tech EVO full stack including regulated power supply into my new Audio Note DAC 3.1 SE kit. The kit costs 2,250 US and you get (once assembled) a truly high end DAC with great quality parts, solid design and fantastic sound quality. I would say it will compete with DACs 3 times it's prices, especially OS units.

 

The kit took me 10 hours to build over 4 nights, and was a truly fun experience. The thing is, after you have built the kit, you understand the layouts, and can appreciate the way it works. It is very easy to bolt in upgraded components later should you want to as the case is big and there is space left.

 

BTW if you think 2k sounds a lot for a kit, this is no ordinary kit. Check out the parts quality. And the Lampizator is more money and look in the Lampizator box, looks cheap to me. I haven't head that DAC, but have heard the MHDT Havanna and though nice, the Audio Note is much better in every respect.

 

My 3.1 DAC has:

 

1. No Oversampling

2. No Brick Wall Filter (makes a big sonic improvement)

3. Tubed rectified Power board

4. Separate power supply board for the Digital PCB

5. Quality Digital PCB with toroidal transformer

6. Custom Audio Note I/V transformers to transfer the signal between the digital and Analogue boards

7. Output transformers for maximum dynamics and energy (plus 8 ohm low impedance) output to your pre-amp 

 

Also I have the ability to choose my favourite tubes, in this case a Bendix 6x5 for the Power supply board,

and 2 x Tungsol 5687s for the Analogue Board.

 

Hope you like the photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 16

Greetings Astrostar59!

 

There aren't a lot of  Audio Note people here, but we make up in dedication what we lack in numbers. I currently run a 2.1B kit that I will eventually upgrade to a 3.1. There's not enough said about these dacs on this forum.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Build Update

 

I completed the build a few days back, and have it on soak in my Studio for the next few weeks.

 

The sound from switch on is great. The first thing I did was turn up the volume to max, and listen for hum

or buzz. Nothing, dead quite, and no hiss either. Great.

 

I have V-Cap Teflons on the output board, so I do expect the sound to be all over the shop for 3 weeks or so.

The Mundorf caps on the Power board will need the same, though won't affect the SQ as much.

 

Right now it sounds really clean, very dynamic and great bass WOW, a lot stonger than my previous Meridian DAC.

And the detail is already better, possibly partly due to the NOS and no Brick Wall filter.

 

The 6X5 tube on the Power board was swopped out for a Bendix which draws more current but gives a more

dynamic presentation. I'll report back in a few weeks once the V-Caps (and the rest of the parts) are run in.

 

A thought, it would be possible with a minor tweak to add a volume pot, thus negate the need for a Pre Amp i.e. straight

into my Stax SRM-717 amp, and the same into my Power Amps. I will look into that.

 

BUT VERY HAPPY BUNNY - GREAT DAC! IT ROCKS....

 

I would strongly recommend looking at these kits. Brian the owner of Audio Note kits in Canada is like me, a 300B SE fan and hifi fanatic. What you get once you have put it together is a leading edge audiophile product for the money. Forget any kits from cottage suppliers or China stuff. This gear is the real deal. I see it as a good investment as well. I mean, how ,many manufacturers really offer upgrade paths or options? And I aren't an engineer, a web designer with no electronic background. BUT I can further tweak and upgrade this DAC if I wanted to. Though, it is that good, I may be better looking at my source tweaks first (Mac Mini and M2Tech EVO).

 

 

post #4 of 16

Great job.. 

 

Some people have made great results swapping the 6x5 for ez81 (using a socket converter or something).. 

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi Bambadoo

 

Nice to here from you! Do you still have the Audio Note Conquests?

 

I am a web designer by trade, and am building a new website for Brian at Audio Note Kits at the moment.

 

It will have e-shop facilities so clients can buy on-line and a much better display of the fabulous products. The quality of the kits is

really great, and has moved on a lot since my humble Audio Note Kits 1.1 from 2007.

 

The thing is, the kits aren't cheap as the part quality and the board layouts are deigned for the better

quality spectrum. Because of this, the website in my view needs to reflect that. The photos on the website

are good, but the layout and type looks very 1990s.

 

I'll float up a link once Brian has ok'd the designs. If you ping me private message with your email I'll let you see

it now!

post #6 of 16

Yes please do :) 

The Conquests were sold years ago. I have done alot of diying/soldering etc. since then. Totally rebuild a kit1 - BTW it came out great. 

 

And I have also moved a bit to the dark side. A transistor amp and transistor linestage/buffer have also been built... 

 

A week ago I did this with my linestage ... :) - have some work to do now. Something was not right. 

 

BTW: I work in the IT industry myself.. 

 

 

post #7 of 16

You really ought to give one of the Metrum DAC's a whirl from the Netherlands, the Hex or Octave.

I had a factory built AN 2.1 Signature DAC (Euro 4000) and I much preferred the Octave (Euro 800) with additional power supply. IMHO the Octave is an amazing little box even though its inputs/outputs are limited).  There is a new MKII Octave out which has optional USB.

 

I do agree though that Audio Note does not get the exposure it deserves on this forum and probably for the following reasons:

Its non oversampling/upsamling so not seen as mainstream like all the other DAC's chasing the numbers game

On listening you dont get the immediate hifi wow as with other DAC's, its only after prolonged listening do you realise its strenghts 

Its a niche player in the UK so not that widely available (the kits btw do not equate to a factory built DAC) excellent bang for the buck though.

The sweet spots in their range are very expensive in comparison to most mass produced electronics and their high end stuff has truly stratospheric prices! 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankCooter View Post

Greetings Astrostar59!

 

There aren't a lot of  Audio Note people here, but we make up in dedication what we lack in numbers. I currently run a 2.1B kit that I will eventually upgrade to a 3.1. There's not enough said about these dacs on this forum.

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi Complin

I have heard that the Metrum proiducts are good and for the money as well. I haven't heard any yet. What year DAC 2.1 UK product did you have? The 2.1 has been revamped

a lot over the years with I/V transformers and better digi boards and upgraded power supplies. The current production 2.1 is quite a lot better then the earlier versions.

 

I have a 3.1 SE kit with upgraded parts. It sound fabulous in my (granted) mainly Audio Note system. I do however use the Stax SR-007s and an SRM-717 amp a lot and again the SQ is magical. I also use a Bendix upgraded tube in the power supply which made a big change to the dynamics and the bass. The Bendix does draw double the current tthough, so the trans needs to be up to it.

 

Also the output tubes make a lot of difference. I use Tungsols 1960 G Getters, one of the best 5687s around, and they provide smooth grain free treble detail.

 

BTW I note the Metrum uses an M2Tech USB input board. I use the EVO full stack and find M2Tech products sound great.

post #9 of 16

The AN 2.1 Signature is about 2 years old so fairly recent production as shipped from the factory.

I also use the Stax SR-007 Mk1 and Stax T2 amp.  Did the evaluation with the Stax 009's as well.  I find the Metrum more direct and dynamic than the Audio Note but still retains the colour and natural timbre of the instraments. I dont use USB at the moment just a VDH first MKII carbon digital cable and Audio Synthesis pure silver interconnects.

A friend of mine is modding his Octave by replacing the output transformer with an Audio Note one, so looking forward to hearing the result  tongue.gif  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by astrostar59 View Post

Hi Complin

I have heard that the Metrum proiducts are good and for the money as well. I haven't heard any yet. What year DAC 2.1 UK product did you have? The 2.1 has been revamped

a lot over the years with I/V transformers and better digi boards and upgraded power supplies. The current production 2.1 is quite a lot better then the earlier versions.

 

I have a 3.1 SE kit with upgraded parts. It sound fabulous in my (granted) mainly Audio Note system. I do however use the Stax SR-007s and an SRM-717 amp a lot and again the SQ is magical. I also use a Bendix upgraded tube in the power supply which made a big change to the dynamics and the bass. The Bendix does draw double the current tthough, so the trans needs to be up to it.

 

Also the output tubes make a lot of difference. I use Tungsols 1960 G Getters, one of the best 5687s around, and they provide smooth grain free treble detail.

 

BTW I note the Metrum uses an M2Tech USB input board. I use the EVO full stack and find M2Tech products sound great.


Edited by complin - 3/24/13 at 8:18am
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by complin View Post

You really ought to give one of the Metrum DAC's a whirl from the Netherlands, the Hex or Octave.

I had a factory built AN 2.1 Signature DAC (Euro 4000) and I much preferred the Octave (Euro 800) with additional power supply. IMHO the Octave is an amazing little box even though its inputs/outputs are limited).  There is a new MKII Octave out which has optional USB.

 

I do agree though that Audio Note does not get the exposure it deserves on this forum and probably for the following reasons:

Its non oversampling/upsamling so not seen as mainstream like all the other DAC's chasing the numbers game

On listening you dont get the immediate hifi wow as with other DAC's, its only after prolonged listening do you realise its strenghts 

Its a niche player in the UK so not that widely available (the kits btw do not equate to a factory built DAC) excellent bang for the buck though.

The sweet spots in their range are very expensive in comparison to most mass produced electronics and their high end stuff has truly stratospheric prices! 

 


I own a Metrum Octave as well as a kit 2.1B. They are surprisingly similar. Besides the Audio Note, I've had several FOTM  "modern" dacs in my system. The Metrum is the only one that stayed. If you like a classic analog type  presentation,  the Metrum is by far the best I've ever heard at anywhere near its price point.

 

As far as Audio Note factory vs. kit versions , my only experience was comparing my factory 1.1 to my kit 2.1B. The kit was a substantial upgrade. I'm guessing a new factory 3.1 will run in the $5k range.  The kit 3.1 can be built for less than half that.  For the money, I haven't heard anything better.

post #11 of 16

How do you find Bendix rectifier over Mullard , Sylvania, Tungsol, RCA ?

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

I have found the Bendix to be more dynamic and have more authority (slam and bass weight). I maybe due to the Bendix pulling twice the

current, and or/ the Bendix is a great tube and very well built. I would imagine the Mullard would be close, but in Rectifier tubes which thend

to get a hard life and can go regularly, the Bendix give long life and is reliable. I haven't had one go yet after 7 years in my Pre-Amp

and 3 years in a DAC. The pre-amp Bendix got a bit loose after 4 years, so I swopped it out for another Bendix. It didn''t actually fail o

short.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

On the other subject of Metrum products, I am sure they are good sounding for the money, but have been bested by other

products in the OS ranges. I wonder if they would sound better than my DAC 3.1 with trick parts? The parts in the Metrum look

a bit cheap? At the end of the day, if the design is good, it comes down to part quality and tube selections. And of course the

all important power supply. If it sounds better with an Audio Note Trans, maybe you should just get an Audio Note DAC?

post #14 of 16

Very nice work! I have a DAC 2.1 with I/V transformers that I need to finish up. At a quick glance, it looks like some of the main differences are the inclusion of the 33/1 transformers and the fancy V-Caps. 

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi HiGHFLYiN9

The 2.1 is similar in all areas except the IV trans between the digital board and the output board.

Also the 3.1 has a different output board using 2 x 5687 tubes and different Cap rating. Then there are the 33/1 transformers

after that.

 

It is possible to upgrade your 2.1 to the full 3.1 or even the 4.1 kit. If you are interested, talk to Brian at ANK Audiokits.

 

The Audio Note DACs from Brian or the models from Audio Note UK are fabulous products. I was never happy with CD replay

at a high level until I found their None Oversampling models. Delta Signa never did it for me.

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