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DIY amp/DAC with better measurements than O2/ODAC?

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 

Question is quite simple... I am trying to get more information about available amplifiers and DACs and as a very happy desktop O2/ODAC owner I am curious if there are any other great-measuring amplifiers and DACs available on the DIY scene. They must be neutral and technically excellent, of course!

 

Thanks for any information!

post #2 of 49

haha... Buffalo III and the Beta 22. Both are DIY but are TOTL in terms of performance. 

post #3 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrViolin View Post

haha... Buffalo III and the Beta 22. Both are DIY but are TOTL in terms of performance. 

 

Are there any in-depth measurements available to compare? And what TOTL means + why should I pay attention to it when choosing what to get?

 

EDIT: Found some of B22, not of Buffalo III so far...

 

EDIT2: Beta22 does not seem to outperform O2 from the technical point of view, at least from measurements available here:

http://www.amb.org/audio/beta22/

 

           Will have a look at the Buffalo...


Edited by RustA - 2/22/13 at 11:26am
post #4 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by RustA View Post

 

Are there any in-depth measurements available to compare? And what TOTL means + why should I pay attention to it when choosing what to get?

http://www.head-fi.org/t/588978/look-out-im-using-test-equipment-o2-and-beta22-testing-inside

http://www.head-fi.org/t/519129/pyramid-shaped-water-cooled-floor-lamp-b22-buffalo-ii-concept/30

^scroll down to amb's graph

There've been comparison threads between the o2 and the b22 which you can also search

 

totl=Them offsprings that live. top of the line. The twisted pair's been compared to other high end DACs, just search it up. As for the graph, I haven't been able to find it.

 

As for paying attention to it, that's completely up to you. Unless you're striving for the top of DIY (purely opinionated, am anticipating you'll be asking a graph as proof for this too lol), I guess these would be it. However, if you're perfectly fine w/ the o2/odac, I see no reason to go further. 

post #5 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrViolin View Post

http://www.head-fi.org/t/588978/look-out-im-using-test-equipment-o2-and-beta22-testing-inside

http://www.head-fi.org/t/519129/pyramid-shaped-water-cooled-floor-lamp-b22-buffalo-ii-concept/30

^scroll down to amb's graph

There've been comparison threads between the o2 and the b22 which you can also search

 

totl=Them offsprings that live. top of the line. The twisted pair's been compared to other high end DACs, just search it up. As for the graph, I haven't been able to find it.

 

As for paying attention to it, that's completely up to you. Unless you're striving for the top of DIY (purely opinionated, am anticipating you'll be asking a graph as proof for this too lol), I guess these would be it. However, if you're perfectly fine w/ the o2/odac, I see no reason to go further. 

 

Thanks very much! I quite like what Benchmark DAC2 HGC offers in terms of performance but the price of 2000USD is high... Therefore, I am looking for some more affordable upgrade over O2/ODAC. If it does not exist, it's not a problem - I am just curious. smily_headphones1.gif

post #6 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by RustA View Post

 

Thanks very much! I quite like what Benchmark DAC2 HGC offers in terms of performance but the price of 2000USD is high... Therefore, I am looking for some more affordable upgrade over O2/ODAC. If it does not exist, it's not a problem - I am just curious. smily_headphones1.gif

Indeed it is. Hmmm... maybe look at the project-h? It does include the O2 in it, but the dac is a cirrus logic dac. There was a graph of it not too long ago in the anime thread (the start of the project-h is also in there, 2nd post). The graph might even be in the Project-h thread. Not sure whether it'd be a side-grade or an upgrade though. 

Good luck in finding a solution! 

post #7 of 49

To me the Grace Design m903 sounded identical to the O2/ODAC Combo.  I ran it through all of the listening tests I could find and could not hear a difference.  I get a little more low end ooopmph using the m903 as a DAC and a Balanced Ultra Desktop Amp for an amp, but the O2/ODAC is probably the cheapest option to get the best solid state results.  If anything it is so neutral it can make some music sound bland and depending on your views this could be a bad thing.  I suspect the DAC2 is somewhat similar if not identical sounding to the Grace Design m903 so I would not blindly make the purchase without first being able to do a direct comparison.

 

I am not sure if HeadRoom offers a DIY kit for their higher end amps, but you may want to ask about it.  Seeing that you use the HD-800 and LCD-2 you may want to try a tube amp like the WA6 which can be a tad more fun sounding.

post #8 of 49

Just an FYI, and yes - I am a MOT and I am biased.  However, I'm not a designer - nothing I sell is anything I can call my own except for case design.  Instead, I actively seek out designers and their designs that show outstanding promise and potential.  With their blessing, I build their designs myself, listen to them and if I agree with them that the potential is there, actively promote, market and sell those designs.

 

In the 6+ years of doing this, I've run hundreds of RMAA tests on the stuff I build.  Yeah, I know - you-know-who says RMAA is worthless.  IMHO, as long as you're using it as a comparison under the same conditions, I've neither read nor heard anything that discounts RMAA under those circumstances.

 

Here's the funny thing: I have an M-Audio Transit that I've used for years in testing amps and DACs.  It measures better than any DAC I've ever built, better than any DAC that cetoole, Dsavitsk, cobaltmute or others have designed.  That includes the Alien DAC, BantamDAC, GrubDAC, SkeletonDAC, and pupDAC, among other, more sophisticated DACs.  The M-Audio Transit has better measurements than all of them - that's why it's used as the reference in my testing.  Hell, the M-Audio Transit measures an entire magnitude better than the ODAC in harmonic distortion and crosstalk - on my own equipment!  The only reason it may not register better in noise/dynamic ratio is my own sh*tty testing environs (everyone else who tests the same things I build get better numbers).  The reported specs on the M-Audio Transit are better in noise than the ODAC and only slightly worse in dynamic range.  And of course - it's been 24-bit USB ever since it came out - in 2003 and sold for $75.

 

All that said about the M-Audio Transit, I would never, ever, use it as a source compared to the other DACs mentioned when I want to listen to music.

 

Wonder why that would be?

post #9 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by RustA View Post

EDIT2: Beta22 does not seem to outperform O2 from the technical point of view, at least from measurements available here:

http://www.amb.org/audio/beta22/

 

That's because it is considerably better than the interface TK used to test it. One day I hope TK/someone will test it with some serious test kit. It adds practically no distortion, FR is 0 to 2.5 MHz (0, 3 dB), less output impedance than the copper connector, 200 V/us slew, practically no ringing, totally free of transient intermodular distortion, cancels even order harmonic distortion, etc. etc. etc.

 

Seriously look no further than the B22 if you like measurements.


Edited by joeyjojo - 2/24/13 at 9:00am
post #10 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeyjojo View Post

 

That's because it is considerably better than the interface TK used to test it. One day I hope TK/someone will test it with some serious test kit. It adds practically no distortion, FR is 0 to 2.5 MHz (0, 3 dB), less output impedance than the copper connector, 200 V/us slew, practically no ringing, totally free of transient intermodular distortion, cancels even order harmonic distortion, etc. etc. etc.

 

Seriously look no further than the B22 if you like measurements.

 

Well, it's a 1000+USD amplifier as far as I know... for 1000-2000USD, I can get DAC2 HGC, HP-A8c, Mytek DSD DAC which all offer DAC + amp of high-end quality from reliable sources with plenty of features.

 

I would have see a reliable set of measurements that could justify the Beta22's price... But I guess it at least sounds pretty good from impressions here on head-fi.

post #11 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post

Just an FYI, and yes - I am a MOT and I am biased.  However, I'm not a designer - nothing I sell is anything I can call my own except for case design.  Instead, I actively seek out designers and their designs that show outstanding promise and potential.  With their blessing, I build their designs myself, listen to them and if I agree with them that the potential is there, actively promote, market and sell those designs.

 

In the 6+ years of doing this, I've run hundreds of RMAA tests on the stuff I build.  Yeah, I know - you-know-who says RMAA is worthless.  IMHO, as long as you're using it as a comparison under the same conditions, I've neither read nor heard anything that discounts RMAA under those circumstances.

 

Here's the funny thing: I have an M-Audio Transit that I've used for years in testing amps and DACs.  It measures better than any DAC I've ever built, better than any DAC that cetoole, Dsavitsk, cobaltmute or others have designed.  That includes the Alien DAC, BantamDAC, GrubDAC, SkeletonDAC, and pupDAC, among other, more sophisticated DACs.  The M-Audio Transit has better measurements than all of them - that's why it's used as the reference in my testing.  Hell, the M-Audio Transit measures an entire magnitude better than the ODAC in harmonic distortion and crosstalk - on my own equipment!  The only reason it may not register better in noise/dynamic ratio is my own sh*tty testing environs (everyone else who tests the same things I build get better numbers).  The reported specs on the M-Audio Transit are better in noise than the ODAC and only slightly worse in dynamic range.  And of course - it's been 24-bit USB ever since it came out - in 2003 and sold for $75.

 

All that said about the M-Audio Transit, I would never, ever, use it as a source compared to the other DACs mentioned when I want to listen to music.

 

Wonder why that would be?

 

Jitter measurement does not seem to be impressive enough... But for the price, it looks like an extremely valuable DAC!

post #12 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by RustA View Post

 

Jitter measurement does not seem to be impressive enough... But for the price, it looks like an extremely valuable DAC!

You should re-read the last two sentences. Maybe I was being too cagey - that's been suggested with one of my posts before. wink.gif

 

The point was not to convince you that an M-Audio Transit was worthwhile - that's the complete opposite of what I was stating.  Rather, that the ODAC is nothing special compared to a 24-bit USB DAC that was first offered 10 years ago and cost only $75 (and had more features).  Further, that if you search out measurements to the exclusion of all else, you'll probably end up with an inexpensive DAC that doesn't sound nearly as good as something else would.  A CMoy measures pretty well, too, but I quit using one after I built my 2nd amp. 

post #13 of 49

If you want an amp that will probably compete with the O2 you could look at my LME49600 design, which uses the very highest quality components deployed in the most advantageous topology and has some features such as DC coupling throughout, an extremely low output offset courtesy of a DC servo, short-circuit protection and thermal shutdown and switch-on and -off 'thump' suppression, none of which are provided by the O2. It also has considerably higher output current (250mA) and can be built with greater output voltage swing (+/-13V). It doesn't run from batteries if built in the same enclosure as the O2, however.

 
 
Unfortunately I can't guarantee that it exceeds the O2 in other respects as I don't have access to the $10,000 test equipment that the O2 designer has, but I have made every effort to give it the best chance of doing so and it has been laid out with the utmost care and attention to detail and it could well beat the O2 in some respects, perhaps in every respect.
 
w
post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by RustA View Post

 

Well, it's a 1000+USD amplifier as far as I know... for 1000-2000USD, I can get DAC2 HGC, HP-A8c, Mytek DSD DAC which all offer DAC + amp of high-end quality from reliable sources with plenty of features.

 

I would have see a reliable set of measurements that could justify the Beta22's price... But I guess it at least sounds pretty good from impressions here on head-fi.

You can build a 2 channel B22 with S22 for roughly $350 before casing.  Can be all done for under $500.  I have all the parts (except cases) for a full balanced B22, and I think it all clocked in under $700.  

post #15 of 49

Just another FYI, but as for amps ... if you really study AMB's measurements on his products, you'll find that AMB's M3 is better in noise and distortion than the B22:

 

THD

M3: 0.0009, B22: 0.0011

 

Noise

M3: -97.4dB, B22: -90.3dB

 

Here again, what does this mean?  Should people be buying the M3 as the ultimate headphone amplifier because of its low distortion and noise level?  I don't know AMB's specific sales statistics, but I bet everyone would agree that he sells more B22's than M3's.  AMB must be fooling us all ... but he and Morsel designed and built the M3 years before he thought about and designed the B22.  That doesn't make sense.  Why design, build, and sell a supposedly superior product that measures worse?  I guess he should've built/bought an O2 and forgot about it.wink.gif

 

OK - without being cagey or confrontational ... an M3 may very well be more appropriate as a pre-amp.  However, when it comes to different loads, reactive loads, varying loads with all sorts of different designs/applications of headphones, the B22 seems to be the preferred choice for many people, regardless of the poorer measurements.

 

All that said for me - I still prefer tubes, and their measurements are much worse than any of the above. wink.gif

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