The 歌詩德 (translated roughly as "The Virtue of Song and Poetry", not "Costa de", as MisterTao poorly translates from Google) DAC-X10 is a Chinese-designed/made DAC, sold/distributed by seller huang_cs on Taobao. This is the Taobao link, but eBay seller Vintage Audio Lab (aka Valab) is now selling the DAC-X10 as well.
It is presumably from a design team that came from within the Chinese DIY ranks, and has had several DAC designs to their credit. Their most notable DAC previously has been the DAC-X9, a dual WM8741 balanced DAC that bears uncanny, near-identical resemblance to the Rein Audio X3-DAC (sans an ASRC module and some Rhodium). Apparently, the DAC-X9 sold quite well in Mainland China and HK.
The DAC-X10 is their latest endeavor.
For $450, this DAC seems like an incredible value; it has fully-balanced outputs, a discrete analog stage, supports 32/384 over USB, volume control (looks like it uses the Sabre's on-board volume control, which is darn good for digital), good quality parts, and a nice case (looks like a W4S knockoff, but I actually think it looks slightly classier than the awkward W4S case). Really, the only ES9018 DACs that come cheaper than this are from the DIY community.
The ESS Technology Sabre Reference 32bit ES9018 is highest performance DAC chip on market. This chip is not an audio designer-friendly chip and will project very aggressive, analytic sound on a non-optimized circuit design. So, it is quite a challenging chip for a DAC designer.
This is most musical ES9018-based DAC we've ever heard. You will like its ultra-transparent, high-resolution, and vivid analog sound, which is quite close to high quality vinyl record.
- Updated Version, ESS Technology Sabre Reference 32-bit ES9018 DAC chip.
- Two sealed, high-grade transformer deployed, one for digital, another for analog circuit.
- XMOS 32-bit USB receiver chip, which is the best performing asynchronous USB audio solution.
- Discrete transistor-based balanced analog output stage for extended, dynamic, and analog sound.
- Precision, 100 step digital volume control; from 0 to 99 dB attenuation, 1db per step
- Vishay round SMD precision resistors and carefully chosen parts for best sound performance.
- Professional circuit layout to get best circuit stability and great performance.
- Aluminum housing, hair skin surface processing.
- Digital Input: Balanced S/PDIF AES/EBU port, RCA, Toslink Optical input, and USB
- Analog Output: balanced analog output via XLR port, single-ended output via RCA port.
- Dimensions: 190 x 70 x 313 mm (W x H x D)
- Both 110/120V and 220/240V version supported.
Digital Input Format Support:
Coaxial: 44.1、48、88.2、96、176.4、192 kHz
Optical: 44.1、48、88.2、96、176.4、192 kHz
AES/EBU: 44.1、48、88.2、96、176.4、192 kHz
USB : 44.1、48、88.2、96、176.4、192、352.8、384 kHz
RCA Output ：2.5 Vrms @0dBFS
XLR Output ：5 Vrms @0dBFS
Frequency ：20-20K Hz +/-0.15dB
At $450, its connectivity is near unparalleled. The only question is sound. From the measurements posted, the measurements don't look half bad; perhaps not quite $1500+ DAC performance numbers, but decent, especially for $450. But what about DACs in the same price range, e.g. Bifrost, Concero, etc.
I'm not well-versed in what sound DAC design is, but the layout seems to make sense.
Anyone with good knowledge of DAC design want to chime in on whether the implementation is good?
Edited by tomscy2000 - 6/19/13 at 10:39pm