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How to find a low priced Chinese version of any super expensive DAC? - Page 2

post #16 of 161
Thread Starter 

Does anyone know what these stats advertised in the DAC I just brought mean?

 


 1 * XMOS USB is currently the best treatment options are very good detail and extended to support the 384K-32BIT high-quality audio playback, transmission I2S better than coaxial fiber optic transmission results support WINXP WIN7 WIN9

 2 * DAC sampling the company's most high-end BB PCM5102, distortion and dynamic are very satisfactory, supporting 384K 32BIT master reproduction , RMS, SNR 112db, Distortion 0.002%

 3 * amp using superior high-end amp National Semiconductor chips . Effect than the TDA1308 well, Japan ALPS volume control, how convenient than using only computer tuning products .

post #17 of 161

1. Xmos USB chip is currently one of the most common usb solutions. You can find this in many dacs and also in the Hiface2 that I use. The reference to I2S is making a further claim about the ability to reduce jitter.

2. Simply claiming that it will accept 384K/32bit input. There is very little source material commonly available for that. You can use J River to simulate that resolution but it is just a simulation.

3. They are simply making claims about the quality of the opamps they have used. Most dac's use opamps in the analog section but the implementation and the results can be vastly different.

 

I am still interested to hear your comments once you receive this.

post #18 of 161
Oh, I thought you were going to ask about the lines following those... tongue.gif
Quote:
5 * with coaxial output, can SPIDERS other LING-OUT output DAC using a belt, can SPIDERS amplifiers and powered speakers .

My comments about this dac: (not really what I would have chosen, but ok):
It looks decent enough, like ^ said: the XMOS usb chip is ok, I am using 2 of them too, in Musiland Monitor 01 and 02. You can probably use their drivers of the Monitor 03 for any windows version (learn more). And they provide a good asyncronous signal. So if you don't like the sound of it's dac output you can always use it as a good usb interface. Even as such the price is ok.
If you can hear any difference in samplingrates over 24/96 you must be a dog or a bat. That would impair your ability to enjoy music somewhat though. biggrin.gif

The dac-chip itself is ok, but I warned you about the opamps. It's kind of like driving an AMC Pacer with a Dodge Charger engine. Or a Fiat 500 with a Ferrari motor. It just won't perform as you expected.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post

links to these good cheap dacs you found?
Look at my post (#7) edit 2, and just look at my profile.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post

And not everything from China is a cheap knock off.  Direct access to factories can give some of these small board makers quite an astounding price advantage, not to mention that their response to insane amounts of competition is to reduce margins (instead of shoot for premium markets).  I recently traveled there and marveled at how cheaply things can be made and gotten.  Little standoffs that would cost me $0.30 a piece from Mouser were available for parts of a penny (granted I would have to buy several hundred...).  I will concede, though, it is near impossible to sort through the cheaply or poorly made boards and the good ones, but that is the risk that you take trying to get around paying for branding, R&D, labor, distribution layers, etc. that you get with name brand stuff.  Again, not saying stuff from China doesn't come with extra caveats, just don't like to see the sweeping and borderline xenophobic claims that all things Chinese are sh!t that pops up quite a bit (not specifically this thread).  
Agree. The Chinese can make very good products. But they have a very different culture where quality control is a real problem (thanks to communism too). I have bought a lot of stuff in China and I have experience with even a lot more (I have (had) a topic in dutch about Chinese audio that ran for over 7 years). The only bad product I bought was the SMSL 1855+ DAC I told you about in the post ^^^. The others were ok, fine to excellent. The SMSL was the only one that I couldn't modify/repair to achieve greatness.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby S View Post

Long story short: it is unrealistic to expect a cheap DYI board sold for peanuts to sound similar to a mega-buck DAC from Luxman or whatever company.

Here are some of the technical traits of a high quality DAC:
- extremely low jitter, obtained by employing high precision clocks (expensive!)
- high quality interfacing for SPDIF and/ or USB (asychronous, galvanically isolated etc, again expensive and hard to do)
- high quality power supply, for clean, low-noise power to all components (very expensive)
- high quality discrete analog stage (difficult to design, expensive to implement)

Even for a minimalistic design of such a DAC, the parts alone cost in the hundreds of USD, not to mention the extensive time required for R&D to come up with it in the first place.
Long story short: there are no free lunches.

On the other hand you can get 80-90% of the way there with cheaper solutions, that is true. And for that reason alone the Chinese DACs have become extremely popular in the last decade at least.
I need to be nuanced in this, but in general my findings strongly contradict your opinion.
- many (most?) 'mega-buck' options are made (and even engineered) in China (and I don't really think Luxman is particularly a 'mega-buck' option.) :P
- I agree with the technical traits of a high quality dac (hardly any need to argue those) but in real life there are instances that can upset the whole order of your universe. And by that I mean the power supply, jitter and galvanic isolation parts. There are exceptions.
- there are minimalistic designs that defy complicated dreadnought sigma-delta dacs. There are more ways to peel a banana. 99% of the worlds human population use the difficult method and only a few use the easy way, that includes chimps. Does that mean thats chimps are smarter than men? 99.9% of dac-chips manufactured worldwide are sigma-delta type does that mean ... (follow the analogy and think). Why are all the new designs sigma-delta types of some sort, using the overkill samplingrate method?


In the last listening session I organized (with three audiophile friends) we compared several dacs with different dac-chips, usb-chips, clocks and powersupply. The easiest to discern was the Sabre 9023 chip on it's own Tenor 7022 usbchip. Its a good dac with integrated opamp. Maybe not a free lunch but definitely a cheap and very tasteful lunch!
My reference is a tubed cirrus logic AK4397. That always performs well. But it doesn't win. It overemphasizes detail. It ads a shimmer and sparkle to highs and ads larger than life details. It sounds very nice and very high-endish. Any 'audiophile' would love this.
The other options were NOS dacs. Very old school but not old.

Just very quick why I ended up loving these NOS dacs: I bought the cheap Muse dac, just out of curiosity. It sounded ok but really nothing special. But it had a certain endearing quality... So I started modifying it. And sold it. I thought; nice experiment. But I really missed it. That certain... dunno what. So I bought a new one and did the same mods and some more. No, not as good as the tube-dac. So I sold it again. And bought a new one. This time I made a radical change that I thought was not possible, not according to spec (Chinese always implement according to the specsheet without thinking why, or listening. Just do as you're told). I made some changes to grounding and wiring. This time I had the full quality of all the nos dacs could muster. That is: 24/96 straight up. It beats the crap out of anything I ever heard in naturalness and musicality.
A few years ago I was strolling in the centre of our town and visited our old 12th century church where there was an acoustic classical performance. Just a small choir, some flutes, violins and a cembalo and a large acoustic. I sat in the sweet spot in the middle so I could see all the performers. But I had a hard time spotting where the sounds were coming from. There was no larger than life detail. Just real life live music with real breathing people. That was a real recalibration for my ears. I noticed that when playing music at home the NOS dac came much closer to what I heard. Detail are very well discernible but not overemphasized (if you see a transient on a scope you can see why: no pre-ringing like sigma-delta chips do).

Back to the listening: we compared the modded cheap Muse 4x NOS dac (coax input from the Musiland Xmos with a $3 wallwart, no fancy powersupply, no reclocking just straight from the 9001) with the modded Teradak 8x NOS dac (with dedicated powersupply, elaborate reclocking and twice the number of parallel chips) and the difference was minimal. No tonal difference whatsoever, just a bit more sense of ease. The Teradak is better but it is hardly noticable. It costs a lot more though. It is still really cheap compared to most dacs but the Muse is simply incredible. It lacks USB input and it takes more time to mod. But I am not afraid to compare it to whatever expensive dac/cd/sacd player out there.
Maybe there is no free lunch but it comes damn close.
Edited by ]eep - 3/11/14 at 8:07am
post #19 of 161

I agree with everything Jeep said. A major problem with some of the China made products is quality control and after sales service. I own a Yulong dac and two of my amps are made in China. I bought from companies that have a good reputation and are well known on this forum. Buying no name products from China with no support is a crap shoot. You might get a great product or you might get garbage.

post #20 of 161
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately it won't come for two weeks or so but I look forward to trying it.

post #21 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by ]eep View Post

I need to be nuanced in this, but in general my findings strongly contradict your opinion.

That's alright.

The OP's train of thought seemed to go in the direction of finding some obscure ultra-low cost "magic" DAC that sings like a mega-buck machine.

My post was an attempt to explain why this is unrealistic.

Of course there are more nuances to this problem, and of course there are many DAC's out thre (r2r or delta-sigma) which punch well above their weight.

post #22 of 161
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby S View Post
 

That's alright.

The OP's train of thought seemed to go in the direction of finding some obscure ultra-low cost "magic" DAC that sings like a mega-buck machine.

My post was an attempt to explain why this is unrealistic.

Of course there are more nuances to this problem, and of course there are many DAC's out thre (r2r or delta-sigma) which punch well above their weight.

 

The problem is that "you get what you pay for" does not necessarily apply in audiophile circles. There are plenty of manufacturers using marketing to sell what is essentially a low priced product for a huge markup. Edit: not all by any means. For example Sennheiser isn't one in my opinion, based on the HD800.


Edited by ag8908 - 3/11/14 at 2:46pm
post #23 of 161

Sure, there are plenty of over-priced products out there. But that doesn't mean you can make a top end DAC clone for pennies.

That's unrealistic and naive.

post #24 of 161

Interesting thread, I'm looking forward to your thoughts about that cheap dac/headamp you ordered.

post #25 of 161

it's not that same. china can make very good stuff and it is well priced but still more than this stuff. a dac is a sum of it's parts and design. the best dacs do not even use off the shelf chips. there is plenty good Chinese stuff and it is a bargain. if you are looking over a grand usd. be forewarned some of this cheap stuff can even burn your house! the sound of a dac is not really it's dac chip anyways. it is the analog section. if it's too good to be true....

post #26 of 161
Thread Starter 

One other thing to ask yourselves, is why is a factory way out in China making DACs with super high end chips? There is the possibility that some of the very high end $1,000 PCM5102 manufacturers use this particular factory, and the factory takes the extra bits or whatever and fabricates these boards for sale on Ebay. All imagination obviously, but it's a pretty unusually niche product to make. What's funny is you can look up any DAC chip, and search for it on Ebay, and you'll see Chinese boards using it. Again though pure baseless speculation.

post #27 of 161
Thread Starter 

P.S. I found a pic of the PCM5102 chip, to make sure it's in there. lol. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kJwVGtxZu14/TqF0TJD4H0I/AAAAAAAABaI/qMTN-tHkhto/s640/DA-100_pcm5102_big.jpg

post #28 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 

One other thing to ask yourselves, is why is a factory way out in China making DACs with super high end chips? There is the possibility that some of the very high end $1,000 PCM5102 manufacturers use this particular factory, and the factory takes the extra bits or whatever and fabricates these boards for sale on Ebay. All imagination obviously, but it's a pretty unusually niche product to make. What's funny is you can look up any DAC chip, and search for it on Ebay, and you'll see Chinese boards using it. Again though pure baseless speculation.

 

actually this is a fact. there are different laws in china. often shady. so there are companies having stuff built there. the factories sell leftover stuff or even stuff they shouldn't. even they agreed with the companies they are working for not to. plus there are some very good Chinese brand dacs. they could be just selling parts too. there are fine Chinese dacs. keep in mind one reason you are saving over even Chinese brand dacs is that you have to build these yourself. not as easy as it might seem.

 

of course the super high end dacs tend not to be made in china. I would say up to $4,000 Chinese dacs are viable.

 

as far as the ones on ebay that are already built they may be a good value. as I said those tend to not be ul,rohs etc. sometimes they do explode. I would even perhaps buy something like that but I would be sure to turn it off if I was not in front of it. actually, unplug it. until I was sure it was stable. I am an engineer so I don't even have to do that. I can just see what's what. for the record there was an unnamed American made dac that was catching fire. long since out of business thankfully.

 

the boards on ebay for the most part look like skilled factory assembly. of course I can not really see them good enough.

 

unless cost is the only factor why even go this route. nad,teac,yulong etc. all made in china are at least safe if not sound good.

post #29 of 161

How many people died or got hurt from a DAC "explosion"? Probably not very many.

 

So is it worth the risk to buy an eBay DAC for a hundred bucks that has 500+USD worth of parts and a seemingly good assembly/design rivaling DACs that sell for upwards of 4000usd? I would say that unless you actually do have 4000usd to spend on a good DAC without it having much impact on your daily life, then no, it's not worth it to buy a cheap Chinese ebay one, but I for one am more interested in some bang for my buck (and if these are legitimate, they're the most bang for my buck I've ever seen in this hobby).

 

Personally I just bought a USB/SPDIF converter based on the XMOS chip for the price of that entire chinese DAC, so if these DACs perform well, they are interesting. Take a look at these:

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Assembled-board-ES9018-32bit-192khz-Hi-End-DAC-Optical-Coax-and-Balanced-output-/130896285657?pt=US_Amplifier_Parts_Components&hash=item1e7a06cfd9

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ES9018-32bit-192khz-Hi-End-DAC-Optical-Coax-and-Balanced-output-diy-kit-/130896291990?pt=US_Amplifier_Parts_Components&hash=item1e7a06e896

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Upgrade-Assembled-board-ESS-ES9018-32bit-192khz-DAC-Optical-Coaxial-Weiliang-/130945714645?pt=US_Amplifier_Parts_Components&hash=item1e7cf909d5

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Upgraded-parts-Dual-WM8741-WM8805-24-192KHZ-DAC-decoder-Optical-Coaxial-DAC7-/140986306406?pt=US_Amplifier_Parts_Components&hash=item20d3704f66

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Upgraded-Finished-DAC-Decoder-ES9018-32bit-192khz-DAC-Optical-Coaxial-USB-/141088296880?pt=US_Amplifier_Parts_Components&hash=item20d9848fb0

 

They all seem to be quite good for the price.


Edited by elmoe - 3/12/14 at 3:22am
post #30 of 161

Hi Elmoe,

 

Thanks for the links. This is all so crazy cheap that if I didn't already have a Yulong 9018 dac I would be tempted to give it a try. At those prices it is worth a try if you need a dac. The layout seems to follow the same approach as many of the branded dac's I've seen but without the fancy lcd display and high quality case. If I was going for any of those I would surely go for the upgrades they offer. I would love to hear the results if someone on here orders one of these. Their pc boards look like a really clean design on glass epoxy. The real issue for me is if they are using genuine parts they claim.

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