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Lite DAC60 - PCM1704 R2R tubed DAC Mod Project - Page 2

post #16 of 358

Thanks for all the info, rb2013.

 

Alas, I somehow could not find which tube you recommend on http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=51316.40.  Could you describe it here?

 

Also, which tubes work with the DAC 60?  I own an Aune T1, which I love, and it takes many different tubes, although it comes stock with a 6922.  Would any tube that works for the T1 also work for the DAC 60?

 

I ask because I couldn't resist and ordered one. :-)

post #17 of 358
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by walfredo View Post
 

Thanks for all the info, rb2013.

 

Alas, I somehow could not find which tube you recommend on http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=51316.40.  Could you describe it here?

 

Also, which tubes work with the DAC 60?  I own an Aune T1, which I love, and it takes many different tubes, although it comes stock with a 6922.  Would any tube that works for the T1 also work for the DAC 60?

 

I ask because I couldn't resist and ordered one. :-)

If the Aune uses a 6922 then yes, the Lite DAC 60 take the 6922/E88CC/6N23P/CV2492 tubes.  These are all equivalent to each other - as is the 6DJ8, ECC88.  There are different variations of this tube made like the CCa, E188CC, 7308.  (I have been rolling these for over 20yr in many different stereo components).  It's one of my favorite tube types.  Right now I have 2 amps, a headphone amp (Lyr) and a DAC (this one) that all use this same tube type.

 

I have posted many times on the epic Lyr tube rolling thread - which I own that uses the same tubes.

 

I have owned and heard virtually every 6922 type tube there is, and discovered these rare vintage '70s 6n23p equivalents several yrs ago.

 

Here is a link to one of my original posts on the Lyr tube rolling thread:

 Page 574 #8606

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/549508/schiit-lyr-the-tube-rolling-thread/8595

 

The difference that the best tubes make is not subtle.  Even a stock Lite DAC60 with a pr of these '75 6n23p Holy Grail tubes is a giant killer.  Change out just the coupling caps and add choke power supply filtering and you have some killer DAC.  That would be a 'Stage 1" mod in hierarchy. The tubes are around $180/pr for the best.  Caps are between $100 and $250 depending on if you go with the Mundorf Supremes or the excellent Mundorf Supreme Silver Oils or even better Mundorf Supreme Silver/Gold/Oils.  The choke filter is $36 :biggrin:

 

But of course stage 2 and 3 take it new levels of refinement and detail.  Listening today on my office system - I'm floored by the bass I'm hearing!  Using just small monitors (Reference 3a Dulcets BEs). 


Edited by rb2013 - 12/3/14 at 7:53am
post #18 of 358
Thanks a lot for the wealth of information, rb2013.
 
I have tried a "rocket tube" with my Aune T1.  I was not so impressed, but it was a 6H23N (9202), not a 6N23P.  I'll surely try a 6N23P.  Is ebay the best source?  Do you recommend elsewhere?
 
I've had good luck with amperex orange globe.  And my current favorite is Philips PCC85/9AQ8.  I'll try to get matched pairs of these as well.
 
The first stage mod sounds enticing.  But I'll have to get someone to help me.  I am helpless with solder. :-(  If you manage to get some time, would you please share pics showing where the coupling caps and choke power supply filtering are in the board?
 
Again, many thanks for sharing the knowledge!!
 
Yours truly,
Walfredo
post #19 of 358
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by walfredo View Post
 

Getting the right tubes will really take the DAC60 to a whole new level, smoother, with more detail, clarity and transparency.  Deeper bass as well.  Wider and deeper sound stage.

 

The 6N23Ps do not all sound the same.  In fact, there are very big differences in sound quality between the various years and constructions.  I have compared them to most of the Amperex's, including the famed 6922 '50s D Getter Pinched Waist (which are +$500/pr).  I have also compared them to the '60s Siemens, Tele's, Philips, Mullard, Lorenz, Slyvania, etc... The very best 6n23p's stack right there with the very best US and Euro 6922's, E88CC's and CCa's.

 

I came across these a few years ago, but like most folks never knew there was a difference.  But uncovered some vintage '70s that sounded way better.  That lead me to explore them further, which I did extensively for over a year.  I have posted many reviews on the Lyr Tube Rolling Thread.

 

Here are some of my posts from the Lyr thread for reference.  The vintage Russian 6n23p came from two factories the first I uncovered were the Voskhod Rockets

My break down on the different years:

Post #8606    http://www.head-fi.org/t/549508/schiit-lyr-the-tube-rolling-thread/8550

 

Then I discovered a very rare version from the Reflektor family:

Here is my review Posts #1914-1918 http://www.head-fi.org/t/673709/schiit-lyr-tube-rollers/1905

 

I compared the Amperex to the best 6n23p's here:

Page 142, post #2129 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/673709/schiit-lyr-tube-rollers/2115

 

Page 149, post #2229 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/673709/schiit-lyr-tube-rollers/2220

 

And some comments from folks who have tried them on the Lyr 2 thread:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/721542/new-schiit-lyr-2-impressions/360

 

I have a few spare pairs available - PM if you're interested. I have a tube tester and can match pairs.

 

I'll post a pictures showing the coupling caps and choke filter.

 

Cheers!

 

:beerchug: 

post #20 of 358

Do you use some sort of digital converter to get optical or coax input, or is there a USB option I don't see?

post #21 of 358
Quote:
Originally Posted by shortcuttomonct View Post
 

Do you use some sort of digital converter to get optical or coax input, or is there a USB option I don't see?

 

You do need a USB to SPDIF convertor (or to use a SPDIF source, of course).

post #22 of 358
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shortcuttomonct View Post
 

Do you use some sort of digital converter to get optical or coax input, or is there a USB option I don't see?

You do need a USB converter and I have tried many - right now my favorite is the excellent Gustard U12 - a bargain for $159.

 

See the thread I started on the Gustard U12

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/736294/gustard-u12-usb-interface-8-core-xmos-chip

post #23 of 358
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by walfredo View Post
 

 

You do need a USB to SPDIF convertor (or to use a SPDIF source, of course).

+1 You can of course use a cd transport, I have invested a lot of time and money into my PC music server - so that's my preferred choice.  I use the coax for that and I have a Kenwood DT-7000S sat tuner that feeds a digital signal - that I send to the DAC60 by optical.  There are buttons on the front of the DAC60 to select each input.

 

 

 

 The Gustard U12 is available on Ebay in either silver or black.  Mine are silver - matches the DAC60 perfectly

 


Edited by rb2013 - 12/1/14 at 7:20pm
post #24 of 358
Thread Starter 

Another great capacitor shootout:

 

http://singaporehifi.blogspot.com/2010/09/capacitor-shoot-out.html

 

Here are the comments on the Mundorf Supreme Silver Oil:

Quote:
 Mundorf Supreme Silver / Oil

What a breath of fresh air ! Coming from the M-Cap, the Mundorf Supreme Silver in Oil is a treat for the ears. The Mundorf Supreme family of capacitors have a distinct family sound. The Silver in Oil is much more liquid and open compared to the Supreme. I actually prefer this to the Silver / Gold. The Silver in Oil is very extended at both ends with excellent microdetails in the midrange and high frequencies. It is also exquisitely refined with an excellent balance struck between being analytical and musical. It lacks the midrange glow of the Silver / Gold but is more even throughout the entire frequency band. At all times, it sounds effortless and natural. Strongly recommended !

Here they are installed in the Lite DAC60 (the large black cans -hard to miss!)

Because they are so large -they were close to the tubes which, of course, do put out heat (and these caps DO NOT LIKE HEAT!)

So I remounted them to the side and wired with Mundorf telfon coated solid silver wiring.

This will keep them far from the tubes and nice and cool.

 

When I had the Mundorf Supreme (regular - not Silver/Oil version) they were smaller and are not as sensitive to heat.  They were fine I believe in the original position.

 

Here is the cost and size differences - the coupling caps require 2.7uF caps.

 

The Regular Mundorf Supremes  - $46.60/pr from Sonic Craft DIY  30mmx56mm

Mundorf Silver/Oil - $165.30/pr 41mmx57mm

 

Now Vishay Roderstein Film bypass caps can be added to the regular Mundorfs - which I did and they did improve the sound.  .01uF are only $1 each - so this is a very cheap addition to the regular Mundorfs.  The Silver Oils are still much better - much more liquid with a fuller bodied tone.  

 

The Vishay's are the little square gray box caps under the Supremes:

From the Humble Home made Hifi Cap review http://www.humblehomemadehifi.com/Cap.html :

 

Quote:
 

Vishay MKP1837 / 0,01uF MKP 100VDC - 1% tolerance

Technical specifications: Metallised polypropylene, radial capacitor, designed for LC/RC filter circuits, coupling and de-coupling at high frequencies.

Sound: Many years ago I was tipped by Klaus Witte of Germany to try this capacitor as a small parallel cap for the Mundorf MCap Supreme. I tried them as a parallel cap for the tweeter series caps in my Progress speaker and I must say I was very impressed! To get straight to the point they don't change a Supreme into a Supreme Silver-Oil but they really do clear things up. I must admit I was sceptical at first as the value is only 10nF (0,01uF) - and the caps I was using at the time totalled to 12,6uF. The difference is most noticeable with classical music but also good quality recordings of jazz and fusion benefit: No change in sound stage width or depth but there is more concert-hall acoustics that let you get into the recording more. Not as liquid as a Mundorf Silver Oil but they did take away the slightly grainy edge from the Mundorf Supreme's. A noticable gain in clarity and transparency making instruments better separable from each other, the violins in an orchestra become a group of individual violins instead of one mass. Jazz drum brushes sound more like a brush than a "shush".

Humble Home Made Hifi review of the Mundorf Supreme's:

Quote:
 

Sound: The MCap Supreme delivers an open and spatial sound with lots of depth. Good reproduction of the musical nuances with detail and depth from the high treble right down into the low mid-range without exaggerating things. Clear and transparent sounding cap with a good sound stage. They provide a good improvement in clarity, focus and dynamics compared to standard quality MKP's and sound "meatier" than the Mundorf MCap EVO Silver Gold Oil, more mature and a tad warmer sounding as well. The degree of improvement is comparable to upgrading to high-end cables and interconnects. I must say I was impressed when I first auditioned them several years ago and still like to use them. Where as cheaper capacitors get can lost when fed complex materal, the Mundorf MCap Supreme keeps the overview on things like a full scale orchestra. I also found that the Mundorf MCap Supreme mixes very nicely with Clarity Cap SA capacitors.

Verdict: 10

Review of the Mundorf Supreme Silver/Oil

Quote:
 

Sound: The MCap Supreme Silver Oil is one of my favourite capacitors! I can only underline what Mundorf states:  “…wonderfully spacious and detailed sound reproduction … full and smooth tonal richness and diversity. This capacitor's ability to bring out the finest nuances and the subtlest distinctions make the music sound more alive and “juicy”, …Wonderfully spacious music reproduction… ”. Music detail and depth throughout from top to bottom. Very smooth and liquid. To exaggerate things: it makes a standard Supreme Cap sound slightly rough!

Verdict: 11

Review of the Mundorf Supreme Silver/Gold

Quote:
 

Sound: Nicely clear and transparent, rich textured treble, very spacious; front to back and left to right, very good separation of the individual instruments, deep black background, clean and dynamic, heaps of micro-detail information, the details get high-lighted a little but nothing to worry about. I know one could easily think that this capacitor must be good because everyone says so and it is very expensive but I have tried to keep my objective view and even so I am very impressed. Were I would describe the Silver/Oil as extremely neutral, I would describe the Silver/Gold as extremely natural if you know what I mean. Acoustic instruments like a viola da gamba sound really life-like. In comparison to the Duelund VSF-Cu copper-foil capacitor they can sound a little bright in the top-end, but this can be a plus point if you want to brighten up a dull sounding system or you just dig those so-called high-end recordings with bells, chimes and things. They are by no means harsh, just on the clear side of neutral sometimes.

Verdict: 11+

Review of the Mundorf Supreme Silver/Gold/Oil:

Quote:
 

Sound: At this level we are talking about a really serious capacitor, so my findings are relative to other exotic types. They are richer and better layered than the Mundorf Silver Gold (without the oil) and they seem more open and more spatial. Compared to the Duelund VSF-Cu they are not as rich in harmonic overtones. The Duelund VSF-Cu creates smoother harmonics and a better midrange balance but the Mundorf Silver Gold Oil really excels in image depth - call it bowling alley depth! In direct comparison, the Duelund VSF-Cu sounds flatter (a bit more 2D) and a little rounded-off at the top. Like most Mundorf capacitors, the Silver Gold Oil has a slight hint of top-end emphasis, this probably contributes to the perceived spatiality and micro-detailing. But I am very happy to live with that, these capacitors are so quiet and really let you look very deep into the recording!

Verdict: 12+

I am considering trying the Mundorf Supreme Silver/Gold/Oil caps -they are approx the same size as the Silver/Oils but much more expensive! $240/pr!!!  I really wonder if they would improve things to justify that much extra cost. The Silver Oils are already so good - how much better can this DAC sound!

 

Well the ratings (Humble Home Made ratings) of the different Coupling Caps - Stock Wima's -7, Mundorf Supremes 10, Mundorf Supreme Silver Oil 11, Mundorf Supreme Silver Gold Oil 12+

 

PS Last note - when ordering these caps ask for matching.  It's only a small additional cost and they will pair the two caps (they are already with in 2% - but this will get them to within 1% tolerances).


Edited by rb2013 - 12/3/14 at 8:15am
post #25 of 358
Thread Starter 

Other possible coupling cap choices: 

 

Audyn True Copper Cap MKP - I could not find a 2.7 uF rated cap.  I did find a 2.2 uf they're $200/pr from Parts Express.  You could possibly get away with a 2.2 uf cap here - but I prefer to stay with the manufacturer's original 2.7 uf cap rating.  One note they may be to large to fit in the chassis.

 

Jupiter Condenser HT BeesWax Paper 600VDC Could not find these above 1.0 uf ratings - may be to large.

 

Duelund CAST-Cu Copper / Paper-in-Oil Capacitor Probably the finest fim cap made today - but just WAY to big and expensive. $578/pr!

 

V-Cap (Fluoropolymer Film & Tin Foil) Series Capacitors And of course the infamous VCaps!  Silly expensive - could not find a 2.7uf but a 2.2uf is $918/pr.  Insane.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), default quality

 

The new kid on the block - the folks at Sonic Craft like these - Jupiter Copper Foil 3.3µF 100VDC.

The voltage rating may be to low (should be 600VDC or above - the largest I saw at this rating was 1.5uf) and are very expensive $400/pr for 3.3uf (no 2.7uf ratings, next step down was a 1 uf definitely to small) 48mm x 63mm - also could be to large in physical size.

 


Edited by rb2013 - 12/2/14 at 9:57am
post #26 of 358
Thread Starter 

Another excellent cap review:

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/diy/0708/capacitor2.htm

 

He really liked the Mundorf Silver/Gold (non oil) which he compares very favoribly with the Uber expensive VCaps.  And absolutely loved the Silver/Oil - too bad he didn't review the Silver/Gold/Oil

 

Quote:
 

Mundorf Silver/Gold Capacitor 
Mostly I have been comparing the Mundorf Silver/Gold with VCap Teflons, and this has been a tough one to get a handle on. This may be a good time to concede that above a certain level, various great capacitors are not particularly "better," but rather akin to looking at the same object under subtly different lighting conditions and vantage points. VCap Teflons and Mundorf Silver/Gold share many sound qualities, especially jet-black, noise-free background from which subtlest details seem to naturally emerge. Presentation of both are so natural and non-attention-seeking that both may come across as bland or boring when compared to certain capacitors with stronger personalities.

Long-term living with the caps, however, confirms the greatness of both caps because music remains inviting, refined, and eminently enjoyable, as opposed to fatiguing, wearing thin, and distracting. Since audiophiles tend to obsess over the last 5-10% of differences, I will mention that Silver/Gold has a bit richer presentation from top-to-bottom with a bit creamier textures and a bit closer imaging. As one can imagine from this description, Silver/Gold doesn't quite seem to be as Nth-degree clean as VCaps but renders more proportion of recordings more tasty. 

I do not believe detail resolution is any less than VCaps, but a tiny bit more harmonic "bloom" over the notes makes music both sexier and less pellucid at the same time. Some people will absolutely love this quality and call Silver/Gold much "better" than VCaps while others will absolutely declare VCaps to be the better cap for the same reasons. To throw more wrench into the equation, the optimal tube set for one cap is not the best set for the other cap and vice versa. Such is life.

I am also unable to directly compare Mundorf Silver/Gold to Mundorf Silver/Oil at this time due to my system configuration, but my preliminary sense is that the two are not all that different sounding, though the small amount of gold compound mixed with silver does seem to add just a wee bit extra harmonic richness and warmth.

 

Quote:
 

Mundorf silver/gold vs. silver/oil 
16.jpg

17.jpg

I finally did some proper comparisons between these two capacitors, and while they do share the musical Mundorf house sound, their differences are significant enough that one should not automatically think a system synergistic with one will be synergistic with the other.There are some who have concluded silver/gold is "not as good" as silver/oil, but I would not agree with that conclusion. However, they have sufficiently differing presentations and gestalt that yes, one "may" definitely prefer silver/oil in a given setup/preferences.

One word I would use to describe the main difference is "liquidity." While both are remarkably smooth, silver/oil has more liquidity, not enough to obscure detail but just enough to "massage" recordings that are not perfect. As a result, I am able to enjoy more percentage of my recordings through silver/oil, which liquefies a few percent of the upper-midrange/low-treble spittiness and hardness inherent in many recordings. Because silver/oil makes this range less noticeable, the high treble/air becomes relatively more noticeable, but upon closer analysis, the silver/gold has just as much upper end extension and air.

So once again, I still think silver/oil is the cap that most likely will have me keep listening to my (non-perfect) music collection instead of tweaking, but if your system is already leaning towards liquidity, silver/gold may be a better choice

Edit PS - Mundorf released an even better cap after the Silver/Gold's - the Silver/Gold/Oils.  See the Humble Home Made Hifi review for a comparison of the two.


Edited by rb2013 - 12/3/14 at 7:42am
post #27 of 358

I'm really interested in seeing your overall costs & estimated build time.  Looks like the Dac60 can be found online for $400-$450 (unless I'm mistaken) so this could end up being a fun winter project.  :D

post #28 of 358
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shortcuttomonct View Post
 

I'm really interested in seeing your overall costs & estimated build time.  Looks like the Dac60 can be found online for $400-$450 (unless I'm mistaken) so this could end up being a fun winter project.  :D

Check on the shipping charges - it will probably total out to pretty close $650 if you live in the US.  Buy on Ebay and get the 'Buyer's Protection' guarantee.

 

The smell of melting solder!  Tis' the season!!  Then some grogg listening to some great tunes playing through an awesome DAC!

 

Cheers!~

:beerchug:


Edited by rb2013 - 12/2/14 at 7:18pm
post #29 of 358
Thread Starter 

Ok finishing up on the Stage 1 mods with the replacement of one of the critical power supply resistors with a choke filter.

 

I did want to cover the coupling cap and tube choices and research I have done as some may not be aware of the different choices available.  I made my choices based on extensive research.

 

The Hammond choke was recommended on one of the blogs as an excellent power supply DC filter.  I noticed it did improve the sound - a quieter background and more dynamics.

 

Here is the unit I purchased from Parts Connexion - it seems to work very well and wasn't to difficult to install.  It is quite heavy so I double secured it to the chassis.  First using rubber flat washers to electrically insulate it from the metal chassis, then drilled holes and used nylon bolts.  Additionally, I used thick plastic ties to further secure it. 

 

Hammond Transformer D.C. Filter (153-159 Series) 159P D.C. Filter (153-159 Series), 10 H, 125 ma, 155 Ohms, 500 Volts D.C., 2.25 lbs, $32.86.  

 

 

With tie down (required additional holes drilled)

 

 

 

This replaced the R35 resistor

 

 

This pretty much completes the Stage 1 mods


Edited by rb2013 - 12/3/14 at 7:23am
post #30 of 358
Thread Starter 

Ok so that pretty much sums up the Stage 1 mods: Vintage 6N23P tubes, upgraded coupling caps, Hammond choke power supply filtering.

 

So what did it cost and how much time involved?

 

I'll give a Low-Med-Hi range depending on the quality of parts and cost.

 

Tubes - Range $50-$170-$400+.    Low range choices could be some of the vintage '70s Voskhod Rocket 6n23p, Amperex '60s OGs, etc.. I like the 6n23p for their clarity, detail, musicality and lack of blurriness when the going gets complex and loud.  Med range - the very best 6n23p and my personal favorites the Holy Grail '75 6n23p! just outanding musicality , smoothness, deep bass, wide and deep sound stage, detail galore, but other good choices could be(maybe $200+) Tele '60s E88CC, Amperex USN- CEP white label USA, Siemens E88CC. High Range (no real need to spend this kind of money) the Siemens early '60s CCa gray shields.

 

Caps -  Range $46-$165-$240. Low range, my suggestion would be the Mundorf Supremes with the VR bypasses, Med range, and my recommendation overall, the extraordinary Mundorf Silver/Oils, High range the Mundorf Silver/Gold/Oil. But any great caps that fit with proper values would work. 

 

Choke - Range $32. Well there were no other alternatives.

 

I would say going Mid range -the total cost is approx $338 plus another $30 in wiring (I used the 18AWG Mundorf solid silver teflon coated from Parts Connexion), silver solder $10 (Sonic Craft DIY) takes this DAC to great levels of performance, near sota.  For less then $1000 total cost, it will compete with DAC 3x or 4X it's cost.  

 

Of course at the bottom end you could spend round $140 and take the DAC to a very nice level of performance.

 

Additional supplies - teflon tube to shield leads and rubber shrink wrap.

Time for an experienced person, good with a soldering iron - 3-4 hours.  Depending on caps.

 

One additional mod - replace the lousy hard plastic footers with inexpensive rubber ones.  

I used the E-A-R Specialty Composites Isolation Products Small Isolation Feet / 1.0" (25mm) D x 0.52 (13mm) H, $1 Each total $4. Parts Conexion

 

That's it for Stage 1 - but more Stages 2 and 3 next!


Edited by rb2013 - 12/3/14 at 7:28am
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