Newbie Q, advantages of diy DAC
Oct 27, 2008 at 10:24 PM Post #16 of 37

tomb

Member of the Trade: Beezar.com
Joined
Mar 1, 2006
Posts
10,533
Likes
759
No problem, guys. Looking at it now, I'm wondering if I imagined seeing a post after the first one that's no longer there.
confused_face(1).gif
That's entirely possible as busy as things have been lately.
wink.gif


About the extras - good points all, but the question was about the advantages of a DIY DAC. There are many, but price will continue to be one of them for any DIY project.

Yes, there are many tools that are necessary and a certain investment that must be made to provide a minimum level of workmanship, but that's a fixed cost that varies little over potentially years of DIY projects. Once that investment is made, however, the bang-for-buck is unbeatable compared to similarly rated commercial equipment.

Anyway, 'nuff said from me.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 5:41 AM Post #17 of 37

-=Germania=-

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 25, 2005
Posts
3,008
Likes
12
DIY is expensive to get into.
However, it is very satisfing to know that if something breaks - you will likely be able to fix it. The satisfaction factor from building is for me like how it was building a giant lego house as a kid.

It is fun to try new things and DIY gives you a large array of projects to choose from....or go super DIY and make your own!
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 5:47 AM Post #18 of 37

jonjon0nline

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 30, 2008
Posts
103
Likes
0
As Germania stated, the satisfaction of using something you built yourself is worth it alone. Saving a bit of cash is just a bonus.
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 8:37 AM Post #19 of 37

amb

Member of the Trade: AMB Laboratories
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Posts
4,933
Likes
41
Here is a RMAA performance test comparison between the Realtek AC97 onboard audio of my computer, the Alien DAC, and a prototype γ1 "full" version DAC I just completed. All tests were done at 16 bit 44.1KHz. The γ1 was set up for USB input, and both the Alien DAC and γ1 outputs were looped back to an M-Audio Firewire Audiophile's analog input for recording/measurement. The Alien DAC and the γ1 were USB-powered in these tests, but using external "clean" power did not yield any meaningful improvement on both.

RightMark Audio Analyzer test: comparison

It's noteworthy that the γ1 is a prototype that has not been cased (just bare boards), so I'd expect the noise floor, and perhaps the distortion, to improve even further after being cased.
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 9:34 AM Post #22 of 37

ls206

Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 13, 2008
Posts
87
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by amb /img/forum/go_quote.gif
RightMark Audio Analyzer test: comparison

It's noteworthy that the γ1 is a prototype that has not been cased (just bare boards), so I'd expect the noise floor, and perhaps the distortion, to improve even further after being cased.



Cheers for that. It looks like the y1 well outperforms the onboard sound. But what does the difference mean in terms of real world listening?
I mean, how should I interpret the graphs, is the difference large or would I need well trained ears to hear the difference?
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 10:06 AM Post #23 of 37

amb

Member of the Trade: AMB Laboratories
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Posts
4,933
Likes
41
The graphs show some obvious differences, the frequency response is much flatter and more extended, the noise floor and distortions are also much lower. The audibility of these depends on the quality of your program material and the rest of your audio chain. There are also other aspects of performance that aren't measured here, where the better DACs would outperform a computer's onboard audio. Things like jitter rejection and the resultant reductions of unwanted sideband artifacts. Such artifacts , like intermodulation distortion, are not harmonically-related to the music signals and could thus impart a harsh sound signature.

Other things to consider are the ability to run at greater bit depths and sampling rates for higher-resolution audio. The γ1, for example, supports up to 24 bit 96KHz through its S/PDIF coax and optical inputs.
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 10:46 AM Post #24 of 37

ls206

Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 13, 2008
Posts
87
Likes
0
K, thanks for the info.
I've found your thread on headwize - had a quick scan but haven't found a rough cost.
Do you or plan to sell kits of the y1? What sort of price range would the y1 fit into?
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 11:05 AM Post #25 of 37

amb

Member of the Trade: AMB Laboratories
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Posts
4,933
Likes
41
I haven't added up the costs exactly because we're in prototype phase and the BOM is not finalized, and there are several different γ1 configurations that you could built. I expect the "full" configuration to cost ~$90 in parts. For news and developments, follow the headwize thread.
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 11:47 AM Post #26 of 37

Jambo

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 4, 2007
Posts
205
Likes
10
I hate to keep plugging my stuff and it's a bit more expensive than the option you're considering right now, but you might find the Jambo Dac interesting... Threads are here and here. Includes a microprocessor so if that sort of thing is your bag you can mess around with it. The catch is that I can't send you one til I'm back in the UK which is mid January!
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 1:16 PM Post #27 of 37

ls206

Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 13, 2008
Posts
87
Likes
0
tongue.gif
thanks
I'll have a quick read now
What sort of price is the Jambo? (if I bought a kit from you)

EDIT: found the price after some searching
smily_headphones1.gif

I guess mid-jan will give me time to save some monies.

another edit:
Could you elaborate a little on what the "jambo" offers over the y1 or even the alien dac?
How does the microprocessor "aid' the audio performance?

(sorry if these are v.simple questions)
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 9:28 PM Post #28 of 37

Ferrari

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 3, 2006
Posts
828
Likes
13
Quote:

Originally Posted by amb /img/forum/go_quote.gif
...
RightMark Audio Analyzer test: comparison

It's noteworthy that the γ1 is a prototype that has not been cased (just bare boards), so I'd expect the noise floor, and perhaps the distortion, to improve even further after being cased.



For an uncased proto DAC… impressive results.
beerchug.gif

Pure from technical point of view (and nothing else), Alien DAC is clearly some notch lower and obviously, not a serious counter party for γ1 DAC.
 
Oct 28, 2008 at 10:55 PM Post #29 of 37

holland

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 15, 2007
Posts
2,210
Likes
22
Quote:

Originally Posted by ls206 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
another edit:
Could you elaborate a little on what the "jambo" offers over the y1 or even the alien dac?
How does the microprocessor "aid' the audio performance?

(sorry if these are v.simple questions)



They are all in different classes. The microprocessor controls or can control some of the features of the WM8740 in the jambo. I have mine built, but never cased nor attached power and used. :p I'm a slacker, alright!

The Jambo is more in the category of a full-sized DAC.

The y1 is a portable/transportable DAC, in modular fashion, with much higher quality components than an Alien.

The Alien is a good beginner DAC in USB only. It's not really that great. I prefer my modded X-Fi to it.

The y1 has multiple inputs, and I would go for that if you're just starting out. The reason is that one can hook it to an X-Fi and get a different DAC out to external AMP while retaining the X-Fi-ness for games. That's one reason to use a soundcard with SPDIF. The y1 is really a good DAC in a small package. Once you remove package constraints you lead towards stuff like the Jambo, some PCM179* designs, other WM874* designs, stuff like the Buffalo DAC. Some may claim things from Twisted Pear to be Pseudo-DIY, but you can always request bare PCBs and source your own parts.

The Jambo has multiple inputs and outputs and is based on dual WM8740 DACs. I wish I could tell you more. I would, however, expect the Jambo to outperform the y1. Though the y1 has done some good work on the inputs, the limitation will be shown with the DAC. Again, design choices for different goals.

In that vein, what do you want to achieve? There's a decent spectrum of stuff for you, popular on this forum. There are tons of other designs on other forums.
 
Oct 29, 2008 at 12:25 AM Post #30 of 37

tomb

Member of the Trade: Beezar.com
Joined
Mar 1, 2006
Posts
10,533
Likes
759
Quote:

Originally Posted by MisterX /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Alien soup?
Looks like the Gamma had a nice lunch.
tongue.gif
wink.gif



Cost is a factor in this comparison. The Alien is clearly superior to the sound card. Its frequency response is identical to the Gamma. Yes, it has a slightly higher noise floor and distortion, but depending on actual usage, this may or may not be audible. I'm not trying in any way to criticize the Gamma, but the low cost of the Alien seems maybe enough to describe it as perhaps "holding its own," rather than having been eaten.
wink.gif
wink.gif
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top