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REVIEW: HLLY DMK-IV DAC / headphone amp / pre-amp)

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by skylab, Jan 25, 2010.
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    I've been looking at this DAC mainly because I'm looking for a remotely controlled DAC to feed active monitors. I'm not really interested in the headphone amp section. So David, will there be changes to the DAC section of the new version of this unit? The DMK-IV is pretty much what I've been looking for to meet my particular needs. But, what I'm wondering is should I wait for the new version units to available before purchasing? Also, will the feature set be the same and what do you forsee pricing to be at?
    Oh, and by the way, would there be any chance that I could program a universal remote to control this unit? Thanks.
  2. david-gao


         Well,  IF you do not care the headphone amp section, the current DMK-IV is ok for
    you, But now the USB IC is PCM2704 and it is limited for USB!
         In the new version, we will use new USB IC (maybe TE7022L which can support up to 24Bit/96Khz) , Also the DAC circuit will be adjusted better.  The OP AMP will be DIP and
    user can replace the OP AMP easily , Also the headphone amplifier will be revised better!
        Yes, we can tell you the code of remote control and you can program a universal remote to control this DAC!
        -- David gao
  3. TheKisho
    Have we figured out if the DMK-IV can play 96kHz 24-bit audio without just playing noise (using either the coax or optical inputs).  If it has issues what is the limiting factor?  (Is it the circuity pre DIR9001 [input->circuity->DIR9001])?  I'm thinking of getting a DMK-IV and modify it a bit to suit my needs and improve quality.  Does anyone know what connector the ribbon cable to the VFD uses, and where I might find a longer ribbon cable (pre-made with connectors)?  (I might want to move the display).  Is there a simple way to add an on/off switch for the display?  Switch it's power?  Or would sending an input to the display when it's not power up damage it?  (Not sure if it works like a regular vacuum tube [damages the tube if you use it with the heaters off]).  
    So when is the newer version coming?  Is the one on eBay pretty much the same as the schematic PDF still? [DMK-IV-SCH.pdf]
  4. despres
    I've bought a DMK-IV fairly recently and I can safely say that it does not support 96KHz audio out of the box. David from Hlly told me that if you disconnect pin 2 of the DAC chip and connect it to pin 3 96KHz should work. I did not try that, but my conclusion is that the issue lies in the design rather than in the individual components.

    My experiences with the device echo the original review somewhat: the DAC section is nice (apart from the 96KHz thing), but after that it's not great: I find the preamp output a lot noisier and there's a distinct hum when the output is muted (either by pressing mute or when an input signal is absent).

    Now, David has graciously offered me to exchange my DMK-IV when the new model becomes available, which he said should be early May. I hope the new version fixes most issues.
  5. TheKisho

    Oh thanks for that tidbit.  I will make a note of that for when I finally win one.  Easy enough to just add a switch to put it into 96kHz mode.
    Oh I was just going to extensively mod it.  Ditching the pre-amp (trust me it's not needed), upgrading components adding a few things.  I think I know how to make it have better sound quality.  I'll list the mods I did and the outcome when I finally get my hands on one.  I really don't want to say too much before, I don't want to get anybody's DIY Modding hopes up for nothing.  It could still be interference from something I cannot remove (DAC critical components, not sure how much the microcontroller is tied in that part [DAC].  I would love to remove the microcontroller all together if that is all possible), or from general poor circuit layout on the PCB.
  6. david-gao
    Get the new version DMK-IV PCB now, the USB is update to support 24Bit 96K
    also replaced the SMT caps in analog circuit and the sound will be better!
    The new version DMK-IV will be available in 2 months! 
  7. jaeming
    I really enjoy this DAC...
    I've talked about it in another post, I'll quickly summarize by saying, yes, it's clear, it's very liquid and yet crisp. It's neutral and yet it presents all I'd expect to hear across all the frequencies.
    However, I have had a few issues...
    1) Overheating. Initially I stacked this underneath my Burson HA-160. After about 6 hours, it started to seriously overheat. The burson is cool to the touch by itself (even on the bottom). The Hlly was so hot that even the volume knob was overly warm to the touch. Then the Hlly just quit. Sound stopped completely. I unplugged it and the usb and replugged it all back in. Worked fine for another hour...then all the sudden, loud hissing and distortion.
    I immediately turned it off and unstacked it and put it in a cool corner by the window (it's winter in New Zealand) and using my longest usb cable tried again.  The good thing is, 2 weeks running after that it's not overheated anymore. I dared to move it back to my desk, settled an inch away from my Burson HA-160, side by side (actually I've now turned my HA-160 on it's side to conserve space. It's been fine. Which only leaves me to issue number two...
    2) I use a Mac(mini) and/or sometimes a hackintosh. The main issue with this is there is no system volume control. I mean I can't control the DAC volume through the Volume control on the computer. I wondered if this is normal? It's really annoying. Since I can't adjust it, I'm just left with the Amp volume knob and itune's volume control. my itunes is set like this most of the time:
    That's on the 3rd notch of the amp's volume control for comfortable listening. Unfortunately, I feel the HA-160 really starts to sing on the 4th or 5th notch with my current headphones. But that's just too loud for casual listening. Anyway, my point is, it's hard to adjust the volume at the lower end of the volume scale. Towards this end, iTunes suddenly goes quiet or marginally too loud very easily.
    I'm left lusting for a new DAC but I wonder if it's normal to not be able to control the volume from the OS volume control for macs with other DAC's? I'm still kind of considering the upcoming Burson stand-alone DAC when it's released.
    By the way, as an amp/dac combo, I find the Hlly good for most uses. It won't power the K701's I have to exceptional levels like the Burson but it does act as a fairly good standard combo for a lot of mid-range phones I've tried on it. And of course the volume complaint is moot when used as such since it has a nice volume knob with plenty of steps in between.
    The volume control only works with the line out and not the DAC out. You'll have to use the line outs to have volume control. Having no volume control for DAC section outputs is, i believe, standard on any DAC out.
  9. jaeming

    Thanks. That's what I was wondering, whether that was standard or not.
    It's not that big of a deal I guess. Actually I just recieved my LCD-2's about 15 minutes ago and found that it was a lot less loud and volume seems more manageble (I can turn up the amp another notch and Itunes volume is can go almost half-way before it gets too loud. Funny, I kind of expected the LCD-2's to be louder than the K701's.

  10. KingMan
    I'm in Shanghai soon and wondering if I could test (compare it with the Matrix Mini-I) and maybe buy one locally.
    Preferably the new model or one with the PCB
    Do you have an adress for me?
  11. LeonardS

    Quite a while ago, you recommended:
    So, is this still your recommendation?  I have the "original" DMK-IV.
    Is this chip combination what you are now using on the new version of the DMK-IV?  
  12. evox2
    i'm interested in purchasing this new version of hlly dmk iv which supposed to support 24/96. but seems lack of review on the latest version, am i too late or how's the unit perform actually? 
  13. evox2
    Can anyone please let me know if this dac able to read the usb from mac snow leopard? 
  14. mrarroyo Contributor
    My Mac is using OS version 10.6.8
  15. evox2


    Thanks man! Appreciate the answer :)
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