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General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: Thermioniclife on January 10, 2021, 01:18:35 PM

Title: My new DAC
Post by: Thermioniclife on January 10, 2021, 01:18:35 PM
Hey folks,
Last year I posted a Question about a DAC kit on the forum and did not get very good suggestions because most used smd's, not my forte. So I hemmed and hawed and finally settled on an ANK DAC 2.1 kit. I am happy to report that I am quite enamored with it on my limited listening time as I just finished it 3 days ago. Nice quality parts and chassis. I ordered the standard kit and Brian from ANK upgraded the resistors on the analog line board with Audio Note tantalum's for free, they are quite pricey at about $7 each and there are 10 of them. He also sent the wrong regulator tube for the B+ board and sent me 2 nice Svetlana 6bm8/ecl82 tubes overnight, Kuddos Brian. I listened in my Evil Laboratory with my mono pair of s3x's with Paradigm Atoms and Overnight sensations, Nice. Last night I tried with Senn HD-650's on my C2A and it sounded divine! I have only used the USB input as of now but I will try out the coax input with a Polk sat. tuner tomorrow. This DAC is dead quiet and quite spacious in delivery. Thanks Brian.
Of course YMMV. It's only my 2 cents and who am I? really Who am I? Can anybody tell me?
Happy New Year All.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Thermioniclife on January 10, 2021, 01:24:48 PM
Forgot the Pics.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: oguinn on January 10, 2021, 02:52:16 PM
How much SMD work was there? It looks like a couple ICs. I also hate surface mount so would love to work on a DAC kit that didn’t have a ton of it.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: galyons on January 10, 2021, 03:07:45 PM
I built my ANK DAC 2.1B several years ago when the analog board was still 6299.  There were no SMD's in the build. The digital board had the chips already populated. It is a great piece of kit. The old AD1855 DAC is R2R and sounds really good without any oversampling. Very analog-like without all the digi-hash.

Cheers,
Geary
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: canonken on January 10, 2021, 03:29:29 PM
Wow, I looked at the website, there is a lot going on there!  Funny to think about having a DAC with a full tube array!

Glad you like it.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Thermioniclife on January 10, 2021, 03:33:11 PM
I just thought that I replied but I must have not (do not get old)  There is no SMD work to do. the USB board is prebuilt  as well as the the Digital input board all others are thru hole. No problem. I have the DAC and my C2A warming up for another listening  session tonight. I have not used the coax input yet but will do soon with a Polk audio Sat. Radio tuner tomorrow. so far i love this DAC!
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Paul Joppa on January 10, 2021, 07:08:14 PM
... and who am I? really Who am I? Can anybody tell me?...
"Who am I

to stand and wonder
to wait

while the wheels of fate
slowly grind my life away

Who am  I?"

Music of my misspent youth.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Deke609 on January 11, 2021, 05:18:16 AM
I thought things were taking a bit of dark poetic turn until I searched PJ's quote and found that it's from Country Joe and the Fish!

... my misspent youth.

Meh ... if it wasn't misspent, it wouldn't have been youth: wasting time with stupid stuff b/c of a foolish but unshakeable sense that one will never get old. What I regret: taking myself so damn seriously.  Oh, the problems I caused myself and others b/c of it.

"I was so much older then;
I'm younger than that now"

cheers, Derek
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Natural Sound on January 11, 2021, 05:47:17 AM
Looks real good lee. What are you feeding the USB with, the laptop shown in the picture? FLAC, MP3, Streaming service? The only downside I see is that the ANK DAC is limited to 24bit/96khz. Not a problem if your music collections doesn't exceed that.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Thermioniclife on January 11, 2021, 06:29:39 AM
Mostly mp3's , You tube music vids, Polk audio xrt-12 sat. tuner via coax. That about sums it up.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: galyons on January 11, 2021, 06:38:46 AM
... the ANK DAC is limited to 24bit/96khz. Not a problem if your music collections doesn't exceed that.

I gonna be a bit of a [email protected]# here.  (Please bear in mind this is my opinion based on my listening!)  This numbers game is what ruined digital and so many other audio products.  "Whose got the bigger [email protected]!?"

NOS R2R DAC's are the opposite of this silly marketing game. The decoding is a completely different process.  It is simple. In my experience simple is usually better. (That is why I use SET's & horns). I would put a well designed NOS R2R DAC against any PCM OS DAC. 

Digital always damages the sound wave, it is unavoidable by the very nature of the process.  The numbers fetish folk just keep bumping the over-sampling rates to give the appearance that  the perceptual damage of the sampling rate and quantization algorithm are sufficiently low enough to more closely  approach the waveform of the original analog signal. All the extra processing just adds to the problem. Kind of like cooking! Wow! This is way too salty! Better add more salt!

Sorry to rant.  And, of course, as in most things, YMMV!!

Happy New Year!!

Cheers,
Geary



Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Doc B. on January 11, 2021, 07:19:37 AM
In Tom's defense, I don't think he was making a statement about subjective quality of various sample rates. It seems more about utility. There might be some music one likes that can only be had in 24/192. If your DAC can't play it, you don't get to enjoy it.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: galyons on January 11, 2021, 08:19:19 AM
In Tom's defense, I don't think he was making a statement about subjective quality of various sample rates. It seems more about utility. There might be some music one likes that can only be had in 24/192. If your DAC can't play it, you don't get to enjoy it.

Fair enough.  My online streaming service lets me limit the data rate to 24/96.  I still play some tracks listed with higher data rates. Sound fine. don't really know what,  if any, I am missing or what, if anything, Qobuz is doing behind the scenes.  Most of my serious listening is still vinyl and tape.

Tom, if I took your comment out of context, please forgive me!!

Cheers,
Geary
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Natural Sound on January 11, 2021, 11:58:37 AM
No harm, no foul. If you want to offend me you need to work a lot harder at it. ;)  I agree with most of what you said, Geary. I'd estimate that 80+ percent of the music files I have on my server are 16bit/44khz and they sound very nice indeed. I do hear an improvement in sound quality in most cases when switching from 16bit to 24bit files though. But honestly the higher sampling rates are probably wasted on my nearly 6 decade old ears. There are some notable exceptions however. Jazz at the Pawn Shop comes to mind. I own two different copies. One is 24/88 and the other is 24/192. I'm not sure if they both come from the same master or not but the 24/192 recording sounds quite a bit better to my ears regardless of what the numbers are telling me.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Deke609 on January 11, 2021, 12:43:18 PM
Dummy question here: what role do/can tubes play in the digital to analog conversion process?  Out of ignorance I just assumed that DA conversion can only be performed by solid state parts. Does the resulting analog signal need to be amplified to some useable voltage, and if so, is that the role that tubes can play in a DAC? Or can tubes play a direct role in the DA conversion itself?

cheers and thanks, Derek
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: jtori on January 11, 2021, 12:45:22 PM
Color me envious.  I've contemplated building one of these for quite some time.  To date, I'm still using my Wadia 16, DAC3-DX and 105D.  I like the way AN approaches things and will probably take the plunge at some point.  Thanks for sharing this.

Joe.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Thermioniclife on January 11, 2021, 01:05:13 PM
Deke,
I am a Neophyte to Dacs also, but many years ago I had a Theta Dac all solid state, it was considered a great Dac at the time. Sadly that was stolen from me with many other items. This Dac has an analog line out using 6922/ 6dj8 or equiv. tubes. The B+ supply is tube also using a 6x5 tube and a 6bm8 regulator. It sounds quite nice to me. I may try a SS rectifier at some point but I must say I am digging the arrangement right now.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Thermioniclife on January 11, 2021, 01:18:57 PM
jatori,
Be advised that ANK kits are not from Audio Note U.K. AN. Divested themselves from ANK Canada quite a while a go. Having said that I am very happy with this kit. The online instructions are a bit convoluted but manageable if you have built before.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: johnsonad on January 12, 2021, 02:32:23 AM
Geary, once this pandemic settles down could I stop by and listen to your DAC?  I've always wondered how they sound. They look like fun projects.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: galyons on January 12, 2021, 04:35:48 AM
Geary, once this pandemic settles down could I stop by and listen to your DAC?  I've always wondered how they sound. They look like fun projects.

Aaron, you would be most welcome!! 

I started the NOS DAC journey with the original TeraDak ages ago. Then, like so many others, did all of the mods.  I finally overcame my Luddite tendencies and bought a proper streamer to replace my Logitech Touch. Then signed up for a hi rez streaming service. I have actually been listening more to digital feeds than ever before.  The biggest benefit to the streaming service is exploring new, to me, music.

Cheers,
Geary
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: oguinn on January 12, 2021, 04:39:15 AM
Party at Geary's!
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Deke609 on January 12, 2021, 05:24:56 AM
Deke,
I am a Neophyte to Dacs also, but many years ago I had a Theta Dac all solid state, it was considered a great Dac at the time. Sadly that was stolen from me with many other items. This Dac has an analog line out using 6922/ 6dj8 or equiv. tubes. The B+ supply is tube also using a 6x5 tube and a 6bm8 regulator. It sounds quite nice to me. I may try a SS rectifier at some point but I must say I am digging the arrangement right now.

I listen to the descendant of the Theta, Schiit's Yggdrasil, both of which were designed by Mike Moffat.

Thanks for the info about how the tubes are used in the DAC. So I'm guessing that the actual DA conversion is done by one or more chips and the tubes only come into play (other than via the power supply) after that -- which makes sense since a tube, if it is acting as a signal amplifier, needs an analog input at the grid.

Enjoy your new DAC!

cheers, Derek

[edited to correct a bazillion typos]
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Thermioniclife on January 12, 2021, 05:36:41 AM
Will do Derek, have been listening with my C2A, will try with my Mainline later today.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Doc B. on January 12, 2021, 06:05:29 AM
Yes "tube DACs" simply have a tube gain stage after the DAC chip, which is a SS device. Many years ago I talked to John Swenson about building an all tube DAC, i.e. the digital to audio conversion done with tubes rather than a SS chip. The idea kinda crashed when we guessed we would need around 50-100A just for the heater supply for all the tubes.
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: galyons on January 12, 2021, 06:54:12 AM
Doc, I can imagine!! (WARNING! TMI to follow!!)  I have had several opportunities to visit Iowa State University in Ames. They have on display the Cyclone computer they built in 1959.  The Cyclone has somewhere around 2,700  tubes. Over 1500 were 5844's used as switches.  The Cyclone required a dedicated cooling system and  was 10 feet tall, 12 feet long, 3 feet wide. The Cyclone used 19 Kw of electric power and weighed about 5,000 pounds. It had less computing power than a 1970's handheld programable calculator.  The Cyclone was powered up about the same time IBM released a solid state computer. And the rest is history!!

DAC chips are typically pretty simple devices, especially R2R chips. I think the receiver chips are more complicated. 

Cheers,
Geary
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Deke609 on January 12, 2021, 07:19:06 AM
Yes "tube DACs" simply have a tube gain stage after the DAC chip, which is a SS device. ...

Thanks Doc. That's what I wanted to know.

cheers, derek
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: Karl5150 on January 13, 2021, 02:14:51 AM
Geary, the computer shares the name of the school's mascot. My daughter is an alumni and resident...I'll see if I can enlist her to get a photo or two.
Sorry about the hijack Lee, enjoy your DAC, it looks like an amazing bit of kit.
Karl
Title: Re: My new DAC
Post by: 2wo on January 13, 2021, 06:45:44 PM
My grandfather was a Western Electric man, he helped wire up Einic at U Penn during WWll...John