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Audio Alchemy DDE v3.0: quick measurements


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Aug 18, 2017
This little DAC was all the rage around 1995. It had a digital volume control with a remote, an external I2S connector, and even had a selection of power supplies available. DDE3 used a Pacific Microsonics PMD-100 HDCD decoder/DAC.

Recently found it in storage, and wanted to see how this DAC measures up to more modern devices. In '95, I considered this DAC to be excellent.

1kHz, 24 bit signal (the DAC only handles 20 bits internally, so throws away the lower bits). Output on RCA was 1.29v at maximum level:


THD+N of -74dB, DR of 74dBA. Not great. Good size spikes at 60Hz and 180Hz and that's with an upgraded power supply (PS-2). Harmonics are fairly high in level, and seem to not go down by much with increasing frequency. That's bad.

Jitter looks a bit better, with some low level spurae on both sides and what appears to be some random jitter hugging and widening the base at 12kHz:

The multi-tone test shows the harmonics/IMD issues in greater contrast:


Finally, a frequency sweep. Doesn't look bad, with what appears to be a fairly sharp filter at 20kHz.


I took a quick listen using HE560 headphones. Not awful at all. Some distortions become noticeable in well recorded vocals and in complex, dynamic musical passages that sometimes become a bit indistinct or can sound a bit distorted when loud. But overall, I could see myself listening to this (and I did for at least a few years:)) Sounds better than my iPhone!
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