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Bargain DAC Suggestions?

Jimster480

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amirm

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What about the SMSL TV-DAC? http://www.smsl-audio.com/productshow.asp?id=121 can be found for ~$12 or less on Aliexpress and other sites. We need a good replacement for the Fiio d03k/d3/Taishan which does justice to 48khz...

(great site BTW, Amir, I'm really enjoying the reviews)
Thanks. That DAC has pretty poor specs so I don't think it will do well in testing.
 

AsapH

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@Jimster480 Unless I'm missing something the THD is lower than the Taishan and various other "adequate" DACs (e10k which I also own). I need something to connects my Samsung TV, with optical out only, to external amplified stereo speakers. The output of these TVs is almost always 48khz, on which the Taishan performs poorly.

I'm curious about what exactly wrong with the specs though.
 

Jimster480

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@Jimster480 Unless I'm missing something the THD is lower than the Taishan and various other "adequate" DACs (e10k which I also own). I need something to connects my Samsung TV, with optical out only, to external amplified stereo speakers. The output of these TVs is almost always 48khz, on which the Taishan performs poorly.

I'm curious about what exactly wrong with the specs though.
The claimed specs are actually very similar to the E10K.

How do you know the Taishan performs so poorly at 48khz?
 

dpuopolo

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I have confirmed that the Dayton DAC01 and the FX Audio FX-01 DACs are identical. Both have the SA 9023 USB tranceiver and the Burr Brown (TI) PCM 5102A DAC. They both also have 100 uf electrolytic capacitors in series with the outputs that I bypassed with a pair of .22 metal film caps. Improved the highs noticeably. One more thing - the two come up in Windows as different models. The Dayton comes up as a DAC01 and the FX as DAC012. This means you can run two of them simultaneously on the same computer (and I do).
 
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I'm going to reverse things here... I hope no-one minds.

I bought one of these RCA to optical/coax SPDIF ADCs, for a laugh (and £7.74 delivered):

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Analog-R...-Digital-Optical-Coaxial-Toslink/253319988668

It uses a TI/BB PCM1802 ADC, and an unmarked device which may be a DIT4096 digital audio transmitter. I need to sniff around the circuit to confirm that, but it's the right number of pins, and the right function...

It works (as in it converts analogue to SPDIF that an SPDIF DAC will replay...), but it's fixed at 48kSa/s. I might play with adding select switches on the sample rate select inputs of the chip. At the moment, it's sitting in the pile of cheap Chinese audio toys...
 

alperu

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This will be my first message in this site! Great site and great discussion, thanks Amir!

I suggest to review LG B&O Hifi plus AFD-1200, when it was released the price was around 100 USD now you can buy used ones for 20 USD and new ones for 40 USD from ebay
I use it with windows 10 (needs driver) and macOS you can connect with USB Type C. DAC chip ES9028C2M and ES9601c amp and yes DSD support!
 
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Anyone in the US willing to loan Amirm for testing any of this 2 highly praised top performers, now a little bit old so the price has dropped considerably.

iBasso DX90, reference DAP for the time (circa 2014/2015) uses dual mono ES9018K2M chip, OPA1611, dual buffer BUF634, LINE OUT 1.761 Vrms @0.0011%

Yamaha RX-Z9 (USA) / Yamaha DSP Z9 (Europe)
, 2004 released, Top Of The Line (TOTL), “Uber” A/V multi-channel amplifier costing the whopping US $4,500-$5000....pretty much the very best amp made by Yamaha
Now selling between 500-1000$....
*Class-leading low-flux, 1,500 VA Toroidal Power Transformer.
*A pair of high-grade Nichicon 28,000uF/ 80 volts power capacitors.
*The absolute best quality Nichicon Fine Tune capacitors specifically designed for high-end audio are used in all circuit boards.
*Speaker relays with gold plated crossover connections and shielding.
*24-carat hard gold plated extruded, large 2-way speaker terminals.
*Use of super-expensive, ultra exotic, best at the time Burr-Brown DACs on all channels. PCM1792 DBR
 

xthechar

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Another one I'm interested in as a direct competitor (albeit about 2x the price) to the Fiio D3 is the Hifime SPDIF (https://hifimediy.com/SPDIF-9018-DAC). It has pretty much the same feature set but hopefully will work better for 48khz and other frequencies. I'm personally interested in a 32khz solution for pairing with an old gaming console that has this frequency as its native signal. Amir is there any chance to see the Fiio D3 chart for 32khz?

I would also be curious to see how a $5 D3 clone fares too: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Dig...nal-to-RCA-R-L-Audio-Decoder/32835764071.html.

I am a longtime lurker, thanks for your amazing work Amir!

edit corrected typo Fiil -> Fiio
 
Last edited:

amirm

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Ron Texas

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To go back to the original question, several sub $300 dac's have been tested here with excellent performance. Topping, D10, D30, D50, Khardas and the SMSL SU-8 to name a few. Sorry if I left your favorite off the list.
 

xthechar

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Yes I mean that one, sorry for the confusion. I'd like to see a graph for 32khz sampling, whatever tone you think would be most indicative. Just want to get a sense if the problems at 48khz are present at 32khz as well.

There is a new version of that Fiio D3 as well, not sure how different it is: https://www.amazon.com/FiiO-Essential-Digital-Analog-Converter/dp/B07L61JPQW
 

Veri

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Yes I mean that one, sorry for the confusion. I'd like to see a graph for 32khz sampling, whatever tone you think would be most indicative. Just want to get a sense if the problems at 48khz are present at 32khz as well.

There is a new version of that Fiio D3 as well, not sure how different it is: https://www.amazon.com/FiiO-Essential-Digital-Analog-Converter/dp/B07L61JPQW
Supports all popular sample rates including 32kHz

I believe it will be just fine for an older game console :)
 

bigx5murf

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Anyone in the US willing to loan Amirm for testing any of this 2 highly praised top performers, now a little bit old so the price has dropped considerably.

Yamaha RX-Z9 (USA) / Yamaha DSP Z9 (Europe), 2004 released, Top Of The Line (TOTL), “Uber” A/V multi-channel amplifier costing the whopping US $4,500-$5000....pretty much the very best amp made by Yamaha
Now selling between 500-1000$....
*Class-leading low-flux, 1,500 VA Toroidal Power Transformer.
*A pair of high-grade Nichicon 28,000uF/ 80 volts power capacitors.
*The absolute best quality Nichicon Fine Tune capacitors specifically designed for high-end audio are used in all circuit boards.
*Speaker relays with gold plated crossover connections and shielding.
*24-carat hard gold plated extruded, large 2-way speaker terminals.
*Use of super-expensive, ultra exotic, best at the time Burr-Brown DACs on all channels. PCM1792 DBR
Unlikely, those units are too expensive to ship 2 ways, so unless someone local offers to loan one, don't expect to see it measured. I have a number of TOTL AVR from that era, including the RX-z7. That really was the golden age of AVR, in terms of build quality they blow away the new units today.
 
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Anyone in the US willing to loan Amirm for testing any of this 2 highly praised top performers, now a little bit old so the price has dropped considerably.

iBasso DX90, reference DAP for the time (circa 2014/2015) uses dual mono ES9018K2M chip, OPA1611, dual buffer BUF634, LINE OUT 1.761 Vrms @0.0011%
This board is really lacking measurements for DAPs. If I only live in US, I could have sent my collection. I have a few (AK240SS, AK120II, QP1R, QP2R, iBasso DX200Ti, Lotoo Paw Gold etc.) which I am curious to see measurements done by Amir.

So far I see measurements done in Stereophile for AK240 and QP1R which matches or very near what the manufacture's claim. The rest I can't find reliable measurements and mostly just subjective impressions which ime are pretty much useless.
 

amirm

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Not that many DAPs are provided for review. Personally I have no use for them so I am reluctant to buy them. I do have an iBasso that is here and waiting for review...
 

xthechar

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I'm quite curious about the Hifime DACs since they are quite compact and affordable. If I decide I need the SPDIF one, I would definitely send it to Amir first if he'd be willing to test it. Don't hold your breath though! I found a cheap $15 D3 clone at an electronics store here and it's doing fine for my modest use case...
 
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