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Hifi Forum TDA-1541A DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 94 49.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 65 34.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 23 12.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 7 3.7%

  • Total voters
    189

restorer-john

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But how come these people can differentiate between r2r and DS dac ?

No doubt whatsoever early DS D/A converters were fuzzy, had poor resolution and less detail than the then current SOTA multibits. It was as obvious as t#ts on a bull. There was no comparison. Anyone who doubts it, wasn't there.

But DS got a whole lot better and in not too many years either. I have no doubts I would not be able to discern differences now, with my older ears and decades of DS evolution.

That said, for CD, 16/44, it doesn't get any better for me than a PCM-63 or PCM58P (K, J orS) at 8x O/S in a dedicated single box player or transport/D/A.
 

Wuzel

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I agree, but the question is, do they sound different? You don’t master for specific device, but you do master with your ears, with reference class equipment for the state of the art at the time. You will never hear the same as what was heard in the mastering suite, but it can still can be argued that if the output of new DAC is proven not the same, meaning the reconstructed analog waveform is not the same and does not sound the same, which one is more “right”?

Thats is the big point for the 'high-res' audio.
The technically stuff might be out of the hearable range, but in most cases u get the 1:1 (pre) master from the studio - without any further medium mastering. Means exact that stuff, that the guys/girls ( ;) ) in the studio hear.

Most of the elder master guys are extremely happy with the new options. Look/hear at the incredible re release audio copies direct from the Master tape. I have nearly tears in my eyes when i first hear such gems as the 'Satanic Majesties Request' in these nearly perfect quality ... Or the Doors re-releases...

And that's - back to topic - was my point. Why i don't use these fantastic, absolutely outstanding audio quality options and go for a lot of more money to the worst option that i can get?
U point is 'authenticity'? To use that gear, that was available at release time? Then use some vintage gear from 60s and put an ear on it. It sounds terrible .... 80 are even more worse, because the old cd players have massive issues in the hearable range. The story about the 'high ringing' digital sounding of CDs at the 80s have some real point in it ;)
Why i should do torture my ears with that crap, when there so extrem god better options out there?

I never, ever get that point.
 

restorer-john

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80 are even more worse, because the old cd players have massive issues in the hearable range. The story about the 'high ringing' digital sounding of CDs at the 80s have some real point in it

Seriously, give me an example. A specific CD player with a specific disc. I probably have it (and the disc).
 

Wuzel

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Seriously, give me an example. A specific CD player with a specific disc. I probably have it (and the disc).
Sony CDP-101 - channels async (stereo imagine issues), filter to slow - distortion way to high in high band, filter ringing.
Phillips CD-100 - only 14bit DAC (with noise shaping), dynamic range below 80db, rustle in low band, distortion in hearable range (a lot of spikes).

Years ago i repair an CD-100 for a 'good' friend. I put them in my hearing chain for testing... jesus, that thing sounds like a 'toys r us' kids player.
 

restorer-john

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Sony CDP-101 - channels async (stereo imagine issues), filter to slow - distortion way to high in high band, filter ringing.

Funny guy. I have four (4) Sony CDP-101s.

The earliest Philips used the TDA-1540D in a 4x O/S setup (in pairs). Not even one of them was under 80dB DR. Where do you dredge up this BS? Seriously.
 
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Wuzel

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Funny guy. I have four (4) Sony CDP-101s.

The earliest Philips used the TDA-1540D in a 4x O/S setup (in paris). Not even one of them was under 80dB DR. Where do you dredge up this BS?

Yeah, most of my friend name me childish and old kid :)

I measure it and my first thoughts going in the 'kaputt' direction.... more work to bring them up... but i was wrong, the results were ok.
And yes, its sounds like it measures....

I don't know why i should love that sound or bring such a device in my chain. A 80$ DAC kills them in anyway .. measurement, sound...?
 

Ralf Stocker

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If you talk badly about the old Philips DACs in certain forums, you will be lynched. Unfortunately, most of them are obsessed with madness, as was the case with the burning of witches in the past. Arguments are useless.

 
Last edited:

Bronco

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I must be out of the loop. Do I understand correctly that the appeal of this device is the “vintage” DAC chip? I ran across this description (source linked below):

The sonic characteristic of TDA1541A DAC players is very easy to distinguish - after hitting PLAY after trying other DACS you can hear a big difference immediately, BUT I can't describe it at all. It is very hard to put in words. The sound is very rich, full, mature, ripe, analogue, liquid, dynamic, and with huge macro dynamics. It has the best midrange, best treble and very very good bass.
The main difference is: that I like it more than any other DAC chip, it is so ear friendly.

:facepalm:



I absolutely love reading crap like that from the self anointed hi-fi mystics. LOL.
 

ousi

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Sony CDP-101 - channels async (stereo imagine issues), filter to slow - distortion way to high in high band, filter ringing.
Phillips CD-100 - only 14bit DAC (with noise shaping), dynamic range below 80db, rustle in low band, distortion in hearable range (a lot of spikes).

Years ago i repair an CD-100 for a 'good' friend. I put them in my hearing chain for testing... jesus, that thing sounds like a 'toys r us' kids player.
These very early examples are "rushed" to market. Philips had issues with the TDA1541 (yes this very chip we just tested), and sony with its CX-20152. So Philips (also Marantz, which is when the famous KI-version as in late Ken Ishiwata version came from trying to tune the sound from the analog side) decided to release with 14bit DAC, and Sony release with 16bit mono DAC.

The proper one from Sony started with CDP-302ES which uses a true 16-bit DAC chip in Stereo, and later CDP-552ESD which uses PCM53JP-VK. The interesting case is with Philips they stuck with the 14-bit DAC until much later (also Marantz).

Forgot to mention that I once has the CDP-101 which sounds quite terrible compared to my then-nostalgic-favourite CDP-XA7ES released in late-90s.
 

ousi

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I absolutely love reading crap like that from the self anointed hi-fi mystics. LOL.
I actually tried a/b testing with A90 and my Sony Z7 headphone with a TDA1541A DAC hooked up via TOSLINK vs the output from a Esoteric K-03XD and the balanced output of the said CD player without any up sampling. I honestly cannot spot any difference in tonal balance aside from the louder output from the Philips chip DAC. The only difference I noticed is some low level detail are less obvious in the Philips DAC which the Esoteric let me hear flaws in some recording. Maybe my hearing is flawed :)
 

alpha_logic

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Funny guy. I have four (4) Sony CDP-101s.

The earliest Philips used the TDA-1540D in a 4x O/S setup (in pairs). Not even one of them was under 80dB DR. Where do you dredge up this BS? Seriously.
I recently bought a restored Sony CDP-590 - it has dual PCM56P-L chips. I ripped what I thought was my most crappily recorded CD ( In the Nursery - Koda) using RubyRipper, then started playback on the CD Player, and my media-pc to a Topping D70s. I A/B switched using my preamp while the tracks were playing on both devices, the media-pc and the ancient but restored Sony CD Player.
Shocker, the Sony sounded much better - instruments and timbre sounded 'real', and much fuller - the DAC rendered version sounded thin and brittle in comparison. I honestly don't care why I heard what I heard, but I can see the appeal some of these old CD Players and DAC Chips have for some people.
 

ousi

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I recently bought a restored Sony CDP-590 - it has dual PCM56P-L chips. I ripped what I thought was my most crappily recorded CD ( In the Nursery - Koda) using RubyRipper, then started playback on the CD Player, and my media-pc to a Topping D70s. I A/B switched using my preamp while the tracks were playing on both devices, the media-pc and the ancient but restored Sony CD Player.
Shocker, the Sony sounded much better - instruments and timbre sounded 'real', and much fuller - the DAC rendered version sounded thin and brittle in comparison. I honestly don't care why I heard what I heard, but I can see the appeal some of these old CD Players and DAC Chips have for some people.
If you like the sound of older Sony CD players, you should go hunt for the ES series. They all sound pretty good if memory serves right when compared to most players with same vintage (I had CDP-X707ES, CDP-XA20ES, CDP-XA7ES, and the SACD players SCD-1, SCD-777ES and SCD-5400ES, the latter twice). The mid-bass seems to be a bit more especially on the 777ES, when compared to my other SACD player I had back then (Yamaha CD-S2000).

Besides, you can try connecting the spdif output of these older CD players (CDP-590 doesn't seem to have one) into a modern DAC and do an A/B testing. I don't have any vintage CD players anymore so cannot really do this now, but I suspect the CD transports in these older machines are quite good and stable. This would eliminate the "is this my crappy cd recorder" question.
 

DHT 845

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There is some very interesting $150 USD DAC that it would be nice to test here...
As far as sound quality "it kills all there mega buck R2R dacs like Denafrips Terminator and Holo Audio May". And does not cost $6500.
It's based on 16x tda1543 chips. I bet some say here that it's nonsense DAC, ancient and bs technology... But for $150 maybe it's less nonsense than above mentioned DACs.
 

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aj625

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I recently bought a restored Sony CDP-590 - it has dual PCM56P-L chips. I ripped what I thought was my most crappily recorded CD ( In the Nursery - Koda) using RubyRipper, then started playback on the CD Player, and my media-pc to a Topping D70s. I A/B switched using my preamp while the tracks were playing on both devices, the media-pc and the ancient but restored Sony CD Player.
Shocker, the Sony sounded much better - instruments and timbre sounded 'real', and much fuller - the DAC rendered version sounded thin and brittle in comparison. I honestly don't care why I heard what I heard, but I can see the appeal some of these old CD Players and DAC Chips have for some people.
Less details and less DR it is bound to sound fuller. Brain tends to hate too many details as it requires extra efforts to make sense of it but that does not mean older tecnology is more faithful. Older tech has a type of sound while newer dac make music closer to as it is recorded. So try a modern recording with a lot of small level details like Ralph Alessi band and you would hate your old dac.
 

restorer-john

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Less details and less DR it is bound to sound fuller. Brain tends to hate too many details as it requires extra efforts to make sense of it but that does not mean older tecnology is more faithful. Older tech has a type of sound while newer dac make music closer to as it is recorded. So try a modern recording with a lot of small level details like Ralph Alessi band and you would hate your old dac.

:facepalm:
 

shevalier

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Older tech has a type of sound
Older DAC require modern techniques to good result. It`s skills and abilities like upper DIY/semipro.
- Custom FPGA based digital filter, or interface TDA/PCM5(6)x to something like SM5813/../5847 with Deglitcher control
- lownoise power, like modern LDO from AD(LT) or Ti
- deglitcher circuit with i/u
- expencive OpAmps
- good traced 2-4 layer PCB

And no aliexpress parts))))))))))
it is expensive and time consuming.

It's easier to buy a dongle on CS43198, made according to the datasheet.
If you're lucky that third-rate manufacturers don't screw up, it will be not bad.
 

Veri

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There is some very interesting $150 USD DAC that it would be nice to test here...
As far as sound quality "it kills all there mega buck R2R dacs like Denafrips Terminator and Holo Audio May". And does not cost $6500.
It's based on 16x tda1543 chips. I bet some say here that it's nonsense DAC, ancient and bs technology... But for $150 maybe it's less nonsense than above mentioned DACs.
Pretty much all TDA1543 is super, super fake and has pretty much nothing to do with old Philips chips. Don't buy such device. It'll be terrible.
 

restorer-john

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Older DAC require modern techniques to good result. It`s skills and abilities like upper DIY/semipro.
- Custom FPGA based digital filter, or interface TDA/PCM5(6)x to something like SM5813/../5847 with Deglitcher control
- lownoise power, like modern LDO from AD(LT) or Ti
- deglitcher circuit with i/u
- expencive OpAmps
- good traced 2-4 layer PCB

And no aliexpress parts))))))))))
it is expensive and time consuming.

It's easier to buy a dongle on CS43198, made according to the datasheet.
If you're lucky that third-rate manufacturers don't screw up, it will be not bad.

Sounds like one of those absolute disaster 'mods' I am sometimes tasked with looking at. Usually, they are utter write-offs.
 

DHT 845

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Pretty much all TDA1543 is super, super fake and has pretty much nothing to do with old Philips chips. Don't buy such device. It'll be terrible.
Ok. so what would you recommend for non balanced output dac (to use with RCA input in Pre90) and just for CD's?
 
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