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WM8740+DIR9001 DAC Board Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurement of one of the myriad of boards on ebay sporting the WM8740 DAC chip. It was kindly purchased and drop shipped to me. The listing has expired but it seems that it cost US $48.

What you get is well, a bare board:

WM8740+DIR9001 DAC Board ebay Audio Review.jpg

And not a clean one. The PCM 2704 on the bottom right was either reworked on this board or lifted from another product in the past. Other ICs are also dirty which could be indication of used parts or grungy assembly.

Speaking of PCM 2704 that is an all-in-one USB DAC! It is used here only to generate S/PDIF output from USB, leaving its DAC functionality behind. Sad as that alone would have done the job probably as good or better than stringing it to WM8740 DAC chip.

On first try, I could not get the board working. It comes with no manual, instructions or even vendor name/address. I fed it 9 volts, it did not work. I fed it 12 volts, it did not work. Then I realized it says that the input is AC, not DC! With AC input it worked fine.

The one switch is power and the other selects between S/PDIF and USB Input. An LED lights up when the power is on.

DAC Audio Measurements
As usual we start with our dashboard:

WM8740+DIR9001 DAC Board Audio Measurements.png


Boy, what a let down. The WM8740 is rated at 104 dB SINAD (albeit, with a-weighting). We are an entire planet away at just 78 dB, landing this port in the our red category of all DACs tested:
Best ebay DAC Board Review.png


Signal to noise ratio is not bad given our expectations from above:

WM8740+DIR9001 DAC Board Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


IMD distortion relative to level shows both elevated noise and early onset of distortion:
WM8740+DIR9001 DAC Board IMD Audio Measurements.png


The linearity test tells me that 24 bit samples are being truncated to 16 bits:
WM8740+DIR9001 DAC Board Linearity Audio Measurements.png


This is an odd problem I run into with some DACs due to ASIO4ALL interface I use in Windows. So likely the blue graph is the representative performance.

I ran jitter test but it was with USB so it is not that valid. So I am not going to post it.

My 32-tone test signal resembling "music" is encoded at 192 kHz sampling. I could not get this board to pay it either with S/PDIF or USB. So I resorted to my 7 tone signal which runs at 44.1 kHz:

WM8740+DIR9001 DAC Board Multitone Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
I can't tell if all the boards sold come with shoddy construction of this one. But even if they are not, you are getting way less performance than commercial DACs at slightly higher price but with case, power supply, warranty, etc. I have yet to get lucky with any of these "ebay buys." They are sold on basis of what is in them, rather than how they measure and perform. And so far, universally, they don't perform. Please stay away.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Was watching the cooking show and they were making a dish with foie gras. One of the panthers saw it, told his buddies and they are now asking me to get them a few pounds (!) of this expensive stuff. I am too scared of telling them no. Not because they have teeth but because they could boycott modelling for me. So please donate generously so I can buy them some using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #2
Oh, just noticed PCM2704 DAC chip that is used as a USB bridge only supports 16 bits. So that is likely the problem, not the interface I used.
 

NTomokawa

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#3
The WM8740 has attained legendary status among some audiophile circles. Maybe that's why products based on it are still being sold.

The funny part is that the WM8740 is long obsolete and out of production, so any new products containing WM8740 chips are either built with old-stock chips or (worse) chips lifted from scrapped devices.

And here's the even funnier part...
 

Jimster480

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#4
What a pointless device... I remember buying an MP3 player with this "legendary" chip many years ago only to not be impressed by the sound even before I knew what I was doing.
 

Jaimo

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#5
Speaking of legendary devices, it will be great if someone with an original Sony
PlayStation One sends their player in to Amir to test.

I've seen several publications including Stereophile wax lyrically about this as a CD player.
 
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Jimster480

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#6
Speaking of legendary devices, it will be great if someone with an original Sony
PlayStation One sends their player in to Amir to test.

I've seen several publications including Stereophile was lyrically about this as a CD player.
Ah yes, my friends and I had a nice laugh about that stereophile article. Reminded me why I don't waste my money on such foolish publications lol
I would send one if I had it. But I only have a PSOne which is the smaller version without the audio output.
 

audio_tony

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#7
This will perform much better if it was fed from a separate USB -> SPDIF converter. I have built a number of these DAC boards (mostly CS4398 and AK44xx chips) and the performance of them all is mediocre using the USB interface alone.

@amirm Do you have a Topping D10 or some other USB DAC with an SPDIF output that you can test this with?
 

solderdude

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#8
I don't think the WM8740 is the chip to blame here, rather the implementation.

The FiiO X3 also uses this chip and measures a LOT better. (the player clips at 0dBFS though I suspect an implementation error as well)
 

Eurasian

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#11
Was watching the cooking show and they were making a dish with foie gras. One of the panthers saw it, told his buddies and they are now asking me to get them a few pounds (!) of this expensive stuff. I am too scared of telling them no. Not because they have teeth but because they could boycott modelling for me. So please donate generously so I can buy them some using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/


Perhaps the panthers will be satisfied with Icelandic cod livers. They are a fraction of the cost of foie gras but just as buttery and delicious, leaving you with happy models and a larger bank account.
 

stunta

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#13
Was watching the cooking show and they were making a dish with foie gras. One of the panthers saw it, told his buddies and they are now asking me to get them a few pounds (!) of this expensive stuff. I am too scared of telling them no. Not because they have teeth but because they could boycott modelling for me. So please donate generously so I can buy them some using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/


Perhaps the panthers will be satisfied with Icelandic cod livers. They are a fraction of the cost of foie gras but just as buttery and delicious, leaving you with happy models and a larger bank account.
Hopefully the panthers won't read this comment as well. We don't want the panthers to strike, if you know what I mean :)
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #14
@amirm Do you have a Topping D10 or some other USB DAC with an SPDIF output that you can test this with?
Last two tests were with S/PDIF. It won't cure any issues other than truncation of 24 bit content. The problem is high analog distortion which a different input won't fix. FYI my Audio Precision analyzer has multiple outputs including S/PDIF so I don't need to use an external device. :)
 
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#15
Speaking of legendary devices, it will be great if someone with an original Sony
PlayStation One sends their player in to Amir to test.

I've seen several publications including Stereophile was lyrically about this as a CD player.
I have one, but I bought it for it’s intended purpose—playing PlayStation games. I did hook it up to my setup a year and a half ago to play some CDs because I wanted to know what the fuss was about.

For the record, it was terrible, the upper-mids were shouty and distortion was readily audible on pretty much everything I listened too. In a sense, it did take some of my CDs and make them sound more like a live venue... But in a “wow the room acoustics here are crap” way, not a “it’s like I’m in the room with the musician” kind of way.

Let me see if I can go dig it out of storage. I worry I might have given it to a friend when I moved this passed year.
 

mansr

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#16
I ran jitter test but it was with USB so it is not that valid. So I am not going to post it.

My 32-tone test signal resembling "music" is encoded at 192 kHz sampling. I could not get this board to pay it either with S/PDIF or USB. So I resorted to my 7 tone signal which runs at 44.1 kHz:
The DIR9001 supports rates up to 96 kHz. It also suffers from data dependent jitter, easy to see with a j-test signal.

The PCB is pure comedy, almost as funny as Ciunas.
 
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#17
hi amirm!really nice forum for those who like audio.i want your opinion or any others member about the TRENDS AUDIO UD-10.1 that i own and use as standalone dac with the PCM2704 chip inside.i would love to see a measurement of this old dac(or audio converter if u prefer).i got it used for 60 euros and really want to know how it is compared to similar priced new dacs.it is combined with a rotel ra 930ax and dali zensors.
 
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#18
Speaking of legendary devices, it will be great if someone with an original Sony
PlayStation One sends their player in to Amir to test.

I've seen several publications including Stereophile was lyrically about this as a CD player.
A few years back, I found one in a resale store. It was a boxed, beautiful first generation model with the RCA outputs that are supposedly superior than using the "Multi-Out" cable. I tried it, and...well...I was unimpressed. It honestly sounded like the the high-frequencies were rolled off. My Sony CDP-C801ES noticeably destroyed it (which was eventually replaced by an S.M.S.L. SU-8 V2 which also had a (slight) audible improvement). I like to tell myself that my unit had some bad capacitors or something that was affecting the audio output and that the so-called PS1 audiophile rage is justified...but this site has since taught me not to believe the hype. I ended up selling it for a decent profit so I can't send it in...but hey, keep that hype train going for us resellers. Those first-gen models (SCPH-100X/SCPH-3X0X) had unreliable laser sleds that would warp from heat so they're pretty worthless/pointless to own otherwise. :p

hi amirm!really nice forum for those who like audio.i want your opinion or any others member about the TRENDS AUDIO UD-10.1 that i own and use as standalone dac with the PCM2704 chip inside.i would love to see a measurement of this old dac(or audio converter if u prefer).i got it used for 60 euros and really want to know how it is compared to similar priced new dacs.it is combined with a rotel ra 930ax and dali zensors.
Welcome to ASR! There are so many DACs out there that if you want a specific (especially boutique) model tested, you should probably consider sending yours to Amir. There is a link with more information at the top of every page, but here is a quick link for your convenience: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/we-measure-audio-equipment-for-free.1995/
 
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beefkabob

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#19
I have a PSX in a box in the garage, if @amirm does want test it. It even has some kind of chip or resistor or wire that allows it to run pirated CDs.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #20
The DIR9001 supports rates up to 96 kHz. It also suffers from data dependent jitter, easy to see with a j-test signal.
That is exactly what I found:
WM8740+DIR9001 DAC Board Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Didn't want to post it as I mentioned since I worried it could have been my ASIO interface.
 
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