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World's Cheapest DAC Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of what has to be the world's cheapest DAC. It is so cheap it doesn't even have a name! It is literally called "Digital To Analog Audio Converter." Actually, it is also available under many other names on various sites (Amazon, Ebay, AliExpress, etc.). Pricing from China is as low as $2! I found one for $3 with $2 shipping to US for a total of $5. The sample I have was kindly purchased by a member and sent to me for $6 I think.

Here is what it looks like:
$4 Generic Optical Coax Digital to Analog Converter DAC Cheapest DAC Audio Review.jpg


It comes in a surprising sturdy metal box and actually manages to look nice. It needs 5 volt input and comes with a USB to barrel connector for that purpose:
$4 Generic Optical Coax Digital to Analog Converter DAC Cheapest DAC Audio 5v input Review.jpg


Toslink and Coax input are provided:

$4 Generic Optical Coax Digital to Analog Converter DAC Cheapest DAC toslink Optical Coax ster...jpg


Alas, there is no USB input. The USB connection if for power only. The positive side is that there is no driver to worry about and it works with anything that spits out Coax or S/PDIF such as your TV.

DAC Audio Measurements
Let's start with our dashboard feeding it over Toslink:

$4 Generic Optical Coax Digital to Analog Converter DAC Cheap Audio Measurements.png


Sad to see such low output of just 0.8 volt. Usually a DAC has 2 volts out or worst case, 1 volt. Distortion is also quite high, dominating our SINAD to tune of 69 dB:
Cheapest optical DAC review 2020.png


Noise floor is actually decent for such a device:

$4 Generic Optical Coax Digital to Analog Converter DAC Cheap Dynamic Range  Audio Measurements.png


There is jitter:

$4 Generic Optical Coax Digital to Analog Converter DAC Cheap Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
The standard for under $10 DAC is a cheesy plastic thing, albeit with USB input usually. Here, you get a solid metal box that should last more than a few months of being banged around. If you have optical output of your TV and want to feed an active speaker and such with analog audio, this thing could do the job while costing less than a fast food meal.

Objectively this generic DAC is pretty lousy but for tertiary use, it will be fine. So I am going to recommend it just to reward whoever has managed to squeeze so much value out of this thing!

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

Still living in spetic tank hell. The guy who was supposed to come yesterday to pump it never showed up. Called the company and they said they didn't even have an appointment for anyone to come and do it and next time they could, would be Saturday. Needless to say, I blew my top and after shouting at three people, they sent a guy late last night to pump it. He finishes pumping it but the main drain is clogged. I knew this was the case and had told them to have a plumber ready to come and unclog it. Of course they didn't have anyone to come and do that either. I was told someone would call me today.

Well, no one called me. So I went to DIY store and bought an electric Auger to unclog it myself. Got it partially clear but not enough. Right then they call me and send a plumber. Guy shows up and puts one of those DIY bladders in the pipe and has me turn on the water. Not only does it not work but blows its attachment to the hose and now the stupid thing is stuck in the sewage pipe! Trying to get it out, he manages to push it further into the pipe! 3 hours later and he still can't get it out.

So now they are coming tomorrow to tear the pipes out to get the stupid thing out! So another night with no facilities. :(

Not sure any amount of donations is going to cheer me up but it doesn't hurt to try using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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pozz

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Still living in spetic tank hell. The guy who was supposed to come yesterday to pump it never showed up. Called the company and they said they didn't even have an appointment for anyone to come and do it and next time they could, would be Saturday. Needless to say, I blew my top and after shouting at three people, they sent a guy late last night to pump it. He finishes pumping it but the main drain is clogged. I knew this was the case and had told them to have a plumber ready to come and unclog it. Of course they didn't have anyone to come and do that either. I was told someone would call me today.

Well, no one called me. So I went to DIY store and bought an electric Auger to unclog it myself. Got it partially clear but not enough. Right then they call me and send a plumber. Guy shows up and puts one of those DIY bladders in the pipe and has me turn on the water. Not only does it not work but blows its attachment to the hose and now the stupid thing is stuck in the sewage pipe! Trying to get it out, he manages to push it further into the pipe! 3 hours later and he still can't get it out.

So now they are coming tomorrow to tear the pipes out to get the stupid thing out! So another night with no facilities. :(
The saga continues.
 

Helicopter

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Another recommendation and headless panther!

I agree it should be fine for the purpose. I have a cheap bluetooth receiver that works fine in a very basic use.
 

audiopile

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I run one of these things for my longest established customer ( commercial system in a bar -43 years n counting -great guys). It takes the optical output for one of their TV's and sends it to their analog preamp - and thanks to the optical feed -eliminates the hum/buzz that cable companies throw in for free because of amazingly out right sh!ty grounding practices. This substitutes for the two ancient Marantz pre-pro's that were only being used as DAC's and which any time they had a power outage would revert to a input that wasn't the optical input and cause a service call. About 2 years now without a problem -have no idea how the heck they can build these for anything like their selling price ? OK -well short of SOTA -but real world work.
 

Blumlein 88

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Typo says 96 db instead of 69 in text. Just after dominating our Sinad.
 

Blumlein 88

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Good device to record some music into an ADC. Then see if people can hear the difference vs the original.
 

pozz

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imagidominc

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Not sure whether to get this or stick with my D70... XD
 

wwenze

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Does this thing blast out white noise when it loses SPDIF signal?
 

restorer-john

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Sorry to hear that, I can't relate my worst experience it was just too gross and might offend some.

I have a few stories too. Not for publication. Involving pulling out giant tree roots and the subsequent geyser at the end of a 50Metre pipe with a 25Metre head.

The grey water tank stories are not much better either.
 

restorer-john

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@amirm One thing about these D/As. Many of them use the output straight out of the D/A chip itself with no blocking capacitor. I bought one for fun several years back and it had so much DC offset, it triggered the protection on downstream DC coupled power amps.

Maybe check the DC offset just for fun.

There is also an analog to digital version for around the same money.
 
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Sal1950

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So now they are coming tomorrow to tear the pipes out to get the stupid thing out! So another night with no facilities.
Sorry to hear of your problems Amir, and sewage problems are just about the worst kind. :(
I feel very lucky to have never lived anywhere that depend on spectic tanks for waste water control, all I ever hear is horror stories about them.. Think I'd dig a latrine if I could get away with it. I'll say a little prayer for a quick resolution of your issues.
 

restorer-john

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...all I ever hear is horror stories about them...

As long as you keep the trenches where the absorbtion pipes are, reasonably free of invasive trees/roots and stop grass from growing inside the grey water tanks, they are awesome. We've replaced the grey water (submersible float activated) pump once at this house and once at the other house and they were 20 years old.

My son was going to set off some matchead rockets on top of the septic tank (as it is thick cement) and I told him about people being killed or injured by gas explosions from septic tanks blowing the cement lid off...

 

audiopile

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BTW-I've used a couple of the ADC brothers of these DAC's - IIRR about 18 bucks each . These were sold as 16/44.1 -pulled the cover and looked up the main chip inside and -huh- spec sheet for thst device says 24/96 ? Ran it into my Benchmark DAC-3 and it's lights agree it's putting out 24/96. had bought two units -one failed within a week or two -but the other one's still working about 2 years so far feeding into a pair of Meridian DSP-5000 speakers I loaned a friend. Even if I look at this ADC as then costing $36 - still cheap enough to experiment with.
 

AnalogSteph

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Bummer 'bout the septic tank. The upside of being a city dweller is not having to worry about that stuff at least.
I have a few stories too. Not for publication. Involving pulling out giant tree roots and the subsequent geyser at the end of a 50Metre pipe with a 25Metre head.
For those who have always been wondering what life of an Australian drain cleaner is like, here's the channel for you. I suppose they don't come from the factory with either a rubber rat mascot or the Minecraft walk though.

Concerning our DAC - any clue what's inside? Usually I would suspect a CS8416 + CS4344 combo with an LMV358 opamp (à la FiiO D3), but at this price even that seems like a stretch... anyone know of a single-chip solution?

BTW - no distortion over level sweeps for this one? If the opamp is a mere LM358 this would be.... interesting.
 
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