I'll bite. Burr Brown DACs are used in conjunction with oversampling and digital filtering. This gives the music a nice clean cut sound. And, there lies the problem with Burr Brown. While cutting the measurable distortion, it also cuts all the little details that bring on the real sound.
A DAC that lets all the music through without any manipulation arrives at your ears in it's whole. These are the non-oversampling DACs. Not having oversampling, they do without the filters as well.
Not all NOS DACs are equal. Some sound romantic, like you noted. There are folks that like it that way. Other DACs do it all, from hair raising attacks, to sweet naturally warm female voices. They can rock, and they can serenade. They just do it all without a hint of distortion.
I'm wondering which DAC chips have it all in your opinion?
I have studied the different DAC chips themselves just the equipment. I guess I should pay more attention to what kind of DAC chips in each piece of equipment I purchase. Right now, the DAC I use has Wolfson chips. A DAC I admire greatly is the Theta Gen5 which a friend owns, and I believe it has Burr Brown chips.
I'm sure there as many opinions about DAC chips as there are cables, but maybe there are fewer DAC chips on the market and we could catagorize them by their sonic attributes.
Sgr - I'll chime in on your query. I've been enjoying two DACs, both of which utilize PCM1704 chips (of the last of the great multibit chips). To me they sound a more natural and musical, as opposed to ultra-detailed and analytical (actually they do reveal a whole lot of detail but never in a way that makes you feel you're examining it under a microscope). I don't think that it's JUST the chip that makes the DAC though - how the designer uses is and turns it into a DAC could make or break it. There's a whole lot of debate on DAC chips on the DIY and headphone forums, as well as Computer Audiophile and more techy sites. BTW I really liked your Willie, Wayne and Tim tweak on your system.
Exactly Muralman1, what DAC chips are you referring to when you say they can do everything ?
Coming to your assessment that I like BB because they use oversampling and filtering...well I have only heard one NOS DAC based CDP/DAC in my life and it was Philips TD1541 based Marantz CD94. Yes, I liked it but it is not my reference at all. All the other sources I have heard had OS dacs like Wolfson, BB, Crystal, AKM, K2 (JVC). Out of many implementations of these the only players which always sounded right in terms of tones always had BB chips. That is why I am intrigued.
Sgr, your idea is nice, can we have a list of DACs and their typical sonic attributes ?
It will be helpful specifying which products featuring Sigma/Delta DACs have you compared to products featuring PCM1704 multibit.
As with all DACs, implementation is critical. IME, in order to properly evaluate DAC devices, they need be under very similar conditions.
Jax2, could you please mention which are the two DACs you use with 1704 chips ?
One of the people who through their continued auditions of DACS on this forum is Teajay. He might be able to help compose such a list. Any thoughts Teajay?
The CDPs that I have heard with BB chips are Bluenote Stibbert, Ayon CD2s, Audio Space (forgot the model number), Assemblage (Sonic Frontier), AMR CD77 (TD1541A) and a few more which I will have to recollect.
The typical delta sigma based CDPs I have encountered are the Rega, Arcam, Accuphase, Lampizator Level4 (AKM chip), Chord 64, Higher end Denon, Marantz SA11s1.
Jax2, could you please mention which are the two DACs you use with 1704 chips ?
In my main system I use a DAC built by Alex Dondysh of 3D-Audio (no longer DBA). He has not built many DACs on this board AFAIK, but it is called a DAC24. It is integrated into a dual-box Modwright 36.5 DM preamp and is a rather unique piece that Dan showed in the CA show last year. I believe Dan and Alex will be collaborating in the future.
The DAC in my office system is an Audio GD Reference 8
that uses 8 PCM 1704 chips in balanced. Kingwa was near the end of his supply of PCM1704 chips and there was some question as to whether and when he may be getting more in. He built his reputation on the DACs he designed using that chip, so I can't imagine that he'll not try to get more to build with. The drawback of the REF 7 & 8 are that they are quite large and heavy using substantial power supplies.
With both these DACs, and the strength I see in the 1704 chip when well done (and both these designs use them very well), is that they are tremendously revealing of detail and nuance while remaining entirely natural and musical. It seems to me that the trend with at least some DACs I've heard is to be ruthlessly revealing at the expense of musicality, which is not my favorite flavor. There are plenty of other designers who use that chip very well. With the takeover of delta-sigma technology I wonder how long TI will continue to produce the PCM1704. I know Kingwa was facing a minimum order of about 2000, and they are pretty expensive chips. Perhaps Alex P could chime in on that?
Perhaps Alex P could chime in on that?
TI site shows "production active" on both PCM1702 and PCM1704 DACs.
I am sorry to disappoint all mulitbit DAC lovers here but my opinion is different. I went through PCM56, PCM63, TDA1541, TDA1543, Ultra-Analog hybrid modules, PCM1702 and PCM1704 DACs. None of these satisfied my ear, regardless of the implementation. Please don't get me wrong; as we all know, it is possible designing very nice sounding audio gear with all of the above mentioned DACs. IME, it is actually much easier obtaining a nice rich sound with these DACs; maybe this is the reason why people like such designs so much.
IMO again, although nice sounding, none of the multibit DACs Ive heard is capable of realistic top-end extension and air that is comparable to SOTA vinyl (for example). The other thing is that, to my ear, all PCM1702 and PCM1704 have this unnatural upper-midrange and top-end presentation that I can classify as "mechanical". Maybe people cant hear it (or does not bother their ears), but to me this is an extremely annoying artifact.
Isnt Analog Device AD1865 also a multibit DAC ?
Alex, when I say I like the Burr Brown sound, I did not mean I liked only the 1704/1702 multibit DACs, I also like the 173X and 179X based DACs and CDPs. Typically Burr Brown has a tonality and that is what I always found most accurate...I agree there could be issues with Dynamic Range, Extension and other such specs but tonally they are so correct.
Yes, AD1865 is also R2R/Multibit. I've heard some nice sounding designs with it.
I would actually agree that some of the newer BB/TI DACs sound nice. My favorite is PCM1796A. There are other BB DACs with better specs but I am not impressed, sorry to say. The new PCM1795 with 32 bit DF is also nice.
I am a big AKM fan. Their latest AK4399 is my current reference.
I've come to enjoy the PCM-1704. I have a Resolution Audio Opus 21 and Lessloss DAC 2004 MkII that use this chip. I've also enjoyed the TDA-1541 and 1543 chips and have a Silicon Arts Design DAC that uses the TDA architecture. All these units produce a very natural sound to my ears and enough detail to satisfy my listening needs.
Sgr and Pani, The receiver chip is a CS8414 connected via i2S tp a non oversampled unfiltered DAC Analog Devices AD 1865.
That chip arrangement is ubiquitous to all Audio Note DACs. The big difference in my DAC lies in my diode choice. Four diodes are fitted to the digital supply board. I replaced these with wickedly faster recovering diodes. This makes an emphatic difference in the resulting sound.
Hope that helps.
I've come to enjoy the PCM-1704. I have a Resolution Audio Opus 21 and Lessloss DAC 2004 MkII that use this chip.
Yes, I've heard these products, including Opus 21 modified by a respected company. Both Lessloss and Opus 21 sound quite nice at their price-points. Unfortunately, I still hear the effect in the midrange and upper octaves I mentioned in my previous post.
Furthermore, I am very happy that Esoteric moved away from PCM1704 and now uses AKM (AK4399) in their latest reference players.
I do not hear the same problem with TDA1541.
All of the CD players I've bought over the years all include BB Dacs. They all sound good but I have nothing to compare to. But I think the output stage is what matters most, as long as you have a good quality chip...regardless of manufacturer.
i believe burr brown chips are 24 bit .
there has been a lot of praise for the 32 bit sabre chips.
i have owned a number of digital products using burr brown. since there are many designations, one cannot experienece all of them. mmy exposure to them in dacs and cd players i have owned, has not been positive.
Mrtennis, what left you feeling underwhelmed?
The dac in my Esound cd player is a Crystal CS4390 sounds pretty good to my ears
i did not like the frequency response , with few exceptions, i found the sound somewaht thin.
the digital products i like do not have burr brown dacs.
i have an old audio note cd player which i like, and the minimax which uses a sabre dac.
obviously, there are many burr brown dacs, and i haven't heard them all.
I am hoping that I could upgrade my M/Levinson no:36 which has 4 off 1702 to utilize 4x 1704. Any advice on whether it can be done & the sonic difference I can expect?