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First DAC, a bit of a disappointment

Discussion in 'DACs' started by Son-of-Vere, Nov 8, 2016.

  1. Son-of-Vere

    Son-of-Vere Super Member

    Messages:
    1,672
    Location:
    The Land that Audio Forgot
    I've been mulling over the purchase of one of these for a few years now. I did some research and found the Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 was right for me. Lots of inputs, the price was right, and a tube output.
    The volume control I originally thought was superfluous really came in handy as the output is kinda' hot.
    Got it hooked up with a Toslink cable from my Onkyo CD player and fired it up. First up was Megadeath's Countdown to Extinction, mainly because of it's heavy rotation in my CD collection.
    OK, I'm diggin' it. Things are more focused, cymbals sound better, yea, this is an improvement, and it was. For 2 minutes.
    Then the right channel started to cut out and sound heavily distorted. Ugh. OK, this thing came directly from HK, maybe the tube needs reseating. Pulled it out and cleaned the pins, no help. I could tap the unit and make it cut out, so I'm assuming a bad solder joint or something like that. So I went with the "poke it with a stick" diagnostic on the inside components and found one of the internal interconnects had a broken wire going to the volume control.
    Not wanting to send this back to China for repairs, I removed both boards and removed the terminal end of the interconnect and soldered it straight to the board. I also reflowed some wonky joints and cleaned out some solder blobs floating around in there.
    The IC wire they used is either poor quality, or old stock, as the shield wire has turned black from corrosion. Some day I'll have to get in there and replace it all.

    I can't say I'd recommend this DAC to anyone at this point. I realize that this thing is at the bottom of the food chain, but 2 minutes out of the gate and it dies is something I have a problem with.
     

     

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  2. Son-of-Vere

    Son-of-Vere Super Member

    Messages:
    1,672
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    It blew up AGAIN!!! Now the right channel of the USB input went into massive distortion. Checked with my $30 POS DAC from PE that has served me for years and it's not the computer. Went back to CD and it was working as well, back to China with you!
     
  3. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,107
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Crikey, I've a Xiang Sheng DAC-01A on the way (same DAC) for my secondary system. I hope I have better luck...
     
  4. for_p1

    for_p1 Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,500
    Location:
    Northern TX
    Here was your mistake. There is no place for tubes in digital gear, and you should make choice based on quality not on "right price".
     
    darkblue94, boza and Hipocrates like this.
  5. Mamrak1

    Mamrak1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,065
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I've never understood the fascination with ordering electronics directly from China. It sounds like a prescription for disaster, regardless of the price.
     
    pskaudio, bryans12v and darkblue94 like this.
  6. moewillis

    moewillis just to recap, i love recapping

    Messages:
    1,350
    Location:
    Lawrence KS
    A few years to decide on a $30 dac? Was the shipping included?
     

     

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  7. Son-of-Vere

    Son-of-Vere Super Member

    Messages:
    1,672
    Location:
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    No, I've had that one for 2 years. It took me 2 years to pull the trigger on the D1, however.

    I completely disagree about tubes and digital, I've found CD's much more tolerable thru tubes. Frankly it sounded great. But 2 separate failures in 3 days puts it in the POS category. The D1 didn't work long enough for me to come to any conclusions on files.
     
    mjw21a likes this.
  8. Yamaki

    Yamaki Not For Hire Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,112
    Location:
    Hillsboro, Oregon
    the only Chinese DAC I've ever had success with is the Yulong line. I got mine from Grant Fidelilty.

    I hope you get things sorted out!
     
  9. StimpyWan

    StimpyWan AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,082
    Location:
    Blue Ridge Mountains!
    Did you report the issues to Maverick Audio. The owner is usually really helpful about issues, and often responds on different forums. Especially Head-Fi.

    http://www.mav-audio.com/base/support

    As to the Xiang Sheng DAC-01A, I've used one at work for years, and never had an issue with it. USB input only, but I've tried the other inputs, and everything seems OK. I did upgrade mine with a new tube (GE JAN5670W - I believe), and added opamp sockets, and replaced them ( with Linear Tech LT1364). A very nice DAC Amp.
     
  10. afewbricks

    afewbricks Active Member

    Messages:
    328
    Some of the chinese made DACS are excellent performers excellent sound, input options and lots of versatility, 1 db step digital volume. but the same rules apply on costs you save some but dont expect much if your trying to save a bundle. I took a balanced DAC with both output options, 5 digital inputs, preamp capable or set it to act just as a converter, headphone amp with teroidal transformer, clean layout great sound. smooth and analog as device name would imply, and it doesnt pick detail apart like some do, or sound bright, some of them stink to be honest.
     
  11. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,458
    For the analog output section, I would most decidedly disagree if it's done right - say an Audio Research DAC9. :)

    The Maverick uses a lone tube for buffering the op amp output anyway.
     

     

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  12. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    3,107
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Quite right. I've used a S.M.S.L SD793ii on my pc for years. Excellent sound.

    On my media center in the living room I run a Gustard U10 usb interface into an S.M.S.L SD1955+ 2nd gen Sanskrit.

    This combination brings performance into a similar realm to vinyl playback. I won't kid myself though. Vinyl is better, it just takes more money to achieve or better digital playback is all.
     
  13. Son-of-Vere

    Son-of-Vere Super Member

    Messages:
    1,672
    Location:
    The Land that Audio Forgot
    Emailed Maverick and Ryan got back to me right away. They offered to ship me a hand picked unit with the opamp upgrade and I'm going to give them a chance to make it right. Stay Tuned.
     
  14. for_p1

    for_p1 Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,500
    Location:
    Northern TX
    If he wanted Chinese DAC, almost anything from http://www.audio-gd.com/Products-EN.htm will be good choice. Some like this http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/Master-7_384/M7384EN.htm one - even exceptional. And they are priced right comparing with others at the same performance level.
     
    nyhifihead likes this.
  15. afewbricks

    afewbricks Active Member

    Messages:
    328
    you can get the one under it for just under 375, they are worth every penny imho , they pack a lot of versatility along with good sound. its obious someone copied a few ideas from b l ca to. they are nice looking and feel sturdy. remote capable is nice to. check specs in here http://matrix-digi-usa.com/mini-i-pro
    http://matrix-digi-usa.com/mini-series/mini-i
    http://matrix-digi-usa.com/quattro-series
    http://matrix-digi-usa.com/x-series

    The next time I do a serious upgrade I would consider an xsabre. I began to explore further into digital over the past few years but so far Im really loving it and will keep on exploring. For me a grand is more towards a serious audio purchase but if its all I think it could be theres a lot of value packed into that thousand bucks.

    [​IMG] 32bit/384kHz DSD DXD Audio DAC



    The X-SABRE is our flagship ultra high quality D/A converter that supports native DSD (Direct-Stream Digital) and DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition). It utilizes the ESS 9018 Sabre Reference DAC along with a XMOS 32bit/500MIPS high performance asynchronous USB interface to stream 1-Bit 2.8224MHz/5.6448MHz DSD, 24bit/352.8kHz DXD, and up to 32bit/384kHz PCM.

    The X-SABRE uses extremely stable crystal oscillators and (unlike conventional sigma-delta implementation) the ESS Sabre converters incorporate innovative patented circuity to deliver spectacular music playback free from clock jitter. This combined with the use of four actual D/A converters per channel (8 mono to 2 stereo configuration) achieves a new level of exceptionally wide dynamic range, ultra low distortion, an amazingly accurate sound stage, and (jitter-free) detail with incredible clarity.

    The X-SABRE is constructed from a single piece of CNC machined aluminum with separate compartments for each circuit providing excellent isolation and shielding. The design also includes three large diamond shaped feet to minimize any vibration.

    The X-SABRE has pellucid LED indicators to display the current status or mode of operation. Input selection consists of USB, Coaxial (RCA), and AES-EBU (XLR).

    Side Note: DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is the result of a joint development from Sony and Philips to create a new standard in high-resolution digital audio. The specifications use a 1-Bit 2.8224 MHz or 5.6448 MHz sample rate which is 64 times or 128 times higher then 'CD quality' (which only uses 44.1kHz). The result is a dynamic range of up to 120dB between 20-20kHz and the capability of extended frequency response all the way up to 100kHz. Since the sampled waveform is so extremely close to the original analog waveform DSD will finally provide all the detail of a live music performance. If you thought CD quality was never good enough you were right! The time has come to enter the capabilities of the new millennium and the new digital specification of ultra high resolution music reproduction.

    Ultra low jitter is key in reproducing high quality audio and that requires an accurate and stable clock!

    Input:

    Asynchronous data transfer mode
    DSD×64 (2.8224MHz) / DSD×128 (5.6448MHz)
    Sample rates supported USB: 16-32Bit @ 44.1kHz/48kHz/88.2kHz/96kHz/176.4kHz/192kHz/352.8kHz/384kHz
    Sample rates supported Coax/AES-EBU: 16-24Bit @ 44.1kHz/48kHz/88.2kHz/96kHz/176.4kHz/192kHz
    Low latency ASIO/KS drivers supported
    Drivers available for: Windows XP/ Windows Vista/ Windows 7/ Windows 8 - 8.1
    Natively supported by: Apple Mac OSX & Most Linux Distro's

    Output:

    RCA Output Level: 2.2Vrms at 0dBFS
    XLR Output Level: 4.4Vrms at 0dBFS (XLR Interface: 1=ground 2=hot 3=cold)
    Frequency Response: 20Hz~20kHz +/-0.1dB

    SNR: 124dB 0dBFS Unweighted
    127dB 0dBFS A-weighted

    THD+N: 0.0003% @1kHz 0dBFS
    0.0003% @1kHz -1dBFS
    0.0003% @1kHz -3dBFS

    Channel Separation: -145dB @20Hz
    -143dB @1kHz
    -136dB @20kHz

    AC: 120 volts 60Hz / 230 volts 50Hz - 10 watts (A voltage switch is located on the bottom of the unit)

    Weight: 8lb / 3.6kg
    Dimensions: 8.07" x 10.23" x 1.89" / 205mm × 260mm × 48mm

    Included accessories: Power cable & Driver CD
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
  16. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    Hope it works out for you. I have two D2's and they're solid as a rock and sound great.
     

     

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  17. Son-of-Vere

    Son-of-Vere Super Member

    Messages:
    1,672
    Location:
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    New unit is here. Jury is still out whether it is better or not. op amps have some different #'s but are not the Burr Browns. I may have to try the other tube from the old unit, but I'll keep this one in for a few hours yet. At least everything works. The black interconnects like the one that went bad are not in this unit, it's all grey jacketed wire. There's some different caps on what I assume is the tube output. They may be trying some more refined caps (MKT-82) here. No solder blobs in this one.
    One crazy thing is my laptop had to install yet another driver to allow this unit to work, what's that all about?
     
  18. SWL3600

    SWL3600 Super Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Location:
    Twin Lakes, WI
    Don't know about the drivers, I never had an issue. Like others have said, these DACs take a good 45-50 hours to break in.....both of my D2's were the same.

    I was kinda on the fence about the discrete opamps. It wasn't until I took them out and spent some time without them.....then put them back in some time later that I heard what I was missing.....a fuller, richer sound that was also smoother than the upgraded opamps Maverick had installed as an upgrade option.
     
  19. Son-of-Vere

    Son-of-Vere Super Member

    Messages:
    1,672
    Location:
    The Land that Audio Forgot
    I suspected as much. When first turned on it was a bit rough.
     
  20. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,186
    Location:
    NW Pennsylvania snow belt
    This is kind of a recurring "theme" with Chi-Fi--a general lack of quality control--one unit may be fantastic and problem free, but another (supposedly identical) unit may have issues right out of the box, and schematics rarely match the actual build--it's kind of like whatever was in the warehouse on any given day. I have worked on/upgraded a few Chi-Fi tube integrated amps, and even though they used quality components (as advertised), they were being pushed to or exceeding their rated limits. Not knocking them (where else are you going to get a brand new KT88 tube integrated for $500?), but I have serious doubts about longevity with all of the components being run to the limit.
     
    Old Guy8 likes this.

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