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Idea for a AS review - Topping, Matrix, ProJect...

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I would say for example the EVGA NU Audio card with fresh AKM chip model goes into the bargain category. There have been bunch of nice "bargain" products, like iFi micro iDSD BL and Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital. Although I'm not sure what exactly constitutes a "bargain" status.

 

P.S. I have the TEAC UD-505 still on my shopping list. Not sure if it goes into bargain category, but the previous models have been pretty nice (501 was TI chip and 503 was AKM, 505 is also AKM).

 


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I have to say that especially the EVGA NU Audio card running at DSD256 (from my EC modulators) certainly doesn't lack in dynamics, bordering aggressive...

 


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1 hour ago, motberg said:

This card looks really cool... Have you tried or tested with the SE line outs? I did not see a voltage spec,  so was wondering if the line-out quality is on-par with the headphone out (seems to be pretty focused on headphone users, or powered computer monitors).

I was thinking a 1M run to a preamp (passive if possible but not necessary), then another 0.5 or 1M to the amp...

 

Yes, I have it connected through SE outputs (RCA) to my preamp. The measurements I posted on the NU Audio thread here are from the SE outputs. Output level is quite typical, I think it was around 1.7V RMS or so.

 

You can tune the performance by rolling op-amps on it, since both of the two are on sockets and they officially support that. There's a small flyer with the card about changing the op-amps.

 

I was thinking about ordering a second one for some further tests with different op-amps. My normal server is on the equipment rack and quite a bit of hassle to take it out, so not very eager to do lot of experimentation there. While one of my office tower PC's are extremely easy for such, no need to move or anything, just open side panel and everything is very easy.


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9 minutes ago, guiltyboxswapper said:

@Miska are there any standalone DACs the EVGA card reminds you of?

 

It is always hard to make such comparisons. Maybe closest to RME ADI-2 and some pro-audio interfaces based on AKM (AKM chips are very popular in pro-audio area). I don't have yet the newest TEAC 505, but 503 is a bit "smoother".

 

13 minutes ago, guiltyboxswapper said:

Also have you thought about feeding its SATA power port with better power than say a standard ATX PSU? 

 

Based on the results I've got, I see absolutely no reason to do so... It would anyway need to be something custom, and I'm not very inclined to start building one since there's not much to improve... I could use the PSU board I have for my DSC1 DAC, but would be hard to make it physically feasible.

 


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31 minutes ago, asdf1000 said:

ESS also very popular.. Apogee, MOTU, Benchmark, Merging, Ayre, Mytek. Probably more I can’t recall.

 

Ayre is certainly not pro-audio. Mytek is only niche in that respect and no ESS ADC there. RME is mixture of TI and AKM with some Cirrus Logic. MOTU gear I have is not ESS. Focusrite, Lynx, Prism, Tascam, Korg, M-Audio, nor I think Antelope or Universal Audio. And I cannot recall Apogee being either. I cannot think of many that would be ESS ADC + DAC. In fact, I have hard time thinking of anything that would have ESS ADC...

 

Focusrite stuff I have is Cirrus Logic.

 


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8 minutes ago, mansr said:

There is no ESS ADC chip.

 

They used to have, but obviously they abandoned it, or went underground. ES9102/ES9112 or something like that. Sabre ADC.

https://pdf1.alldatasheet.com/datasheet-pdf/view/485880/ESS/ES9102.html

 

But I don't remember seeing actual products around those. Ayre used now unavailable chip model from a now defunct company and I think Merging used the same for a while.

 


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3 minutes ago, asdf1000 said:

 

And what do these have as an ADC? Something that matters to us, when we listen to recordings?

 

I don't know why they mention ESS DAC, but no word about ADC - the thing that matters the most for pro-audio?

 


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Just now, asdf1000 said:

My original quote to you was "AKM chips are very popular in pro-audio area "

 

I was just saying ESS DAC chips are popular in pro-audio too...

 

When I'm talking about pro-audio, I'm not talking about just DAC, but both ADC + DAC. In most cases these are from the same company. And not just recent years, but from the days since early 90's. If you go back and look what chips have been used the most on both ADC and DAC over the past 30 years, I'd say AKM leads and TI + Cirrus Logic being not too far behind. Everything else is niche.

 

While Wolfson has been more popular on mobile devices and such.

 


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3 minutes ago, asdf1000 said:

On ADCs, this is a Grammy winning Mastering Engineering.

 

http://www.arfproductions.com/about/

 

He uses Ayre ADC.

 

He is not 'pro-audio'?

 

Sure, and 2L has used for example DDK converters which are TI. And now Merging.

 

But that's niche. Look at what Avid ProTools stuff uses and that's a little bit more of the market. How many percents of Tidal or Spotify catalog is made with Ayre ADC? I bet less than 0.1%.

 

And Ayre ADC is NOT ESS.

 

 


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5 minutes ago, asdf1000 said:

Understood. But I think 'pro audio' gets thrown around too loosely sometimes.

 

There are guys on Gearslutz forum using Pro-Ject Pre-Box S2 DAC saying it performs as well as state of the art high priced DACs and is reliable for them.

 

So one may say Pro-Ject is not 'pro audio' but if its getting used in music making..

 

Sure, but I'm talking about what is used in volumes. I mean percentage of today's digital music catalog in total.

 

Btw, to me these look like AKM based:

https://merging.com/products/interfaces/specifications#a-k-d8-d-a-k-d8-d-p-option-card

 

942541450_OperaSnapshot_2019-10-05_020915_merging_com.thumb.png.7f68ad00a15896d1d1bc4e1f12f0c7fc.png


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9 minutes ago, mansr said:

The evolution of the ESS lineup is mildly interesting. Starting out in generic PC audio, they meandered considerably with products as diverse as modems and DVD processors. Eventually, they settled on audiophile DACs and a few supporting chips. Presumably, the profit margins were best there.

 

Yes, and I have vague memory of them having CODECs (ADC+DAC) in the PC audio market in 90's. But they are not particularly public about their products in general, so it is not so easy to figure out.

 

AKM also used to be hard to obtain, but they have since luckily changed their approach and are now just as available as TI and  CirrusLogic (incl Wolfson).

 

Now there are some strange beasts out there, like Realtek and Rohm. Of which Rohm actually had an interesting demo in Munich two years ago of their new DAC chip. But I have not seen or heard much about it since. I cannot find that chip now on their web pages. But I still have their brochures about it (and I have seen/heard it in live action).

 


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