Dear DIY and Audio lovers! My name is Doede Douma and the developer of the DDDAC series. I am designing and building audio equipment since I am twelve. Over the years I have developed my own way of doing things which are mostly outside the common routes (and datasheets). What is my goal? Always create audio with as I call it an “Analog Sound” – This comes from the old days with vinyl of course. I have designed and build many phono amplifiers and build/modified my own turntables.
As digital sources cannot and should not be avoided (anymore) I worked many years on true analog sounding DACs. The first one was the TDA1543 series with the 12-chip tower modules. Here I learned it is important to avoid digital filtering (!!) as well active output stages, optimize power supplies and most for all, put dac chips in parallel ….
With the coming of high resolution tracks – I designed the DDDAC174 series – THE BEST I ever had, especially the latest version with embedded TENT Shunts in combination with a top power supply (Like the DDDAC power supply or when budget allows, the Audio Creative “Magic” version) and balanced outputs (direct or with transformers).
In case you wonder…. My analog source reference is a highly tuned LINN LP12 with own developed DC Motor CPU control, EKOS SE, a LINN Kandid Cartridge and my own MC PRE PRE Stage (and with the Phonodude of course) – Investment way beyond 20.000 Euro … OK, this has even more analog feels – but the DDDAC1794 DAC is so unbelievably close, really amazing. Hundreds of DIY have been building my DACs and users are telling me they sold their “other DACs” which in several cases were in the +10.000 Euro range. This is my best throw at digital music sounding analog and I am very proud of it!
I realize I am biased with all this, but trust me, you will never had such an analog experience with digital music!
At my web site (www.dddac.com) you will find an extensive story on the technical background and the working of the DDDAC 1794 series – In summary what I did was selecting a dac chip which could output a significant balanced RMS signal (1,2V) at a passive output (just a resistor) and take I2S as input signal so it would be able to work with many sources delivering I2S signals. Of course the chip should have a current output so it could be paralleled and be receptive to a good power supply. I found all this in the PCM1794.
The trick I worked out after many technical and listening test, is that this chip sounds very analog (in contrary with the standard datasheet application) when used at 8 Volts at the analog side and disabled internal digital filter. For that I needed to design a mainboard to convert the I2S data into a format the chip needs for this and on top delivers enough BUFFER to parallel many boards (and mechanically support the whole thing…)
This approach is extremely outside the box, but the results are so good I have no real ideas at the moment how to make it even better…. Maybe I reached the maximum possible already? Having said so, I know many people experiment with “tweaks” which works well for their ears and equipment and that is the FUN of this DAC – there is enough room for hobby and personal touch.
3. Why NOS DA converters?
We are analog lovers and do like the sound of analog playback. Then of course the DDDAC is not an analog instrument but pure digital. We think we have achieved to get as close as possible to the smooth and relaxing analog sound quality as we know it from high quality analog equipment.
This is what a customer from Australia send us what when he powered up his 4 deck DDDAC:
I don't want to use a cliche but it's very analogue sounding, which is the reason I like NOS. It's musical, throws a good sound stage and the stage is very focused and clear. Which says to me that the clock, jitter and power supply are all working well!
These are the parts you will need to build a full working DDDAC
To make the DDDAC even better as it is, we offer DDDAC upgrades!
For a full working DDDAC you will need a mainboard and at least one DDDAC DAC board. A one deck DDDAC is already a great performing DDDAC, But when you want to get the most out of your DDDAC you can upgrade with extra DAC boards.
We think a 4 deck DDDAC will give you maximum musical satisfaction. It is possible to add extra boards afterwards. But this requires a full de-solder of the already assembled boards. It is best to do this in one turn.
The Audio Creative Power Supply is a highly customized 12 Volt power supply, developed for the DDDAC. It uses a custom transformer + choke as well as a highly tuned electrical circuit with best parts we can get.
The result is a wider soundstage, more detail and an even more smooth sound. There are two versions available. A standard version and a XL version. The standard version can be used to power 4 DAC decks max. The XL version can power up to 12 decks! Highly recommended!
The Allo Isolator has been designed for galvanic isolating between SBC (Raspberry Pi or compatible small computers) and a DA-Converter. The Isolator works on both, master and slave DAC’s.
By isolating the SBC board from the DAC board, using separate ground and Power supply lines, all possible noise and jitter coming from the source can be stopped and completely isolated prior to the DAC board.
The Audio Creative O.P.T for DDDAC is a custom made transformer. Our new output transformer for the DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC is a low-ohmic 600/600 ohm transformer that shows little or no sensitivity to amplifier loads from 5 kOhm and higher to which it is connected. Both the balanced (XLR) and single ended (cinch) outputs can be made with the transformer. The sound is so much better with the output transformer than with a capacitor, that this is almost a must if you want to get the best out of the DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC.
When you build a high quality DA converter as the DDDAC, of course you will need a high quality enclosure. You are free to use any enclosure you like or even make it yourself. We can offer a high quality enclosure which fits the DDDAC perfectly.
The enclosure has an inside plate on which all the electronics are mounted on. This plate is de-coupled from the housing itself to eliminate most of the unwanted resonance and vibrations from the electronics. This will give you maximum performance of the DDDAC. The enclosure is available in silver and black.
The DDDAC comes standard with a set high quality MKP output capacitors. However it is also possible to connect your DDDAC with output transformers. An output transformer, where you connect a signal with some residual DC voltage, even if it is only a few mV, is very hard to design.
We have found two set's of very high quality output transformers which will add a huge benefit to the sound of the DDDAC.
The output capacitor
The standard capacitor is a good quality MKP capacitor which performs very well in the DDDAC. The backside of using a simple outputcapacitor, how high in quality, is the fact that it only make use of one half of the PCM1794 processor. The output voltage is approximately 0,9 volt.
The Cinemag CMLI 600/600
The Cinemag CMLI 600/600 is a high quality line transformer. A big step up from the capacitor output. The use of both Outputs (POS and NEG) doubles the numbers of dac chips effectively and also reduces the second harmonic distortion. This leads to a blacker background and very clean and liquid sound. The Cinemag will give an output voltage from approximately 1,8 volt.
The positive and negative outputs of the PCM1794 chips are added in the transformer what resulted in a +/- 2 volt output voltage. The Cinemag transformer can be connected as single ended output (cinch) or balanced (XLR).
The Sowter transformer
If you really want something extraordinary... Made on Doede Douma's personal specifications, and therefore more expensive. Balanced to balanced or single ended output / Gain = 12dB or 6dB. This custom made Sowter output transformer is specially designed for the DDDAC1794 to deliver high bandwidth with very low distortion and a no compromise sound quality.
As with the Cinemag CMLI 600/600 above the use of both Outputs (POS and NEG) doubles the numbers of dac chips effectively and also reduces the second harmonic distortion. This leads to a blacker background and very clean and liquid sound. More analog so to speak…
The DDDAC1794 NOS DAC with TVC preamplifier
If you own a TVC, for example from Music First Audio, IcOn TVC or The Bespoke Company, you don't need the output-capacitors or output-transformers. The output from the DDDAC1794 mainboard can be direct coupled (balanced) with the TVC.
Everyone who knows my DDDAC1543MK2 project, knows that I have gone very far here in paralleling DAC chips. Last test we did with 240 chips in parallel and still we heard improvement!
Why did it sound better? It has to do with Jitter reduction... Just think about one single DAC chip doing the digital to analog conversion. After loading a new sample, the DAC will fire and create the next analog level. This point of firing time is being troubled by jitter.
Now think about many DACs in parallel. When the next sample is about to fire, one of the DACs will actually be the first one to start a chain reaction. A small analog current is starting to flow, than the next DAC fires and the current increases and so on and so on... The average Time of conversion is now averaged and there is less Jitter effect.
You will hear this in improvement of all "Audiophile" aspects of the music: 3D Image - Low level Detail - Natural Texture of Voices and Dynamic. It also improves output impedance (lower) and Bass Pressure
Here is a link to my web site with some more DDDAC details:
Fully assembled 4 deck DDDAC streamer with Audio Creative Magic Power Supply and Cinemag CMLI 600/600 output transformers. Ready to play music!
The DDDAC kit comes with a Berryboard (raspberry Pi-3) which is pre-installed with either Roon or Volumio software. The main advantage is that the Berryboard is connected through I2S. I2S is the best way to transport digital music. It is connected with 4 short wires to the mainboard. Because all is set-up, just plug in and play music.
Building the DDDAC 1794 NOS requires technical skills. Building the DDDAC is not a beginners job. If you make one mistake it could ruin your complete DDDAC.
If you not feel comfortable of building a DDDAC yourself, we offer the DDDAC kit's to have build by us. In that case we solder the boards and connect the DDDAC boards to the mainboard. After that all boards are tested on function. All you will have to do is to build the DDDAC in an enclosure and wire it.
Besides the ready build kit's we also offer a complete DDDAC build by us. This DDDAC is assembled, wired, fully tested and build in a high quality DDDAC enclosure and is Pug & Play. Just plug-in and enjoy!
I finished my single-board DAC and two PSUs today, with Cinemag output transformers. I plugged it in to my Sqeezebox, configured everything, and let it rip on my SET 300b rig (DIY).
Holy smokes, my mouth hit the floor three hours ago and has not returned to my face! I have been listening all afternoon, hearing stuff I never heard before. The things I notice over my (cheap) tube DAC I was using are much tighter bass, more detail, wide staging, and more presence. Coupled with a very non-fatiguing, natural sound. It is also dead quiet on 98db/speakers. Thanks for putting such an excellent DAC in the hands of the DIY crowd!
If you are in the market for a good DAC, go and buy one, you won’t be disappointed. I would go so far as to say that this unit with all the bells and whistles that Doede offers will probably give most commercial DACs a good run for their money, regardless of price. There is no longer any need to spend huge sums on a DAC with some boutique capacitors etc. If you don’t have the soldering skills, I’m sure you know some-one who does. So in summary, this is one brilliant piece of kit and at the price, an absolute bargain.
Steve / US
As good as the DDDAC 1543 is, the DDDAC 1794 playing High Resolution music files is better. The difference between Red Book CD and high resolution through the DDDAC 1794 doesn't beat you over the head it's more subtle than that.
As you live with it, playing different recordings, you realize with wonderment, just how good the DDDAC 1794 and Hi Resolution is. I don't believe there can be anything on the market at any price that is better. The DDDAC 1794 playing a good hi rez recording is very life like. Funny that It takes a maze of electronics to sound un-electronic.
Theodore / Germany
We believe that cd players are passé. Streaming Audio is here.
In the past could be a pain to set up and needed knowledge of network, wifi and computers. But not anymore. The streaming technology has developed in a full proof media which anyone can set-up. The DDDAC is a full proof streaming DA converter which can play any format music., including Hi-res music up to 384 Khz and the highly regarded MQA music files without the need for post decoding, thanks to the absence of on board digital filtering. And guess what. It sounds way better than any cd-player!
The DDDAC kit comes with a fully installed Hifi Berry board. The Berry board is pre-installed with Roon or Volumio player. Both are fantastic players and work flawless with te DDDAC. We do prefer the Roon application. Unfortunately it is not free. But we think it might be the best media player software in the world and it is well worth the money. When purchasing a DDDAC you will get a free 2 month Roon trial subscription!
DDDAC STREAMING AUDIO
MUSIC IN PERFECTION
Many thanks for shipping the DDDAC kit to me. This arrived safely on Friday. As you might imagine, I got started over the weekend and I finished this morning. Although the PCBs are completed, I have only roughly assembled the DDDAC on a piece of MDF for the moment. However, I am delighted to tell you that it worked first time. And the biggest surprise is that even my wife (NOT an audiophile) can hear the fantastic difference!! We are very pleased. My main music source is through a Sonos system so the DDDAC replaces the DAC in the Sonos Connect box and feeds my Cyrus X-Power amplifier. Not high end audiophile stuff I know but keeps us happy. With FLAC files playing through the DDDAC it is immediately obvious that the bass is richer and all frequencies retain clarity through complex parts of the music. I will live with the DDDAC for few weeks before making any changes however I expect I will be back in contact to buy an additional DAC board and/or some Mundorf capacitors very soon...
I am a VERY pleased customer. Thank you for designing and supplying an excellent product.
Andrew / UK
ie haben im Juli gefragt ob mir der DDDAC gefällt, jetzt kann ich. Ihnen ganz klar sagen, dass ich absolut begeistert bin!
Ihre Schaltung hat schon einmal gegenüber meinem NOS-DAC mit PCM 1704 absolut keine Nachteile, dafür aber eine höhere Ausgangsspannung - damit passt der DDDAC viel besser in mein
Konzept. Weiterhin habe ich festgestellt, dass die Kopie einer CD über Festplatte nie schlechter klingt als die CD selbst über einen CDP abgespielt, sondern dass die Kopie von Festplatte oft sogar
vorteilhaft klingt. Und vor allem das High-Res Material ist eine echte Bereicherung! Es sind sehr viele Schätzchen dabei und die Qualität der Aufnahmen ist in den allermeisten Fällen sehr, sehr gut. Ich werde mich sobald es die Zeit zulässt auf die Suche nach weiteren Stücken machen, damit ich mich mal mit ein paar Aufnahmen revanchieren kann.
Also vielen Dank noch einmal für Ihr großzügiges Angebot und vor allem für Ihre Geduld am Anfang bei meinem Kampf mit der PC-Software...
Kai / Austria
How does it sound? Spectacular? Phantastic? Superb? Damn good? Fucking great? Yes, all of this. But that's all secondary with the DDDAC1794. The really important thing is that the DDDAC1794 doesn't sound like a DAC at all. It's a bit like a vinyl rig on steroids, but without the pops, clicks, and rumble (and I don't mean the old record player your dad had when he was a boy, but the freaky good 2013 stuff). The music and all the little details are just there in a very relaxed way. Ry Cooder is having a party in my house, Phil Collins' (yes!) drumsticks are flying in front of me, Sophie Hunger has moved to my house (was close anyway), Willy DeVille has risen from the dead, no more doubts about No Doubt, Timber Timbre is timber timbered, Mark Knopfler is in Dire Straits, Marianne Faithfull finally confessed her love for Bruce Springsteen, Jeff's Wine is as Lilac as it gets, Glen Hansard got a shave, Depeche Mode are Exit(er)ing, Lou Reed made me a Perfect Day, and Giant Sand and Marla Glen just called to be the next acts in my listening room. In short: I hear the music, not a DAC. In contrast to oversampling and digial filters, the NOS concept not only works, but also sounds good!
MBRWenna / Audio Forum