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Collection of vintage DACs increases…

Discussion in 'classic' started by Dowser, May 22, 2022.

  1. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    Just bought a second Wadia X-32 and a Perpetual Technologies P3a DAC with Monolith PSU :) Think I’m hooked
    torstoi and unclepuncle like this.
  2. VanDerGraaf

    VanDerGraaf pfm Member

    Interested to hear your opinion on the P3a when you have had a chance to listen. Old dacs are indeed addictive!
    FN19 and Dowser like this.
  3. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    Do you have a favourite vintage dac chip and you hunt out different dacs containing them to see how they differ? Or is it just me?? .. ;)
  4. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    I initially thought DAC tech was moving forward so fast that vintage stuff was just rubbish but then similar to CD players I had a few shocks when actually listening to them (my preferred CDP is a heavily modified Naim CDI - TDA1541A-S2). First I had a Pioneer N-50 streamer, sounded much better using digi out and Rega DAC-R, then a Chinese TDA1541 DAC beat the Rega, then a really old Camelot Arthur beat that…then a Micromega Duo brick DAC beat that (all to my ears of course). A few weeks ago I got my first Wadia Digimaster X-32 - after servicing it has me questioning everything.

    to be honest, I’m not expecting much from the P3a, but it was cheap enough for me to listen and resell at a profit :) The X-32 we’ll see - maybe a perfect control if I decide to try and modify the other one I have (assuming I can fix it!).

    so no, it’s not only you :D
    torstoi, gustav_errata and Rug Doc like this.
  5. VanDerGraaf

    VanDerGraaf pfm Member

    I think I have a preference for fhe TDA5141a dacs but haven't managed to get one and hold on to it. I had an original Arcam Black Box but sold it without doing any upgrades. A mistake I feel, in retrospect.

    I have acquired a very unusual and rare vintage dac. Made by now-defunct US manufacturer Altis, the DAP Reference Bitstream is the best vintage dac I have yet heard. Costing a cool $3000 in 1992, it has a large external power supply and dual differential design. I took it to a friend's house for a listen. He sold his Rega Dac-R shortly thereafter! He then picked up a Monarchy Audio 18B, but this too is not as good as the Altis:

    torstoi, Rug Doc, unclepuncle and 2 others like this.
  6. oldius

    oldius Can pleasure be measured?

    My DAC is from 1990 and ousted a £3.6k Bryston in my system. It was $10k when launched.


    FN19, Ben&Ted, Nagraboy and 11 others like this.
  7. VanDerGraaf

    VanDerGraaf pfm Member

    I've seen that mighty thing before Geoff. I recall you mentioning it previously. Build quality is insane.

    Technics built some amazing gear (and currently still do).

    There was a Sony DAS-R1 for sale recently, I wonder how that compares.
    oldius likes this.
  8. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    Phwoar - vintage DACs :)

    My Micromega Duo is currently TDA1541 - I want to completely rebuild and fit a TDA-1541A-S1 :) For my sins though, I am also finalising the BOM for an AYA 5 DIY DAC - latest tech NOS TDA1541A DAC.
  9. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I really need to try a TDA1541A DAC at some point. Never owned one or even spent any real time with one. I started with Bitstream (RCD965BX & later CD17KI) and then to a CDX, and from there via a few steps to where I am now with a DPA PDM3. I do fancy landing a nice vintage Sony ES player at some point, so that’s probably the trajectory to try one.
  10. unclepuncle

    unclepuncle pfm Member

    Not a DAC but another vintage bit of digital kit worth trying is the Genesis Digital Lens which goes between the transport and dac.


    Had one about 20 years ago and it made a significant improvement. Been looking for another for the last few years but prices have gone mad.
    VanDerGraaf, Dowser and Rug Doc like this.
  11. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    The first decently performing spdif fifo, nice.
  12. fran

    fran pfm Member

    Cough, AD1862, cough :)
    VanDerGraaf likes this.
  13. VanDerGraaf

    VanDerGraaf pfm Member

    Some say it's like the 1541....but better.
  14. chartz

    chartz If it’s broke fix it!

    I’m a big fan of 1541 players. The Quad 66 and Arcam 70.2 have Single Crown chips.
  15. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    One of my CDIs has dual crown tda1541a - my other came with an R1 version and was transformed by a single crown. I’ve only one spare S1 left now though, plus a later Taiwan chip said to be of same quality (not tried it yet!)
    VanDerGraaf likes this.
  16. VanDerGraaf

    VanDerGraaf pfm Member

    That is my understanding: regular 90s Taiwanese 1541's are as good as the Crowns of original manufacture.
    Dowser likes this.
  17. Ray

    Ray pfm Member

    Card-carrying vintage DAC user here, too.

    Theta DS Pro Basic (AD1860)
    Monarchy M22 (PCM1863)
    Musical Fidelity Digilog (1541 crown)
    Micromega Duo BS (1545)

    Somewhat new, but with old tech:
    Lite DAC-AH (8x 1543)
    Border Patrol DAC SE (again with 1543)

    I do have a newer Bryston BDA-1 and a Schiit DAC but seriously, they get the least amount of play. Also have some 1540 CD players (Marantz CD74, B&O CD-X). I find that with these older DACs, I get a deeper sound, more involving, maybe less obviously resolute, but nonetheless, everything’s there but with a little extra that makes you listen more.

    In fact, even with say, the lowly Lite DAC streaming WBGO New Jersey into a 2A3 SET / MM de Capo-i’s combo, I’m hard pressed to say I would want more, sometimes can’t even bother to play vinyl.
    Dowser and chartz like this.
  18. say it as it is

    say it as it is pfm Member

    never tried a 1541A stand alone dac, but I must have a thing for that chip Rotel 955, Naim CD3, Sony 337esd kind of gives the game away haha
  19. jpk

    jpk pfm Member

    I have a Mission Cyrus Dacmaster (AD1862) and an Arcam Delta Black Box v.1 (TDA1541A), both with modded digital front end based on DIR9001+PMD100, and compared them to Philips CD304MK2 (TDA1541 non-A) and CD303 (TDA1540) and my Naim CDS3 (PMD200+PCM1704). The Naim wins by far, nevertheless the others are nice pieces of kit with good sound.

    A very simple TDA1543 based non-oversampling DAC with passive IV impressed me recently...
  20. VanDerGraaf

    VanDerGraaf pfm Member

    Speaking of the 1543, does anyone know where I might be able to get my little SPS3 dac repaired? Has distorted output on 1 channel.
    I think sometime in the past I opened it and one of the larger smd caps measured quite differently to the other. But really, I have no idea.

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