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MDAC first listen (part XXIV)

Discussion in 'audio' started by JemHayward, Jun 25, 2013.

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  1. fusion5

    fusion5 on the dark side of hifi...

    I doubt that. As far as I know both are based on the same platform. Maybe we are just missing something.

    I would suggest you try the jriver forum. They have excellent support.
  2. KevinNZ

    KevinNZ Active Member

    To be honest, I just liked the look of Jriver. Oh well...I'm at least hearing much more detail from recordings than from playing the cd's in 'real time' so I can't complain. Incidentally, I can't use ASIO either as the Device box says "No ASIO devices detected" even though the CDQ is connected via USB. Does this mean I'm missing a suitable driver? Sorry, but I'm an 'audio' rather than 'computer' person...
  3. rmgalley

    rmgalley Active Member

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the update on the CDQ Mk II plans, and apologies for my delay in replying. As you say, I think the MTRN/MPAX is now the way to go.

    I have still not got to the bottom of the reason why the USB feed from the SBT/NAS is inferior to playing the CD direct. I now know a lots of reasons that aren't the cause of the problem. However I have not been able to pursue this further this past week, and nor will I until after next week.

    It is a bit of a puzzle because the bitperfect test files are given a clean bill of health and the MDAC appears to be 'pulling' the data off the source under the control of its own clock.

    If I play the FLAC files from my PC or NAS using Foobar2000/ASIO4ALL and a direct USB cable to the MDAC, there appears to be no impairment so I conclude my FLAC files are 'good'.

    Nevertheless two different SBTs give the same result using USB. It doesn't matter if the sound file being played is from the NAS or the PC (which are connected to the same router). It makes no difference whether the SBT is connected to the router by Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable. It also makes no difference whether I decode the FLAC files on the NAS and stream as WAV (as opposed to allowing the SBT to decode the FLAC stream).

    It may be I have overlooked some SBT configuration parameter but, if I had and the data was being modified, why would the bitperfect tests be passed? I can also confirm the SBT shows the frequency changes between 44047 Hz and 441141 Hz indicating the MDAC is controlling the flow of data and the MDAC buffer is hovering around the 50% mark. There are no clicks or dropouts, just an impaired sound stage lacking depth and smeared resolution of the musicians and the space around them when using USB.

    Using the optical output from the SBTs the results are much, much closer to the CD played direct, if not identical. Until I can continue with my investigations this is the configuration I am using for now for listening - but I'd like to have the USB input working correctly as this is the theoretically superior way.

    I'm considering using Soundchecks Touch Toolbox 3.0 to find out if that has any bearing on the situation but that will have to wait another week. I'll get to the bottom of it eventually, but feel free to throw in any suggestions.

    I'll keep you posted as to when I'm likely to be visiting CZ in the autumn and thanks again.

  4. fusion5

    fusion5 on the dark side of hifi...

    Download asio4all
  5. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    Hi ducatiman,

    I remember you :) - I'm very happy your enjoying one of the very first MDAC's :)

    Due to the continued issues I'm experiencing with MDAC build quality, sound quality variability and our longer term plans to progress forward we are considering changing the direction as to how we handle these MDAC upgrades.

    Currently each MDAC upgrade is taking about 4 to 5 days to complete as I'm essentially customising the upgrade for each unit – this is obviously unsustainable, extremely frustrating and not to mention financially unprofitable.

    The plan that is now brewing in my mind (I’m putting it out here for feedback) is to offer a whole new MDAC Mainboard that we would manufacture here in Europe thus insuring quality and consistency. To allow us to meet the price targets we would purchase key “expensive” items in Asia – cheaper passive components etc would be purchased locally here in Europe.

    As the PCB is built by SMD machine, labour is such a small part of the board cost we could still meet our price targets for the upgrades with a higher quality and more professional product.

    To help finance this endeavour I’m thinking upon the lines that say “50” perspective customers send instalments of GBP100 per month – and within 4 months (GBP400) we will be able to ship out upgrade boards (for simple DIY fit) – or I can upgrade units here in CZ as I’m currently doing – being a simple board swap it would be a much quicker process. It would also allow owners outside of Europe to upgrade there unit.

    You would be essentially getting a new product with only front panel, PSU and chassis reused from the original MDAC.

    I’d go the full hog with the redesigned PCB, not only including the Toy / Fusion upgrades but include Dual pair of ESS9018’s, AV bypass and the potential for an extra say GBP50 and a months extra design effort to add Async USB to 768Fs!! and DSD support etc.

    The first 20 or so customers who have paid the Toy / Fusion upgraded MDAC’s can then send them back to me here in CZ once the upgrade PCB is available and I’ll transplant the “Precious” Bulk Foil resistors onto the new MDAC PCB (the PCB will be design for both options) – for the cost price of the new PCB which I'm guessing at around GBP120…

    This route has many advantages – not only is it a vastly better product without the restrictions of trying to add the modifications to the existing PCB, you have the DUAL ESS9018’s and the potential of DSD & 786Fs support with each unit tested and QC’ed by myself here in Europe – more importantly we would be helping the local European economy, shifting production back from China.

    Just an idea and early days, wondering if there would be interest as the current method of upgrading the PCB is unsustainable in the longterm – while this would be a 4 month plan – so far about 130 people have expressed interest in the upgrade – at 3 to 4 days a unit (hopefully I can speed this up for the remain units here) I’m never going to be able to upgrade all units! While it would add a delay for a few you do get a vastly superior product – and the payments can be spread over 4 months :)

    I would only need 50 commitments at GBP100 per month to go ahead and design a new replacement board incorporating the Toy / Fusion upgrades + all the juicy extras such as dual 9018’s (and DSD / 768Fs support if the consensus is to spend the extra GBP50 and month extra hardware development) – it would be a REFERENCE grade DAC (with all the lessons learnt from the current upgrades etc)… any interest or comments?
  6. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    Shame the about the Relay problem!!!

    I'm sure we are ALL really keen for the feedback!!! so when your feeling brave once again....

    Personally I'd very keen to hear your thoughts as I was very happy with the SQ of your unit - and keen to hear your opinion :)
  7. tunkejazz

    tunkejazz non-equilibrium listener

    Hi John,
    I am on your list for buying the upgraded unit from you. I would not mind to go down this road, but are we talking about roughly the same final cost or much more (Fusion)?
  8. kenworthy

    kenworthy pfm Member


    That sounds an exciting plan and would iron out the quality issues in the M-dac.

    Is that on an exchange basis, i.e owner fits new board and sends old M-dac board back to you, or does the owner keep the original m-dac board in addition to the replacement you send?
  9. dtd

    dtd pfm Member

    Hi John, does that mean the TDAC is still on at some point? Or would this now replace that plan? Tempted to get one of these, though have set cash aside for the eventual TDAC.
  10. Steven Toy

    Steven Toy L3 Toy

    I am glad you have decided that this can be done (after what was said yesterday.)

    Inconsistency between units is something you can never totally eliminate; no two units will ever be completely identical (imho) but getting to a reasonable level of consistency is a very good thing.

    In 2000 I bought a Naim CD5 (built in the UK). It had to be returned because it didn't sound as "tuneful" as the demo unit. The bass was also slightly soft. It came back improved in these areas. The dealer and I agreed on these findings although my unit was returned at his behest not mine.

    In 2002 I ordered a Naim CDX on the strength of a home dem with the demo unit. Straight out of the box the unit I'd ordered was better than the demo unit. The dealer offered to sell me the demo unit (mint condition) with a £600 discount and full warranty in order to keep my unit as the demo one. I declined this offer.

    In 2011 I bought my CDQ. I had the option of the demo model that I had enjoyed listening to for a couple of hours in the shop via my own amps and the shop's Tannoy DC6Ts or a brand-new one in a sealed box. I chose the former.

    I think making the PCBs yourself in Europe is a very good idea to guarantee a certain level of quality. It will also make your job easier but I think we all have to live with the notion that every piece of decent hi-fi is ever-so-slightly unique.

    This doesn't just apply to hi-fi. Guitar amps from the likes of Marshall can vary. Anthony Matthews told me a story of a famous rock guitarist who tried to steal one particular guitar amp because, inexplicably, it sounded better than all the others.

    I think some of the Measurists reading this are going to need a stiff drink.... :D

    I would be happy to get my unit in the next couple of weeks(ish) and send it back further down the line and pay another £120 (or you can name your price in KČ.)

    Why not offer case upgrades? I could get someone to make me a case of the right size in, say, copper or acrylic and slightly taller. I would just need some kind of diagram to send to a local/UK manufacturer.
  11. KevinNZ

    KevinNZ Active Member

    Great, thanks. Downloaded it and I can now play with ASIO set. There's a checkbox now that says "Device uses only most significant 24 bits (Lynx, etc)" Should this be checked?
  12. pkerai

    pkerai Active Member

    Maybe you should setup a new thread to make clear who and how many people are willing to do so.
    I certainly am interested and willing.
    The quicker you get the required amount of people and funding the better.
  13. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    Yes the basic version (without the Toy/ Fusion resistor package) is around the same cost (£400 or £450 depending if its decided to go with the USB 24/96 of the current MDAC or the DSD/768Fs USB 2 option) + the extra if you wanted the fusion resistors fitted. To facilitate the development and component purchasing etc the payments would be spread over the 4 to 5 months...

    I’d personally be a lot happier as I can design a much MUCH better product and move forwards, the time spent on the upgrades is not sustainable in the longterm – I’m very keen to use dual ESS9018’s and remove other restrictions of the MDAC design – but cannot afford to do this without support – the first 2 to 3 months would be spent redesigning the PCB, the final 2 months production and testing…

    The other option is to continue with the upgrades - but I'll be very glad after these first 20 units have been shipped - and I'm not sure if it makes sense to continue this route...
  14. Sober

    Sober pfm Member

    The idea sounds tempting, but I'm worried it's a long term project... I know you are a perfectionist, so it will take time to finalize the new board. Especially when the feature list is now open :) Why not then offer simply a new whole DAC branded by LakeWest? It would be probably also cheaper than the price of MDAC + 400.

    PS: What is the advantage of using dual pair of ESS9018’s?
  15. tunkejazz

    tunkejazz non-equilibrium listener

    Sounds terrific to me, I am in ;-)
    I guess you should give some instructions so we know how to proceed...
  16. steve-g

    steve-g Well-Known Member

    This seems a better way to go than sending units over to you for modification - my MDAC is now such an integral part of my music listing that I would not want to be without it for any length of time.

    So - yes - please add me to the list of people interested in this.
  17. WAD62

    WAD62 pfm Member

    That's an odd situation Roger, I use a touch into my MDAC via USB and it is significantly better than coax, although I've not used optical...

    Given that you've passed the bit perfect test, you must be experiencing some secondary effects...

    My configuration is...

    SBTouch (EDO USB out)/Belkin passive USB hub/iFi USB power/Kimber 0.5 m usb

    The iFi usb power was a noticeable improvement for me, but it's not a cheap option, so might be worth trying one first...another cheaper option would be a galvanic isolator

    However the main improvement I gained from isolation was fine detail, so I'm not sure that's your issue...

    Still a little confusing I'm afraid
  18. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    It would be good to be able to get the boards back at a later date as we can recycle key "expensive" components (ESS9018's etc) - but I'm just putting the idea out here for feedback...

    Maybe we keep the PCB for units we upgrade here in Czech, DIY customers can keep there old original PCB, but its will no longer be resalable as the Front panel software will be upgraded to function with the new Mainboard.... maybe we could find away to rollback the software version if for any reason you wanted to refit the original MDAC PCB...
  19. flahutbux

    flahutbux Member

    Hi John

    Following closely the thread lately, it seems you re indeed struggling very much with the upgrades - with excellent feedback so far, Congrats! - but you certainly would feel better spending your time on other topics/designs/developments.

    I should currently be on the L2 upgrade list, and am still wondering which of the Toy or Fusion version I should actually go to - waiting for further feedbacks.
    Now, the approach you propose seems very much reasonable, and I feel like you will receive support from this community.

    As far as I am concerned, time is not a real issue as I really enjoy the standard MDAC on my currently half decent system, but I did not fully get the details of the full PCB upgrade:
    - Do you envisage different versions of the upgrade (i.e. "basic": upgrade of the full PCB with dual ESS, improved USB and DSD, "Toy+": basic + Toy components, "Fusion+": basic + Fusion components)?
    - Could you please get a bit more precise (as far as feasible atm) regarding associated final costs?
    And last point, how long would you estimate design work for the new PCB + validation on your side, before going production?

    Quite some question, I know...

    Anyway, whatever is the best/better direction for you to go, I fully confirm my interest in the upgrade!

    Thanx a lot for your time, dedication and feedback to the community.

  20. tunkejazz

    tunkejazz non-equilibrium listener

    I think Pierre's comments pretty much nailed what I was starting to write so...+1
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