Results: Outstanding!!!! The improvement over my Pioneer Elite's built in DAC was obvious and immediate. The soundstage was wider, the midrange was less anemic, the bass was tighter, there was better seperation between instruments and it was more revealing to subtleties and artifacts. (All this when running crappy test RCA jacks, a 20' radio-hack interconnect, and no break in on the components.) I've had it running since yesterday continuously with my Muddy Waters Ultradisk to break it in. All of our work and money finally paid off.
Since I occasionally check your page, I notice that you have professional PCB's done now. Boy, I wish we had had those when doing our project. The PCB stuff was one of the hardest things (after component collection) about the project! If any body wants a testimonial as to why $125 is a reasonable price, tell them to e-mail ME. :-)
"Paul J. Nederveen" firstname.lastname@example.org
(A Note From Sheldon: Please Don't flood this gentleman with e-mail unless you are genuinely interested in this DAC and his insights. Thanks)
After the first sound coming out from my speaker, I decide to throw away my ASSEMBLAGE DAC-1 (I bought it from sonic frontier). The sound is very flat in all frequency response and also in very detail. Forgive my English because I am not a native English speaking man. I just try to describe that I am so impressed.
Well, I have the Big DAC assembled. It went very smoothly. You did a superb job putting this board together. You know, as I was populating it, it was like I could peer into your mind and see what you saw when you did things the way you did. Ahh, Zen and the Art of DAC Maintenance... My complements on, and thanks for, a very nicely laid out board.
"Paul M. Croft"
I just finish make your dac..It's very great !!!!
"Mr. Koapong Ganjanarungsita"
E-mailed you a month or so about your DAC. Its done. Nice job on the design! Like the sound of it a lot. Better than my old Pooge 5.5 Phillips DAC mod (Audio Amateur).
You should however, check the SDS labs web site. The guy who runs SDS labs published a construction article on building a tube DAC (20 bit, 8X oversampling and much simpler. Thats what I'm using now. I think it sounds better than the Curcio, but thats my opinion. AND I really like Curcio's designs.
"Thomas B. Howe"
Initial impressions are very positive. On sighted listening compared to an Audio Alchemy DDE1.0 I think the sound is clearer at the top end. Symbols sound more real. The imaging is better, especially when things get complex, I'd guess I'm seeing the benefits of all the power regulation here, since the DDE falls apart a little on complex passages. Bass is a little more complex, there seems to be a little less, but I think it actually sounds tighter / more tuneful. Very deep notes sound more menacing. I should check I have everything in the circuit right here though because I don't remember the bass difference when I compared the DDE to a high end Meridian (although the speakers I heard the comparison on weren't that great - so it may well have been there).
Lastly I think the transients are harder, everything sounds a little more punchy.
I think overall your description of 'open' is correct. This is a DAC for electrostatic speaker lovers.
I spent about 3 weeks to prepare all the components and about one week to assemble and test. With Mr. Stokes' instruction, this DAC can easily be built. Comparing to those PCM63P based DAC, very few parts are used in Mr. Stokes' DAC. But this simplified approach does not reduce the sound quality, Mr. Stokes has turn his design and layout to Arts.
As I said to Mr. Stokes that I am not a native English speaking man. I have some difficult to describe the sound of this DAC in English. However, I will try to describe as: All frequency response is very flat.
Sound stage is 'correct' and deep. Very detail and clear in full range. No harsh sound comes out.(My favorite music are Classic music and Jazz) It is much better than CAL ICON mkII and Sonic frontier's assemblage DAC1. I mention these two digital sources is because I owned them although I don't think that they can be compared in the same rank. I bring Mr. Stokes' DAC to one of my friend's home to fell the difference with his PS audio's Ultralink (with Ultra Analog DAC inside). Well, I think that they are in the same rank. The shape of instruments of Ultralink is larger than the Mr. Stokes' Mr. Stokes' DAC has sweeter upper range and thicker midrange than Ultralink. The sound stage is the most interesting part. I fell I am in the position of the director of the band while I listen to Ultralink. This will help the Jazz music becomes live and vivid. But I don't like this feeling when Classic music is playing. On the other hand, I feel I am in the position of audience while I listen to Mr. Stokes' DAC. Or I can say that the sound stage is deep enough in both Ultralink and Mr. Stokes' but what's in Ultralink is near while Mr. Stokes' is far.
Your DAC did great on a big Dutch show this weekend by the way. I borrowed it to the Lowther dealer, to demostrated his speakers. There were many people astonished how it was possible to make a DAC yourself outplaying almost all commercial DAC's!
"Mattijs de Vries"
I finished the DAC Sunday night, and to my great suprise it did NOT burst into flames, and even better, it WORKS, and even better yet, IT SOUNDS GREAT!!
I did have a couple mistakes that had to be debugged, but no big problems.
I haven't even begun to tweak it yet, and it sounds better than my Krell (which also uses the PCM-63 DAC chips). I just ordered some good tubes for it, since I'm just using Sovtek 6922's currently, and they don't have a very good midrange. I have some really high expectations for this DAC once I get some better tubes in it.
Thank you again for publishing your design, making the board, and making it so easy to build this at home!!
" Paul Lind"
After a full year of use, I can say very honestly that it's become my favourite audio component, and also gives me the pleasure of owning a stem-to-stern homebuilt audio setup (except the CD transport). What a nice design -- I had been using outboard DACs of various stripes for a while, but this really has an extremely noticable difference, a resolution and definition that are immediately striking. Plus it was great fun to build, a great board and a design that taught me a lot about power supply design etc. I've built in a step attenuator and a switching circuit to make it into a full preamp; I've used it with a variety of amps in several rooms and I'm no longer happy listening through my other equipment.
If you have built my Tubed DAC, and would like your comments