This yet to be completed project and pile of parts can only mean one thing. The best way I can express my love for this Twisted Pear Buffalo III DAC is by keeping it and making it bigger, making it better. A dual mono DAC is nothing new. Quite simply, one DAC chip per channel allows for the best possible dynamic range with no timing shifts between channels that is possible with a shared DAC chip, if you believe in that sort of thing.
When I finally got the Squeezebox Touch and ripped my digital to hard drive, I was in love with the convenience, but began to miss the sound quality of my ModWright Sony 9100ES. I performed some extensive mods to a Music Hall 25.3 DAC and while I got closer, did not achieve my targeted SQ results. I had a good friend here the other day who is no stranger to audio and we went from the modded MH 25.3 to the ModWright Sony 9100ES to the caseless BIII DAC, and he said you have to build me one of these!
The Buffalo III DAC uses the ESS Sabre32 Reference (ES9018) DAC chip which supports up to 32-bit/192kHz input. The chip itself has some outside the box thinking and DAC's using them are very popular. CP's Fred (FTGV) also has a BIII and summed it up well;
"I have been keeping an eye on (more like drooling over) TP's development process of this DAC over the last few years and appreciated how they were striving to optimize each performance area for maximum sound quality. (For instance the use of such high quality voltage regulation for the DAC chip itself is a rarity). "
"Two 3.3V Trident modules provide power for the on board Oscillator (VDD_XO) and main digital sections of the ES9018 (DVCC). One 1.2V Trident module provides power for the digital core (VDD) of the ES9018. An AVCC module provides power for the left and right analog sections of the ES9018."
The other thing Twisted Pear does is expose use of all the DAC's features and adjustment parameters via two blocks of dipswitches. Two of the most important to me are I2S (CD) and DSD (SACD) input. This means I am not chained to S/PDIF coax out on a digital player and only CD's. I2S (and DSD) separate the clock and data streams which can improve SQ over S/PDIF coax out with a CD. I modded my Denon 3910 to export both CD and SACD. A switch on the back of it allows me to change between the two outputs to the DAC so I can use it to play hard media as well as the digital on my hard drive through a SB Touch.
I'll stay with the larger and high heat producing shunting power supplies and add a second discrete output board, the TP Legato balanced output. I'll also stay with BNC inputs for the coax in which are a true 75 Ohms, unlike RCA's which are not and can cause reflections in a S/PDIF signal. I haven't been this excited about DIY and audio gear in a long time. (Well, since the Lenco turntable project anyway). Yes it should only be about the music, but to paraphrase Freddie Mercury, I Want It All, and I Want It Now!