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  1. #1

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    Default Twisted Pear Audio Buffalo III DAC Build

    I join CP's bikerboy and headrott's Twisted Pear Buffalo DAC builds along with joining the ESS Sabre DAC chip crowd. The B III uses the ESS Sabre32 Reference (ES9018) DAC chip. I decided to build their DAC as there are numerous configuration options you can choose to run with. (Tube out - fixed or switchable, dual mono, multichannel, discrete output, etc).

    Power supplies are shunt regulated; a TP (Twisted Pear) Placid HD and HD BP. (The Bi-Poplar gives you + and - output). Currently installed is the TP IVY III I/V output op amp based board. I have a Legato to try after populating the board with parts. The Legato I/V board is a fully discrete balanced active output.

    My test setup just has RCA out and coax in via BNC connectors (See Fred, I do listen to you). The SB Touch remains RCA out as the thing is too hard to disassemble and I?d like a drop in board mount BNC connector versus a dongle hanging out of it. The DAC board connects to a TP 4-Channel S/PDIF input board which has three inputs open.

    Initial listening impressions with the IVY III output are very good. While it doesn?t slay my existing modded MH 25.3, I do like what I am hearing with it. Next up is a proper case to get it off the temporary aluminum sheet I used to test it. Future additions will be the TP Sidecar board option. You tap into a CD/SACD players circuit board to output PCM (CD) and DSD (SACD) to the Sidecar which feeds it to the DAC. (Yes, the ESS Sabre32 does DSD). When TP finishes their hi-res USB, I?ll probably add one of them as an input. I'll also add a headphone out and install the supplied volume control (also part of the ESS Sabre DAC chip features).









    Last edited by SCompRacer; 02-16-2012 at 05:07 PM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
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  2. #2

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    Very cool!
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  3. #3

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    Excellent work ! Clean layout. Does the DIY build allow for a USB I/F?

    In the first picture can you slide over to the right? Looks like a rack for Albums ? If it is, did you buy or build it ?
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

  4. #4

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    You make me hate myself for my lack of DIY skills with a soldering iron

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    Awesome work.Hopefully kitty won't try to use as a bed til you get a lid on it.
    Quote Originally Posted by thsmith View Post
    In the first picture can you slide over to the right? Looks like a rack for Albums ?
    Likely because if you slide to the left you'll see part of the acrylic cover for his custom Lenco TT.

  6. #6

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    Nice work.

  7. #7

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    Thanks all for the kind words!

    Quote Originally Posted by thsmith View Post
    Excellent work ! Clean layout. Does the DIY build allow for a USB I/F?

    In the first picture can you slide over to the right? Looks like a rack for Albums ? If it is, did you buy or build it ?
    All I can tell you is their current USB/DAC receiver board "utilizes the standardized USB input and I2S or S/PDIF (selectable) output for feeding our other DAC modules." Fairly sure they use standard windows drivers. There is a long thread over at DIY audio about the replacement USB module. The current one will only do 16/48. Presently I don't use USB, but I always try and prepare for resale.

    The TP site. http://www.twistedpearaudio.com/digital/buffalo.aspx

    Yes, to the right is a DIY double wide LP bin. I borrowed a design I saw, only thing I did different was make it modular with a removable top section. It is easier to move around like that, empty of course. It holds around 300 LP?s. Under current contract with the wife, that is the max I can have in the living room. (Along with the small prized demo LP rack).




    My photobucket page with a drawing and more images.

    http://s417.photobucket.com/albums/p...acer/LP%20Bin/


    Ender, soldering is all experience and attention to method. Kind of like nubbing, you eventually get better at it.

    Fred, I think Jasper needs some shock therapy.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


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  8. #8

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    How much did the full project set you back?

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    Nice start. Make sure you vent the case well, those placid hds get hot. You'll like the legato, or at least I like it better than the Ivy. What will the face look like? Have fun with the hi res stuff. I do redbook but can rip vinyl at 24/192. Is that Linda peaking out of the stack?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post
    How much did the full project set you back?
    So far, as pictured, ~ $710. That includes the DAC board with shunt regulator modules, IVY III output board, Placid HD and HD BP power supplies, the 9 and 15 volt transformers, 4 input board w/switch, and the IEC plug w/filter & fuses. You supply the hook up wire, chassis and input/output connectors so I'll have further expense. I had some Cardas RCA?s here that I used. You can save $20 if you bundle the IVY III board with the Placid HD PS; it shows up when you check out. To find out if I will like Legato output board better, that set me back another $105. The Sidecar, another $35.

    If someone were interested in building one, I'd suggest download and read the B III manual to learn all the options and then plan a build. Or check out the TP / DIY Audo forums for beyond the manual builds.

    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy View Post
    Nice start. Make sure you vent the case well, those placid hds get hot. You'll like the legato, or at least I like it better than the Ivy. What will the face look like? Have fun with the hi res stuff. I do redbook but can rip vinyl at 24/192. Is that Linda peaking out of the stack?
    Thanks! 10-4 on the case venting. I did lots of research before committing. I upgraded the sinks on the Placid HD knowing the Sidecar and 4 input board would push me well over 500mA (including shunting 50mA). I read so many opinions about the Legato versus IVY III that I knew I would have to hear them both and decide for myself.

    I'll spend some time with it this weekend. It just has maybe 12 hours of bench torture and testing. I wasn't going to stick it in my upstairs system until I was confident I didn't screw something up.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


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  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post
    Ender, soldering is all experience and attention to method. Kind of like nubbing, you eventually get better at it.
    LOL... well I just got a solder gun (for something like that I would want a smaller iron me thinks) and am slowly inching my way into that. Saw a couple kits at Radio Shack I thought about buying and building just to get some hands experience with smaller stuff since my 14/4 jumpers are by no means small .

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post
    Thanks all for the kind words!



    All I can tell you is their current USB/DAC receiver board "utilizes the standardized USB input and I2S or S/PDIF (selectable) output for feeding our other DAC modules." Fairly sure they use standard windows drivers. There is a long thread over at DIY audio about the replacement USB module. The current one will only do 16/48. Presently I don't use USB, but I always try and prepare for resale.

    The TP site. http://www.twistedpearaudio.com/digital/buffalo.aspx

    Yes, to the right is a DIY double wide LP bin. I borrowed a design I saw, only thing I did different was make it modular with a removable top section. It is easier to move around like that, empty of course. It holds around 300 LP?s. Under current contract with the wife, that is the max I can have in the living room. (Along with the small prized demo LP rack).




    My photobucket page with a drawing and more images.

    http://s417.photobucket.com/albums/p...acer/LP%20Bin/


    Ender, soldering is all experience and attention to method. Kind of like nubbing, you eventually get better at it.

    Fred, I think Jasper needs some shock therapy.

    Beautilful, I may have to borrow your design. Looks great. So not only an electronic DIY but wood craftsman as well.
    Speakers: SDA-1C (most all the goodies)
    Preamp: Joule Electra LA-150 MKII SE
    Amp: Wright WPA 50-50 EAT KT88s
    Analog: Marantz TT-15S1 MBS Glider SL| Wright WPP100C Amperex BB 6er5 and 7316 & WPM-100 SUT
    Digital: Mac mini 2.3GHz dual-core i5 8g RAM 1.5 TB HDD Music Server Amarra (memory play) - USB - W4S DAC 2
    Cables: Mits S3 IC and Spk cables| PS Audio PCs

    Ofc: Wright WLA12 preamp: Anthem Amp 1: Pio Elite DV-79AVI: Airport Express: CAL Sigma II DAC: PA LS90 sonicaps and mills

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post
    Fred, I think Jasper needs some shock therapy.
    Well then be a good owner and get him his own Placid to rig up to his water dish.

    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post
    So far, as pictured, ~ $710. That includes the DAC board with shunt regulator modules, IVY III output board, Placid HD and HD BP power supplies, the 9 and 15 volt transformers, 4 input board w/switch, and the IEC plug w/filter & fuses. You supply the hook up wire, chassis and input/output connectors so I'll have further expense. I had some Cardas RCA?s here that I used. You can save $20 if you bundle the IVY III board with the Placid HD PS; it shows up when you check out. To find out if I will like Legato output board better, that set me back another $105. The Sidecar, another $35.
    A real bargoon!One would expect a commercial unit with that level of power supply and digital and analog design to cost many times that.




    I read so many opinions about the Legato versus IVY III that I knew I would have to hear them both and decide for myself.
    That should prove to be an interesting comparison.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboy View Post
    Is that Linda peaking out of the stack?
    My bad, yes that is Linda. I have a whole stack of her stuff including the Nelson Riddle trio.

    Ender, I have this Weller solder station.



    Thanks th!

    Fred, it sure is a nice design. The boards are small but of high quality as are the components.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


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  15. #15

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    The Legato is assembled. It a fully discrete balanced active I/V line stage with both balanced and single-ended outputs.


    IVY III (op amp) and Legato boards. ~150mA to run the IVY, ~350mA for the Legato.

    Last edited by SCompRacer; 02-19-2012 at 07:41 PM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


    CP Showcase

  16. #16

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    Damn fine work sir !!!
    JC approves....he told me so. (F-1 nut)

  17. #17

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    Thanks George!

    I am on the road to a fantastic sounding DAC so I wanted to include additional inputs. Mostly I'll be feeding it with flac from a Squeezebox Touch. What about my SACD's, or someone brings media over for a music meet? I made some progress with my PCM/DSD extraction from a Denon DVD-3910 and it works. I can export CD or SACD to my DAC. Yes again on the SACD.

    The 3910 has four PCM1796DAC chips.



    Just grab LRCK, DATA, BCK, SCK and DGND with small gauge wires (preferably of different colors) and send them to the appropriate DAC inputs. The 1796 shares common inputs for PCM/DSD so I only have to deal with five wires and switch between two (for CD or SACD). They are foil wrapped and covered with techflex sleeving.









    Right now I must either connect an Orange wire for I2S PCM and Blue for DSD / SACD. I'll fabricate a switched relay in the Denon that will allow choosing which output (CD / SACD ) goes to the DAC input. A couple of Neutrik RJ45 connectors (one for the Denon and one for the DAC) will make for a nice install and allow a short Cat5 or Cat6 patch cable interconnect to be used. The DAC already has a four selector input switch and can actually support 8 inputs.



    I am not the first to do this but it may be the first 3910.
    Last edited by SCompRacer; 03-11-2012 at 01:48 PM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


    CP Showcase

  18. #18

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    Good looking work man. Is there anything your new DAC wont be able to do?
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

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  19. #19

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    Nice,and the IS2 for your redbook/PCM nicely side steps the SPDIF and it's problems.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Is there anything your new DAC wont be able to do?
    Thanks! Presently, finished or done ain't happening. A dual mono build beckons....

    Thanks Fred. 10-4 on the SPDIF. Kind of overkill using the 3910 just as a transport, but it was available for a great price and I always wanted one. I near bought one with tubes from ModWright but grabbed a show demo Sony 9100ES from him instead.

    Oh, Fred you had mentioned this in an email. Some fellow in Moscow did just that. Remove the audio boards from a 2910 and stick the Buffalo II DAC there. Transformers for the PS are in a small external enclosure connected via cable.

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    Last edited by SCompRacer; 03-11-2012 at 02:27 PM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


    CP Showcase

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post

    Oh, Fred you had mentioned this in an email. Some fellow in Moscow did just that. Remove the audio boards from a 2910 and stick the Buffalo II DAC there. Transformers for the PS are in a small external enclosure connected via cable.

    Attachment 67591
    Wow I guess if it's his main source the results should be excellent,otherwise your approach makes a lot more sense..I was thinking just substiuding an IVY or legato for the Denon's analog section.
    Last edited by FTGV; 03-11-2012 at 04:42 PM.

  22. #22

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    I could see myself doing the whole audio board gut like he did, but a partial output board only would be difficult for me. Them little wires by the DAC chip caused eye strain I ain't healed from yet. Heck, all I need is to move the transport to a smaller chassis with export capabilities. Could happen someday.

    They do have a worldwide following. The dual mono stereo builds are really impressive. One DAC board per channel, thats 8 combined DAC's per channel.....dual discrete output boards.....a minimum of four power supplies (you can do up to three each on the output boards). Some add LCD displays. You need an amp sized chassis for all that. Lots of heat with the shunting power supplies. I am more talking myself into one that out of. Save me from myself.....

    Last edited by SCompRacer; 03-11-2012 at 05:04 PM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


    CP Showcase

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post

    They do have a worldwide following. The dual mono stereo builds are really impressive. One DAC board per channel, thats 8 combined DAC's per channel.....dual discrete output boards.....a minimum of four power supplies (you can do up to three each on the output boards). Some add LCD displays. You need an amp sized chassis for all that.
    Love it.If it can be done you can be sure some DIY nutters will do it
    Lots of heat with the shunting power supplies.
    No kidding ,with that one in the pic probably as much heat generated as with one ch. of my little Zen Class A amp.
    Last edited by FTGV; 03-11-2012 at 05:52 PM.

  24. #24

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    I finished the I2S PCM (CD) and DSD (SACD) outputs on the Denon DVD-3910 CD/SACD player. The 3910 has four PCM1796 DAC chips in dual differential mode. PCM and DSD share some inputs on the 1796 chip so I only deal with attaching five wires to the audio board in the Denon and have to switch output between two (PCM and DSD). Some DAC chips have separate inputs for PCM/DSD and require more wires to export both signals. I only need four wires after the switching relay. Different color wires were used so it was easier to properly connect them. The same colors are used in the DAC. I snagged 5 volts from a board on the Denon to power the relay. The signal wires are foil wrapped to shield them.

    I modified a Twisted Pear Sidecar relay board to switch between PCM and DSD outputs. A single long standoff off an existing board made mounting easy. The relay is controlled by a rocker switch mounted on the rear of the Denon. Up is DSD out, down is PCM out. A bat handle switch might get broken or stab me while I'm feeling around back there. Four output wires attach to a Neutrik RJ45 connector. A short Cat5 patch cable connects to another RJ45 connector on the DAC which is wired to the appropriate inputs on the DAC board.







    Last edited by SCompRacer; 03-22-2012 at 02:45 AM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


    CP Showcase

  25. #25

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    Nice!
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

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    High marks Rich!! Very high marks! You do really nice work. How does it sound?

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  27. #27

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    Very nice work on the DVD player. PCM out of the sacd should sound beautiful with the Buffalo. What do you think of the Buffalo now that you have had some time with it? I find the midrange to be so much more real and full compared to the other dacs I've used. I got a kill a watt meter last week and the Buff III setup I have burns 0.3 amps. Less than I thought. But the pass amp uses 2.4 amps! Whats next for your dac? I ordered a pair of Teleporters to use between my pc and the dac. I will use the teralink or mod the juli@ for i2s output. The i2s sounds much better than the spdif on my system.

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    Thanks for the kind words!

    I haven't really had much time lately due to work and other commitments to have a really good listening session. Not much bench time or SOMA (Sit On My Arse) time. I also wanted to wait until I had it properly and fully configured with no temporary wiring like I had with the Denon. I am there now. I'd also like to swap the IVY III back in and compare it to the Legato output board.

    My ultimate goal is to be able to part with my ModWright Sony 9100ES. Even though I hardly use it anymore, it is my benchmark for absolute SQ here. The modded Music Hall 25.3 also sounds really good, but I am confident it will pop up for sale. Or I'll keep it as a spare for the day I build a dual mono BIII. The ESS Sabre32 DAC chip does get my attention though, like wow.

    Do you think the Teleporter would improve sound quality over sending the low voltage PCM/DSD data over a meter of cabling? It was quiet playing with the shorter shielded temporary wiring. I get a DAC signal lock LED on the bench with a 1 meter Cat5 cable with CD and SACD playing but haven't tried it in my system yet. A volt drop test might tell me something. I'll definitely spend some time with it this weekend. I actually need someone to pop over this weekend so the wife won't put me to work.
    Last edited by SCompRacer; 03-22-2012 at 05:09 PM.
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    Nice clean implementation.I'm also curious how the Sabre compares to the ModWright.

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    Good that you have the teleporters in mind. I want to use them because I have regular dropouts when using the i2s output from the teradac x-2 module from my pc. I'm hoping the lack of ground connection will solve the dropouts. When I use the spdif inputs on the dac I get no dropouts at the lowest dpll settings. If you are getting dropout free playback I dont know how the teleporters would improve your sound except to increase the voltage level. Let us know how they work out.

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