Saturday 30 October 2021

Revisiting the TEAC UD-501 DAC (2013): THD(+N), DSD output, Sweeps, Jitter, 1/10 Decade Multitone 32. (And on SSD transition, Corsair MX500 SSD, and Hi-Fi+ closes comments...)

After Bennet/Dtmer Hk's comment on this previous post, I thought it might be interesting to revisit my longtime friend, the TEAC UD-501 DAC that I bought new when it came out in 2013. My preview and measurements (Part 2 PCM, Part 3 DSD) are still online of course.

I still remember doing those measurements in my previous home - it feels so long ago! ;-)

These days with the E1DA Cosmos ADC and RME ADI-2 Pro FS available for measurements, let's take a trip down memory lane at what has been over the years a reference DAC for me. I think the TEAC UD-501 is a special device that ushered in for many audiophiles a cost-effective, high resolution, well-built, reliable, low jitter, asynchronous USB audio interface which I suspect has influenced the design and performance of other DACs over the years.

Spec-wise, it was one of the first to catch my interest with the ability to handle PCM 384kHz and DSD128. The high quality metal case looks serious. It's based on a dual-mono TI/Burr-Brown PCM1795 configuration with dual toroidal linear power supplies. There are a number of PCM and DSD filters including the ability to turn off the 8x oversampling and allow "NOS" (Non-OverSampling) mode. The quad JRC MUSES8920 opamps they used were also another "feature" talking point back then. (Quite a complete specs page here for the TEAC.)

Saturday 23 October 2021

Miscellany: FlexASIO for 384kHz, Philips 2001 SACD/DSD64 test signals (thanks Black Elk!), and Roon network multicast. [And Coltrane's A Love Supreme Live Hi-Res, Music Industry Crystal Ball, Magic Quantum Fuses!]

A scene from The Simpsons 1996...

Hey everyone, for this week, let's talk about a few "miscellaneous" topics which I've either wanted to mention over the last few months or have just come up as interesting tidbits I think worth documenting but not necessarily large enough as topics in individual posts. The main topics are:

A. Instead of ASIO4All, we can use FlexASIO with the E1DA Cosmos ADC for 384kHz samplerate measurements in Room EQ Wizard.

B. A look at some "standard" SACD test signals from Philips back in 2001. With many thanks and great discussions with Black Elk.

C. Roon needs network multicasting. Check this out if you're running into network issues; I had some problems initially with my ASUS ROG GT-AX11000 and relatively complex home network.

Saturday 16 October 2021

REVIEW: Topping D90SE DAC - Part III: Subjective Impressions, AMPT, and Summary. A few words about "warmth" and "accuracy" in sound systems.

This is the final part of my trilogy review/evaluation of the Topping D90SE DAC (see Part I, and Part II for the objective testing results).

As we end off, let's close with a discussion of subjective impressions developed over many evenings of listening (about a month or so). I've described the soundroom previously in some detail and for the two channel system, the main amplifier is my home-assembled Hypex nCore NC252MP, main front speakers are the Paradigm Reference Signature S8 v3, and dual subs (main Paradigm SUB1 with the little Polk PSW111). The Topping D90SE feeds my Emotiva XSP-1 preamp. All cabling is balanced XLR from DAC to amplifier (no need to fret, inexpensive Monoprice Stage Right XLR runs are all ya need, feel free to spend more on cables if you see fit of course).

I listened both with and without DSP room correction activated; generally I prefer with DSP. Knowing the frequency response characteristics (flat to 20kHz) and setting to "Fast Roll-off Linear" (Filter 5) allows me to use the same DSP settings for my room interchangeably with the RME ADI-2 Pro FS Black Edition without need to remeasure (equivalent frequency and time-domain performance). As discussed before, one of the benefits of a high quality DAC is that we can have even more headrooom with DSP processing whether it be full room correction or applying volume normalization like ReplayGain.

Saturday 9 October 2021

MEASUREMENTS / REVIEW: Topping D90SE DAC - Part II: Resolution

In this Part II of the review of the Topping D90SE DAC, let's focus on the performance that this DAC can achieve. As you can see in the picture above, I've got the machine on the test bench ready to capture some data. Given the anticipated performance as described in Part I last time, the E1DA Cosmos ADC is used for the measurements being presented today.

As you can see on the LCD screen, it's playing DSD512 (22.6MHz) material at the time of this picture. For a more complete examination of the device's performance, let's see if we can capture both PCM and DSD performance.

This device does have a broad number of features, so let's try to hit the key (and also some not-so-key) features to better understand how well it works and if there are nuances that the audiophile should be aware of. As readers here I'm sure are aware of over the years, objective testing can often show anomalies that listening tests easily miss due to the limitations of human hearing and cognitive ability. Sure, one could argue that inaudible limitations are not important. I'd like to think that in principle, audiophiles have an interest in achieving both technical perfection as well as immaculate subjective performance. 

Tuesday 5 October 2021

MEASUREMENTS: DSD Testing with SoX-DSD Signals Part II (RME ADI-2 Pro FS R Black Edition, DSD Direct, Filter @ 50/150kHz) [Updated with 44.1kHz PCM --> DSD.]


Okay guys and gals, a rare "mid-week" update on DSD testing, a "Part II" follow-up to the previous article.

As I mentioned as an update in that article, I have a suspicion that the Topping DX3 Pro might not be using "DSD Direct" in its playback. However, I do have the RME ADI-2 Pro FS R Black Edition here as well. As you might know, I've been using the RME line of ADC/DACs for awhile now. These are certainly some very well thought out and high performance units with a ton of customization options.

Two of these options are shown in the screen in the picture above - "DSD Direct" and "DSD Filter". The "DSD Direct" is either OFF/ON, and "DSD Filter" either 50kHz/150kHz and is only activated when "DSD Direct" is ON, in recognition of course that DSD noise shaping does create significant ultrasonic content that in general probably should be filtered out; how much filtering is up to you.

Saturday 2 October 2021

MEASUREMENTS: A look at DSD and using SoX-DSD as a standard for test signal conversion. The 1/10-decade Multitone 32 test. And retro-pop remixes... ;-)

Hey everyone, although I'm in the middle of the Topping D90SE review series, I thought this week I'd make a slight detour! Like I suggested last week, I'm planning to savor the D90SE measurements / discussion series and enjoy the DAC. No rush needed. I see this blog as more educational and philosophical than mere opinions about things you can just buy and try for yourself. ;-)

Over the years, the fun part of the hobby and blogging for me has been to "evolve". As an audiophile, it's fun taking on the challenge of examining this pursuit with a more objective lens. To do that, it has been good to see what others are up to and incorporate incremental improvements in the testing gear and techniques I use within the budget of a home audiophile.

Each of these "MEASUREMENTS" posts is like a mini-experiment that we as hobbyist/"citizen scientists" can do for ourselves. I trust that the information I post can be repeated and verified if you have the interest, time, and some know-how.

Inspired by discussions with Bennet Ng (aka Dtmer Hk recently and in the Topping D10B review), DSD measurements is something that I have seen little discussions of in reviews. For reference, in these blog pages, we have talked generally about DSD/SACD back in 2013, looked at conversion software (here, here), as well as talked about PCM --> DSD playback like with HQPlayer a couple years ago.

But I haven't really taken a more intentional look at my DSD testing regimen... Something I hope to rectify here and clarify the "standard" signals I'll use in the tests ahead.