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Hi CEntrance, will you offer XMOS firmware updates for this device in the future?
I know it's one of your low-end products and needs differentiation from the HD version, but with XMOS U8 and AK4490, this is fully capable of 384KHz/32bits and DSD. I'm thinking with this updated firmware it will be a great standalone DAC (by using the built in amp as a buffer - low gain, full volume) for a separate amp.
Hi ! Ive been asking centrance about using this as just a DAC ! So the low gain full volume bypasses the internal amp ?
And if so wouldn't that be problematic as i would have to raise the volume to 100 everytime but i think it wouldnt be possible with age and the knob might be stuck at 99 percentile?
Hi Riisalat - at low gain setting (assuming 0db) and max volume, the amplifier circuit effectively acts as a buffer. No, it will not bypass the amp circuit, but the amp will let the dac output pass through as transparently as possible (no attenuation, bit perfect signal). Some standalone DACs also use a additional buffer circuit after the low pass filter, especially if the LPF does not contain op amps.
The volume control is scroll wheel but is effectively a digital attenuator. I believe it controls the AK4490 255-level control with some tweaks (looks like it has less than 255 clicks, so maybe -0.5db steps but not a -127db floor? Or maybe -2db clicks). As such I don't think it will fail easily. Even the usual potentiometers (an analog variable resistor) rarely fail if kept at max volume (~0 ohms).
But please keep on following up with CEntrance for the official answer.
I figured but exactly how good is the DAC ? i'm already using a fiio e10k with a LO at the moment but if the buffer is transparent, i'll give this a look !
AK4490 is AKMs TOTL stereo DAC together with AK4495. These DACs are future-proof - they support up to 768K/32b PCM and DSD256 in case of the 4490. That is why I would prefer firmware updates later on, but as per product positioning with the HD version, I don't think this will happen. The e10k I believe uses PCM5102a which is already very good (I have made DIY stuff with these and Raspberry Pis), but is placed in TI/BB's low/mid tier of stereo DACs.
I wouldn't say absolute transparency in that sense, but that setting (low gain, highest volume) is the most transparent for using this as a standalone DAC.
As they say implementation is key, and I am very much interested in the power supply of the Dacport slim - it looks very well thought of. A clean power supply is key to making most out of a DAC. Add in the XMOS USB receiver and for the price it is a great deal.
But then I am mostly fascinated by SNR, THD. etc numbers and implementation. Honestly I can't hear a difference between DACs given that they have a well-implemented (and solid state/non-tube + no capacitor in signal path) output stage.