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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-1)

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srisaikat

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This writing is about my recent DAC which is TDA1541A based and generic brand imported from Hong Kong - HiFi CD Audio TDA1541A DAC Digital Audio Converter w Asynchronous USB CM6631A | eBay

This will be a long story, so it will be easy for me if I write it breaking in few parts.

I am facing difficulty, from where to start? For last few months I was extensively reading about ladder DAC. One reason, I was seeking the same or better sound quality or tone which the Philips CD165 offered me once, Other reason I was inspired by various articles especially by the famous or infamous (choice is yours) article - Mother of Tone - Conversion Techniques

After few years of excellent service the Philips CD165 which was giving me trouble (lens related), I let it go just for Rs.300 (to a KABADIWALA) as PHILIPS service center demanded Rs.2500 for lens replacement and that time (Years probably 1999 or 2000) VCD/CD/MP3 player had just come market which could be bought just for Rs.2200. Of course that time I had totally no idea (I am sure most of us also that time have little idea about what Philips offered inside those players) about DAC chips or their related technology, just loved to enjoy music. So the most foolish (stupidity at its best) mistake :eek: I did on my audio journey.

Just imagine what was my first reaction :mad: (selfie was unknown term, else I might picked one) after replacing the CD165 with a cheap Chinese VCD/CD/MP3 player on my system (W.T.F...................I did to myself). Pardon me please.

Will Continue..........
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-2)

At Philips service centre when they asked for Rs.2500 for Lens replacement, I simply laughed at them, thought at which age this people belongs? Are they unaware of technological advancement around, a cheap player which even support video as well audio can be bought just for Rs.2200. What a utter non-sense demand? I just rushed out from the centre.

The first hour with VCD player: It was sounding like AM radio station. I have no clue what went wrong. Some mp3 disc were bought, they sounded horrible. Comparatively my CD was sounding better, still lost all the punch, character, separation, details which I use to get from CD165.

At that hour, first time I felt how 100 songs were placed at same space which were previously reserved only 12 tracks.

Still I had no clue why my CDs were not sounding same, rather like a broadcast from AM radio station.

Believe me, I lost all my interest on vcd player after that day. At least 5/6 years I was out of my hobby. Later I also bought SAMSUNG and Philips DVD player, they were just little better than those Chinese VCD for playback of ACD, but no comparison with CD165. So disappointed by those experiences I was thinking how people enjoy music with their big system apart those SONY hifi component system?

Just the GARRARD TT was my only window for enjoying great sounds. My experience with Cassettes were mix, most of the time (there are few exceptions) they never reached the level of TT or the CD165, still Cassettes sounded better than those DVD or VCD players.

Will Continue..........
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-3)

After few years I got my first Nokia Mobile 6280. In the meantime it seems people got over from 96kbps mp3 quality to 320Kbps quality. I downloaded few of them to test the Nokia 6280 through headphone. Wow! It is sounding fantastic, very rhythmic, just got lost in music after many years. Miles ahead than those DVD player / AMP / Speaker Combo. Made immediate decision why not concentrate on headphone related stuff? Internet became my friend to whom I can ask any question. Came to know about a community headfi which is wholly dedicated to headphones related stuffs. First heard about existence of Headphone Amp, seems to be peculiar idea as I thought most of the integrated amp had Headphone out. So why the separate Headphone Amp for? That answer I got only later when I compared headphone Amp with integrated amp side by side.

Cowon S9 was purchased along with some renowned branded headphones Ultimate Ears, Shure, Etymotic and Grado. As headphone amp Little Dot and Audio-gd. What a lift in sound quality.

I got a fare idea, evolution in DAC technology have taken place that far to enter inside tiny mobile devices with so much quality to offer. But what was that evolution, had no idea.

But at this moment I know, 1-bit DAC, also referred as Bitstream DAC was the replacement of Ladder DAC without which high fidelity mobile sound devices were almost impossible to built on such commercial scale at tiny size.

Will Continue..........
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-4)

Still I was looking for good full size digital source with what I can enjoy music through big speaker system with relax seating arrangement. Marantz was a long and loyal partner of Philips who closely followed and implemented Phililips DAC technology very nicely, but that time I had very little money to own a Marantz CD Player after immediate farewell from Philips CD165.

So after the success of getting nice sound from mobile devices I thought of owning a Marantz, a very faithful brand. It was almost 10 years gap between Philips CD165 and Marantz NA7004.

You have to remember few things about Philips CD165. It was a very light and cheap CDP, price was just Rs.7000 and pickup mechanism surely quite lightly made. But it's heart was made with GOLD, Combo of TDA1545A SAA7345GP (Dac & filter). TDA1545A was the last generation of R2R Chips Philips ever offered, have the final refinement, progress and design excellence Philips Engineers ever achieved over Ladder DAC, it was "real younger brother of Almighty Chip TDA1541A".

So CD165 may look cheap but it's sound was very close to perfectness. Clean, big, effortless, detailed textured sound, no artificial smoothness or forceful details were there. I had bought few CDs of Kishore Kumar and Ghazals that time. Those CDs most of the time were England Made. For the first time that CDP made me feeling that if all my collection should had been in CD instead of Vinyl. Kishore Kumar was sounding so real and live like we were sharing same room of the performance.

Will Continue..........
 
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saikatbiswas82

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Won't it be great if you could please provide AB comparison with your previously owned DACs like Audio-GD, Schiit, Pioneer etc etc alongside your new stallion (read TDA1541a)?

I think many (including me) can learn from it who are coming into hifi digital setup.
 

srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-5)

Before finally buying the Marantz NA7004 I had auditioned DENON DCD-1510 and DENON DCD-710 CDP several times. I really liked them, though I never tried them on my home system and environment still thought them as upgrade over CD165. But multi functionality of NA7004 was not ignore-able, also the brand name was a big factor.

There was loads of detail, bass was good and big there. But whole presentation was quite unnatural, apart from some Diana Krall like albums most of the Genre were not listenable (Enjoyable was far cry for my taste). Even, most of the time vocals were also ear piercing and fatiguing. Ringing, ear bleeding are immediate term I can attach to NA7004. Price was six times the price of my favorite CD165. The Marantz Engineers must had tried to make the NA7004 as a sophisticated sounding machine, but they seriously failed. Some thing was very wrong, the heart was corrupted.

I was using Audio-gd FUN (Ver-A) just before NA7004. FUN was a DAC & headphone amp combo. Comparatively it was very analog and little warm sounding even as a dedicated DAC. Sounds were not so corrupted like NA7004. But FUN was soft on high frequency, sometime become quite boring, it will sound nicer if you pair with bright cables (silver types). But later with the addition of USB-32 module the FUN become my most favorite gear with USB input.

After that, the age of Schiit starts, lots of hype and appreciation around. So some how I managed to buy the Gungnir. It was clearly better than NA7004. But the performance was inconsistent, I was tired of Gungnir's restless behavior. Some time Gungnir was perfect, some time it was bright. I had no idea or clue if any other thing was wrong on my system or that particular Gungnir unit.

Probably nothing was wrong with my system as Audio-gd FUN was and is still giving me consistent performance.

Will Continue..........
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-6)

Decided to go back to Audio-gd, also wanted to have the taste of great SABRE ESS 9018 which I already new to be bright sounding but had great faith on Audio-gd designer who might make it plate-able.

At almost half price of Gungnir, the Audio-gd NFB-3 was any day better than Gungnir for musicality and details at least to my ear. Bright signature was cleverly shaded with musical cover. But 2 immediate issue I discovered with NFB-3, one was the 2.5V output which was high for my Music-hall Amp, extra 0.5V gain made the sound brightness non hidden-able. I had tried attenuator, it worked to a great extant but I disliked any extra device between components.

The 2nd issue, I think it was related to the ESS 9018 itself which I came to know later after viewing many opinions shared by other user of ESS 9018 DACs (of different brands) from various international forum. The male vocal was subdued but female vocal was ultra loud clean and sweet. Never had an idea that anything such can happen! I was playing a new duet Album (Bengali Rabindra Sangeet), the male vocalist "Shom Chatterjee" was new to me, sounded just so despondent that I wondered how the female singer even agreed for such duet!

Only after buying the REGA DAC I came to know that the male vocalist "Shom Chatterjee" had sung as great as the female vocalist on that duet Album. Now Imagine how misconception you can have if made decision believing a particular gear. Also I want share that a WEISS DAC (SABRE 9018 based) user reported no such issue. But price wise WEISS is in totally different category.

Will Continue..........
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-7)

Before going into discussion about Rega DAC, I should talk about Pioneer BDP-160 (later it become 170 or 180) which is feature, performance and price wise unbeatable among it's class. The Pioneer sound have easy and fluid mid and overall spectrum is calm. It seems Pioneer designer well aware of limitation of modern DAC chip and they restrained themselves from any show off which most of time ends with ear fatiguing distortion. But it does not imply anyway that Pioneer is boring, rather it's presentation is clean. I am telling this comparing the analog out with other dedicated DAC. It have limitations just like other Delta-Sigma (DS) based DAC, also it suffers from budget restricted components at power and analog section, but to surpass it one have to spend at least 3 times. Still you may have to loss something to gain on other area. I have to admire Pioneer as it is one of the very few companies which still offers high quality built and performance for very reasonable price without any so called mambo jumbo Audiophile hype.

But sound wise Philips CD165 was ahead of BDP-160 to my mind. I have always kept 4/5 tracks for last 18 years to judge the components.

Now lets come to Rega. After hearing REGA DAC for the first time, I had to admit the designer team got keen ear for western classic. Their judgement, awareness, insight and discernment over wealthy western music culture was apparent. This wolfson based DAC was little more resolving and had more extension than wolfson based Audio-gd FUN. It appears REGA team tuned their gear for their own traditional music. Audio-gd FUN was not very far behind, rather FUN was equipped with better MID and weighty low which suits my tastes and the genre of music I like, so REGA was sold.

Just about this moment I become little hopeless about DS DACs and get conscious about R-2R/Ladder DAC.

Will Continue..........
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-8)

I wanted to stop exploring DS based DAC, but after selling the NA7004 I was looking for a decent solid stereo & audio only streamer or transport, as I was already impressed with Pioneer (BDP-160), so it was no-brainer to collect the Pioneer N-50 Elite.

Arcam irDAC had already received overwhelming positive response and was highly recommended by some enthusiastic whom I believed, price was also attractive. So Pioneer N-50 and Arcam irDAC joined my system together almost same time.

I already mentioned and compared about sound signature of both these components at my sale thread (http://www.hifivision.com/sale-owner/61226-dual-dac-sale.html). If I have to mention just one DAC which I want to re-own among the DACs I owned, then it surely will be none other than Arcam irDAC. Forget about R-2R and DS timbre difference, Arcam irDAC is so pleasing that you will only want to hear just the music (Provided that source files or ripes are decent quality). High frequency is very special about irDAC.

On the other hand Pioneer N-50 have blacker background and more depth and bass which are very nice things to ignore.

Will Continue..........
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-9)

Here I got the opportunity to let all know that with my ear and system, as a Network Streamer, Pioneer N-50 have more mature and natural sound tone than Marantz NA7004.

Till now I had found one thing common among the DACs I tested in this price range, that there is digital harshness whether some time at unacceptable quantity or some time within acceptable limit. Most bothering one is when the VOCAL get either bright or boring, it is most irritating moment. May be there is hardly any perfect DAC at this price range. But Philips CD165 had very pleasing sound and details which I was looking for.

Why not get an old one repaired? No, I need the DAC part which will be versatile to connect with streamer so that playback access will be possible on various customize fashion. So decided to explore the TDA1541A based DAC before any big (according to my pocket) investment into ladder DAC. I am not DIY expert so Ebay was the only way to get a finished one. Like most of us I was also worried about the generic brand or quality offered by Chinese DIY-based manufacturers. Still had to shoot, so just took the chance.

Will Continue..........
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-10)

The product name was L1541DAC gold as per front panel and description heading given there was HiFi CD Audio TDA1541A DAC. Three main specs I noted, It was 8x oversampling frequency, Asynchronous USB CM6631A, 16 Bit word length.

I was looking for NOS DAC which was missing, Asynchronous USB was bonus, 16 Bit was quite perfect as it will be real 16 bit, not manipulated one like we used to get in any single bit or multi-bit DS DAC by their ultra high frequency mathematics. But I had no idea whether it will support 96 kHz/ 192 kHz files or not. As per oversampling (8x) calculation TDA1541A will be already operational at their OPTIMUM (384 kHz) frequency, so automatically 96x8 = 768 will be outside the operational range, but I was expecting some kind of intelligent switching so that it can switch between 2x, 4x, 8x oversampling as per the incoming sample rate.

So before write about "what I really get", I should share about the Notice which I was served from Kolkata Customs (Asstt. Commissioner of Customs, Postal Appraising Department) after 20 days item got stuck with them. It was my first time experience of such notice. Here is that notice- [URL=http://s1264.photobucket.com/user/srisaikatsaha/media/P1001482_zpsrttylczi.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj492/srisaikatsaha/P1001482_zpsrttylczi.jpg[/URL][/IMG]

Naturally I was nervous as it was expected that I have to visit some clerk desks with bribe which I hate so much and was afraid of harassment making demand of various paper works apart from bribe.

You see it was 20 days or more, I became impatient. I make decision to make the visit at Kolkata Foreign Parcel office right that day with paypal invoice and ebay buying notification. At first floor I was greeted with couple of smiley clerks. I got more tensed seeing their smile :licklips:, thought they might (or must) be waiting all day for such subject (chicken feelings :eek:) like me to get a lump sum amount as bribe for making clearances.

Will Continue...................
 
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Robert Bose

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Dear Sir
I am in Bangalore, similar to you I had an ADCOM GCD 575 based on TDA 1541
from 1988, the mechanism started giving tracking problems some time back
this unit is of much better quality than the low end Philips 160
It uses very special opamps ( for the time ) and a unique filter
it is also oversampling, at 176 Khz , when it conked I moved thru AudioGD
NFB 5, which was quite good, to Anedio D1 based on ESS9018 which I still useand recently for headphone listening CEtrance DAC mini
among all thease the ADCOM 575 was absolutely the best, I bought it
second hand for Rs 3500, I play it on Yamaha NS1000 and Onkyo M5030
the Anedio I tuned with my system, by adding a passive woofer
the the Main speaker, which is JBL Ti series, those tweeters are wonderful
and the treble quality of ESS 9018 with suitable opamps sounds very nice
with high resolution, but you need perfect recorded FLAC, I use ECM jazz
flac and the HF resolution is wonderful, but the overall tonal purity
especially with Sax instrument does not come like TDA 1541
I was looking at a 1541 based DAC sold by a E bay vendor called
raindrop hui who sells an assembled PCB for 150 Dollar, shipping extra
it has similar spec like the one you are reviewing

I am looking forward to your next installment, the TDA 1541 is a
current based DAC, it needs a very good circuit for I to V and a very
good anti aliasing filter to bring out its full potential, current mode
opamps or discrete opamps are recommended, I dont think raindrop hui
would be using those, also the filter components are critical
polysterene caps are a must with good power supply decoupling using
Tantalum bead with low value polyprop in parallel

I had contacted you for the Audio GD ESS Based DAC, but it got sold to
a party in Bangalore, on good recordings the HF mirco detail
on ESS based DAC well implemented is better than TDA 1541 well
implemented, but overall tonality of Mid and LF is better in 1541
my question is are the 1541 floating around really old stock made by
Philips in 1989 or cheap Chinese Clones for 1 Dollar
can you be sure ?

Robert Bose
 

srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-11)

One of the Clerk instructed me to write a letter to Asstt. Commissioner of Customs describing about the item and it's price with all the relevant docs in support of the purchase. They were kind enough to provide me a piece of paper on which I instantly wrote a letter and submitted with all the related documents. The clerk told me to come back tomorrow and he will send me along with my documents to the concerned Officer after some official proceedings. It was alarming as there was no valid reason to visit again as I had done my part for which the Notice was served, also there were my regular job ignoring which I could not visit there regularly. But I became very doubtful that if I failed to visit next day or do not follow up the matter the clerk might cease all the documents to himself without forwarding for further process. I was quite sure, next day he would demand tips or bribe after assessing the importance of the item or situation.

On my return way from that office I thoroughly read the notice and found that I had missed an important point (it was point no. 3) on which it was clearly written that I should send all the documents by Post. That was a relief, also I criticized myself for not reading the Notice carefully, I could had avoided so much physical stress. So next day I wrote a letter attaching all the relevant papers, sent it through speed post. That speed post reached that office within 48 hours as per tracking.

But even after 7 days there was no movement of my Item, so I got really tensed AND make a formal complaint to Kolkata Customs e-Helpline (http://www.kolkatacustoms.gov.in/e-helpline.php). No update or any manual reply received within next 2 days but just an automated acknowledgement was received on same day. On the 3rd day afternoon (exactly 31 days after shipping) I received the tracking status update that the item given a release by customs to domestic location. My god! Oooooff! That was a big relief and good lesson. Earlier all my international purchase clearances were made by agencies of DHL or FedEx or given automatic clearance for EMS delivery.

On very next day (after 32 days) I received the delivery with duties around Rs.2800 (without any bribe). I have no idea if the Customs e-Helpline did any help or not as I never received any communication from them regarding the item. This customs release related part is dedicated for the lesson of other amateur or occasional importers like myself. Patience is very important here.

Will Continue...................
 
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SwaroopKS

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This is too much anticipation built up! Especially the title got me going. I feel like in the movies sitting on edge of the seat at crucial scene waiting for what is about to come next. Cant wait to read your impressions of the dac.
 

shibashis

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Almost feels like a taut thriller, episodic in nature, published periodically so we have to wait for the next instalment.
I just want to flip the page and know what happens next! :)
 

srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-12)

SwaroopKS-"too much anticipation built up!" - that was never my intention. I was just buying some time to test and compare the DAC in every possible way, so that I can accurately make my judgement. Today is 23rd day I am spending time with this DAC, even when I am typing this post.


Robert Bose-"my question is are the 1541 floating around really old stock made by
Philips in 1989 or cheap Chinese Clones for 1 Dollar can you be sure ?"
- I have spent lots of time browsing around whatever could be found about TDA1541A authenticity before making the buying decision. One thing I am sure to myself, at least there is no such thing as 1 Dollar Chinese Clone of TDA1541, making a cloned chip of 1541 is too much difficult even at this age, too much resource required for Generic DAC makers at small or mid scale.

They are all old stock, if it make sounds then surely it is TDA1541 by Philips. But which breed is it? That's very difficult to answer. There are TDA1541, TDA1541A, TDA1541 S1, TDA1541 S2, single crown, double crown. Most demanded one is Double crown TDA1541 S2, which may cost even more than $500 just for the chip. So there are lots of ordinary TDA1541 floating around, later printed with S2 Double crown (nice forgery) just nothing but counterfeit piece to make big margin.

So I was not hoping for any single or double crowned one inside that DAC which is just costing me $245. I got the DAC with TDA1541A (better than simple 1541) which I have examined carefully and it seemed to be original and no fake attempt was made to make it loot like S1 or S2. Honest deal.....

Design wise the circuit board is very neat and thoughtfully made, apart the power connection there is not any single wire hanging around. Here are some pictures...........

Front:
[URL=http://s1264.photobucket.com/user/srisaikatsaha/media/1_zps4iptz8fg.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj492/srisaikatsaha/1_zps4iptz8fg.jpg[/URL][/IMG]

Top:
[URL=http://s1264.photobucket.com/user/srisaikatsaha/media/2_zps7k0xrvyp.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj492/srisaikatsaha/2_zps7k0xrvyp.jpg[/URL][/IMG]

Back:
[URL=http://s1264.photobucket.com/user/srisaikatsaha/media/3_zpss62sosfk.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj492/srisaikatsaha/3_zpss62sosfk.jpg[/URL][/IMG]

Inside-1:
[URL=http://s1264.photobucket.com/user/srisaikatsaha/media/4_zpslv2n3lt1.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj492/srisaikatsaha/4_zpslv2n3lt1.jpg[/URL][/IMG]

Inside-2:
[URL=http://s1264.photobucket.com/user/srisaikatsaha/media/5_zpsaf9hsgdw.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj492/srisaikatsaha/5_zpsaf9hsgdw.jpg[/URL][/IMG]

Inside-3 (Clearly visible TDA1541A):


Comparative Size with Pioneer N-50:
[URL=http://s1264.photobucket.com/user/srisaikatsaha/media/7_zpsgfkr4adw.jpg.html][IMG]http://i1264.photobucket.com/albums/jj492/srisaikatsaha/7_zpsgfkr4adw.jpg[/URL][/IMG]

Will Continue.................
 
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srisaikat

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1541 Gold - Touching the music with bare Hand (P-13)

I will try to finish it as final installment. Please remember terms here I am going to use just should be taken for comparative performance not as absolute, they are true to my ear and system.

1. I have tested all the inputs including USB of the DAC (L1541DAC Gold - V1.2), it supports up to 44.1/48. So all inputs are 8x oversampled before feed into TDA1541A. My expectation for auto or manual (by jumpers) switch between various oversampling rate (2x, 4x, 8x) as per input of various sampling are not fulfilled. Too much expectation for a generic product at this price range.

But I was especially looking for NOS DAC and only later I found "NET Audio Non Over Sampling Converter Board" - NET Audio which I can use to get the famous taste of NOS. As all the chip are installed using DIP Socket, so there will be no problem.

2. I want to repeat a statement which I have read somewhere else. This DAC proved again that most of us never heard 44.1/48 formats to it's full potential, so much ease and liquidity there. Information of a track presented here at better proportionate. Most of us hunting for 24/96 or 24/192 just because we are tired of noise induced by low or mid range D-S DAC. L1541DAC-gold have ability to present super insight view of any decent track, but poor recording or rip will be sounding as poor, No mask-up.

3. Now time to explain the thread heading "Touching the music with bare Hand" - After hearing this 1541 DAC, I also agree with some famous views about DS (Delta Sigma) DACs. No argument there that DS DACs offer very nice details but that details is wrapped with thin (may be very transparent one) plastic paper or distortion, where as 1541 make the feeling of more direct touch. I can imagine a nice analogy- touch any surface with bare hand, then put a very thin gloves to touch the same surface. There is basic difference but not huge.

The Bass response is something extraordinary to feel, it starts from very low point of frequency. It is at sub-woofer level, not cheap type mid bass. I was just missing a sub, also I was very proud of my Pioneer N-50 due to nice bass frequency response, but this pedigree-less DAC defeat the N-50 (by small margin) just with the help of a Ladder DAC. Mid is very focused, highs have all the details but no sparkle like Sabre.

Infamous Chinese Built-

4. No mute switching when track sample change to 44.1 to 48kHz. A 'click' sound which is quite light but still audible through speaker. Switching between source also make little noise.

5. Worst part is, the power switch on/off function is making cracking noise through speaker if the amp is on. So I always try to remember to keep the amp off before making touch any button on the DAC. The order is - On the source, then On the DAC, then On the Amp. It should be opposite during power off.

6. High pitch noise when I tried to Play 96kHz sampling file. They should have engaged mute switch which is highly recommended.

7. The DAC seemed to be lacks the refinement compared to Pioneer N-50. I think using better caps and switching the OPAMPs (DIP-Socketed) NE5534 might give it another push.

8. Strangely it (the preamp output) needs a push to sound better. Pairing with my Integrated (pre-in) sounds better than pairing with DCB1. Sounds become little thin or low end punch become weak with DCB1. Though it's specs denoted it output as 2V but I think either it is around 1.8V or the output impedance is not low enough to transfer maximum power. My Pioneer N-50 sounds better with DCB1 than the pre-in of Intregrated Amp, I mean it is just the opposite.

9. The COAX input seems to be dependent on source. It sounds better when the coax input is connected with Pioneer N-50 than BDP-160. Seems to be noise are induced by Pioneer BDP-160 and there is no galvanic isolation within the DAC. When I am connecting Pioneer N-50, the sound is very clean, no noise. I have not experienced such noise with Arcam iRDAC or Rega DAC or N-50 itself when connecting BDP-160. Seems to be these DACs have immunity from source which is missing with L1541DAC. Clean source is essential to get best sound out of the L1541DAC-gold.

10. Lack of attention on small things - On arrival I found the LED indicators were misplaced or disoriented. I could hardly see them, so had to open the cabinet and push them to their right place.

End Note- It revived lots of promise but a good DIY hand is needed to fulfill the best out of this DAC. I also like to admit that it gave me confidence to order DAC-19 (10th Anni.) which I am expecting to arrive within next 3 weeks. I can imagine a real nice DS DAC can get very close or same or better (at least to some ear) but it will be quite costly to shape the noises to such level to get clean analog waves like a Ladder DAC which itself very costly. So no point to debate which technique a designer should pursue, as a good DAC is not the cheap one.

P.S. The DAC get quite warm even at this winter, but still no apparent issue or influence on sound signature. Heat might be due to 8x over sampling.
 
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srisaikat

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As I had share almost all my DAC related journey so I think it might not be unfair to share the best compliment I received from some passive listeners when I was toying with some particular gear.

I have to confess that I am also kind of passive listener. Most of the time I never take any seat or position (except critical listening), I play my music at 1st floor stair-landing cum sitting room and walk or work around all the house even ground floor and enjoy the music.

One day I was working at ground floor playing music as usual at 1st floor, the album was "Bowers & Wilkins: Very Audiophile New Recordings". Few people was visiting me, one of them suddenly asked me if my brother (He knew I have a younger brother) formed any band and if they are practicing for any immediate live show? I knew that person (30/32 years old) for some years who liked to attend various live concerts (local bands or other cultural shows). When I confirmed him that it was just a recording playback then he said it felt like a live practice. After an hour or so another person also made similar comments. So you see what could be my feelings that day. I think my journey touched it's point of ace at that day or moment. The DAC I was using that day Arcam irDAC.

Few years ago I also got nice comments during playback from some other passive audiences, that time the DAC was Audio-gd Fun version-A. But I personally feel if the recording quality is right then Arcam irDAC is the best I had yet experienced.
 
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srisaikat

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Another experience I encountered during test session with 1541 Gold DAC. I have previously mentioned that "9. The COAX input seems to be dependent on source. It sounds better when the coax input is connected with Pioneer N-50 than BDP-160. Seems to be noise are induced by Pioneer BDP-160 and there is no galvanic isolation within the DAC. When I am connecting Pioneer N-50, the sound is very clean, no noise."

Now you probably know Pioneer N-50 can share digital signal through it's digital output which it gets any signal through digital input (COAX/Spdif). Have not tried yet the USB input. So when I am connecting the BDP-160 to N-50 through COAX and taking the digital output of N-50 to 1541 Gold DAC then there is no noise I can hear or feel which I witnessed when directly connected the BDP-160 to 1541 Gold DAC. So Pioneer N-50 not only have galvanic isolation, it is also working as Galvanic Filtration between BDP-160 and 1541 Gold DAC.
 
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