Audio GD Singularity 19 - New R2R DAC

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by TheIceman93, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    Looks like Kingwa has a new R2R DAC on the way. Gone is the 1704 chip and its being replaced with something in house. Could be interesting. There are so few sub $1K R2R offerings, nice to see something new. Some Headfi people have ordered it. Impressions should start rolling in in February. The other cool thing is that they are selling just the resistor modules for DIY DAC builders.

    Link: http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/Singularity19/Singularity 19EN.htm

    Headfi Page: http://www.head-fi.org/t/831737/audio-gd-singularity-19

    More Info about the R2R module: http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/diy/DA01/DA01EN.htm

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    Surprised there isn't more interest for this. At the moment, I think the only R2R offerings under a grand are the Modi Multibit, Bifrost Multibit, MDHT Canary/Stockholm V2/Atlantis, Starting Point DAC 3 and Audio GD's own DAC 19. Am I missing any?
     
  3. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Audio-GD doesn't get much praise around here, it's considered Chi-Fi. There products aren't bad but are too warm and syrupy for most here. I am interested by the design of the DAC chip though.
     
  4. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    Ya, the consensus around here is that the DAC 19 is too warm and smooth. It sounds to me like that is just the sound of the 1704. On the Headfi forum Kingwa said that the new DAC is brighter and more transparent than the 1704 models. I guess you can tune the sound with jumpers to turn off oversampling all the way down to NOS which makes it warmer. Who knows though. Audio GD is ChiFi I guess but I always saw them as sort of their own thing with the convoluted buying process, 10 year warranty and the highly detailed but sometimes hard to understand product descriptions. There is something mysterious about it all which I think adds to the appeal in some way.
     
  5. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I have my doubts about inexpensive, discrete, multibit DACs. I would still be happy to try one if someone loaned me one, though.
     
  6. Comzee

    Comzee Acquaintance

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    While the "warm and syrupy" meme was justified for agd, King-wa's new DSP code really changes the tonal signature away from those two aspects.
    He said he learned the verilog from scratch and coded it from the ground up.. Regardless, owning the M7 myself, the DSP update starkly changed the sound.
    It might even be too brittle and sharp now.... It's definitely clearer with more air.

    King-wa claims he has a different tweak on the DSP code for each DAC, so I'm not sure how his code makes the new Sing19 sound, with the additional aspect of new r2r chips. I'm intrigued, hopefully there will be some reviews soon.
     
  7. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    I think the current price is designed to get people to jump on an untested design with a lot of question marks. I'd imagine the price will go up if the early reviews are positive. I can imagine that those resistor ladders take a long time to make. Kingwa is calling the current pricing "promotional", whatever that means.

    I'm gonna wait to hear from the two Headfi guys who have them on order for the first week of Feb. One said he would compare it to his Yggdrasil using a Wells Milo. If the reviews are good, I'm gonna order one and I'd be happy to loan it to any SoCal members who would be interested. Maybe Marvey can get a listen.
     
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  8. borrego

    borrego Incessant Audio-GD #1 Fan Boy

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    This has the new DSPV7 firmware and dual crystal PLL circuit. Order this with the TCXO option, replace the two OPA2134 DC Servo opamps with OPA2140, and it will eat the Gungnir Multibit in balanced mode for breakfast. Guaranteed.

    How can I be so certain? Because my supposedly "syrupy" Refence 5.32 mod RCA output (http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/audio-gd-master-11.457/page-2#post-25009) beats the Gungnir Multibit fair and square.

    Need a balanced version to beat the Yggdrasil though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  9. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @TheIceman93 My main concern with discrete resistor, multibit DACs is resistor tolerance and how that affects the ability to really resolve even a full 16-bits. I'm no engineer in this area, but I've read some reports that segmented or other multibit designs may mitigate this, as well as the possibility of other compensation methods to make up for this exact issue (i.e. resistor tolerance). In particular, the Audio-GD DAC modules are specified at 0.1% tolerance resistors, though supposedly are matched at 0.05%. If you think to the Soekris stuff, the highest tolerance they use is 0.05%, with the best being 0.01%. TotalDAC stuff uses 0.01%. Of course, that says nothing about the actual architecture and design implementations in any of these products. Things like resistor laser trimming are one benefit to chip-based, multibit DACs. And the only reason I went for and owned that Holo Spring DAC for a while was because it seemed some thought was put in place to mitigate resistor tolerance issues, at least on paper.

    Here's a snippet from an early TotalDAC article/review from 6Moons that explains the general idea:

    "While the Totaldac is a 24-bit network, 0.01% resistors cannot easily exceed 14-bit resolution (1/10.000 versus 1/65.536 for a 16-bit signal). The 24-bit foil ladder is not used at full capacity but guarantees 14-bit resolution for both most significant and less significant bits. The R-2R network is said to deliver superior THD+N and microdynamic performance than modern chip-based designs. Built-in dynamic limitation of large-scale signals is obvious but in reality today’s status of recordings and microphones here is the greater limiting factor. The never-ending race towards higher-resolution converters seems wasted in view of the top accuracy of the rest of the playback chain."

    But, again, I'm no engineer. Just regurgitating random information I've read in the best way I can understand it. Maybe it's a non-issue. Maybe the Audio-GD implementation and design of and using their modules is great. Like I said, I'd be open to try it.
     
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  10. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Isn't that what hybrid dacs are supposed to help mitigate? Use those resistors for part of it so it's not super crazy expensive or fighting tolerances all the way down, but then you've got the tricky part of integrating the two halves, or some sort of voodoo like that.
     
  11. borrego

    borrego Incessant Audio-GD #1 Fan Boy

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    A DAC which is accurate to the 14th MSB would equal to 0.00610352% distortion. Good enough considering the amount of distortions from the other playback components like amp, headphones, speakers. I myself would be absolutle satisfied with a "true" 12-bit audio DAC.

    Audio tech is really weird. A 60 fps video is actually sampled to less than 6bit accuracy, and I don't read any people would complain about that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  12. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    As I understand it, there's more to bit accuracy and resolution than distortion. That TotalDAC was an early model, had very low distortion, yet, again, maybe could only really resolve 14-bits worth of voltage steps.

    Or there's the point that some can hear the difference between 16 and 18 bits (usually not above that), without the DAC having low enough distortion per what you just said, not to mention the amp or transducer.

    To simplify it down to just distortion is missing the point. Bit resolution and distortion may not even be related in that way or to that degree. On paper I would think so if critical listening tests didn't suggest otherwise.
     
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  13. borrego

    borrego Incessant Audio-GD #1 Fan Boy

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    Well, my point is human perception ability and other components (like in the article you also quoted) will be the limitation factor long before bit resolution in the DAC. For me, I could not tell the difference between 320k mp3 and FLAC after listening at above 85dB for longer than 15 mins. And my living room has at most 50dB of dynamic range when my wife is not speaking.

    The general DAC chip consensus in this forum, which affect the most important aspect of listening experience, about the "harsh" Sabre, "syrupy" PCM1704, "dull" AKM, "dynamic" PCM63, really has nothing to do with the true bit resolution of each of the chip.

    Back to the point of this thread: if audio-gd "fixes" the so called "syrupy sounding" and "inflated price" problems of its PCM1704 DAC with its own R2R modules, what more one would ask? For me it will be for them to replace the DC Servo opamps from OPA2134 to OPA2140 so the bass resolution and response can further be improved.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Doubt it. Probably different. I had an AG-D Master 7 fed HDMI LVDS i2s from arguably the of the best USB converters, the OR5. The M7, with the eight chips (for better DNL / INL), had a hair more plankton, maybe, but the SFD1 SE+ killed it in every other way. I tried out two more firmware revisions, only better in regards to USB. The Theta Gen V destroyed the Master 7.

    It wasn't all the PCM1704, which does have some nice qualities. It's poor resolution, grey background, mediocre macro dynamics, and flat soundstage, although the stage is set deeply.

    Tempted to use SBAF funds for this, but spidey sense says no. There are a lot more interesting Chinese brands. AG-D charges too much these days and they really need to up their game on their chassis.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
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  15. Aklegal

    Aklegal Almost "Made"

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    I'm curious if Kingwa has voiced the new modules to have the exact same qualities as the 1704 since he loves it so much. That would be a shame.
     
  16. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Which companies would you put on the top of that list?
     
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  17. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Shanling, Shengya, Holo Audio, Doge, many others I can't think of off the top of my head.

    The reason these brands have never been mentioned before along with AG-D is because AG-D used to be like the Schiit of China, direct sales and high value. AG-D has grown up now and I don't see their prices anywhere as competitive before. For example, AG-D Ref 1 (with eight PCM1704 chips), which was the Master 7 predecessor, was priced just above $1000 just a few years ago.

    If Jason Stoddard / @schiit puts on www.schiit.com every X-mas season: "Analog Devices chips rare. Getting expensive. Yggdrasil to be cancelled. Only 32 pieces left. Buy now!" and then by 2021, there is Yggdrasil 3.1, but priced at $6000, we'd start to consider and focus on a lot of other brands too. AG-D is really nothing special now.
     
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  18. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    $650 is still pretty cheap for a discrete ladder DAC. Only the Modi Multibit and the Starting Point are priced below it. I'm still tempted to give this a shot.
     
  19. Grahad2

    Grahad2 Red eyes from too much anime

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    Soekris 1101.

    And probably a metric load on taobao.
    http://m.intl.taobao.com/search/search.html?q=r2r 解碼

    There's even one built with a Soekris 1021 Amanero USB and a Lehmann buffer clone HPA for only about 850USD.
     
  20. borrego

    borrego Incessant Audio-GD #1 Fan Boy

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    You should also have stated your experience with the M7 was over 2 years ago back when you were still active in head-fi, and the "firmware updates" you did was to the USB32 USB module which has long been retired. Just for the sake of not misleading reader the recent DSPV7 DSP upgrade offers no improvement.

    To be fair I have never heard an audio-gd PCM1704 DAC other than my own dicontinued mid range Ref5.32 mod. But I have heard the Gungnir Multibit through USB input and it sounds nothing special to me compare to my Ref5.32, especially in sound stage depth and instrument seperation. It could be the Gungnir Multibit was hampered by its old gen USB input board which was't updated since its introduction.

    audio-gd supports the "value" market differently. In its own Chinese forum it offers its key circuit/PCB designs like parallel JFET Cascode buffer, CAST modules, Class A power supply, etc. to DIYers. One can actually build a Reference 7 DAC with the information audio-gd presented there. Kingwa himself posts in the forum giving circuit adjustment tips like setting bias voltage, how to match transistors, etc. Actually, the original owner of my Ref5.32 DAC sold me the DAC because he was building a new one. That seller actually told me all the circuit design tricks of making an non-syrupy sounding PCM1704 DAC. And I also learned from that seller that Kingwa was not lying about the PCM1704 chip price in China as his day time job was selling electronic parts (mainly capacitors) to electronic factories.

    I also have nothing bad to say about audio-gd' service. First they accepted my highly mod Ref5.32 be sent by back to their factory by the seller, doing the Amanero USB board/BNC input upgrades and full function check, then sending the upgraded DAC to me (essentially acting as used market middleman, at no charge, for his customers). Then their staff stayed up late in the evening, upgrading my "bought used" Ref5.32 to latest DSP firmware through teamviewer, again at no charge.

    It is true that Kingwa does not offer all these services to his customers in the US. But I also don't recall Schitt or other audio companies offer services like these anywhere.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017

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