DAC Shopping

You can’t buy chips that already do the digital processing, so you need to write that code or pay someone to write it and there just aren’t a lot of people around that have the background and inclination to do that. I also think that the demands of single bit outputs on the clock, etc. require better clocking (i.e. more expensive clocking) than people might expect to get good sound. The parts to do a good job aren’t cheap, so you are unlikely to see many quality implementations.


Thanks @tedsmith
Could it be that the industry isn’t yet mature enough when it comes to digital electronics? I mean, analogue electronics is what hifi is all about and the knowledge here is huge but digital electronics is something quite different. After all, square waves cannot exist in nature but is the basis of digital.

This might explain why Marantz, with its listening experts, making sure “the Marantz sound” is preserved, is one of the few using the PDM-LP approach. Because their hearing in on par with @Paul’s! And maybe that is needed at this level of audio nirvana?

Quite many highend DAC:s use FPGA:s, though, not only the Ones Who’s Seen The Light :wink: but also e.g Chord using it for “traditional” PCM work. As I recall I read you @tedsmith saying that FPGA:s are not as noisy as chips, but why is that? The FPGA is still handling the same digital input, after all and the fact you can reconfigure it makes me think it would rather be worse…

Marantz calls their take on “PDM-LP” digital-to-analog conversion “Marantz Musical Mastering” but you need to go to their page on the SA-10 SACD player to find anything more about it. Upsampling everything to 11,2 MHz and using 2 clocks, 1 for the 44,1 kHz multiples and one for the 48 kHz multiples. @tedsmith, isn’t this exactly your approach as well?

I heard about it in this clip by the High End Society from the Munich highend show 2022. It’s in German so it’ll give you some linguistic practise too. :wink:

Instead of two clocks I use one and do a little more gymnastics to get 48k, 96k and 192k to quad rate DSD. But otherwise we take similar approaches.

I don’t think it’s a question of maturity. The price to pay for the extra linearity from and simplicity of DSD is ultrasonic noise. IMO (and the opinions of some others) this price is worth it. But there are many out there that won’t buy a DSD based DAC if there’s any other choice. I don’t really blame them, I won’t buy a PCM based DAC if there’s any other choice. You have to trust the tools you use and for some DSD is a bridge too far.


There are several dac makers that use proprietary digital processing with FPGAs. dCS, MSb, Chord, Playback Designs, PSA, are a few off top of head but I’m sure there are others. It’s not new, but it’s not as easy as using an off the shelf part.

It’s no different than (or rather, analogous to) speaker makers who design and build in house all of their own drivers (eg, Spendor) versus those who purchase and drop in third party drivers (most of industry including PSA).

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True, now I remember Ted doing the math - the relationship between 48 and 44,1.
Yeah, trust. I was about to call it a religious war but I like your take on it better. We all have to trust (and like) the stuff we use. As well as the companies and people behind.

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I went a little off book on this and ordered a build of a Lampizator Atlantic 3 TRP
Blk chassis/Blk faceplate, volume control, engine 11, Jupiter Caps, WBT RCA’s and flight case

Do not have a ship date yet, I was told possibly by the end of the month. already seeking output and rectifier tubes in anticipation of some serious tube rolling, can’t wait

Link has not updated the TRP photos, but the description is correct (even though it says TRP 2) quirky web site(s) EU, Poland, NA…the faceplate is just like the photo of the amber 4 under digital dropdown

I’ll be selling my DSJ or trading towards a server/streamer
The Esoteric N-05XD was 2nd choice, the sound was gorgeous but the tube rolling opportunities with the Lampi won me over
ATLANTIC2 TRP DAC | lampizator (lampizatorpoland.com)

Edit - I wanted to mention that even though the websites are confusing Fred and Rob of Lamizator NA were great to work with on the build which went very smoothly


Seems like a lot of value for the money…

Looking forward to your listening experiences…


I hope so!
I liked the fact I was able to build to what I wanted/needed

Taking into account the stupid amount of tubes I end up buying to feed the habit, the value equation may take a hit…

I’m already in the offer stage (private sellers) on nos GL KT-77’s and a Kron RK 274B


Does this DAC upsample PCM to DSD?

I’m reading about this DAC since John posted yesterday, and one of the comments I read was that PCM and DSD are entirely separate in the digital realm. It doesn’t do any conversion.

I also found this in their manual (link here), which seems to support that notion. Note that they don’t do DSD via SPDIF (AES/EBU) and TOSLINK, and this model doesn’t support I2S. It does autoswitch on USB, to route PCM and DSD streams for proper decoding.


Well stated Mike!
Lampizator is not quite as transparent and forthcoming on design details as PS Audio is, few are I would imagine. They call Engine 11 and previous dac chips proprietary and don’t name a specific dac chip or details on implementation. I believe they also still build R2R versions of some products. Best to call Rob & Fred at Lampizator NA for up to date information

There is an Engine 11 page on the drop down on the Poland version of the websites

A blurb from the Atlantic TRP manual Mike linked:

pizatOr- ATLANTIC2 TRP DAC Manual
Direct Stream Digital, also known as DSD format - this format is not new as many people think, it is as old as digital but it wasn’t used for consumer audio or home audio - before. It became very popular after 2010 and continues to make its way into our homes. It is VERY different than our well known PCM format as found in our CD files, MP3, FLAC or WAV - AIFF. It encodes the music in the data stream differently, looks different and sounds different. It is the format in which the SACD discs were recorded and a format in which the analog master tapes were backed up by record companies. It is currently the format in which the master recordings are made in record industry.
In ATLANTIC2 TRP DAC - we use AUTOSENSING and automatic switch from DSD to PCM and back. Used doesn’t need to do anything, just enjoy.
Atlantic DAC will automatically recognize and switch all DSD speed rates from normal 64 SACD format to 2x (128x) and quad 256x format all the way to 512 is supported.

My buddy loaned me his Denafrips Enyo (identical to Ares II, I think). I’ve listened to it a bit, and it’s my first exposure to a ladder DAC. It’s been fun. I don’t take it seriously compared to my other options at present, which isn’t to say the other options are fancy or top of the line options. The differences are often ant farts that, at 46 with good/excellent hearing, I can’t often distinguish between — when only the DAC or sources change on the DAC change. Think I’m closing in on the old diminishing returns effect, or liking things only because they are different sounding. I have the Denafrips running against an often disrespected McIntosh C47 DAC1 at present. Should be able to blow it away easily for me to be impressed. ABing is not always easy, but I was able to use opt out on the MCT450 to the Denafrips, and then the proprietary DIN cable into the C47. Anyway…good luck, dudes!

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The new stand alone from McIntosh would be a fairer fight…
So many wonderful dacs to choose from



One would guess, right? I’ve found more ways to compare and have more time w the Denafrips. I do know how to modify from OS to NOS and Sharp vs Warm filter.

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I sold my Denafrips Terminator 12th as it did not sound as good as our modified DS.


Darn, just when I concluded it was an optimum option

The MKII pops are a big barrier

They will be gone soon.


Thank you Ted.

Is the itching and swelling going away soon as well?