This is going to be an extensive review of the AUNE X-Series Mini DAC so I am going to do it in parts, over a period of time, as I believe this is something that a lot of people are really interested in (DACS) and I want to be very thorough with my review.
I will also be reviewing the AUNE X-Series Mini amp (a 25watt per channel loudspeaker amp) in a seperate thread.... it is burning in now and will be ready for review in a couple of weeks.
Back to the Mini DAC, It arrived this afternoon in superb packaging... inside the outer carton were two X-Series boxes (one containing the Mini DAC and the other, the Mini Amp) the boxes are really classy and the DAC is protected against shipping damage in a custom fit polyfoam type thing:
Inside the package there is the Mini DAC, a power supply, a good quality USB cable and an instruction manual (The USB cable is enclosed underneath the DAC):
The second you see what emerges from that plastic bag, you are aware that the construction is absolutely first class. The pictures really do not do the AUNE Mini DAC any justice, in reality it is a work of art, it feels tactile, it feels solid and it looks ever so sexy. So much nicer than your standard "black box" type of effort.... some real thought has been put into the design of the enclosure.
I could waffle on "describing" what the AUNE Mini DAC looks like but it's so much easier to show you pictures so here goes:
That's the end of part one folks. Part two will be photos of the instruction manual.
Just like the outer shell, the innards have been put together very nicely using quality parts. Quite a lot of surface mount components (this is becomming a lot more common) which are physically small and allow the designer to cram more into even smaller enclosures.... quite amazing to think you can get 100uF of capacitance out of something the size of a pinhead!
Talking of capacitance the standard sized electrolytics are mostly audio grade Nichicon types, there is an OSCON under the amp board and a sprinkling of WIMA film caps.... good quality components and not the "Shi Toh" types you find in some low rent offerings
The amp board has an OPA2134 on it (SOIC) which is a generally regarded "good" audio chip.... it is a Burr Brown offering and part of their "sound plus" range.... specs here: www.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/opa134.pdf A generally "warm" sounding chip but also a very "predictable" chip..... handles most things well and doesn't offend. Transistors are TIP 41 / 42 so a pretty decent little head amp section.
The pot is not an RK27 (blue velvet) ALPS type but a standard carbon type ALPS dual log.... I tested it on the multimeter and it tracks very well (per side) and with the amp fired up it confirms this.... Very precise from zero volco onwards. The volume knob is solid aluminium and has a nice, weighty feel to it. The headphone socket is a good quality switchcraft type.
Pretty much bog standard (MF / Graham Slee etc. style) quad gold plated phono sockets, Good quality chassis mount coax socket, run of the mill USB / Optical inputs / selector switches and on off switch....
I don't claim to know anything about the inner workings of a DAC (or what the current flavour of the month chip is) so I will just report on what I saw under the bonnet.....
There was a Burr Brown PCM2707 DAC, a Burr Brown PCM1793 DAC, a WM8805GEDS transceiver and a Philips chip (whose model number I forgot to write down ..... The "DAC" experts will be able to make more of what's going down than I can and I hope they "chip" into this thread
U10 (under the amp board) has been "sanded" so I can't tell what it is.... you can clearly see the markings have been sanded off it.... so this is either a TOP SECRET part or a shite part that they were too embarrassed to show..... I'd like to think of it as a TOP SECRET part!
All looks good to me and I can confirm that it WORKS "flawlessly" but more on that later in the review..... to complete this part I present you with some under the bonnet shots:
Part Four: What does it sound like as a dedicated DAC / AMP? to follow shortly.
Part Five will be: How does it perform as a standalone DAC? and will be compared with my humble Cambridge Audio DacMagic (which I love so much)
There will be a part Six and seven to be announced at a later date
Being an inquisitive type I am intrigued to find out what the purpose of "U10" is and "WHY" U10 is so top secret
It's obviously something that AUNE want to keep secret as somebody has gone over the chip (and a bit of the board) with some rough sandpaper.....
I probably shouldn't even BE under the bonnet, let alone questioning the sanding of a chip, but I always like to give a full frontal type review ..... it could even turn into a competition, "guess the chip", with the correct answer winning the DAC
Post by joethearachnid on Sept 1, 2011 21:58:34 GMT
I thought you were joking about the 'sanded' chip, but you can actually see the scratches on the board from where it's been defiled. Whoever was doing it obviously wasn't being very careful about the process. Wonder why they did it?
I think there should be a little light come on next to lineout when its selected, scrolls through the functions after pressing the button . If it does light up and still no output from lineout then its probably shagged
hello Mike , thanks for the great reviews , it is Candy , i just came back from the Guangzhou AV Fair , about the X1 DAC , please do not resend back to us , as i checked with our engineer , the sound of the Line out is Ok , just you should put on button , i will tell you how to do this , i think may be you can check the manual first . about the op-amp , the one we send to you , we change the op-amp , as our enigneer test , in fact , the sound of the 5532 is more warm then before , that is why we change the cheaper 5532 , not use the expensive chip befoer . in fact , the first 300pcs we both use that expensive chip , but find if use the 5532 , the sound will more be more warmer , that is why we changed , not in order to save cost . ;D i will send you detail infroamtion about how to get the line out , THe sound of the 2134 is belongs to monitor, it is neutral , and the sound of the 5532 is more warmer , so you can choose form this two op-amp , like warm sound we suggest use 5532 , like monitor sound that we suggest ue 2134 . some photos our aune products on the guangzhou 2011 White Swan AV Fair
It should be some mistake is the user manual ! When you switch to "P-line out" mode, the volume control can be control the output level. If you want to use as a DAC ,you should switch to "LINE out" mode.