MikeyFresh

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1. the A-tech site lists lT-1000 DAC with Khadas Tone Board” for $199, any benefits going this route? Am I just paying the $30 for assembly and a usb cable?
The $30 is for assembly only, as all Tone Boards ship with that USB Type C cable in the box, as well as the headers for turning it into the version you can mount on their VIM at a later date should you choose to, but you have to solder them on.

As you can see from the pictures, it's not a complex/difficult or time consuming assembly process. But for those that just want to take it out and plug it in, there is that $199 option. Still a good deal, others are selling that same board in slightly different enclosures (and maybe not as nice looking in my opinion) for much more.

2. On the linked khadas site the lists has two options, on the dock version is it recommended to buy that along with one of the other listed products for an all in one audiophile/media mini hub?
Recommended because they manufacture and sell their own single board computer or "SBC", called VIM, they would rather you use that than a Raspberry Pi. I don't like to use any other board than an RPi for the simple reason that no other SBC has even remotely close to the army of software developers and support that the Raspberry Pi foundation does, the Raspbian OS is now firmly rooted all over the world and is in continuous development for a variety of uses, not just audio. That means it will be around for a long time, and the RPi boards are downright cheap for how good they are.

The VIM, or even other SBCs like Allo's Sparky do not share that same level of development and support, so if you have a problem, there is literally one and only one place to get help, from that manufacturer. With an RPi, you can get help from a multitude of places, including right here at HFH.

I learned this the hard way when I bought an ODROID C2 a few years ago, because it's hardware specs were better than the RPi 3B that was current then. The level of support was atrocious, both from the U.S. importer (ODROID is made by the Korean firm Hard Kernel) and that of the manufacturer themselves was non-existent, dare I say jerky and dismissive of every single question. They rudely told me to roll up my sleeves, learn a programming language, and do my own development. So I'd steer clear of other SBCs unless you know where you are going to get software support with them, and also keep in mind that nice case I linked to does not accommodate anything but the DAC, to use that board on top of a VIM means you are using the shitty plastic case that @rogerfederer said shatters easily. Not my cup of tea, I waited this long to buy a Tone DAC simply because I wanted a better case for it than I saw available, and I was too damn lazy to fashion my own.
 

MikeyFresh

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i just ordered a case. was surprised the cheapest shipping option was $17.75. that thing is heavy or they are gouging a bit. still, looks like a great product.
Both... heavy for such a little bugger, and they are making money on the shipping. I came close to calling them to see if they would agree to send it to me Priority Mail at lower cost, but due to COVID-19 and all that, I decided asking someone to do something different or special right now wasn't really right, so I bit the bullet on their high UPS shipping quote knowing they are making a few bucks there.

They did ship it right out, a small consolation given I'm in NY, so it was going coast-to-coast. They didn't delay anything, it shipped same day, as did the board from Digi-Key. Amazon by comparison had that board not shipping for 22 days, due to their prioritization of COVID-19 relief related shipments.
 

MikeyFresh

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@MikeyFresh - glad to hear that you like the Khadas and nice find on that Atech case. It looks gorgeous although I'm still thinking through whether or not it's worth spending $69 + $17.75 shipping ($86.75 total) for a DAC that cost me $90 when I bought it last fall. It sounds just fine sitting bare naked on the shelf.

View attachment 22798

I know, I'm embarrassed I didn't just buy a suitable little box from Hammond or various other makers of project cases, drill some holes, and be done with it way cheaper than $69 + shipping.

Pathetic laziness on my part, though I can assure you the enclosure itself is worth $69, it is very nicely CNC machined and anodized from a fairly substantial block of aluminum, and though I'm not really a fan of polished finishes due to their tendency to be dust and fingerprint magnets, this one does look pretty sharp. Had it come in a gunmetal or grey color I would have gone for that to alleviate the dust/fingerprint issue. I will take a better picture with a real camera at some point.

Now leaving the board naked certainly works, but I always worry there too about the effects of dust, or me managing to short something, or even just knock it in some way as to damage it, I'm happier with boards that are in a case. But to each their own, and a case certainly need not be this fancy, though the real insult is the shipping cost. The case itself is nice enough to warrant $69 when you take into account it is made in CA.

Are you close enough to Lancaster, CA? If so your shipping quote would undoubtedly be less.
 
Are you close enough to Lancaster, CA? If so your shipping quote would undoubtedly be less.
Lancaster is close to Los Angeles, so about a 5 hour drive or 300 miles as the crow flies. Shipping is slightly cheaper at $16.36 ($1.39 cheaper) but I have the privilege of paying 9% sales tax, so the net cost ends up being $91.57 to my door. So the case would actually be more expensive than the DAC. Think I'll definitely have to hack something together with all my spare time. A little wooden box to hold a transformer, L-adapter power supply, microrendu, and Khadas would be just the ticket.
 

MikeyFresh

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I decided to quickly try my Galaxy S7 Android phone as the source for the Tone DAC. Not that this thing is "portable", nor even really "transportable" with that sexy bling case, she'll be staying home where it's nice n' safe, but I was still curious if it would work.

While I do have the proper USB "on-the-go" cable needed to make that work, I also remembered there were some early reports of this DAC drawing a fair amount of bus power, I think it was over 300mA with the earliest original version of the board and firmware. While I knew that had since been addressed with revisions to both the board itself and the firmware, I still didn't know if my phone would have the necessary juice.

Turns out it does, upon connecting the cable the phone sensed the DAC, and asked if I wanted to launch the UAPP app that I have set as the default for USB audio devices. The little LED power indicator on the Tone DAC was shining, so I launched Qobuz over UAPP and hit play:

Khadas.S7.jpg

Yup, shiny dust/fingerprint magnet, above there's a reflection of the phone on the top surface of the DAC.

Khadas.S7_2.jpg
 

MikeyFresh

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Lancaster is close to Los Angeles, so about a 5 hour drive or 300 miles as the crow flies. Shipping is slightly cheaper at $16.36 ($1.39 cheaper) but I have the privilege of paying 9% sales tax, so the net cost ends up being $91.57 to my door. So the case would actually be more expensive than the DAC. Think I'll definitely have to hack something together with all my spare time. A little wooden box to hold a transformer, L-adapter power supply, microrendu, and Khadas would be just the ticket.
That sounds cool, an all-in-one streamer DAC. So one L-adapter at 7 volts for the microRendu, and another at 5 volts for the Tone DAC?
 
That sounds cool, an all-in-one streamer DAC. So one L-adapter at 7 volts for the microRendu, and another at 5 volts for the Tone DAC?
I'm really happy with the sound I'm getting with only one L-adapter at 6.1v powering the microrendu, which then powers the Khadas at 5.0v. The power delivery from the Microrendu seems pretty clean when it's getting clean power from the L-adapter.
 

Thermionics

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Mikey - I see that the Khadas has a pinout for a 40-pin connector - could you conceivably use as a GPIO hat?
 

MikeyFresh

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Mikey - I see that the Khadas has a pinout for a 40-pin connector - could you conceivably use as a GPIO hat?
Yes but it is unclear to me with exactly what. The Khadas SBCs have a 40-pin GPIO, so certainly their Tone DAC will be compatible with them through the GPIO and can be used as a HAT.

However it is not clear to me that the pinout is Raspberry Pi compatible, I don't think it is for the simple reason that Khadas would then have a lot of trouble competing with their own SBCs, making the pinout different ensures that people can't just buy the HAT from them and use a different SBC with it.

The specs do say something to the effect of "compatible with Raspberry Pi", but only in the context of the operating system, so that mention is in the same breath as Windows, macOS, and various Linux distros.

Knowing for sure would probably require a deeper dive on the Khadas forum, but I've only had a cursory look at it so far, and while that was one question I also had, the answer wasn't staring me in the face.

But logically it would make sense for them to have a different pinout on the 40-pin GPIO, just like ODROID and various other SBC "shields" do, to intentionally make the RPi incompatible with that header.

Another thought there is the possibility that some but not all of the pinout is compatible. If so, you could in theory not mount the full 40-pin header, instead soldering only those pins that actually match, and if there are enough of them that would enable you to physically sit the board on top just like a HAT, while leaving the incompatible pins bare for use with small wire jumpers that link up the spots that don't match pinout-wise.
 

Mortsnets

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Got my aluminum case for the KTB. I'm finding that changes like the Allo DigiOne and usb decrapifiers are bigger improvements over standard usb out than switching between budget dacs (which is not expected).
khadasCase.jpg
 

Mortsnets

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I think it is the same case but I got mine from CorpShadow Bizstore in Canada.
Ordered on 5/9 and arrived on 5/19.
Case was US $25.95 shippng $21.52 to SF Bay Area.
 

marantzfan

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This looks like a great DAC for the bedroom setup. I would imagine it should work well with one of those RPi Roon endpoints I just put together...

Are you still listening to this one on a regular basis @MikeyFresh?
 

MikeyFresh

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This looks like a great DAC for the bedroom setup. I would imagine it should work well with one of those RPi Roon endpoints I just put together...

Are you still listening to this one on a regular basis @MikeyFresh?
I am, it's in my bedroom system right now and I have to agree with @GaryB among others, this is a high value piece at $99 for the board. While it took all of about 5 minutes to initially open up and settle sonically, it also did seem to just get even better over the course of about 100 hours of run-in, and it really is a fine sounding DAC. It can be powered separate of the USB bus without too much trouble, but I haven't done that as yet.

While I could have put together my own enclosure without a ton of hassle, I'm also not sorry I bought the T-1000 enclosure from A-Tech Fabrication for $69, it is really nice, the only objection being they are making a few dollars on the shipping which rubs a lot of people wrong. Definitely a handling charge built-in there, as they seem to be quoting almost the exact same high UPS rate, whether it's going coast to coast, or just L.A. to S.F. for example.

Beautiful casing though, and quite weighty, which is at least somewhat important with these small DAC boards. A lightweight enclosure makes it easy for just the drag from a heavy set of RCA cables to yank the whole thing right off the rack. That won't happen with the T-1000, it is CNC milled from a billet of aluminum and has a stainless steel bottom plate.

I am running all PCM sample rates up to 352.8 kHz plus DSD64/128 to it from a JRiver DLNA/UPnP local server, the connected endpoint is an RPi 3A+ running Volumio. Superb bang for the buck.
 

marantzfan

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Just what I was hoping to hear. I'll be pulling the trigger on one here soon....maybe today. ;) Also, I agree that the T-1000 case is slick; will certainly splurge for one. Even with it, still a very reasonable price!

I wonder how this will stack up against the iFi Nano iDSD...
 
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