marantzfan

Administrator
Staff member
Got my Khadas and A-tech case in this week. Today I finally got a chance to put them together and give this DAC a listen. Used it with one of my Roon endpoints, upsampling Tidal to DSD256.

Like most, the first few songs were pretty rough and then it started to open up. I listened today for about 2 hours total and by the end of the session it had opened up quite a bit. Nicely balanced, vocals sound phenomenal.

This is a very nice piece, especially for the price. I’m excited to see what more burn in time brings.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
Got my Khadas and A-tech case in this week. Today I finally got a chance to put them together and give this DAC a listen. Used it with one of my Roon endpoints, upsampling Tidal to DSD256.

Like most, the first few songs were pretty rough and then it started to open up. I listened today for about 2 hours total and by the end of the session it had opened up quite a bit. Nicely balanced, vocals sound phenomenal.

This is a very nice piece, especially for the price. I’m excited to see what more burn in time brings.
Is it a giant killer? How does it compare to the MP?
 
. . . might the Khadas be on the same level as a D50 or 70?
The Khadas is more of a DAC for DIY hot rodders. You only get a bare board when you buy it. You can stay cheap and cheerful and leave it naked, which is what I'm still doing. Or you can spend money for a nice case, which will get it closer in cost to the D50. You can tweak it for even better performance with extra power supplies. My experience is that it sounds slightly better with USB input if you're using a good quality endpoint. I'm using mine with a microrendu and a good quality DIY linear power supply.

In terms of comparisons to the D50 or the D70, it's hard to say. I've never listened to a D50 but the D50 and the Khadas use similar chipsets so they probably share characteristics associated with ESS dac chips. Considering the fact that the D50 comes with a case and built in bluetooth, I'd say that the costs are comparable if you need all that functionality.

Comparing the Khadas to the D70 is like comparing apples and oranges. The Khadas is more DIY while the D70 comes complete with case and built in linear power supply. The Khadas uses the ESS dac chip set while the D70 uses AKM dac chips. ESS dacs tend to sound different from AKM dacs and you'll need to decide which one is a better match for your system. If I were to offer a gross simplification, ESS dacs are hyper detailed and transparent but in the wrong system can sound tiring with time. AKM dacs are smoother and musical but on some systems can sound like they're rounding off the edges too much. It's hard to say which you'll like better until you've listened in your own system.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
The Khadas is more DIY while the D70 comes complete with case and built in linear power supply.

I'm still curious about using an external LPSU with the Tone DAC, as it has no switching regulators on the board, and mine is USB bus powered by a Raspberry Pi endpoint that does have a switching regulator, so powering it externally could produce a lift in SQ.
 
I'm still curious about using an external LPSU with the Tone DAC . . ,
I've had pretty good luck with some of the cheap power supply boards from China that one can buy on ebay. Search for "ultra low noise voltage regulator" or "ultra-low noise power supply" and you'll turn up some decent options for between $20 and $30. For example, this LT3042 board looks promising. Or this LT1963 board. Or this LT3045 board. Add a small transformer for the LT3042 or LT1963 boards or a transformer and some diodes and caps for the LT3045 board and you'll be in business.
 
While working from home I've been using a portable battery-powered DAC in my home office. Many times over the past few months the battery is discharged at the wrong time. I could no longer take this PITA.

The Khadas and case have been ordered and I should be in the Khadas club by the end of the weekend.
 
The Khadas Tone DAC arrived yesterday but I'm still waiting on the case. Not sure it will arrive by the weekend as the tracking number only indicates the shipping label has been created but not picked up.

I could not wait any longer so I found a temporary case that would allow me to power the Khadas safely, without the risk of shorting anything out. Crude, but it will do until the intended case arrives. Please don't laugh.

IMG_2470.jpg

As mentioned in the thread, a breeze to set up. No issues with a Raspberry Pi running RoPiee and roon bridge.
Going through all the sample rates and bit-depths I have.
FLAC 16/44 ✔
FLAC 24/44 ✔
FLAC 24/48 ✔
FLAC 24/88 ✔
FLAC 24/96 ✔
FLAC 24/176 ✔
FLAC 24/192 ✔
FLAC 24/352 ✔
DSD64 ✔
DSD128 ✔
DSD256 ✔
DSD512 ✔ Note: My wireless network could not handle the DSD512 files and the Raspberry Pi needed to be connected via Ethernet.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Some time ago the folks at Khadas had teased an upcoming availability of a Mk. 2 version of their Tone Board, the original version of which debuted way back in 2018 if memory serves. By all accounts the original KTB at $99 was a big success in the DIY DAC market. I own one, as do several other members here at HFH.

The Mk. 2 appears to have been delayed by the original design engineer's departure from Khadas parent WesionTEK to form his own venture, called Soncoz, resulting in what he claimed was the spiritual successor to the original Tone Board, the Soncoz LA-QXD1, and thereafter, the flagship fully balanced dual mono SGD1.

Things had then gone a little quiet at Khadas with regard to a successor to the KTB, but a clue that the project was still alive could be found over the last year or so on the Khadas website, where the original version had been given the new name "Tone1", suggesting that a "Tone2" would still be forthcoming.

On November 23rd, the Tone2 Pro was formally announced. Now no longer a DIY bare board, the new version ships fully assembled in a fairly cool looking enclosure, complete with hardware volume control that is also a "push" encoder for selecting the input and operating mode:

TB2 top.png

Tone2 Pro.png
I don't see any mention of what the enclosure is made of, though it certainly resembles a CNC machined block of aluminum thats been anodized black. Pretty sharp look (assuming it isn't plastic), and quite sleek too:

TD2 front.png

A look at the side/rear shows what appear to be separate USB ports for power and data, and both 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced headphone jacks:

TB2 side-rear.png
Curiously, they also mention the RCAs are "balanced", meaning a 3 pin connection to the board, and are fully backwards compatible with single ended RCA loads. More on that here.

Introductory pricing is currently a $169 preorder if you register your email address, or $199 thereafter.

While this looks like a pretty cool desktop DAC, especially if one needs the hardware volume control for use with active monitors, I'll be taking a pass in favor of the Topping E30, which utilizes the Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) AK4493 DAC chip, has a large easy to read OLED display of sample rate similar to it's predecessor D10 and D10s, remote control of volume, and external PSU jack, at $129 with price match available through Apos Audio. Just provide a link via their chat bot support to a lower price (for instance from Asian sellers on eBay), and Apos will match it with no further questions asked through the end of 2020.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
It sure looks great. I may pick one up just to see what its all about.
It does look nice, and in having a cursory look at their forum, it's confirmed there to be an aluminum case.

They expect to start shipping on Dec. 16th, so not really a holiday 2020 item, with COVID-19 shipping delays it will likely be sometime in January before these units start hitting our shores, assuming no final production delays.

A Tone2 (non-Pro) version is also anticipated for late Q1 2021, sold as a bare board to the DIY community just like the original, price TBD, but no word as to whether that cool enclosure will also be made available separately.
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
Here's the Topping E30
Yes to the aluminum case. Obviously strong enough to support our seasonal chubby friend.
It is good so far, still assessing it, when first plugged into it I thought it was gonna rip my head off, but has settled down with a few hrs of play.
Very detailed, less warmth than my other dac at this point.

20201225_165953.jpg
 
I've been enjoying the KTB for several months. It's located across the room from and fed by a Node 2i streamer's coax. Hard to imagine there's a better DAC for the $89 I paid.

P1010006.jpeg
Not only is the clear acrylic case cheaper but it has more character than a plain black box. I also avoid conductive metal enclosures when possible.
 
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I'm not fond of the KTB's piercing bright light and will be covering it with some blue painters tape. I've done that before with other gear and it does the trick.

P1010004 2.jpeg
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
I'm not fond of the KTB's piercing bright light and will be covering it with some blue painters tape. I've done that before with other gear and it does the trick.

View attachment 31861
You might also consider LightDims as an alternative. Yes they are stupid expensive for what you actually get but they are highly effective and more aesthetically pleasing on an acrylic case than blue tape is.

My 2 cents, I've been using these for years now to dim a bunch of different LEDs in my bedroom. They come in various shapes sizes and colors, the link provided is one such option.
 
You might also consider LightDims as an alternative. Yes they are stupid expensive for what you actually get but they are highly effective and more aesthetically pleasing on an acrylic case than blue tape is.

My 2 cents, I've been using these for years now to dim a bunch of different LEDs in my bedroom. They come in various shapes sizes and colors, the link provided is one such option.
I'm cheap so I use a hole puncher on the blue tape to create a round disc and when you place it over the light you don't know it's there but it masks the brightness.
 
Can you have two devices connected at once to the Tone DAC? If you have one connected via USB and another via coax can it switch between them?
 
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