DACMini by ETALON SOUND
The DAC Mini is primarily intended for the headphone listening, all the while, the same way as our Dream DAC, it could also be used as a full-fledged home audio DAC to drive an AMP without a preamp.
Technically, the DAC Mini is very close to the Dream DAC, however, it has a number of features that really make it a perfect unit for the headphone listening.
Its design incorporates a handmade headphones wooden stand with a volume knob on its front panel for convenient access to the volume control.
Our proprietary “Synchronous Volume Control” changes the DAC Mini’s output signal level at the stage of its Digital-to-Analog conversion, so you get the right one directly from the conversion stage.
DAC Mini’s separate power supply can be positioned away from its main chassis. Such separation allows to minimize the latter’s effects on the Digital-to-Analog conversion boards and the output transformers. The transformers are designed in full accordance with the headphone listening’s requirements.
Compared with Dream DAC’s form factor, the headphones stand’s design of DAC Mini allows for an improved air cooling of D-to-A conversion circuitry.
Super R2R D-to-A matrix is an active one, and as it is capable to drive headphones or an AMP with a lively and dynamic sound directly, that is, without a preamp, the DAC Mini can be called a “Power DAC”.
1. Description of the sound and the DAC
This is a DAC for those who are looking for a rich, warm, natural and beautiful sound, similar to a live performance.
DAC can convey all the wealth, character, timbre and depth and the smallest nuances enclosed in the source material, so precisely that you want to listen to music again and again.
The Dream DAC is the realization of our intentions to transmit initial characteristics of digital sound record into a real, natural sound.
Such operations as amplifying with nonlinear elements, oversampling, transmitting of a digital signal via industrial microchips or through the USB tract interfere on signal making it different from its original.
The Dream DAC is free of any negative influences of an amplifying the sound after conversion. You can get natural sound without any interferences that could be brought in by filters or preamp circuitry.
There is no harmonic distortion from amplifying at all. The Dream DAC is based on our laboratory developments. The main of them is Super R2R technology. Each Super R2R matrix is an active matrix, so at the result, the DAC is a quite power DAC, with spirited live sound, able to drive headphones or an AMP without a preamp. Total number of power elements in matrixes is over a hundred.
Super R2R technologies enable to approach to an absolute sound fidelity and it stands on the highest quality level obtainable by digital-to-analogue conversion in principle. These technologies are protected by patents and applications for an invention.
2. Technical characteristics and particularities description
New synchronous volume control
A significant advantage of Super R2R technology is synchronous volume control.
There are two fundamentally different approaches to the volume control in Hi-End — a digital and an analogue one; each has its major flaws.
We designed a new way of volume control suitable just for the R2R array. It’s neither digital nor analogue in the current interpretation of these terms. It is based on synchronous changing of the logic value of ‘1’ reference voltage in the converter and enables to control volume without changing original digital code. At the same time, it has no drawbacks inherent in the analogue control method.
Converter based on balanced R2R circuit
R2R circuit is a classic converter layout realizing the most accurate way of digital-to-analogue conversion.
The sound of R2R array-based converter without oversampling (NOSDAC) is more natural than the one achieved through other circuits with oversampling and digital filtering.
Classic R2R array has a flaw associated with the problem of signal conversion while virtual zero crossings. At this moment all logical circuits are switched simultaneously and even tiny non-synchronism causes an overshoot of stray impulses (the so-called glitches).
In Super R2R virtual zero crossings poses no problem because R2R arrays have balanced discrete sign-magnitude hybrid ladder topology. Positive and negative half-waves of the signal are processed independently, each by a separate array and is mixed only at the output.
As a result, there are virtual zero crossings at all and no corresponding problems!
DAC power is divided into digital and analogue parts and is implemented on 3 custom-made toroidal transformers. To power each R2R board special power supply was developed, consisting of stabilizers (Virtual Battery Device) boards for final power filtration.
A new algorithm for low-level signals conversion
This new algorithm enables to fulfil the sound potential of low amplitude signals that otherwise are reproduced either with distortion or remain completely obscured by noise and inaudible.
The new algorithm for low-level signals conversion is realized through a three-stage circuit; a single R2R array is divided into three parts. Each part is a separate R2R converter processing its fraction of the signal — having an either low, medium or high level. The low-level signal ends up being shaped by a chain of not 24 precise resistors the way it’s done in the conventional R2R converter (with 24 digit capacity) but by 8 resistors only resulting in a dramatically shortened signal path (the shortest path). This technology provides for careful handling of any low-level signal.
Besides the digital code’s least significant bits get an additional gain before conversion and are again brought to normal level afterwards.
All in all the new algorithm makes the low-level signals noise-free and maximizes DA conversion authenticity in the most important area of low amplitude signals.
Galvanic decoupling of digital and analogue converter units
Galvanic decoupling through a transformer provides full separation of digital and analogue converter circuits preventing from sound quality deterioration by noise and distortions. Transformer cores are made from iron-based nanocrystalline alloy, a new generation material with extraordinary properties. Winding elements are made from ‘symmetrized’ litz wire. The use of nanocrystalline iron alloy combined with ‘symmetrized’ litz wire made it possible to design sound transformer, a new generation device with specs and efficiency previously inaccessible.
+44 (0) 208 133 3892 (UK, London)
+7 (916) 302 08 87 (Russia, Moscow)
UK, London, Kensington and Chelsea
Russia, Moscow, Electrozavodskaya str., 21