Enamored by the Burr-Brown PCM1796 DAC chip

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by MichaelXX2, Sep 30, 2019.

  1. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    A long time ago I got a Holo Audio Spring lvl 1, and a Pioneer Elite DV-58AV to use as a transport. I spent $1200 on the Spring and $100 on the Pioneer, and all was good. One day, curiosity got ahold of me and I tried the analog output of the Pioneer, just to see what it would sound like. And it sounded...

    Phenomenal. I was actually pretty upset at how good it sounded. This standard little DAC chip in this old universal DVD player sounded better than my fancy NOS resistor ladder DAC with the big power transformers and shielded output and all kinds of expensive wiring. I ended up selling the Spring several months later to get a Marantz SA-8005 to simplify things.

    The Marantz sounded awful. Very bright, bleached, lifeless, I don't know. Something was not working with the sound of that unit. I kept the thing for a year before realizing I was not enjoying listening to music anymore. I sold it, and had no DAC on the way to replace it. Out came the Pioneer again as an interim.

    That gorgeous velvety sound I remembered came back, and I decided to keep it as my main digital centerpiece. I also did some digging to see if there was a standalone DAC on the market with that PCM1796 chip in it, for computer audio. I ran into the Music Hall 15.2, with good reviews to boot. I anxiously await getting that thing in so I can stop using my laptop's built-in DAC.

    So there you have it. That's the stupid story of how I became endeared by a cheap DAC chip from the 2000s. Don't tell me my speakers aren't good enough to reveal the differences in DACs, because I promise you they are! At this point, I am content with the sound of my system.
     
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  2. Gordon Crisp

    Gordon Crisp Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.A.
    I got a new discounted DV-58AV back in 2010 and I've been very content with it. Solid piece of machinery.
     
  3. Boltman92124

    Boltman92124 Fish tacos

    Location:
    San Diego
    I've got a 1996 Adcom GDA-700 with the balanced BB 1702 pairs. Still best sounding DAC I own...at least compared to my multiple 24 bit Creative Soundcards (AKM chips) and the 24 bit DAC in my Sony DVD player. The older BB chips almost always come with the descriptor of "analog sound".
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
    Ken Clark likes this.
  4. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    Am I correct in saying the BB PCM1796 is a multibit chip? It says 8x oversampling.

    It would be the only source I need in my system if it had a digital in. Disc players with a digital input were pretty rare until very recently I guess.
     
  5. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    The Holo Springs is a very good dac, I am really surprised.
    Isn't the Burr-Brown PCM1796 also used in the Sony XA5400ES?
    That was a great CD/SACD player!
     
  6. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    The Sony SACD player used the DSD variant of the chip, the DSD1796.
     
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  7. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Location:
    sweet VA.
    I've lived with a couple of BB 1792's in a Denon spinner for years now...never felt the need to move on.
     
    MichaelXX2 likes this.
  8. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    I'm not at all surprised. Spending big money on DACs is about equivalent to spending big money on cables.
     
    LedZep2, enfield and MichaelXX2 like this.
  9. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Here's my take: lately we've been told we should prefer Weird DACs. That older DAC technology sounds better then new DAC technology, and thus we should prefer it and of course pay more for it. I definitely bought into this, then I had a similar experience - side by side, my mundane, inexpensive NormalDAC sounded better to my ears then the NOS R2R WeirdDAC that was supposed to be better because it was old and measures bad. I think after listening to distortion for so long, "normal" sounded like a chorus of angels in comparison.

    The 1796 might also be "old" relative to the fact ESS and AKM constantly come out with new DACs that measure even further beyond the reaches of human hearing and capacity to measure inaudible jitter, but there's unlikely much more we can realistically ask from DAC chips.
     
  10. c-eling

    c-eling Love has no date of expiration...

    All hail the 2 x Burr-Brown PCM54HP-K :D
     
    MichaelXX2 likes this.
  11. BruceS

    BruceS Well-Known Member

    Like it...good DACs can turn up in unlikely places. I found that the Analog Devices AD-1855 in, of all places, a Kenwood Minidisc deck, was...well, profound. You just never know!
     
    MichaelXX2 likes this.
  12. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    I definitely agree. The Spring measured really well, however, and by all means it should have sounded exactly the same as any other DAC.

    Be careful with those facts.
     
  13. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Location:
    Adelaide Australia
    It was also used in RX line of Yamaha receivers years ago. Great chip with excellent DSD decoding, but for the PCM eclipsed by newer chips like AK4490.

    Regards
     
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  14. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Location:
    Adelaide Australia
    Are you hitting at price/value proposition here or claiming that it don't make the difference. If later, then o_O.
     
  15. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    To me, it's kind of one in the same. When a $100 DAC is only slightly less enjoyable then a $5000 DAC, the fact I can consistently tell the difference isn't the issue.
     
  16. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Hedonist

    Location:
    Adelaide Australia
    Very general statement to prove your point. I wouldn't spend fortune on DAC either but there are differences. DAC is not just the chip for practical purposes.

    Regards
     
  17. noladaoh

    noladaoh Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia
    The PCM 1794 in my California Audio Labs CD from 1996 sounds fantastic. Extremely smooth with no edges. It has been a remarkable CD player, solid as a rock and a great all around performer.
     
  18. slovell

    slovell Retired Mudshark

    Location:
    Chesnee, SC, USA
    I've got a Pioneer DV-47A in a box somewhere. I haven't listened to it in many years as I moved up to a BluRay player. Should I get it out and spin some cds with it?
     
  19. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Got the same chip in my Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD. Yes, it is good. And in case you were wondering about the extra DAC hardware needed to support this faithfully, it's got one-per-channel socketed DIP8 JRC211D op-amps for I/V, and TI LME49710 (LM4562) for gentle lowpass, also about as good as one might ask for (although a nutty person could plug one of the noisy "discrete" op-amp modules in).

    The only thing that would make it sound "better" for audiophiles would be to have more than 0.0002% THD at -15dB or less than a flat frequency response, and $10000 added to the price.

    I've thought of making a DAC with one 1796 per-channel in differential mode, and pin-incompatible op-amps with less distortion up to 0dB, but it would only be chasing specifications at that point.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
    MichaelXX2 likes this.
  20. jeffsab

    jeffsab Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Where did you find out which chip was in your machine? Or did you just pop the top? I have a DV-48AV.
     
  21. I'll buy that $5000 DAC from you for $1500. It has gotten a bad review and measures poorly.
     
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  22. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    One looks at the service manual, to discover your DVD player has a complement of PCM1742ke/2k DAC chips, with 115dB SNR and 0.0023% THD on the spec sheet (while the actual DAC only gives 106dB SNR, so 115dB must be with muting circuit.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
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  23. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    It’s hard to sell hypothetical items, but if you have cash I can work with you.
     
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  24. George P

    George P Everybody's Lost

    Location:
    NYC
    My Denon DCD-1600NE has a BB 1795 and it sounds great! My old Yamaha CD player has a BB 1780 chip.
     
  25. MichaelXX2

    MichaelXX2 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    I don't expect to start a PCM1796 cult like the TDA1541, but I'm glad to hear that a lot of people have had great experiences with these unassuming little DAC chips.
     

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