I was really fed up with the TDA1545 DAC, so I got myself a Terratec DMX 6Fire USB, 24-192, 6 channels, over USB2, windows only of course, € 220.
The construction feels solid, metallic enclosure, lots of ports, this box is very neat.
This device is a clock master, it doesn't use USB for clocking.
Overall sound quality is revolting. Bass is quite dynamic, there are some details present, and all the rest is harsh, thin, aggressive, and uninteresting. It sounds like a badly implemented 1-bit, from the good old days when digital really sucked.
The sound of the headphone jack is remarkably identical to the sound through the speakers, except the bass has been murdered and it is still more agressive and harsh.
After listening to it for 15 minutes, I got bored, opened it, screamed, closed it, and will pack it and return it for refund.
in a word, worse than a 30 € divx player, in absolute quality, and obviously the price/performance ratio is a total failure.
Opening it reveals :
- Cypress USB/CPU chip
- Xilinx Spartan-3E 100
- 24.576 and 22.592 MHz clocks fed from unbypassed supplies (just a choke)
- Obviously the clock (instead of being properly routed) goes through the FPGA, then through about 7 cm of trace, then to the DAC.
- DAC is CS42426
- Opamps are JRC4580
- Not a single film cap in sight, everything is either ceramic or no-name electrolytics (Evercon, Suncap, all signal caps are Canicon), so probably rather low lifetime...
- All audio filter caps are ceramic of course
- A couple low-ESR caps around the ADC, one at the DAC
- And a bit of green wire ! (which is actually red) so apparently Terratec is too cheap to respin a failed PCB.
Verdict : Complete Failure.
It is much worse than the sound from my desktop motherboard (which is below average), much worse than the sound from my RME (which is average) and it is even worse than the sound from the laptop's line out (which so totally sucks).
Innards :http://home.peufeu.com/nik/dac/Terratec ... e_USB1.jpghttp://home.peufeu.com/nik/dac/Terratec ... e_USB2.jpghttp://home.peufeu.com/nik/dac/Terratec ... e_USB3.jpg