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Here at Geshelli, we like to find the positive light in an adverse situation. Ours is the absolutely beautiful sounding ESS Sabre series DAC chips.
We went through many iterations of prototypes using the different models and brands and found the ES9026PRO worked best for our design requirements.
We chose the PRO series because of the 4x2 current based configuration. This means, you can tie four independent channels together as one therefore lowering noise and distortion levels. We also chose to run the DAC analog output in current mode.
For our current to voltage conversion we chose the Texas Instruments OPA1656 opamp chips. Like the original JNOG, we are running three independent opamps, which give you the ability to run the XLR (L/R) at the same time as the RCA outputs.
The J2 includes four SPDIF interfaces (two Coaxial, two Toslink). These SPDIF connections are routed through a Texas Instruments DIX9211 digital audio receiver. This provides a 216khz/24bit capable digital signal.
We also kept with the optional Amanero USB Module which allows the user to stream 32bit 384khz PCM signal or bit perfect DSD512. In our opinion, this is the best USB module on the market.
Lastly, for a bit of fun, we incorporated a tricolor LED that can display several colors along with pulse modes and a multicolor mode all controllable at a touch of a button.
Power Button, Input Button - Toslink Input, Coax Input
Amanero USB Module, Coax Input, Toslink Input, RCA Output, XLR R/L Outputs, 12V DC Input
J2 XLR Output - THD+N at Full Volume - This was a random sample taken from new production stock.
We own a fully calibrated APX555 Audio Analyzer in our shop. We use custom made cables with Neutrik connectors and Mogami wire. For these measurements we felt it was fair to pick random samples from our stock. Measurements on different devices can vary based on numerous outside factors including heat, noise (emi), board temperature, etc. For these charts, we simply screen cap the machine while it's running and go with the current measurement at that point in time.
We feel that measurements are useful for debugging hardware, figuring out your sound signature, and overall understanding where your distortion levels are at on the product. We find that it is an important tool to use during development and production testing, but my no means is the great decider for what is good or bad. Audio is an Art Form - You should be the judge for what works for you.
In the end, let's have fun! We are all blessed to be in an era with such wonderful hardware at our fingertips at every corner of the market. Enjoy the gear, the debate, and most importantly - Enjoy the Music!