Review of LiTe DAC Ah

Review of LiTe DAC Ah

 

daclight_frontThe LiTe Dac Ah is an affordable non-oversampling Digital to Analogue Converter.  At a price that will tempt the hobbiest, how good is this Far Eastern wonder?

 

This review of the LiTe DAC Ah was originally published in Affordable$$Audio E-Zine in the May 07.  With kind permission of Affordable$$Audio and the Author Robert Powell I am pleased to re-publish it here.

 

Specifications:

  • DAC Chips: 8 Paralleled Philips TDA-1543 non-oversampling
  • Digital Receiver: CS8414
  • Op Amp: Burr brown
  • Inputs: Coax and Toslink
  • Output: RCA
  • Power supply: 3 regulated isolated units
  • Dimensions: 2.6H x 5.9W x 9.1D
  • Weight: 2.5kg
  • Price: $175 (USD)
  • Distributor: https://www.pacificvalve.us/LTDACAH2.html


Imagine the scene from a 40s or 50s British black and white movie, say Brief Encounter with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. Everyone smoked cigarettes then and you were thought of as very unusual if you did not.

 

“ I say old chap don’t suppose you’ve got a light have you?”

“Yes, here you are”, click, click, click

“Thanks” (inhales cigarette smoke)

 

These days, light is more often than not spelled Lite and tends to be used to denote something that is good for you. Lite foods contain less fat or less sugar than their counterparts. Lite beer has less alcohol. In the case of the LiTe Dac Ah, LiTe must refer to the price. £125 ($250) delivered from Hong Kong to the U.K door to door. I ordered mine direct from www.diyclub.biz For your money you get the following :-


An R-Core transformer.
8xTDA 1543 DAC chips
CS 8414 digital receiver
3 separate rectifiers and regulators


I have owned 5 Dacs (including the LiTe)

 

a)  A QED Digit (later modified to reference standard)

b)  A Cambridge DACMagic 1

c)  A Cambridge DACMagic 2i (heavily modified)

d)  A Cambridge IsoMagic with Pacific Microsonics HDCD chip (which also doubles as an isolation platform)

e)  The LiTe DAC Ah.

 

The LiTe is a non-oversampling DAC and therefore different from all of the above. It uses 8 Philips TDA 1543 chips, feeding the signal from one chip to the next to correct any errors and is a substitute for over-sampling. No digital filters are used. Non-oversampling DACs are said to have a softer presentation and a more relaxed delivery, basically less digital. I had read good things about them, but the thing that interested me more than anything else was the price. I love a bargain.


daclite_insideThe one thing I was apprehensive about was ordering it direct from Hong Kong and whether it would arrive in one piece. I needn’t have worried. In just over a week I got home from work and a plain brown paper package was waiting on the door step. As I started to open I listened for the tell tale noise of loose bits slopping around. I heard nothing. It was very well packed.

 

The black metal case measures H60xW147xD215mm and is the shape of a cigar box. You can dismantle the box completely should you so desire. It consists of a main chassis with the back, front, top and bottom screwed to it. It was very easy to lift the lid and have a peek inside.


Everything was very neat. I did not scrutinize the quality of the soldering, as I was keen to get the unit plugged in to see if it worked. By the way the circuit board is red and said to be a special for www.diyclub.com. Exactly why it is “special” is not explained, but I assume that it is of a better quality to previous incarnations. The front panel contains the on/off switch and a blue LED. The rear panel holds the Digital in connections for RCA coaxial and Optical and the RCA analogue outs. There is a switch to select between coaxial or optical digital in. The unit feels well made, if weight is an indicator of quality.

 

I made all the necessary connections with the digital feed taken from the Cambridge 640C v 2. The digital signal was passed along a Supra PPX cable. I have used this for some years. Said to be a true 75ohms. It is a no nonsense cable at a reasonable price. Very extensive use of this cable and comparisons with other digital cables tell me that it adds very little to the equation. For the analogue connections to my pre-amp I used QED Silver Spiral, from the same stable as the QED Genesis speaker cable I use. The cable was picked up at a show as off-cuts and terminated by me for a fraction of its retail cost. QED Silver Spiral retails for £90 ($180) per metre pair. QED Genesis speaker cable retailed for £30 ($60) per metre. I obtained mine from an audiojumble (gathering) – a bargain.


I like components that allow you to choose your mains cable. The LiTe has an IEC socket so the choice is yours. I chose a Supra LoRad cable that I had made myself, terminated at one end with a Wattgate 320 IEC and the other with a good quality M.K 13A plug. Supra LoRad is a shielded mains
cable sold by the metre; or you can buy ready terminated lengths. The shield has a drain wire so that you can connect this to earth.


I was now ready to LiTe up. I hit the on switch and the blue LED came on, a good start. I played a CD and sound came out. Things were looking good. I left the CD on repeat and went away.