DAC upgrades / DIY's / Mods

bluedroog

Well-known Member
Hello there,

I'm just wondering if anyone around here has tried any kind of 'upgrades' or mods on their DAC's? I know some audio enthusiasts especially those who also have a little knowledge of electronics are partial to having a fiddle and for them it's often about the process as much as the end results.

I'm not too hot when it comes to soldering irons and op-amps but if I thought it was worth it I could be tempted to send my DAC off for a bit of tinkering from those that do.

I know some people are sceptical of the merits of these kind of changes when in the context of modest kit but I've zero experience so would welcome views on this.

I myself have a Squeezebox Touch (among other sources) feeding a Beresford Caiman and have been intrigued by what is known as a 'Gator board' and wondered if anyone else has tried this? Seems fairly cheap at around £30 or in the region of £50 if you send it off to a specialist such as these guys Audio DAC Upgrade - The Beresford Caiman Audio DAC Upgrade - £6.00 : Tirna Electronics E Shop, Integrated Circuits, SMD DIL Adaptors , Analogue Filters, Electronics Books, Soldering Services and Beresford DAC upgrades - A UK based Company Since 2004 who will do if for you.

So would you say this should be left to those who actually enjoy opening up their DAC's or could this be a plausible cheap upgrade?

Many thanks for you opinions and experiences.
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
What's the system context? The Caiman is already a good DAC so unless the rest of your kit is pretty revealing I'm not sure what improvement you're going to see.
 

Ben Jammin

Active Member
Like most things, some say it does nothing, some say it makes a huge difference.

Out of interest, can you actually tell the difference between Squeezebox DAC and Caiman DAC?
 

bluedroog

Well-known Member
Hi both and thanks for getting back.

My kit is fairly budget, speakers are B&W 602's and amp is Arcam Alpha 8. Although I'm considering the B&W CM8's plus suitable amp in the near future.

Re Touch DAC Vs the Caiman, the Caiman is better but not by much. Had I bought the Touch first and demoed the Caiman it would be unlikely I consider it a worth while upgrade but in some ways glad I got it first.

Some of the mods look quite pricey but the Gator board seems to have something of a fan base and isn't too expensive.

Perhaps I'll give it a try and report back.
 

Ben Jammin

Active Member
:) that would be good for the rest of us! i get the feeling you'd already decided you were going to anyway ;)
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
Well, if I had a system with an Arcam amp in it upgrading the DAC wouldn't be my biggest priority! ;0)

You could tickle the DAC and get a minuscule improvement or wheelie-bin the Arcam and get a massive one. In my humble opinion obviously, cue diatribe from Arcam sheep...
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Well, if I had a system with an Arcam amp in it upgrading the DAC wouldn't be my biggest priority! ;0)

You could tickle the DAC and get a minuscule improvement or wheelie-bin the Arcam and get a massive one. In my humble opinion obviously, cue diatribe from Arcam sheep...
You’d replace the Arcam with a Naim I’ve no doubt?!!!!

:D
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
You’d replace the Arcam with a Naim I’ve no doubt?
People do that. Never seen anyone replace Naim with Arcam funnily enough.

But you could replace it with Rotel, Exposure, a piece of wet string and it would still be an upgrade.
 

bluedroog

Well-known Member
To be fair to the Arcam it was £350 new and has served me well for 15 years!

I might see how easy the gator board is to fit myself, if it looks straight forward enough I'll give it a bash.
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
To be fair to the Arcam it was £350 new and has served me well for 15 years!
Well, in my opinion it's still the weakest link no matter how old it is. You plug that Caiman into a genuinely revealing system and you'd wet yourself! You're trying to upgrade what is already the best thing you've got.

If you upgrade your amp to a Hi-Fi one you'd be delighted with the new sparkling fidelity flowing from your system. But as you've already decided what you're doing anyway I'll shut up and let you get on with it ;0)
 

Alan Mac

Active Member
I'm just wondering if anyone around here has tried any kind of 'upgrades' or mods on their DAC's?
Unless you have suitable test and measuring equipment and the ability to use it, I think it is very unwise to attempt any modifications to commercial electronic equipment.

There is no way that you will be able to detect small changes in performance reliably by ear, even if they exist. The very real risk of damage far outweighs the potential benefits of any “improvements” which are in any case likely to be miniscule.


Alan
 

surayne

Active Member
Changing DACs and modding them seems to be in vogue these days, regardless of the rest of the system... I'm not entirely sure why!

Amp and speakers first. Always.
 

GW43

Member
But you could replace it with Rotel, Exposure, a piece of wet string and it would still be an upgrade.
Always keen to experiment, I tried replacing my Arcam A85 with wet string.

Didn't hear a thing!

  • Was I using the correct type of string?
  • Should I have used mineral water/tap water/distilled water?
  • Should the string be wet, or just damp?
  • Should the string for each channel be the same length?
Please tell me more as I'm keen to get this right!
 

Dazzor

Well-known Member
Always keen to experiment, I tried replacing my Arcam A85 with wet string.

Didn't hear a thing!

  • Was I using the correct type of string?
  • Should I have used mineral water/tap water/distilled water?
  • Should the string be wet, or just damp?
  • Should the string for each channel be the same length?
Please tell me more as I'm keen to get this right!
I perhaps he's referring to some sort of miracle-string made by Naim :laugh:
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
Forum etiquette still eludes me somewhat. Is putting one of these :laugh: after your own jokes similar to canned laughter on a bad sitcom?
 

Mr Pig

Novice Member
:rotfl: = Little Johhny pulled that face and said his cheeky catchphrase

"Tell me somethin' a don't know mama!"
 

bluedroog

Well-known Member
In regards to changing speakers and amps first I think the point here is the upgrade I'm talking about is £30, if it yields some results great, if not so what, I've only spent £30 and I'd say that is a fair price to satisfy my curiosity.

I plan to change all my kit over the next year or two most likely starting with speakers and then amp but at the moment I can only really afford sideways steps and I don't want to do that. This 'upgrade' financially does not hit the pocket but at least could be a bit of fun.
 

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