Jay's Audio DAC2-MK3 (Soekris dam1941-12)

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by kray, Sep 12, 2022.

  1. kray

    kray Rando

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    Does anyone have any experience with this newer DAC from Jay's? There seems to be very little details on it.

    https://www.jays-audio.com/dac2-mk3

    I am in the market for a ~$3k R2R DAC and this one has fit the bill feature wise. Seems to be built like a tank, has volume control if needed, and uses Soekris 1941 fully balanced R2R board.

    I currently have a Sonnet Morpheus, but wanted to try some others, including Denafrips Venus II.

    If not this specific DAC, anyone have experience with a good DAC based on the Soekris dam1941? Would this OEM board be a step above the 2541 DAC directly from Soekris?
     
  2. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    I'm going to level with you, that thing looks like a POS and I can't believe it costs $3200 USD
    let's break it down

    Soekris 1941 board. ok, ignoring OEM pricing, this costs 550 euro. it is the heart of the unit and is responsible for D/A, I/U conversion, digital inputs (except for the for-no-good-reason fashionable i2s which Jay's have added a jumper board for) and volume control.

    so all Jay's has to do is provide a case, an output buffer and power supply to make this worth a princely sum of $3200

    power supply in this unit looks gross. like, really gross. firstly 1/5th of the chassis is reserved for 'Proprietary AC Power Filtering, specifically tuned for DAC2-MK3'. Well I can assure you there is nothing proprietary or special about that AC input board. it is a CLCLCL filter filled with the cheapest and nastiest Rifa capacitors & Epcos inductors which are meant for industrial applications and not audio. such a board will only serve to choke the sound dynamics and tone, and the DAC will sound better with it bypassed.

    next we get the cheapo potted Talema mains transformers which are OK for low-cost space-saving products such as the $100-200 Chinese DACs which have flooded the market in recent years. for $3,200, a joke. the rest of the power supply is bog standard LMxxx regulators and surface-mount diodes. yawn. so boring and bad I would rather have the encapsulated Meanwell supplies that Soekris uses in his own DACs...

    I don't even want to talk about the output buffer.

    to be clear I don't have any problems with Chinese audio products. now China is manufacturing extremely cheap DACs which are on par or exceeding performance of Western counterparts. the problem is that they have caught on to the marketing methodology (big metal case) and buzzwords (linear, discrete, regulated, R2R) that can be used to sell products which are often barely better and sometimes even worse than the entry level bargain stuff for upmarket prices. Jay's is a good example of the latter.

    $3,200 USD is a small fortune to spend on a DAC. I would look for some real innovation in such a product, some manifestation of the designer's unique ideology or evidence of attention to detail and execution. not cookie cutter Lego dac boards in a metal case
     
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  3. Beefy

    Beefy Almost "Made"

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    I don't want to speak too much to that specific product without having heard it, but I will note that I don't think the 1941 is the latest board/tech/design from Soekris.

    The old flagship 1541 and the OEM/DIY 1941 do have a fully balanced R-2R ladder. The newer 2541 does just have a single ended ladder plus a phase splitter to generate a balanced signal. This might be a bit less technically impressive on the 2541. But on the plus side, the newer 2541 (and the dam1021 rev.7) have important changes to the Vref and other on-board power supplies, the clocking, and the way that the shift registers are driven (which should produce less jitter). I think these improvements are more meaningful in terms of sound quality.

    All in all, I can't see *any* boutique product built on the 1941 being *that* much technically superior to the 2541 (or even the much cheaper 1021 rev.7).

    @k4rstar's analysis seems spot on as well, I personally can't see where all that extra cost comes from vs the official Soekris product. It does look pretty though.
     
  4. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    But wait, look how neat and colourful the boards are laid out!!! And how THICCC that front and side casing is!!! And all the brand name parts which they say is “boutique”!!! This thing must sound better than a Wave Dream and maybe even compete with DCS at a fraction of the price! Amazing!!!!
     
  5. kray

    kray Rando

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    @k4rstar thank you for the great honest feedback. It helps a lot. This info will definitely make me hard pass on it.

    Although I enjoy the sound from my new Sonnet Morpheus, I feel the build quality is lacking for a $3k DAC.

    The Denafrips Pontus/Venus DACs look very well made, but I'm no expert like you when seeing some of this stuff. And I've heard, which take with a grain of salt, that Denafrips has a lot of returned/repair units due to bad quality parts.
     
  6. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    You don't seem to have an issue with the janky looking Abbas DAC, which is kinda funny :D
     
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  7. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    At this price level I'd consider a seriously innovative DAC such as the Holo Audio Spring 3. Not a cookie cutter design.
     
  8. k4rstar

    k4rstar Britney fan club president

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    actually the abbas dac is beyond jank, it's built like total shit. when I first got mine the AC input trace on the PCB was shorted to a chassis screw and tripped the breaker in my home. I spent an hour with a multimeter to figure that out and fixed it. part of why I hesitate to recommend his products publicly to anyone

    that being said, at the very least he is doing something unique and thinking outside the box with his circuit design and implementation, even if the execution is shoddy. I sold my abbas stuff to friends who knew what they were getting into and could look after it in case of issues.
     
  9. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Wow! Just Wow!
    That is unbelievable to have not been caught before shipping. I know boutique can be, um, interesting but at least a QC of power up or a more robust PCB layout to preclude a short from PCB shift during shipping.
     
  10. Ksaurav402

    Ksaurav402 Friend

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    Well if any consolation, my Sonnet DAC has been on trip with me across continents multiple time. Thrown across in the checking luggage, well packed though, but works as fine as anything.
     
  11. kray

    kray Rando

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    Thanks for the response. I had several slight issues with mine, it's new so was expecting better, but I love the sound so much, and the dealer is gracious enough to send me a new one after inspecting a new shipment that should arrive in 2 weeks. So I think I will keep the Sonnet with these two issues fixed. One of the issues I fixed myself. One of the RCA jack was wobbly, it was just not tightened down behind the case. The other two:

    1. Sonnet figured a tweak (based on what they learned from Pasithea) to lower noise. Instead of new PCB's they are doing the "blue (yellow) wire" update, but mine looks like a terrible solder job. See pic.

    2. the i2s module is seated perfectly and screwed in correct but is way off from the hole in the casing. with the RJ45 cable plugged in it's extremely close to touching the edges of the metal case, especially if the cable is taut to that side.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2022
  12. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Wow, my I2S module had the same issue on the Metrum Jade, years ago…
     
  13. joch

    joch Friend

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    Not to take anything away from Jay’s, but it looks like the DAC has gone through a couple of parties before being offered as a final product. Past products made by the OEM have been undercut when the manufacturer sold similar spec DACs against Jay’s.

    The much smaller and excellent Soekris made 2541 is less than half the price of the Jay’s. I think the best way to enjoy Soekris’s engineering work is to get it from the source. The money saved can go to upgrading your chain.
     
  14. Tachikoma

    Tachikoma Almost "Made"

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    Now, I know they seem similar, but Jay's Audio is Singaporean, not Chinese <_<
     
  15. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Facebook Friend

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    If we want to talk about interesting Chinese DACs there are two that seem unique, based on what I see in Chinese audio forum.

    One looks like "highly inspired" by Rockna Wavedream. I think the name is Accurate Audio D1000. It has been measured by Mr. Wolf before.

    https://www.l7audiolab.com/f/made-in-china-20-price-80-quality-rm-of-accurate-d1000-r2r/

    The other is Hibiki SDS. This one seems more unique, designed by Sosolar who got into conflict with Airist if you guys remember. I think this one is not R2R but uses similar concept as dCS ring DAC.
     

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