Wednesday, October 19, 2016

PCM 1704 still the best chip

A comparison of several top sigma delta converters and the venerable PCM 1704 puts the 1704 on top.

Nowadays, however, it may be possible to do even better but at even more cost building your own flash converter, from FPGA's or something like that, as MSB does, and I think one of the Swiss high end companies also.

As recently as 2013, Lynn Olson of Positive Feedback was still saying the PCM 1704 was the best--better than the then-champion ESS 9018, the TOTL sigma delta converter still used in many well known recommended components.  And he says specifically what I say, that sigma delta converters sound like something is missing (I would say "lifeless") while the grand flash converter is full of life.

Recently I've had to take my Krell FBP 300 offline for repair and put the Aragon 8008BB back online.  It has a far more agressive high end, and can easily sound strident playing SACD's such as the RCA Living Stereo hybrid disc with Tchaikovsky's Pathetique on my Sony DVP-9000ES.  When I played the CD layer on the Pioneer PD-75, it sounded about the same (another bitstream 1-bit sigma delta converter).  But on the Denon DVD-9000, it was several notches better, much cleaner.  The Aragon is what you'd call a "revealing" amplifier but what it may be revealing is its own high frequency instability being set off by high frequency noise from the 1-bit converters.

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