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TOPIC: External I2S DAC for 2X4 HD

External I2S DAC for 2X4 HD 3 days 18 hours ago #42665

  • josecdj
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Hello,

This is my first post so I have to start saying thank you to this community for being so useful, specially during the first steps with the Minidsp when I was still quite unsure about what I was doing...Reading people's advice here really made a difference for me.

Overall, I am very happy with my 2X4 HD unit after some time using it for a 2.1 system (sub Xover + room correction) but the port distribution is really not fitting my needs, so I am planning to move it to a new case and relocate all ports to the rear plate, leaving the IR port and power LED noly at the front.
As part of this change, I am also considering the option to add an external I2S DAC board but I am not sure which are the best valid options out there; most of the stuff I see are Raspberry Pi hats, which I am not sure will be totally compatible with the Minidsp I2S output.

Does anyone have a recommendation that improves the standard analog ouput of the 2X4 HD and has a reasonable price/performance ratio?

Thanks!
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External I2S DAC for 2X4 HD 1 day 15 hours ago #42726

  • scan80269
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Not sure what your DAC budget is, but if you are up to doing some soldering work (through-hole), DIYINHK site sells a wide variety of DAC boards/kits based on chips from AKM, ESS, TI and Analog Devices. Lots of performance and price points to choose from.

A short custom cable will be needed to run I2S from the 2x4 HD board to the DAC board.
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External I2S DAC for 2X4 HD 1 day 11 hours ago #42728

  • josecdj
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Thanks, I have no strict budget for this but anything up to 100€ or so will be fine.
I have some soldering skills but would prefer not to solder a whole pcb, I don’t trust myself so much specially if we are talking about an expensive option or something that comes from the other side of the world and I can easily screw up, eheh

Are there any reasonably “ready to wire” options that you can recommend?
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External I2S DAC for 2X4 HD 1 day 9 hours ago #42732

  • scan80269
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I forgot to mention that since your system is 2.1, you will need two stereo DAC boards or one multi-channel DAC boards to link up with the 2x4 HD I2S outputs.

There are quite a few pre-assembled DAC boards on eBay, but practically all of them are stereo (2-channel). Ditto for the DAC boards from DIYINHK. Running I2S from 2x4 HD to a pair of DAC boards via a Y cable may be risky, as I2S signal integrity is very sensitive to cable length, type and shielding (or lack thereof). I'm facing a similar challenge trying to tap I2S from 2x4 HD to convert to SPDIF using small boards.

miniDSP does have the miniDAC8 board with 8 channels and featuring the AK4440 D-to-A chip. This board was designed to sit on top of the miniSHARC board, but should be adaptable to your custom audio project. From the wiring standpoint the miniDAC8 should be among the simplest to link to 2x4 HD I2S outputs, though the two boards are still not a perfect match, as, for example, the 2x4 HD I2S pin header provides a +3.3V pin whereas the miniDAC8 requires +5V power.
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External I2S DAC for 2X4 HD 23 hours 33 minutes ago #42734

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I have also considered to use just 1 stereo DAC for channels 1 and 2, the ones that go the the main speakers, and leave channel 3 and 4 as direct outputs from the Minidsp. Channel 3 goes to the SW so I thought the DA conversion here is less critical, and channel 4 remains unused.
Is this technically possible or will the connection of an I2S DAC automatically disable the native DAC?
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