Xiang Sheng USB DAC-01A Review

// August 15th, 2012 // Reviews, Technology

China is one of the up and coming of good quality but affordable high fidelity equipment. Case in point is the Xiang Sheng USB DAC-01A. Before we continue, for those who don’t know what is a DAC, its an acronym for Digital-Analog Converter. In this case, it converts the digital signal from the USB port to analog signal and passes to an amplifier. The Xiang Sheng USB DAC-01A is an affordable box, but packs a punch in features. I won’t attempt to go into every feature, but just the cool ones that made me throw down the cash to buy one.

Xiang Sheng USB DAC-01A

Xiang Sheng USB DAC-01A

Tube Output
If you are looking for a tube output at an inexpensive price, stop reading this article and just go out and buy it. I have not seen one at this low price before. The tube itself is not high-end (you cannot seriously expect high-end for this price), and uses a China made 6N3 tube. From what I’ve read in the online forums, you can tube roll this bugger.

Solid State Output
Ok, since you are still reading, it means you are not sold yet. To sweeten the features, it comes with a solid state output as well. Yes, dual output. The Opamps are OPA2604 x 1 and LF353N x 2. The OPA2604 is socketed, so it’s designed for Opamp rolling as well. At the same time, the headphone output passes through the Opamps as well.

Inputs
It was several inputs – on the digital side, you get Co-axial, USB and Optical. On the analog side, you get two additional RCA ports for Aux and CD/DVD.

Volume Control
It has a volume control knob, which is useful because the OS volume control in my Hackintosh doesn’t work. Most USB DAC I’ve tested doesn’t support software volume control. However, the Xiang Sheng USB DAC-01A only allows you to control the volume for the headphone output only. The headphone output does not go through the tube stage, and is purely solid state.

Pretty annoying, no way to control the volume on the tube side. Good thing we have Google. It was discussed in a forum that it is possible to modify it, and allow the volume knob to control the tube (and solid state) output volume. To make the story short, I wrote an email to the manufacturer, and they replied the very next morning. So easy, just change two jumpers and its done. Take note you have to break the warranty stickers to open the box though.

One beef I have is the volume knob itself, in particular, the way it turns.  The volume knob has detents and “clicks” as you turn it. Total opposite of the smooth turning volume knob I was expecting.

Sound
Every time I play something off it, I kept asking how is it possible to get this quality for such a price? Sound separation is very good, and I could hear individual instruments and sound distinctly. It has a wide sound stage, and nice warmth from the tube. Once it warms up, the dynamic range soars and the crescendos really punches. A really good hoot.

Reviewed by: Cosmo Kramer

9 Responses to “Xiang Sheng USB DAC-01A Review”

  1. jacky tang says:

    where to buy this product in singapore/thanks..

  2. Christian says:

    Thank you for this good review. I have ordered this DAC, and have to modify the volume to regulate the two line-outputs. Can you please tell me where I can find out about the jumpers / chematics to fix this?

    Thanks, and Happy New year to you
    Christian
    christian 1963 (at) gmail com

  3. ed says:

    where to find the jumpers and how to change ?

  4. Elvin says:

    Hi,

    Got this DAC recently. I’m interested to convert this into a preamp. Could you please share on what to do with the jumpers? Thanks

  5. Chris says:

    Would you mind sending me the instructions on how to modify so I can use as SS preamp? Thanks!

  6. ALAIN ROUX says:

    Hi,
    How to change the two jumpers for to control the volume of tubes
    Best regards
    Alain ROUX
    FRANCE

    • admin says:

      Hi there, this is the instruction provided by Xiang Sheng.


      DISCLAIMER: Follow the steps carefully and use it at your own risk.


      Regarding the question you mentioned, please make sure the version of the DAC-01A you had. We have the standard version and the upgraded version. You can clasify from the opamps. For the standard version, there are only two opamps in it. While for the upgraded versioon, it has 3 opamps.


      Here is the method of making it possible to use the volume control for the output. Please check it.


      With the default setting, the black jumpers are connected as 2+3 and b+c. If you cannot read the printing on the circuit board, use a magnifying glass- this is very important to connect the jumpers to the right place. Use a smalll tweezer to pull off the black jumpers and connect one as 1+2 and the other one as a+b. Then the volume potentiometer could control both the headphone output volume and the output volume.

  7. Freddy says:

    Hi, just FYI. I was looking to purchase the DAC-01A. Some online search later I came across the manufacturer’s taobao front. The now have a version called DA-03A which comes with better DAC chips and the GE tube. No idea how the DAC-01A sounds, but this one is pretty good.

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