ANK Audiokits DAC 2.1 Level A and B
Non Oversampling Digital-to-Analog Converter
Our aim at ANK Audiokits is to provide hi-end audiophile performance at prices most people can afford. Our range of DAC kits does just that starting with the DAC 2.1 A. This model was first introduced in 2007 and is now one of our biggest selling products. It incorporats the updated M2 Power Supply PCB with mounted heat sinks, Audio Note Digital Board, and a 6922/6DJ8 Output Stage designed by Audio Note UK's engineer Andy Grove.
The 2.1 B has the addition of I/V Transformers to maximize energy transfer in the digital to analog section coupling.
Even though the Dac 2.1 A is our lowest priced DAC, it hits well above it's price point and is a true audiophile DAC in it's own right. It is also a great investment as it can later be upgraded all the way up to the top of the line DAC 4.1.
To complete the pure digital to analogue design of the DAC 2.1 the digital board uses the Audio Note Non Oversampling architecture for sonic purity and has No Analog Filtering (analog filtering has been totally removed). We have found Oversampling and having Analog Filtering in the signal path has a marked detrimental effect on sound quailty.
Here are some of the things that make this DAC kit a clear cut above the rest:
We have recently written a report titled Understanding How DACs Work. The article explaines the architecture of Ladder type Dac chips
(which we use in our DACs) and the more common Delta-Sigma type DAC chips and how these can have a negative impact on sound quality.
If you are unsure about what a DAC is or its role in your hi-fi system see our explanation here.
* The Digital Board can be upgraded with an Audio Note Digital Interface Transformer (with toroidal core made from very thin laminate spun 80% nickel strip)
A USB interface is also available for all configurations of the DAC 2.1.
The M2 Power Supply is an enhanced PCB version of the original M2 Power Supply taken from Audio Note UKs finished products line. This uses a Mains Transformer/Choke combination with 6X5 for Tube Rectification and an ECL82 for Regulation. This powers a high quality 6922 Analog Output stage.
Also, as with all the very latest Audio Note DAC's, the DAC 2.1 comes without an analog filter.
Anatomy of the DAC 2.1 - Level B version
Signature Digital Board Option
The Signature Digital Board includes high quality Nichicon Capacitors without any digital or analog filtering - giving it it's highly praised Audio Note sound.
USB Input Option
Switchable between any two inputs from the following three choices:
||Single-ended stereo outputs via Left/Right RCA sockets|
||2.5V RMS both channels|
||15" wide, 16" back to front, 5.75" height including height from floor|
Inputs and Outputs
There is one RCA input, one XLR input, and one USB input (RCA + USB Options shown above). Any two can be made active and switched between using the switch located below the RCA input.
Two RCA, line level outputs (left and right) are shown on top of each other.
Level B's I/V Transformers
The picture on the left shows how the I/V transformers are clamped and mounted on the chassis.
The I/V transformers were specially designed by AudioNote engineering to provide an affordable yet highly effective transformer for the DAC 2.1 Kit.
I/V Transformers are used to maximize the energy transfer during the Current-to-Voltage phase of the conversion; resulting in increased dynamics.
An extract from the article 'Why is Audio Note's 1x oversampling unique?' by Andy Grove describes the use and advantages of the I/V transformer:
The output of most resistor ladder DAC chips is in the form of a current rather than a voltage. There are many ways to convert the current into a voltage but the most commonly used system is that of an op-amp connected as an I to V converter. This system requires the use of a high degree of feedback, and as a result there are problems associated with it. One of those is internal slew rate limiting of the op-amp itself. The rate of change of current at the output of even an audio DAC is very fast indeed. Even modern fast op-amps will slew limit internally and that affects sound quality. Some engineers have found that using extremely fast op-amps improves the sound quality, but we have completely sidestepped the issue by using a transformer I/V system. The transformer not only provides an I to V function but the way it is used in our latest DACs transfers maximum energy from the DAC chip itself. This in itself reduces overshoot and ringing and because the system is slightly overdamped the rise time is reduced to an acceptable rate as well.
The full article can be seen in the Related Links section below.
Pricing and Configuration
If you would like to purchase a DAC 2.1 model, please follow the SHOP navigation button at the top of the page
or contact us if you have any questions.
We have included a 1KHz test tone WAV file here that may be useful when you are building your DAC Kit. It allows you to feed the signal into your DAC so that test voltages can be measured.
Click here to play the file.
To download the file to your computer, right-click on the link and select 'Save Target As...' (Internet Explorer) or 'Save Link As...' (Firefox) from the pop-up menu.
Dac arrived at 7:00PM central time. I installed the tubes and listened for about an hour.
O my God! This thing straight out of the box with no warm up is amazing. I played a recording of the Bach Chaconne transcribed for piano by Helene Grimaud and it brought tears to my eyes.
If it gets better with breakin I don't know if I will be able to survive live music in my house.
Just to let you know my system is Sony 5400es as transport AudioNote 2.1B dac Shindo Auriges tube preamp Gilmore Raptor monoblocks
Maggie 3.6's. I also have analog but I may never listen to it again.
Thank you very much. You have made my life even more enjoyable.
I used to think of CD's as a second rate source that was fine for background music or in my car. I think I just changed my mind.
I just listened to Reference Recording's "Tempest" which was made from an analog master. First time a violin didn't sound harsh from a CD. I'm a believer and going to listen to some more CD's now.
1 more week and I finally got the whole dac up and running! Building this kit was an enjoyable experience - no outstanding difficulty, voltage measurements and shining leds confirmed me that everything was on tracks, and I had sound out of the box as soon as it was plugged on my amp...
In fact, my first attempt at playing music was through the spdif input - very surprisingly, the music was playing slow motion ;-) this, however, has certainly to do with my soundcard driver, because the speed was absolutely normal once plugged through usb. Will investigate the spdif later...
And what a sound ! to be honest, I was quite anxious to purchase a high end dac on the basis of readings and comments only... but I'm now pretty glad I did. From my first impressions, music sounds both dark and lively, with powerful bass and low-middle. Voices feel warm and well defined. Highs are smooth (I'm feeling a lack of vocabulary there - guess I haven't spent enough time on audiophile forums yet ;-) )... and the overall feeling is very pleasurable. I feel that the dac fits well with my system, which I sometimes found a bit bright and cold up to now.
I now need some time to get familiar with this new combo... and let him some time to burn in, I suppose.
However, thanks for your advice, support, and for delivering such a great kit !
Quite impressed with the performance at this point, sure it sounds new, but much better in new form/out of the box than I had expected! The presentation is quite liquid yet fast and with great detail. Humanism in voice already exceeds my Saturn. I'm looking forward to further burning in. I've got to try the USB side of things later in the week.
Its apparent that the construction is very solid and well designed as this unit is relatively simple to effect sufficient isolation to, first crack at isolation and the test, lifting the unit in hands while in play had little impact on the results. Just might be looking at an amplifier early in the new year....
Thank you and regards,
...it is absolutely brilliant! :) Worked first time. Replacing my modified Beresford DAC, the AN DAC has really made a difference and now shows what my home designed amps and newly acquired AZ-Three (hempconed) loudspeakers can do. From what I can recall, it certainly sounds like the factory built 2.1 DAC:
Many thanks and will update you with photos later.
The sound is smooth and natural with a lot of details. I am re-discovering my old albums.
Anyway, it has been fun and a challenge to build this excellent DAC. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it tastes really good.
I completed the DAC L2.1B today, used around 10 hours to complete! Now enjoy the music! One word to say, wonderful! Very musical and dynamic, powerful high and low frequency! I can't heard from my DIY TDA1543 DAC that I built before, also the low level dynamic is excellent! World class DAC! Highly recommend for everyone!
What an awesome kit, thanks!
I'm really impressed with the 6922 output stage as well. It is really clean and clear, and homongenous as well , i.e. with no single attribute of the music being emphasized. Those EH 6922's are really well-balanced also, or is it just the character of the output stage that the brand of tube isn't critical?"
...Of interest to the kit builder is the quality of components and support; Both are absolutely first rate and I would have no hesitation in recommending this kit to anyone else...
...Overall though, it's good fun to build and is very easy on the ears... Isn't that what it's all about? Ten out of Ten.
After 200h I will make an audio report.
The Manual is very good and easy to use."
Many hours later...
"Unbelievably (from) a CD so much music. I understand the world no longer. I know many brands Conrad Johnson, Audio Research and many other expensive audio equipment. I have never heard music so natural, not from CDs!"
Randy Morgan, Atlanta
It is early days but it does sound very good - extremely refined and detailed.
Kind regards and thank you for such a truly excellent product.
Thanks so much for your help.
Richard Carter, UK
Michael B. Haener
|Jackson Hui, Australia|
|Rifat Gürsel, France|
This DAC allowed me to hear more layering in older jazz recordings which were sometimes recorded with bass and drums in one channel making it difficult to follow individual players. Try Bill Evans' "Live at the Village Vanguard" to get a sense of this. You should be able to hear the players at different depths of the stage instead of on top of one another...
...The overall sense that listening to this unit gives me is that the performers are not just performing, they are performing for you. I cannot count how many times I have been listening and have had an involuntary reaction in my gut to passages I have heard a hundred times before. There are some discs that have languished in my collection that have found new life with this unit. If you haven't found yourself listening to a CD from start to finish for a while, skipping all but your favorite cuts, give this DAC a try. It is not the music you are tired of, it may be the presentation of it. Just be sure that you don't have to get up early the next morning, it may be morning before you finally stop listening...
There was an aspect beyond the specific description of the sound. It had a natural quality, harmonic. The dimensionality was unlike I have experienced before. Quite amazing – maybe I could have heard this much sooner if I had tripled my investment years before… I am a hopeless tinker but I have had no interest in modifying the DAC L2.1 (I purchased all the extras)...
|Richard Rose - Glendale, CA|
|Paul Brookes - UK|