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After a long process of prototyping and listening the last design is complete and I now have my first order of PCB's for the StarLightDAC in hand!


starlightdac boards delivery


What is it?

The StarLightDAC is a small desktop USB interface/powered 48 kHz/16 bit DAC using the PCM2704 DAC chip from Texas Instruments.

I first saw this chip in some incredibly cheap Chinese DAC's and this got me thinking. I looked a little further and saw that some very driven DIY HiFi enthusiasts had created some great DAC's using this chip. A single chip solution from TI that has some impressive specifications and doesn't need any drivers or special software for the listener? I knew that if this chip could be implemented well, good sound would surely follow.

The specifications of the PCM2704 are not groundbreaking in the HiFi DAC world of ever climbing sample rates and data size, however when implemented correctly with a few more carefully chosen components and the datasheet in hand the results are surprising. The aim of this project was to produce a smart, simple unit that would add DAC capability to a setup without adding another layer of amplifier, volume control and the associated drawbacks with these. It's simply a DAC box with the analog output of the chip attached to a 3.5 mm TRS socket, ready to go into your favourite headamp, preamp or power amp.

Studying the datasheet it became clear that there were some interesting application notes about sonic performance/linearity and power supply conditioning. Taking this into consideration and adding a few more filters for the analog and digital supplies as well as an LDO Voltage regulator, the performance of the DAC is quite astonishing, especially when considering that it is powered from the great unknown of the USB power supply.


sarlight dac1


A few bits from the datasheet:

On-Chip USB Interface:
– No Dedicated Device Driver Needed (plug and play on PC/Mac)
– Full-Speed Transceivers
– Fully Compliant with USB 1.1 Specification

Sampling Rates: 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz

16-Bit Delta-Sigma Stereo DAC
– THD+N: 0.006% RL > 10 kΩ
– THD+N: 0.025% RL = 32 Ω (it can drive some headphones - pretty well with high sensitivity, low impedance units)
– SNR = 98 dB
– Dynamic Range: 98 dB
– PO = 12 mW, RL = 32 Ω
– Oversampling Digital Filter or serial peripheral interface
– Passband Ripple = ±0.04 dB
– Stop-Band Attenuation = –50 dB
– Single-Ended Voltage Output
– Analog LPF Included (this LPF is a long way away from the audible envelope)


Release and Ordering

A limited number of first units will be available to pre-order via the AskewLabs shop in the next 2-4 weeks at a reduced price. Once these are gone, full price orders can be placed like any other product in the shop. Final prices will be released in the coming week. UK shipping is free, worldwide shipping will be 10 GBP.


Any questions? Please ask them!

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  1. Charles Bonn

    Excellent! Looks like a nice compact DAC that would stack perfectly underneath your AMP!

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