We’ve all read about the bargain DACs one can find on eBay, typically originating from China. Some, like the one I bought, use the venerable Philips TDA1543 converter chip which can be found in DACs from BorderlPatrol (the DAC SE has been in barn for some time and you can expect to read that review next week), 47 Laboratory, and Audio Note to name just a few.
The TS1543 is a non-oversampling (NOS) converter chip with no digital filter and has been out of production for some time. If you’ve read reviews of any of the aforementioned DACs, you’ll more than likely come across the word “natural” or some variation thereof in all of ’em.
The LITE PHILIPS TDA1543 X8 in parallel Hi-End Audio DAC I purchased on eBay cost me $125 + shipping and arrived a week or so after I ordered it. As I do with most new gear that arrives in barn I unboxed it, sorry no video but the box was rectangular and made out of cardboard with clear tape keeping it shut, and set it into my system for a quick listen. “Wow”, I thought after just a few minutes, “that sounds fairly decent.”
“Wait a minute, that sound. . .good!” Then I got back to what I was doing prior to the Lite DAC’s arrival and it went on the on-deck rack.
Yesterday was time to begin the review proper so back into my system it went, leashed to the dCS Network Bridge with a length of Coax. “Wow”, I thought while typing at my desk, “Something doesn’t sound right.” Lo and behold the right channel was silent while the left channel sung. I re-checked all connections, cables, and so on but nothing I did could make stereo sound come out of the Lite DAC.
I opened her up hoping to find a loose connection but no luck. How about a smoking gun? Nope. A hungry Megaloptera? Not a chance. In brief, we’re talking verkacken.
The good news is the seller has a 1 year warranty. The bad news is the last words of that Warranty sentence read “carry in.” The next time I’m in China, I’ll make sure to bring my LiTe DAC-AH with me so I can get it repaired. Seeing as I’ve never been to the Chinat and have no plans to go [footnote 1], I’m hoping I have something that needs to be 2 1/2″ higher and would look good sitting on top of the LiTe DAC-AH.
While a good-sounding DAC that costs $125 + shipping sounds nearly too good to be true, just remember when buying DACs from overseas with a carry in return policy, you are rolling the dice. You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?
1. I know a guy and I know a guy who knows a guy that may take pity and take a look at my left-handed eBay DAC. If that happens, and he can fix it for next-to-nothing, I’ll report back.