Hifimediy CS4398 “direct out” DAC module, simple build

I recently (late last year) got one of these modules, this one looks intriguing and I’ve been happy with other products (amps and DACS) I’ve purchased from Hifimediy.
finished DAC enclosure
The idea behind this unit is it leaves out the output buffering stage that a lot of DACs have, directly connecting the DAC chip via just a pair of Mundorf caps (reasonable quality) to get rid of the DC offset in the DAC signal. The board is laid out to be easily tweakable, and as the board is it’s only using 1/2 the signal as the DAC has a balanced output. I’m more than happy with the default ouptput so have just simply wired it to RCA outs.

Although there is no opamp on the output, I found the output volume more than high enough, in fact I moved from my p88B preamp (with stepped attenuator) back to my passive preamp (also with stepped attenuator). Now I have nothing but a capacitor and a stepped attenuator between the DAC output and the L20D (itself with bypassed input caps) IRS2029 amp chip 🙂

There is a quite involved thread on DIYaudio forums where the vendor is quire responsive to questions and suggestions.
And another quite detailed thread on Stereo.net.au

I went slighly higher quality on my enclosures and purchased an aluminium enclosure from Sunetec, although not super heavy feeling, it looks quite nice and was easy to work with as all the panels are removable.

enclosure: SV1063 10"x3"x6" Full Aluminum Project Enclosure Instrument Case Electronic Box | eBay
r-core transformer: 220V 30W high quality R Core Transformer 9V+9V | eBay

iec socket/switch/filter module: POWER ENTRY MODULE w Filter 250V SCHURTER 4302.5003 | eBay

ground loop breaker as per: Earthing (Grounding) Your Hi-Fi – Tricks and Techniques

$2.50 aluminium food tray that sacrificed itself to make the partition to shield the DAC from the power section.

rear of finished enclosure

One minor issue with it is although it is sold as a 192K module, I havent been able to get it working at 192khz. I havent tried connecting the sample rate converter module the unit comes with to see if that helps yet – and to me this is minor as I had to hunt around for 192Khz files to test with when this limitation was mentioned.

before front panel put on
before the front panel was put on, showing the nifty input selector switch thats connected by a ribbon cable.
3 PCBs make up the unit
3 PCBs make up the unit, the DAC itself, the input selector, and the optional SampleRateConverter board. I’m presently running without it, the board has a row of jumpers in place of the SRC board when used this way.

1 thought on “Hifimediy CS4398 “direct out” DAC module, simple build

  1. … and after two years of infrequent use, it started smoking!

    Unit is now dead.

    I was connecting it in the loungeroom and the optical input didnt seem to work. Tried USB input with a laptop and smoke came from the DAC board (not from the PSU region either).
    I suspect I have hit the same issue mentioned on the web page for this unit that stopped them selling it.
    I still have the nice enclosure and wiring, I’ll find another DAC board that fits.

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