Compared with Asia, hifi-wise, we live here in Europe on an island of the blessed. In the fast paced world of Hong Kong, local audiophiles naturally expect a totally new technical development every two years. How long have you have your machine? Two years? Get rid of it - there is already something way better! It should be clear of us that this is not possible, but there, it is simply expected.
Back to totaldac: The French hifi scene has always been very creative. There are some very interesting components with new ideas, but unfortunately they do not often make their way across the border. A border doesn't actually exist anymore. Totaldac is a new French company founded by Vincent Brient. He is not an unknown player in France, especially through his connections to Mélaudia, an audiophile group in France. There, his various prototypes were presented and reviewed. Brient previously worked as an electronics engineer in the telecommunications industry. From those days he holds numerous patents. He has been working in the audio industry for a long time, but not with his newly founded company. With him you find the rare combination of an engineer and uncompromising audiophile. In any case, Vincent Brient has come up with quite a few things in his totaldac. This is not the nth variation with an ESS or Wolfson DAC chip, but an entirely new development.
Readers of my articles know that I have a preference for multibit R2R converters, so I also use the BurrBrown 1704 in my DAC. However, this has not been produced for some time now. In the meantime, since several manufacturers possess its qualities, one can imagine that this will entirely disappear from the market sooner or later. Let's consider briefly what we expect from a DAC. To put it simply, it should turn digitalized music back into its analog format, so that in the end, music comes out, rather than just a collection of data. Now 99% of all available digital music is in CD Redbook format, mp3 and other things like that. Let's of course not concern ourselves with the latter. In HighRes format there are a few interesting titles, DSD (no, not DSDS!!) is something for the fans of the French Polynesian Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Eddy Etaeta. Hmm, or was that the football coach? Or both? It doesn't matter. What is more important than to construct one device, that can optimally play the formats of most of the music now available? Of course totaldac also plays HighRes formats up to a sampling rate of 192 kHz in the highest quality.
In D/A conversion, 3 processes are crucial: the conversion process itself, the digital processing before the conversion process and the timing of all these processes. The central idea of Brient in the redesign of his own DAC was, instead of using conventional converter chips - to build a discrete R2R converter. By the way, these chips are called "fleas" in France! The Plague! The use of discrete resistors is not completely new. Professional manufacturers such as Lavry or MSB also employ a similar system in their expensive models. The whole thing is now not only to head off the impending shortage of the BB 1704, but of course primarily to represent an improvement over this.