"Chime" USB DAC (discontinued)
The Chime USB DAC was designed to provide the ultimate in CD redbook replay. The topology employs
the best available PCM (non-sigmadelta) 24-bit converters matched with a novel linear-phase passive
output filter and I-V translator (no feedback opamps). A special flywheel type VCXO-based PLL performs
reclocking duty right at the converter, eliminating all audible jitter from the previous interface and
processing sections. Redbook 16-bit data is synchronously upsampled to 24-bit data at a 352.8k
word rate. Special care has been taken to insure premium quality transmission of digital signal routing
for lowest noise and minimal current spike injection into the power and ground planes. All analog
amplification is accomplished using zero-feedback linear vacuum tube gain stages. Even a tube rectifier
provides the high voltage. Components are of the highest quality, no corners were cut in this design.
The chassis has a very professional appearance and is made from solid aluminum extrusions. The Chime is
very accommodating to tube rolling so you can tune sonics to your taste.
The Chime has selectable input sources; two S/PDIF and one USB. Yes, use your computer to play CDs
or files from the hard drive! Works great with Foobar2000 and iTunes. The Chime even comes with a
volume control and phase switch, removing the need for a linestage. This makes for a superb minimalist
system: laptop, Chime, amplifier, speakers.
Expert DIYers can build this lovely machine themselves. The half-kit
version will cost you approximately $1000 in raw parts (this ain't no discount design). Use parts from
your existing stock or upgrade to exotic and other boutique parts.
Check out the customer testimonials below, or these online comments:
Or if you prefer a professional audio reviewer, check out Scott Faller at EnjoyTheMusic.
Completed Circuit Board
- All vacuum tube analog signal path
- Pure Class A single-ended amplifier stages
- No feedback
- Vacuum tube B+ rectification
- DC heaters
- USB and S/PDIF inputs
- Volume control and phase switch
- 8x oversampling and 24-bit filtering
- Passive RLC I-V stage
- Single box design
- Includes both USB and 75-ohm digital cables
|Output Impedance||<1k ohm|
|Output Voltage||1.2Vrms (full scale)|
|Inputs||S/PDIF x 2 (75 ohm), USB|
|Size||7.25" x 11.65" (PCB)|
|Input Voltage||100V, 110V, 120V, 200V, 220V, 240V|
|Tubes||12AX7 (ECC83), 12AU7 (ECC82), 5Y3 (or GZ34)||
"I am quite a fan of the Mac Mini/Hag
Chime combination as a very high quality and extremely flexible and fun digital source. Its total retail price
with extra hard drive is about $2400. That’s not inexpensive at all and certainly there is a lot of competition
at and below that price range for stand-alone CD players. This combination really holds its own against the
Resolution Audio CD player, which retails for $3500. The Resolution player is a little more true and accurate to
the recording and presents a slightly more flat and fair presentation of a recording. The Resolution player lets
you hear a little more detail in the recorded venue and in the individual instruments and it places the pieces
in a slightly more delineated location front to back, left to right and top to bottom. The Mac Mini playing Apple
Lossless encoded tracks sent via USB to the Hagerman Chime tube DAC gives a slightly more euphoric presentation
but really just slightly. The Hagerman Chime DAC really is very very close to the Resolution player in the areas
I have mentioned above. There is that slight tube bloom and air with the Chime which makes for a more dreamy and
room-enveloping and room-transforming experience ... I am more comfortable in stating that the Mac/Chime combo
is competitively fair and accurate, and while it has the (some might say) euphoric advantages of tubes, it still
remains exceptionally true to the recording ... As fun, flexible and practical as the Mac Mini is as a storage
and playback component, it would not come to life musically without the Hagerman Chime DAC. The Chime gets its
bits via USB from the Mac Mini and it transforms them from binary data to an organic and lifelike musical
performance. The Hagerman Chime DAC is as revealing and accurate as stand-alone CD players costing almost twice
its price. The Chime allows a more direct emotional connection to the performance than most CD players I have
experienced, period. The Chime is flexible enough to use as a three input digital preamplifier. Most importantly,
the Hagerman Chime DAC does what every exalted audio component should do, and that is creating a more believable
connection to the musical performance."
- Sandy Green, SonicFlare
"As most of you know, when you introduce tubes to signal path, things like bass tend to sound fuller and
bit more rich and flavorful. This was the case with the Chime ... The Chime did a great job at reproducing
the lower frequencies of everything I threw at it. From YoYo Ma's quarter century old cello, to big heavy bass
runs from Victor Wooten, the Chime hung in there with the best of them never embellishing or coming across as
too lean ... The additional detail provided by the oversampling gave a tad more life to my choices in music. I
didn't notice any veiling of the music at all, in fact quite to the contrary. I half expected the MIT output
caps to effect the sound more, but they disappeared very well. The instruments like pianos which are extremely
sensitive to veiling induced by inferior quality parts or mediocre designs were clean and clear. The Chime let
the music come through completely unencumbered ... Due to the oversampling on the Chime, I did find that there
was a bit more detail and resolution that allowed some more refinement and placements of the instruments. The
resolving nature of the treble was crisp, clean and well extended on nearly all music. I spent hours on end
listening to tunes without any hint of listeners fatigue ... When it comes to the audiophile stuff like
soundstage and imaging, the Chime did a very nice job at all of these ... Overall, I found the HagTech Chime
to be an outstanding performer in every aspect." - Scott Faller, ETM
The Chime not only sounds superb, it has impeccable measurements too. Below is the 1kHz square wave
and 20kHz sinewave performance (with HagDac).
Bypassing the HagDac, the bandwidth and distortion of the tube amplification section can be measured. The
10kHz squarewave is perfect, with bandwidth flat out to 150kHz. Distortion is a residual 0.03%, mainly second
- Your USB DAC sounds more fullbodied and detailed from top to low down, and have deeper sound stage
than my much costlier U2A. Earlier I could barely hear the live audience, now I can clearly hear the
audience talking and shouting clearly. Your USB is worth each penny and I hope to do business with you
- The Chime has a sense of rhythm and timing that is superior to the playback on my Phillips 963,
even on SACD. I also breifly compared it to the Parasound CDP1000 I'm now using as a transport, and it
had better timing and detail. The Chime has excellent dynamics and detail retrieval.
- My initial impression is that the Chime is sublime. Its detail, clarity and extension have made me
rethink my pre-amp, which I previously thought an extemely neutral and a positive addition to my system.
I'm running the Chime into the direct inputs on my Decware Select amp. Its redbook [is] so much better than
my stock SACD unit.
- The Chime is awesome.
- As far as the sound, this is not your typical "tube" DAC. None of the tubiness or roll off at the
extremes. The bass is deep, tight, and articulate (this really surprised me given the tube equipment I've
heard over the years). Highs are extended and smooth at the same time. Output is extremely linear from top
to bottom. Imaging and soundstaging will excede your expectations. There is no lack in drive, dynamics,
punch, or prat. A fair assessment would be to say it has all the tube magic without it's usual weaknesses.
It also responds extremely well to tube rolling. Pop in a Sylvania triple mica 5751 in place of a 12AX7 and
wow! is all I can say.
- I've had the HagDAC module running for about a week using a battery PSU and the onboard op-amp stage.
It is a fine sounding DAC even in this minimal configuration. Very natural and easy to listen to, but
- I use a Gateway notebook with your HagUsb into a Genesis Digital Lens (Wonderful sounding unit) then
into the Chime. The sound I'm getting is VERY GOOD!!! In fact, I prefer it over my completely tricked out
top of the line Modwright player. This is the best digital sound I ever had, plus being able to control
it all from my notebook is just great.
- I completed the Chime and it is up and running wonderfully with no hitches whatsoever. Since it
worked the first time, I'm figuring I'll find my mistakes tomorrow ;-) I've only had 60 minutes listening
time on it and the NOS tubes will take their time breaking in, but I'm enjoying it immensely already.
- I'm really surprised with this one. I was really happy with my Benchmark DAC1, but I bought this kit
because I was going to build all of my gear into a single box. When I abandoned that idea I wasn't sure that
I'd end up using the Chime, but since I'd already bought the HagDac I decided to try it out. There really
isn't a comparison. The Chime is a MUCH better DAC. It gives up nothing in the detail arena, but adds so
much more body/richness. The highs are much more sparkly and the strings actually have body to their sound.
Everything is just so much more 3d. The Benchmark sounds flat in comparison. I did a head to head today
(with matched volume within 1dB) and couldn't image going back. Not that the DAC1 isn't good. I really
enjoyed it for over a year, but the Chime is just that much better. If you are a DIY'er then the Chime is
a no-brainer compared to the Benchmark (its cheaper AND better). Even at 2x the price of a DAC1 for a
finished Chime I'd probably go for it.
- The Chime is complete and it is FABULOUS. So far every kit that I've gotten from you has been a winner
and reasonably priced to boot but this is taking me where I didn't think I'd go - REALLY liking digital
music...AND it's so incredibly handy/easy. I can't say that it's better than my vinyl rig but it is extremely
- By the way, this unit sounds absolutely stunning! I now have an RCA cleartop in place for the 12AU7
and it sounds absolutely gorgeous. You've got a very nice product here. I'm thinking I'll be placing an
order for a second one very soon. It has all the detail and none of the glare of my other digital sources.
Very involving sound, too. Toe-tapping, as they say.
- I received your chime unit and I replace all the tubes with mullards. I am very impressed with your dac.
It is exactly what I have been looking for. It is an outstanding dac!
- I must say out of all the dacs I have used in my system, your chime dac out performs them all. My previous
dac was the usb benchmark, then the dcs elgar plus with the dcs purcell, and after that was the audio note
dac5. None of these dac reproduce that music as well as your chime dac. The more I burn in this unit, the
better it gets. I just want to say to you that you have done a great job on this dac and I really appreciate
your expertise in producing a very fine usb tube dac.
- This DAC has impact and is very forceful when it needs to be, and just has excellent ability to make the
music sound real life. I've owned 4 DACS in the $500-$1000 range and they come nowhere close to this. I've
listened to a $10,000 DAC at Deetes in Sacramento and it can't match the dynamics and slam of the Chime. It
is very pure during piano solos and female vocals. It betters my friends modified Sony SACD player by far.
Anyway I can go on, but you already know what I'm talking about. Thanks for a great product. Again.
- My buddy brought his Benchmark Brick DAC over the other night. Chime easily beat it.