I have owned the Playmate for a little over six months, and throughout that time, it remains the DAC/Preamp of choice, despite some other changes in my system. Most notable change was the addition of an active crossover and a mono amp to power my subwoofer. Both for my 2.1 speakers system and headphone listening, the Playmate is the trusty gatekeeper.
I use it with the stock opamp on both the I/V stage and the Headphone Output stage. I intentionally do this so I can get really familiar with it and have as little variable as possible for this comparison. There is plenty of explanation elsewhere on the Net regarding what each stage does, for example this excellent article: https://www.by-rutgers.nl/IV-converter.html. For the purpose of this post, I will just say that the I/V stage converts the current from a DAC (Digital Analog Converter) into an analog voltage, and the Output stage is responsible for amplification of the signal. It is widely accepted that the I/V stage affects the sound more than the output stage, therefore the choice of opamp in that position should be interesting.
I already have one Supreme Sound V6 Vivid and one V6 Classic (‘Vivid’ and ‘Classic’ from hereon) that I reviewed earlier in this blog. Carlos from Burson Audio kindly sent me another pair so I can compare the Basic sound and the ‘upgraded’ sound with all-V6 opamps. I removed the stock opamps with a pair of chip extractor.
Here’s a trick that I found useful: Firmly grip the extractor, position it carefully on open ends of the opamp (the sides where there’s no legs), and rock it gently to unseat the opamp from its adapter. Then gently lift it with your fingers. Don’t use the extractor to pull all the way through (opamps tend to jump and went AWOL) or needle nose pliers (you’ll bend the legs). Ask me how I know. But that was lesson learned in the past for me, this time I managed to pull them off perfectly (you be the judge- see photo below).
When installing the V6, take note of the position AND the orientation of the opamps. First, note the label on the underside of the Playmate’s top cover. The drawing below highlights the different positions for easy reference. Second, note where pin 1 is on the socket. I understand the V6 has reverse voltage protection, but other parts of your DAC/Amp may not be that tolerable (or robust) therefore please take note of the proper orientation.
That’s it with the installation and a little peek into the Playmate, the next post will cover the sound review. Stay tuned!