4 different dacs and I can't hear any difference?

phil t

Well-known Member
Another thing to think about do you suppose that the sensors in the submarines are just kind of plunked down? Or is there maximum performance in the setup so that they can direction find or for that matter even be able to tell if there is another warship around.
You stick a couple at the pointy end, a couple down either side, but don't really bother with the blunt end as there's a whirly thing there.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
I do, yes - I have maybe a couple of dozen albums I choose from.
I try and choose across genres rather than specific tracks, mostly because my collection is ever evolving.

I'll choose something choral, something orchestral, something rock (ish) and something pop (ish). Good recordings are useful, but so are bad. We all have bad recordings, so it's important that a new component/system doesn't render them unplayable (assuming you still wish to listen to it).
 

Farmboy75

Standard Member
I try and choose across genres rather than specific tracks, mostly because my collection is ever evolving.

I'll choose something choral, something orchestral, something rock (ish) and something pop (ish). Good recordings are useful, but so are bad. We all have bad recordings, so it's important that a new component/system doesn't render them unplayable (assuming you still wish to listen to it).
Enjoy your mid fi or low fi if you buy based on poor recording s sounding good you are not purchasing based on fidelity.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Lol you know nothing or it would seem that way from your answer.
What's in my profile picture is mine, I'll let you decide how much or little I know.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Enjoy your mid fi or low fi if you buy based on poor recording s sounding good you are not purchasing based on fidelity.
I buy based on emotional response after using various recordings, including single stereo Mic hi res recordings.
 

sebna

Member
Not in a blind test you won't. No chance you can tell the difference between the ones I mention above. Nobody could tell by ear.

I don't know the ones you had in mind so I will not argue with that but I will tell you hopefully interesting story of one of my experiences.

My friend had a 6k DAC in his system and at that stage I bought a 2k DAC. So of course we met to compare and at that time I went home very happy as we genuinely could hear only minuscule differences between them. To extent that my friend started considering selling his 6k DAC to buy the one I was using.

Some time has passed, both our systems have evolved and we did the comparison again. Rather than him selling his DAC I went and bought 6k DAC instead and sold my 2k DAC... if you want to know what kind of difference there was between them. It was that kind of difference that it was worth spending the difference on it to me.

But the story does not end here. We met again (and many times after) and we compared my 6k DAC to his 6k DAC and guess what. They did not sound exactly the same. Between him buying and me buying 2 years later certain capacitors were no longer available and different were used as replacement causing the sound to change.

His unit sounded a bit better.

Coming back to your statement. I do not know how can you expect for each and every DAC to sound the same when they have different typologies and are built from hundreds of random and different parts. I would argue that none can sound the same. The only question is if you have good enough system and hearing to hear it (to what extant those differences matter is another discussion, and yes I agree that sometimes the differences are not worth the outlay but to correctly judge expensive DACs one needs system built from proportionally expensive components). Saying that DACs sound the same is like claiming that all cellos sound the same because they are built to the same blue-print. Somehow that is not true and somehow some are worth 50 quid and other 50m. And they are really simple instruments in terms of parts and components used in compare to electronic devices. In audiophile world gear is expensive as it is mostly designed by ear just like high quality musical instruments are.

Of course some are expensive just because, but it is part of the journey to find the right gear at the right price to make the system worth it.
 

gava

Active Member
I don't know the ones you had in mind so I will not argue with that but I will tell you hopefully interesting story of one of my experiences.

My friend had a 6k DAC in his system and at that stage I bought a 2k DAC. So of course we met to compare and at that time I went home very happy as we genuinely could hear only minuscule differences between them. To extent that my friend started considering selling his 6k DAC to buy the one I was using.

Some time has passed, both our systems have evolved and we did the comparison again. Rather than him selling his DAC I went and bought 6k DAC instead and sold my 2k DAC... if you want to know what kind of difference there was between them. It was that kind of difference that it was worth spending the difference on it to me.

But the story does not end here. We met again (and many times after) and we compared my 6k DAC to his 6k DAC and guess what. They did not sound exactly the same. Between him buying and me buying 2 years later certain capacitors were no longer available and different were used as replacement causing the sound to change.

His unit sounded a bit better.

Coming back to your statement. I do not know how can you expect for each and every DAC to sound the same when they have different typologies and are built from hundreds of random and different parts. I would argue that none can sound the same. The only question is if you have good enough system and hearing to hear it (to what extant those differences matter is another discussion, and yes I agree that sometimes the differences are not worth the outlay but to correctly judge expensive DACs one needs system built from proportionally expensive components). Saying that DACs sound the same is like claiming that all cellos sound the same because they are built to the same blue-print. Somehow that is not true and somehow some are worth 50 quid and other 50m. And they are really simple instruments in terms of parts and components used in compare to electronic devices. In audiophile world gear is expensive as it is mostly designed by ear just like high quality musical instruments are.

Of course some are expensive just because, but it is part of the journey to find the right gear at the right price to make the system worth it.
I quoted some DACS in an earlier post.

You seem to be arguing with someone else.

I have never said all DACs sound the same. What I said is that at the moment there are some $100-$300 DACs from companies like Topping which are state-of-the-art, and spending $15,000 on a DAC will not get you better performance.

This is simply because:
a) their SINAD and Jitter performance is so far beyond the threshold that human ears can detect that no one could distinguish them in a blind test.
b) they have SINAD and Jitter performance are literally the best that can currently be achieved with our technology.

At the moment price is not a very good guide to how good a DAC is. There are $100 DACs which dramatically outperform some much more expensive devices.

It may well be that the 6k DAC you heard was better than the 2k DAC (or vice versa), and if this was a few years ago there is a very good chance that they would be far outperformed by the new Topping D30 Pro at $350. Or it may be that because you were convinced that is what you would hear then that is in fact what you heard, but you would not be able to distinguish between them in a blind test. This is not because you are a fool, but because you are a human being and that's how our brains work.

I additionally believe that overall DAC design is becoming almost solved and therefore we are not far away perhaps only a couple of years from a situation where almost all DACs will have such good performance that they all essentially will have the same performance.

The same is likely true of Class D amplifiers, performance has improved so much recently that we will soon be in a position where they will simply take an incoming signal and amplify it with so little noise and distortion that no human being could tell them apart except where distortion is artificially and intentionally introduced for effect.

This doesn't mean you should only buy a cheap DAC. You can buy whatever you like and makes you happy.

Expensive musical instruments are such because of their quality and scarcity. There are modern cellos that sound as good as some of the super-expensive ones, but they exist in large numbers and are therefore not as expensive.
 
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doggy

Active Member
Another comparison i carried out today just for fun.
My teac crh 240 with teac speakers playing a Gregory porter cd.
On my yamaha crxn470 I was casting a flac file of the same songs.
2 different setups, the yamaha sounded better but it has been 601s.

Maybe I'll swap the speakers later on.
 
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andy1249

Distinguished Member
I do not know how can you expect for each and every DAC to sound the same when they have different typologies and are built from hundreds of random and different parts.

Actually they are not , these days they are almost all Sigma Delta , and all of them are ASIC's or Application Specific Integrated Circuits., i.e Burr Brown , Sabre, Wolfson , etc ... they require only a handful of discrete support components.

The economics of the situation dictate that small volume "High End" audio manufacturers use the same chips as everyone else as they cannot afford to pay for a semiconductor fabrication line for a DAC specific to them.
This proves to be the case more often than not , take the lid of a 6K + dac and you see the same chip that's in that Yamaha /Oppo/panasonic / random chinese streaming unit ..... or even on that raspberry pi board ( there is a sabre board for the pi ) .

You cannot hope to match the sophistication of these ASIC's with discrete circuitry , indeed most "high end" gear that actually has something unique these days has a DAC based on an FPGA , i.e a Field Programmable Gate Array , and the uniqueness and high price comes from the Coder / Firmware writer they have in house , not from the actual components , which are cheap enough.
 

sebna

Member
Actually they are not , these days they are almost all Sigma Delta , and all of them are ASIC's or Application Specific Integrated Circuits., i.e Burr Brown , Sabre, Wolfson , etc ... they require only a handful of discrete support components.

The economics of the situation dictate that small volume "High End" audio manufacturers use the same chips as everyone else as they cannot afford to pay for a semiconductor fabrication line for a DAC specific to them.
This proves to be the case more often than not , take the lid of a 6K + dac and you see the same chip that's in that Yamaha /Oppo/panasonic / random chinese streaming unit ..... or even on that raspberry pi board ( there is a sabre board for the pi ) .

You cannot hope to match the sophistication of these ASIC's with discrete circuitry , indeed most "high end" gear that actually has something unique these days has a DAC based on an FPGA , i.e a Field Programmable Gate Array , and the uniqueness and high price comes from the Coder / Firmware writer they have in house , not from the actual components , which are cheap enough.
What you have written does not even scratch the surface IMHO. Your are missing number of layers. DAC chipset if just another part on the board ,(and one of the most standardized parts), if there is even one. I will try to write a bit more about it through the weekend if I can find time for it.

TBH it is slightly pointless as it will not change anybody's mind to go and listen to different systems and solutions and those who already are passionate about it don't need invitation. It is just the usual misinformation which is repeated over and over again on forums without understanding of the complexity of those systems.

Also sorry to disappoint but my DAC is not even Delta-Sigma neither it is based on off the shelf chipset.

I guess most of us are happy to stay at the level of exploration and questioning they feel comfortable with. I know i am not looking to convince anybody and especially not by talking about low level technical aspects of electronics and programming.

I wanted to give my perspective as I have listened to many DACs across many systems form cheap to very expensive that is all. If you are thinking that people spending in regions of 20 -100k on audio systems are delusional then well it is your right to do so.
 
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andy1249

Distinguished Member
Also sorry to disappoint but my DAC is not even Delta-Sigma neither it is based on off the shelf chipset.
Interested ! What DAC do you have?

Dont waste your time explaining the "layers" you think I'm missing , I know semiconductors and semiconductor design , and I know DACs very very well
 

Daniel 70

Standard Member
What you have written does not even scratch the surface IMHO. Your are missing number of layers. DAC chipset if just another part on the board ,(and one of the most standardized parts), if there is even one. I will try to write a bit more about it through the weekend if I can find time for it.

TBH it is slightly pointless as it will not change anybody's mind to go and listen to different systems and solutions and those who already are passionate about it don't need invitation. It is just the usual misinformation which is repeated over and over again on forums without understanding of the complexity of those systems.

Also sorry to disappoint but my DAC is not even Delta-Sigma neither it is based on off the shelf chipset.

I guess most of us are happy to stay at the level of exploration and questioning they feel comfortable with. I know i am not looking to convince anybody and especially not by talking about low level technical aspects of electronics and programming.

I wanted to give my perspective as I have listened to many DACs across many systems form cheap to very expensive that is all. If you are thinking that people spending in regions of 20 -100k on audio systems are delusional then well it is your right to do so.
It is the low level or details of electronic circuitry that these thing operate by... So please do not idismiss my 35 years of professional experience.Some of the contributors here have equal experience. I first started using ADCs and DACs .. Most ADCs use a DAC internally, in 1975.
If there is a difference,it is measurable , there is a reason , and a mechanism.
 

sebna

Member
Interested ! What DAC do you have?

Dont waste your time explaining the "layers" you think I'm missing , I know semiconductors and semiconductor design , and I know DACs very very well
Meitner MA-1
 

andy1249

Distinguished Member
Meitner MA-1

Its Delta Sigma , it has to be for all that DSD manipulation. Its what Meitner claims to be famous for.

Back when that unit was released , good non decimating DSD dacs ( Delta Sigma ) were hideously expensive , I was shopping for one myself at that time and ended up paying 1.5k ( Sabre based )

These days they are literally as cheap as chips and better performance than both mine and yours can be had in tiny devices for a tenth of the price or less.

That is typically the way electronics works , the more you sell the cheaper it gets , early adoptors pay a premium , but nowadays Delta Sigma is ubiquitous , they are in everything and are advanced to a stage whereby they are audibly indistinguishable from each other

Price is no guarantee or guide to higher quality , especially when it comes to DACs in todays market.
 
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sebna

Member
It is not. It is native DSD DAC. It will convert to DSD on the fly but it is 1-bit native DAC.
 

andy1249

Distinguished Member
It is not. It is native DSD DAC. It will convert to DSD on the fly but it is 1-bit native DAC.
Otherwise known as Delta Sigma topology , google it.
DSD = 1 bit = Delta Sigma .... etc etc etc ......
 

sebna

Member
In my experience the difference between good quality DAC (lets say 100+) and high-end DACs is 3-10% in overall system performance gain. It is not much one can say but when you reach system level when each individual component upgrade can only net 1-3% of gain because of the quality they are already at this is when getting the right DAC starts to makes sense.

a) because this is when one is at the level when one can hear those differences clearly and choose the right DAC to complete the system
b) because DAC is such a vital part of the system. What was lost at this early stage (2nd element in the chain) of signal processing can never be regained downstream. No matter how good and resolving speakers one might have, once fidelity has been lost at the DAC level it never can be re-gained at any other stage as it is simply no longer in the analogue signal.

Of course the changes to the sound that DACs brings are not of magnitude that speakers could. It is quite often in the fine tuning range. But with high resolution systems those changes are usually critical even tough they can be on micro scale but eventually multiplied by the downstream components into something breathtaking as the system or annoying with certain flaws.

Among other aspect what high-end system are able to show in DACs is their space reproduction and background information capabilities which are can be lost by lesser quality DACs. This information adds so much to feeling being there, the last ounces of reverb down to venue at which the music was played or due to construction of the instrument or ambient in general. It is what is between the instruments the low-level detail retrieval is what a true resolution is which can be drawn in the noise floor of the DAC but most often of the system in general. A true high-end DAC will be able to get all this information beautifully laid down in front of you in 3D space in a very musical way and without thinning of the sound which is so often mistaken for resolution and in 99% of times leads to brightness which high end systems will quickly highlight as most times they are very truthful and neutral magnification glass type of the deal which if fed garbage will return magnified garbage.

I listen mostly to live instruments music with or without vocal and quality electronic music of different types. For studio mixed music those aspects have lesser meaning as this information is lost anyway at production stages. But brightness will always be a problem no matter which kind of music one is listening to.

Another problem is that you might have best system in the world but you have no control over how the music you are listening to was recorded. It is not only to what standard was it recorded but if the technology used to record it has design flaws due to technology limiations and those flaws are baked in into the recording then you realize that maybe having system that is very truthful to the signal when it is also high resolution is not the way to go... this is where side-stepping and box swapping starts I guess and fine tuning with anything that you can get your hands on ;) (you know what I am talking about :D). (this is also why typically class-d fails so badly in high-end systems. Although I have not tried any recent high-end calss-d components so maybe things have improved).

It is a nice hobby. You can play with it all life and still have more new things to try. It is like a bottle of wine. No two are alike so you can keep searching until you lost interest as for sure you will not run out of options :)

Cheers
 
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sebna

Member
Otherwise known as Delta Sigma topology , google it.
DSD = 1 bit = Delta Sigma .... etc etc etc ......
Yes, seems so. Delta Sigma it is then ;)
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
In my experience the difference between good quality DAC (lets say 100+) and high-end DACs is 3-10% in overall system performance gain. It is not much one can say but when you reach system level when each individual component upgrade can only net 1-3% of gain because of the quality they are already at this is when getting the right DAC starts to makes sense.
Is that anecdotal or empirical?
 

sebna

Member

gava

Active Member
Among other aspect what high-end system are able to show in DACs is their space reproduction and background information capabilities which are can be lost by lesser quality DACs. This information adds so much to feeling being there, the last ounces of reverb down to venue at which the music was played or due to construction of the instrument or ambient in general. It is what is between the instruments the low-level detail retrieval is what a true resolution is which can be drawn in the noise floor of the DAC but most often of the system in general. A true high-end DAC will be able to get all this information beautifully laid down in front of you in 3D space in a very musical way and without thinning of the sound which is so often mistaken for resolution and in 99% of times leads to brightness which high end systems will quickly highlight as most times they are very truthful and neutral magnification glass type of the deal which if fed garbage will return magnified garbage.

Or another way of looking at it...

What a high-end DAC will do is take all the information recorded in a digital file and convert it to an analog signal without introducing distortion, noise or jitter.

Lately, literally really only the last 12-24 months, it has started to become possible to get a DAC that can do this where any noise, distortion or jitter is 20dB below the threshold of human hearing. And to get this for low prices. We have recently reached the point where price is no longer a good guide to quality.

If the information in the file that can translate to space, clarity and soundstage is not recorded in the source file then the DAC should not try to inject it, for files that do have such information would then have too much.

You don't want your equipment to apply blanket filters or distortion to every recording for they will degrade more music than they will enhance and those few recordings that are enhanced will only be at random. Adding such information is better done with specialist digital software and applied either algorithmically or tuned by ear on a per-recording basis. Of course this is best done in the studio, but 3D or surround filters and suchlike can be added to taste after the fact.

There are still a lot of DACs out there that are not of high quality, but soon (hopefully) they will be driven out of the market.

I think the next link in the chain to see this same progress are Class D amplifiers. ICE, Hypex and Purifi have now released modules which are being included in higher end equipment from the main audio brands which take an input signal and amplify it without introducing audible noise or distortion. As with DACs an amplifier that does introduce such distortion, whether simple or complex is applying a blanket filter or distortion to ALL your music, regardless of whether it is appropriate to your source material or not.

I think it likely that perhaps we will start to see more complex DSP software aimed at the end consumer making its way into the consumer space, as the DAC and amp elements of the chain emerge as essentially being "solved" problems.

In hifi of course this is most obvious now in room correction. We are certainly seeing this trend in wireless headphones at the moment in recent releases from Sony, Apple, etc. and it is usually combined with noise cancellation.
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
Wow your experience is very finely tuned to recognise 3-10% difference
 

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