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

larkone

Distinguished Member
So what's the point in paying 1000s for a chord dac when a 100 quid dac sounds very similar?
Mostly pub bragging rights or that smug feeling of self satisfaction that you can afford to blow that much on a DAC
 

doggy

Active Member
I was quite happy to buy several stand alone affordable dacs for comparison purposes, I don't think I'll bother now.

It makes you wonder what the reviewers are hearing.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
So what's the point in paying 1000s for a chord dac when a 100 quid dac sounds very similar?
The short answer is because you can.

The same argument stands for wine. It's a personal choice as to where your price point is, but each to their own.

If you prefer a more expensive dac (for whatever reason) then why not buy it. That another doesn't like it, is of little relevance.
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
It makes you wonder what the reviewers are hearing.
The continuation of their income as they pander to their advertisers. It is rare to find reviewers that do not have some financial motivation, even if it is just more traffic to their site so it gives them the ability to attract more advertisers. It is the main reason you rarely ever see a review that pans a poor product, falling back typically to 'it has some minor issues'.
 

andy1249

Distinguished Member
So what's the point in paying 1000s for a chord dac when a 100 quid dac sounds very similar?
For what "Used to be" specialist , niche capabilities , e.g. I have lots of DSD and want to be able to play them back properly , 10 years ago a DAC for that was very expensive , today you can get them for 100 or even less , so no point spending large amounts at all these days
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
Well if the dac doesn't make that much difference what chance has the humble speaker cable?
There is nothing humble about Oxygen Free Unobtanium cable with unicorn skin dielectric that has been hand rolled on the thighs of virgins and kissed by pixies - though personally I just use copper cable.
 

phil t

Well-known Member
Well if the dac doesn't make that much difference what chance has the humble speaker cable?
Depends if it is of suitable csa or not.
 

doggy

Active Member
There is nothing humble about Oxygen Free Unobtanium cable with unicorn skin dielectric that has been hand rolled on the thighs of virgins and kissed by pixies - though personally I just use copper cable.
Finding virgins where I live is tougher than finding unicorns.
 

Steve356

Distinguished Member
There is nothing humble about Oxygen Free Unobtanium cable with unicorn skin dielectric that has been hand rolled on the thighs of virgins and kissed by pixies - though personally I just use copper cable.

If the cable doesn't cost at least £10,000 per metre, it is simply not worth having. Unicorns, virgins and pixies aren't low cost you know. ;)

But, I'm far too cheap for those very special cables and use copper cable too. :D
 

Daniel 70

Active Member
There is nothing humble about Oxygen Free Unobtanium cable with unicorn skin dielectric that has been hand rolled on the thighs of virgins and kissed by pixies - though personally I just use copper cable.
Good choice.. copper cable is toxic to pixies, and corrosive to unicorn based dielectrics.
 

Daniel 70

Active Member
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.
What must be realised is that semiconductor chips are extremely expensive. We are talking about 1 billion quid to make one. Of course the next 10 million are basically free, and the next 100 million as cheap as chips. We are living in the golden age of audio . It might cost many hundreds of thousands to design a bit of software or firmware, but the replication costs are then negligible .
About the only item which has kept its value or maybe become more expensive is transformers, and even they have improved with toroidal types
 

andycc72

Active Member
For what "Used to be" specialist , niche capabilities , e.g. I have lots of DSD and want to be able to play them back properly , 10 years ago a DAC for that was very expensive , today you can get them for 100 or even less , so no point spending large amounts at all these days
I’ve enjoyed reading this thread, even if some of it’s gone directly over my head.

What DAC would you recommend in the £200-£500 region and would it be superior to the one in my Bluesound Node2i)?
 

gava

Active Member
What must be realised is that semiconductor chips are extremely expensive. We are talking about 1 billion quid to make one. Of course the next 10 million are basically free, and the next 100 million as cheap as chips. We are living in the golden age of audio . It might cost many hundreds of thousands to design a bit of software or firmware, but the replication costs are then negligible .
About the only item which has kept its value or maybe become more expensive is transformers, and even they have improved with toroidal types

Yes, that first one's a doozy.

We are benefitting from this everywhere of course.

Another thing in Audio that is happening is the 3D printing revolution is starting to build quite incredible in-ear monitors for astonishingly low prices.
 

andycc72

Active Member

Despite having decent entry level separates for 30 years I’ve only taken a major interest in the last year. I have upgraded everything relatively recently and was thinking of a DAC next before I change up totally next year and get a Lyngdorf amp but I would need it to be a noticeable improvement on the DAC in the Node2i to warrant the outlay.

are you suggesting that the £49 DAC you linked would be ?
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
Despite having decent entry level separates for 30 years I’ve only taken a major interest in the last year. I have upgraded everything relatively recently and was thinking of a DAC next before I change up totally next year and get a Lyngdorf amp but I would need it to be a noticeable improvement on the DAC in the Node2i to warrant the outlay.

are you suggesting that the £49 DAC you linked would be ?
If you are getting a Lyngdorf next year I wouldn't even bother getting a DAC as the one inside them are crackers and in my opinion one of the better ones available on the market and spending anything now would just be a waist of money
 

gava

Active Member
The continuation of their income as they pander to their advertisers. It is rare to find reviewers that do not have some financial motivation, even if it is just more traffic to their site so it gives them the ability to attract more advertisers. It is the main reason you rarely ever see a review that pans a poor product, falling back typically to 'it has some minor issues'.

Actually I think that's slightly uncharitable.

Of course there is the whole psychoacoustics problem, but by and large I think most of the reviewers are sincere and although they can easily be mistaken and with the stuff that is being produced now because the actual audible differences are vanishing the differences they hear are psychological artefacts. This is not because they are con-men it's because they are human beings, subject to the same weaknesses we all are.

We are experiencing something of a revolutionary moment in audio, perhaps similar to what happened with digital photography 10 years ago.

Cable was solved some time ago, streamers are solved, DACs and amplifiers are almost solved.

There is still a lot of interesting stuff happening in speakers though.

I suspect that because of all the other bits being solved we are going to see speakers becoming active in an increasing wave without the huge financial penalties that this used to incur.
 

doggy

Active Member
Despite having decent entry level separates for 30 years I’ve only taken a major interest in the last year. I have upgraded everything relatively recently and was thinking of a DAC next before I change up totally next year and get a Lyngdorf amp but I would need it to be a noticeable improvement on the DAC in the Node2i to warrant the outlay.

are you suggesting that the £49 DAC you linked would be ?
I've no idea if it will be any good. I bought one because its cheap and gives some flexibility. Its an experiment and it can always be resold probably at a small profit.
 
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gava

Active Member
Try one of these:

Amazon product
Amazon product
The difference to the Node 2i will probably be audible sometimes as they have approximately 30dB better SINAD and the Node 2i DAC implementation is not in the "solved" category, whereas these two definitely are.
 
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wine man

Active Member
My first DAC was a Musical Fidelity Digilog circa £400 back in the day. About 12-13 years ago I upgraded to a Chord DAC64. The difference was pretty obvious, even the wife said
'blimey'. The Chord was around £3000 then, you can pick them up for £600-900 now.
I'm not knocking the M Fid BTW, it still seems to be sought after.
 

andycc72

Active Member
If you are getting a Lyngdorf next year I wouldn't even bother getting a DAC as the one inside them are crackers and in my opinion one of the better ones available on the market and spending anything now would just be a waist of money
It won’t be until this time next year as I’m getting the garage converted into a man/non-binary cave 😉 Mucho expense, but can afford a DAC in the price range above in between now and this time year year, which hopefully I’ll sell on for a small-ish loss.
 

FaxFan2002

Well-known Member
Can't go wrong with one of these -
 

gava

Active Member
Can't go wrong with one of these -
Yes indeed. Superb.
 

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