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

NifkinFZ6

Active Member
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.
I doubt the difference will be audible. cheaper DACs for the past 6 or 7 years have had SINAD at inaudible levels. The Node 2i isn't that old.
 

sebna

Member
Very polarization thread.

If you won the euro millions would you buy a £100 dac or a £5000 dac?
40k speakers ;)

Also polarising because your are on the wrong forum for that kind of questions if you are interested in higher end gear.
 

NifkinFZ6

Active Member
I think it's more about where would a generous budget be better spent: definitely on speakers for me.

There are no end of DACs under a grand that could be your end game for that particular component. You can spend more, but that's more to do with build quality/bling/pride-of-ownership factors.

Speakers on the other hand are the only component that can make a night and day difference, and are highly room dependent.
 

larkone

Distinguished Member
Actually I think that's slightly uncharitable.
@gava Not uncharitable at all. That is exactly how publishing - paper and online works. Ask me how I know - my wife is a publisher that produces magazines and online content that relies on advertisers to fund the greater part of their costs. Reviewers writing a genuine report that exposes any shortcomings of a product risks the manufacturer no longer advertising in that publication.
 

doggy

Active Member
I watched a reviewer speak about bad reviews once. He said if he reviews something and it's crap he doesn't publish the review.
So now if I can't find a review on any product I assume it's crap.
 

Daniel 70

Active Member
I doubt the difference will be audible. cheaper DACs for the past 6 or 7 years have had SINAD at inaudible levels. The Node 2i isn't that old.
Probably the Rolls Royce of IC DACs at present are the top tier ESS Pro series. The one off price of this beast is 65 dollars or euro , ..and much less for less premium models or quantities. 2 to 3 euro.. . All this needs is a few op amps, a cheap microcontroller , and one is sorted... Total component cost ? 100 euro.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
I watched a reviewer speak about bad reviews once. He said if he reviews something and it's crap he doesn't publish the review.
So now if I can't find a review on any product I assume it's crap.

I guess this also fuels one of my pet hates - review sites/mags etc, have a 5 or 10 point scale for reviews and only use the top 20% of it e.g. pretty much all What Hifi reviews are 4 or 5 out of five and even this esteemed forum only used 8/9/10 out of ten. If a product is bad then it gets 1-3, pretty bad 3-4, average and similar to mosey other products 5-6, good 7-9 and keep 10 for the products that are exception once in a year or two items. This is what you would expect from a normal distribution (ish) or are all product migrating to a point where the differences are minimal and the technical/measurable is not under the floor of human hearing. I think the only site I have come across this that is not afraid to use 1-2/5 and only gives out 5/5 one every year or so is Angrymetalguy but he/they has no advertising worries and work in a community/readership that value honesty and real reviews and are open minded enough to make up their own minds.

Sorry off topic Sunday afternoon rant over. I’ll take my self off and listen to a bit of Cattle Decapitation or Infant Annihilator to calm down :D🤘
 

[email protected]

Active Member
I doubt the difference will be audible. cheaper DACs for the past 6 or 7 years have had SINAD at inaudible levels. The Node 2i isn't that old.
I’m reasonably sure the reason the Node isn’t as good as some DACs is that it isn’t a DAC. It is effectively a preamp, with tone controls and bass management. The sophistication of the bass management and the presence of MQA unfolding suggests that it has significant digital signal processing available as well. So it has extra stuff beyond a DAC. It uses a standard Burr Brown DAC, which should be as good as other DACs. Whether the extra noise and distortion matters depends upon the rest of the system, since eventually you have to feed the DAC to an amp, and most amps will have the same level of noise and distortion as the Node. You may well end up with the overall system not being any better. And that assumes you can actually hear the .005% THD from the Node anyway. I’m skeptical.
 
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gava

Active Member
Very polarization thread.

If you won the euro millions would you buy a £100 dac or a £5000 dac?

I would buy one that had all the features I needed.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
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)?

I think you need to spend more, and more to the point I think look at more interesting architectures to DAC's if you want a sound upgrade.
I got sucked in to the whole SINAD measurements game, bought the Schiit Modius because of its massively higher 'score' over the Node 2i internal DAC.
But the end result was it basically sounded the same, just ever so slightly smoother - and no way would I have passed a blind test.

IF SINAD was everything, as many like to suggest it is, then the 2i to Modius represents about as big of a delta as you will get. But in practice/listening there is nothing in it.

I have however more recently changed out the DAC to the Schiit Bifrost 2, which is their multibit architecture and uses their proprietary phase and time based filtering.
Absolutely this has made an audible improvement, I'm not going into the changes I've heard here - but suffice to say it's an upgrade and I consider it finally money well spent.
I wasn't especially expecting to hear a difference, based on my dismal results prior trying different DACs, and I'm not one to convince myself of differences - I do not hear differences between optical/coax like some apparently can for example! So I try to be as objective as possible and was fully prepared to sell it on had it not delivered (Schiit sold in the UK you can always get what you paid for it if not more given no UK stock for so long now). - However it's most definitely a keeper.

Based on my experience:
  • All D/S based DACs I have tried sound as good as the same really, even when A/B comparing as said very high to very low SINAD DACs.
  • Schiit's Bifrost 2 Multibit does for sure sound a step up. It's still subtle don't get me wrong, nothing like compared to swapping out speakers, but absolutely it is a worthwhile upgrade when the rest of the system warrants it.
  • I believe it's down to the filtering (the Bifrost 2 is Op amp output, so it's not like it can be attributed to some super fancy output stage), and so by extrapolation I would imagine Chord, Denafrips, Holo, (anything using a more proprietary design) etc - are likely to all sound different due to their filters and implementation. D/S all tends to be the same chip/filtering, and so as long as the implementation is ok, there's little to separate their sound - certainly this is corroborated in my testing and listening of them.

As for the measurements guys who will like to trot out the usual, level matched blind test... I ran REW sweeps of the Modius vs Bifrost 2 test with the Mic in same position (to 'prove' as best I can that the levels were the same):
  • As you can see, the core of the sweeps overlay perfectly so we're talking a level match that's essentially perfect, within the realms of audibility.
  • The Bifrost 2 is clearly resolving more detail as can be seen in several areas, bare in mind also this is 1/6 smoothed so non smoothed I'm sure would show more different no doubt.
  • So clearly there is something different going on between them and I'd wager as said that it's filtering. Irrespective of the reasons, I think it's enough to show there's an audible difference and that contrary to my own belief just 6 months ago, not all DACs sound the same and that SINAD is not a reliable way to 'score' a DAC.

IMG_0036.jpeg
 

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