Originally Posted by castleofargh
SNR if given with no information on how it's done is mostly a commercial trick. from what I've seen about it, you can use several methods that won't give the most flatering results, or you can just filrter out the frequencies of shame to have those incredible results we like so much.
I recall mention of manufacturer's using A-weighting to get better numbers; is that along the lines of what you're talking about? Out of curiosity, I looked up the specs of a fair number of DACs last night -- from cheap to expensive -- and have to admit that the results were surprising: the Benchmark (SNR stated as 123 and 126, A-weighted and unweighted, respectively) looked far better than a premium unit that costs $22K (for one channel!). But even so, does SNR matter? All the music I have seems to stay far enough away from the noise floor that even SNR specs may be a bit of a red herring in terms of a useful metric.
I've been reading a thread in the hardware forums where user Gary in MD auditioned 14 different DACs and (as of thread page 60/89, which is as far as I've gotten) had a tough time finding any sonic difference between most of the contenders. People on the sound science side will argue about the validity of his testing methodology, but since it was never intended to be a rigorous scientific evaluation I'm not going to comment.
Isn't the fact that he couldn't tell the difference a reasonable result? The DAC is just supposed to take the 1s and 0s and turn them into an analog waveform, and it's not exactly a digital task that requires bleeding edge technology. As a mechanical designer, I've had to employ the services of our test and measurement guys every so often, and I've yet to hear one of them say they've taken a new piece of equipment but can't use it until it's "burned in," or that any particular component "colors" the resulting data. It seems like any reasonable implementation ought to get the job done, and perhaps Gary might have been better served if he's just tried to eliminate the units that sounded "bad."
Which brings me to this question: these days, is there really such as a thing as a "bad" DAC? I mean, one that absolutely gets things wrong, that doesn't convert the bits to waveforms properly?
I won't say my mind's completely made up, but if the amp section reviews well I'm probably just going to get the Oppo HA-1 when it comes out: it's a one-box solution for my music enjoyment needs. I suppose I'm not a diehard audiophile if I don't want to chase down the last 0.1% of perceived performance from my gear, and I like the fact that the Oppo will play pretty much any format thrown at it (storage is cheap, and I don't want to mess with resampling any high resolution files that might come my way). Oppo also seems to make good quality components available for a fair price.
Doesn't anyone just enjoy listening to their music without being hypercritical about the equipment used? In the vast majority of cases, the consumer wasn't there when the music was recorded, so who are we to say that our systems are reproducing it accurately? I'll say it again: I'm glad Gregorio started this thread, because I'll not be buying 24-bit music simply for the sake of a extending a dynamic range that was already adequate at 16/44.1.
Am I missing something? Is there a flaw in my thinking? I'm always happy to be educated.