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How / does distortion add up?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Let's say there are 3 components. Each one is measured separately for harmonic distortion of a 1 kHz sine wave.

a) DAC with 0.0005% (-106dB)
b) amp with 0.005% (-86dB)
c) headphones with 0.05% (-66dB)

What would be the result with all components used together?
post #2 of 6
Google error analysis:

http://www.upscale.utoronto.ca/PVB/H...opagation.html
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
The reason I was asking is that it doesn't seem to matter much how perfect the source is, since heaphones/speakers will always be the weakest link in the chain.
post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
The reason I was asking is that it doesn't seem to matter much how perfect the source is, since heaphones/speakers will always be the weakest link in the chain.

Distortion is additive so the answer is
-65.95db or 0.050408062%


so yes the speakers/phoes dominate distortion and then some and btw speakers/headphones can be a lot worse than that !
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
The reason I was asking is that it doesn't seem to matter much how perfect the source is, since heaphones/speakers will always be the weakest link in the chain.
True, but on an audiophile forum I imagine it'll be a small minority who care.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
It's still interesting to see that there are only fractions of a dB difference in the end result between a perfect source and one with pretty high distortion because, as nick_charles said, the speakers dominate.
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