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Testing audiophile claims and myths - Page 136

post #2026 of 3732

The latest Astell & Kern DAP, the AK120, utilizes two DAC chips instead of one. And according to the manufacturer, it offers the following benefits. 

 

The AK120 not only meets the standards of Hi-Fi audio, but also utilizes two DACs (digital to analog converters) maximizing the dual-mono set up to completely separate and isolate the left and right audio channels. As a result, the AK120 delivers broader a dynamic range and wider soundstage so that you can enjoy an even more realistic music experience. 

 

I have been under the impression that proper implementation of the DAC chip, and not the number of DAC chips installed will directly effect the DACs measurements and in turn sonic quality.

 

Can an improvement in sound quality, dynamic range and sound stage be achieved by using more dac chips?


Edited by Greenleaf7 - 6/27/13 at 3:50am
post #2027 of 3732
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenleaf7 View Post
Can an improvement in sound quality, dynamic range and sound stage be achieved by using more dac chips?

 

Using two mono DACs can improve the dynamic range by a few dB, but this is not really necessary or useful in practice, when a single stereo DAC chip can achieve 110+ dB without major difficulty if implemented properly. Under realistic listening conditions, the ~96 dB dynamic range of 16-bit CD quality audio is good enough to make the noise floor inaudible.

 

Amplifiers and DACs do not normally affect the sound stage in any significant way, unless they are poorly designed or implemented, or deliberately include it as a feature (e.g. crossfeed). It is more likely that a difference in sound stage is perceived because of not comparing the devices under sufficiently well controlled conditions.

post #2028 of 3732

Each doubling of the number of DACs increases the SNR by 3db.

 

edit: stv's already there


Edited by anetode - 6/27/13 at 4:31am
post #2029 of 3732

You have to read the AK thing carefully, though.  They aren't using two DACs cascaded, they are used in a dual-mono configuration, one DAC per channel.  Can't see that actually improving anything beyond what you'd get with a single shared DAC.  

post #2030 of 3732
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenleaf7 View Post

The latest Astell & Kern DAP, the AK120, utilizes two DAC chips instead of one. And according to the manufacturer, it offers the following benefits. 

 

The AK120 not only meets the standards of Hi-Fi audio, but also utilizes two DACs (digital to analog converters) maximizing the dual-mono set up to completely separate and isolate the left and right audio channels. As a result, the AK120 delivers broader a dynamic range and wider soundstage so that you can enjoy an even more realistic music experience. 

 

I have been under the impression that proper implementation of the DAC chip, and not the number of DAC chips installed will directly effect the DACs measurements and in turn sonic quality.

 

Can an improvement in sound quality, dynamic range and sound stage be achieved by using more dac chips?

Secret to success in the DAP market seems to be more DACs the better. Mixed with a brick like build, severe compromises, unusable UI and F*&ed up frequency response. devil_face.gif

post #2031 of 3732

Oh and of course a gigantic price tag. How could I forget!

post #2032 of 3732

So I read about 75 pages of this before I got a bit burned out.

 

On other pages inside has there been any consensus about where the line gets drawn between cruddy components and ones that are adequate enough to not be detected as being different?

 

I've long been of the mind that transducers rule the roost on either input and output and this sort of ABX testing seems to confirm that bias.  That being said I've also fallen prey to switching one amp for the next or switching between DSD and PCM and very convincingly have noted changes in performance mostly in regards to 3D imaging on 2 channel stereo speaker playback.  The size of the sound stage and how far I perceive information filling the room in a cohesive manner has always been how I've made my selections.

 

I'm attempting to rework my main playback system and It would be quite fun to see just what I could "get away with" on the components side in order to invest more heavily in the transducer category. It seems to me that after all the discussion really what we're looking for is something quiet enough to get out of the way and has enough power/voltage to accurately move the speakers/headphones of our choosing.

 

Another thing that I find curious is that if different levels of distortion or frequency response are really all that separate the different amplifiers, preamplifier, and source components why hasn't someone built us a box that throws the various possibilities into memory and allows us to dial up signature sounds on a whim much like Bob Carver's "matching" experiment but in the digital realm.


Edited by Jammin72 - 6/28/13 at 1:04pm
post #2033 of 3732
I can't see how an amp could possibly affect soundstage on a speaker setup. That would be either part of the recording itself or the acoustics of the room.

You're thinking along the right lines on your reworking of your speaker setup. I currently run mine with a $120 Sony bluray player, $400 Yamaha amp and Mac mini music server. Those things don't matter.

The things that do make a huge difference are:

The quality of the speakers
Equalization / Room acoustics
Multi-channel sound (5:1)
DSPs

All of these work together. For me multi-channel sound and control of the sound space with DSPs was a real revelation. I can easily switch from my surround simulation to direct 2 channel output and the difference is massive. 5:1 seems to be the domain of bass heavy home theater setups, but in a carefully equalized music setting, it is even more impressive.
post #2034 of 3732
Amps do have an impact on soundstage. It was very noticeable trying different speaker amps with the HE-6s. Same source and material.
post #2035 of 3732
I'm afraid I'm not familiar with HE-6 speakers. Who makes them?
post #2036 of 3732
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with HE-6 speakers. Who makes them?

 

The HE-6 is a headphone made by HiFiMAN, and is infamous for its poor efficiency, for which reason some people run it directly from speaker amplifiers.

 

Sound stage is very subjective (and with simple stereo recordings on headphones, much of it is imaginary), so it is important to compare it under double-blind conditions with accurate level matching. Different amplifiers are likely not equally as loud at the same setting of the volume control, and slight loudness differences can be perceived as quality (for example, sound stage) differences.

post #2037 of 3732
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

Amps do have an impact on soundstage. It was very noticeable trying different speaker amps with the HE-6s. Same source and material.

Actually what's being argued and somewhat tested here is that after a certain threshold, no they don't. So the next great argument is.... Where's the threshold?
post #2038 of 3732
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammin72 View Post

Actually what's being argued and somewhat tested here is that after a certain threshold, no they don't. So the next great argument is.... Where's the threshold?

Of course the HE-6's are at one extreme end of the spectrum so the whole argument gets qualified as the threshold for your particular transducer of choice,
post #2039 of 3732
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

The HE-6 is a headphone made by HiFiMAN, and is infamous for its poor efficiency, for which reason some people run it directly from speaker amplifiers.

 

Oh... like Stax I guess. If there is a difference in sound there, that probably has more to do with how the headphones are getting the power than how the amp "sounds".

 

In any case, when I talk about soundstage I mean room acoustics, speaker placement, 5:1 surround... all the things that place sound in real three dimensional space. None of that applies to headphones.. and nothing an amp does could possibly affect that. In fact, as long as an amp is flat, clean and powered well enough, they are all pretty much the same.


Edited by bigshot - 6/29/13 at 8:47am
post #2040 of 3732
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

I can't see how an amp could possibly affect soundstage on a speaker setup. That would be either part of the recording itself or the acoustics of the room.

Exactly. I've said this before, and at the risk of irritating people I'll say it again: If you listen on speakers (not headphones) and your room has no absorption at the side-wall reflection points, you don't even know what imaging is.

--Ethan
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