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DAC's. When is good enough, good enough?

post #1 of 158
Thread Starter 

Everything I read, says today's DAC's are so good, you really have to have bat ears to hear a difference.

 

What's what on the what?

 

???

 

I read and one side says, there's a huge difference between different DAC's.  Others write, let the circuitry be your guide and others still say, you have to buy into the $4-5k range for there to be a noticeable difference.

 

???

 

Spec wise, the ASUS STX DAC (Burr-Brown PCM 1792A) knocks it out of the park with it's 129 dB SNR and it's 0.0004 THD.  Does one really need to get a separate DAC such as the Audio-gd "Reference 7."  How good is the STX DAC?  Should one simply port over to a separate high-end headphone amp from the STX and call it a day or does one "really" need a separate DAC to process their music?

 

???

post #2 of 158


I will just say that Pride-of-Ownership does come into play. 

 

So does some amount of Obsessive Compulsiveness.

 

You are right, most people "Felt" that their last Dac was the icing on the cake, until the next Dac came out, then all of a sudden good was not good enough.

 

Just like the placebo affect can make something new and shinny or expensive sound better than something cheap looking or inexpensive.  It can also do the reverse and make a great sounding Dac sound just ok or not good enough when something new comes out.

 

Having said that, yes I want an AudioGD Ref 7.  Somehow I think it will sound better than my Ref5, if I think it will hard enough and read enough posts it will, in fact it will be a HUGE improvement.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by beeman458 View Post

Everything I read, says today's DAC's are so good, you really have to have bat ears to hear a difference.

 

What's what on the what?

 

???

 

I read and one side says, there's a huge difference between different DAC's.  Others write, let the circuitry be your guide and others still say, you have to buy into the $4-5k range for there to be a noticeable difference.

 

???

 

Spec wise, the ASUS STX DAC (Burr-Brown PCM 1792A) knocks it out of the park with it's 129 dB SNR and it's 0.0004 THD.  Does one really need to get a separate DAC such as the Audio-gd "Reference 7."  How good is the STX DAC?  Should one simply port over to a separate high-end headphone amp from the STX and call it a day or does one "really" need a separate DAC to process their music?

 

???

post #3 of 158
Thread Starter 

I will just say that Pride-of-Ownership does come into play.

 

The monies are there to acquire something such as a Ref7 and for me, being a certified hyperactive, "Ooh, shiny." has real meaning.

 

My dig is all the information available.

 

Let's see, go with combination unit such as a NuForce OPPO BDP-83SE, or buy an Audio-gd Ref7 and a Samsung Blu-ray player or maybe buy a Marantz SA8004 with Samsung Blu-ray player or be smart, go with the ASUS STX DAC and download from NetFlix?

 

???

 

And if I lose the DSP of the STX, then I'm stuck with what ever comes out of my headphones and personally, recordings and sound engineers are all over the map when it comes to jazz, horns and anything else hitting those high notes.

 


Edited by beeman458 - 9/13/10 at 3:12pm
post #4 of 158

Go the smart route.

 

ASUS.....

post #5 of 158
Thread Starter 

ASUS.....

 

That's where I'm at but I sure hate giving up all those wonderful placebos.

 

 

(Currently listening to Miles Davis, "Amandla.")

 

You know how Miles is, big on horns.

 


Edited by beeman458 - 9/13/10 at 3:20pm
post #6 of 158

Yeah I know what you mean....sooner or later they always come back and win.

 

But, if the ASUS is truely all-that, it will be very hard to spend the extra cash on something only slightly better...if better at all.

 

You can do it, be Strong..

 

 

We need Audio-holics Anonymous


Edited by Dynobot - 9/13/10 at 3:33pm
post #7 of 158
Thread Starter 

But, if the ASUS is truely all-that, it will be very hard to spend the extra cash on something only slightly better...if better at all.

 

That's what triggered this whole though process.  I read how good the STX DAC is and then read all this wonderful stuff about how good the differenct separates are and then I real how good the STX is; going in circles here people.  Need some sort of STX, separate DAC shootout.

 

We need Audio-holics Anonymous

 

I thought that's what a CanJam was.

 

(Where's that whistling emoticon?)

 

You can do it, be Strong..

 

Too late.  Got a used (Buy/Sell forum) Burson HA-160 headphone amp being delivered Thursday.

 


Edited by beeman458 - 9/13/10 at 3:46pm
post #8 of 158

Imo if you have to ASK others whether you need the audio-gd ref 7, most likely it's not the dac you are looking for. Just looking at the pictures should let you know it is massively overbuilt, and imo, if you don't understand or agree with the purist size-no-object design philosophy, or you don't apply it to other aspects of your audio setup, then you will not truly appreciate the ref 7.

 

That is not to say you may not eventually learn to appreciate a really overbuilt setup, like someone drinking a few dozen bottles of expensive wine may eventually learn to appreciate expensive wine. But also important to keep in mind, most people do not need extreme audio setups or fine wine to be perfectly happy, those that do do not need to ask whether they need it or not.

post #9 of 158
Thread Starter 

Imo if you have to ASK others whether you need the audio-gd ref 7, most likely it's not the dac you are looking for. Just looking at the pictures should let you know it is massively overbuilt, and imo, if you don't understand or agree with the purist size-no-object design philosophy, or you don't apply it to other aspects of your audio setup, then you will not truly appreciate the ref 7.

 

Agreeing with you.  In this case, I'm not asking if I need an Audio-gd Ref 7 because in this case, it's a case of buying once and not looking back.  In my online research, I've hit a big snag and I can't get off the snag.  The snag isn't will I pick up the sonic difference but the question, for the money, is there a difference to be picked up on?  Where does the line of reality leave off in the case of DAC's (esoteric) and where does the rubber meet the road, reality?

 

As with most, my limitations are money.  The monies are there for a NuForce OPPO BDP-83SE; $1,295.00.  So we'll call that my budget.  As to the why?  My ears, brain and music pleasure centers are the why.  But what's the what with the what when one writes regarding the "need" for a DAC.

 

As I wrote, I'm looking at a NuForce OPPO BDP-83SE for it's combined capabilities and doing so, based upon my reading, has kicked over these questions.  And doing my due-Google-diligence, I'm not finding answers to my question regarding a fair comparison between the DAC mounted on the ASUS STX and something like what's in the Ref7.

 

My whole original purpose was to simply get the NuForce OPPO for the combined Blu-ray/DVD/SACD/CD capabilities and be happy.  There I am reading and reading and reading and the questions start to mount to the point of overwhelming me and Google.  It wasn't pretty.

 


Edited by beeman458 - 9/13/10 at 4:33pm
post #10 of 158

I own the Essence STX and have changed out the opamps, and have an X-Meridian sitting on a shelf that was replaced by the Essence STX.  I can't tell you fine details between those two since the time it takes to swap stuff in the computer combined with drivers and connecting cables means I am just making stuff up essentially.

 

I should have my DAC19DSP tomorrow though, but I don't have any other external DACs to use for any kind of shootout, unless you count my Icon Mobile which isn't really in the same category and doesn't have line output capabilities.

post #11 of 158

For me I feel like I am at the point of determining the bottleneck or weak point in my setup and I'm hoping I made the right decision in that it was the DAC.  I don't know how this helps but I've been on the hunt for an upgrade DAC from my Stello DA100 signature for a few weeks now and I effectively narrowed my search down to three DACs:

 

Audio-GD Ref 7 (or 1)

Ayre QB-9

PS Audio Perfectwave DAC

 

Just today I purchased a PWD.  I honestly took a blind leap of faith on this one as it seems to be a very competent DAC based on its ownership of and impressions of many of our respected members.  I remember when I compared the Stello to the Headroom Ultra MicroDAC a year or so ago and found that the difference was pretty substantial even on a modest setup.

 

Another trend to consider is this business of reducing jitter via transport aka the usb hiface, usb halide bridge, Digital Interface, ACSS, I2s, etc.  These products seem to be making a big racket in the DAC world whereas a few years ago they were nearly unheard of, I doubt it will also subside anytime soon.  Effectively this trend is merely adding another "bottleneck" for audiophiles to spend money on; one that I'm going to have to look into next!

 

It's too bad I buy into all of this hoopla :)  If you're happy with the STX I say stick with it!

 

 


Edited by Mr.Sneis - 9/13/10 at 4:35pm
post #12 of 158
Thread Starter 

Epoch wrote:

 

I can't tell you fine details between those two since the time it takes to swap stuff in the computer combined with drivers and connecting cables means I am just making stuff up essentially.

 

Thanks for the above point.  I don't mind the monies so much as personally, I'd rather not blow the money as I'm sure there's some gold panning gear or camera gear I could be blowing my money on instead.

 

I should have my DAC19DSP tomorrow though, but I don't have any other external DACs to use for any kind of shootout,...

 

Even a comparison between the DAC19DSP (after burn-in) and the STX would be cool.

 

Oh, and congrats on the expected new arrival.  Kinda like a new baby but you don't have to change the diapers or pay for it's college.

 

 

Mr. Sneis wrote:

 

Effectively this trend is merely adding another "bottleneck" for audiophiles to spend money on; one that I'm going to have to look into next!

 

That's what I'm trying to do with this thread.  I've done my due diligence with Google and came up with lots of conflicts; yes it does, no it doesn't.

 

 

Should I spend the money on a new DAC, a combined Blu-ray/DVD/SACD/CD player or would I be better served spending the money on a new gold detector?

 

 

 

 


Edited by beeman458 - 9/13/10 at 4:52pm
post #13 of 158

I will see about posting some sort of comparison since you are interested, I just don't know if it will be of much use.

My basic criteria is that if it sounds different I will be pleased, if it sounds subjectively better to me I will be happy with my purchase.  If it was really worth it is another matter.

post #14 of 158
Thread Starter 

My basic criteria is that if it sounds different I will be pleased, if it sounds subjectively better to me I will be happy with my purchase.  If it was really worth it is another matter.

 

Absolutely I'm interested.  I'm where you were at before you pulled the trigger.

 

 

After all the Google research reading, it struck me that with the arrival of the Burson HA-160 headphone amp, the sound quality is going be so good, there's no point striving for better cause then I'd be chasing star dust and not being NASA with all the people's money......

 


Edited by beeman458 - 9/13/10 at 4:57pm
post #15 of 158

Sound quality ans things like S/N apart, there is also the matter of sound signature.

 

The last 12 months I had as my main source a Rega Apollo, Meier StageDAC, MHDT Havana and Audio-GD RE5.

These sources sounded very different in my (speakerbased) system, and it is hard to imagine someone loving f.i. the StageDAC also loving the Havana.

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