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E-MU 0204 USB: Damn, They've Done it Again! And for $129!!! - Page 3

post #31 of 307
Quote:
Originally Posted by EddieE View Post
So what do we know about the AK4396, how would it rank with WM8740 and WM8741?

 

They sound the same.

 

 

This is awesome. Professional-targeted products are always outstanding for the money. I have no doubts that the 0204 is in the same league as the Grace.


Edited by 3X0 - 1/9/11 at 4:13pm
post #32 of 307

nope havent heard this one

i have listened to grace though

 

i dont think grace is worth 1800 but closer to 1k. it's only slightly better than a benchmark (though it's more of a personal sound preference). i expect excellent asynch usb at 1500-2500 price range and an excellent output stage.

 

 

again i remind ppl that specs and dac chip are only some parts of a dac. output stage is also important. you can use older dac chips and still have a better sounding dac than someone using newer chips

 

 

if it were specs alone, everyone would be  spending less than 500.

 

 

companies will always price their products roughly in the same price range as their relevant competitors. there are few giant killers out there. some of the items that ppl say were giant killers only turn out to be good in very limited range of music or settings.

post #33 of 307
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3X0 View Post

This is awesome. Professional-targeted products are always outstanding for the money. I have no doubts that the 0204 is in the same league as the Grace.


I own the 0404 USB and have serious doubts about this claim. tongue.gif

post #34 of 307
Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitesymphony View Post
I own the 0404 USB and have serious doubts about this claim. tongue.gif

Why's that? I only stopped drinking the kool-aid very recently; I was actually quite forcefully enlightened by quite an intelligent individual (he showed me first-hand, then backed it up with science).

 

All I can say is be proud of your 0404, and don't ever be in a rush to upgrade it. I wouldn't upgrade it at all. No improvements to be had anywhere.

post #35 of 307
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3X0 View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitesymphony View Post
I own the 0404 USB and have serious doubts about this claim. tongue.gif

Why's that? I only stopped drinking the kool-aid very recently; I was actually quite forcefully enlightened by quite an intelligent individual (he showed me first-hand, then backed it up with science).

 

All I can say is be proud of your 0404, and don't ever be in a rush to upgrade it. I wouldn't upgrade it at all. No improvements to be had anywhere.



lol

 

someone needs to listen instead of looking at science

 

we're all too caught up with specs / science

 

0404 is great for the price

 

i guess you would rather have a 0404 instead of a berkley or DCS (assuming it didnt cost you more)

post #36 of 307
Quote:
Originally Posted by endless402 View Post
lol

 

someone needs to listen instead of looking at science


I have. That's what I mean by quite forcefully enlightened.

 

My current DAC is $1,200. Months ago, I found it the equal of the likes of the W4S DAC (by ear). Now I find something like the 0404 USB to be equal to either.

 

If you match the levels of these DACs at the analog output, you will not be able to tell the difference. No one has been able to -- you can Google and do all the research on it that you like. There is documentation of successful differentiation between 320kbps and lossless, but nothing legitimate on successful (lab-worthy) differentiation between DACs.

 

DACs that show up as audibly different when the output levels are matched simply aren't doing their job correctly. The specifications and tolerances of these DACs are well beyond the scope of human hearing.

 

 

Buying well-built professional equipment will get the job done every time. This 0204 is a good example.

 

 

I'd discuss further but it encroaches upon DBT and is belongs mostly in the science forum.


Edited by 3X0 - 1/9/11 at 9:03pm
post #37 of 307



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3X0 View Post
I have. That's what I mean by quite forcefully enlightened.

 

My current DAC is $1,200. Months ago, I found it the equal of the likes of the W4S DAC (by ear). Now I find something like the 0404 USB to be equal to either.

 

If you match the levels of these DACs at the analog output, you will not be able to tell the difference. No one has been able to -- you can Google and do all the research on it that you like. There is documentation of successful differentiation between 320kbps and lossless, but nothing legitimate on successful (lab-worthy) differentiation between DACs.

 

DACs that show up as audibly different when the output levels are matched simply aren't doing their job correctly. The specifications and tolerances of these DACs are well beyond the scope of human hearing.

 

 

Buying well-built professional equipment will get the job done every time. This 0204 is a good example.

 

 

I'd discuss further but it encroaches upon DBT and is belongs mostly in the science forum.


your dac and W4S shouldnt be that different since they're in the same league. i will agree with that since i find most dacs in the 1k to 2.5k range roughly the same (comes down to preference).

 

but to say 0404 and W4S sound the same is a big statement, but not as large as to say DAC's dont matter, they sound the same

 

that statement means that it doesnt matter what the output stage design is or the quality of components used, it will sound the same
 


Edited by endless402 - 1/9/11 at 9:27pm
post #38 of 307

This has turned into a very interesting conversation, thanks to all involved. I'm not great DAC expert, but the more expensive amps I have the opportunity to hear the more I think that once you past a basic quality threshhold where there are no obvious flaws, all amps sound basically the same and the rest is 95% placebo and head-fi mythology 5% actual difference in performance. It would make sense if the same was true of DACs.

 

There is an interesting thread I read here where a guy tired out all the expensive lauded dacs with his E-MU 0404 as a reference (he actually did, there were photos posted) and while he did have slight preferences for this or that DAC, the most telling part was where he detailed the real squint eyed listening you have to do to tell a difference between any of them and the 0404.

 

However, I do still consider I need an upgrade as the E7 is probably below the above mentioned quality threshold.

 

Point of reference - On the Hifiman HE-4 thread the poster who had them (forget the name) tried them through his FiiO E9 with E7 acting as DAC and then through his Hifiman amp with nice soundcard acting as DAC and found the latter to be much better…

 

…then he tried the FiiO E9 and the Hifiman amp with the nice soundcard as DAC and found the two amps to be very, very similar (which further backs up my points about amps - note the massive difference in price between the hifiman and FiiO amps!).

 

The poster was honest enough to admit his super-cheap FiiO E9 sounded as good as the much more expenive hifiman offering, so I do trust his judgement to say his soundcard was noticably better than the E7.

 

The sound card was not a particuarly expensive one, but as was commented on this thread - professional gear tends to perform much better for price than boutique "audiophile" gear and offer better value for money as they cannot rely on myths and hype to sell their products to their more sober audience.

 

That's one of the key reasons this appeals to me, along with the fact that I should (and maybe someone could confirm or deny) be able to do RMAA tests as well since this has ADC as well as DAC functionality.

post #39 of 307

Awesome. I was looking at the 0404, but this looks like basically the same thing but with only the features I really need.

post #40 of 307


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by endless402 View Postbut to say 0404 and W4S sound the same is a big statement, but not as large as to say DAC's dont matter, they sound the same

 

that statement means that it doesnt matter what the output stage design is or the quality of components used, it will sound the same
 

Well, almost. The idiom "garbage in, garbage out" gets thrown around way too often here. I like to think of that phrase as being more suited for file bitrate or source material, but I do think that there is a thin layer of garbage in DACs. These are the DACs that do not measure well and do not convert the digital signal faithfully as they are supposed to. Ultra-vintage and tube DACs can fall into this category.

 

Once you get past that thin film of crap, the rest is pure gold. Most importantly, the "pure gold" DACs aren't expensive to produce -- even this EMU 0204 is likely more expensive than the cheapest of them. Why pay actual pure gold prices when you can get the same level of performance for much less?

 

I urge you try a controlled test where the analog outputs of the DACs are level-matched, and see if you can tell a difference without knowing which DAC is which. They should sound the same; in a controlled test outliers will fall out of pure gold and into garbage as they are not reproducing the signal faithfully.

 

Level-matching is the key word. Without level-matching, the findings are no longer valid. Most head-fiers (and indeed, most of the audiophile community at large) play it by ear, which doesn't cut it.

Originally Posted by EddieE View Post

This has turned into a very interesting conversation, thanks to all involved. I'm not great DAC expert, but the more expensive amps I have the opportunity to hear the more I think that once you past a basic quality threshhold where there are no obvious flaws, all amps sound basically the same and the rest is 95% placebo and head-fi mythology 5% actual difference in performance. It would make sense if the same was true of DACs.

 

There is an interesting thread I read here where a guy tired out all the expensive lauded dacs with his E-MU 0404 as a reference (he actually did, there were photos posted) and while he did have slight preferences for this or that DAC, the most telling part was where he detailed the real squint eyed listening you have to do to tell a difference between any of them and the 0404.

 

The sound card was not a particuarly expensive one, but as was commented on this thread - professional gear tends to perform much better for price than boutique "audiophile" gear and offer better value for money as they cannot rely on myths and hype to sell their products to their more sober audience.

If even a 5% actual, concrete difference. Any actual differences (when level-matched) are due to either deficiencies in the upstream material or deficiency in the equipment itself. The electronic equipment may no longer be replicating the signal faithfully, which is a sign of a poorly-manufactured item that should not be bought. Perceived difference takes into account kool-aid phenomena that you mention -- placebo, myth, aesthetics, price-quality associations, et alia.

 

I remember reading that same thread. I would now wager that the differences he perceived might have been down to very minute level differences or psychological effects, though that head-fier was clearly sipping much less of the kool-aid than anyone else was at the time.

 

Ultimately you have the right idea. Buy professional equipment (with the highest-end headphones you can afford, since transducers actually do make a very, very palpable difference), and in meet conditions put your system in a black box and calibrate the levels, and I'm sure you'll put many much more expensive systems to shame.

 

 

The good thing in all of this is I realized my DAC, headphone amp, and speaker amp are all in the pure-gold-class. The bad news is that I grossly overpaid for this level of performance -- $1200, when I could have gotten away with it for considerably cheaper. I'm not complaining though as there are still significantly worse values to be had in value (just peruse the portable amp thread and you'll get an idea of what I mean).


Edited by 3X0 - 1/10/11 at 8:15am
post #41 of 307

I'd sell your DAC and buy an E-MU.

post #42 of 307
Quote:
Originally Posted by evanft View Post

I'd sell your DAC and buy an E-MU.


 

I want to move to an EMU 0204 and a stereo receiver of some sort. I wanted to move to the Outlaw RR2150 since it actually has analog bass management in a stereo design, but the DAC inside that unit is legitimately garbage -- it downsamples Redbook to 14-bit or thereabouts from what I've read. I might end up going to an EMU 0204 and the RR2150 actually, but only if I can recoup sufficient costs in selling the Nova. Unfortunately my Nova is nearly one year old so the warranty will be kaput soon (besides being 30 pounds and thus expensive to ship), so I probably wouldn't be able to sell it for enough.


Edited by 3X0 - 1/10/11 at 9:02am
post #43 of 307

One thing I just cannot seem to find anywhere about this is the physical dimensions of it. Desktop real estate is at a bit of a premium for me so it's always something I'm interested it. 

 

Anyone see them anywhere?

post #44 of 307

all amps sound the same? uhhh

 

maybe in the headphone world. the most i've ever spent on a headphone amp was on a woo audio 5

 

 

in the speaker world, it's rather easy to differentiate different amps, otherwise ppl wouldnt be buying different amplifiers esp when we go between class AB and class A amps

i went from rotel to roksan (which was similar) to simaudio (much colder / detailed) to accuphase (warmer, less detailed). i've also listened to quite a few different brands of amps from levinson, AR, vitus, bryston, all of which have unique sound signatures

 

 

the 3 largest changes i found when i changed my dac from dacmagic to bryston was the size of the soundstage, the precise imaging and the fact that the sound doesnt get cluttered when you're listening to complex music

post #45 of 307

Intriguing product.  I have been considering switching from my 50-ohm HD595 headphones to something like an HD600 or HD650, which have substantially higher impedance (I'm not sure how their sensitivity compares).  If I do so, I'd like to purchase a reasonably priced DAC or DAC/AMP to help drive them.  I had been looking at the Fiio E7, possibly paired with an E9.  But it sure looks to me like the EMU 0204 would be a better choice, provided it can handle that sort of headphone.  Is its amp suited for something like an HD600/HD650?

Another option might be to feed the output of the EMU (or whatever DAC I get) into an A/V receiver I have available (a very modest one at that, Sony STR-DG510).  Would this be a bad idea?  Thus far, I've been feeding a digital/Toslink signal to it, allowing it to perform as the DAC and its headphone output stage as the amp... should I expect a significant improvement with an outboard DAC?  Or am I wasting my time with a separate DAC if I continue to use the Sony as my amp?  Thanks!

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