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Why do people buy expensive DACs? - Page 2

post #16 of 131

Get this one: 

Muse Mini DIR9001+4X TDA1543 parallel connection NOS DAC. USD 63 shipped. 

Item image

 

I did a blind test assisted by a friend - I preferred it 16 of 18 times to my six months old  $2500 Dac. And, no - it wasn't less detailed. Slightly less bright. How come it is so cheap? It is a cheap design. Lucky shot. Whatever. Just do not use the switch too much when power is on - it gets very confused if you do that :-) And it won't do super duper high res files, I believe. But who cares - when such files are readily available - there are hotter designs to buy than the dacs of today. 

 

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120612153492&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT#ht_2827wt_903

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/514782/bryston-bda-1-dac-vs-muse-dac-reviewed

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/512389/mini-dac-tda1543-x-4-nos/120#post_7203193

post #17 of 131

ardilla, I am definitely going to investigate the Muse - found a couple of other reviews, equally favourable, but I am leery of the build quality/durability on anything that cheap. And to think I've spent the last two months telling myself what a *bargain* my $199 MSII is ...... :)

post #18 of 131

only one way to find out.... With so few parts, there is less that can brake ;-) - and $2500  to $60 is a factor of appr. 41. So chances are that in terms of monetary value, its quite safe. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

ardilla, I am definitely going to investigate the Muse - found a couple of other reviews, equally favourable, but I am leery of the build quality/durability on anything that cheap. And to think I've spent the last two months telling myself what a *bargain* my $199 MSII is ...... :)


 

post #19 of 131

An effectively transparent dac can be had for less than $500. If you want to spend more for special coloration, you can though

post #20 of 131

You can get a solid performer used for $500 that will compete with today's $1k dacs.

post #21 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post
Why do...because they can. It makes them  feel good, for awhile, then they may feel guilty, and pick at whatever it is that they purchased..They're convinced that spending big  will bring about satisfaction. Their mindset is that the most expensive things are the best things. Some of these folks are anal. I'm serious, some of these folks are compulsive/obsessive about this stuff. For these folks,   this stuff  never produces the pleasure sought, or is  a sufficient distraction from thoughts about their mortality. These are very unhappy people with insatiable appetites.   


Speaking from my own experience, I'd describe myself as being in that compulsive/obsessive state before. For a short period of time (mostly 2007) I went through 5+ CD players. But the Plinius CD-101 that I bought in March 2008 has kept me satisfied since then and I haven't felt a need to upgrade, and I'm pretty sure I never will. Even though I continued buying other CDPs after it (mostly ones more expensive than it, like the Classe CDP-202 and Cary Audio 306 SACD Pro as recently as 2009), I sold the other ones and kept the Plinius.

 

I started buying "expensive" sources because I had money and I was curious, simple as that really. It all went downhill from there! (For my wallet, that is.)

post #22 of 131

Quote:

Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

You can get a solid performer used for $500 that will compete with today's $1k dacs.


Listen when HC tells you something.....He has a  CAL Sigma II tube DAC (GE 5* 12ay7) that I think sounds damn good.......probably as old as my Monarchy M22C (which I think is a nice dac!) BUT I bet, if you/me and HC had more disposable cash, HC and I would probably Love to own the new Perfect Wave Dac and Transport..........with Bridge option..........My buddy spent big bucks to buy the Top shelf EMM Labs Dac and Transport and It's in his equipment closet I do believe....That was probably close to 12 or 15 K$$....IMO Dacs are changing by the month and as Happy Camper said there are plenty of great dacs out there today for around $500 bucks.......Antony6555, That's so true ,  

. If you want to spend more for special coloration, you can though


 

post #23 of 131
Thread Starter 

OK, I'm pretty determined that I want to get the best for around $1000 and that I'm probably not going be be upgrading it again unless it breaks.

 

I went to Audible Arts in Campbell, CA to see if I could try out some DACs to see if I could compare with my Ibasso D10. I don't know what happened, but the owner went ranting about how it's too much work for him. That annoyed me since I drove 50 miles to that place and called in advance to see if I could A/B his DACs. I told him that I would be bringing my own portable DAC to do the testing. He sounded more than happy on the phone and seemed like he wanted to participate as well. He didn't hear my DAC but he said immediately said it's a terrible DAC because it's portable. That was disappointing because I haven't been able to try a DAC better than mine. They told me I could set up an appointment again, but I don't know if I want to...

 

People on Head-fi seem to like the Ibasso D10's DAC... I really just want a hi-level DAC and be done with it. If Anedio D1 or something along that line is it, then I'll just save up and get it. I definitely don't want to spend over $1500 though, but the answers in this thread seem to say that I definitely do not need to spend over $1500.

post #24 of 131

I think anything can sound "good", the difference between low price and high price is, generally speaking, better components, and more complex circuit topologies. With these two things the sound may supposedly be altered for a purpose, not necessarily "to sound better", but also things like musicality or fidelity, and I think in practice, actually a balancing act of different things by the designer. Musicality ultimately is a matter of personal preference, and insofar as you buy more expensive gear for its sound signature, you are paying extra for sound signature. But fidelity, although is most often subjectively gauged by audiophiles thus a fuzzy topic, is still a much less fuzzy yardstick for judging the "value" of expensive gear in relation to less expensive gear. That is not a comment on the degree of"fidelity" difference between cheap and expensive gear, just saying that the concept of fidelity would theoretically be a lot better measuring stick than musicality, even though fidelity is probably seldom the sole goal of an audiophile.

 

There may in fact be no fidelity difference between cheap and expensive gear, I do not think any scientific tests have been done to solve the matter, and it would be extremely difficult to be precise, just consider how you are to measure the degree of difference in perceived "instrument separation". So putting aside the goal of objectively knowing the value of more expensive gear, there is still the question of how much closer more expensive gear is to real life unamplified music in subjective listening, assuming all other variables including other gear, room acoustics, and recording are addressed). Obviously people who buy very expensive gear do not agree with the usual inferences drawn from RMAA measurements of audio equipment that say $50-100 gear score perfect on some things, so the gear must be critiqued subjectively, and be open to faulty perception and interpretation of sound and value. Also to judge value by "fidelity/neutrality", means you have to try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who gets expensive gear for the supposed fidelity benefits.

 

After my rather short experience in the hobby, if you were to ask me, What is the difference between low price gear and high price gear in terms of fidelity, I would say microdetails, subtleties, nuances. It's like paying more and more for subtler and subtler things, good for some types of audiophiles, bad for other types. I have listened to cheap low fidelity gear that was more full-bodied, dynamic and euphonic than more expensive neutral gear, but I wouldn't call the cheap gear high fidelity simply because it didn't seem to faithfully reproduce the recording, always messing with the microdetail.

post #25 of 131
Thread Starter 

Simplifying this thread to a quick summary:
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post

There may in fact be no fidelity difference between cheap and expensive gear, I do not think any scientific tests have been done to solve the matter, and it would be extremely difficult to be precise, just consider how you are to measure the degree of difference in perceived "instrument separation".

 

After my rather short experience in the hobby, if you were to ask me, What is the difference between low price gear and high price gear in terms of fidelity, I would say microdetails, subtleties, nuances. It's like paying more and more for subtler and subtler things, good for some types of audiophiles, bad for other types. I have listened to cheap low fidelity gear that was more full-bodied, dynamic and euphonic than more expensive neutral gear, but I wouldn't call the cheap gear high fidelity simply because it didn't seem to faithfully reproduce the recording, always messing with the microdetail.

The things in bold definitely interest me and I'd like the best of those I can get. I'll leave the musicality aspects to my tubes.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

With acoustic music, the differences between DACs are readily apparent. The soundstage is wider, with instruments having more space around them and sound more like separate instruments than part of a blur of music. The level of detail increases as well and the harshness (distortion) is lower.  With the DACs I've tried, the ones with the most comprehensive power supplies always won out.  I see a lot of high-end DACs with only minimalist power supplies and, honestly, I don't hold much hope for them at what the manufacturer is offering.  It could be that the much I don't know about electronics is biasing me here though.

Great info. I also heard that instruments also sound more like unique instruments. Sounds great!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

Similar experience recently with the A GD 7. I was in the loaner program and got to listen to it for a couple weeks. I went back to my DAC and clarity was better from the Ref 7 but not at the price difference.

 

Old DACs were well designed and tweaks are being sold as breakthroughs today.

I haven't spent a big deal on DACs yet. Pretty much $0 on a stand alone DAC, so I think I'll invest now for the best I can currently get and not care about the rest later on XD Thanks for the advice.
 

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post

you're listening to the PSU, plain simple.

Very well then. XD I'll leave the complex engineering stuff for our engineering friends.
 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

ardilla, I am definitely going to investigate the Muse - found a couple of other reviews, equally favourable, but I am leery of the build quality/durability on anything that cheap. And to think I've spent the last two months telling myself what a *bargain* my $199 MSII is ...... :)

I easily get buyer's remorse too... I also do not want to deal with upgrades in the next few years. Getting a bargain isn't exactly my goal right now. Rather, it's to get the best that I can get right now with my budget, and be done with it.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post


Speaking from my own experience, I'd describe myself as being in that compulsive/obsessive state before. For a short period of time (mostly 2007) I went through 5+ CD players. But the Plinius CD-101 that I bought in March 2008 has kept me satisfied since then and I haven't felt a need to upgrade, and I'm pretty sure I never will. Even though I continued buying other CDPs after it (mostly ones more expensive than it, like the Classe CDP-202 and Cary Audio 306 SACD Pro as recently as 2009), I sold the other ones and kept the Plinius.

 

I started buying "expensive" sources because I had money and I was curious, simple as that really. It all went downhill from there! (For my wallet, that is.)

Thanks for the advice. Curiosity also set me back thousands of dollars, but it led me to a certain headphone that I probably can never let go. XD I think all the money and time spent is worth it when you find something so perfect for you. =)

post #26 of 131

For Head-Fiers, 10K is a lot of money - it certainly is for me. For many in audio, its entry level.

 

Walk into a room with a good 10-15K+ speaker rig (CDP, pre+power amps, good set of floorstanders) playing and its immediately obvious what you are getting for your money - if not, you just saved yourself a bundle and would probably be happy with something from the LG range of 'Home Theatre in a Box' systems.

 

Whether the difference between a rig like that and something in the 50k+ realm is quite as startling is a tougher question - I just havent had sufficient exposure to the latter.  Even those who like to list seriously high end kit in their reviews often list the differences between their gear and whatever they are reviewing with phrases like 'just a smidge more detailed in the top end' and my personal favourite 'there was just more "there" there'. I guess if you have the money, why not ?

post #27 of 131
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

For Head-Fiers, 10K is a lot of money - it certainly is for me. For many in audio, its entry level.

 

Walk into a room with a good 10-15K+ speaker rig (CDP, pre+power amps, good set of floorstanders) playing and its immediately obvious what you are getting for your money - if not, you just saved yourself a bundle and would probably be happy with something from the LG range of 'Home Theatre in a Box' systems.

 

Whether the difference between a rig like that and something in the 50k+ realm is quite as startling is a tougher question - I just havent had sufficient exposure to the latter.  Even those who like to list seriously high end kit in their reviews often list the differences between their gear and whatever they are reviewing with phrases like 'just a smidge more detailed in the top end' and my personal favourite 'there was just more "there" there'. I guess if you have the money, why not ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 9pintube View Post

Listen when HC tells you something.....He has a  CAL Sigma II tube DAC (GE 5* 12ay7) that I think sounds damn good.......probably as old as my Monarchy M22C (which I think is a nice dac!) BUT I bet, if you/me and HC had more disposable cash, HC and I would probably Love to own the new Perfect Wave Dac and Transport..........with Bridge option..........My buddy spent big bucks to buy the Top shelf EMM Labs Dac and Transport and It's in his equipment closet I do believe....That was probably close to 12 or 15 K$$....IMO Dacs are changing by the month and as Happy Camper said there are plenty of great dacs out there today for around $500 bucks.......Antony6555, That's so true ,  

. If you want to spend more for special coloration, you can though


 


So would I be right to assume that something new today with a price of $1000 would be a good point of fidelity to reach. Things costing over that much is just coloration preferences? I think I will prefer to get something new.

post #28 of 131

The main reason is placebo. It doesn't take much to make an excellent sounding DAC.

post #29 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by gevorg View Post

The main reason is placebo. It doesn't take much to make an excellent sounding DAC.

 

I guess if Apple can significantly improve the SQ on recent releases of the iPhone/iPod simply by choosing one $5 sliver of silicon over another, you may well be right. My issue with some of the Chinese DAC makers is that they seem to confuse specs with sound quality - 24/192 upsampling isnt always 'better', at least to my ears , than well rendered 16/44.1 ......

post #30 of 131

Well if you pick a pro product perhaps something that is used by modern recording studios, you can be sure you are getting what is in the data. When some recording engineers feel that a certain DAC sounds as close to the mic feed as they have heard, its worth considering. These pro DACs are expensive but not ludicrously expensive. They are in the $2k--$6k range. The crazy audiophile ones are into the $30-40k range. Usually these pro products come with 8 channels and have a host of DSP related features that you are paying for, but still considering they are used for modern recordings you can be sure you are getting the best and still save thousands off audiophile equivalents. 

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