Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Why do people buy expensive DACs?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Why do people buy expensive DACs? - Page 3

post #31 of 131

I'm a Hifi person, not a headfi.

 

Went down to the shops to A/B the following DACs.

1) Benchmark 

2) Musical Fidelity M1

3) Chordette 

 

The current DAC that I'm using is 3x less than the Benchmark and it holds pretty well as compared the three of them. I would say the sound is slightly different, separation is lightly better. The worst is 2), my current DAC beats it flay.

 

I don't think it's value for money with respect to the DAC that I'm using. Hence, I decided to save the $ and mod the hell out of my current DAC.

 

Anyone feels the same ? 

post #32 of 131

Say what you will, but I'd still like to hear the obscenely expensive stacks from Esoteric and dCS. I just dont want to PAY for the obscenely expensive ..... :)

post #33 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.


Like?

 

 

post #34 of 131
Thread Starter 

Could you do a favor and mention a few?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sxr71 View Post

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. 

post #35 of 131
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.

 



Happy Camper brings up a good point.  There is a point of diminishing return on investment with all this stuff. That point is on a sliding scale for all of us. Sometimes there will be apparent differences and sometimes not. This applies to DACs, amps, cans, speakers, virtually all of it. The differences may occur to you as large or small if they are there.  They may be more apparent depending upon the rest of your rig that you pair with it, and even with the music you prefer to listen to.   Really only you alone can make the call if those specific differences offered are worth it to you to pay the dollar amount that is being placed on them.  It is not up to anyone else to tell you whether it's worth it.  A simple answer to the question was already well stated by Currawong and my observations of the potential in well built, well designed DACs compared to lesser DACs is very similar to his.  Great DACs, like great components of all sorts, get our out of the way, sound more like organic sounds...more real if you will, more natural.  They will not fatigue you over time, they'll get you more involved in the music and may even get your foot to tap'in and head to bob'in more readily.  We're all going back to dust at some point - I suggest you enjoy life in whatever way is true for you. 

post #36 of 131


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sxr71 View Post

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. 

 

I would definitely listen to proaudio DACs before going that direction.  There is something to be said for relentless accuracy when you are doing a mix, but that same relentless accuracy may not be the most pleasing way to enjoy that music, whether or not it is exactly what the recording engineer had in their head.  Sometimes the truth hurts (pun intended). 

 

Where are you finding these $30-40K audiophile DACs you speak of?  I can think of at least one exception to the above warning - among the high-end favored DACs that do have similar pro-audio bloodlines, are the Berkley Alpha which you can get routinely for around $4k on the used market, and the Pacific Microsonics which came out many years ago at around $15K as I recall (same lab that introduced HDCD I believe, and the Berkley Alpha was one of the founders I'm pretty sure).  Someone's advertising a used PM Two for $17.5K on Agon here.  Other than that one, I'm not familiar with others in the "crazy audiophile world" that creep into 30-40K range.  That said, 17K is pretty absurd to me.  I've heard the Berkley once and it sounded damn good, but no direct comparisons to share with you, though you can probably find some if you look.
 

Since you asked for specific examples, here's Robert Harley's take on the Berkley Alpha....FWIW to you.

post #37 of 131

 

Because the marginal value of that next dollar is less than the perceived or expected gain in enjoyment. In other words, if your rich it just don't matter. cool.gif

 

post #38 of 131
Quote:
Could anybody explain what kind of difference I might hear between a small portable DAC (such as an Ibasso) compared to something in the $1000-2000 range? Or whatever differences that they heard?

 

The differences between $100-$400 DAC's is subtle. The Firestone Spitfire, for example, does texture and timbre slightly better, while the Fubar (with OPA627) is a little more punchy. But it's not a huge difference.

 

When I first heard my Cambridge Audio 740c, on the other hand, I finally realized what people meant by soundstage and air. The difference was dramatic. Will a $2000 DAC sound much, much better than my $850 cd player? I'm not sure, but I'm encouraged enough to explore the possibility. There're something to that "source first" philosophy.

post #39 of 131

My new $100.00 Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD, which is used for both ADC and DAC duty at 24/96, has, it appears, no quality of its own, to make any source sound better or worse. Using this device yields  sound from iTunes which is indistinguishable from  the same material played from SACD.  Why would I want to spend more, unless driven to such purchase as a consequence of being mentally defective.

post #40 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post

My new $100.00 Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD, which is used for both ADC and DAC duty at 24/96, has, it appears, no quality of its own, to make any source sound better or worse. Using this device yields  sound from iTunes which is indistinguishable from  the same material played from SACD.  Why would I want to spend more, unless driven to such purchase as a consequence of being mentally defective.


You should stop right there and enjoy what you've got, and spend all the money you save on music, booze and fast women (not necessarily in that order).  No need whatsoever to risk anyone getting the idea that you're mentally defective. 

post #41 of 131

All DACs are different

 

in one fundamental quality , they all have a slightly or grossly different output levels. I have 3 CD players and several external DACs, no two have the same output level. I have recorded samples from different combos and easiy DBT'd the differences, however when I volume adjust the samples to be approximately the same I fail such tests. We, most of the time perceive slightly louder as better. Thus non level matched comparisons are a bit misleading.

 

some DACs are really different

 

some manufacturers like Wadia have tweaks such as aggressive low pass filters that deliberately drop the higher frequencies by up to -3db at 20khz, for younger listeners this is possibly audible in itself. Some CD player/DACs with tube stages can have very uneven FR such as the AH Njoe Tube designs. Some designs are so incompetent (such as the Zanden 5000 which is not even nominally flat till it hits 200hz)  that it's massive flaws are perceived as "character". It is trivial to make a DAC sound different if you really want to.

 

most DACs are however pretty similar

 

The vast majority of DACs however do a splendidly competent job at recreating an analog waveform with low distortion, low noise, low phase differences, low channel imbalances, flat frequency response, low sample timing variations and so on. In a word accurate. Excluding output levels two competent DACs will be so exemplary on measurable criteria that audibly telling them apart by such criteria will be extraordinarily difficult if not impossible. For instance an SNR of 108db is twice as good as an SNR of 102db but outside of an anechoic chamber with ear-bleeding levels you'd not tell them apart.

 

at this point

 

someone usually says but you cannot measure X or Y. Normally something like PRAT or Timbre. Well PRAT is so badly defined and so subjectively perceived that is it not terribly useful. Pace would seem to imply speed or timing variations easily measurable. Rythmn - surely nothing can change the meter of the music, Timing again implies timing variations. Timbre is all about Frequencies, harmonics, phase differences and so on, again measurable phenomenon.

post #42 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by sterling1 View Post

My new $100.00 Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD, which is used for both ADC and DAC duty at 24/96, has, it appears, no quality of its own, to make any source sound better or worse. Using this device yields  sound from iTunes which is indistinguishable [to me] from  the same material played from SACD.  Why would I want to spend more, unless driven to such purchase as a consequence of being mentally defective.


You are correct. If itunes sounds like SACD to you, you'd have to be nuts to spend any money on audio gear.

 

On the other hand, maybe a better dac would enable you to hear the difference between lossless music and compressed music.

 

Not trying to be mean, just a thought.

.

post #43 of 131

A lot has been said about diminishing returns.  Well to all of you who have tried many dacs: at what price range do you hit the "95% there" zone?

 

A clean, accurate dac with almost "as good as it gets" separation and all the other desirables.

 

Like the OP, I'd want to make 1 purchase - get 95% there and be done with it.

 

Or maybe I'm already there with my WM8741?  

post #44 of 131

I have a nice M-audio DAC that I plan to mod later. It sounds good to me. There is definitely diminishing returns in play here. I have never had the chance to really listen to a good DAC, so I can;t say anything about different or better sounds. If you get the Anedio or some good pro DAC, be sure to let us know what you think especially in comparison with the D10. 

post #45 of 131

Why expensive dacs? People with the money (or a credit card..) buy expensive DACs because they normally sound better than cheap ones. 

 

Not always, though. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Why do people buy expensive DACs?