Originally Posted by project86
Good points all around. The Invicta does indeed make the most sense when using it as more than just a DAC. Granted I use an outboard music server primarily, but sometimes the SD Card playback comes in extremely handy. Same story with the headphone amp.
Anedio D2 is a fantastic unit. Not sure about the Benchmark, but I would think it should be somewhat competitive - at least I hope it is. Either of them should make you happy, but for extremely critical listening the Invicta is just better. You just have to decide how much you are willing to pay for the last bit of quality.... maybe 5%? Not sure how to put a number on it.
Edited by Zkadoush - 7/24/13 at 3:04pm
If I had the $$$ I would go for both and chose the one that convinced me the most, but I also think that once a DAC is transparent - and both the D2 and the Mirus meet and exceed the conditions for transparency according to the tresholds of our human hearing - the differences shouldn't be drastic. Once transparency is achieved it would be illogical to claim one can further improve it, as it is ultimately based on the conditions and limitations of our human hearing, beyond which even superior performance wouldn't make a difference to us. Also, if any of the DACs add anything to the music, it wouldn't be properly doing it's job. IMO a DAC has to guarantee a transparent signal, but not introduce it's own personality or signature. It is of course fully legitimate to tune a DAC, and most look for the sound that they prefer, but personally I would rather pay for accuracy and transparency.
I believe if I could, I would buy both and do a blind test, and if I'm not capable of hearing a substantial difference with my best recordings - and ears -, I would logically go for the most affordable option. The problem is having the $6500 to actually do that.
I'm willing to pay for performance and real world costs of the units in question, so I would measure quality according to performance and pay what is reasonable based on the real costs of the component. There are DACs that cost 3 or 4 times the Mirus, and whose performance and real world costs make their price-quality relation a joke. I believe that's where the detailed and responsible measurements and specs provided by Anedio, Resonnessence Labs and Benchmark play a fundamental role, and constitute no less than a role model to the rest of the industry. There are of course manufacturers that don't necessarily provide detailed specs, but that do a very good job, like NAD or Bryston for example, but they are sadly a small minority. (There is a minimum of responsibility towards the consumer that has to be reflected in sufficient and reliable specs, but this has yet to be formalized and to become part of the necessary standards to regulate an industry that sells equipment with costs comparable to those of cars and houses.)
On the other hand, if we can really and reliably hear differences between two DACs that are supposed to be transparent, It only confirms that our Instrumental measurements are themselves limited and thus not able to render the entire picture when it comes to our human perception and experience of sound. Which is why I would consider blind testing to be a complementary method - and a type of measurement based on our subjective listening experience - that could shed further light on that which escapes our instrumental measurements. In that sense, instead of speaking of objectivity, I would use a term with a more sound ephistemological connotation, such as "intersubjectivity", and instead of considering measurements done with instruments as opposed to those done using our ears, as complementary and part of the data that should go into producing a final conclusion or result.
In my opinion, the "subjective" impressions collected from a a blind test, are a continuation of the so called "objective" measurements using machines or instruments. It is a method to collect data obtained using our hearing as instrument, but with the same purpose of discerning sound quality within the limits of our human hearing. So the ultimate meaning of "objectivity", would be set by the limitations of our own perception, which we refer to as "subjective", as opposed to the results measured with instruments. In this sense, wouldn't it be logical to consider a blind test as a necessary complement to instrumental measurements, and thus consider it as part of measurements in general and for them to be complete and sufficient? And woudn't it for the same reason, be logical to consider the final results of both measurement methodologies - using instruments and using our ears - as intersubjective (meaning that on which we agree to be universally valid among subjets and our limitations as such) instead of as the opposed categories of "subjective" and "objective"?
Well, I better leave it at that, lol.