Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man
Up to the point a DAC does analogue, I see no reason nor evidence as to how it can sound different. Once it is working in the analogue domain the most convincing explanation for me so far as to why they could sound different is the earlier suggested slight line out differences causing a slight difference in volume.
I sit next to 2 DACs as I use a Firestone Fubar, but there is also one in my MF X-CAN amp. I must go and find the USB cable that fits the X-CAN and do a comparison.
That might not be a valid comparison unless you are using the same usb transport for both dacs, or the same coax/optical.
I have 2 dacs with built in usb. A Constantine+ and a Stello. The Constantine is fine with an optical or coaxial connection, but the implemented c-media usb sucks. The Stello uses a form of the 2707 for usb but it always sounded light and thin compared to a coax or optical signal. To remedy this I got a Blue Circle Thingee, which uses a much better implemented form of the 2707 chip. So, the coaxial or optical out of the usb BCT sounds exactly like coax or optical out of my dedicated music computer.
I have also added a HiFace usb transport to the mix. The HiFace doesn't sound anything like the BCT. If anything it is bass light and treble tilted, relative to what comes out of the Thingee and my music computer's optical out.
I have also recently found that my Dell laptop outputs coax spdif from what looks like an S-video port on the back. Comparing the laptop's spdif out to the BCT's spdif out was interesting.... they sounded the same.... But not so with the HiFace's output, which although brighter, 'seems to have' more resolution than either, and has become my usual way of listening from this laptop.
So what I am saying is that the usb transport in the Constantine doesn't sound like the usb transport in the Stello and neither of them are able to sound like the BCT transport and the HiFace sounds different from all of them. I'm sure that almost anyone who has a built in usb transport and has compared it to an external transport can appreciate what I'm saying.
So, the current chain is laptop > HiFace > Stello (I've apparently developed a preference for the Stello over my Constantine) > GS-1 ( I've also developed a preference for the GS-1 over my M^3) > T-1s. Conversely, the HiFace doesn't work well with my upsampling NorthStar dac so I don't use it with that dac.
First of all, you know where I stand on these issues, but there are some things that were not fully addressed and seem significant if we want to say all dacs sound the same.
Do all opamps sound the same?
Do all transistors sound the same?
Do opamps sound like transistors and vice versa?
Does a Hybrid mosfet/opamp dac sound like a mosfet dac or an opamp dac or do all three sound exactly the same?
Do capacitors have a sound signature?
Do all resistors sound the same? What about plugs, jacks, switches and volume pots? Do they all sound the same, regardless of manufacturer?
Do premium parts sound different from el cheapo parts, or do all parts sound the same?
Can power supplies affect the sound? Will a dac fed from a switching PS sound the same as one fed from a linear PS? Does the transformer quality matter?
How important is clean power? Do all dacs filter power in the same way?
Edited by upstateguy - 6/30/11 at 2:31pm