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All DAC's sound the same. - Page 20  

post #286 of 373

The OP's argument is fallacious. He (she?) says that he could not hear the difference between three very low-end DACs, through low-end headphones. Therefore, ALL DACs sound the same. A 7 year old could tell you this makes no sense. The OP also has no knowledge of how to design or engineer a DAC. If digital to analog conversion is so easy, then I'm sure anybody can design and build one, right? Saying they are all the same because they "only" convert digital to analog is like saying all motorcycle engines of one liter have exactly the same performance. After all, they do the same thing, right? Just convert gasoline into torque.

 

I certainly wish all digital sources sounded the same. That would save me money. But they don't. Granted, all good digital sources will sound very similar. It will probably be impossible to tell two quality $1000 DACs apart in a blind test. But there are audible differences between something like an ipod and a Benchmark DAC. If there weren't, every recording studio would have a $100 external sound card and call it a day.

 

This "all digital sounds the same" nonsense is based on wishful thinking, not a knowledge of how these products are designed and how they function. Unfortunately, we don't have reliable, large-scale DBT tests of anything in audio, let alone DACs. The Wilson experiment is interesting, but anecdotal. It's not scientific in any way. So, I have no hard evidence to prove my point. I only have my own listening experience (not worth much) and the experience of thousands of recording/mastering studios who buy well-engineered DACs instead of a Wal-Mart DVD player. It *could* be possible that EVERY company that builds DACs over $50 is selling pure snakeoil, like the cable industry. But unlike cables, DACs cannot be built in ten minutes by anybody. Their design and operation is complicated. Given my listening experience and the available evidence, I find it extremely unlikely that every single DAC sounds the same.


Edited by tvrboy - 7/1/11 at 12:54am
post #287 of 373

"All DACs sound the same" is more a provocative title to get thread views rather than the main argument this thread has now evolved into. The OP's particular situation is no longer under consideration. No-one (read: no-one rational) is suggesting that every single DAC sounds the same. But well-engineered DACs will.

post #288 of 373

Exactly Willakan and those who are prepared to read past the simplistic outbursts that so often cause the round and round debates of  'you can't hear anything, yes I can' are going to get far more out of such threads.

 

Sorry tvrboy, you have fallen into that circular trap, please ignore it. Meanwhile we do have a good few blind tests of all sorts of hifi products which so far have found consistently that if you do not know what you are listening to it is harder to impossible to tell the difference between them. Sighted tests are where the 'night and day' differences are found.

 

 

post #289 of 373

I'm not really interested in diving into this arguement, but it did make me curious to do a test of my own. I'm currently in the progress of building a dual mono opus with the metronome and IVY output stage, so in other words a fairly loaded opus(wont be done for another month though).

I have this: http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/MON800.aspx, which I bought mainly for volume control on my Tannoy 501s, but it can switch up to 4 inputs to a line out.

 

I currently have a modded zero dac, and just for fun I'll toss in my Sansa Fuze. I'd hope for the test to go something like this: hook all 3 up to the switchbox and have that going out to my minimax. I'll be turned the opposite way as the gear, using my markl'd up d2ks as the listening device. I'd pick out 10ish flac songs I know very well, in a range from electronic, to hard rock, to acoustic. I'll have a friend switch between inputs on the behringer and I will rank them in terms of how I like the sound.

 

I realize this test is far from perfect, and its mainly for my entertainment, I just thought some here may be interested in the results. I am open to suggestions of how it could be conducted as well.

post #290 of 373

Your test sounds fine and I look forward to heraing the reuslts.

post #291 of 373

Just finished reading the thread, some very interesting stuff here lads.

 

What's a couple of examples of a well-engineered DAC? Reckon my Audio-gd DAC19 is one of them? (it was like ~500 bucks but price really means nothing nowadays). I'd like to know if you guys think it's worth my time comparing it with my computer sound card or not.

 

I'd level match them and ping pong between the sauces, i won't be blind though because it would be a pain in the down under to set it up like that. Would I still fall for placebo even if I don't expect to hear any differences?

 

I remember when I first got the damn thing, I couldn't hear any significant differences right off the bat, so I didn't even bother doing a proper comparison at the time =P. I'm pretty much using it as an input selector for my amp at the moment ahaha.

 

So yeah, if anyone thinks the result would be useful in some way, I don't mind giving it a crack.

 

Oh, and I would be using a b22, the LCD-2 and an O2 rig, I think that should be revealing enough for a rough as nuts comparison, right? wink.gif

post #292 of 373

I have a question.

I've read about what a good DAC can do but i've never experience it.  What are some of the things that make a not so good or even bad DAC stand out.

post #293 of 373


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

Exactly Willakan and those who are prepared to read past the simplistic outbursts that so often cause the round and round debates of  'you can't hear anything, yes I can' are going to get far more out of such threads.

 

Sorry tvrboy, you have fallen into that circular trap, please ignore it. Meanwhile we do have a good few blind tests of all sorts of hifi products which so far have found consistently that if you do not know what you are listening to it is harder to impossible to tell the difference between them. Sighted tests are where the 'night and day' differences are found.

 

 

 

No, I'm not in that kind of circular argument. I'm saying the evidence available to me (NOT only my listening impressions) shows that DACs do make a difference, and that the OP's argument is fallacious. I said the OP has no technical knowledge of DACs, so he is in no position to comment about why or why not they sound the same. All of those people on this thread who have claimed "digital is digital, an ipod sounds the same as a Meridian" really have no idea how to design and build a DAC. They have no idea of the operating principles beyond "it converts digital to analog." Unlike amplifiers, pretty much nobody on these message boards knows anything about the real design principles of a DAC, beyond the marketing drivel they read in Stereophile. So they are in no position to comment about how "easy" digital conversion is. This REALLY annoys me! How do you know all digital is the same if you don't even know how to design and build a DAC! Just like cars. I didn't understand anything about them until I learned how an engine really works, how to take it apart, how to work on it with my own hands, etc. Until I truly understood how an internal combustion engine worked, I was just spouting nonsense.

 

My second argument was that recording studios would neither buy nor use expensive pro DACs like Benchmark, Grace, Weiss, etc if they didn't make a difference.

 

I actually AGREE that the difference between most good DACs is small, possibly not even audible. And I also agree a lot of $5000 components will perform the same as a $500 Oppo. But there is a difference between an ipod and a well-designed pro/audiophile DAC.
 

 


Edited by tvrboy - 7/1/11 at 10:39am
post #294 of 373

So can is there going to be any closure here?  We all know what a DAC does.  If there wasn't a DAC then no digital music would be audible.  So obviously it does something.  We also know that you can make most things better.  In terms of a DAC,  it's a generally well known as a fact that not all DAC's perform on the same level as others.  It doesn't matter how much or little the difference is. 

post #295 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by NewMACAdress View Post

So can is there going to be any closure here?  We all know what a DAC does.  If there wasn't a DAC then no digital music would be audible.  So obviously it does something.  We also know that you can make most things better.  In terms of a DAC,  it's a generally well known as a fact that not all DAC's perform on the same level as others.  It doesn't matter how much or little the difference is. 



Well, our question is whether the differences are audible to the human ear. If you look at just 2 or 3 measurements, all DACs should sound the same. But they don't, so obviously we are measuring the wrong things. 

post #296 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by deadlylover View Post

Just finished reading the thread, some very interesting stuff here lads.

 

What's a couple of examples of a well-engineered DAC? Reckon my Audio-gd DAC19 is one of them? (it was like ~500 bucks but price really means nothing nowadays). I'd like to know if you guys think it's worth my time comparing it with my computer sound card or not.

 

I'd level match them and ping pong between the sauces, i won't be blind though because it would be a pain in the down under to set it up like that. Would I still fall for placebo even if I don't expect to hear any differences?

 

I remember when I first got the damn thing, I couldn't hear any significant differences right off the bat, so I didn't even bother doing a proper comparison at the time =P. I'm pretty much using it as an input selector for my amp at the moment ahaha.

 

So yeah, if anyone thinks the result would be useful in some way, I don't mind giving it a crack.

 

Oh, and I would be using a b22, the LCD-2 and an O2 rig, I think that should be revealing enough for a rough as nuts comparison, right? wink.gif


All of the AudioGDs I've seen measurements of show the sort of "design by ear" philosophy that's full of several kinds of measured distortion ans well as non flat FR.  I've got no idea if yours is like that because they have way to many models for me to keep straight.

 

I wouldn't consider any of the AudioGDs I've seen measurements of "well-designed" by standards we're talking about here.

post #297 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by tvrboy View Post


 

 

No, I'm not in that kind of circular argument. I'm saying the evidence available to me (NOT only my listening impressions) shows that DACs do make a difference

 

Sometimes DACs will be audibly different sometimes not , many controlled tests indicate that wildly different devices of different designs and different topologies and different prices are indistinguishable on sound alone. Anecdotes and even expert reports from sighted listening tests are of limited value, very often obvious and blinding difference disappear when you now longer know what you are listening to.

 

 

, and that the OP's argument is fallacious. I said the OP has no technical knowledge of DACs, so he is in no position to comment about why or why not they sound the same.

 

So what ? Seriously, consider the DAC as a black box, it has inputs and outputs, give it a measurable input and measure the output, this will tell you how it performs without any need to know what is underneath. I have 3 CD players from very different eras and different designs , Bitstream, 18 x4 and 20 x 4 and different output stages, but they all measure very close apart from output level, the analog waveforms produced by 3 CD players that are up to 15 years apart are very similar (as they should be)

 

All of those people on this thread who have claimed "digital is digital, an ipod sounds the same as a Meridian" really have no idea how to design and build a DAC.

 

...and this somehow makes these devices sound different ?

 

They have no idea of the operating principles beyond "it converts digital to analog." Unlike amplifiers, pretty much nobody on these message boards knows anything about the real design principles of a DAC,

 

Actually we have at least 3 members here with professional digital audio design experience (2 at least design commercially available products)

 

beyond the marketing drivel they read in Stereophile. So they are in no position to comment about how "easy" digital conversion is.

 

see above

 

This REALLY annoys me! How do you know all digital is the same if you don't even know how to design and build a DAC!

 

Not saying all digital is the same but er, empirical testing ?

 

 

Just like cars. I didn't understand anything about them until I learned how an engine really works, how to take it apart, how to work on it with my own hands, etc. Until I truly understood how an internal combustion engine worked, I was just spouting nonsense.

 

Your knowledge of the different engines will not make a stock BMW go any faster, nor wopuld your ignorance slow it down

 

 



 

post #298 of 373
Frequency is how high or low a sound is. Dynamics measure how loud and soft it is. Distortion measures the shape of the sound. What other property is there to measure?

It is to the audiophile equipment manufacturers' advantage to speculate whether there might be some magical property of sound quality that is unmeausurable. But the serious study of electronic sound reproduction goes back almost a century to the Bell Labs. If a DAC manufacturer is going to turn up some new principle of sound measurement, DAC technology is going to take a back seat to the monumental scientific importance of a finding like that.

Until then, you measure and put the measurement into the context of the thresholds of human hearing. Measuring the same means sounding the same, regardless of non controlled, anecdotal, subjective impressions to the contrary.
Edited by bigshot - 7/1/11 at 12:05pm
post #299 of 373

Quote:

Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Frequency is how high or low a sound is. Dynamics measure how loud and soft it is. Distortion measures the shape of the sound. What other property is there to measure?

It is to the audiophile equipment manufacturers' advantage to speculate whether there might be some magical property of sound quality that is unmeausurable. But the serious study of electronic sound reproduction goes back almost a century to the Bell Labs. If a DAC manufacturer is going to turn up some new principle of sound measurement, DAC technology is going to take a back seat to the monumental scientific importance of a finding like that.

Until then, you measure and put the measurement into the context of the thresholds of human hearing.


There are time based errors too.  This article sums it up nicely.  Of course those time domain errors are easily measurable with the right sort of equipment as well.

 

post #300 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by maverickronin View Post


All of the AudioGDs I've seen measurements of show the sort of "design by ear" philosophy that's full of several kinds of measured distortion ans well as non flat FR.  I've got no idea if yours is like that because they have way to many models for me to keep straight.

 

I wouldn't consider any of the AudioGDs I've seen measurements of "well-designed" by standards we're talking about here.

 

Son of a......... I blame society. Or more correctly, damn FOTM hype, I'm a huge sucker for hype =(.

 

Got any quick and dirty "sound science approved" sauces for me to try? I won't be in the market for one anytime soon since I'll have 2 monster DIY T2's munching away at my wallet, but I'd like to have some recco's for when the time comes.

 

Since I'm a slave to hype, it'd be too dangerous for me to troll the dedicated sauce forum, which appears to be a mini audio-gd forum now...
 

 

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