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All DAC's sound the same. - Page 5  

post #61 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

As for your cd players, any 2011 player is going to sound better than a 1991. DAC technology has improved over the past decade. But a 2011 $50 WalMart DVD player will sound just as good as your $350 2011 Marantz.


Tried DVD Player horrible

1991 CD player sounds better.

 

 


Edited by mibutenma - 6/27/11 at 12:08am
post #62 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by bisayaboi View Post

Tell me objectively, exactly how a DAC is supposed to enhance sound quality. All a DAC is supposed to is convert digital data to an analog signal.

 

If that's all DAC's do, tell me why should I break the bank for a component that simply converts digital data to an analog signal? As far as I know, DAC's do nothing to improve sound quality.

 

One is better off getting a better source/recording of their music if they really want better quality than buying a "better" DAC.

 


While I would agree with the last remark I can not really see why are you insisting that a DAC should enhance or improve sound quality? I don't remember reading such statements here, at least I don't suppose they are very popular..

 

Let a DAC do its job and faithfully reproduce the digital into analog. Cheap (~100$) converters  are still quite far from most 1k$ devices and you should not have problems in distinguishing them in blind tests if your other equipment is resolving enough.

 

post #63 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by mibutenma View Post

Tried DVD Player horrible 1991 CD player sounds better

I'm currently using a $125 Sony DVD player and cd playback sounds great. Maybe the one you tried was old or out of align. I've had more problems with skipping on cd players than with DVD players. I got sick of throwing out expensive cd players when they start skipping. Cheap DVD players are more dependable and I don't mind replacing them if they do act up.
post #64 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by axw View Post

Cheap (~100$) converters  are still quite far from most 1k$ devices and you should not have problems in distinguishing them in blind tests if your other equipment is resolving enough.

I wasn't even able to discern a difference between a $150 CD player and the exact same recording on a well regarded SACD player. Neither was a sound mixer friend of mine using his studio equipment. Digital is digital.
post #65 of 373


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by axw View Post

Cheap (~100$) converters  are still quite far from most 1k$ devices and you should not have problems in distinguishing them in blind tests if your other equipment is resolving enough.

I wasn't even able to discern a difference between a $150 CD player and the exact same recording on a well regarded SACD player. Neither was a sound mixer friend of mine using his studio equipment. Digital is digital 

 

I was referring to standalone devices rather than cd/dvd players as I have no experience here. Anyway, you can do a simple test: take two popular NuForce devices, usb powered uDAC-2 and the more expensive Icon HDP -- connect them to a pair of good (> 300$) headphones or perhaps even better, to a pair of active studio monitors above 1k$/pair (Adams, Genelecs, Mackies etc) to avoid headphone amplification issues.  Try some well recorded tracks. The differences won't be subtle.

 

 

post #66 of 373
Obviously, I'm not going to run out and spend five grand to find out if you're right. But I'll ask this... What exactly is being improved by a spendy DAC? You say it isn't subtle, so it must be measurable. Is it listed in the specs for the DAC?
post #67 of 373

It is weird how people are so strongly opposed to tone controls and equalisation? Want a warmer sound - don't EQ, buy an amp that rolls off the higher frequencies for hundreds of pounds!confused_face.gif

Considering the availability of decent, free, software equalisers and components with tone controls, the idea of buying amps and DACs with a deliberate "signature" is rather bizarre. Save that for speakers, and then equalise your way to a better sound starting with some decent, neutral equipment.

Hell, there are even DSPs out there that do a pretty good job of simulating tubes - and being free, they're rather cheaper than buying a tube amp. Plus, I can customise the exact behaviour of the virtual tube.

But instead people persist on hurling money at the problem.

 

EDIT: Last I checked the uDAC measured pretty terribly, so an audible difference there is entirely possible, the uDAC being a pretty awful DAC. 1db of channel imbalance is entirely within the realms of conceivable audibility.


Edited by Willakan - 6/27/11 at 2:58am
post #68 of 373


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Obviously, I'm not going to run out and spend five grand to find out if you're right. But I'll ask this... What exactly is being improved by a spendy DAC? You say it isn't subtle, so it must be measurable. Is it listed in the specs for the DAC?


In this specific case (of the two nuForces) noise floor, tone saturation, soundstage, bass, to name the most audible changes. Most of these is attributable to different power supplies, I believe.

 

Specs for DACs in this price range don't usually contain anything more than SNR ratio measured in dB, so this won't tell much about what's going on. Obviously there are notable exceptions.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

 

Considering the availability of decent, free, software equalisers and components with tone controls, the idea of buying amps and DACs with a deliberate "signature" is rather bizarre. Save that for speakers, and then equalise your way to a better sound starting with some decent, neutral equipment.


Hell, there are even DSPs out there that do a pretty good job of simulating tubes - and being free, they're rather cheaper than buying a tube amp. Plus, I can customise the exact behaviour of the virtual tube.


I agree that looking for a DAC with sound signature other than neutral is pretty strange. But to be honest I have not yet found a realistically sounding tube DSP effect for Foobar. Did you have a chance to find something decent and compatible with the recent Foobar versions? 

 

post #69 of 373
Quote:
Originally Posted by axw View Post

In this specific case (of the two nuForces) noise floor, tone saturation, soundstage, bass, to name the most audible changes. Most of these is attributable to different power supplies, I believe. Specs for DACs in this price range don't usually contain anything more than SNR ratio measured in dB, so this won't tell much about what's going on.

Signal to noise is exactly what you'd want to look at for noise floor, and that's the area a cleaner power supply will help. The flatness of the response within the audible range (20Hz to 20kHz +/- x dB) covers your tone saturation and bass, and channel separation covers soundstage. Do you happen to know the specs for SNR, FR and channel separation on the two DACs you're talking about? (I'm assuming harmonic distortion isn't an issue based on your list of differences.)

Most DACs I'm familiar with, like the one in the iPod, are effectively perfect in all of these attributes. Perhaps the cheap one you're referring to is different.
post #70 of 373


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by axw View Post

In this specific case (of the two nuForces) noise floor, tone saturation, soundstage, bass, to name the most audible changes. Most of these is attributable to different power supplies, I believe. Specs for DACs in this price range don't usually contain anything more than SNR ratio measured in dB, so this won't tell much about what's going on.



Signal to noise is exactly what you'd want to look at for noise floor, and that's the area a cleaner power supply will help. The flatness of the response within the audible range (20Hz to 20kHz +/- x dB) covers your tone saturation and bass, and channel separation covers soundstage. Do you happen to know the specs for SNR, FR and channel separation on the two DACs you're talking about? (I'm assuming harmonic distortion isn't an issue based on your list of differences.)

Most DACs I'm familiar with, like the one in the iPod, are effectively perfect in all of these attributes. Perhaps the cheap one you're referring to is different.


As far as I remember somebody did measure at least some of those for uDAC-2, thread named drama biggrin.gif. I am not aware of such detailed measurements for the Icon HDP.

 

I think you are not serious, iPod is a disaster in any of those attributes. The tiny uDAC-2, when connected via RCA to my car audio amplifier (!) not to mention active monitors, literally beats the iPod in every conceivable way.. dynamics, level of micro details, pretty much everything improves compared to the iPod.. but that's just my ears.

 

post #71 of 373

Regarding tube simulation, with a VST wrapper there are plenty of them to choose from: http://freemusicsoftware.org/category/free-vst-effects-2/tube-simulation

post #72 of 373
The iPod may sound poor to your ears, but if it does, it isn't because of the quality of the DAC. The Wolfson WM8758 DAC in my ipod is rated flat with a SNR of 100dB and THD of -88. Those are specs that are as close to perfect as you are going to ever need with human ears.

The areas that are trouble spots for the iPod are the headphone out circuitry, which can be avoided by using a line out dock, and the encoding quality of the files you play on it, which can be helped by upping the bitrate settings and using a better codec.
Edited by bigshot - 6/27/11 at 6:16am
post #73 of 373

 

By "DAC" you mean a d/a chip? But the discussion of the (lack of) differences between CD and SACD players indicated that it's about the whole devices rather than chips.

post #74 of 373
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by axw View Post




While I would agree with the last remark I can not really see why are you insisting that a DAC should enhance or improve sound quality? I don't remember reading such statements here, at least I don't suppose they are very popular..

 

Let a DAC do its job and faithfully reproduce the digital into analog. Cheap (~100$) converters  are still quite far from most 1k$ devices and you should not have problems in distinguishing them in blind tests if your other equipment is resolving enough.

 

Where and when did I say a DAC should improve sound quality? That's the exact opposite of what I'm saying.;
 

 

post #75 of 373
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalFreak View Post






Wonderful here's where I get into a huge argument. If you look into how DAC's work you're right they just convert digital to analog BUT that's only half the story. The idea behind a better DAC is finding a DAC that converts all that digital information in it's entirety all the while without adding any distortion to the signal. The better it reads that signal in it's entirety WITHOUT creating distortion while it's converting it the better the signal that gets fed into your amp. We can argue all night long and get into details such as distortion levels, jitter levels, cables (I'm not a believer of cables for small computer headphone rigs by the way), discreet op amp use on gear etc and it won't matter because in the end if you've made up your mind there's really nothing more I can say to make you change your mind. This is an open forum and I'm simply posting my two cents and that's all I'm doing. In the end you do what you want it doesn't matter to me and it shouldn't matter to you what I think or say.

 

I have listened to different equipment and I have heard differences in sound. Were they night and day? For the most part no they weren't. Heck if you really want to put your money where your mouth is I dare you to try an interesting experiment. Get your hands on 2 or 3 different DAC's and pair them with 2 or 3 different amps and over the next few months mix and match them and see if you notice a difference. Trust me once your brain has gotten used to a certain rigs signature for a month and you change it around you will notice differences. You really want to mix it up try this take 2 or 3 different headphones of mid hifi quality and take notes on how they react to each different configuration of your rig. While we're at it why stop there? Take different genres of music and mix and match them with your mixed and matched rigs and see how the songs sound and which headphone sound best with which genre on which rig.

 

You really want to get crazy try mixing and matching gear with a full blown stereo driving good speakers. I guarantee you with good speakers every little add on in the chain will bring different nuances to the sound. If you really want to go insane try moving that same stereo from one room to another and play with the positioning of the speakers. Guess what, you'll find that those same speakers that sounded great in one room now sound like utter crud in another room simply because of the acoustics of the room. Now take those speakers away and add a completely new set of speakers and marvel how good they sound. Now take the whole stereo back into the original room with these new speakers and sit back in astonishment because these new speakers now sound like utter crud in the original room the first speakers were in. Take away the preamp add a new one see what that yields in the sonic signature in the original room with the new speakers. Let's go really nuts and throw in some tubes. Why limit ourselves to solid state? Heck while we're playing with tubes lets bring in a Woo Audio amp for our headphone rig and thicken up the sound and see how it does with our different DAC's then lets mix and match it with our different headphones. Since we're taking notes let's mix it up even more and roll different types of tubes into our Woo and see how it reacts to our DAC's in relation to our headphones. Why stop there let's just get rid of the original stereo tubes we originally played with and just plug the Woo amp directly into our stereo and really do some experimenting with our headphones. Let's not stop there lets throw in a honest to goodness old school turntable. According to many people who are younger then me a CD can't be beat in audio but considering I grew up listening to vinyl as a teen I beg to differ and many others here would agree with me. Now lets go out and bring in different records recorded during different eras. Why stop there now let's experiment with different cartridge types on our turntable and see what that yields with speaker A vs speaker B and while we're at it lets have a listen on our Woo amp and see how that sounds and compare it to our other headphone rig amps. Since we're playing with vinyl lets yank the turntable from our stereo and mate it with our rig and play mix and match over the next few weeks. Hope you're not getting dizzy because I've only scratched the surface on manipulating sound signatures with different gear.

 

Where am I going with all this? All I'm trying to point out is in this sort of hobby most people are looking for a specific sonic signature that's pleasant to their specific tastes which can be achieved in a myriad of ways. Whats pleasant to one person can sound like utter crud to another. What one person perceives as a worthwhile difference another person won't because they're not looking for the same kind of sonic signature or they simply refuse to spend that amount of money to get that little nuance in their music. Most of us here aren't here to collect gear we're here to try and find information and experiment with it in order to find that specific sound that will make the music we love sound almost perfect to our brains. You're here saying a good DAC doesn't matter well alright then fair enough you're entitled to your opinion. I'm not disputing your ears you've simply found a good enough sound from your onboard audio. Congratulations your journey has come to an end you've found a setup that makes you happy and I'm happy for you. The fact you seem to overlook though is others on here haven't and we're still looking for that sound and the gear we're experimenting with makes a difference in what we hear. If it doesn't make a difference to you well fair enough your entitled to your opinion and your opinion is respected even though you and me disagree. I do ask though that you not be outraged defensive or snooty when others voice their opinion. Other people are entitled to their opinion just like you're entitled to yours. That is the idea behind an open forum isn't it?

 

Bless \m/

If you read posts by other people, you would have known the statement, "no matter how much DAC's are better and improved than one another, the improvements are inaudible to the human ear". has been made.

 

Where's the objective data that DAC's can improve sound or that better DAC's exist out there? And if you do have that data, is it audible to the human ear? It has already been known that the improvements are inaudible and insignificant to the human ear.

 

It's like if Skullcandy made a headphone with a frequency range from 0-40,000khz. Sounds great right? One couldn't even hear half of the frequency range being outputted.

 

If DAC's don't actual objective audible sound improvement, then it's just hype that makes the human ear makes sound better. It's like one lying to himself. Ignorant bliss.
 

 


Edited by bisayaboi - 6/27/11 at 9:41am
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