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Objectively "Good" Amps and DACs - Page 5

post #61 of 88

Well there ya go....

 

If the measurements state the item is indeed inaudible by humans....then you need to see the ear doc!!!

 

I would think that there are more devices that sound less than stellar with measurements that equate to less than stellar measurements.

 

I would much rather have a device that measures scientifically very well as the basis of what my brain is telling me...and go from there...

 

Aint technology grand!!!

 

All the best

 

Alex

post #62 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post

So, if "science" says something measures well, but my ears tell me it sounds terrible, who wins and why? Goes back to what values I hold as an individual.

 

Well, if you did a DBT to remove all possible biases and ensure that it's really just your ears that told you that we can take a closer look at what you're hearing.

But if you just wanna hear an answer to the who wins question I'd have to say the scientific method since it's the best way yet discovered for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion.


Edited by xnor - 8/3/12 at 1:52pm
post #63 of 88

finally a constructive and less combative conversation on this subject! what bothers me with the situation we have now is this gang of belligerent and highly influenced 'objectivists' and subjectivists who really in many cases have just drunk a different coolaid. Many objectivists have to rely on others to make and understand the measurements for them; does that really qualify as objectivity, or just another brand of subjectivity decided by a different metric? btw I consider myself somewhere in the middle, but anyone who has seen my posts over on diya or recognizes projects i'm working on in my profile should see there is definitely a strong objectivity.

 

Me, I like to achieve very high performance, I dont mind a bit of bling and use more expensive materials than the norm for better or worse. I like things to look good, have a certain exclusivity, perform well (possibly much better than needed and definitely costing more than needed) and last a long time. this is DIY BTW, only my headphones are not. Just about all of the designs In my current system, or under construction have been put through the looking glass of the audio precision system and top shelf agilent analyzers and measure better than the O2/ODAC, including the 16WPC and 250WPC (RMS) poweramps and the discrete class A dac IV stage. I'm building a few more simple discrete circuits by the likes of Mr Pass as well, who also swings both ways and either way has his eyes open.

 

I have no objection to feedback, or opamps, but I do not believe one can just throw them liberally and see what sticks, nor do I believe they are the answer to every problem.

 

I need to make a more considered reply tomorrow, perhaps I will edit, i'll see what replies happen in the meantime before I decide if it will make the conversation disjointed.

 

One thing I will say in reply to the above though: subjective reality/experience to the individual trumps everything, its only when the 'objective' back slapping comes into play that we have this construct called objective verification. In reality that data is also filtered through the lens of subjectivity, which creates quite the conundrum; it also seems lost on many objectivists.

 

It is in the hands of the individual to assign importance to each variable and decide how and what impacts on their own subjective disposition. I do not care for being told what is worthwhile for me to do with my spare time, or labelled a fool for spending more than the agreed upon amount deemed necessary to achieve the agreed upon level of audible satisfaction.


Edited by qusp - 8/3/12 at 9:52pm
post #64 of 88

Aside from a few zealots, I don't think anybody has an issue with developing greater things, pushing the boundaries, and so on, particularly for DIY designers.  Hobbyists tend not to like what's just "good enough", and that is well and good.

 

However, I do think that there's a huge value in recognizing "good enough", particularly when giving recommendations to others.  There's no underlying justification for $1000 headphones to be paired with $1000 amplifiers or DACs, yet that kind of thinking is prevalent.  I mean, not everybody is a believer in the cost = quality metric, but it's too many people.  To me, a lot of arguing at the minutiae can make us lose sense of the big picture, if the goal is to get good sound (which is not the only goal out there, which is fine).  I'd ask questions like:  "Do I need an amp with -110 dB distortion when my headphones have -70 dB 3rd harmonics in the midrange?  Do I bother upgrading to something with even better performance?", "If my headphones probably have a dB or two difference in channel imbalance at many frequencies, is a 0.5 dB difference from a good potentiometer at the very low end of the rotation a huge deal?", and "How much should I worry about 'unmeasurable' amp parameters that nobody has yet to demonstrate, that supposedly have a significant contribution to sound quality?"

 

As for evaluating how "objectively" good some amps are, of course there's some room for interpretation of what parameter matters more, by how much, and so on.  But hopefully, our conception of what matters is grounded in reality, based on previous research.  For example, we know that X levels of certain kinds of distortion are generally undesirable, because people have tested for that before.  We can also test ourselves to some extent, though most peoples' ideas of self-testing are often not that rigorous.

 

Ideally, part of the objective evaluation of amps and DACs involves rounding up a great many test subjects and having them take a listen and rate them, hopefully controlling for such things as expectation bias, order effects, and so on.  Unfortunately, nobody has the time and resources for that.


Edited by mikeaj - 8/3/12 at 8:29pm
post #65 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

 

Well, if you did a DBT to remove all possible biases and ensure that it's really just your ears that told you that we can take a closer look at what you're hearing.

But if you just wanna hear an answer to the who wins question I'd have to say the scientific method since it's the best way yet discovered for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion.

 


how exactly do you plan to do that?

post #66 of 88

I see some still espousing Schiit as a 'design by ear' company because their master told them so.  Now that Jason has finally opened up a few weeks ago about some of their bench gear and metrics people will have to stop spreading lies, rumor and innuendo.  I've been aware for more than a year but was asked to keep quiet and let people/events take their natural courses.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/545842/schiit-dacs-bifrost-and-gungnir-down-one-to-go-the-information-and-anticipation-thread/2775#post_8534038

post #67 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

I see some still espousing Schiit as a 'design by ear' company because their master told them so.  Now that Jason has finally opened up a few weeks ago about some of their bench gear and metrics people will have to stop spreading lies, rumor and innuendo.  I've been aware for more than a year but was asked to keep quiet and let people/events take their natural courses.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/545842/schiit-dacs-bifrost-and-gungnir-down-one-to-go-the-information-and-anticipation-thread/2775#post_8534038

 

Based on the marketing and products put out, it seems like there could be some cause for confusion, right?

 

I think that the "design by ear" phrase gets thrown out too much.  It gets incorrectly used as a catch-all for a variety of philosophies, and it's not that sharp of a distinction anyway.  Everybody does some listening, at least before shipping a product.  It would take a really long time to slap parts together at random and come up with a functioning amp or DAC, so surely there's some analysis and/or measurements taken along the way.  Wouldn't a lot of people say that designing by ear is a good thing?  (I wouldn't think it's that necessary for most of the process for certain products, but that's me.)  Is there some kind of stigma attached now that people are pushing back against?

 

That said, there are legitimate differences in design philosophy out there, and that's what we're trying to uncover.  Ultimately, the design philosophies come down to prioritizing certain things above others.  But it doesn't matter much whether or not it's trusting (quite possibly uncontrolled?) listening over bench tests, or basing topologies and design practices off of mythology or beliefs other than the mainline orthodox analysis, or anything else.  The end results speak for themselves.  We then all vote with our own wallets, and that's that.


Edited by mikeaj - 8/3/12 at 10:10pm
post #68 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

I see some still espousing Schiit as a 'design by ear' company because their master told them so.  Now that Jason has finally opened up a few weeks ago about some of their bench gear and metrics people will have to stop spreading lies, rumor and innuendo.  I've been aware for more than a year but was asked to keep quiet and let people/events take their natural courses.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/545842/schiit-dacs-bifrost-and-gungnir-down-one-to-go-the-information-and-anticipation-thread/2775#post_8534038

 

If they regularly went by measurements as objectives for performance:

 

How did the Asgard and a couple amps get out with the issues they did (massive DC spikes)?

Why do they take a counter-productive topology in amps for accuracy if not relying on ear to a certain degree, such as distaste for NFB?

Why was Jason discussing audibility of a relay being added to the Asgard if they design by measurements?

If measurements are priority, why are tube circuits being used in some amps?

 

They do some measurements, whether they choose to use them and do the necessary barrage for them is up for debate.  Looking at their history, products, statements, I'd say a good amount is still design by ear.  Of course, a phrase like that isn't defined all that well anyway.

post #69 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post

So, if "science" says something measures well, but my ears tell me it sounds terrible, who wins and why? Goes back to what values I hold as an individual.

Well, if you did a DBT to remove all possible biases and ensure that it's really just your ears that told you that we can take a closer look at what you're hearing.
But if you just wanna hear an answer to the who wins question I'd have to say the scientific method since it's the best way yet discovered for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion.

You're evading the question, but then I'm not here to "argue" a position. If you would truly choose one piece of gear over another by the numbers, despite what your ears told you, then welcome to your decision, but it is not the decision I would make.
post #70 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by qusp View Post

finally a constructive and less combative conversation on this subject! what bothers me with the situation we have now is this gang of belligerent and highly influenced 'objectivists' and subjectivists who really in many cases have just drunk a different coolaid. Many objectivists have to rely on others to make and understand the measurements for them; does that really qualify as objectivity, or just another brand of subjectivity decided by a different metric? btw I consider myself somewhere in the middle, but anyone who has seen my posts over on diya or recognizes projects i'm working on in my profile should see there is definitely a strong objectivity.

Me, I like to achieve very high performance, I dont mind a bit of bling and use more expensive materials than the norm for better or worse. I like things to look good, have a certain exclusivity, perform well (possibly much better than needed and definitely costing more than needed) and last a long time. this is DIY BTW, only my headphones are not. Just about all of the designs In my current system, or under construction have been put through the looking glass of the audio precision system and top shelf agilent analyzers and measure better than the O2/ODAC, including the 16WPC and 250WPC (RMS) poweramps and the discrete class A dac IV stage. I'm building a few more simple discrete circuits by the likes of Mr Pass as well, who also swings both ways and either way has his eyes open.

I have no objection to feedback, or opamps, but I do not believe one can just throw them liberally and see what sticks, nor do I believe they are the answer to every problem.

I need to make a more considered reply tomorrow, perhaps I will edit, i'll see what replies happen in the meantime before I decide if it will make the conversation disjointed.

One thing I will say in reply to the above though: subjective reality/experience to the individual trumps everything, its only when the 'objective' back slapping comes into play that we have this construct called objective verification. In reality that data is also filtered through the lens of subjectivity, which creates quite the conundrum; it also seems lost on many objectivists.

It is in the hands of the individual to assign importance to each variable and decide how and what impacts on their own subjective disposition. I do not care for being told what is worthwhile for me to do with my spare time, or labelled a fool for spending more than the agreed upon amount deemed necessary to achieve the agreed upon level of audible satisfaction.

You see, I do understand what the numbers mean, and precisely for that reason, along with my career long experience and training of my ears, I would trust what my ears told me over the numbers... Within reason, of course.
post #71 of 88

Have you seen the spike that comes out of a T2 amplifier?  Is that another counter productive topology designed by ear?

 

How does the O2 clip?  Wrong gain setting based on user/builder error?  Much like those trashing their phones in the Lyr due to ignorance of proper operation?  How about the various performance inconsistencies w/ the ODAC?  All designed by ear I guess.  If you want to take Jason's comments out of proper context best to ask him directly.  Maybe professional EE's that actually design amplifiers for more than a two or three decades have a larger set of metrics, considerations, parameters and goals than some random hobbyists whose limited worldview and experience is defined by Ethan Winter's 4 principles of electrical transparency.

 

Anyway, people will get measurements soon enough.  Then they can tell us all how Schitty it sounds without listening okay? 

post #72 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post


You see, I do understand what the numbers mean, and precisely for that reason, along with my career long experience and training of my ears, I would trust what my ears told me over the numbers... Within reason, of course.


then you and I are pretty much on the same page. the focus on THD is a particularly odd one, as I believe its actually not as important as some other measures (as you say within reason); transient response and ringing/overshoot being one notable one.


Edited by qusp - 8/4/12 at 1:28am
post #73 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by qusp View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post

You see, I do understand what the numbers mean, and precisely for that reason, along with my career long experience and training of my ears, I would trust what my ears told me over the numbers... Within reason, of course.


then you and I are pretty much on the same page. the focus on THD is a particularly odd one, as I believe its actually not as important as some other measures (as you say within reason); transient response and ringing/overshoot being one notable one.

Indeed! Welcome to the CCS. (Club Common Sense)
post #74 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

Have you seen the spike that comes out of a T2 amplifier?  Is that another counter productive topology designed by ear?

 

There's quite a few amps called "T2", you need to be specific.  Also a citation of the issue would be helpful.

 

How does the O2 clip?  Wrong gain setting based on user/builder error?

 

Yes.

 

Much like those trashing their phones in the Lyr due to ignorance of proper operation?

 

Jason did not know about the 2V DC spike of the Asgard when it was shut-off, and without a relay it was not a "fail safe" design.  In other words, losing power screws that idea of "proper operation".  There was no "proper operation" established (since it was unknown) and those that are used to certain powering cycles would STILL dump the voltage on their headphones.  The O2 would not destroy headphones due to a simple gain issue, and as such your example is based on false equivalency.

 

 How about the various performance inconsistencies w/ the ODAC?  

 

Citation?  Which performance issues are you referring to?

 

All designed by ear I guess.  If you want to take Jason's comments out of proper context best to ask him directly.

 

These were hardly out of context, they are directly from Schiit and Jason - including in response to the Asgard issue I first noticed.

 

 Maybe professional EE's that actually design amplifiers for more than a two or three decades have a larger set of metrics, considerations, parameters and goals than some random hobbyists whose limited worldview and experience is defined by Ethan Winter's 4 principles of electrical transparency.

 

Ignorance of an issue removes the excuse that it was a known and designed compromise . . .

 

It's worth noting I don't have experience with the Lyr, but much of its safety precautions came from a running production change and addendum like the Asgard.  Whether the potential issues were known or not you'd have to ask Jason.  Actually, I never saw an addendum to the Asgard operation and still hope Schiit contacted all Asgard owners regarding the issue . . . >_>'

 

Anyway, people will get measurements soon enough.  Then they can tell us all how Schitty it sounds without listening okay?

 

Even if the Asgard doesn't measure perfect (for example), I doubt it would be audibly different or all that bad either way.  I won't buy Schiit because, quite frankly, they almost killed my headphones based on what I consider negligence.  However, this thread is about objectively being good, and previous amp designs by them don't reflect all that well in such a case requiring excellent measuring performers.  They may release questionable (IMO) amps and maybe good DACs (I haven't paid attention to them), but those amps do raise quite a few questions about them as a company whether you believe it or not.

 

 

Responses in bold.

 

Also, here's a chunk of a post by Jason I saved in regards to the Asgard for example:

 

 

Quote:

3. Relying on any form of protection--relay delays, microprocessor-controlled DC monitoring systems, whatever--can still bite you, when and if there's a failure in the system. And all of them (to us, at least) involve sonic compromise. That's why you'll typically find many of the highest-dollar components out there running naked, so to speak.

 

If you can find a true objective reason for that beyond anecdote, please share.  They eventually offered relay retrofitting and added it to new builds, but suggested those that want the highest audio quality to not get the retrofitting done.  That in its own right is a "by ear" anecdote as far as I'm concerned, but once again it's not whether they do or don't design by ear - but to the extent they do IMO.

 

 

 

Of course this is my two cents on the issue, and the fact that I almost got burned through no fault of my own leaves me weary regarding that company so I can hardly be called unbiased when discussing it.  Difference in perspective, YMMV, etc. and all that jazz.

post #75 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shike View Post

 

Of course this is my two cents on the issue, and the fact that I almost got burned through no fault of my own leaves me weary regarding that company so I can hardly be called unbiased when discussing it.  Difference in perspective, YMMV, etc. and all that jazz.

 

Hmm, well...I'm certainly in the habit of unplugging my phones during during power on/off.  Thx to user error and bad habits/behavior, left-foot brakers like myself will likely have to suffer due to proposed NHTSA mandates about gas cut off on brake depression so forgive me if I'm a little less sympathetic to your perspective and the nanny state.  I also still find it odd that many who find the absence of the relay a design flaw and not user error while an objective amp that clips w/ anything above 2V is seen as user error rather than design flaw.  

 

Plus it is not false equivalency since I was not the one making a straw man to equivocate gain w/ DC spikes.  That's your new point, not mine.  We were discussing this perceived notion many have that design by measurements leads to a sonically perfect design w/o flaws or limitations.

 

Any questions about what is or isn't audible (extrapolated from his sonic compromise comment about relay delays that 'can still bite you') should be asked to Jason directly.  I know we both agree to disagree on the merits of what is and isn't audible so no need to go down that rabbit hole.  

 

The Gilmore DIY T2 was the reference in question.

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