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Does a DAC make a giant difference? - Page 3

post #31 of 127

Just as a thought, the sound off my MacBook Pro is much, much, better when I use my FiiO E7 as a DAC/Amp. Very noticeable. 

post #32 of 127
Thread Starter 

I was thinking about the e7 actually, just wasn't sure how exactly my rig would work. Would it just be from laptop -> E7 -> Valhalla ->dt880s? 

 

Would I just use the RCA to 3.5mm jack that was part of the amp to connect to the E7?

post #33 of 127

I think you would need the FiiO L7 to bypass the E7 amp and use it strictly as a DAC. I'm not sure though it it would go to the DAC or Amp first though, but I assume it'd be the DAC.

post #34 of 127

If you use the L7 with the E7, you will be only using the DAC in the E7, which you could then run into the Valhalla.

 

Personally, I haven't ever noticed a whole lot of difference when using a DAC with by laptop vs. the laptop sound card. Sure, the background noise is lessened with a DAC, but as far as overall sound quality...not a whole lot of difference. I've found amping makes more of a difference than anything else, as stated many times before this.

post #35 of 127

Well that really depends highly on what sound card/dac is in the laptop as it is and what headphones you're using. If you're using Sennheiser HD650 into a laptop directly then an amp will have a bigger effect for sure.

post #36 of 127

It was just a stock, mediocre quality sound card and the Beyer DT770s. Nothing too special, I know, but for the most part I didn't really hear any big differences.

post #37 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by livewire View Post

I have found that the DAC one chooses does make a substantial difference.

My past experience is this, the three cheap DACs (<$500) I've owned with op amps in the signal path

had sound output that was flawed. Specifically etched treble, compressed or artificially wide soundstage,

and lack of instrument separation. (congestion during complex sound passages with an orchestra, for example.)

I'm not a fan of DACs with tubes in them either due to the euphonic coloration they impart.

The addition of tubes does sound good, but doesn't render true sound reproduction.

 

This is called poor design implementation...NOT because of op-amps=see what you stated below-

 

I wont name names, I do not want to upset any "members of the trade" around here.

 

For the OP, it may be important for the person to know your opinion of specific devices that you recommend the OP to stay clear of.

 

I cannot say that I have owned any $1000+ DACs with opamps in them,

although I have listened to some at meets and they did sound really good.

 

Which confirms that it is all about the design, OR that better associated speakers were being used.

 

My current mid-fi setup consists of a DAC and an amp that do not utilize op amps or tubes and sounds superb.

FWIW, I do own a few cheap tube amps for when I am in the mood for a euphonic sound experience.

 

I can guarantee you that if you hear a properly designed device, regardless of what it is and what is being used in the design (op amps, tubes, you name it), that you would even be surprised at how tubed based devices actually can sound far far harsher and aweful vs. an SS device, and at the same time, that a tubed device can sound identical to an SS design when both are designed by a similar engineer and with properly implemented circuits that are tailored to sound transparent regardless of the fact that they use SS based components vs. tube based components.


I do agree with you that a poorly done DAC can sound really bad, but I do not agree that the system will lose much soundquality as long as the speakers being listened to are at the soundquality the listener enjoys most.  I know I have listened to many different devices and the only time I heard such a massive difference was when I put on the vinyl based digital equivalent:)


Cheers!



 

post #38 of 127

Poor implementation. Got it.

 

FWIW, I will name names of a few DACs that I do like. 

 

Burson HA-160D (DAC/amp combo unit)

 

Neko D100 - MkII 

 

Audio-gd NFB-2 or NFB-3

 

post #39 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

Not really. Bad DACs are bad and all good DACs sound about the same.

 

Spoken as if fact. What's a "good" DAC? R-2R, or D-S? Synch or asynch oversampling, or none? What makes a good digital receiver? What makes a good output stage? Does any of this matter, or do we believe that "bits are bits"?

 

I disagree with everything in your post, except for your last point. Used is indeed good, and it allows you to experiment with designs that are no longer available, such as my PCM63P-K based EAD, or the UltraAnalog based DACs. If you don't listen to much high-res, the 20-bit R-2Rs still have a lot going for them.
 

 

post #40 of 127
Dave, there's an avalanche of new chips and designs every year. As long as the measurements are good and the distortion is below what people can hear, it doesn't really matter how you configure it. If all you need is a 1,000 square foot garage, you can make it out of brick, wood or concrete blocks. It'll be 1,000 square feet no matter which way you build it.

The problem was solved years ago. New chips come out because they're smaller, more power efficient, etc. New designs get churned out because the marketing department knows consumers want something "new." The same happens with most of audio. Reshuffle the deck, put it in a new case, have the audio rags and reviewers proclaim "night and day" differences from the old model, lather, rinse, repeat.

You can get great quality for next to nothing today.

Status symbols and snob appeal remain quite expensive, though.
post #41 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

You can get great quality for next to nothing today.

Status symbols and snob appeal remain quite expensive, though.

 

I'm not buying it. You can get a device that successfully converts a digital signal to an analog one for next to nothing, sure, in much the same way that a coat hanger can successfully act as a speaker wire. Sound comes out the other end. Doing that job well though means a good power supply, a low jitter receiver, a high quality DAC chip new or old and a well designed, high quality analog output stage. That stuff still costs money. While I'm not saying that you need to step up to the level of an MBL 1611F, I would advise that people spend at least a grand on their DAC if they want things done right.
 

 

post #42 of 127

Some things cost money to be done right, some don't. DAC's don't. 

 

This $30 DAC has a THD of .008%. That's a fraction of audible distortion @ .05% 

 

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCA202.aspx

 
post #43 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBSC View Post



 

I'm not buying it. You can get a device that successfully converts a digital signal to an analog one for next to nothing, sure, in much the same way that a coat hanger can successfully act as a speaker wire. Sound comes out the other end. Doing that job well though means a good power supply, a low jitter receiver, a high quality DAC chip new or old and a well designed, high quality analog output stage. That stuff still costs money. While I'm not saying that you need to step up to the level of an MBL 1611F, I would advise that people spend at least a grand on their DAC if they want things done right.
 

 

so unless a DAC cost a grand or consists of components that cost a grand, then it's not done right?
 

 

post #44 of 127

 

 

Quote:

Does a DAC make a giant difference?

No.

post #45 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Satellite_6 View Post

Some things cost money to be done right, some don't. DAC's don't. 

 

This $30 DAC has a THD of .008%. That's a fraction of audible distortion @ .05% 


Oh, well then case closed. Because the only thing that determines the sound of a component is whether THD is audible or not. ::rolls eyes::

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