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Audiophile cables, an interesting question. - Page 51

post #751 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjl View Post

The best (and easiest) way to calibrate them accurately is by using a voltmeter and a sine wave test signal, instead of relying on a SPL meter.

Makes good sense. Thanks.
post #752 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

All DACs *should* sound the same... shouldn't they?

 

 

No, because they all have different power supplies, chipsets, and analog output stages. I didn't keep the preamp at the same volume by the way. I set the volume down to 0, and then set it back to a reasonable volume. As I was ramping up the volume, that's when everyone said, yeah, this is the Arcam. It wasn't that it sounded louder; it sounded better. I put on Highway to Hell. And the guitars on the Schiit sounded stale in comparison to the Arcam. You guys keep on talking about confirmation bias, but it works both ways. If you don't think there will be a difference, there won't be one. Try the stuff out. You don't need a voltmeter, SPL meter, and a sine wave test signal to tell you that Audezes sound better than Skullcandys. 

post #753 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by lids369 View Post
 

 

 

No, because they all have different power supplies, chipsets, and analog output stages. I didn't keep the preamp at the same volume by the way. I set the volume down to 0, and then set it back to a reasonable volume. As I was ramping up the volume, that's when everyone said, yeah, this is the Arcam. It wasn't that it sounded louder; it sounded better. I put on Highway to Hell. And the guitars on the Schiit sounded stale in comparison to the Arcam. You guys keep on talking about confirmation bias, but it works both ways. If you don't think there will be a difference, there won't be one. Try the stuff out. You don't need a voltmeter, SPL meter, and a sine wave test signal to tell you that Audezes sound better than Skullcandys. 


Sorry friend, that method won't get it.  The tiniest bit louder sounds better, but not louder.  I understand thinking what you did is sufficient, but like I said, JOB #1 in any comparison even if sighted is level matching.  Without that you have close to nothing.  Your procedure is almost tailored to fool yourself.  Won't pass muster in this forum.  Those picky little troublesome details like using a voltmeter are what make the difference between being fooled and not.  That is without getting into other problems with your method.  No need to bother with that, you didn't match levels.

post #754 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post
 


Sorry friend, that method won't get it.  The tiniest bit louder sounds better, but not louder.  I understand thinking what you did is sufficient, but like I said, JOB #1 in any comparison even if sighted is level matching.  Without that you have close to nothing.  Your procedure is almost tailored to fool yourself.  Won't pass muster in this forum.  Those picky little troublesome details like using a voltmeter are what make the difference between being fooled and not.  That is without getting into other problems with your method.  No need to bother with that, you didn't match levels.

 

I'm saying that everyone chose the Arcam when it was quieter than the Schiit.

post #755 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by lids369 View Post
 

 

I'm saying that everyone chose the Arcam when it was quieter than the Schiit.


Wait, you made them sound different, and then everybody agreed that they sounded different?
That's not a test, it's a performance.


Edited by limpidglitch - 5/30/14 at 6:29pm
post #756 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by lids369 View Post
 

 

I'm saying that everyone chose the Arcam when it was quieter than the Schiit.


Levels not matched then test not meaning much of anything.  Don't know any plainer way to put it.

 

Again, plenty of other things to discuss about how you did this and not corrupt the choice.  But there is no need.  Doing a comparison levels must match.   If you don't pick up anything else from reading this forum that one thing is worth learning. 

post #757 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by lids369 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

All DACs *should* sound the same... shouldn't they?

 

 

No, because they all have different power supplies, chipsets, and analog output stages. I didn't keep the preamp at the same volume by the way. I set the volume down to 0, and then set it back to a reasonable volume. As I was ramping up the volume, that's when everyone said, yeah, this is the Arcam. It wasn't that it sounded louder; it sounded better. I put on Highway to Hell. And the guitars on the Schiit sounded stale in comparison to the Arcam. You guys keep on talking about confirmation bias, but it works both ways. If you don't think there will be a difference, there won't be one. Try the stuff out. You don't need a voltmeter, SPL meter, and a sine wave test signal to tell you that Audezes sound better than Skullcandys. 


For a scientist, you sure don't seem to be dedicated to any scientific method. The testing you did proves nothing due to lack of proper controls.

And now the old canards come out:
"expectation bias works both ways". Sure can. That's why a DBT is the only way to go because expectation bias is removed.
"Change subject to headphones". Of course two different headphones can sound different. No one argued that. Ever. Nice strawman though....
post #758 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by limpidglitch View Post
 


Wait, you made them sound different, and then everybody agreed that they sounded different?
That's not a test, it's a performance.

 

I started at zero volume for the Schiit, and started at zero volume for the D33. I upped the volume to about 28 on the c-j, and then let it play for 20 seconds. Then I switched the dacs out (Schiit for D33), reset the volume to zero, and began to up the volume to a similar level, but before I could actually get there, everyone said that was the Arcam.

post #759 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by lids369 View Post
You don't need a voltmeter, SPL meter, and a sine wave test signal to tell you that Audezes sound better than Skullcandys. 

and what we keep telling is that there will probably be more differences between the left and right driver on your audeze, than between 2 correctly made dacs.

but you're the scientist, just go look at the values of distortion and frequency responses of different dacs, and put that in perspective with the sound coming from even the best of headphones.

a very average dac will output exactly the right sound from 0 to maybe -80db, a great one will have exactly the right signal up to maybe -100db. and you're talking about how some guitar sounded different when they were probably at best in the first 50db of dynamic, so exactly identical if both dacs were as they pretend to be. it just does not make sens in a mathematical way, and math is pretty much the only area where something said impossible, is impossible.

again, timing, signature, distortion, noise, those are all the things needed to explain sound. and that's the hard way to look at it. the output of a dac is just a simple function of voltage upon time. no mysteries here and it's very simple to actually know if a dac is different from another one.

 

I'm starting to wonder if your purpose isn't just to heat up the topic until one of us gets banned. wouldn't be the first time.

you say some wrong and/or unverified stuff like it's a fact(power cord, no equation for sound, I'm a scientist...), we explain how the false parts are false. some kindly play the open mind game and just ask for a few basic rules before making subjective observation. you dismiss them one after another because you believe you are above the average human and won't fall for placebo effect. when at the same time your little "power cord incident" is telling us that you are indeed very receptive to bias.

every time someone makes a point that doesn't go your way, you just change subject. this is going nowhere. I don't see how someone well educated can accept the idea that a power cord is changing the sound of an amp, but can't even envision the possibility of his own mind playing tricks when that part at least is very well documented.

it's beyond me.

post #760 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by x838nwy View Post

Can i just ask one thing: we're now saying basically all dacs sound the same? This is getting odd.

Electrically, DACs have the easiest job in the chain. They just need to produce a low power 20kHz bandwidth signal. The real difference I've noticed between dacs is in the signal to noise ratio. I'll take the dac with the least amount of noise. Distortion and frequency response should never be sn issue unless the designer was incompetent.

Cheers
post #761 of 1186

DAC noise should not be much of an issue either, if the volume control is after the DAC. Even an iPod is capable of better than 100 dB SNR at maximum volume. Audible noise from a DAC is usually the result of incompetent design, digital volume control with too much gain after the DAC, or external sources (interference, ground loops, etc.).

post #762 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

All DACs *should* sound the same... shouldn't they?

 

If we use "should" in the sense that it is their ultimate goal, than yes, they should as their goal is to transform music encoded in the digital signal to the most exact facsimile of the original analogue signal as possible. Extending that definition to its conclusion, ALL hifi equipment SHOULD sound the same, be it a $50 mini component system from Kenwood or a $50k uber-fi system and I hope we can all agree that reality strays quite far from the "should".

 

Now do all DAC's sound the same? They do not. I do not design electronics but I do machines and  the processes bear similarities. But before I go further, let me first get the price thing out of the way. Price is no indication of a device's ability. People spending 5 figures on a DAC expects it to look good in the same way you expect your Lamborghini to look nice as well as go like $hit off a shovel. Different companies have different balance points within the features/price/margin/looks/customer service/reliability matrix and that's good for the consumer but will  also give rise to $500 DACS sounding similar to a $1,000 DAC but those examples are more exceptions rather than the rule.

 

With that out the way, I propose the reasons for the difference are as follows:

 

1.) Design constraints: There are always cost, space/volume, supply constraints in design (plus a whole bunch of others) and it is more than likely that in the choosing of components, the design of the board layout, the strategy for isolation, etc are limited by them. If we assume that manufactures of chips and various components that make up your DAC do manufacture goods that are of different abilities/spec/quality between their different models then one of the designer's job is to choose the array of parts available to her/him to synthesize from them what he/she thinks is the "best" possible DAC. The endless permutations of parts then have to conform to said constraints in a particular arrangement before it all gets a go ahead.

 

For example, the designer probably wanted to use transformer brand X, model Y having tested to confirm that it is a better choice (better meaning allowing the DAC to perform better than it can with other solution, or even just better specs meaning with more desirable characteristics) but the resulting package my be too large so he had to keep to brand X but model Z. Perhaps using the preferred chip set means taking up too much power (specially in portable devices). May be the a well designed DAC is outperformed by another, newer DAC simply because of the chips or firmware used. Legacy items are also a bit of an issue - if the main DAC part was and has been very good but its USB implementation is not so great then making better said interface will improve the final sound quality. So constraints play a role in the resulting products. Different companies pose different constraints on their designers/engineers. These constraints affect the parts used and how they are used as such it is logical that the end result is also effected. Different constraints = Different products.

 

2.) Human ability: give me and Jason from Schiit audio the same amount of money and ask us to design and build a DAC within that budget and I'm pretty sure you'll get a pretty decent DAC and a pile of parts. Talent, ability, intelligence, proficiency and knowledge are not attributes that are evenly distributed among mankind. So for $400, one designer can make a rubbish DAC and another a very good one. That's pretty much why how talented and skilled people make a living. So DACs sound different according to the skill of the designer (and others involved in the manufacturing process, but mostly the designer).

 

3.) Design philosophy: this is different to the ability of the designer and it also plays a part in why things work differently. Some designers will believe that using few but extremely high (boutique?) components is the way to go. Others will tend to throw everything inclusive of kitchen sinks at it (Audio-Gd must consume like 1/3 of all components used in the hifi industry or something). Some will not use capacitors in the signal path and some will prefer silver where possible. Some will go for class D and others will not be happy unless it's a SET OTL class A / room heater combo. etc, etc. Each to his own and each will have its characteristics in terms of sq. Which path is best or what the best compromise may be will probably be a debate that goes on for longer than the internet itself.

 

These factors play the biggest roles in why DACs sound different. They are all working against arriving at a fictitious 'perfect' DAC however simple a task that may be. The ultimates goal of all DACs is to sound same as I mentioned above, but it is how far and to which side they fall short of this goal is the difference we hear. So they sound different because the things that are "wrong" with them are different.

 

And it's because you've been using the wrong cables. :D

 

Or maybe the right ones but they haven't burnt-in properly yet.

 

Or you didn't look for the direction arrow on the interconnect, did you?

post #763 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by lids369 View Post
 

 

I started at zero volume for the Schiit, and started at zero volume for the D33. I upped the volume to about 28 on the c-j, and then let it play for 20 seconds. Then I switched the dacs out (Schiit for D33), reset the volume to zero, and began to up the volume to a similar level, but before I could actually get there, everyone said that was the Arcam.


As I'm sure you can gather from our responses, this is a highly unorthodox way to compare devices.
Any specific reason why you didn't just do a straight level matched comparison?

post #764 of 1186
Quote:
Originally Posted by limpidglitch View Post


As I'm sure you can gather from our responses, this is a highly unorthodox way to compare devices.

Any specific reason why you didn't just do a straight level matched comparison?

I was at a store and couldn't shut down their high end room for the test. It had to be quick.
post #765 of 1186

Ah. Quick and dirty, out of necessity.

Does this mean that you don't either consider this a very rigorous trial?

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