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Samsung Galaxy S vs. Musical Fidelity M1DAC - unbelievable, does my DAC work? - Page 3

post #31 of 37

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post
 

...is it possible that a DAC, connected into the PC trough the SPDIF, and then trough RCA's into the amplifier, is NOT actually doing the work, but just receiving the signal that it gets from the motherboard integrated DAC, and then sends it unchanged into the amplifier?

 

In other words, is it possible that even though the DAC is between the PC and the amplifier, that the PC is actually doing the D to A converting, and not the DAC?   I'm pretty sure it's not possible, but that's the only reasonable explanation why a 800$ DAC would not sound better than a 200$ phone. 

 

That's not possible - a DAC converts digital into an analog electronic signal. If the signal travelled through SPDIF, it's in digital; if it travelled through an anlog RCA output and cables, it's analog, There's no way the PC or the amplifier converted that signal when it went to the M1 DAC via SPDIF and then into the amp via analog RCA.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

After closing my eyes, and then pressing the input selector button, surprise surprise, ABSOLUTELY NO difference in sound.  And I mean, ABSOLUTELY NONE. None whatsoever. Not even changes in sound signature. Zero. I guess that means both have a flat frequency response. I was mindfcked when I first realized that my phone sounds exactly the same as my 800$ DAC.  I mean, what the hell? Is this a joke? Is the Galaxy S a steal for the money, or is the M1DAC a pile of crap?  And in comparison to other DAC (CA Dac Magic) I compared it to in the Hi-Fi store on speakers, it actually sounded slighlty better.   I could not believe what I was hearing so I asked my dad and uncle who happened to be around the house to have a quick listen as well.
 

 

While I usually won't be surprised given that I like the SGS (S9, J3, etc) sound, in the sense that I won't be surpised if many people will find the sound very close, the observation that even the sound signatures are identical is weird, so say the least. I have an SGS and auditioned the M1 at an audio distributor's a couple of months ago, and the sound signatures were very different. Granted, I didn't feed them into the same amplifier at the time, but the M1 system was generally bright and detailed while the SGS had a really sweet midrange (but on most IEMs I can barely hear some bass guitars and cymbals). I did however try it with my Meier Corda Cantate vs the iPad2 connected to via USB (digital), and the SGS at the Voodoo kernel's specified +2db "lineout" setting was louder and slightly distorted. At a generally, ear-level matched -10db, it lacked the dynamics in the lows - more likely due to the output stage design (ie, more for earphones) than the DAC itself.

 

 

---

 

Is it possible that maybe the SGS was flat enough, and then the M1's analog input doesn't use a pass-through, but an AD-(processor?)-DAC circuit? Some car audio processors nowadays use high-level (speaker) inputs, an AD-processor-DAC circuit and they sound just as good as the basic Hi-Fi receivers (ie, the ones with similar processor features, but not the same DACs and more processor features as the TOTL receivers). Some home theater receivers use the same trick, I'm not sure but I think it has to do with simplifying the analog circuit going into the amplifier circuit.

 

EDIT : I wrote the above thinking of the features on the M1 Clic Music Server, ie, the pass-through for all sources to be controlled through it


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 7/3/12 at 4:11pm
post #32 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

So considering that the phone is an inferior environment for any DAC, how should we interpret this finding no difference between a phone and a 1K external dac? 

Is the phone well designed, or the external DAC poorly designed?

 

I would guess that the phone is relatively well designed in terms of audio, and it doesn't matter too much how well designed the external DAC is (barring some big screwups or intentionally mucking with sound quality), since you probably wouldn't hear a difference anyway.  Don't go start hunting for $3000 DACs if you're using your ears to evaluate them.

 

If two devices are sufficiently poorly designed, it seems likely that they would sound bad or degraded in different ways, and thus be distinguishable from each other.  There's not a sliding linear scale of sound quality.

 

This is just one person's test, but if you were to jump to a takeaway message (based on this and other points, previous tests), the main point would be a diss on audiophiles chasing things that don't matter (much), rather than on boutique DAC manufacturers putting out overpriced, underperforming products—though that's true in many cases too.


Edited by mikeaj - 7/3/12 at 12:38pm
post #33 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

, the observation that even the sound signatures are identical is weird, so say the least.

I had the same experience as the OP with a Bifrost and my Creative Titanium HD. When I bought the Bifrost I was curious as to what the differences would be. I hooked them up to my switchbox which allows simultaneous switching between sources. At first I was disappointed when they sounded identical. Then I thought maybe I was crazy so I spent a lot of time over the next 3 days trying everything I could think of to test them with HD800s from a Woo Audio WA2 and Objective2. High quality and low quality recordings, many types of music, complex and simple passages, even the Ultrasone test CD. Switching from one DAC to the other everything sounded the same. Trumpets, cellos, singers, drums, piano, cymbals, even the soundstage didn't change at all.
Edited by Draygonn - 7/3/12 at 3:15pm
post #34 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Draygonn View Post


I had the same experience as the OP with a Bifrost and my Creative Titanium HD. When I bought the Bifrost I was curious as to what the differences would be. I hooked them up to my switchbox which allows simultaneous switching between sources. At first I was disappointed when they sounded identical. Then I thought maybe I was crazy so I spent a lot of time over the next 3 days trying everything I could think of to test them with HD800s from a Woo Audio WA2 and Objective2. High quality and low quality recordings, many types of music, complex and simple passages, even the Ultrasone test CD. Switching from one DAC to the other everything sounded the same. Trumpets, cellos, singers, drums, piano, cymbals, even the soundstage didn't change at all.

 

I'm not that surprised with the Titanium HD vs the Bifrost; what I find weird really is the Galaxy S vs the M1. Like I said, when I auditioned the M1 system, that one tended to be bright. I haven't fed the Galaxy S to the same M1 headamp, or through the server, but that doesn't mean the differences can't be there.

I'm actually digging around for a 3.5mm to RCA just to test the SGS with my amp now, just to hear how it stacks up against the USB DAC on my amp. Sure, it's no M1, but since I am assuming there is less signature difference between the SGS' Wolfson and the Cantate's PCM270x integrated DAC than with the M1, then if I manage to detect a performance difference then I can safely assume that at the very least I can detect a difference vs the M1 (until I get back and try the M1 system at the dealer's and listen to them back to back for accuracy, of course).

post #35 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Draygonn View Post


I had the same experience as the OP with a Bifrost and my Creative Titanium HD. When I bought the Bifrost I was curious as to what the differences would be. I hooked them up to my switchbox which allows simultaneous switching between sources. At first I was disappointed when they sounded identical. Then I thought maybe I was crazy so I spent a lot of time over the next 3 days trying everything I could think of to test them with HD800s from a Woo Audio WA2 and Objective2. High quality and low quality recordings, many types of music, complex and simple passages, even the Ultrasone test CD. Switching from one DAC to the other everything sounded the same. Trumpets, cellos, singers, drums, piano, cymbals, even the soundstage didn't change at all.

 

I'm actually not surprised with the Titanium HD vs the BiFrost. Even if I would hedge on the latter having a better output stage and PSU, to most people the quality of the DAC would be enough and there would be minimal if any differences. Superpro707 to me sounds nearly identical to a Marantz CD5001, and they use a very similar chip, except the Marantz has two and supposedly a better output stage, plus PSU, given the S707 has a bundled PSU with less than the voltage output that it can take (which is why it sounds more bad-assed using the USB). Open up the 5001 though and you'd find a scrawny transformer behind the transport.

 

In any case out of sheer morbid curiosity I'm digging around for a cheapo 3.5mm to RCA that I know should just be hiding around here somewhere. Sure, the PCM270x USB DAC in my Cantate is no M1, but if I assume the M1 and the SGS at least have different sound signatures*, then if I can detect a difference between the Cantate and the SGS (both of which sound similar to me), then I can be sure that there has to be some difference between the M1 and the SGS. At least, until I get my hands on the M1 again next month.


*doesn't necessarily mean that alone can determine a winner - subjectively I actually do prefer the SGS sound

post #36 of 37

OK, I've done a very quick comparo (I got to get back to my thesis, plus shop for tomorrow's BBQ) between my SGS (used the stock media player, no EQ, didn't uninstall Voodoo kernel, Flight mode so it can't be said the cel signal is interfering) vs the USB DAC of my Corda Cantate and my work/casual gaming laptop (Media Monkey, W7, no other audio software). The SGS is hooked up to the Cantate's analog inputs using a 3.5mm to RCA (A+V) cables bundled with, I think, an old Nokia, and the laptop obviously goes into the USB port. All FLAC, Focal no.6 demo disc, Nightwish and Kamelot tracks, some funk rock. The volume/gain structure however was tricky, so I did this two ways:

 

 

Part I. : As blind as possible - I basically just flicked the input selector at random barely aware of which one was either side, level-matched volume. Max volume on the Cantate (low gain), with the SGS at Voodoo +2db and media player volume level 15, and the laptop's Windows volume level at around 90 / 100. SGS was basically at the loudest it can be with that amplifier, so digitally the volume on the laptop was lower in order to compensate somewhat.

 

Observations: Generally/Initially both were very similar tonally, but after a few times of going back and forth between tracks/sections,
1) SGS : Bass seemed more pronounced in terms of tonality from the lower midrange down to low bass; slight distortion on loud, heavy guitar sections audible; more sparkle in the cymbals
2) Laptop : Less pronounced bass in terms of tonality, vocals seemed more nuanced (if you strain with the SGS, it's all there, but the bassier tone can distract the listener); cymbals aren't as loud and seem to stop vibrating noticeably sooner than in the SGS

 

 

Part II. : Alternate gain structure, cannot be done blind. Normal settings on the laptop+Cantate rig - 100% Windows digital media volume, Cantate volume knob set to around 2:00; SGS+Cantate settings as above (ie, I have to consciously pause both players, then switch and adjust the knob)

Observations: Initially similar tonally, but

1) SGS : Still has more bass tonally, distortion on guitar sections as cited above
2) Laptop : has more forceful bass "hits" and more detailed bass guitar (the SGS has the same notes, but the seemingly louder bass tone apparently obscures that too) in very fast bass guitar riffs; cymbals still don't have quite the same "zing" and body to them, but unlike the earlier setting they seem to keep vibrating (and producing the sound) as long as in the SGS

Conclusion:
1) For starters, I'm not replacing my phone anytime soon. The only thing I didn't like outright about using it is that it's awkward holding it with the long cable sticking up from it, since I haven't gotten any drivers to make it work with the included dock. But at teh very least the sound signatures were similar enough that I don't have one set-up that's drastically different in that regard.

2) Still, there are differences as per my ears, either way I've set the gain structure. But honestly it wouldn't be something that will actually bother me - it's actually a good thing, knowing how my phone can be good enough in case my laptop (or iPad2) isn't working or for some reason can't be used. Now if only that dock actually worked properly...or as I hope to do with the SIII, the dock and then a mini(M)-to-A(F) OTG adapter then a USB A-to-B cable, so I'd have my phone, mobile music player, and home audio source in one box that takes microSD cards. Plus the USB input hopefully can get rid of the distortion problem cited above, as I suspect it may be due to reaching the edge of the distortion limits on the analog output of a battery-powered device.

 

 

Now if only I can get my hands on the M1 sooner. :P

post #37 of 37

The SGS is a beast.

 

Full stop.

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