...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.
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