So, I have a weird question. How to make sure that my standalone DAC is doing the sound processing, and not just sending the signal that it receives from the PC to my amplifier unchanged?
My chain looks like this: PC -----coaxial---> Musical Fidelity M1DAC -----rca-----> amp -----> headphones
Now, the weird thing is, I hear no difference in sound between my PC integrated sound card (some Realtek...) and the M1DAC (which is a 800$ DAC, apparently one of the best if not the best under 1000$, and the one that I auditioned in the hi-fi store on a speaker system did sound significantly better than Cambridge Audio Dacmagic). Also, there is no difference between my Samsung Galaxy S (completely stock, no kernel updates, just stock media player it comes with) as a source and either of those. All three sound absolutely identical. Confirmed by me and other two people in blind tests, using high quality FLAC's in 24bit, Bellari HA540 tube amplifier and Sennheiser HD650, AKG Q701 or Ultrasone HFi2400 headphones, all more than revealing enough.
I understand that there is no difference between my smartphone and my integrated sound card on motherboard, because they're the same quality level DAC's, but what about the M1DAC?
This had me suspicious that my M1 isn't actually doing the processing, because how else would it not sound any different than a cheap integrated chip on the motherboard or inside the smartphone. And when I say no different, I mean no different. Absolutely no difference in sound, none whatsoever, confirmed by me and two other people in A-B blind testing. And its proper A-B testing, since amplifier has two inputs, so I can play same song file from two sources at the same time, volume matched, and can switch between them without any pauses in music playing, and there is absolutely no difference in sound between either of them, they all sound identical in every single detail and nuance in songs.
So, is it possible, that while the DAC does receive signals from the PC, it doesn't actually change them, or fiddle with them, but just sends them unchanged into the headphone amp? Its the same story no matter which connection between PC and DAC I use...USB, Spdif, Coax, no changes in sound, and always all LED's (incoming bit rate and upsampling bit rate) that should be lighted up are shinning, as if the M1 IS doing the processing and upsampling.
There are two possible answers, either a new 800$ DAC doesn't sound any different than a integrated chip on the 4 year old motherboard and in my 2 year old smartphone, or the DAC is malfunctioning / not doing the sound processing...
What do you guys think?
Edited by derbigpr - 6/30/12 at 4:35am