Originally Posted by proton007
Another aspect is whether that last 1-2% is worth caring about. You can think about using 128 bit precision to get as close to analog as possible and reduce quantization errors, but if it doesn't make a dime's worth of a difference, its no use.
This is the whole gist of design. Everything is designed to a specification. And the specification is made on the basis of an established phenomenon.
I mean, given the money and time, someone can definitely come up with this, with a million dollar price tag, but if it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.
Another common example would be the iPhone retina display. Would you notice if I make it twice the resolution at the same size? The answer is no, and hence its not worth the extra processing and graphics power it would require.
This is a good point, along with the one bigshot made - if something is so insubstantial that it can't be reliably discerned then it probably isn't worth spending money on, especially when there are other more tangible things competing for the same money. With my equipment I would say that USB cables and software buffer size would both fall under this category, it is a strain to tell the difference. Other changes I have mentioned like bit depth and processor scheduling are a little more obvious from memory, but I would really need to test them again to quantify how much of a difference they make, and these variables are relatively easy to toggle. I *think* I would be able to DBT bit depth, I would just need to come up with a methodology, and again this is not directly related to USB cables. I will have to get back to you on that one.
The reason I pursue some of these things is because 1-2% is not much by itself, but add up several such minor changes and soon enough there may be something more significant like a 5-10% difference, plus playing around with these settings is free so no harm is done to the wallet. Unfortunately I have tried some audiophool tweaks that are very much not free and also very much rubbish components that made the sound worse.
I try to warn people about these as much as possible, but the whole subjectivity thing means many people hear an improvement when the change is actually negative - it is easier after all to create an audible difference by making something worse than it is to make an audible difference by making something better, I think a lot of audiophile companies know this and exploit the subjectivity of audiophiles. Considering this it is probably wiser to stay away from audiophile tweaks, especially really dodgy sounding, tenuous and yet also expensive tweaks.