I ask this question only for my own edification and not to inspire any controversy:
In your Ranking of 21 DACs, you say this:
To me, when you say "it would me hard for me to name a DAC as bassy," that pretty much tells me that the DAC has an identifiable signature. Can you help me resolve these two, seemingly opposing statements?
Hahaha. It's OK to ask directly. I only get pissed off when BS is implied, in which your case, it is not, even without the first sentence disclaimer.
Quite easy to explain:
- It's all relative in comparison to other DACs.
- As I indicated, the bassy nature of the M7 much more evident with USB input. With USB input, the M7 very easily has an identified signature.
- With OR5 as used in the "DAC comparison", the key phrase was "not so much", not "NO identifiable signature". There is a difference in meaning of which the second phrase I don't think I've ever used.
- What I look for in audio equipment is the ability to fool me into thinking the reproduced sound is real, not a facsimile. Going back to #1, there is the relative aspect in comparison to other DACs (M7 is basser than X,Y, Z). But in a more absolute sense, at least according to my own perception, thinner sounding DACs, or those DACs which are not able to reproduce sufficient sub-bass, overall bass, bass impact, or hint at warmth, cannot fool me into thinking it's the real thing. In fact, lean sounding DACs tend to scream "I'm fake. Look at me, I'm a digital source!" to my ears.
- The M7 even with the OR5 / DACLadder mods, do have a slight hint of warmth. If anything, I would prefer equipment to deviate from its ability to fool me it's real with warm tonal coloration rather than lean coloration.
M7 has more bass than BM DAC1 (relative statement)
-is not inconsistent with-
M7 mimics / makes illusion of real-life more true than BM DAC1 because DAC1 does not have enough bass (absolute statement - to my ears), and I hear a lot of bass in real-life.
-is not inconsistent with or is actually consistent with-
M7 has less identifiable signature to BM DAC1
All this of course doesn't not take into account that many other DACs, especially the SABRE based stuff, have very strange treble coloration or graininess which is very identifiable and rather nasty sounding - at least to me. Also, tonal balance is only but one element in the larger scheme of things: resolution, treble timbre, dynamics and impact, microdynamics, clarity, attack and decay, continuousness of sound, etc. which make things fool me into thinking they are real.
Modern DACs do have of these things well. The M7 (and most other PCM1704 DACs I've heard) seem to do the other half well. The M7 + OR5 seems to be able to combine them without too much compromise. So do the MSB DACs.
Edited by purrin - 7/21/14 at 3:00pm