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post #16 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

Judging from some infamous AMB Mini3 measurements, I am not sure how reliable their specs are, and what they measured with RMAA is worse than what the Xonar DX is capable of, although admittedly they were "limited by test equipment". In my tests here the PCI version of the card did quite well, and also in an older blind test no one was able to tell apart two loopback recordings from the original audio (only a few people tried it, though, but the result is as expected from the measurements).

If you do need a USB DAC, the more thoroughly tested ODAC might be a safer choice.

 

I missed it first time around but I think the "infamous" measurements came from AMB measuring at the board outputs, and voldemort measuring at the TRS headphone jack, which caused the crosstalk measurements to be quite different (as most crosstalk happens in the jack apparently). Several AMB things are written up with the same specs as they exceed the specs of the firewire interface used for the RMAA testing.

 

As I said above, the difference is probably inaudible, but I won't know until I've finished my "AB switching box" (a beta 22 with delta 1 and delta 2 boards, which will allow me to level match several inputs to <0.5 dB of eachother).

post #17 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamlr View Post

 

question:

 

 

i understood what you said, and again, keep in mind im just a newbe who doesnt even own a dac, but say i want more bass or more treble or any other emphasis in the music im listening to, what difference does it make where the color comes from? if its from my bassy headphones, bassy amp, bass boost switch on an amp, a dac that colors the music or for that matter - an equalizer? would a bass heavy headphone give a better quality than a bass heavy dac? i hope im making sense, ill try and clarify:

you said that the more expensive, coloring amps cant "outperform the transparency of a competent DAC chip", it sounds like your being critical about amps that provide color and i just want to know why, because no one speaks up when one talks about bass heavy headphones, or equalizing music for emphasis on treble, but DACs seem to be a heated subject for some reason.

 

edit: is it a question of whether or not DACs can provide you with any coloration at all?

and btw, whats the difference between a DAC and an external sound card? are they the same thing?

 

Headphones are the most important for the levels of bass, treble, etc, because they have the equipment that produces the sound. You can try and turn a tweeter into a bass monster by EQing, getting new amps and dacs all day, but it's not going to do you very good.

 

While I think some coloration works great, you have to keep in mind that the headphones were engineered to produce their sound with everything else being neutral. The sound that they are supposed to give is whatever sound you get with a neutral setup and EQ.

 

As far as external DACs in comparison to soundcards, they are essentially the same things. But external soundcards have the added bonus of effects, which won't really be of much use to you other than for movies and games.

 

I would say DACs can provide you with coloration, as they are decoding the audio so they can do whatever the hell they want with it, but it's generally not the place people look for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adamlr View Post

while were on the subject, id appreciate some clarification, and an answer to a question, if thats not too much to ask.

 

clarification:

as far as i could understand, a DAC exists on anything that plays music, it takes the digital part, ie the 1's and 0's of your mp3/flac/aac/whatever and turns them into the analog bit, which is basically an electric pulse/wave (i dont know the terminology) which then goes into you headphone, making the membrane "dance", compressing and moving the air in a way that our ears (or rather our brain) interpret as sound. (please correct me if im wrong of course)

is this why your meant to plug a DAC into your DAP via usb and not through the headphone jack? because if the music got to your headphone jack it would already be an analog wave (again, terminology) making the external DAC useless?

 

Yes, that is why. USB and SP/DIF are digital, while the headphone jack is analogue. 

post #18 of 70

The main thing is you don't want coloration hardwired into your electronics. You want to be able to adjust it with tone controls or EQ. If it's hardwired into the DAC or amp, you have no control over adjusting it.

post #19 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeyjojo View Post

I missed it first time around but I think the "infamous" measurements came from AMB measuring at the board outputs, and voldemort measuring at the TRS headphone jack, which caused the crosstalk measurements to be quite different (as most crosstalk happens in the jack apparently).

 

Actually, much of the crosstalk comes from the virtual ground that is (unlike apparently in the FiiO E11) separate from the input ground. There were some other discrepancies in the measurements vs. specs as well.

post #20 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamlr View Post

while were on the subject, id appreciate some clarification, and an answer to a question, if thats not too much to ask.

clarification:
as far as i could understand, a DAC exists on anything that plays music, it takes the digital part, ie the 1's and 0's of your mp3/flac/aac/whatever and turns them into the analog bit, which is basically an electric pulse/wave (i dont know the terminology) which then goes into you headphone, making the membrane "dance", compressing and moving the air in a way that our ears (or rather our brain) interpret as sound. (please correct me if im wrong of course)
is this why your meant to plug a DAC into your DAP via usb and not through the headphone jack? because if the music got to your headphone jack it would already be an analog wave (again, terminology) making the external DAC useless?

question:


i understood what you said, and again, keep in mind im just a newbe who doesnt even own a dac, but say i want more bass or more treble or any other emphasis in the music im listening to, what difference does it make where the color comes from? if its from my bassy headphones, bassy amp, bass boost switch on an amp, a dac that colors the music or for that matter - an equalizer? would a bass heavy headphone give a better quality than a bass heavy dac? i hope im making sense, ill try and clarify:
you said that the more expensive, coloring amps cant "outperform the transparency of a competent DAC chip", it sounds like your being critical about amps that provide color and i just want to know why, because no one speaks up when one talks about bass heavy headphones, or equalizing music for emphasis on treble, but DACs seem to be a heated subject for some reason.

edit: is it a question of whether or not DACs can provide you with any coloration at all?
and btw, whats the difference between a DAC and an external sound card? are they the same thing?

Pretty well answered by now, but here it goes. You do own a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) unless all you play is vinyl or analog tapes. Any computer file, stream or CD (or DVD or Blu-ray disc) presents digital data. To make a speaker or headphone move and create sound, this information needs to be converted to analog signals in a DAC. So all these devices have a DAC in them: on board sound chips in computers, soundcards, CD, SACD, DVD, and Blu-ray players, mp3 players, home theater amplifiers and some TVs. Oh yes, cell phones too.

Can a DAC have any coloration? Yes, because it has an analog section which usually has some amplification to do. That circuit, even if it is on a chip, might not be transparent. Perhaps the reason why some of us do not like the idea of DACs not being transparent (passing on a signal louder but otherwise unchanged) is because the DAC is your source. There are ample oportunities later on to modify the music, but if you mess with it at the beginning you have no benchmark, nothing to compare your results to. Having no anchor, no original unaltered reference, you are adrift not knowing where you have been or where you are headed. That makes it very, very difficult to get the sound to where you want it.

The headphone is the most productive place to work. Simply get a headphone with more bass emphasis. After that, use either EQ (equalization) or get an amp with old style tone controls. Find an old amp with variable Loudness and you will be a happy basshead. My old Marantz DC series had a ten position knob. Digital EQ happens in the computer before the DAC; analog EQ is signal processing after the DAC.
Edited by Clarkmc2 - 10/4/12 at 8:42pm
post #21 of 70

One of the reasons I picked up a dac/amp combo was because the AV receiver I have that has coax and optical inputs and can do 5.1 to stereo conversion has a small flaw. It has a delay where it cuts out the first 0.5 second of anything I start to play even if just pausing and resuming. It doesn't seem like it matters, but I notice it and that flaw bugs the crap out of me. I believe the Fiio E10 has this bug also. I've noticed it on a couple of other receivers that friends and family have.

post #22 of 70
Whoa! What brand of A/V amp is that so we can avoid it? That's a serious design error! I'd box that puppy up and return it if my amp did that. I guess they were too lazy to add a simple buffer.
Edited by bigshot - 10/4/12 at 11:13am
post #23 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnholy View Post

So to make sure I'm reading right, a DAC, no matter what price it is, is quite similar to an amp, in a sense that they have basic function, and when those functions are done right, then there's little to no difference between their peers in the similar category right?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

For the life of me, I can't figure out why standalone DACs are necessary. The DAC built into the iPod is fantastic, even the cheapest Sony bluray player has specs that equal the most expensive DACs, with the added ability of playing SACD, DVD and blu. And just about every amp nowadays has a great DAC built in, capable of decoding a wide range of different formats, both two channel and 5:1.

 

Given two similarly spec'd DACs, one internal and one external (standalone), the standalone DAC may have a reduction in noise because you are moving the DAC away from other electronics. My macbook pro is noisy as heck with sensitive IEMs. I hear all sorts of crazy sounds. 

 

But in general, the takeaway message for amplifiers and DACs, is that there are specific measurements that will determine the sound quality. You should pay money for a DAC and amp that have good, well documented measurements. Your amp and DAC should have a ruler flat frequency response and low distortion and all that stuff.

 

Headphones should be the things that "color" the sound to your liking. Why? Because it is much easier to make highly transparent DACs and amps than headphones, which rely on a physical, moving diaphram. 

 

Also, thank you autumnholy for posting such direct and basic questions. These are the types of questions people don't ask enough in this hobby. The lack of a clear answer is exactly why people focus too much on their amps and DACs.


Edited by Eisenhower - 10/4/12 at 12:16pm
post #24 of 70
Standalone CD players are pretty much always ruler flat with no distortion. So is the iPod. Why not just get an iPod for te road and a $100 bluray player for home? It's a lot cheaper that way, and less to lug around and plug in.
post #25 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Whoa! What brand of A/V amp is that so we can avoid it? That's a serious design error! I'd box that puppy up and return it if my amp did that. I guess they were too lazy to add a simple buffer.


The one I have is an old Sony STR-K740P, and the other one I can remember is the Pioneer VSX-820. It only does it from Digital Audio to Analog Stereo conversion. If I feed the line out from my DAC/Amp combo to the AV receiver Stereo input there is no lag since the AV receiver isn't doing the converting.

post #26 of 70
I would bet that nothing available today does that.
post #27 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Standalone CD players are pretty much always ruler flat with no distortion. So is the iPod. Why not just get an iPod for te road and a $100 bluray player for home? It's a lot cheaper that way, and less to lug around and plug in.

 

I used to use DVD players for CD playback, I had a (the notorious) Philips DVP642. The playback was fine until it died, which that model did a lot, however the transport on that model could be very noisy in play which may be an issue. Once I have ripped my Brilliant Classics 170CD Bach set I'm pretty much done with CD (day to day) except  for listening in the car !

post #28 of 70

chewy4, bigshot and Clarkmc2, thank you very much for having the patience to answer my questions, youv been a great help to me.

post #29 of 70
I've never owned a dac /amp so I wanted to ask :
In a portable dac/amp combo, when using the dac, does it also use the amp at the same time? Or you can only use each component exclusively?

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2
post #30 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Travelbug View Post

I've never owned a dac /amp so I wanted to ask :
In a portable dac/amp combo, when using the dac, does it also use the amp at the same time? Or you can only use each component exclusively?
Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2

 

What do you mean by portable?  Used with what?

 

If you are plugging headphones into its headphone jack, you are using the amp.  The output of the DAC is connected to its amp.  If you are giving it digital audio data via USB, S/PDIF (or HDMI, etc.), then you are using its DAC.  Some of these portable devices can be used as a DAC, but they can also be used just as amps by sending them an analog signal directly and bypassing the DAC.

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