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How do/can DACs and amps change sound signature? - Page 4

post #46 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by preproman View Post

 

 

I got a balanced M^3 with NO bass boost.  I still get really good bass.  You have to be careful the bass boost don't muddy up you music.

 

You guys are missing the point.  I intend to build an M^3 at some point and I don't really intend to build/use a bass boost circuit either.  But that doesn't mean it's wrong for someone somewhere to want that.  Just because someone prefers a non-neutral sound doesn't mean their tastes are inherently wrong or their equipment is bad.  Good equipment is equipment that does what you want it to do, and that may not always be "neutrality above all".

post #47 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkasting View Post

 

You guys are missing the point. ... may not always be "neutrality above all".

Definitely - 

If I'm feeling like kicking out some DnB, I'll turn up the bass to stratospheric levels and enjoy the sensation of my later-life hearing slip away. 

Neutral is great for many genres but above all else? nah.

Look at the (outer) cover for Faith No More's (Man!) orignal LP - "Please play this record as loud as your equipment permits" > I don't think they really cared about neutrality there. 

post #48 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by ru57y View Post

Definitely - 

If I'm feeling like kicking out some DnB, I'll turn up the bass to stratospheric levels and enjoy the sensation of my later-life hearing slip away. 

Neutral is great for many genres but above all else? nah.

Look at the (outer) cover for Faith No More's (Man!) orignal LP - "Please play this record as loud as your equipment permits" > I don't think they really cared about neutrality there. 

 

Well just use EQ, don't buy an amp with permanent bass boost.

post #49 of 60

User experience definitely heightens one's perception of the music they are listening to, aside from the usual variables introduced by circuitry (such as bass boost, or to some 'warm tube sound').

 

Take for instance, steak cooked the same way in two different restaurants.

  • Restaurant A has good serving, a nice waiter, and the ambient light is low and mellow with gentle jazz song playing in the background. As the waiter brings the steak to you, he preps the handkerchief and lays it on your lap, positions the steak on the table, and introduced the steak to you like a detailed headphone review. His left hand whisks the air above the steak and agitates the mixture of smells in within the ingredient. With a gentle and professional smile, he then leaves you to eat the steak. Steak was amazing.
  • Restaurant B is actually KFC and you brought your steak from Restaurant A. Steak tasted bland.

 

To tell you the truth, its how you prep your body before you do something. The priming. How supermarkets put fresh flowers in front of vegetable sections, they prime you into thinking the vegetables behind the fresh flowers are just as fresh and beautiful, and you feel that they are fresh.

It works, for everyone. Humans are suckers for user experience. I'm saying this through the eyes of a user interface design student's eyes, so I don't undermine or disprove whether different amps sound different because they are warmer or darker or whatever. Whatever floats your boat, I'm happy for you.

 

 

I mean come on, like, you get yourself a $1200 tubeamp, and you turn that **** on and it glows. You feel like you're some sort of 70's mad scientist trying to bring Frankenstein's monster to life. Ain't nobody within your vicinity could top that.

post #50 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by penmarker View Post

User experience definitely heightens one's perception of the music they are listening to, aside from the usual variables introduced by circuitry (such as bass boost, or to some 'warm tube sound').

 

Take for instance, steak cooked the same way in two different restaurants.

  • Restaurant A has good serving, a nice waiter, and the ambient light is low and mellow with gentle jazz song playing in the background. As the waiter brings the steak to you, he preps the handkerchief and lays it on your lap, positions the steak on the table, and introduced the steak to you like a detailed headphone review. His left hand whisks the air above the steak and agitates the mixture of smells in within the ingredient. With a gentle and professional smile, he then leaves you to eat the steak. Steak was amazing.
  • Restaurant B is actually KFC and you brought your steak from Restaurant A. Steak tasted bland.

 

To tell you the truth, its how you prep your body before you do something. The priming. How supermarkets put fresh flowers in front of vegetable sections, they prime you into thinking the vegetables behind the fresh flowers are just as fresh and beautiful, and you feel that they are fresh.

It works, for everyone. Humans are suckers for user experience. I'm saying this through the eyes of a user interface design student's eyes, so I don't undermine or disprove whether different amps sound different because they are warmer or darker or whatever. Whatever floats your boat, I'm happy for you.

 

 

I mean come on, like, you get yourself a $1200 tubeamp, and you turn that **** on and it glows. You feel like you're some sort of 70's mad scientist trying to bring Frankenstein's monster to life. Ain't nobody within your vicinity could top that.

 

Well put! That's basically what I've said on here many times- a lot of this hobby is psychological. If you want to buy $500 RCA cables for your $1200 tube amp because they're covered in velvet cloth and thus making the music sound lush and silky, then go for it. Most likely it will sound relatively the same to me as my modest set up, and I'll be $500 richer than you. Many times I've turned my tube amp on just to see it glow. And then it lulls me to put my headphones on and listen to music. That experience alone is worth what I paid for it...

post #51 of 60
post #52 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by dxanex View Post

Well put! That's basically what I've said on here many times- a lot of this hobby is psychological. If you want to buy $500 RCA cables for your $1200 tube amp because they're covered in velvet cloth and thus making the music sound lush and silky, then go for it. Most likely it will sound relatively the same to me as my modest set up, and I'll be $500 richer than you. Many times I've turned my tube amp on just to see it glow. And then it lulls me to put my headphones on and listen to music. That experience alone is worth what I paid for it...
But what I regret is that a lot of bitter people are very condescending at how they tell this information to people who buy the audio game. I understand the illusions involved, and even I get mad at these people.
Put it down nicely and people will accept your points, even if your facts are regarded as opinions, people would still respect you.

Sorry if I had derailed this thread OP, you can continue with your discussion.
post #53 of 60

I'm an IT professional, and and as such I'm pretty analytical in basically every aspect of my life... Outside of audio. It's a hubris I allow myself, one of very few, where I disregard everything I normally take into account - numbers, statistics, tests, etc etc etc. and instead go purely based on my own experiences. When detaching myself from the hobby, I can pretty easily go "Yep, it's full of placebo", but when you drop me back into it, I've found it impossible to get rid of the placebo.

 

So I just accept that at times I'm probably not spending my money in the wisest way possible, and acknowledge that the reason something sounds better to me is heavily warped by things outside the actual audio itself, and grin a bit at my foolishness and don't worry too much about what the objectivist camp thinks about me. My self delusions don't harm anyone, and they make me just a little bit happier. It's just nice for me to get away from the benchmarks, performance numbers, hard science that I deal with everywhere else and go with it.

 

That's my two cents on the objectivist vs. subjectivist thing. I don't understand the condescension the two camps heap on each other sometimes. People engage in this, and other hobbies, to make themselves happy. Why worry too much about it? Someone spending $500 on a USB cable is crazy even to me, but it's not like that in any way prevents me from buying a $5 one off Amazon or Monoprice. Pretty sure the same can be said about every aspect of the hobby

post #54 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by penmarker View Post


But what I regret is that a lot of bitter people are very condescending at how they tell this information to people who buy the audio game. I understand the illusions involved, and even I get mad at these people.
Put it down nicely and people will accept your points, even if your facts are regarded as opinions, people would still respect you.
Sorry if I had derailed this thread OP, you can continue with your discussion.

 

I don't think I was being condescending, apologies if it came off that way and I hurt anyone's feelings. In fact I encourage people to spend their money because that's what keeps these companies going and keeping this hobby exciting. But for me, I'll always support a company like HiFiMAN or Sennheiser before I'll support a company with wild claims about something they can't objectively prove. But I have been nearly spat upon by certain people at headphone meets for telling them that I could tell no difference in sound quality using their über expensive cables (and yes, this is only my opinion). It just goes to show you the power of the mind.

 

But I think we are straying off topic, and I'll leave it at that.


Edited by dxanex - 11/17/12 at 5:04am
post #55 of 60
Thread Starter 

I think my questions in the OP have largely been answered already, at least theoretically: the process of conversion from digital to analog and the process of increasing the power of the signal are both imperfect, and the imperfections may create changes in sound signature. The only thing left to do is to put these notions to the test in an objective, double-blind fashion and see if the changes seen on paper can be audibly measured in reality. The researcher in me is itching to see someone do this, but I suspect it's in the best interests of many in the industry to not see this sort of test done.

 

Anyway, thanks for the responses gentlemen. 

post #56 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by BBEG View Post

I think my questions in the OP have largely been answered already, at least theoretically: the process of conversion from digital to analog and the process of increasing the power of the signal are both imperfect, and the imperfections may create changes in sound signature. The only thing left to do is to put these notions to the test in an objective, double-blind fashion and see if the changes seen on paper can be audibly measured in reality. The researcher in me is itching to see someone do this, but I suspect it's in the best interests of many in the industry to not see this sort of test done.

 

Anyway, thanks for the responses gentlemen. 

 

There have been a few blind tests done for amplifiers.. not that many for headphone amplifiers, however. I think the results are largely predictable though; amplifiers with flat frequency responses, relatively low distortion, and low output impedance (which ensures the frequency response remains flat), will sound identical when operated within their output ratings. As you say, it is really imperfections that would create changes in sound signatures.

 

Furthermore, any coloration (aka imperfections) that an amplifier adds can be easily (and inexpensively) replicated using digital EQ.

This means an amplifier ought merely to be a device that meets the needed specifications for transparent playback. Trying to compensate for inadequacies in your headphone's sound signature (which I think is what "synergy" actually is) by purchasing an expensive, yet imperfect, amplifier is a waste of money.

post #57 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by dxanex View Post

 

I don't think I was being condescending, apologies if it came off that way and I hurt anyone's feelings. In fact I encourage people to spend their money because that's what keeps these companies going and keeping this hobby exciting. But for me, I'll always support a company like HiFiMAN or Sennheiser before I'll support a company with wild claims about something they can't objectively prove. But I have been nearly spat upon by certain people at headphone meets for telling them that I could tell no difference in sound quality using their über expensive cables (and yes, this is only my opinion). It just goes to show you the power of the mind.

 

But I think we are straying off topic, and I'll leave it at that.

 

Well, it is true that cables represent one of the lowest returns on investment when it comes to the overall price/performance curve. So you've got that in your court. ;)

 

Generally this kind of friction most often occurs vertically, not horizontally. Like when folks from two different price/performance camps meet to discuss equipment and all hell breaks loose. Of course, while more money doesn't necessarily mean higher performance, it can be equally true that anyone using a pair of Koss Porta-Pros won't be able to determine if a DAC swap occurred upstream vs. someone who listens to a Stax 009 every day.

post #58 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Dangerous View Post

Well, it is true that cables represent one of the lowest returns on investment when it comes to the overall price/performance curve. So you've got that in your court. wink.gif

Generally this kind of friction most often occurs vertically, not horizontally. Like when folks from two different price/performance camps meet to discuss equipment and all hell breaks loose. Of course, while more money doesn't necessarily mean higher performance, it can be equally true that anyone using a pair of Koss Porta-Pros won't be able to determine if a DAC swap occurred upstream vs. someone who listens to a Stax 009 every day.
Well that brings me to the next question. When people want to do blind testing to test out different amps (or in your case a DAC), how will they choose the amps as variables and the headphone as constant?
Amps have different output impedance and impedance matching affects the sound by a noticeable margin.

So first they will need to choose a good enough headphone, and then they will need to choose the amps that match the headphones' impedance. Question is, what if the pairing itself is not in synergy, and not the amp's fault but resulted by a bad pairing? For instance the Schitt Lyr, a very good tubeamp but paired with the Denon D5k they don't sound as good. Or my case, the Aune T1, paired with my Goldring DR150 they sound beautiful but paired with my JVC HA-S500 they don't sound as good.

Is it still objective like that?
post #59 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by penmarker View Post


Well that brings me to the next question. When people want to do blind testing to test out different amps (or in your case a DAC), how will they choose the amps as variables and the headphone as constant?
Amps have different output impedance and impedance matching affects the sound by a noticeable margin.
So first they will need to choose a good enough headphone, and then they will need to choose the amps that match the headphones' impedance. Question is, what if the pairing itself is not in synergy, and not the amp's fault but resulted by a bad pairing? For instance the Schitt Lyr, a very good tubeamp but paired with the Denon D5k they don't sound as good. Or my case, the Aune T1, paired with my Goldring DR150 they sound beautiful but paired with my JVC HA-S500 they don't sound as good.
Is it still objective like that?

 

The output impedance has an effect up to a point. If you have 600 ohm headphones, the difference between a 1 ohm v.s. 20 ohm output impedance isn't going to matter.

post #60 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by penmarker View Post


Well that brings me to the next question. When people want to do blind testing to test out different amps (or in your case a DAC), how will they choose the amps as variables and the headphone as constant?
Amps have different output impedance and impedance matching affects the sound by a noticeable margin.
So first they will need to choose a good enough headphone, and then they will need to choose the amps that match the headphones' impedance. Question is, what if the pairing itself is not in synergy, and not the amp's fault but resulted by a bad pairing? For instance the Schitt Lyr, a very good tubeamp but paired with the Denon D5k they don't sound as good. Or my case, the Aune T1, paired with my Goldring DR150 they sound beautiful but paired with my JVC HA-S500 they don't sound as good.
Is it still objective like that?

 

Just like you said... only arrange blind A/B tests when both amps are contenders for that particular headphone. Otherwise it's not going to be a fair assessment.

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