Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › What's the difference between this $100 DAC and $500 one?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What's the difference between this $100 DAC and $500 one?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,

              I am a little confused about DACs. From reading the forum, DACs basically have the same purpose of converting data for the computer to a wave form. Why are Schiit DACs varying in prices if they have the same function? Also I want to purchase one for my Audio Technica AD 700 and future AKG K701. What are some brands of DACs I should look at?

 

http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=14

post #2 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formel View Post

Hello everyone,

              I am a little confused about DACs. From reading the forum, DACs basically have the same purpose of converting data for the computer to a wave form. Why are Schiit DACs varying in prices if they have the same function? Also I want to purchase one for my Audio Technica AD 700 and future AKG K701. What are some brands of DACs I should look at?

 

http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=14

It's how well they can convert the signal, what chip they use, and what formats they can support. As for the most expensive one for balanced, you need to turn it through twice the circuitry (2 dacs, 2 amps, inverted signal or however balanced works). 

 

But if you're a beginner, I see no reason not to go w/ the $100 since it's bang for the buck (what schiit is known for).. ODAC from jdslabs, burson audio, fostex, benchmark, lehmann, etc. You can go to the Head Gear tab in the upper left corner and look at them.

post #3 of 33
About $400 wink.gif
post #4 of 33

Why are headphones varying in prices if they have the same function?

 

Sorry ... couldn't resist that.redface.gif

post #5 of 33
A DAC consists of three main components: an input component (usb, s/pdif, ....), a conversion component (Burr Brown, AKM, ESS Sabre, ...), and an output component. Two DACs using the same components can sound different depending on their design layout and optimIzation. Intelligent design requires more time as well as testing. This is reflected in the cost of the DAC. In addition, the "raw" cost of a DAC is usually 1/3 the retail price. Thus 100$ difference in "raw" price leads to 300$ difference in retail price
post #6 of 33
$400. Not much more.
post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvision123 View Post

A DAC consists of three main components: an input component (usb, s/pdif, ....), a conversion component (Burr Brown, AKM, ESS Sabre, ...), and an output component. Two DACs using the same components can sound different depending on their design layout and optimIzation. Intelligent design requires more time as well as testing. This is reflected in the cost of the DAC. In addition, the "raw" cost of a DAC is usually 1/3 the retail price. Thus 100$ difference in "raw" price leads to 300$ difference in retail price

 

That's how the snake-oil vendors market their wares. Unfortunately, there's zero reason for a $100 conversion chip. Once an audio DAC is transparent, the rest is chrome and glitter.

 

IOW, the difference between a good $100 DAC and any $500 DAC is $400.

post #8 of 33

I was joking... DACs do get better as you go up the line to a certain point. Id say if you have a pair of budget headphones that you are not going to get extreme resolution or balance anyway so go for the cheaper DAC. If you have more high end phones then pick up a better DAC amp combo to release their inner tiger.

M

post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by HamilcarBarca View Post

 

That's how the snake-oil vendors market their wares. Unfortunately, there's zero reason for a $100 conversion chip. Once an audio DAC is transparent, the rest is chrome and glitter.

 

IOW, the difference between a good $100 DAC and any $500 DAC is $400

 

This isn't meant for you directly, so I hope it doesn't offend too much, but the problem with sound science/engineering adherents is that there is no room for flavor, opinion, subjective experience in what we hear, or more importantly, like to hear.  There is also no room for business or marketing.  No one can stay in business just by making something that works and passing it along at cost of parts.  You have to have profits to invest in R&D for future products.  And in order to have profits, you have differentiate yourself from your competitors and figure out the right value to place on that differentiation.  That is a large part of what marketing really is.  Even if there isn't a 100% correlation between features and their impact on function, it doesn't automatically mean it is snake oil.  And just because close-minded people cannot imagine things beyond our current measuring capabilities, doesn't mean that other things don't exist.  I don't believe there is a standard measurement for soundstage, but someone would look quite the fool to claim that different components didn't influence soundstage reproduction in different ways.  

 

It is over simplistic, and not helpful to people sincerely looking to educate themselves to say once an audio DAC is transparent, everything else is superfluous. 

 

For the OP, the main differences have already been stated.  Input stage, D/A stage, output stage.  The Modi is an excellent budget DAC, and the differences going up the chain are going to be relative to your other components.  Whether they are worth your money, is entirely dependent on you and what you want out of this hobby.  This is a very niche hobby where the law of diminishing returns is king.  The difference between a $100 DAC and a $2500 DAC may only be 10% in actual quality, but for those people who are willing to spend the extra money to get that 10%, then it is worth it for them, and sitting in judgement on them and the manufacturers who cater to them is plain silly.

 

Try the DACs.  See if you hear a difference, like the difference and believe the difference to be worth it to you.  Return or sell what you don't want.  The market for most mainstream components is pretty fair and moves quickly.

post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post

 

Try the DACs.  See if you hear a difference, like the difference and believe the difference to be worth it to you.  Return or sell what you don't want.  The market for most mainstream components is pretty fair and moves quickly.

+1

post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by FraGGleR View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamilcarBarca View Post

 

That's how the snake-oil vendors market their wares. Unfortunately, there's zero reason for a $100 conversion chip. Once an audio DAC is transparent, the rest is chrome and glitter.

 

IOW, the difference between a good $100 DAC and any $500 DAC is $400

 

This isn't meant for you directly, so I hope it doesn't offend too much, but the problem with sound science/engineering adherents is that there is no room for flavor, opinion, subjective experience in what we hear, or more importantly, like to hear.

 

Try the DACs.  See if you hear a difference, like the difference and believe the difference to be worth it to you.  Return or sell what you don't want.  The market for most mainstream components is pretty fair and moves quickly.

 

Personally, I didn't intend to make that claim, although obviously I did. So, I owe the forum an apology.

 

Transparent is transparent and no amount of money can make something more transparent. However, if a listener wants something else, it's their choice. Period. That's what I should have said.

 

I agree with your comment concerning your "Try the DACs". One should buy the product one wants to own. I wish I had said that, too.

post #12 of 33
I think there's more to a piece of gear than just sound. It's also an object, which can bring you other kinds of enjoyment, if you like fancy stuff.
post #13 of 33

The best analogy I can think of is how well different cars perform with the same type of petrol/gasoline.

post #14 of 33
But, tube amps are fun!
post #15 of 33

The thing I advice friends to do when they ask me about DACs and headphones is to find out if and when there is a bake off or meet anywhere within reasonable travelling distance. At some of these bake offs you can get to listen to a wide variety of gear that would have otherwise cost you a fortune to buy and a lot of work to pass on afterwards Plus some people bring an old classic that can be used to compare the D to A decoding performance between older and more modern designs. It would take a lot of guess work out of judging things by retail price, instead of looking for synergy between the DAC and you. And you get to make new friends smile.gif. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › What's the difference between this $100 DAC and $500 one?