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Well that was surprising.... External vs internal dac

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
So I have a pioneer elite DVD,cd,sacd player hooked to my sumo preamp and Martin Logan's. it outputs two channel analog only from a SACD, hence the analog connection. I also have a micro mega mydac using the USB for the Mac and coax digital for the pioneer.

I realized I could play a cd and flip back and forth between digital out to the dac or analog out directly to the preamp (preamp is being used in straightwire mode)

Flipping back and forth between my new highly regarded external dac and the dac in the 7 year old player , they sound damn similar. I mean DAMN similar. Ok, there may be a little more air, a little smoother high end, etc with the dac, but it's pretty subtle. The differences I hear pale in comparison to switching the preamp out of direct mode. BTW, the disk was a very nice telarc jazz quartet.

I still need the dac for streaming from the Mac, but damn, that comparison was surprising. The dac in the pioneer was well regarded way back when....but...man. Maybe I'm just deaf.
post #2 of 6

I find the differences between good DAC units smaller than amps.  No testing a really terrible DAC like the one inside most computers would prove something entirely different.


Your results are what I found testing the Grace Design m903, Ultra Desktop Amp, and the default DAC inside a TEAC receiver.  All sounded identical through a pair of Polk Audio A5 monitors.

post #3 of 6
Properly designed DACs and Amplifiers shouldn't sound different from each other.
post #4 of 6

Got to disagree on well manufactured amps sounding the same.

Having built and bought many amps I have no problem telling the difference.Especially head-phone amps.I can hear minute differences.

If all amps sounded the same then why buy from different manufacturers? .I am talking high-end here.

Yes loudspeaker hi-fi amps are harder to tell apart but certainly not head-phone amps while valve designs impart a smooth sound and lots of people like that solid-state have a lot more DEPTH of detail its just the physical properties of SS.

It is therefore harder to design a smooth BUT completely    open and highly detailed SS amp.as you have to insert compensation caps on the completed design which affects the fidelity.

This is just a very small part of Audio  design.There is a lot more to it.

post #5 of 6
Assuming the noise floor is silent, the differences you hear are most likely caused by differences in output impedance. It should be as close to zero as possible, and even some of the more expensive/"higher end" amps have a non-zero output impedance that is too high for many headphones. (output impedance should be 1/8th headphone impedance or less)

If you're hearing a difference with, for example, tube amps that have a "zero" output impedance sounding "smoother" than a similar quality solid-state, then they're introducing distortion.
And you would be surprised at the difference even a slight levels mismatch between the amplifiers can make to how they "sound" and which one you prefer when comparing them.
post #6 of 6
Just like a red Prius and a red Lamborghini drive the same. wink.gif
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