You all are going to love this. This is my current setup I'm toying around with:
1. USB to JKSPDIF MK3 to DAC
2. Metrum Quad DAC (Got this with the JKSPDIF for $750 used for everything...couldn't resist trying a NOS DAC - Currently using with XXHighEnd software)
3. Schiit Vali ($120)
4. Tascam TH-02 ($30, about $55-60 after mods)
Mmm, that upside sound cost pyramid sounds good.
The ringing scared the crap out of me when I plugged the headphones in. Saw that Schiit directly addressed it on the product page and went about my business.
It's a great amp, and the price doesn't hurt. It's also got a bit of a noise floor with sensitive headphones, but, eh.
Originally Posted by JeremyR
Is there any equipment that can measure the analog signal coming out of a DAC, so it can be objectively compared? I would think the delta in DAC's could be easily quantified if such a tool existed.
Yes...you can find DAC measurements all over the internet...frequency response, distortion (of all types), noise, impulse response, sine wave response, etc. You name it. I'm just starting to learn some of the complexities behind it. For example, the measured frequency response of a DAC might tip you off to the type of upsampling or digital filtering is being used, though there's more to be said about how upsampling or digital filters affect the sound outside of just the frequency response (ex: they can also affect pre and post-ringing in the sound...check impulse responses). I'm trying out a NOS DAC (non-oversampling) to see if my ears find the DAC less fatiguing. NOS DACs have their own measurable advantages, but they also have downsides, generally in harmonic and intermodulation distortion. But, a true NOS DAC should have a clean impulse response without ringing. Measurements can show these things but can't always necessarily answer which balance of benefits and compromises your ears will prefer.