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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 81  

post #1201 of 1331

Interesting to note the diversity of dac chips used in the finalists......the ESS 9018 isn't the only game in town, again emphasizing the importance of implementation and a great analog section.

post #1202 of 1331
Any recommend DAC's under $1000 with a decent amp section for HD800 or Stax? Been considering Audio-gd's reference $900 dollar one with PCM1704K. I need suggestions though. Redoing my entire setup, as my music tastes took a 180.

Yulong DA8 looks intriguing as well.
post #1203 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by boatheelmusic View Post

Interesting to note the diversity of dac chips used in the finalists......the ESS 9018 isn't the only game in town, again emphasizing the importance of implementation and a great analog section.

And hopefully the DAC chip myth has been killed! biggrin.gif
post #1204 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by filuS View Post
 

Ruling out X-Sabre out of comparison before it even happened was (is) a big mistake in my opinion, I liked it more than I do my current DA8 (I feel like X-Sabre had better detail retrieval and instrument separation with a tiny slight boost in bass impact department - nothing intrusive but certainly pleasing). ESS9018 is very popular chip, but X-Sabre should have been there battling on the top spots.

 

While I would have benefited from adding this DAC, in all fairness it does not have a HP out...so Gary wouldn't be interested.

post #1205 of 1331

Well, Matrix does have new products like that do have a HP output...

 

http://www.matrix-digi.com/en/products/10/index.html

post #1206 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by schneller View Post
 

 

While I would have benefited from adding this DAC, in all fairness it does not have a HP out...so Gary wouldn't be interested.

Well, to me this is a matter of semantics - when someone is doing shootouts between DACs, I think the primary point is to review its ability to convert digital signal to analog. And X-Sabre is a beast in this regard. Pre-amp/HP out are representing just added values for me, that might speak in units favor, but since I am not (and won't be) using any of them, they are useless (for me). At this point, X-Sabre is perfect unit for those who seek pure DAC, and in my current setup I felt it outperformed DA8 (it does not have to be so in other setups, but I have only one headphone and amp). Some people may argue, but both DA8 and X-Sabre are on top of the food chain in <$2k area with their price/performance ratio. The only difference (besides slight different sonic signatures) is that DA8 is all-in-one box for headphones listening while X-Sabre is just "half" of it.

 

P.S.: I can't stress enough that this is heavily personal and matching rig with ones musical preferences is very tricky topic. I just expressed my opinion that X-Sabre would have been battling it out with some other units (I know there are many ESS9018 based DACs included, but one more DAC would not hurt).

post #1207 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by boatheelmusic View Post
This comes close to the Mytek.....switchable filters, DSD, etc.........

I'm waiting for the Yulong to compare it with the Mytek...

post #1208 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by filuS View Post
 

Well, to me this is a matter of semantics - when someone is doing shootouts between DACs, I think the primary point is to review its ability to convert digital signal to analog. And X-Sabre is a beast in this regard. Pre-amp/HP out are representing just added values for me, that might speak in units favor, but since I am not (and won't be) using any of them, they are useless (for me). At this point, X-Sabre is perfect unit for those who seek pure DAC, and in my current setup I felt it outperformed DA8 (it does not have to be so in other setups, but I have only one headphone and amp). Some people may argue, but both DA8 and X-Sabre are on top of the food chain in <$2k area with their price/performance ratio. The only difference (besides slight different sonic signatures) is that DA8 is all-in-one box for headphones listening while X-Sabre is just "half" of it.

 

P.S.: I can't stress enough that this is heavily personal and matching rig with ones musical preferences is very tricky topic. I just expressed my opinion that X-Sabre would have been battling it out with some other units (I know there are many ESS9018 based DACs included, but one more DAC would not hurt).


One more DAC, and then another, and then another.  I originally planned to compare 10, and ended up with 13, but would have had 15 if the BMC and Lynx had shown up.  I only had 3 weeks to do this... so some limits had to be put in place.  The Matrix was considered, and folks convinced me to test other 9018 DACs instead. 

 

Was that a mistake?  Maybe, but given that the difference in these DACs when level-matched is so subtle, if not invisible, I don't know how the Matrix X-Sabre would have changed the ultimate conclusion.  I'm sure it would have sounded great, as did all of the others in its class.  It might even have sounded the best, but it also might have been indistinguishable.  In any case, unless it sounded dramatically different, and significantly better than all of the others, which I find difficult to believe after having gone through all of this, it would have placed well, but not at the top, since they all sound great (the Yulong sounds great in 2 ways...) and the Matrix has less functionality. 

post #1209 of 1331

Out of curiosity, when did you get your LCD-3's and have you ever RMA'd them? 

 

I've only owned one DAC in that list so I have no real data of my own to share, but I'm prone to think something's off in the chain if that many products are indistinguishable.

post #1210 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by driver 8 View Post

Out of curiosity, when did you get your LCD-3's and have you ever RMA'd them? 



 



I've only owned one DAC in that list so I have no real data of my own to share, but I'm prone to think something's off in the chain if that many products are indistinguishable.


 




I know this is for Gary..but what are you implying? are you thinking that his HP is defective because of the indistinguishable list? There is no problem if they are indistinguishable right? at least they all sounded great.. biggrin.gif
post #1211 of 1331
Thread Starter 

The LCDs were originally bought in July 2012 (after Audeze's initial problems with the LCDs) but I had the transducers replaced in April 2013, resulting in a significantly different (and better) sounding pair of headphones.  The before and after graphs are posted in the thread.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/689783/december-2013-mid-level-dac-comparison/180#post_10012265

 

This topic was beaten to death.  There is nothing wrong with the cans.  Barry S. heard the same non-difference with his LCD-Xs.  Read the whole thread if you'd like to relive the entire debate, but let's not have the same discussion yet again.

 

.:deadhorse:

post #1212 of 1331

Earlier in their run a staggering number of LCD-3's had poor performance.  Sometimes you can tell just by looking at the supplied graph compared to those bundled with newer units.  I was just wondering if Gary had ever checked his out since that would probably make gear comparisons harder.

 

-Edit- (just saw Gary's reply)

 

Alright!  Just checking.

post #1213 of 1331
I have followed this thread from the start, and I want to thank you for all that you have shared Gary.

I have also read the terrific "24bit vs 16bit, the myth exploded!" thread in the Sound Science area and what you found in these tests is no surprise to me. A DAC's ability to re-generate an analog sine wave from the original that was digitized this day in age is damn near perfect, the only place I would expect to have any variation would be in the analog output stage, and I doubt there was even all that much variation among the gear you tested where that is concerned.

I just find it funny how many people refuse to believe your findings. I think the money is better spent on features, better headphones, or even an amp than a DAC these days.
post #1214 of 1331
Gary, what we really need from you is a full report from a licensed audiologist from a checkup that was conducted the day before you began testing.

Since we were unable to compleyely destroy your credibility by poking holes in your testing method, your computer, its settings, your way of level matching, your choice of cables, the swicth box, your headphone amp, and saying your flagship level headphones aren't up to the task, then it MUST be that you have hearing issues.

Please submit your medical records immediately, or admit that these DACs actually rank from best to worst based on their cost. It is clear that is the only correct conclusion that should have came out of these tests.

/sarcasm

Please guys, if you really have nothing better to do than try to destroy Gary's credibility because you do not like his findings, then please conduct your own "perfect" tests using these same DACs at your home. Perhaps then (and only then) will you be satisfied with the results.
post #1215 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by d1sturb3d View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by driver 8 View Post
 

Out of curiosity, when did you get your LCD-3's and have you ever RMA'd them? 

 

 

 

I've only owned one DAC in that list so I have no real data of my own to share, but I'm prone to think something's off in the chain if that many products are indistinguishable.

 




I know this is for Gary..but what are you implying? are you thinking that his HP is defective because of the indistinguishable list? There is no problem if they are indistinguishable right? at least they all sounded great.. biggrin.gif

 

I find that whether I hear a difference or not (with many DACs) depends to a large degree on the type of content you listen to.

 

For example, I tend to hear differences in digital filters with metallic instruments (like cymbals and even horns), but not to hear any difference with most vocals. AT most, I notice the high-frequency roll off associated with certain filters with vocals, but I don't notice the other effects of the differences between them. Likewise, I tend to be sensitive to how much jitter is present on cymbals, but not at all on pure vocals, and not very much on instrumental mixes unless they contain cymbals, wire brushes, or certain types of drums.

 

There was even a set of sample files someone uploaded (I forget where) intended to show what jitter sounded like. They consisted of several copies of a sample file of a Norah Jones vocal that had been "processed" with varying amounts of jitter (the files has supposedly been subjected to jitter, then converted, so the audible effects of the jitter on the conversion could be assessed; the result should have been that the files contained the distortion sidebands normally associated with the applied jitter - "burned into them"). My point, though, is that, with vocals, I found even ridiculously high levels of "jitter distortion" to be inaudible. (Considering vocals don't contain high frequency transients - which are what I would expect to be sensitive to jitter - this makes sense to me.) However, to me, excessive jitter makes a well-recorded wire brush "ride" sound obviously artificial and "blurred".

 

 

was

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