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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 82  

post #1216 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by vampire5003 View Post

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.

I suppose you know that Stax need a special amp. And there are no DACs with an electrostat amp.

post #1217 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post
 

+1 and if a DAC only sounds great off an exotic converter, it is flawed IMO.

 

I tend to agree there - at least in principle. However, I do find that several DACs that I have auditioned DO sound quite different when used with a high-end USB-S/PDiF converter. (Which to me suggests that at least some of those "exotic" converters do somehow do a better job at the conversion than the USB sections in some DACs - which I don't find especially surprising.) One other factor, however, is that a S/PDiF signal is much easier to quickly switch between various DACs (you can just unplug and move the cable; you don't have to change settings like with USB); this makes it a much more convenient format for comparison than USB (especially when you add in USB driver compatibility issues).

 

Therefore, personally, I don't at all rule out a DAC that sounds good - only with a converter (exotic or otherwise). However, when making comparisons, you obviously must then include the price of the converter in the price of the "DAC" (so a $600 DAC, attached to a $600 converter, is now really a $1200 DAC - for comparison purposes).

post #1218 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

I suppose you know that Stax need a special amp. And there are no DACs with an electrostat amp.

I suppose he means a DAC with both a HP amp and a line out...
I use my Benchmark DAC2-HGC for just that, HP amp for Shure SE-535 and Sennheiser HD800, XLR out for LLmk2/Stax SR-009.
But the DAC2 is twice the price he's looking I guess... Maybe you can source the one without analog inputs (DAC2-D) around 1k these days, who knows...
post #1219 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by kLevkoff View Post
 

 

...a S/PDiF signal is much easier to quickly switch between various DACs (you can just unplug and move the cable; you don't have to change settings like with USB); this makes it a much more convenient format for comparison than USB (especially when you add in USB driver compatibility issues)...

 

JRiver groups sources, so you can feed multiple DACs at the same time. Gary usually had five set up because that was the limit on the switch. What USB settings are you talking about that need to be changed? Is there any easy way of feeding multiple S/PDIF streams out of a PC without a special sound card or audio interface? I don't see how S/PDIF is quicker or easier.

post #1220 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by painted klown View Post

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.


What a great response! 

 

I think Gary did all of us a humongous service by conducting this test, documenting it to such amazing detail, and sharing all his thoughts and concerns. 

 

I've been a believer that a good DAC is a good DAC and they don't sound appreciably different at some level.  Gary may have confirmed this.

 

Thanks to Gary - we all owe you a cold one.  :beerchug:

post #1221 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post
 

And there are no DACs with an electrostat amp.

 

 

Or is there...

 

post #1222 of 1331
Has he actually made the comparison yet?
Stax just came out with a portable DAC/amp at CES from what I heard. What is the above?
post #1223 of 1331

I don't want to de-rail this thread... it's a pro to-type that may see the light of day at some point.

post #1224 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by shipsupt View Post
 

I don't want to de-rail this thread... it's a pro to-type that may see the light of day at some point.

Wow, that's the first DAC/amp I've seen that looks like it could actually cook eggs or warm your tea for you (heatsink on top) :tongue:

post #1225 of 1331
Hey Brunk

Wanted to be sure you saw the McIntosh D100 thread......

You know you want one!
post #1226 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry S View Post
 

 

JRiver groups sources, so you can feed multiple DACs at the same time. Gary usually had five set up because that was the limit on the switch. What USB settings are you talking about that need to be changed? Is there any easy way of feeding multiple S/PDIF streams out of a PC without a special sound card or audio interface? I don't see how S/PDIF is quicker or easier.

 

Everything has its pros and cons.....

 

What I was referring to was the fact that you can simply unplug a S/PDiF cable from one device and insert it into another and it will immediately start playing (the source device won't issue a fault, and the destination device will usually start playing immediately). In that sense, S/PDiF acts more like an analog signal that can simply be switched between devices. In principle it should be possible to split a S/PDiF signal; likewise, a line level audio switcher MIGHT be able to switch it (even though it's a much higher bandwidth signal than audio, many passive switches have basically unlimited bandwidth - although the impedance mismatches involved might compromise the "quality" of the signal in other ways). I haven't heard of anyone offering a switch or splitter intended for S/PDiF, however.

 

The main up-side of this is that, since S/PDiF is a "stupid" one-way connection, the computer doesn't "know" that the S/PDiF connection has been switched to a different DAC, so the computer's performance should be truly identical for each.

 

I can see three potential problems with switching between USB devices:

 

1) Some drivers may conflict to the point of being unwilling to operate on the same computer at the same time. (The Schiit drivers will actually usually work with both Schiit and Emotiva equipment, but some others may outright conflict and refuse to allow themselves to be installed on the same computer at the same time.)

 

2) Some drivers may actually sound different with different settings on the computer (most of those settings should be inside the player program, so jRiver may account for this, but some may not).

 

3) ALL drivers use up processing power on the host machine. This means that each driver that is installed, and certainly each driver that is running, will affect the performance of the computer; this, in turn, will affect the packet latency and possibly the packet jitter of the USB audio being sent to the active DAC. So, at least theoretically, the fact that one DAC is connected, or even has its driver installed on the machine, could affect the sound of another DAC that you're listening to on the same machine. (It's even possible that having multiple drivers installed could result in higher jitter, which could, in turn, favor a DAC that has better immunity to jitter.) Especially, if the driver for one DAC is flawed, and so adversely - and audibly - affects the performance of the computer, its presence will "taint" the sound of any other DAC that might be auditioned while it is installed on the machine. The only way to absolutely ensure that this won't happen would be to have the two DACs attached to two identical computers, each running the same software, and each with only the driver for the DAC you are auditioning loaded on it, both playing the same song - synched together. (And, after each audition, you would have to re-install Windows, and then install the next DAC's driver on a "fresh" machine... just to be sure there is no interaction between them.)

 

I would agree that this is highly impractical for a personal in-home testing protocol.... I just suggest that S/PDiF makes it easier to avoid some of these possible problems.

post #1227 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by kLevkoff View Post
 

 

Everything has its pros and cons.....

 

What I was referring to was the fact that you can simply unplug a S/PDiF cable from one device and insert it into another and it will immediately start playing (the source device won't issue a fault, and the destination device will usually start playing immediately). In that sense, S/PDiF acts more like an analog signal that can simply be switched between devices. In principle it should be possible to split a S/PDiF signal; likewise, a line level audio switcher MIGHT be able to switch it (even though it's a much higher bandwidth signal than audio, many passive switches have basically unlimited bandwidth - although the impedance mismatches involved might compromise the "quality" of the signal in other ways). I haven't heard of anyone offering a switch or splitter intended for S/PDiF, however.

 

The main up-side of this is that, since S/PDiF is a "stupid" one-way connection, the computer doesn't "know" that the S/PDiF connection has been switched to a different DAC, so the computer's performance should be truly identical for each.

 

I can see three potential problems with switching between USB devices:

 

1) Some drivers may conflict to the point of being unwilling to operate on the same computer at the same time. (The Schiit drivers will actually usually work with both Schiit and Emotiva equipment, but some others may outright conflict and refuse to allow themselves to be installed on the same computer at the same time.)

 

2) Some drivers may actually sound different with different settings on the computer (most of those settings should be inside the player program, so jRiver may account for this, but some may not).

 

3) ALL drivers use up processing power on the host machine. This means that each driver that is installed, and certainly each driver that is running, will affect the performance of the computer; this, in turn, will affect the packet latency and possibly the packet jitter of the USB audio being sent to the active DAC. So, at least theoretically, the fact that one DAC is connected, or even has its driver installed on the machine, could affect the sound of another DAC that you're listening to on the same machine. (It's even possible that having multiple drivers installed could result in higher jitter, which could, in turn, favor a DAC that has better immunity to jitter.) Especially, if the driver for one DAC is flawed, and so adversely - and audibly - affects the performance of the computer, its presence will "taint" the sound of any other DAC that might be auditioned while it is installed on the machine. The only way to absolutely ensure that this won't happen would be to have the two DACs attached to two identical computers, each running the same software, and each with only the driver for the DAC you are auditioning loaded on it, both playing the same song - synched together. (And, after each audition, you would have to re-install Windows, and then install the next DAC's driver on a "fresh" machine... just to be sure there is no interaction between them.)

 

I would agree that this is highly impractical for a personal in-home testing protocol.... I just suggest that S/PDiF makes it easier to avoid some of these possible problems.


Thanks for the thoughtful response. To paraphrase Winston Churchill--USB is the worst type of audio data transfer except all the others that have been tried. :beyersmile: 

post #1228 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muinarc View Post

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.

Benchmark Media's official statement regarding DAC2 was that when they designed DAC1, the analog stage is far superior than it's digital part, the dac chip was the bottleneck. DAC2's main change is the digital section, now it is on par with the analog section.
post #1229 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by yfei View Post



Benchmark Media's official statement regarding DAC2 was that when they designed DAC1, the analog stage is far superior than it's digital part, the dac chip was the bottleneck. DAC2's main change is the digital section, now it is on par with the analog section.

 



I would believe that too, the Dac1 came out in 2005 or so. I think the DAC chip as a bottleneck has changed a bit in the past 9 years.
post #1230 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muinarc View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yfei View Post



Benchmark Media's official statement regarding DAC2 was that when they designed DAC1, the analog stage is far superior than it's digital part, the dac chip was the bottleneck. DAC2's main change is the digital section, now it is on par with the analog section.

 



I would believe that too, the Dac1 came out in 2005 or so. I think the DAC chip as a bottleneck has changed a bit in the past 9 years.

 

I believe that is correct.  Clearly, the DAC chip *can* affect sound quality but these days with the latest high end chips it appears that the DAC chip isn't the bottleneck.  Case in point, here's one of many comparisons between the older AKM 4393 vs. newer 4395 & 4396 chips:

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze4c5pt/id14.html

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