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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 36  

post #526 of 1331
You should see the audio science forum for details on DSD vs. PCM...
post #527 of 1331
Thread Starter 

I've seen some of the back and forth on DSD vs PCM and honestly I just wanted to hear for myself so I bought some DSD files.  Not many, because I might end up with a DAC that doesn't decode them, but I figured if I was doing a listening test, I'd listen to the DSD capabilities of any DAC that was capable of playing those files. 

 

The Gungnir and NAD decided not to work again, so I'm starting with the testing with the PWD.  The levels were set at a comfortable listening level, which turned out to be 75 dB on my phone meter with the Bink Audio white noise file (and to reiterate, I know it probably isn't 75 dBs... it also doesn't matter if I use the same file and the same meter for all of them.  We're going for consistency, not accuracy here).

 

For the first few songs I have the switch in the loop.  I will take it out and play the same songs again, to see if I think there is any difference.  If not, it stays, but if I hear any difference, away it goes!

post #528 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Okay, the switch is out, and it is staying out.  It drops the SPL by ~2dBs and there is zero chance that the a reduction of that magnitude is perfectly neutral.  Simple but careful listening test confirms that the switch does impact the sound.  Dynamics are much better without it, and that is not just due to the drop in volume, since I dropped the volume back to 75 dBs without the switch, and it still sounds less congested and more lifelike.

 

Good news is that I got some use out of it during break in, when it allowed me to check which DACs were running and which weren't.  I might try it again later if I have time... maybe I'm doing something wrong in the setup.  Or maybe it's just a cable thing, since I'm now using my old Monsters directly (and when I say old, we're talking 25 years) instead of the Monoprice ones I just bought.  In any case, I'm going to proceed without the switch for now.

post #529 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellemir View Post

 

The votes are in and the players are already home. Nothing new will be added. Still interesting to read about new stuff though :) Speaking of features, omg does the new Oppo headphone amp/dac/everything loooks awesome on paper :D

post #530 of 1331

Love your frequent updates Gary!  

 

:popcorn:

post #531 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post
 

Love your frequent updates Gary!  

 

:popcorn:

+1 :D

post #532 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Well, here's another one.  I got about half way through with the PWD Mk II tonight, after listening to ~35 tracks.  Lots of notes, but now I'm tired, so I'm gonna stop for the night and start fresh tomorrow.  I expect to finish the PWD during the day tomorrow, and then start on the next one.  I have one in mind, but will surprise you.  And maybe me.  We'll see. 

 

I will not be posting any impressions until I get a few of them finished.  The point is to compare them, and it makes no sense to post what I think of one before I've listened to at least some of the others.  So anticipate the first write-ups on Sunday, or then-abouts.  It sort of depends on how much difference I hear among the DACs.  If I have to keep replaying a song to tease out differences, it takes more time, so I won't get as much finished, and won't have as much time to clean up my notes and post the results.  Right now my focus is on finishing the testing, not posting, because I have to get most of these DACS back in about 3 weeks. 

 

Actually, right now my focus is on going to bed.

 

Later folks...

post #533 of 1331

brilliant thread as i am contemplating DAC's in this range.  so far have i've only heard/demo'd the Rega DAC, the Benchmark DAC2 HGC and my current DAC which is a modded Music Hall 25.3 to be sold to a fellow HF'er.  up next for me is the Concerno as well as a PS audio Nuwave and the Line Magnetic 502, a beast that 502, or so i hear.  

 

cheers gents.   :popcorn: 

post #534 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by ellemir View Post

Sony has announced their DAC/media player, the HAP-Z1ES which seems to have a nice feature set, including the ability to play back DSD.  No idea if DSD is going to catch on at all but it makes me a bit queasy to think of buying a $2,000 DAC and having to toss it if DSD takes off.

 

Not to take the discussion too far off topic, but this device is not a DAC, nor is it a media streamer. It's a standalone music player.

You have to load up its internal hard drive with music (transferred via proprietary Sony software) and only then can you actually play anything. It also seems like there is a limit on the maximum library size regardless of storage capacity.

You cannot connect it to a PC via USB to use as a DAC, and you cannot stream music to it from a PC or portable device over your network.

It's aimed at a very different market from people that want to use DACs, who are typically using a PC as a playback source, or want to use multiple sources with it.

 

As far as DSD is concerned, you can buy DSD-capable DACs today, but honestly I don't see the point if you already own a good PCM DAC.

DSD was superior to PCM back when SACD was being created, but PCM has now surpassed 1x DSD. (the majority of all DSD recordings)

Many of the tracks being released in DSD formats today were recorded or edited as PCM, so it's actually worse than the master to purchase a DSD version.

 

Some people will argue the point that 2x DSD or higher is superior to PCM, but the argument could go either way, and you're really looking at theoretical differences than ones which should be clearly audible.

 

Media Players like JRiver have no problem handling conversion to/from DSD in real-time during playback, so whatever formats your DAC supports is not really a concern.

I actually prefer to convert native DSD files to PCM during playback, rather than bitstream DSD to my DAC, as it allows me to apply other processing to them. (volume leveling and a headphone VST)

 

 

Where I do see a possible benefit of high sample rate DSD is inside digital amplifiers that effectively drive the speakers directly from the DSD signal without filtering the output, but in that scenario you don't have a "DAC" as such anyway.

post #535 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

[...]

Where I do see a possible benefit of high sample rate DSD is inside digital amplifiers that effectively drive the speakers directly from the DSD signal without filtering the output, but in that scenario you don't have a "DAC" as such anyway.

While I remain curious about DSD in general, this is the potential area that excites me the most... This new wave of 'direct digital' amplifiers are doing PCM-PWM conversion, then going analog at the last moment. Someone must be working on a DSD model that's just PWM the whole way through. Come on, AVA, you know you want to...

post #536 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by brhfl View Post

While I remain curious about DSD in general, this is the potential area that excites me the most... This new wave of 'direct digital' amplifiers are doing PCM-PWM conversion, then going analog at the last moment. Someone must be working on a DSD model that's just PWM the whole way through. Come on, AVA, you know you want to...

 



The term "digital amplifier" makes me cringe.
PWM IS analog.
post #537 of 1331

Good catch on the Sony StudioSound.  For some reason I had the idea it was like my Cambridge Stream Magic which is also a music streamer but *does* have DAC features and USB support.  :)  I can't find any evidence the Sony is anything but a really expensive media player.  Sony has a HAP-S1 which does have some digital and analogue interfaces but no USB audio :(


Edited by ellemir - 12/20/13 at 10:11am
post #538 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brhfl View Post
 

While I remain curious about DSD in general, this is the potential area that excites me the most... This new wave of 'direct digital' amplifiers are doing PCM-PWM conversion, then going analog at the last moment. Someone must be working on a DSD model that's just PWM the whole way through. Come on, AVA, you know you want to...

 

The term "digital amplifier" makes me cringe.
PWM IS analog.

 

Not talking about general Class D amps, talking about the handful of units out there - AVA Maestro 50, NuForce DDA-100, NAD M2 & D 7050, Kratos - that do very little in the analog domain. With the exception of the M2's inbuilt ADC, these units don't (can't) even offer analog inputs. They're designed for the purest digital path possible. Great naming convention? Possibly not, but there is more to it than just a Class D amp, which are also often referred to as 'digital amps.' Not fond of that myself. Anyway, going straight from digital PDM to analog PWM seems the next logical step, cutting out the PCM conversion inside the amp. 

post #539 of 1331
Thread Starter 

Okay Folks:

 

The PWD has finished its initial round of testing.  57 songs commented on, a little over 6 pages of verbiage, with reasonable amounts of white space.  Enough to write a pretty detailed review, I think.

 

The Arcam irDAC is in next, and is up and running.  Well.  That's all I'll say for now. 

 

I was going to use the Emo Stealth, but it won't start with ASIO or WASAPI and when I use the plain USB 2.0 driver the display shows only 44.1K bit rate no matter what I throw at it -- but at least it plays the song.  I need to talk to Emo to see if this is normal.  If so, I test it as is.  If not, it gets returned for another unit. 

 

That's all for now folks,

 

Gary

Hungry Man

post #540 of 1331

With JRiver19, there should be an option for kernel streaming as well. You can try that if asio/wasapi aren't working.

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