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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 43  

post #631 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toe Tag View Post
 

My point is that the chain goes back to include the mixing board and the microphones. They may have been skillful but surely we would all agree these devices have improved over the last 5 or 8 decades.

 

Not as much as you'd think.

post #632 of 1331
Thread Starter 

I haven't heard the music streamers.  However, I can tell you that ALL of the DACs in this competition easily beat my Emotiva XDA-1, which is a 2-year old model that originally listed for something like $400, and I got on closeout for $200.  I put the XDA-1 in the system today and it sounded boomier on the bottom and harsher on the top than the "indistinguishables", including the Emo Stealth DC-1.

 

Oh, and I can add that as of tonight, you can add the Ciunas to the Metrum as being different from the "indistinguishables".  I need to do some detailed testing, but the differences, while subtle, are reasonably clear to me, at least tonight.  What I can't say is whether the Ciunas and Metrum sound alike, since I haven't level-matched them.  Consider that a coming attraction. 

 

That's all for now, I have to pull the XDA-1 out and set up at least 2 others... probably the Benchmark and Yulong.  I have to figure out if I need an adapter to use the Teddy power supply with the Chordette, and if so, I have to order it or find one locally, which might take a few days.  In the meantime, I might put it in the system anyway using stock power.  It probably sounds fine with the power supply it was designed with, maybe just a bit better with the upgrade, but we'll have to see...

post #633 of 1331
You shouldn't need an adapter for the Chordette, unless they changed the connector between our 2 units (which wouldn't make sense). I bought the TeddyPSU for it.
It's 2.1x5.5mm connector. Actually the connection is a bit loose; the tip might be 2.0 but it's not standard.
The Dangerous Source uses 2.5x5.5mm, unfortunately...
post #634 of 1331

I just spent several hours reading through all 43 pages of this thread. :blink:

 

First, I want to send a BIG "thank you" to Gary In MD. What you are doing here, is awesome, and I think will be a great "reference" for DAC information on this forum.

 

I 100% believe you when you say the differences aren't there, or are so slight that they cannot be reliably detected, on some of these units. I do want to say that I don't believe ALL DACs sound the same. However, I FULLY believe that all WELL DESIGNED DACs (that strive for neutrality) should sound very much alike, if not completely indistinguishable from one another. With that in mind, I am not surprised at all with your findings.

 

Please continue your listening, work, and reporting. This thread is highly entertaining, and IMO, also very informative. :) 


Edited by painted klown - 12/25/13 at 10:55pm
post #635 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarrentine View Post

 

How do the $500 and up dacs compare to the LOW end $100/$150 dacs?

 

Really what these test and other commentary are screaming to me is that spending $500 on a dac might be pissing money to the wind. But I don't have the ability to test higher end product so I'm lost in that respect.

Gary's test will stimulate a lot of ideas for the next shootout. Its still early days, but if a conclusion ends up "as far as just sound quality (leaving aside optional features) there's no reason to spend more than $500", then the next question is, okay what about $400... $300... $200. I did ask above to throw in a cheaper DAC, but there are lots of suggestions and not time for all of them. I'd send Gary my DACport LX but I live in Asia. Anyway once this shootout is complete, next step is to take the winner(s) and compare them with cheaper DACs. And fortunately such a test will be cheaper to mount. 

post #636 of 1331
Fully Agree, Gary.

The sound of Ella and Lous at 24/96 through my Emotiva DC-1 and Magneplanar 1.7's is sublime.

Bill
post #637 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarrentine View Post
 

How do the $500 and up dacs compare to the LOW end $100/$150 dacs?

 

Really what these test and other commentary are screaming to me is that spending $500 on a dac might be pissing money to the wind. But I don't have the ability to test higher end product so I'm lost in that respect.

I already have a Microstreamer, I compulsory bought a Concero. I will report back when I will have it and spent enough time with it.

 

Edit: Gary, thank you for this great thread, very informative!

post #638 of 1331

I adore my Metrum Octave (Mk1). Truly a piece of kit that you can hear the difference when you add it. Of course, you may or may not like that difference, but I defy any one not to hear the difference.

post #639 of 1331

Kudos for this epic thread!

 

LoL @ reply #493, "Gary and the dacs" (after ~33 pages, but still before any dac is auditioned) and
LoL @ (at headphones coming of age but) "Grado is sort of like that weird uncle who lives out in the woods."
All in good spirit of course.  

 

There appeared a long-lasting smile on my face when reading that, for a listener like Gary taking a serious effort, many well-built dacs aren't that different anymore.  I found this early 'anticlimax' (imho a very positive one!) sort of reassuring because it is also my experience - with the usual disclaimers: to my ears, fwiw, ymmv, pending further exploration, etc.

 

I think it means that dac technology is rapidly getting as good as it ever will, for normal ears,
and the remaining differences, if any, are up to personal taste and choice of features.

 

Responding to a few comments I found interesting: 

(the quotes are my paraphrases, not literal)

 

1)  "speakers might be more revealing for this task"

I suspect many of us would sooner try such comparisons with headphones (and for Gary a comparison on speakers may defeat the purpose) but the comment gave me some food for thought, and for further experimentation.  Speakers and their real-life circumstances are less dependable than headphones but perhaps they magnify some of the (im)perfections we like? 

 

2)  "you can learn to discern"
This is true in many situations but being able to tell dacs apart (by *any* cue one can learn to discern) does not necessarily serve the purpose envisaged.  The point I'm trying to make is not like "ignorance is bliss" but that the cues may not even be what "we" are looking for.  Not sure about this though, and at this point I cut myself short to avoid theoretical digressions.

 

3)  "use the right source material"
The comments on the period are relevant imho, but also on the style and instrumentation. 

To my ears and taste, classical bowed strings recently recorded in natural acoustics (in real stereo, not too close-miked-and-mixed) are the most revealing about good reproduction.  At the same time the subjective beauty of it also tends to distract me (fortunately in a postive way!) so I am not sure about this.  However, I do know that brass/woodwind have different and relatively few high harmonics compared to bowed strings. Technically, this could affect the kind of detail you may pay attention to. 

     What I'm trying to say here is that personal differences (of taste and of sensitivity) also interact with one's focus and attention to detail.  Gary may dislike the HD800 if he listens to brass and I may like the HD800 when I listen to well-recorded strings.  On the other hand, I'd readily agree with him when it comes to brass or pop music (though he'd not like the HD800 anyway). 

     I understand that Gary would be the last to say his findings have more than individual validity, but I mention it nonetheless because the dacs may differ in e.g. 'airy'-ness due to their analog stages and this may be more or less audible also depending on instrumentation and acoustics in the recording. I hope this makes sense and that he'll include some good strings for testing.

 

Thank you, Gary, and keep up the good work!


Edited by Katinka - 12/26/13 at 6:27am
post #640 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by cocolinho View Post
 

I already have a Microstreamer, I compulsory bought a Concero. I will report back when I will have it and spent enough time with it.

 

Edit: Gary, thank you for this great thread, very informative!

 

Excellent. A Concero is exactly what I was considering. Thank you.


Edited by jbarrentine - 12/26/13 at 5:59am
post #641 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by boatheelmusic View Post

Fully Agree, Gary.

The sound of Ella and Lous at 24/96 through my Emotiva DC-1 and Magneplanar 1.7's is sublime.

Bill


The sound of Ella and Louis is sublime through most systems.

 

How do Mick and Keith sound? A DAC like the Ciunas will help make lesser recordings more listenable. Of course, as always, there is a tradeoff.

post #642 of 1331
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turn&cough View Post
 


The sound of Ella and Louis is sublime through most systems.

 

How do Mick and Keith sound? A DAC like the Ciunas will help make lesser recordings more listenable. Of course, as always, there is a tradeoff.


I will add Red Hot Chili Peppers "Californication" and a couple other irritating modern pop recordings (there's no shortage of choices of those) at CD quality to the list to see if any of these DACs knocks down the wall of sound better than the others.  I'll throw in a few MP-3s as well.  If Katinka sends me, or just points me to, a preferred recording of bowed strings (even a single piece will do) I'll put that in there as well. 

post #643 of 1331
Irritating pop recordings........why bother listening to poorly recorded c**p while you worry about 24 vs 32 bit resolution?

As a professional guitarist, I know how much processing, compression and distortion enter into the recording process.

Thus, for my personal listening I focus on well recorded acoustic jazz.

Better musicians, better music, better recordings.

Of course, YMMV and IMHO.

Bill
post #644 of 1331
Thread Starter 

I'm not getting rid of the good stuff, just adding a couple other pop recordings to see if any of the DACs can make them sound less irritating, since that would be worth something to me.  Most music is not out on hi-res, and I listen to a lot of CD quality stuff (some of which is already on the list), and a few MP3s.  If any DAC can make them sound better, it will get extra points, though I will point out that none of the "indistinguishables" has been differentiating any of the CD-quality stuff already on the list.  Note that my amp already does a lot to break down the RHCP's wall of sound, but every little bit will help.

post #645 of 1331
Gary, you're doing great work.

Very much appreciated!
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