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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 49  

post #721 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post

Since when price is relevant in the choice of a DAC? biggrin.gif

Honestly the Metrum is the DAC that will stay in my mind as the most special DAC ever.
Could well be because it was my first step in the >$1000 range (this includes the Stello U3), but honestly I didn't get that so easy on the ear sound from even the SA-2, which is a NOS DAC too.
The quad is the purest I've heard and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up buying the HEX and step out of head-fi...

I have been eyeballing a HEX too, but I am having trouble resisting the temptation to get a TeraDak Chameleon and mod the heck out of it. I guess that's in my blood lol :D

post #722 of 1331
Thread Starter 

You folks keep speculating... at this point I'm just confused.

 

I got about half way through the song list with the Ciunas and DM Source, and will finish that tomorrow.  Then I will do a bit of comparison between the Ciunas and the Metrum to confirm what I think I heard.  No need to go through the whole list again.

 

I also need to go back and redo a bit of the Benchmark testing, because it turns out I might not have had DSD/192K engaged when I demo'ed it earlier.  Too many DACs, too many drivers to set up.  I checked one Shelby Lynne song tonight and heard no difference with the DM source, but want to do a more thorough check tomorrow.  Again, I don't intend to go through the entire list unless I hear some difference in the first couple of songs.  

 

Then I'll do either the Chordette or the Yulong, or both, and you folks can pay off your bets with each other.

post #723 of 1331

I have also been following this thread with great interest and I just wanted to praise Gary for its thoroughness and honesty.

Last year, I have done similar experiments with four DACs I was convinced sounded different in isolation - arguing with people here about this DAC being worse than that DAC- and I was shocked to realise that I wasn't able to tell them apart when A/Bing those in a proper way.

Kudos to you Gary. ;)

post #724 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry S View Post
 

I've been doing a little research on the Dangerous Source, and it has an interesting feature--there are two independent DAC circuits. The USB and AES/SPDIF inputs feed into their own DACs, so you could have two different digital sources feeding the DS. This could be useful in a complex setup or for A/B-ing sources, or DJ/performance work.

Interesting....I looked at that too, and also compared it to the Emo Stealth DC-1 and realized the following about the DM Source, all for about $400 more:

 

-external vs. internal power supply

-no remote

-fewer input choices

-2 yr vs 5 yr warranty 

-poorer technical specs 

 

Thanks,

 

Bill

post #725 of 1331

Great thread, really. Thanks, Gary!

:normal_smile :

post #726 of 1331
I was just pointing out an interesting (and unusual) feature of the DS--it's two DACs in one box. That may not have a practical use for many head-fiers, but it's worth noting. Earlier, I recommended buying the lowest cost DAC from the identical sounding group that has the feature set you like. The Emo Stealth is a great value and sounds the equal of much more expensive DACs. The last thing I'd consider are armchair spec comparisons.
Quote:
Originally Posted by boatheelmusic View Post

Interesting....I looked at that too, and also compared it to the Emo Stealth DC-1 and realized the following about the DM Source, all for about $400 more:

-external vs. internal power supply
-no remote
-fewer input choices
-2 yr vs 5 yr warranty 
-poorer technical specs 

Thanks,

Bill
post #727 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post

 I wouldn't be surprised if I end up buying the HEX and step out of head-fi...

 

Do it Do it...  It would be nice to trade for a few weeks...:biggrin:

post #728 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry S View Post

I was just pointing out an interesting (and unusual) feature of the DS--it's two DACs in one box. That may not have a practical use for many head-fiers, but it's worth noting. Earlier, I recommended buying the lowest cost DAC from the identical sounding group that has the feature set you like. The Emo Stealth is a great value and sounds the equal of much more expensive DACs. The last thing I'd consider are armchair spec comparisons.

Fully Agree - it's all about the sound.

 

Good thoughts, Barry!

post #729 of 1331

Revisiting the choice of headphone debate...

 

Having recently purchased the HD800, but coming from three years of enjoying the LCD-2, it struck me last night that Gary's use of the LCD-3, fed by his Odyssey Cyclops Extreme, has been critical to obtaining meaningful results in evaluating all of these DACs - not because the LCD-3 is necessarily "the best" headphone by any given criteria, but because it is simply among many possible candidates that perform well on a variety of upstream components. 

 

My new HD800 has immediately proven itself to be both DAC-sensitive and amp-sensitive - all the stories I'd read about the HD800's demanding nature are true. The Beyerdynamic T1, which I had for several months, is much the same - a headphone that ends up dictating what it wants.  

 

Had Gary (or anyone else) conducted these DAC comparisons with a "finicky" headphone, we would only have learned what works well with that particular headphone.  In truth, every headphone can flourish when a synergy is created using just the right components, so the LCD-3 is not entirely "impartial," to be sure.  But the HD800, and to a lesser extent, the T1, are at the opposite end of the "partial / impartial" spectrum.

 

It's only with my having recently received some used Silver Poision balanced cables I purchased for the HD800 (so that I could drive it with my TBI Audio Millenia MG3) and Gary having returned my Concero DAC, that I'm finally able to not only tolerate the HD800, but actually enjoy it - especially so with a few specific tracks. The LCD-2, on the other hand, is just as happy with my DACmin CX DAC section as it is with the Concero - I can barely tell a difference - but not so with the HD800, where the Concero has come to the rescue in helping to tame the HD800's harsh treble.  

 

One could argue that the HD800 is therefore the better headphone for detecting differences between these two DACs, but I am arguing that the HD800 can only tell us which DAC fixes its problems. :o

 

The LCD-2/LCD-3 have a reputation of sounding pretty good on a much broader spectrum of DAC/Amp pairings.  The LCD-2 even sounds "OK" when plugged directly into a sound card or MP3 player.  They both scale very well, of course, when given what they want, but not like the HD800 - it goes from horrible to sublime when given what it wants - not a good choice for comparing DACs or amps - unless all of us were using nothing but HD800s.

 

Mike

post #730 of 1331

I don't even see the need in doing the rest of the dacs. I know it will be done anyway, but the results seem clear: at this level most dacs are completely indistinguishable from one another. That, to me, means they are all doing the exact same thing perfectly well, and only features matter. 

 

The very few doing something a bit different, even pleasingly different, are likely out of spec in some forced way to garner that signature. Given the choice it seems like the indistinguishables are the obvious winners and anyone else is a loser and should be considered a distortion of what a dac at that level should sound like. 

 

Very interested in what lower priced dacs sound like in comparison now. Specifically, how much one has to spend to reach the current level of indistinguishable. 


Edited by jbarrentine - 12/29/13 at 5:39am
post #731 of 1331

Nice work, Gary.


Edited by paradoxper - 12/29/13 at 5:42am
post #732 of 1331
But still very useful to know who the outliers truly are?
post #733 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by zenpunk View Post
 

I have also been following this thread with great interest and I just wanted to praise Gary for its thoroughness and honesty.

Last year, I have done similar experiments with four DACs I was convinced sounded different in isolation - arguing with people here about this DAC being worse than that DAC- and I was shocked to realise that I wasn't able to tell them apart when A/Bing those in a proper way.

Kudos to you Gary. ;)

Gary sure has his work cut out for him. I know from experience that drawing clear cut conclusions from A/Bing components is not always easy. It's one thing to hear a small difference but to determine how that will translate over a period of time is another. To be able to articulate what you're hearing is even harder.

 

I borrowed two integrated amps from a dealer for a weekend. After A/Bing them a dozens of times I could notice some differences but I still couldn't decide which one to keep.

 

Take a sip of Pepsi, then a sip of Coke. Repeat this 5 or 6 times, eventually you won't know what you're drinking anymore. Yet over time everyone ends up picking a favorite.

 

In other words you need to live with gear for a while to properly evaluate it.

post #734 of 1331

This type of argument is often used in audiophile circle but I remain unconvinced. If you can switch sources seamlessly and you are unable to detect when your mate switch DACs mid song there is a very strong evidence that's those two DACs sound the same. That was my experience anyway.

post #735 of 1331

Any idea when we'll get some feedback on the fancy Chord?

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