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December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison - Page 53  

post #781 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

Glad you mentioned girlfriends Gary, because (hopefully) the best girlfriend for me isn't the best for you, and vice versa. Works a lot better when we don't have everyone chasing the same girl/boy.

Head-fi gear is probably a lot like this. There simply isn't an 'ultimate' DAC, amp, headphone etc. In fact we know there isn't. Some people swear by the LCD3, others the HD800 for instance.

On another matter, I'm interested in the statement 'all have the same detail'. Broadly speaking, I found this was true in my 3-dac review.

However, being conscious of how memory works (as currently understood), an issue I debated and didn't resolve during that review was that once you hear a detail in a track and know it's there, your brain tends to reproduce it on subsequent occasions. Once our brain has learned something, it constantly adjusts its inputs to be consistent with what we now know.

For example, I would listen to one track with one dac, then notice something new with the next dac. Fascinated, I would switch back to the first dac. Oh, I hear it there too now...

Or did I just miss it the first time through? Because another factor with our brains is 'the focus of attention'. When there's a lot of information coming in, we tend to use selective attention. Problem is this can change moment by moment - the same track on the same gear doesn't necessarily sound the same on a repeat listening.

Getting back to these two dacs, another possibility is both contain the same resolution of detail, but the presention is different. In the example above, the second dac presented a particular detail more 'forwardly' so that I noticed it (in perception terms, it crossed the threshold to reach conscious attention). Of course it's present in the first dac too, but - what? - a few percent less forward? So naturally, once I've learned it's there, I hear it every time in both dacs. And by now, probably in any other properly-functioning dac I ever listen to in future.

This does all come back to problems Gary, I and others discussed earlier in this thread about what kind of methodology would 'work' for this shoot-out. On one hand, it's an advantage to use a "within-subjects" design such as here, where the 'measuring instrument' (Gary) is the same one for all 'conditions' (dacs). OTOH, learning is a well-recognised issue with this design. The alternative "between-subjects" design (different subjects are the measuring instruments) is approximated when different owners of different dacs compare notes, such as we often do on head-fi and have done here too in recent pages. Of course there are many missing controls from these casual comparisons. Their usefulness is limited though I personally think they have some positive value.

I do believe we have to think about problems and limitations of the present work - if any - and at the same time acknowledge Gary (and Barry too) for having done a fine job with the process. Gary, I sense you need a good rest mate but be assured it has definitely been in a good cause. It stands alongside other careful dac comparisons as a serious piece of work that - along with these others - enhances our knowledge and understanding of dacs and their differences, or lack of them.

And as has already been pointed out, it provides a great basis for the next comparison...

Great post, spot on.

I can only add that auditory memory for "subtle" differences is extremely short, 2 seconds (check the link). So listening the whole track with one DAC and then with another will not let you peek these minute details. I remember driving myself nuts trying to find note worthy differences between USB/SPDIF converters, one minute it's here and on the next listen it's gone.

 

AUDIO EQUIPMENT TESTING WHITE PAPER

post #782 of 1331

And as human hearing is such imperfect tool for testing these subtle differences, not to mention easily biased, may be employing some automation like this one would help

Basically the idea is to record output from each DAC and compare results in the software, of course there is another phase of A/D conversion which might influence the result.

Using RightMark tool is another possibility 

post #783 of 1331

Speaking of digital cameras.  I got me a Canon 70D for X-Mas and altready bought 2 prime lenses.  All these hobbies are crazy..:blink:

 

Look out for some photos...  As soon as I learn how to use it :eek: 

post #784 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by AiDee View Post

For example, I would listen to one track with one dac, then notice something new with the next dac. Fascinated, I would switch back to the first dac. Oh, I hear it there too now...
Or did I just miss it the first time through? Because another factor with our brains is 'the focus of attention'. When there's a lot of information coming in, we tend to use selective attention. Problem is this can change moment by moment - the same track on the same gear doesn't necessarily sound the same on a repeat listening.

Getting back to these two dacs, another possibility is both contain the same resolution of detail, but the presentation is different. In the example above, the second dac presented a particular detail more 'forwardly' so that I noticed it (in perception terms, it crossed the threshold to reach conscious attention). Of course it's present in the first dac too, but - what? - a few percent less forward? So naturally, once I've learned it's there, I hear it every time in both dacs. And by now, probably in any other properly-functioning dac I ever listen to in future.

 

Agree, same experience here.     When I got a new, better DAC,  I can hear new details from a song.    Then if I immediately switch back to previous DAC,  or even a PC sound card,  I can hear the same details too.      Because the better DAC teach me where are the details.  Then following this lead, I can better understand the music with inferior DACs.

 

To me, each DAC has it's own 'house' sound.   Which are the sound signatures of the DAC that I found 'really love this', and 'I can't live with this'.    Those things are what I can remember about a DAC. 

E.g. I had a Benchmark DAC1 for 2 years, sold it in 2006.   I really love it's sharp resolution, but hate it's a bit digital, and there is a bump in the mid-high region.  In 2012 a friend just got DAC1 and another similar priced DAC (I forgot what it was), he could not find the difference in sound.  He did a A/B test on me, I can reliably spot which is DAC1 in 5 seconds. Don't event need to A/B compare, just randomly pick one, and I can tell him if it is DAC1 immediately.  Because I remember the 'house' sound of DAC1.

 

Well that's old story, maybe recent DAC has improved to surpassed that level of differences.

But if the target is to decide which DAC to buy, then maybe should focus on spending a bit more time on one DAC, and finding what you love and what you hate about this DAC.


Edited by yfei - 12/30/13 at 12:46pm
post #785 of 1331

Let's close this thread an wait for Gary's next feedback :popcorn:

post #786 of 1331

I've been watching with some interest to see if Gary can actually determine a winner as there is so much subjective "this dac is better than that dac".  I started to pay attention when the Indistinguishables category started to grow, humans tend to rate things better or worse either on real or imaginary results but given the task of ranking items we FIND a way to rank them.  Gary's process, and methodology are about as good as it gets for one person taking on the financial and time requirements of this testing.  (Could it be better? of course, is it flawed? yes, is he doing a great job? absolutely!)

 

I would have to say automated testing is good to confirm that a proven design "measures up" to the established specs or design.  (IE production testing of a finalized design).  Not all aspects of sound quality can be measured, and those that can typically can't be measured to a level that the average Joe and his average equipment are of any use.  Then there is the task of evaluating data and knowing what "sounds good" from the measurements, it only goes so far.  This leaves the human ear/brain to "decide" what sounds good, and what sounds good isn't always what measures good.

 

I start any design on paper, then computer simulation, but without actual listening tests I wouldn't have any confidence that something actually sounds good, everything I've ever designed had extensive listening tests to confirm and sometimes disprove what the measurements and simulation said.  The same goes for synergy, which is one of the largest factors in a system sounding exceptional.  How does one "calculate" or "measure"  or "design" what the best results are to pair Dac A with Amp B and Headphone C?  OEM amps tailored to a specific headphone are often hard to beat because the designer uses one to finalize the other.  Companies often develop a "sound" because that's what the designer/designers or those who decide on the final product, "like". 

 

Well done Gary!

post #787 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clemmaster View Post
 

Let's close this thread an wait for Gary's next feedback :popcorn:

I second this.  We're not helping.  Methodology has been established.  Like it or not, all we can do is wait for results.

post #788 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by cizx View Post
 

I second this.  We're not helping.  Methodology has been established.  Like it or not, all we can do is wait for results.

Sorry for my previous posting.   Didn't mean to change the A/B methodology.  Just saying that in addition to A/B, by spending a bit more time on a certain DAC, may be able to spot it's 'house' sound signature.

post #789 of 1331

You can debate the merits of Schick vs. Gillette forever, but sometimes Occam's is the best razor.

post #790 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by yfei View Post
 

Sorry for my previous posting.   Didn't mean to change the A/B methodology.  Just saying that in addition to A/B, by spending a bit more time on a certain DAC, may be able to spot it's 'house' sound signature.

Well, it's too late now.  You ruined Christmas.

 

:)

 

All my posts in this thread are the result of excitement, anticipation, and too much holiday cheer.

post #791 of 1331

IMO, this thread showcases the best and worst of Head-Fi.

 

The best being that someone like Gary, without any obligation to anyone, is spending so much time, effort and money on this, detailing what he's finding for the rest of us that have been following along.  He didn't have to do any of it, and could just as easily done his testing, picked a new DAC and not typed a word about it here.

 

The worst being the efforts to pick apart what he's doing and discount the results because they don't necessarily match what others expect or want to hear.   This setup is wrong, that methodology isn't reliable, he should be using different equipment, etc.  If anyone wants to lay out thousands of dollars to pick a DAC for your system, then they can do it however they'd like, with whatever equipment they like.  Unless they are listening to what he's listening to, using his system and process, then the only thing they have to offer is speculation.  I think it's clear from his responses that some of the criticisms of his testing and resulting posts explaining what he's doing again and again are frustrating, and I can't say that I blame him.  

 

    -Mike

 

 

P.S.   The usual response to this sort of thing is that it's a public forum and anyone is free to do what they want.  I will add that just because a thing *can* be done, doesn't mean it *should* be done.


Edited by mhamel - 12/30/13 at 3:43pm
post #792 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhamel View Post
 

IMO, this thread showcases the best and worst of Head-Fi.

 

The best being that someone like Gary, without any obligation to anyone, is spending so much time, effort and money on this, detailing what he's finding for the rest of us that have been following along.  He didn't have to do any of it, and could just as easily done his testing, picked a new DAC and not typed a word about it here.

 

The worst being the efforts to pick apart what he's doing and discount the results because they don't necessarily match what others expect or want to hear.   This setup is wrong, that methodology isn't reliable, he should be using different equipment, etc.  If anyone wants to lay out thousands of dollars to pick a DAC for your system, then they can do it however they'd like, with whatever equipment they like.  Unless they are listening to what he's listening to, using his system and process, then the only thing they have to offer is speculation.  I think it's clear from his responses that some of the criticisms of his testing and resulting posts explaining what he's doing again and again are frustrating, and I can't say that I blame him.  

 

    -Mike

Big +1 all around. Have some gratitude people, or just unsubscribe from this thread. :L3000:

post #793 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhamel View Post
 

IMO, this thread showcases the best and worst of Head-Fi.

 

The best being that someone like Gary, without any obligation to anyone, is spending so much time, effort and money on this, detailing what he's finding for the rest of us that have been following along.  He didn't have to do any of it, and could just as easily done his testing, picked a new DAC and not typed a word about it here.

 

The worst being the efforts to pick apart what he's doing and discount the results because they don't necessarily match what others expect or want to hear.   This setup is wrong, that methodology isn't reliable, he should be using different equipment, etc.  If anyone wants to lay out thousands of dollars to pick a DAC for your system, then they can do it however they'd like, with whatever equipment they like.  Unless they are listening to what he's listening to, using his system and process, then the only thing they have to offer is speculation.  I think it's clear from his responses that some of the criticisms of his testing and resulting posts explaining what he's doing again and again are frustrating, and I can't say that I blame him.  

 

    -Mike

 

I think most of the posts in this thread have been supportive, and in the spirit of enjoying the hobby.  Everyone has opinions, and everyone wants to participate.  This is a public forum, and when someone posts here, they're going to be critiqued publicly.  I don't think anyone has been rude or unkind or dismissive of Gary in MD's effort.

 

Generosity such as Gary's is no shield from human nature or public opinion.  Criticism comes with the territory.

post #794 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhamel View Post

IMO, this thread showcases the best and worst of Head-Fi.

The best being that someone like Gary, without any obligation to anyone, is spending so much time, effort and money on this, detailing what he's finding for the rest of us that have been following along.  He didn't have to do any of it, and could just as easily done his testing, picked a new DAC and not typed a word about it here.

The worst being the efforts to pick apart what he's doing and discount the results because they don't necessarily match what others expect or want to hear.   This setup is wrong, that methodology isn't reliable, he should be using different equipment, etc.  If anyone wants to lay out thousands of dollars to pick a DAC for your system, then they can do it however they'd like, with whatever equipment they like.  Unless they are listening to what he's listening to, using his system and process, then the only thing they have to offer is speculation.  I think it's clear from his responses that some of the criticisms of his testing and resulting posts explaining what he's doing again and again are frustrating, and I can't say that I blame him.  

    -Mike
+1
post #795 of 1331
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post
 

No reimbursement is necessary or desired.  Everybody just be quiet about the HD800s already.

 

Fine.

Then I won't bring up electrostats either............:veryevil:

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