Originally Posted by ched999uk
I am a little surprised not to have any replies with technical info. Does everyone just rely on the theory that if it has a more expensive DAC chip in it must be better or do people find shops to be able to compare DACs?
In the old-fashioned definition of Hi Fi as High Fidelity as opposed to ome modern audiophile definition the job of a DAC is to take the digital signal and accurately recreate the original analog waveform however complex it is with inaudible distortion, minimal timing errors and inaudible noise, you also expect good channel separation and linearity. Fundamentally get back to what was digitized and neither add nor take away. 30 years ago this was difficult and required cutting edge technology, these days it is trivial.
While human hearing is quite good on some parameters our ability to hear distortions is actually quite poor, thus the difference between 0.1% distortion and 0.01% while large (an order of magnitude) is not normally detectable.
As for jitter , the short answer is that no properly controlled test has ever found jitter of the magnitudes/types that you find in competent digital audio kit to be in any way audible, you can find plenty of anecdotes but these are simply not backed up with empirical testing.
Of course some kit is rubbish and if you trawl Stereophile you'll find tests on equipment that the manufacturers should be ashamed of, in this case there may be audible differences. Several high priced components tested by Stereophile have been found to be technically dreadful and yet oddly highly reviewed , there are numerous possible interpretations for this but you need to come over to the dark side (the Science forum) for that...
Edited by nick_charles - 12/3/13 at 11:23am