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DAC - Technically how can one be better than another?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I am not trying to start any arguments but if say a 24bit 96Khz DAC is converting digital data to analogue voltage how can DAC, with same bit rate and frequency, be any better than any another?

 

What I mean is that with a resolution of 24 bits and freq of 96Khz this equates to 16777216 different values (2^24) at a frequency of 96Khz.

 

Can anyone point me to some reasonably technically detailed but understandable web pages with some explanations?

 

Once again I am interested in learning not starting an argument over which DAC sounds best.

 

Thanks for any help.

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

A bit more surfing and I think am getting an idea of differences. i.e. jitter caused by inconsistent clock signals and slew rate capability of the DAC.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

A bit more: nonlinearity - in simple terms the difference between the actual analogue voltage output from the DAC to the corresponding voltage that should be outputted.

post #4 of 8

I don't know about the technicalities, but as you'll have read on these forums many many people state that "all DAC's sound the same". You have to ask why this subforum exists in the first place.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Cheers for the reply. I have been reading lots of sites and pages and I think I can now understand why DACs can in theory sound different. I have no idea if they actually sound different as I have very limited experience in DACs.

Looking at a brief technical overview I can see how the output signal can be closer to the intended digital signal using better components in a DAC.

 

If I my ears are capable of hearing the difference is a different matter!

 

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?

post #6 of 8
I'm interested as well. I'm using the Behringer UCA202 right now. I read about it on a blog where it compared very well to other DAC'S.

That being said, I do feel like it sounds different than the X - fi Xtremegamer I also listen on from time to time, so I'd love to hear more technical info on what to look for in my next DAC purchase.
post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by ched999uk View Post

 

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
post #8 of 8
The output electronics have an influence on DACs. We don't listen to the DAC directly. The filters used also have an influence.
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