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Thoughts on a bunch of DACs (and why I hate chocolate ice cream) - Page 138

post #2056 of 2069
Thread Starter 

The Data III appears to be like an even bigger and heavier Data II (both based on video disc players). The ST / AT&T optical seems to what made it special. Better space and a little better resolution compared to AES, SDPIF, etc., at least when used with the Gen Va. The Data III ST / AT&T optical was the only method that proved better than the Off-Ramp5 USB to AES converter. Slightly better technicalities all around, but less analytical. It's bizarre and makes me wonder since the optical was transmitting the SPDIF format still.

 

It's kind of ridiculous for its size since I don't use spinners anymore. Just too difficult trying to find that CD, etc. Computer audio is just much easier to deal with. Also, DACs don't take ST / AT&T optical anymore.

post #2057 of 2069


Mr. Purrin ,

 How in the world are you getting your hands on a Yggy?, you and the Schiit people are the only ones talking about actually having time with the device.  ( other than that Darko lad from Down-under who says he was sworn to secrecy ) . 

 

Are you the Schiit Beta Tester? 

 

Tony in Michigan 

post #2058 of 2069
Quote:
Originally Posted by cizx View Post

Putin has an Yggdrasil now?  I thought their economy was in the toilet. frown.gif

He found one in the Ukraine and claimed it for his own.
post #2059 of 2069
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cizx View Post

Putin has an Yggdrasil now?  I thought their economy was in the toilet. frown.gif

He found one in the Ukraine and claimed it for his own.

 

Like his Superbowl ring?

post #2060 of 2069
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyCanuck View Post

Like his Superbowl ring?

Yes, like "his" Super Bowl ring. rolleyes.gif
Putin = schmuck!
I won't be sending him a Christmas card!
post #2061 of 2069
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonykaz View Post
 


Mr. Purrin ,

 How in the world are you getting your hands on a Yggy?, you and the Schiit people are the only ones talking about actually having time with the device.  ( other than that Darko lad from Down-under who says he was sworn to secrecy ) . 

 

Are you the Schiit Beta Tester? 

 

Tony in Michigan 

 

There was a headphone hobbyist mini-meet in the area. Jason randomly popped up and brought the Yggy proto along with a bottle of Springbank 21 year. I need to get the bottle back to him. He took the Yggy back.

 

There were about 10 others who heard the Yggy. We had a stash of vintage DACs: Spectral, PSA, SF, Theta, etc. and three vinyl setups to compare.


Edited by purrin - Today at 3:43 pm
post #2062 of 2069
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by BackToAnalogue View Post

I agree this is extremely helpful. All of Purrin's observations support my understanding (or current theory, since it is not accepted by anyone apart from me at the moment) of how 'information' about music is transmitted to our auditory system and how this is affected by different formats and the various limitations of different approaches to DAC design. My thinking is summarized in an earlier post here.



http://www.head-fi.org/t/693798/thoughts-on-a-bunch-of-dacs-and-why-i-hate-chocolate-ice-cream/2025#post_11136795



I am glad that someone, who has clearly developed the necessary skills of highly trained hearing...............................................

I have spent many months thinking about this; it is an enormously complex subject; it is not fully understood by any of the people working at the real sharp end of DAC design; the information that is available online is riddled with misunderstandings, bad Maths, incorrect assumptions, and half understood techniques. The terminology and measurements used date from a different era, and a different domain (analogue).


Oh my goodness.

With respect, you are not trying to say that you know more about this subject than someone who has actually designed a DAC, are you?



It is one thing to study and read about DACs, it is quite another thing to actually design a DAC.

 



Er no, I don't think that I said that did I? If I implied it then I certainly didn't intend to.

All I said was that I have a far better understanding than I did 6 months ago and it has taken a great deal of time and effort to get there because of the factors I listed. I have also identified several widely held misconceptions.

It is very likely that the couple of dozen or so people in the world who do this for a living know everything that I do, and a lot more besides, but they don't write it down in blogs like this. And as far as I am aware none of them have stuck their heads above the parapet to correct the '24-bits makes no difference' argument because it is a good argument (I was convinced by it for several months) and hard to explain why it is wrong to a non Mathematician. It is easier just to wait for the people who care to use their own ears, because the vast majority of people don't care.
Edited by BackToAnalogue - Today at 4:27 pm
post #2063 of 2069
Thread Starter 

Taking hires original material (DSDx128, 24/192 PCM, etc.) and inspecting data in something like Adobe Audition to confirm actual hires content (there is quite a bit of fake hires content out there), and downconverting to various bit and sampling rates, my personal threshold of audibility is 18 bits. Sampling rate past 44.1 doesn't seem to matter*. That is, I cannot tell the difference between DSD/ hires PCM and the same material downconverted to 44.1kHz at 18 bits. At 16 bits, I start to hear a difference - 18 bits at 44.1kHz seems enough; with the caveat being good A-D or as pure a chain as possible.

 

*Some DACs sound different (not necessarily better, not necessarily worse) at different input sampling rates, real or non-existent hires data or not.

 

The quality of A-D conversion and final mastering is HUGE. That's the other half of the conversion process. Starting off the bat, there's no chance in hell for most recordings to sound like the tapes they came from regardless of how good the playback gear. This goes back to what I was saying about the downsides of better D-A.

 

Some pure chain DSD stuff is really good, but different. Unfortunately, the pure chain DSD recordings are rare and usually consists of craptastic "audiophile" music that I don't care for, i.e. mediocre soul-less girl vocals + guitar -or- mediocre soul-less girl vocals + lightweight piano. Bleh.


Edited by purrin - Today at 5:06 pm
post #2064 of 2069
Quote:
Originally Posted by computerparts View Post
 

 

As good as the Theta Gen Va was, it was soundly beat by an mbl 1511D (which is a Delta Sigma design) in my setup. I highly recommend an audition of an mbl if you get a chance. It certainly changed my thoughts on Delta Sigma dacs. Not only that but it sadly destroyed even my vinyl setup. Just wondering, but what vinyl setup have you compared the SFD-1 to? What tubes are you using in it?  It didn't sound much like my vinyl rig at all no matter which tubes I tried (Amprex, RCA, Siemens, Tungsol, and Telefunken). I can't say Ultra Analog based designs sound like vinyl. I've owned three Ultra analog based dacs. A Levinson 35, Audio Research DAC1- 20, and a Sonic Frontiers SFD-1. Out of those three, the Levinson came closest to vinyl but was still a ways off.

 

MBL 1511/1531 are both very colored. Mids are warm and dark, with very noticeable roll-off in the top end. My biggest problem with the lower end MBL sources is that they lack layering throughout the spectrum (mushy bass, lack of instrument separation, etc), and congested soundstage. If the 1511 is your reference then perhaps you have different sonic priorities than most.

I'd like to point out that for the price of the MBL DAC you could have purchased all the prior DACs listed, or you could have gotten a real setup like a Levinson 30.6 + 31.5, instead of the inferior 35. In fact for a bit more you could have gotten a Wadia 7+9 =/

It would be good to say what you paired the levison/sfd-1/DAC1 with as well. They don't have USB, and transports matter. So does the coax/BNC cable.

post #2065 of 2069
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post

 

Some pure chain DSD stuff is really good, but different. Unfortunately, the pure chain DSD recordings are rare and usually consists of craptastic "audiophile" music that I don't care for, i.e. mediocre soul-less girl vocals + guitar -or- mediocre soul-less girl vocals + lightweight piano. Bleh.

 

LOL. So true. I have run into a few good songs in the process, but most of them I play and think "Really?".

post #2066 of 2069
Thread Starter 

Heh, glad somebody understands :-)

post #2067 of 2069
Quote:
Originally Posted by purrin View Post
 

 

Theta Gen V (R2R) with Data III transport or OR5 USB-AES2 gizmo is more resolving than the best resolving S-D DACs that I have heard, including those from Bricasti, Berkeley, Auralic, etc. I would agree with you that most if not all modern R2R implementations are the suck in terms of resolution. This is what prompted me to go back in time (when the R2R implementations were better) to see what R2R can truly do. Not this current limp-dip PCM1704 garbage, which I only partially embraced.

 

Yggy (an R2R DAC about to be released) easily and significantly beats Gen V (and thereby all other modern S-D DACs I've heard) in terms of resolution. This is what happens when you have two or three guys crazy enough to stick military grade chips with < 1 LSB error and develop crazy firmware so the chip will eat audio data. DAC accuracy / linearity = resolution. Proof is in the pudding via listening and experimenting. Try building a DAC yourself. Start stacking chips for better linearity and hear the result. Yes, I've done this. Even mediocre DAC designers know this.

 

 

That is a very good point. My SFD-1 DAC sounds most like vinyl. It emulates vinyl. The UltraAnalog based implementations tend to sound that way. Over time, I felt that the SFD-1 imparted too much of a vinyl characteristic on everything. On the other hand, the PWD-2, M1, Vega (all superb SD DACs) tended to impart garbage that I know isn't there. Only the Gen V provided the best "what you get out is what your put in" aspect for me: analog mixed and mastered recordings tended to sound analog; recordings where digital (of varying quality) was part of the chain sounded digital (or varying quality). I use the Gen V to get the maximum from the best recordings I have, but there is a cost to poor recordings. This is why I keep the the SFD-1 DAC when I want something more forgiving that's always sounding "like vinyl" regardless of recording.

 

Once you hear enough stuff, you can decide for yourself where you want to sit. There is no clear win. I tend to lose a lot because I won't play bad recordings through the Gen V, which is what I use for playback the most. This tends to cause an unhealthy obsession with hunting down the best masters.

 

 

That's the $64,000 question. Rarely can you have everything you want. Best to develop your senses and determine where your priorities lie. It usually comes down to finding equipment which is a balance of attributes you like at a price you can afford. Jitter should not be an issue in 2014 if you have a decent budget. Computer to DAC data transmission, i.e. USB, is a more serious concern, but there has been a lot of progress in this area. Actually, the most serious concern is the proliferation of low cost SD DACs and how audiophiles are willing to take it up the butt with all the hashy treble garbage by paying thousands and thousands of dollars for DACs which are essentially tweaked manufacturer evaluation boards.


Yeah I'm pretty intrigued by the Ygg.  personally I am yet to be able to identify digital hash, possibly because the only non SD DAC I have used has been PCM1704, and well I would rather take the digital hash:biggrin:.  Most of the treble issues I have detected have been able to be reduced through improved input signal (computer and transport, cables) and vibration management (isolate a component/rack/shelf too much and you start to hear it's own resonant characteristics…) but to be honest I have come to accept some brightness glare assuming it is part of the signal.  Mics, mixing consoles etc.  My general philosophy is that if something can sound less analytical/glare/splashy while sounding more resolving, progress has been made, however I am stubborn in not giving up a single drop of resolution.

 

I will probably give the Ygg a spin when that comes out, not having heard non-soft or grungy sounding multibit (read: PCM1704) I am skeptical but hoping to be surprised.

 

Computer/USB is definitely a big barrier in digital.  Many of my friends have said that even a mid-fi CD player can beat an average workstation, but I can't comment on this personally.  I have a pretty tin-hat music server, and recently built a general use workstation, and comparing the two, the tin hat server is much more resolving, but not any less bright.  I have tried disabling cores to emulate lower CPU power use (and lower performance) and this yields a more laid back sound, but some resolution is missing.  So unfortunately I am unable to determine if the reduced brightness is from lower electrical noise or lower computer performance.  Things like the JCAT USB card and disabling hardware/software/OS threads have however yielded more of the no-compromise improvements.  Well of course there is a compromise though - in my case usability is horrible.

post #2068 of 2069
I think that there may well be a problem with some USB Asynch implementations given the number of posts I have seen from people reporting this. ASynch USB should perform better than SPDIF with no jitter being introduced by the comms clocking or disc reads, but that relies on both ends of the USB connection having high performance USB interface chips and high CPU performance. Windows is not designed to help a DAC maintain a steady stream of data, it is designed to do whatever Microsoft deem to be the most important activity first. Your DAC comes last.

The first thing to do is a whole list of small tweeks and settings to ensure that Windows behaves itself. Also a fast PC, USB 3 ports (much faster if you can put up with possibly having to fix compatibility problems) .and anything else to help PC performance.

All current DAC chips (correct me if I'm wrong) were designed based on a synchronous data flow, SPDIF. To then have to bolt on a very fast asynchronous data flow is quite a big ask and I would expect to have to increase processor power by between 5 and 10 times to ensure no buffer overflows or underflows. If you then also take into account Windows uneven data flow it still may sometimes have problems. The easiest way to fix this is to introduce another (intermediate) buffer between the PC and the DAC. A $25 USB 3.0 4 port hub will do the job fine. This should smooth the data flow to the DAC and will introduce an additional time delay which it uses to do this.
post #2069 of 2069


Mr. Purrin & fellow searchers of DAC,

 

Is there any point in discovering the DAC used in the recording process? and then finally the Mastering process?  

 

Somehow, it seems to me, the DAC ( I have ) can do no more than reverse the work done by the two DACs proceeding it.  

 

In the few Mastering Studios I've visited the engineers have an Atomic Clock ( 10M ) they point to, where is our DAC's Clock?, a little Quartz crystal which we use to control our FM Radio Transmitter's Frequency?, accurate and stable enough to satisfy the FCC, is it enough to keep our music in focus?, it does seem good enought for consumer use but is this the best we can expect for a proper Musical Instrument that we hope our Home Audiophile DAC to be?  

 

Tony in Michigan

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