Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › Tom's Hardware Hi-Fi equipment test
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tom's Hardware Hi-Fi equipment test - Page 2

post #16 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by linglingjr View Post
 

Says the guy with the $400+ record player lol


Yeah well, turntables DO sound different, or rather tone-arms and cartridges do sound different .

So do microphones and speakers .

Everything else sounds exactly the same provided it's properly designed and operating within specs.


Edited by bufferoverflow - 2/26/14 at 2:46pm
post #17 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I would disagree because it would seem like the noise floor could vary depending on the implementation (the computer). It might be subtle or might be more noticeable. When I got the ODAC, I thought it sounded a little bit darker in depth of silence than the STX (otherwise, pretty much the same in SQ). But I how would I have known that if I didn't have anything to compare the STX to?

 

It should be possible to tell silence apart from non-silence in a listening test. You can compare the STX to not having the headphones plugged into anything, or switching the card to line output (which disconnects the headphone jack with relays). If you mean the difference is so small that you cannot tell if there is any noise, even while there is no music to mask it, then why worry about it ? On the other hand, if you mean the ODAC has better "depth of silence" (without any actual identifiable noise on the sound card) specifically while playing music, then sighted listening could have been a problem.

 

Of course, it is also possible to create a loopback recording from the headphone output (this does not give reliable results with an external amplifier that might be susceptible to ground loop issues), and then play it back at an amplified level just to be sure if there is no interference.

 

Note that the STX could have audible noise, regardless of the computer, with some very sensitive headphones and IEMs, especially at 44.1 kHz sample rate. This is not interference, but the "normal" noise floor of the card, which is relatively high on the headphone output because it does not have any analog volume or gain control. It is recommended to use the built-in headphone amplifier with medium to high impedance headphones anyway, because of the output impedance.

post #18 of 79

Wait, so above 44.1 doesn't matter but DSD was preferred over PCM on a crappy setup. Something I don't agree with but when using a recording that you don't know how encoded or perhaps remixed through a questionable source, anything can happen. Using USB/computer as source to make absolute statements about performance of formats or res is like evaluating Gogan through rose colored gases. If you don't want to hear important differences, this is a great way to do it. It's like a self fulfilling prophesy. USB audio is so common that this post should be universally hated but so be it. 

post #19 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

It should be possible to tell silence apart from non-silence in a listening test. You can compare the STX to not having the headphones plugged into anything, or switching the card to line output (which disconnects the headphone jack with relays). If you mean the difference is so small that you cannot tell if there is any noise, even while there is no music to mask it, then why worry about it ? On the other hand, if you mean the ODAC has better "depth of silence" (without any actual identifiable noise on the sound card) specifically while playing music, then sighted listening could have been a problem.

Good point. Too late to try it now though. The STX is long gone smily_headphones1.gif
post #20 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by bufferoverflow View Post
 


Yeah well, turntables DO sound different, or rather tone-arms and cartridges do sound different .

So do microphones and speakers .

Everything else sounds exactly the same provided it's properly designed and operating within specs.

 

Do you mean headphones?

post #21 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by bufferoverflow View Post
 


Yeah well, turntables DO sound different, or rather tone-arms and cartridges do sound different .

So do microphones and speakers .

Everything else sounds exactly the same provided it's properly designed and operating within specs.


LOL.

post #22 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by bufferoverflow View Post


Yeah well, turntables DO sound different, or rather tone-arms and cartridges do sound different .
So do microphones and speakers .
Everything else sounds exactly the same provided it's properly designed and operating within specs.
Lol and cheap crappy dacs don't introduce noise or distortion into your signal?
post #23 of 79

Most DACs are pretty much the same as long as they are performing to spec. They are designed to be audibly transparent. Within the range of human hearing, they don't add to the sound, or take any sound away. They just convert digital signals into analogue signals. If they alter the sound, they are either defective and not performing as they were designed, or were poorly designed in the first place. The DAC in an iPod is as good as any high end DAC. In fact, devices of all price ranges often contain the exact same DAC inside.

 

Mechanical devices, like turntables, microphones, speakers and headphones are not transparent. They convert from analogue signal to physical sound. Compromises and tradeoffs are made because of the physical limitations of the design, altering the sound.

 

Bufferoverflow is absolutely correct.

post #24 of 79

The conclusion doesn't seem to be practically different from the decades of similar studies we've had on the subject available in the likes of AES, although the results need to be framed in the context of the methodology.

 

It is not perfect (as mentioned, voltage-level-matching and different comparison methods would have been closer to ideal) but it is still more controlled than the casual DBT which is generally, at best, a crude facsimile of scientific method.

 

It is difficult to scale these projects to a sufficiently large population, but the scope of the two test subjects was also admirable. I would have appreciated inclusion of a greater breadth of upstream components that are less-reputed to be "reference" but I don't imagine the result would be wildly different.

 

Generally speaking, this is why for listening purposes I have been of the mindset to invest only in the speakers and headphones. Otherwise, I knowingly pay for additional features and/or something that suits my preferred aesthetic.

post #25 of 79

The difference between something being designed to perform to spec and something actually performing that way is something no one will ever agree on.   You're doing the same thing as people that judge a headphone's sound signature by their FR charts.  It's not accurate at all.  

 

Usually I question the legitimacy of people that claim to here the difference between FLAC and 320kbps with out crazy equipment but I know that a lot of people are going to hear a *difference* (I know everyone's going to say just because it's different doesn't mean it's better) between a fiio e7 and a pop pulse pcm1796mkii.  So if you consider higher quality components other than the DAC itself to be added on "features" over a $2 dac I guess you win...

post #26 of 79

I've never gotten a concrete answer on this, but how does the quality of the analog output stage on a DAC affect its sound quality? Would it be similar to the differences between a good and bad amplifier, or are all the output stages effectively the same?

post #27 of 79

Yes it's about the same as with an amplifier. Except making clean line level output is even easier than making a clean amplifier or DAC. Most current solid state audio components are audibly transparent. The best reason to choose one over another is features and power (in the case of an amp).

post #28 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by linglingjr View Post
 

The difference between something being designed to perform to spec and something actually performing that way is something no one will ever agree on.

 

Sure, people can disagree, but the people who know for sure are the ones who take the time to do the test... Rack it up in a line level matched direct blind A/B comparison and see if you can tell the difference. I've done direct comparisons of all the equipment I have ever owned. All the solid state electronics performs to spec. If I ever happen to run across something that sounds different than the rest, I'll pack it up and return it to the store. I EQ my system very carefully on the end of the chain. I don't want to have different EQs for different sources. That would be chaos.

 

People claim to hear differences. People claim to see ghosts too. The mind is very good at convincing itself the unreal is real.


Edited by bigshot - 2/27/14 at 4:10pm
post #29 of 79

Some DACs use a chip-based output stage (like the ODAC), while others use a more traditional design (transformers, capacitors, etc.) like the XDA-2. Is there an effective difference between the two (other than size) or is it simply two different ways to get to do the same thing?

post #30 of 79

In theory, there are different ways of handling the output stage, each with its own theoretical compromises and tradeoffs. In practice, they are all designed to output the full range of the audible sound.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Sound Science
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › Tom's Hardware Hi-Fi equipment test