Originally Posted by jonstatt
The initial burst of hiss will never go away. That is "by design" although I appreciate you don't like it!
You raised a good point about sound adjustments. If you use the stock player, and use a modifier like Clear Audio+ it actually makes the sound louder. If you are using Tidal or Spotify, choosing the same mode actually makes the sound quite a bit quieter. I am wondering if a reason for this is that when using the stock player, it scans the track for the peak sound levels of the track and ensures that EQ adjustments won't cause clipping. But for 3rd party players, it does not have this information, so the more EQ you apply, the less volume you get. This can cause a radical difference if you A/B the same track in Tidal and in your own music collection.
I know the Chord Hugo is very popular, and understandably so. But from a brief audition I had with it, albeit good, I felt it overpriced. For example consider the Oppo HA-1 which is a desktop unit...it costs less and definitely sounds better. I realise you are paying for portability, but nonetheless it also compromises the power supply, DAC and balanced outputs. So the PHA-3 represents much better value for money and probably gets to within 80-90% of the Chord Hugo. The downside is if you are European you need to import the Japanese one to get the rechargeable battery version of the PHA-3.
because the sound adjustment thing is set digitally, so the player just tells to the DAC section that a sample value is actually Xdb quieter(it just gives another value instead of the one on the track). now manufacturers can play with this all they want except that when you try to go above the maximum value of the DAC (0db) you hit a wall.
now when you use EQ or some DSP effect, some frequencies will go louder compared to default right? just push the bass setting up and there you have it. if the song was recorded close to 0db as max loudness, and you add 8db of bass, everything that should go above 0db will become 0db (because that's the max voltage the DAC can output).
that's pure clipping and we sure don't like that ^_^. so sony just lowers the volume level digitally by a margin so that you won't clip the sound in most cases when using EQ or DSPs. it's a very rational logic and in fact many DAPs do that without us knowing. others don't and you just clip the sound as soon as you add a value in the EQ, that's what gets people saying EQ sux when it has nothing to do with EQ but only with max sample value^_^.
so there you are, on one hand you don't achieve the max possible loudness but keep your music clean, on the other you can go louder but it may end up clipping.
and I suppose that's the margin of safety you remove when you disable the sound effect thing to get the dap louder. but nobody seems to want, or to be able to measure the difference as I got no answer when I asked and sony isn't giving us much to chew on.
but hopefully somebody will end up measuring a few stuff. I know everything there is to know about the 100$ fiio X1, it would be sad to never know anything about a DAP that claims high end specs like the ZX2(or pono...lol).
I'm surely a little gullible, but if I made a product that had amazing specs, actually superior to other portable products in some way, I would make all my propaganda marketing on it, and tell everybody how I got more SNR, less distortion and how I'm more "high fidelity" than the competition for a fact. instead sony words are wind and poor Jon Snow knows nothing.
poor Jon is already having a hard enough time.