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2 DACs 1 PC - How to Compare DACs?

  1. Arjestin
    What's Up Guys?

    I love my OPPO HA-1. It was one of the best bang-for-buck "DAC + Headphone Amp + Preamp" combos in 2015, and I think it still is... Well, was. You cannot actually buy a new one anymore. OPPO Digital is soon to be closed and its line for products will sadly become a thing of vintage nostalgia.

    Lately I was reading a lot of positive reviews about the Audiolab M-DAC+. Both HA-1 and M-DAC+ use a single ESS Sabre³² ES9018 chip in their circuitry. But a veteran Head-Fier should know - When your fish is rotten, chips don't matter. A DAC chip gives the architect options to play with when designing the circuitry. Different DACs implement these differently. What really matters in a DAC is its output stage. Here is a block diagram of a Topping DX7s (commonly sold on AliExpress).

    My goal is to compare the DAC output stages of OPPO HA-1 and Audiolab M-DAC+. And the best way to go about it is by sending the same digital signal to both DACs at the same time. This means splitting the signal (either by software or hardware). One option is to use a S/PDIF or TOSLINK splitter, but I'd rather not. I prefer to connect DACs via asynchronous USB whenever possible. To know why, please read The Well-Tempered Computer - USB versus SPDIF.

    So here comes the question...
    Is the any method known to men which splits a digital audio signal to two USB ports?
    - Can Windows 10 do it without any additional software?
    - Is there a foobar2000 plugin that can help?
    - Any third-party software will do the trick?
    - As a last resort, will a USB splitter degrade performance?

    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  2. sheldaze
    JRiver Media Center allows sending simultaneous streams to multiple DACs via USB. You would not use a physical "splitter" - just connect both as you would normally, using two USB cables, and join them to the same playback stream in the software.
    Monsterzero and Arjestin like this.
  3. Arjestin
    I've heard about JRiver, but never took it seriously. I'll be sure to try it out. This might be the silver bullet I need to compare DACs in the future.

  4. Arjestin
    Yes! That worked. This method has its limitations (no video support, buffer tends to delay playback), but for comparing DACs via USB - it will do. Also, both devices can be connected in WASAPI mode.
  5. FunkeXMix
    Foobar was my favourite player until I tried Jrivers. Sound quality wise (as usual I make sure to turn of volume normalization and gain.)

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