Am i wasting my own time with a DAC? My music is all 44Khz
Jan 14, 2013 at 2:27 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

WoldOx101

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I am the newly proud owner of an Audioquest Dragonfly DAC, which is looking very cool with its green dragonfly light on the train home from a hard days work.
 
But I didn't buy to impress the commuter sitting next to me.  I bought it to make my tunes sparkle.
 
I am just not getting any tangible or at least audible difference though.
 
I have read and read and read through countless forums, reviews, FAQs etc.  But just not seeming to get the difference I was expecting.  Well none at all really.
 
So I have come to the conclusion that I could be wasting my time with a DAC.
 
The reason being, all (and I do mean all) my music is in iTunes and is ALL 44Khz, without exception.  That's some 4k odd songs.
 
It's all been downloaded from iTunes Match as I lost my original Library.
 
So am I missing a trick here, or should I not expect any extra oomph from the DF with my 44Khz collection?
 
For reference, here is my set up:
 
MacBook Air (2012) > iTunes > BitPerfect > Dragonfly DAC > Fidelio L1 / Fidelio X1 / HD598 / ATH-M50
 
Oh I should add, that I downloaded some content from HD Tracks at higher resolutions and really heard the difference then, which leaves me to feel I am trapped in a world of 44Khz mediocracy!
 
Jan 14, 2013 at 2:39 PM Post #3 of 22

LFC_SL

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Have had home demo of Teac UD-H01, M-Dac and the Invicta Dac. All my music is 44.1kHz from lame encoded MP3 to wav rips. Absolutely no hindrance to demoing those Dacs and enjoying them to various degrees (not so much the Teac before anyone asks)
 
Seems to me you are wanting it to be the sampling rate rather than consider the simpler alternative that you cannot hear what difference the Dragonfly is making. Everyone's ears are different. Just because you read internet hype does not always mean you will hear the same
 
Jan 14, 2013 at 4:14 PM Post #4 of 22

WoldOx101

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Yes, that's kind of my point, sort of.

I am tied to my existing iTunes Matched files. They are mostly AAC matched files. I don't have any of them in any higher quality file / encoding type.

So should I not really be expecting to hear much difference from the DF given that I have poor source material?

I'm basically Mr MP3!
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 8:26 AM Post #5 of 22

lorriman

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Yes, that's kind of my point, sort of.

I am tied to my existing iTunes Matched files. They are mostly AAC matched files. I don't have any of them in any higher quality file / encoding type.

So should I not really be expecting to hear much difference from the DF given that I have poor source material?

I'm basically Mr MP3!


A lot of onboard DACs are already hifi or very near hifi. An external one wouldn't make any difference to these. An amp could, however, because it can correct output impedance issues (I believe macbooks have much too high output impedance) as well as give the power needed to the particular headphones.

I don't know whether Macbooks have great DACs but I would expect them to be good enough that it would be very hard to hear much difference.

As for the source material: double blind tests show that no one can hear a difference from 192Kbps mp3 and above. Not everyone accepts double blind testing, however. (That assumes an up to date encoder; older encoders can be quite poor.) 44Khz is needed to completely and accurately record and reproduce audio since the threshold of our hearing is 20Khz and recording must double that. So in theory there is no advantage to going above 44Khz for the consumer (the pro may need more but only for manipulation purposes). Indeed higher recording frequencies can produce their own issues that can DEGRADE the audio on some DACS. I would avoid them or downsample.

I've found much more difference in audio pleasure from dailing in a bit of 'stereo width'. Phase issues from a poorly made amps can simulate stereo width.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 8:37 AM Post #7 of 22

chewy4

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Quote:
As for the source material: double blind tests show that no one can hear a difference from 192Kbps mp3 and above.

I don't recall ever seeing a 192Kbps double blind test, certainly none with a high enough sample size where they can say nobody can hear the difference.
 
There are probably some folks who can. As far as 320Kbps, maybe one in a few million can... At any rate the lossiness of 128Kbps and up LAME encoded mp3's are exaggurated way too much. Maybe with old encoders it can get bad but LAME works extremely well.
 
For DBT's you need to do them yourself if you really want to know if you can hear the difference. Everyone's hearing is different.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 10:40 AM Post #8 of 22

lorriman

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I don't recall ever seeing a 192Kbps double blind test, certainly none with a high enough sample size where they can say nobody can hear the difference.


Well neither have I ever 'seen' a DBT at 192kpbs, but Hydrogenaudio recommends 192kbps (VBR) as transparent. They are the DBT kings, so that's good enough for me.

There are probably some folks who can. As far as 320Kbps, maybe one in a few million can...


I doubt even one in a million.

192kbps is a significantly smaller file size. I have 24GB of space on my player and can fit about 300 albums. With 320kps it would be nearly half and FLAC even less for zero benefit.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 11:16 AM Post #9 of 22

spaark

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As others have said, Macbooks already have decent DACs, and any difference is going to be subtle. You need trained ears. It's not because you're music is lossy, but what music you play can make a difference. With certain songs, you may be able to pick up differences. In any case, its not going to be night and day.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 4:05 PM Post #11 of 22

musical-kage

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44.1 khz is fine and normal. Its the bitrate you are listening to your music at that matters.
If you have bought most of your library from itunes, its in AAC or MP3 form right? At what bitrate is it in?
FLAC/Apple Lossless files are also 44.1 but would sound tonnes better than typical MP3/AAC files.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 4:37 PM Post #12 of 22

WoldOx101

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They are almost exclusively AAC format. iTunes Plus. So I think this is limitation I will have to accept. I may look for alternative download stores so my new music purchases can be imported into iTunes at better quality / format. But iTunes is rather convenient.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 5:55 PM Post #13 of 22

lorriman

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They are almost exclusively AAC format. iTunes Plus. So I think this is limitation I will have to accept. I may look for alternative download stores so my new music purchases can be imported into iTunes at better quality / format. But iTunes is rather convenient.


I would be surprised if any iTunes AAC files were anything less than transparent. It's been a while since iTunes fobbed people off with mp3s at 128kbps.Personally I wouldn't bother 'upgrading' iTunes AAC files. (But I would definitely make sure my iTunes mp3s were significantly more than 128kbps).

But do keep in mind the output impedance issue. It's often worth having a decent amp just to correct that, if not to power current hungry cans.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 6:45 PM Post #14 of 22

gavtorn

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Quote:
Thanks for all the comments / advice. I think I shall return my DF DAC and put the money towards some new cans instead
smily_headphones1.gif

 


Hi,
 
It took me a while to get my ears around the differences in DAC's - my advice to you would be to go to an audio shop where there are some to audition and a/b your dragonfly (which gets good reviews) against a "high end" dac (+$1k) to see if you can hear any differences.
 
If they sound the same, then you will know your money is better spent on new cans :)  If you can hear the differences, it may just be that the MBA and DF have a similar sound / output and the DF is not needed for your setup.
 
I don't think the source material is too much of an issue.  IME a good DAC will sound better than a cheap one regardless of the format being played.
 
Another issue is that if you are using the gear on the train then the background noise could be masking some of the clarity provided by the DF...
 
hope this helps
 
gav.
 
Jan 15, 2013 at 11:35 PM Post #15 of 22

blitzxgene

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Quote:
Well neither have I ever 'seen' a DBT at 192kpbs, but Hydrogenaudio recommends 192kbps (VBR) as transparent. They are the DBT kings, so that's good enough for me.
I doubt even one in a million.

192kbps is a significantly smaller file size. I have 24GB of space on my player and can fit about 300 albums. With 320kps it would be nearly half and FLAC even less for zero benefit.

I would say that I agree to an extent regarding 192-vbr with certain genres of music, but I find classical to truly benefit from higher resolutions. At least, when comparing 192 to 320. Now something like progressive rock...
 
Yeah, probably couldn't tell.
 

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