December 2013 Mid-Level DAC Comparison
Jan 10, 2014 at 4:45 PM Post #1,321 of 1,331

Clemmaster

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  Umm no, I absolutely said no such thing.  Perhaps you misinterpreted, but I did not intend to make any generalization at all, and I have never made any comment at all about hardware I haven't heard personally.  Perhaps this re-wording will make it clearer:
 
In fact I did a direct head-to-head comparison of multiple headamps and speaker amps, and found the headamps tested (specifically the Mjolnir and Burson Soloist/Conducter) to be no more resolving than the better speaker amps tested.
 
In fact, I did direct, side-by-side comparisons of all of the amps I wrote about, including those specifically mentioned above.  With my cans, my ears, my brain.  And wrote up the fully caveated results in the Speaker Amps thread.  The equipment and music used for every comparison I've done are in the threads containing the comparisons. 
 
Hope that clears things up.

 
But what DAC? 
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Jan 10, 2014 at 5:49 PM Post #1,322 of 1,331

Robin W.

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  Umm no, I absolutely said no such thing.  Perhaps you misinterpreted, but I did not intend to make any generalization at all, and I have never made any comment at all about hardware I haven't heard personally.  Perhaps this re-wording will make it clearer:
 
In fact I did a direct head-to-head comparison of multiple headamps and speaker amps, and found the headamps tested (specifically the Mjolnir and Burson Soloist/Conducter) to be no more resolving than the better speaker amps tested.
 
In fact, I did direct, side-by-side comparisons of all of the amps I wrote about, including those specifically mentioned above.  With my cans, my ears, my brain.  And wrote up the fully caveated results in the Speaker Amps thread.  The equipment and music used for every comparison I've done are in the threads containing the comparisons. 
 
Hope that clears things up.

Gary, you've done a great job, and out of all of this I hope what you've found is a Dac that YOU LIKE!  The rest doesn't matter, those who appreciate your efforts have likely spoken, and those that find fault with everything will continue to do so till the end of time.  Sit back, relax and enjoy some music WITHOUT careful level matching, A/B switching or critical listening.
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 6:43 PM Post #1,323 of 1,331

kstuart

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Just curious if Gary details his experience and/or training in critical listening in any post in the 89 pages ?   Thanks.
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 8:23 PM Post #1,326 of 1,331

kstuart

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Just curious if Gary details his experience and/or training in critical listening in any post in the 89 pages ?   Thanks.


Why the h..... Should he? He's just sharing his personal selection process.


Because posting it in a public space implies that one thinks that one's process is different from random choice with a blindfold and ear muffs.  People saying "thank you" imply that they are viewing it as reliable in some aspect.
 
There is a difference between a first week medical school student doing a survey on high-end surgical tools, and the top surgical team in the country doing a survey on high-end surgical tools.
 
Since Head-Fi always has a huge quantity of newbies (always a good thing), there tends to be support for the myth "I have listened to a lot of music, so I therefore know to distinguish audio qualities".
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 9:01 PM Post #1,327 of 1,331

dirtrat

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Because posting it in a public space implies that one thinks that one's process is different from random choice with a blindfold and ear muffs.  People saying "thank you" imply that they are viewing it as reliable in some aspect.
 
There is a difference between a first week medical school student doing a survey on high-end surgical tools, and the top surgical team in the country doing a survey on high-end surgical tools.
 
Since Head-Fi always has a huge quantity of newbies (always a good thing), there tends to be support for the myth "I have listened to a lot of music, so I therefore know to distinguish audio qualities".


I think Gary has been honest and straight forward with everyone and has made it very clear that these are his opinions only and other peoples results may vary. He's never implied he was an audio critic or had any training in critical listening. He's an audio enthusiast like many other people in this forum and entitled to his opinion. He validated what I have suspected for some time with these test. Unfortunately these results will offend many people who have purchased very expensive DAC's or who own one of the DAC's he reviewed. I applaud him for his efforts and in fact I had already owned the Yulong DA8 and like him have a pair of Koss ESP-950 headphones that I have owned since the late 90's. Thank you Gary!
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 9:05 PM Post #1,328 of 1,331

Greggo

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I used to agree with the above (two posts up...), but let me offer an alternate view.  First, much props and appreciation to Gary for this thread and all his efforts.  If you are going to come in here with even a hint a criticism, IMHO you should take your shoes off at the front door and show some respect as this is not just a wild opinion thread that would justly leave itself open to all kinds of silliness.  It is first and foremost a project thread, a serious effort that just happens to be mostly subjective, just like the big boys if they ever had the decency to admit it, and most do I think.
 
Anyways, I don't accept the surgeons and tools analogy.  The average person, or first year student, and their relationship with surgical tools is not like the average person, or all of us here in general, and our relationship with music.  I think anyone can hear a difference in just about anything for a bunch of reasons.  Expectation bias and/or cognitive dissonance is pretty hard to rule out for any of us, but the key is to care enough to try to really listen.  I haven't met anyone yet in the world of audio who doesn't hear the difference when a clear difference is present.  We may all choose to characterize it differently and to describe it differently, but we hear it.  And we hear it because we don't need school or professional training, we have life.  We have the spoken voice, the experience of hearing it on a phone, of hearing someone sing and of a guitar or piano in front of us, and various other live music... and then all of the reproductions that modern living presents to us, from an elevator to our home stereo to our tv to our phone, etc... 
 
I don't know Gary, and I don't know any professional reviewer or even the other highly experienced cats here on head-fi, and there are many I have come to trust and respect.  If I am gong to invest in wine, then I want to know wine like a pro and want the opinion of other pros.  But if I am going to drink wine, I trust my own taste buds.  If I can't taste it, I will gladly listen to the formal or informal taste tests from anyone else, even if they describe it in terms better assigned to various flavors of Kool Aide than wine.  Because I have drank Kool Aide, so I can think about how they would describe grape and cherry and whatever that green stuff was and look for things I can relate to and I feel are true for me, and then draw more trusted associations between various comments.  To me, that is the value of a well known reviewer.  It is not the training, or the level of skill, it is general caring, the effort of communication and consistency in being able to consider review after review until you get a sense of what values you share and what you don't.  Just like reading a movie review, and then going to see the movie. I don't go to all the movies, so I don't know about most, but over time I compare what I did see to what a reviewer said about the same movie, and trust builds (or weakens...).  But at the end of the day, I decide what movie to pay to go see, and I sure as hell have my own opinion of it when I walk out the door.
 
Not only do I have no reason to doubt that Gary's assessment is genuine and equal to any other human beings review, I can actually relate to enough of his points to know that I would probably be right in the same ballpark had I done this myself. But it doesn't matter, Gary hears what he hears, it is just as valid as anything else described to you rather than experienced directly by you..., but most importantly it just shows that he cares enough to listen, and to share, and for that I am grateful.
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 9:55 PM Post #1,329 of 1,331

Andrew_WOT

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  Since Head-Fi always has a huge quantity of newbies (always a good thing), there tends to be support for the myth "I have listened to a lot of music, so I therefore know to distinguish audio qualities".

 
What would be really  interesting is to hear how many people with real in field experience, I mean exposure to different over $1K DACs, share Gary's findings. 
Please state the DACs you had owned and tested against each other, or at least fill in your profile or signature, with headphones and amps used for testing as well.
So far it seems that very few multiple DACs users share OP's perspective, but I didn't follow the thread very closely, so could be wrong.
 
Even that my personal experience differs, I applaud OP's tremendous effort and courage, wish I had his dedication and that much spare time.
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 10:31 PM Post #1,330 of 1,331

ellemir

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Well I just got my Yulong DA8,  I think it sounds great with my HD650s.  Of course I also think my Cambridge DacMagic Plus and Oppo-105 sound great.   Duty/customs was $36 bucks or something.  I found Gary's experience very useful.  Now I can stop obsessing about equipment and go back to enjoying my music :)
 
Thank you so much Gary.
 
Jan 10, 2014 at 10:49 PM Post #1,331 of 1,331

olor1n

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  Since Head-Fi always has a huge quantity of newbies (always a good thing), there tends to be support for the myth "I have listened to a lot of music, so I therefore know to distinguish audio qualities".

 
What would be really  interesting is to hear how many people with real in field experience, I mean exposure to different over $1K DACs, share Gary's findings. 
Please state the DACs you had owned and tested against each other, or at least fill in your profile or signature, with headphones and amps used for testing as well.
So far it seems that very few multiple DACs users share OP's perspective, but I didn't follow the thread very closely, so could be wrong.
 
Even that my personal experience differs, I applaud OP's tremendous effort and courage, wish I had his dedication and that much spare time.

 
purrin's comparison thread is the anti-thesis of this one and he has access to many components of different tiers. While I don't necessarily subscribe to the notion that one must have a trained ear to differentiate differences, perhaps there is something to be said about experience and exposure, and how that hones your ability.
 
The underlying implication of this thread (if one doesn't succumb to absolutes) is that differences are subtle. Where arguments arise is whether that refinement is worth the price of admission. For some, it's minuscule enough (to their ears) that labels of "indistinguishable" can be applied. For others, these differences are enough to complete their systems and "indistinguishable" is an extreme contrast. So in end this discussion is fuelled by semantics and the obnoxious insistence of some to impose their value assessments on others.
 
Ultimately, the decision and justification is an individual one. Gary came to this same conclusion and took care to state this throughout. Where this thread fails is that there are readers blindly adopting someone else' subjective findings.
 

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