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Difference between cheap and expensive DAC

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by dead99, Jan 1, 2014.
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  1. xnor
    As always, what matters is the output at the very end - the connectors - and not the fancy brand names on the super expensive or cheap chips inside. The former wouldn't be any guarantee that the implementation is good enough to make use of the extra performance anyway.
    Afaik, most blind tests have been done between amps (usually with a fail as result) but I'd love to see some DAC blind tests as well. People think they can hear tiny frequency response variations at 20 kHz, a bit more distortion, jitter ... let's not even go there, and so on... but as soon as you hide the devices they can't "anymore".
  2. Migou67
    Blind tests are audiophile devices killer !
    But with my poor ears I can hear a difference between a <200$ and a >1000$ audio card, without hiding it of course :wink:
  3. Gignac
    Yeah, more blind tests would be fantastic.  I would be surprised if this hasn't been attempted at meets, etc., but then again once folks spend the money and drink the kool-aid, they're not likely to put up their multi $$$$ dac against another.
    Anyhow, I'm enjoying finally stepping away from some of the other threads on this site which constantly tout one piece of gear over another with a variety of statements which cannot be tested at all.
  4. bigshot
    You might expect it, but you certainly couldn't hear it.
  5. Migou67
    Totally agree but I can ear a difference between a cheap audio card and an expensive one, but can't say if this is due to a better jitter :wink:
    I think the whole components used for the card (including quality oscilators clocks) and how the elements are implemented play a role in a better audio restitution. 
  6. xnor
    It is very rare that jitter creates audible problems. HDMI had jitter problems, but that problem has been fixed quite a while ago.
    Besides the obvious bias, audible differences between DACs can result from different levels, but also noise (thinking of badly implemented onboard/soundcards here), maybe even distortion (but it has to be really bad for a DAC, non-oversampling with 44.1 kHz comes to mind).
    Some older soundcards used to have clearly visible ripple in the frequency response, but I'm questioning audibility. Maybe in a direct A/B comparison with fast switching.
  7. krismusic Contributor
    Just going back to amps which I know is off topic. I take it that the reasoning is that amps of the same spec sound the same? Different designs sound different?
  8. krismusic Contributor
    Totally agree. This thread has saved my sanity! Not to mention my wallet.
  9. bigshot
    As long as the specs are all below the thresholds of human perception, which most reasonable amps are, there's no reason for them not to sound the same.
  10. krismusic Contributor
    Even tube vs solid state?
  11. xnor
    Yeah, if you operate the amp within a reasonable range, i.e. below clipping, and the tube amp has low enough distortion, output impedance ... yup, why not. There are no magical properties.
    The question is if you can find such a tube amp. [​IMG] 
  12. bigshot
    If the tube amp measured within the specs of human hearing, yes. I've heard such things exist, but as tubes grow old, the sound shifts, so you would have to keep them fresh.
  13. wnmnkh Contributor

    Which is why tube amps are such bad idea to begin with....
  14. bigshot
    I drape Christmas lights around my solid state amp and get the best of both worlds
  15. ab initio

    But Christmas lights aren't particle accelerators. :confused:

    Clearly tube magic comes from relativistic effects!! :trollface: :wink:

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