Does a DAC modify the sound?
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sygyzy

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Ideally, I'd like to hear an accurate reproduction of what is recorded. That is, barring extreme circumstances beyond my control or desire for control (ie dvd audio versus cd audio, etc). Anyway, I currently have my computer soundcard hooked up to my tube amp, at work. I don't mind tube rolling because I know that it does affect the sound and I can physically control it. I know that onboard sound and the PC in general is a noisy environment. The DAC on board is probably not the greatest. Alright, let's get a DAC.

So, my question - Do DAC's alter the sound signature at all? I know amps do with their buffers. And tube amps do with their tubes. But do DAC's? What about tube DAC's? I hope not because I don't want 10 different things modifying the sound. One adding bass, one taking it off, one affecting treble, etc. I'd like it to be as "clean" as possible until it gets to my headphones.

I hope I was clear.
 
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blessingx

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Yes. If didn't there wouldn't be so much Brown-Burr, etc. talk.

... but when trying to get an accurate reproduction of the music, why do you think the mixer/engineers are recording using a "clean path" and expecting one on the other side? You want to hear what they want you to right? If you want accurate sound you'd have to do a lot of researching for a specific album and then match accordingly.
 
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sygyzy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by blessingx
Yes. If didn't there wouldn't be so much Brown-Burr, etc. talk.

... but when trying to get an accurate reproduction of the music, why do you think the mixer/engineers are recording using a "clean path" and expecting one on the other side? You want to hear what they want you to right? If you want accurate sound you'd have to do a lot of researching for a specific album and then match accordingly.



That is too bad. I was hoping that was not the case. In that case, would it be better to just output the audio from a DAC directly into headphones? I guess that would be difficult from a connection point of view since the DAC's I have seen use RCA outputs. Maybe there is a DAC with a headphone out but NOT an amplifier on board. I guess that's silly because how would you control volume then? You can hook up a USB DAC to an amp that does not use opamps. Does something like that exist? Just attentuation, no sound modification.

Finally, I don't quite follow your statement. Did you forget a comma somewhere?

Quote:

but when trying to get an accurate reproduction of the music, why do you think the mixer/engineers are recording using a "clean path" and expecting one on the other side?


I am not sure what this mean
 
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Mr.Radar

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The point of a headphone amplifier is not to provide a convenient volume control (though for most amps that's an important feature) but to provide enough power to move the speaker transducers (the drivers) to produce sound. You can hook headphones directly to the line-outs on CD players and DACs (in fact, the output of the hi-rez DAC on the Chaintech AV-710 is hooked directly up to the output jack*) but it wouldn't sound too good as DACs are not designed to drive headphones, but instead amplifier circuits (and those are then designed to drive the transducers).

*This is not quite true because they go through some capaciters to remove any "DC Offset," which can fry some audio equipment and generally sound bad, but its much more direct than almost every other commercial player/soundcard on the market.
 
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blessingx

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Well there's always more neutral DACs, but you're assuming someone is just recording sound and you want to accurately recreate that, correct? Since a group of people listening (possibly with different equipment) are mixing the tracks prior to recording I'm saying it's already not pure. They're mixing expecting something on the other end. In fact early bass boost was created (I heard anyway) to recreate some of the warmth of analog. The Rolling Stones didn't produce 'Exile on Main Street' expecting it to be heard on CD for example. The recordings are made expecting manipulation on the other side (listeners equipment). The danger (like in today's bass boost) is mxing for further and futher colored sound. This argument can to an extreme, but I'm just saying purity isn't really possible.
 
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sygyzy

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Blessing - You are right. And this really gets into the issue of the question of how "hardcore" do you want to be. You'd argue that I am already affecting my sound by using a pitiful source (PC). Or that my wires ar not pure silver etc. I guess what I am looking for is a solution that is within my budget and within my tolerance level. That is, something that I don't find rediculous and I'd be willing to spend money improving.

So the new question is - What USB DAC's are considered neutral?
 
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philodox

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Well, technically without a DAC, you have no sonic signature.


But yes, they sound drastically different. I've found that between my CDP, the meridian, my old modded art dio and my AOS Flute they all have their own sound. This is a much bigger difference than you hear with amps as they either provide the type and amount of 'power' that your headphones/speakers need or they don't. That is unless they introduce distortion as with some tube amps.
 
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