Jul 1, 2011 at 8:11 PM
- Dec 20, 2004
- Reaction score
- Dec 20, 2004
The beauty of the scientific method, and evidence based reasoning is that my opinion makes no difference. If different components do have a sonic difference,
then independent observers should be able to reliably reproduce those differences, to a statistically significant degree.
If the assertion is that component A and B sound different, then it can easily be tested, by measuring a system using component A, then replacing component A with component B , and re-measuring , and checking the differences (if any). How hard is that? And we learn something in the process.
The assertion was in fact, that all dacs sound the same.
Therefore, doesn't that claim have to be proved by the methods you mentioned above and not accepted blindly? <--- Audio DiffMaker files please, or it isn't true.
Another thing from your previous post was that you seemed to feel all dac chips sound the same, if you don't include the analog section in the dac, but it seems that a dac can't be a dac without an analog stage... So why not say all analog stages sound the same too? Because they may not.
And if the analog stages do indeed sound different from each other then all dacs can't sound the same.
All I'm doing is questioning the blanket statements circulating around the back of the bus, in the same way we question the statements coming from the front.
Everybody interested in this argument should read this article:
It's about why amplifiers may sound different from each other, and possible ways to measure that.
Under a very easy load, many amplifiers do indeed sound the same. But quite a few headphones and speakers present widely varying impedance curves. Others have very high voltage or current requirements, such as electrostatic or planar headphones. I think the "all amps sound the same" argument is an overreaction to those audiophiles who claim to hear extremely wild differences between amplifiers and personify their electronics (for an example of this, read any issue of TAS or Stereophile, or 6moons, or... any audio publication). While these descriptions are the product of a dubious "reviewer's" imagination and the totally unscientific test procedure, there are real differences in how amplifiers perform with different loads. If we all used one speaker or one headphone, then yeah, all well-designed amps would sound the same. But each transducer has very different power requirements.
I would like to hear from people who actually design amplifiers, such as Kevin Gilmore, Jason Moffat, or Pete Millet. Their opinions would add a lot to this discussion.
I wouldl too. Especially Kevin Gilmore.
Okay, there are measurable differences in transistors, opamps - circuit design can affect things, the length of hookup wire can affect things - there are tonnes of factors. But the thing is, modern equipment is, as a rule, well designed. Regardless of the approach the designer took, in the end if all the numbers are well below the threshold of audibility, there is no reason to suspect that having the numbers in a different position below the threshold of audibility would do anything.
Not everything "sounds the same", but if it is well designed it will. If I use an awful quality power supply consisting of the cheapest regulator I can find, there might be audible differences. But that's not good design. If I use a weird circuit topology that results in a stupidly high output impedance in an amp, there might be audible differences. But that's not good design.
Things do measure differently, but the differences between one good component and another are generally small. Additionally, when the base design is well thought through, it becomes less reliant on extraordinarily expensive and esoteric components. Opamps and transistors are just tools. It is the designer's job to choose and utilise his tools appropriately. If he has done his job, any differences should be well below the threshold of audibility.
PS: "Correctly Implemented" probably means here that all the relevant measurements declare that distortion, frequency response and time based error (and channel imbalance) are all far below audible levels. If one DAC that achieves this uses a switching PSU, another a linear PSU, why would it matter? They have both achieved the same goal. Certainly, the designer using the linear PSU may have had an easier time of it making such a well-measuring piece of kit, but in the end, they have both done the same thing.
EDIT: @ tvrboy: Hence the additional statement that: All amplifiers designed to alter the sound as little as possible, operated within the operating constraints within which they were designed to operate, will sound the same.
The problems looked at in that article are easily addressed with good design.
You have a good head on your shoulders, but "Correctly Implemented" and "well designed" are judgment calls, not scientific facts. As I write this an engineer by the name of nwavguy is busy ripping apart 3 channel amp designs on his blog. According to him, 3 channel amps are not well designed or correctly implemented. On the other side of the coin is AMB who designed quite a few 3 channel amps. Who is right? The engineer making measurements or the designer?
Another thing is that is becoming a recurrent theme with me is that with all these different things you mentioned above, components, circuit design etc, which all have measurable differences, how could it be possible that assemblies of these parts, from different manufacturers and put together by different people can end up all sounding the same?
I can understand that a piece of wire is nothing more than a piece of wire, regardless of what it's made from, and has no inherent sound of its own, but I'm not so sure the same is true about complex devices made from components that have measurable differences between them.
As I said above, if you are claiming that all "Correctly Implemented" devices are going to sound the same, please give us some Audio DiffMaker files so that we may here this for ourselves.
Read the article I linked, that gives some very good possible answers to your question. Of course, I do agree that most "differences" people hear are either
2. Wishful thinking
3. Change in seating position (comb filtering effects)
4. Not level matching
Again, I agree that all amps designed for the same purpose will sound the same, excluding tube amps. But you have to keep in mind the amp designer doesn't know what kind of speakers/headphones will be connected, so compromises have to be made.
Oh yeah and it's Jason Stoddard, not Moffet! Oops!
OK, you're making a claim that all amps will sound the same and I'm fine with that, but please provide some diffMaker proof so we might evaluate it too.
I did scan it and have read it in the past, but it is worth another read.
My amp is a hybrid tube and solid state. Where does that fit into 'all amps sound the same'?
If you consider that all amps sound the same, then yours will sound the same too as long as it fits within the original criteria established by Stereo Review for their amp test.
On the other hand, I wanted to address what you said earlier about why people hear differences and others don't. First, the deeper I look into this, the more I'm starting to think that there are differences to be found everywhere. I suspect that the more similar the designs the less the differences, but measurable differences between components bothers me. It means that things can't sound the same unless it makes no difference what- so-ever what the component compliment of an amp or dac design might be.... and I don't believe that.
My first dac was a Lite DAC-AH. That dac had 8 paralleled Phillips TDA-1543 Dac chips, a CS 8414 receiver and Burr-Brown op amp. Is this as good as it gets? Or is the new ESS 32 bit Sabre chip even more resolving? It's too easy to say that all dacs sound the same without the same significant proof we demand from the people who hear differences between cables.
Back to your question..... perhaps it's the weakest link in the chain that prevents some people from hearing the differences various components make. Maybe an amp that isn't resolving enough to hear the differences between dacs, or a dac that isn't delivering a high enough quality signal to be able to demonstrate differences between amps, or some other factor like a usb transport or an on-board computer audio chip??????
You asked the question but I know it's rhetorical, so what is your take on why some people hear differences and some don't?