How much difference will a high-end DAC make?
Jan 6, 2021 at 5:01 AM Post #46 of 274

Mikem53

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That's just the thing, I've always thought that headphones/amps are more important than the DAC. The idea of spending 2-3x+ more on DACs is very strange to me. I am very happy with my headphones/amp but I definitely feel my dac is the weakest part of the chain hence the search for a better one. I still have to figure out how much I am willing to spend and then try to see if the cost is worth the improvement I hear. I don't doubt a 5k dac sounds better than a 500 one, just how much better and if it's worth the money is something I gotta figure out, since we all hear differently and prioritize different things.



I am definitely interested in Rockna products but I remember reading somewhere they are made to order and takes 6-8 weeks? If I knew I'd like it I wouldn't have an issue with it but to try it out seems to be too long. I will keep an eye out on the forums/other used markets to see if any pops up.



On paper R2R dacs seems to be more inline with what I am looking for in terms of sound signature over a DS, but I really don't know at this point, I think I gotta just take a dive and buy one of them to try, even as a baseline because right now I have never owned a proper desktop dac.



Wait, if I am understanding your post correctly are you saying since most of the music I listen to, EDM, pop, for example, are synthesized by computers, the music won't actually benefit from a higher quality DAC as opposed to if I listened to music with more piano and acoustic instruments? Some songs I listen to do have acoustic guitars/pianos and such, though granted most of them do not.

ALL your music will sound better with a good DAC regardless of genres.. I’m a bang for the buck type.. I don’t care about fancy casework or having to have the latest formats and noise reduction methods.. This R2R DAC will give you Music ! At an affordable price, you will get performance close to other units costing MUCH more..
Read up on the internals of the Schiit Dac and Mike Moffats design. you will see a culmination of decades worth of his expertise, especially in the software that keeps the original digital signal throughout the entire process.. Robert Harley did a write in stereophile... worth a read and a test drive... IME..
 
Jan 6, 2021 at 5:09 AM Post #47 of 274

Mikem53

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This seems like an argument _against_ believing in dac quality. He vaguely hints that different parts of a dac can go "wrong," like the connection (really? a usb connector is a lossy connection?) and then shows graphs of "diminishing returns" and pictures of stars to demonstrate quality differences :slight_frown:. This video doesn't offer anything towards believing DACs have objective sound differences.

Instead I'd suggest watching this video, which at the beginning uses a 10 year old piece of usb 1.0 garbage to test digital audio conversion, and he shows it produces a 20k sine wave _exactly_ with no deviation from the original signal.



We don’t listen to sine waves.. There is more to it than what a scope will show.. I updated from the Gen5 USB to the Unison USB. It made a huge difference in SQ.
Mike Moffat has been working on it for years as he always complained about the SQ via the USB.. I was using a Bel Canto Ref link reclocker with AES out.. As it sounded better than the USB interface... Not anymore! Out went the Ref link and now straight USB in..
 
Jan 6, 2021 at 5:17 AM Post #49 of 274

Mikem53

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Sigh not the old R2R vs Delta Sigma debate again.

yet again ! And yet the R2R DACS still sound better, even after all the arguments.. lol... Enjoy the music.. Whatever moves you!
 
Jan 6, 2021 at 5:50 AM Post #50 of 274

Articnoise

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yet again ! And yet the R2R DACS still sound better, even after all the arguments.. lol... Enjoy the music.. Whatever moves you!

I'm not taking that bait :beerchug:
 
Jan 6, 2021 at 6:19 AM Post #51 of 274

sajunky

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We don’t listen to sine waves.. There is more to it than what a scope will show.. I updated from the Gen5 USB to the Unison USB. It made a huge difference in SQ.
Mike Moffat has been working on it for years as he always complained about the SQ via the USB.. I was using a Bel Canto Ref link reclocker with AES out.. As it sounded better than the USB interface... Not anymore! Out went the Ref link and now straight USB in..
Let me add some technical note. Reclocking is mandatory on the S/PDIF or AES type of interface where clock is embedded in the data stream. Then with a fixed frequency external clock (synchronising frequency of both devices) it is possible to get rid of re-clocking noise. It is the best technical solution for this type of interface, but only very expensive equipment have external clock inputs.

USB is much different and is getting more popular. On one side it allows perfect jitter-free transmision synchronising incoming packets to a fixed frequency DAC clock (similar to the external clock input - refer to asynchronous transfers with the explicit endpoint), but on the other side it exposes DAC electronics to the harmful noise from ground loops (which PC is a big source). Galvanic isolation present a technical challenge, as USB protocol requires DC connection for negotiation. It is why USB isolators/reclockers have poor reputation.

To deal with a problem a new interface has arrived that do not require reclocking. It is called called I2S. When you see HDMI connector on your DAC, it is not a real HDMI. There is no established standard yet, so compatibility must be verified, but it is the best way to interface with USB source device. The idea is to convert USB to the I2S first and then put galvanic isolator on the I2S wires. The last step is to feed back a high precision fixed frequency clock from a DAC to the USB receiver for synchronisation with incoming USB packets. With a bidirectional isolator and proper configuration on PC, a link is completely jitter free, no additional PLL is required.

This is the latest development I would like to take your attention. There are already devices called DDC to allow this type of connection. However it may have no bidirectional isolator, only a single way, it is why PLL synchronisation is still required. Audio GD has its own, DI-20 and use bi-directional galvanic isolator. It was over one year on the market and received fantastic feedback (especially a version with regenerative power supply), that now the same solution is implemented in all Audio GD DACs 2021 versions. Audio GD TOTL DAC is R-7 and R-7HE (version with regenerative power supply). See the upgrade note on the main webpage.
 
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Jan 7, 2021 at 9:54 PM Post #53 of 274

audioandy

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Objective2 is not a good example to draw conclusions about DACs in general. I hate to sound like a snob, but inexpensive DACs do often sound the same. At this level it is very easy to believe that DACs are less important than, say, amplifiers.

If you are curious, try Schiit Modi Multibit or Chord Mojo as a DAC. These are very good examples of a good sub1000 DAC. Both are very popular and easy to buy and sell here at Head-Fi.
The schiit modi and the objective2 are at the same price point. Out of curiosity what didn't you like about the objective2 when you heard it? I can't hear any difference between the o2 and my mac's output - granted Apple probably has more engineers and resources than most audio companies.
 
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Jan 7, 2021 at 11:08 PM Post #55 of 274

Ragnar-BY

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Out of curiosity what didn't you like about the objective2 when you heard it?
I’ve had different DACs in the past. Can’t say that i don’t like something special about ODAC (a DAC used in objective2). Just got used to a better sound now. I have nothing against basic or cheap DACs. In the end, everyone has their own attitude towards hobby.

I also have an Apple laptop with a headphone output. I don’t know why you don’t hear the difference with an external DAC. The built-in DAC of any laptop (yes, even an Apple laptop) sounds much worse than, for example, Chord Mojo.

Apple indeed have more resources, but they never used this resources to reach higher sound quality than needed for mass market. Just compare the sound of your LCD X with Apple headphones.
 
Jan 9, 2021 at 2:01 PM Post #56 of 274

NYanakiev

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In my recent experience, DACs (and AMPs) make quite a big difference.

To give you an example, I was mostly using my MMR Thummim with a Cowon Plenue D2 on the go. I was rather unimpressed by the sound to the extent of beginning to question my decision to buy the Thummim in the first place (£3500); I was using the Thummim with the $1800 Eletech Iliad cable and the Cowon.

I decided to switch things up a little and went for a walk with the same setup as above but replaced the Cowon PD2 with my Mojo+Poly. Now that‘s more like it, I thought! I found a lot more of what I found fantastic in the first place. Back home, I plugged the Thummim into my Chord Hugo 2+2Go pair and witnessed another major improvement across the board. Hence, as far as I am concerned, DACs do matter a lot, as do AMPs- even for a portable setup.

Similarly, listening to my Focal Utopias on the Hugo 2 is great in its own right but stepping up to the Focal Arche DAC/AMP yields another big improvement.
Now, the question is at what point we reach a level beyond which improvements are marginal enough to be ignored.
 
Jan 9, 2021 at 2:45 PM Post #57 of 274

Senndo

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Do different violins sound the same? I mean they're all violins, right?

Of course different DACs can sound different. Why wouldn't they if they're not identical in configuration and design (thought I understand not all differences will present audibly)? I've heard DACs I like that are a tenth of the price of mine and which make me regret spending the money. You don't in fact need to spend big money to get good DAC performance, but they CAN sound different. VERY different. I've listened to DACs in my system that are SO different it was like comparing Mozart with a herd of dying cats.
 
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Jan 9, 2021 at 3:10 PM Post #58 of 274

NYanakiev

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Again, I am not arguing that people should get a Chord DAVE to be happy. Not at all.
Just saying that going across three different tiers of dac/amp configurations resulted in a substantial improvement across the board with the MMR Thummim and high quality tracks.

Unfortunately, I cannot narrow it down as to the primary contributor to the improvement- be it the dac, the amp or a combination of both (which would be my educated guess);
 
Jan 9, 2021 at 3:11 PM Post #59 of 274

sajunky

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Do different violins sound the same? I mean they're all violins, right?

Of course different DACs can sound different. Why wouldn't they if they're not identical in configuration and design (thought I understand not all differences will present audibly)? I've heard DACs I like that are a tenth of the price of mine and which make me regret spending the money. You don't in fact need to spend big money to get good DAC performance, but they CAN sound different. VERY different. I've listened to DACs in my system that are SO different it was like comparing Mozart with a herd of dying cats.
A Nobsound 8xTDA1387 $42 reproduce violin accurately, different violins produce different sound -- on this DAC. It use a passive I/V conversion (there are no cheap or fake opamps). The same with piano notes and guitar plunks, drums, flute, all acoustic instruments. To appreciate it, you need to like Mozart music. :)
 

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