Is there *really* an audible difference between different DACs?
Aug 25, 2017 at 8:54 PM Post #91 of 171

buke9

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Really don't get the problem with tube amps from batteries as you can't do anything without a inveter and a tube amp runs on ac just like every other amp or am I missing something?
 
Aug 25, 2017 at 9:16 PM Post #92 of 171

richard51

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In the last 7 years i go to through 7 amplifiers, 3 dacs,4 pairs of speakers, many different cables, 4 types of headphones, and the difference between each one products were always audible and not small...It takes me few minutes to choose and i dont understand when people say that all amplifier or dac sound the same frankly....It is a mystery for me ...:deadhorse:
 
Aug 29, 2017 at 1:54 PM Post #93 of 171

DangerClose

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I agree that the idea of "training your ears" isn't training at all; it's more so a matter of experiencing many different setups and components so you build a knowledge base in your mind of how things compare with each other. If a deaf man was cured and listened to a pair of $5 earbuds, he would most likely say they sounded amazing because it's all he has heard (literally). It's all about being able to compare gear to what you've heard before.

That has a lot to do with it. Lots of people just don't have the ear experience, or don't pay attention enough, to hear differences. There's even popular reviewerz who spend most of their review talking about everything except the sound, and whose sound vocabulary is basically, "this sounds great," "this sounds great too," "this is the best headphone I've ever heard," "this has more bass." etc. Not very specific.
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 2:12 AM Post #94 of 171

domsch1988

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That has a lot to do with it. Lots of people just don't have the ear experience, or don't pay attention enough, to hear differences. There's even popular reviewerz who spend most of their review talking about everything except the sound, and whose sound vocabulary is basically, "this sounds great," "this sounds great too," "this is the best headphone I've ever heard," "this has more bass." etc. Not very specific.
I won't disagree that some reviewers aren't that great. But some do understand, that sound is personal. The way something sounds to you has as much to do with you ears and hearing as with the environment you're in. Especially when we're talking midrange and up differences can be so miniscule that the variance from person to person is much bigger.
It's relatively easy to compare an HD600 to the apple earpods and be specific about the differences. But beyond that, the question is if a review about specifics is relevant as you can only determin how something sounds to you by listening to it.
I appreciate the reviewers that take more time talking about the build, features, looks and value/experience rather than throwing soundsignature buzzwords around for half an hour. After all, i want to know if something fails completely. If it doesnt, give me the specs and the "hands on" impressions. if that's great, i'll determin how it sounds by listening to it...
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 2:56 AM Post #95 of 171

DangerClose

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I won't disagree that some reviewers aren't that great. But some do understand, that sound is personal. The way something sounds to you has as much to do with you ears and hearing as with the environment you're in. Especially when we're talking midrange and up differences can be so miniscule that the variance from person to person is much bigger.
It's fine to say preference of sound is personal, but it's something else for the person to say they can't hear any difference. It's like getting television reviews from someone who can't tell the difference between 720p and 4K even up close.
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 4:18 AM Post #96 of 171

domsch1988

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It's fine to say preference of sound is personal, but it's something else for the person to say they can't hear any difference. It's like getting television reviews from someone who can't tell the difference between 720p and 4K even up close.
Except we're not talking about 720p to 4k. More like 4k to 4k HDR which is much more subtle. Depending on Source Material, player and TV the difference is there, but for some it's night and day, for others more subtle and even others feel its "oversaturated and eyecandy".
Especially with Audio Equipment, i'm really hesitant to believe people who claim "massive differences". I do believe and agree that headphones sound different. No doubt about that (wether it's "better" is up to taste). I also agree that amps sound different (though the differences between sufficiently powered solid state amps are getting really small). Everything beyond that (DAC, Cable, Power, Connectors and what not) i'm persé sceptical.
Take the Chord Mojo. I just don't believe the difference between it and say a Schiit magni/modi is as groundbreaking as some people here make it to be. Yes, it might be "objectively" better in measurements. It might even be "subjectively" better. But i strongly feel it's not 3 times as good. Maybe not even 20% better. That's why i liked Z's conclusion "It sounds fine. Nothing wrong with it. But you pay the price mainly for Build, Name and Looks".

All this is of course from my technical background. I have not heard every equipment there is. So it's all opinions, not knowledge. I'd happily admit to be wrong on DAC's. Yet there are countless people stating they can't here the difference between a modi and a gungnir in a blind test, even if they payd for both so...
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 5:46 AM Post #97 of 171

DangerClose

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Except we're not talking about 720p to 4k. More like 4k to 4k HDR which is much more subtle. Depending on Source Material, player and TV the difference is there, but for some it's night and day, for others more subtle and even others feel its "oversaturated and eyecandy".
Especially with Audio Equipment, i'm really hesitant to believe people who claim "massive differences". I do believe and agree that headphones sound different. No doubt about that (wether it's "better" is up to taste). I also agree that amps sound different (though the differences between sufficiently powered solid state amps are getting really small). Everything beyond that (DAC, Cable, Power, Connectors and what not) i'm persé sceptical.
Take the Chord Mojo. I just don't believe the difference between it and say a Schiit magni/modi is as groundbreaking as some people here make it to be. Yes, it might be "objectively" better in measurements. It might even be "subjectively" better. But i strongly feel it's not 3 times as good. Maybe not even 20% better. That's why i liked Z's conclusion "It sounds fine. Nothing wrong with it. But you pay the price mainly for Build, Name and Looks".
Maybe if people want to argue about $500 DACs, but for more normal stuff, I think many people are just stubborn. They haven't taken the time to really listen or think about what differences they are listening for, things they would later start hearing automatically, and so they just wave off people who do say there's a difference. Does the Sound Blaster ZXR have a better DAC than the regular SBZ? There's a 500+ page thread of people who say yes. They can't all be lying.

I used to be stubborn and thought cables couldn't make a difference, until I actually did tests. I used to think people who say USB cables can sound different were crazy, until I actually did tests.

Many people say all optical SPDIF outputs sound the same. Have they ever done any tests? Probably not.

I got an "upgraded" cable for my HD598. It looks good and the materials feel good. And then I plugged it in, and things sounded dull. I looked up that cable on here. Sure enough, other people said it makes the HD598 sound dull. They can't all be lying.

Sure, lots of this stuff comes down to 20% or even 10% or less difference, but a 10% or so difference should be rather obvious regardless whether someone thinks it's worth the price or not.
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 8:07 AM Post #98 of 171

cossix

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Maybe if people want to argue about $500 DACs, but for more normal stuff, I think many people are just stubborn. They haven't taken the time to really listen or think about what differences they are listening for, things they would later start hearing automatically, and so they just wave off people who do say there's a difference. Does the Sound Blaster ZXR have a better DAC than the regular SBZ? There's a 500+ page thread of people who say yes. They can't all be lying.

I used to be stubborn and thought cables couldn't make a difference, until I actually did tests. I used to think people who say USB cables can sound different were crazy, until I actually did tests.

Many people say all optical SPDIF outputs sound the same. Have they ever done any tests? Probably not.

I got an "upgraded" cable for my HD598. It looks good and the materials feel good. And then I plugged it in, and things sounded dull. I looked up that cable on here. Sure enough, other people said it makes the HD598 sound dull. They can't all be lying.

Sure, lots of this stuff comes down to 20% or even 10% or less difference, but a 10% or so difference should be rather obvious regardless whether someone thinks it's worth the price or not.
Just wondering, how much did that 598 upgrade cable cost?
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 8:30 AM Post #99 of 171

domsch1988

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Maybe if people want to argue about $500 DACs, but for more normal stuff, I think many people are just stubborn. They haven't taken the time to really listen or think about what differences they are listening for, things they would later start hearing automatically, and so they just wave off people who do say there's a difference. Does the Sound Blaster ZXR have a better DAC than the regular SBZ? There's a 500+ page thread of people who say yes. They can't all be lying.

I used to be stubborn and thought cables couldn't make a difference, until I actually did tests. I used to think people who say USB cables can sound different were crazy, until I actually did tests.

Many people say all optical SPDIF outputs sound the same. Have they ever done any tests? Probably not.

I got an "upgraded" cable for my HD598. It looks good and the materials feel good. And then I plugged it in, and things sounded dull. I looked up that cable on here. Sure enough, other people said it makes the HD598 sound dull. They can't all be lying.

Sure, lots of this stuff comes down to 20% or even 10% or less difference, but a 10% or so difference should be rather obvious regardless whether someone thinks it's worth the price or not.
So, you are saying that a different USB cable from your pc to your dac sounds different? How would that be technically possible? I'm not trying to offend anyone but that's in the same area as 1000$ hdmi cables. It's a digital connection. it works or it doesn't. There can be no differences in sound.

Also, did you do your tests blind? When spending money on something we are quickly hearing stuff that isn't there...
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 8:55 AM Post #100 of 171

Music Alchemist

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Except we're not talking about 720p to 4k. More like 4k to 4k HDR which is much more subtle. Depending on Source Material, player and TV the difference is there, but for some it's night and day, for others more subtle and even others feel its "oversaturated and eyecandy".
Especially with Audio Equipment, i'm really hesitant to believe people who claim "massive differences". I do believe and agree that headphones sound different. No doubt about that (wether it's "better" is up to taste). I also agree that amps sound different (though the differences between sufficiently powered solid state amps are getting really small). Everything beyond that (DAC, Cable, Power, Connectors and what not) i'm persé sceptical.
Take the Chord Mojo. I just don't believe the difference between it and say a Schiit magni/modi is as groundbreaking as some people here make it to be. Yes, it might be "objectively" better in measurements. It might even be "subjectively" better. But i strongly feel it's not 3 times as good. Maybe not even 20% better. That's why i liked Z's conclusion "It sounds fine. Nothing wrong with it. But you pay the price mainly for Build, Name and Looks".

All this is of course from my technical background. I have not heard every equipment there is. So it's all opinions, not knowledge. I'd happily admit to be wrong on DAC's. Yet there are countless people stating they can't here the difference between a modi and a gungnir in a blind test, even if they payd for both so...

audiowonka2.png

I made this and thought it was a good time to post it. heh

I think everyone can agree that a high-end DAC is not going to sound three times better than a decent entry-level one, even when the difference in price is a thousandfold. (Though it can measure thousands of times better.) Same goes for headphones. Audiophiles pay a premium for incrementally better sound, etc.

I really like the reviews on audiobacon.net. He tests everything you can think of and reports what he hears.

So, you are saying that a different USB cable from your pc to your dac sounds different? How would that be technically possible? I'm not trying to offend anyone but that's in the same area as 1000$ hdmi cables. It's a digital connection. it works or it doesn't. There can be no differences in sound.

https://positive-feedback.com/audio-discourse/why-usb-cables-can-make-a-difference/
https://www.audiostream.com/content/draft
https://www.audiostream.com/content...es-hansen-gordon-rankin-and-steve-silberman-p
http://musicapristina.com/theres-no-such-thing-as-digital/
https://www.audiostream.com/content/usb-cable-shootout

https://audiobacon.net/2016/01/13/digital-cables-chord-silverplus-usb-vs-supra-usb/

This one summed things up well enough that I'm going to share it as a quote. (Side note: The Chord Company and Chord Electronics are different companies.)

I didn’t really subscribe to the idea of USB cables making a difference. I was pretty much in the same camp as these guys and these guys. However, as I’ve learned on this climb up the audio food chain, everything matters for audio. It’s not as simple as 0’s and 1’s. There’s timing involved, noise pollution from components, EMI/RFI (From your home’s power line, power cables, etc), the material itself, length of cable, etc. I didn’t realize how much jitter/noise came from a laptop until I tried an Uptone Regen. This journey has taught me many things.

So I was using a Supra USB cable with my Uptone one day and realized I kept taking off my headphones due to fatigue. It was an extremely detailed cable but a bit too harsh with my Sim Audio Moon 430HAD + Abyss headphones. A friend of mine (Thanks Dean!) recommended the Chord SilverPlus USB cable.

I didn’t expect a huge difference but it was night & day. I felt the Chord was more expansive as far as soundstage, low-end was MUCH better, better clarity, and more natural overall. It offered fresher dynamics and coherence. In addition, it adds this muscular and fuller body I didn’t know I was missing with the Supras. The overall presentation was just so much more seductive and enjoyable. I just couldn’t go back.

Conclusion
If you have darker/warmer gear (headphones/DACs/amps) like the Audeze LCD-3 or even the Philips Fidelio X2, the Supras might work well. For my preferences and setup, I much MUCH prefer the Chord SilverPlus.

If you don’t believe USB cables could make an audible difference in sound, you just haven’t heard enough of them. Even between cheaper cables, there’s a difference. USB cables do have their own sound (which admittedly, is super annoying). That’s why companies like The Cable Company are a cost and time efficient way to evaluate them. When I first heard about the company, I thought it was ludicrous people would actually want to try so many different (and some very expensive) cables. Now I get it. Before accusing reviewers of selling snake oil, try them out for yourselves and use your ears to judge.
 
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Aug 30, 2017 at 9:55 AM Post #102 of 171

Arpiben

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@Music Alchemist
I will be glad if you can show or link to any DAC manufacturer "Timing Accuracy" measurements! Until now I admit that I have failed even to understand the marketing definition of it.
Anyhow, I do perceive different sound signatures among sone DACs. Everything equal, I tend to relate those differences to different tunings purposely applied.
Regards.
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 9:57 AM Post #103 of 171

cossix

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As an electrical / computer engineer, I call that a ton of salesman's bull**** built on a small grain of truth.
I know right? The difference between $20 cables and $500 cables is like 5% at most
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 10:00 AM Post #104 of 171

Alexium

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I know right? The difference between $20 cables and $500 cables is like 5% at most
I would argue that under normal circumstances (the communicating devices have reasonably stable power supplies; there is no extreme EMI; the cable length is not approaching the maximum possible 5 meters; the cable is not terrible), there would be 0 difference.
 
Aug 30, 2017 at 10:08 AM Post #105 of 171

cossix

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I would argue that under normal circumstances (the communicating devices have reasonably stable power supplies; there is no extreme EMI; the cable length is not approaching the maximum possible 5 meters; the cable is not terrible), there would be 0 difference.
I'm being generous with that figure :p I'm not going to judge people who spend tons of money to squeeze an extra 5% into their $10,000 sound system, UNLESS they understand that it truly is a tiny amount of performance gain. I hate when people try to brag about how they are a "real" audiophile because they spent $500 on an RCA cable and every other RCA cable sounds like crap. I would love to see those people A/B those cables and have no clue which is which
 

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