- Jan 8, 2015
The only way you can mark improvement from one DAC to another is to have everything else implemented exactly the same except the DAC. Let me know if this has been done and I will be interested in the findings. Otherwise any marked improvements could be compounded improvements not necessarily from the DAC or from the DAC alone.
I agree, that's the problem with these pissing contests about components. Unless you've built out the rest of the chain the same way it's not much of a test anyway. And if you've done that you are probably a builder yourself, pushing a sales agenda.
Charlie Hansen from Ayre says they do exactly that when designing a new circuit: A set of possible components are selected and then extended listening tests are performed while switching in and out various components on a custom mock setup until the designer feels they've achieved the best sounding circuit. They are instructed to look at no graphs or scopes or specs during this process and rely solely on their ears and their emotional responses to extended listening sessions.
The finest sounding circuit is completed and then they re-tune the circuit using specs and standard industry practices for completing the circuit. In some units this second formula-derived setting is built in as the only switchable sound feature on the device.
Charlie said at one point they had a faceplate with one switch only labelled human/math or something like that, but marketing made them relabel and hide the switch.
BTW - if you want a similar test where the DAC is the same but analog is different, try to hear a Fiio next to a Pono. Most of them use the same DAC but it's different through the analog and output sections.