The great DAP scam...
Oct 17, 2020 at 11:36 PM Post #106 of 151

old tech

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People likes different things for different reasons. I just like those types of watches because I appreciate the craftsmanship, jus that. Is liking something reason to dismiss someone? If someone likes snake oil, I will not talk down upon them just because they personally like it.
Sure, I too wouldn't criticise someone purchasing a product for its aesthetic value or craftmanship or any other intangibles. I admire well crafted, precision watches but if someone tries to push some snake oil to back a disprovable claim that their Rolex analog keeps more accurate time than a cheap Casio digital (rather than all the other mentioned reasons), they have lost me.
 
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Oct 18, 2020 at 12:00 AM Post #107 of 151

IEMmasterRace

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Good question! You’d have to ask them that. My guess is the reason is that they believe spending more money gets them better sound, but they’ve never bothered to do a controlled listening test to find out the truth.

They also claim that it has a better/larger sound stages.. is it BS? Also, do DAP (dac+amp) can offer different sound signature based on the dac/amp itself for example warm (sony), more of a analytical (ESS) and more fun sound (AKM) signature?

Is it all BS and they sound all the same if the impedance and sensitivity is matched (like your claim)?

So, the only things matters is the tranducer itself (iem/headphone) ? (That have an actual impact on the SQ)
 
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Oct 18, 2020 at 4:55 AM Post #108 of 151

bigshot

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Why do people pay thousands for audio cables when a $20 Radio Shack cable does the identical job?

Because some people believe there is an audible difference, but they are too lazy to do a controlled test to find out the truth.

Is it all BS and they sound all the same if the impedance and sensitivity is matched (like your claim)?
So, the only things matters is the tranducer itself (iem/headphone) ? (That have an actual impact on the SQ)

I've been asking for a specific example of a DAC that sounds clearly different for years and no one has pointed one out yet. We have people here who are willing to help prove that difference scientifically, but we need a sample.

The transducer has the greatest impact on sound signature, yes. And soundstage is a common term people use to describe placebo.

Transducers are mechanical. They're a wild card. Digital audio and amplifiers are very consistent. It doesn't take thousands of dollars to make a transparent DAC or amp. It doesn't even take hundreds of dollars.
 
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Oct 21, 2020 at 12:02 PM Post #109 of 151

colonelkernel8

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They also claim that it has a better/larger sound stages.. is it BS? Also, do DAP (dac+amp) can offer different sound signature based on the dac/amp itself for example warm (sony), more of a analytical (ESS) and more fun sound (AKM) signature?

Is it all BS and they sound all the same if the impedance and sensitivity is matched (like your claim)?

So, the only things matters is the tranducer itself (iem/headphone) ? (That have an actual impact on the SQ)
Yes. Any claims that a device alters soundstage in any consistent way is complete BS. You want fun? Put a U-curve in your EQ. You want analytical? Boost the highs. You want warm? Boost the lows. If the DAP is causing those things without the use of an EQ, then it's not audibly transparent (i.e. it's trash). Different manufacturers of similar-measuring DACs don't uniquely color the sound if implemented properly.
 
Oct 21, 2020 at 1:09 PM Post #110 of 151

sander99

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Yes. Any claims that a device alters soundstage in any consistent way is complete BS.
I agree that this is usually the case [certainly when we are talking about pure DACs and amps], but like to add one disclaimer: there exist devices like the Smyth Realiser A16 that can do a really good binaural simulation of loudspeakers in a room and that I would call "altering soundstage in a consistent way".
 
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Oct 21, 2020 at 1:22 PM Post #111 of 151

colonelkernel8

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I agree that this is usually the case [certainly when we are talking about pure DACs and amps], but like to add one disclaimer: there exist devices like the Smyth Realiser A16 that can do a really good binaural simulation of loudspeakers in a room and that I would call "altering soundstage in a consistent way".
That's a DSP effect, so pre DAC processing.
 
Oct 21, 2020 at 3:46 PM Post #113 of 151

bigshot

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Totally different animal. DACs should just translate from digital to analog signal. They shouldn't change the signal. If a DAC sounds different than other DACs, it's defective, either by design or by accident.
 
Mar 25, 2021 at 12:20 PM Post #114 of 151

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I'm a sceptic too when it comes down to audio and audio products. That's why I took my time joining this forum in the first place, since I was following for quite some time now.

I own a Shanling Q1. I bought it mainly because I wanted to listen music on something else other than my phone; or if I wanted to, I should be able to pair up via BT and be done with it. My intention wasn't to improve sound quality but it did improve it. Any time I switch to my phone, I realize how "boomy" and "out of shape" it sounds and gets crowded without much context. When I switch to Q1, everything calms down and I can seperate different sounds better. I mean I can still enjoy the music regardless but yeah, I'm glad I gave it a go. To me it's a really convenient little device. That was before great enlightenment tho. What I realised over time that I could manipulate my listening experience via EQ which I tinker with it time to time and almost get any sound signature I desire. Even that "boomy smart phone sound signature", yeah, it's that easy. I have 3 pairs of relatively cheap IEMs and I can manipulate their output too. For example BL-01 was "real muddy" as you folks describe it, when I used it out of the box. I lowered some lower frequencies, raised some upper ones, tweaked with lower-mids and here it goes; a really fun, relatively tighter sound signature. If I had free time and money, I could go beyond that and try new audio players and whatnot just to see for myself. But for now, $120 device solves my problems to the extend that if it gets broken or something, I would go buy another one.

I share this because I've seen some topics where people discussing if its "viable to use EQ or not" (I think one of them was on a FH3 discussion topic, either in this forum or another one) in order to get the sound you want from your DAP or your earphone. If it's the music that matters, I don't see the point of this argument. If they manage to produce a good IEM or a headphone that seperates sound good enough and does a good job delivering it, I should be able to use technological advantages of the products I own (which in this case an EQ). I'm not gonna sit around and wait for them to come up with a product that pleases my desires. That probably would outlast me. I don't know anything on professional level audio (and audio equipment) and I don't want to sound like I do but that's my outlook on the topic. I can get the appeal of trying new IEMs since they alter the sound beyond EQ but I don't see the appeal of much expensive portable source other than balanced output and power it provides. I'll continue to try new gear if I get the chance and see and hear for myself in the future. But for now that's how I see things. I'm really sorry if I sound ignorant, it's probably because I'm since I didn't experience what you guys got over the years.
 
Mar 25, 2021 at 2:03 PM Post #115 of 151

HiFiHawaii808

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I love the title of this thread. It is guaranteed to be a 10-20 year, greater than 5000 post monster. Well done.

I bought a midtier DAP. A Hiby R6 2020. I got it because it supports Android 9 and gives me access to apps like Wavelet, toneboosters and native Tidal for downloading music. It is basically a smartphone without a sim card. It has decent sound quality and enables more use cases for listening to music, especially since it has a lot of ports and a micro SD drive. If I want great sound, I pair it via coax with my Hugo 2.

I think it is useful to have such a device in my portfolio so that I can continue to experiment with EQ to best understand my own preference curve for IEMs and headphones. And, by EQing various headphones and IEMs to the same frequency response curves, I can learn the actual differences between products through A/B tests. Plus, who knows what other audio apps creative entrepreneurs can make.

To me, DAPs are application devices. No more a scam than are smartphones.
 
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Mar 25, 2021 at 2:11 PM Post #116 of 151

HiFiHawaii808

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Totally different animal. DACs should just translate from digital to analog signal. They shouldn't change the signal. If a DAC sounds different than other DACs, it's defective, either by design or by accident.
I completely disagree. I know that's how you would like it. But that's not the way it is. You have an opinion about where features and functionality should be located in a sound architecture but since everything impacts sound, it's useful for companies to test all options and the market will determine winners and losers. The reality is that audio is like art. There are technical attributes and an artistic element. Since there are an infinite number of ways to design circuit boards and systems, even engineering becomes art and there is no possible way to completely boil it down to rules. In reading a number of your posts, this is the central point you seem to be missing.
 
Mar 25, 2021 at 2:46 PM Post #117 of 151

igcp

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I love the title of this thread. It is guaranteed to be a 10-20 year, greater than 5000 post monster. Well done.

I was thinking exact same thing. But then again, seems like I was the one blindly typing what comes to my mind without checking last reply. Sorry about that :frowning2:

I bought a midtier DAP. A Hiby R6 2020. I got it because it supports Android 9 and gives me access to apps like Wavelet, toneboosters and native Tidal for downloading music. It is basically a smartphone without a sim card. It has decent sound quality and enables more use cases for listening to music, especially since it has a lot of ports and a micro SD drive. If I want great sound, I pair it via coax with my Hugo 2.

I think it is useful to have such a device in my portfolio so that I can continue to experiment with EQ to best understand my own preference curve for IEMs and headphones. And, by EQing various headphones and IEMs to the same frequency response curves, I can learn the actual differences between products through A/B tests. Plus, who knows what other audio apps creative entrepreneurs can make.

To me, DAPs are application devices. No more a scam than are smartphones.

Well, yeah. Without 10-band EQ I wouldn't pay half of the price for the Q1, since it sounds like dry bread banging against the wall out of the box. Same goes for USB-DAC, Bluetooth and add touch-screen too actually since it's that convenient. Remove any of that and that device doesn't mean that much to me since I benefit from all that. If I was going for sound alone, there's a Clip+ in my pocket that I get my preffered audio needs without fiddling with EQ constantly (for the majority of what I used to listen anyway). As you said, tweaking is part of the fun. And I would like to listen to R6 some time soon. I can't keep an audio hardware with that price tag in my life at the moment, but at least I would be able cure my curiosity. I'm glad you're happy with your choice tho.
 
Mar 25, 2021 at 3:02 PM Post #118 of 151

bigshot

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I completely disagree. I know that's how you would like it. But that's not the way it is.

I do a controlled listening test with every piece of equipment I buy, so I can return it if it doesn't sound right. I've compared everything from a 40 Walmart DVD player to a $1200 Oppo HA-1, along with dozens of Mac products- computers, iPods, iPhones... Every single one of those sounds exactly the same in a line level matched, direct A/B switched, blind listening test. If you know of a DAC that doesn't sound the same as every other competent DAC, please let me know and consider lending it to Sound Science for testing.

The clear giveaway that expectation bias is involved is when people refer to an expensive DAC sounding clearly better than other DACs. If a DAC is working to spec, it should be audibly transparent, and it should sound exactly the same as every other audibly transparent DAC. There is no such thing as better than audibly transparent. So if one DAC sounds clearly better than others, that is probably the one that is performing out of spec and is probably the defective one.

Most of us in Sound Science have done controlled listening tests. We are happy to help you set up to do one yourself and share proper testing protocol. Just ask for advice. It isn't difficult and the equipment you need to switch is cheap. Feel free to ask. We're happy to help. But until you make the effort to eliminate bias and perceptual error, I'm going to assume that bias and perceptual error are coloring your subjective impressions, because bias and perceptual error colors EVERYONE'S subjective impressions.
 
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Mar 25, 2021 at 3:22 PM Post #119 of 151

igcp

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The clear giveaway that expectation bias is involved is when people refer to an expensive DAC sounding clearly better than other DACs. If a DAC is working to spec, it should be audibly transparent, and it should sound exactly the same as every other audibly transparent DAC. There is no such thing as better than audibly transparent. So if one DAC sounds clearly better than others, that is probably the one that is performing out of spec and is probably the defective one.

Sorry for my curiosity and taking your time on an otherwise straight topic but what alters the sound between a smartphone and a DAP? From what I understood, both of them have DACs but they engineered to appeal and function different, right? So every single aspect of the device can play a role in audio output. If that's the case, isn't there a ceiling for that sky? I mean if there's a formula for the "perfect sound" from engineering perspective shouldn't be that clear by now? I mean there should be audio players for every wiring, DAC etc. combination (portable or not) by now. Or am I oversimplifiying otherwise an overly technical topic?
 
Mar 25, 2021 at 3:39 PM Post #120 of 151

bigshot

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The problem is just bad planning. Smartphones aren't always designed for high fidelity audio. Telephone quality is very low and a chunk of the circuitry might be designed with that in mind. Then they graft a high fidelity DAC onto it and the phone circuitry becomes a bottleneck for whatever reason. It's the same with computers. Not all computers come stock able to reproduce sound to a high level. They figure for the purposes the computer is designed, high fidelity sound isn't needed. Then some marketing expert can decide "All computers have sound- let's stick a sound card in." and it doesn't sound good. It might not even be the sound card's fault- RF interference from bad shielding, that sort of thing can mess up something that would be audibly transparent if you put it in the right machine. That's why phones and computers are always the first thing I suspect when someone is saying they aren't getting great sound out of their amp or headphones. It's also why I use Mac computers and phones. From the first model I owned capable of sound, the 8500 AV, Mac has had perfect sound.

Home audio equipment like DAPs, amps and dedicated DACs are designed specifically for high fidelity sound. The spec for 16/44.1 PCM is complete audible transparency. If something is able to meet that spec, it's going to sound just like everything else that meets spec- as good as it gets for human ears. You can get better performance, but you would need that in a recording studio, not a living room.

I have yet to find any consumer DAC, DAP or player that isn't audibly transparent. That isn't to say it doesn't exist, just that it probably is rare enough that you don't need to worry about it. If you buy a computer or phone, you probably should check into the sound quality before buying though.

Does that answer your question?

EDIT: I just thought of one exception to not having ever found a DAC that wasn't audibly transparent... NOS DACs. They have a high end roll off to make them sound "warmer". For the life of me, I don't know why anyone would buy one. You can do the same thing by just adjusting your tone controls without deliberately hobbling your DAC's performance. But some people have weird ideas about what they want.
 
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