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Thoughts on a bunch of DACs (and why delta-sigma kinda sucks, just to get you to think about stuff)

Discussion in 'Dedicated Source Components' started by purrin, Dec 5, 2013.
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  1. Sapientiam

    Ah thanks for that, I dunno where I got the idea they're doing 16X OS from. Makes more sense.
  2. evillamer

    Analog to Digital Converter Shootout

    Lowest to highest price, the A/D converters are the HRT Linestreamer+, ($299.95), the P.S. Audio NuWave Phono Converter ($1,899), the Channel D Seta Piccola ($1,899, or $2098 as supplied including optional RIAA module), the M2TECH Joplin ($2,499), the Lynx Hilo ($2499) and the Ayre QA-9 ($3995).
  3. prot
    Thx, makes a lot more sense now. Kinda like a buffer.
    Your OS abbreviation was also pretty confusing...in my IT-centered world that stands for Operating System :)
  4. prot
    An interesting test. The poll results are however already flawed because they allowed people to comment on the samples. Anyone who reads the comments will be flawed. I did not try but my bet is on the "all sound the same" option winning comfortably.

    Here's another Dac shootout http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/high-end-pc-audio,3733.html. From the $2 Dac on the PC mboard to the $2000 Benchmark. The results may surprise many but I cant really see any flaw in their test procedure.

    Darko also keeps a nice Dac review index http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/the-darko-dac-index/. His review style is a bit too much "audiophile" for my taste but he is still quite moderate when it comes to hearing audio unicorns.
  5. purrin

    You are still not getting this. the y-axis jitter analogy applies to all bitcodes that represent the entire range, not just the low level signals.
    In the end, it's not about dog farts in the orchestra. There is certain ambient, microdynamic, and harmonic information that disappears when amplitude data is "fuzzied". Recordings sound a little less live, less immediate, less real.

    In the end, the audiophile's pursuit to have the recording fool him into thinking it's real.
  6. purrin

    For resistor ladder D to A, the outputs for each bit are switched. When a zero gets switched to a one, there is a sudden inrush current. A spike, which then takes some time to settle. Kinda like your vacuum cleaner.

    This behavior is not always the same. Changes in the bitcodes of your WAV files vary. Worse case glitch occurs when a lot of bits get flipped at once. More bits flipped, more switches flipped, sharper spike, longer to settle.

    Glitching tends to be worse on non-audio chips.

    One method is to build a sample and hold amplifier. But as Mike said, he feels sample and hold sounds like moose-butt.

    Interestingly enough, Jason answered my question on how they dealt with the glitch, right before I asked the question. He probably figured I had read the spec sheet. I'm not telling; and I think it would be presumptuous to think that Mike and company didn't know what they were doing compared to us Internet armchair DAC designers.

    But guessing is fun. I know I had fun trying to guess the chips used based on hints Mike left on the Internet. There are hints in the Yggy's architecture on how the glitch was dealt with.
  7. dan.gheorghe
    My opinion on tomshardware dropped more than 50% because of that article. It doesn't deserve any attention and any link on this thread.
  8. purrin
    I don't have have a problem with the results, but I have a problem with context and framing of the results (picture of expensive McIntosh tube amp to pander to the "overpriced expensive stuff" agenda (the McIntosh amp had nothing to do with the test), running from the built-in headouts, and comparing stuff which mostly really does sound more or less the same. But you have consider a the audience: It's rather trendy thing for people in their twenties who still live with their parents to rail against the "overpriced arena of ******** that is the field of 'high-end" audio'. Part of this an extension of the nwavguy movement, which in turn is a modern take on of the the Doug Self movement decades ago.
    Lest we forget, we only need to go a few posts back in this very thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/693798/thoughts-on-a-bunch-of-dacs-and-why-i-hate-chocolate-ice-cream/2850#post_11386526.
    You won't see me going to Bimmer or Audi forums calling people out for being tards on buying "overpriced expensive stuff." To each his own.
    dan.gheorghe likes this.
  9. purrin

    Yes, the question whether these small inaccuracies make any difference when the bitcodes indicate higher levels is valid.
    What I would ask you to do is examine the bitcodes in WAV files of good quality recordings with a lot of dynamic range. You would be surprised how low/small the absolute amplitude/bitcodes tend to be at. I certainly was. Also, you have to realize that even a high level 0dBFS sinewave is composed of bitcodes that run from 0 to 32767 back to 0 down to -32767 back up to 0, et. al. 
    As far as your doubts whether 16-bits is necessary or not, I guess through your own powers of intuition that you know better than Sony and Philips who came up with the 16/44 Redbook spec, or Philips who realized the TDA1540 at 14-bits was too sucky and needed to make a more accurate 16-bit chip, or the professional recording industry who didn't like the 13/14 bits of information left over from processing in 16-bits, or Mike Mofatt who pioneered the standalone DAC / use of milspec chips (GAIN) two decades ago.
    Personally, I'll place my in trust Sony, Philips, Mofatt, (and my own ears which tell me 18-bits is about right for me for playback) than your belief that 16-bits is unnecessary and 14 honest bits with 2 fuzzy fits is all that we need. Honestly, you just sound like an apologize for TotalDAC at this point. It is what it is. No need to defend it. I don't disbelieve you when you said the totalDAC sounded great with your 10 minutes or whatever gear and recordings you used during your audition.

  10. arnaud Contributor

    Well, I can discretize a sine wave to 64 bits and still see every bit active. That's does not prove any quantisation below -80dB FS is useful perceptively.

    - 14 bits is over 80 dB of dynamic range
    - Electronics 20 years ago could barely touch that in terms of background noise. I used to do a lot of n&v measurements as part of my work, still look / process test data every day.
    - 16 bits was thus a reasonable value considering the typical clipping headroom.
    - Just for the same reason we use 24 bit DAC in modern ADC because it makes life easier (we guarantee our background noise is due to mics / electronics rather than quantisation error).

    - Not preaching for TotalDAC in particular but I guess I can object to your claims of it sounding unresolved since it's in my stash for a month and proving you wrong to my ears.
    - I am all about room cues / ambience / keeping the texture of instruments day, placing instruments in the room. And, despite your talk, the D1 stomps every other 20-24 bit D/S dac I have heard in that regard. Something doesn't add up..
    - Conversely, all you've heard from the D1 is its spec sheet and extrapolation of what MSB gear sounds like...
    - As for Mike Moffat's opinion, I'd be inclined to believe he has no interest in saying one needs any less than 18 bits as he's the one who decided on using a fairly expensive DAC part in the Iggy :wink:.

    Now I see the true purrin: discredit people's authority, discredit people's ear, trash competitive gear, trash reviewers, do anything it takes to make your point. I have this image of you racing in the mud with many other people, stepping on people's face to stay out of the mud :p

    At last though as we both have a life I suppose: fair enough in the required dynamic effective bit depth, I'd be curious to hear your altered wav files. Especially when I hear the Iggy as it would make sense only then, but even now just to validate it sounds identical on the D1.

  11. prot

    And mine went up at least 50%. The world's balance is safe again :D
  12. drez
    Not sure I understand how it works with bit depth.  So a high dynamic range 24 bit recording will use how many bits?  Is there any point having a DAC that can resolve more than this number of bits?
    Seems to be some kind of relationship between DAC noise floor and dynamic range?
  13. prot

    I am pretty sure noone from tom's will come here to complain about your dacs :)
    And I wont either. Got no problem paying 5-10k for a component. But if I pay that kind of money, I wanna be sure it sounds better than the $2 mboard chip. And I want that 'better' to be easily audible. Same as easy as seeing the price diff in my account.
    Did tom's have an agenda? Maybe. But everyone has. And their test procedure was more than ok. Many people knew already that the benchmark and the odac were quite similar. Nwavguy said that too and many confirmed. But a $2 soundcard chip!? That's not funny anymore
  14. dan.gheorghe
    Dude, I've listened to a bunch of dacs starting from onboard dacs to msb diamond dac. If you cannot hear the difference between the 2$ soundcard and a 5000$ dac there could be many issues:
    1. The other components in the system are not up the the task
    2. The dac is truly BS
    3. You don't hear the difference because:
    1. Hearing problems -> Go see a doctor 
    2. Audio memory problems -> untrained ear most probably 
    As I said before we rely most on our vision, so the hearing is not our best sensory input, thus most of us don’t have a very good audio memory. This is an interesting test for audio (rhythm) memory. If you score badly and cannot tell the differences between different rhythms, it will be very hard to tell the differences between some audio gear ( as soundstage, details, dynamics, transients differences are harder to distinguish than rhythm changes). However, in time your audio memory gets better and your ears more sensible to these aspects. This is why this hobby is appreciated better in time and gets even more addictive. 
    You may also want to join the Philips Golden Ears Challenge which has very good training and tests. 
  15. prot

    Are you sure you are talkin to me? I did no test, I just posted a link. Not my Dacs, not my ears, not my results. And I tried to find a fault in that test too because it sounds kinda funny. No success.

    You wanna prove that tom's test was flawed?! Find the flaw. Or do a better test. Dont just parade your 'magic' ears and/or insult other people's ears. Oh and btw, neither I nor my audiologist like to be called 'dude'.

    You may also find this thread interesting http://www.head-fi.org/t/754695/asrock-z97-e-itx-ac-outperforms-my-bifrost-and-crack-hd-600
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