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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. Bill-P
    So I scored pretty well on that test. Do I win a cookie? [​IMG]
    And yeah, I can tell the differences between some DACs, and also the differences between different filters of the same DAC (sometimes). But I don't think the test is meant to prove that. It was mostly about identifying out-of-rhythm cues, or sections that were altered very slightly (more beats or less) as opposed to how they were before.
  2. dan.gheorghe
    Good score. No, it is not meant to do that but as I said before, if you cannot tell the differences between rhythms, how can you tell the differences in details, dynamics, transparency, imaging, etc. ?
  3. prot

    The wikipedia articles on dynamic range, bit depth and SNR are pretty good.
  4. Bill-P

    Yeah... I see the point.
    Kinda surprising to see the average so low after completing it. It's like saying the average guy will just be able to guess it right half the time. Half way through, I realized the replay button had a limited number of use. At that point, I was down to... 1 replay left. So the last half was all guessing. Haha.
  5. prot
    I'm an armchair DAC listener at best :). But thx for adding to the explanation. Always curious about techie stuff like that.
  6. dan.gheorghe
    I wasn't implying you didn't hear well and wasn't intending on insulting anyone. I was referring to the general case. If you read it again, I gave 3 cases there, all valid from my point of view. And even if people have hearing problems, how is that an insult? And btw, there's no magic, I'm afraid :)
  7. purrin
    tl; dr.
    I tire of this conversation. We'll be going round and round in circles. I'm not surprised the totalDAC is more resolving than the craptastic D/S that DACs you have heard. (BTW, you never answered zdfx's original question.)
    Let's remember the overall theme and conclusion of this thread - more choice (better sound) and value:
    1) Modern DACs have not really progressed in sound quality in 20 years. One step forward. One or two steps back.
    2) To have more choice other than the D/S DACs that currently permeate the market.
    3) To bring back multi-bit (R2R or otherwise) DACs that sound great.
    4) While understanding that R2R will never be cheap - to have somewhat affordable multi-bit DACs that normal people (not wealthy people like you) can buy.
    If you want to spend $6500-$10,000 for the privilege of a 13/14-bit (admitted by the guy who made it) multi-bit DAC, by all means, go for it. While I respect totalDAC dude's efforts, it's obvious his target customer base is people where 10,000euros is a drop in the bucket. 10,000euros is too rich for my blood. Seriously, the totalDAC shouldn't even be compared to the Yggdrasil because the price points are so different.
    It my sincere wish that the Yggdrasil's technology will trickle down to their lower end products, and that in time, other manufacturers will take note. Perhaps Analog Devices or BB/TI might even notice and decide that there indeed is a market for good sounding high performance multi-bit chips that will be easier to work with for audio. 
  8. purrin
    I don't think there is a strong correlation with price in my rankings. For example, note these expensive DACs that I did not particularly care for:
    • PSA DSD $5,999
    • PSA PWD2 (new production, not upgraded)  $2,995
    • Chord Hugo $2,445
    • Lampizator $4,950
    • Lampizator Big $6850 (starting price)
    • Eximus DP-1 $3,150
    • Teac HA-501 $799 (not that expensive, but horrid)
    • Mytek Digital Stereo 192-DSD $1695 (not that expensive, but unlistenable)
    Since I am no longer updating the list, I may as well mention many other expensive DACs that I also do not care for:
    • Anything from MSB. Good stuff, but too expensive for what you get.
    • Anything from Wadia. I don't like their house sound.
    • Anything from Meridian. I don't like their house sound.
    • Resolution Audio Cantata.
    • There are a few more, I can't name them off the top of my head.
    I know of PS Audio's reputation as a company, but credit is due to where they succeeded (the PWD1 units upgraded to 2).
  9. jogfi2002
    Good post.
    Well, it is reaallly hard to decide which DAC to buy when you have not so much in your pocket...
  10. Bill-P

    If that's the case, you can just grab one of the Geek Out's... and you can also forget about the amp. Bargain, I'd say.
    No, honestly... [​IMG]
    I'm using a Geek Out 450 as my DAC. Cheap, very functional, and does a fairly decent job. Far better than some of the more expensive offerings I have heard.
  11. purrin
    I have no problem with filters and cables but the fact that these items cost 360-390euros when the cost in parts is a few euros. That sets off my BS detector. It's practices like this that give high-end audio a bad reputation. It doesn't need to happen.
  12. evillamer
    Seriously, anyone who can't hear difference between ESS Sabre(any model) and Realtek AL1150 should just stay at Hydrogen forums and deregister from Head-fi.
  13. drez
    Ideally we could have Multibit DAC's that measure well also - but nobody seems willing (or able) to make them.  Well, unless the measurements for the Totaldac are honest.
    I am still struggling to grapple with how something have be more resolving yet have less resolution, retrieve more ambient detail yet have higher noise floor.  Well, not counting  dynamic compression, but I doubt this is happening.  My problem is probably not hearing any of these old school DAC's or Yggy - trying to understand hifi from preconceptions ends up with some of the recent additions to this thread.
    I have however come across one phenomenon where a slower sound can be more coherent and resolving.  I have a headphone cable which while less focussed and precisely enunciated, makes music more coherent, the tone comes through, more of the timbre also, especially in the bass which gains a lot of growl and meat.  Treble too is easier to discern timbres, and has less glare.  The soundstage though is not so great, so it can't completely reproduce what I expect these Multibit DAC's to sound like according to my imagination. 
    How bad do the delta sigma artefacts sound though?  How loud would they need to be?  If Sabre are to be trusted - the none PPS noise is all below say -123dB.  Are we really hearing this noise at -123dB or are we hearing some other noise coming through, thanks to the extremely low noise floor and distortion?  For example I recently played some music through a HDD, before transferring to an SSD.  Much more glare and digital hash on the HDD.
    Yes my timing to discuss such tweaks is not excellent considering our recent visitors.[​IMG]
  14. purrin
    I don't not believe that person's experience. Mobo outs can be warmer and more pleasant sounding. Also the person mentioned he got less noise from the optical input and that the USB was noisy. Sounds like something could have been wrong with the USB or he should have switched USB ports. Also we have no idea if he was using the Windows DirectSound Mixer where sounds from all other applications are mixed and combobulated. DirectSound is handy, but will make everything sound equal - equally crappy. Windows and PCs can be temperamental. I tried using Macs, until I realized 90% of the programs and tools I used didn't exist on that platform.
    evillamer likes this.
  15. Sapientiam
    As a part-time (armchair?) designer of DIY multibit DACs myself, which measurements are the ones that matter to you?
    I agree that the retrieval of ambient detail whilst having a higher overall noise floor is something of a puzzle, but its been something I've perceived too in my DAC experiments. How I look at it is that there's dynamic noise from a DAC which broadly tracks the program content (noise modulation in other words) and because this noise is strongly correlated with the signal, our brain interprets it as signal. Thus it doesn't end up being perceived as ambience when the signals are decoded in our brain.
    On S-D artefacts they tend to be rather impulsive so relying on an FFT to gauge their level is misleading because the FFT time window is normally measured in seconds nowadays (64k and up FFTs are common) whereas for our ear/brain to register something it can be much shorter duration. I suspect we'll need wavelet analysis to get to grips with what happens in S-D modulators on short time-scales.
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