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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. evillamer


    I don't think Schitt is purposely selling/marketing r2r because It is rare or unique. They can always slap on 2 or 4 chips of akm4495 and call it their top of the line dac(sigmadrasil?). And they probably can sell at the same price as the Yggdrasil and make even more profits with lower bill of materials. Not to mention they can market it as a dsd dac as well as oppose to the 24/192 Yggdrasil

    Look at the situation now. Schitt is facing supply chain issue with the 20bit dac chip. Why take this difficult approach when you can just order massive quantities of sigma delta dacs? Surely Schitt can still put their closed form filter on top of sigmadrasil and make it their unique selling point. With the current Yggdrasil backorder and Schitt not collecting any money from customers until shipping means Schitt is technically losing potential revenue(had they used sigma delta design, they would have already collected profits)
    Argo Duck likes this.
  2. KeithEmo
    I believe at one point in the past it was officially EOL and was "pulled back" to NRND. I could be wrong on that detail - it could be that TI had announced that they were going to move the part to EOL soon, but were convinced not to do so. I do know that fans have been mourning their imminent demise for quite some time, and some companies that do still produce products that use them have been complaining for some time that they "have become not only expensive but difficult to get".
    Either way, if I was considering using them in a product, I wouldn't like to count on being able to get 1000 of them tomorrow.... or on being able to get any of them six months from now. Which means that, for a product with any significant development budget, and any significantly large hoped-for market, they would be off the list. (Since the "official replacement part" is NOT R2R, that means that, once they do disappear, there will essentially be NO direct replacement for it in products that "require a real R2R chip", and so those products will have to be totally redesigned to use a different one.) 
  3. evillamer
    Laws of supply and demand at work here.

    Even if one day Ti pulls the plug on pcm1704. There is still plenty of other r2r dacs in the marketplace that will sprout out to fill the demand gap. Example:


    the thing is there is money to be made here, maybe it's not worthwhile for mega corps like ti but for small scale firms, maybe it can be profitable to produce r2r dac.

    Or maybe one day ess or akm(or in my wildest dream, chord) comes out with a sigma delta dac that exceeds anything r2r can output.
    BassDigger likes this.
  4. KeithEmo
    Very interesting - and looks to be very well thought out.
    Your final sentence suggests that we may be on the same page here after all...... assuming that we can actually determine what performance differences account for the differences people seem to be hearing, there's no reason to assume that we won't be able to "tweak" current D-S DACs to match them...... or that some new type of DAC altogether may not turn out to deliver the best of both.
    This is why I would very much like to see this discussion evolve from "R2R DACs sound great, D-S DACs do not, so you should buy an R2R DAC" to something more like "all of the DACs I currently like seem to be R2R DACs, so let's find out what's really different about them as compared to all the D-S DACs I don't like, and figure out how to combine the benefits of both". Perhaps there really is something that R2R DACs do well and D-S DACs simply cannot, or perhaps there's just something that D-S DACs currently do badly because the very smart engineers who designed them didn't consider them to be part of their design, or maybe, just like tubes, they simply sound "a bit different" and some people happen to like that difference.
    From an engineering perspective, D-S DACs perform very well in most ways, and the ways in which they are less than perfect are such that we wouldn't expect them to be audible. (For example, some D-S DAC designs are known to deliver a noise floor that is not perfectly smooth under some conditions, and this is a flaw. However, this does occur, we're talking about modulation in a noise floor that's down 130 dB, so it shouldn't be audible.) Either we're not measuring something that in fact turns out to be important, or some of the assumptions we've been making about the performance measurements we have aren't right, or there's something else entirely going on (perhaps the R2R DACs that people like actually share some sort of euphonic coloration).
    ESS has a history of designing DACs specifically for use in high-end audio products, and of being willing to consider both specifications and "listening tests" when "fine tuning" their DACs, which suggests to me that it would probably be more likely that they would be willing to expend a bit more effort to develop a specific "audiophile friendly" new DAC chip than for someone like TI to do so.... but I could well be wrong there.
  5. prot
    "SOmetimes they are able to bakc up that claim in a real double-blind test that excludes their expectations from the equation; other times not."

    Would you care to add some links to tests of the former kind? I'm only aware of many of the later kind where those boutique and so called highend parts miserably failed to sound better than similar, off the shelf components. Most of the time they did not even sound different enough to be recognizable in a controlled test.

    Also great post ..
  6. Sonic Defender Contributor
    While I can't be for sure, I am fairly confident that they do quite intentionally leverage the R2R aspect of their product. They would be foolish to not do so; regardless, doing so doesn't mean that an excellent R2R design such as the Yggy requires trickery to market it, but good marketing always helps. In a market where products are very, very similar and consumers seeking out that special device, differentiating yourself from the pack is crucial. I'm quite sure Jason and Mike would agree.
    Ableza likes this.
  7. US Blues
    They go a step beyond the R2R aspect by emphasizing the bit-perfect design, and the fact that all the original data is preserved. That strikes me as the key differentiator, both from DS DAC's and from other R2R designs. It places them a step beyond other designs.
  8. Ableza
    And the fact that they use a proprietary filter that is unlike everyone else's and it was designed by Mike Moffat, which is not a small thing for those of us who understand his credentials.  :)
  9. Sonic Defender Contributor
    I don't think anybody who frequents this thread is unaware of the pedigree of design and designer behind the Yaddrasil. Now all that remains is some blind listening tests to see if the results really translate into a product that sounds so much better than well implemented D-S designs. We put our July meet off until September as it was just too hard to get enough attendees with people away on vacation and the like.
    To that effect if anybody wants to propose their ideas for how the blind tests should be conducted I would be very happy to take the feedback and where possible incorporate it into my design. I am glad we are waiting until September as it allows for better design and planning.
  10. Ableza

    Not a blind test but a side-by-side A/B with my Wavelength Crimson and the Yggdrasil sounded sufficiently better to me to replace the Wavelength (which cost significantly more I might add.)
  11. Sonic Defender Contributor

    Nice to hear. still, there needs to be lots of people doing blind listening tests for many audio claims/beliefs (not just the R2R/D-S debate). Despite the price difference it can easily be suggested (and very reasonably I might add) that you purchasing a new DAC despite having an expensive one already can mean that you were bored with the sound signature you had, or that you enjoy new sound signatures or any other number of reasons. Any, and all reasons could certainly produce an expectation bias or hope that this new DAC is indeed the sound you want, and or a giant killer. I'm not saying it isn't, but simply preferring a less expensive item over a more expensive one does not remove the possibility of new toy joy, and or expectation bias. We need blind listening tests to help overcome those considerations.
    preproman likes this.
  12. Ableza

    No, actually, you cannot make those assumptions about me, although I understand that was not really your point.  [​IMG]
  13. Sonic Defender Contributor

    You're correct, I can't make assumptions about anybody at all; however, I can still suggest that for you as with all people, these factors must always be considered as a plausible and possible explanation. That isn't to say they are in your case, but they must certainly could be. We are all cut from the same cloth although it is equally our nature to feel that we are the exception to the rule.
  14. Ableza
    I try out new things all the time.  IMO, it is not necessary to "remove bias" when making a personal choice.  When it's personal, bias and preference is what it's all about.  Your avocation for "blind" testing is only valid if one is trying to make some scientifically or statistically valid conclusion.  But when any individual user is comparing item A to item B, that is really not necessary.  When someone "likes" a thing it is because  - they like it.  No need to decide why or to make some grand conclusions based on that preference (a mistake audiophooles make all the time.)  Preference is all about preference, and the reasons for it can - and should - include all five senses and all of our frames of reference including expectation and anticipation and "new car smell."  And then we need to remember that our preference is personal and has nothing to do with any one else.  I liked the Ygdrasil more than the Crimson (and also more than my Ayre) because I liked it more.  I thought it sounded better.  Simple as that.
    Argo Duck and US Blues like this.
  15. maverickronin
    If you're buying it because you think it's cool, you want to support the bard, or some other personal reason, then that's fine.
    If you're buying a DAC for it's sound then why shouldn't you control for all other factors?
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