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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. Articnoise

    Yes I expected you to have another definition to the word analytical. But analytical is a common word that is used wildly not only in audio terms and to mean break down and separating the thing you want to analyze into smaller parts. In my line of work we use the phrase put on analytic glasses for the thing we want to resolve or analyze.




    The blur and sharpness you are talking about can be a bi-product of over or under analytical sound but is not analytical per se IMO. The same for neutral or accurately they are separate terms and explain other factors (that can be manifested at the same time as more analytical reproduction), but stand for other SQ effects.


    I know that then increase the contrast in Photoshop you actually make the resolution less in other parts of the picture to get the effect of a sharper edges. More or less the same way the record industry do then remastering a record by lowering the overall dynamic to get more headroom for changing and emphasizing particular leading edge frequencies. The result is good and sharper in many people’s hifi, but often really crappie in a more reveling system.


     “You can't make the blur go away by adding sharpness - at best you can create an illusion that makes it look superficially better.”


    Our hearing is not perfect or liner so practically the gear that can make all the fault and artifacts in frequencies that we can’t hear, or at least not hear so good is better than the one that puts them so we can, right? That has to include the fault and artifacts that can interfere with the frequencies we can hear. Normally we distinguish between the distortion/coloration that is harmonic to the one that is non harmonic. The reason is that we normally can like or at least tolerate a bit of harmonic coloration because it follows the music whilst the non-harmonic do not. 

  2. KeithEmo
    I think you've got it completely right.
    My point, though, is that a lot of audiophiles seem to confuse accurate with "overly analytical". You're quite right; anti-aliasing is often used with screen fonts, because it usually makes them easier to read - but you still wouldn't refer to the anti-aliased version as being more accurate. It is in fact a "euphonic visual distortion". You also generally wouldn't refer to anti-aliasing in the more general sense when describing it. (A graphic artist might say "that font is easier to read if I apply a bit of anti-aliasing", but very few would say "I kind of like the way fuzzy monitors look". Therefore, to me, when someone says that a certain device sounds "too analytical", I kind of assume that either:
    a) they're using the term to mean that it reveals too many details accurately - in which case it translates as "too perfect" (and, to me, there's no such thing as "too perfect"). 
    b) they're saying that it over-emphasizes details - in which case it isn't at all "too perfect"; rather it's unnaturally exaggerating details, which is simply an imperfection of exaggerating details (a flaw)
    I guess the term and usage just bug me because it seems to be one of the many ways in which something which, at least to me, seems like an objective claim, is used to describe something subjective. (To me, an amplifier, or a headphone, has a specific job - and it should do it as well as possible. Therefore, to me, saying that a headphone amp is "too analytical" makes no more sense than saying that a good microscope is "too analytical" or the picture on your TV is "too sharp". I can imagine a microscope that is fuzzy, or one that exaggerates the edges of things, but I can't imagine how one could be "too analytical" - the idea simply doesn't make sense to me. A microscope is supposed to be "perfectly analytical".)
    On a broader note, I believe that a lot of the reason "objectivists" and "subjectivists" often disagree so loudly is that they are assuming different meanings for terms like this... and I take this as an example. Another prime example of this is "rhythm and pace". In point of fact, rhythm and pace refer to time functions. While a certain amplifier may in fact make it sound as if a certain piece of music is "less lively", an amplifier will never actually alter the timing - and a simple measurement can confirm this. Therefore, no amplifier can ever possibly alter the rhythm or pace of a piece of music, and saying that one does is simply untrue - and quite misleading. (If you want to be accurate, and not say something that technically makes no sense, then you would say that the amplifier alters the sound in some way that makes it sound to the listener as if the rhythm and pace had been altered. This puts the claim fairly in the realm of a subjective difference, which may well be due to some objective difference, rather than of a claim of an objective difference that simply makes no sense - and, since it makes no sense, is of little use in figuring out what's really happening.)
    dan.gheorghe likes this.
  3. Stillhart
    I see now.  And I have to say, I agree about your views on the word analytical to an extent.  But then again, whenever I read opinions on these forums, I always assume the implied "in my opinion" or "for my tastes", etc.  "Too analytical" makes no sense.  "Too analytical for my preferences" makes perfect sense.  As you mentioned, a very analytical sound with a bad source recording could sound pretty bad... as anyone would expect.  And as you mentioned, getting an imperfect amp or DAC to make up for your poor source quality seems like a silly way to go.  But hey, lots of people like tube amps; who am I to judge.
    To your point about PRAT, I couldn't agree more.  As a drummer, I know that there's literally no possible way your DAC, amp or headphones could change those things.  But I really like when people use that term because it lets me know I can disregard their entire review.  :-D
  4. ZoNtO
    The thing you're missing is that all of this depends on the designer and their implementation of a chip. 
    A TV can definitely be too sharp (hence why there is a sharpness setting):
    I think the comparisons made in the article I snagged the above image from are especially applicable to DACs, and any other electronics in the audio chain: What does the wrong picture look like?
    Someone may prefer the picture on the right as it adds more pseudo-detail and may initially grab your eye more, but that doesn't mean it is more accurate. 
    dan.gheorghe and BassDigger like this.
  5. haywood
    My understanding (mostly from reading the tech-y stuff posted to this thread) is that the sample data isn't directly used like pixel data, but instead represent points on the original waveform and are used with a time-based formula to recreate the original analog waveform (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-code_modulation). How well they do that is why this thread is so long.
  6. Jozurr
    Objectively, would the DAC-19 be better than for example a TransDAC, Parasound or the Adcom600?
  7. BassDigger
    I totally disagree with your point about timing. To me (and in my experience), this is the key difference between the two technologies; R-2R is simply more musical, because it seems to be better at conveying rhythmic complexities, that DS even just misses. Since changing to r2r I've even, on one occasion (so far), noticed a more complex tune in some percussion, on a very familiar track (Paranoid Android), that I'd only previously noticed as a simpler beat.
    I'm not saying that it's normal for equipment to change the timing of the music, but I certainly think that different components, even cables, can change the way that the music is perceived, and that includes the timing. I found that R-2R and D-S are extreme examples of this.
    Regarding this ridiculous, quoting and re-quoting long posts, discussion about the meaning of a bl**dy adjective:
    Firstly, I think that unless someone is trying to state something a some kind of proven fact, every written word is opinion; I think it's more of an onus to state, to justify, why something is a fact, rather than needing to clarify that it's just a personal opinion. (Although, sometimes it's helpful to soften the tone or your words.)
    To the point: (As I think Stillhart implies) If someone mentions, in a review, that a sound is 'analytical', I'd read it as 'over-analytical'; a deviation from accurate or true to the recording; that's why they've mentioned it. This is a negative in the same way that the use of the term 'under-analytical' would be. Otherwise, surely they'd say 'accurate' (or one of its synonyms). Wouldn't they???
    If you are to use the word as an adverb (analytically), or as an adjective to describe the way that you can listen, then that is different. e.g. the sound reproduction is so accurate that you can listen quite analytically (or in a very analytical manner).
    I don't particularly mean you Stillhart, but if you all want to go on patting each other on the back, whilst you re-post entire ambiguous comments, I'm having no further part of it.
    Argo Duck and Maxx134 like this.
  8. jimvibe
    To suggest that you just listened more attentively would be a totally crazy idea, wouldn't it?  
    Maxx134 likes this.
  9. BassDigger
    Absolutely. To suggest that I listened less attentively would also be crazy. Wouldn't it?
  10. Stillhart
    I haven't heard the TransDAC or Parasound, but I have the DAC-19 and the GDA-600.  The DAC-19 is definitely better than the GDA-600.  Based purely on what I've read about the Parasound and TransDAC (so take it for what it's worth) it's better than those too.  You have to move up to something like the Theta Basic II to get something that sounds equivalent to the DAC-19.
  11. jimvibe

    If you have never noticed this "more complex tune in some percussion" before it doesn't mean it's not there when listening to a DS DAC. We tend to not notice a lot of things in music, our attention is limited. 
  12. BassDigger
    You were right the first time. [​IMG]
    And your point: (I guess about experiences and perception being both finite and variable) I think that repetition and familiarity, over a long period of time, go a long way to counteracting this.
    Maxx134 likes this.
  13. jimvibe

    If your volume knob is broken then maybe. Volume massively affects the perception of music.
  14. BassDigger
    I refer the Honourable Gentlemen to the answer I gave, previously.
  15. mark235
    I've already described some of my thoughts on the Schiit Modi 1 vs Metrum Quad in another thread, so rather than crossposting here's the link: http://www.head-fi.org/t/735828/gustard-h10-high-current-discrete-class-a-output-stage-headphone-amplifier/2730#post_11767056
    I was surprised to read the Topic Starters' specific opinion on the Modi and Quad. Particularly how the Quad was too polite for him, while he at the same time liked the Modi a lot. The Modi is a lot more polite to my ears. Then again, he was using the Modi with the Wyrd. I wasn't. And I was using the Quad with the seperate PSU and a decent USB / SPDIF converter. Perhaps those chain differences polarized my findings of these 2 DAC's further than it did for him. In any case, the Quad sounded anything but polite to me and at €275 for the DAC + PSU second hand, I find it just as much on overachiever as the Modi 1 is for €50 second hand. 
    What I'll do is test the Quad without the PSU, and see if that makes an audible difference. The Quad can also be fed directly from an adaptor. If it doesn't, I have a good reason for selling the PSU again, and I would have to conclude that the USB / SPDIF converter is largely responsible for the increased Quad performance, or the Wyrd improves things a lot for its money 
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