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TOTALDAC DAC

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by khaos974, May 12, 2011.
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  1. preproman
    This whole dedicated music server (source as it's call) re-clocker business has got me thinking pretty hard.  Just how much of an improvement can be had?   I shared a PM with Roy about this.
     
    Aurender vs. C.A.P.S vs. Mac Mini and so on....
     
    I'm trying to understand how "logically" one of these servers (Aurender) can be any better than a dedicated PC when these servers are just PCs them selves.  Of course not any old PC.  Not talking about laptops or big switching PSUs or huge gaming rigs.  I'm talking about dedicated PC with a dedicated made for Audio USB card with dedicated LPSU music servers.
     
    To keep this in the proper perspective.  I have a modified C.A.P.S PC (stripped down version of Win 8.1 with J.River 21).  No fans (fan less), no switching PSU.  
     
     
    TeraDak1.jpg
     
    TeraDak3.jpg
     
    TeraDak4.jpg
     
    I have a custom 3 output TeraDAK LPSU above, that powers the following below:
     
    A dedicated USB card (JCAT)  Just switched from SOtM tx-USB exp to the JCAT card.
    A fan less PC (with a SSD drive) http://www.atechfabrication.com/products/HeatSync_2800HP_Mini-Client.htm
    A fan less storage station http://www.atechfabrication.com/products/mass_storage_2500.htm.
    An iFi iPurifier. 
    A Regen with a dedicated TeraLink  X2 LPSU  for it as well in the chain.  http://www.teradak.com/products/46.html
    To the DAC
     
    So as you can see every thing is powered separately by a couple of pretty good LPSUs and an iPurifier.  So there should be no EMI/RFI transmissions to be found - or little to none.  In others words the power going through the USB is clean.
     
    Now as I said - I have the Regen in the chain.  I also compared the $150 Regen to the $3500 Total DAC re clocker and could not tell the difference at all from the Regen to the re clocker.  That told me the signal coming from the USB was as good as it could get. My theory anyway.  As much as I liked the D1-Dual and heard many differences between it and the Yggdrasil and it and the Bracasit M1 (I preferred the TotalDAC D1-Dual over both), I found the re clocker showed no improvement "at all". So I returned the TotalDAC re clocker and kept the Regen. 
     
    KGST.jpg
     
     
    So my question is how is possible for the N10 / N20 to be any better than a well put together Audio PC with a Regan or Re clocker in the chain.  
     
    I understand the N10 / N20 has a pretty good OCXO clock but so does the Regen and the Re clocker.  I keep saying "with a Regen / Re clocker in the chain" because the Regen / Re clocker takes what ever signal it's given, discards it so to speak and regenerates / creates a new one.  
     
    If this is the case, as long as the USB signal is coming from a "clean" source it really doesn't matter if it's a C.A.P.S or a Aurender or a TotalDAC server, the Regen / Re clocker is make a new signal anyway. So logically how can one sound any better than the other.
     
    Now I do understand if the Regen / TotalDAC Re clocker is not in the chain, different results should be had.
     
    This is another reason I say headphones "does not scale high enough"  to tell the difference in "some" very high end equipment.  For instance.  I could not tell the difference at all between amps (Pass Labs INT30A and Pass Labs INT150) using the HE-6 or the HD800s.  It wasn't until I moved both amps to my speaker rig was I able to hear a difference between the two amps.  The headphones was not able to scale high enough to accomplish what my speaker could.
     
    Yoga likes this.
  2. a1uc
    http://spl.info/en/products/headphone-amplifier/phonitor-2/overview.html

    Thinking of adding this to the d1 dual
     
  3. preproman
     
    For headphone use?
     
  4. Beolab

    @Rob Watts

    This is the spec of Chord Dave:

    S/N 127db = 21 bit ??
    DR 127db

    Maximum output voltage: 6 volts RMS
    THD and noise at 2.5 volts: RMS 0.000015 %
    THD and noise at 2.5 volts: 127dBA Awt (124dBA into 33 ohms)
    Dynamic range at -60 dBFS 1kHz -127 dBA A wt
     
  5. castleofargh Contributor
     
    if the main point was to say that having 500bits of dynamic from a DAC chip written on the side of a box wasn't relevant to audio quality, then this post does it fine. but you make a few statements that are out of context or down right false.
     
     
    about the time resolution,  just to give a sense of what something like 7µs can mean, 50µs is the period of a 20khz frequency, so of course a 16/44 format that cuts everything past 22khz wouldn't bother to collect information about waves that are faster than 22khz. now music still happens to be made of waves and not squarewaves, so a significant change in amplitude that would be as fast as 7µS, that would create an ultrasonic content in the music, not some fancy transient on the first impact of a cymbal that would feel like speed. such ultrasonic content is indeed filtered out in 16/44 so that the audible range is recreated correctly.
    so the way you explain the "need for speed 192" (soon in your theater), and using the meridian lolz numbers, is making amalgams as good as saying you can hear 140khz or something like that(7µs period).
    because you can't talk about speed as frequence resolution only when it's convenient to show how highres is better, I believe we should not do that at all, but if we do we must do it all the way. on a side note, I believe you must have misplaced something. 20.8µS just so happens to be the period of a 48khz frequency, not 44khz.
     with that said, because you wouldn't filter 40khz content when playing a 96khz file, you do get some faster content on the track, it is true. just like it's true that content is ultrasonic and poor guy castleofargh can't hear past 16.5khz(and going down with the years).
     
    192khz to equate time resolution of a vinyl? aren't you conveniently forgetting wow and flutter? ^_^
     
    about vinyls recorded at 20bit and how that's why vinyl can sound more dynamic, how about the effective resolution of using a vinyl? as in the sound going out of a turntable and the funny SNR and distortions it gives? no more 20bit out there I tell you that. or simply mention how most masters on vinyls must be limited in dynamic as to avoid having the needle jumping out of the groove on too big amplitudes at certain frequencies. 
    it is false in so many ways to say that a vinyl has more dynamic or effective bits than a CD. it could be true if we stopped at pressing a perfect vinyl and then looked at it with an optical gear instead of a needle. in practice the vinyl that feels more dynamic will most likely have a master of about 30 or 35db of actual dynamic. CDs rarelly go over 60/65db even on the most dynamic albums, but it's a mastering choice, not a medium's restriction.
    you're clearly mistaking different masters and different supports here, or maybe feeling of dynamic(colored engaging signature) with actual dynamic.
     
     I'll leave your subjective impressions out for others to interpret as they please. I don't know the DACs and feelings are personal. but the science part clearly had some problems.
     
    Beolab likes this.
  6. a1uc
    Yes and preamp
     
  7. yellowblue
    I think there are better options for your purpose with the D1 Dual (in combination with HD800) as EC Balancing Act or Audio-GD Master 9. And yes, I know the Phonitor 2.
     
  8. a1uc
    I have a WA22 Woo with upgraded tubes and jupiter cap upgrade also , here is the issue I want to to have my mono blocks and my headphones using the D1 XLR's , so I will need to have a preamp in the mix 
     
    I was just going to use my WA22 and my Sony HAP for head phones and leave the D1 for 2 ch direct to my mono blocks
     
  9. Articnoise
     

    Can you provide some source to the 120 dB on vinyl?

     

    I have learned that vinyl (LP) has the equivalent of max 14 bits resolution, but that the bits aren’t equally spread out across the frequency spectrum as in digital. In digital, if I have not misunderstood it, they are equally divided from sub bass to high treble and on vinyl there is more resolution in the midrange their circa 80 % of the music information are to be fund. If this is correct vinyl can in reality, then playing music, be more resolving even if the bits and dynamic numbers then looking strictly at measurements doesn’t show it.     

     
  10. romaz
    Excellent debate!  Hopefully, it leads to discovery of truth for each of us.
     
    Quote:
     
    Sorry, it's hard to completely understand what you've said but I believe you misunderstand what auditory time resolution is because it has nothing to do with our auditory frequency spectrum (20-20k Hz) or anything beyond 20kHz.  It merely describes the time interval by which we can discern 2 sounds.  If 2 sounds occur 10 µs apart, our ears can probably discern it.  If 2 sounds occur 5 µs apart, our ears probably won't be able to discern the 2 sounds.  That's it.
     
     
     
    You misunderstand the practical significance of oversampling.  Yes, it increases bandwidth beyond 20kHz which serves us no purpose as we cannot hear any sound beyond 20kHz but oversampling also serves to increase time resolution and this is why oversampling is done.  At 44.1 kHz (CD quality), a sample is taken every 22.7 µs.  I had quoted a value of 20.8 µs and you are astute to have realized that this is the sampling frequency for 48 kHz and so thank you for the correction.  At 96 kHz, the sampling time is 10.4 µs as I previously stated.  At 192 kHz, the sampling time improves to 5.2 µs.  Our auditory system can react very quickly to frequency changes, in the order of 5-10 µs although the literature frequently cites 7µs.  192 kHz was never an arbitrary target but a very strategic one based on this information.  What is a curiosity to me is the DXD standard which oversamples at a rate of 384 kHz.  Someone has to explain the logic of this one to me.
     
     
    Again, I believe you misunderstand the practical significance of time resolution based on this statement.  The amplitude of a sound wave results in volume and the frequency of a sound wave is what determines pitch.  The rate of change of both the amplitude and frequency is time resolution.  If a cymbal is hit, the leading edge of that sound hits our ear first and the signal that follows helps us to determine the direction and distance of the sound.  It is this 3D quality that oversampling hopes to achieve.
     
     
     
    You're right.  Analog media has its issues including wow and flutter in the same way that digital systems have to deal with jitter but this doesn't impact time resolution.  Again, you are misunderstanding what time resolution is.  There is no need to oversample a record because it has no gaps of information.  With digital, you oversample to fill in the gaps.
     
     
    Sure, I agree with you here and these are the most valid points in your entire response. I am not trying to make any statement about which format is superior, only to say that analog is often a reference point of comparison.  Since the 1970s, most vinyl mastering has been done with digital delay lines instead of analog delays on the signal going to the lathe that cuts the spiral groove so even if the recording, mixing and mastering was done using analog gear, at some point, A/D conversion has to take place and most A/D converters are 20 bit.  That is where the 20-bit figure is derived.  What happens after that is dependent on many factors including the quality of the turntable, tonearm, etc. just as you've stated and yes, the effective dynamic range is likely to be less than 20 bit.  However, I have heard implementations where digital has been compared side by side to analog using a 16/44 file against the identical track on vinyl and to all in the room, the vinyl presentation was considerably more dynamic.
     
     
     
    Don't feel bad about this one, you just have to look at it from a different perspective.  If you look at it from the standpoint of octaves, 20-20,000 Hz represents 10 octaves.  From 10,000-20,000 Hz is 1 octave.  At 16.5 Khz, you stil can hear 96.5% of the audible frequency spectrum.  That's not so bad [​IMG].
     
     
    Sorry, but my statements above are not subjective but I agree with you, selecting a DAC or any piece of audio equipment is personal.
     
    Beolab likes this.
  11. romaz
     
    You are right and I was questioning this myself as I was writing my response to you.  It is understandable that inefficiencies will often lead to an imperfect yield and so for 24-bit not to exactly yield 144 dB is not completely surprising.  My comment on the Vishay Foil resistor at 0.01% tolerance being limited to 14 bits of resolution is based on information from the internet and did not come from Vincent.  Apparently, I took this information out of context and the TotalDac is not a 14-bit DAC.  Here is Vincent's response from earlier today:
     
    "0.01% giving 14bit dynamic is simply completely wrong. Ok maybe it limits one maximum amplitude sine wave to 14 bit resolution, so a bit under 0.01% distorsion, which is lower than any speaker and microphone, but dynamic is competely different.
    Dynamic is the ability to make high signal with low distorsion (like 0.01%) as well as much lower amplitude signals still with low distorsion. The DAC is completely able to do that, the measurements prove it too.
    The dynamic being limited to 14 bit is 100% wrong, else how could it produce a -100dBFs signal with a low noise and distorsion. A 14bit DAC would be completly unable to do that."
     
    I aksed Vincent in follow up what the actual bit-depth of the TotalDac is although I have not received a response yet.  As for the accuracy of his measurements, he stands by them and here is the response from his website:
     

    Guarantee by noise floor measurement publication

    The noise floor measurement is given in the web site. The measurement can be done again with the customer in Totaldac lab, you can also bring another DAC for a direct comparison.
    The noise floor measurement is not so often shown by high end DAC manufacturers.

     
    This guarantee statement is consistent with what I know about Vincent, that he is a person of integrity.  As I have the monobloc in my possession for evaluation, my impression remains that this is the quietest DAC I have ever heard and I am not alone.  If you look at Steve Plaskin's review of the TotalDac d1-monobloc on  AudioStream from 20-May-2014, he writes:  
     
    "The d1-monobloc is, by far, the quietest DAC I have ever heard. I have spoken of DACs with exceptional black backgrounds, but the d1-monobloc goes beyond that. It allows transient detail to emerge from a black-velvet background with stunning reproduction of micro dynamic detail.
     
    The Totaldac d1-monobloc with server is no doubt, the finest DAC I have yet had the good fortune to experience."
     
  12. romaz
     
    Some CD players have measured dynamic ranges of 120 dB (even though in theory they should be limited to 96 dB) and this is because of dithering techniques.  Is that how the TotalDac does it, I'm not sure and I don't think so?  I am still awaiting Vincent's response regarding the true bit depth of his DAC but if his S/N ratio measurements are accurate (and as his website states, you're welcome to come to his shop and see for yourself and even compare your own DAC), then we already know the effective bitrate of his DACs, it is at least 27 bits for the monobloc.
     
  13. romaz
    Further to this, Steve Plaskin, reviewer for AudioStream, uses the MSB Analog with Analog Base as his current reference DAC and so he knows it very well.  His only experience with TotalDac products is with the monoblocs, however.  He had indicated in his review on 20-May-2014 that the Totaldac monobloc was the best DAC he had reviewed to date.  Since then, he has reviewed many other fine DACs including the $20k Wavelength Audio Crimson and the $20k Light Harmonic Davinci.  I e-mailed Steve on 30-Sep-2015 to see if his opinion on the TotalDac d1-monobloc as the best DAC he has ever heard has changed.  Here is his response from 1-Oct-2015:
     
    1.  
    2.  
    3. Oct 1 at 5:40 PM
    To
    1. xxxxxxxxxxxxx​






    Hi Roy,  
    Yes, I still think the TotalDac d1-Mono is pretty amazing and probably the best DAC I have heard to date. This is one huge setup and just as impressive sonically.
     
    Thanks for reading my reviews. Greatly appreciated!
     
    Best regards,
     
    Steve Plaskin








     
  14. romaz
     
    I share your curiosity about this, Darryl.  I have no explanation for how some of these players exceed both yours and my highly tweaked, purpose-built PC.  All I can say is the proof is in the listening. With the Aurender N10, for example, you will hear it in the first 30 seconds.  If you don't, then your baseline setup is better than mine.
     
    With the USB Regen, I believe this is only useful for fixing issues related to the USB signal.  It will not, for example, make a 96k mp3 file sound like anything more than it is but I know that you know this.  I believe there is so much molestation occurring to a file within the PC chassis that something like a USB Regen amounts to nothing more than a band-aid rather than a proper fix.  I have the USB Regen on my TotalDac + Server as we speak and I am barely hearing a difference.  With the Aries on my Bricasti, the difference was significant.
     
    The best I can tell you is to call Brian and setup an audition.  I told him you would probably be contacting him.
     
  15. romaz
    Yes, please read my response to castleofargh.
     
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