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USB cable supposedly improving DAC sound quality? How can I take other posts seriously after that?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by mus1cjunk1e, Mar 26, 2011.
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  1. bigshot
    Guess what? The vast majority of power and RCA cables do their job flawlessly too. There has to be some sort of design or manufacturing defect for them to mess up. Wires are wires.
    sunninho likes this.
  2. sunninho
    Yep, agreed. The only issues I've had with RCA cables is noise when doing the interconnect or if the interconnects are loose. Other than that, it's just an electrical signal transport medium.
  3. Mediahound
    2 videos showing that noise interference can be heard and measured through a USB interface, contrary to what some folks here believe:

  4. Whazzzup
    The consideration of rca se versus xlr balanced could be based on the topography of dac and amp that one is connecting. In my case xlr was the way to go
  5. GChief
    Once again I do see cable construction matter on digital signals including USB everyday at work. Same with 4-20ma ones also. Material and construction do matter. The question is if we can hear it or not. Now it’s up to you if you take my real world everyday exprerience or not. I have seen it first hand and that’s good enough for me.
  6. castleofargh Contributor
    who said anything couldn't be measured? that's just dumb. anything can make a measurable change so long as we have the rig good enough to record it.
    as for audible... sticking the cable right on the phone then boosting the signal like crazy to make it audible isn't proof of audibility in my book. sure anything can be audible if boosted loud enough. be it by increasing the output level or by using some crazy sensitive IEM that will turn 1mW into close to 130dB. but let's not pretend that any of this is normal use of gear. listening to noise floor without music is already clearly out of context. what I see changing on the video is mostly situated at -110dB in the midrange where we're more likely to pick it up. I don't know your listening habits, but mine don't make stuff at -110dB noticeable outside of very specific tests.
  7. Mediahound
    If you listen to Rob Watts talk below, he states that we are able to perceive noise floor modulation as a change in the audio quality to well below what is commonly thought possible, even if we don't think we hear the actual noise itself. The ear-brain is a lot more resolving (and complex) than just making a blanket statement that we are not able to hear -110dB.

    Your choice whether or not to believe what he states but based on how well-respected his DAC designs are in the industry, and what I've heard with them, I believe him.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  8. castleofargh Contributor
    I trust his technical expertise, but I stopped trusting his subjective observations for some time now. I have no idea what he calls listening tests, but to come to the conclusion that stuff at crazy low levels are consciously noticeable and change the soundstage or whatever like he sometimes suggests, I can only conclude that he's not remotely doing a proper blind test to get his opinion.
    the only way I know to pass even something as "easy" as a 16 vs 24bit test(same sample rate to avoid confusion), is to listen at a level much above what I ever use to listen to my favorite music, and then to find a very quiet passage so that I can notice the background noise. and I expect most human beings to be like that too. just like I expect people saying they can easily notice the difference to have made their opinion sighted, and to fail if they tried a proper blind test at normal listening level. so yes -110 below music is not something we need to care about. we can, be we don't need to.
  9. Whazzzup
    There is art to this science. Thus the need to market to ones securities and fantasy. The art doesn’t need analysis to be appreciated but that allows different perceptions of what is appreciated.
  10. bigshot
    Not in my living room or any living room I know of. And sealed headphones with a peak level of higher than 110dB would be painful to listen to with any kind of commercially recorded music that I can think of. Believe what you want, but I'd love to see you pass a DBT detecting anything 110dB down at normal listening levels in normal listening conditions.

    Saying you can hear what you don't think you can hear is an engraved invitation to experience the placebo effect.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  11. Mediahound
    The -110dB we were talking about is noise floor modulation level, not +110dB peak level.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
  12. Mediahound
    He talks about that in quite some depth over here, should you wish to get an idea:

  13. amirm
    I sat through his presentation. It was a different talk and unfortunately that one is not online. At the end I asked him how he was performing his listening tests and whether they were blind. He said that they were sighted as he did not believe in blind tests.

    What he states as far as our hearing being complex is true in areas like acoustics. But that in no way justifies what he says after that, with filters that make changes well, well below our hearing thresholds.

    I have no doubt that he has convinced himself of many things through these sighted tests which unfortunately are not correct. If identity of what is being tested is taken away, he will fail to hear the improvements he mentions. And attributes to our hearing system.

    Mind you, I don't mind engineering excellence in getting better measured performance through lots more taps and such. But no way can we use sighted tests and jump to conclusions about how our hearing works contrary to tons of research which shows otherwise.
  14. rule42
    I won't comment on the content of Rob's lengthy post other than to note that there is no mention whatsoever in it on the subject of this particular thread.
    I think it's fair to assume that you hold Rob's opinions with very high regard, so in an effort to get back on topic here is a quote from Christmas Day last week by the man himself. It's written in reply to a question about the possible benefits of using a USB purifier with his "Dave" but he also adds some opinion on USB cables.

  15. bigshot
    In order for something at -110dB to be audible, the peak has to be +110dB. You also have to factor in the ambient noise floor of the room. With speakers, that's going to be at least 30dB. With headphones, I would guess 15 to 20dB.
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