What's an example of a "good DAC"?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by EnsisTheSlayer, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. bigshot
    Isn't that kind of like trying to prove a negative? I don't know how far you'd get that way. It would just encourage anecdotal stuff that would be impossible to confirm or test for. If people think that something as simple as measuring frequency response is rocket science, they probably don't know much about the science of sound.
  2. ShaggyFi
    But...whats an example of a good dac tho

    Maybe a $1000 DAC sounds the same as a $3000 DAC, but our op is going for an sub $100 DAC. You guys are not really helping unless someone can explain why and how a DAC is a good DAC or why and how it fails. Although stuffs like sound stage and image depend on Headphone>>>AMP>DAC, the difference can still be measured by phase linearity or something like that.
    I do agree ideal DACs should sound the same, but you guys definitely know those claimed iPhone DAC is great has no idea about DAC... However those claims got the most likes...
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  3. bigshot
    I bought a $40 Walmart DVD player and the DAC built into it was audibly identical to every other player or DAC I own. I think it's a lot easier to find a good DAC than it is a bad one.

    What's wrong with the DACs in iPhones?
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  4. bfreedma
    The whole concept that you need "first hand personal experience" to draw what should be data driven conclusions is absurd when the data already exists. If that were the case, most of us would be seriously damaged by the effort.

    Science has evidence that staring at the sun is damaging to the eyes. I don't personally need to experience staring at the sun to vet that bit of science.
    Science has evidence that gravity exists and that jumping off a tall building will be effected by gravity. I don't personally need to fall 80 stories to vet that bit of science

    What makes audio different? Where we have significant peer reviewed data detailing how audio reproduction and human biases work, why would I need to try an "audiophile" USB cable to vet those findings?

    The whole "you need personal experience" argument is simply an easy out for those who choose to ignore what we already know on this and other topics. And before the inevitable "science is incomplete" statement gets thrown out, the corollary to that statement is an actual theory specifically stating what you believe is happening in enough detail to upend the existing knowledge base. Or at least enough to begin to properly test those alternate theories.
    spruce music likes this.
  5. bigshot
    I'm not sure what we're talking about any more. Are we still arguing about clearly audible sound that supposedly can't be measured?
  6. sonitus mirus
    And I was accused of being unoriginal; though, there really isn't any more I can do to contribute as nothing new has been introduced to discuss.

    My opinion:

    Get a DAC that has the features you need. If it has to be expensive and have multiple filter options, go for it. If it has to work with DSD and 768kHz PCM, get it . Galvanic isolation required? Grab one and put it in your cart. Is a pre-amp a strong consideration, look for a DAC that has one.

    If the only criteria is transparency, there are a plethora of choices available at many different price points. The difference in audio performance appears to be so subtle as to be insignificant when looking at the measurements provided and from the few places where test results have been made available. I would never attempt to sit around and try a blind test to listen for differences. It seems like a fruitless endeavor to me.

    I don't believe there are obvious differences between just about any reasonably designed DAC that was introduced in the last several years. People can make all types of claims with regards to audibility, but few of these people make even a basic attempt to verify that the increased 3D sound they claim to hear is nothing more than a trick of their mind.

    All we have are measurements and an ABX listening test. If you don't believe in those and ignore obvious issues with bias, the gap will never be filled and neither side will be open to the other's position on the matter.
  7. castleofargh Contributor
    cleaned up a little, sorry for the innocent posts hit in the crossfire.
    @SilverEars I can only delete posts now, but if you really need a ban I can go ask a grown up for help. there are no rules against making empty claims and pointless arguments(sadly), but there are clear rules about trolling and insulting people. act accordingly.
  8. pinnahertz
    We should deal in specifics, not etherial quantities.
    Well, the iPhone 6 was tested extensively. Do you have evidence contrary to those results?
  9. Niouke
    Devil's advocate here, I get that all DAC chips are more or less created equal in their auditory transparency, but what about their implementation? DAC's produce an non amplified analog signal that is still subject to distortions from their alimentation, so in the real world it's not impossible that a DAC chip sounds different depending on its power supply, EM interference etc?
  10. gregorio
    I don't know who Bruno Putzey is my guess is that either he doesn't know what the term HiFi means or you have quoted him out of context. Likewise, why do you think that would be a more productive question, especially on a HiFi thread about sound? I would think the exact opposite, that that question would be more productive on a thread especially about psycho-acoustics and far less so on a thread about HiFi and sound! HiFi is relatively easy to measure, we take the source signal (a CD for example) we pass it through a piece of audio equipment and compare it's output to what we input (the CD), the bigger the difference, the lower the fidelity, the less the difference, the higher the fidelity. Fidelity, high or low, has nothing to do with "what we can hear", that's an entirely different question! The problem is simply in the misunderstanding and frequent misuse of the term HiFi. Many audiophiles appear to think HiFi means anything marketed as HiFi, anything significantly more expensive than typical (say an iPhone for example) or simply if something sounds better to them than something else.

    1. Correct, they can only accurately measure the sound which enters our ears.
    2. This point though is not correct or rather, it's a massive over-simplification which is only partially correct. For example, a composer chooses a sequence of chords in a minor key because he/she knows that the vast majority of listeners will experience an emotion of sadness. This is a basic tool of composition which has been around for 500 years or so and there are countless others which elicit different emotions and experiences and even more precisely, for example a more precise type of sadness. This is an obvious example of the fact that people can experience what others are experiencing and that those experiences can be manipulated, at least in general terms. If this were not the case, as you state, then there wouldn't be any music in the first place!
    2a. Loudness is a perception/experience, it's not directly related to the actual level of the soundwave/s. However, in the last 15 years or so we have developed a process (software rather than a physical machine) which can measure loudness. It's based on an average perception of loudness (under certain conditions), rather than being precisely accurate for every individual but it is an example of a "machine" which knows moderately accurately one aspect of what our brain is experiencing when listening.

  11. Arpiben
    Please,do you mind providing if possible some reading advice regarding loudness or more generally sound perception analysis?
    I found some interesting papers/books but failed to find less specific or more recent synthetic ones;
    • Analysis Synthesis and Perception of Musical Sounds - Beauchamp 2005
    • Onset / Transients detection tutorial or techniques reviews from L.Daudet / Bello etc...
    • Henry MJ, Obleser J. Frequency modulation entrains slow neural oscillations and optimizes human listening
    • etc...
  12. bigshot
    When they test audio equipment, they're testing the output which would be colored by the implementation, wouldn't it?
  13. pinnahertz
    The typical structure of a DAC includes of necessity an output amplifier. There is often a buffer amp, but of the two, the DAC would be more performance limited than a buffer amp. If the device has be designed properly there should be no effects of the power supply, and certainly no audible EMI. It would be very odd for a stand-alone DAC to be underdesigned in the power supply area.
    sonitus mirus likes this.
  14. Niouke
    well I was reading the article on the front page about USB power vs external supply, which got me thinking I'd rather have an external supply than relying on USB power to generate a high quality signal from my computer. Gaming joysticks are surprisingly sensitive to a USB voltages, so I imagine DAC's are even worst?
  15. spruce music
    Bruno Putzeys I think is someone who became the smart engineer.


    He is known for designing Ncore and Hypex switching amps. He was a very rationally oriented engineer of audio gear who worked for Philips for a time. He posted many times debunking audiophool pablum. Tested cables, and other devices showing when there simply were no differences to be heard or sometimes when their might be.

    Now he has morphed a bit, works for Mola Mola (should be called Mucho Mola considering the price though admittedly they are state of the art gear). Has designed things for Grimm Audio including very expensive silver/teflon based cables which he once debunked saying the only possible difference is teflon and silver were the worst combo possible for triboelectric noise.

    Now you see stuff from him like the quote above where he claims to take seriously any phenomena audiophiles claim to hear. Which is ridiculous in the extreme. So he is a good or excellent designer of some of the best gear one can get in terms of technical performance. However, by becoming the smart engineer, he can make money, and design outlandishly priced gear which allows him to go to outlandish efforts to make every so slightly better performing gear. Some ideas he at least doesn't rule out so as not to antagonize potential audiophile customers is directly against some of his earlier opinions. I am pretty sure other than keeping a hand on the pulse of audiophile lore to know how to market his products he in no way approaches it from an audiophile design by listening perspective. He even said in his earlier designs during interviews that he designed without listening. Yes he listened after designing, but never was surprised by the result if the measures were up to snuff. I am pretty sure that is still how he designs.

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