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Audible Differences in DAC's?
sawdin
post Jan 9 2013, 19:41
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When he announced the release of the ODAC, NwAvGuy posted the the following on his blog:
QUOTE
NO SNAKE OIL REQUIRED: Many audiophiles want to believe more elaborate or exotic DACs offer higher fidelity. The ODAC demonstrates you do NOT need any of these for 100% transparent performance:

Asynchronous USB
UAC2 (USB Audio Class 2) Support
Asynchronous Sample Rate Conversion (ASRC),
Minimum Phase Filtering (no pre-ringing)
Non-oversampling NOS DAC chips
Dual DAC chips
Balanced Outputs
Vacuum Tube Stages
Elaborate and/or High Current Power Supplies


Is his position accurate/defensible?

If there was a well-designed DB/ABX test of the ODAC and sub $500/$1000 DAC's (e.g., Audioquest Dragonfly, iFi Micro iDAC, Audioengine D1, Emotiva XDA-2, etc.) that are are Asynchronous, USB Audio Class 2, etc. etc., do you think there would be 'audible/discernible' differences?

The reason that I am asking is that I am curious as to the whether there really is much of an audible difference between various sub $500 or $1,000 DAC's, and I haven't come across any DB tests of DAC's. I have read many subjective reviews that claim differences are quite noticeable. Of course, there are major differences in terms of the types and number of inputs and outputs that a DAC may have, whether they include a headphone amp, how portable they are, etc.

I am not trying to start a fight/flame war, I am just curious as to what the 'prevailing wisdom is' on this site. If you think there are differences in sub $500/$1000 DAC's, what do you believe are the relevant factors (e.g., USB vs Toslink/Coax)? I know that 'speakers' make a difference, but am unsure about how much, if any, difference there is between DAC's. Again, just trying to become an informed consumer (and save $), not trying to start fights.

TIA

PS...I should note that I appreciate people like NwAvGuy and others who try to provide quality products, diy options, etc., at reasonable prices.
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mzil
post Feb 26 2013, 00:26
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 25 2013, 15:40) *
QUOTE (mzil @ Feb 25 2013, 12:25) *
I really wish I could see more curves than just that.


Heres another 30 or 40 devices and a bunch of headphones:

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/index.php?dir=Comparisons
http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/index.php?dir=Single_Players

...
I'd say hes quite conservative. The impact of output impedance is enormous, and it factors into more then just frequency response (see THD at 1/2 vs. 1/8 for instance).



Thanks, but might you do me a favor and point out a particular example within those 100 files [all of devices with output impedances that are unknown to me and to the best of my knowledge not stated within the file itself], which demonstrates that breaking the 1/8th rule by just a little, (say closer to 1/4, 1/5th, 1/6th or 1/7th) causes a response variation one would expect to be audible? Thanks.


I don't doubt there will be visual problems with the graphs at anything less than his 1/8th rule, sure, however I've read some stuff he's written which suggests to me that he's concerned with tiny visual deviations of such plots which I would not expect to be audible in real world use. That's what I'm trying to gauge: what he considers a problem vs. what I consider a problem.

This post has been edited by mzil: Feb 26 2013, 00:32
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 26 2013, 14:31
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QUOTE (mzil @ Feb 25 2013, 18:26) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 25 2013, 15:40) *
QUOTE (mzil @ Feb 25 2013, 12:25) *
I really wish I could see more curves than just that.


Heres another 30 or 40 devices and a bunch of headphones:

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/index.php?dir=Comparisons
http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/index.php?dir=Single_Players

...
I'd say hes quite conservative. The impact of output impedance is enormous, and it factors into more then just frequency response (see THD at 1/2 vs. 1/8 for instance).



Thanks, but might you do me a favor and point out a particular example within those 100 files [all of devices with output impedances that are unknown to me and to the best of my knowledge not stated within the file itself], which demonstrates that breaking the 1/8th rule by just a little, (say closer to 1/4, 1/5th, 1/6th or 1/7th) causes a response variation one would expect to be audible?


The purple line on this graph looks pretty audible to me. I'll leave evaluation of the rest of the parameters to you.

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...ip%2B%29/fr.png

Blue and purple here seem problematical:

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...y%20A845/fr.png

Green and purple here, and the problem is relatred to the output coupling caps, not source Z

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...%20Vibez/fr.png

Green and white here, and again its a coupling capacitor problem, not source Z

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...%20Loads/fr.png

Hope this helps.
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Posts in this topic
- sawdin   Audible Differences in DAC's?   Jan 9 2013, 19:41
- - pdq   I'm curious why you felt the need to limit the...   Jan 9 2013, 19:55
|- - sawdin   QUOTE (pdq @ Jan 9 2013, 13:55) I'm c...   Jan 9 2013, 20:14
- - greynol   $500 is far too much for a transparent DAC. ...   Jan 9 2013, 20:26
|- - sawdin   QUOTE (greynol @ Jan 9 2013, 14:26) ...   Jan 9 2013, 20:31
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (sawdin @ Jan 9 2013, 14:31) Okay, ...   Jan 10 2013, 00:47
|- - sawdin   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Jan 9 2013, 18...   Jan 11 2013, 16:41
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (sawdin @ Jan 11 2013, 10:41) How a...   Jan 14 2013, 14:52
- - DVDdoug   Most sub-$100 CD players or portable music pl...   Jan 9 2013, 20:29
- - greynol   I don't feel challenged, rather it is I who is...   Jan 9 2013, 20:42
- - Speedskater   Unfortunately the NwAvGuy has lost interest in the...   Jan 9 2013, 20:51
|- - sawdin   QUOTE (Speedskater @ Jan 9 2013, 14:51) U...   Jan 9 2013, 21:11
- - ktf   You can try for yourself, download this: http://dl...   Jan 9 2013, 22:56
|- - arve   QUOTE (ktf @ Jan 9 2013, 22:56) You can t...   Feb 4 2013, 20:40
|- - mzil   At extremely elevated levels (which with normal le...   Feb 4 2013, 21:28
|- - arve   QUOTE (mzil @ Feb 4 2013, 21:28) At extre...   Feb 4 2013, 22:01
- - skamp   QUOTE (sawdin @ Jan 9 2013, 20:31) Okay, ...   Jan 9 2013, 23:37
- - sawdin   Thanks to all who have replied. Very informative,...   Jan 10 2013, 01:47
- - Mach-X   Haha skamp exactly why I love my zunehd! Its s...   Jan 14 2013, 06:27
- - Mach-X   btw Arnold, the folks at Zanden would disagree wit...   Jan 15 2013, 03:58
|- - probedb   QUOTE (Mach-X @ Jan 15 2013, 02:58) ...   Jan 15 2013, 09:05
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (probedb @ Jan 15 2013, 03:05) QUOT...   Jan 16 2013, 14:43
- - pdq   You did notice that he said that two of the files ...   Feb 4 2013, 22:23
|- - arve   QUOTE (pdq @ Feb 4 2013, 22:23) You did n...   Feb 4 2013, 22:50
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (pdq @ Feb 4 2013, 16:23) You did n...   Feb 6 2013, 03:48
- - Mach-X   My question here is, if the sansa clip+ provides l...   Feb 6 2013, 10:10
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Mach-X @ Feb 6 2013, 04:10) M...   Feb 6 2013, 11:09
- - skamp   Sure, the ODAC is overkill, but that's not a b...   Feb 6 2013, 11:45
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (skamp @ Feb 6 2013, 05:45) Sure, t...   Feb 24 2013, 11:58
|- - mzil   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 24 2013, 05...   Feb 24 2013, 22:10
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (mzil @ Feb 24 2013, 16:10) QUOTE (...   Feb 25 2013, 15:51
- - DonP   Of course the big limitation of clip is that whil...   Feb 24 2013, 14:32
- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (DonP @ Feb 24 2013, 08:32) Of cour...   Feb 24 2013, 20:11


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