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Am I deaf? And what is the next step up?

May Kasahara

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At the moment I use two DACs, one is the Chromecast Audio Analog Output (3.5mm) and the other is the Topping E30. Okay, so far so good. I balanced both with the multimeter and listened blindly against each other. Ok, there were differences, but I didn't do the test to hear the differences, I did it to find out which one I preferred. And every time, I preferred the Chromecast Audio. It's not that I don't know that the CCA has worse measurements, but I find that the sound is much nicer than the E30, even though I know that the E30 has better measurements. Am I deaf or do I just have different preferences? But let's consider that as a fact, what does that mean in terms of improvement? What would be a DAC I could try if I wanted to improve?
 

Greenman

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Listen to the one you like. Measurements don’t tell you everything, and many of them are irrelevant to how they actually sound. I have 3 dacs the one that sounds by far the best is the one that measures (according to Sinad in any case) the worst. Of course if other components of your system changes it’s worth redoing your listening test. For heavens sake don’t reduce the enjoyment of the music based on some figures on a random website.
 

nerdstrike

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The H0 here is that you cannot tell the difference between the two DACs. That's what you need to disprove. I would start by looking for some unintentional EQ that's only impacting one of your sources, or perhaps some ridiculous resampling going on to get the audio to the interface.
 

Greenman

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That's what you need to disprove.
He doesn’t need to disprove anything, he’s already done a blind test which is more than 99.9% of people on here ever do.

OP - enjoy your music, listen to what sounds best to you, you like most people that actually listen can easily discern differences between audio components.
 

fpitas

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Sokel

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Blind tests used for preference is what I regularly do whenever I have the chance (I also do it cause some gear cause me a strange round headache,I'd rather listen to a nice chainshaw but them) ,after all it's me that will listen to it.
Just make sure everything is in order,controls are set as they should,etc. and many,many repetitions prove it.
 

DVDdoug

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I don't EXPECT audible differences with ANY electronics (unless an amplifier is over-driven into distortion, etc.). Sometimes there is audible background noise, or sometimes the noise is worse on one piece of equipment than another. A DAC shouldn't have any audible noise, but I've had a noisy soundcard. And since USB power tends to be noisy, sometimes noise gets-into the analog-side of a USB-powered DAC through the power supply.

Most "golden ear audiophiles" are fooling themselves and most of them "don't believe in" blind listening tests. ;)

Audiophoolery
 
OP
M

May Kasahara

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Thank you very much for the replies so far. It is also not my intention to open another thread about "How can DACs have a SOUND.....". It's just that these two DACs are already quite different according to the measured values.

Google Chromecast Audio Analog Output Dashboard Measurement.jpg


Topping E30 USB DAC Audio Measurements.jpg


What stands out to me is the second harmonic (2k).

Is it possible that I like this better? If so, what would be a recommendation in this direction?

On the one hand, I'm thinking, "Who cares, it sounds fine, so what's the point?"
On the other hand, there's the thought, "Such a cheap thing for only $30, it can't be, there must be something better. Am I missing something?"
 

Greenman

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That second harmonic is quite prevalent, however it’s still at -91db so to all purposes inaudible unless you are listening in an anechoic chamber, with the best possible amps and speakers. All these measurements prove is you can’t tell which DAC you will prefer based on these measurements.
 

AnalogSteph

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H2 at -90 dBr vs. -120 dBr is like gnats' farts vs. bacteria farts. I dare you to try and hear anything at -90 dBFS (generating a sine test tone is easy enough e.g. with REW or Audacity), let alone in the presence of other signals. Even the first may already involve volume settings way above what you normally use.

The CCA is a streamer, so chances are you are comparing two rather disparate signal chains. That to me smells of some kind of uncontrolled variable that you may have missed. Could be something on the digital side, could be something like a ground loop (which the Chromecast would never suffer from but the E30 may become part of with a USB or coaxial connection). A detailed breakdown of the signal chain in both cases may provide some clues.

If you have a suitable line-in at your disposal, you may also want to record the output from both and compare using @pkane's DeltaWave.
 

bargainguy

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So I'm curious. The Chromecast Audio Google Home app has a setting, Full Dynamic Range, which is off by default to not overwhelm less than full range speakers. You have to switch it on manually.

Have you changed the setting to FDR, or is it still default?
 

MaxBuck

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Regardless of what constitutes maximum fidelity to the source, I would never tell anyone to listen to anything other than what they prefer. Regardless of the basis for that preference, real or imagined. Life is too short to get disquieted by someone else's psychoacoustics.
 

Pareto Pragmatic

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At the moment I use two DACs, one is the Chromecast Audio Analog Output (3.5mm) and the other is the Topping E30. Okay, so far so good. I balanced both with the multimeter and listened blindly against each other. Ok, there were differences, but I didn't do the test to hear the differences, I did it to find out which one I preferred. And every time, I preferred the Chromecast Audio. It's not that I don't know that the CCA has worse measurements, but I find that the sound is much nicer than the E30, even though I know that the E30 has better measurements. Am I deaf or do I just have different preferences? But let's consider that as a fact, what does that mean in terms of improvement? What would be a DAC I could try if I wanted to improve?

Out of curiosity, did you try different settings on the Topping? If so, did you like any of them better than the others? If not, and if you want, try setting 1. I think the default is 3, it's been a long time since I unboxed mine, but based on what you said here I would expect you would like 1 better than 3. The difference is the roll off, sharp on 3, no roll off filter on 1.

All that matters in the end is that you know what you like, and move to get it. Numbers measure accuracy, not "goodness", since goodness depends on your preferences. Which might include accuracy, of course.
 

voodooless

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Plenty…but it’s not something people on this forum want to discuss…so we won’t.
So the combined 739 (and counting) pages of:


And


Is not discussing the topic?
 

fpitas

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Well it's called Audio Science Review so I think you're incorrect there.
True. Although I have a feeling we'll only hear about witchcraft of some sort :facepalm:
 

Greenman

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Well it's called Audio Science Review so I think you're incorrect there. What people here want is proof. I do want to hear what these properties are though.
The only proof accepted on this forum is if you can show measurements that show something is somehow ‘better’. This thread proves that measurements don’t tell you what you might prefer. How does this typically get responded to when similar preferences are shown…well usually the OP is gaslighted by being informed he in fact cannot hear a difference…or he’s done the test wrong. Hence just not worth discussing.
 

fpitas

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usually the OP is gaslighted
You call it gaslighted. We call it reality-based. You're right, you'll have difficulties here.
 
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