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Any DAC above $2 is a scam you DO NOT pay for Audio Quality you pay for Features (Article)

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#1
I really liked this article by Toms and it sums it up perfectly, they had a bunch of senior audiophiles in this blind test and none of them were able to tell which was the $2 DAC and the $2000 DAC

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/high-end-pc-audio,3733-19.html

I constantly have to remind fanatic money wasting clowns on head fi about this all the time. Also burn in isn't real it is your brain adjusting to the sound, I have no idea why seemingly educated continue to spread propaganda and audio myths in the audiophile community. (well I do it has to do with buyers remorse)

Look how I got a HD 58x and the difference between the jubilee and my old HD 555 is small. I somewhat attributed it to my Xonar DG sound card with DAC and AMP built in not being up to scratch but lets be real that really isn't the case as my built in Onboard Asus Crystal Sound 2 audio is only a small downgrade from the Xonar DG card. Sure its noticeable but not a big amount. And I Want to bet alot of it can be fixed with an EQ
 

Wombat

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#2
It is common practice in audio to make mountains out of mole hills.

Or simply, gross exaggerations.
 
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#3
Anecdotal evidence: went headphone shopping with my Step-Dad, brought along my iPhone with Mojo with some high bitrate MP3s for reference audio. Spent some time, he ended up liking the HD650s the best for the $$.
Got home, he's listening to some other stuff via iPad or direct from computer. $2 DAC, ya know. And he says "Hey there's something missing, it just doesn't sound as good." Hook the Mojo into the signal path and "Ah, that's better. What's that thing cost?"
So I got him a Mojo for his B-day. :)

Anyhow, I've heard difference from my Burr-Brown on the integrated amp vs the Cirrus on the CD player and just decided to get a RME ADI-2. Very happy with the RME. I heard differences between each but they were subtle and if the speakers weren't very good or the amp or CD transport... no difference would be found between the DACs.

So, sure, if you are playing through amp & speakers that aren't very good then it doesn't matter how good the signal you give it.
 
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#4
did you dbt that conviction? Because if you didn't then you aren't going to get very far with it here. Your dad could simply have been convinced or convinced himself the mojo was a necessary part of "great sound" since it was part of the equation when he picked the phones...bias is an insidious monster!
 

BDWoody

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#5
So, sure, if you are playing through amp & speakers that aren't very good then it doesn't matter how good the signal you give it.
Ahhh...the old 'your systems are crap if you can't hear a difference' approach...

Sure thing...
 
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#6
Nothing double-blind about any of my 'evidence'. Just saying I can hear the difference. And I heard the difference when I wasn't expecting to hear it. The CD player, for example, just sounded better via its analog out than going digital to the integrated amp. Now that I have the CD player going to the RME then to the amp it sounds better (but only slightly, tbh) than going to analog to the amp.
But my digital streaming now sounds much much better. So that's the reason for the RME.

When you get down to the actual actual details, yes, I'm talking about an entire unit. The DACs themselves may not be the issue but instead the pieces around the DAC. And I'm fine with that - I'm not buying a chip, I'm buying a device to convert the digital signals into analog.
 
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#7
Also, I will point out that the $2000 DAC was from 5 years ago (pretty sure stuff has improved since then) and they used headphones of unknown type "high quality" and the conclusion was that everything sounded fine.
Nothing I can disagree with there. Probably everything did sound fine. "Again, all four devices sounded great. "
 

digicidal

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#8
I'd definitely suggest doing a blind test... it can be (ironically) quite eye-opening. I don't doubt that you've heard a difference... most of us have (while sighted) but if blind and level-matched... suddenly it's guessing. I certainly believed I could tell the difference between two of my CD players - for years in fact - but when I couldn't see which was playing... I had literally no idea. Sure if there's a ton of noise, difference in volume, etc. then it's certainly possible. However, the odds that the differences between your integrated's DAC and the one in the CD player are that significant are very slim (other than level possibly).
 

BDWoody

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#9
Also, I will point out that the $2000 DAC was from 5 years ago (pretty sure stuff has improved since then) and they used headphones of unknown type "high quality" and the conclusion was that everything sounded fine.
Nothing I can disagree with there. Probably everything did sound fine. "Again, all four devices sounded great. "
We've had transparency in DAC's for about 20 years. He was basically pointing out that a DAC doing its job with fundamental competence is a commodity. 4 years ago those devices may not have measured quite as well as those of today, but they would likely be equally transparent.

Most don't say they prefer a distorted signal.

If you liked the Chord, that's one that actually measures very well. Nothing wrong with that... Pretty much any DAC other than garbage would likely be indistinguishable if you bothered to control for that bias you don't believe you have.

It may be my equipment...selection of Bryston, Krell, Adcom or Mitsubishi amps driving LS50's, or maybe the JBL708p's are crap...hard to say for sure.

Thing is, the speakers sound different...the DAC's don't...
 

zermak

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#10
The $2000 DAC in the article is a Benchmark Media DAC2 HGC which is a superb DAC (John Atkinson's words).

I am pretty sure the bad performance of the HD650 (plugged directly in the mainboard) is caused by the high impedance output of the sound card and also the low power it has to drive them. If you connect/use a good amp to drive them into the sound card they will sound fantastic for sure :)
 
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#11
Motherboards within the last decade has had some really really good $2 onboard Realtek DAC they come with all sorts of things now japanese gold capacitors and shielding for noise and what not, you route that through a decent headphone amp and do a blind test, you couldn't even tell the difference.

Just look at JDS Atom Amp for $99 this thing is about on par with anything else on the market for maybe thousands of dollars for all we know. With a HD 650 you would be wasting money on anything other than an Atom to power it. We are at that point remember when cheap cable internet came out from comcast how everybody was like "great time to be alive" yeah same can be said about Audio now

As for me I want something similar to the Atom but that is sold on Amazon and is made of Aluminum the Atom sadly is not.

My current picks are either Topping D30 with some Amp maybe A30 amp but I heard it isn't that good due to bad review? either that combo used on Amazon or a new K5 Pro Fiio

Budget is $150
 

JJB70

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#13
I think that the linked article is a statement of the obvious for anyone living outside of the high end hifi bubble.

As BDWoody has already pointed out, audio DACs achieved transparency years ago, probably by the early 90's and are now a commodity. There is nothing wrong with the on-board DACs of most devices in audible terms, it is worth remembering that not all that can be measured makes any difference to usable performance.

Manufacturers, aided by the usual shill reviewers, have done a splendid job creating a market for external DACs by pressing the usual audiophile buttons and florid prose but the truth is that of all the parts of the audio chain, the DAC is the cheapest and easiest part to achieve audible transparency.

Headphone amplifiers need to be able to drive the intended load. If you have high impedance and inefficient headphones like some of the AKG models then the amplifier does need some grunt. However the JDS Atom delivers that along with SOTA performance for $100.
 

Berwhale

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#14
Motherboards within the last decade has had some really really good $2 onboard Realtek DAC they come with all sorts of things now japanese gold capacitors and shielding for noise and what not, you route that through a decent headphone amp and do a blind test, you couldn't even tell the difference.

Just look at JDS Atom Amp for $99 this thing is about on par with anything else on the market for maybe thousands of dollars for all we know. With a HD 650 you would be wasting money on anything other than an Atom to power it. We are at that point remember when cheap cable internet came out from comcast how everybody was like "great time to be alive" yeah same can be said about Audio now

As for me I want something similar to the Atom but that is sold on Amazon and is made of Aluminum the Atom sadly is not.

My current picks are either Topping D30 with some Amp maybe A30 amp but I heard it isn't that good due to bad review? either that combo used on Amazon or a new K5 Pro Fiio

Budget is $150
Maybe wait for the Archel 2 to arrive...

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...hel2-headphone-amp-review-another-champ.9438/
 

solderdude

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#16
Where can I buy a $2.- DAC ?
Sure one can buy the DAC Chip for 2 Euro.

There are many high priced DAC's with cheap DAC chips in it.
As an example the Ciúnas DAC, This marvel of engineering and performance uses a $ 4.- DAC chip (cheaper in Bulk) so one could call this a $ 4.- DAC.
It offers no features and no bling, it just is a little bit more expensive than $4.-

Would one say such a DAC only costs $6.- for instance ?
The DAC is intergrated on a MoBo and has power supply, components around it and shares an enclosure.

The 'but I can clearly hear differences' thing has been chewed to death... do we really need another thread regurgitating the same misinformation and subjective opinions ?
 
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solderdude

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#18
That's not $ 2.- .... that's $ 0.40
Someone should order one and send it to Amir.
Maybe we have a new champ ?
It is a bit limited though:
Support up to 24-bit/48 kHz audio output
 
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anmpr1

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#19
I really liked this article by Toms and it sums it up perfectly...
I am happy to read these kinds of articles. By the way, from a non-audiofool site. The reasons to own an expensive DAC are there, however once you get past Benchmark type pricing, it's all other factors. And if you don't need Benchmark type extras you can do as good for a whole lot less.

Engineering? I doubt that a McIntosh, Accuphase, or Mark Levinson is engineered better, or even as well, as Benchmark. And decent top tier lower priced stuff is probably going to lack features that could be needed, plus the overall build quality is likely not going to be as good. But if you don't need the build quality, and don't mind a reduced feature set, then... well, Schlitz will get your buzz-on as well as Sapporo Space Barley.

Looks? If you don't want something in your living room that looks like it was yanked out of a recording studio, and if you can afford it, then it's a no brainer to buy the audio jewelry. Backlit glass and lacquered rosewood sleeves don't come cheap, but they'll look great in your rack.

System integration? If you have an all Mark Levinson system, why not go with an ML DAC?

Dealer support? If you live on top of Manhattan, the guy at Lyric will probably be willing to drive to your penthouse and make a loaner exchange as a service, should you need a repair. Tech support in Syracuse probably won't do that.

And unlike the reviewer in the article who is being honest with himself (and his ears), if you own the high priced spread, you can always convince yourself that you've got that little extra... that little bit of extra magic Mark throws in to his gear (even though Mark himself hasn't had anything to do with the company for years--which is probably a good thing for both you and the company!).
 
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#20
I think that the linked article is a statement of the obvious for anyone living outside of the high end hifi bubble.

As BDWoody has already pointed out, audio DACs achieved transparency years ago, probably by the early 90's and are now a commodity. There is nothing wrong with the on-board DACs of most devices in audible terms, it is worth remembering that not all that can be measured makes any difference to usable performance.

Manufacturers, aided by the usual shill reviewers, have done a splendid job creating a market for external DACs by pressing the usual audiophile buttons and florid prose but the truth is that of all the parts of the audio chain, the DAC is the cheapest and easiest part to achieve audible transparency.

Headphone amplifiers need to be able to drive the intended load. If you have high impedance and inefficient headphones like some of the AKG models then the amplifier does need some grunt. However the JDS Atom delivers that along with SOTA performance for $100.
I'm in total agreement that the amp and other electronics matters. I'm saying that I can't buy just a DAC chip and plug it into my preferred chassis with good amplification to the outputs. Maybe that's where I hear the differences. Also where much of the testing done on this wonderful site shows differences, unless I'm misinterpreting the DAC tests.

Re early 90s DAC -- I replaced a Teac CD changer (5 disc! 18bit!) from the 90s with a Marantz CD player on my home system because my streaming music into the integrated amp sounded better than the CD changer. Then the Marantz sounded better than the streaming and it had choices for Coax out and RCA out so I found the differences there. Now I've got the CD and streaming going through the ADI and I am at my endgame with the system, except the record player has fallen behind now (used to be about the same as the streaming in quality) but I don't play records enough to justify the cost of upgrading the record player audio path. I think my bias was NOT wanting to buy another item, take another risk.

As solderdude points out... As an example the Ciúnas DAC -- the DAC chip might be transparent but look at what it is using in the audio path. There's the difference and I'm a firm believer that the difference is audible. And sometimes maybe a fire hazard. ;)
 
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