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Audibility thresholds

dingeth

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Nov 21, 2019
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#1
Hi all, new to the forum and pretty new to the world of audio in general. Been a long time lurker and have really enjoyed reading the reviews on the site to gain better understanding of audio reproduction.

That said, I've always read the reviews only half understanding a lot of what has been posted. I understand the measurements in absolute terms such as SINAD (the higher the better) and distortion (the lower the better) etc., but what I'm not getting from looking at the graphs and measurements is exactly where the audibility threshold lies.

e.g. at what value of SINAD does performance audibly suffer and at what threshold (1%? 0,5%?, 0,05%? etc.,) is someone able to actually HEAR any sort of distortion on an amplifier. I think that knowing this, I'd certainly be able to getting a better insight into "real-world" performance, and be able to base purchase decisions on something besides raw numbers (and $$$$ obviously). Surely if 2 DACS are measured, and both are audibly transparent, then for all intents and purposes real-world performance would be identical.

Similarly, what audible benefits would the THX 789 amp have over the JDS atom? surely both have next to zero distortion enough driving power for 99% of headphones.

Being quite inexperienced in all of this, i find myself chasing the next best (measuring) DACs or amp not knowing whether I'd be wasting my money in a useless and endless pursuit, simply because inaudible is inaudible. 5x more inaudible is still inaudible lol.

I hope I've phrased my long-winded question as accurately as i could.

Thanks to the knowledgeable blokes on the forum in advance.
 

oivavoi

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#3
Exactly, I was going to post the same thing. As a general rule for myself, I regard everything 100 db down as abslutely transparent. 80 db down is fine for all practical considerations. 60 db for distortion etc is usually fine as well, but it depends a bit on exactly what is going on down there (second order harmonics 60 db can't be heard, whereas higher-order harmonics or non-linear distortion etc can be heard 60 db down).

Your best bet when it comes to optimizing audio is anyway not to start with electronics/dacs/amps, but start with speakers and/or headphones. Electronics may possibly make a small difference at the margin, whereas speakers and headphones is where the big differences are really at.
 

dingeth

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#4
Holy smokes, that was an informative read and I'm really not sure how I missed that thread when searching.

Thanks for the assistance gents, very much appreciated
 

RayDunzl

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#5
I understand the measurements in absolute terms such as SINAD (the higher the better) and distortion (the lower the better) etc., but what I'm not getting from looking at the graphs and measurements is exactly where the audibility threshold lies.

The Shoutometer may provide some amusement for you...
 
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