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Audio-gd Master 7 Singularity Review (DAC)

ShiZo

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I still cant believe all those parts/cost and it still measures like this. It's almost unfathomable. I'm literally offended lol.
 
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nyxnyxnyx

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I have many close experiences with audioGD products. For the most parts, they do seem to make a good impression that they're "serious hifi products" with their sturdy and blocky build quality. Another thing is that their products are usually perceived a great alternate in the summit-fi price bracket (their products have a good"price/performance" vs other boutique ultra hi-end audio pieces from the West), and they're mostly suitable with certain headphones - think of the hi-end ones like Susvara, Abyss, Utopia etc... That's the general impression people have on subjective audio forums.

When I first joined this hobby a few years ago audioGD was a popular and trending name in the local audio community. I extensively tried their products and even my "newbie", untrained ears felt that they weren't convincingly better than what I had at that time (thx 789, atom, massdrop DACs etc...). Still feel the same way years later and even more confident in it each time Amir posts a thorough measurement of audioGD products.

However, I feel like if someone's really into their design and have to buy a product from them, their amplifiers make better sense than their DACs. Out of all the subjective and objective conclusions I gathered, their DACs don't really have any redeeming qualities unless you can hear it. With their headphone amplifiers at least one will have sufficient power and headroom for his headphones in most cases.
 

PO3c

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Also, you cant hear past 14khz but think you have golden ears? At 33, I can hear up to 17khz.
I wonder if you confuse golden ears with sense of self? I explained I don't trust my ears and what tool I used to make a confirmation of what my brain prefer i.e. trusting the sense of feelgood. Heck it weren't even ment as a tool, it was initially done as a way to switch my colorbox (M7 2015 v5) in an out of my setup for different recordings but endet up being permanent. And I still own the more expensive RME DAC so what to defend?

Given distortion are used heavely as an effect on most of the recorded music I listen to I do not fear it like guys primarly listening to classic. I wasted some 20 years before I realized this.

Here is the thing. I do not let the content declaration dictate what my favorite chocolate bar is. Nor when the young women in the hardware store tell me about current trends dictate what my favorite color are when renovating my home.

Most of what we understand about human hearing are based on statistic. For all I know I might be a statistic abnormally so why should I not let my own perception of sound dictate what I prefer just like I follow my other senses to have pleasure in life?

I.e. I love the sound some talented glass players are able to generate. And for absolutely no reason at all I can burst into tears when some harmonics build up. The wife on the other hand will plug her ears and complain about headache before a minute are gone. Clearly we must preceive these sounds of glass very diffrently beside her wider frequency range.
 

PO3c

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The end point of good measuring devices is the capacity to give you the most accurate reproduction of the sound that was produced by instruments and voices when they were recorded, like if you were present i the recording studio. I want that, if you give me a device that colors the music, even if it sounds better to my ears I would still prefer the accurate sound, it is just my choice; i like reality.
I fully understand your thought process as I shared it for decades. Recently I came to the conclusion I might had it wrong and wanted to take another approach.

I never knew what the intent with any release actually where. And industry standard seem to be not to master your own mixes. Implying a 3.party have the final saying. Why not let me be that guy?

Now this way of thinking will probably not go well with all music genres. Classic recording comes from a completely different production environment than typical pop/rock that I consume where the sense of room nearly always are artifisial.
 

preload

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Someone should just settle this once and for all and perform an ADC digitized capture of the outputs of this Audio-gd unit and a Topping/Benchmark/whatever and post it here. Then we could load it into an ABX comparator using our own equipment, and see which one we like better in a blinded experiment.

While I trust the "conventional wisdom" that high levels of distortion reduce sound quality, I'm kind of curious about this one user's report that the audio-gd actually enhances his perception of sound quality. And to this day, there is still an entire community that prefers how tube equipment sounds.
 

AudioSceptic

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Someone should just settle this once and for all and perform an ADC digitized capture of the outputs of this Audio-gd unit and a Topping/Benchmark/whatever and post it here. Then we could load it into an ABX comparator using our own equipment, and see which one we like better in a blinded experiment.

While I trust the "conventional wisdom" that high levels of distortion reduce sound quality, I'm kind of curious about this one user's report that the audio-gd actually enhances his perception of sound quality. And to this day, there is still an entire community that prefers how tube equipment sounds.
It doesn't include the Audio-dg but Archimago has a DAC comparison going at the moment <https://archimago.blogspot.com/2021/08/ampt-test.html>
 

jam

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I've been following Audio-GD gear on their website for about 5 years. I always wondered if it was too good to be true. Well I know know thanks to another wonderful review from Amir. All that heavy aluminium casing with what appears to be a very well layed out design and the end result is a catastrophe. This is too funny. I guess the singularity swallowed the panther's head. Got to be careful not to get too close to singularities you know... LOL :facepalm:
 

PO3c

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Someone should just settle this once and for all and perform an ADC digitized capture of the outputs of this Audio-gd unit and a Topping/Benchmark/whatever and post it here. Then we could load it into an ABX comparator using our own equipment, and see which one we like better in a blinded experiment.

While I trust the "conventional wisdom" that high levels of distortion reduce sound quality, I'm kind of curious about this one user's report that the audio-gd actually enhances his perception of sound quality. And to this day, there is still an entire community that prefers how tube equipment sounds.
While the idea is valid I don't think it will work out as intended. You probably will be able to capture the color of the M7 given its not as subtle as some might think. But its the synergy with the rest of the setup that makes it a rational choice for me.

To me personally in current setup both RME and Topping sounds lifeless and sterile in comparance. In pop/rock production thats when the studio engineer some times grab a distortion plugg to add harmonics. Hence my interest in the M7 when a second hand device showed up localy, which is super rare.

Before I got the M7 I used EQ (RME Totalmix FX) trying to get the sound I wanted based on my way of thinking from post #244. And also partial the reason I wanted the RME to slam the M7. The other reason are RME (and Topping both) present more details and better instrument position. Not to mention M7 is a fugly looking beast near impossible to find a suitable way to hide in our living room.

Regarding tubes my initial plan where actually to buy an tube preamp as a colorbox. But I've read none of them the are actually designed to color as most of the magic from tubes supposedly stems from the amplifier struggling to be matched with the ideal speaker. Which seam to be a journey of everlasting turnover of gear I'm not ready to join.
 

Labjr

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The problems is that often the coloration and noise is not deliberate but just a result of poor engineering. Designers that have no right being in the business. Making cookie-cutter circuits from data sheets, with poor (or no) testing and measurement to validate their work.
 
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preload

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While the idea is valid I don't think it will work out as intended. You probably will be able to capture the color of the M7 given its not as subtle as some might think. But its the synergy with the rest of the setup that makes it a rational choice for me.

Thanks. To be clear, I believe a question of broad interest would be how to correlate the high levels of distortion measured from the M7 with subjective impressions. I think we can guess that the distortion is audible. But what isn't clear is whether the distortion enhances perceived sound quality (your theory) or whether it makes it worse (the conventional and widely assumed theory). This question can be specifically answered with a controlled, blind listening experiment, like ABX.

Without this experiment, I wouldn't expect anyone on a science review forum to somehow believe that high levels of THD in a DAC are going to enhance, rather than diminish, perceived sound quality.

Whether or not the M7 has "synergy" with your specific audio equipment and whether you made a rational choice are, I'm sure, very interesting to you, but of little interest to everyone else.
 
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PO3c

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I could imagine Darko will soon push this mfr into a "new dimension of high fidelity" bla bla bla ..... Bet on it!!
I don't subscribe to Darko's colorful language or sales agenda. But still he seem to be clever enough to alter the settings which amirm wheren't able to get his head around :)
Anyone who has ever set master/slave jumpers on a computer hard drive will have few issues navigating the settings. Easy peasy. The user can set the filtering, dithering and PLL to ON/OFF. Also user-configurable are the digital filter stopband attenuation (-130db, -90db and -50db) and the oversampling rates (2x, 4x, 8x and NOS). Yes, NOS. https://darko.audio/2011/04/audio-gd-reference-71-dac-8-x-pcm1704uk/
Here is the manual proudly made from some free online service similar to google translate http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/Singularity 7/Singularity 7EN_Use.htm

What possible can distract beside poor english are that all revision of the DAC are listet on a single page. Luckely the images show the diffrence between revisions. Before 15. may (some year) there are a single row of jumpers and no S2 jumper. Product image amirm used in first post are from A-GD homepage and show a "before 15th" revision. Both version have functionality printer on the PCB though.
1631546556748.png



Thanks. To be clear, I believe a question of broad interest would be how to correlate the high levels of distortion measured from the M7 with subjective impressions. I think we can guess that the distortion is audible. But what isn't clear is whether the distortion enhances perceived sound quality (your theory) or whether it makes it worse (the conventional and widely assumed theory). This question can be specifically answered with a controlled, blind listening experiment, like ABX.

Without this experiment, I wouldn't expect anyone on a science review form to somehow believe that high levels of THD in a DAC are going to enhance, rather than diminish, perceived sound quality.

Whether or not the M7 has "synergy" with your specific audio equipment and whether you made a rational choice are, I'm sure, very interesting to you, but of little interested to everyone else.
There are enough science and products around to learn distortion will add harmonic content that might be preserved as "better" if applied correcly. These tools have been used almost 'forever' in music production and mastering for the genre I subscribe to. Which I'm sure we in the the future will see emerge also into playback systems for hifi together with dynamic enhancer, EQ and other tools used by the mastering studios today. If not familiar with this topic YT at the rescue https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+to+apply+distortion+to+your+mix

From the standpoint of creating a general purpose device I agree we should pursue low THD. Given I have one and found it is perceived as having less pleasing SQ (deliberately not using the word inferior) in my system and to my liking I would be surprised if this is a fenomen I'm alone to observe. I'm not that awkward me think. ;)
 

preload

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There are enough science and products around to learn distortion will add harmonic content that might be preserved as "better" if applied correcly. These tools have been used almost 'forever' in music production and mastering for the genre I subscribe to.

Yes and to make sure there's no confusion, I believe you're speaking about the common practice of adding distortion to music production and mastering (such as for an electric guitar or for adding some fuzzy background vocals in pop music, etc.). As far as I know, there is no "science" around adding distortion and harmonic content to your playback device for the purposes of enhancing overall perceived playback quality.

If you're eating a chicken burrito, and the chef added some salt to the chicken to enhanced its flavor, that's one thing. But it's a completely different thing to then decide to add salt indiscriminately to the tortilla, cheese, rice, lettuce, etc. right before you eat it. You could do it, of course, but what you'd be tasting is not what the chef intended.
 

Nango

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I don't subscribe to Darko's colorful language or sales agenda. But still he seem to be clever enough to alter the settings which amirm wheren't able to get his head around
Oh, I dont think Darko is that smart, someone always whispers him what he does or writes.
 

aj625

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may be most audiophile like the sound colored by distortion. i have come across many such "learned audiophiles" who don't seem to care about SINAD and distortion peaks don't matter to them as long as s/n ratio is good. distortion to them (even if it is odd order) is harmless. SINAD is around 85 to 90db is also OK for them. so most boutique R2R dacs with high distortion (but excelling in build, weight, looks ) are their unique selling point. how can a many $k dac be so far behind an ultra cheap dongle hidizs S8 in measurements and still sound better ? is there any more test left which still can show these boutique R2R DACs in better light ?
 

YSC

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Oof. Welcome to the forum! And good on you for actually recognising that you’ve been duped instead of trying to foolishly justify the actions of a compulsive serial scammer. Despite Amir’s good work there are still way too many out there who’d dare not admit that their money was not wisely spent, and they’ll happily continue to try and selfishly drag more victims into the abyss of deception in attempt to cling onto even the faintest semblance of hope that somehow maybe they weren’t fooled. Thank you for not going that way!

Enjoy your time here though! There’s a lot to discuss even beyond the science — and heck, even the core hobby — which brings us here; thus at the very least we all have that one thing in common which allows many of us to enjoy the company of each other!

Cheers!
Actually I was in the same boat with the NFB-1 as my first dedicated dac from onboard PC sound card... but then it's all sad history.

I was on the stand of both sides, one one hand I myself is glad that I found here and got the Genelec and Holoaudio spring 2, with a khozmo passive preamp for volume control. But for Hifi audio... since this is a hobby, and the purpose is to obtain satisfaction, if one decided they want a distortion box... just be it, I won't try to force them out of that way, I might remind and suggest my friends to try mine, but if they decided they want otherwise, just be it, it's their legit money and spending happily is what do best
 

PO3c

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Yes and to make sure there's no confusion, I believe you're speaking about the common practice of adding distortion to music production and mastering (such as for an electric guitar or for adding some fuzzy background vocals in pop music, etc.). As far as I know, there is no "science" around adding distortion and harmonic content to your playback device for the purposes of enhancing overall perceived playback quality.

If you're eating a chicken burrito, and the chef added some salt to the chicken to enhanced its flavor, that's one thing. But it's a completely different thing to then decide to add salt indiscriminately to the tortilla, cheese, rice, lettuce, etc. right before you eat it. You could do it, of course, but what you'd be tasting is not what the chef intended.
Yes exactly my thinking. Hence in my initial dual setup I had two transports syncroniced going into RME and M7 for easy switching between them from the amp's remote. While it turns out I do like salt on everything I too had consern about looking myself into a singularity ;)

One interesting thing I learned from this exercise. The RME can do EQ that for sure are a more powerful tool to dial pleasant sound in a budget stereo/room. But for some reason I was not able to dial it to set and forget. Always naging back of my head 'I could do better with this track'. Given how we today consume playlists from random albums adjusting for each track get tedious and ruin the whole process of listening to music for relaxation and mental healing. Here averaging has its place and M7 do this in a subtle way I found hard to accomplish with the EQ. Others might do better here of course.

For mastering chain search for 'saturation', 'harmonic enhancers' or 'bus color box' to find products sometimes used.
This podcast on saturation the master in some way also explain why some are not chasing SINAD due to how some older analog recordings have a certain sound
 

PO3c

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may be most audiophile like the sound colored by distortion. i have come across many such "learned audiophiles" who don't seem to care about SINAD and distortion peaks don't matter to them as long as s/n ratio is good. distortion to them (even if it is odd order) is harmless. SINAD is around 85 to 90db is also OK for them. so most boutique R2R dacs with high distortion (but excelling in build, weight, looks ) are their unique selling point. how can a many $k dac be so far behind an ultra cheap dongle hidizs S8 in measurements and still sound better ? is there any more test left which still can show these boutique R2R DACs in better light ?
Yeah, I used to poke finger at them until I learned by own experience. Although I do not subscribe to high cost and find 400$ worth of CNC on a audio device silly I can understand other appreciate that kind of aesthetic.

I've come to the conclusion SINAD doesn't really tell much about how I perceive any audio device when used as intended and the s/n are within limits. Once I let go of this idea that my hifi system should perform with precision from a laboratory but rather function like a pleasuring device in similar fashion music are produced and meant to be consumed.

Agreed 'Trust your ears' leads to misconception. 'Trusting in one selves' seems more appropriate when searching for audio pleasure. And I can now even find that in a second hand wooden vintage reciver worth 50£.
 

Geert

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how can a many $k dac be so far behind an ultra cheap dongle hidizs S8 in measurements and still sound better ? is there any more test left which still can show these boutique R2R DACs in better light ?
Sounding different in a way that's perceived as better in a particular use case is not the same as being better objectively.
 
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