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DAC ABX Test Phase 1: Does a SOTA DAC sound the same as a budget DAC if proper controls are put in place? Spoiler: Probably yes. :)

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dominikz

dominikz

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Decided to share my results with you.
View attachment 177531


So i think there is a difference for me? Listened through D1se-A30pro-Hifiman Edition XS. One of them just sound a little bit brighter, just a touch, and i think it is cheaper Fiio, Topping a little bit warmer sounding. This is how i distinguish these two records.
Thanks for reporting - and good job!

p-value calculated based on P(X>=x) for 13 right out of 16 trials is 1.064%, which is a lot better than the <5% criteria, and just on the border for the more strict <1% criteria.
There is therefore a very good chance you can indeed reliably distinguish between the files.

Your attempt is the 2nd to achieve p-value better than 5% out of 29 (online) test attempt so far.

I'll do another overview of results in the next days.
 

Pdxwayne

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Sad to say only to 17khz.
Good to know. I can't really sense anything over 15khz for both ears. I loss more and more sensitivity starting from ~12khz for my left ear. My right ear is better.
But still not too out of range for 50 years old, I think....
 

Volikovvv

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I think if the test was performed with this fiio and more expensive dacs like d90 or d1se, i think the difference will be more noticeable for more people. I evaluated 9 dacs last year in 120-800$ price range, so from what i noticed, the difference between under 300$ dacs is small, that is what all people can hear from this ABX test. Going further to next tier range - make more people to pass this test. This is only my opinion, of course it can differ from others:)
 
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tvrgeek

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I have observed, the better the source material, the more similar the DACs sound. But when recordings are not the best, there are big differences.
So far, my keeper is the lowly JDS. The "highest" end I have had is the D30pro.
 

Pdxwayne

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I think if the test was performed with this fiio and more expensive dacs like d90 or d1se, i think the difference will be more noticeable for more people. I evaluated 9 dacs last year in 120-800$ price range, so from what i noticed, the difference between under 300$ dacs is small, that is what all people can hear from this ABX test, going further to next tier range - make more people to pass this test. This is only my opinion, of course it can differ from others:)
I am curious about your headphones. I am using k371. I just returned hd560s as I wanted better low bass performance.

How do you like your current headphones?
 

Volikovvv

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I am curious about your headphones. I am using k371. I just returned 560s as I wanted better low bass performance.

How do you like your current headphones?
This is my first planar headphones, i have mixed feelings right now, but bass response with powerful amplifier is outstanding, i own them only several days, i will share my impressions next week in pm:)
 

Pdxwayne

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This is my first planar headphones, i have mixed feelings right now, but bass response with powerful amplifier is outstanding, i own them only several days, i will share my impressions next week in pm:)
You can always create a new thread for Hifiman Edition XS and get feedbacks from other owners too.
: )

Thanks!
 

tonycollinet

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Here is my result. I did not do very well in detecting a difference. Thought I could - I was wrong:



(though I was using speakers not headphones. Oh, and Im playing from a DAC that doesn't measure that well either (Sinad around 80)
 

Nichdroid

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1641668569362.png
 

Nichdroid

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One of them just sound a little bit brighter, just a touch, and i think it is cheaper Fiio, Topping a little bit warmer sounding.
I thought the same, I think also a little bit of grunginess sometimes, even if I admit, I had to crank up the volume all the way up to three o'clock in high gain on my JDS Atom. At my normal listening levels, I was not able to tell a difference whatsoever. Test was performed on my pc with SoundBlasterX AE5 soundcard and Hifiman HE400i headphones. Maybe it's time to upgrade my DAC...:p
 

Nighthog

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Did the test for novelty.

Never done a single ABX test before. First one.

Used Bluetooth Headphones (on-ear) (Marshall MID, AptX, 16bit 44,1Khz only)

I've not really liked the performance of these headphones overall. Could not really tell a difference with them.
Though I did rush a little to get it done as the sound clip wasn't really my type of music.
Bland muted track. Not something I would even consider to look for detailed sound in with contrasts for something as this.

Well I learned the gear I have can't show the details necessary anyway to do this properly. (cheap stuff)
Seems the DAC isn't the too important part anyway if your other stuff can't perform to begin with.
 

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yanm

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I think if the test was performed with this fiio and more expensive dacs like d90 or d1se, i think the difference will be more noticeable for more people. I evaluated 9 dacs last year in 120-800$ price range, so from what i noticed, the difference between under 300$ dacs is small, that is what all people can hear from this ABX test. Going further to next tier range - make more people to pass this test. This is only my opinion, of course it can differ from others:)
I am curious as why that would be the case. The d90 measures very close to the E50 (and even worst in certain aspects like jitter or THD+N). Maybe the d90 preamp section (analog?) is better that that of the E50 (digital based) but, even if it is the case, I guess it is only marginal as the noise level of the E50 is already pretty low (2.3uV if memory serves).
 
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dominikz

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I am curious as why that would be the case. The d90 measures very close to the E50 (and even worst in certain aspects like jitter or THD+N). Maybe the d90 preamp section (analog?) is better that that of the E50 (digital based) but, even if it is the case, I guess it is only marginal as the noise level of the E50 is already pretty low (2.3uV if memory serves).
My theory is it might be due to Topping D90SE and VMV D1se '5V mode' which results in ~1,5dB higher output vs e.g. Topping E50 and similar balanced DACs (with their usual 4Vrms output).
+1,5dB may not seem louder when listening, but would sound different and definitely result in clear preference for the objectively louder unit in a non-level-matched test in most cases. This is why it is very important to measure and precisely level-match DAC outputs before listening. :)
 

Volikovvv

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I am curious as why that would be the case. The d90 measures very close to the E50 (and even worst in certain aspects like jitter or THD+N). Maybe the d90 preamp section (analog?) is better that that of the E50 (digital based) but, even if it is the case, I guess it is only marginal as the noise level of the E50 is already pretty low (2.3uV if memory serves).
Don't know, i don't care about measurements at all, sorry, i'm not interested in this question, i'm just enjoing the music:) And choose dac by my ears, i triead a lot of dacs and amps at home, to choose what i like best, and this is absolutely stunning soundwise stack D1SE+A30 pro.Total endgame, don't need anything else. Will play with different headphones now:)
 

Volikovvv

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I am curious about your headphones. I am using k371. I just returned hd560s as I wanted better low bass performance.

How do you like your current headphones?
I have no possibility to pm you, because of your account, pm me and i will share impressions:) Spoiler: they are great, but brain should burn-in for them for one-two, in my case three days, and then absolute nirvana!
 

Pdxwayne

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I have no possibility to pm you, because of your account, pm me and i will share impressions:) Spoiler: they are great, but brain should burn-in for them for one-two, in my case three days, and then absolute nirvana!
I just found out that there is already a thread for Hifiman Edition XS.

See https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/hifiman-edition-xs.27903/post-965703

Please share your impressions there.

I just ordered Hifiman HE400SE and will wait for Edition XS to go on sales next Thanksgiving.
: )

Thanks!
 

KSTR

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I've now also spent about an hour or so in ABX'ing this. Even though I knew what to listen for -- the difference in the high treble -- I gave up quickly. Age- and abuse-related hearing loss suggested the outcome (I'm brickwalling at ~14kHz, currently).
I also tried with an highpass-filter applied at 15kHz (2nd order) and even then the difference is anything but clear though I had more success in a few test runs. Doesn't count of course as that's cheating ;-)
 

voodooless

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I think if the test was performed with this fiio and more expensive dacs like d90 or d1se, i think the difference will be more noticeable for more people
They are more than 30 dB apart in distortion, that is more than a factor of 30 voltage wise. That is a massive difference.
 
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