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DAC -Time to upgrade? Will I hear a difference.

ZMC-ZH

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Dec 12, 2021
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Hi everyone,

Newly lurking on ASR and reading reviews of ”perfect” measuring DACs, I am coming to the community to have your opinion whether I would benefit from a new DAC.

Part of this comes from me registering on Tidal and being curious about possible improvements a MQA DAC would provide.
I have discovered the controversy around MQA here, researched a bit and agree that it doesn’t seems to be what it says on the tin. Nevertheless, until Qobuz comes up with a service like Tidal connect, I will stick with it and don’t mind paying a few $ more for the MQA unfold.

I have had my current setup for the last 6 years and so far it has worked great.
- RPi 2 with Hifiberry Digi+Pro running HifiberryOS+Tidal connect docker&NAS
- Matrix Mini-I Pro 1st version (DAC + preamp)
- Opal Event (balanced)

The DAC chip is the ESS9016 32bits but I couldn’t find any proper measurments like amirm does, only the official figures - see below.

Do you think one of the new DAC+Preamp measured here (x18,D90se,su-9, okto8 etc.) offer an noticeable improvement over the mini-I?

Thank you
 

Helicopter

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Hi everyone,

Newly lurking on ASR and reading reviews of ”perfect” measuring DACs, I am coming to the community to have your opinion whether I would benefit from a new DAC.

Part of this comes from me registering on Tidal and being curious about possible improvements a MQA DAC would provide.
I have discovered the controversy around MQA here, researched a bit and agree that it doesn’t seems to be what it says on the tin. Nevertheless, until Qobuz comes up with a service like Tidal connect, I will stick with it and don’t mind paying a few $ more for the MQA unfold.

I have had my current setup for the last 6 years and so far it has worked great.
- RPi 2 with Hifiberry Digi+Pro running HifiberryOS+Tidal connect docker&NAS
- Matrix Mini-I Pro 1st version (DAC + preamp)
- Opal Event (balanced)

The DAC chip is the ESS9016 32bits but I couldn’t find any proper measurments like amirm does, only the official figures - see below.

Do you think one of the new DAC+Preamp measured here (x18,D90se,su-9, okto8 etc.) offer an noticeable improvement over the mini-I?

Thank you
I don't know your DAC, but most included DACs are OK. All properly engineered DACs basically sound the same in a level matched blind test. It is one of the most inconsequential components as far as sound goes. Cables matter even less.

We buy instrument grade DACs because we like the features and we are audio nerds who like to see measured performance on a chart.

So no, sound improvement may not be detectable outside sighted testing.

Equalization, room treatment, room correction, and transducers like headphones, speakers, and phono cartridges are where the big improvements are to be had. There is something to be said for amp power in some situations as well. Adding more speakers in a multichannel setup also has big benefits.
 

solderdude

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Part of this comes from me registering on Tidal and being curious about possible improvements a MQA DAC would provide.
I have discovered the controversy around MQA here, researched a bit and agree that it doesn’t seems to be what it says on the tin. Nevertheless, until Qobuz comes up with a service like Tidal connect, I will stick with it and don’t mind paying a few $ more for the MQA unfold.

You have mentioned Voldemort...

The first magical unfold is software based. You don't need a Voldemort capable DAC for that. Only for the 2nd unfold (which is completely nonsensical) you will need a Voldemort capable DAC.

You should be aware that there is magic in a Voldemort DAC in the form of a blue light coming on.
This magically transforms the brain (through eyesight) into believing sound quality suddenly is not 'smeared' and is exactly as the tech in the studio heard it... and even better than that. The latter are true words written by the grand sorcerer Bob Stuart himself.

When you do not cast a spell (the ASR spell that lets you unhear differences in DACs) you will believe the sound quality increased.
Once you are under the spell of ASR you won't hear any differences but will know you have lost resolution and are listening to a partly lossy codec.

So in short... some hear differences (those that believe in the blue LED magic) where others don't.
The best thing is ... you get to decide what you want to buy and want to believe.

Harry P.
 
Last edited:

DVDdoug

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May 27, 2021
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I agree. Unless there's something "wrong" with the DAC it's generally better than human hearing.

I don't know that much about MQA and I've never heard it. But I do know it's not "more accurate". If it actually changes the sound some listeners might perceive the change as an improvement and some might perceive a loss of quality.
 

AML

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Jun 22, 2021
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Location
Yokohama, Japan.
Anything in ASR's top 10 is good, with no audible difference. I personally have a topping D90se, and Gustard X16, both great dacs. I don't really need two, but its nice to have something different. If I had to pick one, probably the D90se, since its currently THE best measuring dac.

You could always try one out, but you probably wont hear a difference. The main reason to upgrade would be for more outputs over your older dac, or for bluetooth or something your current dac doesnt have. I think a newer amp would make a bigger difference.
 
OP
Z

ZMC-ZH

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Dec 12, 2021
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You have mentioned Voldemort...

The first magical unfold is software based. You don't need a Voldemort capable DAC for that. Only for the 2nd unfold (which is completely nonsensical) you will need a Voldemort capable DAC.

You should be aware that there is magic in a Voldemort DAC in the form of a blue light coming on.
This magically transforms the brain (through eyesight) into believing sound quality suddenly is not 'smeared' and is exactly as the tech in the studio heard it... and even better than that. The latter are true words written by the grand sorcerer Bob Stuart himself.

When you do not cast a spell (the ASR spell that lets you unhear differences in DACs) you will believe the sound quality increased.
Once you are under the spell of ASR you won't hear any differences but will know you have lost resolution and are listening to a partly lossy codec.

So in short... some hear differences (those that believe in the blue LED magic) where others don't.
The best thing is ... you get to decide what you want to buy and want to believe.

Harry P.
Haha, I am well verse in the dark magic of placebo and make belive :)
For now I use Tidal because of convenience. I will leave Poudlard as soon as Qobuz comes with a „connect“.
 

Koeitje

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Anything in ASR's top 10 is good, with no audible difference. I personally have a topping D90se, and Gustard X16, both great dacs. I don't really need two, but its nice to have something different. If I had to pick one, probably the D90se, since its currently THE best measuring dac.

You could always try one out, but you probably wont hear a difference. The main reason to upgrade would be for more outputs over your older dac, or for bluetooth or something your current dac doesnt have. I think a newer amp would make a bigger difference.
I'd say anything in the top 30 is good.
 
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