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Differences in DAC's...

buckaboo49

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#1
Hello, I am new to Hifi Audio and currently have a Darkvoice tube amp and a SMSL Sanskrit 6th edition dac. I also have a Aune X8 Magic dac. I understand that different dac's can produce a different sound signature. But what about DAC's that have the same chipset such as the SMSL Sanskrit 6th versus the Topping D30 which use the same DAC chip? Can it be assumed that the sound signature will be the same or similar? I am going broke trying different brands of DAC's with different chipsets... I am feeding all of this through a Chromecast Audio dongle 3.5mm to toslink cable into the Sanskrit 6th then outputting to the Darkvoice tube amp. I love the sound but at what point do you stop buying stuff hoping to get that last ounce of perfection?
 

solderdude

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#2
DACs do not need to sound the same when a DAC manufacturer feels like using a slow filter (based on their reasoning) and another brand chooses to use a fast linear phase filter.
In that case audible differences can exist due to treble roll-off in the audible band for instance.
Or when the analog section of DAC A has a different output voltage than that of DAC B when all else is the same.
In such a case they measure the same BUT the one with the (slightly) higher output voltage will always be considered 'fuller' sounding on direct comparison where one does not level match.
 

Shadrach

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#3
One competently designed dac sounds much the same as another. You can spend $50 or $5000 and the chances of you being able to tell the difference in an ABX are marginal. Once you have accepted this, that is the point you stop buying stuff hoping to get that last (ounce?) of perfection.
 

Veri

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#4
DACs do not need to sound the same when a DAC manufacturer feels like using a slow filter (based on their reasoning) and another brand chooses to use a fast linear phase filter.
In that case audible differences can exist due to treble roll-off in the audible band for instance.
Or when the analog section of DAC A has a different output voltage than that of DAC B when all else is the same.
In such a case they measure the same BUT the one with the (slightly) higher output voltage will always be considered 'fuller' sounding on direct comparison where one does not level match.
These are good points indeed.
 

solderdude

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#5
One competently designed dac sounds much the same as another. You can spend $50 or $5000 and the chances of you being able to tell the difference in an ABX are marginal. Once you have accepted this, that is the point you stop buying stuff hoping to get that last (ounce?) of perfection.
When the same filtering is used and output levels are matched ... sure.
One can use 2 DACs such as UD501 for instance and set one to 'NOS' and the other with a sharp linear phase filter and get audible differences in an ABX test. Same DAC, same chip, same model, user selected filter as the only variable.
I bet the RME can do similar things. It's why the better ones make them user selectable.

One can argue if a manufacturer that makes a decent DAC but chooses to use just one type of filter (acc. to their philosophy) is a competently designed on though. ;)
 

Shadrach

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#6
Nope, you don't even need to match output levels and any filtering unless really badly implemented will get swamped through amplifier and/or loudspeaker distortion, be that headphones or loudspeakers. You do need to match the amplifier output levels though.
There is however some leeway in the description 'competently designed'.
I have yet to find any ABX results where differences were statistically significant.
There is a whole posse of yes but, I'm not sure and I think I can tell, objectivists, some seemingly with good technical knowledge who just can't take that final step into reality. Often it's equipment designers. It's easy to see why. If you've spent a large proportion of your life striving to 'perfect' a particular piece of audio equipment you just don't want to hear that the chances of anyone hearing your hard worked perfection are so small they are insignificant.
 

solderdude

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#7
So the differences below are inaudible at AB tests ?



if so we can stop measuring the FR of DAC's.:)
 

Shadrach

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#8
So the differences below are inaudible at AB tests ?



if so we can stop measuring the FR of DAC's.:)
I love it when people slap up a graph on a forum to attempt to prove a point and give absolutely no reference to how the graph was obtained, what measuring equipemnt was used, what type of signal is shown etc etc etc.
Very nice picture :facepalm:
So you have a 0.5dB roll off at 10K but nothing to show what happens at say 15K. No you can't extrapolate. Say it's 1.5 dB at 15K. That's out of the range of many peoples hearing. I've assumed this is measured at the dac, before any other amplification or speakers are introduced into the chain. It's completely meaningless.
As to whether you can hear it in an AB test (not entirely sure what they are, they seem to vary a bit depending on who one is talking to)
However, in an ABX test, I doubt you or anyone else would get a positive result.
 

solderdude

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#9
See post #5: UD501 with 3 different filter modes..
You are correct... should have included the source. Assumed it was obvious.

The graph runs to 22kHz so no need to extrapolate but you can interpolate, assuming you understand log type scales.;)
 
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Shadrach

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#10
I don't know enough about dacs to know if you can interpolate or not.
I do know about logarithmic scales though.
So, do you think you could pick these filters out in an ABX test?
 

solderdude

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#11
extrapolate is to estimate values outside of known points. Interpolate is to estimate values between known points.
15kHz is between 10kHz and 20kHz but not dead in the middle as the scale is log.

-1.5dB at around 13kHz ? ... perhaps.
It certainly falls within audible range with enough dB attenuation.
 

Shadrach

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#12
extrapolate is to estimate values outside of known points. Interpolate is to estimate values between known points.
15kHz is between 10kHz and 20kHz but not dead in the middle as the scale is log.

-1.5dB at around 13kHz ? ... perhaps.
It certainly falls within audible range with enough dB attenuation.
I know what extrapolation and interpolation mean.;)
So the differences below are inaudible at AB tests ?
Probably yes.
if so we can stop measuring the FR of DAC's.:)
4CAG56MI4
Erm, probably no.;) Not really worth any further response is it.
There are lots of things we can measure that we can't hear. Just because a filter starts to slope off in what is generally accepted as the audible range doesn't automatically mean you are going to hear it. My admittedly limited and graph less understanding is such filters are most likely to be used to tame undesirable high frequency responses in tweeters, maybe even in room correction.
Even at 13kHz I would place a reasonable bet that I certainly wouldn't notice this (I'm 64 and can't hear much above 12kHz and apparently that's pretty good for my age) You may be a teenager and be able to hear sounds at that frequency if played as a single tone but to pick it out after all the other replay variables have been put in the chain (?)
Measurements are great but then you need to interpret them as relevant or not to peoples hearing and replay equipment.
Having a high degree of technical knowledge is great to. A bit of common sense and acceptance of the fallibility of hearing and other factors can take you a lot further.
 

solderdude

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#13
There are lots of things we can measure that we can't hear. Just because a filter starts to slope off in what is generally accepted as the audible range doesn't automatically mean you are going to hear it.
I can assure you it is audible. Maybe not to you but to others it will.

My admittedly limited and graph less understanding is such filters are most likely to be used to tame undesirable high frequency responses in tweeters, maybe even in room correction.
No, not to tame undesirable high frequency response at all. The roll-off in the audible range is actually a side effect of filterless NOS and can be more severe and less severe at a few ms difference. Certainly won't be used in room correction.

Even at 13kHz I would place a reasonable bet that I certainly wouldn't notice this (I'm 64 and can't hear much above 12kHz and apparently that's pretty good for my age) You may be a teenager and be able to hear sounds at that frequency if played as a single tone but to pick it out after all the other replay variables have been put in the chain (?)
Most likely you won't be able to pick it out. FYI I am not a teenager. 57 and can hear up to 14kHz still. I play a LOT with filters and know what I can and cannot hear. Have been in audio (repair/service/design/modifications/builds) for well over 35 years now.
I am confident I can pick a NOS DAC can't prove it as I have none for obvious reasons nor an RME nor the UD501.


Measurements are great but then you need to interpret them as relevant or not to peoples hearing and replay equipment.
Very true and essential. Have been interested in perception for over 25 years and did many tests on myself.

Having a high degree of technical knowledge is great to. A bit of common sense and acceptance of the fallibility of hearing and other factors can take you a lot further.
Yes it can, experience also comes in handy.
 

SIY

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#14
I can assure you it is audible. Maybe not to you but to others it will.
Anecdote I've told before, but bears repeating. For AX's review of the RME ADI-2, someone else did the "subjective" part, then sent me the unit for measurement. I asked him before he sent it to me, "How did it sound?" as a hint of where to dig in with the measurements. He answered, "Clean, but dull. I mean, really really dull."

I received the unit and worked through the menu. I noticed that the "NOS" filter was chosen, which rolls things off similarly to the graphs above. I asked the subjective reviewer, "What filter did you use for evaluation?" and he responded, "I didn't know that was selectable, whatever it was already set to."

Mystery solved.

(The only bad news was that I couldn't afford to keep it after the review)
 

Shadrach

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#15
I can assure you it is audible. Maybe not to you but to others it will.



No, not to tame undesirable high frequency response at all. The roll-off in the audible range is actually a side effect of filterless NOS and can be more severe and less severe at a few ms difference. Certainly won't be used in room correction.



Most likely you won't be able to pick it out. FYI I am not a teenager. 57 and can hear up to 14kHz still. I play a LOT with filters and know what I can and cannot hear. Have been in audio (repair/service/design/modifications/builds) for well over 35 years now.
I am confident I can pick a NOS DAC can't prove it as I have none for obvious reasons nor an RME nor the UD501.




Very true and essential. Have been interested in perception for over 25 years and did many tests on myself.



Yes it can, experience also comes in handy.
I'm fascinated now. What do you think filters are used for if not to tame high frequencies?
I certainly know people who use filters before embarking on room correction.
Just to make myself clear; the 'you' used when mentioning age was general, not specifically aimed at you. It sounds terribly posh to use 'one' all the time which is the correct form.:)
 

Shadrach

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#17
My apologies. I understand the Shannon-Nyquist theory but if you could explain exactly what you mean by reconstruction in this case and the purpose of it I would find that helpful.
Edit. You can use mathematics if that makes the explanation any easier.
 

SIY

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#19
My apologies. I understand the Shannon-Nyquist theory but if you could explain exactly what you mean by reconstruction in this case and the purpose of it I would find that helpful.
"Reconstruction" in this context is the inverse of the bandlimiting for anti-aliasing. IOW, in the time domain, you're going from discrete points at each sample to the continuous bandlimited waveform. That's equivalent in the frequency domain to removing the images. I *think* that's what you were asking?
 

Shadrach

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#20
So such filters remove spurious noise above the Nyquist 22kHz limit and may depending on the type of filter used attenuate other frequencies within the audible band. In the case above the filters are active in the range of 5K and above which while not ultrasonic are high frequencies. So I don't really understand why my assertion that such filters are used to tame high frequencies is being contested. As an explantaion for the technically disinterested it would seem that is exactly what they do. Of course other filters can be applied in other ranges of the audio band.
 
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