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Is there any chance that even the best measuring DACs have a specific (house) sound?

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Garrincha

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Many subjectivists claim that DACs (like amplifiers) have a specific sound. This statement has also been made in this video
starting from minute 41. Well I don´t know if the presenter can be trusted too much as he goes on to make negative remarks about the performance of the Apple dongle, which was measure here with surprisingly good results. I guess most people here would state the opposite and I would like to know if it can be demonstrated without any reasonable doubt that the best measuring DACs ( e.g. SINAD 120dB, 21 bits dynamic range,low intermodulation distortion and multitone and jitter etc) all sound the same. Sometimes is also heard the argument that the reconstruction filter might influence the result and quite a few measurements here show that they really have non-neglibable values above the half Nyquist frequency of 22.05kHz
 

Jimbob54

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Many subjectivists claim that DACs (like amplifiers) have a specific sound. This statement has also been made in this video
starting from minute 41. Well I don´t know if the presenter can be trusted too much as he goes on to make negative remarks about the performance of the Apple dongle, which was measure here with surprisingly good results. I guess most people here would state the opposite and I would like to know if it can be demonstrated without any reasonable doubt that the best measuring DACs ( e.g. SINAD 120dB, 21 bits dynamic range,low intermodulation distortion and multitone and jitter etc) all sound the same. Sometimes is also heard the argument that the reconstruction filter might influence the result and quite a few measurements here show that they really have non-neglibable values above the half Nyquist frequency of 22.05kHz
I dont think we need another "all DACs sound the same, discuss" thread. We already have some huge ones. Search them out.
 

AdamG247

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Suggest you go read this and ask your questions there. Please and thank you for your understanding.

 

AdamG247

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After further dialog with our new member @Garrincha via PM, he has convinced me he is here in a constructive nature and wants to have this specific conversation/debate. I am reopening the thread.
 

tonycollinet

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OK - same answer I gave in the other thread.

A DAC has one, and only one job, and that is to accurately convert the digital representation of music into an analog representation of that music. Well measuring DACS do that with inaudible levels of noise and distortion, and with flat frequency response in the audible band. In other words the analogue output is (audibly) a perfect representation of the digitally encoded music.

If two DACS both achieve this (and well measuring DACS do) then the analog signal from both must be identical to within inaudible limits. By definition, they must sound the same.

Or at least, assuming the amp and speakers are the same, will result in identical sound waves reaching the ear of the listener. What the listeners brain does with that sound information, and how it mixes in the environment, expectations of the listener, mood of the listener etc etc to "colour" the percerption of that sound has nothing to do with the performance of the DAC.
 
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Garrincha

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If your frequency response is flat and your noise is inaudibly low you won't have a sound. That's the simple answer.
So these are really the only criteria? What about the recronstruction filter, jitter and the like?
 

tonycollinet

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So these are really the only criteria? What about the recronstruction filter, jitter and the like?
The reconstruction filter can cause a non flat frequency response in the audible band. Well measuring DACS don't have that flaw. Jitter is just another source of distortion. Just like other causes of distortion, it is measured and well meauring DACS keep it to inaudible levels.
 

Jimbob54

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So these are really the only criteria? What about the recronstruction filter, jitter and the like?
If the reconstruction filter rolls off one end of the audible spectrum such that it is audible, the FR is no longer flat.

Ethan Winer on jitter :

"Jitter manifests as noise 100+ dB below the music, and is never audible. Nor does it create 'a lack of depth, solidity and a smearing of the stereo image.' You’re thinking of wow and flutter. :->)"
 
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Garrincha

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OK - same answer I gave in the other thread.

A DAC has one, and only one job, and that is to accurately convert the digital representation of music into an analog representation of that music. Well measuring DACS do that with inaudible levels of noise and distortion, and with flat frequency response in the audible band. In other words the analogue output is (audibly) a perfect representation of the digitally encoded music.

If two DACS both achieve this (and well measuring DACS do) then the analog signal from both must be identical to within inaudible limits. By definition, they must sound the same.

Or at least, assuming the amp and speakers are the same, will result in identical sound waves reaching the ear of the listener. What the listeners brain does with that sound information, and how it mixes in the environment, expectations of the listener, mood of the listener etc etc to "colour" the percerption of that sound has nothing to do with the performance of the DAC.
Thanks. But is there really no room for other origins, like for example for not only harmonic distortion, which is usually measured, but other forms of distortions? Or the impact of not perfectly cutting of frequencies above 22.05kHz from the reconstruction filter?
 
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Jimbob54

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Thanks. But is there really no room for other origins, like for example for not only harmonic distortion, which is usually measured, but other forms of distortions? Or the impact of not perfectly cutting of frequencies above 22.05kHz from the recronstruction filter?
IMD.
 

tonycollinet

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Thanks. But is there really no room for other origins, like for example for not only harmonic distortion, which is usually measured, but other forms of distortions? Or the impact of not perfectly cutting of frequencies above 22.05kHz from the recronstruction filter?
Both harmonic and non harmonic distortions are measured. Frequencies above 22.05kHz (Assuming you are talking about redbook sampling rate) are again another source of (measured) distortion.

There is only noise, distortion and frequency repsonse that can impact the sound. All these things you keep talking about impact one or more of those three. All three are measured.
 

Triliza

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Isn't there any audio software/hardware that can take the output from two different dacs and compare it?
 
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Garrincha

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Well, this is the other kind of distortion regularly measured. While I hold to the statement that every measurement is directly related to audible effects, it is not granted that the list of standard measurements include all possibly relevant ones, there might be some coming up in the future which are not considered nowadays,
 

Jimbob54

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Well, this is the other kind of distortion regularly measured. While I hold to the statement that every measurement is directly related to audible effects, it is not granted that the list of standard measurements include all possibly relevant ones, there might be some coming up in the future which are not considered nowadays,
So this is another "things that cant be /aren't measured" or "are the measurements complete?" thread then. Funnily enough we have a few huge versions of that one too. Search them out.
 

DVDdoug

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Thanks. But is there really no room for other origins, like for example for not only harmonic distortion, which is usually measured, but other forms of distortions?
Read Ethan Winer's Article. ;)

There are a couple of other things, such as time related errors/effects but that doesn't apply to a DAC (or most electronics). And, I don't think he mentions lossy audio compression which can be difficult to measure... Sometimes people "judge" MP3s by the loss of high frequencies (which is easy to measure). But if you hear a compression artifact with good-quality MP3, it's usually something else and not the loss of highs.

Or the impact of not perfectly cutting of frequencies above 22.05kHz from the recronstruction filter?
That's not as bad as you might think since any harmonics are ultrasonic. I was doing some experiments once with an oscilloscope and the soundcard built-into my work computer. Now, I'd never done any "critical listening" with this computer but I was shocked to see a stair-stepped output with no filtering! But then after I thought about the harmonics being above the hearing range, and the amplifier might do some filtering (maybe the frequency response is limited to the audio range) and the speakers will do some mechanical filtering.... It seems reasonable that it wouldn't make it sound bad.


Speaking of MP3s... The main "trick" to MP3 is to throw-away sounds that are masked (droned-out) by other sounds. And in the context of music the highest frequencies are weak to begin with and then mostly drowned-out. So even if you can hear up to 20kHz in a hearing test with a loud test-tone, with music you probably won't notice if the highest-frequencies are rolled-off. Still, you want a system that can reproduce the whole audio range (if you're not trying to throw-away information for lossy compression) but those highest frequencies near 20kHz aren't as important as you might think.
 

Jimbob54

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formula 977

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the list of standard measurements include all possibly relevant ones
The list of what is typically measured is comprehensive. What you could question is the results of some of the best dacs measured in the case of:
IMD near -80db on a dac with a -115db sinad
filters that result in a FR with -1db at 20khz
THD results of .01 at 20khz on that same dac with sinad of -115db and sometimes measured with insufficient bandwidth to get a valid reading.
Those results being audible is still up for debate, maybe.
 
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Garrincha

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So this is another "things that cant be /aren't measured" or "are the measurements complete?" thread then. Funnily enough we have a few huge versions of that one too. Search them out.
Is it really that difficult to be polite and not condescending? No this is not a thread about these issues, it is just a question that came up as well. IMD were only introduced in the 70s, as far as I know. Before people probably thought that harmonic distortions offer the full picture. In science and engineering is always room for something new. If you really know it all so well, is it so difficult to explain it in well phrased arguments? And if you are bothered by theses discussions, why do you not simply stay away and remain silent?
 
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