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Is there really no difference in sound?

Artur.sardarian

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Dec 15, 2023
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Hello, im from Russia, recently moved to LA, CA.
about 10 years I am fond of auto sound, built several of my machines with high-quality sound, most components have been home lately. Parallel at home i was standing computer with sound card ASUS Xonar DG and the cheapest columns 2.1 of wood, the House always sounded better
recently, I moved to the States and started collecting my home acoustics
I already had a lot of d class Chinese d amplifiers and have a couple of borrowers
Willsenton R8 tube amp and amplifier on Ncore 252
from DACs I have
Cambridge CXN V2
Schiit modi multibit 2
Nakamichi DAC 41
And I tried iPhone - Schiit modi - willsenton

the other day I decided to connect to the tube amplifier 2 source and listen to the difference

Willsenton has a remote with a selector inputs
I listened to music in earphones and on my hands-collected acoustics on the speakers of ETON 4-218 arcosia

what was my surprise that absolutely no difference I heard
I also compared as possible lamp amplifier and solid-state
the difference between them is scanty or none, mood of the sound flow does not change
I also checked whether the difference in sound in Inter-block RCA cables
from the cheapest Chinese to the less expensive for$150
no difference

I'm gonna hear it badly, is it or my hearing spoiled? in fact, I have a good hearing in my city I have set up a lot of car processors and people were brought to the way I'm making acoustics
I have UMIK and would like to measurement my room asap
Most way how I can change my sound - my room correction

P.s. just in case, tested files have dff format, best quality rips from CD converted to PCM
 

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Keith_W

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Welcome to ASR! You say you are from Russia, but your name is Armenian ;)

It is a bit difficult to understand your post. I am not sure what a "lamp amplifier" is or what an "oyster" is.

But to answer your question, there are very few audible differences in amplifiers if they are well designed and operated in their linear range, i.e. when they are not clipping. And there are absolutely no differences between cables.
 
OP
Artur.sardarian

Artur.sardarian

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Welcome to ASR! You say you are from Russia, but your name is Armenian ;)

It is a bit difficult to understand your post. I am not sure what a "lamp amplifier" is or what an "oyster" is.

But to answer your question, there are very few audible differences in amplifiers if they are well designed and operated in their linear range, i.e. when they are not clipping. And there are absolutely no differences between cables.
Thanks for your reply.
All my life before this I lived in Russia, that's why I wrote it like that) and sorry for my English. I’m just surprised how many people claim that the sound of all DACs is different and that expensive devices give an impressive increase in detail, stage, etc., I myself once thought so, but more and more people on YouTube are denying this, I decided to try it myself and found nothing heard, my question was, what’s the matter, in my ears, in my equipment (weak point) or do all working modern devices sound the same?
So why we have so expensive DACs in sale? Just marketing?
LOL
LAMP - TUBE ( I mean tube amp)

I’ll edit my first post
 

Trdat

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Hello welcome to ASR.

There is a lot of information surrounding this particular topic in this forum, it might even be difficult to know exactly what to search with various differing thread titles, encompassing unique anlges to this theme. So dig deep into the forum.

Look, I think the arguments needs to be made clear, its not that there isn't any difference at all just that at least on paper and with DAC's(as opposed to amplifiers) in particular, if it measures transparent then there is no audible/percievable difference. The argument is based around that no one would hear a difference in A/B testing under strict conditions rather than the concept of no difference at all. But in laymens terms or to simplify the answer yes, no difference. Expensive DAC's either have more features perhaps better reliablity and an aestethic appeal. If you are talking about the super expeneive DAC's then yes all marketing and snake oil(at least most of the time, not all).

But I will let the others chime in as I am not the resident expert just summarizing the interpreted available literature from this forum in a consice post.
 

Galliardist

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Hello, im from Russia, recently moved to LA, CA.
about 10 years I am fond of auto sound, built several of my machines with high-quality sound, most components have been home lately. Parallel at home i was standing computer with sound card ASUS Xonar DG and the cheapest columns 2.1 of wood, the House always sounded better
recently, I moved to the States and started collecting my home acoustics
I already had a lot of d class Chinese d amplifiers and have a couple of borrowers
Willsenton R8 tube amp and amplifier on Ncore 252
from DACs I have
Cambridge CXN V2
Schiit modi multibit 2
Nakamichi DAC 41
And I tried iPhone - Schiit modi - willsenton

the other day I decided to connect to the tube amplifier 2 source and listen to the difference

Willsenton has a remote with a selector inputs
I listened to music in earphones and on my hands-collected acoustics on the speakers of ETON 4-218 arcosia

what was my surprise that absolutely no difference I heard
I also compared as possible lamp amplifier and solid-state
the difference between them is scanty or none, mood of the sound flow does not change
I also checked whether the difference in sound in Inter-block RCA cables
from the cheapest Chinese to the less expensive for$150
no difference

I'm gonna hear it badly, is it or my hearing spoiled? in fact, I have a good hearing in my city I have set up a lot of car processors and people were brought to the way I'm making acoustics
I have UMIK and would like to measurement my room asap
Most way how I can change my sound - my room correction

P.s. just in case, tested files have dff format, best quality rips from CD converted to PCM
I don't think you are hearing this incorrectly at all. Cables should not sound different unless one is of very unusual design. DACs should rarely sound different. The amplifiers should show some differences as the tube amp you have measures "poorly", but that would not show up if your speakers are sufficiently sensitive either. Some of your class D amps may also show differences if they are affected by the speaker impedance.

You should get some benefit from room correction if you take care with the changes you make. There are reliable people on this forum if you have questions.
 

alex-z

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It is easy to design good quality cables, DAC, and amplifier while remaining affordable. You should not be expecting different sound quality between them, and if you do hear a difference, should ask yourself which of the products is flawed. The real bottleneck for acoustics is your room, followed by the speakers.
 

tmuikku

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Hi,

to get some kind of a reference for your ability to hear things you could try the Harman listening test.

I've just found out about it, and think that everyone should have dab at it to get some indication what their relative listening skill is, which gives a lot of perspective on things.

I did not find any official documentation for it, but the mixed information indicates reaching level 8 or 9 in each listening test would qualify to take part in a Harman listening test that is ment for "trained listeners". If some tests feel really hard to level up it would be safe to assume your listening skill is average, or a bit rusty at least so spend some time with it. If you plow the tests through with ease to level 8 or above you'd have rather good listening skill.

Now, if you do not get to level 8 you might use logic with your current experience on things like:
- as I didn't hear any differences between cables or amplifiers they must be quite small, perhaps audible for trained listener.
- your setup needs to be only as good as your listening skill. If you cannot hear a difference, it doesn't mean there is one, nor that there isn't, it only means you could use what ever option you feel is fine and be happy with it. This would prevent you spending your money for nothing.

If you got to max level of 15, or just past 8
- you'd know what small difference means, and that they are likely audible only with on/off or A/B tests where you can compare them at will.
- you'd be quite sure that if you don't hear a difference with two amplifiers in an A/B test, then there likely is no difference in practical sense, which would prevent you spending money for nothing.

Anyway, knowing something about your listening skill could help you to reason whether you should hear something or not, and have perspective to evaluate importance of things and then help you act accordingly, what ever feels relevant to you. It is important to understand that a lot of hifi stuff is just marketing to get consumers to consume. There doesn't seem to be bias test with the Harman listening test, which would test if you actually heard a difference or just thought you heard, which is the thing marketing exploits. Golden brand logo and silver lining, must sound good right?:) One could buy what ever is being sold to and be happy, or know how to listen and then listen and have your own opinion what makes you happy.
 
Last edited:
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Artur.sardarian

Artur.sardarian

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Location
Los Angeles
Thanks everyone for the answers.
can anyone hear the difference in the amplifier part of the pocket dac/amps iBasso dc03pro and E1DA?

I will order two rca to 3.5mm cables for connect them to my Willsenton (with a couple of iPhones) to listen the difference in the A/B test

my audiophile friends from Russia guarantee the difference between the two in favor of the second

Just I need return one of them soon
(I use them with my hd650, akg n5005, Final E3000)
 

egellings

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Welcome to ASR! You say you are from Russia, but your name is Armenian ;)

It is a bit difficult to understand your post. I am not sure what a "lamp amplifier" is or what an "oyster" is.

But to answer your question, there are very few audible differences in amplifiers if they are well designed and operated in their linear range, i.e. when they are not clipping. And there are absolutely no differences between cables.
Maybe 'lamp' refers to vacuum tube.
 

Multicore

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I'm not surprised you hear no difference between DACs.

You might hear a difference between an Ncore 252 and a tube power amp. But if the tube amp is good and your speakers are efficient or you don't listen loud then likely both will perform equally well, practically perfectly.

Loud speakers and the interaction between them and your listening space are often big variables.
 

Barry_Sound

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DACs absolutely can sound different, of course not all of them. I have a very high frequency tinnitus and can clearly say when a DAC triggers it or doesnt. Does not have to do with price. I could not stand the TEAC UD 505 for a longer time which is a 1000$+ ESS DAC. Compare that to e.g. a Nuprime DAC-9 which is more laid back and according to the company "The DAC-9’s sonic character is slightly warmer than that of the DAC-10." (Source: https://nuprimeaudio.com/product/dac-10/). This is not your usual snake oil lingo but a pretty binary statement. Sounded vs neutral.
 

Barry_Sound

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Actually it is.
More power to you, makes the hobby a lot easier when all DACs sound the same and the only difference is SINAD (beyond beying audible anyway …). :)

 

MarkS

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Even SINAD doesn't matter, because anything better than 60dB is not audible (on music played over speakers).

And yes, focusing on things that actually matter (speakers, room treatment, DSP room correction) makes the hobby a lot easier (and, IMO, more rewarding).

 

olieb

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Barry_Sound

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Even SINAD doesn't matter, because anything better than 60dB is not audible (on music played over speakers).

And yes, focusing on things that actually matter (speakers, room treatment, DSP room correction) makes the hobby a lot easier (and, IMO, more rewarding).
Even listening doesnt matter when you can fire a perfect sine wave through an oscillator. Thats the real fun. Music is distracting.
 

Anton D

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Even SINAD doesn't matter, because anything better than 60dB is not audible (on music played over speakers).

And yes, focusing on things that actually matter (speakers, room treatment, DSP room correction) makes the hobby a lot easier (and, IMO, more rewarding).

So anything above 60 dB is taking our money. Robot oil instead is snake oil?

:p
 

MarkS

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I'm quite happy to be free of having to worry about whether or not my DAC (and other electronics) is good enough.
 
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