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Feb 22, 2023
Hey guys, thought I would share my result of a mini blind test.

Just got my PS Audio DSD DAC MKii and wanted to compare it to my previous PS Audio DSD Jr DAC. As a bonus, my friend also brought his Marantz CD player over because we wanted to see if the CD version would sound better than the Qobuz stream.

First, my impressions on the DSD DAC MKii. I perceive more detail than the DSD Jr, blacker backgrounds, and a deeper soundstage. I was curious if another audiophile friend would find the same findings. I, of course, hypothesize that he will be able to tell the difference between the two and consistently pick out the same improvements between the two as I find them not to be all that subtle.

- I was the one to change the cables from DACs
- Input was via USB, output was to my preamp via XLRs
- The only thing changing between tests was the DAC
- DACs were volume matched with a pink noise track and handheld dB reader prior his arrival
- He did not know which DAC I was starting on, and the order was changed per song
- We used around 3-4 tracks (we couldn't go longer based on time)

1. We started on the MKii. The track was Alma on the album ALMA by Paolo Fresu. He preferred the first DAC here. He stated that the soundstage was wider and deeper on the MKii but also heard more edginess to the flugehorn. He did not mention anything about a blacker background here. Clear preference to the DSD MKii

2. Started with DSD Jr here. Pastorale in C minor (Aria) on the CD The Jacques Loussier Trio Plays Bach. Preference here was to MKii for soundstage and clarity once again. He said the MKii was more enveloping of a soundstage.

3. Here we played several piano tracks from Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV988. Its an older recording that used a single microphone in a church. It was the first time I had heard the tracks. Generally not super well recorded but interesting regardless. Here he said his preference was the Jr. He said that it sounded more 'vinyl' and that the MKii was more clear but he liked the 'vinyl' sound more. Interesting because I have only heard a few vinyl tracks and don't own it myself so can't really understand what he meant. But interesting that he thought the MKii was still clearer

Unfortunately that was all we had time for before switching over to his CD player - Marantz HD CD1

Here we listened to the same tracks on 3 and the clarity was immense to both of us. Not double blinded here but we both looked at each other in aww of how much better it sounded. Almost makes me want to get a CD player now haha. But I don't think I could move away from playlists and all tracks available on demand.

Ive got another buddy coming over tomorrow and I plan to give him the same test (no CD player). Hopefully a bit longer to increase my n.

I thought some might find this useful on here!




Major Contributor
Dec 15, 2019
Manchester UK
Try doing it this way:
Use the same track each time, whichever one you think is best recorded. Generate some random numbers and use those to decide whether you swap the DACs over inbetween trials or not. He then has to decide whether he’s hearing the same DAC as the previous trial or a different one.

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Feb 23, 2016
Why, WHY does everyone go with a hand held db meter??????????????????????????????????????????????????

It is not a good method. Use a voltmeter, even a very cheap voltmeter. Measure 400 hz or 1000 hz and set level at speaker terminals or at DAC output. Match them till voltage levels are within 1.2 % of each other. It is fine to use a -20 db signal level so it isn't excessively loud.

I don't know that you ruined results using a sound level meter, but a good chance you did.

Item #2, if you compared a CD to a streamed version of the song you don't know if they have the same masters. You also cannot count on previous volume matching. One may be at a higher level or be more compressed or just be a different master with different EQ. In which case your whole test is invalidated.

PLEASE: I am not being overly critical especially of you personally. It is not a criticism of you just of methods that you in good faith used. Your methods need a little cleaning up. Again I'm not trying to demean you. Actually just trying to help.


Major Contributor
Aug 18, 2020
- DACs were volume matched with a pink noise track and handheld dB reader prior his arrival
That's probably not an accurate enough method, they need to be level-matched to 0.1V using a high-frequency voltmeter and a reference frequency such as 1kHz. A quote from the following article: "When we were finally able to get the output levels of the two power amplifiers exactly matched, there was absolutely no audible difference when switching between them while listening to either white noise or music. During the adjustments of the amplifiers, it was demonstrated dramatically that minute differences in volume level (sound quantity) that are too subtle to be heard as such are interpreted by the ear as "obvious" differences in sound quality. Everyone was startled by the effect — everyone, that is, except Larry Klein, who had touched upon the phenomenon some time ago in his Audio Questions and Answers column."



Senior Member
Forum Donor
Mar 1, 2020
Fun little project and kudos to you for trying, but unfortunately, no scientific value at all.
You'd need to play the same song at least 10 times in random order on different DACs to have some meaningful result, and I think you'd need 9/10 correct hits, someone correct if I am wrong.
Also, It would help if you could be in the other room, changing cables, and using only crude text message to communicate, eliminating your subconscious influence.
Level matching should be done with multimeter and some signal like 1 khz or 400 hz...
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