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New dac experiences

Brab

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Over the last month I've auditioned some modest dacs, SMSL, Topping, Soncoz for a second system. All measured well here and were recommended. I put them into my main system where my reference is an Audiolab Mdac and tried to listen as objectively as possible. Compared with the mdac, which is ESS chip based, and measures okay as far as I can tell, all sounded thin, with a reduced left/right soundstage. I'm willing to be convinced that I'm hearing things, but would be interested to hear what others have to say.
 
Over the last month I've auditioned some modest dacs, SMSL, Topping, Soncoz for a second system. All measured well here and were recommended. I put them into my main system where my reference is an Audiolab Mdac and tried to listen as objectively as possible. Compared with the mdac, which is ESS chip based, and measures okay as far as I can tell, all sounded thin, with a reduced left/right soundstage. I'm willing to be convinced that I'm hearing things, but would be interested to hear what others have to say.
Here’s 323 pages of comments on the subject:
 
If the M-Dac 'sounds' different and the others broadly the same, I'd respectfully suggest it's altering the sound somehow - I seem to recall the M-dac designer was a bit oddball from memory.

If you prefer the M-Dac, then carry on with it and ignore us :D Would be interesting to see how the current Audiolab designs perform and 'sound' - I suspect more like the Toppings and so on which if so, will confirm my initial statement.
 
If the M-Dac 'sounds' different and the others broadly the same, I'd respectfully suggest it's altering the sound somehow - I seem to recall the M-dac designer was a bit oddball from memory.
Looks like it isn’t exactly SOTA, but should be good enough:


 
Sorry I asked. Never mind!
In any event, if this thread continues it will be heading to that other thread. Like DSJR said: enjoy.
 
If the M-Dac 'sounds' different and the others broadly the same, I'd respectfully suggest it's altering the sound somehow - I seem to recall the M-dac designer was a bit oddball from memory.
The M-Dac box is at least twice the size of the others, and filled with stuff presumably doing something for better or for worse.
 
If the M-Dac 'sounds' different and the others broadly the same, I'd respectfully suggest it's altering the sound somehow - I seem to recall the M-dac designer was a bit oddball from memory.

If you prefer the M-Dac, then carry on with it and ignore us :D Would be interesting to see how the current Audiolab designs perform and 'sound' - I suspect more like the Toppings and so on which if so, will confirm my initial statement.
Bad caps changing things, possibly? Notorious issue with the original M-DAC, I ended up having to replace about 40 caps of different ratings and sizes in mine. Felt like it sounded different after as well, though that could've been placebo.

Lovely device when it works, but not built the best. The clock crystal tends to fall out of spec over time too, leading to more and more regular comms errors on startup. Also, there's a nasty channel locking bug in the DAC chip that can cause loud bursts of static with certain combinations of settings. (seems to be near-silence when set to 16 bit? haven't had it happen since I switched to 48k/24b)
 
The M-Dac box is at least twice the size of the others, and filled with stuff presumably doing something for better or for worse.
Well, perhaps. Sometimes marginal designs just have a lot of extraneous parts.
 
The M-Dac box is at least twice the size of the others, and filled with stuff presumably doing something for better or for worse.
The only thing that determines the minimum size for most DACs is the connections available.
 
To really compare dacs the comparison has to be level matched and unsighted, if you can see which is playing then you your brain takes over.
The physical size and the amount of components really have no relevance only the measurements taken at the output.
Keith
 
I'm willing to be convinced that I'm hearing things, but would be interested to hear what others have to say.
People have tried for years, but the only way that came close to convincing (or just proving something somehow..) anyone in some cases, seemed to be by conducting tightly controlled double blind listening tests. If you take the time to do such tests then you may be able to convince yourself whether you heard the differences because you know which one you were listening to, or not.
 
The M-Dac box is at least twice the size of the others, and filled with stuff presumably doing something for better or for worse.

Well, the Audiolab is larger, so obviously there'll be more bass.... no wait, that's loudspeakers...

Heh, seriously, if size mattered for DACs the Apple dongle would be a shrill, tinny mess.
 
Bad caps changing things, possibly? Notorious issue with the original M-DAC, I ended up having to replace about 40 caps of different ratings and sizes in mine. Felt like it sounded different after as well, though that could've been placebo.

Lovely device when it works, but not built the best. The clock crystal tends to fall out of spec over time too, leading to more and more regular comms errors on startup. Also, there's a nasty channel locking bug in the DAC chip that can cause loud bursts of static with certain combinations of settings. (seems to be near-silence when set to 16 bit? haven't had it happen since I switched to 48k/24b)
I guess I've been lucky so far and have not had the issues you and others have described. As an aside, I've started using the maligned optimal spectrum filter recently and am liking it. Entirely placebo I'm sure!
 
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