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Serious Question: How can DAC's have a SOUND SIGNATURE if they measure as transparent? Are that many confused?

Hipper

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Fluffy

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DACs do sound different. See:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...f-ps-audio-perfectwave-directstream-dac.9100/

'The fidelity loss here is apparent in both objective and subjective testing.'

Badly implemented perhaps, but different, yes.
Well that's the point isn't it? If it's well made, it should be transparent and have no impact on the sound. If it's badly made, you can hear the wrongness. You can conclude then that any DAC that "has a sound" is actually bad and is ruining the signal. And yet people spend years and tons of cash on DACs that ruin the music :facepalm:
 

BDWoody

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DACs do sound different. See:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...f-ps-audio-perfectwave-directstream-dac.9100/

'The fidelity loss here is apparent in both objective and subjective testing.'

Badly implemented perhaps, but different, yes.

The question isn't about whether there are some that are broken enough to have clear differences that are easily explained...

It's more about those who hear differences between 2 DAC's with what most would consider audibly transparent measurements. At that level, the only way to even try to reliably determine a difference would be to start with a level matched blind test. To claim otherwise doesn't have any reliably, no matter how convinced the person may be of what they hear.

Same argument about (power, USB, Speaker, interconnect) cables could be inserted. Assuming they are competent for the job, good luck telling a difference.
 

jhwalker

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Can you explain then why people can't distinguish between them in double blind tests? Are you positive that you would be able to? Like say you had a gun to your head, or had to bet a large sum of money that in a volume matched double blind test you had to guess correct above a certain OR, do you really think you could do it?

Well, I never bet ;) and certainly wouldn't want a gun to my head! That said, I HAVE participated in listening tests and heard definite differences between bit-perfect playback devices; e.g.:

http://archimago.blogspot.com/2019/05/blind-test-results-part-4-do-digital.html

These are not enormous differences (like the difference between SD and 4k TV, or between Coke and Pepsi) - but more subtle (like the difference between implementations of 4k or bottled vs. canned Coke). Some people wouldn't notice them (or perhaps not right away), but they DO exist.
 

SDC

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I like those guys.
It's really fun seeing them buy amazing dac/amp/cable(pricewise) for their crappy speaker/room and write lengthy fantasy stories about their long voyage of 30 something audiolife.

So I always thank them for the amazing review :p
 

Hipper

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The question isn't about whether there are some that are broken enough to have clear differences that are easily explained...

It's more about those who hear differences between 2 DAC's with what most would consider audibly transparent measurements. At that level, the only way to even try to reliably determine a difference would be to start with a level matched blind test. To claim otherwise doesn't have any reliably, no matter how convinced the person may be of what they hear.

Same argument about (power, USB, Speaker, interconnect) cables could be inserted. Assuming they are competent for the job, good luck telling a difference.

I understood the OP to be about one individual asking a knowledgeable other whether DACs sound different. Not 'well implemented DACs, or flawed DACs. Just DACs that are available to buy.

The PS Audio DAC in the link I gave has been around a bit and has had good reviews. It's a choice to consider, particularly if you hadn't seen Amir's review..

On this evidence there are bad sounding and good sounding DACs that are currently available. If we didn't know that there were bad and good implementations this could be translated as different sounding. If different sounding, maybe we like one compared to the other.

Apart from the DACs Amir has measured, how would you compare other DACs without doing blind listening tests. I've never done any and I suspect most of us haven't. You can't just assume 'all DACs sound the same' so I can buy any of them, as Amir's review proves.
 

Sal1950

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If you were to look at the subjective reviews of DAC's and CD players over the last 40 some years and put together each time a reviewer claimed the "huge" increase in SQ over the ones reviewed last (month, year, whatever) in a linear line then go back and compare one from the 80s-90s to today's you would expect the older ones to sound like an Edison cylinder. Not the case, any differences is mostly so minor as to be near inaudible.
 

suttondesign

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I have the perspective of a long-time audiophile (40 years!) and as a 10-year dealer in a few great brands. Clients and customers often call or email me asking how a given DAC sounds. Some give me subjective descriptions of their own gear and why they feel the need to change or upgrade, and then they ask me for subjective comments. Instead of volleying with subjective comments, I recite specs, measurements, and dynamic capabilities for given types of equipment. I sometimes recite things about headphones that are really just the frequency response graph put into words.

Most people who start the subjective conversation with me seem to get the hint that I'm not in that game, or else they continue giving me their own subjective impressions of things -- which is fine, doesn't bother me to hear how they feel. When presented with the bald question "does it sound great?" or "how does it sound?," I answer that of course it does or I wouldn't sell it! I also use the car saleperson line: "I drive one of these myself." Which in my case, since I shuffle through units all the time, is totally true!

Personally, since the advent of digital -- I had a Sony CDP-101 back in 1983 -- I have preferred to stick with digital and upgrade periodically as developments warrant. Having suffered through analog, I would never consider going back. Even the first-gen CD players sounded better to me than the best analog playback equipment I had access to in 1983-87. I would never go back to ADS L1290's, or Celestion 700's, or even B&W 802's (gen. 1). They were all great in their day but, to my ears, pale in comparison to lower-priced versions today.
 

BDWoody

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I understood the OP to be about one individual asking a knowledgeable other whether DACs sound different. Not 'well implemented DACs, or flawed DACs. Just DACs that are available to buy.

I read it differently.

I read it as someone who may not know a ton, but knows enough to know that competently engineered 'stuff' really shouldn't have a detectable difference between them, and if someone claims to hear them (knowledgable or not), unless they controlled the listening experience, their subjective results are absolutely meaningless.

These people can be a challenge, as they don't often recognize they are likely be completely misled due to simple biases and testing methodology.

Maybe I misunderstood...
 
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garbulky

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I agree with most of your post but the fact that there is little to no correlation with (subjectively and not properly conducted) listening tests and measurements is because the tests aren't properly conducted.
Do the tests properly conducted and the differences in most of the cases can not be demonstrated. In the cases it can there are always substantial differences in technical performance and are repeatable and demonstrable.
Yeah I think the most important DBT tests are when people DO hear a difference especially in regular music listening vs niche conditions using tones in specific circumstances. Here when they do, there's no real way to argue that people can't hear a difference and I think it needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately with DBT tests, they can't easily say how important that sound change difference is as that will simply reflects an opinion. But still important imo and very useful.
 

BDWoody

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Yeah I think the most important DBT tests are when people DO hear a difference especially in regular music listening vs niche conditions using tones in specific circumstances. Here when they do, there's no real way to argue that people can't hear a difference and I think it needs to be taken seriously. Unfortunately with DBT tests, they can't easily say how important that sound change difference is as that will simply reflects an opinion. But still important imo and very useful.

I agree...
There seem to be very very few of those. Other than broken by design DAC's, the rest are in the ' bet money you can't' category.
 

Sal1950

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Personally, since the advent of digital -- I had a Sony CDP-101 back in 1983 -- I have preferred to stick with digital and upgrade periodically as developments warrant. Having suffered through analog, I would never consider going back. Even the first-gen CD players sounded better to me than the best analog playback equipment I had access to in 1983-87.
AMEN,
I've also been on the audio scene since the 60s, my first little Magnavox CD player was a revelation. For the first and only time I could honestly declare "all else is gaslight". ;)
 

ahofer

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garbulky

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I think overall if someone wants to believe a DAC or a cable sounds better, it's his right and his money and he can do whatever he likes. But the moral line is crossed once you try to convince someone to spend more money than needed based on your false beliefs.
Interesting concept. I think it's crossing a moral line if he is selling or promoting something he knows doesn't sound better. But if he thinks he is promoting something that does sound better then he is not being morally bad. He's just not doing it how you want it done.

For instance in a level matched test I can't hear a difference between say a Behringer UCA 202 and an Emotiva XDA-1. But in regular use I do.

I see no reason not to reccomend the piece of equipment that does sound better to me in regular use. Any fool knows that common sense says that one person's "this sounds great" doesn't mean it will sound great to them. They are asking me specifically because of my experience and what I think about the sound. I've had people thanking me when their listening matched mine. Does that mean that they could pass a DBT test? Don't know and don't care - neither do they. They were after great sound and I gave it to them the best way I knew how.

In the same vein, I don't usually like tube gear. However there is one tube dac that I've heard that sounds phenomenal and it measures really quite poorly and produces about 7 watts of power. If that unit was sold commercially (it's not), I would be pointing people towards that despite its distortions being audible. It clearly does color the original sound. But I care about what it sounds like and it sounds just fantastic. My friends that listen to it also think it sounds amazing. It's a heavily modified el cheapo Heathkit tube amp integrated kit that was made in to a monoblock. It has an audible hum and everything :D
 

Ron Texas

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Give them sugar and a puppy.
 

Krunok

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For instance in a level matched test I can't hear a difference between say a Behringer UCA 202 and an Emotiva XDA-1. But in regular use I do.

This post is crying for a car analogy so here's one:

Whenever I go to dyno with my car it shows 400-410HP (on the crank). But whenever I change my oil I have a feeling that my car is faster.

Am I supposed to trust that feeling and recommend my pals to change oil every month? I don't think so.. :D
 

BDWoody

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This post is crying for a car analogy so here's one:

Whenever I go to dyno with my car it shows 400-410HP (on the crank). But whenever I change my oil I have a feeling that my car is faster.

Am I supposed to trust that feeling and recommend my pals to change oil every month? I don't think so.. :D

And, of course, after you wash it. Such a cleaner slipstream...and all...
 
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garbulky

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This post is crying for a car analogy so here's one:

Whenever I go to dyno with my car it shows 400-410HP (on the crank). But whenever I change my oil I have a feeling that my car is faster.

Am I supposed to trust that feeling and recommend my pals to change oil every month? I don't think so.. :D
Well here we are assuming that people are buying based on horsepower which is clearly measurable. But in this case people buy gear because they are after a certain sound or experience. And the same with cars. A Tesla model S would outperform a Lamborghini in a 0-60. But put the two next to me, I would probably choose the Lamborghini to race around the track. But I may choose the Model S to commute to work.
 

ernestcarl

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Unless they insist, I would just ignore them altogether. When a child throws tantrums and wants to get extra attention for something spurious, just ignore it.
 

audimus

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I realize that this is regularly scheduled Piñata to beat up on but here is a tangential question for the measurement crowd that perhaps has a similar answer:

How do you deal with people who claim a 192khz oversampling DAC sounds better or is preferred than a 96khz or even a 48khz max DAC for any content? (Note: not a strawman, since many even here think Dirac systems operating at 48khz sampling is a problem)
 
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