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Topping D30 DAC Measurement and Review

dreite

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I identified early on this was a subjective review of changes. If you believe that all human perception is covered in the tests outlined on this site, ignore my comments. I think the tests are valuable in determining a well performing product, but my ears tell me there is more to it. Or as Grave puts it repeatedly, my experience is a selective placebo effect. :)
I don't know how my belief system worked its way into your response. My question was simply whether you did any objective testing before/after your modifications. I gather the answer is "no."
For the record, I don't disbelieve in the value of subjective evaluation. However, the only subjective evaluation I pay any attention to is my own. Yours, or anybody elses, is irrelevant to me. Subjective evaluation is, by definition, beyond discussion.
 
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I don't know how my belief system worked its way into your response. My question was simply whether you did any objective testing before/after your modifications. I gather the answer is "no."
For the record, I don't disbelieve in the value of subjective evaluation. However, the only subjective evaluation I pay any attention to is my own. Yours, or anybody elses, is irrelevant to me. Subjective evaluation is, by definition, beyond discussion.
Re: beliefs - I find it's not helpful to try to convince someone who only looks at measurements that listening is also important. Do you modify equipment? If you try my mods, maybe we would have a shared subjective evaluation to have a discussion about?
 

Grave

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I identified early on this was a subjective review of changes. If you believe that all human perception is covered in the tests outlined on this site, ignore my comments. I think the tests are valuable in determining a well performing product, but my ears tell me there is more to it. Or as Grave puts it repeatedly, my experience is a selective placebo effect. :)
An audio analyzer goes well beyond what we can hear, yes.
 

Thomas savage

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I identified early on this was a subjective review of changes. If you believe that all human perception is covered in the tests outlined on this site, ignore my comments. I think the tests are valuable in determining a well performing product, but my ears tell me there is more to it. Or as Grave puts it repeatedly, my experience is a selective placebo effect. :)
How about you send the modified dac to amir to test ?

Your subjective blurb is of no relevance here really but it might serve as a very good point of investigation :)
 
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An audio analyzer goes well beyond what we can hear, yes.
Yes, but are there other aspects that affect our perception of sound quality the audio analyzer doesn't measure? Or do some things like harmonics that are seen as distortion, actually improve your enjoyment of the music? If you have heard a good tube amp, that is a product that measures worse than a solid state amp but sounds better.
 

solderdude

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Yes, but are there other aspects that affect our perception of sound quality the audio analyzer doesn't measure? Or do some things like harmonics that are seen as distortion, actually improve your enjoyment of the music? If you have heard a good tube amp, that is a product that measures worse than a solid state amp but sounds better.
Or... the ears aren't nearly as good as some people make them out/think/believe/expect/are sure they are and perform well below the measured values.
With all tube amps (your example) the distortion becomes higher with increased output level but does not perform that bad at lower output levels. This (low output levels) is where they are usually used at the most. 1% of 2nd harmonic only at some peaks in the lows isn't audible that much.
In this case measurements do not tell the story as quoted distortion levels at a certain frequency range and specific output power say nothing about the distortion levels at various output powers unless plots are used with output power and frequency in one 3D plot (do they exist ?) or at various frequencies but spread over various output levels.
In any case one needs to interpret the values correctly and not just state ... this measures worse but sounds better as it is unclear how 'sounds better' has been concluded. I mean sounds better as in sighted test ? test over several days ? Truly blind test ?
Then there is a 'limited' bandwidth (which makes it measure poorer) of transformer coupled tube amps but these usually still measure better than many speakers/headphones do. Those owning speakers or headphones that roll-off well before the amp does won't notice any change in roll-off of amps anyway.

It's all about knowing your own boundaries, the borders at which you find out for yourself what is audible or not instead of accumulating (subjective) reviews and consensus.
Requires a LOT of time, some objectiveness and rigor in your tests and subjective listening combined preferably with known to be good performing gear.
Also one needs to draw the correct conclusions from those tests which is not possible without the aforementioned objectiveness and rigor.

Things aren't as simple as looking at some numbers and drawing 'a conclusion' that ears might be 'better'.
That conclusion may not be the same as someone else may draw.
 

Wombat

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Yes, but are there other aspects that affect our perception of sound quality the audio analyzer doesn't measure? Or do some things like harmonics that are seen as distortion, actually improve your enjoyment of the music? If you have heard a good tube amp, that is a product that measures worse than a solid state amp but sounds better.
Not to me. I like the recording to be faithfully reproduced without random fixed tone addition getting in the way.
 

Thomas savage

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It’s a self affirming bubble people get trapped in with their subjective listening rituals , it’s very hard to break and if you do manage it it’s really more a personal epiphany rather than anything you read on a forum ime

So hammering guys will just reinforce their convictions and ultimately make what we do here less effective, generally I’m pleased with how we deal with this as a group so thanks guys.
 

amirm

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Here is a link to some research into what makes a good sounding amp. They make a case for more 2nd and 4th order harmonics and less 3rd.
https://phys.org/news/2017-02-physics-musicians-valve-amps.html
We almost take it for granted that there is such a thing as good distortion. Yet there have been not controlled test showing such. And after testing so much gear (by ear), I have yet to find euphonic distortion. Maybe it is out there and I will discover it at some point. For now though, if such a thing exists, it is far less common than people believe. To wit, I find tube distortion routinely annoying.
 

Thomas savage

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Here is a link to some research into what makes a good sounding amp. They make a case for more 2nd and 4th order harmonics and less 3rd.
https://phys.org/news/2017-02-physics-musicians-valve-amps.html
No that’s not what this is, it about guitar players and the amps they like for creating music . Creating music and replaying a recording are two very diffrent undertakings.

Valves are old , they probably play into people’s deep rooted need for authenticity. Somehow it’s reassuring, like the marketing for jeans or countless other things. Humans seem to respond with affection somehow, that maybe why they hear the things they do and why there’s little to non blind tested verifiable science behind this phenomenon.

I always found tube amps to be annoying, I get irritated and very bored listening to music though all the ones Iv heard. Don’t know why but just seems wrong to me. I wanted to like them and assumed they were better when I tried them years ago.
 

RayDunzl

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I don't remember being upset with the Eico amp kit I helped my dad build around 1961...

It served well until 1974 when it got wet and let the smoke out.

https://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/606eico/index.html

1537762861417.png


https://www.stereophile.com/content/eico-hf-81-integrated-amplifier-measurements

Although some aspects of its measured performance were okay—the fairly low output impedances, the mainly second-harmonic nature of its distortion signature, the honest power rating—the EICO HF-81's poor low- and high-frequency linearity, its under-performing phono stage, and the idiosyncratic nature of its tone controls leave me scratching my head about why so many audiophiles regard it as one of the best-sounding amplifiers of the "Golden Age."—John Atkinson

Oh well, what do I know...
 

solderdude

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Here is a link to some research into what makes a good sounding amp. They make a case for more 2nd and 4th order harmonics and less 3rd.
https://phys.org/news/2017-02-physics-musicians-valve-amps.html
"At its most fundamental level, this is because a moderately overdriven valve amp produces strong even harmonics, which add a sweetening complexity to a sound. An overdriven transistor amp, on the other hand creates strong odd harmonics, which can cause dissonance."

Do note the 'moderately overdriven valve amp ' part. This is where the guitar amps get their distinct 'sound' from.
One has to remember that not the whole band is amplified through it, just 1 instrument, namely the guitar. And in a lot of cases there are also lots of 'effect pedals' between the amp and the guitar for even more distortion.
Yeah, there are a lot of guitarists liking tube amps for exactly that reason. Doesn't make it a good Hi-Fi amp at all. Usually these amps are also quite limited in FR also which is no problem for guitars either but problematic for hi-fi when it rolls off in the audible band.
 
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Wombat

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We almost take it for granted that there is such a thing as good distortion. Yet there have been not controlled test showing such. And after testing so much gear (by ear), I have yet to find euphonic distortion. Maybe it is out there and I will discover it at some point. For now though, if such a thing exists, it is far less common than people believe. To wit, I find tube distortion routinely annoying.
Amirm, I took a quick scan of the DAC tests and didn't notice any tube output DAC's. If you have access to one, would you be willing to test and confirm any differences? I suspect it will show worse specs but it would be nice to see if the 2nd and 4th harmonics are accentuated and to read your comments.
 

Veri

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Amirm, I took a quick scan of the DAC tests and didn't notice any tube output DAC's. If you have access to one, would you be willing to test and confirm any differences? I suspect it will show worse specs but it would be nice to see if the 2nd and 4th harmonics are accentuated and to read your comments.
There's the xDuoo TA-01. But here's so little sense in a tube DAC anyway, I'd rather someone sends in a Bottlehead Crack with the speedball upgrade to amir for review, some day, for those that crave their euphonic distortion. Monoprice also just brought out a tube dac/amp combo unit.

I do wonder about the musicalparadise DACs which seem at least (over)engineered for their purpose, but like I said what is the point of a tube output stage in a DAC? It can only harm the fidelity, let the amp stage distort all you want if that's your goal, a DAC should be clean... (my thought, at least).
 

Grave

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Yes, but are there other aspects that affect our perception of sound quality the audio analyzer doesn't measure? Or do some things like harmonics that are seen as distortion, actually improve your enjoyment of the music? If you have heard a good tube amp, that is a product that measures worse than a solid state amp but sounds better.
Not if everything is less than -80 dB. Nope, tube amplifiers sound worse to me.
 

amirm

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Amirm, I took a quick scan of the DAC tests and didn't notice any tube output DAC's. If you have access to one, would you be willing to test and confirm any differences? I suspect it will show worse specs but it would be nice to see if the 2nd and 4th harmonics are accentuated and to read your comments.
I don't have any tube DACs in the queue right now. Should one materialize, of course I will test it.
 

Darwin

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So I finally ordered the A30 and D30 combo from Amazon. Inside the box marked D30 was a PA 3 amp instead. I guess the Chinese slave labor slipped up. Returning the whole thing.
 
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