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WADAX: R Harley trying to explain a $220k streamer and DAC price….

tomelex

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I am sorry I asked the question. I was looking for an engineering viewpoint on whether these claims - and others from other dac manufacturers - make sense.

I have been an audiophile for years and never could hear a usb cable. I don’t buy anyone can hear the difference in double blind tests unless maybe the receiving device is faulty or poorly designed. Some of the best dac manufacturers have told me to use a “computer cable”.

However I am convinced of the differences I hear in dacs as I have done tons of double blind, a-b and non blind tests where my consistency (and that of all others in the room-this isn’t a claim of golden ears) was conclusive.

Maybe it wasn’t the dac portion but the analogue one - no idea. But I’m talking about devices where the measurements I believe exceed the levels that we all think here are audible. An accuphase d90 dac was consistently chosen as different than a Scarlatti DCS one. Both measure way better than we claim we can hear.

This can be dismissed in this forum but that would be unscientific. Reading the very strong view in this forum that a 600$ dac can’t be beaten I did look into double blind test psychology and there is certainly a view that the brain can act the opposite way during these tests and start to normalise what it hears so long as differences are small enough.

I don’t know - haven’t done the research but if we believe the brain plays games towards one direction it would not be mad to at least consider it can also play games the other way.

What I don’t understand is the vitriol here on things that are irrelevant to the scientific / engineering question or argument. Presumably we are all seeking the truth?

Not that many people here are digital experts and even fewer are DAC designers, if any, and those that are would need to see schematics and detailed theory to fully comprehend what is supposedly being done in this gear using a plethora of bleeding edge test gear.

But of course, seems no one here is rich enough to purchase this device and have folks over for some sort of blind listening test either just to answer your query. However, anytime you put user controls on a device, and let the user adjust it to taste, then things are being manipulated from "normal", like tone controls on a pre amp, thus the whole product comes into question in my opinion, if it is the best out there, why the need to make adjustments, by EAR, to compensate for things which most of us would say can not be heard by most anyway.

I do believe you can hear differences between extremes of components, in your case DACs, but what difference you hear is "correct or accurate to the source" anyway: how do you know!

I understand you were looking for a detailed tech discussion but again a whole lot more would need to be shared by that company and you would need to find the person who has nothing else to do but spend a great deal of time and testing to be able to validate this stuff.

I am not sorry you asked the question, just that it is kind of a huge ask, all my opinion of course.
 
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mansr

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Not that many people here are digital experts and even fewer are DAC desingers, if any, and those that are would need to see schematics and detailed theory to fully comprehend what is supposedly being done in this gear using a plethora of bleeding edge test gear.
There are enough people here with enough knowledge to see that the claims about that device amount to nothing other then utter nonsense.
 

tomelex

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There are enough people here with enough knowledge to see that the claims about that device amount to nothing other then utter nonsense.


from the first post:

Although an optical interface greatly reduces these effects, it doesn't eliminate them. This is where the Server's three unusual front-panel controls come into play. They change the waveshape in a specific way that counteracts the change in the waveshape introduced by the cable. Wadax calls this technique of reversing bit-waveform distortion Digital Feed-Forward Waveform Control. It essentially compensates for changes in the waveshape that oc-cur in the interface. To reiterate, the three front-panel adjustments are Speed (rise time), Output Gain (digital bitstream voltage), and Input Gain (voltage of the clock and control signals from the DAC to the Server). More specifically, the Output Gain control deter-mines the voltage at which the Server considers a binary “one” to be “one” or binary “zero” to be “zero.” As mentioned, you can store three settings of these controls as presets, called up from the front-panel touchscreen. Note that these adjustments don't change the data, only the shape of the data. (For more on how the shape of data affects the sound, see this issue's From The Editor.) The audio data transmitted through the Akasa interface are not formatted in the conventional SPDIF format. Rather, Wadax developed a proprietary data-transfer protocol in which the DAC controls the flow of data in blocks from the Server.

As I said, there is a lot of manipulation of the raw bits here, rise time, amplitude and so called gain, this is a tone control. I would expect there is enough manipulation range in these controls to "affect" jitter, which if enough then with the corresponding sidebands could very well be audible, and yet again, it plays to the idea that if you can get someone to hear a difference, then you can claim your difference is the real accuracy!
 

Beave

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Not that many people here are digital experts and even fewer are DAC designers, if any, and those that are would need to see schematics and detailed theory to fully comprehend what is supposedly being done in this gear using a plethora of bleeding edge test gear.

But of course, seems no one here is rich enough to purchase this device and have folks over for some sort of blind listening test either just to answer your query. However, anytime you put user controls on a device, and let the user adjust it to taste, then things are being manipulated from "normal", like tone controls on a pre amp, thus the whole product comes into question in my opinion, if it is the best out there, why the need to make adjustments, by EAR, to compensate for things which most of us would say can not be heard by most anyway.

I do believe you can hear differences between extremes of components, in your case DACs, but what difference you hear is "correct or accurate to the source" anyway: how do you know!

I understand you were looking for a detailed tech discussion but again a whole lot more would need to be shared by that company and you would need to find the person who has nothing else to do but spend a great deal of time and testing to be able to validate this stuff.

I am not sorry you asked the question, just that it is kind of a huge ask, all my opinion of course.

I spent 17 years as an EE, implementing and testing DACs. There are others here who are EEs experienced in digital and/or analog.

I can't think of *anything* that this product *could* do that would justify its existence (other than to take money from wealthy gullible folks).
 

Beave

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from the first post:

Although an optical interface greatly reduces these effects, it doesn't eliminate them. This is where the Server's three unusual front-panel controls come into play. They change the waveshape in a specific way that counteracts the change in the waveshape introduced by the cable. Wadax calls this technique of reversing bit-waveform distortion Digital Feed-Forward Waveform Control. It essentially compensates for changes in the waveshape that oc-cur in the interface. To reiterate, the three front-panel adjustments are Speed (rise time), Output Gain (digital bitstream voltage), and Input Gain (voltage of the clock and control signals from the DAC to the Server). More specifically, the Output Gain control deter-mines the voltage at which the Server considers a binary “one” to be “one” or binary “zero” to be “zero.” As mentioned, you can store three settings of these controls as presets, called up from the front-panel touchscreen. Note that these adjustments don't change the data, only the shape of the data. (For more on how the shape of data affects the sound, see this issue's From The Editor.) The audio data transmitted through the Akasa interface are not formatted in the conventional SPDIF format. Rather, Wadax developed a proprietary data-transfer protocol in which the DAC controls the flow of data in blocks from the Server.

As I said, there is a lot of manipulation of the raw bits here, rise time, amplitude and so called gain, this is a tone control. I would expect there is enough manipulation range in these controls to "affect" jitter, which if enough then with the corresponding sidebands could very well be audible, and yet again, it plays to the idea that if you can get someone to hear a difference, then you can claim your difference is the real accuracy!

Manipulating the rise time, fall time, etc of the raw bit stream does not amount to a tone control. If anything, it would only improve (or worsen) the bit error rate at the receiving end. Yes, it could also affect jitter, but it would have to be really bad (not good) to induce so much jitter as to be audible.

The short version of the story is that this device can't improve things and can only make them worse (likely it's doing not much of either and is just relying on marketing to induce placebo effects in the listener).
 

Beave

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Thank you for this explanation. It’s a long time ago but we were marching to 1db I think. I find it very hard to believe that this 0.5db can make such a definitive difference but if I ever do this again I will certainly focus on that. I say that because at some point level matching became less tight and yet results didn’t change. I don’t mean 5db but we stopped double checking etc. And when I use dsp I’m not able to discern corrections of 1db - within limited band ranges obviously.

For me the educational degrees of people are not relevant. In fact I posit that this is a similar bias to knowing what dac is playing.

What matters is the argument. I take the point about 0.5db and will try it next time.

Thanks again. M.

Good that you tried to level match, but 1dB is far too much. For DACs, which are generally flat to within about 0.1-0.2dB, even 0.5dB level-matching isn't quite good enough. 0.5 db differences in level are just enough for many people to notice a difference. DACs can often be level-matched to within about 0.1 to 0.2dB. Of course, this requires appropriate *electrical* test gear to match levels so precisely. Matching in the electrical domain can be more accurate than matching in the acoustic domain with a sound pressure level meter.

Now, with speakers, it's quite different. Even very flat measuring speakers can vary 1-2dB across broad ranges of frequency (not 0.1 to 0.2dB!). Level matching speakers requires using an SPL meter with pink noise, or precise frequency response measurements and then taking an average across a range (like 300Hz to 3kHz). There is less precision here than with electronics, so it's hard to get better matching than 0.5 to 1.0dB.
 

FrantzM

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Tomelex

I appreciate that you share your perspective with us bu do not think that such highway robberies should be condoned. There is nothing in this DAC that's worth >$220,000.oo. They know it, you know, we already knew it ;). it is a money grab and should be exposed, cited, called such. What is so particular about what Wadax did? Seriously, controlling the server? To What end? In the meantime we routinely transfer billions of bit/s with no ill effects.

Least of all We also know the level of knowledge of people here: Vast doesn't begin to describe it. If there were anything special about the Wadax and any benefits from it , it would be pointed. Tomelex, in spite of attempts by the HEA, bits remain bits... And have been transferred reliably for several decades at ever increasing rates, several order of magnitude greater than Audio would ever require.. All that reliably and without missing a bit ... :).

Money grab. This ugly (I know , subjective) thing is just that. Let's not try to find ways around qualifying it as such.

Peace
 
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Mihalis

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Good that you tried to level match, but 1dB is far too much. For DACs, which are generally flat to within about 0.1-0.2dB, even 0.5dB level-matching isn't quite good enough. 0.5 db differences in level are just enough for many people to notice a difference. DACs can often be level-matched to within about 0.1 to 0.2dB. Of course, this requires appropriate *electrical* test gear to match levels so precisely. Matching in the electrical domain can be more accurate than matching in the acoustic domain with a sound pressure level meter.

Now, with speakers, it's quite different. Even very flat measuring speakers can vary 1-2dB across broad ranges of frequency (not 0.1 to 0.2dB!). Level matching speakers requires using an SPL meter with pink noise, or precise frequency response measurements and then taking an average across a range (like 300Hz to 3kHz). There is less precision here than with electronics, so it's hard to get better matching than 0.5 to 1.0dB.
Yes we had matched the dacs electrically but can I ask: is the point that listeners can hear 0.2db differences in parts of the band (I find that incredibly hard to believe from experience in playing around with DSP) or that if the entire frequency band 20hz-20khz is moved up or down by that, people can hear it (which I find more plausible from personal anecdotal experience but would need to check)?

I can see how all that can lead to a perception of difference, at least at the right db and ears that can hear it. I am still not sure how certain qualitative differences are irrespective of loudness ie I may think I am hearing a better rendered low end on DAC1 and will go louder and louder on DAC2 to hear the same thing and I never do. maybe the answer is psychoacoustics but I am a particularly skeptical listener and quite experienced at that, so I do find it hard (not impossible) to believe.

Thank you for all the responses which I read. M.
 

mhardy6647

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2. Don’t accept the “we don’t know why it sounds better”
To which I'll add that if they don't know why it sounds better, it makes establishing QC limits, e.g., for accepting components from third parties for use in the product, not to mention final QC to confirm proper performance of a manufactured unit prior to adding it to inventory, kind of fraught (as they say).
Am I right?
:)

- often with life & death consequences regarding it being done 'properly'.
corollary: thank goodness Boeing doesn't make digital audio components. :eek:

70ddee5e6b169776766226b3db1c720d.jpg
 
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SKBubba

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Love this. Taxing the wealthy when the government won't. I don't begrudge anybody who can afford this, though.

 

al2002

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tonycollinet

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That question remains unanswered to this day. Al-though our knowledge of digital audio has advanced enormously in the last 35 years, there's still much to be discovered.

:facepalm:

There really really really isn't.

Which is why most competent companies are able to create audibly perfect Dacs at low cost.
 

MaxBuck

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I can't think of *anything* that this product *could* do that would justify its existence (other than to take money from wealthy gullible folks).
You've defined the design goal set by Wadax very nicely.
 

Xyrium

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Good beer, good Scotch, good Bourbon....and good company. All of which cost less than $220k, even with a good aged cut of beef thrown in.

It's true, food and drink motivate most of my life decisions.
 

Head_Unit

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Jesus wept.
That part of the bible is not translated correctly. It was not moneylenders and such whose tables he overthrew in the temple. It was vendors of exotic rope to guide horses and donkeys with...
 

Head_Unit

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special grounding boxes with some wood crates I got from the supermarket (used to ship oranges)
Oh, for a more organic sound!
(True story: one of the best sounds I ever heard in a car was a buddy's '57 Chevy with Sparkomatic 6x9s mounted in fruit crates on the rear deck. Some kind of totally weird synergy. We worked together at a grocery store before I started working as a loudspeaker engineer.)
 
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