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I Can Hear The Difference Between Some DACs

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markshan

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LuvMyQuad

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I can hear the difference between some DACs. I would not put them in a category with cables.
I agree with this as well, But I also have to say the gap between DACs has narrowed considerably in the last 20 years or so. I can recall hearing several DACs in older gear that rolled off the high end excessively.
 

ar surround

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Rooms and loudspeakers. THOSE are where you should be correcting issues. Jitter and cables (and DACs) are non-issues.
I can hear the difference between some DACs. I would not put them in a category with cables.
I agree with this as well, But I also have to say the gap between DACs has narrowed considerably in the last 20 years or so. I can recall hearing several DACs in older gear that rolled off the high end excessively.
I'd have to agree with the latter two statements after hearing the difference in the DACs between my circa 2006 Marantz DV9600, my circa 2018 Oppo 205 and my Lexicon Processor. But I certainly don't know f DAC's made today by company A sound much different than those made by company B.
 

bluelightning

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You may not have seen it, but I titled this thread "Okay, let's have at it". A think a moderator changed it.
I saw and then later I saw a changed title and thought you wanted to discuss cables. I didn't know the moderator changed it. You really meant "have at it"

So What are the DACs that you have listened to recently that you thought sounded different? Were they tested using the same equipment? May be you can offer a little description to help understand why you heard differences.
 

Scott65

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I'd have to agree with the latter two statements after hearing the difference in the DACs between my circa 2006 Marantz DV9600, my circa 2018 Oppo 205 and my Lexicon Processor. But I certainly don't know f DAC's made today by company A sound much different than those made by company B.
I recently upgraded my amp from a Yamaha RX-V2600 (purchased in early 2006) to a Marantz SR8012 and noticed an improvement...could be other components in the amp making a difference too?
 

bmoura

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I certainly don't know if DAC's made today by company A sound much different than those made by company B.
Today's DACs certainly can sound different.

But, as all things in the audio world, the best bet is to audition the DACs under consideration and decide how they sound to you.
And if you hear a difference - or not.

In the case of exaSound in Canada, they offer a 30-day money back guarantee on their Stereo and 8-Channel DACs.
George Klissarov at exaSound tells me that once purchased, he rarely gets one of his company's DACs returned.

39865


https://www.exasound.com/Products/e38MarkII8-channelDAC.aspx
 

markshan

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I saw and then later I saw a changed title and thought you wanted to discuss cables. I didn't know the moderator changed it. You really meant "have at it"

So What are the DACs that you have listened to recently that you thought sounded different? Were they tested using the same equipment? May be you can offer a little description to help understand why you heard differences.
Well, as a needledropper I've spent more time critically listening to ADCs than DACs, but I would suspect the end conclusion that they sound different would hold true. I use an antiquated E-Mu 1212i in my tower because I thought it sounded better than the M-Audio stuff in the same price range. The Focusrites that are currently available sound better to me than other current units in that price range.

Yes, of course with the same associated equipment. It would be an invalid comparison otherwise.
 

bluelightning

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Today's DACs certainly can sound different.

But, as all things in the audio world, the best bet is to audition the DACs under consideration and decide how they sound to you.
And if you hear a difference - or not.

In the case of exaSound in Canada, they offer a 30-day money back guarantee on their Stereo and 8-Channel DACs.
George Klissarov at exaSound tells me that once purchased, he rarely gets one of his company's DACs returned.

View attachment 39865

https://www.exasound.com/Products/e38MarkII8-channelDAC.aspx
Can you describe the test conditons under which you "audition/compare" these modern DACs and your procedure(s) for avoiding biases please ?
 

jimfisheye

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I can hear the difference between some DACs. I would not put them in a category with cables.
Me too.

In the late 1990's I heard a very obvious difference between sample rate clocks with the same converters.
An Aardvark time clock was a system upgrade at the time.

My now about 10 year old MOTU 828mk3 interfaces sound better at HD sample rates than SD sample rates.
To the point where you can upsample something SD to HD and it sounds a smidge better. (I do have a smidge meter. :))
My now about 10 year old Apogee converters sound just as good at SD as they do at HD. Which is also noticeably better than the MOTU converters sound at any sample rate.
The apples to apples test is to digitize a vinyl album FYI.

The telltale sound of the less stable clocks from almost 20 years ago is the depth of the soundstage collapsing. Not as smooth or open high end. Already getting subjective here and inducing eye rolling...
Ever heard a stereo pair of speakers just sloppily not aimed properly? Randomly pointed and/or un-level vs each other? Know how the phantom center pretty much disappears with that vs setting them up right? Pretty apparent in a more audiophile setting. Might still not even notice with Worst Purchase fare.
That's the level of smear I'm talking about from clock jitter.

Converters that don't perform as well at SD sample rates (literally the reason HD exists) tend to have either a reduced high end from sample rate filtering cutting into the high end of the audio band or a bit of an edgy sound from distortion from the sample rate filtering. HD avoids this passively by giving a wide margin between the audio and the sample rate. The boutique converters have more precisely dialed in filtering at SD.

So I hear these things.
I especially hear things when audio has already had some damage. Generation loss (be it analog or digital) stacking up leads to all sorts of unexpected things.
I hear things getting better as I tried to describe in my progression through gear.
I still think that actual mix prowess and mastering handling account for 95% of what anyone hears when they hear something they need to talk about.

Cable funny business vs converter funny business?
Cables are more obvious. PROBLEMS with cables are more obvious I mean.
A poorly crimped wire in a connector or a layer of oxidation in an analog cable causing a 2 or 3db signal drop.
A poorly made shield that doesn't cover the wires inside 100% (best shielding is full braided plus foil shield) and/or broken shielding letting in noise.
A digital cable with connection or shielding problems resulting in dropouts resulting in either static popping in the audio or the device silencing itself.
Doing something stupid like using thinner than 16AWG wire for speakers. (Some would argue 12AWG minimum.)

Once the connections are good, they all sound perfect to me.
Converters differ like I tried to describe.

The other part of the converter unit that can vary is the analog part. AD converters have analog components on the input. Go cheap on that and you digitize already blurred audio. DA converters have analog components on the output. Same deal. So you'll hear differences between different equipment that uses the same digitizer chips.
 

marpow

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Can you describe the test conditons under which you "audition/compare" these modern DACs and your procedure(s) for avoiding biases please ?
Recently I purchased the exaSond38 external DAC which is a 7.1 channel DAC, I only use 5.1. I have been using the McIntosh D150 2 channel external DAC prior to the exaSound38 MKII. Prior to the D150 my only experience was the DAC's that are built into the rig itself.
I tell you this with all the honesty I can muster, each upgrade in Dac's has been an improvement over what I had. The McIntosh had a nice sound to it and depending what I was listening to an SACD or RBCD for instance i could hear a definite upgrade from when I just had the AVR. Now the exaSound is a huge leap from the D150, what I hear or I should say how I hear the music through this new DAC is a much warmer sound and also tighter, like I can hear the notes of the music not bleeding into each other, I am exaggerating of course, but for the purposes of a forum I like to be better, than saying, "it just sounds better".
My listening machine always evolves like a plant that grow and takes on new aspects as my hobby grows. I am sure every single one of us has a better listening machine than what we had as teenagers.
I do firmly believe that if a person had a lot of money and just got a giant system right out of the box they would not benefit as much as someone like me who buys little pieces at a time, upgrades, etc. When doing a piece at a time I can really hear the difference sometimes very subtle and sometimes hugely noticeable like with my new exaSound. Another thing I notice since I upgraded my DAC again is I want to get home and listen to music because it just seems so much more enjoyable.
I am my own worst critic and I firmly believe in placebo, if I spend $300.00 on that cable well by God, it better sound better, so knowing I have that about me before I swap anything I listen very carefully to what I have, take a few notes on paper and then compare my notes, no sense in rushing the fine art of a hobby.
Whoever above said the loudspeakers and room come first, I couldn't agree more. My biggest defect in my listening space is my room and because of my room it does not allow me to have perfect speaker placement, regardless of what kind of speakers I have, even though everything is measured, calibrated, etc.
The other thing I do is trust my experience, been a wanna be audiophile my whole life and I don't get discouraged by forum people who want to ruin what gives me immense pleasure. QQ is a fantastic forum with super smart people, I have learned so much and if I can help anybody through my own experience that just makes it all the better.
I have come to the conclusion that nobody in the world has multiple systems in there homes, a rock system , jazz, blues, classical, etc, that would cost a lot of money. Different artists use different, amps, guitars, violins, mics, this music subject is literally endless, look for guidelines, that is the best we can do.
 

Strilo

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I recently upgraded my amp from a Yamaha RX-V2600 (purchased in early 2006) to a Marantz SR8012 and noticed an improvement...could be other components in the amp making a difference too?
I wonder this too, as I recently went from a Yamaha RX-V1700 (2007) to an RX-V2095 (2018) and noticed a difference in sound with everything else the same, save the receiver.
 

skindzier

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I use internal sound cards in my HTPC. There was a ton of difference between my M-Audio Delta 1010LT and my Asus Essence ST in the same PC/rig. The ST sounds more natural/less digital. The Delta sounds dull and lifeless by comparison.
 

ar surround

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I tell you this with all the honesty I can muster, each upgrade in Dac's has been an improvement over what I had.
I have found that to be true as well: My first CD Player was a Sony circa 1985. I upgraded that to a top-of-the-line Nakamichi several years later and that was a step change for the better. I used the Nak for 17 years and was shocked at how much better the Marantz DV9600 sounded when I got it. And then 12 years later I went to an Oppo 205 and that was better than the Marantz especially with SACD. As you can tell, I don't upgrade often, so I'm waiting for the exaSound e69574 MK XIII before my next plunge. ;)
 

timothyemerson

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Back in 2000, I was down to a $500 Rotel CD player and a $1,000 Rotel CD player that the local hifi shop had hooked up to a Rotel amp and KEF Cresta 2 speakers and switched between so I could see if I could tell the difference and after a 10 minute session, then a several hour break, then another 15 minutes of having them switch the cables between CD players (sometimes with my eyes shut so I didn't know what one they had hooked up - or even if they switched between them at all), I settled on the $1,000 one cos I thought it sounded better. Not sure if that's primarily down to the DAC or not but I could tell the difference between the 2 players.
 

Scott65

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I wonder this too, as I recently went from a Yamaha RX-V1700 (2007) to an RX-V2095 (2018) and noticed a difference in sound with everything else the same, save the receiver.
I think it is probably an improvement in the technology. For example, my V2600 had 192/24 D/A converters, but my new Marantz has 192/32 converters.
 

milt

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Those 2 pieces are radically different in design not including the DAC.
IMO, whatever bit-depth\sampling rate a DAC is capable of is more of a refinement in the chip and not an indicator of SQ.
You could jack those numbers into the stratosphere and that alone won't be an indicator of anything related to SQ.
The input and output circuitry makes far more difference in final SQ and of course what you have downstream in your system.

IME, the differences in top level DACs in players & standalones are pretty subtle and takes a bit of time to discern.
Aside from measurements, SQ is a subjective thing
 
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