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Tassie Devil

Weakest Link(s) in the Audio Chain?

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The beauty of discussion like this is you can always do your own tests. I have what I consider a fairly high resolution system and have tried different power cords. I did not do a blind test but I could not hear a difference whatsoever so the choice was clear - why would I bother buying a "better" power cable? Regardless of what the reason is that in someone else's system and someone else's ears they heard a difference, if I can't, then the point is moot; it ain't worth it.

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On 15/11/2017 at 5:22 PM, A9X said:

Simple summary: speakers/room. All else is orders of magnitude less important.

 

THIS.  Unless the source/DAC electronics are particularly poor quality.

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1 hour ago, davewantsmoore said:

 

THIS.  Unless the source/DAC electronics are particularly poor quality.

Even a CDP101 DAC measures far better than any speaker.

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4 minutes ago, A9X said:

Even a CDP101 DAC measures far better than any speaker.

Ah, the CDP-101 was an utter joy when compared to the sonic disaster that was the Yamaha CD-X1. I never measured one, but I listened extensively to the damned thing. It was horrible. High frequencies were severely attenuated. I suspect it was done deliberately by Yamaha. That said, the Sony CDP-101 was not a nice sounding player at all. 

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On 11/15/2017 at 9:04 PM, Tassie Devil said:

And in a headphone system that does eliminate that speaker/room problem, I feel it is much easier to detect that the DAC is the vital "brain" that controls how awful or how good digital sources can sound.

I think it's important to distinguish between red book CD digital which is at a 44.1kHz sample rate and other sources of digital audio. The uncompressed stereo PCM track on a DVD will be at 48kHz [or 96kHz]. Blu-rays will use 48kHz (or higher) for lossless audio [and for lossy audio]. 

 

The 44.1kHz rate is almost becoming a legacy rate but it is the format for CDs so will persist for as long as CDs persist. It was a challenging rate for DAC designers as the Nyquist limit of 22.05kHz is close to the upper nominal limit of human hearing of 20kHz.  Designers of DACs adopted different approaches as to how they would handle the filtering of the highest audio frequencies on a CD.

 

I don't think one should experience too much difficulty with 48kHz and higher sample rate digital sources with today's DACs, as regards filtering.

 

44.1kHz sources will still present the possibility of different choices of filter aggressiveness. Personally I don't find it an issue concern with today's DACs, but then my hearing at 15kHz and above is not what it used to be.

 

 

 

Regarding use of headphones, I will use by Sennheiser HD 800s if I really need to hear detail, or of course if listening late at night, but for general listening I find loudspeakers more satisfying, despite the poorer clarity, the distortion, the colouration, and the confounding effects of room acoustics.  (For general listening I use psb Imagine T speakers as mains, supplemented with a subwoofer.)

 

Particularly with CDs based on recordings of classical music made in the 1970s or early 1980s I find I can hear tape hiss, occasional tape splices, and often a fairly high level of apparent distortion. For my ears, the distortion far outweighs any slight variations I hear between different DACs of today. Even my Galaxy Note mobile phones do a very creditable job. I can plug in my HD800 headphones and get extremely low distortion sound (well no distortion I can hear attributable to the phone). In these circumstances it is the source that can become the weak link.  

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First is the human factors - persons listening skills and experience, audio prejudices, physocology, biase, state of mind alertness varies throughout the day, for some hearing health and loss of high freq

 

Second is the physical environment and equipment in order of - speakers, room, source quality, preamps and amps, all others are much less (CD players, DACs, network players, cables)

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When it all comes down to it...

 

25je0sy.jpg

 

... humans are the weakest link, goodbye! :D

 

JSmith :ninja:

 

 

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44 minutes ago, MLXXX said:

The 44.1kHz rate is almost becoming a legacy rate

Yet if done well redbook will astound those that think it is inferior.

 

It's just that It's often not done well.

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I'm late to this thread and haven't read all of it but here's my two cents. Any component could be the weakest link, depends on what equipment one has.....there is no definitive general weakest link. Every individual system may have a weakest link including the room it's in. In my system and although I love them, it may be my speakers....or maybe my TT but I have no intention of changing anything soon.....I do not intentionally seek out 'slippery slopes'. I enjoy my sanity too much!:cool:

Edited by stevoz

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6 hours ago, A9X said:

Even a CDP101 DAC measures far better than any speaker.

Yes, but it can be distortion of a type not seen in a speaker....   a dynamically rising noise-floor (aka jitter)... which can make the music sound flat and harsh.   We've all heard it I suspect, it ain't pretty when it's bad.

 

Otherwise, speakers, and what you do with them  :thumbup:

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