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New(er) DACs jitter reduction capability?


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G'day Folks,

 

After posting a WTB advert over in the classified section for a new USB/SPDIF converter - and getting zero bites, got me to thinking (yes, my wife was amazed that this is actually possible).

 

How far improved from 2011-2013 are DAC's these days in regards to jitter / re-clocking etc? At the time that I purchased my set up, most Usb implementation on DACs were rubbish, and the mighty Rega is not immune to this statement.

 

To purchase a new USB/SPDIF converter looks like it'll run me ~$600 for something decent, something like a WFS Ulink. Alternatively, assuming that things have changed regarding the need for external cleaners/re-clockers of USB signals, I could buy a new DAC? I really like the Rega, I do, it's a lovely DAC, I'm just not that keen on forking out 600 bucks or so for what looks to be an obsolete bit of kit these days.

 

 Can someone much wiser than I provide some advice on where things stand today in this regard?

 

Thanks,

 

Dan.

 

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Enormous progress to the point that affordable USB to SPDIF conversion, relative isolation, and jitter reduction now is comparable to the most expensive gear on the market. I have and highly recommend the Matrix Audio X-SPDIF2 USB to SPDIF:

https://www.matrix-digi.com/en/products/314.html

 

$532 AUD from shenzen audio:

https://shenzhenaudio.com/collections/usb-digital-interface/products/matrix-x-spdif-2-32bit-768khz-dsd512-hifi-audio-usb-interface

 

Note some interesting measurements have shown this actually works best powered off the same USB that sends it the signal instead of using a separate power supply as well.

 

If you're happy with your DAC, I'd recommend adding the converter instead of changing DACs.

Edited by Ittaku
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I realised your post was slightly different to what I answered. The answer is you can get affordable DACs with similar jitter reduction and relative isolation at around the $1K mark, but that doesn't mean you'll like that combo better than your existing DAC. If your DAC has a sonic signature you prefer, adding a converter will give you a better result than going for an affordable DAC with it included.

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Hi Con,

 

Thanks for the responses.

 

I 'get' that messing with the DAC will change the sound, but no doubt so will a new Usb/SPDIF converter. I'm lucky that I run a tube set up, so I can flavour to taste with some rolling - like with the rega, it's a bit warm so my tube selection is more clinical (well, as clinical as tubes get). This tends to balance the sound out a bit.

 

I think I'm pretty lucky, there are few sound signatures that I don't like - I just find them different is all. Maybe the issues I'm having are a sign it's time for a change (well, I won't be selling the Aries or the Hoyt-bedfords :).

 

Lastly, so if I was to splash out on something (DAC) around the 1k mark, you're saying that the built in implementations have come far enough that the external converters are no longer really required? I assumed this was the case when I saw that the same converters were still for sale (~8 years later), and the likes of Shiit Eitr was pulled off the market after a short period - obviously the market doesn't really demand them like they once did.

 

Thanks again.

Dan.

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Enormous progress. But you still need to select a DAC you like the sound of.  

 

Here are the measurements for the ADI RME ADI 2, which I own. 

 

The Jitter measurements/rejection are about as perfect as you'll find. 

 

No need for any USB reclockers, filters etc, which can typically actually make measurements much worse.

 

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/measurements-of-rme-adi-2-dac-and-headphone-amp.7546/

 

image.png.d823cf0c2cac1fd0fbf4eeb9676001da.png

Edited by musicbee
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54 minutes ago, dannyboy said:

G'day Folks,

 

After posting a WTB advert over in the classified section for a new USB/SPDIF converter - and getting zero bites, got me to thinking (yes, my wife was amazed that this is actually possible).

 

How far improved from 2011-2013 are DAC's these days in regards to jitter / re-clocking etc? At the time that I purchased my set up, most Usb implementation on DACs were rubbish, and the mighty Rega is not immune to this statement.

 

To purchase a new USB/SPDIF converter looks like it'll run me ~$600 for something decent, something like a WFS Ulink. Alternatively, assuming that things have changed regarding the need for external cleaners/re-clockers of USB signals, I could buy a new DAC? I really like the Rega, I do, it's a lovely DAC, I'm just not that keen on forking out 600 bucks or so for what looks to be an obsolete bit of kit these days.

 

 Can someone much wiser than I provide some advice on where things stand today in this regard?

 

Thanks,

 

Dan.

 

 

I would only go down the USB to SPDIF route, if you are happy with your DAC, and the USB implementation isn't that great or no USB input is on offer. 

 

In terms of USB>SPDIF converters, I had experience with both the Audiophilleo AP1 and Yellowtec PUC 2 lite.

Here's a blog post I did many years ago, comparing the Audiophilleo AP1 and Yellowtec PUC2.  

http://grizzlyaudio.blogspot.com/2015/08/yellowtec-puc2-lite-comparisons-made-to.html

 

IMO, the performance of modern dac's is excellent, and negates the need for converters.

Assuming of course you select well.

Edited by musicbee
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23 minutes ago, dannyboy said:

I 'get' that messing with the DAC will change the sound, but no doubt so will a new Usb/SPDIF converter.

Actually, no. Adding a better usb to spdif converter just cleans up the sound and has no discernible effect on what I would call the sonic signature of the DAC at all.

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40 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

Actually, no. Adding a better usb to spdif converter just cleans up the sound and has no discernible effect on what I would call the sonic signature of the DAC at all.

 

In my experience converters can and have sounded different in my system.

I have heard presentation differences between converters such as, Vlink, AP1, Yellowtec, I tested a few others, but cant remember the brands.

 

Maybe its simply varying levels of jitter, but I think implementation matters (power supply, quality of parts, etc).  

 

That's the benefit of using a DAC like the RME ADI2. 

You know its much less sensitive to jitter.

 

 

Edited by musicbee
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I would tend to agree with Musicbee, IME I've noticed changes in my system with any component swap-outs, at times subtle changes, but they're there. Obviously, changing the DAC will produce a more profound change, and as you rightly state Con, no guarantees that I'll like the 'new' sound.

 

It would seem that if I decided to try a new DAC, it most likely won't require external assistance with 'noise' reduction / reclocking. I'll dwell on this some more over the coming days.

 

Thanks again - I appreciate your words folks.

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I should elaborate and say it's only the absolute latest DACs that feature femtosecond clocks, and it's definitely not universal. True USB isolation quality is also wildly variable in effectiveness and difficult to achieve. Many purported USB isolation devices do close to nothing.

Edited by Ittaku
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28 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

I should elaborate and say it's only the absolute latest DACs that feature femtosecond clocks, and it's definitely not universal. True USB isolation quality is also wildly variable in effectiveness and difficult to achieve. Many purported USB isolation devices do close to nothing.

100% agree 

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Hmmmm.......from the last comments, perhaps a new converter is still necessary, and the 'safest' option......Thanks for the update guys.

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The best option is to buy new dac, no matter how good the converter is the best usb/spdif implementation is as close to the Dac chip as possible, $1K would buy you excellent DAC these days with no problem with jitter or noise

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Hi Daniel,

 

What would you recommend for 1K that would fit the bill (I'm happy with personal preferences and fully understand the subjective nature of this business). I see there is a bit of a following for GIESELER equipment....looks pretty decent @ $1200.

 

Thanks mate,

 

Dan.

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No experience with Gieseler DACs but I’ve heard only positive reviews so If you are willing to support your local producer and get what you need go for it, I think there is entire sub-section with his products where you can ask questions, otherwise RME ADI 2 FS as already mentioned or many others such as Topping, SMLS, Soncoz etcčake sire is supports all functions and in/outs you need and you should be fine 

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4 hours ago, musicbee said:

 

image.png.d823cf0c2cac1fd0fbf4eeb9676001da.png

 

That's a picture but there's nothing to suggest there it's perfect. Has some very good traits, particularly it shows the oscillator to be well implemented. It does not show it to be 'picture perfect'.

 

Where discrete reclock circuits are used it's getting better than it was with more attention paid. It's ultimately down to the quality of oscillator as limited by the quality of implementation. Having a lovely clock in a box a mile away from your DAC IC is no bueno. It's not just about having a 'femtosecond' oscillator, not least as implementation counts for much, and much more as phase characteristics aren't solely measured in the timing accuracy of the clock in any one given period.

 

Where the clock signal is on a separate board also used as a transport from packet to stream formats (e.g. an Amanero, converting USB to I2S) it's as good as the implementation. Many parts have the the same FPGA responsible for conversion also doing clocking, which isn't exactly a reference-grade implementation. It is inexpensive at some $30 or so in volume. 

 

Just reference-grade oscillators are worth hundreds (some are thousands). A mega circuit for implementation is a few hundred. If you consider what it costs  your DAC maker to make a buck on your purchase and work backwards to a bill of material cost, there's not a ton out there that has the last word in clock accuracy. You can spend $1k on a DAC quite easily and get a clocking implementation that is, for all relative intents and purposes, capable but not great or special. It should be stressed that how a DAC 'sounds' is not defined by it's clock source accuracy. The last Giesler DACs I've heard are a great example of this - clocking accuracy 'ok', but the DACs sound quite nice. The money's spent elsewhre and you get a result that would cost a good deal more if from a name brand.

 

You probably don't need the last word in clock accuracy... just a reasonable improvement.

 

@dannyboy Your Rega is a lovely DAC and as you suggest USB implementations have moved on quite considerably from what your DAC has. IMHO if you're sentimental about it for any reason, try to borrow a modern converter enough you to experience what an upgrade would be like within whatever limits your DAC board might have and see if the result floats your boat. Chances are you'll know pretty quickly. Then borrow a modern DAC and compare.

 

Measurements aren't a last word in what you might just like; they can inform you, let your ears guide you.

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6 hours ago, dannyboy said:

G'day Folks,

 

After posting a WTB advert over in the classified section for a new USB/SPDIF converter - and getting zero bites, got me to thinking (yes, my wife was amazed that this is actually possible).

 

How far improved from 2011-2013 are DAC's these days in regards to jitter / re-clocking etc? At the time that I purchased my set up, most Usb implementation on DACs were rubbish, and the mighty Rega is not immune to this statement.

 

To purchase a new USB/SPDIF converter looks like it'll run me ~$600 for something decent, something like a WFS Ulink. Alternatively, assuming that things have changed regarding the need for external cleaners/re-clockers of USB signals, I could buy a new DAC? I really like the Rega, I do, it's a lovely DAC, I'm just not that keen on forking out 600 bucks or so for what looks to be an obsolete bit of kit these days.

 

 Can someone much wiser than I provide some advice on where things stand today in this regard?

 

Thanks,

 

Dan.

 

What music source are you using? If some sort of PC pr Mac setup using isb output you maybe just polishing a turd anyway.

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2 hours ago, dannyboy said:

 I see there is a bit of a following for GIESELER equipment....looks pretty decent @ $1200.

 

Thanks mate,

 

Dan.


Very decent indeed!

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7 hours ago, Hi-Fi Whipped said:

What music source are you using? If some sort of PC pr Mac setup using isb output you maybe just polishing a turd anyway.

It's a mac mini and yep - USB output. What you say may be true, but perfection is an impossible task that's never achieved in anything......for a sustained period. I'm happy with what I hear, as long as there is some cleaning of the signal (i.e. external converter, upgraded 'modern' DAC that can perform the same feat). On my old mini I tried the optical output, and it was worse than an unfiltered usb line. 

And there's no way I would ever go back to using CD's or any other delivery medium.

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27 minutes ago, dannyboy said:

It's a mac mini and yep - USB output. What you say may be true, but perfection is an impossible task that's never achieved in anything......for a sustained period. I'm happy with what I hear, as long as there is some cleaning of the signal (i.e. external converter, upgraded 'modern' DAC that can perform the same feat). On my old mini I tried the optical output, and it was worse than an unfiltered usb line. 

 

You’re absolutely right. Good quality files, sent asynchronously via USB (doesn’t matter from what device) into a modern, high-quality USB receiver will give you the cleanest results. Forget about S/PDIF or Toslink, they don’t get anywhere near in the low jitter stakes. All the thumbing of noses at PC or Mac sources is pure elitism and completely debunked by actual jitter and distortion measurements,

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8 hours ago, Hi-Fi Whipped said:

What music source are you using? If some sort of PC pr Mac setup using isb output you maybe just polishing a turd anyway.

 

Lol, the game of Hifi, where we all have different subjective opinions. 

 

I prefer my RPI4 via USB Vs Cambridge CXNv2, Pioneer N70a. 

 

I would not classify the sound of the RPI4 (RopieeeXl) as a turd''. 

 

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56 minutes ago, dannyboy said:

It's a mac mini and yep - USB output. What you say may be true, but perfection is an impossible task that's never achieved in anything......for a sustained period. I'm happy with what I hear, as long as there is some cleaning of the signal (i.e. external converter, upgraded 'modern' DAC that can perform the same feat). On my old mini I tried the optical output, and it was worse than an unfiltered usb line. 

And there's no way I would ever go back to using CD's or any other delivery medium.

Sounding good to you is all that matters 👍🏼

Edited by Hi-Fi Whipped
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10 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

 

It should be stressed that how a DAC 'sounds' is not defined by it's clock source accuracy. The last Giesler DACs I've heard are a great example of this - clocking accuracy 'ok', but the DACs sound quite nice. The money's spent elsewhre and you get a result that would cost a good deal more if from a name brand.

 

You probably don't need the last word in clock accuracy... just a reasonable improvement.

 

Measurements aren't a last word in what you might just like; they can inform you, let your ears guide you.

 

I agree, Its important to listen. Measurements can only tell you so much. 

 

For instance, I really like the sound of some R2R dacs. But whether they would measure as well as a Delta Sigma solution?

 

I think the Topping DX3 pro v2 is a good start. 

Its AKM based which I typically prefer over Sabre implementations. 

It measures decent, and would be a perfectly acceptable/logical place to start. 

 

Maybe head to Addicted to Audio and listen on some headphones. 

 

 

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1 minute ago, musicbee said:

 

Lol, the game of Hifi, where we all have different subjective opinions. 

 

I prefer my RPI4 via USB Vs Cambridge CXNv2, Pioneer N70a. 

 

I would not classify the sound of the RPI4 (RopieeeXl) as a turd''. 

 

I’ve been down the Mac streaming source road via USB a couple of times, in my experience the sound wasn’t as good as a dedicated music streamer.

 

certainly wasn’t devaluing the op’s source, I didn’t know what it was until I asked.

 

talking all sorts of jitter reduction starts with the source itself, get it right there and anything you do after that is more effective.

 

 I’m talking real world “how does it sound?” experience that I have had, I’m not talking measurements and dots and dashes like some people prefer to.

 

At the end of the day whatever works for someone works.

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12 minutes ago, Hi-Fi Whipped said:

I’ve been down the Mac streaming source road via USB a couple of times, in my experience the sound wasn’t as good as a dedicated music streamer.

 

certainly wasn’t devaluing the op’s source, I didn’t know what it was until I asked.

 

talking all sorts of jitter reduction starts with the source itself, get it right there and anything you do after that is more effective.

 

 I’m talking real world “how does it sound?” experience that I have had, I’m not talking measurements and dots and dashes like some people prefer to.

 

At the end of the day whatever works for someone works.

 

100%. We all have a different idea of what sounds good.

 

IMO, I think system synergy, tonality, and your DAC's USB implementation play a lot into audiophile preferences with USB sources. 

 

My preferences are based on experience also. 

I have had the Pioneer N70a (a very excellent streamer), CXNv2 (Not my cup of tea) many PCs etc in my system. I'm happy with the RPI. I sold my other streamers. 

 

IMO, the RPI4 via USB with a decent DAC and power supply filter is as good as any $2-3k streamer I have heard. 

And its is a hell of a lot cheaper, more readily upgradable and software updates mean it will never become obsolete.

 

The DIY and constant development aspect of the RPI (Ropieee) is hugely powerful, allowing cheap or not so cheap upgrades and improvements. 

 

If you don't prefer USB, simply add a SPDIF/AES Hat: 

http://www.pi2design.com/store/p19/PI2AES_-_PRO_AUDIO_SHIELD.html

https://allo.com/sparky/digione-signature.html

 

Both measure with extremely low jitter, and have been favourably compared to $3000+ streamers. 

 

Or clock and PS tweaks from: 

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/dac-and-interfaces-for-raspberry-pi/ian-canada-fifopi-q3-ultimate-fifo-reclocker-module-pcm-32bit-768khz-dsd1024-dop-p-14758.html

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/raspberry-pi-and-other-sbc-accessories/ian-canada-conditionerpi-ultra-capacitor-conditioner-board-for-raspberry-pi-p-14596.html

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/search?search_query=ian+canada+tranbsport+

 

 

 

Edited by musicbee
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asynchronous is not what is seems says Thurston Loesch https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=148763.0 and I have heard this before elsewhere, the audio data stream is not corrected if there is an error.

 

A sequence of events is isochronous if the events occur regularly, or at equal time intervals.”
Source Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isochronous

 

http://www.audiocircle.com/image.php?id=158277


Isochronous mode is used for media streaming because it guarantees bandwidth on the USB bus by scheduling one transfer per available frame. By comparison Bulk or Burst transfers make use of ‘leftover’ bandwidth and may be ‘choked off’ if higher priority isochronous data transfers saturate the USB Bus.

Isochronous transfer mode uses error-checking but includes no re-transmission in case of Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) errors. Electrical noise on USB signals causes CRC errors and thus data loss, as does poor signal integrity. In mild cases, this leads to audio signal distortions. In the worst cases, clicks and dropouts. It means that a USB audio device can work correctly only if USB signal quality is excellent and no CRC errors occur.

Note: Do not confuse ‘asynchronous USB’ with ‘Isochronous,’ an asynchronous USB system still uses Isochronous mode to transfer audio.

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21 minutes ago, frednork said:

asynchronous is not what is seems says Thurston Loesch https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=148763.0 and I have heard this before elsewhere, the audio data stream is not corrected if there is an error.

 

 

And you’ll know when that happens, the effect is not subtle. Nor does it change the tonality, or sound stage or bass response of the system. It means you need to look for a decent (compliant) USB cable.

 

When I say asynchronous I meant as opposed to synchronous, as the early USB DAC interfaces were. Synchronous USB audio is very much jitter country.

 

 

 

Edited by Steffen
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11 minutes ago, Steffen said:

When I say asynchronous I meant as opposed to synchronous, as the early USB DAC interfaces were. Synchronous USB audio is very much jitter country.

 

Is that where all this talk of jitter over USB came from?   I have never had a problem with USB to a DAC, but I only started playing around with it a couple of years ago.  I did wonder about the adverse reactions often posted.  Even had some discussions about it, but this never came up.

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16 hours ago, dannyboy said:

G'day Folks,

 

After posting a WTB advert over in the classified section for a new USB/SPDIF converter - and getting zero bites, got me to thinking (yes, my wife was amazed that this is actually possible).

 

How far improved from 2011-2013 are DAC's these days in regards to jitter / re-clocking etc? At the time that I purchased my set up, most Usb implementation on DACs were rubbish, and the mighty Rega is not immune to this statement.

 

To purchase a new USB/SPDIF converter looks like it'll run me ~$600 for something decent, something like a WFS Ulink. Alternatively, assuming that things have changed regarding the need for external cleaners/re-clockers of USB signals, I could buy a new DAC? I really like the Rega, I do, it's a lovely DAC, I'm just not that keen on forking out 600 bucks or so for what looks to be an obsolete bit of kit these days.

 

 Can someone much wiser than I provide some advice on where things stand today in this regard?

 

Thanks,

 

Dan.

 

Yeah as others have said, big leap in tech for dacs since 2011 onwards.  I could be wrong but jitter on dacs are very low these days, i dont think we can perceive its impact on the sound on the usb input receivers...imo the sound from the dac's output stage is far more critical, impedance matching etc..

 

1 hour ago, Steffen said:

 

You’re absolutely right. Good quality files, sent asynchronously via USB (doesn’t matter from what device) into a modern, high-quality USB receiver will give you the cleanest results. Forget about S/PDIF or Toslink, they don’t get anywhere near in the low jitter stakes. All the thumbing of noses at PC or Mac sources is pure elitism and completely debunked by actual jitter and distortion measurements,

Yep.. i have a borrowed Allo Usbridge signature and a standard RPi 4 2 GB, both running latest volumio build, i cannot tell the difference between each one using the same dac.   ymmv of course

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32 minutes ago, musicbee said:

IMO, the RPI4 via USB with a decent DAC and power supply filter is as good as any $2-3k streamer I have heard. 

And its is a hell of a lot cheaper, more readily upgradable and software updates mean it will never become obsolete.

 

 

Not that I have heard many expensive streamers, but comparing what the rPi into an external DAC sounds like, to my other usual sources,  I can say it's pretty good alright.

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8 minutes ago, Steffen said:

And you’ll know when that happens, the effect is not subtle. Nor does it chance the tonality, or sound stage or bass response of the system. It means you need to look for a decent (compliant) USB cable.

My personal experience does not agree with that but if you think data loss has no effect on audio (barring dropouts) all power to you.

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1 hour ago, aussievintage said:

 

Not that I have heard many expensive streamers, but comparing what the rPi into an external DAC sounds like, to my other usual sources,  I can say it's pretty good alright.

 

I found this informative

 

https://www.hifi-advice.com/blog/audiophile-insights/digital-info/usb-audio-synchronous-asynchronous/

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2 hours ago, musicbee said:

 

I agree, Its important to listen. Measurements can only tell you so much. 

 

For instance, I really like the sound of some R2R dacs. But whether they would measure as well as a Delta Sigma solution?

 

I think the Topping DX3 pro v2 is a good start. 

Its AKM based which I typically prefer over Sabre implementations. 

It measures decent, and would be a perfectly acceptable/logical place to start. 

 

Maybe head to Addicted to Audio and listen on some headphones. 

 

My main rig is R2R.

 

I once had a PDX DAC which I was not initially too fond of. In keeping with the OP's original post, the USB interface (Hiface) came from, shall we say, an 'earlier time'. I had some spare bits and modified it for a time - became quite a lovely thing.

 

Moved it on at a criminally low price and it's somewhere out there in the SNA ether. 

 

I have no doubt that Clay's latest with an AKM 4499.999999999999 etc is better in many dimensions, but sometimes you just want 'lovely' and there are people on the forums that for a reasonable price will make such things 'convenient' too. Much to be said for upcycling the classics IMHO.

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26 minutes ago, frednork said:

 

 

I thought you were posting the link to show he'd changed his mind, but he doesn't mention jitter at all in the second article.   So unless we think jitter is the only way a cable can affect the sound, I am not sure it contradicts exactly.  Bit puzzled...

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4 hours ago, musicbee said:

For instance, I really like the sound of some R2R dacs. But whether they would measure as well as a Delta Sigma solution?

 

I have two main DACs - my (R2R) MSB DAC and my Matrix Audio DAC. The Matrix Audio DAC measures "better" than the MSB DAC. The MSB DAC costs 60x as much as the Matrix Audio DAC. See if you can guess which one I prefer the sound of.

Edited by Ittaku
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30 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

 

I have two main DACs - my (R2R) MSB DAC and my Matrix Audio DAC. The Matrix Audio DAC measures "better" than the MSB DAC. The MSB DAC costs 60x as much as the Matrix Audio DAC. See if you can guess which one I prefer the sound of.

 

This applies to amplifiers also. 

I.e. I prefer my Firstwatt F7 vs class AB or Class D. 

 

The ear is not a microphone.

 

It seems that many people, including myself, like some degree of 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion present.

These systems tend to sound more analog, musical, less strained, etc. 

 

Edited by musicbee
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