Jump to content

Why do some audiophiles spend thousands of dollars on a DAC? Are they searching for a "sound signature" they like, or just greater "accuracy"?


Recommended Posts

This topic could prove to be a bit controversial so I decided to start it right here in The Great Audio Debate section!

 

From perusing specifications of mass produced Analogue to Digital (ADC) chips and Digital to Analogue (DAC) chips I can see that the technology is very advanced with extremely good linearity, low noise, and low levels of spurious products. And such high performance chips cost only a few dollars. (Just the integrated circuit itself, not the power supply, case and connectors.)  DACs are ubiquitous, e.g. for mobile phones with a stereo headphone socket. The mass need for these devices has resulted in good performance at very low cost.

 

This evening I came across a video produced by a DAC enthusiast who has acquired DACs costing thousands of dollars each. The video invites listeners to listen to the sounds of the different DACs as presented in the video as uploaded to, and accessible on, YouTube . One of the comments posted to the YouTube webpage is:

Quote

it will be great if you can post the original file of the record somewhere (gdrive maybe?), i can’t hear many differences because of the youtube compression. Overall, as always, great job and thank you very much for sharing your passion with us

 

The DAC enthusiast  replies:

Quote

I record it real time on the video, sorry !

 

Given that this would have involved an ADC in the video recording, lossy audio codec compression in the YouTube version of the audio, and whatever "random" DAC a listener happened to use for listening to the video, I reach these tentative conclusions:

 

  • The goal cannot have been to demonstrate supreme DAC "accuracy" as the process of recording to a video camera or other recorder, uploading to YouTube, and the fact that viewers could use whatever equipment they happened to have, would have introduced potential inaccuracies, masking the accuracy of the analogue waveforms at the outputs of the DACs being demonstrated.
  • The goal must have been to demonstrate different "sound signatures", i.e. slight colourations or other artefacts giving a particular DAC a pleasing, distinctive sound.

 

 

If my conclusions are right, and the purpose was to identify the most  pleasing distinctive sound (rather than to be satisfied with an accurate "no frills" sound) why not purchase a sound processor, especially one that offers a wide range of choices for the processing?

 

A sound processor could accept analogue or digital input, process it in the digital domain, and output it either in digital or analogue form.  Rather than a fixed colouration as a specialist DAC might provide, the sound processor could be adjusted to give a wide range of different "effects" to suit the particular recording being played, and the mood of the listener(s). 

 

___________

 

Below is the particular video I saw (53 minutes long if you're prepared to watch all of it - I wasn't!) but it's not the only example on the net of an enthusiast attempting to demonstrate DAC quality by using recordings uploaded to YouTube.

 

 

Edited by MLXXX
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 375
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

A consumer DAC is much more than just a chip.   If you take the PoV that anything in a hifi system degrades the sound ... people search for components that deliver the minimum degradation in

Yeah, honestly @MLXXX the whole premise of allowing YouTube viewers to judge sound quality of different DACs from a recorded video, played back on their device is massively flawed.  Others have alread

There's a 'Dorothy Dixer' if ever I heard one!     Andy  

I wouldn’t take such video too seriously as you said due to YT compresion and most probably cheap and lossy recording but for sure I expect and understand people tend to like specific coloration made by certain DACs no matter how good or bad, expensive or cheap they are, plenty of online discussions of why and how people prefer R2R, or 1bit or whatever over the delta/sigma and opposite, 

 

also plenty of options these days to introduce specific coloration to your DAC sound via dsp plugins available for foobar and other players but most of them require tinkering and manual swapping/enabling via PC directly which might be somewhat enoying but for sure possible and easy to do

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, MLXXX said:
  • The goal cannot have been to demonstrate supreme DAC "accuracy" as the process of recording to a video camera or other recorder, uploading to YouTube, and the fact that viewers could use whatever equipment they happened to have, would have introduced potential inaccuracies, masking the accuracy of the analogue waveforms at the outputs of the DACs being demonstrated.
  • The goal must have been to demonstrate different "sound signatures", i.e. slight colourations or other artefacts giving a particular DAC a pleasing, distinctive sound.

 

 

I don't think either can be done with a youtube video.    To be sure either thing was able to be revealed and not masked, you would need ADCs to record,  and DACs to reproduce, that were much better quality than those being demoed. 

 

 

5 hours ago, MLXXX said:

If my conclusions are right, and the purpose was to identify the most  pleasing distinctive sound (rather than to be satisfied with an accurate "no frills" sound) why not purchase a sound processor, especially one that offers a wide range of choices for the processing?

 

A sound processor could accept analogue or digital input, process it in the digital domain, and output it either in digital or analogue form.  Rather than a fixed colouration as a specialist DAC might provide, the sound processor could be adjusted to give a wide range of different "effects" to suit the particular recording being played, and the mood of the listener(s). 

 

Already doing it on my raspberry Pi.   Mainly using filters and a "tube warmth" effect.  I'd welcome suggestions for other effects to try :) 

 

I agree, the "run-of-the-mill" DAC chips have reached absurd heights, all on a cheap chip.  A lot of us old hifi fossils might  find it hard to let go of notions of the past.  To accept the quality available at reasonable cost these days can even be embarrassing.  To cope we will have to go to even more extremes to have stuff that's just a bit better again.   Or maybe not.  We might also just kick back and enjoy today's "average" which is indeed yester-years high-end. 

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

I don't think either can be done with a youtube video.    To be sure either thing was able to be revealed and not masked, you would need ADCs to record,  and DACs to reproduce, that were much better quality than those being demoed. 

It isn't the ADC/DACs or even likely the youtube audio compression..... it's probbly all the microphone.   It doesn't hear like you do ;) 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites


1 hour ago, davewantsmoore said:

it's probbly all the microphone. 

The guy matched output levels using white noise and had each of the DACs on for at least 24 hours to warm up.  So far so good.

 

For a live demo in the listening room, fine to use loudspeakers, but for a demo via video recording I'd have thought he'd have made a direct connection from the output of each DAC to the input of an advanced ADC and made the recordings available for download to supplement the video.  

 

As it's really obvious the sound quality would have been compromised by the use of speakers and microphones (and YouTube lossy codec compression) I can only assume the guy was hoping to demonstrate a distinctive sound signature that was so marked it would shine through despite all of the sound quality compromises in his video demonstration method.

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, MLXXX said:

 

From perusing specifications of mass produced Analogue to Digital (ADC) chips and Digital to Analogue (DAC) chips I can see that the technology is very advanced with extremely good linearity, low noise, and low levels of spurious products. And such high performance chips cost only a few dollars. (Just the integrated circuit itself, not the power supply, case and connectors.)  DACs are ubiquitous, e.g. for mobile phones with a stereo headphone socket. The mass need for these devices has resulted in good performance at very low cost.

 

 

A consumer DAC is much more than just a chip.

 

If you take the PoV that anything in a hifi system degrades the sound ... people search for components that deliver the minimum degradation in their sound.  Hence some are prepared to pay $60K for a stereo DAC - because they can hear it degrades their sound less than a $600 DAC does.

 

15 hours ago, MLXXX said:

 

This evening I came across a video produced by a DAC enthusiast who has acquired DACs costing thousands of dollars each. The video invites listeners to listen to the sounds of the different DACs as presented in the video as uploaded to, and accessible on, YouTube . 

 

 

That, to me, is a completely ridiculous concept - listening to the subtle differences between DACs on a YouTube video!

 

Andy

 

  • Like 8
  • Love 1
Link to post
Share on other sites


8 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

Hmm.... perhaps he did.

It doesn't sound like that to me. The microphone used for his voice has a tonal balance that seems to continue when the music starts.

 

 

Edit: Starting at 13 minutes into the DAC video, the first minute of "Rosanna" performed by Toto is played. The official Rosanna music video (below) has clearer stereo separation and a generally cleaner sound. There is a very slight speed disparity (the DAC video runs a little faster than the official music video).

 

 

Edited by MLXXX
Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, andyr said:

A consumer DAC is much more than just a chip.

Well the setup might include an additional input buffer chip for the incoming data stream, with its own reclocking. And there could be a supplementary audio output stage to provide a high level low impedance output signal. There could be adjustable output level using analogue circuitry. 

 

And there could be premium output connectors.

 

The heart of the DAC is the conversion from digital to analogue and that function can be performed to a high standard by an IC costing just a few dollars.  For example, the Cirrus Logic 4334 chip includes these features:

  • Complete Stereo DAC System: Interpolation, D/A, Output Analog Filtering
  • 24-Bit Conversion
  • 96 dB Dynamic Range
  • -88 dB THD+N
  • Low Clock-Jitter Sensitivity
  • Single +5 V Power Supply
  • Filtered Line-Level Outputs
  • On-Chip Digital De-emphasis

 

Such chips can be obtained for a little over $4 each even in small quantities   Here is one source of supply in Australia: https://au.rs-online.com/web/p/audio-dacs/7165820/

 

21 hours ago, andyr said:

If you take the PoV that anything in a hifi system degrades the sound ... people search for components that deliver the minimum degradation in their sound.  Hence some are prepared to pay $60K for a stereo DAC - because they can hear it degrades their sound less than a $600 DAC does.

 

Thanks andyr for this response to the question raised in the thread topic, as to whether what is being sought by audiophiles is accuracy or a pleasant, distinctive sound signature. Your response suggests that at least some audiophiles are simply seeking unadulterated accuracy, without degradation.  They are not seeking a device that will impart its own distinctive "sound signature".

 

I wonder how many audiophiles might be in the other camp, i.e. they want their premium DAC to deliver a distinctive sound.

Edited by MLXXX
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, MLXXX said:

Your response suggests that at least some audiophiles are simply seeking unadulterated accuracy, without degradation.

if that is the true goal then they need to spend the 60k on a musician

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MLXXX said:

I wonder how many audiophiles might be in the other camp, i.e. they want their premium DAC to deliver a distinctive sound.

I don't think it matters.

Whatever the person buying it prefers and enjoys more.

 

Just like movies, give me all the over the top explosions and special effects, & Zombies possible and I will get submerged in it all. :)

 

Edited by rocky500
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites


Same reason they are spending on everything else, for the best sound reproduction for themselves.

 

'Best' is subjective for each and every listener.

 

Youtube? really!

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, honestly @MLXXX the whole premise of allowing YouTube viewers to judge sound quality of different DACs from a recorded video, played back on their device is massively flawed.  Others have already stated this in this thread.  The Youtuber is appealing to the masses for subscriptions.  Leave it at that.

 

As to the proposition you raise:

 

5 hours ago, MLXXX said:

Thanks andyr for this response to the question raised in the thread topic, as to whether what is being sought by audiophiles is accuracy or a pleasant, distinctive sound signature. Your response suggests that at least some audiophiles are simply seeking unadulterated accuracy, without degradation.  They are not seeking a device that will impart its own distinctive "sound signature".

 

I wonder how many audiophiles might be in the other camp, i.e. they want their premium DAC to deliver a distinctive sound


The question answers itself really... We choose what we want because we like it.  Pick any analogy - cars, sunglasses, fast food... We all have individual preferences, and we are prepared to pay to indulge those preferences, whatever they may be.  Accuracy, transparency and similar adjectives used in audiophile terminology are largely irrelevant in my view.  Such terms lack a qualifying reference.  The person writing the term has an internal reference for this, but it is entirely subjective.  Examples could include live music, a studio mastering console, a system you heard at a mates house.... often probably a mix of things.  It doesn’t really matter.  We buy what we like because we like it, not because we necessarily want “accuracy” or “transparency” or “colour”.

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:

 Accuracy, transparency and similar adjectives used in audiophile terminology are largely irrelevant in my view.  Such terms lack a qualifying reference.  The person writing the term has an internal reference for this, but it is entirely subjective.

I'm not sure I agree there is no "qualifying reference". If interposing a "thing"  in the chain of reproduction makes no audible difference to a listener then the thing is "transparent" for that listener. 

 

A classic case is a lossy audio codec. At a high enough bitrate a point is reached where the use of the codec becomes undetectable for most or all listeners for listening to a particular music track. 

 

Or a short length of connecting cable when added on to an existing length of audio cable may make no audible difference.  It would be "transparent".

 

An example of something not transparent and not accurate would be a DAC that added "presence" by boosting the middle frequencies.

Edited by MLXXX
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites


4 hours ago, blakey72 said:

If the only variable is the dac, you should be able 'maybe' to hear a difference between dac's but not which is better/more accurate etc.

I tend to agree with that, at least for a DAC being fed a 44.1kHz stereo PCM signal from a CD transport. There are valid alternative implementations of filtering for the highest octave (leading up to the Nyquist limit of 22.05kHz). Some DACs come with selectable filters for that critical part of the audible spectrum.  I suspect I couldn't hear a difference these days but when I was younger, with my higher frequency hearing intact, I could hear very slight differences when filters were changed and I preferred a less aggressive filter slope. The differences were very minor for my ears..

 

I suspect this matter of filter implementation would not be particularly noticeable with a 48kHz or higher sample rate.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MLXXX said:

I'm not sure I agree there is no "qualifying reference". If interposing a "thing"  in the chain of reproduction makes no audible difference to a listener then the thing is "transparent" for that listener. 

What you have done above is added qualifiers to your statement of transparency...  Your points of reference are “the system” and “the listener”.   You have added a variable (a “thing”) and you observe no audible difference.  The statement is can be held to be valid for your points of reference.  To use a term, like transparency, without qualifying what it is transparent to, has virtually no significance to anyone else.

 

For example:

“The CD player had a very accurate sound”
vs 

“The CD player accurately reproduced the sound of live music in my system”

 

The qualifiers to the second statement add significance and meaning to the terminology.

 

As an aside, I suspect most audiophiles view the term “transparency” as meaning transparent to the recorded event, as opposed to transparent to the rest of the system.  This is despite the fact an experience of the recorded event is almost certainly not something the listener was privy to.

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Stereophilus said:

As an aside, I suspect most audiophiles view the term “transparency” as meaning transparent to the recorded event,

That would be a long bow to draw!

 

I was only intending "accuracy" and "transparency" to be interpreted in a narrow electronics engineering sense of faithfully reproducing the signal as recorded, e.g. not colouring the frequency response, and not adding harmonic distortion.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MLXXX said:

That would be a long bow to draw!

 

I was only intending "accuracy" and "transparency" to be interpreted in a narrow electronics engineering sense of faithfully reproducing the signal as recorded, e.g. not colouring the frequency response, and not adding harmonic distortion.


Ah well, I have no proof, and therefore I said it was a suspicion.  Having said that, this is a forum for audiophiles, and while a subset of audiophiles may also be engineers, the greater group is much more diverse.  
 

I suggest to you that while you may interpret those words in the engineering sense, they may be interpreted differently by non-engineers, and have different connotations to what you intend.  Hence my thought that adding qualification to the statements has benefit to your audience.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do some audiophiles spend thousands of dollars on a DAC? Are they searching for a "sound signature" they like, or just greater "accuracy"?”

The answer to your question is very simple.  For me it is neither of the above alternatives that you suggest.  It is all about the pursuit of just a better outcome.  Quality anything often does equate $$$.  If it is well chosen and in synergy with the rest of one’s system then the SQ can consequently be improved in a myriad of ways.  You seem to me to spend a lot of time with your posts trying to deny the benefits of quality.  It may be interesting for you to experience the benefit of BETTER sometime.  You may be surprised.

 

John

Edited by Assisi
  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Assisi said:

If it is well chosen and in synergy with the rest of one’s system then the SQ can consequently be improved in a myriad of ways. 

I'm not a disciple of "synergy". In the early days of valve power amplifiers there did tend to be a noticeable interaction between the audio output transformer and the speaker load. Some speakers could even trigger parasitic oscillations.   But these days I'd simply use a solid state power amplifier and expect it to deliver a flat frequency response at very low harmonic distortion, and low source impedance, into any conventional speaker system it was connected to, and of course remain stable!

 

If I somehow found myself in a position of needing to choose a DAC,  I would not (for argument's sake) be inclined to look for a "bright" DAC to compensate for a "dull" speaker system. I'd simply look for a DAC with a flat frequency response and  low distortion output, i.e. a standard DAC. (If the speakers in the room sounded dull then I might consider some sort of room correction processing.)

 

With this thread I hoped to get insight into why certain audiophiles feel it is worthwhile spending thousands of dollars on an external DAC. Specifically are they looking for the very best technical performance (e.g. extremely low jitter, extremely low levels of spurious output) or are they looking for some "spice" that will deliver a distinctive sound.  Your reference to "synergy" suggests to me that you might not be looking so much for  a neutral performance by a DAC, as a performance that will prove to be be pleasing in combination with the rest of your setup, including the acoustics of the listening room.

 

If that is the goal then perhaps a sound processor would be the logical way to go. As I said in my opening post:

 

On 02/11/2020 at 1:17 AM, MLXXX said:

If my conclusions are right, and the purpose was to identify the most  pleasing distinctive sound (rather than to be satisfied with an accurate "no frills" sound) why not purchase a sound processor, especially one that offers a wide range of choices for the processing?

 

A sound processor could accept analogue or digital input, process it in the digital domain, and output it either in digital or analogue form.  Rather than a fixed colouration as a specialist DAC might provide, the sound processor could be adjusted to give a wide range of different "effects" to suit the particular recording being played, and the mood of the listener(s). 

 

Assisi, do you already use some form of adjustable advanced digital sound processing to deliver a special sound to suit the particular music being played?

 

Edited by MLXXX
Link to post
Share on other sites

When worlds collide.

 

Some of us see more than flat frequencies and low distortion figures as the only or primary aim when pursuing good sound.

For instance some of us only see certain types of distortions as bad as just one example.

 

If you are of one persuasion you may never really understand or appreciate the other.

 

Edit: oh, and I believe there are a myriad of variations to what different folk look for, and prescribe to in their pursuit.

Edited by muon*
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, MLXXX said:

With this thread I hoped to get insight into why certain audiophiles feel it is worthwhile spending thousands of dollars on an external DAC. Specifically are they looking for the very best technical performance (e.g. extremely low jitter, extremely low levels of spurious output) or are they looking for some "spice" that will deliver a distinctive sound.  Your reference to "synergy" suggests to me that you might not be looking so much for  a neutral performance by a DAC, as a performance that will prove to be be pleasing in combination with the rest of your setup, including the acoustics of the listening room.

 

If that is the goal then perhaps a sound processor would be the logical way to go. As I said in my opening post:

 

This seems ludicrous to me, You are suggesting those that spend "thousands" on a dac would be better off buying some dsp processing instead. 

 

To me this seems like a "dacs dont make any difference" thread in disguise, 

 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 02/11/2020 at 6:26 PM, MLXXX said:

The microphone used for his voice has a tonal balance that seems to continue when the music starts.

Intersting.

 

He went to all that work, and doesn't even explain whether he did or not.... and if he did (record them with a microphone) then it's a pretty daft way to compare.

Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, frednork said:

To me this seems like a "dacs dont make any difference" thread in disguise

DACs shouldn't sound "bright" vs "dull"  (cables shouldn't either)...... if people are getting all "system synergy" by balancing the "bright/dull" out with amps, DACs, cables, etc.....  then something is wrong (it coud be a number if different things).

 

"System senergy" is the problem not the solution.

 

.... and yes, if someone wants to change their sound, then some sort of EQ device is the generally the best way (assuming the system is high performance to begin with, if not, the solve the performance issue first).

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Assisi said:

If it is well chosen and in synergy with the rest of one’s system then the SQ can consequently be improved in a myriad of ways. 

 

7 hours ago, muon* said:

I believe there are a myriad of variations to what different folk look for, and prescribe to in their pursuit.

 

 

So if it isn't flat response (so no "sound signature") and low distortion (although surely they must be part of it) , what are some of these myriad other things that do not get named?

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

So if it isn't flat response (so no "sound signature") and low distortion (although surely they must be part of it) , what are some of these myriad other things that do not get named?

 

 

There's a 'Dorothy Dixer' if ever I heard one!  xD

 

Andy

 

  • Like 3
  • Love 1
  • Haha 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, andyr said:

 

There's a 'Dorothy Dixer' if ever I heard one!  xD

 

Andy

 

 

Huh?  That's not what I understand a DD to be.  A DD is when a question is a planted question, in order to allow them to expound on some point they wish to make.  I am CERTAINLY not doing that.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, aussievintage said:

 

 

 

So if it isn't flat response (so no "sound signature") and low distortion (although surely they must be part of it) , what are some of these myriad other things that do not get named?

I would say for me I suspect, it is the pleasure and rewards part of the brain that does it for me with some equipment.

I get more of that when I switched to a multi thousand dollar R2R Dac.

Edited by rocky500
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Note this is nothing like changing random other electrical componentry in a system that has no known means for effecting a change in sound and has never been demonstrated to have any measurable change. All DACs measure differently, ergo they sound different. That is a fact. Whether the difference in sound is audible to human perception or not is the real debate. Crazy simplifications of "we can't hear anything below 0dB" or "we can't hear more than 90dB differences" are based on very crude and simple standalone measurements. There is not a lot of research on the effect of ultrasmall signal differences in the presence of larger signals and their subsequent audibility. Additionally all electronic components behave differently in combination with other electronic components - be it subtle earthing related noise, minute phase and amplitude differences, timing issues being carried through from one device to another in some form (it need not be jitter carried into the digital conversion process) and so on. These effects are ultra-small but can be picked up by the most sensitive of laboratory equipment. Again, whether this difference is audible or not is the real debate. I would argue that any devices that measure differently in sound output are likely to be audibly different.

  • Like 3
  • Love 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, aussievintage said:

So if it isn't flat response (so no "sound signature") and low distortion (although surely they must be part of it) , what are some of these myriad other things that do not get named?

 

Well they can and do look very different.

So much of the audiophile hobby is the visible presentation of the components and the room.

There I said it.

How many times do you read "What a beautiful looking this" or "What a beautiful looking that"?

A lot.

And I'm not implying this doesn't include me as I know I'm drawn to neat looking all black components. 😍

Edited by Satanica
  • Like 1
  • Love 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, rocky500 said:

I would say for me I suspect, it is the pleasure and rewards part of the brain that does it for me with some equipment.

I get more of that when I switched to a multi thousand dollar R2R Dac.

 

19 minutes ago, Satanica said:

Well they can and do look very different.

So much of the audiophile hobby is the visible presentation of the components and the room.

 

 

OK, two replies so far.  Both valid I feel, but I note they have nothing to do with sound.   Still, sure, two cars with similar enough performance, I am going to buy the pretty one.  Same for cables, or DACs, or anything.

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

 

 

OK, two replies so far.  Both valid I feel, but I note they have nothing to do with sound.   Still, sure, two cars with similar enough performance, I am going to buy the pretty one.  Same for cables, or DACs, or anything.

To be clear, for me its all about the sound.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 02/11/2020 at 12:47 AM, MLXXX said:

If my conclusions are right, and the purpose was to identify the most  pleasing distinctive sound (rather than to be satisfied with an accurate "no frills" sound) why not purchase a sound processor, especially one that offers a wide range of choices for the processing?

 

A sound processor could accept analogue or digital input, process it in the digital domain, and output it either in digital or analogue form.  Rather than a fixed colouration as a specialist DAC might provide, the sound processor could be adjusted to give a wide range of different "effects" to suit the particular recording being played, and the mood of the listener(s).

 

This goes to heart of audiophile philosophy that sound processors are not "pure" and therefore must be discounted.

I remember speaking to a HiFi dealer years ago about EQ and that person referred to it as "cheating".

Well I didn't know up until that point that is was some sort of formal sporting competition. 😦

 

But in practical terms what do you suggest?

I have many tools to EQ sound to taste but have never really bothered.

On my sound processor (DEQX) I can even change EQ in real time with a remote control but have never done so.

With JRiver MC (which I use) for playback one can even apply EQ down to the individual track level, but that just seems like nuts to me.

I've always thought of it as a dog chasing its own tail to EQ for taste because recordings vary in mix and quality.

 

Don't getting me wrong EQ'ing for actual equalisation to a desired target curve (flat, house, loudness fletcher-munson etc) makes sense to me and that's what I do.

Edited by Satanica
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Satanica said:

This goes to heart of audiophile philosophy that sound processors are not "pure" and therefore must be discounted.

I remember speaking to a HiFi dealer years ago about EQ and that person referred to it as "cheating".

 

 

Isn't this just the old "tone controls" argument in a digital form?    Personally, anything that makes it sound better is fine by me.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, MLXXX said:

Assisi, do you already use some form of adjustable advanced digital sound processing to deliver a special sound to suit the particular music being played?

As for Synergy.  I have a collection of components, devices and accessories including a DAC.  I consider that there is a reasonable degree of equivalency in their respective performance and that they interact together to produce a relative quality outcome.  No weak links.  Each component has a role to play in the overall result.  That is what I mean by system synergy.  To me it is all about the total pleasure of the listening to just the recorded music.  One thing that is important to me is the reduction of the noise floor.  My system has low noise floor.   I do not want to hear resonant interference that is not in the recording.

 

 

Whilst I have two components that have DSP features, those features are not enabled at the moment.  I am pleased with how things are now. 

 

 

Your opening post mentions a YouTube video.  I cannot understand how anybody can judge the quality of what they are hearing by watching such a video.  You also mention the relative cost of a DAC chip and the performance outcomes.  There is no way that my phone or tablet could provide a play back outcome even remotely comparable to my DAC.  A quality DAC is much much more than just the chip.  As with any quality audio component quality has price. 

John

Edited by Assisi
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Satanica said:

This goes to heart of audiophile philosophy that sound processors are not "pure" and therefore must be discounted.

I remember speaking to a HiFi dealer years ago about EQ and that person referred to it as "cheating".

Well I didn't know up until that point that is was some sort of formal sporting competition. 😦

 

But in practical terms what do you suggest?

I have many tools to EQ sound to taste but have never really bothered.

On my sound processor (DEQX) I can even change EQ in real time with a remote control but have never done so.

With JRiver MC (which I use) for playback one can even apply EQ down to the individual track level, but that just seems like nuts to me.

I've always thought of it as a dog chasing its own tail to EQ for taste because recordings vary in mix and quality.

 

I used to record movies and sitcoms on TV at the Australian standard of 25fps and then play them back at 24fps to get the dialogue and music back to the original speed, timbre and pitch. The video quality suffered a little if I did the conversion on the fly but the sound became wonderfully solid and realistic.  Fortunately these days with Netflix the problem doesn't arise. I can watch episodes of The Big Theory, or movies,  at the proper speed, directly.

 

I find DAB+ radio very trying for listening to classical music. I find that the 80kbps (nominal) bitrate for the ABC Classic service robs the music of a lot of its vitality,  and will listen to the simulcast on FM radio instead, despite its own technical limitations.

 

I'm aware there are people on this forum not conscious at all of PAL speedup, and very tolerant of medium bitrate HE-AAC v2 as used in DAB+ broadcasting.  And I have attended weddings where other guests have remarked to me how wonderful the string quartet sounds to them; when I have been almost wincing at continual out of tune notes!  So I have to assume my hearing must be towards the "fussy" end of the spectrum.

 

However I have no great interest myself in tweaking the sound of my my hi-fi setup with equalizers. I simply accept the imperfections of the speakers, and use a room that is not all that reverberant.

 

Something like your DEQX would be a logical choice for someone with the spare funds and with the desire to experiment with tweaking the sound. And of course it has become increasingly common for people to use DSP specifically for room correction, such as different versions of Audyssey.

Edited by MLXXX
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Assisi said:

There is no way that my phone or tablet could provide a play back outcome even remotely comparable to my DAC. 

Have you tried A B comparisons?

 

A few years ago I connected Sennheiser HD800 phones to the output of Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile phone and was very impressed.  It is remarkable what quality is available. 

 

I think the matter was very well put earlier in this thread:

 

On 02/11/2020 at 7:24 AM, aussievintage said:

I agree, the "run-of-the-mill" DAC chips have reached absurd heights, all on a cheap chip.  A lot of us old hifi fossils might  find it hard to let go of notions of the past.  To accept the quality available at reasonable cost these days can even be embarrassing.  To cope we will have to go to even more extremes to have stuff that's just a bit better again.   Or maybe not.  We might also just kick back and enjoy today's "average" which is indeed yester-years high-end. 

 

 

56 minutes ago, Assisi said:

Your opening post mentions a YouTube video.  I cannot understand how anybody can judge the quality of what they are hearing by watching such a video. 

Presumably the poster of that video thought it useful, and I see that most of the comments on the YouTube page are favourable.  

I did not go to the trouble of lining up different parts of the audio I extracted from that video, for A B comparison. If I had done so I might have heard slight differences as between the different DACs despite the masking and confounding effect of loudspeakers, room reverberation, microphones, and lossy audio codec use.  And if I had heard audible differences, what would that imply?  I believe it would imply that one or more of the DACS was "exotic", rather than with a flat neutral response.  If I have time tonight I might have a go at doing an extraction and comparison for the Rosanna  excerpt.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...