Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?

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Rivalaudio

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Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« on: 27 Sep 2018, 04:42 pm »
I don't get it. I have tried, heaven knows I have tried! I have cycled through a number of dac's, cd players etc and just cant hear any worthwhile difference to chat about. When I thought I hear something amazing or special, I busted out my DBL meter only to find out it was slightly louder than the last, even 1db made a significant difference! I just don't understand it.

On the flip side, swapping from an Ortofon red to a decent cartridge, Dyna 20x2l - the difference is NIGHT and DAY.

 :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

Digital all sounds the same, prove me wrong.

 :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

deadhead

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #1 on: 27 Sep 2018, 04:44 pm »
Thank you for posting this.  I'm interested in the responses as well.  I would think an upgrade would change your perspective like crossing the street.

Tyson

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #2 on: 27 Sep 2018, 04:48 pm »
Get a DAC with a tubed output and I guarantee you'll hear a difference.  But IME you are generally correct - modern day DACs all perform at a pretty high level and also tend to sound more alike than different. 

mresseguie

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #3 on: 27 Sep 2018, 04:52 pm »
Well, for starters, which DACs did you compare? I don't mean list all the DACs together. I want you to tell us which DACs were compared to which DACs. What differences did you hear or not hear?

Additionally, list your amplifier, preamp (if any) and speakers. Also, what music do you typically listen to?

 :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

There's little or no way to respond to your challenge without your first supplying some relevant information.

Elizabeth

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #4 on: 27 Sep 2018, 05:13 pm »
I would tend to agree. DACs do all pretty much sound the same (up to a point $$$)
IMO first off the basis is a strict decoding system that is all there is. Sure a few DACs use 'tricks' to claim they do more. But in reality all of the basics are the same across the board. And the analogue portion  is really just a few bits of stuff. Sure some use tubes. cheap tubes in a cheap circuit. No big deal.
The few DACs which DO sound way better also cost a LOT.
I had owned various DACs up until I bought a used Adcom DA700 ($250) and kept that for well over ten years. It was the equal of a highly touted TAS and Stereophile DAc I tried and returned, since the new $2,300 DAC was no better than my $250 DAC.
Finally this year I bought a $7000 SACD player with DAC external access, that is really better.
Marantz SA-10.
So i would agree most DACs are all just on the same playing level... not enough to note much, if any real differences.

On the other hand the folks who say CD is 'limited' (to what they hear from most DACS) are also not understanding the limitations of the hardware is not the limits of the medium. Which is capable of being opened up to really hear what can be there.
« Last Edit: 27 Sep 2018, 06:45 pm by Elizabeth »

Shakeydeal

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #5 on: 27 Sep 2018, 06:57 pm »
Yes, there are differences in DACs. Contrary to what some would have you believe, even at the 2K and under price point. The question is, are those differences worth it to you, and do you do enough serious listening to even notice?

Remember, the first 95% comes fairly easy. It's that last 5% where the rubber meets the road. The return on dollars spent is much smaller in that slice of the pie. So if you are looking for an "oh my God" moment, you aren't likely to find it. But there are real differences.......

My advice is to not sweat the ABX bulls*&t and concentrate on which DAC gives you the most long term listening enjoyment. One will rise to the occasion.

Shakey

Tyson

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #6 on: 27 Sep 2018, 07:14 pm »
Some of the best DACs do close the gap quite a bit toward the level of quality that vinyl provides.  But the best vinyl is still better than the best digital.  And I say that from the perspective of someone who doesn't have a vinyl setup. 

Historically I'd say that 20 years ago, most digital sucked.  I'm sorry, but it did.  Over the last 20 years, there's been a massive uptick in quality, and that uptick has trickled down to all levels of digital, so that on average, digital is pretty darn good nowadays :thumb:  But the "type" of sound that each DAC presents is pretty similar.  Kind of like solid state amps - most of them are pretty good nowadays, but they tend to all sound more alike than different.  Yes there are differences, but not as much as between an OTL tube amp and an SET tube amp. 

The more interesting question (to me), is if you have 2 different sources and they sound quite different but both sound good, which one is correct?  Or, is it that nowadays in the high end, basic quality is high enough that any differences we note come down more to preference instead of better/worse.

cujobob

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #7 on: 27 Sep 2018, 07:33 pm »
There are differences in DACs, but compared to the effect the speakers and room have...it's relatively minor with the quality of DACs we have these days.

I've heard great things about multibit DACs having better tonality. That might be where I go next.

Elizabeth

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #8 on: 27 Sep 2018, 07:40 pm »
The more interesting question (to me), is if you have 2 different sources and they sound quite different but both sound good, which one is correct? 
Neither one is 'correct'. There is no such animal as correct. there is close to real as you can get. and, 'what I like, better,' or, what I don't like (in a million forms.)
I totally go for what I like. Maybe in some past life I was trying for reproduce the event. Hah! All music is for is making me feel good. The rest? Who cares.

Tyson

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #9 on: 27 Sep 2018, 08:26 pm »
Neither one is 'correct'. There is no such animal as correct. there is close to real as you can get. and, 'what I like, better,' or, what I don't like (in a million forms.)
I totally go for what I like. Maybe in some past life I was trying for reproduce the event. Hah! All music is for is making me feel good. The rest? Who cares.

Yes, I feel the same.  The "correct" one is whichever one brings out the most emotion. 

fredgarvin

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #10 on: 27 Sep 2018, 08:43 pm »
Every CD player, DVD player and DAC I have tried sounded different from one another. Some a lot some little. Better is subjective.

mresseguie

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #11 on: 27 Sep 2018, 08:51 pm »
Sorry to be a pain, but this thread really ought to be in the Solid State circle rather than in the GR Research Circle. [I just noticed the location.]

Early B.

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #12 on: 27 Sep 2018, 09:26 pm »
Also depends on how resolving your system is. If all DACs sound the same, that could mean something in your setup is limiting the expression of the differences in sound.

The other factor to consider is that DAC technology has advanced significantly in recent years, and greater competition has created relative price decreases. So a kazillion dollar DAC 5 years ago may only be slightly better than a $500 DAC today.


Early B.

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #13 on: 27 Sep 2018, 09:29 pm »
Sorry to be a pain, but this thread really ought to be in the Solid State circle rather than in the GR Research Circle. [I just noticed the location.]

That's because we're insinuating that Danny should design a GR Research Reference DAC.

mresseguie

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #14 on: 27 Sep 2018, 09:36 pm »
That's because we're insinuating that Danny should design a GR Research Reference DAC.

 :lol:

Folsom

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #15 on: 27 Sep 2018, 11:12 pm »
First thought, you spend too much time on AVS forum.

Maybe your stereo is largely immune to problems that inflict DACs differently?

Danny Richie

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #16 on: 27 Sep 2018, 11:25 pm »
I don't get it. I have tried, heaven knows I have tried! I have cycled through a number of dac's, cd players etc and just cant hear any worthwhile difference to chat about. When I thought I hear something amazing or special, I busted out my DBL meter only to find out it was slightly louder than the last, even 1db made a significant difference! I just don't understand it.

On the flip side, swapping from an Ortofon red to a decent cartridge, Dyna 20x2l - the difference is NIGHT and DAY.

 :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

Digital all sounds the same, prove me wrong.

 :popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

I get the exact opposite on my system. Even a USB cable swap can be really significant.

Tell us about your system and room.

I recently noted just how much difference the room can make and posted about it recently. See this post: https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=159399.0