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

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nc42acc

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #80 on: 31 Oct 2018, 04:03 pm »
What I am saying is not that all DACs sound EXACTLY the same as there are differences. But they sound more the same than they sound different. A homogenized sound.  Here is a list of what I have compared. Yggdrasil updated, T&A DAC8, BDA-3, MP D2MKII, Directstream, Gungnir, Gustard. Current reference is the Denafrips Terminator and it DOES break from the mold. This is just my experience in my system. YMMV

Captainhemo

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #81 on: 31 Oct 2018, 05:07 pm »
I'd bet that if folks aren't  hearing much difference between DAC's in their systems that  something else   (quite possibly preamp) is veiling the  signal.
Just  rolling the 990 series opp amps in  my  DAc makes obvious differences,. It took a  while  but I've  become a  believer in  getting  as much out of the signal path as possible.   We've taken this to the next step  now  and eliminated IC coonectors..   now running  a  high quality  Neotech silver/gold  patch cable  directly from   DAC  to   amp . Volume control is  done   via  64bit  DSD wide  software control

Finding that  every step   taken to eliminate components   peels back  another masking layer  you may not havet even  known was  there,   more  " in the room"  than  ever

Heard  an early prototype of  a new  DAC(Mivera Audio MKII)  in my system a couple weeks  ago and  it sounded  amazing......


jay
« Last Edit: 31 Oct 2018, 06:44 pm by Captainhemo »

nc42acc

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #82 on: 31 Oct 2018, 05:23 pm »
You are so correct. Some systems are not as revealing to allow you to hear the difference between cables and minor adjustments. Having a system highly revealing can be a blessing or a curse.

I'd bet that if folks aren't  hearing much difference between DAC's in their systems that  something else   (quite possibly preamp) is veiling the  signal.
Just  rolling the 990 series opp amps in  my  DAc makes obvious differences,. It took a  while  but I've  become a  believer in  getting  as much out of the signal path as possible.   We've taken this to the next step  now  and eliminated IC coonectors..   now running  a  high quality  Neotech silver/gold  patch cable  directly from   DAC  to   amp . Volume control is  done   via  64bit  DSD wide  software control

Finding that  every step   taken to eliminate components   peels back  another masking layer  you may not havet even  known was  there,   more  " in the room"  than  ever

Heard  an early prototype of  a new  DAC in my system a couple weeks  ago and  it sounded  amazing......


jay

nc42acc

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #83 on: 31 Oct 2018, 05:28 pm »
Having the ability to run multiple DACs simultaneously and switch quickly between them is eye opening. Expectation bias is a tremendous thing when you are just relying on your memory. 

mr_bill

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #84 on: 31 Oct 2018, 06:13 pm »
With so many system variables from one audiophile to the next it is not surprising we come to a different conclusion. In my system it was eye opening to have four DACs operating at once using ROON and be able to switch instantly to each one.

What did you observe in your comparisons?  You had some great DACs in comparo. Would love to hear.

Tyson

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #85 on: 31 Oct 2018, 06:44 pm »
Having the ability to run multiple DACs simultaneously and switch quickly between them is eye opening. Expectation bias is a tremendous thing when you are just relying on your memory. 

I know what you mean.  It kind of reminds me of what I see with movies shot on digital vs movies shot on film.  Even when the digital movie looks great (and they often look amazing), there's a common 'digitalness' to the image, for lack of a better term.  Same with digital music and DACs.  I've not heard a Denafrips DAC, but I have noted some DACs that minimize this particular quality.  iFi's iDSD pro with tubed output is pretty good about minimizing this quality.  The higher end MSB DACs are also good about dealing with this issue.  But many many many other DACs just have this 'digitalness' to a greater degree, even very expensive ones. 

Ironically, the one DAC that comes to mind has having the least digital signature over the years was a NOS DAC with tubed output by Scott Nixon a while back.  Which is surprising, considering how inexpensive it was and how non-glamorous it's enclosure was. 

nc42acc

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #86 on: 31 Oct 2018, 06:51 pm »
I have known Scott Nixon for many years. I wish I could get him out of retirement to start building high end DACs. He has a great ear and knows how to listen. He has taught me much over the years.


The digitalness you are talking about is a haze I hear over all the DACs I have heard in my system. When I added the Terminator in my system is was amazing to hear digital sound without that overarching haze. I am not saying it is the best in the world it was just the first to create a lifelike presentation.

I know what you mean.  It kind of reminds me of what I see with movies shot on digital vs movies shot on film.  Even when the digital movie looks great (and they often look amazing), there's a common 'digitalness' to the image, for lack of a better term.  Same with digital music and DACs.  I've not heard a Denafrips DAC, but I have noted some DACs that minimize this particular quality.  iFi's iDSD pro with tubed output is pretty good about minimizing this quality.  The higher end MSB DACs are also good about dealing with this issue.  But many many many other DACs just have this 'digitalness' to a greater degree, even very expensive ones. 

Ironically, the one DAC that comes to mind has having the least digital signature over the years was a NOS DAC with tubed output by Scott Nixon a while back.  Which is surprising, considering how inexpensive it was and how non-glamorous it's enclosure was.

Tyson

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #87 on: 31 Oct 2018, 07:11 pm »
I have known Scott Nixon for many years. I wish I could get him out of retirement to start building high end DACs. He has a great ear and knows how to listen. He has taught me much over the years.


The digitalness you are talking about is a haze I hear over all the DACs I have heard in my system. When I added the Terminator in my system is was amazing to hear digital sound without that overarching haze. I am not saying it is the best in the world it was just the first to create a lifelike presentation.


It's gonna take me a while to recover from this damn divorce, but maybe by the time I do I can find a Denafrips DAC used, and for a good price.  Sounds like it would be something right up my alley. 

OzarkTom

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #88 on: 2 Nov 2018, 02:55 am »
I have known Scott Nixon for many years. I wish I could get him out of retirement to start building high end DACs. He has a great ear and knows how to listen. He has taught me much over the years.


The digitalis you are talking about is a haze I hear over all the DACs I have heard in my system. When I added the Terminator in my system is was amazing to hear digital sound without that overarching haze. I am not saying it is the best in the world it was just the first to create a lifelike presentation.

I sold Scott Nixon's CD players back in the 80's Scott did a wonderful job making those with tubes. They sounded very good for the price, no digitalis.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #89 on: 5 Nov 2018, 12:18 am »
My system is very revealing and sensitive to changes in  gear.  My Luxman DA-06 is warm, lush with a very musical mid range with great depth and very wide sound stage.  Bass is powerful and controlled. It is very dynamic.  It does not have the detail or resolution of the PSA DSD or the Exogal Comet.  It has good air and transparency without losing depth and fullness of the midrange.

The PS Audio DSD had a lighter sound with better textures and more air and transparency.  Almost 3d in presentation.  It had better separation of instruments with more air between them.  It was more neutral sounding.  It had less weight in the midrange compared to the Luxman.  I really like the sound of this DAC.  I would love to own one.  Maybe in the future when I get tired of the Luxman although, I may sell my BAT VK-51se preamp and Pass X250 amp and go with a high power Luxman integrated, so I may keep the Luxman DAC for synergy.

The Hugo Chord was very romantic sounding with warmth and detail but the sound stage was not as wide.  It did nothing wrong and was a great performer.

The Exogal Comet was very 3D almost to the point of sounding like surround sound. It is very revealing.  It had great air and transparency. It was a bit bright in my system. If not for that, it would be in my system now.

The Marantz NA11s1 had the best and most realistic textures of instruments that I have heard.  Piano sounded like it was in the room and vocals were to die for.  However, in my system its presentation was too forward and bass was too  much and overpowering.  It leaned just a hint to the warm and dark side.  I hated  to return this DAC because the tone and textures were fabulous.  It was the most dynamic out of the bunch.  It just was not a good match for my system at the time.

The Cary Audio TS200 was not much of an improvement over the AVA Ultra II hybrid tube DAC that it replaced and not worth the  price.  It was not a good match for my system despite it being a $4K plus DAC.

W4S DSDse with Femto clock upgrade was very musical but it was too bright and sibilant in my system but not in the owners.  He eventually replaced it with the Hugo which sounded much better.  Now he runs a T+A DAC8 which is just fabulous.  It blows the other 2 away and at DSD8x with HQ player it is one of the best DAC's I have heard.

All these DAC's sounded much more different than similar.


HT cOz

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #90 on: 5 Nov 2018, 04:10 am »
I’ve at times struggled to hear a difference as well. I had Adio gd and various Squeezebox that I really couldn’t tell any difference while switching between them.

I recently purchased a Modwright Tranporter which I can clearly hear as being better than my stock dac in my 2 channel receiver.  However, I would describe the difference as being more pleasurable above all else. It’s hard to put your finger on it in an analytical sense.  The change is in the realm of more presence and better soundstage.

Happy journey
Robert

nc42acc

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #91 on: 5 Nov 2018, 01:44 pm »
What was the time span between having each of these DACs in your system?  Any of them at the same time compared using the same source material and cables?

My system is very revealing and sensitive to changes in  gear.  My Luxman DA-06 is warm, lush with a very musical mid range with great depth and very wide sound stage.  Bass is powerful and controlled. It is very dynamic.  It does not have the detail or resolution of the PSA DSD or the Exogal Comet.  It has good air and transparency without losing depth and fullness of the midrange.

The PS Audio DSD had a lighter sound with better textures and more air and transparency.  Almost 3d in presentation.  It had better separation of instruments with more air between them.  It was more neutral sounding.  It had less weight in the midrange compared to the Luxman.  I really like the sound of this DAC.  I would love to own one.  Maybe in the future when I get tired of the Luxman although, I may sell my BAT VK-51se preamp and Pass X250 amp and go with a high power Luxman integrated, so I may keep the Luxman DAC for synergy.

The Hugo Chord was very romantic sounding with warmth and detail but the sound stage was not as wide.  It did nothing wrong and was a great performer.

The Exogal Comet was very 3D almost to the point of sounding like surround sound. It is very revealing.  It had great air and transparency. It was a bit bright in my system. If not for that, it would be in my system now.

The Marantz NA11s1 had the best and most realistic textures of instruments that I have heard.  Piano sounded like it was in the room and vocals were to die for.  However, in my system its presentation was too forward and bass was too  much and overpowering.  It leaned just a hint to the warm and dark side.  I hated  to return this DAC because the tone and textures were fabulous.  It was the most dynamic out of the bunch.  It just was not a good match for my system at the time.

The Cary Audio TS200 was not much of an improvement over the AVA Ultra II hybrid tube DAC that it replaced and not worth the  price.  It was not a good match for my system despite it being a $4K plus DAC.

W4S DSDse with Femto clock upgrade was very musical but it was too bright and sibilant in my system but not in the owners.  He eventually replaced it with the Hugo which sounded much better.  Now he runs a T+A DAC8 which is just fabulous.  It blows the other 2 away and at DSD8x with HQ player it is one of the best DAC's I have heard.

All these DAC's sounded much more different than similar.

OzarkTom

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #92 on: 5 Nov 2018, 02:01 pm »
What was the time span between having each of these DACs in your system?  Any of them at the same time compared using the same source material and cables?
 

And did all these Dacs have at least 500-1000 hr break-in?

I have always heard differences between Dacs, but so very minor if all Dacs are well broken in. My buddy Rex who owns about 7 Dacs now says the same thing. He has owned about 12 Dacs over the years and he has found minor differences. None of the Dacs are unlistenable, I am sure the designers are not going to bring out a lousy sounding Dac. Neither one of us has owned a ladder Dac, so maybe those are significant better, but I am a skeptic on that until I hear one in my system.

S Clark

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #93 on: 5 Nov 2018, 02:20 pm »
Do we seriously believe that we can't evaluate a piece of equipment within a 30 day return period because it isn't broken in 1000 hrs?  If it takes that long for a device to settle in, then isn't it impossible to evaluate nearly anything??  How good is your auditory memory?

twitch54

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #94 on: 5 Nov 2018, 02:53 pm »
Do we seriously believe that we can't evaluate a piece of equipment within a 30 day return period because it isn't broken in 1000 hrs?  If it takes that long for a device to settle in, then isn't it impossible to evaluate nearly anything??  How good is your auditory memory?

agreed, besides anyone subscribing to a 1000 hr (or more) break-in, burn-in whatever, I doubt very much has an engineering / science background that can quantitatively explain it.

As for auditory memory, NOBODY's is that good !

mix4fix

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #95 on: 5 Nov 2018, 02:55 pm »
There is a point to listen to the music several times to hear everything in the music. You listen to a DAC once, then you swap it, hear something different, and think it is because of the equipment change.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #96 on: 5 Nov 2018, 03:28 pm »
 

And did all these Dacs have at least 500-1000 hr break-in?

I have always heard differences between Dacs, but so very minor if all Dacs are well broken in. My buddy Rex who owns about 7 Dacs now says the same thing. He has owned about 12 Dacs over the years and he has found minor differences. None of the Dacs are unlistenable, I am sure the designers are not going to bring out a lousy sounding Dac. Neither one of us has owned a ladder Dac, so maybe those are significant better, but I am a skeptic on that until I hear one in my system.


The Hugo, W4S, Luxman, AVA, Comet and T+A all  had 100+  hours on them.  The Marantz and Cary had 75-100 hours.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #97 on: 5 Nov 2018, 03:36 pm »
What was the time span between having each of these DACs in your system?  Any of them at the same time compared using the same source material and cables?

We did a shoot out of DAC's with a Bryston, W4S, Comet and IfI in a friends system.  Got to compare the Hugo, PS Audio, W4S to my Luxman in my system.  Heard the Hugo against an Exasound in a friends system.  Heard the T+A vs Hugo in same friends system.  Heard the Marantz and Cary vs my AVA in my system.  Compared the Comet to my AVA and Luxman.

Tyson

Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #98 on: 5 Nov 2018, 05:05 pm »
This goes to my theory re: audio equipment.  1st, the biggest changes come from speaker/room interaction.  So get better speakers or treat the room (or get a new room) to hear the biggest changes possible in audio.  Next is the speaker/amp interface.  Get an amp that's a good match for your speakers.

My corollary theory is that once you get to a certain level of quality, one piece of gear is not hugely different than another.  They might sound different from each other, but its more in the realm of flavoring and not really around "better" or "worse".   Which is why (once you get to a certain level of quality), it's hard to hear big differences in DACs. 

gefski

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Re: Why cant I hear a worthwhile difference with DAC's?
« Reply #99 on: 5 Nov 2018, 05:44 pm »
I’ve at times struggled to hear a difference as well. I had Adio gd and various Squeezebox that I really couldn’t tell any difference while switching between them.

I recently purchased a Modwright Tranporter which I can clearly hear as being better than my stock dac in my 2 channel receiver.  However, I would describe the difference as being more pleasurable above all else. It’s hard to put your finger on it in an analytical sense.  The change is in the realm of more presence and better soundstage.

Happy journey
Robert

+1 on your type of listening and evaluating, and your conclusions.

For me, quickie a/b comparisons will (try) to detect frequency response differences, which among many dacs will be inaudible.

However, true timbre, touch, and texture, apparent soundstage (even in silence), and micro dynamic swings are so obvious when listening to music with, for example, Metrum, Holo, or Yggdrasil that I don't work at all to hear it. And when those characteristics are significantly reduced, it's just as obvious.