Originally Posted by arnyk
If someone reliably hears a difference, then I very well might be interested in his impression of the audible difference that we know at least would now know that he heard.
Otherwise, it is very likely that when the differences are as small as they were between these units, the perceptions of differences are no doubt do to the excruciatingly poor experimental controls.
It's what happens when you have journalists trying to pretend that they are doing science, or ignoring that only the proper application of established science will give their writing any relevance to their audience.
Fair enough, then this may be of some interest - it is not a fully controlled experiment but it is not journalists trying to pretend they are doing science.
Not sure if you can get this publication but Hifi Choice Feb 2009 as their group test involved 6 DACs varying from £130 to £1200.
Although overall I would ignore most of the reviews and measurements in the publication these group tests they do are more interesting.
The group test involves 3 independant listeners (nothing to do with the publication) listening to each of these products both blind and sighted (without knowing what its associated blind was) while also level-matched to 0.1db.
The potential downside is that there is no mention of those setting up leaving room so I cannot comment about tells/etc.
Although with 6 products would the tells be of less use especially as it is blind and sighted combined?
Also not as much detail about the process as you probably would like.
As this is a UK publication the listeners are from this side of the ocean, so you would not know them but hopefully they would respond to contact.
The people were:
Ben Beaumont (Audio Partnership)
Steve Reichert (Armour Home Electronics)
Ed Selley (Yamaha)
The 6 products are:
£130 Beresford TC-7510
£200 Cambridge Audio DacMagic
£300 Heed Dactilus
£690 Apogee Mini-Dac
£763 Lavry Engineering DA-10
£1200 Cyrus DAC-X
In summary the listeners agreed strongly that differences between these DACs were relatively tricky to spot and pinpoint.
However they were consistent in their views between blind and sighted, which is made interesting because the Cambridge Audio DacMagic came up tops in both even though they knew how cheap the product is.
The Lavry was also well noted but left them feeling it was good but lacking in some areas (they are mentioned in the review but I feel it is using journo talk to convey those differences).
Cyrus was not in same league for the listeners as the CA, Apogee, and Lavry but did some things well (better than say the Apogee or Lavry).
In summary they said the Apogee and Lavry provide a slightly different take on what is presented to the DACMagic that was the best, while the Apogee and Lavry were better than all the rest.
So this is not scientific, but could be interesting because the review was multiple products done both blind and sighted and level matched to 0.1db.
Now if there are differences, it probably is not down to specific measurements on Jitter/distortion/etc unless someone feels values at -60db and -80db are critical.
What it probably does come down to is the use of the filters, the supporting DAC architecture-board, and the implementation of the main chip/s.
I think some of the arguments are that members are coming from different views of what the DAC is; some may see it only as the chip, while others see it more like the chip and all the circuitry-architecture that goes with it before and after, which is very noticable if you look inside a standalone DAC product.
However I hope the article is of interest and you can get further information on it.