Emotiva XDA-1 DAC - AVS Forum
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Old 02-18-2011, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
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got my Emotiva XDA-1 : this is not a review but just a few notes:hopefully others can add reviews here

-XDA-1 was well packed: double boxed and arrived in excellent condition (except as noted below)

-No manual was included: you can download it from their site

-Remote control did not work: opened the back and reseated the batteries (batteries were pre installed) and it worked

-plugged a USB cable (the cable was 15 feet long: longer than recommended max length of 2 meters) into a WIN 7 PC and it immediately recognized the XDA-1, and installed the drivers. I selected the XDA-1 in the audio menu and hit play in iTunes and the XDA-1 played with no issues

-plugged same USB cable into a Mac mini: went into preferences/sounds and the XPA-1 appears

-Volume control worked well: no issues

- inputs switch quickly: when you come back to USB, the audio comes on almost instantly


Disclaimer: above are my observations only: I bought the XDA-1 (and XPA-5 amp) at regular price from Emotiva: I have no connection with them

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Old 02-18-2011, 06:40 AM
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Possibly the wrong section of the forum?!
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Old 02-18-2011, 06:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Possibly the wrong section of the forum?!

possibly:what section would be more appropriate?

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Old 02-18-2011, 12:18 PM
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I recommend the CD and Transports, or Amps/Receivers/Processors, or the 2-Channel Stereo forum.

This definitely belongs in the audio sub section though.

Very interesting DAC by the way. Very nice.

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Old 02-18-2011, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
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moved to 2 channel audio: Thanks

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Old 02-18-2011, 05:53 PM
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I got my XDA-1 on Wed. but did not hook it up until last night. I am using it in the secondary basement system with an HDMI audio de-embedder from Monoprice (Product ID 5557 and it is a few cents over $43) and and old Oppo DV980H (where I set SACD output to PCM and I'd assume like the other Oppo players it is at 88.2kHz). Listened to a few cuts from SACDs. I don't have anything super high end in the secondary basement system (but do in the main system), an Onkyo 1000 and old B&W P6s. Very impressed by the build quality and the sound for the $299 I paid. I don't use the secondary basement system tons for music as I have a really good main system but I was missing something after I sold my old Micromega DAC several months ago (it was 16 years old but sounded great on CD but would only do 48kHz and I wanted something to be able to play higher resolution files from SACD and DVD-A and signed up for the Oppo in November and sold the old DAC) and I'm very happy so far.
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:08 PM
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Got mine a week or two ago. Sounds fine, nicely versatile, but I wish the display could be fully extinguished as the manual indicates it can....but it doesn't.

An email to Emotiva confirms the manual is incorrect in this regard and that they're going to change the manual, not the function of the dimming. Complete dimming of the display was one of the things I thought was going to be a really nice feature. Even at the most dim setting the display or more precisely the illumination around the buttons still puts out quite a lot of light.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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Old 07-27-2012, 06:31 PM
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why is there a volume control on a DAC?.. I don't know too much about the Dac's and would like to know why... thanks in advance

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Old 07-28-2012, 03:34 PM
 
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why is there a volume control on a DAC?.. I don't know too much about the Dac's and would like to know why... thanks in advance

I've wished for a real round hand-turnable volume control on some of my computer setups. A DAC with a volume control gets you there.
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Old 07-28-2012, 10:31 PM
 
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Just FYI, the volume on the XDA is lossy. At lower volumes the sound shows it. At the upper end is when things are best, but that's pretty loud depending on your system. The unit works best when used as a DAC only IMO. Emotiva unofficially admitted the volume was lossy near the time when they announced it was being cancelled. I think someone who wants a DAC might be better served elsewhere.
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Old 07-28-2012, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

Just FYI, the volume on the XDA is lossy. At lower volumes the sound shows it. At the upper end is when things are best, but that's pretty loud depending on your system. The unit works best when used as a DAC only IMO. Emotiva unofficially admitted the volume was lossy near the time when they announced it was being cancelled. I think someone who wants a DAC might be better served elsewhere.
So, don't use the VC and there will be no bit depth reduction in the DAC. Looks like a decent unit otherwise.
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Old 07-28-2012, 11:52 PM
 
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Exactly. The thing is, with Emotiva's strong advertising that it had a volume control and would be ideal as a digital pre-amp, I bought it to use as a pre amp. It took months for me to figure out that it wasn't my system that was at fault at lower volume levels, but it was the XDA. A tricky symptom to track down and source to say the least. So I need another pre amp, and do you think I'm going to give Emotiva another shot? I paid 320 for the XDA with shipping, and they put it on sale for 200.
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Old 07-29-2012, 03:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

Just FYI, the volume on the XDA is lossy. At lower volumes the sound shows it. At the upper end is when things are best, but that's pretty loud depending on your system. The unit works best when used as a DAC only IMO. Emotiva unofficially admitted the volume was lossy near the time when they announced it was being cancelled. I think someone who wants a DAC might be better served elsewhere.

I did a little research on this issue and found that:

The XDA is based on the AD 1955 DAC chip that does provide a digital volume control option. There is at least one product that uses this chip and does not implement the volume control, which is the same as leaving it set for maximum gain. That product is highly reviewed at http://www.stereophile.com/content/bricasti-design-m1-da-converter-measurements

Other sources suggest that the digital AD 1955 volume control has negligible negative measurable effects as long as attenuation is limited to 40 dB. IOW as long as you are listening to music loud enough to hear it, it won't cause even a measurable problem. Given its exceptionally good measured performance, that suggests to me that it will be, for all practical purposes free of audible artifacts

There is a lot of audiophile angst over digital volume controls, mostly based on the false belief that digital volume controls inherently cause low level distortion, and that analog volume controls have infinite resolution. These are both audiophile myths. When presented with this kind of fairly reliable evidence I have no problem believing that absent reliable listen test evidence, there will be reports based on audiophiles self-suggesting themselves into hearing artifacts that exist only in their minds.
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Old 07-29-2012, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I did a little research on this issue and found that:
The XDA is based on the AD 1955 DAC chip that does provide a digital volume control option. There is at least one product that uses this chip and does not implement the volume control, which is the same as leaving it set for maximum gain. That product is highly reviewed at http://www.stereophile.com/content/bricasti-design-m1-da-converter-measurements
Other sources suggest that the digital AD 1955 volume control has negligible negative measurable effects as long as attenuation is limited to 40 dB. IOW as long as you are listening to music loud enough to hear it, it won't cause even a measurable problem. Given its exceptionally good measured performance, that suggests to me that it will be, for all practical purposes free of audible artifacts
There is a lot of audiophile angst over digital volume controls, mostly based on the false belief that digital volume controls inherently cause low level distortion, and that analog volume controls have infinite resolution. These are both audiophile myths. When presented with this kind of fairly reliable evidence I have no problem believing that absent reliable listen test evidence, there will be reports based on audiophiles self-suggesting themselves into hearing artifacts that exist only in their minds.

Comparing AD1955 to AD1955 is a reasonable comparison.

However, comparing DAC 1 to DAC 2 is not. DAC design has many variables from power supply and regulation to pre and post DAC IC circuitry. There are enumerable differences considering the aforementioned and other variables that exist in DACs. You simply cannot assume that there would be no issue with Emotiva's implementation. In fact, they have confirmed that their pre-amp design is lossy and contributes to signal degradation. How can you claim that this is untrue based only on your minimal research and bias to this subject?
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Greg121986 View Post

Comparing AD1955 to AD1955 is a reasonable comparison.
However, comparing DAC 1 to DAC 2 is not

This would be your issue not mine.

Quote:
. DAC design has many variables from power supply and regulation to pre and post DAC IC circuitry. There are enumerable differences considering the aforementioned and other variables that exist in DACs.

Just because there is some little difference, doesn't mean that it sounds diffferent.

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You simply cannot assume that there would be no issue with Emotiva's implementation.

Similarly you can't assume that there would be an issue, My position is that there is a gross lack of reliable evidence that is negative about this product.
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In fact, they have confirmed that their pre-amp design is lossy and contributes to signal degradation. How can you claim that this is untrue based only on your minimal research and bias to this subject?

Lets be honest with each other. Yes, I'm biased against the idea that every DAC has sonic gremlins. But people who think that every DAC has sonic gremlins are also biased.

In my own defense I'm very sure that few if anybody who posts regularly on this forum has done as many proper listening tests of DACs as I.

I don't know of anybody but Ethan who has done even half as many boundary condition and bias condition tests as I have. I don't know of anybody who posts here regularly who as done as many technical tests of DACs as I. Few if any own as many DACs as I.

Just because manufacturers say something doesn't mean that their self-criticism doesn't play into their own hands, financially. So even when criticizing their products, they are opening the door for a new improved product.

Emotiva is clearly marketing to a very biased, irrationally hypercritical market.

I was tempted to take advantage of what I perceive to be hysteria over this product and buy a XDA 1 at the current reduced price. ;-)
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Old 07-29-2012, 09:33 AM
 
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I'm not interested in debating the evils of lossy DACs. this was my first and only DAC purchase, and I had no idea about the strong feelings some have regarding lossy vs whatever I will simply add some facts surrounding the DAC in question. Emotiva themselves concluded that their DAC has an issue with losing data. Then they announced the cancellation of said DAC. They had no new product in the pipeline so this was not some kind of dishonest strategy to drum up sales. And now, 5 or 6 months later, they still haven't sold off the remaining stock. They might have a new model in several more months.
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

I'm not interested in debating the evils of lossy DACs.

OK, so you like to hit-and-run. I apologize for taking you seriously. ;-)
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This was my first and only DAC purchase, and I had no idea about the strong feelings some have regarding lossy vs whatever

The strong feelings are far larger than that. There is a ton of audiophile myth about resolution, and people are basing buying decisions about it all the time. I guess it shouldn't matter to me whether you study up for your next audio purchase decision by reading Alice In Wonderland or one of the high end rags. One myth is as good as another although the political satire that is buried in Alice is far more delicious than the usual "Spend, spend, spend" rhetoric we see in the high end press.
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I will simply add some facts surrounding the DAC in question. Emotiva themselves concluded that their DAC has an issue with losing data.

I think that the fact that every DAC looses some data should be considered.

Did I mention that every audio product, cables included, loses some data? That is true as well. The XDA-1 is far from being unique in that regard. So don't expect me to be overly concerned about that factioid. It is probably unhelpful in this context. The obvious relevant question which nobody has shed much light on in this thread is "How much data is lost"? I got beat up for making a try at it. However the question about "how much" pales in comparison to the question "Is the data loss audible?".
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Then they announced the cancellation of said DAC.

As it stands, the XDA-1 seems to me like too good of a deal. It should cost at least $100 more.
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They had no new product in the pipeline

If you have reliable knowledge of that, then it would appear that you need to reveal your business connection with Emotiva. ;-)
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so this was not some kind of dishonest strategy to drum up sales.

You've missed one of my points. Saying that the product loses data is a true statement, as far as it goes. I'm not calling them out for lying about that! In fact I confirmed it and took a shot at saying how much data got lost. You didn't notice that?
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And now, 5 or 6 months later, they still haven't sold off the remaining stock.

If they sent me one for testing, we could make a dent in that! ;-)

I'm sticking to my story - it looks like a real sleeper to me!
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They might have a new model in several more months.

I can speculate, probably pretty accurately on the new model:

(1) The computer USB interface will be upgraded to the same sample rates as the other digital inputs

(2) The USB interface will be upgraded to use asynch USB protocols.

(3) The price will go up at least $100.

Emotiva might even be happy I said this. ;-)

And what Emotiva doesn't want me to say is that in a good well-done subjective test, all of the above (1-3) won't make any audible difference at all. :-(
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:36 AM
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I called Emotiva about their new DAC about 6 weeks ago. They gave me a bit of vague information at that time. They have since released some information about the DAC (XDA-2) and they showed it at a recent audio show. They are releasing a "professional" line DAC as well but its name escapes me.

They have remedied the data loss in the digital volume control, they will be increasing the available resolution of the USB input, it will show the incoming sample rate on the front, and they are also adding a headphone output. That was the information available the last time I looked in on it. It's going to basically look the same as the XDA-1, albeit with an added 1/4" headphone jack on the front.
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Greg121986 View Post

I called Emotiva about their new DAC about 6 weeks ago. They gave me a bit of vague information at that time. They have since released some information about the DAC (XDA-2) and they showed it at a recent audio show. They are releasing a "professional" line DAC as well but its name escapes me.
They have remedied the data loss in the digital volume control, they will be increasing the available resolution of the USB input, it will show the incoming sample rate on the front, and they are also adding a headphone output. That was the information available the last time I looked in on it. It's going to basically look the same as the XDA-1, albeit with an added 1/4" headphone jack on the front.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/emotiva-excels

Stereophile puts the XDA-2's price at $399

Also a "Pro" version:

http://emotivalounge.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=preampdac&action=display&thread=24393&page=1

This is all apparently public knowledge since May or so.

But, it sheds no light on whether the well-known resolution loss was a sonic defect or the stuff that is only seen on test benches with SOTA test equipment.

BTW, there is no remedying the resolution loss in volume controls once certain fairly minimal standards are met.

In post 84 of the cited thread we find:

"The xda-1 has a digitally attenuated volume control which loses digital information as you turn it down from maximum. (Volume control is done on the digital side).
The XDA-2 has an analog volume control which doesn't lose information as you turn it down. The control of the analog volume control is done via an electronic device but no information is lost. The attenuation is done on the analog side."

The first sentence appears to be making a mountain out of a mole hill. The second sentence is recitation of the common audiophile myth that I mentioned before.
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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Okay Arnie, so why don't you buy one then? But beware, I think the 30 day trial does not apply.
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:10 AM
 
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Okay Arnie, so why don't you buy one then? But beware, I think the 30 day trial does not apply.

Other things are on my wish list first. Besides, its not like a I need another DAC to sit on the shelf like so many of the rest.
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:21 AM
 
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Well I don't think I'll ever need another one now that I have an Opp 95 running the show. I would like a pre amp down the road, however, to add phono to my Parasound A21 and Paradigm S6's. But for now I'm just using the volume (uh-oh!) of the Oppo.
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Old 07-30-2012, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

...But, it sheds no light on whether the well-known resolution loss was a sonic defect or the stuff that is only seen on test benches with SOTA test equipment.
BTW, there is no remedying the resolution loss in volume controls once certain fairly minimal standards are met.
In post 84 of the cited thread we find:
"The xda-1 has a digitally attenuated volume control which loses digital information as you turn it down from maximum. (Volume control is done on the digital side).
The XDA-2 has an analog volume control which doesn't lose information as you turn it down. The control of the analog volume control is done via an electronic device but no information is lost. The attenuation is done on the analog side."
The first sentence appears to be making a mountain out of a mole hill. The second sentence is recitation of the common audiophile myth that I mentioned before.

So Emotiva fessed up with (from above): "The xda-1 has a digitally attenuated volume control which loses digital information as you turn it down from maximum."

There's no mention of this on their web site for current sales info on the remaining xda-1 units that they want to get rid of.

For others, a good writeup that explains digital volume control, and why it has issues, is at:

http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/Intro/SQ/VolumeControl.htm

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Old 07-30-2012, 01:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

So Emotiva fessed up with (from above): "The xda-1 has a digitally attenuated volume control which loses digital information as you turn it down from maximum."
There's no mention of this on their web site for current sales info on the remaining xda-1 units that they want to get rid of.
For others, a good writeup that explains digital volume control, and why it has issues, is at:
http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/Intro/SQ/VolumeControl.htm

The fly in the ointment is a paper that the above above references:

The above paper from "thewelltemperedcomputer" is not IMO credible for the following reasons:

The above paper from "thewelltemperedcomputer references http://www.resonessencelabs.com/invicta/invicta_analog_vs_digital_volume.pdf which is the source of a table comparing digital and analog volume controls. The digital column of the table doesn't look too strange, but the analog column is very strange. I've been measuring audio gear for over 50 years, and I've never seen the kind of performance they claim there. it seems to me to be wildly optimistic on the analog side. The only way I can explain the analog column is that it was measured under very unrealistic conditions, such as when the analog volume control is tested with its input shorted and without being followed by the usual chain of analog line amplifiers and power amplifiers. The only thing that matters is what is sent to the loudpeaker. The effects of the entire signal chain have to be included in any realistic comparison. Otherwise, you are just measuring parts in a logical vacuum. Context is very important.

If you look at the WBF thread http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?3813-Digital-Volume-control/page2&s=7e0bf16519325f6a298ed31cde0c2dbfstarting with post #13, voices of reason and real world experience start prevailing. They give their own reservations, which have somewhat different spins than mine, but are basically agreeable to me.
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

...If you look at the WBF thread http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showthread.php?3813-Digital-Volume-control/page2&s=7e0bf16519325f6a298ed31cde0c2dbfstarting with post #13, voices of reason and real world experience start prevailing. They give their own reservations, which have somewhat different spins than mine, but are basically agreeable to me.

The ref that I mentioned on digital volume control (not directly mentioned by you in your response) is by Vincent Kars. To repeat at: http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/Intro/SQ/VolumeControl.htm

You avoided any direct comment on that writeup, and that's what I'd like to see from you.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Vincent Kars also does the Computer Audio forum on WBF.

With regard to the secondary ref (WBF thread referenced by you above), both DonH50 and Roger Dressler are reputable and both post here on AVS.

So all that I see is that you're falling back to using them to support your own support of the "goodness" of digital volume controls.

With regard to the now discontinued Emotiva XDA-1 DAC, it might be an OK DAC at Emotiva's new discount price of $200.

So long as one only uses it with the volume control set to 100%

What I found problematic was that you took it upon yourself to post contrary to the very recent input in this thread of runnin' who actually owns an Emotiva XDA-1 DAC unit.

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Old 07-30-2012, 07:04 PM
 
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The ref that I mentioned on digital volume control (not directly mentioned by you in your response) is by Vincent Kars. To repeat at: http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/Intro/SQ/VolumeControl.htm
You avoided any direct comment on that writeup, and that's what I'd like to see from you.

A direct comment is that the WBF article is seriously flawed by being almost 100% based on an egregiously flawed article. Therefore the WBF article is egregiously flawed.

I also pointed out posts on WBF that said essentially the same thing as I just did.
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With regard to the secondary ref (WBF thread referenced by you above), both DonH50 and Roger Dressler are reputable and both post here on AVS.

Of course.
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So all that I see is that you're falling back to using them to support your own support of the "goodness" of digital volume controls.

Which is worse how than the WBF writer who swallowed a biased article hook, line, sinker, gross flaws and all?
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With regard to the now discontinued Emotiva XDA-1 DAC, it might be an OK DAC at Emotiva's new discount price of $200.
So long as one only uses it with the volume control set to 100%

That's the audiophile myth.
Quote:
What I found problematic was that you took it upon yourself to post contrary to the very recent input in this thread of runnin' who actually owns an Emotiva XDA-1 DAC unit.

I didn't take anything upon myself, I just applied generally accepted science.

If the owner had done reliable tests (either test equipment or a proper listening test,) his comments would have some general applicability.

If you wish to fault me for having high standards, I can live with that! ;-)
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Old 07-30-2012, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

A direct comment is that the WBF article is seriously flawed by being almost 100% based on an egregiously flawed article. Therefore the WBF article is egregiously flawed.
I also pointed out posts on WBF that said essentially the same thing as I just did.
Of course.
Which is worse how than the WBF writer who swallowed a biased article hook, line, sinker, gross flaws and all?
That's the audiophile myth.
I didn't take anything upon myself, I just applied generally accepted science.
If the owner had done reliable tests (either test equipment or a proper listening test,) his comments would have some general applicability.
If you wish to fault me for having high standards, I can live with that! ;-)

I'm responding to a full copy of what you just said, in order to be sure that I've a valid copy of what you said.

Meaning I'm more than a little surprised at your response.

The best is the enemy of the good. Voltaire (1694-1778)

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Old 07-31-2012, 12:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

What I found problematic was that you took it upon yourself to post contrary to the very recent input in this thread of runnin' who actually owns an Emotiva XDA-1 DAC unit.

There are some types of people who simply HAVE TO be right about an issue. It's like some kind of coping mechanism or in some cases just an over competitive nature. Either way if someone isn't going to listen to simple facts quoted from the manufacturer, then I tend to leave them to their devices.

BTW, I tried the XDA in my 2 channel system with a Pure i20 and my ipod. It was much worse at any volume, a very tinny sound.
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

There are some types of people who simply HAVE TO be right about an issue. It's like some kind of coping mechanism or in some cases just an over competitive nature. Either way if someone isn't going to listen to simple facts quoted from the manufacturer, then I tend to leave them to their devices.

Relying on tests and methodologies that are independent of a product's manufacturer is a highly honored position in science, technology, and even governance and journalism.

Do you have anything else nice that you would like to say about me? ;-)
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BTW, I tried the XDA in my 2 channel system with a Pure i20 and my ipod. It was much worse at any volume, a very tinny sound.

Let me guess, no level matching, no music synching, no bias controls.

If you are a true believer and wish to swallow what others with vested interests say is the only truth , then this sort of thing may suffice for you but it leaves me cold.

I am now basking in your categorization of my behavior as being independent, objective and fair.

When the incoming fire from critics is like this, one can only hope for another salvo! ;-)
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:46 AM - Thread Starter
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as OP of this thread, I respectfully ask you guys to stay on topic and avoid the bickering that so often follows

I returned my XDA-1DAC after trying it for a few days...

please take the high road in every post
if you see a problematic post, please do not quote it or respond to it: report it to the mods to handle
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