Do I need a new, better, DAC? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Do I need a new, better, DAC?

I have very happy with my current DAC running inside my OPPO 93, but I have a chance to get a better stand alone DAC for a really good price. What the hell are the differences besides samle rate and bit depth? Will I actually see and hear a SIGNIFICANT improvemnt in performance if I get spendy on a stand alone DAC or is my current cyrus DAC more than good enough?

I bring this up because I see DAC's that are literally thousands and tens of thousands of dollars... is there that much difference in them? I can read specs and make judgements based on that, but I am looking for someone that really can explain this stuff in techo detail (yes, I know what a DAC does)

The new unit I am considering originally retailed for more than $2500 and is a 24/192 with master clock and a proprietary power and input stage.

The am considering this because I find myself REALLY enjoying digital music lately, versus vinyl, even though I NEVER play music from a computer, just digital media/cd/sacd/dvda etc.

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post #2 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post
Will I actually see and hear a SIGNIFICANT improvemnt in performance if I get spendy on a stand alone DAC
No.
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post #3 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 02:14 PM
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No difference at all. The marketing concept is to make sonic claims based on specifications and then convince the audiophile that he needs an expensive one just to have potential bases covered. Lots of differences in measurements and specs, no difference in audibility. Fact is, dac's are dac's. Waste of money. The dac in your Oppo is just fine.
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post #4 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post
No difference at all. The marketing concept is to make sonic claims based on specifications and then convince the audiophile that he needs an expensive one just to have potential bases covered. Lots of differences in measurements and specs, no difference in audibility. Fact is, dac's are dac's. Waste of money. The dac in your Oppo is just fine.

interesting... thank you

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post #5 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 06:23 PM
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Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.

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post #6 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post
Will I actually see and hear a SIGNIFICANT improvemnt in performance if I get spendy on a stand alone DAC or is my current cyrus DAC more than good enough?
IMO this is a used to be Yes, now a No answer. Burr-Brown based external DAC's 20-years ago
would make some improvement on the more
common equipment. But, everything got better and
cheaper.
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post #7 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 08:46 PM
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Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.
But the following is something to believe.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilcal View Post
IMO this is a used to be Yes, now a No answer. Burr-Brown based external DAC's 20-years ago
would make some improvement on the more
common equipment. But, everything got better and
cheaper.
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post #8 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post

I bring this up because I see DAC's that are literally thousands and tens of thousands of dollars...
Ditto for every other kind of audio component including power cables. Just because there are bigger fools does not mean that you have to be one.

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is there that much difference in them?
Once you get to the quality level of the DAC in that Oppo you already have, not so much.

Quote:
I can read specs and make judgments based on that, but I am looking for someone that really can explain this stuff in techo detail (yes, I know what a DAC does)
There is now a basic rule for almost every kind of audio component based on electronics, which is that once you reach a certain quality level that is now fairly reachable, further audible improvements are elusive to say the least.

The final frontier for sound quality is loudspeakers and room acoustics. One can get very spendy there, and continue to make audible improvements.

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The new unit I am considering originally retailed for more than $2500 and is a 24/192 with master clock and a proprietary power and input stage.
Tell me about your speakers and room.

Quote:
The am considering this because I find myself REALLY enjoying digital music lately, versus vinyl, even though I NEVER play music from a computer, just digital media/cd/sacd/dvda etc.
I made that transition in 1983 and never looked back. Welcome!
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post #9 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post
interesting... thank you
Unfortunately this is the wrong forum if one is searching for components that may have superior sound qualities. This forum has many members who dogmatically believe that everything made today sounds the same with modern technology. Different brands using completely different techniques and materials with wildly differing budgets and design goals, but they all sound the same at this forum. Of course, that is not true, but you won't learn that here. I suggest you try a different forum like Audiokarma for instance.

As for your question, DAC chips may vary a little in sound quality, but far more important is the analog stage that the component has, among other things. a device that retailed for 2500 will have excellent parts and design and an analog stage that is head and shoulders above the Oppo 103. I've had the 103 since January and experimented with it. I connected it directly to a 7 channel amp and used the volume in the 103. In that configuration I also had the Oppo process the signal from my cable box. This revealed the Oppo's limitations and I found out after that Oppo does not recommend connecting it straight to amp. The sound was decent to a point but some tracks of music had weaknesses. Even my wife noticed issues with Michael Buble's vocals.

I also have the Oppo 95, which has superior design and a much better analog section. It was better than the 103, but of course it comes at a price. Anyway, the 2500 component you are looking at sounds pretty expensive even if it's at a big discount. Can you try it out first in your system? These components can have synergy in a system, but can also be a bad combination. Some will disagree or attack what I've said, but at the higher end of the audio world, all things are not equal.
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post #10 of 129 Old 08-23-2014, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by audio4life View Post
Unfortunately this is the wrong forum if one is searching for components that may have superior sound qualities. This forum has many members who dogmatically believe that everything made today sounds the same with modern technology.
Unfortunately, the above post constitutes an excluded middle argument which is a serious detriment to its possibilities of being true. Nobody actually believes that everything made today sounds the same. That is just a hyperbolic statement that some people seem to like to throw out for shock value.

Quote:
As for your question, DAC chips may vary a little in sound quality, but far more important is the analog stage that the component has, among other things.
Reality is that equipment has to be judged as a whole, and may perform better or worse than the sum of its pieces. The above comment fails reasonable logical tests on the grounds that it expects people to become mixed-signal experts in order to judge audio gear.

Quote:
A device that retailed for 2500 will have excellent parts and design and an analog stage that is head and shoulders above the Oppo 103.
The fallacy illustrated by the statement above is the common one of judging audio quality based purely on price and presuming the existence of a linear price/quality ratio for every piece of gear from cheap to boutique. The statement "You get what you pay for" is naive, and most people have found that it takes good judgement as well as adequate financing in order to obtain high quality.
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post #11 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by audio4life View Post
Unfortunately this is the wrong forum if one is searching for components that may have superior sound qualities. This forum has many members who dogmatically believe that everything made today sounds the same with modern technology. Different brands using completely different techniques and materials with wildly differing budgets and design goals, but they all sound the same at this forum. Of course, that is not true, but you won't learn that here. I suggest you try a different forum like Audiokarma for instance.

.
This poster fails to mention that our comments are not opinions or beliefs. They are test results. Nobody says everything sounds the same. I believe we were talking about DAC's which do sound the same because they do the same thing in the same manner. There are different architectures and different specs but the differences aren't audible. Test results, not feelings.

I do agree with the poster that this is the wrong forum to get subjective opinions about DAC "sound" and that Audio Karma will provide recommendations on specific DAC's that the people there believe sound better.
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post #12 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post
...No difference at all...
...Lots of differences in measurements and specs, no difference in audibility. ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW
...Nobody says everything sounds the same...
Ok.
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post #13 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 08:06 AM - Thread Starter
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I mean... in digital to analog conversion, we want to control Jitter as much as possible do we not?

I've also been reading that depths above 24bit (24/192) is problematic because of the algorithm of the original material causes distortion above that bit depth... any know anything about this as manufacturers have begun to off bit depths higher than 24

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post #14 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 08:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post






I made that transition in 1983 and never looked back. Welcome!

I'm not giving up my Vinyl, I am just finding digital sources very rewarding lately with my current set up finally rounded out.

while, for me, Vinyl still holds a lead over most normal digital sources (not quite true with some SACD and DVDA), the difference has gotten very close... and with digital I am not dealing with static and surface noise issues associate with vinyl. I've spent a bit of money trying to make my system as "BLACK" as possible, and I have achieved that to a very high degree even though I use high efficiency speakers... adding noise back in via vinyl is disappointing to say the least.

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I mean... in digital to analog conversion, we want to control Jitter as much as possible do we not?
Not necessarily. Most of us are pragmatists, and we want to reduce jitter enough so it won't be audible. And it turns out that even really, really cheap basic DACs have jitter that low. So it's just not a problem worth worrying about, unless your goal is about measured performance, rather than audible performance.

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post #16 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post
I mean... in digital to analog conversion, we want to control Jitter as much as possible do we not?
Of course. Jitter needs to be below audible levels. But is inaudible jitter a dream, or commonplace, or somewhere in-between?

Quote:
I've also been reading that depths above 24bit (24/192) is problematic
The above statement seems to show a lack of understanding of the meaning of the phrase "bit depth".

Expressions such as 24/192 are composed of two parts, bit depth (24) and sample rate (192). Therefore, 24/192 is a sample rate higher than 24/96, but it is the same bit depth (24).


Quote:
because of the algorithm of the original material causes distortion above that bit depth... any know anything about this as manufacturers have begun to off bit depths higher than 24
Recordings are data, not algorithms, so original program material can't have an algorithm in it.

You may be talking about downsampling, which is a relatively simple mathematical operation that is commonly highly perfected.
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post #17 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 09:40 AM
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Not necessarily. Most of us are pragmatists, and we want to reduce jitter enough so it won't be audible. And it turns out that even really, really cheap basic DACs have jitter that low. So it's just not a problem worth worrying about, unless your goal is about measured performance, rather than audible performance.
And it's not the DAC's performance that is the issue.
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post #18 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 09:44 AM
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And it's not the DAC's performance that is the issue.
Really? He asked about jitter. What is that about, if not the DAC's performance?

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post #19 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 09:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post



The above statement seems to show a lack of understanding of the meaning of the phrase "bit depth".

Expressions such as 24/192 are composed of two parts, bit depth (24) and sample rate (192). Therefore, 24/192 is a sample rate higher than 24/96, but it is the same bit depth (24).




Recordings are data, not algorithms, so original program material can't have an algorithm in it.
sure it can... it's expressed in the form of compression. data is NOT uncompressed on a CD... though someday BD music might make this obsolete. as far as 24/192 is comcerned, I fully understand what it means, how it's illustrated and what the effects of lack of depth and sample are, however I think I misspoke above and was addressing DSD, not DAC... I am not concerned with DSD because I don't currently stream.
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post #20 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post
I have very happy with my current DAC running inside my OPPO 93...
That's a good thing!

Wait, there's more!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18
...but I have a chance to get a better stand alone DAC for a really good price.
Temptation...

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18
What the hell are the differences besides samle rate and bit depth?
Precision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18
Will I actually see and hear a SIGNIFICANT improvemnt in performance if I get spendy on a stand alone DAC or is my current cyrus DAC more than good enough?
Maybe and maybe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18
I bring this up because I see DAC's that are literally thousands and tens of thousands of dollars...
Pricetags are not performance measures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18
is there that much difference in them?
There are differences. "That much" is a slippery bias-able judgement call.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18
I can read specs and make judgements based on that, but I am looking for someone that really can explain this stuff in techo detail (yes, I know what a DAC does)
That would not be me, are there any DAC designers here? I get what it is supposed to do, but throw in a little ASRC and selectable dither and methods of converting those digits to analog and I get a little bit lost along the way.

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Originally Posted by MSchu18
The new unit I am considering originally retailed for more than $2500 and is a 24/192 with master clock and a proprietary power and input stage.
Clocking (jitterlessness) and power (analog stability) are important factors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18
The am considering this because I find myself REALLY enjoying digital music lately, versus vinyl, even though I NEVER play music from a computer, just digital media/cd/sacd/dvda etc.

Let me ask this:

Do you notice a significant difference between your Bel Canto's and the AVR amplification?

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post #21 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 01:21 PM
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Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.
Below would be an example of that. Why? Because it's an opinion based on casual observation devoid of objective data or test method.
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Originally Posted by audio4life View Post
As for your question, DAC chips may vary a little in sound quality, but far more important is the analog stage that the component has, among other things. a device that retailed for 2500 will have excellent parts and design and an analog stage that is head and shoulders above the Oppo 103. I've had the 103 since January and experimented with it. I connected it directly to a 7 channel amp and used the volume in the 103. In that configuration I also had the Oppo process the signal from my cable box. This revealed the Oppo's limitations and I found out after that Oppo does not recommend connecting it straight to amp. The sound was decent to a point but some tracks of music had weaknesses. Even my wife noticed issues with Michael Buble's vocals.

I also have the Oppo 95, which has superior design and a much better analog section. It was better than the 103, but of course it comes at a price. Anyway, the 2500 component you are looking at sounds pretty expensive even if it's at a big discount. Can you try it out first in your system? These components can have synergy in a system, but can also be a bad combination. Some will disagree or attack what I've said, but at the higher end of the audio world, all things are not equal.
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post #22 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 01:35 PM
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data is NOT uncompressed on a CD.
Um, yes, it is uncompressed. Perhaps you shouldn't use technical terms you do not understand the meaning of.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #23 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 02:34 PM
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Below would be an example of that. Why? Because it's an opinion based on casual observation devoid of objective data or test method.
Actually, you have no idea how I came to my conclusions. If you have nothing to add to answer the OP's question, perhaps you should just move along.
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post #24 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 04:21 PM
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Data on CD

It's not very straightforward

The Red Book specifies the physical parameters and properties of the CD, the optical "stylus" parameters, deviations and error rate, modulation system (eight-to-fourteen modulation, EFM) and error correction facility (cross-interleaved Reed–Solomon coding, CIRC), and the eight subcode channels.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-...een_modulation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-...Solomon_Coding
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_disc_subcode

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post #25 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello... McFly. Data compression.

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post #26 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 07:28 PM
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If I were you, I'd try to buy a used 105, forget the $2500 DAC, waste of money.

"If Bad Sound Were Fatal, Audio Would Be the Leading Cause of Death."


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post #27 of 129 Old 08-24-2014, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post
sure it can... it's expressed in the form of compression.
I see technical error being stacked on top of other technical errors

First the bit depth fiasco, and now the conflation of data processed by an algorithm and the algorithm itself followed by repetition of the audiophile myth that data on a CD is compressed. In fact it is somewhat expanded due to the use of redundancy for data error recovery.

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data is NOT uncompressed on a CD...
No, audio data on a CD is actually expanded on a CD by the addition of redundant data to support error recovery.

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though someday BD music might make this obsolete. as far as 24/192 is comcerned,
Uncompressed PCM is uncompressed PCM whether its on a CD or BD. That format is available on both kinds of media.

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I fully understand what it means, how it's illustrated and what the effects of lack of depth and sample are,
"Full understanding" seems to involve "digging a deeper hole" as we see above.

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however I think I misspoke above and was addressing DSD, not DAC... I am not concerned with DSD because I don't currently stream.
I strongly recommend staying clear of acronyms until their meaning is better understood by the writer. This discussion didn't have anything to do with DSD until it was just gratuitously and erroneously introduced.
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post #28 of 129 Old 08-25-2014, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by audio4life View Post
Actually, you have no idea how I came to my conclusions. If you have nothing to add to answer the OP's question, perhaps you should just move along.
I would say we have a pretty good idea because we've done bias controlled tests and arrived at conclusions quite different from yours. I think he is just trying to keep the audiophilia out of a technical discussion for the sake of beginners that might be reading the forum.
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post #29 of 129 Old 08-25-2014, 07:46 AM
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Have you tried to keep the path of your signal as short as possible? Like: PC (your music) > USB cable > your DAC > interconnects > amplifier > speaker wire > speakers.
Sometimes the shortest path is best.

Steve
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post #30 of 129 Old 08-25-2014, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post
I would say we have a pretty good idea because we've done bias controlled tests and arrived at conclusions quite different from yours. I think he is just trying to keep the audiophilia out of a technical discussion for the sake of beginners that might be reading the forum.
Unfortunately this post is in error, he can't possibly have done bias controlled tests on the components in question since the OP hasn't mentioned the model under consideration. And to make any assumptions about the test results of said component is rather unscientific and will confuse the above mentioned beginners, or as we like to call them, "newbies".
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