Burr Brown 32 bit DAC - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 06:14 AM
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If your unhappy with the way your audio system sounds
and have 32 bit Burr Brown DACs, you can cross off DACs
as a problem. The best reason to get the best.
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post #32 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 06:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joehonest View Post

If your unhappy with the way your audio system sounds
and have 32 bit Burr Brown DACs, you can cross off DACs
as a problem. The best reason to get the best.

Despite having an Onkyo pre-pro I am more satisfied with my system than I've ever been. It has the 32 bit Burr Brown DACs
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post #33 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 07:29 AM
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No offence intended here either. The article I posted was about Blind Testing which applies to audio in a Huge way.
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post #34 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 08:24 AM
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I am a sceptic for two reasons...

1) As Don points out, the digital to analog stage is more than a DAC chip, so to test the DAC chip itself would be hard (I found one person online who tried to do it, and one person is not enough to get a lot of info, and he only tested a handful of chips, which are likely NOT the ones used in current models)
2) I have found very little on the internet regarding objective tests of ANY DACs be they a chip or a product ( I was amused by one product which was over $2000 and that did not include a power supply...wow)

So I can only conclude that any statement about whether DACs make a difference in sound are hard to back up. I don't see people trying to prove it either, to their credit. What I have seen is people who said they compared DAC products, which are more than just a chip. That info is not useful when discussing the DAC chips used in receivers for reasons Don already covered.

That leaves me with one conclusion...it's pointless to concern ourselves with the DAC chips used in receivers (in the face of the knowledge I currently hold..with new knowledge I could change my mind of course

As always, I feel that time is best spent elsewhere. Perhaps learning how to use software to analyze your room response and considering bass traps...perhaps better/different speakers, a better sub, or simply playing better mixed music or better mixed movies

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #35 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 08:42 AM
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Actually there are devices with socketed DACs, such as the Asus Xonar Essence STX/ST headphone sound cards. I've never been moved by those who say there are great differences between DACs so I've never switched them. Its not a part of the audiophile game I want to play. There are always at least a couple of DACs in the signal chain when I listen and watch and I have never detected any degradation from them, whether listening with headphones or speakers. Before someone takes offence, I am NOT saying that there are no audible differences between DACs, I just haven't heard any difference using the equipment I have.
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post #36 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theresa View Post

Actually there are devices with socketed DACs, such as the Asus Xonar Essence STX/ST headphone sound cards. I've never been moved by those who say there are great differences between DACs so I've never switched them. Its not a part of the audiophile game I want to play. There are always at least a couple of DACs in the signal chain when I listen and watch and I have never detected any degradation from them, whether listening with headphones or speakers. Before someone takes offence, I am NOT saying that there are no audible differences between DACs, I just haven't heard any difference using the equipment I have.

I did not know there were cards with sockets DACs...interesting. I would think that limits the choices to DACs that (a) have pins (not SM) and (b) have the identical pinouts.

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post #37 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

I did not know there were cards with sockets DACs...interesting. I would think that limits the choices to DACs that (a) have pins (not SM) and (b) have the identical pinouts.

True.
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post #38 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 01:31 PM
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You can do more than just swap out DACs to improve (change) sound in a variety of electronics with a soldering iron. Swap caps and add shielding too.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/226975/hotr...s-guide-no-56k
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post #39 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob7145 View Post

You can do more than just swap out DACs to improve (change) sound in a variety of electronics with a soldering iron. Swap caps and add shielding too.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/226975/hotr...s-guide-no-56k

Shielding yes, caps I doubt. Although the shielding on the Asus seems adequate.
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post #40 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 02:00 PM
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I have heard all sorts of theories on Caps and how they could affect the sound. John Curl mentioned that it could happen, with certain kinds of caps not being ideal for audio (dialectric absorption being an issue?)

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #41 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theresa View Post

Shielding yes, caps I doubt. Although the shielding on the Asus seems adequate.

heh... you should have seen the thread last year about "audiophile caps"... you would have gotten quite a kick out of it...

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post #42 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

I have heard all sorts of theories on Caps and how they could affect the sound. John Curl mentioned that it could happen, with certain kinds of caps not being ideal for audio (dialectric absorption being an issue?)

I think any type of "poly" or mylar cap is good enough. I do know that electrolytics can have increased resistance (I don't know how big they have to be to have such increased resistance) so I avoid them. I've heard that some Japanese electrolytics for small signals are superior to some others.
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post #43 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 04:27 PM
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There are all sorts of issues with capacitors. Just like anything else. the debate, as always, is audibility... There was a series in Audio many moons ago that was pretty good. I miss that mag...

Electrolytics are polarized and generally fare poorly in small signal applications; they are mostly used for decoupling.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #44 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theresa View Post

Actually there are devices with socketed DACs, such as the Asus Xonar Essence STX/ST headphone sound cards. I've never been moved by those who say there are great differences between DACs so I've never switched them. Its not a part of the audiophile game I want to play. There are always at least a couple of DACs in the signal chain when I listen and watch and I have never detected any degradation from them, whether listening with headphones or speakers. Before someone takes offence, I am NOT saying that there are no audible differences between DACs, I just haven't heard any difference using the equipment I have.


not true - sorry - there are Soundcards that have socketed Op-amps (which are used post DACs for filtering, and in final pre-out stages) - but not DACs.

very different ICs - op-amps are much more simple devices - DACs are very complex ICs

I personally think the op-amps though make more of a difference than the DACs themselves
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post #45 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

There are all sorts of issues with capacitors. Just like anything else. the debate, as always, is audibility... There was a series in Audio many moons ago that was pretty good. I miss that mag...

Electrolytics are polarized and generally fare poorly in small signal applications; they are mostly used for decoupling.

One might assume most audio engineers know this, so will use the proper cap for the proper application (no idea if that's true...but I hope it's true

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #46 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 09:03 PM
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I won't be happy until we have 64 bit DACs. After all, if 64 bits was good for CPUs, it should be good for DACs too

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #47 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

One might assume most audio engineers know this, so will use the proper cap for the proper application (no idea if that's true...but I hope it's true

One might, but IME one would be wrong, at least in some cases... One of the more famous components using electrolytic signal coupling caps was the Hafler amps.

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post #48 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 09:47 PM
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Would you say that's the exception though? Or a common scenario?

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #49 of 79 Old 02-24-2012, 11:03 PM
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Digital volume and math is better so I'm all for it...
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post #50 of 79 Old 02-25-2012, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

Would you say that's the exception though? Or a common scenario?

Back when I last worked in this crazy biz it was not uncommon due to their low cost. I could not put a percentage on it, maybe half or less of the average "hi-fi" gear used elctro's in the signal path.

These days I do not know but suspect it is far less and thus the minority. I don't know, just guessing based upon marketing (which is often based upon user perception) and fact that film capacitor prices have gotten much lower over the years, or at least basic SMT caps are comparable in price. It is not something I have spent any time researching in recent years.

One other factor is that film caps tend to last longer than electrolytic, at least the average ones, and reliability is important especially as the internal heat has risen in modern AVRs (due to all the digital processing).

Finally, a lot more circuits are d.c.-coupled these days, though almost every curve I have seen has LF roll-off so I still think fully d.c.-coupled is rare. I consider that a good thing.

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post #51 of 79 Old 02-25-2012, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by markabuckley View Post

not true - sorry - there are Soundcards that have socketed Op-amps (which are used post DACs for filtering, and in final pre-out stages) - but not DACs.

very different ICs - op-amps are much more simple devices - DACs are very complex ICs

I personally think the op-amps though make more of a difference than the DACs themselves

Sorry your right, brain fart on my end.
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post #52 of 79 Old 02-25-2012, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

There are all sorts of issues with capacitors. Just like anything else. the debate, as always, is audibility... There was a series in Audio many moons ago that was pretty good. I miss that mag...

Electrolytics are polarized and generally fare poorly in small signal applications; they are mostly used for decoupling.

Electrolytics are available non-polarized. They are often used in crossovers because of their much lower cost. Many speaker manufacturers can get away with it because hardly anyone opens up their speakers to look at the crossovers.
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post #53 of 79 Old 02-25-2012, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theresa View Post


Electrolytics are available non-polarized. They are often used in crossovers because of their much lower cost. Many speaker manufacturers can get away with it because hardly anyone opens up their speakers to look at the crossovers.

I've been following the thread but what exactly are electrolytics?
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post #54 of 79 Old 02-25-2012, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by sx460 View Post

I've been following the thread but what exactly are electrolytics?

It's one way of constructing a capacitor. See wikipedia. A capacitor is really just two plates which hold a charge, and a potential exists between the plates allowing a charge to pass through the circiuit (but when the plates are fully charged, there's no potential, therefore no charge can flow through the circuit.)

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post #55 of 79 Old 02-25-2012, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theresa View Post

Electrolytics are available non-polarized. They are often used in crossovers because of their much lower cost. Many speaker manufacturers can get away with it because hardly anyone opens up their speakers to look at the crossovers.

True, but a "non-polarized" electrolytic capacitor is essentially two electrolytics (polar) back-to-back in a single package. They still exhibit hysteresis and such... The effects are much less noticeable at speaker voltage levels than for small signals.

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post #56 of 79 Old 02-25-2012, 03:36 PM
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Cap replacement falls mainly in the preventive maintainance department provided the device is still working properly. Filters in the power section, undersized caps, poor quality and fake brand, poor circuit design that can cause "chirps" in amps, PS etc.
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post #57 of 79 Old 02-26-2012, 07:59 AM
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Please follow my advice and never buy a piece of equipment because of the number of bits in the DAC or a single spec like SNR. The circuit design around the DAC is fairly complicated and if not proper can negate the value of an expensive DAC component. Also, just because the marketing guys put 32-bits on the datasheet does not always mean it is true 32-bit (there may be sign-extension in the data path to make the digital words 32-bit but not the actual converter).

Spend your money in this order or priority: speakers, amplifiers, DAC, source. The room acoustics and your speakers are the largest contributors to the "sound" of your setup. Remember when CDs first came out and everyone said 16-bits was not capable of sounding good? In SNR terms, 16-bits = 96 dB, 24-bits = 144 dB, and 32-bit = 192 dB (if true). The human ear's threshold is somewhere around 130 dB (from Wikipedia). 24-bit is already overkill but those are the formats we currently have.

The most important piece of any converter design is the reference. This was implied earlier when people are discussing capacitors. I am no expert in audible effects due to capacitor types. I do know it needs to have proper capacitor decoupling and the small caps need to be placed as close to the pins as possible and routed properly on the PCB. The DAC's power supply pins must also have proper decoupling.

While marketing guys love to flaunt their number of bits and SNR specs, they seem to forget another critical portion of the DAC's design: the clock. You could have the best DAC in the world but it ends up sounding horrible because the clock source was neglected. Our beloved audio reproduction systems send bitstreams from the source transport to the DAC via S/PDIF (coax, optical) or HDMI. Within that bitstream transmission includes both clock and data. A very important component, the S/PDIF or HDMI receiver, never gets any marketing hype or spec! These receivers need to recover the clock from the digital bitstream in order to setup the timing for the DAC to convert the data into audio. One spec that comes to mind is clock jitter. However it is difficult to translate a clock jitter spec into a metric useful for what we could hear. I would recommend going to listen to the actual equipment instead of trusting specs or number of bits.

Diving further into the details for my last point requires a working knowledge of the sigma-delta converter architecture. This architecture is perfect for audio systems because it has a narrow bandwidth and in order to achieve higher SNR, improving the system's dynamic range, the sigma-delta converter uses high frequency noise-shaping. In short, the sigma-delta output includes a lot of high frequency content above the audible range. A low-pass filter is necessary after the DAC to remove that content. If an amplifier is not designed properly it may have less-than-desirable performance if it receives high frequency content (aliases of that high frequency content may fold-back into the audio band, which is bad!). A DAC can include image suppression which tries to keep amplifiers happier or you can improve the filter. I heard of people that buy a really nice low-pass filter between the DAC and amplifier and had excellent results.
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post #58 of 79 Old 02-26-2012, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrj127 View Post

Please follow my advice and never buy a piece of equipment because of the number of bits in the DAC or a single spec like SNR. The circuit design around the DAC is fairly complicated and if not proper can negate the value of an expensive DAC component. Also, just because the marketing guys put 32-bits on the datasheet does not always mean it is true 32-bit (there may be sign-extension in the data path to make the digital words 32-bit but not the actual converter).

Spend your money in this order or priority: speakers, amplifiers, DAC, source. The room acoustics and your speakers are the largest contributors to the "sound" of your setup. Remember when CDs first came out and everyone said 16-bits was not capable of sounding good? In SNR terms, 16-bits = 96 dB, 24-bits = 144 dB, and 32-bit = 192 dB (if true). The human ear's threshold is somewhere around 130 dB (from Wikipedia). 24-bit is already overkill but those are the formats we currently have.

The most important piece of any converter design is the reference. This was implied earlier when people are discussing capacitors. I am no expert in audible effects due to capacitor types. I do know it needs to have proper capacitor decoupling and the small caps need to be placed as close to the pins as possible and routed properly on the PCB. The DAC's power supply pins must also have proper decoupling.

While marketing guys love to flaunt their number of bits and SNR specs, they seem to forget another critical portion of the DAC's design: the clock. You could have the best DAC in the world but it ends up sounding horrible because the clock source was neglected. Our beloved audio reproduction systems send bitstreams from the source transport to the DAC via S/PDIF (coax, optical) or HDMI. Within that bitstream transmission includes both clock and data. A very important component, the S/PDIF or HDMI receiver, never gets any marketing hype or spec! These receivers need to recover the clock from the digital bitstream in order to setup the timing for the DAC to convert the data into audio. One spec that comes to mind is clock jitter. However it is difficult to translate a clock jitter spec into a metric useful for what we could hear. I would recommend going to listen to the actual equipment instead of trusting specs or number of bits.

Diving further into the details for my last point requires a working knowledge of the sigma-delta converter architecture. This architecture is perfect for audio systems because it has a narrow bandwidth and in order to achieve higher SNR, improving the system's dynamic range, the sigma-delta converter uses high frequency noise-shaping. In short, the sigma-delta output includes a lot of high frequency content above the audible range. A low-pass filter is necessary after the DAC to remove that content. If an amplifier is not designed properly it may have less-than-desirable performance if it receives high frequency content (aliases of that high frequency content may fold-back into the audio band, which is bad!). A DAC can include image suppression which tries to keep amplifiers happier or you can improve the filter. I heard of people that buy a really nice low-pass filter between the DAC and amplifier and had excellent results.

Jrj127 this is a great write up and helps put into perspective all of the different components involved which have a great affect on the overall sound. Also thanks for prioritizing where to spend money, speakers, amp...
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post #59 of 79 Old 02-26-2012, 05:28 PM
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Hang on...There isn't much disagreement here over the priorities of components, just that the DAC sceptics here are usually amp sceptic and jitter sceptic also, you get my point. If in doubt read the DAC threads in the 2Ch and audio theory forums if you haven't done so. As for listening, then there is the bias and DBT vocal group, which also happens to be consisting of those sceptics. No interest at all to take part in any fight, just want to point you to the reality on AVS. By all means read different opinions and come to your own conclusions.

Edit: There is an "All amps sound the same" thread here also if you are interested.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #60 of 79 Old 02-27-2012, 09:00 AM
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All I know is that my Pioneer BDP05FD sounds better than my Onkyo DX7555. My older Denon DVD3930 sounds better than both. While there is a lot of speculation that DACs may be the reason, I believe that a lot more is dependent on the associated electronics.

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