This is not specifically about DAC's but the general opinion that perception is reality vs. an accurate statement of fact.
I am brand new to the audio world but have become obsessed with audio gear and learning about it - usually from audiophile postings.
I recently purchased a Trends UD-10.1 audio converter --> Benchmark DAC 1 --> Mackie HR824 studio monitors/Sennheiser HD600 headphones. The sound is pretty darned good. But my thirst for purchasing audio gear wasn't quenched, so despite my system being essentially complete - I recently spent $700 on stuff that I knew going in was basically cosmetic. Headphile headphone woodies, a headphone stand - AND $300 for an Equinox headphone cable.
Now that cable is a good example of spending lots of money on something with no proof of audible difference - with logic and physics against any difference being there. But interestingly, I knew that and spent the money anyway.
The logic against spending money on a cable to enhance or change sound seems to me to be a contradiction in terms for an audiophile - who would sneer at an equalizer because it would distort the bit for bit perfect sound. Plus, the big one for me is that it can't be measured. So the only way to prove a cable produces any better sound (since to my knowledge you can't prove that it conducts electricity any better than Romex) is a double blind test. That's really very simple to set up with an A/B box. Without that, there is simply opinion and prose. Why aren't more tests conducted? Beats me.
My only attempt at ABX tests was to determine if I could tell the difference between MP3s converted at different bit rates as opposed to flac. It's a little bit of a hassle because the various software programs used to conduct the ABX tests only read .wav files, so you have to convert the wav file to an mp3 at a specific bit rate, then back to wav to conduct the test. I used Winabx:http://www.kikeg.arrakis.es/winabx/
I was very surprised at the results. I'm 55 with no doubt some hearing loss, but can only just barely tell the difference between an MP3 at 120 kbps and a wav. There's absolutely no way to tell the difference between an MP3 converted at Variable Rate - V2 Standard (aprox. 192 kbps). Now that's a long ways from bit perfect. Take the test - I guarantee you'll be surprised at the results.
Knowing that, I looked at untested claims of sound superiority with more skepticism, and have come to believe that if it can't be measured, it had better be double-blind tested. In my opinion, if it isn't measured OR tested, it's likely isn't true.
And I still bought the cable. I don't have the cable yet, but it sure is prettier than the stock Sennheiser cable. Now am I a budding audiophile or what?!http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/images/smilies/cool.gif
I didn't realize that I could have bought any old DAC.
Thank you for a very enlightening and educational thread.