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post #61 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

I guess everyone should take your word.

Some might, some might not, but there are a lot of reviews on Stereophile and Absolute Sound that take similar tacks.

... or, there is not audible difference.

There is, but you may be one of the "might nots"

Once the DAC does it's job it's still digital in/analog out. Could be true about the "equipment" though. A $1000 DAC won't make a $200 Insignia HTiB sound any better.


I agree with you100 percent, but it might make a difference with a Bryston player, a Bryston amp with Watt Puppies or Thiel speakers.
post #62 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

What are these "two important controls" that I missed?

I've posted the complete suite of required controls for a reliable DAC listening test here many times.

They are:

(1) Level matched +/- 0.1 dB using a meter that measures voltage, not a SPL meter. This tolerance has to be met from 100-10KHz, but it can be relaxed gradually at the frequency extremes allowing variations of up to 0.5 dB at 20 and 20 KHz.

(2) Time synched - when you switch instantaneously between the two DACs, the music is the same +/- 10 mSec or less.

(3) Bias controlled - Neither the listener(s) nor the person supervising the test has any idea which of the pieces of equipment being compared is being played at any time during the test.

(4) Spurious responses. Above 20 KHz all spurious responses must be 40 dB down or better.

The means by which all of these controls were achieved must be described.
post #63 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

I agree with you100 percent, but it might make a difference with a Bryston player, a Bryston amp with Watt Puppies or Thiel speakers.

Please compare the following:

http://www.stereophile.com/content/w...r-measurements

to:

http://www.stereophile.com/content/i...r-measurements

More specifically:



to:



The FR curve for the second speaker seems to be considerably smoother and covers about the same frequency response range as the first one. This is a comparison between a $22,400 per pair speaker to a $685 per pair speaker.

Why would the first speaker be more revealing of differences than the second? If anything the added smoothness of the second speaker would seem to give it an advantage.
post #64 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Another guy who believes price is a technical spec.

Interesting, how you can so easily characterize my words into a meaning that fits with your beliefs. Please re-read my comments.

No, because there probably is a difference in the case of wine. In the case of audio gear, we have standard tests to determine whether such perceptible differences exist. Try 'em some time. You might learn something.

What standard tests can you think of that they use to rate wine. Do you think they always do double-blind tests of wine. There is such a thing as taste memory, sight memory, touch memory, and, yes, audio memory.
post #65 of 140
Quote:


What standard tests can you think of that they use to rate wine.

OK, so in addition to suffering ann audio knowledge deficit, you also have a reading comprehension problem. Where did I say there are standard tests to rate wine? I said there are standard tests to determine whether differences are audible.

Quote:


There is such a thing as taste memory, sight memory, touch memory, and, yes, audio memory.

No, there's no such thing as audio memory. Audio is not a human sense. There is such a thing as auditory memory. If you knew anything about it, you would know why the comparisons you did are totally meaningless.
post #66 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post


Please compare the following:

http://www.stereophile.com/content/w...r-measurements

to:

http://www.stereophile.com/content/i...r-measurements

More specifically:

to:

The FR curve for the second speaker seems to be considerably smoother and covers about the same frequency response range as the first one. This is a comparison between a $22,400 per pair speaker to a $685 per pair speaker.

Why would the first speaker be more revealing of differences than the second? If anything the added smoothness of the second speaker would seem to give it an advantage.

I'm sure you're not saying that the Infinity, as good a speaker as it is, is the equal of the Wattpuppy. There is really no standard for producing frequency response curves, besides they usually only measure on-axis response. Also, some speaker manufacturers add bits of color to their spekers to make them more listenable.

I do understand your point,and I agree with you. Money is not always a measure of quality. However, it doesn't ring true to say that all speakers that cost more than, let's say $5000, are generally equal to those under $500.
post #67 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

I'm sure you're not saying that the Infinity, as good a speaker as it is, is the equal of the Wattpuppy. There is really no standard for producing frequency response curves, besides they usually only measure on-axis response....

Who is "they?" The links he gave both gave off-axis response curves as well as the on-axis curves.
post #68 of 140
Quote:


I'm sure you're not saying that the Infinity, as good a speaker as it is, is the equal of the Wattpuppy.

Nope. The Infinity could be better. But it sorta puts the lie to your unsubstantiated claim that more expensive speakers will demonstrate differences among other components better.

Quote:


There is really no standard for producing frequency response curves,

No, but these come from the same source, so they are directly comparable.

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besides they usually only measure on-axis response.

There's that reading problem again. Didn't you see where Atkinson actually measured off-axis response?

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Also, some speaker manufacturers add bits of color to their spekers to make them more listenable.

Yeah, which show up in the FR plots! See the Watt Puppy curve, for example.

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However, it doesn't ring true to say that all speakers that cost more than, let's say $5000, are generally equal to those under $500.

There's that reading problem again. Who said that?
post #69 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

I said that it's not always possible. If you're selecting from a similar price range, sometimes it's immediately apparent, other times it's not. Your ROI is relative to many factors. I bought a B & K Ref 50 pre/pro eight years ago for $1400. I can't even give it away now. At about the same time, i bought a demo Bryston BP-26 pre-amp for $700. I should be able to get around a $1000 now on Audiogon. For me, they both served an important part of my a/v system. For me to buy a $100 bottle of wine seems excessive, while Johnny Depp drinks $500 Pinot's. Should I tell Johnny that there's no difference between his $500 Pinot and my $15 red, or his ROI is poor.

I don't think that comparison works for you. There is a gigantic difference in taste in a $100 Silver Oak and a $15 grocery store cab--even though I do personally find the difference in price extravagant--and people could easily pick out the difference in a blind tasting test
post #70 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

OK, so in addition to suffering ann audio knowledge deficit, you also have a reading comprehension problem. Where did I say there are standard tests to rate wine? I said there are standard tests to determine whether differences are audible.

I think in your haste to come back with a real zinger to this ignorant poster with a comprehension problem, that you put a meaning in the sentence that wasn't there.
No where did I say you said.....
The point I was trying to make was that standardized tests are not the only way to judge something. We all make judgements, at least the people i know, about the merits of something based upon a memory of an event or an object, whether it be a 95 point bottle of wine, a great hamburger, or a funny movie.

No, there's no such thing as audio memory. Audio is not a human sense. There is such a thing as auditory memory. If you knew anything about it, you would know why the comparisons you did are totally meaningless.

Yes, there is an auditory memory,as you so stated, and that memory can be used to remember voices, bird chirps, and musical passages.If I know the passage well enough, I can make comparisons to other passages, both live and recorded. A conductor certainly knows what an oboe passage should sound like in Scheherazade. He will ask the player, if it's possible, to change his omisher slightly to get that timbre. Many reviewers make their living reviewing music with nothing but memory to go on.Why is it such stretch for you to realize that auditory memory or memory of music CAN be used to judge this years Beethoven's 5th against last years piece, or compare a recording with a live musical event, or compare a recording on different speakers, amps, and DAC's?
post #71 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


I don't think that comparison works for you. There is a gigantic difference in taste in a $100 Silver Oak and a $15 grocery store cab--even though I do personally find the difference in price extravagant--and people could easily pick out the difference in a blind tasting test

OK, agreed that the differences could be determined. The point is that the ROI on a $100 Silver Oak may be poor for some folks and good for others. Actually, for me the $15 cab would have a poor ROI, because I don't care for cabs.
post #72 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

I'm sure you're not saying that the Infinity, as good a speaker as it is, is the equal of the Wattpuppy.

Right, the Infinity might be the better speaker.

Quote:


There is really no standard for producing frequency response curves,

Which high end audio dealer told you that?

Quote:


besides they usually only measure on-axis response.

Which high end audio dealer told you that?

Quote:


Also, some speaker manufacturers add bits of color to their spekers to make them more listenable.

Which high end audio dealer told you that expensive speakers are somehow always immune to that sort of chicanery?

Quote:


I do understand your point,and I agree with you. Money is not always a measure of quality.

I've been to high end audio shows and listened to a lot of very expensive speakers. Some of them have been pretty horrible. Some of them are pretty good, but represented horrible values, given what can be obtained for reasonable prices.

There are ways to build speakers with outstanding technical performance, and it is not cheap, but frankly I don't see a lot of high end manufacturers doing that. BTW the technical advantages of speakers built this way are readily measurable and they do provide improved sound quality. However, there is only so much that can be done with a few small drivers which is what you find in most high end speakers.

Take the Watt Puppy 8 - two 8 inch woofers, a 7 inch midrange and a dome tweeter. There are profound limits to the kind of bass extension and dynamic range that can be obtained by means of this technology.

For $11,200 a piece, I would expect a technical tour de force, not a reiteration of the same basic technology that can be obtained with quality hardware selling for 1/20th of the price.

Quote:


However, it doesn't ring true to say that all speakers that cost more than, let's say $5000, are generally equal to those under $500.

Technology should not be analyzed with the price tags showing. The whole point of products like the Watt Puppies is making them financially credible to those who are technology naive. Not many people seem to take the bait. Wise persons, those who avoid drinking the high end audio kool Aid.
post #73 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

Yes, there is an auditory memory,as you so stated, and that memory can be used to remember voices, bird chirps, and musical passages.

The construction, operation and performance characteristics of the human auditory memory is detailed in "This Is Your Brain On Music", which is written for lay people with some scientific background and good reading abilities. I doubt there are many reading this thread who would take the time, but were they to do so, the more curious and serious of them would be rewarded.

What gets lost after a few seconds are the subtle details that are characteristic of the actual sonic differences between similar pieces of audio gear.

This underscores what we found in 40 years of DBT listening tests - that rapid switchovers under the listener's control are a non-negotiable requirement if reliable detection of small audible differences is desired.

Quote:


If I know the passage well enough, I can make comparisons to other passages, both live and recorded. A conductor certainly knows what an oboe passage should sound like in Scheherazade. He will ask the player, if it's possible, to change his omisher slightly to get that timbre. Many reviewers make their living reviewing music with nothing but memory to go on.Why is it such stretch for you to realize that auditory memory or memory of music CAN be used to judge this years Beethoven's 5th against last years piece, or compare a recording with a live musical event, or compare a recording on different speakers, amps, and DAC's?

Those are all relatively gross differences compared to what one hears when one actually reliably hears differences between gear like amplifiers and DACs.
post #74 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post


Right, the Infinity might be the better speaker.

Which high end audio dealer told you that?

Which high end audio dealer told you that?

Which high end audio dealer told you that expensive speakers are somehow always immune to that sort of chicanery?

I've been to high end audio shows and listened to a lot of very expensive speakers. Some of them have been pretty horrible. Some of them are pretty good, but represented horrible values, given what can be obtained for reasonable prices.

There are ways to build speakers with outstanding technical performance, and it is not cheap, but frankly I don't see a lot of high end manufacturers doing that. BTW the technical advantages of speakers built this way are readily measurable and they do provide improved sound quality. However, there is only so much that can be done with a few small drivers which is what you find in most high end speakers.

Take the Watt Puppy 8 - two 8 inch woofers, a 7 inch midrange and a dome tweeter. There are profound limits to the kind of bass extension and dynamic range that can be obtained by means of this technology.

For $11,200 a piece, I would expect a technical tour de force, not a reiteration of the same basic technology that can be obtained with quality hardware selling for 1/20th of the price.

Technology should not be analyzed with the price tags showing. The whole point of products like the Watt Puppies is making them financially credible to those who are technology naive. Not many people seem to take the bait. Wise persons, those who avoid drinking the high end audio kool Aid.

First of all, thank you for being civil, and not questioning my reading ability and ignorance in all audio matters.
First, I met Jim Thiel in an Evanston, Il, seminar, and he mentioned that certain manufacturers will produce speakers with an emphasized bass to appeal to headbangers, if you will.

Second, I have no disagreement with your general idea about price vs. performance. BTW, I do not own, nor desire Wattpuppies, i just used them as an example. I also have been to a few shows, and share your observations.

Let's just substitute the word "DAC" for the word "speaker" in your post quoted above. Assume you could be shown a process of manufacturing, where parts are hand picked and matched with electrical tolerances of 1/100 of 1%, hand assembled in a dust free room, burned in, and then finally rechecked by a trained technician. Lets further assume that most people rate this DAC as superior sounding and very "musical". Let's further suppose they make a small profit, and the dealer makes a small profit, and their final selling price is $4500. If you had $4500 to spend, would you even consider thIs product, or dismiss it out of hand?
post #75 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

FAssume you could be shown a process of manufacturing, where parts are hand picked and matched with electrical tolerances of 1/100 of 1%, hand assembled in a dust free room, burned in, and then finally rechecked by a trained technician. Lets further assume that most people rate this DAC as superior sounding and very "musical". Let's further suppose they make a small profit, and the dealer makes a small profit, and their final selling price is $4500. If you had $4500 to spend, would you even consider thIs product, or dismiss it out of hand?

I'd dismiss it out of hand given that sonically transparent DACs are becoming so inexpensive that their price is too small (less than a dollar) to even estimate.

Here is an example of a modern SOTA DAC:

http://www.idt.com/sites/default/fil...T_20120327.pdf

Nothing you've mentioned is required or even especially conducive for sonically transparent reproduction. Home audio components that require hand-matched components are a sign of poor industrial design.

The idea that most people rate a DAC as being superior sounding simply doesn't compute because superiority implies singularity, and we already know that there are a large number of DACs that are sonically transparent and therefore perform in an ideal way.

Speakers have not quite reached this level of ideal performance or easy fabrication. However, the performance of listening rooms is such that in essence speakers are generally listened to through a number of veils. This is a great performance leveler. The idea that drivers have to be hand-picked by high priests is usually a fantasy on a number of grounds, one being that in general the actual driver choosers may be minimum-wage employees who run incoming drivers through a measurement jig that they operate like they were flipping pancakes on a griddle.

Like I said, I've heard any number of high end speakers, some in pretty nicely set up and well-thought out rooms. In many cases the results were unimpressive, and in no case was the sound any better or more revealing then some well-made speakers costing 10% or less.
post #76 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

First, I met Jim Thiel in an Evanston, Il, seminar, and he mentioned that certain manufacturers will produce speakers with an emphasized bass to appeal to headbangers, if you will.

I've spent some time listening to larger Thiels, and in the room I heard them in they were very nice.

I'm not sure what he meant, in your paraphrased statement.

The bass response of speakers is very dependent on where they are placed in and in which room.

A speaker that is designed for placement in the middle of a bookshelf will likely have emphasized bass if stood up on the floor.

A speaker that sounds good in a small room will likely sound thin or just weird in a large room because of how room gain works, and vice versa.

If you want a speaker to have ideal bass in a variety of likely places in a variety of likely rooms, I wish you all of the luck in the world - it arguably can't happen.
post #77 of 140
Quote:


Lets further assume that most people rate this DAC as superior sounding and very "musical".

I would discount this on multiple grounds. First, it is in all cases factually baseless. Most of which people? Most people have certainly not heard the thing at all. And you have no way of surveying those who have. So this is pretty much a made-up fact.

Second, assuming some people have made this judgment, how have they done so? Did they compare multiple DACs side-by-side, blind and level-matched, and consistently chose that one model as superior? Again, certainly not. They listened to it in a totally casual way, maybe in a store or at an audio show where the entire system, not just the DAC, was different from what they were used to, and attributed the differences they hear to the DAC itself.

What's more, they almost all first heard the DAC after having read or heard things about it, ads, reviews, Internet chatter, sales pitches. All of that biases their impressions of what they heard. And—contrary to your audiophile mythology—there's no way to escape or even mitigate that subconscious bias. (Blind tests aside, of course.)

Quote:


Let's further suppose they make a small profit, and the dealer makes a small profit, and their final selling price is $4500. If you had $4500 to spend, would you even consider thIs product, or dismiss it out of hand?

I wouldn't spend $450 for it. I might be willing to go higher than $45, however.
post #78 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post


I'd dismiss it out of hand given that sonically transparent DACs are becoming so inexpensive that their price is too small (less than a dollar) to even estimate.

Here is an example of a modern SOTA DAC:

http://www.idt.com/sites/default/fil...T_20120327.pdf

Nothing you've mentioned is required or even especially conducive for sonically transparent reproduction. Home audio components that require hand-matched components are a sign of poor industrial design.

The idea that most people rate a DAC as being superior sounding simply doesn't compute because superiority implies singularity, and we already know that there are a large number of DACs that are sonically transparent and therefore perform in an ideal way.

Speakers have not quite reached this level of ideal performance or easy fabrication. However, the performance of listening rooms is such that in essence speakers are generally listened to through a number of veils. This is a great performance leveler. The idea that drivers have to be hand-picked by high priests is usually a fantasy on a number of grounds, one being that in general the actual driver choosers may be minimum-wage employees who run incoming drivers through a measurement jig that they operate like they were flipping pancakes on a griddle.

Like I said, I've heard any number of high end speakers, some in pretty nicely set up and well-thought out rooms. In many cases the results were unimpressive, and in no case was the sound any better or more revealing then some well-made speakers costing 10% or less.

I couldn't disagree with you more. Thanks for the civil discourse.
post #79 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAMIK View Post

I couldn't disagree with you more. Thanks for the civil discourse.

About what? Care to elaborate?
post #80 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

About what? Care to elaborate?

Probably that the room makes any difference and that inexpensive equipment is suitable for any reason.


Arny,

Where can I buy that chip and/or a finished product?
post #81 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by walbert View Post

Arny,

Where can I buy that chip and/or a finished product?

Do you need all the extra fuctionality like ADC and headphone amp? If not then hit ebay and search for AD1955 and DIR9001 which will bring up the same finished DAC from multiple vendors for about $95. Excellent chip set and good design and implementation form all I've heard. Long thread on them at diyaudio too.
post #82 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by walbert View Post

Probably that the room makes any difference and that inexpensive equipment is suitable for any reason.

I think that it would work out well in just about any application where it fit.

It could work out well in a portable player or a very nice high quality player with speaker for the home.

OTOH, portable players typically integrate the DAC with the SOC. A receiver wouldn't need its power amp.

My point is that a DAC is no longer enough circuitry to justify its own chip.

Quote:


Where can I buy that chip and/or a finished product?

http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport...riesId=5146283

I plucked the number out of an article about a tear down of a PC.
post #83 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

About what? Care to elaborate?

Good question. The idea that a DAC can justifiably be worth thousands of dollars is very old school and not at all warranted by concern over sound quality.

To justify a product worth over $500 in the more pragmatic realm of pro audio, you will typically find a goodly number of DAC, ADCs, and other features in the same box.
post #84 of 140
These discussions about audio perception are always very passionate, to the point where the argument often is pushed to extremes. What I'd like to know from the discussants is whether they think that there are any parts of the DAC chain that are audible with the basic DAC technology currently in widespread use.

If there is nothing likely to be audible on the digital side of things, is there anything on the analog side that requires spending a bit more money to get an improvement in sound?

Thanks for any further thoughts on this subject!

SDL
post #85 of 140
Quote:
These discussions about audio perception are always very passionate, to the point where the argument often is pushed to extremes. What I'd like to know from the discussants is whether they think that there are any parts of the DAC chain that are audible with the basic DAC technology currently in widespread use.

If there is nothing likely to be audible on the digital side of things, is there anything on the analog side that requires spending a bit more money to get an improvement in sound?

I'm not prepared to state that any DAC over $XX is audibly perfect, but it's a pretty safe bet that the price point is shockingly low by audiophile standards. There have been numerous published tests over the last 20 years that have yet to show audible differences even among components at very different price points (a few obviously flawed cases aside). And you'll notice that those who claim such differences never, ever do such tests.

That's not to dis anyone who's spent serious green on an outboard DAC. If you want a cool system, hey, go for it. But if, like most people, you've got limited resources, put those resources into something that really matters.
post #86 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

I'm not prepared to state that any DAC over $XX is audibly perfect, but it's a pretty safe bet that the price point is shockingly low by audiophile standards. There have been numerous published tests over the last 20 years that have yet to show audible differences even among components at very different price points (a few obviously flawed cases aside). And you'll notice that those who claim such differences never, ever do such tests.

That's not to dis anyone who's spent serious green on an outboard DAC. If you want a cool system, hey, go for it. But if, like most people, you've got limited resources, put those resources into something that really matters.

Thanks for the comments. I guess you're saying that spending money on an outboard DAC unit is unlikely to make audible improvements in sound assuming that you already have a halfway decent DAC in your CD player or receiver.

So if I wanted to put my limited audio resources into "something that really matters," what components would you put on that list?

SDL
post #87 of 140
I can't speak for mcnarus, but my view is basically similar - don't put money into things that have little to no real returns. Ideally your money goes into the more important aspects of your theater/stereo system/whatever. Things like speakers, room treatments, and then more aesthetic concerns, like movies to watch, universal remotes, and decorations that make the room more inviting. Once you get a competent receiver (or player or whatever) that aspect is pretty much handled, and I'm assuming that you'll do your homework on your exact needs before you go out and buy something.
post #88 of 140
Quote:
So if I wanted to put my limited audio resources into "something that really matters," what components would you put on that list?

Speakers and room. Not necessarily in that order.
post #89 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Speakers and room. Not necessarily in that order.

Thanks, that's very helpful. I would agree about the speakers and room having a highly significant effect on sound in any audio system. You didn't mention amplification, so I assume that means that you don't think that differences between amps or pre-amps are significant enough to worry about.

For myself, I have put most of my audio money into speakers, which is consistent with your advice. However, I have also been impressed by improvements in sound from changing other components in the signal path as well.

You may have shared this in other threads, but what components are part of your primary audio system? On my end, my 2-channel system includes a lot of really old stuff that was considered "mid-fi" several decades ago, but still sounds pretty good to my aging ears. Speakers are Thiel 2.2, which are powered by a Bryston .5B pre-amp and Adcom GFA-555 II amp. CD player is a Sony X55ES, but I also listen to music streamed digitally through a Sonos network. For the future, I'm only interested in upgrades that sound better that what I've already got.

My interest in DACs comes from wanting to ensure that the digital signal from the Sonos unit is converted to analog and sent to my pre-amp as accurately as possible. Based on your earlier comments about DACs, it doesn't sound like I should expect any better sound if I bypassed the DAC in the Sonos to use a Dacmagic 100 instead.

Again, thanks for sharing your experience and perspective.

SDL
post #90 of 140
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDL View Post

My interest in DACs comes from wanting to ensure

Which forum or site did you pick up such notion about DAC from? I'm curious about what else they may have.
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