Originally Posted by Greg121986
This is a simplified generalization at best. Converting bits to analog waveforms is hardly a "basic" task and it will certainly vary between the DM+ in question and the OP's soundcard. Based on my experience with the DM+ I will bet 5% of my next paycheck that the OP will hear a significant difference when the DM+ is added to the signal chain.
I would probably take your money, were this a world where we could go FTF and deal with this like professionals. I've probably run more comprehensive technical tests on a wider range of DACs and ADCs than all but a very few people, as well as having done dozens of well-controlled listening tests of them.
I've reviewed Ethan's materials and they are just fine and highly representative.
Passing judgement on DACs as being basic devices which do not contribute to the audible sonic signature of music reproduction is very rudimentary and has no relevance to current level technology. Or perhaps some are choosing to only hear the music, without listening to it.
In reality ADCs and DACs have become some of the most highly refined of all audio components. The better ones are good enough that you can use them to do bench tests of most other common audio components and find the measurable faults of those other components. The price/performance of ADCs and DACs has continued to improve and very good converters are now included as components of other kinds of chips including SOC computer chips that have published pricing on the order of $10.
It was not always so. For example at the turn of the millennium most PCs came with audio interfaces that were pretty crappy and had easy to discern audible faults.
OTOH back in the late 1980s some friends of mine and I did the listening tests that became the basis of this landmark article: Masters, Ian G. and Clark, D. L., "Do All CD Players Sound the Same?", Stereo Review, pp.50-57 (January 1986) . The article is infamous among many audiophiles because it answered the question it asked in the negative. Some CD players sounded the same then, and as technology improved in the intervening decades that became the rule, not the exception.
What are often rudimentary are the crude listening evaluations (some don't even merit the label tests) that most claims that all or many good converters sound different are based on. Frequently they are not level-matched, not-time synched but are sighted and lack any bias controls at all. This includes the alleged listening evaluations that show up in the vast majority of all published reviews.
In many cases people blow hot and cold on this topic based on listening sessions that were performed on different days, with different systems and using different music. Of course things sounded different, that is how the deck was stacked!