Originally Posted by qirex
I’m sure your amp is great and sounds silent but its noise floor is listed at -82dB (which is really good for a tube amp) and even cheap DACs are usually -100 or even lower. High end DACs are even quieter than that, to no great relevant effect to people who don’t live in anechoic chambers. Lots of people like tube sound but it’s not super important to feed them the most dead quiet possible signal. As far as “resolution and detail” I’m not of the opinion that a properly designed DAC should or commonly will sound different than the recording unless the signal is intentionally processed. An amp with a poorly designed analog stage on the output could sound different I guess but those are pretty rare.
To my ears the speakers, speaker position, room, processing/eq, source and to a lesser degree the amp are all vastly more important to the final sound than a specific DAC model will be.
Yes, the Cary's rated noise floor is -82 db, which is excellent. But its rating is vague (is it unweighted wideband, A-weighted, etc.?) and not of much use. As I stated, the amp is dead quiet at full gain, which is what matters. But saying that for tube gear "it's not super important to feed them the most dead quiet possible signal" is plain wrong. It is just as important as when I am using my McIntosh and Quad solid-state amplifiers.
Is your amplification somehow even quieter than dead quiet in actual use?
My opinions on DACs are based on listening comparisons in my system. For example, I disliked the overall sonics of a Marantz outboard DAC. It had a warm tonality, expansive soundstaging, and excellent imaging (musicians were spaced widely apart). I did not like its back-row hall perspective. But its big problem was a harsh and edgy upper midrange and lower treble, particularly on close-miked brass instruments. It was fatiguing.
While I still had the Marantz in my home, I purchased the Teac DAC listed below. The Teac proved to be beautifully smooth top to bottom. Unlike the warmth of the Marantz, the Teac is tonally neutral. I returned the Marantz and kept the Teac.
Indeed, DACs do sound different. As they should, because every manufacturer voices their gear to provide the sonics they prefer.
Which specific DAC brands and models have sounded identical in your system?
Certainly the choice of loudspeakers, room acoustics, etc., are all vitally important. But if those aspects are settled and optimized, one tackles everything else, such as the sonic qualities of all the components, including a DAC.