Originally Posted by CruelInventions
Personally, I just don't find any solid support for audible differences actually existing if a DBT is being done properly. If there are, then either the DAC is purposefully being designed for non-linearity, as imagic stated. Or it's defective.
As I've mentioned before here, in the 90's I heard differences between some CDPs and DACs which held up under blind testing conditions.
That doesn't give any information on what caused the sonic difference with respect to the particular pieces of gear. As you say, one or some could have been designed with deliberate or non-deliberate deviations from accuracy.
But since then my attitude is that pretty much any competently designed DAC (e.g. one seeking neutrality/low distortion) will likely sound indistinguishable from another. Even if that's not precisely the case, I don't really care about the "sound of a DAC." When it comes to digital I prefer my source to be neutral so I opted for DACs made by reputable companies who engineer with as little B.S. as possible. I own a Benchmark DAC. I could no doubt buy a cheaper DAC that would be indistinguishable from the Benchmark, but who knows what hi-jinx, or level of competency, will exist among all the alternatives. The Benchmark at least allows for some peace-of-mind given the engineering pedigree.
Basically, for digital at least, I don't want to pay extra money for a "high end" DAC which, if it does alter the sound, will in all likelihood simply be engineered to sound slightly "different" from neutral. Not "better" in any technical, objective sense.
Once I have my neutral digital signal, I don't mind adding my own bit of sauce in terms of coloration (tube amps). And when I use vinyl I'm not expecting technical neutrality.
There are some idiosyncrasies in there, but I'm ok with that :-)