Originally Posted by m. zillch
I hardly know pop music myself, but I'm assuming you mean this studio version I just found (of course from a better source than Youtude though):
That's a good selection for the purposes of evaluating audio gear. Simple, uncluttered, natural, acoustic instruments, female vocalist with only minimal processing.
The only thing that throws me is the acoustical space (and mic distance) she's recorded in, probably an isolated vocal booth, is dissimilar to the acoustical space the piano is in (a small, damped room). This could be said of 99% of pop music though, but it stands out more prominently when it is a good, clean recording, like this.
Now addressing the forum as a whole.
It would be fun to discuss these sorts of things in a forum of people who understood this has nothing to do with what DACs are used, but unfortunately no such forum exists, to the best of my knowledge.
Yup! Audio Science Review comes close!
The DAC is the garbage in garbage out machine.
A bad recording is put on a digital file and a DAC makes a true copy; a bad reproduction.
Making a DAC which is does its job with 100% transparency is cheap, easy, and common.
As with other components exotic audio jewelry DACs will add an intentional (but nearly always very subtle) coloration so that it does sound different.
They rely on sighted expectation bias to turn that subtle difference into a night and day improvement.
The following have a gargantuan effect in audio reproduction that no component swap will compare to.
The totally random and unstandardized decisions made in studio production that vary from track to track, artist to artist, album to album, studio to studio, engineer to engineer etc.
The room decision for playback including treatment and listening location.
The speaker decision and speaker placement at play back.
Yet, one or all components subtle colorations are marketed (at a premium) as to providing universal benefit in the face of these gargantuan ever changing unpredictable variables. That’s beyond preposterous, but here we are.
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