Originally Posted by DreamWarrior
For reproduction, absolutely! However, when used to create "art", anything the DAC does is just part of the "art". In that vein, as part of a chain of mixing gear, so long as what the DAC did makes it to the final product (mix) (*), I don't care how transparent it is or not. Of course, I suppose you covered this case. In my example, the "goal" is "create art" not "high fidelity reproduction".
That said, I'm unsure how many DACs strive to add an audible signature sound, so...this may be a moot point altogether.
The vast majority of DACs are just like this test's $7.99 one: audibly perfect. This is not to say that all products
made which contain DACs (DAC chips) are audibly perfect.
For instance, my 24" LCD TV in front of me has a DAC in it (the chip itself is probably fine, although I have no means to measure it directly) however the sound of the TV in general is abysmal, largely because of its little, I'd guess 1.5" speakers.
Similarly, all modern AVRs have one or more DACs but there is no means for an average consumer, nor a professional reviewer
, to directly measure their performance. This does not stop people though. They measure ports such as the zone out pre outs or the main pre outs and seem to pretend to their readers that these additional, high gain preamp sections the signal is forced to pass through for this measurement is somehow "invisible" and introduces no additional noise and distortion itself. [Psst: it does
] They then compare this performance to other stand alone DACs that weren't forced to pass through secondary electronics (such as high gain preamp circuits) and compare them on a continuum of other "DACs" implying it is a fair comparison. It is not.
I've also come to learn that on some AVRs they've tested, where they use the Zone outs, they weren't even measuring the main room's DAC!
Often to offer the user the convenience of listening to one source in the main room that's different from the Zone out room, the manufacturer throws in a secondary, lower quality DAC specifically for the zone out. If you want "mutli-source sound", say radio in the kitchen while the living room does DVD, you need two
DACs working simultaneously. To save money the manufacturer often uses a lower quality DAC (and analog preamp level circuitry) for the Zone out since they know this quality is less important to many customers. It's often just a kitchen and they are often just ceiling speakers, after all.
An example is the Pioneer VSX-LX303
Originally Posted by m. zillch
The main room is a higher quality Asahi KASEI AKM4458
whereas a separate DAC is used for the zone so one can have "multi-source" capability and listen to a completely different digital source in the secondary "zone", simultaneously to what digital source is being converted by the better chip in the main room. The lower quality zone DAC is made by Texas Instruments, a PCM5101