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I am seeking people's test results: posted complete score sheets, of a well known double blind listening test that's completely free.

I tried, really tried to hear a difference but never, ever did a discern a difference using Foobar. Actually there is a noticeable tell but it goes by so quick it would be all but impossible to do the blind test without being completely obsessive compulsive for days. The last second has a very low bass note that is slightly louder on the DACd track but without a subwoofer the note would never be heard. There is no way to compare the tracks because by the time the low note is heard the cut is over, up until that time the two cuts are virtually identical.

So what the heck is going on here?

Modern DAC's excel at retrieving low level information, the magic part that helps create a performance in your room. Low level information includes a sense of space around the performers and the preservation of echos so the size of a room can be heard, from a concert hall to an intimate club.

The James Levine recording, although excellent for it's day, was recorded in 1992 and also has little low level information or depth or anything that would define the space it was recorded in. It is hard to hear low level information when the recording has very little to begin with. The iPhone dongle is perfect for this type of recording.

The Apple iPhone dongle DAC A1749 is an excellent DAC that plays all the notes perfectly but it doesn't have any magic, the low level information is attenuated resulting in a flat plane of music with very little depth, a common early complaint of digital sound compared to vinyl.

Compounding the early flat digital sound is Foobar2000. Foobar sounds great but if you have a high end playback setup you will notice it falls flat, literally. Foobar homogenizes the sound so the two cuts sound even more alike than they really are, no wonder nobody can tell the difference. Take the two cuts and play them with JRiver Media Center 26, the original recording now (finally) has a better sense of space, center instruments are also slightly clearer, this is a 1992 recording after all so we can't expect miracles.

Of course all this means nothing when m. zillch reveals he accidentally uploaded two identical files.
 

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Discussion Starter #203 (Edited)
I tried, really tried to hear a difference but never, ever did a discern a difference using Foobar. Actually there is a noticeable tell but it goes by so quick it would be all but impossible to do the blind test without being completely obsessive compulsive for days. The last second has a very low bass note that is slightly louder on the DACd track but without a subwoofer the note would never be heard. There is no way to compare the tracks because by the time the low note is heard the cut is over, up until that time the two cuts are virtually identical.

So what the heck is going on here?

Modern DAC's excel at retrieving low level information, the magic part that helps create a performance in your room. Low level information includes a sense of space around the performers and the preservation of echos so the size of a room can be heard, from a concert hall to an intimate club.

The James Levine recording, although excellent for it's day, was recorded in 1992 and also has little low level information or depth or anything that would define the space it was recorded in. It is hard to hear low level information when the recording has very little to begin with. The iPhone dongle is perfect for this type of recording.

The Apple iPhone dongle DAC A1749 is an excellent DAC that plays all the notes perfectly but it doesn't have any magic, the low level information is attenuated resulting in a flat plane of music with very little depth, a common early complaint of digital sound compared to vinyl.

Compounding the early flat digital sound is Foobar2000. Foobar sounds great but if you have a high end playback setup you will notice it falls flat, literally. Foobar homogenizes the sound so the two cuts sound even more alike than they really are, no wonder nobody can tell the difference. Take the two cuts and play them with JRiver Media Center 26, the original recording now (finally) has a better sense of space, center instruments are also slightly clearer, this is a 1992 recording after all so we can't expect miracles.

Of course all this means nothing when m. zillch reveals he accidentally uploaded two identical files.

Of course all this means nothing when m. zillch reveals he accidentally uploaded two identical files.
The files are exactly what I stated they are. Also I find this last sentence particularly odd since as I understood you, in the bulk of your post at least, you seem to think you can detect subtle differences [such as "The last second has a very low bass note that is slightly louder on the DACd track"], just not when Foobar is on. If there are indeed audible differences like you claim you are detecting, under sighted listening conditions, then obviously it would be fundamentally impossible for the files to be identical (due to a hypothetical accident I might have made, if I understood you correctly).
 

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Perspective

Dac chips have a cost of around $1.00 to maybe $40.00, name brand and features are the difference, bottom line it is a single purpose product "digital to analog converter"

This Chip is the last part of a music files process before going to a preamp and then an amplifier and then to speakers, Most of the engineering/design is what happens before the "Dac Chip" and how the engineers program the chip's features and capabilities.

What can have an impact on what we hear is the design methodology of the product, the quality of the parts used before and after the dac chip.

Therefore; great engineering, design and quality of parts can maximize an inexpensive chip ( Apple ) and cheap parts, poor design and an expensive dac chip can be terrible.

Lets remember that most Music today is created on software written for Mac Computers, but they are all connect to outside products, they do not rely on the Mac internal hardware

So as far as this thread goes can an inexpensive chip sound as good as a expensive chip within a small statistical deviation, probably yes. But can a well designed and engineered separate product which uses a different chip sound better - I am still a firm beliver

BTW Perfect in reproduced music is an illusion, a Live performance will always be better than the worlds greatest recording on the worlds best system.

Short of a flawed implementation, audio engineering is something that became well understood and mastered many-many years ago. Cost is not a prerequisite of quality, only solid design work.



As for perfectly reproducing a live performance ... all I can say is never say never. Heck, lip syncing pop-musicians have been getting away with it for decades.
 

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My question to you Z is are you looking for definitive proof from this test that dac's cannot be better than that iphone dac?...or just a fun little experiment?

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The files are exactly what I stated they are.

I forgot the smiley at the very end :). It was an audiophile joke.

It would be great to click back and forth comparing two unknown files but to my ears both sound identical using Foobar and I'm not fast enough to compare the last second.

A sample size of 1 song seems like a limiting factor in defining a Perfect DAC test, are you thinking of doing more songs?
 

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Yes. Perfect in reference to what?;):D
Perfect to the ear when comparing the files from reference file A to file B on the reference DAC.
Reference file A only has 1 DA conversion (reference DAC) in it when you play it back in the ABX test while test file B has 2 DA (Test DAC + reference DAC) conversions and 1 AD conversion in it.


It took me a while to "Get it".

As an analogy (which Im terrible at ;-)
You have a bottle of water. (Reference Music file)
You pour 1/2 the water through a filter (Test DAC Stage)
You blind taste test the un-filtered (Reference Music file) water vs the filtered water (Test Music file) from a glass (Reference DAC)
This proves if you can taste (hear) a difference in the filtered (Reference file A) vs unfiltered water (Test file B) under blind conditions to eliminate confirmation bias.
It doesn't matter that the glass (Reference DAC) has a lemon in it as the lemon would flavor both non-filtered and filtered water the same.
Make sense?

Perfect in this sense doesn't mean "If you like lemon or not" but that both filtered and un-filtered water taste the same from the same glass with the same test conditions.
So if you like lemon in your water (a DAC that adds some flavor) thats fine, but this test proves that the filtering process (Test DAC setup) adds no taste-able flavor to the water (Music) for people who want the water to taste like pure H20 (Test DAC that is true to the original recording).

The only problem is, what is he redoing, the original master? How good was it? He can only alter it that may sound better but he only has a fixed quality to work with.
Anything before playback is the "Artists/Producers Intent". Much like the analogy above its perfectly fine to like lemon in your water (Mix 1) or raspberry in your water Mix 2). The test is about making sure the filtering process (test DAC) doesn't alter the original water (reference music) in any way you don't have control of.

This is also different than changing music via DSP to help eliminate the flavoring that your room, treatments, speakers are adding.
Using a DSP/etc is (for the person looking for reproduction to be as close to the original recording as possible) trying to get you closer to the actual studio output the mixer heard when making the mix.
Any DSP work is under your control - flavor the music to your liking or to reference (Salt on your steak? Yes please!). If the DAC changes the music that is not under your control (Why did you put salt on my steak when I didn't ask for that?). (Unless you use a difference DAC!)

Hope this makes sense =)

NOTE: When I say test DAC here its really meaning the "Test DAC/Analog Stage/Analog cable/ADC" section of playback.
 

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Discussion Starter #208 (Edited)
I forgot the smiley at the very end :). It was an audiophile joke.

It would be great to click back and forth comparing two unknown files but to my ears both sound identical using Foobar and I'm not fast enough to compare the last second.

A sample size of 1 song seems like a limiting factor in defining a Perfect DAC test, are you thinking of doing more songs?
The lower half of the Foobar test window has a "repeat and loop this particular section over and over again" option you might want to use and insert that last section you speak of. Check it out. "Set Start" and "Set end" are how you label the passage you want using the blue bargraph to see where in the song you are.

Currently I don't have plans for more songs but theoretically what 30-sec section of what CD cut (the iphone doesn't really do Hi-res) would you agree to be tested on?
 

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The only problem is, what is he redoing, the original master? How good was it? He can only alter it that may sound better but he only has a fixed quality to work with.
There's the issue, if it's old masters getting redone, that they were mixed to sound good on LPs, mixing for at least CD capabilities should result in a better master. That's assuming the original tracts are of high enough quality for it to make a difference, and there's always the noise that can't be gotten rid of.
 

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Yes it is compared to the live performance as it is a long chain from there to you.
As to perfection, well, it is still relative, compared to what, another performance in the same place?;) One may be more likeable than the other. Here is an interesting take on repeat performances:

"The Grass is Always Greener in the Outtakes", Gould, Glenn, High Fidelity, Aug 75, pg 54-59.
With music reproduction, the original is the standard, if you can hear or measure a difference, it isn't 'perfect'. Most uses of the word aren't so direct, e.g., that was a perfect phone call. Besides that being a ludicrous claim, perfection will always involve some one or some thing that 'decides' what perfection is, except in mathematics where everything is essentially a tautology anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #211 (Edited)
perfection will always involve some one or some thing that 'decides' what perfection is.
"Perfect to the ear" means "within the limitations of human hearing there are no perceptible differences compared to the original". Test instruments, on the other hand, can detect differences because the music in the file I recorded called tr0430sDACd, isn't literally a perfect recording. My DAC has minor flaws, the analog connection wires used have minor flaws, and the ADC used to return the analog sound traveling through the RCA wire back to the digital domain has minor flaws. My contention is they are all too small for a human to notice during the music's playback.

The thing deciding if it is "perfect" in this test is human hearing/perception.
 
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"Perfect to the ear" means "within the limitations of human hearing there are no perceptible differences". Test instruments, on the other hand, can detect differences because the music in the file I recorded called tr0430sDACd, isn't literally a perfect recording. My DAC has minor flaws, the analog connection wires used have minor flaws, and the ADC used to return the analog sound traveling through the RCA wire back to the digital domain has minor flaws. My contention is they are all too small for a human to notice during the music's playback.



The thing deciding if it is "perfect" in this test is human hearing/perception.
Is the flaws detectable?...or from your measurements?.…or just sighted bias?...just feeding you from your own spoon...as it were...not trying to be a jerk...as I'm sure I'm looking like but common.

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Discussion Starter #213 (Edited)
"Perfect to the ear" means "within the limitations of human hearing there are no perceptible differences compared to the original". Test instruments, on the other hand, can detect differences because the music in the file I recorded called tr0430sDACd, isn't literally a perfect recording.
You can actually see the difference that test instruments can detect if you closely examine the Dropbox images you see when you play the files there. I just did a screen grab of both and made a GIF animation to show you all. Each plays for half a second in an infinite loop. . . if I did this right.

This also shows the two files are indeed not identical, literally, and it shows the biggest differences aren't in the low-level sections as some claimed, but rather in the louder parts, according to my eye. Check it out:
 

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You can actually see the difference that test instruments can detect if you closely examine the Dropbox images you see when you play the files there. I just did a screen grab of both and made a GIF animation to show you all. Each plays for half a second in an infinite loop. . . if I did this right.



This also shows the two files are indeed not identical, literally, and it shows the biggest differences aren't in the low-level sections as some claimed, but rather in the louder parts, according to my eye. Check it out:

Thanks for that...very small differences but it proves 1 thing...there are fluctuations in the 2 files...I.E. there both not perfect.even if not hearable...listening is one side of the coin... measurements the other...I applaude you for this..but this is one sample...many other test might prove more severe with other dac's if tested...this is a great start imo.

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Currently I don't have plans for more songs but theoretically what 30-sec section of what CD cut (the iphone doesn't really do Hi-res) would you agree to be tested on?

Keeping it simple:
Cowboy Junkies - Trinity Sessions - Mining for Gold
Jennifer Warnes - The Hunter - Way Down Deep
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - They Can't Take That Away From Me
Vladimir Horowitz - The Last Recording (SK45818)
Bill Evans - Every Digs Bill Evans
Copeland - Fanfare for the Common Man - Louis Lane & Atlantic Symphony Orchestra
Nils Lofgren - Nils Lofgren - Keith Don't Go
Rickie Lee Jones - Naked Songs
Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble - Tin Pan Alley



Have any of those? I have 11,207 more to choose from.
 

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Keeping it simple:
Cowboy Junkies - Trinity Sessions - Mining for Gold
Jennifer Warnes - The Hunter - Way Down Deep
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - They Can't Take That Away From Me
Vladimir Horowitz - The Last Recording (SK45818)
Bill Evans - Every Digs Bill Evans
Copeland - Fanfare for the Common Man - Louis Lane & Atlantic Symphony Orchestra
Nils Lofgren - Nils Lofgren - Keith Don't Go
Rickie Lee Jones - Naked Songs
Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble - Tin Pan Alley



Have any of those? I have 11,207 more to choose from.
These are songs your intimate with correct?...as in you'd tell differences in them correct?

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These are songs your intimate with correct?...as in you'd tell differences in them correct?

They are well recorded, dynamic, a mix of solo female vocal, piano, guitar, some are live. Intimate yes. Pick a DAC with them, I have no idea.

Back in 2014 a friend an I did a DAC comparison: a Van Alstine FetValve Hybrid vs a PS Audio PerfectWave DAC II. Speakers were Magnepan 3.7 with a REL Gibraltar G-2 sub, amp was a Krell Full Power Balanced 200 (Class A). We could not hear a difference between DAC's. The PS Audio was nice because it had filters to take the edge off edge CD's. It would take more than a summer afternoon to determine if one was not better but different.

In 2006 I had a Scott Nixon NOS Tube DAC, I replaced it with a Van Alstine Insight DAC. The AVA was both different and much better sounding in my system. It's always about system synergy. Wonder what the iPhone dongle actually sounds like when plugged into a pre-amp instead of only recording off it? Somebody else in this forum has to have one.
 

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They are well recorded, dynamic, a mix of solo female vocal, piano, guitar, some are live. Intimate yes. Pick a DAC with them, I have no idea.

Back in 2014 a friend an I did a DAC comparison: a Van Alstine FetValve Hybrid vs a PS Audio PerfectWave DAC II. Speakers were Magnepan 3.7 with a REL Gibraltar G-2 sub, amp was a Krell Full Power Balanced 200 (Class A). We could not hear a difference between DAC's. The PS Audio was nice because it had filters to take the edge off edge CD's. It would take more than a summer afternoon to determine if one was not better but different.

In 2006 I had a Scott Nixon NOS Tube DAC, I replaced it with a Van Alstine Insight DAC. The AVA was both different and much better sounding in my system. It's always about system synergy. Wonder what the iPhone dongle actually sounds like when plugged into a pre-amp instead of only recording off it? Somebody else in this forum has to have one.
Why did you replace dac's?...and yes I agree wíth your findings.

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As someone who believes that DACs are a solved problem, and that this iphone dongle DAC is indeed perfect(to the human ear), if I were to ever buy another DAC, it would be something like the Chord Hugo 2. As long as one of its "modes" is a perfect mode, I could have fun trying out the other modes. I see it sorta as another form of tone controls, or similar to my Dirac Live box that has 4 settings. I'm assuming one of its modes is a perfect mode(which would sound identical to the iphone dongle) and the other 3 modes add differing amounts of bass/mid/treble distortion. Probably isn't worth it for me, but if I do ever buy another DAC, it will be something like that.
 

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