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Is the DAC as important as I think?

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Anything Above $2 Buys More Features, Not Better Quality - What Does It Take To Turn The PC Into A Hi-Fi Audio Platform?


This has been posted before, but Tom's doesn't think so. Thought I noticed a gain going from an old Burr Brown (1998) to a new Sabre. I think the consensus would be the quality of the circuit, clocks, power supply, and the chip would make a difference in sound quality of a DAC. A Sabre ES9008S DAC chip (DSD) sells for around $25 and I would pay the extra $23 over the $2 chip. Wish it worked that way :)

Dahlquist DQ-10 Speakers DQ-LP1 crossover 2 DW-1 Subs

Dynaco Mk III Mains - Rotel 991 Subs

Wyred W4S Pre Gustard X10 DAC

SOtM dx-USB-HD reclocked SOtMmBPS-d2s

Intel Thin-mini ITX

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Thanks for posting that link, Harpy. I had not seen that one yet and it was interesting. I've been thinking about upgrading my DAC in order to gain some features, and this article makes me think that it probably isn't reasonable to expect that doing so would also lead to a big increase in sound quality. That makes me think I'd be wise to put more money into speakers.

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No disrespect intended, but IMO the Tom's Hardware article is a major reason why this CA website exists. Inexperienced people, however well-intentioned, don't do careful audio tests. Even some of the best people in the business often get critical methods wrong: it is no job for amateurs.


As just one example, the response error at 100 Hz is a red flag to address a serious equipment or procedural problem. Was there an HPF? A notch filter? How did the 32Hz organ note sound?



Mac Mini 2012 with 2.3 GHz i5 CPU and 16GB RAM running newest OS10.9x and Signalyst HQ Player software (occasionally JRMC), ethernet to Cisco SG100-08 GigE switch, ethernet to SOtM SMS100 Miniserver in audio room, sending via short 1/2 meter AQ Cinnamon USB to Oppo 105D, feeding balanced outputs to 2x Bel Canto S300 amps which vertically biamp ATC SCM20SL speakers, 2x Velodyne DD12+ subs. Each side is mounted vertically on 3-tiered Sound Anchor ADJ2 stands: ATC (top), amp (middle), sub (bottom), Mogami, Koala, Nordost, Mosaic cables, split at the preamp outputs with splitters. All transducers are thoroughly and lovingly time aligned for the listening position.

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