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Is a cheap ifi micro dsd dac better than the most expensive non-dsd dac


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Depends on the $10k DAC you are talking about.

 

I have heard two about $10k DAC's that would be the case - the DSD DAC being a Chord Qute with upgraded power supply.

 

That said, it is the exception rather than the rule, the vast majority will eat a cheap DSD DAC alive.

 

Even expensive DSD Dac's, like a Playback Designs I own, which is VERY good via DSD, doesn't always best even cheaper PCM DAC's via PCM. I prefer both the Phasure DAC, new PDX, and Killer DAC to it. Although it must be said at this level personal preferences and system synergies plays a big part. For example the Phasure is an excellent DAC fully worth all the kudos it has received but for me its a bit blancmange like which is colloquial for uninteresting - but some go ga ga over it.

 

Like all things audio its very important to listen to stuff yourself - hard and fast rules like the title of this thread usually have exceptions one way or the other and its best not to form pre-conceived views.

 

Thanks

Bill

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Depends on the $10k DAC you are talking about.

 

I have heard two about $10k DAC's that would be the case - the DSD DAC being a Chord Qute with upgraded power supply.

 

That said, it is the exception rather than the rule, the vast majority will eat a cheap DSD DAC alive.

 

Even expensive DSD Dac's, like a Playback Designs I own, which is VERY good via DSD, doesn't always best even cheaper PCM DAC's via PCM. I prefer both the Phasure DAC, new PDX, and Killer DAC to it. Although it must be said at this level personal preferences and system synergies plays a big part. For example the Phasure is an excellent DAC fully worth all the kudos it has received but for me its a bit blancmange like which is colloquial for uninteresting - but some go ga ga over it.

 

Like all things audio its very important to listen to stuff yourself - hard and fast rules like the title of this thread usually have exceptions one way or the other and its best not to form pre-conceived views.

 

Thanks

Bill

 

Thanks for your input.

I am talking for DSD files only, so would prefer to keep PCM out of the responses.

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Hi Mike -

 

I have developed the quite controversial opinion (as in, people keep trying to take a bite out of me.. Sharknado indeed...) that the answer to your question is yes. Or at least they can come so damn close as to make no difference. Of course, some folks will tell you that no mass produced and inexpensive hunk of gear can be "hi end" audio, but... The "high end" gear I have bought from some artisan shops has been poorly put together and did not all all meet my expectations. Then I look at a Dragonfly or iFi device, and you can color me impressed.

 

I think these inexpensive DSD DACs are doing something amazing, and that is redefining the line of how much one has to pay to get really extraordinary sound. But the only person who can make that decision for you is - you. :)

 

The software you use to play the music seems to make a lot more difference too. A lot. Don't know why, though I have some ideas.

 

-Paul

 

 

Will a cheap ifi micro dsd dac sound better than a 10K non-dsd dac?

 

Assumptions:

1. Besides the dac, all other hardware exactly the same

2. Source file is "true dsd file"

3. same software (assume jriver, properly configured for both)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I am all about value, you can get one of those little things and with the money you save, you could get a professional to set up and voice your system. Like Paul said you would be surprised how many people have expensive systems that are disappointing. I believe a properly set up affordable or mid price system can bring more enjoyment than an improperly set up uber expensive system.

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Why don't you just try out the iFi iDSD DAC - most vendors can give you 30 days to try it out. I did a brief comparison with a Wadia 121 - and with both playing a DSD file down converted to 176.4 in JRiver, the Wadia was a little fuller sounding with vocals and high end "sounding" better on the Wadia.

 

Now when playing redbook & converting to 1xDSD, 2x, 4xDSD on iFi (if you have enough processing power to support) and compare that & upsample to 176.4 or 192 for Wadia - then the comparison/differences become closer.

 

But is it 2x+ $$$ of the iFi in terms of sound improvements? Hard one to say as each of us has their price points.

 

If I were to purchase another DSD DAC, it would probably be the Auralic Vega even though it will only support 2xDSD at this time.

 

Sometimes we just have to listen to the music and not fret about what could be.

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both playing a DSD file down converted to 176.4 in JRiver, the Wadia was a little fuller sounding with vocals and high end "sounding" better on the Wadia.

 

Now when playing redbook & converting to 1xDSD, 2x, 4xDSD on iFi (if you have enough processing power to support) and compare that & upsample to 176.4 or 192 for Wadia - then the comparison/differences become closer.

 

Again, please, the assumption is ONLY "TRUE DSD FILE". Besides, if i have a "TRUE DSD FILE", why would one downconvert it. For the purpose of this discussion, please ASSUME only TRUE DSD FILE...that said your response was in your opinion "little difference".

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Hi Mike -

 

Of course, some folks will tell you that no mass produced and inexpensive hunk of gear can be "hi end" audio,...

 

I think these inexpensive DSD DACs are doing something amazing, and that is redefining the line of how much one has to pay to get really extraordinary sound. But the only person who can make that decision for you is - you. :)

 

The software you use to play the music seems to make a lot more difference too. A lot. Don't know why, though I have some ideas.

 

-Paul

Agreed paul...

 

I also think as knowledge, experience, and technology matures, things can be mass produced, and be better than old technology.

 

microwave ovens, toilet paper, computers, cars, why not audio?

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Again, please, the assumption is ONLY "TRUE DSD FILE". Besides, if i have a "TRUE DSD FILE", why would one downconvert it. For the purpose of this discussion, please ASSUME only TRUE DSD FILE...that said your response was in your opinion "little difference".

 

But your initial post stated: compared to a NON-DSD DAC. So how you going to compare the playback of the file unless the DSD file is converted or down sampled to the NON-DSD DAC?

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Are you upsampling everything to DSD in JRiver, Paul?

 

I have been collecting a lot of native DSD recently, and trying out different ways and software. Converting files with Audiogate currently seems to produce somewhat better results that on the fly with JRMC, but that may change with JRMC v20 coming out.

 

What is incredibly surprising is just how extraordinarily good DSD DACs <= $500 can be. I guess rather than sinking the money into expensive gate arrays and software to make PCM sound good, they spend the money on above average better analog electronics. An advantage of the simplicity of DSD perhaps.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Again, please, the assumption is ONLY "TRUE DSD FILE". Besides, if i have a "TRUE DSD FILE", why would one downconvert it. For the purpose of this discussion, please ASSUME only TRUE DSD FILE...that said your response was in your opinion "little difference".

 

haha...good question...duh on me. I was just thinking you would play it with jriver, but then of course it would have to be down sampled....ok.

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I have been collecting a lot of native DSD recently, and trying out different ways and software. Converting files with Audiogate currently seems to produce somewhat better results that on the fly with JRMC, but that may change with JRMC v20 coming out.

 

What is incredibly surprising is just how extraordinarily good DSD DACs <= $500 can be. I guess rather than sinking the money into expensive gate arrays and software to make PCM sound good, they spend the money on above average better analog electronics. An advantage of the simplicity of DSD perhaps.

 

Are you still using the older free version on audiogate? I was very impressed with the quality of the sound coming out from that software, which is one reason i was set on buying the korg dac which comes with the software. I have since reinstalled my software and now that free version of audiogate is no longer available...really sucks. I may still buy the korg instead of the ifi micro....i just hate the idea of buying the korg solely for the software. I have jriver, but there are so many settings, and audiogate seems to sound better "right out of the box" with no tweeks...although it is limited in the interface...but sound quality, i think it is tops.

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Nope- I am using a buddy's machine with a fully licensed copy on it. (He loves Korg gear, and is more than a little put out at how darn good the iFi gear sounds. :))

 

I wish they would sell Audiogate software straight up.

 

-Paul

 

Are you still using the older free version on audiogate? I was very impressed with the quality of the sound coming out from that software, which is one reason i was set on buying the korg dac which comes with the software. I have since reinstalled my software and now that free version of audiogate is no longer available...really sucks. I may still buy the korg instead of the ifi micro....i just hate the idea of buying the korg solely for the software. I have jriver, but there are so many settings, and audiogate seems to sound better "right out of the box" with no tweeks...although it is limited in the interface...but sound quality, i think it is tops.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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