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Which DAC do you prefer?


esldude
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Which DAC is most/least preferred?  

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I recorded the output of 5 different DACs using an ADC. I would like for people to listen and list them by preference. I have nine different pieces of music though each is only a 30 second snippet. You can of course decide listening to one piece of music or all nine or whatever suits you.

 

I will post this as a poll where you can select best and worst, but it would be nice to have a reply with the full list in order along with commentary of your opinion of each DAC. You can also make multiple choices so if you think two are equally preferred or equally the worst you can choose more than one.

 

There are 9 zip files which open with a folder holding the musical selection recorded from the 5 DACs as separate .wav files. The DACs are labeled as A thru E.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/69etgq7lchxvx7k/Ana%20Caram%20I.zip?dl=0

 

This link for Ana Caram which is a Brazilian singer recorded by Chesky.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/oe18vpexu3pulms/Ana%20Caram%20II.zip?dl=0

 

This is a second Ana Caram selection.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/n76ucq8za95leok/Fiona%20Apple.zip?dl=0

 

Here we have a bit from Fiona Apple.

 

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7a5e294rdq9h2b5/Hyperion%20Knight.zip?dl=0

 

Hyperion Knight on piano recorded by Wilson Audio.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hkicqhr6ztiw87o/John%20Hiatt.zip?dl=0

 

John Hiatt which is sort of country music.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rto6d3chip1etws/John%20Mayall%20and%20Eric%20Clapton.zip?dl=0

 

John Mayall and Eric Clapton and the Bluesbreakers playing blues of course.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rmfwwgsso7eh7a8/Miles%20Davis.zip?dl=0

 

A piece of a Miles Davis track from Kind of Blue via MSFL.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/c8u2qltjh9fuaei/Sam%20McClain.zip?dl=0

 

Sam McClain which is more blues.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/iy8a8tbp7m6vx2p/Terrel.zip?dl=0

 

Terrel which is early 90's rock.

 

So download them, give them a listen, and let me know what you think after you vote in the poll.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Hum,

 

Won't we simply be hearing our own DAC/playback chain more than the original DAC's? That is just one question that comes to mind - but I will participate in the experiment nonetheless because I am that kind of guy... ;)

Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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What ADC did you use?

 

I used a Focusrite Forte.

 

https://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/forte/specifications

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Hum,

 

Won't we simply be hearing our own DAC/playback chain more than the original DAC's? That is just one question that comes to mind - but I will participate in the experiment nonetheless because I am that kind of guy... ;)

 

I suppose it depends. If your DAC is a paragon of transparency you'll mostly be hearing my combined DAC/ADC loops. It will be a combination of your DAC/my DAC/and the ADC I used.

 

I don't really know what to expect, so wondering what the results will be. Will they sound different enough, will people as a group have a consensus choice as most and least preferred? Or will it be chaos? I don't know, but hope it might be interesting.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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BTW, before starting this thread I already planned to use one of my better DACs and run these files through 3 or 4 generations of play/record so one can judge the level of degradation passing through my ADC causes. I haven't done that yet, but when I get a bit more time I will make those available for download.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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The mere act of using another ADC to record the output of the DAC, especially if the output of the ADC is only at RB CD resolution, is going to substantially degrade the subtle differences that set many DACs apart.

Are the recipients' own DACs both neutral and transparent sounding ?

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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I am not an expert in these things but after listening to Fiona and the Piano piece I swear I can't tell any difference. Listening with Amarra thru a Geek Pulse XFI feeding Mr. Speakers Alpha Prime. I mean I don't detect any obvious differences. lol Am I out of the club? lol So I guess one of the options should have been no difference detected.

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I am not an expert in these things but after listening to Fiona and the Piano piece I swear I can't tell any difference. Listening with Amarra thru a Geek Pulse XFI feeding Mr. Speakers Alpha Prime. I mean I don't detect any obvious differences. lol Am I out of the club? lol So I guess one of the options should have been no difference detected.

 

Well I didn't anticipate that as a response. You can only have 10 choices in a poll anyway.

 

Since you get multiple picks I suppose you could select all of them as preferred and sounding worst. That would fit with your results. LOL.

 

It will be more interesting when I reveal the DACs used in a week or two.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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You deserve a huge amount of credit for doing this. That said, I really don't see how this process can be effective given all of the variables. There's just too many outside factors that can influence the results.

 

I have an idea that may help a little. It would be good if you shared your own opinion of the dac's since you are the only one to hear them without the additional processing. For example, if you thought dac A was bright in the treble, along with many of the responders, it may identify a trend. For obvious reasons, you wouldn't reveal your comments until the poll is over. Also, if you have some friends that are willing to participate, have them listen to the dac's in your system, and see what they have to say. It would be interesting to see how opinions differ between the 2 groups overall.

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You deserve a huge amount of credit for doing this. That said, I really don't see how this process can be effective given all of the variables. There's just too many outside factors that can influence the results.

 

I have an idea that may help a little. It would be good if you shared your own opinion of the dac's since you are the only one to hear them without the additional processing. For example, if you thought dac A was bright in the treble, along with many of the responders, it may identify a trend. For obvious reasons, you wouldn't reveal your comments until the poll is over. Also, if you have some friends that are willing to participate, have them listen to the dac's in your system, and see what they have to say. It would be interesting to see how opinions differ between the 2 groups overall.

 

Another question would be to ask if Dennis is using EXTRA processing in the way of added digital EQ in the form of Room EQ where he has a personal preference. This won't matter though in this case where the ADC is at the output of the DACs.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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You deserve a huge amount of credit for doing this. That said, I really don't see how this process can be effective given all of the variables. There's just too many outside factors that can influence the results.

 

I have an idea that may help a little. It would be good if you shared your own opinion of the dac's since you are the only one to hear them without the additional processing. For example, if you thought dac A was bright in the treble, along with many of the responders, it may identify a trend. For obvious reasons, you wouldn't reveal your comments until the poll is over. Also, if you have some friends that are willing to participate, have them listen to the dac's in your system, and see what they have to say. It would be interesting to see how opinions differ between the 2 groups overall.

 

Yes, I can give my opinions later. And this is no test where you get it right or not. It is a poll of preference. A sort of "I wonder what would happen if" type of thread. It is well known I think sighted listening influences what we hear. This is a few DACs of differing quality without knowing what they are. Yet I cannot say anyone's choice was wrong or bad or correct. I wonder if preferences will be strongly expressed or not.

 

I would like to have made hours of various musical genre's available at least using 24/96 files. But there are copyright issues, and transferring of large file issues and such. So this is not definitive of anything. And it is an imperfect way to compare. I think it will have value and perhaps stimulate some discussion. What that will be I don't know. Hopefully people will take part in the poll. So listen, make your picks and discuss what you hear. Nothing bad is going to happen.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Yes, I can give my opinions later. And this is no test where you get it right or not. It is a poll of preference. A sort of "I wonder what would happen if" type of thread. It is well known I think sighted listening influences what we hear. This is a few DACs of differing quality without knowing what they are. Yet I cannot say anyone's choice was wrong or bad or correct. I wonder if preferences will be strongly expressed or not.

 

I would like to have made hours of various musical genre's available at least using 24/96 files. But there are copyright issues, and transferring of large file issues and such. So this is not definitive of anything. And it is an imperfect way to compare. I think it will have value and perhaps stimulate some discussion. What that will be I don't know. Hopefully people will take part in the poll. So listen, make your picks and discuss what you hear. Nothing bad is going to happen.

 

 

I don't think I did a good job of explaining my point in my last post. Since we have to listen to your music files through our dac's, and you don't, I thought it would be interesting to see we're all hearing the same qualities.

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Thanks for doing this, it's a great way to hear new artists as well (albeit brief snippets). I found A,C and D to be very similar overall with not much between them, but D always seemed to be the boring child of the three so it came last. E was similar to those three but had more space around the instruments and was most involving and most detailed. B seemed to be quite different however, sounding more rounded and natural. On a couple of tracks the bass line also seemed a bit odd compared to the others, but I think it was just different. E was good, but I preferred B overall.

 

I was using my office system, which is the least detailed system I own (in theory) but very enjoyable to listen to. It's a MacBook Pro running Win7/Foobar/WASAPI, Muse TDA1543x4 NOS DAC, Musical Fidelity B200 and Mission 780SE, listening nearfield.

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There are 9 zip files which open with a folder holding the musical selection recorded from the 5 DACs as separate .wav files. The DACs are labeled as A thru E.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/69etgq7lch...m%20I.zip?dl=0

 

This link for Ana Caram which is a Brazilian singer recorded by Chesky.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/oe18vpexu3...%20II.zip?dl=0

 

This is a second Ana Caram selection.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/n76ucq8za9...Apple.zip?dl=0

 

Here we have a bit from Fiona Apple.

 

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7a5e294rdq...night.zip?dl=0

 

Hyperion Knight on piano recorded by Wilson Audio.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hkicqhr6zt...Hiatt.zip?dl=0

 

John Hiatt which is sort of country music.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rto6d3chip...apton.zip?dl=0

 

John Mayall and Eric Clapton and the Bluesbreakers playing blues of course.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rmfwwgsso7...Davis.zip?dl=0

 

A piece of a Miles Davis track from Kind of Blue via MSFL.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/c8u2qltjh9...Clain.zip?dl=0

 

Sam McClain which is more blues.

 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/iy8a8tbp7m...errel.zip?dl=0

 

Terrel which is early 90's rock.

 

So download them, give them a listen, and let me know what you think after you vote in the poll.

 

Bloody Hell ! That's 45 tracks!!! Are you trying to inflict pain on those who give you a hard time about your precious Double Blind testing ? ( evil grin)

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Bloody Hell ! That's 45 tracks!!! Are you trying to inflict pain on those who give you a hard time about your precious Double Blind testing ? ( evil grin)

 

Yes it is 45 tracks. You don't have to listen to all of them. I wanted a bit of variety, and if you pick one or two tracks you only have 5 or 10 versions to choose from. Each different piece of music was chosen to highlight some particular difference in the DACs, but you are under no obligation to hear them all.

 

Besides, it seems a better use of time and more educational than writing 45 argumentative posts. Something quite a few people here on CA (certainly I am including myself in that group) do quite regularly. :)

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f8-general-forum/generational-fidelity-loss-digital-analogue-converter-analogue-digital-converter-live-recordings-or-digitizing-sound-stored-analogue-media-such-records-or-tape-loops-28376/

 

Here is the thread where I repeatedly played, recorded, played the recording and recorded it etc. etc. thru my ADC. You have 4 generations to try and get a handle on how much fidelity is lost with each pass through my DAC/ADC loop. It was less than I expected. However considering this is a low end ADC surely the differences will be obvious on any really good high end rig.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Isn't this exactly the type of thing that gives audiophiles a bad name? :)

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Isn't this exactly the type of thing that gives audiophiles a bad name? :)

 

I don't know. Are you referring to this poll, the poll on generational loss or what exactly?

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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After listening to a few tracks over and over, the one thing that i am learning is that at least in my system and with my hearing whatever difference that exist between these DACs is so settle that I am still trying to find them. It is like splitting hairs. To be honest whatever difference is not going to affect the way i listen. I think there is one that I keep going back but not sure why lol. Will keep trying!

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I don't know. Are you referring to this poll, the poll on generational loss or what exactly?
I really don't think an explanation is necessary. :)

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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After listening to a few tracks over and over, the one thing that i am learning is that at least in my system and with my hearing whatever difference that exist between these DACs is so settle that I am still trying to find them. It is like splitting hairs. To be honest whatever difference is not going to affect the way i listen. I think there is one that I keep going back but not sure why lol. Will keep trying!

 

Perhaps the differences are nowhere near as obvious after you download and play them, as they were to Dennis when he originally uploaded them ? Even the choice of player software matters too.

Has Dennis downloaded his own files and compared them with the original .wav files by careful listening ? Surely he wouldn't have bothered uploading them if the original differences were vanishingly small ?

Yeah, I know, "Bits are Bits", and nothing else matters !

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Perhaps the differences are nowhere near as obvious after you download and play them, as they were to Dennis when he originally uploaded them ? Even the choice of player software matters too.

Has Dennis downloaded his own files and compared them with the original .wav files by careful listening ? Surely he wouldn't have bothered uploading them if the original differences were vanishingly small ?

 

That was the point I was trying to make in my other post. You word it better than I do.

 

"Yeah, I know, "Bits are Bits", and nothing else matters !"

 

Even if that were true, the same can't be said of the analog side of the dac. And that's what makes a comparison like this even more difficult. You don't always know what part of the dac is responsible for the changes you hear. We have to listen to the samples through 2 dac's, preamps, cables and speakers.

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