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What is most important factor in digital audio playback quality?

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What is the most important factor in digital audio playback quality?  

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I know, that question is difficult to answer. Pretty much anything and everything can be a consideration in determining the quality of audio playback. But, regardless, in any particular situation, something is going to be more important that anything else. I believe that we generally find that one thing in our own systems, and am interested in what that may be. Of course, you are welcome to leave a comment in the thread explaining your choice, adding a choice I left out, or even ranking several choices in order.  The poll could not be exhaustive, so feel free to add your comments!

 

Discussion welcome and encouraged! Please keep any disagreements focused on ideas, things, concepts, reports, testing, or anything else except forum members. :) 

 

-Paul 

 

Edited by Paul R
Removed a question that should not have been required.

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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16 minutes ago, mansr said:

A DAC is both analogue and digital.

 

Good point - every digital playback system has a device that is a hybrid digital/analog device. I would tend to put DACs on the Digital Side, and ADCs on the Analog side, just based upon their input. It is just as valid to look at their outputs though. 

 

Thanks 

-Paul 

 


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

Robert A. Heinlein

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are distortions fungible?

 

anyway, this would be a much harder decision if choices for speakers, room, and mp3 had been excluded


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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3 minutes ago, Ralf11 said:

are distortions fungible?

 

anyway, this would be a much harder decision if choices for speakers, room, and mp3 had been excluded

 

Sure - distortion in an analog amp may serve to have the same audible result as distortion from a noisy computer I suppose. In the end, all distortion, in the sense of digital playback, is analog isn't it? 

 

What would your choices be if I had not included speakers or the room, etc? 


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

Robert A. Heinlein

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16 minutes ago, Paul R said:

Good point - every digital playback system has a device that is a hybrid digital/analog device. I would tend to put DACs on the Digital Side, and ADCs on the Analog side, just based upon their input. It is just as valid to look at their outputs though. 

The performance of both devices is mainly determined by their analogue parts.

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29 minutes ago, Paul R said:

 

Sure - distortion in an analog amp may serve to have the same audible result as distortion from a noisy computer I suppose. In the end, all distortion, in the sense of digital playback, is analog isn't it? 

 

What would your choices be if I had not included speakers or the room, etc? 

 

I'm not sure that distortions are fungible - you can improve (or at min., alter) sound of a cheap component with another different one

 

I'd likely pick mastering, room, transducers as primary; then maybe the amp

 

tho it might be hard to pick the amp over a higher than CD format or vice versa


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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As you already know, the answer from me as to the most important analog factor is to make oneself aware of defects in the SQ, from simple listening to what the speakers are producing, and then through a steady process of trial and error, experimenting, and using one's experience eliminate all the issues that are degrading the perceived quality. This is the only method that I know that works; just buying a solution is almost impossible - at the moment.

 

On the digital side, the DAC is the heart of the matter - a completely pristine implementation is absolutely essential for good sound; and then ensures robustness against all other factors ... so my answer here is also hybrid, :).


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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Shakti stones are old tech. - the big advance in Audiophilia is the placement and total number of yoni eggs

 

 

 

paltrow glasses.jpg


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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29 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

Anyway, I don't think this is a question that can be answered Paul. The entire system is important, not just one link in it.

 

Yes, that's it ... too damn simple an answer, of course - like asking why you're not satisfied with your brand new car - "You just have to get used to those odd rattles and creaks, and that it hesitates badly when accelerating, sir - you're asking a bit much, expecting it to be fault free, you know ... "


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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2 hours ago, mansr said:

The performance of both devices is mainly determined by their analogue parts.

 

I would suggest that the performance of a DAC, and probably an ADC,  is much more determined by their software/firmware. The analog parts are easy to get right, in comparison. DAC filters seem to be much more of a distinguishing characteristic than the simple low power amp section. 

 

Of course, you can argue the opposite. What makes you think so?


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

Robert A. Heinlein

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1 hour ago, AudioDoctor said:

Anyway, I don't think this is a question that can be answered Paul. The entire system is important, not just one link in it.

 

Sure it can. If you were going to be able to replace/upgrade only one component, for the rest of your life, what would it be?  Fortunately, I do not think any of us have to really face a choice like that, but it is a fun thought experiment.

 

For me, it would probably be speakers, if it included the room to house them. :)  


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

Robert A. Heinlein

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31 minutes ago, Paul R said:

 

Sure it can. If you were going to be able to replace/upgrade only one component, for the rest of your life, what would it be?  Fortunately, I do not think any of us have to really face a choice like that, but it is a fun thought experiment. :)  

 

That's easy ... the power amp. It does the most damage to the electrical environment, by the type and level of current draws it requires from the mains, and that are produced at the output stage. Buy the best engineered, most over the top in terms of voltage swing and current delivery unit you can get hold of - this will ensure that genuine dynamics will always be obtainable, irrespective of speakers used. The rest can be cheap and nasty, but you won't notice, because you will be having too much of a good time, getting big impact sound :).


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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52 minutes ago, Paul R said:

 

Sure it can. If you were going to be able to replace/upgrade only one component, for the rest of your life, what would it be?  Fortunately, I do not think any of us have to really face a choice like that, but it is a fun thought experiment.

 

For me, it would probably be speakers, if it included the room to house them. :)  

 

I thought you lived where land is cheap?  Build a listening room with a house attached to it.


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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5 hours ago, Ralf11 said:

 

I thought you lived where land is cheap?  Build a listening room with a house attached to it.

Actually, buildable land is pretty expensive here. :)  Makes downsizing worth it. :)


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

Robert A. Heinlein

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12 hours ago, Paul R said:

Actually, buildable land is pretty expensive here. :)  Makes downsizing worth it. :)

 

in Wyo., that is only true of Jackson - why not move to Tie Siding?


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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On ‎6‎/‎28‎/‎2019 at 8:21 PM, mansr said:

Low-noise, low-distortion analogue circuits are tricky to get right, even when conceptually simple. The digital portion of these devices, in contrast, is just shuffling bits around at rather mundane rates. Not much of a challenge.

 

 Prove it by designing and submitting a relatively inexpensive DAC to Chris for review.  :P

Just a 24/192 DAC would do for starters .


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 18-06-2019

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22 minutes ago, sandyk said:

 

 Prove it by designing and submitting a relatively inexpensive DAC to Chris for review.  :P

Just a 24/192 DAC would do for starters .

 

Rather pointless to do when a relatively cheap IC will deliver the goods - the fun starts when you start to work out how to 'feed' that chip; that is, precisely how every single pin connection is conditioned, or regulated, to ensure the chip is given the best chance of doing its job correctly.


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Ahhh, Mankind ... Porsche intellect, Trabant emotions ...

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