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Differences in sound: DAC vs. DAC + Pre-amplifier


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Hi Guys,

 

reading this thread I got the impression that some seem to misunderstand the role of the preamp.

 

I came across a very good thread on another forum which sheds some light on the role of the preamp.

 

It is not too long, six pages only and I would like to recommend reading at least page one:

 

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/totaldac-d1-driver-the-pre-amplifier-driver.29500/

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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13 minutes ago, barrows said:

I did not expect this from you as one who owns a Makua preamp/DAC, which features the exact same output stage topology as  the Tambaqui DAC, and hence has equal ability to drive an amplifier correctly.  And suggesting that the folks that make the TotalDAC are a good source of reliable information is suspect in my book as well.  The TotalDAC is the definition of a colored component which is clear form its measurements (many audible artifacts in its output). 

 

This linked thread was not started by TotalDAC but by Emile from Taiko Audio.

I is not about to praise a product from TotalDAC but it shows nicely that the role of the preamp is to drive the power amp properly.

BTW, I do not own a product from Mola-Mola. Sorry.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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14 minutes ago, barrows said:

As I am fully committed to sending DSD 256, the LeedH VC is not really applicable to my approach (unless it was in the server) and in the server, i suspect there is nothing better than what Jussi already does in HQPlayer.  But it is cool to see Lumin incorporate it.

I wonder whatever happened to the "rumor" that Damien was going to integrate LeedH into Audirvana?

 

Agree, 

AFAIK, for applying the Leedh VC DSD must be converted to DXD and then back to DSD.

Jussis algorithms are much more sophisticated, AFAIK he does VC for DSD in DSD domain.

AFAIK, no Leedh VC for Audirvana.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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1 minute ago, mevdinc said:

At one point it was said that Audirvana would be one of the early adapters. But, still no news.

 

Joel who wrote the review for 6moons told me they are not interested.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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8 minutes ago, barrows said:

Perhaps Damien (a pretty smart dude) realized the LeedH actually offered no real improvement.

 

Yes maybe and Audirvana does upsampling to DSD as well so they would have to apply Leedh VC before this stage.

 

in the case of Lumin streamers without DAC they have to apply the Leedh processing before the signal enters the DAC which I do not find desirable.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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Just now, The Computer Audiophile said:

What’s wrong with processing before entering the DAC?

 

I am not sure if Leedh is perfectly lossless or lossless per definition of MQA.

IMO, the DAC should get the highest quality signal.

 

Matt

 

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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6 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

So no DSD upsampling either?

 

I would not go so far.

But when you look at the Taiko Extreme they started with upsampling to DSD a few years ago and now they go for bit-perfect playback because it seems to be superior in their eyes or better ears.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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11 minutes ago, barrows said:

I prefer the opposite way:  As much processing as possible before anything gets to the DAC, and then the DAC just converts to analog and buffers the signal for delivery to an amplifier stage.  In any case, a digital VC inside a DAC still makes its attenuation before the conversion to analog...  Everytime I reduce processing done internally in the DAC, I hear a step int he right direction in sound quality.  This is why I oversample to DSD 256 in a computer isolated by an optical Ethernet Renderer and then the ESS chip in my DAC does less processing on the signal.  Less processing in the DAC (all other things being equal) always results in a more natural sound for me. 

 

 

Yeah, I know and understand your POV.

But there are some partly expensive R2R DACs which do not need any processing before conversion.

At least clients of the Extreme and their DAC manufacturers seem not to prefer upsampling before the DAC.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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4 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

No DAC needs processing prior to the unit. It’s all preference. 

 

OK, for some DACs processing helps as @barrows mentioned.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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34 minutes ago, barrows said:

Well, indeed...  And the R2R DAC you mention will perform better (if it does not OS onboard) with an oversampled signal objectively.  Whether a listener prefers the sound of a totally NOS approach is a different matter, but such a preference is not one for accurate conversion.

 

The one thing that is unavoidable though, is that a computer will always be able to run a more sophisticated, and more precise, oversampling calculation than any DAC due to much more processing power available.  And it is much easier to avoid problems caused byt the processing (mostly processor noise/RF) if that processing is done far away from the audio system.

 

I am not strictly talking about NOS DACs. There may be DACs which take a benefit from software upsampling but certainly not all. Even in lower price ranges like Schitt Yggdrasil the from Schiit implemented OS algorithm might be better than software upsampling. The Yggdrasil seems to work extremely well with Redbook content. Other DACs in higher price ranges like the APL, Emmlabs, Ypsilon, Chord etc. have either implemented their own OS or the manufacturers recommend playing bit-perfect for best SQ. 

The Taiko keeps computer activity at minimum for best SQ on the other side do exist the EC filters and modulators from Jussi which are so demanding that no consumer computer is able to reproduce in DSD512. 

 

Matt

 

 

 

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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3 minutes ago, barrows said:

The best way to do this is to isolate the computer from the audio system: 

 

As I said I understand your POV and this is the statement of Sonore as well. 

 

BUT when the computer is of a certain quality this "endpoint concept" comes to an end. So far the experiments with the Extreme had as result that a combo with the Extreme and a very good endpoint does sound inferior to the Extreme alone, the same is true when the Extreme itself is endpoint and gets its signal from another server.

Some others on this forum made the same experience with servers of a lesser quality than the Extreme.

 

But as always YMMV 🙂

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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4 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

The total number of people suggesting endpoints are over is how many? 10?

 

Chris,

there has always been a small number of people who make certain experiments and big numbers who accept the status quo.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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10 minutes ago, barrows said:

Extraordinary claims, which go against the laws of physics, require extraordinary proof.

 

Which laws of physics?

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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47 minutes ago, mevdinc said:

Of course, that goes without saying, my assumption is that it is truly lossless, that's the claim and the reviewer seems to swear by the results.

 

The developer of the Leedh processing:

 

So the Leedh Processing Volume offers perfectly lossless performance down to -30dB for 16 bits digital signal with a 24 bits DAC and more than -30dB with a minimized level of loss by truncation.

 

So not completely lossless and as Miska above mentioned you need an headroom of 8 bits.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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3 hours ago, barrows said:

Still, my "Ultimate DAC concept" would have an optical Ethernet input (only), which was well isolated from the rest of the DAC internally: with its own separate power supply, inside its own separate shielded sub enclosure, and completely galvanically isolated from the the rest of the DAC.  Then you can have a single master clock for the DAC section, adjacent to the conversion stage, and this clock can remain clean and undisturbed by any other clocks.  (As any other clock frequencies used will be in the isolated Ethernet receiver section).

 

The biggest drawback of this concept for me is that you can use this kind of DAC as endpoint only and not connect directly to a high quality server via USB.

The experiences with very good servers show that a direct connection of a DAC to the server via USB does sound better than using the same DAC with an endpoint which in this case would be an Ethernet-DAC as combi of both.

 

But as always YMMV

 

Matt

 

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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1 hour ago, hopkins said:

While it is a good DAC, in comparison to another high end DAC that was being used that day I would mot say it was a night and day difference.

 

Which another high end DAC was being used that day?

Thanks

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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24 minutes ago, Summit said:

 

Can you show me evidence (measurements or listing evaluations) to support that Ethernet Renderer is better than SOTA server like Innuos Zenith se, Innuos Statement or Extreme?

 

Technical evidence I don’t know, but one principle I consider to be of great importance is that it’s better to attempt to NOT let the noise “come in” than to clean it up later down streams.

 

Exactly,

listening experiences with the Taiko Extreme showed that direct connection of a DAC via USB is superior to Extreme plus HQ endpoint connected to the same DAC.

IMO, there is no evidence at all that the endpoint concept is superior sounding, quite the contrary. 🙂

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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37 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Your experience or that of a couple guys on another site?

 

Endpoints are best in my experience. 

 

I have not yet an Extreme.

The listening impressions are from experienced guys here and on WBF.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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3 hours ago, Summit said:

To me it’s clear after reading reviews and post by people that have first-hand experience with those servers, that they hold them as “sounding” better than all Ethernet Renderer.

 

A good example is this one with the Taiko Extreme:

 

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/taiko-audio-sgm-extreme-the-crème-de-la-crème.27433/page-150#post-631854

 

Maybe interesting for @barrows as well. 🙂

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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5 minutes ago, barrows said:

What a waste of time that was.  Same old nonsense, with no basis in technical reality and no actual facts, just a listening preference.  I asked for a technical explanation of these claims, and support of measurements, i see none here.

 

It is easy, if it sounds better it is better.

The technical explanation why it is better sometimes comes much later.

 

Matt

 

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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7 minutes ago, craighartley said:

Er, no. It just means you prefer it. 

 

It sounds better to you and so it is better for you.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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