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Article: The Denafrips Design Philosophy Part 1


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5 hours ago, StreamFidelity said:

 

Do you mean Denafrips? Then take a look at Amir's measurement results: https://www.audio “science” review/forum/index.php?threads/denafrips-ares-ii-usb-r2r-dac-review.11166/

 

His conclusion: 

 

I have great respect for engineers who think outside the box and are humble. And that's what this article is about, as I understand it: Not everything we hear in reality can be measured. 😉


I enjoyed reading the “interview” but found it at times to be somewhat apologetic, as if preparing the reader for potential technical issues by using the “what matters is that it sounds good” excuse.

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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1 hour ago, Rcanoe said:

I have dodged the bullet many times by auditioning systems with good reviews and manufacturing pedigree


Interestingly good reviews and manufacturing pedigree are subjective, nothing to do with measurements.

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Excuse?


In the sense that sometimes a designer or engineer will opt for a particular topology or technology that may not produce excellent technical performance/measurements but or because it may sound good to him. The “to him” is crucial here because there is no universal good/pleasing sound and thus it makes his choice a personal subjective one. What sounds good to him may not sound good to me or you.

 

Think Vandersteen’s phase coherence banner technology which is achieved at the expense of as good as possible performance in other parameters, some recognised by the majority of experts as being at least as if not more important/audible.

 

I am still giving Denafrips the benefit of the doubt until I read the remaining parts. Thanks for pulling this through.

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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1 hour ago, Summit said:

 

Your expectation bias here is easy to spot 😉.

 

Do you actually no what the term means? Apparently not, as no expectation bias of mine has been expressed. But your bias has.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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9 hours ago, toddrhodes said:

Music is an experience that engages multiple senses, states of mind, and evokes responses from all over our bodies, in the ideal scenario. And it may sound trite but these could include foot tapping, air guitar, tears, goosebumps, meditative states - how could one ever try to predict those responses with a set of numbers?

Well stated, and this is far from trite!  This IS what it all comes down to and IS what one should strive for in the end.  Being this is so purely an individual "thing", everyone at some point has different acuity "levels" (think beginner listener vs mastering engineer) throughout their audio journey.  Those levels give us experience which then formulates our preferences which ultimately changes how each we get to that end result

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On 8/27/2021 at 1:09 AM, firedog said:

Bruno Putzey has talked about how he can do a suite of measurements on amps - including some unconventional ones that test the amp in various extreme or unusual scenarios - and can tell which ones will sound good. And those are amps of all types - Class D, Class A/B, even tube. He says if you actually know how to measure the true performance, the measurements are a good predictor.

 

He's also talked about how you can voice an amp to get the sound you want - for instance, he said he could make his Class D amps have a "Macintosh" sound if he wanted to.

 

 

 

This reminded me of Bob Carver's transfer function:  https://www.hifianswers.com/2020/04/amp-modelling-bob-carver-transfer-html/

 

Bruno is a math first guy, but also gets feedback from listeners to understand what they are hearing.  If I remember correctly, he has stated that there are listener responses that he considers legitimate that cannot be understood from measurements alone.  

Mola Mola Tambaqui > Mola Mola Kaluga > B&W 803 D3       Cables:  Kubala-Sosna

 

"As neither the enjoyment nor the capacity of producing musical notes are faculties of the least use to man...they must be ranked among the most mysterious with which he is endowed."  Charles Darwin - The Descent of Man

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On 8/27/2021 at 5:06 AM, sdolezalek said:

I hope that in Parts 2, 3 and 4 we will hear more about how Alvin Chee thinks about those tradeoffs in a way that allows us to decide whether that results in something that should sound better to all ears rather than just to Alvin Chee's ears.  ;-) 

Firstly Chris, thanks for publishing these 4 articles and based on what appeared I am looking forward to the next 3. It was interesting to read his thoughts on measurements and listening, given that he produces one of the best measuring R2R DACs. I am sure we can forgive the minor problems of language and I can confirm that my Chinese is non-existent. 😁

 

Just a picky point, Alvin Chee is the owner of Vinshine Audio, the worldwide distributor (and a great guy for service) and not Zhao,  who is the designer at Denafrips.

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Thanks @The Computer Audiophile. Interesting article and good discussions.

 

Just one thing I hope we see in the follow-up articles. Can Mr. Zhao show us some graphs and diagrams so we can appreciate more clearly what is being discussed, particularly the magnitude of the effect he's talking about as an engineer where possible?

 

Too often in the audiophile world, we're fed words which can only go so far. While I agree that small differences might leave measurements "vastly unchanged", why not focus on the measurements that actually could and do change (eg. "digital noise generated by each process", jitter, distortion, etc. that Denafrips might be trying to address)? My concern is that if it's all "subjective" and totally unobjectifiable, then I think that's a bit problematic from an engineering perspective; we don't need an engineer to write an article about this if that's all it is!

 

Also, more specifics would be useful. For example:

 

"We have seen some great audio designers, who do not use sophisticated test equipment. Simply, they make use of the basic oscilloscopes, signal generators, multimeters, as well as judging the sound with their ears, while designing the products. The products they developed, sounded much better than those developed with advanced equipment."

 

Can we have an example of what this means? Does this apply to DACs? Any hint as to which one(s) specifically are being suggested here? I think enquiring minds need to know (and perhaps to check out for ourselves!).

Archimago's Musings... A "more objective" audiophile blog.

Free The Music - No MQA!  :nomqa:

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In the article,

 

Quote

If we change a capacitor, a resistor, an interconnect, or a power cord, the sound we hear has changed. But do these changes affect the measurement of the equipment? Truth is, the measurements remain vastly unchanged, but the sound quality changes tremendously. Do the measurements really have a lot to do with the sound? If so, why is the sound greatly changed, but not the measurements?

 

This is the heart of the matter, and relates to something that those of an objectivist stance won't, or aren't able to understand - the vital significance when we listen to reproduced sound of our, human, hearing systems to be able to compensate for some anomalies, or deficiencies in the sound field, and not to others. Changes in frequency response? Easy peasy ... if it were not so, then listening to, say, a live piano would be a nightmare - every time you turned your head, moved around, or something came between you and the instrument, the sound of the playing would be yo-yoing in a very disturbing degree - which of course it doesn't; your mind, automatically, compensates for all these variations - and the sense of the instrument in action retains its smoothness, and integrity.

 

The same applies to audio replay ... if the integrity of the sound heard is adequate, then this automatic, internal compensation kicks in - and the integrity of what is heard is maintained - this, "internal illusion", is key to the experience of a heightened, subjectively satisfying SQ.

 

Changing of a single, tiny part of a system - like a capacitor, or a power cord - may be just enough to nudge the integrity of the system as a whole into the zone where the anomalies that disturb our hearing systems are low enough in level to be safely ignored, discarded - completely unconsciously. This is why it can work as a literal switch, and the "tremendously" adjective does indeed apply, to the sense of change in the presentation.

 

This was made obvious to me over 30 years ago, by the behaviour of my rig at the time - and this is still exactly how it works today, with the current state of audio design - one thing 'wrong' with an otherwise perfectly measuring component will mean that it will be a failure as a means of conveying what's been captured in a recording in a satisfying way - and there's no way around this, except by tracking down the issue by whatever means you prefer, and resolving it.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Maybe, just maybe, certain audio phenomena need to have a whole article devoted to what the perception is, what the measurement is AND IS NOT, for both qualitative and quantitative characteristics.

 

There are things I've have heard while comparing DACs (very recently for several weeks) that are very, very difficult to put into words, and have made me appreciate even more the subjective nature of this hobby. I tire of the measurement debate as much as the next lurker, but I would also like to see progress made in this hobby so that maybe, just maybe, we can all just get along. 

 

("Aim High" -USAF advertisement)

Sum>Frankenstein: Schiit Yggdrasil A2+Shunyata Venom/PS Audio P3 Regenerator+AVOptions Tibia, W4S Remedy/Uptone LPS-1.2, Linn LP12/Hercules II/Ittok/Denon DL-103R, Naim 72/HiCap/250 DR, Tellurium Black II, Monitor Audio Silver 500, Epos, Uptone Audio ISO & EtherREGENs, Witch Hat/Audience/Silnote/ZenWave/Mapleshade/Shunyata/Transparent Audio cables/cords, and nice room w/treatment.

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4 hours ago, feelingears said:

Maybe, just maybe, certain audio phenomena need to have a whole article devoted to what the perception is, what the measurement is AND IS NOT, for both qualitative and quantitative characteristics.

 

There are things I've have heard while comparing DACs (very recently for several weeks) that are very, very difficult to put into words, and have made me appreciate even more the subjective nature of this hobby. I tire of the measurement debate as much as the next lurker, but I would also like to see progress made in this hobby so that maybe, just maybe, we can all just get along. 

 

("Aim High" -USAF advertisement)

The difficulty is that basic research is very expensive and the audiophile community/market is just too small to generate significant funds.

 

Research into new drugs and how they affect the human body and mind costs $millions but the payoff can be $billions.

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Oh, I'm certainly not naive enough to think any industry or company is going to do this, for exactly your reason. But I don't think Edison or Tesla or most others had much backing going for them either. 

Sum>Frankenstein: Schiit Yggdrasil A2+Shunyata Venom/PS Audio P3 Regenerator+AVOptions Tibia, W4S Remedy/Uptone LPS-1.2, Linn LP12/Hercules II/Ittok/Denon DL-103R, Naim 72/HiCap/250 DR, Tellurium Black II, Monitor Audio Silver 500, Epos, Uptone Audio ISO & EtherREGENs, Witch Hat/Audience/Silnote/ZenWave/Mapleshade/Shunyata/Transparent Audio cables/cords, and nice room w/treatment.

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On 8/29/2021 at 12:08 PM, George47 said:

 

Just a picky point, Alvin Chee is the owner of Vinshine Audio, the worldwide distributor (and a great guy for service) and not Zhao,  who is the designer at Denafrips.

Thanks for making this clear.

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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On 8/27/2021 at 9:53 AM, firedog said:

Again, I made no comment about Denafrips equipment. I was reacting to the ideas expressed in the post, which were general and also didn't specifically reference his DACs.

Zhao’s post really has very little to do with engineering. As was pointed out, the Denafrips DACs are properly engineered and measure very well (especially given that they use an obsolete fundamental design). This is really just an example of how to market audio products, and you can beak it down to see how he’s pushing all the right buttons that will trigger a ‘buy’ response from his marketplace. 
 

We can see all the familiar tropes: ‘digital’ is really ‘analog’ (something Max Tegmark and the Mathematical Realists would fervently disagree with); ‘real music’ is different to sine waves; designers have to tinker with the product and listen to the changes; the noise and distortion you get from vinyl don’t really matter; and last but not least, making insignificant changes to passive elements (like power cords 😂) produces perceivable changes in sound quality.

 

At the end of the day, a product’s success depends on getting people to buy it, so you can view this as a seminar on how to get people to open their wallets. It’s not an approach I would encourage or approve of (I’m trying very hard to be polite here, otherwise I’d have phrased that rather differently …). But we can point to other manufacturers who have managed to build successful companies without resorting to this sort of pandering.

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...and then there's sticking with what you know, specs or no specs. I'm about to start over. I do love the "house sound" of McIntosh, but have decided to stick my ears in front of other brands, both amplification and speakers. I tend to lean into established brands, at least ones that I can afford. I trust that they have jumped through the years of technical hoops and R&D expenses to arrive at what they feel is the sound for them. 

 

I'm looking forward to the rest of the articles, mostly because the first one doesn't really say that much. Getting sound that isn't live, via analog or digital, to our ears is always a technical compromise. The amount of tweaking that can be done I assume is almost infinite, or else why continue to tinker? Remember in the good old days of tape? "Is it live or is it Memorex?" (I think I have that right) Live is always best; the rest is more or less satisfying to the prospective customer; and a challenge to the marketer. I just find it all fun and engaging! 

JJinPDX

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5 hours ago, JJinPDX said:

Remember in the good old days of tape? "Is it live or is it Memorex?" (I think I have that right) 

Sort of right. Usually when people say "tape", they mean Reel to Reel. The Memorex quote was in reference to Cassette tape.

 

I remember the Memorex ads, where Ella Fitzgerald shattered a crystal glass with her singing. Then the Cassette version did the same. (Actually my memory said it was Aretha, but Wikipedia says it was Ella). Real life listening was less convincing. 😏

 

Bay Bloor Radio did a McIntosh demo in the early 1970's. A live band, consisting mostly of store employees, played a simple jazz tune, then it was replayed through all McIntosh gear. I couldn't hear a difference, which demonstrates how reliable blind testing is. 

“To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity for reflection.” 
Bertrand Russell 

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