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Calvin & Hobbes

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  1. I concur with @feelingears. The sonic personality of the Pontus is very different than that of the Qutest. I don't believe that any level of spend on power supplies would change the personality of the Qutest's sound to any significant degree. The Qutest has a somewhat synthetic sound to me while the Pontus sounds unfailingly organic and natural both in its pace as well as its tone quality. My perception is that resolution from the Pontus is better than that from the Qutest. The Qutest seems to emphasize the main parts of the music while other details tend to fade into the backgroun
  2. On my main system, I'm listening 100% via speakers. For DACs that sound better to me, a lot of the difference is in how they convey spatial cues as well as the "air" around voices and instruments. That seems much more apparent through speakers than via headphones.
  3. I've been realizing how good the Pontus really is as I listen to more music. I have listened to the Qutest again twice, but the Qutest is no match for the Pontus in terms of the richness and complexity of its tone quality, its resolution, and how natural it sounds. I'm very happy with the sound of the Pontus.
  4. I agree that higher-res lossy files don't sound bad. As an example of that, I find Spotify Premium sounds better than both Amazon HD and Tidal (though not Qobuz). The main difference that I hear with lossless files and high-res files is around spatial cues such as the presence with which voices and instruments are conveyed, the "air" around the same, and placement in the soundstage.
  5. I believe RFI can induce jitter. This is an IEEE journal article on the subject. A simple model of EMI-induced timing jitter in digital circuits, its statistical distribution and its effect on circuit performance, IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON ELECTROMAGNETIC COMPATIBILITY, VOL. 45, NO. 3, AUGUST 2003: https://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/640/1/robinsonmp2.pdf
  6. Thanks. I'll give the Yauhody cable a try. The surprise in finding something that improves sound quality for less than $30 is always great fun. Did you get their round, flat, or braided Cat 8 Ethernet cable? https://www.yauhody.com/collections/cat8
  7. @ARQuintI've been listening to the unblinded tracks. I think I could distinguish specific instruments, but not Stradivarius vs. Guarneri generally. Some of the Strads sound edgier and some of the Guarneri sound sweeter. In any case, I will get the Word back to you today.
  8. I imagine the AQ Dragonfly Red is typically paired with a smartphone and cheaper headphones. I loaned my DACs to a friend for the week so have been listening to my Dragonfly on my main system via a Pro-ject Stream Box S2 Ultra streamer with an AQ Jitterbug noise filter attached as well. To my surprise, it sounds quite good. The shortcomings of the Dragonfly that I hear compared to my Denafrips Pontus II DAC are that it does not sound as full, the timbre of instruments and voices are not as warm, it's not as resolving, and it is not as clear and precise in its timing. But, what's there sounds q
  9. @Anonamemouse Thanks for the feedback. I got a Pro-ject streamer as my first streamer as I heard it might sound better than the Node which was the obvious choice. At some time, I'll probably take my tiny Pro-ject and perhaps even my DAC to try out some more expensive streamers to see if there is any difference that I can hear in sound quality.
  10. I'll play. I downloaded the Unblinded and Blinded FLAC files & will put them on a memory stick to play through my streamer. I'll probably PM you my filled-out Word doc later tonight. Thanks for taking the time to set this up! I wouldn't be discouraged by the lack of response. People nowadays (me included) are being forced or enticed to shift their attention so quickly that people seem to gravitate to "sound bite" types of content. I personally do like looking into topics of interest in depth, but have accepted that many people don't like to think as deeply. That's t
  11. Good to know. Thanks for sharing this. I know that getting to a specific price point sometimes requires compromises. Just out of curiosity, do you hear a sound quality improvement with your Aurender vs the Node. If so, what improvements have you heard?
  12. I've not been notified that I am receiving Spotify Lossless so I don't think my Spotify stream has changed at all. I'd be curious to test it for sure. Even if Spotify Lossless is good, I would probably still continue my Qobuz subscription to support an alternative streaming choice to Spotify. I appreciate the substantial steps that Qobuz has done to improve streaming sound quality. I say this with Tidal in mind. I didn't like how Tidal purported to improve streaming sound quality, but that actually was a front to try to get a scheme in place to be able to extract royalties.
  13. I haven't tried YouTube Music. Is YouTube Music available via a network streamer instead of just via a computer? I find Spotify's shortcomings are "errors of omission" for which there could be some level of detail, presence or air around instruments and voices missing, but what's there is enjoyable. And, I agree 100% that those qualities may actually be beneficial for systems that sound overly bright.
  14. There certainly is an element of warmth, but perhaps the bigger difference that I hear between the Pontus and the Qutest is the Pontus' ability to convey either ease or pace depending on what music is being played. The Qutest sounds perhaps more insistent all of the time given the way it portrays detail. I'm sure in about six months, there will be people selling their Pontus due to either "upgrading" to a more expensive Denafrips DAC (which I've seen already) or trading in to get the new "flavor of the month" DAC. You'll be able to buy a Pontus, try it out, and be able to resell i
  15. 100% agreement about power quality on the Qutest as well. I suspected that the Qutest could sound better with cleaner power and heard that right away by sticking a car battery jump start pack with a 5V output on the Qutest. The improvements that were immediately apparent to me were a lower noise floor and reduction of a slight bit of harshness. I am less sure that I am able to get the Qutest to put out the type of sound quality that I prefer. The Qutest is exceptionally detailed in its sound. But, the Qutest conveyed that detail in a way that seemed artificially Technicolor. Meani
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