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Calvin & Hobbes

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  1. I've had a similar experience as well with power cables on DACs. A Synergistic Research UEF Blue power cable sounded best on a Denafrips Ares II DAC because it made that DAC sound smoother. The same power cable sucked some of the life out of the music when used on a Denafrips Pontus II DAC. A Shunyata Venom power cable didn't sound as good on the Ares DAC, but worked noticeable better on the Pontus DAC. Synergy between components is a real thing. What works best is dependent on what other components are in the system. I seem to see that people that deny that there are differences in sound quality when using different cables also seem to deny differences between digital components generally. Perhaps that's a self-fulfilling prophecy as their systems lack the resolution to be able to communicate differences between cables as well as other components.
  2. 1. People at the company (I like to spend my money with good people) - Though not actually a purchase consideration, this is kind of a non-negotiable for me. If a company won't stand behind its product, that just foreshadows customer support issues down the road (because the company's product is probably also crappy or unreliable). 2. Sound Quality - If it doesn't sound good nothing else matters 3. Build Quality - Will I have reliability issues. If so, that can be a non-starter for me 4. Aesthetics & Form Factor - Equipment that fits my aesthetics preferences (minimal with a preference for black faceplates) & that fit into my media console's shelf width are important concerns for me. I don't want a listening room that looks like it has racks and equipment from a science lab. 5. Price - To a degree, I'm not so sensitive about price, but I am value conscious about audio products. I figure out what level of product meets my expectations and then figure out if that is a price that I'm willing to pay. I believe there is a point of diminishing returns on the cost-to-sound quality scale and try to find products close to that price point. 6. Company Health - That does matter to a degree and is more important for digital components. I figure that there are a greater number of people that can repair analog components.
  3. @OldBigEars In what ways did the optical feed change the SQ of your Qutest? I did not try the Qutest with an optical feed.
  4. I was unable to find the Man of La Mancha album via streaming, but Jeremy Irons sounds positively evil via the Pontus. I don't have the Qutest anymore so I can't provide a comparison via the Qutest. An analogy I can provide is that Jimi Hendrix sounds amazing via the Pontus with an appropriate amount of edge to the sound of his guitar. The Ares sounds both harsher but also less impactful in sound than the Pontus.
  5. It is the original Lush cable with no options for configurations.
  6. I like the Stordiau Lush as a decently priced USB cable that sounds both smooth and detailed. I compared it to: Belkin Gold Pangea Premier SE Shunyata Venom The Shunyata was good, but the Stordiau was both smooth in sound as well as being more resolving.
  7. 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 background. The Pontus provides all detail in a more balanced presentation.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. @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.
  14. 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 quite enjoyable. Has anyone else tried a Dragonfly Red with better ancillary equipment? I'm wondering if the cleaner signal coming from a dedicated streamer is boosting the sound quality of the Dragonfly Red by requiring less processing power?
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