Skip to main content

Topic: Audible Differences in DAC's? (Read 37082 times) previous topic - next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
  • Mach-X
  • [*][*][*][*]
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #25
My question here is, if the sansa clip+ provides linear output, why would anybody need the odac to begin with. If the odac is somewhere between 3 and 4 times the price. If the clip+ is linear is it not capable of providing linear dac conversion into a larger amp?

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #26
My question here is, if the sansa clip+ provides linear output, why would anybody need the odac to begin with. If the odac is somewhere between 3 and 4 times the price. If the clip+ is linear is it not capable of providing linear dac conversion into a larger amp?



Exactly.  The ODAC has great performance, but it is deep into diminishing returns, performance-wise.

  • skamp
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Developer
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #27
Sure, the ODAC is overkill, but that's not a bad thing. Its price may be a bad thing, but you're also comparing two very different devices with different uses. The Clip+ is a portable DAP, and if you're going to plug it in some kind of line-in, you're going to need a lot of gain. The ODAC is a desktop DAC with a real line-out, no gain needed. Also, the ODAC was designed by NwAvGuy to make a point (excellent performance, way beyond audibility, doesn't have to cost $1,000 or more), and it's not mass produced like the Clip+. While it is (somewhat) expensive ($150), at least it's not snake oil.

If you want the best bang for the buck, you can try FiiO products like the E07k ($89), as a desktop solution.
  • Last Edit: 02 November, 2013, 08:46:44 AM by skamp
See my profile for measurements, tools and recommendations.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #28
Sure, the ODAC is overkill, but that's not a bad thing. Its price may be a bad thing, but you're also comparing two very different devices with different uses. The Clip+ is a portable DAP, and if you're going to plug it in some kind of line-in, you're going to need a lot of gain.


There should be no problem plugging a Clip+ into either a consumer or a production line in. It hasn't been a problem when I've done so. Consumer audio gear generally needs about 100 mv to be driven to full output, and if memory serves, it can put out more like 1 volt. 

Pro audio gear has been contending with semi-pro gear that only puts out -10 so long that again the Clip+ headphone jack is even overkill.

Quote
The ODAC is a desktop DAC with a real line-out, no gain needed. Also, the ODAC was designed by NwAvGuy to make a point (stellar performance, way beyond audibility, doesn't have to cost $1,000 or more), and it's not mass produced like the Clip+. While it is (somewhat) expensive ($150), at least it's not snake oil.


I think the most salient comment above it the lack of volume production.

Quote
If you want the best bang for the buck, you can try FiiO products like the E07k ($89), as a desktop solution.


Agreed. However a FIIO E3 plugged into a UCA 202 gets you there for less than half of that.

  • DonP
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Members (Donating)
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #29
Of course the big limitation of clip  is that while it does demonstrate you can make a quality DAC for little money, you can't plug it into a coax or optical output.

Almost 10 years ago paid under $100 for a Denon unit with several inputs of both types, plus Dolby digital decoding, a couple of real knobs, and remote.  Getting a piece of gear fully kitted out is a real consideration that costs at least a few bucks.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #30
Of course the big limitation of clip  is that while it does demonstrate you can make a quality DAC for little money, you can't plug it into a coax or optical output.


Looks like cherry picking to me.  The Clip+ implements something far more complex and potentially costly than a coax or optical input - it impmlments a full function music playing including gigabytes of storage. Coax and optical inputs contain only a few very inexpensive parts.

  • mzil
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #31
Agreed. However a FIIO E3 plugged into a UCA 202 gets you there for less than half of that.

If I am understanding you correctly, you are suggesting bypassing the built-in headphone out already found on the UCA-202 and instead using its line out to the Fiio E3 to drive some headphones?

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #32
Agreed. However a FIIO E3 plugged into a UCA 202 gets you there for less than half of that.

If I am understanding you correctly, you are suggesting bypassing the built-in headphone out already found on the UCA-202 and instead using its line out to the Fiio E3 to drive some headphones?


BTW I made a typgraphic error above. I meant FIIO E5. I had to look at the one on this computer to refresh my memory! ;-)

Yes.  The headphone jack on the UCA 202 has a source impedance of about 50 ohms which can lead to audible frequency response changes with some headphones.

The Fiio e5 is said to provide a source impedance of less than 1 ohm:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/03/fiio-e...dphone-amp.html

  • saratoga
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #33
I really wish I could see more curves than just that.


Heres another 30 or 40 devices and a bunch of headphones:

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/index.php?dir=Comparisons
http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/index.php?dir=Single_Players

For all we know the amount of deviation plummets with a conventional, non-balanced armature design with a similarly low impedance, or if one accepts deviations of say +/- 1 dB as being relatively benign (considering the much larger, comparatively rollercoaster curves of different headphones in general, one model to the next), his "rule" becomes more like "1/2" or "1/4" , for all we know.


I'd say hes quite conservative.  The impact of output impedance is enormous, and it factors into more then just frequency response (see THD at 1/2 vs. 1/8 for instance). 


Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #34
I really wish I could see more curves than just that.


Heres another 30 or 40 devices and a bunch of headphones:

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/index.php?dir=Comparisons
http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/index.php?dir=Single_Players

...
I'd say hes quite conservative.  The impact of output impedance is enormous, and it factors into more then just frequency response (see THD at 1/2 vs. 1/8 for instance).



Thanks, but might you do me a favor and point out a particular example within those 100 files [all of devices with output impedances that are unknown to me and to the best of my knowledge not stated within the file itself], which demonstrates that breaking the 1/8th rule by just a little, (say closer to 1/4, 1/5th, 1/6th or 1/7th) causes a response variation one  would expect to be audible?


The purple line on this graph looks pretty audible to me. I'll leave evaluation of the rest of the parameters to you.

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...ip%2B%29/fr.png

Blue and purple here seem problematical:

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...y%20A845/fr.png

Green and purple here, and the problem is  relatred to the output coupling caps, not source Z

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...%20Vibez/fr.png

Green and white here, and again its a coupling capacitor problem, not source Z

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons...%20Loads/fr.png

Hope this helps.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #35
To resurrect an really old thread....

I'm currnetly having this discussion with someone about the FiiO X1 vs X5 Digital Audio Players.  The claim is that the X5 has a far superior DAC, and that will make your music sound better.  I am of the general belief even the DAC on your motherboard is more than good enough for all your music listening needs, and any difference between between these two is merely a matter of perception based on the price tag you paid.  If you get no pops, whistles, clicks or hiss, your DAC is doing a good job.

The X1 uses a Texas Instruments PCM5142
The X5 uses a Texas Instruments PCM1792

The discussion quickly devolved to comment such as "I used to be just like you, the I bought a pair of [insert name of expensive ($800+) headphones here] and then I could tell the difference."

Finances prevent me from buying both these DAPs and ABXing them, so I am asking for other people that have actually ABXed DACs: did you ever find a difference between DACs that allowed you to discern a difference?

I get extremely annoyed when the answer to asking for a ABX test of something is that my issue is I am not willing to spend thousands of dollars on equipment in order somehow hear a difference in my music that objectively does not exist.


  • saratoga
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #36
To resurrect an really old thread....

I'm currnetly having this discussion with someone about the FiiO X1 vs X5 Digital Audio Players.  The claim is that the X5 has a far superior DAC, and that will make your music sound better.


The claim on the Fiio X players is the high quality headphone amplifiers, not the DAC, which is fine but not really the reason you'd buy an X5.  My guess is this person is just not very informed and also probably not worth arguing with.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #37
To resurrect an really old thread....

I'm currnetly having this discussion with someone about the FiiO X1 vs X5 Digital Audio Players.  The claim is that the X5 has a far superior DAC, and that will make your music sound better.


The claim on the Fiio X players is the high quality headphone amplifiers, not the DAC, which is fine but not really the reason you'd buy an X5.  My guess is this person is just not very informed and also probably not worth arguing with.


Well, headphone amplifiers make things louder, so you can drive higher impedence headphones.  I don't really see how a better headphone amplifier can give you "better sound."

The two players do have different DACs in them.  There's gotta be something different between the part numbers.  The real question is, is the difference perceptible to the human ear?

  • saratoga
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #38
To resurrect an really old thread....

I'm currnetly having this discussion with someone about the FiiO X1 vs X5 Digital Audio Players.  The claim is that the X5 has a far superior DAC, and that will make your music sound better.


The claim on the Fiio X players is the high quality headphone amplifiers, not the DAC, which is fine but not really the reason you'd buy an X5.  My guess is this person is just not very informed and also probably not worth arguing with.


Well, headphone amplifiers make things louder, so you can drive higher impedence headphones.  I don't really see how a better headphone amplifier can give you "better sound."


In practice, almost all of the difference between portable players comes down to the quality of the headphone amplifier.  A poor one has a lot more distortion than a good one. 

The two players do have different DACs in them.  There's gotta be something different between the part numbers.  The real question is, is the difference perceptible to the human ear?


Its been a very long time since the differences between remotely quality DACs were audible.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #39
To resurrect an really old thread....

I'm currnetly having this discussion with someone about the FiiO X1 vs X5 Digital Audio Players.  The claim is that the X5 has a far superior DAC, and that will make your music sound better.


The claim on the Fiio X players is the high quality headphone amplifiers, not the DAC, which is fine but not really the reason you'd buy an X5.  My guess is this person is just not very informed and also probably not worth arguing with.


Well, headphone amplifiers make things louder, so you can drive higher impedence headphones.  I don't really see how a better headphone amplifier can give you "better sound."


In practice, almost all of the difference between portable players comes down to the quality of the headphone amplifier.  A poor one has a lot more distortion than a good one. 

The two players do have different DACs in them.  There's gotta be something different between the part numbers.  The real question is, is the difference perceptible to the human ear?


Its been a very long time since the differences between remotely quality DACs were audible.



I HATE these damn audiophile snake oil guys.  Latest post said "I was you two years ago.  Once I got a good quality DAC and some good cans, that made all the difference."

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #40
Well, headphone amplifiers make things louder, so you can drive higher impedence headphones.  I don't really see how a better headphone amplifier can give you "better sound."


A well-designed headphone amp can also provide a lower source impedance, which can improve sound quality with low impedance headphones.

Quote
The two players do have different DACs in them.  There's gotta be something different between the part numbers.  The real question is, is the difference perceptible to the human ear?


People need to learn that just because there are trivial differences between two different audio components, there is no guarantee that they actually sound different.

There are probably 100 or more different audio DAC chips for sale. A few of them, especially some recent ones actually have poor enough performance or can be configured so that they have poor enough performance that they may sound different.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #41
I HATE these damn audiophile snake oil guys.  Latest post said "I was you two years ago.  Once I got a good quality DAC and some good cans, that made all the difference."


What he didn't get is any experience with reliable listening tests.

Rely on sighted evaluations and you too can become him.

  • ajinfla
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #42
I'm currnetly having this discussion with someone about the FiiO X1 vs X5 Digital Audio Players.  The claim is that the X5 has a far superior DAC, and that will make your music sound better.

Does your someone have to stare at/fondle the X5 for a month or two for this betterness to manifest?
Or is it (say, "organicness") glaringly obvious from the first note?

cheers,

AJ

p.s. you familiar with the saying, "You can't fix stupid"?
  • Last Edit: 24 September, 2015, 08:50:22 AM by ajinfla
Loudspeaker manufacturer

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #43
A well-designed headphone amp can also provide a lower source impedance, which can improve sound quality with low impedance headphones.


Is there a reasonably priced headphone amp that falls in this category?

  • Hotsoup
  • [*][*][*]
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #44
I HATE these damn audiophile snake oil guys.  Latest post said "I was you two years ago.  Once I got a good quality DAC and some good cans, that made all the difference."
Audiophile prerequisites are never ending. It's like a pledge drive that just keeps going. Too bad there are no gifts that come with your contributions, like a T-shirt that says "Proud DAC owner, and hearing all the difference!"
  • Last Edit: 24 September, 2015, 10:59:02 AM by Hotsoup

  • saratoga
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #45
A well-designed headphone amp can also provide a lower source impedance, which can improve sound quality with low impedance headphones.


Is there a reasonably priced headphone amp that falls in this category?


I think I paid about $25 for the FiiO E6.  Its output is very similar to the Fiio X1 IIRC.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #46
A well-designed headphone amp can also provide a lower source impedance, which can improve sound quality with low impedance headphones.


Is there a reasonably priced headphone amp that falls in this category?


There are many. Last one I bought was a FIIO A3.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #47
A well-designed headphone amp can also provide a lower source impedance, which can improve sound quality with low impedance headphones.


Is there a reasonably priced headphone amp that falls in this category?


I think I paid about $25 for the FiiO E6.  Its output is very similar to the Fiio X1 IIRC.


Hmm...  $25 might be worth trying.  I shall have to go take a look.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #48
A well-designed headphone amp can also provide a lower source impedance, which can improve sound quality with low impedance headphones.


Is there a reasonably priced headphone amp that falls in this category?


There are many. Last one I bought was a FIIO A3.


Another reasonably priced option.  Decisions.... Decisions...

Thank you everyone for your help.

Audible Differences in DAC's?
Reply #49
I HATE these damn audiophile snake oil guys.  Latest post said "I was you two years ago.  Once I got a good quality DAC and some good cans, that made all the difference."


What he didn't get is any experience with reliable listening tests.

Rely on sighted evaluations and you too can become him.


Even if I wanted to become him, which I don't, I couldn't afford it.

The audiophile always adds some new piece of equipment that needs to be bought in order to justify things.

Audiophile: You need a headphone amp to get better sound.
Me: You buy a headphone amp and you don't hear better sound.
Audiophile: You need to buy better headphones now that you have an amp.
Me: You get better headphones and don't hear a difference.
Audiophile: Well, if course, now that you have good headphones, that $50 amp won't do.
Me: You buy a $100 amp and don't hear a difference.
Audiophile: Well, DUH!  You need to get a tube headphone amp.
Me: I'm not spending that kind of money.
Audiophile: Well, then you're missing out and you'll never know how awesome your music can be.

And if you won't hit their price point, then the fault is yours and not theirs.