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https://surveynuts.com/surveys/take?id=129486&c=2506331033FTLT

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    4 (66.7%)
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    2 (33.3%)

Total Members Voted: 6

Topic: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs (Read 9435 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • ajinfla
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #50
I have to because ajinfla doesn't accept noise floor as a potential issue otherwise. Personally I prefer to use a DAC that is indeed inaudible with the listening levels I use in my listening conditions over a DAC that has audible hissing.

all analog systems have a noise floor and with sensitive enough equipment/silent enough surroundings/enough amplification it can be heard.
Oh, so now a DAC can be chosen that has inaudible noise levels? Hmmm, that's exactly what I said. You claim no such thing exists due to "thermodynamics".
Back to your self test, that I'm not clear how it's measuring the analog headphone output section, what does this line mean?
Peak level, dB FS   -84.0   -83.9
Sorry, I'm a bit dense, so please explain.

In an anechoic chamber where surrounding noise level is at -9.4 dBA a DAC would require super high SNR not to have audible hissing with normal listening levels.
Wow, you listen in an anechoic chamber? Would you mind sharing some pics and details? Would you admit this might be rather atypical for DAC listeners?

ajinfla didn't allow me to choose a DAC based on its noise audibility. I called him dense because he argues that proper DACs make no audible noise under any condition.
Nope, not what I said. The uninformed can always create pathological situations of their own doing, then blame the hardware in ignorance. It is entirely possible to have inaudible noise to human ears in an audio system. Unless one is "dense".

all analog systems have a noise floor and with sensitive enough equipment/silent enough surroundings/enough amplification it can be heard.
Humans have great hearing and can detect very quiet sounds on their own.
Forgive me here, I'm a bit dense. Case, please explain how these audibility thresholds you linked were established, given that all analog systems have an audible noise floor. TIA.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • Case
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  • Developer (Donating)
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #51
Oh, so now a DAC can be chosen that has inaudible noise levels? Hmmm, that's exactly what I said. You claim no such thing exists due to "thermodynamics".
I don't know anymore if you are trolling or what's going on.

I do not deny and have never denied that the noise can be inaudible with normal listening levels. That is the whole point of getting a new soundcard or DAC over one's existing solution. Many motherboard integrated sound devices for example do not offer such luxury.

Back to your self test, that I'm not clear how it's measuring the analog headphone output section, what does this line mean?
Peak level, dB FS -84.0  -83.9
Sorry, I'm a bit dense, so please explain.
Happy to. The noise test also outputs a sine wave and reports its peak. Here's a sample output:


In an anechoic chamber where surrounding noise level is at -9.4 dBA a DAC would require super high SNR not to have audible hissing with normal listening levels.
Wow, you listen in an anechoic chamber? Would you mind sharing some pics and details? Would you admit this might be rather atypical for DAC listeners?
No I do not and even though I'm not a native English speaker, you should still understand that I was mentioning an example scenario that puts higher requirements for a sound device. An 8-bit DAC from the 80's could be sufficient for modern music in a moving car but you wouldn't want to use one home.

ajinfla didn't allow me to choose a DAC based on its noise audibility. I called him dense because he argues that proper DACs make no audible noise under any condition.
Nope, not what I said.

What does this mean then:
This survey is referring to DACs which are functioning and are of a somewhat reasonable design, eg functioning as intended (working, no oscillations, reasonably flat frequency response, not ultra-high distortion).

Noise can be audible in otherwise good sound devices when nothing is playing.
No.

The uninformed can always create pathological situations of their own doing, then blame the hardware in ignorance. It is entirely possible to have inaudible noise to human ears in an audio system. Unless one is "dense".
Of course it's possible. I have enjoyed nice hissless sound cards and DACs for many years. I also well remember the days when it was impossible.

all analog systems have a noise floor and with sensitive enough equipment/silent enough surroundings/enough amplification it can be heard.
Humans have great hearing and can detect very quiet sounds on their own.
Forgive me here, I'm a bit dense. Case, please explain how these audibility thresholds you linked were established, given that all analog systems have an audible noise floor. TIA.
Denseness/trolling causes you to intentionally misunderstand things. All analog devices have audible noise floor in some circumstances. In other circumstances it's not audible.

  • ajinfla
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #52
I do not deny and have never denied that the noise can be inaudible with normal listening levels. That is the whole point of getting a new soundcard or DAC over one's existing solution.
Even though the very nwavguy article you linked explained it may not come from the DAC, but upstream or downstream (or user incompetence)? So you always presume audible noise = DAC.
Well now I see why you thought it relevant in this poll, as would others who hear any "noise" remotely associated with their "DAC".

Happy to. The noise test also outputs a sine wave and reports its peak. Here's a sample output:
Sorry, still unclear about that. What is the SNR at maximum gain as you prefer?

No I do not and even though I'm not a native English speaker, you should still understand that I was mentioning an example scenario that puts higher requirements for a sound device. An 8-bit DAC from the 80's could be sufficient for modern music in a moving car but you wouldn't want to use one home.
Yes, I know what Reductio Absurdum is and why it is needed in arguments.
So I'm guessing you don't listen to anything as low as 16bit music (silence?) given quantization noise as well?

What does this mean then:
Noise can be audible in otherwise good sound devices when nothing is playing.
No.
This (3)

I have enjoyed nice hissless sound cards and DACs for many years.
Great. As do many others.
End of story.

Now maybe you can ask poll author to revise choice to "makes noise" in pathological scenarios, high sensitivity headphones, maximum gain during silence, unawareness of upstream or downstream issues, etc, etc.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #53
It's up to the OP now to say whether such pedantry is what he's interested in.
That would seem rather hopeless since he also tosses around the concept of audibility in a willy nilly fashion...
Only respond if you perceive/believe there is a difference
People who think that there is an audible difference between DACs is the only demographic which I am interested in for this poll.
[...]
This is not a poll aimed at people interested in audio on the whole, just to people who believe there is a difference.
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Also, If I were trying to get an answer as to if there is a difference or not, asking random people on the internet is certainly not the way to go about it.
Yet, that's exactly what he's doing.
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As you all know there are far far better and objective ways of determining that.
We all know?!? I wouldn't be so sure of that.
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I am fully aware that looking at measurements there should be no difference between any reasonably designed (and they don't deliberately have high distortion) [...] Also, I am aware in ABX tests DACs do not fare well, as the measurements say they should.
At least someone here begs to differ.
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As part of what I am doing I will conduct an ABX test (a proper ABX, not just a blind test) with several people between DACs.
I'm not holding my breath.

Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • pelmazo
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #54
I do not deny and have never denied that the noise can be inaudible with normal listening levels. That is the whole point of getting a new soundcard or DAC over one's existing solution. Many motherboard integrated sound devices for example do not offer such luxury.

[...]

No I do not and even though I'm not a native English speaker, you should still understand that I was mentioning an example scenario that puts higher requirements for a sound device. An 8-bit DAC from the 80's could be sufficient for modern music in a moving car but you wouldn't want to use one home.

[...]
All analog devices have audible noise floor in some circumstances. In other circumstances it's not audible.

Digital devices also have noise as long as they're dithered properly, so they're equivalent to analog in this regard.

So what are the circumstances when it becomes audible? This is hardly a new question. The sensitivity of human hearing has been under investigation for generations, and we have some hard data available that allows us to talk numbers.

Example: If you have a DAC whose noise floor is at, say, -94dBFS, and your average playback level is around -14dBFS (this is material-dependent, of course), which you play with an amplifier gain that results in 86dB(SPL) at your ears, would you consider this a typical use case? If not, what would your definition of a typical use case be?

If you accept it, you will have a noise floor at 6dB(SPL), assuming the noise from other sources (for example the amplifier) is negligible. You're not suggesting that you hear this in a normal environment, even with closed headphones, are you?

Now, noise floor at -94dBFS is a very modest example of a DAC. It is the type of performance you can expect from chips costing less than a dollar, consuming a few milliwatts. It is the type of chip you find nearly everywhere these days. At somewhat greater expense and power consumption, chips delivering this kind of performance were commonplace more than 25 years ago.

If you do hear hiss from such DACs, I suggest it may be because of something else than the actual DAC. The noise may come from elsewhere, perhaps the amplifier, or perhaps it may be due to interference. Or you are working with an inappropriate gain structure that doesn't make good use of the DACs capabilities. None of this would be the DACs fault, and basing a rating on it would be unfair.

Granted, the complexity of actual soundcard hardware and the associated software may make it difficult to even determine what the gain structure is, let alone control it purposefully. But if you want to make relevant statements that can be replicated by others, you will have to be explicit about it. If you hear hiss in a normal environment, something is wrong, or at least not adjusted optimally.

Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #55
On the subject of normal listening levels.   :P

I can't tell the difference between these.

  • StephenPG
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #56
Arghhhhhhhhhhhh my f'ing ears!

  • Case
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  • Developer (Donating)
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #57
Digital devices also have noise as long as they're dithered properly, so they're equivalent to analog in this regard.
There is no point in dithering digital silence.

So what are the circumstances when it becomes audible? This is hardly a new question. The sensitivity of human hearing has been under investigation for generations, and we have some hard data available that allows us to talk numbers.

Example: If you have a DAC whose noise floor is at, say, -94dBFS, and your average playback level is around -14dBFS (this is material-dependent, of course), which you play with an amplifier gain that results in 86dB(SPL) at your ears, would you consider this a typical use case? If not, what would your definition of a typical use case be?
None of this matters. The question was about audible differences between DACs without specifying the circumstances. SNR is the one and only difference that separates them. Just amplify enough to hear the hiss and compare.

  • Case
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  • Developer (Donating)
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #58
Actually I made a mistake. The poll has bass/mid/treble option too and a DAC with too high output impedance combined with low impedance headphones has audible bass issues. That option should have been ticked too.

  • pelmazo
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #59
There is no point in dithering digital silence.
Turning dithering off when the digital signal is silent is a well-known cheating method for faking better SNR numbers.

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None of this matters. The question was about audible differences between DACs without specifying the circumstances. SNR is the one and only difference that separates them. Just amplify enough to hear the hiss and compare.
So the question boils down to whether DACs can differ in their SNR? Gee, what a terribly interesting question that is! It is on a par with the question whether DACs can differ in their price.

  • ajinfla
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #60
None of this matters. The question was about audible differences between DACs without specifying the circumstances. SNR is the one and only difference that separates them. Just amplify enough to hear the hiss and compare.
Wrong, because you (and all the likely poll takers) have zero clue whether its actually the DAC. You have provided zero evidence to support that.
Of course, in a poll as worthless as this one, your false assumption/correlation is par for the course.
  • Last Edit: 24 March, 2017, 08:12:40 AM by ajinfla
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • ajinfla
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #61
I sure hope Case doesn't use anything so lowly as noisy/limited 16 bit files in his quiet room too, which he didn't answer
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • Case
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  • Developer (Donating)
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #62
If you have two standalone volume calibrated DACs, for example the two Yamaha models you mentioned, next to each other connected to an amplifier that amplifies the signal by 100 dB and you listen to the hum and switch the source between the devices, how is it possible to not know the potential difference comes from the DACs and not some mystery source?

  • ajinfla
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #63
If you have two standalone volume calibrated DACs, for example the two Yamaha models you mentioned, next to each other connected to an amplifier that amplifies the signal by 100 dB and you listen to the hum and switch the source between the devices, how is it possible to not know the potential difference comes from the DACs and not some mystery source?
That has nothing to do with your computer setup.
The fact remains that audible noise from any functional DAC doing DAC functions would be an aberration. Bin it.
..and worse yet, don't have believers taking polls, determine whether their (mostly computer based) DAC is "noisy".
Hopefully you are familiar with the GIGO concept.
  • Last Edit: 24 March, 2017, 08:50:50 AM by ajinfla
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • Case
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  • Developer (Donating)
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #64
The poll has nothing to do with my computer setup. It's about possible audible differences between DACs.

  • ajinfla
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #65
I participated in his poll since it listed difference in noise floor as an option. Noise can be audible in otherwise good sound devices when nothing is playing.

The poll has nothing to do with my computer setup. It's about possible audible differences between DACs.
...noise which you continue to presume, without evidence, is from DAC and isolated to DAC only (contradicted by your own links!).
Like I said, GIGO. But probably just fine for the poll.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #66
Actually I made a mistake. The poll has bass/mid/treble option too and a DAC with too high output impedance combined with low impedance headphones has audible bass issues. That option should have been ticked too.
Dedicated DACs include DAC/headphone amplifier combos and sound cards (too, I presume). I never knew.  Like sound cards, AVRs switch inputs, so they should be allowed to fall under the same umbrella.

This has become so haphazard that I'm beginning to welcome random answers just to dither all this dissonance.
  • Last Edit: 24 March, 2017, 12:00:12 PM by greynol
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #67
The measurement was done in my machine. Here's a link: link.
Loopback test?  How do you know your measurements aren't actually characterizing the ADC performance of the device?
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #68
potential difference
Potential?  I hope you aren't talking about audibility, otherwise you're off in the weeds counting angels dancing on the head of the pin.

Headphones, in a "-9.4 dBA" anechoic chamber listening to levels that would exceed the threshold of pain for any commercially available content (ignoring the noise floor in the recording, LOL). Why should anyone take you seriously?
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • Case
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  • Developer (Donating)
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #69
You too seem to have realized there are plenty of scenarios where DAC differences can be audible. No other reason to attack me after the initial scepticism towards the poll.

  • ajinfla
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Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #70
You too seem to have realized there are plenty of scenarios where DAC differences can be audible.
You and this poll show no such thing.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #71
You too seem to have realized there are plenty of scenarios where DAC differences can be audible.
None of which have anything to do with proper functionality (another stipulation of the poll you've conveniently ignored).

No other reason to attack me after the initial scepticism towards the poll.
I'm attacking your arguments/logic.  I forget, is there a category of logical fallacies to which playing the victim belongs?

I'm also questioning your methods and measurements.  Is that not OK, either?
  • Last Edit: 24 March, 2017, 01:58:05 PM by greynol
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #72
It's about possible audible differences between DACs.
Possible?  You are off in the weeds counting angels dancing on the head of the pin.
  • Last Edit: 24 March, 2017, 01:52:04 PM by greynol
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • Case
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
  • Developer (Donating)
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #73
Attaching less than ideal ADC to the measurement chain only makes the results worse. And what do the measurements have to do with the matter anyway?

You and ajinfla are now acting like the audiophiles trying to counter credit any piece of hardware because it's not expensive / good enough.

Are you worried that I post ABX logs showing ability to hear difference between noise levels so you pre-emptively attack random device so it doesn't count as a proper DAC?

Using equipment loud is not against proper functionality. The test doesn't say you have to play music nor does it state playback level is limited to some arbitrary values. It simply asks if there are audible differences.

Do you really think several dBs of volume difference in significantly amplified background hiss is not audible?

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: (poll) What are the audible differences between dedicated DACs
Reply #74
Attaching less than ideal ADC to the measurement chain only makes the results worse. And what do the measurements have to do with the matter anyway?
So you are sure that the ADC used for the measurements meets or exceeds the performance of the DAC, or like with the DAC amplifier combo you have no idea which is the source of the (presumed) shortcoming?

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You and ajinfla are now acting like the audiophiles trying to counter credit any piece of hardware because it's not expensive / good enough
I would say that your acting like a clown is no less accurate of an observation.  But fine, ignore aj and me; Pelmazo also has you sussed.

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Are you worried that I post ABX logs showing ability to hear difference between noise levels so you pre-emptively attack random device so it doesn't count as a proper DAC?
For you It would be a start in abiding by the rules of this community rather than passing off graphs and anecdotes as demonstrative evidence for audible differences.

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Using equipment loud is not against proper functionality.
At the levels you are advocating, I beg to differ.

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The test doesn't say you have to play music nor does it state playback level is limited to some arbitrary values.
The test doesn't say you should light yourself on fire either.  But seriously, threshold of pain at peak levels is now arbitrary?

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Do you really think several dBs of volume difference in significantly amplified background hiss is not audible?
Not when I use a DAC for the intended purpose of listening to content; unless we're also including 20 year old sound cards, which you will no doubt stoop to in order to continue this entirely pointless charade of irrelevancy.
  • Last Edit: 24 March, 2017, 02:39:17 PM by greynol
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?