monya

Have DACs really improved?

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For those wondering if digital is a fully answered question you might like to look at his from Tony Andrews of Funktion 1, I don't agree with everything he says it does open up other possibilities in the problems of digital playback:

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Super Wammer
26 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

It’s almost certainly not your system, contemporary oversampling designs are going to sound pretty similar , unless they have been heroically badly designed.

Some listeners may enjoy the added distortion of NOS and valve output designs.

Keith

Don't listen to your Uncle Keith, he will always trot out the 'all dacs sound the same unless they are badly designed or have been tampered with' mantra. Also, I see he has again managed to get in the bit about NOS and valves. Keith is the nearest thing to vinyl I have heard, ie a record that goes round and round.  ;-)

Listen to your Uncle Nick instead and give Blu2/Dave another go.  :-)

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DACs have improved. They are smaller, cheaper, consume less power and do things that had to be done in batches on powerful PCs overnight a few years back on the fly now. In terms of all of the objective comparisons there is no doubt they are better. Subjectively, a beautifully sculpted vintage DAC with enough copper to make the scrap man happy will always retain a certain appeal in most quarters. But we can do more than 44/16 these days. 

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14 minutes ago, Fourlegs said:

Don't listen to your Uncle Keith, he will always trot out the 'all dacs sound the same unless they are badly designed or have been tampered with' mantra. Also, I see he has again managed to get in the bit about NOS and valves. Keith is the nearest thing to vinyl I have heard, ie a record that goes round and round.  ;-)

Listen to your Uncle Nick instead and give Blu2/Dave another go.  :-)

I must qualify my opinion by saying that my listening is these days 90% via Stax 009 headphones via a Trilogy H1 headamp and that’s how I listened to the Chord and DCS. I do know about the ferrite issue on the cables but haven’t tried them. So far my favoured player is the ARC CD9 which floats my particular boat despite it being a 5 year old design. I’m not here to knock Chord or anything else. Each to their own and all that. 

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5 hours ago, monya said:

I wonder because having sold my Nagra CD player which is 10 years old, finding an up to date improvement is becoming a challenge.

Tried the Chord Blu/Dave combo which has wonderful reviews and seems bang up to date tech wise but whilst very detailed had no soul - I just couldn’t get into it. Same with DCS Rossini - boring. So have things really moved on much other than connectivity?

Which speakers: MAs, Focals?

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3 hours ago, SergeAuckland said:

Certainly the limitation is now on the analogue side. After the DAC chip itself, anything else just degrades the signal.

However, does it matter? Does it really matter when distortion is down to below 0.001% Does it matter when Signal to Noise is below -100dB. Distortions are now at least one tenth of what they were, noise some 10dB or more lower, but when they were so low to begin with,  has there been any audible improvement?

S.

The USB input seems to be one of the weak spots of contemporary DACs. Some manufacturers do better than others.

Digital filtering is still not a solved problem (with Redbook).

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Super Wammer
2 hours ago, SergeAuckland said:

Doesn't surprise me. What you like (or what one likes) and what something really does can be very different. We don't always like the one that's technically best. 

McDonalds and KFC have traded on that for years.

Edit: As have Audio Note!

S.

The technical requirements to supply McDonald's with meat for thier burgers are one of the highest standards around.  The stores are mainly franchised and that's where problems can occur and it's those impressions that joe public see and comment on.

I'm in the older dacs seem better or not surpassed camp having a similar Trichord dac as Eddie has.  The only dac I've heard recently that I thought would be an upgrade was a Long Dog Audio valve dac - not as expensive as Chord offerings but still above any budget I have.

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9 minutes ago, tuga said:

The USB input seems to be one of the weak spots of contemporary DACs. Some manufacturers do better than others.

Digital filtering is still not a solved problem (with Redbook).

Agree 100%, the first step to the very best Dac sound is to avoid USB at all costs. If this isn’t possible you can make big gains with good filtering and Re clocking.

As for the OP’s question - the SQ you can get from cheaper dacs has much improved. IME the higher end stuff has at best stood still. 

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10-15 years ago I used to view Wadia as the pinnacle of digital sources - are there comparable options now that are rather cheaper?

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3 minutes ago, Thetiminator said:

Agree 100%, the first step to the very best Dac sound is to avoid USB at all costs.

Really? Are we talking asynchronous USB? 

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11 minutes ago, MF 1000 said:

I'm in the older dacs seem better or not surpassed camp having a similar Trichord dac as Eddie has.  The only dac I've heard recently that I thought would be an upgrade was a Long Dog Audio valve dac - not as expensive as Chord offerings but still above any budget I have.

Hmmm, but its a valve on a DAC thing, valves on anything is just cheating IMHO :) what are we listening to the DAC or what those valves are doing to the sound. Stick with your Trichord Keith they'll be collectors items one day (if they aren't now). And the same goes for Geoff's (oldius) Technics, now there is a Concord (in design ethics) DAC if there ever was one.  

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Super Wammer
3 minutes ago, insider9 said:

Really? Are we talking asynchronous USB?

I doubt that, as on the oppo sonica, asynchronous USB it's that can handle the highest bit rates 32bit up to 768khz

Edited by greybeard

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8 minutes ago, insider9 said:

Really? Are we talking asynchronous USB? 

The problem is not jitter but noise.

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1 minute ago, tuga said:

The problem is not jitter but noise.

Would you prefer optical over all else then? 

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1 minute ago, insider9 said:

Would you prefer optical over all else then? 

I would like to see Ethernet (preferably optical) become the standard PC to DAC connection.

At present I am using a cheap-crap HAT DAC which uses I2S but I will probably buy a USB DAC soon.

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