Various DAC Audition Impressions

Joe Cohen

Industry Expert
Jun 10, 2012
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The more highly resolving the system, the bigger differences smaller improvements can yield. DACs, along with every other piece in the system rely on the overall context of room, cables, isolation, etc. The insertion of a new component can illuminate what the context provides as well as showing its own character. Does the component in question provide new and deeper insight into the soundstage? Does it offer finer resolution of timbres and decay? Does it reveal something that was previously hidden? In my experience when these things are happening, the experience is usually deeply satisfying and an indication that the surrounding equipment provides a beneficial context.
 

Calvinj

Member
Aug 1, 2022
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Your system has to be highly resolving. When you have better cables components amps and speakers that have low noise floors. Dac can make all the difference. The Dac itself must conduct low noise floor, tone, texture and dynamics in a way that’s pleasing to your ears. Also types of music can make differences as well. My infigo method 4 Dac plays great with my quick hitting jazz. It has speed, dynamics and layering that most of my music requires.
 
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PYP

Member
Jan 13, 2022
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Southwest, USA
Good article and very apropos of what we see in audiophile world.

I think most audiophiles have taught themselves to be sharpeners— to listen for and be sensitive to differences however small.

But I think their is a gulf between the more emotional sharpeners and the more levelheaded sharpeners. The emotional sharpeners are continuously slack-jawed and gob-smacked by seemingly every change in their system. I find myself reacting with profound skepticism whenever I hear this kind of reaction to an audio component change.

Audiophile confession: while I hear differences between components, I never feel like the perceptual seas have just parted. I’m grateful for whatever improvements I get in my system but I usually experience it as a more nuanced change. I think most changes I’ve made have been for the good.

Now, differences in music, recording quality and music performances— that will get me a lot more riled-up!
If one's personality leans toward finding differences, as we know the ear/brain is very good at making those distinctions. As someone who learned professionally to find likenesses (was that survival or inclination of both?), I tend not to notice small changes.

After many years of analytical listening, which eventually limited my enjoyment of music, I now judge changes in gear or tweaks simply by whether I find myself more engaged with the music after the change. While the initial judgement is usually very quick (Malcolm Gladwell's Blink seems to have it right), living with the change for many weeks is an easy way for me to decide whether to adopt the change.

Completely agree that the quality of the recording rules all else. You can only hope to find yourself transported to the recording venue with a good engineer at the helm.
 

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