What is the benefit of very expensive DACs?

Steve Vu

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Oct 26, 2020
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Thanks! Appreciate your input. For now I will focus on strengthening my digital signal path, as that is somewhat easier done then the analogue one. I will audit the dCS Network bridge tomorrow and see if I can distinguish any differences in the audible realm between it and the Metronome.
Can you distinguish any differences in the audible realm between dCS Network Bridge and the Metronome?
 

The Knife

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Nov 13, 2020
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Can you distinguish any differences in the audible realm between dCS Network Bridge and the Metronome?
Hi Steve,

Yes. There are clear sonic differences between the two machines.

But first let me tell you they are both built to the highest of standards. Both are built like tanks, military grade streamers, ready to go to war, if so be it. The dCS is assembled by hand in Cambridge and the Metronome is put together in Toulouse (Frances nr 1 high tech city). Also looking inside you easily see over dimensioned power supplies, and a level of details worthy a swizz watch.

I introduced the Metronome first in my system, and with once, the music came alive. It was not a hard match for the Metronome to outperform my current set up of a top notch i9 PC (granted it still has an over dimensioned power supply in form of ROG-Thor 1200W), connected to a Audioquest jitterbug and a Shunyata Alpha USB cable. With the Metronome it was the same feeling as listening to a song from a very reliable and appreciated CD-player. Pitch black background. Improved rhythmic, dynamic and overall musicality. Very happy with the performance.

Then it was time to introduce the dCS NBR. Oh my. Hat of for dCS engineers. The dCS has an ability to take you one step further into the music, from following perspective: It is like it takes what ever is going on in those sinus waves, and just performs a medical dissect on them. Suddenly I forebode or scent Mark Kozalek´s (Red House Painters) finger nails, or even the length of his finger nails, playing that guitar. I even realize there is actually one vague supporting guitar in the back drop that I never heard before in one track.

Yosi Horikawa's "Bubbles" (Qobuz 16/44 streaming) is an excellent example of what the dCS can do when it does it the best. No other machine has ever presented this track with such detail, separation, depth, stage and 3D. Shocking! It also plays bass very good. I get a lot of bass, so to the degree that I might tune down the bass one or two notches on the Technics R1000. Thank you Technics for this optionality!

But. This ability to dissect and display musical layers within layers might come on the cost of overall musicality. It isn't directly warm and cosy tube like kind of sound. A friend of mine who has a serious rig in the +100k USD range, said, and I quote: "it is not a musical instrument, it is an instrument for analysis". I introduced the Ethernet cable Luna Mauve from my switch to the dCS, and that rounded of the sound profile just a tad, taking it one step closer to my sonic preference: detailed oriented musicality. Sidenote. The Luna Mauve Ethernet is the heaviest and most well built network cable I have seen. It weights like a 12 gauge well built speaker cable, no joke.

So in comparison with the Metronome again, I think they both perform very well in their own way. Again. It depends on what sonic signature you currently are looking for in your own system. However, I must admit, it is very tempting to just continue listening (analyzing :) ); to music streamed via the dCS. I also prefer the The dCS mosaic (dCS own software that they use for the entire dCS range) before the M-Connect, Metronome´s bought generic interface.

In my system and with my current sonic preferences: The dCS came out as the winner and is the machine that will stay.

Next up I will audit two coaxial cables from Luna: The Rouge vs the Noir. I have a feeling I might want to ditch my 100% silver coaxial from Wireworld, but lets see.
 

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germinal

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Nov 5, 2021
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If you own a computer that has a sound card, that's all you really need to enjoy digital music. :rolleyes:

In all honesty.. I don’t know why you need an expensive DAC…

I have been able to demo many DAC’s these last few months.. ranging from Auralic, Lampizator, Mola Mola, Meitner.. to my iPhone and imac..

ok the iPhone sucked.. no way around it.. but my imac hooked up with a simple cinch to RCA… damn… that’s pretty close to those expensive DAC’s..

I’m not saying it sound as good when you directly A/B.. but worth 10k price difference ?? Maybe they are right on audiosciencereview :(
 

skids929

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Dec 31, 2020
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In all honesty.. I don’t know why you need an expensive DAC…

I have been able to demo many DAC’s these last few months.. ranging from Auralic, Lampizator, Mola Mola, Meitner.. to my iPhone and imac..

ok the iPhone sucked.. no way around it.. but my imac hooked up with a simple cinch to RCA… damn… that’s pretty close to those expensive DAC’s..

I’m not saying it sound as good when you directly A/B.. but worth 10k price difference ?? Maybe they are right on audiosciencereview :(

It really depends on your goals...Having been in this hobby longer than I care to share I do not agree at all about your theory on an Imac sounding anywhere near as good as those dacs you mentioned. And I think the fact thousands of listeners buy and support those companies you mentioned is proof enough they sound a lot better.

The conversation of what something is "worth" is entirely subjective based on your goals/budget/level of interest in the hobby. If an imac works for you and you're happy, well-then have at it. All that matters is that at the end of the day, not what something costs or what a collective group of idiots on ASR think. I listen with my ears, not a bunch of equipment that can't measure what my ears hear. I know for a FACT every incremental change I've made in my system makes it sound better. I don't need a meter or validation from some engineer Geek who makes profit off telling everyone Audiophiles are idiots to tell me what my ear/mind tells me.
 

roberttcan

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Mar 1, 2022
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And I think the fact thousands of listeners buy and support those companies you mentioned is proof enough they sound a lot better.

Argumentum Ad Populum ... which I probably spelled wrong. A lot of people think the earth is flat (millions) and far more believe in Homeopathy. A large group of ill informed people does not a good argument make.
 

roberttcan

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Mar 1, 2022
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In all honesty.. I don’t know why you need an expensive DAC…

I have been able to demo many DAC’s these last few months.. ranging from Auralic, Lampizator, Mola Mola, Meitner.. to my iPhone and imac..

ok the iPhone sucked.. no way around it.. but my imac hooked up with a simple cinch to RCA… damn… that’s pretty close to those expensive DAC’s..

I’m not saying it sound as good when you directly A/B.. but worth 10k price difference ?? Maybe they are right on audiosciencereview :(

You should gave gotten the $10 Apple Dongle for your Iphone, it would have changed your mind.

No maybes. They are right. It is just and uncomfortable truth. Many expensive DACs are flavored though. They are intentionally not accurate. Not all of them, but some of them. Many super expensive ones are technically very accurate, but you don't see them jumping through hoops proving they are better than a $200 or $1000 highly technically accurate DAC via listening tests do they?

I am just amazed people get so hung up on DACs when the rest of their system (speakers / room) are usually abysmal. No point painting the pig.
 

Mike Lavigne

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You should gave gotten the $10 Apple Dongle for your Iphone, it would have changed your mind.

No maybes. They are right. It is just and uncomfortable truth. Many expensive DACs are flavored though. They are intentionally not accurate. Not all of them, but some of them. Many super expensive ones are technically very accurate, but you don't see them jumping through hoops proving they are better than a $200 or $1000 highly technically accurate DAC via listening tests do they?

I am just amazed people get so hung up on DACs when the rest of their system (speakers / room) are usually abysmal. No point painting the pig.
you should really go back to Audiosciencereview. they do their thing, and we do ours. here your post is viewed as trolling. just my own opinion of course. i'm not a moderator. but if we take your points seriously, and respond or challenge, it will end up as unresolved conflict.

here listening matters, listening opinions matter, there it's beside the point, dismissed and trivialized.

nothing personal intended.
 
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QuadDiffusor

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View attachment 74413
Though neither AC cables nor analog interconnects - Audience SX (spare) vs Iconoclast UPOCC 4x4 (my current reference) - were exactly the same, the benefits of expensive DACs price multiple (>100x sans L90 preamp) is quite evident in my comparison setup. Yes, it’s a case of diminishing returns, but I’m quite OK with the top dog ! The Topping D90 MQA is great value at US$799, and so is the Topping L90 headphone amp / linestage preamplifier at US$499, but my Topping combo (used for my PC desktop headphone system) pales in comparison to my fully-loaded Select II DAC. But I “love” them both, each in their own way, as they’re both my “babies”!
Dear Objectivists,
We welcome postings of listening tests which you've conducted (as I have) between different DACs. I'm sorry, but measurements (alone) absolutely do not capture the differences in ♬usical performances between DACs. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered to spend ~90x (the price of the Topping DAC/pre combo) for my MSB Select II-based digital front end system! [ Click the maroon "up arrow" hotlink above for a side-by-side photograph of them! ]
 
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morricab

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You should gave gotten the $10 Apple Dongle for your Iphone, it would have changed your mind.

No maybes. They are right. It is just and uncomfortable truth. Many expensive DACs are flavored though. They are intentionally not accurate. Not all of them, but some of them. Many super expensive ones are technically very accurate, but you don't see them jumping through hoops proving they are better than a $200 or $1000 highly technically accurate DAC via listening tests do they?

I am just amazed people get so hung up on DACs when the rest of their system (speakers / room) are usually abysmal. No point painting the pig.
Can you please provide specific examples of 'Many expensive DACs are flavored"? This is a very sweeping statement and I suspect this is one of those statements that people like to just throw out there without any reference whatsoever.

Please define what you mean by accurate. Accurate to a meter or accurate to a listener's ears? You do realize that the two things are not equivalent...our brains do not work like measurement electronics.

Please tell me which technical measurements directly correlate with better or worse subjective sound quality.

Please direct me to listening tests, blind or otherwise, that you, or your associates, have conducted with 200-1000 buck DACs vs. 10K+ DACs.
 
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morricab

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Argumentum Ad Populum ... which I probably spelled wrong. A lot of people think the earth is flat (millions) and far more believe in Homeopathy. A large group of ill informed people does not a good argument make.
Well, actually with regard to a subjective experience like sound quality then what a large group of people think sounds better is likely to actually sound better. The examples you site are not comparable as there are objective ways to evaluate their veracity relatively easily.

The whole point of psychoacoustics is to find out what people prefer and then find out how to bend the gear or algorithms to fit that subjective desire. The engineering approach is to make it as "perfect" as their tools allow but this ignores the human aspect, which means that design approach is beside the point of the whole purpose for hifi! Making music to please listeners is the point, not technical perfection.
 

skids929

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Argumentum Ad Populum ... which I probably spelled wrong. A lot of people think the earth is flat (millions) and far more believe in Homeopathy. A large group of ill informed people does not a good argument make.


Rationalize much?
 

roberttcan

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Mar 1, 2022
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you should really go back to Audiosciencereview. they do their thing, and we do ours. here your post is viewed as trolling. just my own opinion of course. i'm not a moderator. but if we take your points seriously, and respond or challenge, it will end up as unresolved conflict.

here listening matters, listening opinions matter, there it's beside the point, dismissed and trivialized.

nothing personal intended.

Reality does not change due to being on a different forum.

I listen too. I spent most of my life listening for my paycheck. I also used test equipment. Trolling is using the typical mantra that people who understand measurements don't listen. Not only do many of us listen, but we listen far more critically, especially being critical with ourselves, i.e. not trusting ourselves.

I long ago lost track of how many DACs I have listened to. It is popular to call digital harsh, make us very wrong things about how it works, etc. The reality is digital has rarely been harsh, and certainly not in a very long time. Recordings may be harsh. The unfortunately reality is that a combination of poor system setup from room to speakers, right to cartridge/turntable matching to cartridge/preamp matching coupled with acclimatization leads to a preference and a "feeling" digital is harsh, when it is not, but if you don't address inherent issues in the rest of your system, which is difficult to do by ear, then you may feel digital is harsh. You also need to be discerning, just like vinyl, in recordings.

I am not a fan of Amir, but that does not negate the work he does, nor my interpretation of the end result of that work.

What exactly is "our thing" here? Is it not to have the best sound achievable? Convincing yourself of things that are simply not true, and not understanding the difference between accuracy and flavored is not going to get you the best sound achievable. Sorry if I don't think throwing darts at a board is the best way to achieve good sound.
 

roberttcan

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Rationalize much?

Your post was rationalizing. I could showing a whole forums of audiophiles convinced of the "accuracy" of their systems, when very few of them know how accurate their systems are. A could show you a whole forum of audiophiles who falsely equate personal preference with accuracy.
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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Reality does not change due to being on a different forum.

I listen too. I spent most of my life listening for my paycheck. I also used test equipment. Trolling is using the typical mantra that people who understand measurements don't listen. Not only do many of us listen, but we listen far more critically, especially being critical with ourselves, i.e. not trusting ourselves.

I long ago lost track of how many DACs I have listened to. It is popular to call digital harsh, make us very wrong things about how it works, etc. The reality is digital has rarely been harsh, and certainly not in a very long time. Recordings may be harsh. The unfortunately reality is that a combination of poor system setup from room to speakers, right to cartridge/turntable matching to cartridge/preamp matching coupled with acclimatization leads to a preference and a "feeling" digital is harsh, when it is not, but if you don't address inherent issues in the rest of your system, which is difficult to do by ear, then you may feel digital is harsh. You also need to be discerning, just like vinyl, in recordings.

I am not a fan of Amir, but that does not negate the work he does, nor my interpretation of the end result of that work.

What exactly is "our thing" here? Is it not to have the best sound achievable? Convincing yourself of things that are simply not true, and not understanding the difference between accuracy and flavored is not going to get you the best sound achievable. Sorry if I don't think throwing darts at a board is the best way to achieve good sound.
when you describe your listening comparison with dacs in different price ranges in detail in your system, with details about your system, i will take you seriously.

until then you are a troll, pure and simple. and anyone here who takes you seriously is being foolish. you are a waste of time.

again, nothing personal. not sure what you hope to accomplish here.
 

J007B

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Jul 25, 2020
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Everyone knows trolls live under bridges, therefore they spend there life’s in the dark.
 

skids929

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Dec 31, 2020
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Reality does not change due to being on a different forum.

I listen too. I spent most of my life listening for my paycheck. I also used test equipment. Trolling is using the typical mantra that people who understand measurements don't listen. Not only do many of us listen, but we listen far more critically, especially being critical with ourselves, i.e. not trusting ourselves.

I long ago lost track of how many DACs I have listened to. It is popular to call digital harsh, make us very wrong things about how it works, etc. The reality is digital has rarely been harsh, and certainly not in a very long time. Recordings may be harsh. The unfortunately reality is that a combination of poor system setup from room to speakers, right to cartridge/turntable matching to cartridge/preamp matching coupled with acclimatization leads to a preference and a "feeling" digital is harsh, when it is not, but if you don't address inherent issues in the rest of your system, which is difficult to do by ear, then you may feel digital is harsh. You also need to be discerning, just like vinyl, in recordings.

I am not a fan of Amir, but that does not negate the work he does, nor my interpretation of the end result of that work.

What exactly is "our thing" here? Is it not to have the best sound achievable? Convincing yourself of things that are simply not true, and not understanding the difference between accuracy and flavored is not going to get you the best sound achievable. Sorry if I don't think throwing darts at a board is the best way to achieve good sound.


Whats the end game here? Let's answer that question before creating a bunch of swirl..From where I am standing you like measurements, folks here generally don't pay it much attention. So what is it you are trying to achieve here exactly? Is it to try and convince us you're right? If so, then you're 100% correct, AND you're 100% new here and thought it was a good idea to join and start a disputes before even establishing a rapport with a crowd who you know generally doesn't subscribe to measurements to justify what we spend in hifi. That might be where the Troll accusation comes from.

My personal attitude towards measurements is this, until you have equipment that can measure, how my ears hear, and my body absorbs sound and then how my brain interprets and processes those sounds, measurements don't mean a whole lot. And until you can measure the brains perception (a topic with alot of research around it) there again measurements don't amount to a whole lot, especially for the folks here on this site.

And for those reasons, I just think you're wasting your time making a complete fool of yourself because you spent all this time creating a log in to a website who you know generally doesn't agree with anything you have, or will say. And that alone makes everything you have and will say have little credibility. But by all means have-at-it, the floor is yours, because perception is reality and you seem to have plenty of time to waste.
 
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Steve Vu

Active Member
Oct 26, 2020
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Reality does not change due to being on a different forum.

I listen too. I spent most of my life listening for my paycheck. I also used test equipment. Trolling is using the typical mantra that people who understand measurements don't listen. Not only do many of us listen, but we listen far more critically, especially being critical with ourselves, i.e. not trusting ourselves.

I long ago lost track of how many DACs I have listened to. It is popular to call digital harsh, make us very wrong things about how it works, etc. The reality is digital has rarely been harsh, and certainly not in a very long time. Recordings may be harsh. The unfortunately reality is that a combination of poor system setup from room to speakers, right to cartridge/turntable matching to cartridge/preamp matching coupled with acclimatization leads to a preference and a "feeling" digital is harsh, when it is not, but if you don't address inherent issues in the rest of your system, which is difficult to do by ear, then you may feel digital is harsh. You also need to be discerning, just like vinyl, in recordings.

I am not a fan of Amir, but that does not negate the work he does, nor my interpretation of the end result of that work.

What exactly is "our thing" here? Is it not to have the best sound achievable? Convincing yourself of things that are simply not true, and not understanding the difference between accuracy and flavored is not going to get you the best sound achievable. Sorry if I don't think throwing darts at a board is the best way to achieve good sound.
Sound can be described by characteristics: Frequency, Amplitude, Timbre, Envelope, Velocity, Wavelength and Phase. When you can measure full of these characteristics and define the standard sound of equipments or cables based on these characteristics, let's give the statement. If you cannot, please keep silent and try to listen more.

Remember you listen to music, not noise. You and your idol Amir should have a symposium to measure them.
 

AMR / iFi audio

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Aug 21, 2019
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In all honesty.. I don’t know why you need an expensive DAC…

I have been able to demo many DAC’s these last few months.. ranging from Auralic, Lampizator, Mola Mola, Meitner.. to my iPhone and imac..

ok the iPhone sucked.. no way around it.. but my imac hooked up with a simple cinch to RCA… damn… that’s pretty close to those expensive DAC’s..

I’m not saying it sound as good when you directly A/B.. but worth 10k price difference ?? Maybe they are right on audiosciencereview :(
Don't forget that if your source is of low quality then it will also limit a DAC's performance. A source and a connector you are using to a large extent dictate the quality of the signal a DAC can convert.
 
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