Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
TheAudiophile

Anyone who dismisses a better DAC as non-essential is incorrect.

Recommended Posts

Posted · Original PosterOP

Please excuse the inflammatory title, but there seems to be a lot of you on here. I think a lot of this attitude stems from ignorance of what exactly is implemented along the signal path of the audio devices you buy.

 

DACs may sound similar to you because the output stage of a lot of DACs are extremely similar. Most consist of too many op-amp stages and extremely cheap passive components. Different types and grades of DAC chips themselves definitely sound better or worse than another. Here's what's important -- Know your DAC chip, the receiver chip, and how your output stage and power supply are configured. A cheaply implemented output stage will kill the sound of a great DAC chip, making it sound as generic as any other.

 

Most of you with the attitude of "DACs don't make much difference" have only bought and tried the most common commercial implementations, or haven't done much experimenting with DACs on your own and are just parroting the latter group.

 

Too expensive, you say? The best DAC I have ever used is from an eBay kit that cost me $35 shipped plus another $80 in quality passives and 2 output transformers. It's not even a complicated setup, it's just a regular voltage-out DAC with transformers directly on the balanced outputs and it's a world-beater. Great DACs are out there and they don't cost a lot of money.

 

The DAC is where your analog signal starts, guys. There's no better place to start for good sound and it definitely matters a lot. It doesn't have to be expensive if you know what you want in your signal path. A well-implemented DAC setup makes a big difference and don't let anyone tell you any different. When I changed from an X-Fi to the standalone DAC that I built, it changed my view on audio forever. That DAC change was what me pursue audiophile grade stuff to listen to music with.

 

Do some research, there are many others who have treaded here and lots to read on the subject, and then build yourself some better sound with a good DAC. It matters.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool. You obviously have a certain perspective that works for you. Unfortunately, your broad assumption that the opinions here stem from ignorance and lack of experience is fairly offensive, so I'm not sure I really want to waste much time engaging with you. Just because you've found something that works for you does not give you the right to dismiss the experience of others out of hand.

 

All I will say is that for most of the people asking for advice in this sub, they do not have the kind of budget to justify $100+ on a standalone DAC. It's a matter of perspective as to what constitutes "expensive". You may think that a better DAC is "essential", but that is your subjective opinion. In reality, there is no absolute minimum level of gear required to enjoy music.

 

Ultimately, no one here is stopping anyone from buying a better DAC. Anyone that wants to try one or decides that they "need" one is free to do so.

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

Please excuse the inflammatory title, but there seems to be a lot of you on here. I think a lot of this attitude stems from ignorance of what exactly is implemented along the signal path of the audio devices you buy.

 

DACs may sound similar to you because the output stage of a lot of DACs are extremely similar. Most consist of too many op-amp stages and extremely cheap passive components. Different types and grades of DAC chips themselves definitely sound better or worse than another. Here's what's important -- Know your DAC chip, the receiver chip, and how your output stage and power supply are configured. A cheaply implemented output stage will kill the sound of a great DAC chip, making it sound as generic as any other.

 

Most of you with the attitude of "DACs don't make much difference" have only bought and tried the most common commercial implementations, or haven't done much experimenting with DACs on your own and are just parroting the latter group.

 

Too expensive, you say? The best DAC I have ever used is from an eBay kit that cost me $35 shipped plus another $80 in quality passives and 2 output transformers. It's not even a complicated setup, it's just a regular voltage-out DAC with transformers directly on the balanced outputs and it's a world-beater. Great DACs are out there and they don't cost a lot of money.

 

The DAC is where your analog signal starts, guys. There's no better place to start for good sound and it definitely matters a lot. It doesn't have to be expensive if you know what you want in your signal path. A well-implemented DAC setup makes a big difference and don't let anyone tell you any different. When I changed from an X-Fi to the standalone DAC that I built, it changed my view on audio forever. That DAC change was what me pursue audiophile grade stuff to listen to music with.

 

Do some research, there are many others who have treaded here and lots to read on the subject, and then build yourself some better sound with a good DAC. It matters.

Of cause a DAC matter you would not have any sound without one, but as long as a dac is transparrent unlike what soundblaster makes, it will not matter if you use onboard dac or buy a dac it will sound the same.

17 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

Most of you with the attitude of "DACs don't make much difference" have only bought and tried the most common commercial implementations, or haven't done much experimenting with DACs on your own and are just parroting the latter group.

Pretty sure I have tried way more dacs than you and unless you buy really expensive headphones and just have money to lay around or there is something wrong with onboard a dac would not make much sense at all.

 

I am going to say this one last time: The best way to get better audio is to get better headphones, that is where you find the biggest jump in audio quality. If you have somethings wrong with your onboard or bought a insanely cheap mobo then you will notice a difference, some also comes down to the amp...

 

If you want to read more about what I think about dacs there is a link to a post about it in my signature.


Before you buy amp and dac.  My thoughts on the M50x  Ultimate Ears Reference monitor review I might have a thing for audio...

My main Headphones and IEMs:  K612 pro, HD 25 and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor, HD 580 with HD 600 grills

DAC and AMP: RME ADI 2 DAC

Speakers: Genelec 8040, System Audio SA205

Receiver: Denon AVR-1612

Desktop: R7 1700, GTX 1080  RX 580 8GB and other stuff

Laptop: ThinkPad P50: i7 6820HQ, M2000M. ThinkPad T420s: i7 2640M, NVS 4200M

Feel free to pm me if you have a question for me or quote me. If you want to hear what I have to say about something just tag me.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

Hi guys, I know you two don't care about my opinion, this is for everyone else.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

Hi guys, I know you two don't care about my opinion, this is for everyone else.

 

Oh, I care about your opinion. I just disagree with it. We already spend too much time steering people away from wasting their limited cash.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

The kit I use is down to $26.87 shipped. Kind of impossible to dismiss as a "waste."


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

Hi guys, I know you two don't care about my opinion, this is for everyone else.

Well I care about your opinion I disagree, but I care. It's just not very logical to go out and buy some thing that can make your sound 1-2% better that most people wont notice, when you can get headphones that will improve the sound more and most of the people here does not have that much cash. 

 

This I how I recomend people upgrade their sound:

 

Step 1: Get your end game headphones.

Step 2: If you can't power them get a amp.

Step 3: Get well mastered songs.

Sted 4: Get a better dac.


Before you buy amp and dac.  My thoughts on the M50x  Ultimate Ears Reference monitor review I might have a thing for audio...

My main Headphones and IEMs:  K612 pro, HD 25 and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor, HD 580 with HD 600 grills

DAC and AMP: RME ADI 2 DAC

Speakers: Genelec 8040, System Audio SA205

Receiver: Denon AVR-1612

Desktop: R7 1700, GTX 1080  RX 580 8GB and other stuff

Laptop: ThinkPad P50: i7 6820HQ, M2000M. ThinkPad T420s: i7 2640M, NVS 4200M

Feel free to pm me if you have a question for me or quote me. If you want to hear what I have to say about something just tag me.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

It's not a 1-2% improvement, and $26.87 isn't expensive.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

That's what I paid when I bought it and the other components I upgraded it with. Obviously no one has to do it all at once. You're still going to get much improved sound with that DAC no matter what.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

It's not a 1-2% improvement, and $26.87 isn't expensive.

It is if your mobo has decent sound on it


Before you buy amp and dac.  My thoughts on the M50x  Ultimate Ears Reference monitor review I might have a thing for audio...

My main Headphones and IEMs:  K612 pro, HD 25 and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor, HD 580 with HD 600 grills

DAC and AMP: RME ADI 2 DAC

Speakers: Genelec 8040, System Audio SA205

Receiver: Denon AVR-1612

Desktop: R7 1700, GTX 1080  RX 580 8GB and other stuff

Laptop: ThinkPad P50: i7 6820HQ, M2000M. ThinkPad T420s: i7 2640M, NVS 4200M

Feel free to pm me if you have a question for me or quote me. If you want to hear what I have to say about something just tag me.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

It's not a 1-2% improvement, and $26.87 isn't expensive.

Evidence? 

 

The basic premise of your argument is that we have to agree with you, or else we are basing our recommendations on ignorance. 

That is an unfalsifiable postion, since you are the unit of measurement and you can therefor move the goalpost at will. 

 

What I would like to see is a blind ABX test of DACs. My best guess is that the vast majority of people won't be able to tell the difference between their onboard audio and, say, a Schiit Bifrost Multibit. 

Of course this is just my speculation, but as far as I'm concerned it's currently on the same level as your speculation.


Nova doctrina terribilis sit perdere

Audio format guides: Vinyl records | Cassette tapes

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

I have an ALC1150 with OPA1612 op-amps and Nichicon Fine Gold electrolytics (awful for signal path, but that's what the mobo companies sell as ALMOST top-of-the-line these days) on my motherboard. Even the non-upgraded version of this DAC is a huge improvement over that "audiophile mobo solution".

 

The "expensive" argument really just doesn't work here.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Volbet said:

Evidence? 

 

The basic premise of your argument is that we have to agree with you, or else we are basing our recommendations on ignorance. 

That is an unfalsifiable postion, since you are the unit of measurement and you can therefor move the goalpost at will. 

 

What I would like to see is a blind ABX test of DACs. My best guess is that the vast majority of people won't be able to tell the difference between their onboard audio and, say, a Schiit Bifrost Multibit. 

Of course this is just my speculation, but as far as I'm concerned it's currently on the same level as your speculation.

Oh some of my friends did this to some of their friend only 1 out of 30 was able to tell the difference between onboard on the Formula VIII and a the normal bifrost. They don't have the cash for the multibit


Before you buy amp and dac.  My thoughts on the M50x  Ultimate Ears Reference monitor review I might have a thing for audio...

My main Headphones and IEMs:  K612 pro, HD 25 and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor, HD 580 with HD 600 grills

DAC and AMP: RME ADI 2 DAC

Speakers: Genelec 8040, System Audio SA205

Receiver: Denon AVR-1612

Desktop: R7 1700, GTX 1080  RX 580 8GB and other stuff

Laptop: ThinkPad P50: i7 6820HQ, M2000M. ThinkPad T420s: i7 2640M, NVS 4200M

Feel free to pm me if you have a question for me or quote me. If you want to hear what I have to say about something just tag me.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP
3 minutes ago, Volbet said:

Evidence? 

 

The basic premise of your argument is that we have to agree with you, or else we are basing our recommendations on ignorance. 

That is an unfalsifiable postion, since you are the unit of measurement and you can therefor move the goalpost at will. 

 

What I would like to see is a blind ABX test of DACs. My best guess is that the vast majority of people won't be able to tell the difference between their onboard audio and, say, a Schiit Bifrost Multibit. 

Of course this is just my speculation, but as far as I'm concerned it's currently on the same level as your speculation.

 

I'd be happy to host whoever wants to listen to the comparison.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

So I buy my hyper affordable $26 chifi DAC kit, assuming that I'm able and willing to put it together. What am I doing for my amp?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

You realize that this is a voltage-out DAC chip, right? It produces 2.1v RMS at the outputs without any assistance, and the stock-op amp is there as a buffer to boost current and lower output impedance. You don't need an amp, this will already drive headphones of low or high impedance.

 

Hell, the DAC chip itself with passive output transformers and no op-amp drives my HD380s all the way to mechanical limits (when I'm not using my speaker system).


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

You realize that this is a voltage-out DAC chip, right? It produces 2.1v RMS at the outputs without any assistance, and the stock-op amp is there as a buffer to boost current and lower output impedance.

 

Most DAC chips are voltage out. Plenty of designs use a simple buffer. And yeah, it is possible to connect some headphones (not optimally) to a line-out.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

Sounds like you answered your own question.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

I'd be happy to host whoever wants to listen to the comparison.

It would need to be a pretty big sample size.

If memory serves right you need 9602 people to have a representative chunk of the US population. 

 

The sample atleast needs to be bigger than what this forum could produce. 

It could be intersing to conduct a blind ABX at a Head-fi meeting. Just to watch them all recive the result with otter disbelief in their eyes. 

Of course, there would also be a need for an objective way of representing your findings. 


Nova doctrina terribilis sit perdere

Audio format guides: Vinyl records | Cassette tapes

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

Sounds like you answered your own question.

 

Not at all.

 

It's ironic that we're talking about a DAC upgrade being "essential" and you then proceed to recommend that people run their headphones from a line-out. That's laughable. I'll bet money that the output impedance is on the order of 75ohms+ and that the "improvement" you're hearing is bass boost due to inadequate damping factor.

Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

The "expensive" argument really just doesn't work here.

It works no more or less than the following -

 

32 minutes ago, TheAudiophile said:

You're still going to get much improved sound with that DAC no matter what.

No matter what? Without knowing the finer details of a given setup, that type of statement has little bearing on anything what-so-ever. If your sig remains correct, then you're talking about how a DAC upgrade could be distinguished using, say, the $1000 speakers you have listed. The same is not likely true for an average PC audio setup. I'm glad you're enjoying DAC, but remain unconvinced of how useful your advice is to someone who might be better served by upgrading/replacing an altogether different component of their setup (speakers / headphones / amp / room conditioning).

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

Oh dear, you seem to be supremely unfamiliar with electronics. The output impedance of the stock NE5532 is 0.3ohm.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted · Original PosterOP

Okay, so your argument is upgrade where you most need it. Cool, I don't have a problem with that. Very Logical.

 

My argument is far too many people on here dismiss the DAC as a non-essential upgrade.


PC: Intel i5-4690K @ 4.6 GHz, 1.296v, Air 24/7 -- Windforce R9 270 @ 1200/1400 -- MSI Z87-GD65 -- 16GB DDR3-1866 -- Samsung 850 Evo 250GB

Audio: Thiel CS1.2 Speakers -- Tripath Amps -- CS4398 DACs -- MiniDIGI 2x8 Active Crossover/DSP --  Stereo Bass via 2x Vifa 10", Linkwitz Transform'd to 25hz -3db

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, TheAudiophile said:

My argument is far too many people on here dismiss the DAC as a non-essential upgrade.

Because it is for 99% of people.


Before you buy amp and dac.  My thoughts on the M50x  Ultimate Ears Reference monitor review I might have a thing for audio...

My main Headphones and IEMs:  K612 pro, HD 25 and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor, HD 580 with HD 600 grills

DAC and AMP: RME ADI 2 DAC

Speakers: Genelec 8040, System Audio SA205

Receiver: Denon AVR-1612

Desktop: R7 1700, GTX 1080  RX 580 8GB and other stuff

Laptop: ThinkPad P50: i7 6820HQ, M2000M. ThinkPad T420s: i7 2640M, NVS 4200M

Feel free to pm me if you have a question for me or quote me. If you want to hear what I have to say about something just tag me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×