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Is PCM digital audio inherently and audibly flawed? NO!!!

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#1
A little over a week ago I participated in an experiment to test the quality of digital technology. Below is my story.

Background

Out of the blue I was invited to visit the home of a local audiophile, let’s call him Dave, who has spend the past 30 years honing his system and hearing to the point that about 5 years ago he became convinced nothing can be done to achieve better sound no matter how much he spends. The reason for the invitation was that he followed a long discussion on one of the FB audiophile groups concerning the superiority of Analog versus Digital audio. In that discussion, I tried to be reasonable and calmly explain that many of the myths about why digital is inherently flawed were, in fact, either never true or where once true, but not any longer.

I presented a position that digital audio and the hardware necessary to take advantage of it was so good that it was audibly on par with straight wire. I speculated that if a test were created where an analog signal was converted to digital, then to analog, and compared to the same signal without the conversion, even the most trained ears would not be able to tell a difference. I even suggested that the hardware had commoditized to the point where that test could be performed by sub-$20 converters and none would be able to hear a difference. When challenged on my bold claims, I suggested that the signal could be converted back and forth several times, and if the voltages being fed to the speaker remained identical that no listener would hear the difference.

Well, Dave accepted the challenge under the conditions that if I write about the test he would not be exposed. He admitted that his faith in analog was wavering and intellectually he was feeling more agnostic on the issue of digital inherently being a flawed and limited technology. So, once we agreed to the conditions and date, I set forth designing this test.

I will not expose Dave, his location or every piece of his gear, as he is well-known in this hobby and doesn’t wish to discuss this test with everyone who follows him. He may choose to write about it sometime in the future, but I don’t expect him to.


Setup

I decided on an extreme case for the test where I would connect the unused XLR analog outputs of his ultra-high-end tube-based phono preamp to my professional grade PC audio interface which was capable of operating as a stand-alone analog to digital converter. This unit is very high-end and is capable of converting at resolutions as high as 24-bit 192kHz. Then I would take the digital output and feed his ultra-high-end DAC. I would calibrate the levels on the ADC so the output to the speakers was exactly the same between the digital signal and the straight analog connection to the control preamp and then Dave could ask me to switch back and forth between inputs on his control preamp to compare in real time the difference in sound using the same source, his scarily expensive turntable/cartridge/phono-preamp combo for the entire listening session.

Once proposed, he jokingly asked if I was serious that he would not be able to hear the difference even with multiple digital to analog conversions. “If that’s true, then why not test it?” I was game, but less convinced. I took him up on that idea and placed orders for several different below entry level ADCs and DACs from Amazon (see images of the devices I used below). I ordered two very basic analog to digital converters and three equally basic digital to analog converters. To reduce the likelihood of ground loop hum getting into the system, I chose to use Toslink optical cables for the digital signals.

DACs_ADCs.jpg
Photo 1: The devices I used in the digital chain of the experiment

I was proposing we take the analog XLR output from his crazy high end tube phono preamp and feed the professional Roland DAC (where I could control the levels), send the digital output through a toss-way grade Toslink cable feed a digital output to a $15 DAC using a cheap-as-all-heck pair of RCA cables to feed a $21 ADC to an optical connection of another $12 DAC through more thin disposable RCA cables to a $24 ADC through a cheap Toslink cable to the final $10 DAC. I chose to get the different models of ADCs and DACs in order to amplify how commoditized the technology has become. See diagram below.

In my head I wasn’t 100% convinced I would be proven correct. So, the plan was to remove stages in the conversion process until he was unable to hear any difference. So, the first test would be the worse case scenario with the greatest likelihood of hearing a difference. Then I would remove a pair of converters and repeat, then remove a pair and repeat, then go to his high-end DAC for the final test which I was certain would be inaudible to him.

I was proposing we take the analog XLR output from his crazy high end tube phono preamp and feed the professional Roland DAC (where I could control the levels), send the digital output through a toss-way grade Toslink cable feed a digital output to a $15 DAC using a cheap-as-all-heck pair of RCA cables to feed a $21 ADC to an optical connection of another $12 DAC through more thin disposable RCA cables to a $24 ADC through a cheap Toslink cable to the final $10 DAC. I chose to get the different models of ADCs and DACs in order to amplify how commoditized the technology has become. See diagram below.

Schematic_Digital_Analog_Audition_Test_Jan2019.jpg
Diagram 1: Wiring diagram of audio chains being tested

In my head I wasn’t 100% convinced I would be proven correct. So, the plan was to remove stages in the conversion process until he was unable to hear any difference. So, the first test would be the worse case scenario with the greatest likelihood of hearing a difference. Then I would remove a pair of converters and repeat, then remove a pair and repeat, then go to his high-end DAC for the final test which I was certain would be inaudible to him.
 
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Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#2
Testing Process

Dave and I agreed to the testing procedure, which was a single blind test where I would randomly choose which input came directly from the phono preamp and which was from the chain of digital converters. I would use the control preamp’s remote control to switch between the two inputs known inputs, A or B, then I would switch again to a randomly chosen input which he would then try to tell me was A or B. We agreed on using the coin toss method to determine which input would be the X input and only I would know the truth. Dave could ask for A or B as much as he wanted then he would ask to hear X and then write down whether it was A or B. After a bit the process of asking became a hand gesture so he wouldn’t have to speak, or shout, over the music. When we switched LPs, I would rely on the random coin toss chart to determine what the new X input was. After the end of the session, we would compare the results of his perceptions with the facts and we’d know if he could hear any difference and even if he could tell definitively what was digital.

Basically, this was as close to an ABX test as we could do without owning a proper ABX comparator.

If it was obvious which input was the digitally converted signal, we’d remove one of the ADC/DAC pairs and try again.


Results

After many hours of testing and taking breaks to rest and reset, Dave, my new audiophile friend, was shocked. At no point did any of his perceptions show that he could hear a difference between his direct preamp signal and the same signal put through three digital conversion processes. Not once. In fact, it was amazing to note that his guesses were almost exactly 50% (ranged from 47% accurate to 58% accurate) right during the audition process. The test results were the same even when he used his multi-thousand-dollar headphones and high-end tube head phone amp. Basically, it sounded identical to process the same signal through digital converters.

I don’t need to show the worksheet data as it was indisputable. Dave and I could not hear any difference – at all.

Dave is now sold. He realizes his former position that all digital was inferior to pure analog was not accurate. His system is very good, so I don’t see him replacing anything. However, Dave is less likely to go completely out his way to avoid any potential digital conversion in the future should he be acquiring a new device. He had been struggling with the idea that digital is inherently bad after auditioning many amazing speaker systems which relied on DSP to get better performance out of them. He started pondering, “If digital is always bad, then why do those speakers sound so amazing and I cannot perceive any digital artifacts I believe always exists?”


Conclusion

The logical claims that digital is inherently flawed and issues in digital audio such as jitter, brick-wall filtering, sample gaps, and so on, are all inaudible. Considering I was using the cheapest DACs and ADCs I could find, this is shocking.

So, when you hear about certain models of DAC chipsets used in one receiver versus a different model of DAC used in another, do not fall for it. When you hear about high end DAC units being audibly superior, don’t fall for it.


Caveats

This test proves that digitally sampling an audio signal and converting it back to analog does not alter the audible sound quality. It doesn’t compare CD to SACD to high resolution FLAC. It doesn’t compare reel-to-reel audio to CD Redbook audio. It is merely showing that PCM digital audio is audibly similar to analog and doesn’t add audible stair step jolts to the signal, create audible jitter problems, and whatever other claims the digital-haters insist it introduces.

It is important to note that the source material was always from an LP. LPs always have an easily audible noise floor and as such the very subtle differences in the noise floor which added electronic circuits may introduce in the audio chain were likely masked by the hiss from the phono preamp. We did not compare the two signals with the phono preamp disconnected – I would assume there’d be more hiss with the 6 devices versus no devices.

Also, the frequency response of an LP is limited and there is a significant reduction in the resolution and level of the treble above 10kHz versus what you’d expect from a digital source where there are no limitations on the format. In nearly all comparisons of digital to analog converters, it is in the highest treble that people claim to hear the difference. The same applies to the bass range where LPs tend to merge the channels to mono below about 100Hz and reduce the bass, compress it, and limit it to about 30Hz, or so.

So, in my mind this test proves that the technical limitations of the LP format flat out could not exceed any of the limitations of this cheap-ass digital hardware. Dave and I are discussing repeating this test sometime in the future using a high-resolution digital source which could expose the minor differences in noise floor and high frequency filtering these cheap devices might introduce.



Let’s discuss (but don’t ask who Dave is).
 

CMonster

Lazy Individual
#3
So, when you hear about certain models of DAC chipsets used in one receiver versus a different model of DAC used in another, do not fall for it. When you hear about high end DAC units being audibly superior, don’t fall for it.
Here's a post I made a couple years ago when I was playing around with some headphone gear:

I'm in shock. Floored. Almost without speech. My plan this evening was to do a quick DAC comparison between the Schiit Bifrost (with Uber upgrade) and the modded M-Audio and then move on to the amps. I wasn't expecting to spend much time on the DACs because I figured I wouldn't be able to tell a difference between the two. Well, I didn't need to spend much time because there was a clear and distinct winner. For my listening tests I used the first minute or so of Outkast’s 'The Way You Move' along with 'Bones' by Radiohead (entire song, 3:09) and the first three minutes of 'Ixtapa' by Rodrigo Y Gabriela. I used the Yulong Sabre A18 solid state amp with the Denon D5000 headphones.

The Bifrost wins this battle in a landslide. It was most noticeable on the Outkast track: I could distinguish the two vocals better; the cymbal was more prominent throughout and anchored in the soundstage whereas with the M-Audio it ended up getting lost. Bass also seemed tighter with the Bifrost. On the Radiohead track, the M-Audio had the rhythm guitar more forward and blurred – I felt it stuck out more than it should have. Everything was crisper and placed more precisely with the Bifrost – this applies to 'Ixtapa' as well.

Again, I was not expecting that at all. Wow.
 
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Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#4
I am not surprised you heard a difference. The Schiit Bitfrost (like many Schiit products) is designed to "sound" different from perfectly linear digital products which are designed to be as inaudible as possible. In bench tests I've seen, the Schiit Bitfrost with the Multibit upgrade adds very significant distortion, lacks low level linearity, and has very excessive and audible jitter. It is designed to "sound" a certain way, which many people love to hear - and there is nothing wrong with that at all. But it isn't invisible nor transparent.

I know a local audio nerd who works as a testing engineer at a local computer manufacturer where his day to day work lab is filled with the highest quality audio testing gear available. He brought the Schiit Bitfrost with the Uber upgrade to this lab in hopes of understanding why he liked it more than his state of the art $6,000 Sony DAC which is only sold in Japan. He was shocked with the test results - shocked. He sold the unit because while he originally preferred its sound, he couldn't listen to music with it and not consciously perceive all the characteristics which made it measure very poorly.

We should use what we like to hear, and it is fine if one likes the sound of a device which is technically inaccurate and adds to the sound. There's nothing wrong with that.

In fact, it isn't uncommon for esoteric digital devices to alter the signal in the process. Many ultra-high end esoteric DACs are designed to be softer in the treble, some are designed to have higher distortion, and still others are designed with clear EQ curves which mellow the lower treble and boost the upper treble. I've seen devices which measured completely differently in the Stereophile reviews than they do in several other bench tests. I find this hobby frustrating in that regard.

But, for the sake of this experiment, the multiple cheap ass ADCs and DACs did not make an LP signal sound any different.
 

PaulyT

Behind the Curtain
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Superstar
#5
Still reading but the background and setup sections in your first post are repeated...
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#8
And, to repeat, this was a test to determine if the very process of sampling audio to create a digital facsimile and convert it back into analog would have any perceptible impact on the sound heard.

This answers the query: If I love LPs, I could have someone with a far better turntable setup than I could ever afford or be capable of setting up simply create digital recordings of my favorite LPs and would they sound identical in my home as if I had the same turntable setup from which they were recorded? I would argue that, indeed, that those digital recordings would be identical.

I could not confirm the full specs of the two cheap ADCs I used. I get the impression they both sampled at 48kHz, but neither stated if they were 24-bit or 16-bit.
 

MatthewB

Grandmaster Pimp Daddy
Famous
#9
So if there is no difference between a pure digital signal and a less expensive PCM signal then should we be going more for the inexpensive vintage audio gear rather than more tech savvy digital components? I understand the ease of digital connections (one HDMI cable vs a multitude of analog cables to achieve the same effect. It always seemed strange to me that a tiny hairlike audio cable in a HDMI cable could match a single thicker RCA analog cable but I guess that is the one benefit if digital vs analog.
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#11
I got a call from "Dave" today. After our little experiment he's been doing more experiments on his own with the gear I left at his house. He is very close to losing his religion and accepting that Digital might be superior to Analog for storage and playback. This is a very difficult struggle for him, but as an evangelist, I need to let him find his own way.

He asked me to set up a blind test to compare his state of the art multi-thousand dollar DAC to one of the cheap DACs we used in the test I wrote about above. He's been listening to audio played through one of those cheap DACs instead of his ultra-high-end DAC unit and isn't all that sure it sounds any worse or better. He wants to confirm what he fears is the case - that he's spent decades wasting his money, time, resources and energy on trying to get analog to sound as good as it can when he could have been enjoying simple digital audio the entire time. He is feeling a bit of a chump for all the energy and money he's put into everything analog while completely dismissing digital as a necessary evil to get the music he loves.

I am really enjoying my conversations with Dave since he is very open to considering he's been wrong all along after being led astray in the mid 1990s.
 

bmwuk

Well-Known Member
#12
Completely unrelated to audio but years back I was in martial arts doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muy Thai, along with others. We were a non traditional school that did what worked the best in situations and didn't do belts. The structured martial arts that give out belts like taekwondo and other disciplines had people came to our school. They spent 30 minutes as a black belt in their focus against someone like me that had zero belts or considered a white belt. I quickly defeated them and all the years of their knowledge went out the door. We had this happen several times. Two things happened. One, which was the best, was they realized perhaps what they knew little and wanted to learn why and improve. Unfortunately many left our school and never came back.

Moral of this story is it sucks to learn that your knowledge and what you believe is true for years turns out to be not what you thought. But if you realize it and say well, let me write off my losses is the better approach.

Back to audio. If i add up my expenditures in AV early on I wasted thousands of dollars on bullshit and now I realize it. And at the time that money meant more than it does now. But I've learned a great deal and I can educate others on what matters to make the most of your audio expenditures
 

TitaniumTroy

Well-Known Member
#13
bmwuk, I can relate to your martial arts experience. When I was taking TKD, I didn't know what would work in a fight. However I was pretty sure that TKD wasn't it. All those funky forms they do and weird stances etc... yet when they spar it just looks like kickboxing. Noticed the same thing in a video of young Shaolin monks, their sparring looks like kickboxing with gloves on. I like the concept of drilling to enhance different attributes.

Flint, I was just curious what kind of speakers does Dave had? Also irregardless of analog or digital, how does Dave's system sound overall? Any room treatments? Not trying to figure out who he has, I don't care about that.
 
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TitaniumTroy

Well-Known Member
#14
I have never paid much attention to any of that crap, even going to back in the day before the internet. When you had to rely on the audio magazines editors or Julian Hirsch of Stereo Review, unless you were some kind of engineer. Back then it was always some audiophile reviewer with Golden Ear's or the audio manufactures marketing pushing the snake oil.

A lot times you could tell it was bullshit, as you can now. By the fact that everyone has their own version what is supposed to be the ideal speaker cable, etc... Since their is not even a vague consensus among the manufactures as to what guidelines or rules to follow, and the guru's of the day didn't promote it or condone it.

I just bypass all of it, reminds me of SACD vs DVD-A dueling formats both sounded great to me. However I went SACD since it was in Sony products and and DVD-A would could play on any DVD player.

I do appreciate Flint's post though, as sometimes I doubt myself as to why I don't follow the fad of the day. So it is nice to know why something is bullshit, and that you don't to waste money on it.
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#15
I am 100% convinced that as a storage and playback format, high-resolution digital audio is not only overkill, but in some cases actually causes the playback gear to distort the sound in the midrange.

Why???

We cannot hear the higher frequencies, period
Well, human hearing cannot ever, under any condition, perceive audio above 20kHz! Well, in rare cases with children they have found some people can hear tones at 22kHz, but by the time you reach 30 years old it is incredibly unlikely that you'll hear above 20kHz. In fact, most males cannot hear above 19kHz by the time they are 40 years old. So, we cannot hear high enough to get any benefit from capturing and reproducing sound above 20kHz.

High frequency information in a recording can cause audible distortion in the midrange
Intermodulation distortion is created when two pitches are produced and harmonics which are mathematically related to those pitches occur. This form of distortion usually appears as harmonics very near the two signal pitches at low enough levels, relative to the signal pitches, which cause them to be masks and for the most part inaudible (at least with most quality gear). However, one of the mathematical harmonics creates happens at the frequency which is the difference between the two pitches. So, if the recording has two pitches which are 1kHz apart, say at 24kHz and 25kHz, then a harmonic will appear at 1kHz. Usually that harmonic will be a good 24dB to 48dB quieter than the two signal pitches, but if the two signal pitches are very high level, and there is no substantial audio in the recording in the octave around 1kHz, then you will clearly hear the harmonic as it won't be masked by something else. If the recording is of real instruments, like metallic percussion (chimes, triangles, bells, tambourines, cymbals, etc.), then there could potentially be tons of ultra high frequency information above our hearing threshold. a simple "ting" of a triangle with nothing else being played could produce lots of harmonic IM distortion in the midrange which will make the triangle sound strangely strong in midrange as the electronics are adding the harmonic content, not our ears or brains (we subconsciously fill in the gaps when presented with lots of harmonic content). So, people who claim they get a greater sense of "air" or "spirit" from high resolution recordings could be telling the truth in that they are hearing audible IM distortion which is not in the original recording. It is certainly not because their bodies have some other mechanism to hear sound above 20kHz which our ears cannot do.

We cannot hear a dynamic range beyond about 18 bit depth
So why have a format which is 24 bit? The hardware cannot resolve that high a dynamic range, and even in the most ideal conditions our ears cannot adjust to a dynamic range of more than about 14 bits anyway. Just like our eyes need to adjust to a dramatic change in the brightness of darkness, our ears cannot go from analyzing very loud audio to analyzing very quiet audio without several seconds, or even a minute, of adjustment. So why bother? If the analog circuits in the hardware cannot manage a signal to noise ratio of more than 112dB, and if our physiology prevents us from fully comprehending a huge dynamic range in music, then what's the point? Sure, an 18bit format would be most ideal, but giving up 6dB of dynamic range isn't going to matter in 99% of the music that's ever been or will be recorded. Sure, demo and test recordings exist to prove we can hear a greater dynamic range than 16bit, but those are not recordings we buy because we love the music.

Those are just three aspects of listening which render the technical benefits of high resolution audio pointless or even detrimental.

Challenge

I am convinced that if we take your top 100 musical tracks and convert the original studio masters (be they analog or high resolution digital) to CD Redbook resolution and then allow you to compare them side by side with the original master tapes that none of you could ever hear the difference. I don't have access to any studio masters of commercial recordings, so I cannot setup this test. But I have made my own recordings both in analog 15ips half-track reel-to-reel and 24 bit 96kHz digital audio can attest that the CDs burned from those original masters sound 100% identical to the original masters.

But here's the catch, in most cases the studio will send their masters along with the multitrack files to a mastering engineer who will create the masters which are used to press LPs, CDs, and high resolution files. In damn near every single instance, the different end products are NOT the same by a wide margin.

The LP version requires limiting the frequency response, applying some compression and dynamic limiting, and ensuring the bass is more mono than stereo in order to get more bass energy out of the limits of the format. CD Redbook recordings are often adjusted to have more "loudness" as that tends to sell better on the radio, streaming, and TV. That means more compression and less natural dynamics. The high resolution version may get very little change from the studio master, but sometimes they will enhance the ultra low bass and (using spectral analysis since they cannot hear it) enhance the signal above 20kHz. I've even heard of mastering engineers adding synthesized subsonic information to increase the super-low end info and harmonic enhancers to create additional harmonic info above 20kHz. They have also been known to increase the sense of dynamic range with careful use of dynamic expansion where it fits the music.

So, we cannot simply go online and grab two versions of the same song, one in High Resolution and another in CD Redbook quality and make a direct comparison and form opinions about the digital formats.

As such, I see no point in high resolution audio. I wish the mastering engineers would just make the most amazing aural experience and put it out on CD.
 

TitaniumTroy

Well-Known Member
#16
I bought SACD's and a few DVD-Audio's for the surround mix sound, which was interesting sometimes or not. But I never heard any more detail or higher resolution than CD.
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#17
On Sunday I had a conversation with an audiophile in my neighborhood and while I was intending to keep it pleasant and only talk light heartedly about our common interests, out of the blue he started going off on the ignorant masses who think a cheap receiver with a common DAC is good enough for high end sound. His arrogance about owning an ultra high end DAC got worse and worse as he mocked people who were too ignorant to hear the difference.

Once I had enough of that, because all my attempts to sway the conversation back to something less rude and insulting were failing, I asked him why his DAC was so superior than, say, a $50 USB DAC from some generic Chinese factory. His arguments were:
  1. Jitter is less of a problem. I said that modern DAC chipsets have virtually eliminated jitter issues in even the cheapest models.
  2. Power supply stability with a huge, separate power supply increases the "power" of the signal's sound (his words) and reduces noise. I said that I didn't understand the power of the sound statement, but I want to hear it. I also said the a good, well-shielded entry level DAC also has a noise floor lower than can be heard by most and improving on it is usually completely unnecessary.
  3. He argued that high frequency linearity was better because of the extreme up-sampling and high frequency filter utilized. I replied that the issues of high frequency filters has been moot for decades and a very slight difference in amplitude or phase at 19,000Hz would not be audible to anyone of an age to afford such high end gear.
  4. Then he went into mystical stuff I couldn't debate because they are all based on emotions and language tricks.

I offered to setup a listening test on his own rig to see if he could tell me how his very high end DAC compared to a $20 generic DAC from China. He agreed, and last night we did the test.

Simply put, he source streamer has multiple outputs, and he is using the AES digital output for his expensive DAC. So I used the optical Toslink S/PDIF output to feed my throw-away grade DAC. I connected the output from the DAC into his preamp, and unbeknownst to him, I swapped the inputs so his high end DAC was now in what he thought was the cheap DAC and my cheap DAC was plugged into the input he thought was his high end DAC. I then asked him to wear a blindfold and he played the playlist he put together just for this test.

I was pleased to hear the two DACs put out what sounded like identical levels as neither of us could definitively hear a different level when switching between the two. However, the high end DAC had a very slight delay which was just long enough to be recognizable when switching between the DACs. Once I heard that (and I didn't mention it to my audiophile friend), I could easily tell which was which if I switched back and forth a couple of times. But, after the test he said he never noticed that aspect - good thing.

Anyway, He wore a blindfold and I switched between the inputs using the remote control and at first he confidently declared which was which as we listened and switched between them. However, by the time the first song ended he was started to act annoyed and was started laughing and accusing me of playing tricks on him by switching to the same DAC over and over rather than letting the other play - because he thought I was trying to make him look like a fool. He eventually took off his blindfold and immediately realized I was, indeed, switching between the two inputs as we agreed, but now he was consistently claiming the input that used to have his high end DAC on it was clearly better. He used flowery language to describe how good it sounded, things like "silky smooth treble", "more gravitas in the bass" and so on. I just kept switching between the two as we had planned.

By the time the testing ended he was very proud that his DAC, or what he thought was his DAC, had proven to be so superior to my Amazon purchased $20 DAC.

I then told him what I did . I also reminded him that when he was wearing a blindfold he thought I was tricking him by not switching between them and it wasn't until a few minutes after he took off the blindfold that he was certain what a great difference he heard - suggesting it took a few minutes for his logical brain (which could see which input he was hearing) to override what he was actually hearing.

He said I was wrong and so I asked him to go disconnect the cheap DAC and see for himself which input it was on... he did, and he responded differently than I expected. I was ready for him to blow up and accuse me of tricking him and potentially start a fight. However, he just stopped talking when he saw for sure which input was which and sat back a bit and stared at the gear. He after a minute, or so, silently disconnected the DAC, restored the connection input of his high end unit, and came over and sat next to me.

He finally said, "You know, this $20 DAC sounded absolutely amazing. I still think I heard a difference between the two, but I am not completely convinced I could tell you which sounded better. I have more reasons to believe the designers of my DAC did things better so I believe it is the better of the two, but perhaps you are right when you say the engineers designing the technology have caught up with almost all of the limitations of the past."

I asked if he was going to sell his DAC while it was still the shipping product and could get the most for it and replace it with something cheaper, and he laughed. However, I do think he may think differently going forward.

Before I left I told him that I didn't think this cheap DAC was better or even just as good as his high end unit. But, I do believe the differences are very small and most people would struggle to hear a difference unless their systems were shockingly revealing. He laughed and said that perhaps his system could be better (which it could).

So, in this journey now two people are thinking they might be wrong about the current state of digital audio technology.
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#18
And, to be clear, I do not think my $20 DAC sounds exactly identical to his high end DAC. What I said to him is what I think, his quality electronics surely perform better and with the right gear in the right room playing the right content it should be consistently audibly better.

My point was to disprove his arrogant attitude than anyone who doesn't have a high end stand alone DAC must be having the worst experience ever.
 
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Randy

Well-Known Member
Famous
#19
And, to be clear, I do not think my $20 DAC sounds exactly identical to his high end DAC. What I said to him is what I think, his quality electronics surely perform better and with the right gear in the right room playing the right content it should be consistently audibly better.

My point was his arrogant attitude than anyone who doesn't have a high end stand alone DAC must be having the worst experience ever.
But if he learned from it, then isn't that the humility and not arrogance? What did I miss?
 

Flint

"Do you know who I am?"
Superstar
#20
Nothing, he grew from the experience - I think.

We'll see how he talks next time we discuss audio gear. He had made his superiority in recognizing and owning a high end DAC into the definition of his hobby.
 
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