What are the deciding factor of a high performance DAC?

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs & Equipment' started by Happy Hopping, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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  2. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    You wouldn’t get anything.

    Some offer more channels, higher bit rate and magic fairy dust.

    Biggest deciding factors is source material and the speakers themselves. Next would be room treatments and then dac/amp.

    It’s funny both the dac/amp have the most expensive offerings but offer the LEAST in user experience. At least with more expensive Amps you get things that matter, like power protection, quiet fans and better sustained power bursts.
     
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  3. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    Source Material: the best CD I do have is XRCD w/ XFX decoding on SHM disc, that's as good as it can get, just a few of my CD are like that. I do also own a lot of K2HD

    1) Are you saying speaker is more important than DAC?

    2) higher sampling rate, say 128 or 256, is definitely 1 of the deciding factor, but surely from link like the above, there got to be a lot more on feature from a $2299 DAC to a $27K DAC?
     
  4. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    1) yes

    2) the only thing you get with with the 27k option is a minor improvement in connections available and network enabled media options. It’s biggest feature is removing money from your bank. Sure it can sample at 384, but unless you have some golden ears don’t waste your time.
     
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  5. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    someeone else is saying it is primary the chip. So the chip makes all the difference
     
  6. capt_cope

    capt_cope Gawd

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    I'd wager that noone would be able to reliably hear any difference between the three dacs you mentioned (unless there's a problem with one of them or one has some built-in eq / filters) if the rest of the setup stayed the same.
     
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  7. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    Stereophile rated that dCS as 1 of the 2 best DAC

    of course, I won't take the words of 1 magazine. But I'm scrolling thru the past 3+ yr. magazines, if a no. of them rated some DAC as the no. 1, then I'll have to seriously look into it
     
  8. jetfire

    jetfire Limp Gawd

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    http://www.lavryengineering.com/products.html

    if ur speakers are not hyper hi end i doubt you will hear anything tbh and will also need a fully treated room if say mastering and depending on software also for higher bit rats above 44,1

    cheaper option would be a motu hd192 khz or 2408mk2 96khz 2nd hand as they have the same dacs as in the protools hd units.

    spend the money on the speakers as at the end of the day that is where the audio will come from dac or not ;)

    the only difference between the 96khz and 192hd is the file size at higher rates cant say i can hear any difference above 96khz in my room anyway.
     
  9. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    That’s cool, it’s not really right though.

    Sure it’s doing the Audio processing but that 27k DAC won’t make your Bose satellites sound like some B&W 800’s.

    A home theater receiver and B&W 800’s > 25k DAC and regular speakers
     
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  10. jetfire

    jetfire Limp Gawd

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  11. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    Jetfire, thanks for the reply from my earlier enquiry. Like you, I like active speaker. After some other digging of my own, I agree the speaker is far more important than a good DAC.
    It looks like my room is about the same size as yours. It's about 80 sq. ft. (it's a work out room)

    I was looking at your 1238A, which is about $8K. Its tweeter is metal dome. To compare a pair similar in quality, I really like Focal 3 way Trio 6 BE, which is also in the price range of $6K to $9K but just recently dropped its price to $2.7K. It's 450W and it uses beryllium on its tweeter. And W composite sandwich cone.

    https://www.focal.com/en/pro-audio/monitoring-speakers/sm6/monitoring-speakers/trio6-be

    do you think this will do the job?

    If anyone has a better suggestion on active speaker, please let me know
     
  12. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I’m not too positive a dome is good use for Be, but those are still super nice speakers. As for active you really simplify a lot of the set up but you aren’t really gaining much in capability. I believe those Focals (I didn’t read much on them honestly) use an active cross over.

    You could save a lot of money and get a speaker kit. The only downside is they aren’t finished and you’d have to put them together.
     
  13. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    ATC SMC50 was the 1st brand that I look into. It seems they are over priced after I contact them and ask them what material is in the speaker

    this is their response from a guy named Ben Lilly, in which I have seen his name at youtube under ATC

    The bass driver cone is constructed from paper with an small added amount of chopped carbon fibre.
    The mid dome is made acrylic fabric with a proprietary factory coating.
    The tweeter dome is made from polyester with a Pu coating.

    so these material are cheap compares to Beryllium

    ========

    Neumann is good, I was looking into the 420 too. Do you guys prefer the Neumann 310 over the Focal trio 6?
     
  14. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    I don't have the expertise on self building speaker. As the Beryllium, the reason that they are using it, just like Yamaha Ns5000 using a new material called Zylon, is because these material is light and very hard, so the tweeter can be pushed very quickly
     
  15. jetfire

    jetfire Limp Gawd

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    atc is about 30 mins up the road from me but you pay a premium for the atc brand as when i was looking to buy direct from them they could not match funky junk price brand new and told me to buy them from them as would not match there price lol.

    given the cost of all of them id have to listen to them b4 id part with my cash tbh.
     
  16. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I understand what Be is, it’s use is smoother frequency response in the HF region but domes are already smooth. Actually that’s why a lot like to use domes. Be is great for something like a compression driver which can be all over the place.

    I ment buying a kit from madisound or something, some of that stuff only requires glue.
     
  17. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    but the reason some of the industry uses Be is because in order to emunlates the sound from the DAC, the tweeter has to be HARD but LIGHT. The lighter it is, the faster it moves. The harder it is, the more accurate they are enable to emunlates the binary signal from the DAC. That's the reason Be is used

    https://au.yamaha.com/en/products/audio_visual/speakers/ns-5000/specs.html#product-tabs

    this material also claims to be just as good as Be
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
  18. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Limp Gawd

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    B&Ws are voiced for older folks with hearing loss. If "regular speakers" means following a neutral Olive/Toole NRC or Harman target curve, I'd say you should put flip the arrow :D
     
  19. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    so what's a good one that you would use then? Preferably Active speaker
     
  20. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Lol voiced, but I was just using a big name speaker brand that most would understand.
     
  21. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Limp Gawd

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    I'm not a fan of active speakers for home theater, actives tend to be much more sensitive than passive speakers to ground loop, mains noise, or picking up other forms electromagnetic noise, they are designed to be used with recording studio equipment in a balanced XLR ecosystem, not the mixing and matching of various rando equipment you'll find at home. But if you insist on going active for home theater, it's much much better making your own. The reason is passive speakers will have much higher quality drivers than active speakers, because the majority of the cost sunk into active speakers is DSP, active crossovers, and amps. For example, Dynaudio Confidence (passive) and Focus XD (active) speakers cost the same, even though the drivers in the Confidence line are several tiers better than the Focus XDs. Now there are advantages to active crossovers and DSP such as eliminating phase shift.

    The best of both worlds is to buy a high end passive speaker, take out the crossover, replace it with active crossovers like DEQX, and use your own amps. Now you have an active system with better drivers than what is available with pro audio equipment, but the same performance advantages of active DSP and crossovers.
     
  22. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Limp Gawd

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    Beryllium lacks self damping though, so it will still contain excess energy and ring. Like a lot of metal drivers, this will manifest as odd order harmonic distortion, which is a lot less pleasing than even order distortion to the ear. The best soft domes (Dynaudio Esotar, Seas Exotic) and vapor deposited diamond domes (Seas, Accuton) will outperform beryllium drivers, albeit they tend to be a lot more expensive to build, and consequently are priced alot higher than beryllium domes.

    The craziest speakers I've seen are the Tidal La Assolutas, which use $4,000 Accuton diamond tweeters and $30,000 Accuton diamond midrange woofers.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
  23. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    I am not using the active speaker as a home theatre. I only use active speaker w/ a DAC and a DVD player. So no ther equipment is there. It is connected from an Emotiva DAC thru the XLR to the back of the active speaker directly.

    I don't mind using passive. I also thought the cost would be higher. I would need a Pre-Amp on top of a DAC, and 1 to 2 power amp. to the speaker.

    that's why I go w/ active (in fact the idea was from someone else here in another thread). So all I have is 4 piece of equipment. Emotiva, DVD/CD player + 1 pair of M Audio M3-8
     
  24. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Limp Gawd

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    Active's generally are designed for shorter listening distances with limited directivity. If you are sitting far away you really would benefit from speakers with waveguides with more consistent dispersion which is more common in home theater speakers but not pro audio gear. As far as actives, I feel Dynaudio Focus XD and Kii Audio have good active solutions that work well in mid to longer range listening distances, albeit not the cheapest; I'm not sure what your budget is though.
     
  25. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    Dynaudio Focus XD is okay, their 30 XD are all floor speaker, probably too big for me as my room is about 80 sq. ft. Their XD 20 is 2 way, and I hate 2 way. But I did check out their website long ago, the real reason I reject that brand is their tweeter is soft dome.

    Because I am thinking of Focal Trio 6 BE, in which their tweeter is beryllium.

    https://www.focal.com/en/pro-audio/monitoring-speakers/sm6/monitoring-speakers/trio6-be

    I never heard of Kii Three. How did they get 250W x 6 chnl? It looks like there are only 4 chnl.? The price is good. But the Focal Trio 6 was at that same price range of €10,000, but recently dropped their price all the way to $2K+, and they still give me 450W.

    Now, you said beryllium creates harmonic distortion, I never try out the Trio 6 yet, but others told me the biggest loss in a stereo system is the speaker, and for a speaker to accurately produce sound, the tweeter has to be hard and light. Beryllium is 1 of the very few material that fits the bill. Yamaha also has a man-made material called Xylon, that does the same thing. So, that seems to be the pros and cons. I have my M-Audio M3-8 at 0dB gain. On rare occasion, if the CD player is at idle, I do hear the hmmm noise
     
  26. Commander Shepard

    Commander Shepard Proud Brony

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    I have the Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC. It's a terrific piece of audio equipment, but the $1250 I spent was a helluva lot more than I originally planned. Over the Christmas holidays, I got a new pair of KEF LS50 speakers for $900 from Amazon. They usually run about $1300, but Amazon had a sale for $1000 + 10% off if you used their Amazon store card. I noticed a lot more audio improvement from the speakers than the DAC.
     
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  27. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Limp Gawd

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    Beryllium is the highest performing metal out there, it has absolutely the lowest distortion compared to aluminum, titanium, magnesium, or the various alloys used. Compared to high end doped fabric drivers and diamond domes it will exhibit more distortion, and most of it will manifest as the odd order distortion, which is commonly described as "bright" sounding rather than even order distortion which our ears hear as "warmth." Doped fabric and diamond drivers have slightly less distortion, and most of the harmonics will be the more benign even order type. Beryllium is more pistonic than doped fabric, and several orders of magnitude cheaper than diamond, so it's a good cost/benefit trade-off for high end retail brands targeting treble extension and air.
     
  28. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I still feel that since most domes get really high prior to breakup that Be is a wasted material on them. It’s just a selling point to tack on another $1000 to a speaker.

    I know a few domes with Be was used to increase sensitivity since it IS very light but I can’t imagine with those Focals it made a big difference.
     
  29. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    This is what it really boils down to. Another thing that assists with music listening is point sourcing(technical term? Lol). KEF’s do Conical designs super well and keeping all your bandwidth from the same source that a coaxial provides can do wonders with the listening experience.
     
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  30. Commander Shepard

    Commander Shepard Proud Brony

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    The LS50 has a great reputation. I doubt I ever would have bought them at the regular price, though. That sale came along at the perfect time. Here's a good review...

     
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  31. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Limp Gawd

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    According to Audioholics: An ideal loudspeaker diaphragm would never flex, thus it would exhibit perfect pistonic motion. It would always be infinitely rigid, well damped, and inherently in that characteristic, the speed of sound through the material would be infinite, thus the mass would ideally be zero and the break up mode frequency would be infinity.

    Be checks alot of these boxes, it does not bend (break-up) until very high frequencies, is better damped than aluminum, titanium, or magnesium, and has 2.5x+ the speed of sound of Al/Ti/Mg. I do agree breakup isn't as big of an issue on tweeters as it is on a woofer (which is why pure metal midrange drivers are non-existent in the high end except for beryllium ones--see Paradigm Persona and TAD Evolution; it's much more common to find ceramic or woven kevlar/polypropelene since it's worth trading off resolution for smoothness), but it does have a lot of abilities that makes it appealing as much from a performance standpoint as a marketing standpoint for a flagship speaker.
     
  32. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I question their use in dome's, not tweeters in general. I'd like to make a setup that uses a Radian 951Be, seeing that CD's issue is getting post 10k bandwidth but not with midrange it only makes more sense to look more for a CD with Be than a Dome. Be Domes can't be crossed lower than polymer ones anyway. A true 2-way full range speaker would be great, I've only ever seen this done a few times and those were extremely expensive. I could be way off with my thinking towards domes, I'm just having a hard time figuring out why one would spend the money on a Be dome outside of sensitivity.

    I bet a Truextent cones costs a mortgage, then again all I'm hearing is how the cones are vapor deposit. Still I'd kill for one of those TAD's. You heard any speakers with the Accuton C158-8-085? Ceramic mid's are pretty nice, even if their sensitivity drops off a cliff.

    The reason I question it specifically with those Focal's is the FR chart I found isn't exactly spectacular. They claim a lot with these, but I've become completely numb to OEM specifications these days. Even as monitors I feel they are too pricey.
    focal-trio6-be-1444089.png
     
  33. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Limp Gawd

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    Truextent is pure beryllium foil, whereas TAD uses vapor deposition. Beryllium foil is slightly thicker of a beryllium layer, but vapor deposition isn't technically a pure dome since it's combined with another material that's it's deposited on. I think that's why TAD beryllium drivers break up around 30KHz, whereas those that use Materon Truextent like Revel/Paradigm/Seas/etc don't breakup until 40KHz+.

    I haven't heard that particular driver, but I have heard the Accuton C50 in the Selah Tempestas. Definitely a very nice driver. Alumina (ceramic) is an interesting material, it has higher speed of sound and first bending modes than Al/Mg/Ti but lower than beryllium, but better damped than Be. I'm quite interested especially in the new Revel Performa3 M126Be bookshelf launching next month at $4k--truextent Be 1 inch tweeter and 6.5 inch ceramic woofer. I have a Paradigm Persona B with a 7" Be woofer and 1" Be tweeter I will be comparing it to, it will be interesting to see which one has better mids.

    The FR chart you listed is for Adam A7X?
     
  34. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I have a feeling you are going to like the 6.5" ceramic more, smaller cone, and most likely better damped. I find typically 7"s are good for mids but do much better lower (bass region), I think the sweet spot for the 2k region is 5" drivers how ever.
    lol that's what I get for talking shit.

    focal-trio6-be-1444090.png
     
  35. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Emphatically yes.

    Of the audio equipment by far the part that has the biggest impact is your transducer, that is your speakers or your headphones.

    After that you want to make sure you have an amplifier that is capable of driving your speakers properly, and last look at DAC's, they have the smallest impact of all components.

    What's more important than any part in your stereo setup - however - is your room. Hard echo inducing surfaces, and unevenly shaped rooms will sabotage even the best of equipment.

    Usually you will get more improvement in sound for $40 spent on room treatments than $1000 spent anywhere else.

    I'd argue sample rate doesn't matter unless you are either mixing and recording yourself or listen to high sample rate sources (and even then, the difference is negligible at best)

    The absolute best sample rate to listen to a source at, is the sample rate it is in. Most of us listen to 44.1khz 16bit (CD) sources. For this source the best DAC setting is going to be 44.1khz 16bit. Whenever you change it, you are doing interpolation, and this will always lower the sound quality, just like scaling on a monitor inevitably reduces the picture quality.


    Here's the deal with DAC's.

    Most of the difference between them is golden-eared audiophile nonsense.


    It doesn't hurt to get something better than a bargain basement noname made in China part, but by the time you are spending a couple of hundred bucks on one, the improvements after that are going to be VERY subtle.

    Don't get me wrong. You probably want an external one outside your computer, just to isolate yourself from the gigahertz noise inside the computer, but aside from that the differences are very subtle

    In recent years one of the oldest DAC methods has been coming back, in large part thanks to Schiit audio, and this is true R2R Multibit DAC technology. It has a pleasing sound to many, but even so, the difference compared to a more common sigma-delta DAC is going to be subtle as all hell.

    I guess my thought is, unless you have money you just want to throw away, spend it elsewhere, not on multi-thousand dollar DAC's.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  36. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    So your Paradigm Persona B which uses the Be tweeter. What's your opinion of your speaker? are you happy w/ the sound performance?
     
  37. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    I know from experience that if you have wallpaper in your house, it absorbs sound very well. I just have a regular small room, so I am happy to put wall paper around that room.
    The only other trick I know is those audiophile hangs some sort of sound absorbing panel on the wall, and I won't do that

    So I can get a Focal Trio 6E some time this year, probably wait till Xmas as it's a $6K purchase.

    Now my DAC is Emotica XDA 1. I don't have audiophile ear, just an average person's ear. I listen to:

    95% vocal such as Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion
    5% instrumental such as Yanni


    Say I only move to a Schiit Yggdrasil, you are saying there won't be any noticeable difference?
     
  38. Commander Shepard

    Commander Shepard Proud Brony

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    You would notice a difference with the Ygg over your XDA-1, but most likely not $2000 worth of difference. I bet you'd be thrilled just by adding those $6K speakers to your XDA-1.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  39. Happy Hopping

    Happy Hopping [H]ardness Supreme

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    I have done various upgrade around my house since 2014. So as ea. upgrade is done, there is less things to buy. If I don't buy the Focal, I don't know what to buy myself this year.