$43000 "hi-end" DAC vs $50 consumer audio dac ? - diyAudio
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Old 10th October 2012, 12:48 AM   #1
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Default $43000 "hi-end" DAC vs $50 consumer audio dac ?

This all optioned up "hi-end" DAC sells for $43,000 yet measures poorly compared to a well implemented version of the ESS9018 sabre dac. What is even more bazaar is the vendor of this "hi-end" dac slags off the sabre dac as being a mere "consumer grade" dac whatever that means !! But ironically this "consumer grade" dac is being used in the Weiss DAC202 DAC which sells for around 7K and which runs rings around it in the measurement stakes and dare I say it, in the subjective stakes as well !!

Go figure !!

MSB Technology Platinuum DAC

MSB Technology Platinum Data CD IV transport & Diamond DAC IV & D/A converter Measurements | Stereophile.com

Weiss DAC202

Weiss DAC202 FireWire D/A converter Measurements | Stereophile.com

It's just too bad that most of us here on diy can't afford a 43K hi-end dac. We'll just have to settle for a $50 consumer grade dac
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Old 10th October 2012, 12:55 AM   #2
cotdt is offline cotdt  United States
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Vastly overpriced, but looks like a fine DAC to me. Is this somehow related to DIY?
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Old 10th October 2012, 01:27 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Trevor White View Post
It's just too bad that most of us here on diy can't afford a 43K hi-end dac. We'll just have to settle for a $50 consumer grade dac
Just as someone in the DIY Audio community might prefer handmade Duelund VSFCu-Paper In Oil/CAST capacitor over a mass produced Wima capacitor for their DIY project, or an old coat hanger versus hand braided interconnects who is to say? Someone might make their own FETs starting from a bucket of sand and sell them to any DIY'er who wants to buy it. Who cares? It's their money. There is a market for everything and this is what keeps an free market economy moving.

With the many choices one faces here, DIY Audio isn't a an overly inexpensive hobby either. Depending on how one wants to spend their grocery money or kid's University fund, I am pretty sure most of us can afford a $43k DAC (and the $50 consumer DAC for that matter), and the same person who can afford it, makes it a matter of their choice. Congratulations to them, I hope that they are happy with their purchase.

Personally, I am just glad that there is a choice out there (and I wish I were the one selling this DAC to them).
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Old 10th October 2012, 01:29 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by cotdt View Post
Vastly overpriced, but looks like a fine DAC to me. Is this somehow related to DIY?
Is that 'looks' as in appearance or in performance ??

Yes diyer's are build dacs using the "consumer grade" ESS9018 sabre dac so they can be proud of owning something that betters a 43K "hi-end" dac
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Old 10th October 2012, 01:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by overtheairbroadcast View Post
Just as someone in the DIY Audio community might prefer handmade Duelund VSFCu-Paper In Oil/CAST capacitor over a mass produced Wima capacitor for their DIY project, or an old coat hanger versus hand braided interconnects who is to say? Someone might make their own FETs starting from a bucket of sand and sell them to any DIY'er who wants to buy it. Who cares? It's their money. There is a market for everything and this is what keeps an free market economy moving.

With the many choices one faces here, DIY Audio isn't a an overly inexpensive hobby either. Depending on how one wants to spend their grocery money or kid's University fund, I am pretty sure most of us can afford a $43k DAC (and the $50 consumer DAC for that matter), and the same person who can afford it, makes it a matter of their choice. Congratulations to them, I hope that they are happy with their purchase.

Personally, I am just glad that there is a choice out there (and I wish I were the one selling this DAC to them).
What about when vendors of hi-end equipment have to resort to mud-slinging and down right misleading comments such as this !! I think people have a right to be informed no matter how much someone is willing to spend on equipment.

What about 32 bit DACs

Quote:
A DAC is a circuit that converts digital measures of audio amplitude in discrete steps into a continuous analog electrical equivalent of the sound to be reproduced. We have been taught to associate the number of bits in that digital word with the quality of the calculation, but the rate of the converter also comes into play. If we do conversion at 16 bits, 48,000 times per second, it is not the same as doing conversion at 16 bits and 96,000 times per second. Along comes 1 bit DACs and SACD that convert at a much higher rates and the whole idea of performance and bit depth falls apart. But in a ladder DAC like MSB uses, the performance of the DAC is directly linked to the precision of the ladder, and the number of bits in that ladder are critical.

MSB has been shipping a true 24 bit DAC for many years, and now has produced a true 26 bit DAC in the Diamond DAC IV. But we are now facing bold product claims about a new 32 bit DAC availible, namely the Sabre 32 DAC chip. This is a DAC chip just like any other from Burr Brown, AKM or Analog Devices. Lets look a little deeper to avoid any confusion about what this DAC actually is.

Here is what their web site says. “The advantage of using this 32-bit process to reconstruct a 16-bit digital signal (i.e. Redbook CD) is simple; This process interpolates the digital information more accurately by calculating the finer steps with 32-bit resolution that were lost during the analog-to-digital 16-bit mastering process. “

Notice that they use the word “process “ not DAC. Notice they talk about “reconstruct “ and “interpolate “ - both digital terms, not analog conversion. All this is saying is that they are using a digital filter with “32 bit resolution “ to do their math. Big Yawn.

The DAC in question is the Sabre DAC with a retail price of $39. According to the ESS web site, this DAC is designed to bring “true professional digital audio to the mass consumer home entertainment market “.

Lets look at the Sabre Datasheet. Input resolution is 32 bit. Digital filter: 32 bit architecture. Thats all it has to say except it has a THD of -110 dB. So what is the DAC technology? They do not even say!

We dig deeper and find a White Paper. Ah, it is a delta sigma DAC just like everyone else's. Then we find this quote. “After all the DSP and complex noise shaping of the signal is complete the digital number must be converted to an analog output. In principle the typically six bit number may be applied to a six bit DAC and the analog output is produced. “

So the hot new 32 bit DAC is actually a 6 bit DAC! Right from their own white paper. It is undoubtably a good DAC for the mass consumer market it was designed for. It is certainly nothing of interest to the high-end community, especially as the the DAC, digital filter and sample rate converter that cannot be dissabled are all bundled in a single chip so no opportunity exists to improve its performance.

So be informed and do not be fooled by the over-the-top advertising made by the audio companies who actually use this $39 chip.
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Old 10th October 2012, 01:51 AM   #6
dacen is offline dacen  Norway
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Well spoken. From a Burr-Brown PCM63 user.
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Old 10th October 2012, 01:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Trevor White View Post
What about when vendors of hi-end equipment have to resort to mud-slinging and down right misleading comments such as this !! I think people have a right to be informed no matter how much someone is willing to spend on equipment.
What about it? Even if given the facts that cut through the mud slinging, misleading comments, and advertising, I am not going to police thier actions or beat myself up because someone wants to say something. Like the Dude says, "That's just like, your opinion, man."

I trust that smart people can separate the lies from the truths and make their own balanced and informed decisions.

Now I don't argue that all the people have the right to be informed... only one thing will remain a true constant; there is a portion of the population who will believe what they want to believe and shovel money towards it (though usually up here we call it, "an election year").
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Old 10th October 2012, 02:10 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by overtheairbroadcast View Post
What about it? Even if given the facts that cut through the mud slinging, misleading comments, and advertising, I am not going to police thier actions or beat myself up because someone wants to say something. Like the Dude says, "That's just like, your opinion, man."

I trust that smart people can separate the lies from the truths and make their own balanced and informed decisions.

Now I don't argue that all the people have the right to be informed... only one thing will remain a true constant; there is a portion of the population who will believe what they want to believe and shovel money towards it (though usually up here we call it, "an election year").
I've saved a lot of money over the years by informing myself before I make a purchase. My first point of call is the internet. Hopefully someone already owns what I am interested in buying and their feedback whether it be positive or negative goes to some length in helping me make a decision before I do my money.

Surely you're not going to tell me that you are going to get an unbiased and objective opinion from a vendor or salesmen ?? Good luck if you believe that.

Honestly, the dudes flogging this gear would give PT Barnum a run for his money !!
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Old 10th October 2012, 02:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor White View Post
What is even more bazaar is the vendor of this "hi-end" dac slags off the sabre dac as being a mere "consumer grade" dac whatever that means !!
I for one can't resist appreciating the irony here. They slag off ESS for being 'only' a 6 bit DAC (true enough as far as it goes) but claim their DAC is a 'true 26 bit DAC' - which the Stereophile measurements you linked to clearly demonstrate is a porky:

All the traces are showing is the level of the 16-bit dither noise; increasing the bit depth to 24 drops the noise floor by an extraordinary 27dB or so. This implies a resolution of close to 21 bits...

So 'true 26 bit DAC' in MSB marketing parlance actually translates in engineering speak to 'almost a 21 bit DAC'

<edit> Have you done the subjective comparison with the Weiss yourself or heard about someone who has? I'd be interested in their findings.
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Last edited by abraxalito; 10th October 2012 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 10th October 2012, 02:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by abraxalito View Post
I for one can't resist appreciating the irony here. They slag off ESS for being 'only' a 6 bit DAC (true enough as far as it goes) but claim their DAC is a 'true 26 bit DAC' - which the Stereophile measurements you linked to clearly demonstrate is a porky:

All the traces are showing is the level of the 16-bit dither noise; increasing the bit depth to 24 drops the noise floor by an extraordinary 27dB or so. This implies a resolution of close to 21 bits...

So 'true 26 bit DAC' in MSB marketing parlance actually translates in engineering speak to 'almost a 21 bit DAC'

<edit> Have you done the subjective comparison with the Weiss yourself or heard about someone who has? I'd be interested in their findings.
So the ESS is only a 6 bit dac but measures significantly better than their 26 bit ladder dac !! What does that say about their dac ?? LOL

Yes I know someone who had access to a Weiss dac but the unit was faulty so couldn't do any valid measurements
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