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DAC blind test: NO audible difference whatsoever.
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Old Today, 07:44 PM   #1221
Markw4 is offline Markw4
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Originally Posted by mmerrill99 View Post
I don't agree that it's about what "some very picky people hear" - I'm pretty sure most people recognize a more realistic auditory illusion when they hear it.
I'm pretty sure they don't. The reason for that is I have tested people with variety of DACs and even with coaching most don't learn how to hear all the differences quickly or easily. It's more like they can lean how to listen for the most obvious differences with some effort quickly, but beyond that not much else. Even then they don't always care that they are hearing a bit more clearly than before, especially if it's expensive to get it.

For most people, if anything its more like they have learned to ignore any differences between DACs rather than to notice them. They focus on music only and don't listen to fine details of reproduction. For one thing, they are rarely exposed to finely detailed, very accurate systems, and people are notoriously bad at noticing what's missing, like missing distortion, etc. People are much better at noticing what's new, and it seems to work out that going from a very good system to less good system may be more noticeable than the other way around, at least for differences in DACs. It's different when going from a transistor radio to a system with chest-thumping bass, as that is a very noticeable big, new thing. Not something that takes effort to learn to give attention to.

Changing the subject a bit, may I ask if you have tried a Benchmark DAC-3? With a good set of cans? They go to a number of lengths to make their DACs more accurate than the stock ESS chips can do in minimal implementations. They also measure very well.

In the high end audiophile market they are considered mid-tier, but in the mastering and mixing market they are right up there in the top tier, I would say. It depends what people want. Mixing and mastering engineers are hired to produce results that sound as good as possible on many different systems, and to do that they need accurate systems. On the other hand, audiophiles care more about their listening pleasure and they want what they think sounds best to them.

I am more in the mixing and mastering camp in terms of my wants and needs. Therefore, I want measured accuracy and good sound, both of them. What you want might be different. You should not assume everybody wants what you want.
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Old Today, 07:59 PM   #1222
mmerrill99 is online now mmerrill99  United States
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Originally Posted by scottjoplin View Post
Ok fair enough. I guess the point I'm trying to make is to get to the crux of the issue of where is the information coming from that allows us to form a realistic image perception in our minds, ultimately from the recording but not in any specific way that makes it possible or not possible, it's not that simple an issue, it's largely to do with how we interact with it which must include how the speakers radiate it into the space we are occupying whilst listening
Sure a DAC or amplifier is part of a system which also includes speakers & room.

Each device in the complete system has it's own role & typical flaws

Once a certain quality of reproduction (subtle details aren't being masked or exaggerated) is achieved in a system then it's possible to differentially evaluate individual devices in that system by changing out the device for another one.

the phrase "a more realistic illusion" has many layers to it - often they are intertwined. Obviously this firstly depends on the recording - if we want to hear how well the recording room ambience is reproduced this needs to be recorded appropriately - electronica is not where it will be found.And remember there is almost always recording engineer manipulation of what is initially captured so we are generally listening to a mixture of the original musicians work overlaid with these manipulations. Unless we do a recording ourselves & know what we did we are faced with the "circle of confusion" as Toole calls it - we have no reference to judge what we are hearing.

But we have our inbuilt auditory model of how sounds behave in the real world & this is in operation at all times. So, at one level, we can judge how close the cymbals are to what we determine as realistic & how much like noise we perceive them. Similarly to any individual sound object in the scene - the sound of clapping hands, violins.

At the next level the "realism" is perceived in how solid & 3D the soundstage is presented (obviously again on the recording although studio manipulation also plays a part in this). How precisely located & unwavering in the auditory spatial scene is each auditory object portrayed? Usually the correct portrayal of the individual sounds in the above paragraph results in the soundstage realism too.
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Old Today, 08:05 PM   #1223
scottjoplin is offline scottjoplin  Wales
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Yes, so also as Mark implies, most people don't recognise a more realistic illusion, due, in part, to a lack of interest, also a lack of experience, if you've worn earbuds most of your life, what chance have you?
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