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DAC Challenge

Discussion in 'DACs' started by Almonds, May 28, 2018.

  1. Almonds

    Almonds Active Member

    Messages:
    221
    Hi there everyone,

    I don't want to start any fights, I just genuinely want to verify something.

    If there's anyone in San Diego I would like to do a challenge between the DAC in the apple airport express and the DAC in the Bluesound node 2. I have both hooked up to some very respectable amplifiers, and some respectable speakers. But, for the challenge, you can bring any amps or speakers you want, or I'll bring the two streamers to you.

    I can set up the 2 streamers so they play identical songs simultaneously and all we have to do is switch between AUX and Tuner on the source selector. Everything in the setup will be identical. You won't have to move from your listening position and the volume level and the parts of the song won't change at all.

    I don't think I can tell the difference between these two. I went out and bought the bluesound for $540 and got the apple device for $40. I can not tell the difference at all.

    This is done with CD quality FLAC on both. Or even with a local WAV file. To me the DACs are completely identical. I would love to see if someone else out there can tell a difference reliably.

    I'm sure it will be fun just to test out, but I'll sweeten the deal:
    I'll buy drinking and/or smoking materials for the testing, including cigars, scotch, or whatever floats your boat. PBR even.
    If you can tell which DAC is playing reliably, let's say 80% or higher on 20 tests, I will give you $200 for your troubles and allowing me to learn something.

    Anyone up for a couple hours of fun? My place or yours. :)


    The amplifiers I have available are:
    Kenwood model 600
    Kenwood KA-9100
    Kenwood KA-3500
    Dynaco VTA ST120
    Yamaha RX-V992

    Speakers:
    JBL L100
    Martin Logan Motion 15
    B&W CM1
    Cerwin Vega D7
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
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  2. Silentnet

    Silentnet AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Sounds like fun! Sadly I'm on the other side of the country. If you get takers I'm very interested in the result.
     
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  3. asilker

    asilker Bible Reader Subscriber

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    Fly to Chicago and you've got a deal
     
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  4. Almonds

    Almonds Active Member

    Messages:
    221
    Ok, I’m serious,
    I’ll fly there, but if you can’t pick reliably, you pay my air fare!
     
  5. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    So are you bummed out you didn't buy a better sounding DAC or something?

    How about saving your money and selling what you feel you got burnt on and buy something better.
     
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  6. Silentnet

    Silentnet AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Location:
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    You're no fun.
     
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  7. asilker

    asilker Bible Reader Subscriber

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    lol I am not in the air fare business. But if you ever get out this way, you are welcome to bring them over.
     
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  8. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    BTW, this does not have a DAC in it, it's using the DAC in whatever device is in front of it. How do you have it hooked up? What's playing into it?

    Also it only sends 16bit over it's WiFi, or if it's hard wired to a system, the computer is only sending 16bit over the air.

    Your Bluesound might also only send 16bit if your all setup wireless.
     
  9. Almonds

    Almonds Active Member

    Messages:
    221
    So are you bummed out you didn't buy a better sounding DAC or something?


    No, not at all. It's returnable, and I will return it. And I enjoy learning as I go.

    I'm just genuinely surprised that there's no difference to my ears between vastly different price point DACs. That's all.
     
  10. Almonds

    Almonds Active Member

    Messages:
    221
    BTW, this does not have a DAC in it, it's using the DAC in whatever device is in front of it. How do you have it hooked up? What's playing into it?

    Also it only sends 16bit over it's WiFi, or if it's hard wired to a system, the computer is only sending 16bit over the air.

    Your Bluesound might also only send 16bit if your all setup wireless.

    The airport express does definitely have a DAC in it. There is no device in front of it, and it's plugged directly into a power amp with no pre-amp via a headphone to RCA cable.

    Also my whole rig is wired LAN. And I can't tell a difference between the hard-wired Bluesound playing 24 bit and the Airplay playing 16 bit.

    Anyway, like I said, this is not to start a fight. I'm not saying and I never said that no one can tell the difference, I just said I can't.
    And it's worth $200 and a nice bottle of booze to see if someone else can.

    It's like people with perfect pitch. I'm a musician and I can definitely not identify an A# note played with no context and out of the blue, but there are people that can do it. It's hard to believe if you don't have the skill, but it does verifiably exist. Just like people who can calculate the day of the week for any date given. I would gladly sit down with any or all of those people and enjoy witnessing their gift and learning something in the process.
     
  11. Almonds

    Almonds Active Member

    Messages:
    221
    The airport express DOES have a DAC in it.
    And my system is hard wired LAN.
     

     

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  12. SiliconTi

    SiliconTi AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Someone on the Interwebs tested the DAC in the Airport Express and it tested very well.
     
  13. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    If nothing is in front of it, how is it playing anything?
     
  14. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    So does my iPhone 6 se and iMac and if I had equipment that the OP stated that would be all that's needed as a DAC
     
  15. asilker

    asilker Bible Reader Subscriber

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    I had an iPhone 5c and remember liking the DAC quite a bit. It's pretty cool that they can make everyday devices sound so good.
     
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  16. Silentnet

    Silentnet AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The thing that amazes me is, all you need for a good DAC is a reasonable size FPGA and a really clean PSU. It's idiot proof.

    Yet somehow I'm surrounded by idiots (in the industry).
     
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  17. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    I sure am not getting any answers here I'm trying to grasp how the OP is using this equipment.
     
  18. restorer-john

    restorer-john Addicted Member

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    Record a half dozen tracks level matched into Audacity from each D/A converter. Trim the recorded samples to be identical lengths and make them available for people to download, listen to and try to identify any audible differences.

    Only you will know which files come from which D/A converters. Send the person who gets them all right a bottle of Scotch. Much cheaper and easier and you'll likely get a nice bottle of Scotch to drink yourself. :)
     
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  19. Almonds

    Almonds Active Member

    Messages:
    221
    Ok, I’ll do that.
    What format should I record in?
    And any tips on how to record it?
     
  20. Silentnet

    Silentnet AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    758
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    This is brilliant. I'll happily test them!
     

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