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Topic # 220300 4-Aug-2017 11:13
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Hi,

 

I'm working with an entrepreneur who is developing a new DAC, we are trying to understand if there is a place for his DAC in the market by speaking to audiophiles.

 

We're trying to find out whether or not audiophiles use a DAC.

 

Why they do/don't.

 

DACs that they use and why they chose them, what they like/dislike about them.

 

What they think the most important features are.

 

If anyone is up for a chat I am happy to talk about the DAC that is being developed in as much detail as I am allowed to, perhaps get your thoughts on it and answer any questions you might have.

 

Really appreciate any feedback.


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  Reply # 1837082 4-Aug-2017 11:38
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What point in the market are you aiming for?  By "new DAC" do you mean a new digital to analogue converter in its entirety, or an existing chip/chipset with different surrounding hardware, or something else?

 

I'm not an "audiophile."  I'm happy with a Muse audio PCM2704 based USB DAC that I plug my ten year old Sennheiser headphones into.


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  Reply # 1837095 4-Aug-2017 11:51
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personally, i'd love a DAC that supports inline mic aswell.

 

 

 

This is a feature that is often missed off decent dacs and would be rather handy for those who pair a decent set of headphones with an attachable mic.





#include <std_disclaimer>

 

Any comments made are personal opinion and do not reflect directly on the position my current or past employers may have.


 
 
 
 




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  Reply # 1839113 4-Aug-2017 12:12
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deadlyllama:

 

What point in the market are you aiming for?  By "new DAC" do you mean a new digital to analogue converter in its entirety, or an existing chip/chipset with different surrounding hardware, or something else?

 

I'm not an "audiophile."  I'm happy with a Muse audio PCM2704 based USB DAC that I plug my ten year old Sennheiser headphones into.

 

 

Well, he believes his design would be a high end product. But, he thinks that there is likely to be more interest mid market. His idea is to create an integrated media server, real time processor and DAC. There are unique elements which I can't discuss, but it will have one of the best DAC chips that is already on the market. 

 

By audiophile, we mean someone who has a personal passion for quality audio, we want to rule out people who might use a DAC for business purposes, such as a producer or mix/master.




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  Reply # 1839114 4-Aug-2017 12:14
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hio77:

 

personally, i'd love a DAC that supports inline mic aswell.

 

 

 

This is a feature that is often missed off decent dacs and would be rather handy for those who pair a decent set of headphones with an attachable mic.

 

 

Hi,

 

Thanks, this is exactly the kind of feedback we are looking for, would you be up for talking in a bit more detail?


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  Reply # 1839287 4-Aug-2017 17:27
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good luck, the market is full to bursting of dac products at all price points.


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  Reply # 1839294 4-Aug-2017 17:49
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I use a FiiO E17 and I'm quite happy with it for the most part, but it could be better.

 

Likes:
 - Display which shows the quality of the input stream (ie, bitrate)
 - Built-in volume and equaliser controls
 - USB, AUX and SPDIF inputs
 - Excellent audio quality and amplification (probably the most important feature lol)

Dislikes:
 - Low battery capacity
 - Mini-USB port (would prefer a USB Type-C)
 - No OTG cable bundled (would be handy for connecting to Android devices)

 

If I were to buy a new DAC, I'd like to get something like the E17 but with a Type-C input and OTG support so I don't need to plug in a second adapter/cable.

 

Although I'm currently NOT in the market for a DAC as I've splurged a bit on a nice pair of wireless aptX-HD headphones, so I don't even use my FiiO these days. My headphones also have direct USB input support so again, a DAC isn't required.




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  Reply # 1840323 7-Aug-2017 08:30
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d3Xt3r:

 

I use a FiiO E17 and I'm quite happy with it for the most part, but it could be better.

 

Likes:
 - Display which shows the quality of the input stream (ie, bitrate)
 - Built-in volume and equaliser controls
 - USB, AUX and SPDIF inputs
 - Excellent audio quality and amplification (probably the most important feature lol)

Dislikes:
 - Low battery capacity
 - Mini-USB port (would prefer a USB Type-C)
 - No OTG cable bundled (would be handy for connecting to Android devices)

 

If I were to buy a new DAC, I'd like to get something like the E17 but with a Type-C input and OTG support so I don't need to plug in a second adapter/cable.

 

Although I'm currently NOT in the market for a DAC as I've splurged a bit on a nice pair of wireless aptX-HD headphones, so I don't even use my FiiO these days. My headphones also have direct USB input support so again, a DAC isn't required.

 

 

This is awesome feedback, thank you so much. I've been getting a lot of comments about vinyl records, some people have been saying that if you want analogue sound, digital data is never going to compare to playing a vinyl record. Do you have any thoughts on this?

 

Thanks




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  Reply # 1840325 7-Aug-2017 08:34
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ilovemusic:

 

good luck, the market is full to bursting of dac products at all price points.

 

 

Hi,

 

Yeah I'm definitely finding this, the research is quite overwhelming. So many different price point and they all do something slightly different, and everyone has their own individual preferences.


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  Reply # 1840433 7-Aug-2017 10:41
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GillJ:

 

This is awesome feedback, thank you so much. I've been getting a lot of comments about vinyl records, some people have been saying that if you want analogue sound, digital data is never going to compare to playing a vinyl record. Do you have any thoughts on this?

 

Thanks

 

 

If you wanted your DAC to be really fancy you could include a tube based preamp as an option for people who like old tech...

 

At the end of the day it's all voltage waveforms, right?  Can a vinyl lover tell the difference between a turntable plugged into their amp, and a turntable plugged into a 24/96 ADC, plugged into a 24/96 DAC, plugged into their amp?


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  Reply # 1840447 7-Aug-2017 10:53
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GillJ:

 

 

 

I've been getting a lot of comments about vinyl records, some people have been saying that if you want analogue sound, digital data is never going to compare to playing a vinyl record. Do you have any thoughts on this?

 

Thanks

 

I disagree with that. Technically there's no reason why a high-quality digital master cannot compete with Vinyl - I'm talking about recording @24-bit / 196KHz sampling rates. Also, the quality depends on the quality of the source and the and processing equipment, but assuming everything in the chain is A-grade - from source to destination - there's no reason why a high-res digital audio sample can't compete with vinyl. And not just that, technically speaking, digital is far superior to vinyl - for eg you don't have any issues of surface errors (no issues of dust, scratches or other surface deformations), no mechanical errors (mechanical noise, variations in motor speeds), and of course - infinite life (unlike vinyls, which do degrade over time even when stored in ideal conditions).

 

The problems with digital audio though are:

 

 - It's hard to find legit high-res audio files, or even plain old 16-bit FLACs. Websites which offer them are few and even then they've got a very limited selection.
 - It's next to impossible to verify the source / sampling equipment / recording conditions, so you can't tell if it was recorded in the best conditions possible. So just because you've got a 24-bit FLAC doesn't necessarily mean it's high-quality.
 - Listeners need to invest a fair bit to get a decent quality DAC/AMP/headphones and not to mention storage, but to be fair, good quality record players cost quite a bit too.

 

That being said, I suspect the reason why music lovers love vinyl so much has little to do with the audio quality, but rather the nostalgic value of playing a vinyl in a record player - they feel that's how it was "intended" to be listened to by the artists, plus, there's something about being able to physically feel, store, display and treasure your music collection - something you can't really do with digital audio - you can't really "connect" with your music collection like that. Also, various record players have a character to them which makes the music sound just a bit different - and people like this. For instance, take the sound signature of tube amps - people who prefer to use tube amps aren't doing so because they're interested in accurate audio reproduction - it's because of the sound signature or nostalgia.

 

Music is all about invoking a deep emotional response and in the end, the audio quality has very little to with that. For instance, you may be able to listen to a 100% perfect recording on the best audio equipment, but your emotional response to listening to the same piece being performed live will be very different. It's all about the experience.


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  Reply # 1840456 7-Aug-2017 11:04
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d3Xt3r:

 

at being said, I suspect the reason why music lovers love vinyl so much has little to do with the audio quality, but rather the nostalgic value of playing a vinyl in a record player - they feel that's how it was "intended" to be listened to by the artists, plus, there's something about being able to physically feel, store, display and treasure your music collection

 

 

I concur with your analysis - all other things being equal, if you want to hear a recording as close to the original master and as the engineer intended, digital is empirically superior to vinyl. Given that music is an intensely personal thing, I completely understand why people may still prefer the "vinyl sound" though.

 

Another consideration to add to your list for the resurgent popularity and preference for vinyl would be that - for a long while at least - original vinyl recordings were not victims of the "loudness war" and thus the vinyl mastering itself was often a better, subtler mix with greater dynamic range than the CD or remastered re-issue.

 

Problem these days is that a lot of new releases on vinyl are mastered the same as the parallel digital release, so if that is poor, then it is equally poor on wax as it is in Ones-and-zeroes!

 

 

 

 





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  Reply # 1840458 7-Aug-2017 11:08
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d3Xt3r:

 

The problems with digital audio though are:

 

 - It's hard to find legit high-res audio files, or even plain old 16-bit FLACs. Websites which offer them are few and even then they've got a very limited selection.
 - It's next to impossible to verify the source / sampling equipment / recording conditions, so you can't tell if it was recorded in the best conditions possible. So just because you've got a 24-bit FLAC doesn't necessarily mean it's high-quality.
 - Listeners need to invest a fair bit to get a decent quality DAC/AMP/headphones and not to mention storage, but to be fair, good quality record players cost quite a bit too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having done a lot of very "unscientific" listening, the benefits of "hi-res" audio have certainly not been made apparent to me.

 

I have a number of high bit/sample rate albums in the library and I don't believe they are discernibly improved over their original 16 bit 44Khz counterparts...and they take up a shed-load more storage as well!

 

As you allude to, the magic is almost always in the quality of recording itself and how well it was mixed and mastered.





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  Reply # 1840509 7-Aug-2017 12:10
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Item:

 

 

 

Having done a lot of very "unscientific" listening, the benefits of "hi-res" audio have certainly not been made apparent to me.

 

I have a number of high bit/sample rate albums in the library and I don't believe they are discernibly improved over their original 16 bit 44Khz counterparts...and they take up a shed-load more storage as well!

 

As you allude to, the magic is almost always in the quality of recording itself and how well it was mixed and mastered.

 

 

Same with me, to be honest. But the main reason why I prefer buying high-res audio (or even 16bit FLACs) is for transcoding. At present, my codec of choice for storing music on my phone is Opus (excellent quality at low bitrates/sizes), but a couple of years go my go-to codec was AAC. So if a superior codec comes along to replace Opus in the future, I can just transcode from my original "master". :)

 

I also often use my masters to compare various codecs/bitrates/audio equipment, so I quite like having them around.




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  Reply # 1841213 8-Aug-2017 15:25
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deadlyllama:

 

GillJ:

 

This is awesome feedback, thank you so much. I've been getting a lot of comments about vinyl records, some people have been saying that if you want analogue sound, digital data is never going to compare to playing a vinyl record. Do you have any thoughts on this?

 

Thanks

 

 

If you wanted your DAC to be really fancy you could include a tube based preamp as an option for people who like old tech...

 

At the end of the day it's all voltage waveforms, right?  Can a vinyl lover tell the difference between a turntable plugged into their amp, and a turntable plugged into a 24/96 ADC, plugged into a 24/96 DAC, plugged into their amp?

 

 

Hi, thanks for the suggestion, do you think including a tube based preamp would actually appeal to vinyl lovers, or will they just stick to their records?

 

I have no idea if anyone could actually tell the difference, I know I wouldn't be able to, but some people do seem to feel really strongly about it. Hopefully a bit more research will shed some light on it.

 

 




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  Reply # 1841252 8-Aug-2017 16:01
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d3Xt3r:

 

GillJ:

 

 

 

I've been getting a lot of comments about vinyl records, some people have been saying that if you want analogue sound, digital data is never going to compare to playing a vinyl record. Do you have any thoughts on this?

 

Thanks

 

I disagree with that. Technically there's no reason why a high-quality digital master cannot compete with Vinyl - I'm talking about recording @24-bit / 196KHz sampling rates. Also, the quality depends on the quality of the source and the and processing equipment, but assuming everything in the chain is A-grade - from source to destination - there's no reason why a high-res digital audio sample can't compete with vinyl. And not just that, technically speaking, digital is far superior to vinyl - for eg you don't have any issues of surface errors (no issues of dust, scratches or other surface deformations), no mechanical errors (mechanical noise, variations in motor speeds), and of course - infinite life (unlike vinyls, which do degrade over time even when stored in ideal conditions).

 

The problems with digital audio though are:

 

 - It's hard to find legit high-res audio files, or even plain old 16-bit FLACs. Websites which offer them are few and even then they've got a very limited selection.
 - It's next to impossible to verify the source / sampling equipment / recording conditions, so you can't tell if it was recorded in the best conditions possible. So just because you've got a 24-bit FLAC doesn't necessarily mean it's high-quality.
 - Listeners need to invest a fair bit to get a decent quality DAC/AMP/headphones and not to mention storage, but to be fair, good quality record players cost quite a bit too.

 

That being said, I suspect the reason why music lovers love vinyl so much has little to do with the audio quality, but rather the nostalgic value of playing a vinyl in a record player - they feel that's how it was "intended" to be listened to by the artists, plus, there's something about being able to physically feel, store, display and treasure your music collection - something you can't really do with digital audio - you can't really "connect" with your music collection like that. Also, various record players have a character to them which makes the music sound just a bit different - and people like this. For instance, take the sound signature of tube amps - people who prefer to use tube amps aren't doing so because they're interested in accurate audio reproduction - it's because of the sound signature or nostalgia.

 

Music is all about invoking a deep emotional response and in the end, the audio quality has very little to with that. For instance, you may be able to listen to a 100% perfect recording on the best audio equipment, but your emotional response to listening to the same piece being performed live will be very different. It's all about the experience.

 

 

Hi, thanks again for your comments. The differing opinions on digital vs analogue are really interesting. Your comment about how the artist intended the music to be listened to is something I've come across a few times, and also your comment about having a physical copy.

 

Your comment about an emotional connection is something I have heard on both sides of the argument.

 

This is really brilliant feedback, I think you've pretty much covered everything I've looking at at the moment. Thanks again


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