External DAC with Connect



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Construction guy's point was that people hear differently... Or in the case of many folks, like my wife as an example, they simply don't care how stuff sounds..


Bingo....nothing confrontational about that. Even as an individual your hearing changes over the years too so will your audio preferences.

All I suggest is that people try stuff for themselves, regardless if the results support one position or another. Simply don't take my word, or anyone elses as written in stone.

All I suggest is that people try stuff for themselves, regardless if the results support one position or another. Simply don't take my word, or anyone elses as written in stone.

Agreed. And all we are suggesting is that there is a rational and widely regarded methodology for these trials if one wants to be sure of processing only what one's ears have conveyed. Failing that, be aware of the fact that the brain will also process other inputs than from the ears and if that is ok for you, that is fine too.
Bingo....nothing confrontational about that. Even as an individual your hearing changes over the years too so will your audio preferences.

All I suggest is that people try stuff for themselves, regardless if the results support one position or another. Simply don't take my word, or anyone elses as written in stone.


But don't you realize that when you state one digital cable sounds better than another, it is the equivalent of standing at the dock and saying to the sailors "Don't sail too far, you will fall off the edge!" Nobody with a scintilla of knowledge about engineering will take you seriously, and they don't have to "listen" (or sail too far) to know that you are speaking nonsense. And on top of that, when confronted with these facts, instead of admitting that your opinion makes no scientific sense, and that you may be experiencing a placebo effect or bias, you insult the objectivists ability to hear or the ability of their system to resolve differences.

The simple fact is audiophiles have every opportunity in the world to prove they hear what they hear, and they can't. So why should the objectivists have to accept their observations, when there is no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that an audiophile is ever going to accept the fact that what they hear just may be all in their head?
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Agreed. And all we are suggesting is that there is a rational and widely regarded methodology for these trials if one wants to be sure of processing only what one's ears have conveyed. Failing that, be aware of the fact that the brain will also process other inputs than from the ears and if that is ok for you, that is fine too.

Sure it is, but it doesn't matter what you or I think, or the processes involved. What matters is the way the end user enjoys his music, regardless if he/she gets there with a Hello Kitty cdp or a Musical fidelity. More so about simply enjoying your music and less about the gear's name plate.

That said though, if those who wish to explore better sound, there is certainly a variety of products to help you on that journey.
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Now if we can get past that, then we can move on to helping some who want to make their Sonos sound better.

I've never in the past been a big fan of digital music files. There always seems to be something missing. Call it lack of soul, a more sterile sound, musicality, whatever....just always something missing. Some have a saying....to enjoy digital playback, never listen to good analog. That may hold true for some as I come from the era of vinyl and reel to reels on tube gear. That's always been my personal benchmark, but lets face it folks, who wants to deal with the pops, clicks, record cleaning, tone arms, needles/carts, platter speed and weight. Not really a good fit for todays lifestyle.

When the cdp was introduced, it was like a savior, but still not up to par on good vinyl playback. Now in the digital file age, my benchmark is to just get everything to sound like a good cdp. When I first got a Sonos, I wasn't all that thrilled with the SQ as compared to a good cdp. There was that "something missing". So I rolled a bunch of dacs, cables, to try and make my digital more analog like. The sound of my old Sonic Frontiers gear of my youth still ringing in the back of my head, It became a mission to make my digital sound at least close to analog. Budget constraints, a wife, and certain other parameters were holding me back, still are, but that's how life works. Priorities, with more and more things demanding your wallet. Still, I needed some vestige of tubes in my system or warmer sounding SS. What works for me so far is the Sonos connected into a Cary Xciter dac, into a Pioneer Elite receiver, into a Butler TDB2250 hybrid amp, out to my Legacy Focus 20/20 speakers. The only reason the receiver is in the mix is because my system pulls double duty, HT and 2 channel. This sounds excellent to me, and as good as any 16/44 lossless file has a right to.

That's how I get my sonos to sound great. Should have mentioned it's a Cullen modded one too. Which btw, offers up a cleaner sound over the standard ZP90. Admittedly though, those mods are costly and if I had to do it again, don't think the slight SQ increase is worth the coinage. Friend has the Synchro mesh on his standard Sonos, also sounds real good but again, not cheap. I guess if your going to use the Sonos on your main system for critical listening and not just casual listening or background music, the costs are worth it. To each his own though, we all have different wallets and priorities. I still profess good sound can be had at any level of wallet you carry. Enjoy your tunes guys.
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Consider the two statements:
1. Two amplifiers that have the same measured flat frequency/distortion response of the kind that most modern amplifiers exhibit, that are working within designed limits - i.e, without clipping/distorting - cannot be distinguished from each other in a level matched DBT when operating with tone controls or the like not engaged.
2. All amplifiers sound the same.
People, of whom I am one, that support the first statement are often said to be saying the second, which they are not. The second statement is not a short version of the first, and isn't believed to be a true statement by them.
I am curious to know if there is anybody on this forum that disagrees with statement 1.


Whats your point? That two amplifiers ( are we talking power amps or integrated amps?) that measure the same, are both solid state, that are both fundamentally identical will sound the same? I suspect they will.. because it sounds like you're asking if two identical amps will sound identical..
because it sounds like you're asking if two identical amps will sound identical..
Far from it. Pick any two modern amps of different makes at any price point and different power outputs and these will fulfil the terms of statement 1 - provided that they measure alike in having a flat frequency response and close to modern levels of distortion, as most modern amps now do.
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But don't you realize that when you state one digital cable sounds better than another, it is the equivalent of standing at the dock and saying to the sailors "Don't sail too far, you will fall off the edge!" Nobody with a scintilla of knowledge about engineering will take you seriously, and they don't have to "listen" (or sail too far) to know that you are speaking nonsense.


And on top of that, when confronted with these facts, instead of admitting that your opinion makes no scientific sense, and that you may be experiencing a placebo effect or bias, you insult the objectivists ability to hear or the ability of their system to resolve differences.

You seem to protest a lot about folks insulting you, maybe it's because you are also insulting to others? Would you speak in the same way and tone if you weren't on an internet forum?

The simple fact is audiophiles have every opportunity in the world to prove they hear what they hear, and they can't. So why should the objectivists have to accept their observations, when there is no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that an audiophile is ever going to accept the fact that what they hear just may be all in their head?


That's an absurd statement.. How about Bob Stuart of Meridian I suspect he has a bit more than a scintilla of engineering knowledge.. I'm sure I can find at least a few Hundred more that actually both, Measure and Listen..

You seem to protest a lot about folks insulting you, maybe it's because you are also insulting to others?
That's an absurd statement.. How about Bob Stuart of Meridian I suspect he has a bit more than a scintilla of engineering knowledge.. I'm sure I can find at least a few Hundred more that actually both, Measure and Listen..

You seem to protest a lot about folks insulting you, maybe it's because you are also insulting to others?


Erik, I have explained this hundreds of times, yet you still persist in describing me as not being a fan of "listening". So I am going to ask this nicely. Could you please stop posting that I am against actually listening? You could not be more wrong, and to continue posting this as fact makes me think you are either a bot, or merely parroting the talking points for the audiophile industry.

Here is my stance on actually listening:

In order to actually "listen" to see if there is a difference between two audio components, be they amps, cables, wires, or cocobolo wood feet, one must "listen" during a carefully controlled ABX test. This is the only surefire way to actually "listen" if you wish to know the truth as to whether a difference is actually heard, or it is due to some other effect. Once again I state: I am 100% in favor of listening if one wants to determine there is a difference between two components!! If one is going to state that there is a difference, in order to be taken seriously, one must "listen" without any input besides the actual sound!!!!

You will now forever be called out when accusing me of not wanting to listen. Period.
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Can it be a blind a-b test also?
Were one doesn't know which is which?
Does that count?
Can it be a blind a-b test also?
Were one doesn't know which is which?
Does that count?


No, it must be double blind. There are reams of scientific evidence that prove a single blind test is influenced by queues from the party who knows which is which. Which is why science insists on double blind studies.

But you already know this, because it has been discussed before. :rolleyes:
Can it be a blind a-b test also?
Were one doesn't know which is which?
Does that count?

Although ABX is more than that, I would say yes to your questions, provided both tester and tested don't know which is which - i.e. double blind.
Equally important and more difficult to do is level matching to within 0.1 dB of sound levels from each alternative being tested.
Far from it. Pick any two modern amps of different makes at any price point and different power outputs and these will fulfil the terms of statement 1 - provided that they measure alike in having a flat frequency response and close to modern levels of distortion, as most modern amps now do.
To amplify on the above - examples of amps that may be compared and will meet the assertion in statement 1 are current budget models from Marantz, Rotel, Nad and the like, Quad 99/909 pre power, a Krell 400 wpc, all the way to the USD 100k priced Audio Note Ongaku. With cheaper Luxmans thrown in as well.
And modern in this context means any known brand make amp, made in the last 25 years.
PS: How could I leave out Connect Amp?! That included as well.
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No, it must be double blind. There are reams of scientific evidence that prove a single blind test is influenced by queues from the party who knows which is which. Which is why science insists on double blind studies.

But you already know this, because it has been discussed before. :rolleyes:


So when you bought your current gear did you ABX it?

If so how did you manage it?
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To amplify on the above - examples of amps that may be compared and will meet the assertion in statement 1 are current budget models from Marantz, Rotel, Nad and the like, Quad 99/909 pre power, a Krell 400 wpc, all the way to the USD 100k priced Audio Note Ongaku. With cheaper Luxmans thrown in as well.
And modern in this context means any known brand make amp, made in the last 25 years.
PS: How could I leave out Connect Amp?! That included as well.


Hey Kumar if you can get an Ongaku and a Rotel in the same room I'm down for that comparison.. A-B.. ABX.. XYZ baby..
So when you bought your current gear did you ABX it?

If so how did you manage it?


No, I didn't, except for speakers, and that was a single blind so not really relevant. I also don't make any claims that my system, or any component therein, sounds any better than any other. I am confident that what I buy sounds good to me, and I do not need ABX testing to do that. In no way do I try to convince others of this, and aside from stating I have an Onkyo receiver that doesn't cause a delay from a Connect, I have never mentioned what equipment I own/owned, aside from Sonos. It simply isn't an issue for me, for I don't fancy bragging about gear, I find it rather gauche.

Now, if I were to come here and state the following:

I augmented my Sonos with a PS Audio PerfectWave Dac with the new Bridge.. I can now stream my Hi Rez files, and control everything with my Ipod Touch.. And Hi Rez just blows redbook away..



I buy lots of music off HD Tracks.. I use XLD to convert to 16/44 for my household Sonos system, I play back Hi Res in my main system with a PS Audio PWD MKII.. I can directly compare them.. The Hi Res sounds better.. hugely , jaw dropping better of course not, but better yes..



Then I most certainly would need to do an ABX test to lend any credence to my claims. If anything, I would certainly have to explain the reason why my assessment of Hi Res went from "blows redbook away" to "sounds better.. hugely , jaw dropping better of course not, but better yes" when switching to a unit that actually can play Hi Res? Could it be that intermodulation distortion? 😃
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But don't you realize that when you state one digital cable sounds better than another, it is the equivalent of standing at the dock and saying to the sailors "Don't sail too far, you will fall off the edge!" Nobody with a scintilla of knowledge about engineering will take you seriously, and they don't have to "listen" (or sail too far) to know that you are speaking nonsense. And on top of that, when confronted with these facts, instead of admitting that your opinion makes no scientific sense, and that you may be experiencing a placebo effect or bias, you insult the objectivists ability to hear or the ability of their system to resolve differences.


OK, I'll bite on that...

You seem to be simultaneously:

(1) asserting a hypothesis that there are no circumstances in which a digital cable can affect the perceived sound quality of an audio system

(2) putting this on the same footing as the hypothesis (now known fact, of course) that the earth is not flat, and

(3) ridiculing anyone that disbelieves your hypothesis.

In order to prove that the earth is not flat, experiments were carried out or measurements were made to show that such a hypothesis was not consistent with observed facts. That's the established scientific method. However, before this, the prevailing scientific theory was that the earth was flat and those who believed otherwise were no doubt ridiculed. Scientific knowledge advances by continually seeking to disprove the current set of beliefs. (I know I'm stating the obvious here.)

I don't believe that it is possible to carry out a similar experiment to prove your hypothesis that there are no circumstances in which digital cables "make a difference" (to put it in shorthand). In order to do so you would have to show that for all combinations of cable, equipment and listener, there was no perceivable difference in sound. In principle this is impossible - it is after all trying to prove a negative. By contrast if anyone ever carried out an experiment with a single combination of cable, equipment and listener that demonstrated a repeatable difference under properly controlled conditions (e.g. DBT) your hypothesis would be falsified at a stroke. I'm not making any comment about how likely that is, I'm just pointing out that it's in principle possible to falsify your hypothesis but never to conclusively prove it.

As it happens, I do have a "scintilla of knowledge about engineering" and I can think of some reasons why digital cables may affect the sound quality of an audio system. Firstly there may be transmission errors in high-speed digital signals, and if there is no error detection and correction mechanism this could result in incorrect data being fed to a DAC. This can't be ruled out in principle over an S/PDIF connection, for one example. Secondly, a cable could inject noise via power or ground signals from a noisy device (e.g. computer) to a sensitive device such as a DAC. It's not unreasonable to suppose that this noise could be enough to cause LSB-level changes in the DAC output - for example, on a 16-bit DAC with a 2V range the LSB corresponds to 30 uV.

So just off the top of my head there are at least two not-totally-unreasonable methods by which digital cables could result in different output from an audio device, depending on the design of the equipment, the data the cable carries, the protocols used, etc. etc. Such differences could surely be measured in the lab with the right equipment, so it wouldn't depend on the human perception of sound.

Unless you believe that objectively measurable differences such as these could not possibly be audible by any human, I think this throws doubt on your hypothesis to the point that believing it becomes an article of faith rather than application of logic and science. Which is fine, provided you qualify it by saying it's your belief rather than making it out to be an absolute, unassailable truth that anyone would be crazy not to subscribe to.

My point is simply this: much as you insist on logic and science, it seems that you're not applying its principles as rigorously as the standards you set for others.

Each of us has our own belief system about what can or cannot "make a difference" in an audio system. Some people are biased towards the objective/doubting end, while others are at the subjective/accepting end. Speaking for myself, it's something that can change with time and experience (in either direction). My view is that while we might disagree we should at least be able to have a sensible discussion without ridicule and disrespect.
IanW, I have previously in this thread stated the following:

Yes, science gets stuff wrong. How do they prove it wrong? By carefully constructed experiments based on a new hypothesis that prove what was thought before to be incorrect. Carefully constructed experiments like a double blind study, none of which have ever proven the nonsense that digital cables, if operating correctly, make any difference in sound. If you conduct such an experiment and you actually prove there is a difference, then science will be proven wrong. Until then, you are simply reporting your bias . Good luck with that experiment..


I apologize for not stating the bolded more clearly. I don't consider a system plagued with transmission errors, or insufficiently shielded, to be "operating correctly". Furthermore, given these circumstances, the sound would suffer noticeable dropouts, not the "brighter, more spatial, wooly, warm, orange peel sound, apple juice fluidity" nonsense that audiophiles describe. It is these silly descriptions that I am speaking to, not easily detected sound deterioration due to actual errors or interference.

A bad cable is a bad cable, but the SPDIF standard was written to a generic video cable, you do not need a $1000 cable to cross the threshold of reliable performance, and once you achieve that, there is no way to improve on it.

As to this part of your post:

By contrast if anyone ever carried out an experiment with a single combination of cable, equipment and listener that demonstrated a repeatable difference under properly controlled conditions (e.g. DBT) your hypothesis would be falsified at a stroke. I'm not making any comment about how likely that is, I'm just pointing out that it's in principle possible to falsify your hypothesis but never to conclusively prove it.


That means to ball is forever in the audiophiles court. Which begs the question: Why the heck haven't they actually used series of DBTs to prove their expensive "digital" cables sound better?

I think we all know the answer to that.
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In the first quote I had just gotten a PS Audio PWD with the Bridge.. It was so much better sounding than the Sonos alone.. the PSA Bridge also sounded better, and in my excitement I might have been more exuberant and credited the impressive increase in SQ to the Hi-Res files when it may have been as much or more the contribution of the Bridge.

In the second quote.. after having more time, I think a year or so, maybe you can clarify the timeline since you've done so much research. I came to get a better handle on what I was hearing. I also don't have a problem with being wrong my ego's good with it..

What I find fascinating though is how much you seem to care about what I think.. I mean it must have taken quite a while to dig through all the old forum posts to find just the right ones to wave in my face.. and a lack of grace .. I think that's really more your area of expertise.
In the first quote I had just gotten a PS Audio PWD with the Bridge.. It was so much better sounding than the Sonos alone.. the PSA Bridge also sounded better, and in my excitement I might have been more exuberant and credited the impressive increase in SQ to the Hi-Res files when it may have been as much or more the contribution of the Bridge.

In the second quote.. after having more time, I think a year or so, maybe you can clarify the timeline since you've done so much research. I came to get a better handle on what I was hearing. I also don't have a problem with being wrong my ego's good with it..

What I find fascinating though is how much you seem to care about what I think.. I mean it must have taken quite a while to dig through all the old forum posts to find just the right ones to wave in my face.. and a lack of grace .. I think that's really more your area of expertise.


Actually, I merely copied it from the last time I asked it. You refused to answer that time, and changed the subject to an attack on me. Thanks for taking the time to add an actual explanation in the middle of your normal pattern of posting.
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You're Welcome
AS mentioned earlier, improving speakers is far and away the best way to improve sound quality.

Actually what improves the sound quality even more is good quality recordings ...
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Clearly there could be a problem with a dodgy cable or connector introducing errors into data transmission, and errors can be audible in the form of clicks, dropouts or other artifacts, similar to playing a damaged CD.

However that is a case of something not working properly and replacing a component to fix it.

So a manufacturer or reviewer can't make a general claim that this cable will improve sound quality. It may if the system is faulty to start with but if it isn't, how do you improve on zero errors?

And if an audiophile claims a cable improved sound quality, does that mean they have been listening to a faulty system? I'm not sure many would admit to that...

Audiophile claims for improvements in sound quality seem to get expressed as "the soundstage was better" or "the vocals are more alive" rather than "I was getting lots of clicks and now I don't":D
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IanW, I have previously in this thread stated the following:

Carefully constructed experiments like a double blind study, none of which have ever proven the nonsense that digital cables, if operating correctly, make any difference in sound. If you conduct such an experiment and you actually prove there is a difference, then science will be proven wrong. Until then, you are simply reporting your bias . Good luck with that experiment..


It's not science itself that states the part you've put in bold. It's your belief, or bias as you put it. My belief may be different; it's the job of science to arbitrate between them. I'd argue that, at the time of writing, it hasn't done so (unless you're aware of a DBT that settles it one way or the other, bearing in mind that you can't prove the negative).

I apologize for not stating the bolded more clearly. I don't consider a system plagued with transmission errors, or insufficiently shielded, to be "operating correctly". Furthermore, given these circumstances, the sound would suffer noticeable dropouts, not the "brighter, more spatial, wooly, warm, orange peel sound, apple juice fluidity" nonsense that audiophiles describe. It is these silly descriptions that I am speaking to, not easily detected sound deterioration due to actual errors or interference.

I didn't say anything about plagues of transmission errors or inadequate shielding. Occasional, infrequent transmission errors would not necessarily cause drop-outs; the DAC might be designed to interpolate or perform some other error "reduction" (I recall this is discussed in the AES/EBU standard but I might be mistaken). Noise could be transmitted through the conductors of the cable and injected into the DAC's ground plane or power rail.

This is all about engineering and design, not really "science" as such. It is possible that some combinations of cable and equipment may not work together in a mathematically ideal way, simply because they were designed with different assumptions, constraints, or interpretations of the relevant standards.

A bad cable is a bad cable, but the SPDIF standard was written to a generic video cable, you do not need a $1000 cable to cross the threshold of reliable performance, and once you achieve that, there is no way to improve on it.

Likewise, I didn't mention $1000 cables, and neither did you in your original assertion, so I'm not sure how that's relevant.

As to this part of your post:

By contrast if anyone ever carried out an experiment with a single combination of cable, equipment and listener that demonstrated a repeatable difference under properly controlled conditions (e.g. DBT) your hypothesis would be falsified at a stroke. I'm not making any comment about how likely that is, I'm just pointing out that it's in principle possible to falsify your hypothesis but never to conclusively prove it.

That means to ball is forever in the audiophiles court. Which begs the question: Why the heck haven't they actually used series of DBTs to prove their expensive "digital" cables sound better?

I think we all know the answer to that.


You're arguing on the basis the hypothesis is already proven fact, whereas I've postulated some plausible, engineering-based reasons why it might not be, so if anything I think the burden of proof is with you. But truly I have no axe to grind about this.
So far no one has mentioned another very important phenomenon that affects all audiophiles as well as some others (so far it has affected me thrice in almost 40 years) and that is the very clear increase in enjoyment when one buys new equipment, not because it necessarily sounds better (although it goes without saying that we think that) but because it is new we listen with different ears. This also applies to such silly "improvements" as cables.

When did the snake oil creep in or was it always there? Record players sure have a lot to answer for in this respect.

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