External DAC with Connect


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I am looking to add a DAC to my SONOS - Nak RE1 - KEF Q70 system, and am considering the Schiit Bifrost. My source is a wide range of ALAC, MP3 and AAC material. Any advice, is it worth it? Am I likely to hear the "wider, more detailed, deeper, etc." sound the reviewers write about.

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Most people can hear the difference between an Ipod plugged into a Jawbone and a decent audio system.

You claim there is no difference and it is all marketing.


Ahh, the ol' reductio ad absurdum chestnut.

Nobody is suggesting any such thing. You're extrapolating out to the ridiculous.


There is definitely a difference!
There are some that are older than the ones in the link, but I can't find it, sorry. I think it dates back to the late eighties.
The thing with amplifiers that muddies the waters is clipping. Clipping is distortion of the original signal - but not necessarily unpleasant and for some, a preference. Which is the reason for some people preferring the low powered amps which can clip in a way that is preferred up to the point it gets into the horrible sounding music stage.
But this preference for clipping coloured music is a personal preference for music based on a signal that has been distorted from the source. By definition, not hi fi.
For speakers of usual construction, of efficiencies of say 88dB and higher, and with modern amps of say 80-100 wpc, unless head banging sound levels are reached, clipping isn't an audible issue and the DBT conditions will be met. These aren't a narrow ideal range of conditions.
None of these issues are present for DACs, but I don't know of the same kind of tests done for DACs and my conclusions are based on personal testing of various DACs ranging from prices of GBP 1000 down to ones in iPods. On the other hand I haven't seen any test where a DAC difference has survived in a DBT. Strange, because it is a lot simpler to set up than one for amps. And strange, because it would be a great basis on which to market an audibly better DAC.
Enough said.

Why not actually link to the results of properly-conducted DBTs that show no audible difference between amplifiers, cables, etc. rather than saying "if the tests were carried out they would show no difference"? That would be much more interesting.

http://www.theaudiocritic.com/back_issues/The_Audio_Critic_24_r.pdf
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There also have been other such offers by other people, and no black swan has turned up.


You're still arguing that the fact that the test exists, irrespective of whether it's been carried out, has any relevance to the result.

Why not actually link to the results of properly-conducted DBTs that show no audible difference between amplifiers, cables, etc. rather than saying "if the tests were carried out they would show no difference"? That would be much more interesting.
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While I can't speak to all his motivations, I know that you just have to turn up with two amplifiers, not the test set up.

Not according to this article in Stereophile, which quotes the challenge Mr Shaw laid down. His challenge includes the following (verbatim):

However, I don't have the time to play around. You have to conceive of the test, design the switch over system and bring it to us here and we'll cooperate fully.
Worst. Thread. Ever.
You think?:D. Have you seen the 24/96 thread?!
While I can't speak to all his motivations, I know that you just have to turn up with two amplifiers, not the test set up. Harbeth claim to make speakers that are benign loads, needing power deliveries ranging from about 60 wpc to about 150 wpc depending on the model, to perform as designed at up to moderately loud sound levels without getting the amp to clip . Which amplifier isn't relevant, the power delivery rating is - so there also may be a subtle form of speaker marketing here. All I know is that to date no one has turned up.

There also have been other such offers by other people, and no black swan has turned up.

Based on how many times I have fooled myself to justify amp changes, expensive heavy DACs, and allied stuff in the past, I now prefer to apply the DBT route, even if imperfectly done at home, to evaluate equipment changes. Most of the time I don't bother now, where equipment is in good working order.


The Amazing Randi offered $1 million U.S. to an audiophile journalist if he could distinguish between low price speaker leads and a set costing $7000+. The challenge was agreed to, then both the journalist and the cable manufacturer backed out.

As I understand it, Mr Shaw's criteria are not simply that you turn up with two amplifiers and plug them into a test set-up that he/Harbeth provides. Rather you have to provide the whole test set-up yourself, except (I think) for the speakers.

While I can't speak to all his motivations, I know that you just have to turn up with two amplifiers, not the test set up. Harbeth claim to make speakers that are benign loads, needing power deliveries ranging from about 60 wpc to about 150 wpc depending on the model, to perform as designed at up to moderately loud sound levels without getting the amp to clip . Which amplifier isn't relevant, the power delivery rating is - so there also may be a subtle form of speaker marketing here. All I know is that to date no one has turned up.

There also have been other such offers by other people, and no black swan has turned up.

Based on how many times I have fooled myself to justify amp changes, expensive heavy DACs, and allied stuff in the past, I now prefer to apply the DBT route, even if imperfectly done at home, to evaluate equipment changes. Most of the time I don't bother now, where equipment is in good working order.
The same holds true for music.
Another good point. If you attend enough live performances where you are sitting close enough to hear the instruments directly, the difference in quality between that experience and high end systems is stark and much more than that between high end and those that are merely capable.
If one can still enjoy music at home it is because the brain compensates for this difference - if you let it. And compensating for the second difference is much less of a stretch than for the first.
Women "get" this right away, I suspect.
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Worst. Thread. Ever.
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What is the truth, the philosopher would ask?
Every scientific fact is nothing but a hypothesis that is yet to be proved wrong, to be then substituted by a better one. The all swans are white hypothesis/fact is easy to be proved wrong by finding just the one black swan - but where is that in this case of amplifiers/DBTs?
Surely if you are going to make such postulations, they remain just speculations until you find the black swan? While the white swan hypothesis has been constructed by many people that have done these tests over the years and are satisfied to its quality. Anyone that doesn't agree has the burden of finding the black swan to destroy it.
Over at Harbeth UK, Alan Shaw for some time now has offered a free pair of his flagship speakers to anyone that can turn up one in controlled conditions, with any two amp of the claimants choice that are in working condition and meet a frequency response/distortion criteria that almost all modern ones do. No downsides, no entry fee, except for travel costs. And yet he has seen no takers, not even from people living in the UK where travel costs/time may not be the investment it would be for people elsewhere. Where are the black swans hiding?


Well, unless we know how many times Mr Shaw's test has been attempted the simple fact that the test exists gives us no information about the presence or otherwise of black swans. If you were to tell me that it had been attempted (say) 100 times with no success, then it might start to be interesting and have a bearing on my belief about the particular hypothesis it tests.

If no-one has taken the test, you can't assume that it's because no-one is confident of a positive result.

My feeling is that the reward for success is actually very low - and by that I mean no disrespect at all to Mr Shaw or Harbeth's range of speakers - compared with the effort required to meet the entry criteria. As I understand it, Mr Shaw's criteria are not simply that you turn up with two amplifiers and plug them into a test set-up that he/Harbeth provides. Rather you have to provide the whole test set-up yourself, except (I think) for the speakers.

For a commercial organisation to do this, I think it's reasonable to say that the value of winning a pair of some other manufacturer's speakers has essentially zero value. You might argue that there would be a publicity coup in winning, but again with due respect to Harbeth and their user community, I doubt that this challenge has a sufficiently high profile or marketing value to warrant the effort required to enter.

The number of individuals who have the expertise and wherewithal to provide two qualifying amplifiers and the associated test set-up is probably quite limited. The number of those individuals that want a pair of Harbeth M40.1s will be much smaller. Then from that small number, how many have the motivation to choose Mr Shaw's challenge rather than simply buying a pair of his speakers?

So my (slightly tongue in cheek) answer to your question "where are the black swans hiding?" is "in plain sight", because no-one's really bothering to make a point of looking for them in a disciplined way. And that may be because it doesn't particularly benefit anyone to settle the question of whether or not they exist.
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Good question - I look forward to reading answers!


I think this is answered by my post #253 in response to Magik's question which crossed with your post.
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I was ending my clarification of my point, ... . I think I am well within my rights to do that.


OK, sorry for the misunderstanding about that. I was perhaps a bit abrupt.
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Agreed, but I've always been more of a Dead Head than a Belafonte fan 🙂
Nice ... but lousy sound quality ... sorry :p

Harry Belafonte is not bad either: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DK_qqDC1VE
Never mind. Not worth it.
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Ha! Because the Women are Smarter!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2Bc71SAGuI
Just a few links to bring some sanity to the discussion:

The Audio Critic: http://www.theaudiocritic.com/cwo/Web_Zine/

Flushing out myths in consumer audio: http://www.audioholics.com/editorials/flushing-out-myths-in-consumer-audio

The Ultimate Cable Upgrade: An Obsessive's Guide: http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/wire.htm#house

Floyd Toole's Damping, Damping Factor: http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/damptoole.htm and http://www.roger-russell.com/wire/dampaugs.htm

Enjoy!
Let's not forget what this is all about ... listening to and enjoying music. A film projected in a magnificent home theatre will very likely look spectacular, certainly more so than on an tiny phone, but a good film will draw you in and before long you will have forgotten what you are actually using to display it. The same holds true for music. A friend of mine who is also a very capable musician, at home never listens to anything but his old and trusted transistor radio. Cable discussions would not interest him, he would rather spent the time listening to some good music. In a sense you could argue that all this talk about equipment is not so much about good music, because that will always be good on whatever equipment it is played (witness old recordings from the 20s and 30s), but about attempts to make the less than brilliant stuff sound as if it were brilliant, an undertaking that is doomed to fail, although in the case of the home cinema it might occasionally give one the illusion that it does work, if only briefly.

Boys will be boys ... Have any women contributed to this thread? Surely their appreciation of music is on a par to that of men, so why aren't they contributing their worries about pure silver cables, gilded plugs, rubber stabilisers for your CDs and all the other snake oil products?
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Taken at face value, yes there can be differences between digital cables, that is, a cable can be defective and cause audible errors. This in no way justifies audiophile claims that audio is improved by buying ever more expensive cables, and a $10 cable can perform perfectly if it is made to spec (as 99.999% are).

Just to keep it real: Most any $10.00 SPDIF cable will not be made to spec. The spec for SPDIF coax is 75ohms the only way to get a true 75ohm coax cable is to terminate the cable with BNC connectors, coax digital cables that are terminated with RCA's will not meet the 75ohm standard because RCA's can't do it.. Oh and you mentioned Black Cat cables a while back.. they actually make a very nice, excellent performing TRUE 75ohm SPDIF coax digital cable that sells for about $100.00.
As I understand it, the discussion is about whether or not anyone who does not adopt a hard-line, objectivist approach must necessarily be flying in the face of science and logic. I believe your answer to that question is yes, mine is no. Your post about cables merely provided an interesting, concrete point to explore the way our beliefs and attitudes differ. I think it's done that job pretty well.



I'm not sure why you assume the privilege of being able to end the discussion. It ends when it ends. You can choose to take part or not.



You are arguing against a point that I have never made. I have not made any audiophile claims, have not referred to prices of cables (expect in response to your prior mention) and have never used any of the language you quote.


I was ending my clarification of my point, which you continuously misconstrued. I think I am well within my rights to do that.

And before you changed the subject, this thread most certainly was about the esoteric claims of audiophiles which fly in the face of all scientific knowledge. Nicely played, though. :rolleyes:
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Majik said it better than I did. And you know what this discussion is about. It is only you who chose to concentrate on a single post which was a mere generalization of comments that came before.

As I understand it, the discussion is about whether or not anyone who does not adopt a hard-line, objectivist approach must necessarily be flying in the face of science and logic. I believe your answer to that question is yes, mine is no. Your post about cables merely provided an interesting, concrete point to explore the way our beliefs and attitudes differ. I think it's done that job pretty well.

So I will end it here:

I'm not sure why you assume the privilege of being able to end the discussion. It ends when it ends. You can choose to take part or not.

Taken at face value, yes there can be differences between cables, that is, a cable can be defective and cause audible errors. This in no way justifies audiophile claims that audio is improved by buying ever more expensive cables, and a $10 cable can perform perfectly if it is made to spec (as 99.999% are). Also, if a cable is defective, the audio will degrade in an obvious manner, with none of the flowery esoteric descriptions put forth by audiophiles. In short, a faulty cable won't subtly "degrade the soundstage", sound "wooden", or "flat"; it will instead cause obvious droputs, clicks, etc.

You are arguing against a point that I have never made. I have not made any audiophile claims, have not referred to prices of cables (expect in response to your prior mention) and have never used any of the language you quote.

When 95% of claims are bogus, what criteria do you use to allow the 5% to be heard?

Good question - I look forward to reading answers!
I would only ask two questions - if they appear to audibly do so, will this difference always survive a controlled DBT? What would be your response if it doesn't so survive?
And the above question for cables can be extended to every part of the system. For DBTs using music played via speakers.
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But if you don't require any proof, or at least any rational explanation, at what point do you call "bull***"? Who knows where the boundary is between complete snake-oil and a reasonable possibility?

That's a very fair question. Speaking for myself, it's not true to say that I don't require any proof or rational explanation. I generally won't consider making any change for which I can't understand some rational, coherently-explained, engineering-based mechanism by which it might work. Beyond that, I will make an informal trial in my own system for as long as I can - at least several days of listening.

I find the proof of the pudding is what happens when I switch back to the system as it was before trying the new component (or whatever). If the switch back results in lower subjective sound quality then I take that as a reasonable demonstration that whatever I was trialling has made an improvement. My personal experience is that for me this reduces the effect of confirmation bias.

I make no claim that this meets your standards of proof or is the "right" approach for anyone but myself.

Put another way, I think it's up to each individual to determine where to draw the line between complete snake oil and a reasonable possibility as you so nicely put it; there is no absolute pre-defined dividing line that exists independently and must be true for everyone.
Yes, I agree with pretty much everything you posted. But you seem to admit no middle ground between full-on audiophilia and hard-line objectivism.

What I've been trying hard to demonstrate, perhaps ineffectively, is that one can take a thoughtful, rational, sceptical, and pragmatic viewpoint about this without sitting at the hard-line objectivist end of the scale.


But if you don't require any proof, or at least any rational explanation, at what point do you call "bull***"? Who knows where the boundary is between complete snake-oil and a reasonable possibility?

And, with modern electronics, and modern manufacturing, the boundaries have been shifting more and more to the point where the reasonable possibilities are disappearing which tends towards the view that most unsubstantiated claims are snake oil.

When 95% of claims are bogus, what criteria do you use to allow the 5% to be heard?

Cheers,

Keith

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