DACs need to be warmed up for a while. Fact or Fiction?

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by rayfalkner, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. rayfalkner

    rayfalkner Not to be confused with Roy Fokker - Friend

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    Hello, folks;

    I know some things perform better when they are allowed to be warmed up a bit (a minute or two), your car engines for example, or your camera battery, your muscles, vacuum tubes, etc;
    I know that by design all the machinery and electronics have their own normal operating temperature of which they will perform best or at least with the peak efficiency.

    But honestly I have to admit here that when people said that to let a hardware (DAC specifically) running continuously for 24hrs, 48hrs, even more just to let it stabilize or warming up into a usable state (and you got to do it all over again if you decide to shut the thing down for whatever reason) I just... can't...

    So I guess by asking (or discussing) about this topic here I will get a more honest, straightforward answer.

    Thank you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
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  2. Judeus

    Judeus Almost "Made"

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    fact, some of the components especially in multibit dacs are sensitive to temperature.
     
  3. rayfalkner

    rayfalkner Not to be confused with Roy Fokker - Friend

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    Do you mean a normal warming up time as in a couple minutes- such as 5 mins- so I could brew a tea while it warms up or... days of warming up?

     
  4. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    A real resistor doesn't have a constant value but it is actually dependent on temperature:

    http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/restmp.html

    For many devices this difference in resistance due to operating temperature can be tolerated, even most DACs. Certain multibit DACs however use many resistors in parallel to process a digital signal. Here is an link:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistor_ladder

    You don't really need to know the details but what you do need to know is that it requires many many resistors at extremely tight tolerances, around 0.01%. With a slight deviation in temperature it is easy to go outside this tolerance and you get behavior that wasn't intended. The manufacturer designed the circuit when the resistors are running warm. For a DAC the current is actually pretty low through these resistors so they won't generate much heat. Which means it might take awhile for the circuit to get up to operating temperature.

    This is the price that must be paid for extreme precision.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
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  5. rayfalkner

    rayfalkner Not to be confused with Roy Fokker - Friend

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    Gosh this short explanation of yours clears up many questions!
    you should teach in a university, man; too much lecturers explain with unnecessary lengthy lectures and don't get straight to the important point.

    My knowledge about this topic is effectively none so... does this means that the "requiring days of warming up" ritual only affects DAC (or any other device) that utilize resistor ladder?
     
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  6. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    I actually have a Ph.D in Physics and I am applying for academic positions in a few places. :D


    Not that it really matter what my background is. The facts are the facts.

    As far as I know, ladder DACs are the only appliance I can think of where this is a real issue. In some high performance applications they even keep the system in a temperature controlled oven to make sure it operates within spec. Vacuum tube filaments need to warm up to work and Class A solid state amplifiers also behave differently between when you first turn them on and when they are fully warm. However the time it takes to warm up is pretty quick and I haven't noticed too much of a difference between when I first turn the amp on and when it's been in use for awhile. But it definitely makes sense that they would sound different after running for awhile. Maybe some people with better hearing then me can tell you otherwise.
     
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  7. rayfalkner

    rayfalkner Not to be confused with Roy Fokker - Friend

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    This. This fact is (at first) what makes me wonder how could a device is designed to be so inconvenient so that it costs you days of warming up for it to be functional enough; just for it to be fully working as intended. Now I guess I know better.
     
  8. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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  9. rayfalkner

    rayfalkner Not to be confused with Roy Fokker - Friend

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    I truly, sincerely hoped that it was a BS. I guess I'm one of those assholes that believe the technology is supposed to serve us, to babysit us, not the other way around.
    Regular maintenance procedure is fine and to be expected, and it really means you're taking care of your stuffs, but I really find it inconvenient if I have to perform 'rituals' before I could use any of my stuffs properly. (explains why I hate tube amps eh)

    Thank you for the link, I'll give it a read tonight.
     
  10. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    Well, I don't really think of this particular issue as inconvenient. I just leave my DAC on 24/7. It doesn't draw much power, so I don't think it's a biggee.
     
  11. rayfalkner

    rayfalkner Not to be confused with Roy Fokker - Friend

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    Well I guess it's probably a discomfort for me because I'm in a less developed country :p
    The quality of electric power here is wacky and wreak havoc on our electronics (heck we don't even have a grounding installation by default here), so many of us are trained and used to unplug and turn off unnecessary devices when they are not being used.

    (yes many of us here used stabilizers and UPS for sensitive electronics such as computers and no, those 'protections' never last long either under constant abuse of power surge and stuffs)
     
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  12. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

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    Ahh yeah, I can see your point. That does add a legitimate level of suckiness to the equation.
     
  13. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    If you can't leave your DAC on most of the time, it's probably best not to go R2R. I partly sold off my NOS-1704 because its digital display was too enticing for my toddler, and he kept pressing buttons.

    I have a Reference 5 from a friend on the way with no digital display, so I'm hoping I can leave that one on at home. If not, it's coming to work.
     
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  14. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Some times being a bit old counts for something. Anyway, please note that I said a bit old, not a lot old, right?

    Once upon a time (tugs beard, grunts, and looks into the distance for a while. Stay with it...) all things like TVs and radios needed to warm up before they would even work. This was multiple seconds. In the case of our family TV, it could be so long that you almost forgot having turned it on when it sprang to life. Indeed there is warmup in them there hills and I know because I seed it. (goes back to tugging beard and looking out of window. Wistfully. Dreaming of the days when booming boxes like Radiograms sounded like booming boxes)

    These days, even kit with those glowing things in it seems to make sound almost instantaneously. I wonder why the valve kit of today doesn't need those long warm-up seconds?

    Same here. I regard even plugging in my hifi and more expensive electric gadgets to be something of a risk.

    On top of all that dodgy electricity, there is the heat factor. I think, these days when hot-running valves and class-A amps are the fashion, people have forgotten that heat is the enemy of electronics. again, in this tropical country (is it the same as yours, Ray?) the ambient temperature is never much less than 30C without AC. That too means more cooling is required for electronics.

    For all of these reasons, I would never buy anything that needs to be left switched on. Anyway, I just don't think it is reasonable.

    By the way, how is climate taken into account in all that design and testing and consideration of normal operating temperature? Does it mean that stuff designed in a temperate climate, once you add 10-15C to the ambient can be considered warmed up already? Does a sensitive ladder DAC necessarily sound different in Alaska than in Southern India?

    Interesting stuff. I'm normally more concerned with cooling stuff down than warming it up. I even made a cooling stand for a Geek Out 450 |\/|


    .
     
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  15. rayfalkner

    rayfalkner Not to be confused with Roy Fokker - Friend

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    Oh gosh yep, the heat!
    I'm in the tropical zone indeed; ambient temperature here is about 30 - 32 Celcius on ordinary days, and the air is very humid too!
    --Ah so does that means DACs will warm up faster here? :D

    Agreed!

    Probably the only thing that I'm keeping it plugged in 24/7 here is the fridge (and the AC too as in its power cord remains plugged into the socket all the time),
    so yeah this thing about keeping DACs on all the time really bothers me...

    Well it looks like I'm not destined for multibit stuffs then.
     
  16. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Or maybe it's the one thing we have to keep the AC turned off for! :cool:
     
  17. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    Did Audioquest allow their measurement instrument to warm up, too? Does it change over time? There appears to be a single measurement -- how do we know that there is no user error, or that this is not simply an anomalous reading. Or that the instrument didn't warm up for a different amount of time for the various measurements?

    That's probably a good instinct.

    Unless you are using something with actual temperature control (and frankly even if you are -- who knows if the temperature controller needs to warm up for 24 hours to be accurate) I think this is nonsense. I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
     
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  18. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Audioquest has made some rather "interesting" statements but there is something to the DAC changing sound after a warm up period. I've experienced this myself with several DACs now. Enough that it has prompted me to acquire two DACs of same mfg and model for an experiment allowing A/B listening of a warm vs. cold DAC. I wish I had one of the QSC ABX boxes. May have to design a line level switcher for such purpose. Will measure both DACs at both cold and warm conditions to see what difference exists between the units that might have an influence on AB listening before attempting the listening experiment. My anecdote: it appears that my MSD192 DACs sound much more 3-D, have better soundstage after several hours than in the first 30 minutes.
     
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  19. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I once heard a PWDmk2 after it had been brought in from a cold car (Canadian winter... we're talking -20 ish here). I frankly thought that the dac was broken, that's how bad it sounded. It was like sound was being squeezed through a hayfever filled sinus. Switching between filters, all of them were muck except #4 which was slightly less muck, but at least it was easy to pick out. There were mild differences that I could pick out among the other ones, but not reliably.

    After leaving it on for a day, the sound changed dramatically. The snottiness cleared up substantially and it was one of the best dacs that I've heard. I couldn't tell the difference between any of the filters except *maybe* #4 but I was falling into expectation bias/placebo at that point.
     
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  20. rayfalkner

    rayfalkner Not to be confused with Roy Fokker - Friend

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    If suddenly my music tracks start to sound like the singer is having a really bad fever with snot-clogged sinus, I would be very terrified indeed...
    And worse is, the uninformed-me would never put the low temperature in the list of suspects.
     

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