Delta Sigma: An Inconvenient Truth

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by k4rstar, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    no, with D/S DACs it's about 90-95% the chip and the necessary filters, 5% other crap. if you experience a really bad D/S DAC that sounds worse than a Modi despite costing way more, it's because the designer did something retarded to really fuck up the sound. see: Benchmark, Mytek. spec sheet implementations sound better than that shit.

    this was discussed here https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...i-multibit-jds-el-dac-ifi-nano-bl.6313/page-7

    that suggestion was only for RobS as he was already talking about buying some random Arcam thing from 1990. rather than get the TDA1541 sound potentially spoiled by brit-fi (i don't know what Arcam was doing in 1990), i suggested he go straight to the source and get a machine built with Teutonic German engineering to see if it's a path worth pursuing for him.

    there are TDA15xx DACs out there with S/PDIF inputs. a lot of them come from Asia. most of them suck and give TDA15xx/NOS a really bad rap. i thought the Border Patrol was good, and then i heard better and realized how damaging it is to not have an output buffer. plus it's super overpriced. there is MHDT, but i haven't tried and i know Marv doesn't care much for them.

    i'm sorry that i don't have more straightforward, practical recommendations for people who really want something plug and play with modern amenities. i'm sure there's something out there though. the aforementioned resurgence of R2R from Japan was DIY-based. these chips are pretty simple to work with, kind of like learning to code in BASIC on a C64 or VIC20.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
  2. gridmaster

    gridmaster Facebook Friend

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    I'm on the r2r bandwagon myself, but I do love the way WM8741 sounds.
     
  3. RobS

    RobS RobS? More like RobDiarrhea.

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    By "unsatisfactoriness" you first have to buy into the idea that plankton exists. If you don't, then what I said about a feeling of something lacking won't make any sense. There's something "off" when information in a recording isn't resolved properly, your ears are straining to hear what should be there. It's a totally subjective phenomenon that can't be reduced to a set of measurements nor described. There are no clearly defined parameters. It's a mystical illumination for the listener. An attempt to explain it ruins the mystery. You just know it when you hear it, or not hear it. When plankton is missing, it gives an unsettled feeling. The benefit of having resolving enough systems that allows already great recordings to shimmer even more brilliantly. Even bad recordings can be an enlightening experience. That's why resolution is the most important to me. HD800 stock would be my favorite headphone if it wasn't such a monstrosity in other areas.

    Sorry that might not be the "rational" answer you are looking for, and it's cool if you laugh and think I'm full of shit for the plankton stuff. I went from serious skeptic to firm believer after cycling thru a ton of gear in the past year.

    I just haven't heard a D/S DAC resolve plankton the way Yggdrasil does. Maybe it's an R2R thing, I don't know, I have next to no experience there. I have more familiarity with D/S DACs. If no matter the D/S implementation can't match a resolving R2R DAC, then there is something in the latter's technology that makes it superior. That's a question for someone more knowledgeable to try to answer. It would also give more weight to the premise k4 is taking a stand on.

    However I do agree with you on getting down to brass tacks when it comes to the failings of D/S and why R2R reigns supreme. Again, I'm not the suitable person to give you the discussion you want.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
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  4. will_f

    will_f Leave of absence from SBAF - having fun in RL

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    look on the bright side: Those season tickets wouldn’t be doing you much good right now.
     
  5. cameng318

    cameng318 Facebook Friend

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    Just had a thought. Since it is relatively easy to build R2R DAC < 12bits, maybe a DAC with DS for the MSB and R2R for the LSB would resolve like R2R DAC and remain affordable. It's the reverse way of how the R2R DACs are built. Many of the R2R DAC that has high SNR uses DS to handle the LSB.
     
  6. will_f

    will_f Leave of absence from SBAF - having fun in RL

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    After reading this thread, I’m not convinced that the A/D conversion tech is what differentiates a great DAC from more mundane examples. It seems to me it has as much to do with the rest of the circuit design, including the power supply and amp.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
  7. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Just a word on MHDT. I got to live with a nicely modified MHDT Havana for some time. Nice, if you have never heard better. Kind of like a cheap OTL HP amp that is muddy and missing transient info and openness. I know @K4rst will roll his eyes as he has nothing good to say about JDS, but the EL Dac would win in a shoot out. LOL

    One dac that flies way under the radar (mentioned earlier) and sounds really nice to me for well under $1k used is the Ultra-Fi 41, preferable with the dual regulators. Sorry spd/f folks this one is USB only. There are some more nice R2Rs and do agree there are lots of crap Philips based ones.
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Which WM implementation? I've heard slamming darkish implementations without much resolution (AMB Gamma 2), enjoyable and musical DACs (early A&K), resolving but strident raspy stuff (Lampizator, Gamma 3, PWD2). It's probably the most all over the place among the chips where it's hard to say: "Oh that sounds like Wolfson," Sometimes I've thought Wolfson sounded like prior gen AKM.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  9. gridmaster

    gridmaster Facebook Friend

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    Great question. Ear Dacute 192. I replaced the RK27 with TKD 2cp-2511. I also found a PLL jumper on the digital PCB that really improved spdif input. Really lifted a haze / veil it had.

    I went back and forth between it and Yggdrasil-v2 for around a year before I finally sold Yggdrasil. I'd never thought a D/S dac could ooze the sweet honey liquid sound while still maintaining incredible technicalities, but I was wrong.
     
  10. Raimei Templar

    Raimei Templar Almost "Made"

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    If you like the Realtek 1220 sound your much better off getting a Sabre or Cirrus Logic based dac imo. Especially the current generation ones which sound like a better version of the Realtek sound.

    The AKM dacs have a pretty different sound as you found. I find it very odd that so many companies which claim to offer fully transparent sound go with AKM dacs. Sure they measure super awesome but if you actually listen to one it sounds very different from the other common D/S dacs. Were I producing music I would not personally go for a AKM dac (with the possible exception of the Modius balanced based on comments).

    To contribute to the topic, I think the most inconvenient truth is that there is no such thing as the best dac, it all comes down to preference. You can argue the technical merits, the measurements, the theories, philosophy and subjective impressions until you are blue in the face or your fingers are bleeding but at the end of the day its gonna come down to personal preference.

    There is always going to be that guy who likes his badly implemented Sabre dac more than a Bifrost 2. If that makes em happy then rock on I say.

    I have only ever tried the Modi MB but I preferred D/S to it in most cases. The point about synergy is certainly true in my experience though as while I wasn't a fan of the Modi MB in most cases, I have to say the combo of the Hd660s with the Magni 3/Modi MB was to date the one of the most exciting combo I have heard. It was pure excitement beamed directly into my brain.

    I don't think it is as easy as saying one tech is strictly better, just depends on what you want.

    P. S. I also greatly prefer studio recordings to live ones. I don't like the way most live albums sound. I think one of the best is the Kiss Alive! album and that is because most of it was actually recorded in the studio as I understand it. I love the way they did it though as you get the energy from the live concert and the better sound quality of the studio. Who cares if it is fake when it sounds so good? I wish more bands had made albums like that.
     
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  11. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    @Hands,

    Would this be a good place to discuss your 69 dac?

    Jac
     
  12. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Nahhh, that's worthy of its own thread I think. Or at least maybe not a totally appropriate fit for the topic as a whole here.
     
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  13. je2a3

    je2a3 Facebook Friend

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    My digital journey hasn't gone beyond 16bit/44.1 kHz. So everything below is in the context of the CD Red Book standard.

    I acquired my first CD player, a Magnavox CDB472, in '87. When its tray refused to open, it was replaced by a Philips CD921 with an early bitstream chip, which I found very bland. I got an Audio Alchemy DAC in the Box to spice things up a bit. In hindsight, that CDB472 could've been saved by a new rubber belt (or a rubber band) but I didn't know better then.

    When affordable SACD/DVD players came out in the early 2000s, I got a Sony DVP NS755V and used that with the DITB + line transformers, which to my ears make digital sound more palatable. I spent my free time learning more about DIY/SET/High Efficiency speakers, fiddling with idler turntables and digging crates for LPs.

    When used CDs started to fill up shelves in thrift stores, I took it as a sign to improve my digital playback equipment. So I went back to my roots in the form of a Magnavox CDB473 which I found to be more musically satisfying than the Sony NS755V and Denon DVD2910. Meanwhile, I scoured thrift stores and flea markets for other cheap multi-bit CD players for study and reference.

    I compared two CS4398 chip'd DACs. Even if I preferred the tube buffered Xiang Sheng DAC 01A over the Topping D30, I still found more musicality from multi-bit CD players when playing CDs. I also invested on a couple of old and new outboard DACs to compare with my old Audio Alchemy DITB. After successfully modifying my CDB465, I built a TDA1541 DAC kit. Compared to the Adcom GDA600, the TDA1541 kit has a more organic midrange but the Adcom has better frequency extremes. This was a characteristic I already noticed from Burr-Brown PCM chips.

    The turning point was when I lucked into a first generation TDA1541 chip'd Arcam Delta Black Box. This unit has a discrete analog section with its own power supply instead of op-amps as found in the GDA600, TDA1541 kit and most CD players. The Delta BB retained the organic midrange of the TDA1541 + the performance in the frequency extremes wasn't shamed by the Adcom.

    Now I'm listening and refining the TDA1541 DAC kit running in NOS mode. I bypassed and replaced the op amps with a tube output stage + line transformers. After 33 years I'm listening to the same DAC chip, with a few tweaks. :)

    Who knows maybe in another 30 years the TDA1541 will be the equivalent of a WE205D. ;)
     
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  14. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    so good to hear from someone who has been at it from the beginning - and a musician no less. the numbers are clear, 9 out of 10 musicians recommend R2R, the 10th doesn't listen to digital :)

    actually, at the time your posts inspired me to look further into NOS DACs and older CD players, so thank you for sharing those experiences
     
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  15. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    9 out of 10 musicians couldn't even tell you what the hell R-2R is, much less express a preference toward it.
     
  16. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    This is the crux of all arguments.
     
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  17. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I'm not sure exactly how to word this without sounding super jaded, but I'll give it a quick shot with an analogy.

    I've been a game designer for about 15 years. Prior to that, I was in other positions in the game industry and/or was big into theorycrafting.

    I had a blog. I analyzed game design. Why? What's the right way to do things? What's the best way? What is fun? How can one create a fun game? Is there a formula? Are there caveats? Are there hard nos and hard musts?

    Then I became a game designer, and I kept thinking that way. Then I become a good game designer, and I stopped thinking about the theorycrafting because it gets in the way.

    Audiophiles (and I'm one, don't get me wrong) are to musicians as theorycrafters are to game designers.

    We have time to think about R-2R versus delta-sigma because we're consumers and think we know better. We think about the things that real musicians couldn't care less about, because they live in the moment and actually have a clue.

    You could give me Abbey Road at its prime and a 10 year career Actual Music Producer (who doesn't suck) a Focusrite Scarlett. Same band, same performance. His results would be better because he's not a numbnuts audiophile who thinks he knows better than people who do this for a living.
     
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  18. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    This goes back to the thought that Al Schmitt with a pair of SM57 would achieve a better recording of a symphony in a decent sounding hall than newbie numbnuts with a pair of Neumann M50 in the exact same situation.
     
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  19. GoodEnoughGear

    GoodEnoughGear Evil Dr. Shultz‎

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    Maybe this resonates with some here, but I am substantially an OCD fiddler trying to find my 'right formula' no matter what the subject matter. It could be a digital camera, a DAC, factoring of code, a technical architecture. I recognize that, at some base level, I just get a kick out of patterns and pieces fitting in some satisfying way. The fact that organization and classification tend to help with complex work lands me some success in my chosen career. What lands me significant success is steeping myself in that field so I know when to compromise in the pursuit of an actual, messy, human outcome.

    I suspect many of us have some level of OCD and when we apply it outside of our depth we get tweakerishness and not necessarily the best outcome. ASR is a pinnacle of this. The R2R vs S/D analysis IMO is laced with this to a significant extent.

    At SBAF I get to lean on others who have the depth required to inform my decision to the improvement of my actual enjoyment of music outcome.
     
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  20. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    That's why when you find a setup that you just enjoy listening to music on that you've won. I suspect most people would be appalled by what I think is good sound but to a large degree I've lost the need to chase. More curious how things sounds than a need to upgrade constantly, which is where loaners are handy!

    But at the same time we need folks who care to shift through the minute like Gen5 vs. Unison because for my own selfish reasons I enjoy reading but not necessarily chasing it lol
     
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