Delta Sigma: An Inconvenient Truth

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

  1. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    Jaded is the right word for all this.
    The ultimate truth is that the ultimate truth does not exist. One size does not fit all...
    Me...I like them all. (kinda like being bisexual, you just double the chances of getting laid)
     
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  2. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    sooo do we need 50 more useless posts preaching audio relativism and that it's all subjective? i think we get the point

    just because it's a subjective hobby does not preclude discussing preferences, sharing experiences and theorizing the technical and psychological reasons behind those preferences and experiences. that's what i was hoping to do with this thread. you don't have to comment if you have nothing to add.
     
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  3. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Good on you for posting this, it's hard to put into words years of experience in testing, focusing on a single component and letting the gut feeling take over and choosing based on instict.

    The truth is D/S has its place and we're in the minority. I don't think I'm wrong in saying 99% of all music reproduction is not done with R2R. Any newcomer such as we were is imediatelly bathed in D/S and only by chance R2R can be discovered and even those can suck at entry to mid level as any piece of equipment.
    IMO R2R, properly done with great components and design is the way to go yet I'd rather take a pro interface that's devoid of the modern audiophile marketing excrement if I couldn't afford my L2 Pavane.

    The inconvenient truth is high end is high end, I'd rather take a high end D/S than a low end R2R and even the best dac is wortless if the amp isn't up to par and able to enhance it. I wouldn't listen to an amp that's not current feedback directly heated SET yet I don't think it's a form of truth, just a natural progression for any to push the boundries if nothing along the way is satisfying enough or a touch of OCD is present.
    What about this for a title: All DAC roads lead to R2R, that way D/S users don't feel bad because they don't have to. We don't need more flushing mkay?
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
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  4. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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    The controversial title and the wall-of-text in the first post, overshadows your request in the last paragraph and thus attracting the discussion you are not looking for.
     
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  5. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    Hey, I respect you love R2R DACs but you kind of left the rest of us without any wiggle room for a discussion. It wasn't a, "R2Rs are the best thing since slice bread, change my mind" it was, "R2Rs are better than any D/S in every solution" and that's why people aren't really having a discussion. Come on dude, only Siths speak in absolutes.
     
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  6. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Friend

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    I prefer the Mobius over the Modi Multibit.
    Why? Its sounds good out of USB. Does not need to be "warmed" up. Balanced output and costs less.

    Most likely this will change again when they upgrade the Modi Mulitibit.
    Differences between Schiit Dac Tech is much easier for me to hear with speakers than headphones.
    This difference usually in regards to: depth, layering and placement of instruments within the soundstage.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  7. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    I see that the value in this discussion would be that everyone can speak their mind about what they have experienced.
    Such a thing is rarer and rarer.

    As many have hinted so far any absolutes and even 'faith' developed through limited selection of experiences is ultimately misleading and when not looked after, makes one deluded.
    Have anyone here sampled all the relevant highest end dacs in their own system? It would be impressive.
    When SBAF grows to HEAD-FI size without corrupting leadership or wins a lottery, perhaps such a gear battle could be held in some distant future. I'm looking forward to that. We have so many big questions without good answers.

    I like how my overbuilt diy Soekris sound. It has stood the test of time for me, IKEA effect has faded, and it's not fotm. A few years back I was a bit of a zealot myself, thinking that it must be that the R-2R discrete is where it's at. So far I have not had better. I recognize that this is only because I have not really put much effort into it. SD or multibit, discrete or chip. FPGA or proprietary chips? Filters is a can of worms. Dozens of psu arrangements. Dozens of input nervosas.

    It is almost infinitely more probable to make a shitty device than a good one. Anyone who has built something knows that.
    Even professionals get it wrong more than right. Sometimes the right one goes into production.
    This makes finding the gems so much harder.

    One thing I have noticed about guys here who have had the fortune to cycle top level audio gear is that they are in the background not making much noise. They got what they were after and that's it. In a way selfish, and in a way only method to find out what you want.

    In the end arguing over fine details of sound is pointless, there will never be perfect verbal understanding between two people hearing the same thing.
    I don't look forward to Neuralink or something like it when such a thing would be possible and all audio gear becomes more or less obsolete.
     
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  8. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    Hey that sounds like an actual inconvenient truth ;)
     
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  9. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    i guess you missed the section in the first post titled 'your perspective' and my repeat attempts at fishing for anecdotal experiences from others? it doesn't sound like you really read what i wrote and formed a conclusion from the clickbait title

    repeatedly stating 'it's all subjective, bro' isn't really helpful to anyone, it's just a form of dismissing a discussion for the purposes of self-validation

    LOL, if 8 paragraphs separated by 4 headers is a wall of text i really fear for your attention span. since you're gaslighting now i think the conversation has run its course. i wasn't the right one to moderate it anyway, i picked too many dark side points in my character build :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
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  10. skem

    skem Friend

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    Generally agree, but I also think designs of both R2R and D/S can show varying response to jitter that can give false (negative) impressions of the DAC’s potential. Easy to turn a great DAC into something intolerable. Take CS Solaris for example, extremely sensitive to transport. Bad transport and there’s this awful nervous energy on top of it’s compressed macrodynamics.

    To my ear (but admittedly limited testing experience) Schiit DACs seem more resilient to jitter. I’ve wondered if that’s a large part of what made them successful early on, and why rolling USB cards helped them continue to improve things.

    @RobS: This is purely a question: have you compared Yggdrasil to CS Solaris from a good transport? I ask because Solaris is the most resolving DAC I’ve heard In recent years, but it has been a LONG time since I last demo’ed Yggdrasil.

    --

    Sorry that I seem to be hocking Solaris here. Not intended. It’s just that it was the first D/S DAC that opened my eyes to the potential of D/S. I still opted for R2R in the end. Based on my experience, I do tend to think D/S is much harder to get right, at least along the metrics I use to score DACs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  11. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    I didn’t miss it.

    It’s like saying, “These are the facts no matter what you say but hey if you want to throw in what you think are facts then that’s cool”

    Exactly what @EagleWings mentioned. It just overshadowed it.
     
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  12. RedFuneral

    RedFuneral Facebook Friend

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    I found it useful to redirect the DAC discussion in the terms of human-gear interaction as opposed to just describing components semi-objectively(Pinning descriptors on components like a robot trained to recognize colors popping onto a screen.)

    We could use more discussion discussing fatigue & curiosity factors as opposed to just simply trying to describe components by their sound. I'd go so far as to say its necessary for differentiating between digital filters & tube rolling where you can't always point your finger at audible differences. It removes discontinuity when someone likes a component that doesn't align with their usual preferences. For example: I'm a treble-head but I've only had long-term satisfaction with NOS DACs. Without sharing how much longer I get lost in the music for with NOS or detailing how I tend to just give up on music and retreat to YouTube with other DACs part of the discussion is lost.
    It's the followup that clarifies between a DAC which does everything I thought I wanted and that presents my music 'perfectly' and one I wasn't initially in love and has plenty of negative traits I can point to with but own it after a year.
     
  13. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    While I largely agree with @EagleWings and @Phantaminum (i.e., The thread title is ill-formed), I don't want to add another noisy post to argue it.

    Instead, I'd share my anecdotes.
    • If I draw a boxplot between DS (Group A) and Multibit/R2R (Group B) groups based on my overall satisfaction during the time with each product, it will look like the latter weakly outperforms the former. Very likely higher median but Interquartile ranges largely overlapped. That means I can't determine superiority or inferiority of one group over the other.
    • Top performers of Group B are doubtlessly Bifrost 2 and Yggdrasil A2. They definitely work easier with any configuration. Bf2 more so than Ygg2 to me, although Ygg2 has a better prowess. That combined with practical benefits of price/dimension/weight, Bf2 has solidly defended its position in my rig for 10 straight months. Can't see I would upgrade from it in any foreseeable future.
    • Frontiers in Group A include Solaris, Convert-2, Pro iDSD, and some others. So, I kinda differ from @k4rstar in that NONE of them deserve "touching a burning stove" statement on my side. While they all presented differently and came with own limitations, I could thoroughly enjoy re-listening my favorite tracks for many many hours during the time with them -- badly enough to destroy my real life productivity. I strongly believe "pro dacs" is nothing more than just an umbrella term. Maybe RME must truly deserve to pro uses as it noticeably makes every music boring and flat (so that creators can remain emotionally unbiased and easily motivated to make it "better").
    • On the other hand, now I am talking about poor players in each group: say, Topping/Benchmark in Group A and AGD/Airist in Group B. Not every single dac from those manufacturers was unlistenable. For example, I like Topping DX3 first gen at least as much as Modi 3. AGD Master 7 pcm1704 was unexpectedly pleasing to my taste. In the worse case, however, low quantiles of Group B such as AGD singularity could be much worse than Group A. To the unbearable extent.
    • One very recent episode worth mentioning is Modius. Unlike other gears mentioned in the second or third bullet points, it's not the gear that I immediately fell in love. However it did improves significantly at each increment. In its final configuration, with the synergy with all the other downstream, I could be fully convinced by the illusions rendered by Modius. Enough to keep listening orchestral works for hours.
    • Do I like Modius better than Bifrost 2? Heck No. If I have to choose only one, it should still be Bf2. However, if I am allowed to have two, I'd happily opt out monogamy. At the end of the day it all comes down to a matter of my own value, belief, and imagination. I am not committed to Multi Bits as much as OP -- indeed doubting quality of multibits/r2rs from random manufacturers other than experts I trust.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  14. bengo

    bengo Friend

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    Why choose? You can have both, for the same $900 as Gungnir DS and in a bit smaller total volume :) It's a good time to be buying a DAC.
     
  15. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio; recovering HFM addict

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    In an industry where planned obsolescence (or at least the perception of obsolescence) and FoTM bullshit drives insane profit margins, being happy with what you have (and not giving a shit about what the echo chambers are sounding off about) is punk AF.

    At Upscale we sling exclusively Delta-Sig DACs (the most popular ones have streamers built in) and almost all of them are 2.5k+. Even at dealer cost, I've never been tempted to take one home. I'm still happy with my 90s R2R PCM63 DACs, one of which I got on trade for an amp I had listed for sale at $350. (edit: and it's not because I think these DACs are 'betterer', I just like how they sound and I'm allowing myself to stop there). I got my L55's from Craig at EC for $75 and have never been tempted to take speakers home at cost either.

    The inconvenient truth is that how much you spend on gear and how much you enjoy music aren't ever really correlated enough to be considered causal. Tyll retired with a pair of Beats "because they have great bluetooth range" - I'll never forget when he shared that with those of us who were at his 'retirement party' post CanJam 2018. Decide what sound (or utility features) you want and aim for that. We're not all shooting at the same target. Part of what makes DIY powerful too. Some people don't know what they want so they simply explore - that's what makes this a hobby.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2020
  16. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Delta-sigma is the standard whether you like it or not. The circuitry around the chip is more important than the chip itself and the new chips are far better than the laser trimmed resistor ics meant for audio. You don’t have to move heaven and earth to get the DS chips to work as an audio converter because they are audio converters and not made for medical imaging or precision guided munitions. There are no modern resistor audio dacs except for the TI chips. Those are decent but expensive. They are used in a lot of current pro, workhorse gear from Yamaha and DAD because they are easier to make sound halfway decent than even the AKMs. You would bitch about them. You would bitch about the circuitry that your recordings have been run through.

    Multi-bit delta sigma (developed by AKM in the mid and late 90s) pretty much did in the resistor dacs. Delta sig came from oversampling filters because it was impossible to build even a 16-bit precision chip early on. The oversampled 14-bit chips beat the 16-bit chips with nos filters in every way. Those early 16-bit converters sounded (and still sound) like total shit unless you bought a third party filter module. That still has way more fucked up treble than a Focusrite Claret or Schiit Modius. The audiophile R2R converters from the 80s and early 90s are opaque and imposingly colored as fuck. They make Lavry sound like Lynx. Most of them dial in instant one note bass to please the old rich fart buyers mad that CD players didn’t have shit MM cart sound. The more “analog” audiophile ones, beyond the one note bass, tend to cover everything in smooth mud. They’re mud butt. The type of diarrhea that makes you want to take a shower.

    If you heard the Holo Spring properly clocked, you’d hate it because it’s pretty clean. Cleaner than the Dangerous. It sounds like a good, work horse DS DAC. Not really special sound except for a clean but slightly soft top end. It just sounds good. Worth the price? Hell no. Good? Yes. Bad? Are you smoking crack? On its own USB, it is pretty bad, but the same is true for a lot of things. You can even get some width and some transients to an rme by reclocking it but it still sounds mediocre. You’d still bitch about it.

    You’d bitch about a tape machine. You’d bitch about the tape emulators that are tape machines without the nasty tape. You’d bitch about any high end, clean gear.

    You bitch about modern gear without realizing that almost all the vintage gear sucked. It pretty much all sucked stock prior to the 80s. It’s nasty. The modem recreations of it that are cleaner than the old stuff are still nasty. The same people talking about 24 channels of vintage vibe are the same people who mostly make shit brown timbered modern rock recordings dirtier than Ramones records. You’d bitch about modern analog gear with a better top end than any converter short of a Prism or DAD box. Not that you’d even really hear it because your speakers are probably some distorted vintage crap with a rotting crossover and your room is terrible.

    The musicians just weren’t robots and the engineers weren’t retards. They made stuff sound good in spite of the gear available, which was often modified beyond recognition for clarity and cleanliness. The type of “clean but not clear” mediocrity most people have been exposed to isn’t very clean at all.
     
  17. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    [​IMG]
     
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  18. RobS

    RobS RobS? More like RobDiarrhea.

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    Bad gear is bad gear, regardless if you prefer it or not. I like when this forum distinguishes the better from the worse, sometimes augmented by measurements.

    If you want to embrace an audio nihilism, maybe Head-Fi is a better fit for you as every new FOTM is great and nothing is crapped on that deserves to be. Headphiles elsewhere defend themselves with "this is a subjective hobby!! how dare you question what I like!!" and go nuts when you criticize their favorite DAC. I get folks want to justify a multi-kilobuck purchase and avoid looking like a fool, but call shit for what it is.

    I know k4 wants people to share their experiences who went from DS to R2R, but I'd like to see him present a more thoroughly persuasive argument why those converters are better and why we should stop wasting time with DS. There's probably a great argument to be had. I am interested in why the Yggdrasil has such a distinct sound compared to any DS DAC I've heard and how it resolves recordings the way it does. Seems unique to the architecture and why DACs like the Rockna Wavedream shit on everything else out there regardless of price.

    Now to address some of this other "audiophiles are idiots and recording engineers know better" nonsense.

    This comparison between audiophiles and music producers doesn't work as both have different goals and priorities which make them mutually exclusive.

    First and foremost, audiophiles care a fuckton more about high quality playback than that producer does. (Note I do not say "high fidelity" because that carries too much baggage and needs to be unpacked elsewhere). What are the ways to achieve higher quality playback than other forms? (This is the crux of k4's argument why R2R is better) How do my own emotions and interpretation to the music I like fit into achieving this? (Or if you are an audiophile who lacks an amygdala there's plenty of dirt cheap DS converters for you) How music is recorded, mixed, mastered, the techniques and studio equipment involved, and so forth play a lesser role, if any role whatsoever. That's up to the skill (or used to be the art) of the producer. That's not to say great recordings don't matter, they do, but it's less understanding that process than re-creating a particular sonic illusion that you enjoy. Do I want Billie Eilish's Grammy-winning brother who only knows how to record in his bedroom using some cheapo interface, budget studio monitors, and a DAW telling me he knows better for how I should playback the music? Fuck no. His viewpoint as a producer don't mean shit.

    Audiophiles should be less concerned with what the recording or mastering engineers heard and even the artists. They aren't consuming the music the way we do, so their artistic "intentions" have little relevance. Hell most of the popular artists who are lucky to have lavish production budgets these days probably playback their own recordings using Apple AirPods. I found it humorous when the Yggdrasil A1 was criticized for excessive tape noise/hiss or other recording abnormalities (that attributed to its "greyness") as if that wasn't what was intended. Well it's part of the recording whether you like that or not, it may just not be presented in a way you prefer. And that's another thing with DACs, there is still a level of interpretation going on which might fancy the designer's taste or their incompetence. They might be what you like. Yggdrasil and Convert-2 come instantly to mind that are clearly voiced to sound a particular way. As an audiophile, I don't see that as a bad thing, I don't see it as a tool in my producer toolkit. But those converters might be unworkable tools for those professionals recording music.

    It actually reads to me that the real problem is you are bothered by critics, especially those who consume the games you've designed. Those consumers should stay silent, how can they know this level design sucks when they've never had a hand in game design! That pudgy basement-dweller would make my creation worse with his ideas! Your argument is like a variation of that old saw "those who can't do, teach", as if you are somehow in a privileged position to speak authoritatively on something just because you had a role in its creation, and the rest of us are beneath you.

    Maybe more later after I finish enjoying my ice cream.
     
  19. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    it's all been explained by Mike Moffat online. it sounds the way it does because the DSP and digital filter is designed to make it sound that way.

    from an interview between Robert Harley and Mike Moffat, published in 1992:

    it's a novel concept that produces interesting results. when I first owned the Gungnir, I really thought it was the bee's knees. fast forward years later, I own a properly implemented TDA1541 NOS design and realized that the perceived benefits of oversampling and DSP are, to me, nothing more than a parlor trick, and do not relate to music.

    from a 2015 post made by Mike Moffat regarding the filter design in the Yggdrasil:

    personally, I do not buy into the claims of Schiit's proprietary filter. on one hand, he chastises the filters commonly found in sigma-delta DACs for loss of phase information. on the other hand, Schiit claims their converters can restore lost phase information. to me, this is a ridiculous marketing notion. I would agree their DSP manipulates phase information to create an interesting effect some people like, nothing more.
     
  20. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    @k4rstar What dac exactly are you using, or do you think the best representative of multibit/r2r sounding? Non-oop products would be ideal so that sbaf may test it as a loaner tour. I'm assuming you're not a complete fan of Schiit MBs based on the history I've witnessed btw.

    Rereading your posts in this thread, you repeatedly mentioned TDA chips without naming specific implementations. I personally had a pretty shiitty experience with poor products based on TDA (kit-based?; two from random ebay DIYers around 200 and 500 usd respectively) that I would take Modi MB instead any day. In general, with converter chip names only, Google tend to return us very wide spectrum of products including super crap as left outliers.
     
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