Topping and SMSL with ASR Punking Us on DACs?

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, Oct 23, 2022.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Wow. that sounds very crazy. Could you locate exact posts from real owners and clarify what multiple products you exactly meant? I don't read asr but I'm curious if owners say that way (as opposed to memes, jokes, etc). Asr might be more insane than I thought.
     
  2. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    I lurk there under a pseudonym that I’d like to keep that way, but after seeing variations of those comments in several threads, I explained to someone saying “[insert big name company product] is five times as expensive as [insert that week’s Topping competitor]” that a big part of the purchase price difference was a five-year warranty versus a non-existent one. The response, which got a ton of likes, was “I’d rather buy the Topping one five times if it breaks.” My further response, which basically said, “Isn’t it kind of bad to throw away a bunch of metal and dangerous chemicals into a landfill over and over instead of just buying one good thing?” was mocked.

    Also, a common refrain in the thread about the recent Topping amp that kept dying was, “Well, it’s not like you can expect great reliability for a perfect-measuring device that’s so affordable.” So it’s pretty clear that a certain segment of folks there have explained away Topping’s failure rate by arguing that disposability is NBD.
     
  3. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    That really says so much. As I said, ASR has all the hallmarks of a cult. Topping and Amir have successfully recruited a group who will mindlessly consume whatever slop is thrown in their direction and convince themselves that they love it, and that anyone who buys anything else is the REAL fool.

    Amir is master of moving goal posts. I don't think he's ever conceded a point to anyone. At first he'll appeal to his imagined authority, and when that doesn't work, he'll ban the opposing party all while claiming they ran away out of fear of his incredible expertise. GS had to create a second account just to counteract the lie that he had disappeared from the forum when in fact he got shadow banned.
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    With respect to prices low, I don't see the prices as low. These DACs are hitting $700 to $900, from manufacturers that essentially provide no support, tell you to go F yourself if their amps blow up your headphones, have no marketing (other than ASR - Amir's their tool), and are 1000% made in China with corresponding low wages and infrastructure costs sponsored by the government.

    I'd rather take an iFi Zen DAC at $180, Modius ES at $230, or MOTU Ultralink at $600 than the vast majority of the above DACs (and all the Topping and SMSL ones). If one wanted features, the Ultralink crushes all of them.

    With respect to poor QC: China is an advanced manufacturing center and I've never had problems with more established brands such as Matrix, Shanling, Apple, etc. However, what's the mathematical probability that the four most recent fly-by-night China branded gear I got: Topping L30, Singxer SA-1, Cayin RU6, and Soncoz SGD-1 end-up as defective (or not "programmed correctly" in the case of the SGD-1). I can't make this stuff up. The measurements I took show for themselves. That's four out of four!

    And then how it is that Amir only happens to get the most exemplary 99% top of bell curve units: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.11164/page-5#post-352847
     
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    Last edited: Oct 24, 2022
  5. Slade01

    Slade01 Rando

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    That is not surprising - I think that is the exact reason why they broke it down to the tenths range. It's what you have said, that if shenzenaudio type products are essentially releasing the same device year after year with no real changes to implementation, then you exactly end up with your graph. And that is a message Amir doesn't necessarily want to expound either to say that virtually all topping/smsl/gustard products sound the same. Breaking it down further gives them a visual reason to make the differences seem more dramatic even at their so-called top-tier level.

    I'm also surprised they mixed Okta and Mola Mola into the mix. As if they want to claim that the 90% comprised of cheaper dacs sound as good as the super-mega-buck ones (1K-10K) so there is no reason NOT to buy topping/smsl in any scenario.

    This is what kills me about ASR's approach, and people new to the hobby, with no knowledge, and entry level money, take the "science" as "truth" and will willingly invest according to whatever is on the top-20 board blindly. They have created a perfect marketing storm to take advantage of people, and it is absolutely deplorable.

    It would be difficult to believe that ASR isn't a shill for topping/smsl, etc. And don't get me wrong, i'm not knocking topping/smsl/gustard - its really on how ASR supremely skews the data to make people believe in an idea that is seemingly "absolute" end all be all, when in reality, there are many elements to evaluating gear, sound and music.
     
  6. GuySmiley'sMonkey

    GuySmiley'sMonkey Almost "Made"

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    For a moment I scratched my monkey head wondering why SBAF cared so much about what went on at another audio site. I guess the answer is that SBAF cares about how information is used and how money is spent. Unless the equipment is broken measurements don't lie, but they can be misinterpreted, misunderstood and misused. This needs to be called out and corrected.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2022
  7. Johnston98

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    I’ll take products from high quality boutique company over mass produced cloned technology (often Chinese origin). In many cases it’ll cost more, but the warranty and customer service close that gap pretty quickly. I don’t want to universally bash Chinese manufacturers because companies like iBasso make good stuff for decent prices and great customer service.
     
  8. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    But that is exactly the problem. The way the measurements are taken, who is taking them, the test settings, parameters used can all effect the outcome of the measurements ESPECIALLY when the measurements are being scrutinized down to the 0.00000000069db type differences.

    If Amir is allowed to say others are using the APx555 improperly and gaming their results to suit an agenda, then we can at least question if the same might be happening (even if only through incompetence) on the other end also.

    A way to help mediate this would be for Amir, and every person taking measurements with an APx555 to publish the full reports, complete with the full parameters (as I believe Schiit now does for all their products) and settings used for the tests. As of yet, Amir does not do this, and directly refused to a few times back in the early days of this whole shitshow.
     
  9. GuySmiley'sMonkey

    GuySmiley'sMonkey Almost "Made"

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    I would class what you're describing here as an aspect of interpretation of the measurements associated with context, ie, the context includes who measures, the equipment they use to measure, how they measure, the environment in which they measure and the purpose with which they measure. All measurements are taken within these contexts.

    At the end of the day I think we're saying the same thing, which is in order to understand measurements you need to understand how (and why) they are made. Your point about the level of scrutiny is pertinent.

    Disclaimer: I only have vague understanding of how audio measurements work (LOL)! I wasn't really adding anything to the discussion other than trying to understand SBAF's apparent obsession with ASR. I figure it's helpful when it stops consumers making poor buying decisions, consumers (like me) who don't understand measurements or realise when they have been manipulatively presented in numbers and graphs as ASR has done.

    Is it true that there are rigid conventions that all measurements must comply with in order to be given credibility? If so, do measurements made by SBAF members, condoned by SBAF and published on SBAF conform to these conventions? From what I've seen they are often provided with the context of methodology. Does this imply there is a range of acceptable conventions?

    Edit: For the record I think that @atomicbob sets the golden standard.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2022
  10. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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    That's exactly it. The "I can buy five Toppings for the price of ___" mantra started at ASR back when they framed the contest as one between a $90 Topping DAC and a $1k DAC from a more reputable company. But now Topping DACs are reaching the $500 to $1,000 range, while Schiit's $130 DAC is near the top of ASR's SINAD chart. Once Schiit decided to beat ASR at its own game, then the debate shifted to cheering every new inaudible decimal SINAD improvement and discussion of "features" like Bluetooth support (which one could add to the Modi 3 with a cheap external receiver, anyhow).

    I also totally agree about the China part. Look, I'm American and I appreciate when U.S. companies try to make stuff here. But I still have my Matrix XSP, and its build quality is superb. Tons of great electronics (and parts for "American-made" electronics) are manufactured in China. That's why I hesitate to use "Chi-Fi" anymore, because it's really not a shorthand that makes any sense if it's supposed to convey something about quality. We're talking about a few specific companies -- most with nearly nonexistent websites and practically worthless warranties -- not about a whole country.
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Yes!

    upload_2022-10-24_19-12-24.png

    TBH, I can't help but feel this wasn't a China Communist Party plot to take over an industry.

    The APx555 is completely unnecessary for audio. It is necessary however for the Defense Against Dark Arts.

    That was funny when Jude (with AP's help) schooled Amir on how to properly take linearity measurements, with Amir being so badly owned, proclaiming that "he knew better than AP engineers" when he had no clue why his linearity measurements were borked, and then falling back on how he was "VP at a Microsoft unit overseeing thousands of employees".
     
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    Last edited: Oct 24, 2022
  12. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    And responsible for many failed products.
    This tool showed repeatedly he is not an engineer and is certainly not qualified to use such expensive measuring equipment.
     
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  13. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Sort of reminds me of Sergei Bubka breaking the pole vault record by 1 cm for several years

    He wasn’t really a better athlete with every record, he was just holding back so he could get the bonus for breaking records
     
  14. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    As if on cue, E70 and L70 have just been released.

    I love this bit from their promotional material:

    "E70 has extremely high measurements, the THD+N is lower than 0.00006% for catching every subtle detail in music,"

    :)
     
  15. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    All of this reminds me of the Ethan Winer, who is also a audiomeasurologist like Amir, just in a different way. He goes to show there are very little differences in ANY DAC, and they all sound the same. He did an AES Workshop in 2010 where he was showing that a Sound Blaster ADC sounded just as good as an Apogee ADC in ABX tests. I am sure he would say something similar about DAC's if he has not already. Some of his stuff I agree with in dispelling some audio myths, and others he is just way off base. Like he also says that most RCA cables are the same and such. He is also a member over at ASR.

    But really the joke is on the people who buy into this. They COULD have the $99 Heresy or whatever and not have to spend $700-$900. And really people who buy on measurement alone are the ones with the biggest buyer's remorse. SMSL, Topping, PS Audio are the dominant DAC's I see on the FS listings at other places like USAM and even HF. On the amp side, it is Topping and Burson.
     
  16. Yethal

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    Did anybody ever ask on ASR for studies (and/or some other proof) showing some sort of correlation between higher SINAD number and subjective enjoyment of music? Or correlation between SINAD and music reproduction accuracy? Did they just accept bigger = better without ever asking why is that the case?
     
  17. SoupRKnowva

    SoupRKnowva Official SBAF South Korean Ambassador

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    they would probably reply something like "we dont care about subjective enjoyment, you're enjoying it wrong" or something along those lines
     
  18. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    I do find DACs, especially, a tough component to audition/AB. Of all parts of the chain--except maybe the streamer--they seem to have the least variance today.

    Which begs the question, for me, of what separates a good DAC from a great DAC (given a good implementation of the chip or R2R ladder, etc.)?

    Is it... the power supply? The voltage swing? I'm genuinely asking here. I have noticed that, when effectively using a DAC as a pre (with volume controlled digitally on the streamer), the smaller DACs really sounded pretty terrible in that role. I tried using an X-Sabre Pro as a DAC, and it was awful. Whereas the beefer Yggdrasil was actually really good.
     
  19. Grattle

    Grattle Friend

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    Well, 0.01 better SINAD apparently.
     
  20. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    This is the exact point that I have been repeating for a few years now when posting on ASR. The response that I usually get there is that they admire the pursuit of engineering excellence and are willing to pay 10 times the price to own a device that demonstrates this excellence even though it empirically does not benefit their listening experience at all. I find it ironic that ASR is always criticizing the subjectivist camp for spending crazy amounts of money on devices that do not make any contribution to the way music is reproduced when they do exactly the same, for different reasons. At least subjectivists believe that more expensive products will give them better sound, even though they may be deluding themselves. Paying 10 times more for a product that you believe, as an objectivist, will not sound any different than the cheap product just because it is engineered better is more insane in my opinion.
     
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