Topping and SMSL with ASR Punking Us on DACs?

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

  1. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    But is it engineered better? I get what you are saying, they want ultimate precision. They are worse than pixel peepers. Just wanting it for some specific spec that really means nothing. It is their own dumb mindfull bliss. However, you can also tote that line for so long. I mean it is really amazing the cognitive dissonance (fooling yourself) some can have for so long. This is why I think the dude in the Matrix who sold them out ultimately will not be happy in the end, because his mind knows the steak is not real. However, there are products at 1/10'th the cost of some of these devices with nearly the same specs....man...just to go after that last little bit that does not make a hair's difference and likely makes things sound worse.

    But back to my first point...it just goes back to amps having the most amount of global feedback during the THD wars. I think even Jason talked about this in his book and how Sumo even got caught up in some of that and even chased some THD even though they knew they sounded bad, they knew that customers were buying off what they saw on the spec sheet. But it is better engineered because OPA1612 op amps? All of it leaves me scratching my head.
     
  2. AdvanTech

    AdvanTech Friend

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    Clearly not. They spill out into the audiophile subreddit where they complain about audiophile things.

    I really feel like they’re hanging out in the wrong corners of the internet and would be better off talking about unimportant measurements of electronics that have nothing to do with sound. That’s where they really belong.
     
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  3. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    And at ASR, that's exactly where they are! :D
     
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  4. Azimuth

    Azimuth FKA rtaylor76, Friend

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    This is because of their plan of selling direct in the US. It is not as easy in other places and then there are taxes and tarrifs. Schiit stuff would be 30-40% (possibly even 50%) more here in the US if they also went through a second or third party just like everything else and available at electronic or big box stores. Setting up local partners for repair is also risky because that means you are losing control of your intellectual property (you have to give them schematics), as well as quality control of the repair to another party. And even then, some might not even want the contract if there are only a few repairs that come in and might not be worth it to them. Most of the SMSL, FiiO, etc. just process an exchange for another refurbished unit, then they send the broken unit back in for repair or salvage what parts they can. Some of this stuff they are not even "repairing" rather than "processing". Schiit does their own repair work or otherwise might have to increase prices to cover. I read somewhere that the cost of Beats headphones is like $13 or something for a $200 product, and half of that goes into warranty repairs and replacements. I do know that this cost is also factored into a lifetime warranty of a Gibson guitar (I used to work there).
     
  5. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    I went from having poofy bird's nest hair to a really crisp undercut with the sides basically shaven earlier today and I'm rediscovering how much of a difference that makes with headphones. If the folk who are so persnickety as to demand SINAD so pristine want to prove that they have integrity then they'd damn well better ensure that they have, in a literal sense, not a single hair out of place when adorning headphones. Also gotta make sure that the precise positioning of each channel is perfectly replicable because to not do so would have unacceptable effects on headstage delineation.
     
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  6. Johnston98

    Johnston98 Facebook Friend

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  7. soumya

    soumya Acquaintance

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    I visit ASR - particularly DAC reviews once in a few moons for sheer entertainment.

    Is it a case of cult or Pied-piper and the mice, I don't know.
    I just can't help laughing when every Tom, Dick and Harry posts a link to Monty's video on DAC reconstruction whenever someone tries to make a case of time domain accuracy (or lack thereof) in chip based Delta Sigma DACs. In one case, I recall some hapless chap writing - the Park's McClellan (Remez Exchange) alogrithm's ripple in the pass band dictates the time domain accuracy!

    Oh did I mention that one post where someone made reference to Dustin Foreman (ESS engineer largely invovled in development of Sabre DACs) take on subjective human listening test and Amir asks the guy to in turn ask Mr Foreman to engage with him in the forum. As if Mr Foreman is jobless enough to engage in the stupid charade of science with the likes of Amir.

    That said there are some good folks there who seem to take a careful and balanced stance.

    About this thead - there are few ChiFi brands in those rankings which I _personally_ deem better than others - like Gustard. And yes they are audibly different than others (Topping, SMSL, Soncoz).
    For one, Gustard seems to bias the OPA1612 used in I-V stage in Class A which one can make out by the presence of discrete JFets near each part.
    Second, they are using discrete and passive LPF using good quality parts instead of active opamp based LPF.

    Consequent of this, Gustard DACs sound much smoother and have heft in the mid range whereas DACs from other ChiFi manufacturers with relatively better frequency domain performance sound cold and sterile - sometimes even grainy.

    What I absolutely abhor is the usage of OPA1612 in LPF. Let's assume someone like Topping who have a one trick pony R&D - the trick being high negative feedback, decides not to waste time with innovation and to follow the text books from the likes of TI and AD.
    How on the earth usage of a bipolar opamp is justified in a stage where input impedance is large - which means the high current noise of bipolar opamp directly translates to voltage noise?
    Oh wait, they have that one trick - more negative feedback. Every single ChiFi DAC which has used OPA1612 in LPF sounded scratchy and sterile ; and immediately sounded better (read much fuller and smoother devoid of graininess) when replaced with OPA1642 - partly because of its lower input current noise.
    https://www.ti.com/lit/an/sbaa322/sbaa322.pdf


    I don't mind objectivism - for so long a certain metric which is being measured adds to the subjective value. I feel beyond 100 dB or so of SINAD, the focus should be on better temporal accuracy. Using better parts in I-V stage (higher slew rate) , better reconstruction filter in case of oversampling / DS DACs and of course tonality.
    [On a side note - this is another reason why I like Gustard ESS DACs ; they allow to defeat the ESS OSF completely reaping full benefits of software interpolation.]

    I sincerely pray this SINAD pandemic dies quickly!
     
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  8. nithhoggr

    nithhoggr Author of the best selling novel Digital Jesus

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    Huh...interesting...didn't know that Gustard DACs could do that...I always figured NOS was an R2R thing.

    Speaking of software oversampling, though, I distinctly remember a thread where Amir et al roundly mocked the OP for thinking he might hear an improvement with HQPlayer oversampling and demanded the one guy who said he'd heard a difference go do a blind level-matched test. Basically declared that there's no way using a software player to oversample audio could make an audible difference. Which kind of struck me as odd, since using a different/higher-tap OS filter is every bit as objective a difference as pushing the SINAD up a couple of tenths of a dB. It's always seemed to me like a lot of audio objectivists tend to get caught up on their favorite metrics and aggressively resist any suggestion that anything else could make a difference, even if the thing being suggested is also objective and measurable.
     
  9. Pancakes

    Pancakes Friend

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    I think a lot of the acolytes on ASR are mentally retarded. I don't mean that as a slight but as a medical condition.
     
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  10. Bourne Perfect

    Bourne Perfect Friend

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    I've thought all along ASR was just a racket for promoting cheap chinese shit to the gullible. Hey they've infiltrated everything else if you weren't paying attention...
     
  11. Bourne Perfect

    Bourne Perfect Friend

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    I'm frankly surprised they don't offer their charts in braille.
     
  12. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

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    Given their love of blind testing, I'm surprised too. The more so as it's a purely digital system.

    Sorry, I really need to stop shitposting in this thread but I just can't resist it :p
     
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  13. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Errmmm... Does Amir still have a "consultancy," or whatever, which sells expensive audio gear?
     
  14. Johnston98

    Johnston98 Facebook Friend

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    Madrona Digital.

    He used to put a disclaimer on all of his Harman group product reviews that he owns a company that uses Harman group products, conflict of interest, non biased review, etc...

    I noticed that is gone. In addition he did an absolute hatchet job on the Mark Levinson 5909 (Harman group product). It follows the Harman curve, has clean group delay, low distortion, and needs "no EQ to enjoy". Should be the headphone for him to cream his jeans by his criteria. But he didn't recommend it because it didn't have the spatial qualities of the 4x more expensive Stealth. Absolute lunacy. Same with all the Focal headphones, Meze Liric, etc... Objective data shows that they are good measuring 'phones. But no recommendation from him for some bullshit reason. Up until he reviewed (and probably bought) the Stealth, he wouldn't recommend any 'phones above a couple hundred bucks.
     
  15. Josh83

    Josh83 Friend

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  16. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    The only thing I remember about Ethan Winer is that he made a video using boobies to simulate audio waves.
     
  17. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    China gives you what you pay for. Most of these guys are just using board houses making surface mount PCBs and Chinese board houses are like any other with maybe a less robust market for small amounts of esoteric components. The thing is the only reason to go to China for a lot of electronics is to cheap it out. An experienced electronics tech there to build high value gear by hand will still cost a fair amount in labor so these brands never do it.

    A big problem in the PRC and what will screw over the Made in China 2025 initiative is lack of innovation in the economy. Like take mics. Almost all of the made in China mics are made by OEMs like Alctron or use the same mass produced quality be damned OEM capsules and electronics. SE is the only vertically integrated, non OEM, mass produced mic maker in the whole country and they are like decent live sound level, not comparable to ultra high end European mics.
     
  18. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    There's crazy amounts of intermodulation distortion and aliasing in loudness war digital pop productions. Especially those made with most plugins prior to 2010-2015 or so. Throw in a random 1176 type thing or two adds a ton of noise on top of that and if they used old unmaintained stereo compressors or eq, stereo image shift.

    Not that older recordings were much better. Led Zeppelin III has ridiculous noise and so many pre entirely digital productions (beyond the mics and mic pres) have a messed up stereo center.
     
  19. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    :sail:

    Oh yes, I remember that!

    I also recall Ethan talking about audio myths, and utterly denouncing expensive power cables to some expo audience which included people selling them.

    Ethan Winer and NwAvGuy both helped me towards the basic awareness that there is a hell of a lot of utter bullshit in audio. I think Ethan coined the word audiophool.

    Whatever else may have been right or wrong in what they did and how, I am grateful to them for that. Amir has contributed nothing whatsoever to my education.
     
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  20. Tiradentes

    Tiradentes Rando

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    Woow.. what a width of different opinions! :)


    But i feel we are getting our feelings get the best of us and this is turning into a vitriol of hate against ASR , which different than head-fi can provide some useful information


    I for one prefer to pay more on something that has a extended warranty than get the latest Topping / SMSL product, as i can't tell the difference between state of the art solid state stuff, only tubes


    But it doesn't take the fun of reading how much we have advanced in the last few years technology wise! even though above CD SNR is meaningless to me too

    Much love :punk:
     

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