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PostPosted: January 12th, 2020, 5:38 pm 
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Joined: January 15th, 2015, 7:19 am
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Location: Baltimore MD
When I was beginning the journey into musical reproduction nirvana I quickly fell n the never ending trap of hearing big improvements with small changes to my system. Either a different brand of a coupling or bypass cap, or different wire, or in tube rolling. I still remember the great excitement when I first replaced that Radio Shack interconnect with my first DIY cable. I could not wait with great exclamation to tell everyone that I could get to listen at the amazing improvements to the sound coming out of my speakers with just the change of a piece of wire. Those days are gone. It could be hearing loss but I am not ready to blame that. I do hear the subtle differences between different cartridges, interconnects, and tube brands. I also hear all the differences in all the systems at the audio shows and feel good when others agree to which systems are musical and those that are not. Am I loosing interest in general? Not!.... I still love listening to my system either vinyl or digital. I am even going to have a cartridge redone by Peter Ledermann because I know what he does to cartridges. He has done three of mine so far. I am doing more show coverage for web magazines and need to keep a open mind to the industry, but I am still questioning it all.
Attached is and article from an English publication HiFi Choice. It tries to put forth the idea that this numbers race to increase the resolution of digital music is a bit of a fallacy. I tend to agree.
I am not finding Hi Res is really that much better sounding than your standard CD. Is that little bit of "air" really that important when one is listening. I always thought MQA was not worth extra costs.
On Dave Raden's vault of over 10 terabytes of music with resolutions from MP3 to the high DSD, I find it really does not matter to me. It's the music that matters.
I'm apologize I could not get a digital file of the article. HiFi Choice does not provide it unless you are a subscriber.


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hiRes_Falacy.pdf [842.35 KiB]
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PostPosted: January 13th, 2020, 11:11 am 
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One thing that I found made a big difference in digital replay is getting away from Linear Phase reconstruction filters in the DAC. There have been some papers about why digital sounds digital in the first place and the linear phase filter was the reason. It is a non-causal filter, and not something that happens in nature. The paper said in trials all listeners preferred the minimum phase filter based replay. Problem is it is used in both the bandlimiting before A/D and after D/A for reconstruction in a lot of digital system.

Examples of DAC's with minimum phase style filters are Wolfson Micro WM8741, AKM AK4490, AK4495 and new AK4499 DAC's. A lot of new DAC's with switchable filters have a minimum phase style filter along with a linear phase filter and easily to hear the difference in reproduction.

As stated in the PDF, more investigation is needed. Might be interesting with a full minimum phase A/D and D/A system to make a CD and HiRez recording and see what difference are found. There are A/D's like AKM AK5397's that are HiRez and have minimum phase band limiting filters. Problem seems to be most systems use an ASRC in the USB interface that is a linear phase based, and now minimum phase has been changed.

This does not have to be expensive. The little DIY AK4490 DAC I made for CAF has minimum phase filters and it was simple. The USB system did not ASRC, so it was minimum phase.

Fun with digital.


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PostPosted: January 13th, 2020, 11:22 am 
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In talking with a lot of audio observers I have found that some think small differences is a big deal and others do not.
I do find it interesting but not important. Its the music that is important.


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PostPosted: January 13th, 2020, 11:44 am 
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Pelliott321 wrote:
Its the music that is important.


Hmmm.... We all say that.... and yet engage in endless tinkering to get a slightly different sound.

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PostPosted: January 13th, 2020, 12:02 pm 
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I don’t think that music quality and small changes are incompatible. There is no doubt that I do not want to listen to music that may be technically “perfect” if I don’t like it. However, being able to listen to music I like that is more faithful to the original performance enhances my listening experience.

A few weeks ago, a friend who had never heard my system remarked when I played a piece familiar to him that he had never really heard the performer. He said if he closed his eyes, he could actually envision the performer’s hands on the guitar strings. It brought him closer to the performer.

David Berning and I did a test of a piece recorded by a friend who records for NPR. It was recorded at 88/24. We listened to it and then resampled it at 44/16, throwing away a lot of the information. To us it sounded slightly different than the original 88/24 with the caveat that it was not a blind test. I then resampled the 44/16 back to 88/24 fully realizing that we could never get back the stuff we threw away. When we compared the original 88/24 to the “fake” 88/24 we could not hear a difference. We surmised that the filters used by the DACs (Berhinger) dealt differently with the 44 vs 88. It was not the amount of info but rather how the filters dealt with the two sample rates. This is not a problem with most current DACs as most of them up sample what is coming in on the fly so shallower filters can be used at the output. My DEQX up samples to 96 on the fly. You might want to try this resampling test on your DACs and let us know what happens.


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PostPosted: January 13th, 2020, 3:12 pm 
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Interesting thread. I've been doing a lot of comparative listening of digital over this past month since building a dedicated PC for streaming and replacing the built-in DAC in my McIntosh C48 with a Chord Qutest DAC. I've compared JRiver to Roon, various album versions (MQA, DSD, Flac of various sample rates, and Flac of various word length), and compared the four different filter choices on the Chord Qutest.

Out of all of this I've developed a set preferences that work for me. I've found that playing the same album version on Roon and JRiver will sound the same only if I make sure that both are set up identically. I prefer the default set up on Roon and have found that JRiver is a pain for me to set up consistently over my entire library so Roon is now my standard player. I believe that most of the difference in sound is from volume leveling and that both sound the same if the leveling is the same or if they are both doing nothing with the files.

If there's a choice between MQA and similar word length/sample rate flac versions of an album, I have a preference for flac. Both sound good but the flac files seem slightly less congested and slightly less muddled. Less fatiguing over time.

If there's a choice between DSD and 96k flac I prefer DSD even if the DSD is converted to flac at 384k sample rate. I prefer 24 bit 48khz recordings over 16 bit 44.1. Some of my 16 bit 44.1 files sound really good. Appalachian Journey is one in particular that sounds great as are do various recordings of Jacqueline du Pre. Crap recordings are just that and good recordings are a joy regardless of format.

I prefer USB output to the DAC over optical. Really only compared this using Pandora to stream through the PC going USB to the DAC compared to Squeezebox touch streaming Pandora over optical. Timing seems more right with USB.

The Chord Qutest filter choices have been interesting to play with. I've found that the neutral filter with no HF roll off below 20khz just sounds right to me but I also like to indulge in the warmer filters. I wonder how those filters map to the DAC chip algorithms you outlined.

I have no idea how to map these preferences to specific things going on at various stages of recording through production. In many regards the swapping out of less preferred for more preferred in digital doesn't seem much different to me than swapping of other components, cables, tubes, etc. It's all part of the hobby or neurosis depending on your temperament. Making these changes got me listening to a lot of albums I haven't listened to in a while and that's been good.


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PostPosted: January 13th, 2020, 6:20 pm 
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Quote from Paul McGowan
"
Evidence of absence
There’s a famous aphorism that really resonates with me.
“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”
Just because traditional audio measurements don’t tell us much of anything about how a product sounds doesn’t mean all same measuring products sound alike.
Yes, it’s the old measurements vs. listening debate again, but with a new angle that might prove interesting to some. But, probably not. We’re each so entrenched in our views.
Part of the problem is this. In science, whoever makes a claim carries the burden of proof regardless of positive or negative content in the claim. So, if we audiophiles claim to hear differences in cables and electronics then the burden of proof rests on our shoulders if we wish the rest of the world to concur.
And here’s the thing. Do we actually care? What value would be had when the naysayers are proven wrong?
I’ve been unable to answer that question."

The main problem we all hear differently.


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PostPosted: January 13th, 2020, 10:08 pm 
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I agree with you to a large extent, Pete. In my case, part of it is hearing loss, which these days makes me a bit impatient with "subtle" changes. OTOH, I'm always surprised at the difference a small change will make! Cable comparisons exhaust me, and frankly I think that if you wrapped my BlueJeans interconnects in Moroccan spider silk and priced them at $10K a lot of audiophiles would think they were a bargain! ;-)

Re: hi-res, I go back and forth. 44.1/16 sounds fine to me most of the time, but I have a Martin Taylor guitar album in DSD that produces a sound I didn't think my system was capable of. I generally go for higher res if available, that little extra bit of air and texture can be revealing.


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PostPosted: January 14th, 2020, 12:23 am 
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Location: Parkville, Maryland
I've been messing with this hobby for many decades and I have found by experience to be careful not to "step on the musical shoes" of a piece of equipment while attempting to improve it. Change for the sake of change can only result in a difference that is not necessarily an improvement.

Do-overs are not fun. :cry:

That said -- I find that many hobbyists and yes -- manufacturers -- make comparisons against other sound reproduction systems rather than attending live music events that DO NOT use sound reinforcement. That my friends is the target -- the goal -- to get as close to the (pardon me for using this term) "absolute sound" as possible. :violin:

I've attended live events and recorded live events and I have to tell you that it is "wake-up call" when coming home and listening to a recording on one's precious audio system.

To add insult to injury -- every damn thing you can think of can have an effect on sound reproduction. Circuit design (naturally) -- passive parts -- active parts -- means and methods -- wire -- cable -- solder -- PC boards (that's right -- not all PC boards are created equal) and lets not forget acoustic vibration. Electronic systems are sensitive to piezoelectric and micro-phonic effects from vibration induced to the product from the very playback loud speakers connected to the system. One would say that tubes are the most sensitive to acoustic breakthrough, but integrated circuits are also culpable in not so subtle ways.

When it comes to interconnecting cables -- you have DC resistance, AC impedance, series inductance, and shunt capacitance that together create a reactive component that has a direct effect on the piece of kit TRYING to drive it. That is a subject best covered in another thread. :geek:

So all of this dialog comes to you via a small-change addict -- is there such a thing a AA for audio nuts? :crazy:

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PostPosted: January 14th, 2020, 12:32 am 
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SoundMods wrote:
So all of this dialog comes to you via a small-change addict -- is there such a thing a AA for audio nuts? :crazy:


Audiophiles Unanimous :music-listening:

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