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How important are DACs, really?
Old 4 days ago
  #241
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MarcB's Avatar
both Daft Punk and Jon Hopkins have a lo-fi type sound signature. Hardly the types of music one should judge if a converter is good or bad by since their sound is purposely reduced in bit depth and sample rate.

It's sort of like judging your new 4k HDR monitor by watching 1970s VHS porn rips.
Old 4 days ago
  #242
Newer Daft Punk like "get lucky" very likely went thru a high end DAC. Sound on Sound did an article on the session, they only mention the Lynx ADC.

I used DAT a lot as a stereo mix off of 2" tape - in 1991. It was a sign of the times, that's all.

I was really happy with my latest tracks mastering, I have no reservations about using no special converters (Zoom F8) and then having an ME use a Crane Song HEDD for DAC and ADC.

TBH, I wouldn't really choose an ME because of their converters, but rather their compressors and eq.
Old 4 days ago
  #243
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3bc View Post
Sorry - have to LOL. If Daft Punk and Jon Hopkins are bedroom producers I dunno what to say. Daft Punk has a collective net worth estimated at $140M. And that is when they tour only once every 10 years.

For ITB mixing and mastering, top quality DAC’s are not that important, and again the least important part of the entire equation. If you are a ITB mixing engineer by trade, the marketing aspect of top quality converters is more meaningful than the sonic aspect of them.
Yes, everyone is saying they are the least important part. That's really the whole thread, just people are trying to take it further and say it makes no difference whatsoever, which is a different statement entirely, forgetting their individual experience & needs are not universal.

Jon Hopkins I think intentionally records at 16/44.1khz because he prefer the sound of it, if conversion makes no difference then neither should bit depth & sample depth yet he feels it does and Daft Punk haven't always used the same setup.

For mixing/mastering engineers that are making a living out of it, it is relatively a small investment really. It should pay itself back and what you save by buying something cheaper is not going to go all that far these days. For artists, these considerations are completely different as that extra money could go towards something more useful. /thread
Old 4 days ago
  #244
TJT
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by monomer View Post
That's not right.
RME's comment was on someone asking about one of the 4 files.
One file is the original from the DAW (which RME commented on).
The other 3 are a DA-AD loop through the mastering chain with a different AD each time.

I do seem to hear a slight difference between the converters, tho it kindof sounds like it's due to the processing engaging the sound in slightly different ways each time.
I don't hear a real difference in the quality of the bass. No 'tightening' or that kind of stuff. It sounds more like a slightly different performance of something with exactly the same sound character.
It would have been interesting if they had posted multiple runs of the same music on the same converter so we could rule out influence of the dynamic aspects of the processing.
They didn't comment on it being a file directly from the daw. Unless you saw that comment elsewhere. The clear implication was that "original" in the YouTube video was the same original file that they offered as a download. (I guess we could record the YouTube audio, line it up, and see if the differences in processing are the same as the downloads just to be sure.)

And when they show "original" in the video, they're trying to show you the difference in sound between the original and the the converted DAC audio. They don't make any mention of the original being pre-processed vs post-processed files through the Manley. All you have to do is download the files, take a look at the waveforms,and see that the file has been processed,and has eq bumps in certain sections of the music on all 3 converted signals vs the original. So, I say it's dishonest.
Old 4 days ago
  #245
TJT
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by monomer View Post
Remember that the clock source for the conversion ic is also part of the circuit.
And some converter ic's don't operate their channels at the same time (they directly follow the I2S stream) which can influence the stereo image as well.

So cross talk is not the only parameter that influences stereo image.
Jitter being audible is purely theoretical. There's no real empirical evidence that shows that jitter can actually be heard. Yes, you can see distortions on the waveform from clock jitter, but there are smarter people than you and me that have studied this for years and still can't agree that it makes any audible difference.

I'm not totally sure what you mean about the second part. If there was any serious offset between channels, surely we'd hear phasing. That would be fairly obvious audibly.
Old 4 days ago
  #246
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monomer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJT View Post
And when they show "original" in the video, they're trying to show you the difference in sound between the original and the the converted DAC audio.
Hmm,. no.
If you look carefully he is comparing the other interfaces to the new RME. That's the one that comes back as a reference.

Quote:
They didn't comment on it being a file directly from the daw. Unless you saw that comment elsewhere.
I was talking about these comments:

Quote:
Oliver Holmes:
Downloaded the files. What is he using on the file name "AGGREGAT-Astroid_loop-15RX" ? that sounded amazing.

RME Audio:
That is the mix straight from the DAW.
Besides this i don't see any other comment that could apply to your critique. I don't see them stating anywhere that there is no processing before the recording. Maybe you could point it out.

Last edited by monomer; 4 days ago at 06:16 PM..
Old 4 days ago
  #247
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monomer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJT View Post
Jitter being audible is purely theoretical. There's no real empirical evidence that shows that jitter can actually be heard. Yes, you can see distortions on the waveform from clock jitter, but there are smarter people than you and me that have studied this for years and still can't agree that it makes any audible difference.
If we were to believe these people we could feed a DAC a noise source as a clock and everything would be peachy.


Quote:
I'm not totally sure what you mean about the second part. If there was any serious offset between channels, surely we'd hear phasing. That would be fairly obvious audibly.
You wouldn't hear phasing, you would hear a skewed stereo image. If you would collapse the stereo to mono you would get some small interference in the highs.

The data fed to DAC is usually a serial protocol called I2S.
The samples for the left and right channels are sent sequentially.
A perfect DAC would buffer the first channel that arrives until the second one has arrived and then change the state for both channels at the same time. But not all DACs do this and then one channel will have a slight delay which could mess with how we perceive the stereo image. And i think our sense of phase differences is better than what is suggested by the 20kHz limit of our hearing. But i don't know and wouldn't want to speculate how small a delay we can detect.
Old 4 days ago
  #248
TJT
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by monomer View Post
If we were to believe these people we could feed a DAC a noise source as a clock and everything would be peachy.
Okay, c'mon though. These engineers that disagree on this stuff are not saying a clock is not necessary. They're saying that the jitter being audible with modern clocks is completely debatable. It's like if I said a capacitor with a 10% tolerance will make no difference compared to one with 5% in a particular circuit, and you said, "if you believe that, we can just put a piece of plastic in there and call it a day!"


Quote:
You wouldn't hear phasing, you would hear a skewed stereo image. If you would collapse the stereo to mono you would get some small interference in the highs.

The data fed to DAC is usually a serial protocol called I2S.
The samples for the left and right channels are sent sequentially.
A perfect DAC would buffer the first channel that arrives until the second one has arrived and then change the state for both channels at the same time. But not all DACs do this and then one channel will have a slight delay which could mess with how we perceive the stereo image. And i think our sense of phase differences is better than what is suggested by the 20kHz limit of our hearing. But i don't know and wouldn't want to speculate how small a delay we can detect.
I mean, this is fairly easily testible. Just offset a channel in your DAW and listen to the difference with each nudge. I claim ignorance on this particular one, but I'm skeptical about this idea of an offset between channels with modern day interfaces, once you take bad cables and any other issues with your actual studio out of the equation.
Old 3 days ago
  #249
TJT
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by monomer View Post
Besides this i don't see any other comment that could apply to your critique. I don't see them stating anywhere that there is no processing before the recording. Maybe you could point it out.
I posted this up thread

Commenter:

"Just out of curiosity, what processing is being applied while in the analog realm? Captures are bottom heavy when compared to the original mix...just wondering if this is intentional or if perhaps it is just the sound of your transfer console?"

Rme:

"None. As mentioned in the video, the HEDD is doing the DA conversion for all three examples."
Old 3 days ago
  #250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ksp View Post
The question is # does everyone have the same degree of hearing or perception?
The question is “How important are DACs, really?”

Not “this is imperceptibly noticeable but keeps me from making good art”

Also Daft Punk hasn’t been “lo-fi” since what, Homework?
Old 3 days ago
  #251
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJT View Post
When the circuitry of a "cheap" focusrite leads to 109 db of s/n and greater than -90db of crosstalk... I can say it doesn't matter

Now, if you want to say that a company like Focusrite is lying about the specs of it's devices, that's your right to believe that. But, if I have to raise the volume to 91 db (the level of a loud lawnmower) to try and hear 1 db of crosstalk (when a studio's ambient noise is sitting at around 30 db), I'd say that I believe that the "stereo image" is not affected
i have this vision of being stood in a quiet meadow. with one lawnmower a mile away in one direction and another a mile in the other direction.

that's the reality of the numbers.


if you can be debating adc/dac over youtube audio. then NO, a dac is really not that important to you.
Old 3 days ago
  #252
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re

def cant consider RAM era daft punk lofi, pretty sure they used nice converters among all the other nice stuff and pros they used. It is often talked about when people bring up their favorite sounding records. On converters, Im on a dif place than most of yall. I think DACs are very important and there is a pretty big difference between them or maybe in the designs of the overall signal chains (I think the overall chain and clocking plays a big role since they are only a few companies that make the chips). But I record everyday. Maybe mid range and up is pretty good nowdays, but i hear a pretty big difference in the really nice ones. Ill use a UA or RME but i prefer even better. But i get it its cool to be able to buy a $150 interface, i would have killed for that power when i was a kid.
Old 3 days ago
  #253
TJT
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Preston135 View Post
i have this vision of being stood in a quiet meadow. with one lawnmower a mile away in one direction and another a mile in the other direction.

that's the reality of the numbers.


if you can be debating adc/dac over youtube audio. then NO, a dac is really not that important to you.
I'm confused. What? 91db is very very loud. That's how loud it would have to be to be able to hear cross talk in a device that outputs at -90db crosstalk. And you'd have to hear 1 db of crosstalk amidst the extreme loudness, and above the roughly 30 db hum of your studio.


Secondly, Youtube..

I agree to a certain extent, but they offered the wav files in the links. So, then you download the links and you see that the 3 converted files have been processed. The original was not. That was what the discussion was about.

I'm actually NOT debating a DAC over Youtube. What I'm saying is that the ONLY test that matters is one where you record a source sound, and then you compare the source sound to the throughput sound of your DAC. That's literally the only test that matters. If it sounds exactly the same, then you're basically in one camp. If you compare a before encoded file to an after encoded file (and you can do this in real time) and it sounds exactly the same, then there isn't really anything else that needs to be said.

RME failed that test because all 3 converted signals were totally different from the original audio.
Old 3 days ago
  #254
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJT View Post
I'm confused. What? 91db is very very loud. That's how loud it would have to be to be able to hear cross talk in a device that outputs at -90db crosstalk. And you'd have to hear 1 db of crosstalk amidst the extreme loudness, and above the roughly 30 db hum of your studio.


Secondly, Youtube..

I agree to a certain extent, but they offered the wav files in the links. So, then you download the links and you see that the 3 converted files have been processed. The original was not. That was what the discussion was about.

I'm actually NOT debating a DAC over Youtube. What I'm saying is that the ONLY test that matters is one where you record a source sound, and then you compare the source sound to the throughput sound of your DAC. That's literally the only test that matters. If it sounds exactly the same, then you're basically in one camp. If you compare a before encoded file to an after encoded file (and you can do this in real time) and it sounds exactly the same, then there isn't really anything else that needs to be said.

RME failed that test because all 3 converted signals were totally different from the original audio.

confused that i was agreeing with you on this message board?

yeah, i can see that being quite confusing on here....
Old 3 days ago
  #255
TJT
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Preston135 View Post
confused that i was agreeing with you on this message board?

yeah, i can see that being quite confusing on here....
Sorry, I was taking you literally I guess. Lawnmowers a mile away in either direction would be maybe about 65 db. A little over conversational db levels. If your crosstalk was really terrible, like -30 db, you *might* be able to hear crosstalk in that situation, above the level of the meadow
Old 3 days ago
  #256
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monomer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJT View Post
It's like if I said a capacitor with a 10% tolerance will make no difference compared to one with 5% in a particular circuit,
That's not what you said tho.
You claimed that people say that clock doesn't matter at all.



Quote:
I mean, this is fairly easily testible. Just offset a channel in your DAW and listen to the difference with each nudge. I claim ignorance on this particular one, but I'm skeptical about this idea of an offset between channels with modern day interfaces, once you take bad cables and any other issues with your actual studio out of the equation.
Yeah, and moving your head a little introduces much grater delays.
Maybe the problems happen when you hear things in context of other sounds that aren't skewed.
Not sure whether cables contribute a lot to the stereo image tho. If they are shielded they should keep the signals pretty separated. It's in the electronics that things are becoming more correlated.
And of course there may be other things in the studio that swamp this, like you mention.
Old 3 days ago
  #257
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monomer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJT View Post
I posted this up thread

Commenter:

"Just out of curiosity, what processing is being applied while in the analog realm? Captures are bottom heavy when compared to the original mix...just wondering if this is intentional or if perhaps it is just the sound of your transfer console?"

Rme:

"None. As mentioned in the video, the HEDD is doing the DA conversion for all three examples."
Aah, thanks, i missed that.
I dunno. Seems like they're misunderstanding the question or something.
It was already clear that the HEDD was doing the DA, but it still sounds like there is heavy processing on the bottom end after the conversion.
Old 3 days ago
  #258
TJT
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by monomer View Post
That's not what you said tho.
You claimed that people say that clock doesn't matter at all.
Where did I say that?

Quote:

Yeah, and moving your head a little introduces much grater delays.
Agreed, but I'm still honestly skeptical that an interface will delay a left channel from a right channel at all. This is basically what a stereo enhancer plugin does. It delays the left from the right channel by whatever tiny amount you set. And if my interface was doing that, I feel like I would hear it.

Quote:
And of course there may be other things in the studio that swamp this, like you mention.
I'm constantly finding little things in my studio that are causing weird issues. What's the saying? "a chain is only as good as your weakest link?" I came home from a professional studio recording session a few months ago, and I was super happy with it. Checked one of the acoustic recordings, and there was a buzz on the channel. It's honestly not a big deal, because it was only on that recording, but even in a very high end studio, really dumb stuff like that just happens. Bad mic cable? Bad capsule??

Quote:
Aah, thanks, i missed that.
I dunno. Seems like they're misunderstanding the question or something.
It was already clear that the HEDD was doing the DA, but it still sounds like there is heavy processing on the bottom end after the conversion.
Well, there definitely is. I guess my issue with their answer is that the mastering engineer was like "I think this DAC gives it tighter bass." And then you listen to the converted files, and there is indeed subtly tighter bass.

That's why it feels a little deceptive to me.
Old 3 days ago
  #259
3bc
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarcB View Post
both Daft Punk and Jon Hopkins have a lo-fi type sound signature. Hardly the types of music one should judge if a converter is good or bad by since their sound is purposely reduced in bit depth and sample rate.

It's sort of like judging your new 4k HDR monitor by watching 1970s VHS porn rips.
Homework was decidedly “Lo fi”. Jon Hopkins’ immunity album I wouldn’t really categorize as lo fi but wouldn’t argue with you about it. but it is definitely gritty and glitchy. Singularity has some VERY gritty moments, but also has some incredibly gorgeous and lush moments as well. I would not characterize it as lo fi personally, but to each their own.
Old 3 days ago
  #260
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monomer's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=TJT;14540936]Where did I say that?
Well, here:
Quote:
Jitter being audible is purely theoretical. There's no real empirical evidence that shows that jitter can actually be heard.


Quote:
Agreed, but I'm still honestly skeptical that an interface will delay a left channel from a right channel at all. This is basically what a stereo enhancer plugin does. It delays the left from the right channel by whatever tiny amount you set. And if my interface was doing that, I feel like I would hear it.
Yes, and so it is something that people would complain about, right?

Quote:
I'm constantly finding little things in my studio that are causing weird issues. What's the saying? "a chain is only as good as your weakest link?" I came home from a professional studio recording session a few months ago, and I was super happy with it. Checked one of the acoustic recordings, and there was a buzz on the channel. It's honestly not a big deal, because it was only on that recording, but even in a very high end studio, really dumb stuff like that just happens. Bad mic cable? Bad capsule??
Yeah, in real life stuff like that happens. Tho in the case of mastering the situation is much more controlled.


Quote:
Well, there definitely is. I guess my issue with their answer is that the mastering engineer was like "I think this DAC gives it tighter bass." And then you listen to the converted files, and there is indeed subtly tighter bass.

That's why it feels a little deceptive to me.
I think there is just some misunderstanding and general vagueness.
I, for one, don't hear the bass 'tighten' at all. I hear a pretty hefty bass boost that is present in all 3 interfaces. The 'tightening' should have only applied to the ADI2 but i don't hear it.

But i don't think they are deliberately trying to muddy things, at least not in the comments.
The mastering guy is super vague tho.
Old 3 days ago
  #261
TJT
Lives for gear
[QUOTE=monomer;14540974]
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJT View Post
Where did I say that?
Well, here:

this:

Quote:
You claimed that people say that clock doesn't matter at all.
is not even close to the same thing as saying this:

Quote:
Jitter being audible is purely theoretical. There's no real empirical evidence that shows that jitter can actually be heard.
Those are two TOTALLY separate statements, only one of which I actually said.

Quote:
Yes, and so it is something that people would complain about, right?
Err... yes, but in the absence of this actually happening, I think people could convince themselves that "stereo imaging" is an actual issue in DACS or interfaces, when it's really not. For a few reasons:

- they were using the preamps on their cheapo interfaces to bring up the levels, which compressed the sound slightly. This could affect their perception of the stereo field because left and right channels were compressed to similar levels when there actually could have been more individualized dynamics between the l/r channels before.

- They haven't actually A/B'd a cheaper interface like a Focusrite against a super high end interface using the same audio throughput and compared both to the original audio in a blind test. They are basing it on the amount of money they spent on a high end DAC and/or what they have read about said DAC in the literature or like minded forums.

- They have possibly heard an interface like the HEDD using the onboard processing and didn't realize it. That particular interface has a fake tube effect, and some fake tape processing. It could give it a more saturated sound that makes them think that the stereo imaging is BETTER, when in fact it's worse, but more "glued" together. So they like it.

- They heard their mix in a professional studio that was using a high end DAC and thought it sounded better than when they played it at home, but due to a zillion factors, that's a terrible way to compare.

- pure placebo effect. A very very powerful thing.
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