Saturday 25 May 2024

"High-End" DAC Blind Listening Results - PART II: Results & Analyses

I imagine that the banner graphic above must be so bizarre for some audiophiles! How is it even possible that the audio output from something cheap like the Apple USB-C headphone dongle could be mistaken for the way more expensive Linn digital streamer devices that cost orders of magnitude more?!

Well, of course we can! And if we are to honestly appreciate the difference in sound output between the very cheap and very expensive (we can buy a lot of stuff for US$20,000!), IMO, as audiophiles, we must open our minds to such comparisons. The hi-fi audiophile pursuit is not a cult; everything is up for empirical examination regardless of company, price tag, or which heroic personality is attached to said product.

Last week in Part I, I unveiled the identity and discussed those DAC/streamer devices. Let's proceed today with looking at the data from the recent 2024 "High-End" DAC Blind Listening Survey which collected listener impressions for 6 weeks; plenty of time I trust for those motivated to download, listen, and offer their subjective opinions.

As usual, let's go through the data broadly and then let's see if the results can provide some answers for specific questions around audibility, preferences, and listener subgroups. I'll group these questions and evaluations into a number of Sections.

Grab your favorite beverage, have a seat, this is a pretty long one... 🙂

Saturday 18 May 2024

"High-End" DAC Blind Listening Results - PART I: Devices Unveiled!

The time has come friends. Over the last 6 weeks, I've been collecting the data from the 2024 "High-End" DAC Blind Listening Survey. The procedure I think is already well described in that test invite post so I won't spend time here recapping that. Thanks for everyone who participated in the blind listening!

As with many blind listening tests, unless it's literally obvious, I know it's not easy to flip back and forth and it's very common after a few A/B/C switches to second-guess oneself! I certainly appreciate the time that participants spent downloading the >500MB file, getting it onto your listening devices, and the listening itself.

For this post, let's talk about the test, some rationale, and let me unveil the 3 DACs that were used.

Saturday 11 May 2024

NYC Explorations: Audio46, Stereo Exchange, and dwindling audiophile stores.

New York - after the rain.

Hey everyone, it's nice to be back home on the West Coast after the trip to NYC. May is a great time to visit so long as one catches some nice weather! At least it's not too hot yet. I'm sure if it were not for the COVID pandemic, I would have visited much sooner; the last time was back at the end of 2015.

Let's see, as we await the final results to come in for the "High-End DAC Blind Listening Survey" (closes on May 15, 2024), this week let's show a few pictures from New York, and see if I had any luck finding some good audio to listen to 🙂.

Saturday 4 May 2024

MUSINGS: On Hardware Audiophilia and Wine Tasting.

Across the years of audiophile discussions, we sometimes will see parallels drawn between the world of the oenophile (wine connoisseur) and hardware audiophile. While both pursuits involve a strong subjective component since the ultimate intent is enjoyment, there are also clearly differences when we take the time to compare them. I actually don't think many of the heated debates among audiophiles have meaningful analogues within the wine-tasting world.

Recently, in this thread on Steve Hoffman Forum about "snake oil", J-Flo made a nice comment on this; let's have a look at his post and I'll add my observations and thoughts with some opportunity to expand upon the ideas.