Cheap DAC OFF: Topping D30, SDAC, Modi Multibit, JDS EL DAC, iFi Nano BL

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by purr1n, May 16, 2018.

  1. I_want_all_the_tacos

    I_want_all_the_tacos Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    418
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    I've spent a lot of time on the subreddit arguing about these objective vs subjective topics. From my experience, people just want to see 1 reliable experiment in which methodology is sound and at least 1 person that can pass it. Just having 1 person pass says nothing of their own abilities, but rather opens their eyes to the idea that it is POSSIBLE. In the past I have linked people to Tyll's Big Sound event where Romaz passed the blind amp testing and that has definitely changed some peoples' minds about amp differences. I think people want to see something similar with DACs (and cables).

    I would suggest using D30 vs a DAC that measures similarly or at least doesn't have any measurements that are concerning (e.g. noise above "audible threshold").
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    53,358
    Dislikes Received:
    89
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    FWIW, there have already been at least two blind tests documented here regarding DAC differences. I was easily able to identify the difference between 4490 Modi and ODAC in a level matched blind test after some practice. The key was practice in this case - these two DAC sounded closer to each other than I had thought. Level matching also made it much easier to tell the differences apart (vs. allowing the user to adjust volume to any level).
     
    Lyander and geniekid like this.
  3. Pillars

    Pillars Embarrassment to Colorado crew

    Executed
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2016
    Likes Received:
    129
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Northern Colorado
    I was about to try out the Topping D50 for kicks.. after reading this I think I'll turn my money into beer instead.
     
  4. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,398
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Well, it's a very different DAC, based on a dual Sabre implementation. Who knows, could be good.

    You should order it and let us know how it is ;)
     
    Vtory and BaconBits like this.
  5. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    6,752
    Dislikes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    India
    I'm not at all saying that you can't. Or that anybody else can't, if it comes to that. I'm saying that there is a load of tosh talked by both naysayers and yaysayers. One of the most ridiculous misconceptions is that blind testing, somehow, always proves that there isn't a difference, and that is what it's for. Ahem... whatever is being compared.

    Me too! And I gave it up as being a worthless occupation.
    On some of the more extreme assertions of audiophools, it is always out there as a challenge, and, who knows, some of the most unlikely things in the universe, one day, just might turn out to be true after all!

    Anyway, sorry if I caused a digression by responding on the general case of blind testing. Blame Amir. Hey, why not!
     
  6. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

    Friend BWC MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    11,230
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    On planet
    Have a look here.
     
    weicheheck, ultrabike, Vtory and 4 others like this.
  7. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,398
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Oh nice, thanks for pointing us to that! Here we have another successful blind DAC test.
     
  8. Ron Scarboro

    Ron Scarboro Rando

    Joined:
    May 8, 2018
    Likes Received:
    8
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    I’m a total noob, but I can tell the difference between my Modi MB and a D50. I admit to being sucked into the D50 from that forum. I then bought a B-Stock Modi MB because it was cheap and I have other Schiit stuff.

    I don’t yet have an appreciation for plankton, and all the other stuff you guys talk about, but the Modi MB is less fatiguing, has a more realistic sound and occupies 100% of my listening. The D50 is in the closet.

    Best,

    Ron
     
  9. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,108
    Dislikes Received:
    53
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Limbo
    Expectation bias if not quadruple blind, (the landlord and your neighbor can't see what you are listening to either). :cool:
     
  10. Bobcat

    Bobcat Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    253
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Texas
    Home Page:
    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence :)
     
  11. Muse Wanderer

    Muse Wanderer Friend

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,106
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Malta
    This objectivist argument in favour of a well measuring DAC reminds me of McNamara fallacy, also known as quantitative fallacy.

    Robert McNamara was Secretary of Defence during the Vietnam war and he calculated success and made decisions during the war by relying solely on 'quantified' measurements including the number of Vietgongs killed that kept piling up even during the fall of Saigon.

    Yankelovich, a social scientist, further notes the inconsistencies of relying solely on objectively obtained quantifiable variables (metrics) and the grave error of disregarding the unmeasureable...

    "The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes.

    The second step is to disregard that which can't be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading.

    The third step is to presume that what can't be measured easily really isn't important. This is blindness.

    The fourth step is to say that what can't be easily measured really doesn't exist. This is suicide."

    Bottomline ... don't be a loser and only follow objectively obtained measurements. Life is way more complicated than you think and the 'Uncertainty principle' will always work against you. If you still insist on following only measurements than you are an idiot.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  12. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    5,128
    Dislikes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Northwest France
    I always bring up gravitational waves when people say that something doesn't exist simply because you can't measure it....yet
     
  13. Biodegraded

    Biodegraded Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 28, 2017
    Likes Received:
    2,938
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Vancouver BC
    Higgs boson prior to 2012...
     
  14. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,398
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Someone needs to post this over on ASR.
     
    ohshitgorillas and bobsherman like this.
  15. bixby

    bixby Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,028
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    113
    nah, it's nice having a "walternate universe"
     
    the schwartz likes this.
  16. Gatucho

    Gatucho Rando

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2016
    Likes Received:
    9
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    México
    Then, it is clear that differences can be detected by humans. The next step would be answering the question: did one sounded clearly better (subjectively) than the other? and moreover: in a blinded test would most people consistently select one as the better sounding? Here you can control the demographics as desired (as in "only experienced listeners" or the general population).

    These answers would aid in actually separating two (arguably) independent subjective variables: perceived sound quality (by ear) from perceived quality in general (including looks, price, hipe, etc).

    I believe that this is actually feasible with dacs/amps, because a true blind test is possible. In contrast, with headphones these variables are almost impossible (at least much more difficult) to separate.
     
  17. iFi audio

    iFi audio MOT iFi Audio

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    986
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Many places.
    Home Page:
    @purr1n please shoot us a message via our Suport Ticket System to be found here: http://support.ifi-audio.com

    ...and we'll try to help you out!

    Cheers!
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    53,358
    Dislikes Received:
    89
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    Looks like it might have been Windows 7, ancient Lenovo laptop, and odd driver interactions. Works fine from MacOS and Windows 10. I blame Microsoft.
     
    luckybaer likes this.
  19. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

    Friend
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2017
    Likes Received:
    3,443
    Dislikes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Canada
    Wait, didn't Amir used to work for Microsoft?? I sense a conspiracy here...
     
    Biodegraded likes this.
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

    Staff Member Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    53,358
    Dislikes Received:
    89
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Antarctica
    Back on track...

    The iFi iDSD Nano BL is actually quite nice, as my initial impressions indicated. Unlike the JDS EL DAC via USB, the Nano BL's sound was consistent from either the Lenovo PC and MacBook Air. The iFi uses XMOS and the EL uses something called the Savitar for USB. I do wonder if the more tried and true XMOS solution has to do with the more consistent sound of the Nano BL from different USB outputs. As far as the Savitar USB, I've never seen anyone else other than JDS use it. The Nano BL uses battery power when first switched on before plugging in the USB. I felt this mode resulted in a little better, that is cleaner sound. Not totally sure so will need to test again.

    Note that among the DACs tested, the Nano BL, like the SDAC, only has USB input. The Topping D30, JDS EL, and Modi Multibit offer SPDIF inputs, which we will explore later. Where the Nano BL exceeds the others is in functionality: works as an AIO with efficient headphones like the HD58X, HD660S, etc.; small size (truly portable / pocketable); and has a built in IEMatch. BTW, the Nano BL's tonality and IEMatch work great with the Andromeda IEM.

    In terms of naturalness of sound or lack of digititus, and fludity, I'd put the Modi Multibit and Nano BL at the top of the list. The Nano BL has a laid back more relaxed presentation. The Modi Multibit has more bass and slightly sharper upper mids and highs. The Nano BL has a softer attack. Resolution is about the same between Modi Multibit and Nano BL. The SDAC is the resolution king among the DACs here. Modi Multibit has the best macro dynamics, SDAC has the best micro dynamics. The Nano BL is just a bit behind both of these qualities a little bit. Modi Multibit can get a bit congested in the lows. The SDAC is the cleanest output. The Nano BL is somewhere in the middle.

    The Nano BL has a wide stage with decent depth. The SDAC has the deepest most open stage, but it's slightly diffuse and blurred (this tends to work well with headphones for most people - I am not one of them however). The Modi Multibit's stage placement isn't as deep, on par with the Nano BL, but stage is less wide. However, the Modi Multibit's stage depth (not to be confused with distance of stage away from the listener) is the deepest with the best layering and sense of instrument location.

    In short, the Nano BL is a winner here. For anyone who needs a portable option, use with IEMs, or as AIO in a pinch, it's a no brainer. For desktop DAC use, it's a matter of preferences.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
    imackler, Poleepkwa, Joshvar and 21 others like this.

Share This Page