9 UGLY TRUTHS ABOUT HIGH END AUDIO - is there any more?

ssf

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I was thinking of posting this but was too lazy to do it. Will listen to it again later.
 

bloredude

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The gentleman speaks with experience, and conviction. That's the good part.

The better part is that most of the stuff he talked about are obvious stuff that people choose to ignore either out of ignorance, or under the influence of ignorant guides, or willingly ignore, for an explorer soul the journey is more important than the destination. Overall, most points he made are valid IME.

I found one sticking point though. I disagree with his 2nd point.

I have been into digital for a long time and have seen it grow from barely-able-to-produce-listenable sound to feels-so-surreal-so-alive sound. As of 2021, the DAC is no longer the hardest thing to get right. Even high-end among entry-level stuff is pretty good these days. What is the hardest to get right in a digital front end is the transport. The transport is where the things can be made or broken. Get the transport right and even a mid-range DAC will help you create the magic that the gentleman speaks about.

Thanks for sharing, BTW. People beginning in this hobby can learn a few things from the video and indeed save themselves a hell lot of money and time.
 

manojchandrasekar

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The gentleman speaks with experience, and conviction. That's the good part.

The better part is that most of the stuff he talked about are obvious stuff that people choose to ignore either out of ignorance, or under the influence of ignorant guides, or willingly ignore, for an explorer soul the journey is more important than the destination. Overall, most points he made are valid IME.

I found one sticking point though. I disagree with his 2nd point.

I have been into digital for a long time and have seen it grow from barely-able-to-produce-listenable sound to feels-so-surreal-so-alive sound. As of 2021, the DAC is no longer the hardest thing to get right. Even high-end among entry-level stuff is pretty good these days. What is the hardest to get right in a digital front end is the transport. The transport is where the things can be made or broken. Get the transport right and even a mid-range DAC will help you create the magic that the gentleman speaks about.

Thanks for sharing, BTW. People beginning in this hobby can learn a few things from the video and indeed save themselves a hell lot of money and time.

Agree
 

[email protected]

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The gentleman speaks with experience, and conviction. That's the good part.

The better part is that most of the stuff he talked about are obvious stuff that people choose to ignore either out of ignorance, or under the influence of ignorant guides, or willingly ignore, for an explorer soul the journey is more important than the destination. Overall, most points he made are valid IME.

I found one sticking point though. I disagree with his 2nd point.

I have been into digital for a long time and have seen it grow from barely-able-to-produce-listenable sound to feels-so-surreal-so-alive sound. As of 2021, the DAC is no longer the hardest thing to get right. Even high-end among entry-level stuff is pretty good these days. What is the hardest to get right in a digital front end is the transport. The transport is where the things can be made or broken. Get the transport right and even a mid-range DAC will help you create the magic that the gentleman speaks about.

Thanks for sharing, BTW. People beginning in this hobby can learn a few things from the video and indeed save themselves a hell lot of money and time.
Did you also check his comments about high end DACs in the comments section ?
He says high res audio is only for entry level DACs.. A true high end DAC will make 16/44 sound fabulous.
 

rikhav

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Did you also check his comments about high end DACs in the comments section ?
He says high res audio is only for entry level DACs.. A true high end DAC will make 16/44 sound fabulous.
I had not read any comments but whole heartedly I agree on this point.

Okay the high resolution in a music file has its benefits but a blanket belief of high resolution material has to be better is wrong according to me.

Some aspects like musicality has no number and can't be measured and that is what a very good dac would do more then some other average dac.

Yes, the prices also differ vastly but keeping that aside my point was that apart from playing at certain resolution there is much more to a DAC
 

square_wave

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I found one sticking point though. I disagree with his 2nd point.

I have been into digital for a long time and have seen it grow from barely-able-to-produce-listenable sound to feels-so-surreal-so-alive sound. As of 2021, the DAC is no longer the hardest thing to get right. Even high-end among entry-level stuff is pretty good these days. What is the hardest to get right in a digital front end is the transport. The transport is where the things can be made or broken. Get the transport right and even a mid-range DAC will help you create the magic that the gentleman speaks about.

Totally agree with this. Nowadays, it is the transport side of things that makes a big difference. The quality of the file being played, From where is it being played from, Design of the device that plays and sends the file to dac, Power supply design of such devices, Quality of power supplied to such devices. All this can make or break your digital. Digital is broken if it sounds like " digital ". Trying hard to sound exciting, hint of hardness, not analogue sounding, details are there but comes with some hardness etc.. Changing dacs is not the solution to this. Look upstream. Sometimes people go out and buy extremely rounded and rolled off sounding dacs to mask these problems upstream and then come to forums and say they have found the holy grail in dacs. Another audiophile who has taken care of everything else in his system may buy the same dac and insert it into his system and will surely start scratching his head! The performance of dacs as independent device has come a long way. You don't have to spend exorbitant amounts to get one that can potentially make magic in an other wise well setup system.

There are of course very special dacs that cost a bomb but those are not really necessary to obtain a a considerable amount of magic from your system. So it is all about context and perspective as well.
 

bhooshaniyer

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Did you also check his comments about high end DACs in the comments section ?
He says high res audio is only for entry level DACs.. A true high end DAC will make 16/44 sound fabulous.
And it is true too. Same is the case in amps with balanced amps and well implemented single ended amps.

On the video itself... There is one fundamental and fatal flaw in his argument... He makes an assumption that everyone in the audiophile game is after perfect sound imaging or holographic sound (or whatever is the en vogue vague phraseology of the week). Many of them are not. Equal or more number of people are in to the gadgetry behind hifi. I know some of my friends use audio equipments like speakers to listen to their dac, not the other way around. There yet are others who spend lot of time on streamers and softwares some others on linear power supplies. There are a few experts I know who only deal with 20khz sinewaves!! There also a whole bunch of audiophiles who just rotate(buy/sell) speakers all the time. Who is anyone to tell them what any one shd or shd not buy. Sound is not the only goal in audiophile. It may be nice if it was. But i dont like such incorrect and arrogant assumptions that determines on who shd buy what.
 

DB1989

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On the video itself... There is one fundamental and fatal flaw in his argument... He makes an assumption that everyone in the audiophile game is after perfect sound imaging or holographic sound (or whatever is the en vogue vague phraseology of the week). Many of them are not. Equal or more number of people are in to the gadgetry behind hifi. I know some of my friends use audio equipments like speakers to listen to their dac, not the other way around. There yet are others who spend lot of time on streamers and softwares some others on linear power supplies. There are a few experts I know who only deal with 20khz sinewaves!! There also a whole bunch of audiophiles who just rotate(buy/sell) speakers all the time. Who is anyone to tell them what any one shd or shd not buy. Sound is not the only goal in audiophile. It may be nice if it was. But i dont like such incorrect and arrogant assumptions that determines on who shd buy what.
Agreed 100%. I find myself enjoying my music through crappy speakers/headphones as well. I'm in it as i have a gear fetish.
 

rsjaurr

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There is nothing wrong with changing streamers, speakers, software, LPS, etc. It depends on how passionate you are and how deep your pockets are.
If somebody can afford it why not try different stuff. We don't always go to Shimla, instead, we try other hill stations too. It is human nature to try "something else".
And BTW I haven't come across anyone who is doing it every few weeks or even months. Hifi stuff is expensive and almost all audiophiles won't be foolish enough to spend/waste their hard-earned money that way.
 

Enkay78

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On the video itself... There is one fundamental and fatal flaw in his argument... He makes an assumption that everyone in the audiophile game is after perfect sound imaging or holographic sound (or whatever is the en vogue vague phraseology of the week). Many of them are not. Equal or more number of people are in to the gadgetry behind hifi. I know some of my friends use audio equipments like speakers to listen to their dac, not the other way around. There yet are others who spend lot of time on streamers and softwares some others on linear power supplies. There are a few experts I know who only deal with 20khz sinewaves!! There also a whole bunch of audiophiles who just rotate(buy/sell) speakers all the time. Who is anyone to tell them what any one shd or shd not buy. Sound is not the only goal in audiophile. It may be nice if it was. But i dont like such incorrect and arrogant assumptions that determines on who shd buy what.
Cannot disagree.
:)
 

Yogesh

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I totally agree with his argument that most visible and top selling brands are no the best ones. I totally buy his rationale behind it too. He is right that best brands are that are relatively less known, boutique brands where there is a passionate owner who is still in charge.

My last two HiFi purchases are from such brands only!
 

bluestar

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Point 5 is unfortunate since in India the availability of the esoteric stuff is low and the prices are very high. I would have thought a bit on the flipside that big brands due to economies of scale will be able to give better value due to lower component parts and also the big brands might launch 'lower profitability' cheaper entry level products for a continual pressure to increase sales and cash in on their brand recognition.. which can be a trap i guess. but their higher end stuff is still very nice but then very over priced.

My guess is the best 'value' comes in the mid - higher end of the lesser known brands that have to charge a minimum for their lower volumes and time and effort but can't always start off as the highest end and also want to not make it completely unaffordable unless that is their exact marketing strategy. Still think the highest end of the well known brands is pretty good although pretty over priced. In audio people charge whatever they feel like...
 

bhooshaniyer

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//In audio people charge whatever they feel like...//

I think its absolutely the worst in DACs. I think DACs are still not an exact purchase. If digital audio had a difficult time competing with analog audio in the minds of serious audiophiles its primarily because of the DACs. Now that the threshold for cd quality is reached comfortably by most DACs they are trying to push the bar with 24 bits and 192khz. Once again DAC companies are upto their neck with tricks but no exact science how they charge for their product in relationship to the sound it can produce.

For a technology based on exact science, the digital audio domain is still notoriously hard to lockdown thanks to magic of DAC.

Ok i give up at the 13 minute/ 5th point mark. Too much opinion, not enough measured reasoning. Spend more. Spend with me.

"No coffee tables if you want image....But may be you can have coffee table" I have done a few with it. Make up ur mind man!!

I also felt the dude was stoned-constantly flip flopping and looking at his teleprompter to figure out if its point 3 or 4.
 

bloredude

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Did you also check his comments about high end DACs in the comments section ?
He says high res audio is only for entry level DACs.. A true high end DAC will make 16/44 sound fabulous.

Well, it's not a straight one.

There is nothing wrong with the statement - "A true high end DAC will make 16/44 sound fabulous". It better do. If not, it's not deserving of the "true high end" tag.

Trying to understand his meaning further - he may have meant - a true high end DAC with all it's circuitry and wizardry will sound fabulous, even with 16/44 material, but to do the same a lesser DAC will need a highres data stream.

While it is true that a high end DAC will make even 16/44 sound fabulous, it does not in any way mean highres is only for entry level DACs. If he means a lesser DAC needs highres to create magic, it's pretty accurate. But if he really means highres is useless for "true high end" DACs, I think that's not a correct statement to make.


We have thought 16/44 to be enough. And it really is. It's a scientific fact, backed by the ecstasy of millions of happy audiophiles buried under their CD collection. BUT, as technology is moving forward, we are forced to unlearn old things and learn new things. That's science! The more we research, the more we discover. The more we discover, the more we know. The more we know, the less we are certain.

Digital audio is mostly science. As the science is progressing, digital audio is tagging along to greater heights. 16/44 may have been enough for a great auditory experience for decades, but by now, I feel higher resolution has been proven to be more liked by audio connoisseurs globally, including those that use true high end DACs.


This also brings me to the 10th UGLY TRUTH (if not a higher number in the order of importance) about high-end audio. Unless I missed it - he didn't speak on the importance of the quality of the source material. Well, if someone is playing the high-end game, a much higher priority should be allocated to the quality of the source.

A 16/44 material, taken straight from a well-recorded master tape isn't bad sounding at all. OTOH, a recording for which the original source is not high quality, or the original source is not available, only re-sampled/processed/re-mastered versions are available - they are very likely to sound better in highres than in 16/44.
 

bhooshaniyer

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Source material is what source material is. Its like fretting about the weather - it may be great or horrible but nothing we can do about how spotify compresses it or how AR Rahman recorded it or sound engineer of tips mastered it. Everyone can point to it but no one has any control over it. You can only control your equipment. The oft repeated analogy of how a wonderfully mastered 44/16 sounds better than a horribly recorded 192/24...i mean I will puke if I hear that one more time. What's that got to do with the user?!
 

jbkar

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I do not understand the meaning of High end audio as there is no dividing line for this.

High End Audio and Audiophile are just two marketing jargons to create a hype and increase the price tag.

I always see what professionals are using like in a studio and try to learn from them.

No offence intended.
 

Enkay78

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I do not understand the meaning of High end audio as there is no dividing line for this.

High End Audio and Audiophile are just two marketing jargons to create a hype and increase the price tag.

I always see what professionals are using like in a studio and try to learn from them.

No offence intended.
Same feeling here.

what does he meant by high end dac? What’s his criteria?

Is it pricey and expensive ones?
Or is it MEASURING EXTREMELY WELL?
And why should a DAC add sonic signatures to the audio source? Isnt the purpose of a DAC - to reproduce as truthfully as it was originally recorded in the current digital format/file?
How can a DAC make a bad recording sound good…..if it remains a truthful DAC? (I mean it can’t add coloration to the source, right?)

I am beginning to think audiophiles will not consider a cheap DAC which measures extremely good - a high end DAC. :) The DAC has to have heavy esthetics and price .
 

arj

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Source material is what source material is. Its like fretting about the weather - it may be great or horrible but nothing we can do about how spotify compresses it or how AR Rahman recorded it or sound engineer of tips mastered it. Everyone can point to it but no one has any control over it. You can only control your equipment. The oft repeated analogy of how a wonderfully mastered 44/16 sounds better than a horribly recorded 192/24...i mean I will puke if I hear that one more time. What's that got to do with the user?!

True..but then for that you can you try to get a good source material as well . I remember spending a lot of time and $$ in the early 2000s in getting UK/German/US press CDs and much more post 2010 for the vinyl..seems worth it now although better half was amused by it all.

If streaming then yes you are limited by whats available , but if open to a CD/Vinyl then you can hunt down some pretty good source material at least for the music you really want to listen to. paying $$ for music might just be the more sensible option too !

But then if music like Yuvraj with couple of really wonderful music and woeful mastering itself, all you can do is throw up your arms in despair and try to make best...in fact a low rez system with DSP might only reduce the pain
 

jai1611

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Same feeling here.

what does he meant by high end dac? What’s his criteria?

Is it pricey and expensive ones?
Or is it MEASURING EXTREMELY WELL?
And why should a DAC add sonic signatures to the audio source? Isnt the purpose of a DAC - to reproduce as truthfully as it was originally recorded in the current digital format/file?
How can a DAC make a bad recording sound good…..if it remains a truthful DAC? (I mean it can’t add coloration to the source, right?)

I am beginning to think audiophiles will not consider a cheap DAC which measures extremely good - a high end DAC. :) The DAC has to have heavy esthetics and price .
Measuring extremely well by studio standards is quite expensive because studios also look for consistency and reliability ($2-4k). Only the "we get excited by graphs" folks over at audiosciencereview seem to consider stuff made by dodgy manufacturers high end based on what, I suspect, are cherry picked samples
 
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