Recently My-Hiend.com Leo and some audiophiles are comparing DACs in the market. Besides the objective listening comparison, Leo Yeh recorded all different playback system results with a Rode NT4 microphone and Kong 1000 DSD recorder. He describes the methodology here.
After the test, he wants me to analyze his live recordings subjectively. He picked Track 02 and Track 05.
My first approach is rename filenames, so no one know the result is generated by which DAC.
Then I analyze the recorded level. As far as I concern, the biggest mistake in DACs comparison is usually on the level matching. If two DACs are not tightly matched in level, it is very difficult (or even impossible) to find their real differences. However by experiences, you can have few assumption on why there is such level differences. In our mastering studio, we have 3 different DACs hook up to our mastering console and level matched within 0.1dB. This gives us a way to select the best DAC we would like to use on different mastering jobs.
Track 02: Clip E is 1.674dB louder than Clip H.
Track 05: Clip W is 1.537dB louder than Clip K.
The results are consistence that Clip E&W is the same DAC, while Clip H&K is another DAC. In order to have a fair comparison, I line up both clips together, and then compensate their loudness by 32bit DSP processing. Although this means both clips are processed by a 32bit level DSP, both clips will be level matched, and save as same 24bit/96kHz resolution.
Track 02 (E: -3.946dB / H:-2.272dB) / Track 05 (K: -2.676dB / W: 04.213dB)
I generated a new set of files which you can download from the links below. Since they are level matched, the listening differences will be either by the 32bit level gain DSP or the original recorded DAC performances. I also would suggest using hi-res material next time is better to spot the performances differences of DAC, since we are moving to that direction. I found more DACs are capable to playback CD, but when playback hi-res, the audio performances drop dramatically.
The reason I put the analyze results under this page because in next few weeks, I will update the whole section HiFi and Computer section. Most of the articles are dated. iTunes is now version 10.01, and the SRC gain level occurs peak distortion. Just within 2 years of the ripping articles, I found more CD-Rom/DVD-Rom are not capable to rip CD audio correctly…….so stay tune.