Analyzing DACs

As I am new to the hifi hobby, reading various product reviews and noting the details of the test environment have made me very confused.  I understand Stereophile is the hifi bible. In the publication’s DAC published tests the reviewers almost always tested the DAC connected directly to the amplifier. I think I understand why—nothing in the chain influencing the DAC sound. Is that the correct assumption? If that’s the case why incorporate a preamp if the DAC has a preamp section that is a common feature even on high end DACs? I’m in the market for a new DAC. I’m trying to avoid unnecessary components if possible. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.  



I have one of her albums, but not that song. Although I've heard it on the rardio before. Send it to me. I'll fix it and send it back.

Check my profile for my YouTube channel/ just email me a link to a shared file.

@laoman   "You get what you pay for" . Wouldn't THAT be nice?  I hope you were joking. 

But probably not, if I see and read about some true audiophile nutcases. "Wishful thinking" or "I spent $300,000k on that turntable and I can hear every single dollar" is the driving force in the esoteric part of high fidelity. 

Take a $100k amplifier. Material cost shoiuld be in the $1-10k range. Leaves $90k for labor. At $100/hour (yes, that includes a hefty profit margin/overhead), that is 900 hours or 110 man days! 

@mastering92 I strictly stream Qobuz. No files here.

I'm curious how everyone evaluates a DAC disregarding the measurements. What is the hallmark of a good DAC? I suppose one could spend insane amounts of money but is there such a moneyball DAC?

I really enjoy hearing detail and separation. That is I can hear each instrument and clear vocals. That's why I find Dido tracks great.  Using a proper set up to listen to a track from my college days is such a satisfying experience.



@tee_dee - I think most people form their opinions primarily based on the reviews of other users.

I really enjoy hearing detail and separation. That is I can hear each instrument and clear vocals.

just buy a chord qutest and be done, or even for less money, an rme adi-2 if you don’t care much about imaging (it is clear as a whistle and flat as a cardboard cutout figure)

no need to further belabor this already tortured subject of measurement vs listening for dacs- the credible folks on this particular forum listen to music, evaluate gear through listening, measurements are of relatively minor significance