How easily can you distinguish between different DACs?

When I read reviews or watch them on YouTube the reviewers talk about the vast differences between various DACs.  I haven't compared too many, but found the differences pretty subtle, at best.

Which got me into thinking:  Is my hearing ability really that bad?

Do you notice the differences as easily as folks make out?



If I were you, I’d demo a broad range of DACs in your system before making any judgements, either about the gear or your ability to discern differences.


Differences between well designed DACs are tough to quantify. I use older Dacmagic (for older streamer and a CD player) and a current model Bifrost 2/64 for a newer streamer. Both sound amazingly good with an edge to the Bifrost, which will be tested further when I get a Schiit Urd (!) and use their bespoke USB system.

@balooo2 My super bargain performer is the SMSL D-6.  Edges out my DO100 due to DSD Direct mode, as PCM performance is roughly equivalent (both fantastic). I'm amazed at what these cheap DACs can do nowadays, high fidelity available to the masses.

After many years of auditioning audio equipment and analyzing frequency,responses, inner detail, size and shape of the soundstage etc. I now focus mainly on PRAT and musical engagement. If a tweak or new piece of gear gets me toe tapping and frolicking through my music collection with glee, it's a keeper. Good listening. Jeff