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?


@audiodwebe Im with you. I struggle to hear many of the differences that others seem to. For example, I enjoy the SQ of Spotify and although Qobuz occasionally (depending on the recording) sounds different, I wouldn’t say it necessarily sounds better. The very next recording may behave all together differently.

So much of this hobby occurs in the 5” between your ears. Spend a boat load on a component and psychoacoustics and confirmation bias absolutely come into play. We are human after all. Again…only speaking for myself. What I find is that SQ determination cannot occur on the spot (A/B). One recording may shine on one component but another may not. So many variables. It takes me several weeks to decide yay or nay. Two hours in are you surfing the net or are you still engaged with the music? For me that’s the real test. And remember, “different” does not always equal “better”.

All competently designed DAC's sound alike - whether they cost $100 or $10,000. That's my belief/experience. Your beliefs and experiences may differ. DAC's are not turntables! In fact all competent DAC"s measure closely for distortion and noise.

@ ghdprentice


That was some of the best advice I have seen to really get to know what you want and can hear.

All DACs have analog stages that are different from DAC to DAC and so is the voltage output. One would bring more another would bring less... Digital domain is pretty much the same.