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?

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I think the best way to decide how you like any new component is to live with it for a while.  If you don't like it, it will become obvious quickly.  If it's close, you can go back and forth and compare.  Play lots of different music- see if you enjoy things you hadn't with the prior component.  This seems to be the way reviewers do it.

I don't have really expensive DAC's, but what I do have are:

Bryston BDA2 Dedicated DAC

Internal DAC on my McIntosh C47 preamp

Internal DAC on my HEGEL H160 integrated

Topping D30 Pro Dedicated DAC

Internal DAC on my Bluesound player

When I have swapped my DAC's around, I really can't hear differences...The big differences for me are with speakers. Even the non-golden-ear listener that I am can hear big differences from transducers! I can only guess if I did a perfectly setup double-blind experiment with DAC's, I might be able to hear differences, but they would be ever so slight.

If you want cheap crap that will eventually fail then buy cheap crap. As some here with old ears say or no listening skills say. My post for the day. 

WillyWonka,

did you try the Wyred4Sound 10th anniversary DAC?

one of the reviewers put it up against his VPI turntable with a $5,000 Japanese cartridge and he said that the 10th anniversary DAC sounded every bit as analog, on that review I decided to purchase it, it comes with a 30-day trial period so I said what the heck and I totally agree it is one of the most analog sounding DACs I've had in my system, highly recommended not cheap though it's $4,500 US.

My same comment again - you have to learn what make sound do what it does.  Look at the designs and you can see resemblance in designs.  Then there are bigger differences like tubes, separate power supplies, etc.  Most of the DACs in the $1K to $3K price range are very similar in design.  Learning to hear the differences is great but if you have to struggle to go back and forth to hear them, IMO just stick with what you already have.  We tell people all the time, if you don't hear the differences within 30 seconds, then just return our product.

Happy Listening.