Indentical measurments = Identical performance?

I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking lately. In particular, about the importance of audio measurments for source components like DACs and CD players.


Let us first assume that we have 2 identical DACs or 2 identical CD players. You wouldn’t dare suggest that the same models sound inherently different, now would you? Well we can prove that the output of each device in this scenario is identical by doing a null test. We capature the output of the DACs and CD players and learn that their waveforms (let’s say a 30 second clip) are identical. The only time we might see a difference is in an engineering/manufacturing hiccup...and that is RARE considering we have globalization in the modern world today followed by quality control standards that are not necessarily difficult to get right.


And so, if put to practice, any 2 digital audio components that have similar enough measurements should sound identical. For example, a DAC with a SINAD or SNR or 120 dB vs one with a SINAD or SNR of 123. Tiny differences in linarity and frequency response above 20 KHz are not audible to us humans anyway.

Because most of our listening dare not go up to 110 dB, which is the threshold of discomfort. You could only listen for up to about 30 minutes at this level without risking hearing loss! For this reason, the ideal listening level is below that!


Should we forget about what companies try to sell us as high-end and focus purely on measurements with respect to accurately reproducing digital audio?


Here’s what’s really funny. The Chord DAVE performed worse with respect to measurments than the Chord Hugo TT2! Just see audio science review.


Lastly, I consider ASR the best objective website on the internet, bar none. Because if Amir really had a business relationship with any of these audio companies, their flagship or most expensive products would always perform at the very top; we see that is not the case and measured performance is all over the place!


Looking forward to hearing from you guys. Let’s not turn this discussion into a flame war. If you disagree with what I’ve written, just tell me why. I will investigate.



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Most of these measurements were created over 50 years ago and were never proven to be exhaustive. They were only proven to be beneficial.

From the standpoint of science, and objectivity, we can measure a particular item, like Signal to Noise, and frequency response at different times with different measurements and we can state some items measure differently.

There are however several logical bridges that have to be crossed:

  • Is there agreement and proof of each measurement’s value and the range of human sensitivity?
  • What are the relative merits off each measurement in terms of a broad range of listeners as well as you , specifically?
  • We lack measurements which can take into account the ear/brain mechanism as well as self-training of the neural pathways.

If you are stuck with measurements that were mostly developed 50 years ago, and some new ones added you aren’t doing science at all. You are doing quality assurance.


I agree with most of what you've written. 

If measurments are not science but only a standard for determining quality assurance, shouldn't that mean the Chinese audio gear that measures leaps and bounds ahead of other well-known brand is "better quality?"

Not trying to put words in your mouth. But I took what you said at face value.

I suppose that just because something is old, doesn't necessarily make it bad.



Thanks for your post. But I wish you would have added something more constructive to this discussion. Surely you don't agree with electrical engineers. But afterall, they are the very people who design audio gear.

  • Is there agreement and proof of each measurement’s value and the range of human sensitivity?

Is there any proof otherwise? The answer is no.

  • What are the relative merits off each measurement in terms of a broad range of listeners as well as you , specifically?

Is there any proof otherwise? The answer is no.

  • We lack measurements which can take into account the ear/brain mechanism as well as self-training of the neural pathways.

Irrelevant as it pertains to preference, not to audibility, which was covered by your first two points, and I will point out again, none proven.


Take a set of published tests from 1972. Now compare them to published tests from say ASR in 2022. It would be dishonest to claim that the 1972 tests are nearly as comprehensive as what is and can be done in 2022. I think the thing mainly stuck in 1972 is audiophiles, not the measurements.


I've got to are really "living up" to your username.

Well i dont know of any measurments that take in to account the filtering our brain does with sound and music in general, but if the entire waveform is reproduced accurately, our auditory acuity or "golden ears" wouldn't need to be part of that equation. Because regardless of what we listen to, we still have to take in to consideration thr fact that we hear differently when compared to other animals.

I mean, it's like saying we have a full bottle of beer. What is missing that measurments won't tell us?


Dude 2 different DACS and CD players can sound same depending on listener so go figure.

Measurements might or might not point us to what sounds best. 


Measurements are measurements and enjoying listening to reproduced music is something else.  There is overlap and each is useful, but each is also overrated.  Keep on doing some serious thinking about it and keep us informed.

If measurments are not science but only a standard for determining quality assurance, shouldn't that mean the Chinese audio gear that measures leaps and bounds ahead of other well-known brand is "better quality?"


Not what I meant to say at all.  I meant to say that the process of measurement alone is not enough to call something "science." Measuring and comparing to other measurements, alone, is not science.  Science grows by research and investigation.  All of the measurements in Stereophile are not, by themselves, science.  We can say that the measurements are artifact of prior science.  I think the process is closer to quality assurance than science.

If I take my multi-meter and stick it in my wall, it it science?  No, it's testing based on established norms (110 Volts to 129 Volts is good).  That's what I mean by quality assurance.  It is a rote task based on well established standards and repetition. 

Clearly, my multimeter, and the delivery of alternating current to my home is the result of many scientific activities which have ultimately resulted in a set of products and practices which ultimately end in an outlet in my wall, and a multimeter with an LCD display telling me the voltage, but am I performing science?  I don't really think so.  The same thing is true for using old audio measurements. 

We should also be careful in using "quality" here.  When manufacturing we may establish a minimum S/N ratio of 100 dB.  If a part comes off the assembly line with less we send it to the repair team. Otherwise we ship it. That's not the same use of saying a product is more desirable or less desirable for me based on this number. 


Is there any proof otherwise? The answer is no.

This is how conspiracy theories start and I'm leaving you alone with them.

Measuring the size of your gas tank doesn't tell you much about performance but could be important if you're traveling.  The Chord Dave vs the Chord Hugo pretty much proves the point.  They're not measuring the right stuff.

I have to recommend more listening and less thinking. ASR and lots of thinking take you away from great sound quality and lots of fruitless discussions.

Measurement is a good thing to help us understand what we are hearing but measurements don’t tell us much about how a loudspeaker sounds. ASR’s long list of budget loudspeakers tells me all I need to know. ASR is not interested in exploring the limits of what is possible but are only concerned with testing products that they think they understand how to measure. In some cases, they omit listening altogether. Tube amps? No. Panel speakers? No... They are far too limited to explore audio properly.  

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This hoary old chestnut, again?
You have my condolences.

All the best,

Is there any proof otherwise? The answer is no.

This is how conspiracy theories start and I'm leaving you alone with them.


So you have objective proof. Objective proof is not measurements, but a properly administered listening test. It is all about our hearing isn't it?


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Thank you for thr insight. That makes sense.


I think your analogy would be more suited when discussing the longevity or lifespan of something. For instance, do power conditioners help components live longer without intermittent failures?

Back to your ending statement - ASR is not measuring the right stuff.

I’m no advocate or fan per say, just want to know the truth.

Dynamic range, multi-tone, thd, headphone output power, output power of the analog/balanced stages, frequency response, and linearity.

Please excuse me if I missed one or two. But beyond these measurments, how can we conclusively prove that the DAVE is better than the Chord Hugo TT2?

Perhaps you can shine some light on this. Are there measurments beyond a null test that can find out if one DAC has greater instrument separation and detail?

But beyond these measurments, how can we conclusively prove that the DAVE is better than the Chord Hugo TT2?

Controlled blind listening test, with obvious level matching which will show they are different, and if done as a preference test, then better for that single person doing the test.


The ASR test of the DAVE shows problems on one channel. Is that endemic or single unit.

@erik_squires +1

My advice: refrain from engaging this "audiomaniac" dude. And if you feel that you have dealt with the dude before, like a deja vu, despite the fact he just "joined" Audiogon last week, you are not wrong. You have. With his previous 15 usernames, now all banned. Here is the full list:






























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77 posts


Freak, what is your obsession? Did you dog die and you are fixated on me now? Get a life loser.

No. I just can’t understand your need to come back here over and over after being banned for at least 15 times. Maybe more. Maybe, just maybe, YOU have an obsession issue?


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Seems like you’ve got more "reputation" than Taylor Swift’s "are you ready for it?" Album. When you are cornered like this on a forum you are effectively "dancing with your hands tied," and may need a "getaway car" but don’t blame me!

Joking aside, that is an exceptionally weak answer.

Just because we have elicited one our senses (sight)

That does not mean our results are valid. At some point, you would have no choice but to resort to guessing. If you get 9/10 right, that is like scoring the same on a multiple choice test when you guessed.

Bias is also found in blind listening test because:

1) we are aware a blind test is being conducted and we are the subject

2) we want to be right, which clouds our judgements

3) we actively believe that something infallible is being conducted

4) we may easily confuse ourselves without other reliable senses (sight)

5) our conclusions will end up being s bunch of half truths and guesses.


For this reason, any listening session should be conducted like this:

1) listen to the gear

2) take notes

3) listen to another piece of gear

4) take notes

5) wait a day or two (as long as you need to forget)

6) compare the notes

7) audition the systems again to confirm that your notes align with your listening impressions

So I the same way that some people have an excellent visual memory,

We audiophiles have an auditory memory.  If we use it wisely, we hear differences.



No need to shop for components any more.  Just let ASR measure them and you'll know which $100 DAC to buy.  


The only way I could know for sure which is better for me would be to listen to both side by side but by asking some Dave owners why they spent the big bucks over the Hugo would surely sway my opinion over strictly numbers.

I just bought a used PSAudio DirectStream from a person that replaced it with a Dave. I didn’t get to hear it but he believed it sounded much better that the DS. He didn’t buy a Hugo either time.

ASR measured the DirectStream and it didn’t do well at all... (failed). Just my opinion and mine alone but I personally only care about how it sounds and to me sometimes late in the night, I’m just stunned by it.

To me the only "measurement" that matters is will it fit on my rack and IT DOES! The rest is just symbols on a piece of paper that is trying to reduce art to "Dynamic range, multi-tone, thd, headphone output power, output power of the analog/balanced stages, frequency response, and linearity", Important maybe but not what music reproduction actually is.


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There is bias in everything. Unless of course we are intellectually honest with ourselves. My method of listening allows a person to be absolutely certain about their listening impressions.

You listen, have a reference point, then revist your findings later and confirm them.

My method is repeatable and requires no further reductionism - because it is simple and straightforward, unlike blind testing which can become complex.

That makes perfect sense actually, just like test driving cars.

Blind testing is flawed and you know it - especially for audio.

Like wine tasting, some people can correctly identify which wine they tried.

Even at a later date. Australian red wine vs Italian red wine for example.

Like I said, way too many variables in blind testing for audio. It’s idiotic.

So is this your 16th audiogon account then? Lol


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I never suggested test driving a car while using a blind method of testing.

Of course that would be extremely dangerous!

When you keep a process for testing simple - like test driving a car for example, you eliminate variables that would otherwise reduce the accuracy of the test itself.

So while one person may like the way a Mercedes looks, after test driving they make an informed decision about the handling, acceleration, interior quality, etc.

On the other hand, that same person could then go to a BMW dealership and pick out their new car at that dealership instead.

The simple fact that we know what is being tested does not reduce our hearing facilities or auditory memory. We are psychologically okay providing that we don’t allow the opinions of others or the spec sheet of the car get in the way of our real world experience - driving it.

Audio components and speakers work the same way.

Wudabout to things that sound alike, but measure differently?


And now you just described the science of human perception and psychoacoustics, which seeks to understand how dissimilar two items can be from a definable standpoint (measurements), and still sound the same.


What I’ve written has to do with common sense. What you’ve written has to do with exactly the same drivel that every person who believes in blind testing says. That, and some of my words in there for good measure to make yourself sound cohesive.

You know I’m right. Just like test driving a car, trying on a new suit, or visiting an open house.

Once you see/hear/experience for yourself, any preconceived beliefs you had about whatever it is will be crushed. You will only be left with how to piece together the reality or real world experience you just had.

So here is an example:

Dealer tells you about a system. You do research for a few days. You are super now have some preconceptions about this system sounding great with say, rock music and complex instrumentals because you were told so.

But then you go and listen. To your disappointment, the dealers description does not align with what you just heard.

You don’t need a blind test to confirm that your experience is true.

Same thing with any product or service you can imagine.

Sound itself is intangible but it can either impress us or leave us disinterested.

There is no middle ground or basis to your arguments.




When I test drive a car, specs take a back seat... (get what I did there?). Headroom is a spec that matters, I’m a big guy and don’t fit in lots of cars. 10ths of a second in 0 to 60 time, not a decision maker. It’s not a real world spec that would determine the affect of my daily driving or my enjoyment at the track. Cars are a perfect example of what I’m trying to portray because when I test drive a car the range, MPG amount of people it seats has been determined so I’m looking for cars within a specific class. Sure some specs matter but there is no spec for feel. How does car A feel as opposed to car B? That feel spec is what matters but it doesn’t exist. Feel is engineered in by a team working with measurements to create that unique flavor there is no outside group reporting those measurements.

They’re testing the wrong stuff, Class of vehicle or component sure 3 watt amp. 84db speakers are are important measurements but the voicing of equipment isn’t being portrayed with the mostly inaudible specification ASR is making their recommendations on.



If only we knew everything to measure, and the subjective-weighted impact of each, and we measured each and every one.

if oyu think that’s extreme, the subjective-weighted part was the Bell Labs approach int he 1930s and resulted in A and C message weighting.

Those who purport ot know all are either charlatans or just a little naive.


I sure wish i could make easy measurements and know all i need to! would sooooooo simplify my life.

As a researcher in real electronics i face very similar problems every day and need to fight the "We know it all and know better" of the rank and file. And more importantly "what i know is my security - don;t threaten it". Dont move my cheese. I’m paid very well to shake the tree.


While measurements are very helpful, they are not 100% sufficient. And they certainly do not take into account individual tastes. Make no mistake, many highly respected components have significant distortion - but almost always euphonic distortion of one flavor or another.  Before you revolt at that, example A is a Steinway piano, who's rich sound comes largely from the harmonic distortions of its sounding board.

I’m beginning to think jack isn’t really a hifi guy. I’m beginning to think he’s paid by ASR. Who are you trying to convince? You’re not. You’re just trying to wind people up. 

To misquote William Bruce Cameron  "everything that is important can be measured, but not everything that can be measured is important"  

All measurements are science. The problem is whether the measurements done are complete. The Stereophile measurements are perfectly good. But they are not sufficient to describe the sound produced. I've seen measurements that sometimes give good clues to the sound. They just aren't the classic ones used in ads or in Stereophile. As an example I once had a friend select a cartridge based on a frequency sweep, a separation curve and a 1 kHz square wave  with no clue to which cartridge it was and it turned out just as he predicted. But this was one case and he couldn't do it in most cases. He got his clues because he had modified cheap Grado pickups and done extensive measurements on what he was changing.

"And now you just described the science of human perception and psychoacoustics, which seeks to understand how dissimilar two items can be from a definable standpoint (measurements), and still sound the same."




Measurements = schmeasurements.

Look at digital recordings with a S/N ratio in the 90s.

Compare it to LP S/N ratio which are in the 70s. Based on those measurements, why would anyone even think about buying records?

Because a relatively quiet room is about 20db. In reality the big disparity in S/N ratio doesn't make a huge a room. 

So I look at measurements as only one rough indicator.

At a point in time not all that long ago, various items...amps, pre's, and various 'outboard' items like eq's all began to 'measure' relatively the same in the 'heard' or sonically perceived range of human hearing.

Beyond that range, one could argue that 'felt' or physical stimulation of ones' presence in a sound field could be added to that perception of 'being There...subsonics for the gut grab, supersonics for 'air', the 'larger' quality of a larger space than actually exists for the listener.

This mix, delivered by equipment designed in various combinations by various groups/companies in wildly varying combinations in even more variable spaces.


All that's left is our personal psychoacoustical response to whatever we've amassed in our sound caves...

The only measurement left is the rulers in your head.

Now, not that I'm against anyone anywhere at any time spending whatever they find apropos to scratch their particular itch.  Far from that...

Overall, the lucre spent on that pursuit generally 'improves the breeds' for the masses to enjoy in the long run.  But, as pointed out frequently, try to enjoy the music even when deep into 'critical listening' of the perceived shortfalls, huh...?

Y'all are a riot, sometimes...;)

ASR recently gave a DAC a junk rating because of 1 reading, distortion at 0.003%. Can anyone hear distortion at 0.003%, no. Tube amps with 0.5% distortion are considered good, turntables would be consider at least OK, speakers are often stated as less than 1% distortion. As a measurement predicting poor performance quoting 0.003% is totally useless , to use as the basis for allocating junk status is ridiculous. No one can hear it, so an average CD or other DACS measure 'better", this is analysis paralysis. 


@henry53 ...+1

When it comes to analysis without presumption, our ears and the mind between is essentially the component that 'measures' badly.

0.003% distortion being 'heard' can only be a product of preconception of the stated measurement...

If one knows about it, 'going in', it has to have some sort of effect on the listeners' response to it....mho, anyway.

Prove me wrong.


asvjerry, I doubt your proposition could be proven right or wrong. If I knew something was 0.0000000003% THD does that mean I can hear it, does it mean I believe I can hear it, or does it mean my expectation is I can't hear it. As probably the amplifier and certainly the speakers have more than 0.003% THD then what distortion can you expect to hear 0.3%. 0.03%. Investigation seems to agree that we could hear 0.5% but not 0.05%, so as we cannot possibly hear 0.003% why would we ever have such an expectation?