Please Educate Me

If I can’t find the answer here, I won’t find it anywhere. 

Something I’ve wondered about for a long time: The whole world is digital. Some huge percentage of our lives consists of ones and zeros. 

And with the exception of hi-fi, I don’t know of a single instance in which all of this digitalia isn’t yes/no, black/white, it works or it doesn’t. No one says, “Man, Microsoft Word works great on this machine,” or “The reds in that copy of Grand Theft Auto are a tad bright.” The very nature of digital information precludes such questions. 

Not so when it comes to hi-fi. I’m extremely skeptical about much that goes on in high end audio but I’ve obviously heard the difference among digital sources. Just because something is on CD or 92/156 FLAC doesn’t mean that it’s going to sound the same on different players or streamers. 

Conceptually, logically, I don’t know why it doesn’t. I know about audiophile-type concerns like timing and flutter. But those don’t get to the underlying science of my question. 

I feel like I’m asking about ABCs but I was held back in kindergarten and the computerized world isn’t doing me any favors. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to do. I’ll be using Photoshop and I’ve got it dialed in just right. 
Yes. Let me put it like this.
Programmer of a game put in a specific CONSTANT hex #13220 is a dark green of green-cyan. And in RGB color mode model #13220 is comprised of 0.39% red, 19.61% green and 12.55% blue.

So it is a constant variable that is in the software and it is not changing.

Take ten laptops install software that includes that constant.

Put all ten laptops side by side and you WILL have 10 DIFFERENT shades of green.

And as I explained why in the previous post, all of the laptops screens reproduce that constant slightly different.

That’s why there is a calibration devices that you suck onto the display and make a calibration of the screen.

The same goes for CD or any digital device there is a data constant number that is made sure that it always stays the same with error correction (matematics calculate checksums and so on to make sure of that.)

But after that what that constant data is leaving the CD transport and what is coming out of the speakers is ALMOST the same like with the monitor example above.

It stops to be a constant and for audio it is in the analog domain and you need to understand that there is no check sums and no control over that the information (the constant) is intact it is now a sliding scale..

You can build two identical amplifiers and when capacitors, resistors, inductors opamps and so on they are ALL individuals and different from one to another for the exact same component!

That is why they have tolerances. So if you have a tolerance of ±1% then it is at the most only for that component alone at most 2% variation between one and another part of the same capacitor for example.

That is why very serious amp builders measure and match each component in the signal path. Like you could pay someone to match and find two tubes that measure closer to each other than other ones in the same batch, to use in a amp tube. So in the analog domain everything is in a flux state..

"...infinitesimally small sense superiority..."

"...infinitesimally small sense of superiority..."

It is not a big difference. It only gives those who questioned your writing a little more credibility and your baffling response to them a tiny bit more silly.
It’s a good question, Paul. The ones and zeros are intended to represent SOMETHING. It might be something specific, like the letter “A“, or it might be something much more nuanced, such as the distance, speed and acceleration of a speaker cone at a precise moment in time. Now, the reason Word works consistently on any two different computers is because we (the collective “we”) have decided that it’s IMPORTANT, in a word processor, that letters not be confused with each other. So important that a system was developed, called ASCII, that has been universally accepted for use in word processors. ASCII tells us that an “A” will always be represented by the same sequence of ones and zeros. And if a computer couldn’t get that right, Microsoft would be out of business. 
But music is a very different beast, because you cannot listen to a note of music and tell whether it differs from another note of music as easily as you can tell that the letter “A” your word processor spits out is different from the letter B. Yes, I know, audio has its own standards too, like Redbook. If we want to reproduce the sound of an orchestra for one second, the Redbook standard tells us that we need 44,000 bytes of data. But if one of those bytes has a single flipped bit, I’d wager that even @millercarbon would not be able to tell the difference; consequently, it is not as IMPORTANT to a normal listener as it would be if he or she were typing a letter on a keyboard, and a different letter showed up on the screen. Most listeners are willing to put up with a few errors in the translation of their music from digital to analog, as long as they can’t hear the difference.  But some peculiar people, called audiophiles, think it’s worth spending a lot of money to try to hear those differences, and will go to great lengths to ensure themselves that their reproduction of those 44,000 bytes is as error-free as technologically possible. You can think of it like a word processor for someone with a really bad case of OCD. Throw in the additional complexity of how two different humans prefer to hear the same musical piece on their ridiculously expensive systems, and you have a real hot mess, called “Audiogon”.  Hope that helps.
I think a lot of audiophiles who obsess over DACs are old timers who are used to having to do that with their old vinyl rigs, which are MUCH HARDER to get right.

Most companies have D2A conversion down pretty well. Little for an audiophile to do other than choose a DAC for whatever reason they choose. Most are very good. DAC technology is much more reliable and robust than phono. Not hard to find a good DAC and just enjoy the music unlike phono rigs which require a lot of expertise and time to get set up optimally. I think this is a big reason many audiophiles tend to poo poo digital still.  10 years ago I could see the point.  Not today though.   They blame it on the sound but its really that a phono setup is a much better toy to play with for those so inclined or merely they are old school and used to that being a thing.

OR here that they got phono gear to sell...