The sound quality from DACs - is it all the same?

I've been talking to my cousin brother about sound quality. He is a self-proclaimed expert audiophile. He says that Audio Science Review has all of the answers I will need regarding audio products.

In particular, he says an inexpensive DAC from any Chinese company will do better than the expensive stuff. He says fancy audio gear is a waste of money because the data is already bit-perfect.  All DAC chips sound the same. Am I being mislead? 

He also said that any DAC over $400 is a waste of money. Convincing marketing is at play here, he says.

He currently owns a Topping L30 headphone amplifier and D30 Pro DAC. He uses Sennheiser HD 569 headphones to listen to music.  I'm not sure what to think of them. I will report my findings after listening one day! (likely soon, once I get some free time)

- Jack 




The why not take it for a test drive sounds like a good idea. Works on the track. Then you have to accept that a car that "feels fast" may not deliver the best lap times. If you are racing "feels fast" does not get you on the podium. What are you goals, feelings or results?

"What if there are two dozen cars that go fast, handle great, and stop good? You gonna waste your time test driving all of them? Or does it make more sense to filter them first?"

Yes, and not a waste of time to drive all of them, if you can. Specs on paper does not always translate to "enjoyable to drive". Same as audio, trying it first hand matters if you care about what  you are buying. Specs-only people usually miss out. Same with audio, some of the best spec'd DACs I tested were not engaging to listen to. Great on paper, sound, not always enjoyable or engaging to listen to.  

I totally agree with some here ,. Study the specifications of said component and understand any qualified test results like ASR does  ,,..You will definitely get the best sounding system your money can buy at most price points however be warned up to a limit of course, anything above certain dollars is fantasy make believe in your mind ,…

It is incredible that people can think that sound is ONLY an illusion in our mind...

Complete ignorance of the importance of acoustic for survival of mankind and ignorance about how to learn to listen because listening is a learning experiment..