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DAC—Real-world Testing

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jupiterboy View Drop Down
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    Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 6:56pm
I hope someone can help me understand some real-world issues I've run into and testing methodology.

I am putting together an inexpensive streaming source to A.) see if my wifi cand deal with hi-res audio, and B.) get some sense of how streaming compared to LP or CD playback.

So far so good, however I often will test audio equipment using test tones or sweeps to see how it all works. 

I have an inexpensive streamer that uses the ESS9023 chip. I've read again and again how DACs have come a long way since I purchased my CD player. Well, I'm convinced. However, out of curiosity I downloaded some pink noise, chirp tones, and a sweep at 24/192 to see how the DAC performed AND to think about the use of an AU equalizer to manage acoustic issues associated with my room.

To my surprise, the DAC absolutely fell apart playing the following file:

audiocheck.net_hdsweep_1Hz_96000Hz_-3dBFS_30s



The file is playing from the USB input of the streamer, and I don't know why I'm getting this pulsing distortion added to the sweep. I'm left wondering if it is the implementation of the DAC design, the USB interface on the streamer, or something else.

I've used this guys test tones before, and I've had some awkward auditions of loudspeakers that failed horribly on IMD tests tones he has produced. 

If what I'm doing fair? Should I look for a better solution? Music sounds pretty good. FWIW, I've added an improved power supply and still have the same test results. I can plug the USB stick into my laptop and have no issue playing the sweep.



Edited by jupiterboy - 20 Jun 2020 at 6:58pm
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Chris Firth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chris Firth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 7:57pm
What's the streamer?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jupiterboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 8:02pm
Originally posted by Chris Firth Chris Firth wrote:

What's the streamer?



Can I say? I'm new and I don't want to make posts about other products. Thought I would limit discussion to the chip, but I can mention in a pm if that helps. I read about phase noise and I've also read that this chip measures well but has some notable IMD issues. 

I could return the streamer at this point, but my next best option that I know of is Chromecast Audio into a DAC, and I am somewhat determined to try full 24/192 so at least I know. 

The maker is a small company, maybe French? 
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Chris Firth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chris Firth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 8:05pm
At this point in time Graham's team do not produce a streamer, so fire away.
There's no conflict of interest.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chris Firth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 8:07pm
I'll also add that WiFi and 24/192 frequently falls short of expectation and buffers frequently.
The issue is one of bandwidth and hardware.

Wired is best.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jupiterboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 8:12pm
OK then. It's an Arylic S50 Pro.

I've tuned my wifi so the streaming is actually functioning very well. I'm always getting an RSSI in the mid 50s, and the sound is much better than expected.

I'm putting these test tones on a USB stick, so it's not the wifi causing the issue. The chirp tones play fine. The pink noise and white noise are fine. This sweep though—it sounds like pulsing distortion, almost like a weak FM signal. 

Essentially, I've got a toe in the door for $350 including Audirvana, an upgraded power supply, and the streamer, not including the Qobuz yearly.

Edited by jupiterboy - 20 Jun 2020 at 8:13pm
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Chris Firth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chris Firth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 8:44pm
I can't find the specific file you referred to - any chance of a proper link?
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