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sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
As mentioned in a few earlier posts on threads in Audioholics, My 20 year old Sony Pre-Pro went silent and I have yet to get a technician to fix it, although LovintheHD gave me a nice suggestion. At any rate, I discovered my multi-channel music and movie entertainment was pretty much all handled to my satisfaction via an OPPO-205 connected to a 5.1 analog preamp feeding 5 channel and .1 channel amps. This condition made me realize the old Sony Pre-Pro was just doing stereo preamp/processing duties and thus I could be back to CD, LP, SACD, and iTunes pleasure just by getting a new 2.1 preamp, which is what I did, buying a Parasound P6.

I just installed the P6 yesterday and connected all of my stereo components to it, which have RCA outputs: stereo SACD Player, (2) Turntables, CD Changer, AM/FM Tuner, and a Cassette Deck. I also connected Airport Express to one of the optical inputs, and I connected my laptop to the P6 via usb. Today I will connect one DAT Recorder to the coax input and my other DAT Recorder to the remaining optical input via a coax to optical S/PDIF converter. Since there's only one RCA Record out on the P6 it will be connected, for now, to the Cassette Deck.

Having made most of the connections yesterday, applying low and high pass bass filters, I first noticed the presence of bass output from my sub from all input sources. The second thing I noticed was more detail from all media. That was a surprise. The tone is somewhat divergent too from what had been delivered from the Sony TA-E9000ES which died. I can't say I prefer one or the other, they're just different in the mid range arena. Only thing that is somewhat odd is output of iTunes via usb to P6 required me to turn down volume on P6 to get the sort of volume at higher volume control setting on other inputs.

At any rate, overall, I am very, very pleased. And, adjusting low pass to 63 Hz and high pass to 50 Hz the double bass in Diana Krall tunes is in its proper place. Finally, I scrolled through many of my favorite songs in iTunes which revealed I was indeed getting more detail from all tunes. The detail, for the most part, manifested itself as a crispness not delivered by the 20 year old Sony's DAC.
 
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PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Only thing that is somewhat odd is output of iTunes via usb to P6 required me to turn down volume on P6 to get the sort of volume at higher volume control setting on other inputs.
There is nothing odd about that, I would say even expected. No two units like those would have the exact over gain, let alone using different inputs.

Congrats to your new preamp! The P6's DAC chip isn't of the same grade as your Oppo's, not even close, but it is of course much better than the Sony's (on paper). How about just pure analog?
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
There is nothing odd about that, I would say even expected. No two units like those would have the exact over gain, let alone using different inputs.

Congrats to your new preamp! The P6's DAC chip isn't of the same grade as your Oppo's, not even close, but it is of course much better than the Sony's (on paper). How about just pure analog?
Why is the Oppo's chip better?
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Just specs, no I don't believe it would be "audibly better" if that's why you are asking.;)
Since they come from the same company, I doubt the difference is large- if it was, why would they bother to sell the worse one if they want to maintain a decent reputation?

In checking, I read comments about how they can be configured and that keeping it simple is best for sound.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
Since they come from the same company, I doubt the difference is large- if it was, why would they bother to sell the worse one if they want to maintain a decent reputation?

In checking, I read comments about how they can be configured and that keeping it simple is best for sound.
It is common to simply make 1 chip (the better chip), and sell it labeled as the better chip for a higher price and labeled as the lower chip for a lower price.

Economies of scale, and risk to scrap when changing over to a different product, and time lost when changing tooling means that it can often be better to only produce 1 variant, but market it and label it as various products.

I have seen PCBs in a similar manner, where you simply move a jumper to "unlock" the features found on the higher end models.

I found this recently, and to my surprise on a new bicycle part. The paint job on the front of the part indicated the entry-level part, but the model ID that was in the forging on the back indicated the step-up level part! So, it would seem that spending more $ for the next level up really just gets you a different paint job/label and a little more respect from the people that don't know the difference.
 
S

sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
Since they come from the same company, I doubt the difference is large- if it was, why would they bother to sell the worse one if they want to maintain a decent reputation?

In checking, I read comments about how they can be configured and that keeping it simple is best for sound.
Here's something interesting. I used to use OPPO's usb B input to play iTunes on my laptop. I have all sorts of bits and bites in iTunes: AAC, ALAC, and AIFF up to 24.192 and iTunes is set to output up to 24/192. Thing is this connection delivers stereo directly to the DACs, no path to or from DAC to get to .1 sub. So, yesterday I disconnected usb cable from the OPPO and stuck it in the P6, which does have a path from its DAC to .1, meaning bass to my sub and, overall, a more detailed sound, manifesting itself as crispiness for lack of a better discription. The OPPOs sound qualities in stereo were/are so similar to the old Sony that I'd say pretty much indistinguishable. Now, the tone is divergent between DACs too; but, I cannot say one is favorable over the other. It's, for the most part, a mid range divergence.
 
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PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Since they come from the same company, I doubt the difference is large- if it was, why would they bother to sell the worse one if they want to maintain a decent reputation?

In checking, I read comments about how they can be configured and that keeping it simple is best for sound.
Are you kidding, of course the same company would sell different chips whether the difference is large or small.
For example, Parasound current sells several models of preamps and power amps.

Again, I am only talking about the specifications of the DAC ICs, i.e. the chips.

Oppo BDP-205 uses the ES9038 Pro
Parasound P6 uses the ES9018K2M

Here are the specs, for simplicity, just the THD+N and DNR:

ES9038 Pro:
THD+N.................... -122 dB
DNR (Mono)............ 140 dB

ES9018K2M:
THD+N.................... -120 dB
DNR........................ 127 dB

Both have excellent specs, but the Oppo's has much better DNR specs, though again, 127 dB is more than good enough, the large difference is academic, in my opinion. Either one is much better than the one in his Sony's, and that may even partly explain the difference he heard. Next question..:D:D
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
It is common to simply make 1 chip (the better chip), and sell it labeled as the better chip for a higher price and labeled as the lower chip for a lower price.
Yep, but not for DAC chips typically, you can google and download the datasheet of those two ES DAC chips and will see that they are very different in many ways, not just the labels.:D
 
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sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
There is nothing odd about that, I would say even expected. No two units like those would have the exact over gain, let alone using different inputs.

Congrats to your new preamp! The P6's DAC chip isn't of the same grade as your Oppo's, not even close, but it is of course much better than the Sony's (on paper). How about just pure analog?
In the configuration I run the OPPO, both 5.1 and stereo output from multi-channel analog bank, it seems I am getting a more detailed (crispy) sound from the P6 when playing iTunes streams to it via usb B connection in comparison to iTunes streams via usb B to OPPO. Of course, in the scenario described, only one DAC is processing stereo, not two, which would not be the case if I was outputting from the stereo balanced or unbalanced bank. It's kind of moot though, since no matter what output from the OPPO, stereo delivered via usb B to OPPO is direct to DAC and no path to .1 sub. This is why I will likely use the P6. It does deliver output to sub.
 
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PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Here's something interesting. I used to use OPPO's usb B input to play iTunes on my laptop. I have all sorts of bits and bites in iTunes: AAC, ALAC, and AIFF up to 24.192 and iTunes is set to output up to 24/192. Thing is this connection delivers stereo directly to the DACs, no path to or from DAC to get to .1 sub. So, yesterday I disconnected usb cable from the OPPO and stuck it in the P6, which does have a path from its DAC to .1, meaning bass to my sub and, overall, a more detailed sound, manifesting itself as crispiness for lack of a better discription. Now, the tone is divergent between DACs too; but, I cannot say one is favorable over the other. It's, for the most part, a mid range divergence.
It is interesting indeed. If I understand right, then you are comparing not just the DAC but the preamps of the Sony and Parasound as well right?

If so, please try connecting the Oppo's analog output to the Parasound's analog input and see how it compares. You will then be just comparing DACs, using the same P6's preamp. I doubt you can any difference, but you may because sighted tests are not reliable.:D
 
Out-Of-Phase

Out-Of-Phase

Audioholic General
Yes, I can definitely hear a big difference between the Oppo and the Parasound.

No, wait, now I can't. The sound has changed or my hearing has changed. Now I'm confused. Let me me get back to you. Yes, my eyes are open during the listening tests and I know which device I'm listening to. Why would I do it any other way?
 
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sterling shoote

Audioholic Field Marshall
It is interesting indeed. If I understand right, then you are comparing not just the DAC but the preamps of the Sony and Parasound as well right?

If so, please try connecting the Oppo's analog output to the Parasound's analog input and see how it compares. You will then be just comparing DACs, using the same P6's preamp. I doubt you can any difference, but you may because sighted tests are not reliable.:D
Yeah, I am going to do that from the stereo only bank. I have just freed up an input on the P6 by switching from analog to optical S/PDIF out on my CD Changer.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Are you kidding, of course the same company would sell different chips whether the difference is large or small.
For example, Parasound current sells several models of preamps and power amps.

Again, I am only talking about the specifications of the DAC ICs, i.e. the chips.

Oppo BDP-205 uses the ES9038 Pro
Parasound P6 uses the ES9018K2M

Here are the specs, for simplicity, just the THD+N and DNR:

ES9038 Pro:
THD+N.................... -122 dB
DNR (Mono)............ 140 dB

ES9018K2M:
THD+N.................... -120 dB
DNR........................ 127 dB

Both have excellent specs, but the Oppo's has much better DNR specs, though again, 127 dB is more than good enough, the large difference is academic, in my opinion. Either one is much better than the one in his Sony's, and that may even partly explain the difference he heard. Next question..:D:D
A preamp is a finished product, a DAC is a component IN a finished product, to be chosen by someone designing a product to meet a price point. Granted, not everyone wants to be at the bottom of the barrel, but with so many discussions about sound quality vs the articles that state little found difference between certain devices, a DAC of poor quality would be a bad choice for a company that claims that the sound from their products is excellent.

At -120dB and -122dB, who is going to hear the difference in THD+N? NOBODY, that's who. Basing decisions to use a product because of something that's purely academic (as you wrote) is only going to make people spend money on something that really doesn't matter. I would bet that the ringing in most peoples' ears would mask any noise that's in the -85dB range in an extremely quiet room. In a moderately quiet room, even that level is moot.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Yes, I can definitely hear a big difference between the Oppo and the Parasound.

No, wait, now I can't. The sound has changed or my hearing has changed. Now I'm confused. Let me me get back to you. Yes, my eyes are open during the listening tests and I know which device I'm listening to. Why would I do it any other way?
Because you might trip over the furniture if you walk across the room while listening?
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
A preamp is a finished product, a DAC is a component IN a finished product, to be chosen by someone designing a product to meet a price point. Granted, not everyone wants to be at the bottom of the barrel, but with so many discussions about sound quality vs the articles that state little found difference between certain devices, a DAC of poor quality would be a bad choice for a company that claims that the sound from their products is excellent.

At -120dB and -122dB, who is going to hear the difference in THD+N? NOBODY, that's who. Basing decisions to use a product because of something that's purely academic (as you wrote) is only going to make people spend money on something that really doesn't matter. I would bet that the ringing in most peoples' ears would mask any noise that's in the -85dB range in an extremely quiet room. In a moderately quiet room, even that level is moot.
At that, a DAC chip is a commodity chip nowadays. The only place you would realistically find an (audibly) inferior chip would be in applications where hifi is not needed.

It all looks good on paper though.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Here's something interesting. I used to use OPPO's usb B input to play iTunes on my laptop. I have all sorts of bits and bites in iTunes: AAC, ALAC, and AIFF up to 24.192 and iTunes is set to output up to 24/192. Thing is this connection delivers stereo directly to the DACs, no path to or from DAC to get to .1 sub. So, yesterday I disconnected usb cable from the OPPO and stuck it in the P6, which does have a path from its DAC to .1, meaning bass to my sub and, overall, a more detailed sound, manifesting itself as crispiness for lack of a better discription. The OPPOs sound qualities in stereo were/are so similar to the old Sony that I'd say pretty much indistinguishable. Now, the tone is divergent between DACs too; but, I cannot say one is favorable over the other. It's, for the most part, a mid range divergence.
Don't discount the possibility that the manufacturers may be doing some tweaking to the sound in their units. I have a Request music server and when listening to a lot of older music (not really more than 60 years old, but sometimes, I do) I have noticed sound quality and details (like separation, dynamics, etc) that I definitely don't hear to the same degree on any other source, analog or digital. I asked the VP at Request if they did any tweaking and he confirmed that it was true. I wouldn't call it 'damage' to the music, though- some remastered or remixed music is said to sound harsh, the frequency balance is terrible (I have heard this) or some other faults arrived with the new versions, but when I have listened with the Request, the sound quality has always been excellent.

In the past, making changes to the sound in the digital domain was less than great, but the technology has come so far in the past 20 years that not much actually has to sound bad, anymore.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
At that, a DAC chip is a commodity chip nowadays. The only place you would realistically find an (audibly) inferior chip would be in applications where hifi is not needed.

It all looks good on paper though.
Where is HiFi not needed? HERETIC! Scoundrel! o_O
 

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