DAC AB testing to the max...something to try

I have a lot of DAC’s so I like to change things around a bit, well a lot actually.

I have all my systems on RAAT ready endpoints either via a ROCK endpoint or multiple RPi with Ropieee or Lumin’s

by grouping all the different setups I can switch the preamp inputs to select which DAC setup I want to listen to. Doing this on a decent endpoint for USB DAC’s is important as the combined speeds for having 2+ DACs on a RPI can be problematic.

Heres is a setup I running now with 6 DAC’s all streaming the same content so I can switch between inputs to hear the differences and I hate to say it but there not a world of difference that I can detect on a casual listening session. Maybe with some good headphones and a quiet room I might stand a better chance but im guessing it will still be a challenge to have one specifically shine of all others.


That’s a tough test unless there are night and day performance differences in the DACs. I agree with you that headphones would be the best for controlled listening…

Type of input and cabling may come into play too.

I’m using nearfield active Quested VS2205 studio monitors that are not very forgiving but a few other things going on in the room for the moment.

I did something similar this week. I attached an ELAC Discovery (around EUR 500) via RCA and optical to my Onkyo TX-RZ 3100 and could not hear any difference. Then I compared the optical connection with a Naim ND5 XS2 (EUR 2800) via RCA and again could not hear any difference. In a quiet room. Listening to all kinds of music. I even tried a score that comes in different resolutions, but also no difference to hear (except when the resolution was too high for the ELAC what resulted in stuttering).

Speakers: nuVero 140, nuVero AW-17, and nuLine AW-600

Most of my DACs are headphone amps as well, they do all sound different, I don’t use one as a pure dac though so interesting is your findings. Having recently bought an RME it really blows the rest away, but it maybe the headamp stage is just better? Who knows maybe it will now stop your DAC buying urges. I’m done with them for now, headamps are my next venture.

Hehehehe you’re joking right :wink:

I don’t know the DIY Soekris parts, but the Soekris 1541 I have (currently lent to a friend) is so neutral and smooth that in a way does not stand out. OTOH, some NOS DACs definitely stand out, especially the Holo Spring (which I no longer have, unfortunately) with almost over-saturated mids. I also could distinguish pretty well the Soekris from the Yggdrasil A2 on my old speaker system (Hegel H360 amp and KEF Reference 1 speakers). With headphones (various amps), the differences between Holo Spring, Metrum Onyx (also gone), and Yggdrasil were fairly noticeable (I can describe them if needed). I have a new Sonnet Morpheus on the way that I’ll be comparing with the Yggdrasil, although probably the end game will be Yggdrasil with my tube headamp (EC Aficionado) and reference headamp (Phonitor XE) and Morpheus with my other solid-state amp (ecp DSHA-3F).

Even if I managed to sell a whole bunch I still couldn’t afford to go the Lumin A1/T2 route, unless I can get something preloved, so I think I’ll just be a happy tinkerer and have a few different options for now.

I have 2 Lumin D1’s in my big rigs but the list above is at my desk setup with nearfield Quested VS2205 studio monitors that are quite clinical at ~1M - they have been fully recapped and new tweeters so like new now. while not the biggest in the bass department they can slug it out in my smallish office with the other big rig LX521.4 linkwitzlab.com driven by Analogue Signal Processor (ASP.4) and 10 x 125W D class Lexicon DD8 amp channels.

Downstairs are the LX521’s older brother the Orion’s also using a whole Lexicon DD8 8 channels connected to the other Lumin D1.

1 Like

I have to correct myself. When using the direct mode, I can now hear a small difference between a Hifiberry Digi+ and the Naim ND5 XS2. The bass is deeper and the “dullness“ is improved. For me, it is worth the extra cost. Maybe the Naim needed some time to burn in, or maybe the Stereo mode diminishes differences because it tampers with the signal. However, I still need to re-compare it to the ELAC.