So I can’t be arsed to watch the entire z video (50 minutes of rambling with no substance), but basically he can’t tell the difference between any of them correct? That’s really quite confusing, it’s one thing to think something isn’t worth the money but hear some sort of difference between other dacs, vs not being able to tell them apart whatsoever. If you look around regarding this specific dac, you see generally positive feedback about it, and if there is negative feedback, they feel it’s not worth the money or have some sort of sonic gripe, but seldom have I seen anyone not be able to tell a difference between this dac and the other it was being compared or referenced against.
Even if the setup z used is extremely sub par and totally unsuited to review such a dac (which it is), he should still be able to hear something different regardless of his thoughts on it in the end. The fact that he can’t is really still impressive almost to me. Now if it will sound “better” or higher preforming depends on the rest of your setup, the chain is only as good as the weakest link, but again, even with a terrible chain, you should at least be able to tell something sounds different
A quick note on high end dacs as well, things don’t scale linearly as amps do, most of the budget dacs sound marginally different or different takes on the same thing where you really don’t get much variation, but once you step up to some of the higher end dacs, they start to much more radically differ from each other and make a much more notable difference overall (again if that difference is worthwhile or not is a different story)
To get into the review side itself, z has expressed he can’t tell a difference between dacs many times, so it’s quite interesting he’s decided to review a higher end dac. Typically people that feel dacs are overly similar tend to be stuck in the budget or entry level midrange section of dacs where they are mainly marginally different, so most would assume a higher end dac upgrade is also marginal when it’s not. The midrange to entry level range also happens to be the majority of z’s audience, and most haven’t really experienced high end in general, which is something that one can take advantage of when making a review. Now this is more just me being an asshole here and making assumptions that hopefully are not true, but what a great way to strengthen your core audience by bashing a high end dac. That reaffirms people to stick in the budget or midrange section and continue to consume the content you are most popular for, it appeals to people’s desire of “better or equal for less” strengthening the message that is constantly pushed in reviews, and it also makes people feel “more knowledgeable and experienced” than those that “foolishly bought a high end dac” which makes people feel good about their choices. All things that would really benefit a reviewer in it for money and growth, but oh well surely that can’t be the case. Also he can’t push affiliate links for a holo may lol
To stop looking at this from a more cynical manner, I could go on and complain about the rest of the source gear and the method used to test, but there’s not much point. I’ve never really agreed with anything z has put out with anything regarding high end, so it’s better to just disagree and move on for me. The main reason I am even commenting is just the part above about not being able to tell the difference, I really wouldn’t have cared if he came to the conclusion that it sounded different and not better, but the fact that he can’t even say it sounded different is the part that just confuses me to even make this post. This is a pretty garbage review from any way you can take it regardless if you agree with his findings or not (if you can even call it a review at this point)