What are the objective measurements for a DAC?

It’s take a lot of typing but generally I think asr doesn’t propound the idea that what you like or ”should like” is determined by measurements. (Read their review of the bottle head crack amp, for one, and see if it doesn’t help make sense of why it is particularly synergistic with the Sennheiser HD6xx. But that’s just for starters).

I think the notion of what is “objectively true” about soundstage and measurements is not quite right, but this is more than I care to play on the internet. Certainly I think psychoacoustics are not really discussed much in most forums.

But really neither forum is all that monolithic.

This is from a perspective of an outsider looking in since I’m not part of the asr community, but generally while amir might not explicitly say this, it’s pretty much implied and most posts I end up reading kinda show community following this as well, the sentiment that you should only be going after the best measuring products in your budget without any consideration to preference especially if it’s a solid state amp or dac

This was a very uncommon review to see at asr, the mass majority of amps that would measure like that would be laughed out the door (if they were ever considered for measurement in the first place), this really is a rare example of synergy being mentioned at all on asr, most of the time when synergy is brought up it’s just either ignored or the person who brought it up will be told it doesn’t exist

Of course this is just what I tend to get when looking at reviews from amir and the threads that go along with them, I haven’t spend much time going through a bunch of more community threads on there so perhaps there’s different communities within asr that I’m not seeing


From what I’ve seen the whole ASR forum kinda tends to be like this. Its overall very dedicated to using measurements to claim that their cheaper gear is equivalent to expensive stuff (which is possible but generally not the case in my experience, with the few cheap and mid budget dacs I own vs the ToTL dac I got set up in my office.) I think what drives it is trying to find another best bang for buck like the RME ADI - 2.

I once saw them arguing over the comparative measurements of an XLR switch box, saying that cheap nobsounds from Amazon was just as good as a goldpoint custom switch box.

As for Amir. I find his methodology flawed to the point of questioning why he does it. If music is meant to be enjoyed why does all his live listening sessions.
A) make up the bare minimum of a review if he does it at all
B) Only does so he can push the device til distortion becomes unmanageable and then makes a note of the max volume level.

I don’t personally think he’s ill intentioned but he’s set up a community that does not respond well to counter arguments against the measurement game, to the point where he looks a little trapped at times by it.
3rd most toxic community IMO after SBAF and AudioBacon (the guy who runs that site, literally viscerally insults anyone who questions his methodology)


To be quite honest I somewhat view asr as similar to let’s say peta, as their underlying goal is reasonable and makes sense but the ways they go about doing things is ridiculous and the actions they take end up doing the opposite of what they are really trying to accomplish

But idk, I’m sure that opinion would change if I actually immersed myself in the community, but personally I don’t really want to do that

Pretty much, he has to keep feeding the machine or his community will turn on him in the end


Before I found Hifi Guides I lurked a bunch of forums looking for a good community. This place tends to be the best of all worlds
Good mix of technical and music focused listeners for both Head and Speakers, and across the budget range
Headfi’s too Headphone Focused
ASR is like “This wave graph makes sure that my 15 dollar no name amazon dac is better than the 2 grand you dropped on you dac amp combo and god help you if you question that.”

So yeah immersion, is not something I personally recommend lol

From what I’ve gathered, I think he runs a rather prestige Corporate AV installation company (he made some claims to his background involving windows OS development, so I just looked it up randomly and there was a person with the same name and credentials running an AV company), doing things like sound panels for high end office spaces, projector/Video systems and High end PA stuff. Its not like his livelihood is based around ASR, so I’m not sure why he puts up with it


I don’t want to get into “him” vs “the forum”, though I see why there is that perspective. I do think “getting more into it” might add a lot of nuance and prevent some of the strawmanning, but I hate the turn this thread has taken since I was asked about my view of the balance, and I regret my answering that question at all at this point. I knew the “asr” answer had come up already, as is inevitable given the question in the thread title, and am usually better at shutting up in these sort of circumstances.

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:moneybag::moneybag::moneybag::moneybag: Is the simple answer, but that can be said for anyone running a dedicated review or audio community

Neither do I, but when it’s brought up it’s going to happen eventually

It probably would, but I doubt it would change my view on things in the end simply because the times that I’ve given it the chance it has ended up biting me in the ass, so at this point for myself at least it would probably be a wasted effort as I wouldn’t give it the most fair chance even if I thought I was

Totally didn’t mean to imply I was interested in changing your views. Apologies if it comes across that way. As Adrian Belew said, “The deeper I talked the worse I got in!”

No problem, not trying to do the same either, just sharing my experience as you are sharing yours, no worries

That statement pretty much becomes true to anything you can apply it to lol, wish it wasn’t the case

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To answer the thread title:

  • Clock Rate, as in how many cycles the DAC setup/chip does in one second
  • Clock Jitter, clock timing variation
  • Sample Rate, Sampels taken per second/time division
  • Over Sampling Rate (can be 0), comparisons taken between output and input signal
  • VRMS, how “hot” the output signal is
  • S/N R, Signal to Noise Ratio
  • S/N-D R, Signal to Noise and Distortion Ratio
  • Monotonicity, The “directness” of the analog signal reaching the desired level
  • THD, Total Harmonic Distortion
  • Dynamic Range, Total Voltage swing of the output

My 2 Cent on the above “things you can measure”:
Do you know what half of them are?
I don’t mean have you heared of the acronym. I mean do you know why that number being what it is is important?
Else you might aswell measure how much water the device displaces, weigh it and rate DACs by density.

“High numbers” only work when you know what that number means.


Now that’s an interesting idea for a review channel. I’d simultaneously love / hate watching somebody dunk a bunch of Lampizators.


Will it blend lol


First off, I wanted to say sorry for making a thread and feeding the derailment a bit. I dont want to get into an us or them either.

Im sorry if it wasn’t clear. This was my actual question. I understand what all of these terms mean because of the ASR breakdown. I made the thread to ask how these effect sound, and what else effects sound that cannot be measured. I am sorry if that wasn’t clear.


That’s the biggest problem, do the measurements actually correlate to good sound, and to me imo they really don’t. I’ve heard excellent measuring dacs that sound amazing, and excellent measuring dacs that sound pretty bad, same thing with poor measuring dacs that sound great vs poor measuring dacs that sound poor, it’s really something that looking at measurements like sinad aren’t really going to tell you much about how they sound, only how they look on paper. But that’s just what I’ve found over time, experiences will differ from person to person of course.

Pretty much agree with this, nothing wrong with having an objective focus on sound, but once you start to sacrifice sound quality for better numbers on paper is where it goes too far


This comment is the best TLDR for most measurement related discussions.

Giving my 2 cents here, but full disclosure: I’m an Engineer and Electronic HW designer, so this skews a lot of my opinion.

Yes, measurements (or at least current measurements) aren’t everything. We still don’t know how to correlate some perceived sonic characteristics to classic electronic measurements. That said, I really like the current “push for measurements”, at least from what I’ve been feeling for the Hi-Fi market. Granted, I’m not a market analyst but that’s what I perceived the last two or three years compared to previous gear. I think “newer” companies like SMSL, Topping, Geshelli and JDS Labs, are pushing designs forward, and clearing up a lot of “audiophile smokescreen” along the way.

Statements like “this sound more clear” or “this has larger soundstage” are harder to measure, and therefore it is hard to make a company accountable for stating one thing or another. But unless you’re making a wrong measurement, you cannot say “my amp is low noise” and measure a terrible noise floor. It also helps with consistency and quality control, as you don’t need to weigh on just someone’s opinions on 'this is good" to know if a product is working properly or not.

I could go on and on here on a lot of stuff, but basically: measurements aren’t everything, but I think not having them is very bad. Don’t need to extrapolate them, but I think we should push them as somethings manufacturers should look into it.


Forward in the budget range but backward as you move up in price range imo. The whole measurement push has been really good for those in the around 100 buck range, with the options getting better and more plentiful every year, but this being said, now you have amps and dacs in around the 500 buck range which are from the same companies that measure marginally better and are a marginal upgrade from their hundred buck offerings and get pretty easily trounced by competing options in terms of sound quality, so the value per dollar of these measurement focused amps falls off a cliff once you get past around 200 imo

Mind if I ask what you think are some of the best sounds from $500 dacs/amps? All I see recommended are the SU-9 and A90 in that price range and they are measurement kings. Maybe I see the rebbel class A mentioned once or twice but its pretty damn rare.

Hard to argue with your experience when I’m still very new to that, but I will say this comes from what I experienced with the Element and what i’ve seen/read with products like the Erish and JNOG. Also, that read from Head-fi posted about the Jotunheim 2 by Jason Stoddard was really great, I can relate a lot with them as someone from the R&D area.

But again, I look at this more from my perspective as an Engineer than from my experience as an Audiophile.

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I really don’t think the a90 is worthwhile honestly (same with the su-9), if you want the same performance of the a90 for 300 less, try out a magnius, if you really gotta have those numbers. I would also say that imo the asgard 3 outperforms both pretty easily for the same price, so there’s that. But in the 500 range, I would look into stuff like the rnhp, lake people g111, monolith liquid platinum, hagerman tuba, feliks echo, and the list can continue, it would depend on what headphones you have for what amp you really want to look for, as you continue to move up in tiers of headphones synergy plays a larger and larger role in things.

For dacs, it’s a bit harder imo to get in that 500 range, I think there is a major performance gap when it comes to dacs, stuff in the 250-700 range generally tends to not be worthwhile, so stuff like the e30, modius, earmen donald, zen dac, liquid spark dac, el dac ii, and so on is great for around under 250, but stuff in the 500 range tends to be a marginal upgrade to those said dacs, to get to the significant dacs you want to be spending around the bifrost 2, ares ii, dac1421, etc to get a major leap in dac performance, and you also want to make sure the dac synergyzes well with the amp

Those are great amps, geshelli and jds labs do a great job at balancing objective performance with good subjective sound quality, and are also priced appropriately. The key is not going overboard where you sacrifice sound quality for numbers (imo stuff like topping, thx tech are main offenders here). Very excited for the jot 2


If people want a “fun” read you can look at the ASR thread where geshelli announced their erish and that it measures just as good or better than the A90 and the topping guy fliiiiiiips.

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