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In Reply to: RE: Dual AK4497 beats any number of ESS Sabre chips in my humble opinion.... posted by Ivan303 on April 03, 2021 at 07:39:56
The Topping D90 that I have uses the flagship top of the line AKM4499 DAC chip (and it sounds great!) but my 2015 era ESS based PS Audio NuWave DSD DAC still sounds better.
As I've said many times before, it's not all about the "chip of the month" but how well the overall DAC is implemented and voiced by the designer in the end product that leaves the factory.
The sound you get from any dac will be most heavily influenced by (1) the
quality of the power supply, and (2) the quality of the analog section,
which together are what run up the price/cost of a decent dac to a greater
degree than the actual dac chip used.
BTW, an ESS 9038 dac is about $65 each, an AKM 4499 is about $95 each.
Parts cost for the analog section implemented on a chip such as the
LME49274 from TI is about $3. Parts for a discrete analog section will
cost appreciably more.
Whether or not you can observe a thing depends upon the theory you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed. - Albert Einstein
compared to the PSAudio Direct Stream DAC that does it all in firmware, no awful ESS Sabres need apply. :-)
Still, there is an awful lot of audiophiles who pretend they can hear something in the ESS sound - a sort of subtle accent on certain type of sounds, like anything that happens in the high range, WITHOUT the actual frequency response to be tilted up. And those people pretend that particularity is absent from AKM DACs. Now of course, a well implemented ESS is bound to sound much better than a lousy AKM, but all things being equal...?
Me I wanna TRY the difference since I already own an ESS DAC.
The problem is, you will hear differences among a range of DACs based on the ESS chips. And you will hear differences among a range of DACs based on the AKM chips. There are outstanding and crappy sounding DACs in both families.
As such, IMHO you cannot generalize that AKM has a certain sound and ESS another. There are other factors that heavily influence the final result in the finished product. Just my 2-cents worth having owned good and bad sounding DACs based on both chip technologies.
But it's still fun to experiment and try different DACs.
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