Most hi-fi audio is stored in digital form. With advancements in lossless compression, bit-perfect ripping/streaming, HD audio formats, multi-terabyte storage, and PC-friendly DACs, has the PC earned a place among high-end audio gear? At what price point?
HRX's version of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances is made available in a DVD-R format of 24-bit/176.4 kHz (after a 176.4 to 88.2 to 176.4 kHz process). That created similar issues as Daft Punk's 88.2 kHz album, and the reason is the same. Only the Benchmark DAC2 supports this sampling frequency; the JDS Labs O2+ODAC and Asus Xonar Essence STX do not. Realtek's ALC889 codec does support that frequency in its specs, but in WASAPI mode using foobar2000, neither 88.2 nor 176.4 kHz worked.
Since we were going from 176.4 kHz all the way down to 44.1, we wanted to show that resampling using the same foobar2000 PPHS resampler in Ultra mode introduced no audible artifacts. Both listeners tried multiple times, and neither could tell any difference. In our subjective opinions, 176.4 and 44.1 kHz are exactly the same.
Test results (Listener B)
|Run||Actual Device||Guess device||Correct / Incorrect|
|1||JDS Labs O2+ODAC||N/A - "Less preferred"||N/A|
|3||Asus Xonar Essence STX||N/A - "More preferred"||N/A|
|4||Realtek ALC889||N/A - "Less preferred"||N/A|
|5||Benchmark DAC2 HGC||N/A||N/A|
|6||JDS Labs O2+ODAC||N/A - "More preferred"||N/A|
|7||Benchmark DAC2 HGC||N/A - "Less preferred"||N/A|
|8||Asus Xonar Essence STX||N/A - "Less preferred"||N/A|
Listener B's comments:
I was surprised at the results, struggling to decide whether the validity of our blind tests could be called into question, or rather if these tests indeed show our auditioned devices cannot be reliably told apart. I do believe that the story would be different if we used full-sized speakers, rather than headphones.
- Turning The PC Into A True Hi-Fi Audio Platform
- Four Devices Tested: From $2000 Down To $2
- Benchmark DAC2 HGC
- JDS Labs O2+ODAC Combo
- Asus Xonar Essence STX
- Realtek ALC889
- Test Setup: Sennheiser HD 800 And AKG K 550 Headphones
- Test Setup: Volume Matching And Testing The Listener
- Test Setup: Cables, Software, And Tracks
- Test Setup: The Blind Testing Process
- Results: Dragonborn / Jeremy Soule
- Results: Soothe My Soul / Depeche Mode
- Results: Through The Fire And Flames / DragonForce
- Results: Get Lucky / Daft Punk
- Results: Symphonic Dances / Andante Con Moto / Rachmaninoff
- Bonus Test: DSD Versus PCM; Billie Jean / Michael Jackson's Thriller
- Why We Need To Test Low-Impedance Headphones Soon
- Why Audio Formats Above 16-Bit/44.1 kHz Don't Matter
- Anything Above $2 Buys More Features, Not Better Quality