Musical Fidelity V90-DAC D/A processor JA's Review System

Sidebar 1: JA's Review System

Digital Sources: Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP universal player; Apple 2.7GHz i7 Mac mini running OS10.7, iTunes 10, Pure Music 1.89, Audirvana Plus 1.5.10; NAD M50 media player with NAD M52 and NetGear RAID arrays;Auralic Vega, Benchmark DAC1 D/A converters.
Preamplification: Pass Labs XP-30 line preamplifier.
Power Amplifiers: MBL Corona C15 & Reference 9007, Pass Labs XA60.5 (all monoblocks).
Loudspeakers: Joseph Audio Perspective, Rogers BBC LS3/5A, EnigmAcoustics Sopranino supertweeter.
Cables: Digital: Kubala-Sosna Elation! AES/EBU, AudioQuest Coffee, Belkin Gold USB, Transparent USB (with dCS Vivaldi). FireWire: AudioQuest FireWire 400 (prototype). Interconnect (balanced): Kubala-Sosna Elation!, AudioQuest Wild Blue, (unbalanced), AudioQuest Cheetah. Speaker: Kubala-Sosna Elation! AC: Kubala-Sosna Elation!, manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Target TT-5 equipment racks; Ayre Acoustics Myrtle Blocks; ASC Tube Traps, RPG Abffusor panels; Shunyata Research Dark Field cable elevators; Audio Power Industries 116 Mk.II & PE-1, APC S-15 AC line conditioners (computers, hard drive). AC power comes from two dedicated 20A circuits, each just 6' from breaker box.—John Atkinson

COMPANY INFO
Musical Fidelity Limited
US distributor: Musical Fidelity North America
PO Box 51206
Phoenix, AZ 85076
(480) 297-4053
ARTICLE CONTENTS
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COMMENTS
awehns's picture

So what is the difference between fig. 8 and 9?

John Atkinson's picture
awehns wrote:
So what is the difference between fig. 8 and 9?

Both show the waveform of a 1kHz tone at -90.31dBFS. Fig.8 shows the waveform with undithered 16-bit data, fig.9 that with undithered 24-bit data. Despite the lack of dither, the 24-bit waveform resembles a good sinewave, confirming the V90 DAC's excellent resolution.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

audiolab's picture

Fig 8 = 16 bit
Fig 9 = 24 bit
"Linearity error with 16-bit data was very low, at less than ±1dB to –110dB (fig.7), while the V90-DAC's reproduction of an undithered sinewave at exactly –90.31dBFS was excellent, with the three DC voltage levels described by the data well defined (fig.8). With 24-bit data at the same level the result was a well-defined sinewave (fig.9), though both the 16- and 24-bit waveforms were overlaid with intermittent high-frequency noise."

Scorpio69er's picture

"But from my own listening and my comparisons with the outstanding Auralic Vega and my workhorse Benchmark DAC1..."

Without controlled double-blind testing, subjective opinion about alleged sonic differences between DACs (or cables, etc.) is just nonsense.

"Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me, because I am associated by so many people with the mess my disciples made of spreading my gospel...Remember those loudspeaker shoot-outs we used to have during our annual writer gatherings in Santa Fe? The frequent occasions when various reviewers would repeatedly choose the same loudspeaker as their favorite (or least-favorite) model? That was all the proof needed that [blind] testing does work, aside from the fact that it's (still) the only honest kind. It also suggested that simple ear training, with DBT confirmation, could have built the kind of listening confidence among talented reviewers that might have made a world of difference in the outcome of high-end audio."
--J.Gordon Holt
http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/1107awsi/index.html

John Atkinson's picture
Scorpio69er wrote:
Without controlled double-blind testing, subjective opinion about alleged sonic differences between DACs (or cables, etc.) is just nonsense.

If you feel that way, then why on Earth would you read Stereophile or its website?

Scorpio69er wrote:
J.Gordon Holt: http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/1107awsi/index.html

It is fair to point out that the late Gordon Holt almost never practiced what he preached in this interview I conducted before his passing, with respect to double-blind tests. All Gordon's review auditioning was performed under sighted conditions and the only blind tests in which he participated after I replaced him as editor in 1986 were ones that I organized.

Please go peddle your trolls somewhere else.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Scorpio69er's picture

You don't bother much with credibility, do you?

re: "why on Earth would you read Stereophile or its website?"

Perhaps in the vain hope that you guys will, someday, live up to the legacy of JGH.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Further, I was reading Stereophile and corresponding with its writers long before you ever showed up. The issue of subjective testing was questioned and discussed within its (paper) pages. Back then, there was a genuine concern with truth. And there was also a sense of humor about this obsession. You may recall the Bob Carver amp challenge, which Carver won. That was honesty.

re: "the late Gordon Holt almost never practiced what he preached in this interview"

Within the interview, he talked about "those [blind] loudspeaker shoot-outs we used to have during our annual writer gatherings in Santa Fe". He also understood quite well, as he articulated, that "[blind] testing does work, aside from the fact that it's (still) the only honest kind". So JGH understood full well the validity of DBT, and, indeed, had he remained at the helm of Stereophile, that is the direction he would have certainly gone, since he was concerned with honesty and credibility.

re: "Please go peddle your trolls somewhere else."

Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't realize that this had become the audiophile equivalent of the Rush Limbaugh show!

RUSH: "The earth is flat, by golly -- and that's the truth!"
CALLER: "Ditto, Rush!"

You, sir, can kiss my, er, amp. ☺

John Atkinson's picture
Scorpio69er wrote:
John Atkinson wrote:
the late Gordon Holt almost never practiced what he preached in this interview

Within the interview, he talked about "those [blind] loudspeaker shoot-outs we used to have during our annual writer gatherings in Santa Fe."

Yes, and as I wrote above, "the only blind tests in which [Gordon] participated after I replaced him as editor in 1986 were ones that I organized." It is those tests to which Gordon was referring in the text that you are quoting. Despite his advocacy of blind testing in my 2007 interview with him, Gordon performed all his review listening under sighted conditions, just as he had been doing since launching Stereophile in 1962.

Scorpio69er wrote:
had [Gordon Holt] remained at the helm of Stereophile, that is the direction he would have certainly gone.

Gordon worked for Larry Archibald and for me for 17 years since selling Stereophile. In all that time he was free to practice blind tests if he so wished. The fact is that he didn't so wish, even after trying the ABX comparator box. So please stop projecting your fantasies on to Gordon who, sadly, is no longer here to speak for himself.

Scorpio69er wrote:
You, sir, can kiss my, er, amp.

You don't like or appreciate what Stereophile does, please stop reading the magazine.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Scorpio69er's picture

re: "stop projecting your fantasies on to Gordon who, sadly, is no longer here to speak for himself."

So you'll speak for him, since he's no longer here. Yeah. Right. But we are to ignore his own published (right here in Stereophile!) words. That's just me "projecting". Got it.

re: "You don't like or appreciate what Stereophile does, please stop reading the magazine."

Gee, can I get you a crying towel?

What "Stereophile does" is proclaim that various mega-expensive DACs, cables, etc, possess sonic attributes not possessed by standard items (that meet the required specs for the job at hand). But it flat refuses to validate any of its claims with what JGH plainly stated were "the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal." Then, your poor feathers are ruffled when questioned about this nonsense. Cry me a river. You recommend gear that cost more than most folks make in a year, but whine when asked to justify it, scientifically. Audio reproduction is, after all, science -- not magic. Oh, that darn icky science stuff!

As noted, I was reading Stereophile before you ever got here, and I'll be reading it -- and holding its feet to the fire -- long after you've gone the way of the eight-track cartridge. After all, someone has to hold up the legacy of JGH around here!

ChrisS's picture

Hey sixtyniner!

Still going on about DBT...when nobody else is?

Where is the Calvary of Truth?

Where are your Minions of Science?

Just you?

Oh, dear.

Must be lonely.

ChrisS's picture

Hey sixtyniner, again!

Did you know you were paying John Atkinson's salary each time you buy a copy of Stereophile?

How comical is that?!

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