Big Sound 2015 Pyrates Aboard!

(Ed Note: No joke...there are some very good and legit reasons Mike's face is not photographed. 'Nuf said.)

Just a little background here for those unaware of the inner-workings of the headphone hobby. is the mothership of all headphone enthusiast forums. It has a culture (if one can even really wrap this type of thing up in two words) of cordial collegiality, which makes it a comfortable place for the masses, but sometimes at the expense of the learning that occurs with heartfelt disagreement and the difficult dialog that follows. is just the opposite: They'll happily agree to disagree, and then just carry on disagreeing. Not in an angry or insulting way, just in that if you have an opinion, you're expected to be able to hold it out there confidently regardless of the contrary thoughts of others. If you're thin-of-skin, is going to look awfully rough and tumble. But if you're well prepared to state your best formed opinion, and have a centered, stable sense of self, you may find the feedback there illuminating...maybe a little thrilling...

It's not for everyone.

Additionally, many of the pyrates at have built their own measurement systems and are heavily into modifying headphones to improve over stock performance. I mention that because some of the talk in the video will be about the state of the art in modified cans.

Just to complete the trifecta, is also an important resource for headphone enthusiasts, especially those interested in electrostatic headphones and DIY headphone amplifiers.

N00bs be warned! Head-Fi is probably your best first stop, followed shortly thereafter by long term lurking at the other two sites to learn their respective cultural norms.

Anywho...Anax and Hands have spent the weekend working at blind tests and listening to the headphones available. Blind tests were attacked with a here-to-for unparalleled zeal, and headphones were plugged and unplugged with unceremonious vigor as the iPad app was rapidly requesting one reference track after another of the obedient Aurender. None of this really bothered me at all...until after returning them to the hotel Saturday evening and coming back to shut down the room, I found myself in need of airing it out, lest the stench of a small harbor at low tide permeate the rest of my home.

Good times.

Blind Tests
Tyler did a top-notch job of identifying the Bakoon current source amp, the TTVJ Teton, and the Moon 430HA with the Sennheiser HD 800. Its widely varying impedance response interacts strongly with the very high output impedance of the Bakoon, and less high (about 120 Ohms) output impedance of the Teton, and with the Moon's sub-0.5 Ohm output impedance not at all.

Switching over to the HiFiMAN HE-1000, which has a very constant, flat impedance response, and differences were much more difficult to identify for Tyler. He spent quite a bit of time training himself to hear the differences, and once his groove was found he only made 3 errors out of the possible 15 right in 5 trial test.

Mike, on the other hand, shot for the brass ring and decided to try to blind test the differences between the Schiit Yggdrasil and Antelope Zodiac Platinum DAC (without clock). This is the test that both Bob Katz and I failed. Mike similarly did no better than a coin toss during his Saturday attempt at a series. In both cases, however, we all felt we heard differences...small, but subtle differences that tend to be obscured by the cruel nature of blind testing.

I cannot emphasize enough how difficult blind testing is; not because the differences are so small—which, of coures, they are sometimes—but because your mind plays such nasty tricks on you in the process of blind testing. Doubts, fears, and uncertainties in ones personal capabilities nag at you; as you start to get an inkling of which is which while blind, you also tend to project biases based on what your guess might be, which causes you to hear it a little differently and second guess yourself. When journalists at times take a poke at audiophiles by performing blind tests with untrained, man-off-the-street listeners, they do a huge disservice to the to the true nature of the variations in audio reproduction. Blind testing is not easy or reliable unless listeners have a degree of experience and conditions are very well controlled—at which point results can be meaningful.

On Sunday, however, Anax arrived with his eye-patch and game face on. "I want to do it again. I am going to crush this test!" Seems to me Mike has the word "determination" spelled out somewhere in his genome. He spent at least three hours rigorously learning then executing a blind test differentiating between the Schiit Yggdrasil and Antelope Platinum DAC. (Again, the Rubidium clock was not used as it creates a huge disparity in price between the two.) During one of the blind tests Mike might listen back and forth between DACS for 15 minutes, and then take a five minute stretch break to clear his mind, and then go back to the test to continue to evaluate. Quite near the end, he had a six right out of eight trials score. I told him, "Mike, that's 75%, that's statistically valid and damned good. You've been at it for a long time now; you should stop right here." But the Anax determination kicked in and he wanted to go fo two more to make a 10 series trial.

He missed the next one.


We agreed he should stop at 6/9, still giving a solid 66% score. There's no doubt he could tell the difference blind; he was just wore out.

His take was the Yggy was the more "incisive" sounding DAC. As we talked, we agreed his experience might be similar to mine where I felt the Yggy was the more dynamic of the two DACs. He didn't have a comment about image width or depth to compare with Bob Katz's impression that the Antelope had a wider and deeper image, which I thought I heard as well.


The Headphones
Unlike other visitors to Big Sound 2015, the two pyrates had significant experience and well formed opinions of most of the new headphones present. Their opinions are quite complex, it really is best to point to their informative—and at 50 minutes, very long—video rather than try to digest an amputated version. And it's a good opportunity to hear how two experienced headphone enthusiasts think talk about modern-day headphones.

I will offer this personal opinion however: Just as Bob Katz thought this crop of ultra-high-end headphones falls short of the state-of-the-art in studio monitors, Mike, Tyler, and I all felt we still have a way to go before headphones are really hitting the nail on the head.

What Bob doesn't have an eye for is how far we've come in the past 10-15 years with headphones, and how these new cans do represent significant corporate learning in getting ever closer to an ideal headphone sound. All three of us thought the companies represented at Big Sound 2015 were making forward strides—It may sometimes be two steps forward and one back, but it is progress...and that's a good thing.

With that, I'll leave you with nearly an hour of pyrate dialog on the poop deck of the good ship Enjoy!


TMRaven's picture


purrin's picture

It occurred to me that that the Schiit Yggdrasil and Antelope Zodiac Platinum DAC could be more similar than different, both being high-end DACs.

I would have liked to see a comparison between one of the above with an ODAC or BM.

Shike's picture

"We agreed he should stop at 6/9, still giving a solid 66% score. There's no doubt he could tell the difference blind; he was just wore out."

That's still a 25% chance of guessing on a low trial test . . .

Tyll Hertsens's picture
He was hearing a difference.

Doesn't surprise me given the very different nature of the DACs.

Shike's picture


Are you familiar with stats? Based on the outcome of his testing, there's still a 25% chance of guessing. That isn't sufficient evidence to make such a conclusion. You are jumping the gun on this.

Take this for example:

We're testing to see if an individual is psychic.

We have two cards, one ace and a joker.
We run nine tests.
Six times they find the ace, three times find the joker.

Would we argue they are psychic? Based on the stats (25% chance of guessing) with the low trials we would not. I know you've been in touch with some statisticians before, I suggest you ask their opinion if you think I'm barking up the wrong tree. The math on it is pretty black and white.

steaxauce's picture

I just want to point out that the results aren't valid if you stop the test when he's doing best, because you greatly increase the probability of getting a positive result by chance if you allow yourself to do this. You have to decide in advance how many trials you're going to do and then stick to it, otherwise you have to throw the results out.

anaxilus's picture

To be precise, Tyll wanted to end the test when it actually ended. The test ended at 8 for everyone as the standard. I was the one who decided to go beyond the test parameters because I knew a certain select group would be predisposed and biased against accepting 6/8 or 75% as statistically valid. It should have occurred to me shooting for 8\10 or 80% wouldn't have mattered either to the same certain people. I'd be happy to do it again if anyone wants to pay for shipping and insurance so I can use my own amp and transport rather than someone else's gear I'm not familiar with.

steaxauce's picture

Thanks for clarifying. I'd still recommend sticking to the planned number of trials and not going over, because as soon as you go over you find yourself playing the same game of deciding to stop when it suits you, based on some criterion unknown to us, and that prevents the experiment from being useful. In this case, I'd say you can just throw out the last trial and say you got 6/8.

The probability of getting 6/8 or better by guessing is (C(8, 6) + C(8, 7) + C(8, 8))/2^8 = 37/256 = approx. 0.143, or a little over 1/7. (Here C(n, k) is the number of ways of choosing k elements from n elements. See the binomial distribution for the formula I'm using.)

1/7 isn't bad, but it's definitely not statistically significant. Usually you use a p-value of .05, but I would want an even lower one for this experiment since, given the number of people doing these blind tests, there's a good chance that some people would do that well by chance. It's also a problem that you attempted the test more than once. You might argue that you did better because you were more focused and more methodical the second day, and that may well be true, but I'd still like to see a very significant result if you're going to cite the best of more than one attempt. It's really hard to do this with just 8 trials. 7/8 gives you p=.035, and you have to get 8/8 for p=.004.

By the way, thanks for posting the HD800 mod. I'm going to be trying it out soon.

anaxilus's picture

Excellent points. The math is the math. As usual, it will be up to individuals to interpret the data and statistics as they see fit. All I have to offer is the data myself and others provided per our performances. We can all have our own ideas as to what it means if anything.

Cool, shoot me a pm if you have any questions about the mod when you do give it a go.


Bob Katz's picture

I'm afraid steaxauce is correct. You can't arbitrarily stop a blind test when you're going great. They don't allow you to do that in Blackjack, do they? Please don't take this as my being against Blind Tests, just to say that there are a lot of gotchas and I cringe when certain posters in our lovely forum say, "Bob, why don't you take a blind test on this?" OK, another month spent on this.

In fact, let's say that Anax got 10 out of 10. I understand that once in every 70 tries (I'm making this up but there is a finite number) you can get 10 out of 10 right. So to prove your statistics scientifically you even have to be more formal than just one listener getting 10 out of 10. Ugggg... I told you blind testing is work!

I'll be happy to organize and take one formal blind test a year and survive.

anaxilus's picture

Just wanted to point out in case you missed my clarification. I arbitrarily continued the test after it was over. There's a difference there from your characterization. If you check your own test sheet, you'll notice the test ends at 8, not 10.

donunus's picture

I don't know what it is with the fatigue kicking in at around 6 trials or so because even with 320 mp3 vs flac foobar ABX, I can get 7/7 and start failing after that.

anaxilus's picture

So can I (under my own conditions). What does that have to do with this particular DAC test exactly? How are they identical?

donunus's picture

Just pointing out that I get listener fatigue with anything that requires concentration and that maybe its the same for you. A perfect score of 6/6 is already good enough to show that there is a difference between the DACs even for people that don't trust in your listening skills. If you were comparing a 64kbps mp3 vs flac thats a different story and fatigue will probably only set in at 1000 trials lol

donunus's picture

or 6/8 for that matter... plus everyone there agrees on what the differences are between the dacs. I don't know whats up with people that can't fathom the possibility that there are actually people in this world that can discern between dacs/ amps and whatnot. This goes back to the stereo review days with julian Hirsch and the all amps sound the same bit. frustrating

anaxilus's picture

Thanks for the clarification! I agree. Forming subjective impressions over time at your leisure using a familiar listening protocol is quite different than objective testing with unfamiliar gear and protocols. Tyll had a great recent article about this.

Psychoacoustics is a powerful effect where the ear and brain adjust to compensate over time to what it's hearing. When I offer impressions normally I try to do it with fresh ears and mindset as quickly as possible using known constants in my own chain to avoid this process. Over enough time and at loud enough levels, your brain wants to adapt to any fatiguing sound to make it more palatable. Treble and bassy phones begin to sound more 'neutral' for example.

Regardless, I hope this helps to illuminate that results of a DBT test can be as much a commentary on the difficult process and interaction of such a test with the subject as it is any sort of conclusion to be generalized or extrapolated from. If differences exist, it is repeated testing under the same conditions by experienced and practiced listeners using capable gear (note the skew of results between hd800 and he1000) that will tease them out when dealing with the most nuanced of sonic cues.

TMRaven's picture

What is their list of headphone preferences? Every other guest had one.

Bob Katz's picture

I'd sure like to know which amp they used to evaluate them. Since the GSX/Headamp was clearly a faster amp than all the others, I'd love to hear their reactions to the LCD-3's on the Headamp. And they should have heard the equalized LCD-3's on my M3. A perfect fit.

JK's picture

Great write up and video !!!

tony's picture

I heard this group was to be careful about, nonsense, they seem like my kind of guys. Certainly not "Blindly loyal Fan Boys" or "prickly types", these are the kind of guys I work with, strivers for careful accuracy.

I can see why Jude ( who is every Manufacturer's Advocate ) would not welcome folks spending time looking for "Runs in the Stockings".

Once again, the Crows are out there crowing away and now the traffic of Cars & Trucks ( must'ave been Rush Hour )

Phew, these guys are Sennheiser lovers, hmm, good value for money people, again my resonance is resonating.

Planer consistency is what I ran into with my Audeze 8 Open demo vs. what I ended up owning . Stoddard mentions things about manufacturing these devices requiring a commitment.

The DAC insights, this time around, brings better focus on what to expect with these devices.

In manufacturing, Quality & Constancy are the Corner Stones of continued success. Toyota nearly killed the US Auto industry with it. ( but we're back ) and Sennheiser seem to have had it for decades. I saw the Sennheiser factory videos, phew, compare with the Audeze or Grado Shop Videos and you'll get the idea that Sennheiser is a Rolex outfit and the others are Garage outfits. The significance is that a person can build off of and improve from the consistent device. ( as these Changstar lads are able to do )

People seem to say the HD580 is mediocre, I think it's Vanilla ( but the best dam vanilla you can buy! ) , I modded my own a few times, it loves modding the way an older woman loves make-up and new clothes.

Tony in Michigan

romaz's picture

I knew I would appreciate the commentary from these guys given the wealth of their experience and they did not disappoint. Nothing at this level is black or white but rather nuances of gray. I know what Mike is saying about the differences he heard between these 2 DACs despite his blind scores possibly showing no statistical significance compared to chance. Fatigue probably did play a role and he might have done better with 4 attempts followed by a long break and then another 4 attempts and so forth.

Regardless, having had the opportunity to evaluate several DACs recently in the controlled setting of my home over a span of time, what I have found is that sometimes the differences that were appreciated were subtle and sometimes they were stark but more often than not, these differences took time to discern and were without question real and reproducible. Sometimes the differences were better appreciated in one part of a track and not another or in one genre of music and not another. If a certain DAC excels in dynamic range, such a DAC may not really shine at all with a studio recording but would certainly come to life with a live recording of the London Philharmonic, for example. If a certain DAC excels in its ability to reproduce transients, than you wouldn't notice this listening to Diana Krall seducingly singing "Peel me a grape." Even if a certain DAC is famous for it's resolving ability, unless you play a complex track rich in detail and nuance, you might not be able to fully appreciate that DAC either.

My opinion is that the best DACs play everything well but without question, there are certain things that will challenge a DAC more than others and those challenges don't necessarily come often. In between those challenging moments, all modern DACs might do equally well which would make one believe they were all on equal footing. My point is the qualities of a fine DAC (or the differences between 2 DACs) are often best appreciated over time and with a broad variety of content rather than a 10 second loop of music. I believe anyone who tells you their jaws dropped during the first 10 seconds of listening to a DAC either are coming from a very bad DAC to start with or else they're feeding you a line. So in this sense, this methodology for blind DAC testing may need to be revised because a blind test where experienced people like Tyll, Bob and Mike are unable to do better than chance has to be considered suspect, in my opinion. If you think about it, in a digital headphone chain (meaning you're not spinning vinyl), you have your source (digital file player or streamer), DAC, amplifier and finally, the headphone. Of these components, the most expensive production headphone that you can purchase today is the Abyss at almost $5,500. The most expensive dedicated headphone amp I am aware of is the Woo WA234 at $16k with stock tubes. The Aurender W20 (digital music player) that Tyll has in his possession is among the most expensive at about $17k. DACs take the cake, however, as there are dedicated DACs that cost $90,000 and more. Obviously, no one would be buying these devices unless there was a difference.

tony's picture

This certainly is the case.

Things settle down after a goodly bit of time. A person needs time to adjust. And a person does adjust. Still, no glaring, obvious or dramatic difference is being reported about DAC sonic performance. Nothing at all like the differences found from phono cartridges. Back in the day we heard night & day differences between Monster Cable and lamp wire, differences that the man on the street could hear.
That very "dramatic difference" is what I was anticipating but DACs don't seem to offer Drama, I haven't yet discovered it. In fact, I was so concerned that I could not hear properly that I had my own hearing evaluated at the University of Michigan Medical in Ann Arbor, Mi. Personally, I'm relieved that the Golden Ears are having the same result.
For now, I'm having to safely conclude that standard DeltaSigma DAC design pretty much gets it right, the better DACs get it a little bit more right but the small improvement has a multi-thousand price.
And, if a person needs better performance, the improved performance comes easiest and most efficiently from the improved transducer and headphone design.
Phew, it's taken me 4 or more years to finally get to this level of understanding.
Our own Bob Katz may have a perspective of the Professional Authority Creating music designed to be reproduced. He must maintain "Standards", he meets quality levels. He knows what something of his actually sounds like. He isn't allowed to have gear that beautifies his work. Bob Katz needs to see the naked truth. We rely on him to accurately report.
But I need to hit an Average Superb, a wide Average, maybe not an outstandingly Superb ( at any cost ). I can achieve this at the $1,000 level by careful gear selections. ( which is where Tyll came in ).
My professional years in Audio gave me the confidence to know and accept "when to say when" ( as Jason Stoddard describes it ).
This Big Sound 2015 brings me peace, I feel free from the Neurosis that my gear is lacking and the Psychosis that my little Odac isn't quite as useful as a $10,000 MSB Analog.
Now, I'm free to find a HD800 in Black & Gold, which I may get on my next trip to Germany.
Big Sound 2015 hasn't free'd me from my craving to purchase!

Tony in Michigan

SleepModezZ's picture

"Obviously, no one would be buying these devices unless there was a difference." That's not really valid economics. You would have to say: Obviously, no one would be buying these devices unless they thought that there was a difference. And many think that they can hear a difference while in a real blind test they would not. Some just buy the "best available" to make sure that they do not miss on anything.

Surprisingly many are affected by advertising, while we should know better. In medicine people pay to get treatments that do more harm than good because they believe that they do good for them. So people do not actually have to be able to hear any difference to pay thousands of dollars more - and still be totally happy with their purchases. Owning luxury products oozing of quality can be very rewarding - even if they do not sound any better than a product costing a fraction of its price.

Maybe many reason, as you do, that there must be a difference because people are not fools who pays for nothing. While economics often presupposes rational decision makers - homo economicus - there are now much evidence that real people are often quite the opposite. People often do pay more for products that are not better than the cheaper products. (I have not read it, but a "Predictably Irrational" by Dan Ariely seems like an entertaining book on this subject.)

You showed that you have extremely good ears and listening skills, but we could still ask if the differences that you heard were worth thousands of dollars? Were the more expensive equipment better, or just different?

romaz's picture

I agree with you that what you say happens. The placebo effect that you allude to is undoubtedly real as your preconceived ideas and emotions regarding a product can definitely affect your judgement and proper blind testing can effectively bring this to light.

With respect to DACs, there is no doubt in my mind there are differences. Whether these differences, as subtle as they may be, are worth "thousands", well that is an individual value judgement more than anything else, isn't it? I question the business practice of a certain DAC company that is charging $15k for a femto clock upgrade but who am I to argue the wisdom or judgement of those who insist this upgrade is worth it to them? The market will generally dictate whether what a company charges for their product is appropriate and sustainable and it is interesting to note that this certain company has been in business for many years with their business model.

zobel's picture

The analysis of these cans was very succinct, interesting, honest, and very helpful. Having each of your inputs here was a real bonus, and really shed more light on what these headphones can and can't do in this setting.

I'm especially interested in the correlation of preferred sound signature to the measured frequency response, and the current favored target curve. It would be interesting to note other measurements that can used to point out differences and preferences between the cans on trial here.

It is also very interesting to see the variability between units of particular models. I've heard that even the venerable Sennheiser HD 600 have undergone changes to driver manufacturing over the years they have been in production. People have reported quite noticeable changes in their sound. Equipment reviews can differ a lot, depending on product consistency, which generally leads people to distrust the reviewer when their experiences and opinions disagree with his. Tony's comment of how lack of quality control and product consistency in the auto industry eventually is found out by consumers, and has a real effect on sales, is well taken. I also agree with him that Sennheiser has an overall excellent track record in QC. The human touch is often necessary in crucial steps in high end headphone manufacturing, and is performed by highly skilled craftspersons (more often women at Sennheiser). There will be variability in drivers, and the best companies know this, and carefully measure and match each pair that pass muster, so that each pair of cans will have drivers that are as identical as possible. This you tube video is a factory tour of the entire production line of the HD 800, and illustrates
the precision employed, and the testing done for quality control:

You might have already seen this, if not, be sure to check it out!
Do you think Sennheiser will come out with an HD 850 that incorporates the fixes the mods address?

Good to see you looking well Tyll. Hope you are feeling good again.

Tyler Schrank's picture

It's not much of a secret these days that the HD600/650 went under some silent revisions that DID change their sound a bit.

That said, they do not have the same type of regular, slight variance that many planar headphones seem to have. Tyll actually measured my HD650, and though slightly modded, it measured surprisingly close to his pair. As did Anax's stock HD800, a newer pair, and Tyll's older HD800.

I've heard three HE1000s now, and they all had slight, but subjectively noticeable differences. I have seen some public and private measurements from 3rd parties on various OPPO planars and also noticed production variability. You won't get that on the HD600/650/800 to NEAR that extent, and it's important to not mix that up with silent revisions over time. Hope that helps. :)

donunus's picture

About Blind testing, the hard part when concentrating to discern between things may also have to do with right brain left brain functionality. When one listens to music and enjoys it, he is using the right side of the brain. When one is trying to be analytical, the left brain starts working. The hard part is getting a good balance of left and right brain functionality at the same time. This is why people say they CLEARLY hear differences in sound quality between equipment yet can still fail a blind test. We are all in this to enjoy the music and tickle our right brain. The left brain can go to hell for all I care lol. Then the annoying part is when people call placebo hahahaha. I hardly think that people like Tyll and Anax that live and breathe audio can still be fooled by placebo.

SleepModezZ's picture

If people would "CLEARLY hear differences in sound quality between equipment" they would not fail in a blind test. It just don't make any sense to attribute some qualities to one sound reproducing system, and then other qualities to another system, and then say that those are valid attributions after failing to differentiate between the systems in an blind test. Left side of the brain, right side of the brain - don't matter at all.

Concentration (and its possible negative consequences) happens only because it is difficult to tell which system is which. If it would be easy - to either side of the brain - you would not need to concentrate. That is just what happens in easy blind listening test - fatigue won't be kicking in and the identification of systems can be done really quickly.

The placebo effect in medicine is not something that only affects some, while some, less gullible individuals, are immune to. I remember reading of one test where all subjects that were influenced by placebo were eliminated from the next trial. You should have less placebo effect in the next trial, right? Wrong. There were as much of placebo effect in the trial with the screened subjects. Placebo effect in listening tests is not the same as placebo effect in responses to medicines, but I would guess that you should not expect some people to be immune to the effect in listening tests - no matter how experienced listeners they are. Maybe Toole said something about this in his presentation that was linked to from an article here a while ago?

donunus's picture

Don't underestimate the power of the left and right brain as it applies to this. You may be able to enjoy music more when not analyzing and the magic of one dac can make you enjoy the music even more than the other but once you start stressing and trying to pinpoint what makes it better, you shift to the left brain and all that magic goes away. I know its hard to imagine for science people but there are things in this world that haven't been explained by science yet. Some people are good at shifting between left and right brain and can do this with more training though.

SleepModezZ's picture

It goes over my head how it can be possible to hear and describe differences between two systems, and then fail to identify which is which.

According to you, for some reason the "right side of the brain" seems capable to eloquently attribute different qualities to different sound sources in a sighted environment, but then it is incapable to identify *when* it is hearing one or the other in a blinded environment. How could that be even possible?

Blinding a listening environment should not blind "the right side of the brain" - it just blinds the knowledge of the sound source. All differences in sound should be as clear in blinded setting as they are in a sighted setting. The concentration and all other "left side of the brain" butting in is just a consequence of the hardness of the task of differentiating the sources.

You seems to think that it goes like this: Blinded setting -> "left side of the brain" butting in -> hard to identify two sounds what would otherwise be easy to tell apart.

I think it goes like this: Hard to identify two sounds -> concentration, analyzing and even fear of failure kicks in -> failure in identification is attributed to the "left side of the brain butting in". I agree that trying really hard can have a negative effect on performance, but, no, it is not the reason for the failure. The real reason for failing is the obvious one: The differences in the sources are so small that it is just plain hard to notice them.

"Brain-games" are an effect of difficulties, not the source of them. They are not even a necessary effect of blind listening, only of the difficulties in identifying the sources: Trying hard to find something, then finding something and becoming sure that you can hear a difference, just to be shown that you were wrong, and getting frustrated and fatigued with it all.

Mental fatigue happens when something is difficult and the person (or his/her brain) tries to put more effort into it. Some research with patients with fibromyalgia showed more activation of their brains as a whole compared to healthy subjects when doing some mental tasks. One hypothesis was that the brain tries to compensate for the difficulties they were having in completing the tasks. Something like that might be happening in these listening tests also. "The left side of the brain" butting in is just the brains way to compensate for a difficult task. It won't happen if the task is easy and can be done effortlessly.

Some sort of blinding is necessary for getting valid information. Toole's presentation had enough evidence for that claim. The blinding could be achieved with other, less stressful, ways if necessary. You could give more time, use equipment that the listener is familiar with, give fake sight information etc. But the blinding is necessary in one form or other.

donunus's picture

Hey, I'm not a scientist. It is just an opinion based on observation of human behavior. Artists have more right brain function while mathematicians more left brain while engineers are somewhere in between combining creativity and analysis. Now as to how that relates with this is I won't explain anymore because I've already tried to and failed so I'm done here.

donunus's picture

Last comment has to be this. Imagine yourself as two different people in one. When you start analyzing you become mr left. When you enjoy music you are mr right brain. Mr Right brain doesn't know how to do abx tests but likes one dac over the other. Nuff said hehehe

donunus's picture

Ahh add to that. To be a combo of Mr left and Mr Right, both of them have to develop a form of telepathy and that is not an easy task for them to be in sync. Do you know Telepathy? ROFL

iAmback's picture

The best lesson, IMO, was what Hertsens noted near the beginning of the vid.: regarding the challenges and psychology of blind tests.
As far as Changstar gang ... effin' YAWN!!!
Anax, in his conversation style, reminds one of Eddie Murphy impersonating a nerdy white guy.

But, in all reality, I gotta play fair: in terms of ANY of BS 2015 participants thus far, it's shit from shinola: I really can't tell one apart from the other. They all use the same confusing vocabulary, syntax and "grammar". About on par with the typical dime-a-dozen review -- all goin' off the same formulaic style manual.

IF is a part of Stereophile ... maybe JGH's long-ago-formulated audio glossary and usage guides need to carefully reviewed before any other clown embarrasses the parent TEN Network.

(P.S. I read/watched this BS 2015 "episode" on the throne, with my iPad; but after I squeezed out the turds, and wiped the brown mess, I paused YouTube ... but I promise to resume when nature calls 'nother no. 2)

purrin's picture

Good point. That's why Changstar also does measurements. Probably more public measurements done of the Yggdrasil than any other DAC out there.,2772.0.html,2405.msg66543.html#msg66543

Bob Katz's picture

I haven't had time to watch the video yet, but I read your Pyrates intro! Good going, guys. Not sure if Anax's results were real or just plain luck.

I think the way to crack the audible differences between those DACs is with a special test signal. I have one which might help. If you can tell the differences with the test signal there will always be (rational) doubt that they cannot be heard with real music as the differences would be masked. And that's probably the thing Tyll, Anax, and I learned comparing those two DACs: Even though they have strong objective measured differences, those differences may be of an order of magnitude too small to discern with the human ear.

tony's picture

Exxxxactly. The darn things (DACs) don't "move the needle", so why bother?, at least for the average Joe.

The Bob Katz's of the World need to concern themselves with every detail, us sitting at the Bar listening to Jamey Johnson can only hope that Jamey, the Recording folks, the Mixing folks and the Mastering folks all get it right. I've met Jamey Johnson, he doesn't sound at all like his performing voice, he sounds wonderfully musical while he's performing, sitting on a 747 he sounds like any other person. He can carry a tune and will sing a duet with you ( just having fun ) but his PA makes him sound fabulous.

I guess I'm say'n and thinking that the resulting master created is what we listen to but we have no idea what it should sound like. How can we?, that sound is a creation of the Sound Engineers, the performers are raw hamburger in the hands of the sound engineering Chiefs.

So, now, I'm running my own Sound. I cook it up to please me and guests. Do I need to go further?

Still, I love to learn if folks can actually discern DACs, it would give missing credibility to folks like MSB ( who Chesky is now using ).

Till then, DACs are a Stick of Butter, a slice of White Bread, nothing at all to write home about.

Even Jason Stoddard seems to regard DACs as boring.

Tony in Michigan

anaxilus's picture

I think that could be a dangerous assumption to make. The difficulty in discerning differences between some of the best DACs available using gear and music you don't know somehow translating into being a pointless exercise to consider a DAC that could offer a clearly perceived benefit over another (using your own gear and music under normal listening conditions) is a dangerous logical leap to make.

In the end, if one is interested, they just have to listen for themself. Whether as a DBT or a normal listening condition is up to them to decide what matters. Whether that's finding what best pleases their own auditory senses, or finding what is satisfactory enough based on select third party statistics they might value over their own perceptions.

castleofargh's picture

well anax has been unofficial sales rep for the Ygg shiit in a very lame and exaggerated way from day one, in fact he's the only reason why so many people even know about that gear.
don't know how much money was saved, or if it came for free from shiit, or if it's "only" a real fanboy in action(after all they do exist)? but it's always a little revolting to see that kind spectacle.

so I can't say it was a massive surprise when I saw that he would insist so much to do "whatever" including the Ygg and still in the end come up with flattering comments about it. because hey, if you went to big sound with so much gears, of course you would want to spend your time listening to the stuff you have at home... or not.

the blind tests have no statistical significance with such small numbers, it's not a comment from the objective army, it's basic statistic anybody throwing dice understands. doesn't mean it's a useless exercise at all, but going for "he heard a difference", IMO that's really not a claim that should be made.
and when we hear something, we know we heard it, but we still fail a blind test, there are those like me thinking that I might have been wrong and maybe that difference wasn't there, or at least wasn't as obvious as I thought. but others just go, "the test brings problems, I know what I heard".
funny how the determining factor ends up being ego/confidence. ^_^

now a very legit and important point, blind test like anything else is something we get better at with time and practice. people shouldn't trust sighted evaluations, but just the same they shouldn't go claim there are no difference just because they failed a test!!! both are ignorant. what's tested is us, just as much as the gears, and if a blind test removes a list of biases, it does not remove the human, it's still a subjective test under controlled conditions. some days we will do better than others, that's us, not the gears. so both sides should be careful when coming up with conclusions.

in fact, he heard a difference, or he didn't, does that even matter? there are differences, at some point we could line up twice the same model and there would still be differences. what matters is the magnitude of them and how close they are of our hearing threshold.
those stuff all cost an arm, and people have at least a very hard time telling them apart, doesn't that speak volumes about what we all already know? that DACs are the best element of a sound system and has a legit claim at being technically able of audible transparency. so paying a lot to improve on what is already the best part, is of course bound to have from super small to no impact. that's plain logic, and a DAC that would have obvious audible differences, I wouldn't want it. it would obviously mean it's not transparent.

and IMO an Odac, O2, and a hd600 should have been in the mix from day one. stuff that measure ok and don't cost much to put things in perspective.

tony's picture

Brilliant logic, Sir,

Applause from :

Tony in Michigan

Schiit's picture

With respect to Anax, a few clarifications:

1. He paid for his.
2. He did not particularly like our DACs before Yggdrasil.
3. Neither he, nor the pirates, are marketing shills for Schiit Audio. They arrived at their own decisions. I had no idea what they'd think. Early commentary was not encouraging.
4. As far as the metrics show, Mike, and the pirates are not the largest source of Yggdrasil sales now--the referrers are much more broad.

So, there is no conspiracy. There is no need for tinfoil hats. There is no huge marketing budget designed to reduce people to slavering zombies looking for their next Schiit fix. (In fact, we probably spend less money on marketing as a percentage of revenue than any other audio company.)

I know you will not believe this, but we sell a lot of products for a simple reason: high value. Whether or not a $2300 DAC can be considered high-value is, of course, up for debate. But then again, we'd never try to sell you on it, nor imply that you will achieve audio nirvana through it—in fact, we have no salespeople at all:

castleofargh's picture

thanks for clarifying, it wasn't a critic against you guys. if I sounded like I was balaming you, sorry, I wasn't.

from this and anax's post, it seems like it really was the fan talking and nothing more.

castleofargh's picture

lol "balaming". I rox.

audiofly5's picture

''and IMO an Odac, O2, and a hd600 should have been in the mix from day one. stuff that measure ok and don't cost much to put things in perspective.''

Measures good does not = sounds good.

'Brilliant logic' does not often work in high-end audio.

soundmix's picture

I agree 100%.

Eric_C's picture

So, in sum: sighted tests and blind tests (these ones, at least) are both invalid?
And yet, due to listener fatigue, the blind tests can't be done in large enough numbers for statistical significance; we'll never be able to do blind testing to satisfy that criterion. This effectively rules out all listener-based testing, which leaves us with instrument-based measurements of systems.
Still there is the claim that our instruments are unable to measure everything listeners perceive in audio. But this is unfalsifiable on both sides--listener-based and instrument-based--so in the end, according to your argument, there is no point in discussing anything with the other side. In fact, there seems to be no need for projects like Big Sound, and no need for you to have read it since it was a doomed endeavour from the beginning.

castleofargh's picture

no test is ever useless. my point was about the conclusions we can or cannot make. measurements should be treated as the measurement of a specific device under specific conditions, and not as absolute truth at all time(even more so when measuring headphones or IEMs where each sample might be different and might interact with the testing gears differently).

the same way, a blind test should be treated for what it is. it would be wrong to use a test based on statistics while at the same time disregarding the need for statistical significance to draw conclusions.
with the stats of the all group as data, we will start to have significant numbers. and some stuff will show up I'm sure, like how the hd800 "helps" noticing changes. most likely an impedance thing, but that's conjecture. the test won't demonstrate that part. only that with the hd800 people will have better results discriminating those amps.
and other stuff might come out of it all, it's not useless, but we're still limited to statistics, and some guy will always believe he has magic ears and could have done better. nothing we can do about mutants. ^_^

I find abx and stuff like that mighty useful, to decide what compression format I should bother to use on my portable device, if I should care about the processing method of my EQ and what it does to phase? and plenty of little stuff like that(first world problem!).
I test myself and reach conclusions for myself. great stuff!

anaxilus's picture

Wow! I had no idea the amount of sway and influence I had on Yggy sales. Especially considering I have no presence on the largest audio forum in the world, or 99% of all the audio forums in existence. My powers of influence are truly astounding when you consider the facts!

Apart from that interesting perception you have there, I actually agree with most of your points. Except I had no hand in designing the test protocol or deciding what gear was to be used or compared. If I did get to select the gear involved (like my personal reference gear), who's to say the results wouldn't have been even more statistically interesting? ;)

For comparison's sake:

My home rig: PC (Jriver)/vintage CD Transport>Yggy>custom 2A3x4 parallel tube amp>HD800.

DAC test rig: PS Audio P10 regenerator+Synology NAS>Aurender W20>ATI DMM AES digital 'reshaper' junction box>Test DACs>Schiit Ragnarok+miles of Cardas cables>HD800.

So yeah, that's not the same as "what I have at home" and I didn't pick the gear for this test. Take that for whatever it's worth.

Yes, I still think the $3,000 Yggy sounds better for my preferences than the $13,000-$15,000 Antelope rig even with the $10,000 clock. I'll be writing an impression thread on our site comparing both citing specific examples using precise tracks and times to listen for differences if anyone has the opportunity to compare for themselves. You can also find plenty of criticisms I offer on every product I talk about, including the Yggy!

I use the gear I use because it sounds the best to me, period. If I used and recommended gear I could only get for free or special revier "deals" on, my personal reference rigs (portable and desktop) would look like something you might more commonly see promoted on other sites and the components would change as frequently as the weather. My gear choices have stayed stale for years. If someone wants me to give a voice to their gear, it simply has to sound better to me than what I have as a reference. Being just new, different or part of an endless loop of seasonal sidegrades doesn't cut it for most who frequent our site.

iAmback's picture

I'll bet there's someone from HydrogenAudio (or other objectivist camp) ... waitin' to pounce on ...
"You can also find plenty of criticisms I offer on every product I talk about, including the Yggy!"
... with the fancy-soundin' logical fallacy argument about using a straw man.
Well, FUKK the objectivists!
As long as you have fun, who the fukk cares ... I'm mean look at all the fukkin' goodies TH gets to fukkin' play with (w/o having to empty his fukkin' pockets). Sure he's gots to sendz much of it backs ... but new n' 'proved review gear be fukkin' UPSn' in every other .. all those LUSTY-as-fukk unboxings!!

Back to point: the art is in the NUANCES ... CONSPIRATOR'S plan: how do I keep audience trust (across the spectrum: from millionaires to Joe 6-packs) and still gets manufs. to sendz me loan gear on their tab.
Aristotle wrote about this in Politics; still the last word.
He also said a thing or two about eudaimonia, which is why Schiit and Anax will have a new favorite plot device before too long ;)

Meanwhile, I gotta give Schiit some fukkin' credit:


21 Bits, No Guessing: Mission-Critical D/A Technology:

When doctors are trying to diagnose whether you have gas or cancer from MRI results, or when the military is trying to ensure a missile hits an ammo dump and not a nunnery next door, they don’t use “24 bit” or “32 bit” delta-sigma D/A converters. Instead, they rely on precision, multibit ladder DACs, like the Analog Devices AD5791. This allows them the bit-perfect precision they need for critical applications, rather than the guesswork of a delta-sigma. We chose this same critical technology for Yggdrasil. Following these unique D/A converters are sophisticated discrete JFET buffers and summers.

No nuances in them keywords. Be a little more subtle, next time, or you gets foundz outs ;)

castleofargh's picture

out of the rage, small question, why go for mods when at least with a headphone like a hd800, most things could be done with EQ?
I understand that some things can't be done with EQ, some resonance points or many things for speakers in a room would need more than EQ.
but the hd800 is pretty clean and measures pretty well, so isn't FR the only real problem?

I'm asking because trying to change sound with mods is hard, and most of all, I usually end up with something slightly different for both ears because it's so hard to make identical changes twice. and most of the time I just ruin the sound. I'll end up with the signature I want, but ruin the air flow and get mad distortions in the low end or stuff like that. I'm not good at this that's much is clear.
then I EQ to get the same as whatever change the mod made, and up until now, sometimes I can't seem to tell the difference(I record the output and abx ^_^), but most of the time the EQ alone seems better to me(and obviously easier and more precise).

for cheap crap with problems I do see great potential benefits to mods. but I genuinely wonder about mods and their benefits for good headphones like the hd800?

tony's picture

Small mods can be a good thing.

Goodyear Eagle tires for your Car, Rain-x on the windscreen,
Water catching floor mats, small things that help.

Let em tweak the 800s, it probably keeps em out the BAR.

Tony in Michigan

ps. besides, they might discover something useful to report

Tyll Hertsens's picture
When Bob and I EQed the HD 800, we included a small cut in the 6kHz region to rid us of the resonance there. We found, depending on the program material, that that resonances was more or less prominent and the EQ needed readjusting. So, I think it's better to treat the problem acoustically when possible.
Madmollusk's picture

My take away concerning DACs thus far: even golden-eared audio professionals (like Tyll and Bob), with decades of experience in the audio industry, can’t reliably discern the difference between top-end DACs. I agree, however, that the blind A/B testing protocol might (due to stress) skew the results a little. But let’s face it folks, that’s just another way of saying: the differences between DACs are so minuscule that even low-level stressors can thwart the process of reliably identifying one DAC from another. This, however, is not the case with headphone amps. Most of Tyll’s gusts (under the same stressful blind A/B test conditions) were able to reliably identify headphone amps, especially while using the HD800. And this comports with my experience as a headphone hobbyist. Put another way: Recording quality obviously matters. Headphones obviously matter. Headphone amps matter, most of the time at least. DACs may, arguable, only matter to folks who have trained themselves to detect minor or possibly illusory differences in sound.

tony's picture

I presume that was Mr.Stoddard responding to suggestions of dubious motives.

I've been unbashfully promoting Schiit for these last two or three years, I haven't gotten one thing from them for it, except a poke with a sharp stick about my strange posting style. ( probably deserved ) Why?, good value! sure, but there's more : darn good quality, consistancy of performance, the company manages to stay in business, the owners keep in touch with us the product owners, and the owners don't seem to be BS artists. The only thing not to like is the name ( Geez, Schiit? paaaaleeeeezzzeee ) I have to be careful to refer to my little amp as an Asgard2. If my CEO finds out I'm buying pieces of Schiit there'll be trouble ( I own 4 ). For christ's sake call yourself Stoddard&Moffat. Phew! In my world a piece of Schiit is a YUGO and my world is Trillions of Dollars bigger than Audio. ( not trying to be difficult here ). Anyway, it's probably clear that Schiit isn't paying me (either) to shill for em. ( although I would accept a nice bottle of 25Y Islay or a black T-Shirt with the power sw. on the back )

Tony in Michigan ( Great Lakes division of Schiit's unpaid promoters )

ps. can I get my free Yggy now?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Tony, I think you need to post less.
soundmix's picture

Anax is so defensive in this video. Let's face it, if it takes that much effort to even possible give some hint of statistical meaning of audible differences between the two DACs, for almost everyone and for all intents and purposes they *ESSENTIALLY* sound the same. I love Big Sound 2015 and what Innerfidelity has done here but would have also liked to see cheaper amps and dacs such as O2 & ODAC. I would also expect Anax to have an extremely difficult time calling out an ODAC vs. YGG. It really puts in perspective all the flowerly language used to describe the differences between what he thinks he hears and what he can't reliable identify once the case of the DAC can't be seen. Also, he can't show his face in the video? At the very least I respect ones opinions, but showing some creepy socks and legs instead of owning up to your thoughts fully on camera like everyone else is very lame.

iAmback's picture

...I think Anax GENUINELY / SINCERELY believes all the stuff he writes/posts/says....
The psychopathology can be termed: cognitive dissonance ... (or worse) confabulation.
I mean .... over at Head-Fi ... look at his stats:
Status: BANNED
Location: Orange County, CA
Forum Post Count: 12255
Join Date: 3/11/10 [mm//dd/yy]
Last post (at Ban??): 9/27/12

Jesus Harold Christ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 12,255 posts in 2 1/2 years ...

I know the dude like to yap ... but folks: that's some crazy, social-media-junkie addiction ... (funny how one can extract "addition" from "addiction"; and take its antonym: SUBTRACTION). Which is precisely you get: busy with all them posts ... who-the-fukk's got time for, say, hygiene? I'll bet Mansilla saved the lil' faceless pyrate a couple of hundred $ in Charmin ass wipes alone. 'Nough for an ODAC + Focal Spirit.
But 12,255 posts in 2 1/2 short-as-shitt years (!!!) ... HOLY revenue-earnin' Google AdSENSE content ... Jude n' Amos and da rest of da gang ... they owes back BIG TIME!!!!!!

tRuE008's picture

I thought there was supposed to be a new Anax mod, and will be compared to the current mod on Tyll's HD800? Kind of looking forward to this because I am in the process of modding my HD800.

Also, is the Anax mod the only mod you have on your HD800 Tyll? What is the cable?

ultrabike's picture

Just wanted to say I just finished going through the video and really enjoyed listening to Tyll's, Tyler's, and Mike's impressions and thoughts.

Cheers guys!

Jazz Casual's picture

Phew! No, it's just an aberration. What a relief because I happen to like this site. These posts are a tedious reminder of why I have zero interest in frequenting the argh! site. The only thing that has piqued my interest in this Big Sound 2015 instalment is the so called "very good and legit reasons" for Anax not showing his face in the photograph and presumably the video. Is he hideously ugly? Wanted by the police? Does he fear for his safety? Or is it something more pedestrian like not wanting his work colleagues to know how outspoken he really is... online? Perhaps he perversely thinks that it will somehow increase his notoriety beyond the gated internet community that is Changstar? I mean really, we're talking nerds and head-fi here. It's hardly subversive stuff. Who gives a rats arse what he looks like? Still, it might have been instructive to put a face to the pseudonym just for the sake of knowing what an insufferable, obsessive know-it-all actually looks like.

AustinValentine's picture that Tyll wouldn't have allowed Anax to remain off camera that much if it weren't a really solid, quite legitimate reason. I doubt that he wanted to film Sasafrasquatch legs for that long. I mean, it's possible, but...

Also, keep in mind that almost all of the negative (and in some cases flatly vitriolic) comments here are from people who aren't Changstar Pyrates and don't frequent the site. Not that the pyrates don't have plenty of curmudgeonliness to spare - but it seems to me that they keep most of the bad behavior *in-house* at their site where the unwashed tone of the discourse can match their general ethos.

Put another way: most of the pyrates are pretty "well behaved" when they've gone ashore for leave. Access to entertainment, commerce, food and drink are important. The fighting really starts up when they're back out at sea.

anaxilus's picture

"Still, it might have been instructive to put a face to the pseudonym just for the sake of knowing what an insufferable, obsessive know-it-all actually looks like."

Well, there's nothing stopping you or NWAVguy from posting your pics is there? That should suffice.

All I'll say is that while some readers of audio blogs or other forums may feel self entitled to have things their way whenever they see fit, others might know there are more important things in life than arguing about audio or statistics.

Unfortunately, as great as the internet is, it can be a tool for unscrupulous people to abuse. I've met tons of geat people at meets and other shows and many people know me in these circles. Some of those people closer to me know why I made that decision. Even though many of us here will continue to agree to disagree vigorously about audio, blind testing, whatever, these are small things in the grander scheme of the world. As a person like you and everyone else, I just ask that my decision be respected even if you might not appreciate or understand it.

Unfortunately that's the best answer I can give you at the moment. Feel free to imagine whatever pic would help you best demonize my persona in the meantime.

musiconic's picture

I think we all respect Tyll enough that he made the right call on what was a good enough reason to not appear on video. I guess there is a sense of letdown and disrespect of the viewer by having us just watch Anax's feet for almost an hour. I personally would have vowed out of the opportunity myself and let Tyll use the money to fly someone else out who would fully commit to presenting their thoughts on camera. There would have been plenty of very well qualified people who would have jumped at the opportunity.

drWho2's picture

Anax, w/ or w/o the "mask" makes no diffs to me.
It's his TOTAL PERFORMANCE that was lacking. A confusing mess of ubertalk, technobable and hyperbole.
Hands was equally unimpressive, but in a different way.
I don't think any of these folks are deliberate disingenuous ... it's their natural state.
Maybe, one day, the puppies will be paper-trained. 'Till then, patience and compassion, folks...

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I want to add that when Mike and I talked about his need not to be photographed, I became very concerned as I arranged for his participation because I did want his input. It was my idea to do the thing with the shoes and just photo his feet. As the video went on I tried to get his hand movements as additional visual input. It didn't work very well, and looked rather odd. My apologies to Mike and readers for the weird experience.

Not sure how I could have done it otherwise...other than just letting Mike talk off camera. But rest assured, after hearing Mikes reasons for remaining anonymous I absolutely agreed the request must be honored.

Thanks loads for being here, Mike. Sorry if I caused you to look a little weird(er).

ashutoshp's picture

I hope for constructive comments hereon rather than personal assaults.
In keeping with the general excellence of BS 2015, Hands is marvelous and I appreciated his honesty about the HD650 being superb. I really liked that photo with Hands (and feet!).
I am going to add Anax as a reliable voice as far as I am concerned. Along with Tyll's endorsement, he also seems best suited to pick apart sonic differences between equipment considering he's been using the HD800 for such a long time.

anaxilus's picture

That's entirely unnecessary Tyll. You're the man and I am full of gratitude for the opportunity! I'm pretty sure a lot of the negative feedback voiced thus far was predestined and it wouldn't have mattered if you had filmed a ceiling light or Barney the dinosaur the entire time.

I think with all the relevant data and discussion you've compiled with the Big Sound 2015, the fact that some have chosen to focus on personal attacks and conspiracy theories speaks for itself. This is the internet after all.

Priidik's picture

At times I have taken on a-b ing sources the real differences are arising in days, not hours to me. By then the differences among dacs are obvious to me.
The brain remembers, deveops reflexes or something.

Jazz Casual's picture

Unlike you Anax, I wasn't a participant in this project. Had I been, then I would have appeared in Tyll's video just like everyone else - with you being the bizarre exception of course. Like you and the vast majority of people who participate in online fora, I choose to do so anonymously. There's no double standard in that.

donunus's picture

The comments from people that don't listen to audio and just blab away using science as an excuse always happens when peopletalk about ab tests or cable comparisons. facepalm facepalm facepalm

drWho2's picture,2346.0.html

The Changstar TS is none other than Anax ...


Here's most of the first post:


« on: April 28, 2015, 02:50:46 PM »
ReplyQuote (selected)
Buy it NOW!

If you are a resolution whore like me, an HD800 owner who didn't buy it just for looks or comfort, or at the end game of your ToTL audio journey. BUY THIS NOW!!

I haven't A/B'd with my PWD yet directly, but I know it is now for sale. It's that stark and obvious a difference to me.

This is the first time in a long time I've had to recalibrate my brain to how much new information I am hearing and I just want to keep listening to all my old stuff.

Beware! This DAC will not make your shitty recordings sound like they have been properly remastered or hide their flaws. It is ruthlessly honest. If your music is clean, smooth and liquid it will sound so but with the clarity, resolution, ambient cues, inner harmonics and tonal color dynamics kicked up beyond your last reference DAC. If your music is harsh, gritty or digital sounding on the master (not from your crappy sigma delta or poorly filtered Sabre DAC) it will let you know just how bad it is.

This thing slaughters the MSB analog/diamond/platinum/rhodium/beryllium whatever DAC. If you want a warm and easy going tone imparted on all your music no matter how it was recorded please buy an MSB and DO NOT buy this DAC.

Full review and A/B comparisons coming at the end of next week...

"...not from your crappy sigma delta or poorly filtered Sabre DAC"
Hmmm ... so Yggy is NOT crappy because it's NOT sigma delta ... forget about all the other topological goodness goin' on inside???
Meridian, Boulder, Antelope, Ayre, Classe, Bryston, Bel Canto, Musical Fidelity, A&K, etc. use sigma delta DACs in their CURRENT top models.

Anax: you're being EXPOSED for what you are ... a two-bit, bargain-basement, bottom-of-the-barrel, carpetbagging SALESMAN.

Don't believe me, folks? Then please remember to BUY IT NOW!!

anaxilus's picture

Hmm...let's see if we can find the terms Delta-Sigma (D/S) anywhere in that quote. Nope, can't say that I see it. I seem to be comparing more directly to the last implementation of the MSB Analog DAC I heard a year ago. Does MSB use D/S chips now? That's news to me.

For the sake of full 'exposure', which of those DACs does your company shill? ;)

For full disclosure, my reference portable DAC just happens to be a SABRE DAC.

The only thing that's being exposed here beyond the scope of Tyll's event and the wonderful people who have participated, is the number of people with nasty personal agendas that transcend logic, facts or simple audio enjoyment.

anaxilus's picture

Read that specific portion about your sigma-delta/delt-sigma portion incorrectly. My apologies. I certainly stand buy that the Yggy sounded better than most of the D/S implementaions I had heard for my tastes. Not sure why expressing my opinion would be so bothersome to you if it's what I believe. You can certainly choose to ignore it if it bothers you that much

drWho2's picture

There would be no need to post again had you been able to correct the original FU.
Unfortunately, the IF Blog engine's MAJOR HANDICAP embarrasses and HUMILIATES the crap outta its hardworking members by SETTING IN STONE spelinng misstaks, ect...
It's been a major PITA since this blog first shat its diapers.
Tyll ... godzdammit!!! get this effin' blog's engine fixed so us posters can edit our FUs after they've be posted.
Stereophile, Audiostream, and other TEN Network sites have similar BUT editable blog posts
.... meanwhile, no worries Anax ... the courtesy flush is on me.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I'll check into it.
ultrabike's picture

I get the impression from the comments that folks assume all pyrates are D-S haters.

I like to consider myself a pyrate, and I can say I'm not a D-S hater. In fact I would be surprised if a multi-bit design would technically beat a well implemented PCM1794A design (which I think the Zodiac is). Note the PCM1794A is not a pure D-S approach, but a hybrid.

As far as pyrates being Schiit audio kool-aid drinkers, I can honestly say I agree with some of the things Mike and Jason say, and disagree with some others. For example, I agree that Schiit strives and succeeds in delivering very competitive products in their latest offering iteration and in their respective tier brackets. But do I agree with Mike Moffat about multi-bit DACs being superior and that's why they are used in "mission critical" military stuff? No. That I think is bullshit. And so I take the good and leave the rest. Would Yggy, Zodiac, Bracasti, Ayre, Classe, Bryston, Bel Canto or whatever pricy stuff be for me? Likely outside my pay-grade, and personally proly too much of 0.2187672% improvement for me to care. But I'm honestly all for progress and would love to hear all of the TOTL equipments.

I can say I would likely be happy with just a Modi2/Magni2 combo and call it a day, just as much as I would be happy with an O2/ODAC combo (in fact I ordered an O2 from Massdrop for $70 which I think represents what such an amp should cost vs say $140 w shipping).

Whatever my own ideas are, I do not consider them above anyone, nor do I consider myself the holder of truth or ahead of the curve. IME one is likely to make an ass of oneself when getting those kinds of thoughts. As such, I try to keep an open mind as much as I can and make an effort to respect other people's personal opinions. I try not dismiss, but learn (which is pretty fun) and help while striving to not be disrespectful. Do I succeed? Many times I probably don't. I probably fail fairly miserably at any given time. But I try.

Anyhow, if any would like to give being a "pyrate" a try (or another try), you are more than welcome. I cannot guarantee that it will work out. But in the event that it does, it can be pretty fun IMO.

money4me247's picture

I think that most people with a background in statistics would agree that a single or even two 8-10 trials is way too small a sample size to draw any meaningful conclusions.

Also, when framing conclusions for a experiment, it is important to not have presuppositions. A single 6/9 correct trial is quite reasonable result when doing coin flips, so you have not really provided any significant evidence this his performance is better than chance. Remember that when you flip a coin ten times, you will not get 5/10 every time. It is only after having sufficient number of flips that you will see that the probability of both heads and tails is the same. In the same way, doing a guessing game, it is easily possible that someone can score 6/9 due to nothing but chance.

Drawing the conclusion that his less than ideal results are due to "listener fatigue" rather than just being a chance occurrence is illustrating a pre-bias. You are presupposing that he will score correctly, so you are provide an 'extra' reason when he does not. The score of 6/9 is an entirely possibly outcome during one coin flip trial and does not adequately show that the guesses are better than chance.

The "difficulty" of blind testing seems much more likely due to differences being too inconsistent or small to reliably identify. If you are blind testing something with a significantly large difference between them (such as pizza vs ice cream), no amount of fatigue will cause someone to fail the test. While listener fatigue may be real, the statistical data shown does not have a p-value that is strong enough to say that the results are not due to just random chance, so I don't think you can conclude anything meaningful from this experiment.

Jazz Casual's picture

For what it's worth ultrabike, I appreciate your lack of manic zeal. ;)

drWho2's picture

Don't forget, folks, that the featured video for this Blog entry is on YouTube. The video there has its own comments section -- comments that are ... ahem ... somewhat different in flavor than here at IF.
For starters, lotsa DISLIKES -- much more so than normal for IF.
Next, it seems many more YouTubers are interested in Anax's anonymity.
Don't worry 'bout the YT herd -- I'm like it's like totally like who effin' gives and eff WTF the dude looks like.
Someone at the 'Tube even 'gested "Mike" is celeb Mike Dozer. Well, I suppose Anax does end in "X".

wink's picture

The fact that Anax is not shown with his visage on display should NOT matter. But the fact that it does to some people augments the need for captions on photographs, in spite the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.
I picture Anax as a hirsute dude with at least a black close cropped beard and moustache. Definitely not a Captain Jack Sparrow with ancilliary ornamentation. But, what does that matter...?

What DOES matter here is his personal take on the equipment he auditioned. Very astute observations from the talking feet.

Hans is no slouch either.

Here, I must thank Anax and Tyll for the conception and propagation of the Anax mod for the HD800. My HD800 has Tyll's version applied.
I'm still awaiting Anax's belated and much awaited Mod V3 which has been mooted for some years to surface.

Regards to all, and keep your eardrums dry.