RTR Ladder DACs

July 15, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

8 comments on “RTR Ladder DACs”

      1. Great review but it did not answer my question. This one you showed says 24bit in specs. Are they lying or as Paul said did the near impossible work to get there?

        1. The only thing that I can suggest then is to contact Alvin Chee at Vinshine Audio
          & ask him about what bit rates his Denafrips -‘Terminator’ DAC is capable of.

          1. Honestly it does not bother me. I trust Paul’s 40 plus years in the business in this case. I have zero interest in swapping out my modified DSD sr for anything else. I was just curious as he made it sound super expensive to do.

  1. Hi Paul,
    with interest and joy I follow your professional as well as entertaining comments on audio subjects. Your respond to the R2R DAC question was a little bit disapointing to me since you explained the principle but did not address the central question why there is at the moment such a hype concerning that technique. Almost all global reviews of serious audio magazines as well as youtuber reviews highlight the R2R DACs and judge them musical superior to the chip dacs. How can that be if it is inferior and technical limited as you stated? Could you comment on that part of the question. Thank you very much and keep on going.

    Best regards

    1. The R2R technology from a technical and measurement standpoint is definitely inferior to an SDM based DAC. As I mentioned in the video, the tolerances required to make 24 bit or higher are just crazy difficult and (basically) impossible to hit so there’s then a lot of fancy approximations etc. that can be played to help.

      That said, I think it’s important to realize that 144dB S/N and dynamic range achievable by modern DACs is beyond silly. No one can appreciate this range so a device that only sort of gets there isn’t really “inferior”. Put another way, imagine using a product that is 98% pure vs. a new one that claims 99.9% purity. The difference between the two is undectable.

      So sound wise, it comes down to technique (as it always does in DACS). How the output stage is handled, the power supply, and all the important sonic tricks we can do that actually have an impact on sound quality. 24 bit vs. 32 bit is just marketing hype. For audio it doesn’t matter.

      It’s how everything else in the DAC is handled where the magic happens.

    2. I have yet to have the pleasure of trying an R2R, but from the 5 yeas of reading on them they are more musical than most solid state, which really lean towards a more clean, detailed and analytical sound. Solid state can definitely be musical, I adore the Burr Brown chips in my iFi ZEN gear, but I really look forward to the day I can match a good R2R and good tube amp!

      R2R and tube amps are the reason you cannot judge equipment by measurements alone. 😉

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