Frequency Response: White & Pink Noise Testing

There are a handful of different types of “colored” noise, white noise has equal dB across the entire frequency spectrum (limited in how high the range is in frequency by the track/album used). While “pink” noise has a perfectly flat line in the audible range with a -20dB drop (at varying slopes/shapes) after 20 kHz.

A perfectly flat line (on the FFT) is what we want to see on this first test (white noise is up first), and both DACs come very close using this method to “flat”. Pink noise is what you see below the first two photographs. Sadly I don’t have equal quality digital files (such as DSD256 as I do for each frequency vs. a sweep or colored noise that I only have in CD quality).

ES9038 Pink Noise Measurement uncorrelated
ES9038Pro DAC – White Noise Test
Burson Play Pink Noise Measurement uncorrelated
Burson Play: White Noise Test

Now let’s look at how a 96kHz 24-bit FLAC pink noise and how this shows us the high frequency roll off.

Burson Play White Noise 96kHz Test
Burson Audio’s Play
ES9038P White Noise 96kHz Test

Now, with the ES9038Pro, you can change the behavior/shape of the high frequency roll-off using FIR filters found in the menus. Each of the 10 or so filters have a noticeable impact on the shape of the FFT. This is one of the examples that show the flexibility of the ES9038P. We can see just from the last two scope captures that the Burson Play does indeed have a higher dBV value at parts of the higher frequency end of the FFT than the ES9038P (this matches what I noticed listening).

Note: I am working on doing frequency response using discrete frequencies as I have them in DSD256. However, I have run into some difficulties getting a fair score on both DACs. I am also working on THD, SNR, Jitter, etc. However, this may have to wait until the next review that is appropriate for. (Not enough interest in the Play now, to justify it).

Thanks for being patient!



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2 thoughts on “DAC Audio Performance Measurements

    • I’ll try and check out that album soon and thanks for the kind words! I wanted to perform more DAC measurements, but I could never find anyone who was comfortable enough with DAC performance measurements to help me validate my numbers. I even asked two of my former Electrical Engineering classmates, neither felt comfortable enough. Measuring amplifiers is much simpler than measuring DAC performance!

      I am working on the Black Gate™ comparison currently, but I’ll try to return Review #3 and add in a section where I change op-amps. The only reason I didn’t do this before was because I wanted to focus most of the review on the DACs themselves, not so much the op-amps. This is why I gave both DACs the best op-amps I had at the time of the review (Sparkos SS3601/SS3602 and Burson’s V6-OPA Classics). If nothing else, I’ll swap op-amps from the Burson Play to the ES9038P and vice versa, looking for a change in the overall voicing of the DACs.

      I always welcome feedback and thanks again for reading Hallman labs!
      Keith H,

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