Author Topic: What are we struggling with in our systems?  (Read 1993 times)

Offline dBe

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What are we struggling with in our systems?
« on: August 07, 2017, 10:13:38 PM »
Other than the huge amount of money that mainstream audio manufacturers would try to convince us that we need More, Better, Newer, Blingier gear, what are the issues that plague our systems when it comes to stellar sound?

For me it is the difficulty in finding the appropriate front end for my system.  I'm beginning that I need to go back to the perfect time I had for years with a very low gain front end, or a transparent passive volume control.

Best my system ever sounded was with the bare bones Cary SLP-50B that I modified.

How many people here run a basic buffer?  I'm open for suggestions.  I have an incredibly transparent passive switched volume control.  Problem is there are times that the system balls have dried up in my experience.

Active?

Gain?

Buffer?

Passive?

I am so, so tired.

Offline richidoo

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2017, 06:22:34 AM »
My DAC has a ballsy output stage, straight into the uncolored SS amps. I'm OK with it so far, speakers bigger priority.

A good tube preamp can be a joy if you can tolerate the tone change and the tube foibles. Maybe you just need a fistful of 6SN7s in your life? Don Sachs makes a fully tweaked Aikido 6SN7 preamp based on Tube4Hifi PCB.  Or buy the Tubes4Hifi SP14 kit and roll your own tweaks.

LM49710 is a a ballsy bass opamp that you can add as buffer to your VC. Run it in unity, it will sound a little stuffy on top but strong phat bass. Add 10dB gain and the top will open up, but slightly dry. MC33078 sounds clear and open in unity gain, a favorite, neutral.

If you're religiously anti-opamp like I used to be before using MC33078, then here is a simple discreet SS buffer, error correction, no feedback, idealogically perfect. ;) The Kuartlotron. Feed it with Belleson regulated PS.

Lastly, the intact audio autoformer volume controls sound very, very good. They add a slight golden sunshine but otherwise neutral and fast. They maintain good output impedance at high attenuation, which might help your bass if it's your (resistive VC output impedance is rising with attenuation) and they step up output voltage by 6dB at full crank. There is a new silver winding version now.

Offline rollo

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2017, 09:04:30 AM »
 Not an expert in this area however I can share my Buffer and passive linestage experience. IMHO after trying Bent, transformer based passives that they are dry and lean in character compared to an active preamp.
 Transparency off the charts, openness off the charts, detail , etc. However no hit you in the heart sound for me.  Lacking body [ weight] and soul.
  You did say front end. Could your source be the issue. When I used a passive say Bent [ dry, lean] a tubed CDP was a must for me or a lush sounding amp after passive Pre.
   As far as Buffers are concerned my short partnership with Promithius [ Malaysia] prove a tubed buffer was a good solution. There were trade offs. The transparency of the passive was lost but body was found. Added sufficient gain but bass was weak.
   IMHO I firmly believe from my experience an active preamp is a must. I believe it is the Heart of our systems. Maybe time for you to a Gary Dodd back in. I have two if you do not.
   

charles
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 09:20:46 AM by rollo »
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Offline Nick B

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2017, 11:03:25 AM »
Have any of you guys tried Mortens Tortuga over at AC? My buddy Gary has one and loves it. Gary has a great sounding system. I'll be at his place in a month to check it out. Gary, if you're reading this, you ought to post about it!! You are trying things all the time. I'm sure the guys would like to hear about your liquid wires among other things.
Nick
ICEpower 1200as2 stereo amp
Audio Hungary APR 204 preamp
KEF LS 50 speakers
Border Patrol SE dac
Auralic Aries Mini
Roon & Tidal
Don Sachs phono
Basis Ovation turntable
Graham 1.5 T tonearm
AT-ML150 cartridge
PI Audio Uber
All cables by Gary A

Offline P.I.

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2017, 04:32:46 PM »
Have any of you guys tried Mortens Tortuga over at AC? My buddy Gary has one and loves it. Gary has a great sounding system. I'll be at his place in a month to check it out. Gary, if you're reading this, you ought to post about it!! You are trying things all the time. I'm sure the guys would like to hear about your liquid wires among other things.
Nick
I use one of his latest iteration DIY solutions and I love it.  iT needs to feed a high current front end to get the oomph, though.
"A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument." - Hilmar von Campe

Offline Nick B

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2017, 01:13:54 PM »
Have any of you guys tried Mortens Tortuga over at AC? My buddy Gary has one and loves it. Gary has a great sounding system. I'll be at his place in a month to check it out. Gary, if you're reading this, you ought to post about it!! You are trying things all the time. I'm sure the guys would like to hear about your liquid wires among other things.
Nick
I use one of his latest iteration DIY solutions and I love it.  iT needs to feed a high current front end to get the oomph, though.


Can you provide a little more info Dave or you prefer not to right now?
Nick
ICEpower 1200as2 stereo amp
Audio Hungary APR 204 preamp
KEF LS 50 speakers
Border Patrol SE dac
Auralic Aries Mini
Roon & Tidal
Don Sachs phono
Basis Ovation turntable
Graham 1.5 T tonearm
AT-ML150 cartridge
PI Audio Uber
All cables by Gary A

Offline P.I.

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2017, 01:23:20 PM »
Have any of you guys tried Mortens Tortuga over at AC? My buddy Gary has one and loves it. Gary has a great sounding system. I'll be at his place in a month to check it out. Gary, if you're reading this, you ought to post about it!! You are trying things all the time. I'm sure the guys would like to hear about your liquid wires among other things.
Nick
I use one of his latest iteration DIY solutions and I love it.  iT needs to feed a high current front end to get the oomph, though.


Can you provide a little more info Dave or you prefer not to right now?
Nick
Some systems need more than just a buffer to really get enough drive for the front end of an amp.  I have always preferred a stepped attenuator, but my old amps would just sound thin because there was not enough voltage gain in the first stage.  Also, drive current is important depending upon the target piece of gear.  Think of this as horsepower and torque.  You gotta have both.

I built mine into the chassis of my old Dodd buffer and the clarity is outstanding. 

Right now my system is down.  I'm getting ready to remodel the listening room after too long living in the '60s when this house was built.  Gotta finish the never ending kitchen remodel.   :shock:
"A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument." - Hilmar von Campe

Offline Nick B

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2017, 01:46:04 PM »
Kitchen remodel?? I'm sorry Dave, very very sorry 💰💰
ICEpower 1200as2 stereo amp
Audio Hungary APR 204 preamp
KEF LS 50 speakers
Border Patrol SE dac
Auralic Aries Mini
Roon & Tidal
Don Sachs phono
Basis Ovation turntable
Graham 1.5 T tonearm
AT-ML150 cartridge
PI Audio Uber
All cables by Gary A

Offline Folsom

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2017, 02:54:59 PM »
I haven't made a DAC yet, so I can't say for sure... about them. I have never heard one that was as good as I have heard vinyl be.

But one of the biggest problems in all audio gear is complex impedance. It just isn't very good abroad. It's complicated too, even measuring doesn't necessarily indicate much. Corrections are mostly subjectively measured due to no qualified problem being present for the average EE to address. What's amusing is the "fix" for many people to get the sounds they're seeking is to not use any power conditioners at all. It makes the highs more prominent and IMO unlistenably sharp, one noted, but it resembles live sound a bit more in some sense than an overly pleasant softer sound that many get. The difference I think is in people's hearing, how sensitive it is to high frequencies. For many they just don't hear "harsh" so when the music is missing something it's really noticeable for them, but for others like myself it's not a big deal because we are still getting more from the music as our ears pick up on more. Neither are right or wrong. The sad part is all the people who crave that hardened top end call it dynamics, which simply isn't what is occurring, so that causes endless confusion. You don't however have to have one or the other, but the only stereo I can point you to that gives both is my own so that's little to no help for most :rofl: .

I also believe speakers are problematic in that most over dampen to try and minimize problems in power delivery. Without the huge amount of mechanical dampening they have a smear or a flat spot in the music. It's very similar to what (especially SS) amplifiers for guitars sound like without PFC. You don't really know it's there with guitars until it's fixed, but with stereo's it can be very obvious. Personally I firmly believe in super stiff cabinets that are heavy as hell. But if you highly dampen basic wood cabinets they sound good, comparable to over-dampened things like maybe Magico. Ultimately once you stop over dampening them however the simple wood box begins to move way too much; they can still sound good but it's not ideal.

The big question is what are your goals. A lot of people want bad engineering. They desire a very fake sense of the original music. People want their gear pumped full of specific RF frequencies that heighten spatial cues so it sounds like a stage they can walk around more than it sounds like real instruments. I don't think it's wrong, it's just comical of the audacity so many companies have to claim they reduced RF or enoise or something, when they really increased it.

As far as people' making gear, there is a level of amusement that is problematic between language. People claim they like low distortion but don't have any low distortion gear. So it's a question of edistortion or aberrations. That's electronic distortion (edistortion). Music can sound distorted in the sense that you hear aberrations from what it should sound like, and hence the claim " I like low distortion " which really translates to " I like things to not sound abnormal". The language barrier is fascinating. I feel almost like writing a book on it so manufacturers can make what people want without having to learn it all from scratch. And actually I would one day like to run a clinic at a few audio shows where I change things in the circuits, people describe them, then I run them over with the reality train by telling them what really occurred. It would be fun, enlightening, and maybe gain me a few mega-haters 8).

Offline rollo

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2017, 09:01:08 AM »
I haven't made a DAC yet, so I can't say for sure... about them. I have never heard one that was as good as I have heard vinyl be.

But one of the biggest problems in all audio gear is complex impedance. It just isn't very good abroad. It's complicated too, even measuring doesn't necessarily indicate much. Corrections are mostly subjectively measured due to no qualified problem being present for the average EE to address. What's amusing is the "fix" for many people to get the sounds they're seeking is to not use any power conditioners at all. It makes the highs more prominent and IMO unlistenably sharp, one noted, but it resembles live sound a bit more in some sense than an overly pleasant softer sound that many get. The difference I think is in people's hearing, how sensitive it is to high frequencies. For many they just don't hear "harsh" so when the music is missing something it's really noticeable for them, but for others like myself it's not a big deal because we are still getting more from the music as our ears pick up on more. Neither are right or wrong. The sad part is all the people who crave that hardened top end call it dynamics, which simply isn't what is occurring, so that causes endless confusion. You don't however have to have one or the other, but the only stereo I can point you to that gives both is my own so that's little to no help for most :rofl: .

I also believe speakers are problematic in that most over dampen to try and minimize problems in power delivery. Without the huge amount of mechanical dampening they have a smear or a flat spot in the music. It's very similar to what (especially SS) amplifiers for guitars sound like without PFC. You don't really know it's there with guitars until it's fixed, but with stereo's it can be very obvious. Personally I firmly believe in super stiff cabinets that are heavy as hell. But if you highly dampen basic wood cabinets they sound good, comparable to over-dampened things like maybe Magico. Ultimately once you stop over dampening them however the simple wood box begins to move way too much; they can still sound good but it's not ideal.

The big question is what are your goals. A lot of people want bad engineering. They desire a very fake sense of the original music. People want their gear pumped full of specific RF frequencies that heighten spatial cues so it sounds like a stage they can walk around more than it sounds like real instruments. I don't think it's wrong, it's just comical of the audacity so many companies have to claim they reduced RF or enoise or something, when they really increased it.

As far as people' making gear, there is a level of amusement that is problematic between language. People claim they like low distortion but don't have any low distortion gear. So it's a question of edistortion or aberrations. That's electronic distortion (edistortion). Music can sound distorted in the sense that you hear aberrations from what it should sound like, and hence the claim " I like low distortion " which really translates to " I like things to not sound abnormal". The language barrier is fascinating. I feel almost like writing a book on it so manufacturers can make what people want without having to learn it all from scratch. And actually I would one day like to run a clinic at a few audio shows where I change things in the circuits, people describe them, then I run them over with the reality train by telling them what really occurred. It would be fun, enlightening, and maybe gain me a few mega-haters 8).

  Hey Folsom welcome aboard. No mega haters at AN. Yes some power conditioners do brighten up the top end. Just need the right one. I like PIAudio, Blue Circle and Furutech just for that reason. Basically neutral to my ears. I believe most want excellent engineering in products. They do not need to know how and why just what does the final product sound like. Good engineering pays off.
  Shortly I will remove ALL my power conditioning from the four dedicated 20A lines. A worthwhile experiment since you suggested heard differences with and without. May prove interesting. I'll post my findings. Subjective yes but interesting.


charles


charles
   
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Offline Folsom

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2017, 04:07:32 PM »
I want to read the results.

Offline P.I.

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2017, 04:59:06 PM »
Me, too.

 :shock:
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Offline satfrat

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2017, 10:25:24 PM »
I've never been one for adding buffers so I have no past experience with them. That said, I'm a big 15+ year Tyson & Pez fan from "that other place"(& before that Harmonic Discord forum) and when Tyson liked to drop a duce over the iFi Micro itube2 impedance matching buffer. I'm a sucker for enthusiasm, especially from someone I more or less trust. I Googled the cheapest unit and bagged it. Gotta say it was 1 of my better purchases,,, the itube2 is right up there with Dave's UberBuss.  :X The best example of what this unit can do was when I streamed movies through it. I usually hate streaming movies as I'm a home theater freak, I need me my surround with movies. But the clarity of the vocals in stereo blew me away and it's the same with audio vocals. Who can understand rap vocals? ME, now with the iFi Micro itube 2 buffer. And I'm a 65 year old Senior who happens to love rap. |:D|

With the iFi Micro itube 2, I use no gain, no bass boost, just it's impedance matching tube buffer. I like this little gem so much that when funds allow, I'll be getting 3 more to place before my Butler amps so my whole home theater can benefit from what my PC audio has come to love.

And that's my "expert" opinion.  =3o

Cheers,
Robin
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Offline rollo

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2017, 08:28:27 AM »
Me, too.

 :shock:

  Do not be shocked. After removing the power conditioners the soundstage size immediately collapsed. The music had less focus as well. Dynamics were lessened as well.
  But but the biggest difference was in bass reproduction. Just not as focused. Then tried leaving sub amps and main amps off power conditioning and plugged all other components back in to conditioners.
  Then unplugged all again and just conditioned digital.  The digital components[ DAC, transport, music server] appear to be affected the most. Meaning I heard the biggest differences between unconditioned digital and conditioned. Better tonality, stage and dynamics.
   The mono block amps were not as affected. Maybe a bit more dynamics without but that is nitpicking. The loss of focus and scale without was noticeable but could live either way. The weight of the sound though was lost. Conditioners back in.
   My evaluation was subjective without any measurements. BTW there are four 20A dedicated lines off a dedicated panel [Pass& Seymor copper buss bar] using 8ga cryo treated Romex and VooDoo top tier duplex outlets as the base supply.


charles
contact me  at rollo14@verizon.net or visit us on Facebook
Lamm - Aqua Acoustic Formula & La Scala DAC- INNUOS  - Rethm Speakers - PI Audio Uberbuss - Triode Wire Labs- Kuzma - Furutech - Audio Hungry Qualiton - Fritz Carrera speakers -Gigawatt-Arion

Offline Folsom

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Re: What are we struggling with in our systems?
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2017, 04:31:52 PM »
There just seems to be two different camps. You're in the conditioner camp for sure!

And buffers, big fan of them. But sometimes they are more and less needed due to impedances and how hard one thing is to drive compared to another.