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 Ron's System

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Michael Green
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Thu Jul 30, 2015 5:23 pm

Hi Ron

Being sensitive isn't a bad thing, but sometimes taking that deep breath and counting to 10, is a better way than firing from the hip. Noone here is interested in making insults, and I wouldn't go for that anyway.

Your path is valued as much as anyones here. Try to keep in mind that I could care less about the brand, $$$ and any other bias that might come into play, that's not why I'm here. I want all of you to have fun as you tune and share in the delite of the hobby. Some here are going to lean to the ultra-low mass, some in the middle and others more typical high end. I tend to go in seasons, but keep that side of me out of TuneLand for the most part, so I don't get pulled into brand labeling. Last thing I want to do is tag something with a bad rap sheet.

As you saw I was very much willing to take the NAD under my wing, even though the earlier model didn't go as far as the Magnavox. At the same time if there's no purpose of me heading in a direction I have to consider what this might do to us time wise. If it were up to us, we would have 25 listening rooms and every possible setup. Of course, if I did that TuneLand wouldn't exist. Second option is to do what I'm doing with the addition of what Harold is up to and all of you on the forum, and other friends who do not belong to TuneLand.

now back to your setup

Is there a need for me to tune the NAD? Not if you are using it soley for a transport. I may have missed your earlier point about you being dissapointed in the DAC's you mentioned, but it was certainly enough for me to question if I wanted to go down the 516 route.

referencing

I have found this to be very useful with folks who want to keep in touch with relating their stages to me. If I can hear your stage, it helps me to see into your systems potential. For example, even an on going referencing of the Beatles Crickets is enough for me to pickup on what your setup is doing believe it or not. There are many other parts and pieces of recordings to be referenced, and ultimately leads to an important part of you building that library of cues. These are the types of things I look at instead of reviews and product reputations. I have no doubt that designers can make magic happen, that's not the issue. My issue is I want all these brands and designers to get their fair shake and most of the time they get maybe a fraction of the credit they deserve, partly because of the review cycle system of in and out fast food listening. The second bad rap they get is never being tuned into the listeners environment and conditions properly.

Where we may be different is, I'm not sure I would have put out there that this list of DAC's was not up to par. I'm not sure now this is what you were saying but it was what I read. Instead I would point to the success or lack of in the context of tuning. For me it's not a matter of can they go there, but more what does it take for them to get there. I know there are designs at all price points that are just dogs that the designer got lucky enough to find a small group (maybe big) of guys to bite. I have owned my fair share of BMW, Mercedes and Chrysler and have had dogs and successes with all 3. They all had different purposes and I enjoyed them for what they were. High end audio I look at a little different, if for nothing else the R&D put into a typical high end audio component is 100th of what BMW does for each model. So from a practical point of view, here I have a $50,000.00 auto vs a $50,000.00 audio system. If we're comparing performance = cost in my book that system better be highly tunable. I had better be able to see inside of any and every production ever done.

Saying all this, I remember having a BMW 328i convertible dinan, Mercedes S class (Custom), Chrysler Sebring convertable, Nissan 300zx twin turbo and a Dodge pickup all at the same time, as my daily drivers Laughing I'm not sure I'm wiser now, but I'm certainly a lot older scratch

I say keep enjoying the ride, and thanks for letting us sit in the passenger seat from time to time.

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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:47 am

Greetings Dr Stesiak and Zonees!

If you have read Sonic's recent post on "Sound of LPs", there is an idea there to add to this discussion. I found Hoffman's findings informative -- that LPs equaled the Master Tape, along with how the Redbook CDs fared, which is a great comfort and where they fell short, and how SACDs differed.

Sonic learns then there are complications and complexities here.  I understand that many CDs are not made from the same Master Tapes that the LPs were made from.  A case in point -- I read that all the early master tapes of Simon and Garfunkel have been mislaid.  If the base source is different with intervening layers of copying generations and EQ, this means that any off the shelf CD/LP comparison is not comparing apples and apples.

Then there is also the question if the engineers making the CD transfers cared about the sound or just thought "bits are bits" as one technician I know. Some cared, but who many played the LP back on a studio grade EMT turntable and cartridge to check the sound of their work.  Was the right EQ used on the tapes (CCIR or NAB)?  Get that wrong and the comparison becomes meaningless.

But here is something that had Sonic vexed at one point a couple of years earlier about.  My CD collection was hitting 4-figures and a friend suggested I rip them and store them on hard drive and play them back through a NAS system into a high quality DAC.  An attractive idea -- with Sonic's iPad I can play Telemann's Wassermusick followed by Neil Young's Silver and Gold then Hindemith's Horn Concerto just tapping on a screen. And change choice whenever I felt the whim.

Sonic tested a very well regarded NAS from a place in North Britain.  Played tracks from the Bee Gees' last album "This is where I came in", a recording I am familiar sufficiently with. The sound was mechanical and flat.  The store did not have a CD/SACD player to compare against the NAS (probably a good idea given the poor sound I was hearing from the NAS). Sonic tested against the CD in another adjacent place quickly after the test with the NAS and the CD on a player sounded better and more alive. But like in all such tests there are many variables.

But enough on one hand for me to be cautious about NAS but also not to make snap judgments either given all the variables involved. "There's something going on here, what it is ain't exactly clear..." (S Stills)

For now, Sonic is sticking to LPs/45s/SPs and CD/SACD but driven from the angle of collecting the musick in the format where they are available.

Sonic


Last edited by Sonic.beaver on Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:50 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added text)
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:19 pm

Hi Ron,

For what it's worth, I auditioned the Bryston DAC a few years back in my old system and was very excited after reading the numerous positive reviews. First, I think there is sometimes a bandwagon effect with product reviews. A glowing review of some reviewer or mag begets others. Also, most reviewers are not listening in the same way or for the same things that those who know or are learning how to tune their components and system are. I was very surprised to find the Bryston DAC flat, bland and unmusical in my system. It had very little, if any, spatial quality to it's reproduction. It was very "smooth", but also had relatively little dynamic range and similarly little PRAT. Ultimately, it was boring. It took less than an hour of listening to determine this, and I recall I was fairly ticked off that all the reviewers found this DAC exceptional. pale  Learned my lesson about relying on commercial reviews, no matter how "creditable" the source. Mad

I don't mean to rain on your parade. I'm providing this honest feedback so that you will consider auditioning the DAC sufficiently in your system before you buy it. Even a couple days should be enough. Also, my comments are about an untuned DAC. I don't know how tunable the DAC is, since I didn't get that far. As I recall it's pretty heavy and the electronics are dense, so that might give an indication of how tunable it may be. Also, maybe it's been improved since my listening experience. I'd recommend auditioning many Dacs in many price ranges and have fun with it. Take your time. Price or savings don't mean shite and you'll know the right dac for you when you hear it and just don't want to stop listening. Trust your ears. cheers

jocolor jocolor

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PostSubject: Bryston BDA-1   Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:44 pm

All:

I have purchased a Bryston BDA-1 for $750 from Audiogon. I think a very good deal.

As for the poor performance in Drewster's experience, I would probably chalk that up to system incompatibility. I have experienced that and in fact am currently experiencing it with the Bryston, but in a very different way. Drewster: could you describe the amp/preamp and speakers used with the Bryston when you auditioned it?

Back to my main point - long story short, the Bryston is a true end-to-end balanced design with XLR as preferred output. Its only shortcomings from the newer BDA-2 are a lack of a decent USB interface; the rest of the circuitry is IDENTICAL with the exception of an incremental upgrade in the dual DAC chips. I plan on correcting the USB issue with a $200 USB-SPDIF 192 capable converter made from M2TECH.

Back to the system synergy with my system... this DAC is in fact the best sounding I have heard overall; however the improvements are merely incremental rather than "WOW!".

I have determined the reasoning.... the Bryston is in a whole different league than the rest of my system. It is true audiophile Hi-Fi; while the rest of my system can be classified as British Mid-Fi.

While I absolutely enjoy my Creek and Epos speakers, the Creek Evolution 50A is NOT in fact an end-to-end balanced design; it just has XLR inputs as a good interface. As for my speakers, I enjoy them too...but $800 will only give you so much soundstage and detail.

To put it succinctly, the Bryston is delivering MORE SONIC INFORMATION than my system is capable of resolving. So I only see the incremental increase in performance; but an increase nevertheless.

To describe what is going on with my system in a different way, my digital chain has surpassed for the first time my analogue chain... digital files and many CDs fed through the Bryston sound a smidgen *BETTER* than records! A first in my system. However, merely upgrading my turntable/cartridge/phono stage, I am certain vinyl would most likely again win out. As I am still very fond of the TYPE of sound I get from my existing analogue setup, and the strong direction of consumer audio heading in the digital domain, I plan on only concentrating on the digital domain for now.


Back to the point: Lesson Learned: Be careful in component matching and take the rest of one's system into account. In this case, I bought a DAC that is far more capable than the rest of my system; and it makes sense as it is worth twice the retail price of my amp. However, I sort of am lucky in the fact I bought it used, and it makes the system still sound BETTER, so I plan on keeping it. An end-to-end balanced design with Dual DACS kills any unbalanced single chip DAC.


Best Regards,

Ron
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PostSubject: Reply to Sonic   Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:27 pm

Reply To Sonic:

All:

I understand Sonic's point of separates introducing more possible problems and sources of noise into a system.
At least I think that is his main point...please correct if I misunderstood.

As it is, it is a good point and I have thought about it and my solution is to go XLR and use AudioQuest cabling when possible between components.

The combination of quality of cable and the quality of the connection should minimize any issues with external devices.

Now for the decision why I am going the separates route:

I think they are a mixed blessing...but in the end, one can possibly achieve the best sound they can by leveraging either bargain finds of individual pieces of high end gear as I did in this case; point being going the route of separates divides the cost and makes each item cheaper as opposed to hunting for a music server with integrated amplifier...or downright purchase each unit...they tend to just inherently cost less than an integrated solution and I can divide my budget easier. The Naim series of music servers/Integrateds comes to mind as just simply out of my reach..but if I am careful, I can purchase individual components that end up sounding better than the multi-purpose Naim units.

In addition, one can stay on the current ever developing technology less costlier as they only have to replace the one component doing one function. similar to the above argument.

But, the main reason I am seeking separates is I believe the engineering to be in general superior as the manufacturer is only concentrating on ONE function...they can really sit down and design it with the fewest circuits and highest quietly components (at each price level and budge of course).....this also minimizes local EMF..as the units are generally rack sized with the transformer thoughtfully and intentionally placed as far away from the other components within the case as possible.

For example, I feel the Bryston BDA series of DACs are inherently superior to *ANY* built in DAC on an integrated amplifier or music server or similar under $10,000.

I wish I could maybe word what I have said in a cleaner, more organized manner... but in general I hope I have conveyed my decision to go separates clearly.

Respectfully,

Ron
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PostSubject: Quick Referencing to Sanity Check   Fri Aug 07, 2015 5:36 pm

Quick Referencing to Sanity Check my Current Setup...

I found an old post on here about the opening few bars of The Cars: My Best Friend's Girl. As I happen to own the 44.1 version in FLAC, I gave it a go on the new to me Bryston...here are my results:

1. 1st guitar comes in roughly 4-6' behind my right speaker..and a smidgen bumped towards the center from hard right. Clear.
2. The claps are about 1' left from the left speaker..very clear and realistic with a sense of literally air clapping in my room. A little spooky in its realism!
3. 2nd guitar, with distortion,  is very near if not in the exact spot as the clapping.
4. Rick's vocals are center, perhaps a little left... slightly recessed.....he has drawn out but very clear s's (no sibilance), and very sharp T's...crystal clear.

I think that's as far as the other Reference notes got, and my notes seem pretty much directly in line with the other listeners' notes..which really is relieving to me.

Overall, I found it funny the engineers chose to not have anything at the left and right channels..the whole mix is a little whacky with placement of instruments and I love it.

Having said this, I think my system at present is in its best state yet. Recent tuning I have made is my speakers are now flat with no toe-in, but still 2' out from back wall and 6.5-7' apart, and Michael's Tuning Blocks under my Creek Integrated.

I do find it odd the very high engineering that has gone into this old classic. It is rare that I encounter this level of recording. Clearly someone else here found that fact out before me; hence referencing it to begin with!

I think I should settle down and collect and listen to music for awhile. All of this worrying about this and that for no reason...my system is kicking butt.   Smile



Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:10 pm

Yep, it's good to take a break from the thinking sometimes and pour the brain waves into the referencing.

Looking forward to the referencing some goodies with you.

If you get a chance throw on the crickets from abbey road.

Cool

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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Sat Aug 08, 2015 10:12 am


Greetings Ron

You understood what Sonic was getting at. I am into separates in a sense with my preamp and power amp and phono stages, turntables plus a graphic equalizer!

Separates allow you to optimize the engineering and get greater flexibility but proper system integration is required. And certainly reading Stereophile's recommended components, which I am told is the best selling issue of the year, choosing all gear and cables in any category (say Class B), putting them together into a system and expecting that to work is not necessarily a smart way to do the integration.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Sat Aug 08, 2015 7:50 pm

It's great to see the diversity Exclamation

my view is a little different

I look at more chassis, more transformers (and inductors), more power cords as being a minus in listening. I guess I look at the audio math as having more influence than any individual component's merits. I also base this on starting with as few as possible, climbing the Stereophile latter and then walking back to simple.

I am fairly blind to components these days and see the audio chain as one continual link, which I didn't always view this way. You can't own an audio store without thinking components. Once I started looking at it all as a whole and in the context of the audio trilogy the hobby became quite different for me.

I still enjoy looking at parts, but with a different vantage point.

not right not wrong just different

Cool

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PostSubject: The good old Crickets!   Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:02 am

The good old Crickets!

So I definitely had to re-reference Beatles:Abbey Road:Sun King...specifically the recorded effects of "the pond"....

During this session, I played it several times. Still in use are my Creek Evolution 50A, now a Bryston BDA-1 DAC which throws a slightly wider, taller, and deeper soundstage than all previous DACS, AudioQuest Cabling, 4 tuning blocks seem best under my Creek amp, and my Epos Epic 2 speakers. This particular recording "likes" 15 degree toe-in, and zero tone controls. What is cool about the Creek is when I click off the tone controls on the remote, you can hear a relay literally clicking them out of the sonic pathway! I am finding the speaker toe-in, tone controls and volume to be my three main tweaks I may adjust album-by-album.

For now, the Creek chassis cover is in place... and the source is a 44.1/24bit FLAC from Macbook Air to Airplay fibre to DAC.

On to the reference using the Bryston....

The crickets for me start behind my right speaker by about 4'.... and they seem elevated above the other sounds and instruments as well as myself even..the frogs are in front of the right speaker by a foot or two and they remain there and lower than the crickets, and significantly forward of them; so there's about 6 feet between the frogs in front and the crickets in back... though none of this is "behind" my listening position, I am getting a decently wide and deep and high stage. The crickets slowly and very evenly drift at the same hight and distance...panning from right to left..and exiting the left at nearly a symmetrical distance to the right when they entered..behind the left speaker about 4' and highest in the soundstage from top to bottom.

Now, there is a lot of other stuff going on here... and I will limit my reference to this intro part to save writing a novel!

Back to the beginning now, and looking at other instruments:

...the first guitar drifts in the middle of height from left to right..starting about a foot to the left of my left speaker..in front of the crickets spatially..near the front of my speakers...and it pans much faster to the right than the crickets are going to the left..once it reaches the right, it stops shy by a few feet of the right speaker and stays there..with other instruments to the right of it. This guitar also seems to have recessed by about a foot or so towards the back.

...the first "splash" gong or cymbal also starts at the left speaker..and may be a smidgen below the guitar, and a little behind the guitar..but fairly in front of the soundstage... but splashes out to fill the room much more than the crickets or guitar. the first splash flows like a wave propagating across and ending about 3/4 to 5/6 to the right of the stage but stops left of the left speaker on this first splash...the second splash occurs at about 3/4 of the way across from left to right....and comes from several feet further back now than where it started on the front-to-back plane...this splashy gong/cymbal also follows at same pace as the first guitar and remains fixed at the right channel once it gets there, and seemingly reduced in volume once it's at the right... but it comes forward a bit and remains at 2-3 feet or so behind..now chilling in the corner, but splash also flows out like waves into the stage..now from left to right the wave goes...it's sonics once it gets to the right are reduced in volume to be shared by the tsst tsst tsst of a hi-hat, in front of the gong/cymbal by 3-4 feet or so, with the hi-hat perhaps a foot or two in front of the right speaker..with gong/cymbal behind it.

All the while there is also a Bass guitar hanging out and fixed at the left channel..the Bass is behind the lead guitar..about 2' back in my system, and is fairly prominent in the soundstage, projecting out about half way across..

Now along with the first guitar, are drums marching at same rate from left to right, but lower from top to bottom.These drums have skin to them..not normal rock trap drums...more primitive sounding..and hit with either hands or soft mallets..I'm not a drummer so have no technical knowledge other than what I hear..these drums are in front of the guitar, and at about the front plane of my speakers and stay even as the pan from left to right. These drums then park themselves in the right...and the tsssstt of maybe a high hat starts in the right channel...above the drums. A second, higher guitar melody also joins in...once the drums have migrated..this guitar really fills the stage in-between the speakers...and ever so slightly pans back and forth in a hypnotic effect..it is also higher than the drums but lower then the crickets...

When the vocals come in, they take center stage and are larger than life and expansive across most of the soundstage and have presence and can be heard from left-to-right..in true stereo fashion... lined up...later, the engineers decide to do more interesting things and make the vocals less all-in-a-line and more of a stereo-field effect; but always taking up most of the stage.

That's about the best detail I can get..there is just so much going on here and everything is in a different layer and height and position.. and many things panning at different rates and different times.. a hell of a time trying to explain it all!

In short, I think I have a very good soundstage and can very easily place and pick instruments and listen to them as they pan...and hear the differences in depth and height.. but nothing comes from *behind* me or near me..it is all in front of me. Also, after reading a few other posters' reviews, I know my entire stage is smaller..but I find at least it is conveying all of the information as the others I think. That is one of my main goals: to retrieve as much of the encoded information as possible. I don't  think I can get a larger soundstage at this point without adding room tuning. But, seeing as how I can pick everything out on just a smaller but still room-filling stage (all in front of course), maybe that's totally fine.



Any opinions?

Kind Regards,

Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Wed Aug 12, 2015 2:24 am

Count me in Smile

I love track 10, so as soon as I get a couple of things off my plate I'm going to hop in room#2 and do a reference with you.

let me see if I can find the old link

fun stuff sunny

here we go

http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t66-abbey-road-experience

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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:34 am

Hi Ron,

In answer to your question regarding the system I used to audition the Bryston, if my memory serves me I was using a tuned 30wpc Jolida tube integrated with MGA Classic 60 speakers. I think there are pics on my thread on the tuneland.info archive forum.

It sounds like you've really been developing your listening skills and are soaking up the info on tuning to the benefit of your system and listening pleasure.  cheers  cheers


jocolor  jocolor

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PostSubject: $250 Digital Music Server Equaling $1,800 - $2,400 Commercial Servers!   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:48 pm

All:

I've been busy for the past month or so taking my listening in an entirely new and exciting direction; while leveraging strongly my existing Information Technology background.

My goal is to build on the cheap an Audiophile grade Music Server....while my MacBook Air running Audirvana has served me well, I have learned there are even better solutions for getting digital music files to your speakers.

If anyone here is interested at all in Digital Media; such as FLAC, ALAC, etc, you may find my project of interest. Without further delay, here it is:

$250 Digital Music Server Equaling $1,800 - $2,400 Commercial Servers!

All:

For about $250, one can have a nearly silent, thin, rack mount server with USB output of the highest calibre. The secret is the Operating System. It will drive a modern USB DAC from 44.1-192/24, as well as stream AIRPLAY for iOS and Apple OS X running iTunes, and serve last.fm and Spotify streaming radio.

For $450 total cost, add a $200 USB/SPDIF BNC or COAX card if USB isn't your bag or if you have an older high end DAC. This is exactly what I did in my case.

So the secret: LINUX!  High end hifi companies like Bryston use Linux in their media servers...and a program called mdp...so I did the same with off-the-shelf hardware and the savings are astronomical..for just a little effort. Here are the specifics:

I actually just finished converting my existing intel workstation into a music server as a proof-of-concept, and it sounds amazing so far! My only complaints are rack space, power, and noise. I too use liquid cooling, but my radiator has a fan on it and an i7 needs a lot of cooling!

When running my entire operating system and playing a 192/24 file, my CPU usage is 1%. So, spec'ing out a much more modest, quiet, and power efficient system certainly is possible.

Here is my current choice of components for a hifi music server from Newegg with prices:

$59.99 iStarUSA D Value D-214-MATX Black Steel 2U Rackmount Compact Server Case
$59.99 SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W ATX12V V2.3/EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
$21.99 Kingston 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory SR x8 STD Height 30mm Model KVR13N9S8H/4
$69.99 ASRock Q1900M Intel Quad-Core Celeron Processor J1900 Micro ATX Motherboard/CPU/VGA Combo
$45.99  Kingston SSDNow V300 Series SV300S37A/60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Total: $257.95

here is what the case looks like:

Bear in mind I've chosen good to very good components so this machine is *quality*.

I have successfully configured my prototype and it is driving my Bryston DAC at 44.1-192/24 via SPDIF(see next sentence). If you want to try further USB isolation, an M2TECH HiFACE TWO USB/SPDIF converter can be had for under $200. This is actually the way I ended up going because my older Bryston BDA-1 only supported up to 48/16 via USB, but 192/24 via SPDIF...however, ANY new DAC will support USB without the M2TECH interface..thus saving potentially that extra $200.

My total system cost, including the M2TECH USB/SPDIF converter comes to $450.
Without the SPDIF converter, again $250!!!!

It is easily on league with the Brsyton BDP-1 USB for 15% the cost.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Kind Regards,

Ron


ps. in addition to AIRPLAY, free  clients for mdp FLAC servers are available on iOS for iPAD and iPHONE.   They are good quality and automagically grab album art and track info.

pps. For the same $450 total cost, one could instead of the M2TECH USB/SPDIF converter, choose the $200 Juli@ XTe sound card offering more choices of SPDIF, balanced AES, and other outputs.


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PostSubject: LCD Display   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:50 pm

For $30, I am getting a blue on black background LCD 2 line display that will integrate with Linux and output currently playing artist on top line and song on second line. Just like the Bryston BDP series! The blue letters will match the rest of my equipment. Here it is for reference:

I already have the code working that grabs the artist and song playing and parses it into two lines... just waiting on the LCD kit which is driven by USB.

I plan on dremeling a rectangular hole into the front of the chassis and mounting the LCD panel there for easy viewing. Here is a picture of the Bryston BDP showing the LCD to give everyone an idea of what I am doing:


Best Regards,

Ron
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PostSubject: UPDATES 2,3,4   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:53 pm

UPDATE 2
Power Supply...

I have read that "linear" power supplies for high-end audio servers are the rage... and this can be accomplished by purchasing a slightly more expensive logic board or purchasing an adapter that allows DC.

So, for about an extra $75 - $400; depending on how far up the power supply food chain I want to explore, I can have a dead quiet power supply... I may change my build to allow for this.

I am also considering the possibility of marketing this product as so far I am achieving success. Granted, I spent my first career as a programmer..so I can do stuff like this very quickly and efficiently, and I have an Electrical Engineering degree.

UPDATE 3
After comparing the sound quality to my NAD 516 acting as a transport using the same bryston dac, it turns out the CD player yields an easily perceivable larger soundstage.

So, in addition to a quieter linear power supply, I am also going to move to Debian realtime kernel Linux. This will reduce system latency into audiophile territory.

This challenge is actually fun for me and a great way to quality control my music server design .

A final trick up my sleeve if necessary will be to move to an audiophile quality USB adapter.

UPDATE 4
I've since switched to a real time Linux kernel, and now the sound very eerily matches the NAD 516!
I attribute this significant improvement to the reduced latency afforded by moving to a real time Linux kernel.

I would say a good milestone. It makes sense they now match as I am using the NAD purely as a transport and leveraging the Bryston DAC for both it and my music server.

Next steps: move to external, linear power supply. Possibly purchase SoTm USB card or high end USB to SPDIF external converter from the likes of Bel Canto, Audiophillea, and OFFRAMP 5...there seems to be a lot of choice and a new market segment in hifi with these adapters. Apparently even relatively high end DACS up to $3,000 can significantly benefit from a re-clocked and improved power USB interface. It is the consensus that in this price range of DACS, with SPDIF being a much more mature technology for audio, it is superior to USB. Such interfaces as digital coax, AES, and BNC being the best.

With those final steps, this digital server should outperform the CD transport and it will be interesting to hear how far I can push the performance with little money spent as possible. Even with a linear power supply and SoTm card, total cost should be under roughly $700. That's still way cheaper than the commercial audio servers out there and I believe to be superior to the CAPS servers: eventhough they have very good hardware design, their limitation is the choice of Windows for operating system. Linux is simply the way to go as high end manufacturers also favor it and for many other valid technical reasons.

Respectfully,

Ron

Ps. Further reading has revealed that in fact many DAC manufacturers utilize the circuitry in the m2tech hiface two usb/spdif converter inside their units...it uses the now ubiquitous xmos chip. I therefore conclude I've in essence upgraded my older Bryston to the rest of the newer higher end DACS.
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rrstesiak



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PostSubject: Better than CD...   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:55 pm

Back to the server.. I am again deciding on a case, but for now my final system is up and running! I just received an AC Adapter powered ultra low voltage mini-atx motherboard which came with an Intel N3150 Braswell processor. (it only consumes 7 watts!!)

With the shift from my prototype standard but way overpowered Linux server with a 750 Watt conventional power supply and i7, this new server is completely quiet. I also have a single low voltage (1.35 volt) 8GB ram chip installed as well as an SSD for perfect silence.

Definitely the most compelling thing is I actually notice a significant difference in sound moving to this tiny and efficient and quiet motherboard. I notice quieter backgrounds and more Bass of all things. So much so I've bypassed my tone controls in my Creek Integrated Amplifier, resulting in even further improved clarity and stereo separation as well as a significant increase in soundstage width!? To be absolutely truthful and detailed, I also recently upgraded my Epos Epic 2 book shelf speakers by adding a Bowers & Wilkins subwoofer...enabling the tone control bypass as it supplies the needed Bass. At this point in my music server project, I can easily state the sonics have now surpassed the NAD CD transport. I'm honestly unsure what spending thousands on an audiophile CD transport would yield; as I have an excellent DAC and bit perfect audio.

I am rambling on... but hopefully most of this makes sense to yourself and other curious readers. Of note for the Linux folks, I am running Debian "Wheezy" in real time kernel mode. I am also using ALSA and mpd music server daemon. Combining the design of my new motherboard with the Linux OS and tuning, the results are "bit perfect" audio which can be confirmed with commandline built in utilities. Of critical importance to convey to readers is that the pro's...like Bryston, also use Linux and the exact same software..ALSA and mpd..that is where I got the idea to go this route.

Once I get the case and install the LCD, this little server will be mostly complete..save for the potential sound card or audiophile quality USB port.

I have been an Apple fan for the past decade...my previous setup was a Macbook Air 2014 with SSD running Audirvana. It was also very good...this highly customizeable Linux server approach is just taking things to the next level and is not for everyone. I hope to end up with a product that equals the Bryston music servers for pennies on the dollar.

Here is the logic board with RAM and CPU:



Also shown is the M2TECH HIFACE TWO SPDIF converter hanging off the back of the logic board.

Best Regards,

Ron
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rrstesiak



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PostSubject: Power Supply   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:56 pm

I am very well educated in VLSI and digital, but hardly any analogue education or experience ... I'm in need of anyone's advice on the following diy linear power supply:

http://www.amb.org/audio/sigma11/

It's what they call the sigma11. A low powered (I only need 8 watts at 19v and 2 amps).... But allegedly very clean and pure power signal. Also of note, it was released very recently..so it's not an outdated old design.

My only concern is it doesn't seem to have much in the way of smoothing capacitors. I think it's Max spec is 4,700 ufarad. Maybe that's totally ok for low power needed. I also only need the one rail. The two rail design is significantly more difficult and costly anyway.

Any opinion is welcomed and I'm in dire need of some validation before I start this project.

Most importantly, it should all cost well below $100, including a fancy aluminum case, which is a lot better than commercial offerings.

Respectfully,

Ronald R. Stesiak, PhD
National Science Foundation
Computational Neurosceince
Computational Finance
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rrstesiak



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PostSubject: CASE   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:58 pm

All:

I've decided on the case and now have everything installed and running in my rack:



The vendor is Logic Supply, and it was $100.00.  The main reason I purchased it over the other rack mount case is simply the aesthetic. It also has room for up to two ful-length PCIe cards should I need them in the future. Internally, there is a decent metal shield running the length of the case which separates the mother board from any PCIe cards I may purchase. It allows for a cable PCIe riser to slip underneath.I can think of possibly a SoTm Audiophile grade USB card or a sound card like the Juli@. For now, I am more than satisfied with the music. It has now been awhile since I've listened to a CD... I find my current player; as well as any CD player, now obsolete. I intend on keeping my CD player to use as a reference when getting new music.


Best Regards,

Ron


Last edited by rrstesiak on Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Next Direction   Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:58 pm

All:

As previously mentioned, my next project for my Audiophile grade music server is to upgrade from the laptop switched power supply to a linear one.

I may go the DYI route which will save me hundreds. I can probably hand-assemble one based on existing and proven schematics again for pennies on the dollar as compared to Retail.

If any listeners are knowledgeable, any recommendations on schematics or even a commercial Retail unit that is $300 or under are all welcome.

In building this server, I have learned many many things in the audiophile world and have become a better listener as a result. It is becoming increasingly harder to detect differences now in any changes I make; with the linear power supply probably resulting in possibly my pinnacle of sound output from this device for very little investment. I am looking forward to listening to the differences and documenting and sharing them here and elsewhere.

Listen On!

Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:57 pm

Good to see you back stranger Exclamation Looks like your having a blast study
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rrstesiak



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PostSubject: Reply   Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:55 pm

Rotelguy:

Yes... I've been having a great time. It's sort of my digital take on tuning. the project is doing better than I thought sound quality wise, so I felt it a good idea to share it.

Kind Regards,

Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:07 pm

Howdy Ron


Welcome home, great to see you Exclamation

thanks for the new series of postings


study

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rrstesiak



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PostSubject: Reply to Michael    Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:08 pm

Michael:

Thank you for the welcome back!

I've been listening to the Roger Waters - Amused to Death material.... At near field setup, I can get the true 3D soundstage. Over the next few listening sessions / days, I'm going to pull back a few feet both literally and metaphorically and see what the latest incarnation of my system reveals with this recording gem of an "album" (in my case 44.1 flac files).

Kind Regards,

Ron
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PostSubject: Re: Ron's System   Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:47 pm

Hi Ron

I have it cued up as well on system #3, so looking forward to your report. Tonight I'm playing in Rm#2 (Paul Simon), but can get in Amuse gear pretty quick.



study

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rrstesiak



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PostSubject: Amused to Death    Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:26 pm

Reference Session
Roger Waters
Amused to Death
The Ballad of Bill Hubbard
16/44.1 flac

Beginning:
Crickets and insects are in deep, saturated stereo field, extending wide past both speakers a few feet, and consume the bottom third of the landscape, much as they do in nature. There is a pleasant very wide panned stereo clicking insect noise intermittently.. First far right, then far left..and at upper are within this field. Almost like one insect is chatting with the other.

Then there are the dogs.. I believe three of them.., very first one briefly sounds ..then second dog barks.. very bizarrely in my head... Some weird studio effects going on here. Interesting.. Almost as if I had headphones on... At the very best I can describe, the "main" dog is directly in front of me but a little upper than lower and soft.. This series of barks is followed by more, separate barks further in distance and to the left slightly from center... Then finally a third barking effect even further away and further left of center...but still that weird headphone like effect. Hard to explain.

With respect to the dog effects, I think it may be intended for surround and I don't have a surround processor. I did manage to locate a BluRay copy in 96Hz sampling quality but in multiple channels. Attempting to play that file on my system results in largely monotone.

Back to my 44.1 file: Radio or Television dialogue is panned left and around speaker and small... I believe intentionally trying to create a transistor radio or small tv speaker point source. And it does, convincingly .

Guitar comes in loud and clear and takes center stage... With background synths creating wide and lush soundscape, with various stereo sub panning.

Around 1:40, much louder and clearer dog barking., this time only one dog. It is in front of me though and no longer in my head. It is front, center, slightly to left.

Then.. Larg wild cat growls and spits.. Off to right and in front of speaker a few feet.

I feel my system is doing an accurate job in recreating what the producer / engineers wanted. Except for the first series of dog barks... Maybe my system isn't quite tuned properly as I'm not sure "in my head" is what was intended! I'll be interested to hear what other listeners hear.

Rest of song is unremarkable to report on as far as referencing. I believe this initial sound field to be worth careful and detailed exploring with other people's impressions.


Fun stuff!

Ron

Ps. I think my system is its best at high res files.. I would love to get a high res version of this album. Going to look around for it on Internet. I found it in 192/24 on HDTracks.. But I think only available in the UK!?. So...I'm going to try "other means" and will report back with a new referencing session with the same song to note any differences. I think it will make a difference on my particular system just the way it is tuned for highest resolution digital.
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