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 Bill333's System

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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:59 pm

Hi everyone,

I apologize for being late getting back to the party, but I've been quite busy with listening and with the non-audiophile portion of my life. Without any further delay, here's the rest of the build:

Day 3 - The wall panels are going up.


Day 3 - Starting on the ceiling framing. The top row of wall panels have to wait until the ceiling is in.


Day 3 - The ceiling framing is finished while still being supported by 2x4's. This is the downside of the 48"x48" panels- they allow the room to be broken down and shipped on pallets, but the ceiling is not self-supporting. In the past, most tunable rooms were constructed with full length 2x4s and were never meant to be disassembled.


Day 4 - The ceiling is suspended from the joists above it by a hardware assembly that Tom (our carpenter) came up with. Michael liked the design of this assembly so much that he asked me to make sure it got posted where everyone can reference it in the future.


Most of the rest of day 4 was spent straightening out the walls and making sure the panels were flush with each other.

Day 5 - Starting to put in the ceiling panels.


Day 5 - The ceiling is done!


After a few panels near the door were attached, the room was finished. We wasted no time getting the Quads in and setting up a system. The trim still needed to be done, but Tom didn't think he could schedule it until after Michael was leaving. To my surprise, I got a call the next day from Tom asking if he could do the trim on Monday morning, less than 24 hours before Michael's flight out.

Day 6 - The system comes out and the trim goes in. I don't have any pictures of this in progress, but you can see the results in Michael's postings above. The trim took most of the day, and when it was done we were in a rush to put my system in and get it tuned before Michael had to leave. I'll leave the details about system selection and tuning for the next post.

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Bill333

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PostSubject: It Pays To Have An Equipment Closet   Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:09 pm

Choosing an equipment stack for the tunable room involved some surprises. I liked my equipment and thought it would be as simple as positioning everything in the room and tuning it up. But not every piece of equipment is appropriate in a tunable room/system and I was about to get a quick audio demonstration in what untunable components do to a system.

My normal equipment stack was

Logitech Duet->Empirical Audio PaceCar->Altmann DAC->Placette RVC->Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 amp->Quad 57 speakers

The Altmann DAC was out being repaired, so the Magnavox MDV2100 DVD player was replacing the first three items as digital front end. As soon as Michael hooked things up and started listening, he was shaking his head. Something was killing the sound. He pointed to the Placette (volume control) and said it was coming from there. I'm not sure how he can tell these things, but we took the Placette out and ran the DVD player straight into the amp. It was too loud, but the sound clearly took a big jump forward- clearer, more dynamic, more detailed.

I had always thought the Placette was my most transparent component. Apparently not. Michael took it apart to see if it could be tuned up, but there was no tuning it: both parts of the chassis had thick rubber damping material glued to them, and the electronic components themselves were dripping with what looked like hardened silicone caulk.

Well, now what were we going to do? I needed a volume control and no one had any idea where to get one on short notice. Or any idea what kind of volume control would even sound good in front of the RWA amp. Frantically, I started going through my equipment closet. There was an old esoteric preamp which weighed 20 pounds- it likely would have sounded even worse than the Placette. I once soldered together a Bottlehead preamp, but couldn't find it. What was left? The Altmann BYOB amp had a volume control on it, but a 10W solid state amp was never going to drive the Quads. Or was it?

I had actually bought the BYOB amp years ago because I was impressed with the designer's audio philosophy. It wasn't until later that I got the 60's to match the BYOB amp and then started gravitating towards Michael's tuning methods. When I got the Quad bug a couple years ago, I wrote off the BYOB amp as unworkable and bought the more muscular Signature 30.2 amp. So it had been gathering dust in my storage room for a couple years.

We hooked it up and... it was not bad. Better than I expected. Michael listened to it for a few minutes and said, "That board is killing the sound". (How does he know these things? I have no idea.) I told him the circuit board is just screwed on to the wood, we can get it off of there in just a couple minutes. So I took the circuit board off and we set it directly on the equipment rack shelf.

Wham! Now we had sound! Clarity, definition, and huge soundstaging- far larger and more distinct than any other system I've heard. Other things we did were to put a top tuning canopy over the DVD player, strip its power cord and replace the plug with a lightweight plastic unit, remove both the front and back screens from the Quads, put all the wires up on cable grounds. and tune the equipment rack.

So what were the results? Soundstaging which is worlds beyond anything I've heard before. Soundstaging like this just laughs at walls- they might as well not even exist. It's easy to hear practically infinite depth in recordings. If an instrument was 40 feet from the microphone, you can point to it way out in the back yard. And I thought it was hard to get the Quads to soundstage. They just needed the right room. The rest of the sound was excellent: clear, dynamic and very immediate with tons of atmospheric detail. You really hear the recording venue. Keep in mind that all of this is when the equipment rack and the top tuning canopy are in tune. When they get out of tune, things go downhill quickly.
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PostSubject: BYOB   Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:22 am


Bill,

I enjoyed reading your post regarding the new room and equipment this morning. I am not surprised at your finding the Altmann amp very adequate in powering your Quads. I have discovered that 2.5 watts of tube power is all I need to power my 60s very nicely.

I discovered the Altmann amp and dac several years ago, and have heard both in friend's systems. I thought both were promising as tuneable components, so I am happy Michael got a chance to play with the amp. By the way, are you using battery power or power from the grid?

Thanks for sharing.
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:34 am

Hi Garp,

The Altmann equipment is all powered from an Optima Red Top battery. The electrical components (DVD player, etc.) are plugged into a tuned power strip which is wired directly into the fuse box with 18 gauge wire.
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:44 am

Hi Sonic,

As I mentioned in a post above, the walls are simply not a factor in the soundstage in a tunable room. I think this is really because the speakers are positioned to use the entire room to reproduce the original recording acoustic, rather than trying to focus the sound coming from the speakers towards the listener. Michael, do you want to weigh in on this?

I'm not sure why soundfield confusion from short reflections is not an issue in there. I can only tell you from experience that when the equipment is well tuned, there is no such thing as confusion in that soundfield. It's clear as a bell.

The inside dimensions of the room are 10'x12'x7'2", so it's actually a little smaller than you were thinking. I discussed room size with Michael quite a bit when we were planning this. I got the impression that the 10x12's were usually the best sounding tunable rooms. I think this is one case where bigger is not better, but Michael might want to comment on his experience with different sized tunable rooms.

Claustrophobic? Honestly, the idea had never occurred to me until you mentioned it. I like sitting in there, it's a very comfortable environment. There's no problem with stuffiness; I just leave the door open when I'm not in there. The only downside to the size is that there is really only one good listening position. I can fit at most two extra chairs on either side of the listening seat, but only the central seat gets the correct soundfield.

As far as humidity goes, Michael will have the last word on this, but my understanding is that you want to keep it as low as you reasonably can but the room will not be damaged if it goes higher. I sealed the basement thoroughly before I installed the room and I run a dehumidifier down there to keep the humidity to about 40% or below. In winter humidity in Chicago ranges from the 20s to the low 30s. In summer, it can easily be 50 or 60% even when it's not raining.


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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:28 am

Hi Sonic,

The rug is something Michael and I picked out after visiting a few stores. Michael dislikes wool, anything with a rubber backing, and anything very thick or absorbent and likes rugs that are thin, made of jute or other grass-like fibers, and have woven backs.

The current configuration is with corner tunes in each corner and an echotune on the middle of the front and back walls. There are two floorstanding PZCs at the front of the room reinforcing the pressure zones:




That's it. If I put even just one additional 10"x15" roomtune in there, it sucks the life out of the sound. The trick is to bring the acoustic under control with as little damping as possible. As you can see, it doesn't take much.

Michael is finishing a set of PZCs specially for the room. It's possible we may be able to use more of them in there than the roomtunes because they have a better ratio of reflection to absorption. I'm not sure how many Michael is planning to use, but we'll find out in a couple months.
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Robert Harrison



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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:39 pm

WOW!

You have really got something there. And it was a great plus that Mr. Green was there to personally guide you through it concerning what that amazing man can pick up on with a brief listen.

Now if it would just quit snowing every couple of days, you can relax and enter a new world of sound if you don't have to be out shoveling, eh? Enjoy yourself!
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:07 pm

Congratulations Bill333!

Your room and set with the Quads looks wonderful. And you got a good room there. Sonic found the dimentional ratios excellent -- 1 (H) : 1.4 (W) : 1.68 (L). Very well chosen ratios.

Calculating the room's modes Sonic got (roughly)...I know that the axial, obligue and tangential modes are more complicated than this rought counting....but these are the basic spread of modes in this room:

47.1 hz Length
56.5 hz Width
78.5 hz Height
94.2 hz
113.0 hz
122.4 hz x
122.6 hz x
135.0 hz
137.6 hz
141.3 hz
156.9 hz
169.5 hz
175.9 hz
188.3 hz
191.5 hz x
192.6 hz x
193.4 hz x
193.9 hz x
196.6 hz x
197.2 hz x
226.0 hz
235.4 hz
235.8 hz
239.2 hz x
239.5 hz x
240.1 hz x
282.0 hz x
282.5 hz x
315.6 hz
320.6 hz
329.6 hz x
339 hz
395.5 hz
473.4 hz
552.3 hz

The x's mark the frequencies where bunching up (two nodes falling within 2 hz of each others) giving excessive reinforcement at these bunched frequencies but you'll see there no x's below 100 hz in your room where these reinforcement get much audible.

You should be getting a really good frequency balance in this room. Did Michael choose this ratio or did you? It is almost text bookish when compared to Sonic's 1:1.4:2 which causes reinforcements in the bass which cause overhang and over emphasis of some frequencies which that I have to work at tuning out and even now are still slightly audible.

47 hz appears to be the lowest frequency that can be reproduced in your room conventionally without needing to pressurise the room with a subwoofer to get bass notes that are lower than the conventional cut-off. In my larger room I have bunching because the height and the length are near multiples of each other. To get low bass into the 20 - 30 hz, there could be a need for a hefty tuneable subwoofer from Michael or one of the pressure generators after Graham Holliman and the Eminent Technology fan bass driver.

There is something that is very correct in your room cheers

Wondering why you have no ETs on your sidewall, just 2 ETs on the front and rear wall of your lestinging room.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:24 pm

Hi Sonic

After doing this since forever I do everything by ear. No measuring tools at all. I've had people follow me with tools but I use the "tune" to get me where I want to go. BTW you might find this interesting but all my rooms go down to 16hz (when I do them). Because of this the bass extension even on small book shelf speakers defy what we think about full range. Go figure right! The tune has many tricks. As I'm curing the wood I can feel and hear when a piece is approaching full range sonic transfer. It's very hard to explain but once you get use to it you can pick up on it. I listen the same way, not paying attention to the cues that I think people do normally. In the long run you end up with tools that allow everything to disappear except the music. What's left is the listener's imagination to take the music wherever they want. I try not to dictate or push my way of listening on another but instead I try to get that listener to the point where they become master of their domain. I'm a strong believer that everyone has their own personal right and wrong as well as goose pimple buttons that makes the music special to them. This is why I do not agree with people pushing the absolutes in music. Obviously those people have not lived with what Bill now has.

I'll tell you guys what turns me on about this hobby. Yesterday I was talking to Bill while working on shipping products out to a client in NY and NC. I could hear in Bill333's voice that he was picturing the audio chain flow in his mind. As you can see by his pics there is very little in the way of mass left in his system. This gives the tools of the tune tons of opportunity to "shape purity" as well as Bill333 to reach the audio promise land that we all seek for ourselves.

That's rich! My definition of wealth and success is possessing the ultimate in what we do and are, and having the ability to give it to others as it has been given to us. Being at the top of the audio mountain and seeing listeners embrace this odd beautiful thing we call the "tune" is nothing but thrilling for me. This last year Bill333 gave me the opportunity to go all the way and I must tell you that besides having the personal life I was blessed with there is nothing I enjoy more than the tune!

I will touch on the disappearing act of "The Tunable Room" and the way we listen shortly.

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:46 pm

Quote :
As I mentioned in a post above, the walls are simply not a factor in the soundstage in a tunable room. I think this is really because the speakers are positioned to use the entire room to reproduce the original recording acoustic, rather than trying to focus the sound coming from the speakers towards the listener. Michael, do you want to weigh in on this?

This is perhaps one of the areas of our hobby that is the least understood and the most important to come to terms with. In Bill333's room the walls are built to be heard to the point of completely disappearing. There is no way to get rid of the room! Those who have tried to do this through dampening fail miserably ending up listening to acoustical distortion. The science of this is very simple. As soon as you set yours speakers in the room the room itself becomes the speaker producing sound that contributes greatly to the audio chain. As a matter of fact the room contributes far more to what the ear is receiving than the speakers themselves. The speakers are merely the starting point of the sound wave/air pressure relationship. All of you who have traveled down the road of the sound wave/room reaction seriously have heard the the ill effects of room distortion. Listeners that are less knowledgeable in the field call the amplification of the sound wave distortion but the reality of the matter is the only way we hear is through the amplification of sound waves. Sound waves are only one part and must be tied to SPL, EPL, IPL, PVL and others to make up what we hear. We have to go back to the big picture of everything effects everything else to really get our arms around what is going on in a room.

The Tunable Room is designed on the understanding that our ears are going to gather the pluses and minuses of the entire listening environment. I make each part of these rooms respond as naturally as possible to any given sound wave or vibration. Everything in the room's construction is a vibrating conductor or a transfer devise. In essence the room is built to talk to itself and any thing in it. The secret to it's abilities is how it is able to align harmonic structures in relationship to acoustical, electrical and mechanical vibrations. These 3 are closely related to each other and are all apart of the audio chain collectively and individually. Again let me make this perfectly clear, "you do not hear your speakers". You hear your speakers and all of the pluses and minuses of the room and everything that the room is touching including the air.

So, how is this room able to disappear? The Tunable Room is not built to disappear but to appear as a conduit for sound without distortion. This is probably a frightening statement based on what we have been brainwashed to believe but it is the scientific truth and not audiophile mythology. All of these products out there built on the false belief that you can directly absorb a sound wave or audio signal into existence can only lead to the missing of parts of the original recordings information. Sound waves are all about a building process that requires the full harmonic structure of musical notes and the capture of recorded air. In a play back setup the goal is to keep this structure true to form as it amplifies (increasing strength) or maintains (an existing state) through the air to your ears. In audiophile circles we are taught that vibrations are bad. Well if you didn't have them you would hear nothing, zero, zilch. Your hearing itself is based on little vibrating bones and vibrating membranes. The question for the audio community should be "how do I transfer information through vibrating without loosing the orginal vibrations?".

The Tunable Room Operates much like a full range tuning fork

Look at a set of tuning forks. There are usually eight forks in a set, and they are all of different sizes. The fork is ''played'' by striking it against a hard surface, which makes the prongs vibrate - rather like plucking a string. The same rules also apply to tuning forks - the lower notes are made by forks that are longer and thicker, so that they do not vibrate so fast. A set of tuning forks make the notes C, D, E, F G, A, B & C. The first and largest fork produces middle C. Then they go down in length and thickness, making the notes D to B. The smallest (eighth) fork is a C again, but this note is one octave higher than middle C. They are very carefully made, so that each fork makes a pure sound, with a regular wave that has a fixed number of vibrations per second. What happens when you direct dampen a tuning fork with an object that doesn't have the same harmonic structure? The fork produces noise (distortion). What happens when you direct couple a tuning fork to a larger mass in tune? Naturally amplified pure sound (no distortion). The larger mass (MGA voiced wood) in tune will maintain and or amplify the sound of any audible signal without distortion.

Noise occurs when a sound wave has no smooth, regular pattern. It consists of a mixture of different vibrations out of tune with each other. This is know as Harmonic Imbalance". The wave is all mixed up. Pure sound is when the sound wave or waves have a smooth regular pattern. When a room is able to reproduce pure sound consistently the sound of the walls or boundaries disappear sonically allowing the listener to hear the signal in a real space real size stage. The room at this level of listening becomes a natural extension of the audio chain without distortion (noise). The patterns in the room match those of the signal produced by the speaker (if the speaker is in tune) making it easier for the ears to discern a clear SPL driven set of continuous sound waves.

Making all of this simple, The Tunable Room is a giant full range musical instrument reproducing the audio signal distortion free when in tune.

sunny


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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:27 am

Hi Guys,

I experienced that disappearing act that the tune can create. When I visited Michael in Vegas a few years ago, he had systems in 3 rooms - bedroom, living room, and listening room. I first listened in the bedroom, and was blown away by the sound of the 60's in the little room with a bed and comfy chair. It surrounded me in a way that transcended any physical characteristics of the room. The listening room even more so. The music just filled the room without acknowledging any boundaries, in full harmonic display. Yet it was the room and how it was tuned that was allowing this to happen.

In the living room, there was a big screen TV, and Michael played a Roger Waters concert dvd of Roger and his band playing The Wall. It sounded just like I was in the concert. So much musical information.... I didn't want to leave!

Listening to the newly constructed room at Bill's last weekend I heard the beginning of that same quality, and the room hadn't even started to settle, nor had the electronics and electrical. Can't wait to hear the room after it's had some time to find it's natural vibe.

Bill, sounds like you're learning your room's capabilities and hearing new things that are expanding your listening horizons ... fun, isn't it? sunny

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Bill333

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PostSubject: Review   Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:22 pm

A strange thing happened last night. I lost my wife.

I don't mean that we're estranged, I mean I just couldn't find her. I had been working on the above post until about 9:30 at night and I knew that she wanted to watch some TV shows. When I finished, I got up and called for her and I didn't hear a reply. I went down to the kitchen and the bedroom, where I would usually expect to find her, and she wasn't there. I called, but she didn't answer. I went down to the basement and checked the home theater. Not there. I was about to go up and look to see if her car was still in the garage when I thought to check the tunable room. And there she was, sitting in the chair listening to music. I couldn't have been more surprised if I saw the cat walking on his hind legs and wearing a waistcoat.

I should give some background at this point. I have known my wife for 19 years, and have been an audiophile for that entire period of time. I've had stereo systems set up in dedicated listening areas ever since she's known me. In all that time, I've never been able to get her to sit down and listen to music for more than a few minutes at a time before she pops up out of her seat and finds something else to do. Never has she brought me a piece of music and asked me to play it on the good system. So I was more than a little surprised to see her sitting there with her full attention focused on the sound.

Also surprising is what she was listening to. She doesn't know how to change the disc or even control the volume, so she was stuck listening to a record I've been using mostly for break-in lately: Vince Guaraldi's Greatest Hits. I like Vince Guaraldi, but the real reason I play the disc over and over again is because it doesn't have much dynamic range; I put the album on repeat, turn the volume low, and it doesn't bother us while we're sleeping. It's smooth, relaxing jazz music which I've heard hundreds of times. Enjoyable, but not the recording I would choose to captivate casual listeners. I've had the tunable room up for a week now and the Guaraldi album has seen more play time than any other. But this is the first time it glued anyone to their seat. So what's different now?

What's different is the Altmann DAC. I got it back the day before, after being repaired, and set it up on the same battery as the BYOB amp. After some fiddling around, I went out and bought an ethernet patch cable long enough to reach from the network hub into the listening room, and hooked up the Duet/PaceCar combo as digital transport. The sound was pretty raw: acid highs, poor dynamics and a very congested soundstage. I took the tuning canopy off the Magnavox and put it on the DAC in what I hoped was a good position, but heard no immediate improvement in sound. By this time it was late in the evening, so I put the Guaraldi album on repeat and went to bed hoping for the best.

In the morning, one thing led to another and I never made it back down to the room. At some point, I turned the volume up to normal listening levels, but never sat down to listen. So when I walked in on my wife, it was the first chance I had post break-in to hear the new front end. What I was hearing was impressive: dynamic, rich, detailed and with a good soundstage. But more than that, it was so relaxing that I just slumped down into my seat and let my breath go out with all the days tension, and started to breathe in the pure beauty of the music.

So how does it stack up against the MDV2100? I'm not going to lie to you- I'm not a fan of the DVD player. Beside the difficulty of using a device with no user interface, the sound has always left me somewhat cold. Not completely uninvolved, but not all that interested in hearing the next song, either. I have always found the Altmann far more musically engaging. I have more to say about the differences in sound between the two, but let's start by comparing the usual audiophile parameters:

Soundstaging- The Magnavox is a soundstaging monster. Properly stripped and tuned, you can hear and precisely locate every instrument and every sonic detail in a recording. At the beginning of the listening session yesterday, the Attraction DAC had decent soundstaging, but not in the Mag's league. By the end of the listening session the soundstage had refined to the point where it was losing little, if anything, to the MDV2100. So they will both throw a very large, very accurate soundstage, but one thing I hear different between the two is that the Altmann has a much weightier presentation. Images of instruments and vocalists sound denser and more solid.

Dynamics- Both units are as dynamic as the equipment rack, the tuning canopy, and the room itself allow them to be. What I notice in my system now is that detail and dynamics both seem to be largely determined by the state of tune in the equipment rack and top-tuning canopy. If anything sounds amiss in the system, those are the first places I look.

Detail- As above, when properly tuned, the Magnavox and the Altmann seem about equal. What is different is the tonal richness of the Altmann DAC. I'm not sure if detail is the right word for it, but I am hearing a level of realism in the reproduction of instruments that I wasn't getting from the DVD player. I used to take piano lessons and am pretty familiar with the sound of pianos; listening through the Altmann, I was startled by just how real the piano sounded on some of the Guaraldi recordings.

For the most part, DAC and player stack up equally- properly tuned, either one of them will deliver true high end sound. What is not equal is the musical enjoyment I get from them. The Attraction DAC has always done it for me and tuning it only makes it better. Yet the well-tuned DVD player just isn't really delivering the same experience. One of the ways I measure how engaging a system is for me is by monitoring the states of mind and body that I reach while listening. Reverie is a dream-like state of deep relaxation that I sometimes go into and goosebumps are another thing I look for when the music is particularly thrilling.

In the week that I was listening to the DVD player, I think I got two half-way goosebumps experiences the entire time. With the Altmann DAC, I was averaging two or three times per evening. And reverie is much more easily available with the Altmann than it was with the Magnavox.

I originally bought the Attraction DAC on the basis of a single review. The review is by Dick Olsher and is available at this link. I invite you to try a thought exercise: before reading any farther, click on the link and read, or at least skim through, the review. When you're done, think about the next line for a minute.

Dick Olsher has no idea what top tuning is. You do.

So what makes this device any different from the DVD player? At least a couple things: oversampling (the Altmann doesn't), and the DA chip- the Altmann uses a ladder DAC while the DVD player uses a multibit sigma-delta design. Read this article by Charles Altmann for an explanation of why ladder DACs sound more natural and why sigma-delta converters are much more commonly used.

What I'm trying to tell you after all this writing is that the Attraction DAC is a brilliantly engineered piece of electronics, which is, at the same time, completely tunable. It has no chassis, no transformers, weighs next to nothing and comes with its own piece of lacquered wood. I urge you to get one for yourself. You won't be sorry.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:50 am


Hi Bill333

How's your system coming along? You'll also probably have read Sonic's latest introduction of the Musical Fidelity V-DAC into my system and how it is connected up.

Just wanted to check with you -- what cable do you use as a digital coax between your CD transport and the Altmann?

I had a look at the Altmann site -- looks like someone else has gotten into using a wood base for the circuitry instead of the over engineered metal stuff, and very reasonably priced too.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:45 am

Hi Sonic,

Things are coming along pretty well. Most of my time working with the system is spent trying to get it into good voice for a listening session. It would be nice if every time I achieved a great sound it stayed that way, but that's not what happens. The sound is influenced by a number of things. Here is a list of the top 10:

  1. The rack
  2. The rack
  3. The rack
  4. The rack
  5. Pieces of wood I put between the springs and the equipment
  6. The rack
  7. Placement of Roomtunes in the room
  8. The rack
  9. The room
  10. The bloody rack


Basically, the rack just doesn't stay in tune. When I get it sounding good, it lasts at most a couple of hours and sometimes only minutes. At the beginning of a listening session I jump up and down from my listening seat several times or more to fiddle with the nuts. If I'm lucky I get good sound and it lasts a while. If I'm not lucky...

Michael is making me some equipment platforms which should sound great and will require none of the fiddling I've been doing. I am looking forward to this. bounce

As far as the room itself goes, it already enables a level of soundstaging beyond anything I've heard in any other system. But this is completely stable, so I don't need to do anything to it and don't think about it much. Eventually, the room will settle to a point where the harmonics open up and are greatly enhanced over what I'm currently hearing. Michael may want to kick in a post about what else we can expect as the room matures.

I'm using a Black Cat Veloce cable between the PaceCar and the Altmann DAC. I think it sounds fine, but I have not done extensive comparisons. In my experience, whatever the effect of the cable on the sound, it is far less than what the rack is doing.

As far as the V-DAC goes, I heard it at Drewster's place a year ago and was not impressed, but better tuning may bring out a level of performance I didn't hear then. I actually brought the Altmann equipment and we compared them, but other than generally preferring the Attraction DAC, I cannot remember exactly what we heard.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:21 am

Hi Bill,

I don't remember either what we heard with the V-Dac and Altmann comparison when you were over last year. I don't recall that I had taken the dac out of the chassis, which did help open it up quite a bit when I eventually did. Recently the dac was reclaimed by its owner, so I'm back to the most recent Samsung dvd player as my source. The Samsung is more open and relaxed sounding than the V-dac, but the V-dac had a little more body and punch. That's without top tuning for the V-dac, while the Samsung is top tuned.

Glad to hear you're getting the goosebumps. afroafro



jocolor jocolor

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:44 am


Hi Bill333

Sonic had a similar but milder experience with my tuneable rack. I am using the older Deluxe Justarack -- with the 1.5 inch hemlock chipboard shelves with mild steel rods. Heavier by quite a bit than the later pine racks. Initially Sonic found the rods going oiut of vertical every couple of days and the sound closing down, a lot of repeated setting up that tested my dedication to the Tune and self control.... then things settled to just one rod (RH, rear) that kept coming loose.

It took weeks, maybe a couple of months before the rack stabilised (or I learnt by practice how to tune it right) and the sound became consistent. And this was with the older and heavier racks....I can imagine the sort of experience you are having with the lightweight racks.

Sonic thinks the word is "persevere".....the racks make good musick in the end and have a large influence on the sound you get. Of course it take people of our stripe to be dedicated to musick and the Tune to struggle with things like this and push on.

Right now I am hearing a V-DAC settle with the sound changing by the day. Sometimes i need more MW, other times less...sometimes need more tension on tuning bolts other times none.

Is this a syndrome of some sort or an advancement -- for instance how many of the audiophile equipment swappers ever get to the point of commenting on how their systems change with temperature, humidity and suchlike.

Of course some of these audiophiles may argue from the POV of performance repeatability. I can understand the logic and this has influenced how Sonic goes about the tune -- you'll probably notice that my approach is circumspect and related to mono-item tuning rather than going full throttle into the tuning of both supporting structures and equipment in inter-related subsystems.

Sonic


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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:33 pm

Hi Guys

I'm really looking forward to taking some evenings and writing. So many thoughts are rolling around in my head to talk about. But, for now, I've been in the world of sanding and voicing. A place that takes me far away to another very private area for me. At the same time I can feel the excitement of tunable systems developing.

sunny

as the tunable room begins to settle

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:10 pm

There's been a lot going on with the room lately, so I'm going to put up some short posts to let people know what I've been doing.

One thing I've been experimenting with is rugs. We have an old bokhara rug in the family (3'2"x4'2") which I tried out in the room and really liked. It seems to focus the whole sonic picture with no downside that I noticed. I just put it on top of the jute rug. The bokhara is wool, with a very short nap (1/4") and a pretty low thread count for an oriental rug. I'm not sure how things will go when the room is more mature, but this seems good for now.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:44 pm

Another thing that's new is that I got the Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 amp back after having a volume control installed on it. I swapped it into the system without modification and the sound was very constrained- undynamic with suppressed harmonics. After removing the cover, removing the battery hold downs and cutting off the wire ties, I am back to some very nice sound. And this is with the amp sitting on the floor with the batteries in the chassis.

Okay, a few days have passed and I have now soldered in longer wires so I can get the batteries out, and have put everything up on springs. After a 1 day break in period, things are sounding very good-- even more dynamic and with a little bit more of the inner beauty of the music coming through.

In comparison to the Altmann amp, they strike me as sounding very similar. But I think the 30.2 may have a somewhat flatter frequency response into the Quads, and I think it sounds a little more solid than the BYOB amp. As far as dynamics, soundstaging, etc., that seems to be mostly determined by the tuning.

But what I'm really excited about is that I now have remote volume control. cheers The Altmann amp only has a manual volume control and there is no easy way to add it short of using a preamplifier. But the 30.2 has a nice remote control, so I will never have to get up out of my listening seat again!

Seriously, though, not having remote control makes it really difficult to put the equipment rack outside of the room. Every time I want to change a disc, start or stop a song, or adjust volume, I would need to get up out of my seat, unlatch the door, walk around the side of the room, make the adjustment, walk back around into the room, latch the door, and sit back down. Maybe more than once if the volume isn't exactly where I wanted it to be.

Getting the equipment out of the room pays sonic dividends in terms of being able to have a larger equipment platform than you could possible have in a room of this size. The larger platform means deeper, fuller resonance and more body to the sound. The other dividend is that the tuning is more stable; it isn't always being knocked out of adjustment by the sound waves in the room and by me jumping up and down and tapping my feet.

I know there are people out there who consider it lazy to be unwilling to get out of one's seat to make adjustments, but I find that being able to make minor volume adjustments from my listening seat helps me stay in the flow of the music. So I see the remote control as a very positive development.

Where do other tunees stand on this issue?
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun Mar 06, 2011 11:06 pm

Okay, here is where things really get interesting.

Before Michael left, he showed me a bunch of different tuning enhancements to try. One of them was a second set of floorstander PZCs in the back corners of the room. I immediately disliked the sound when I first heard it- it made the soundstaging images huge and unfocused and seemed to force everything into the center of the room. So I consigned it to the dustbin of failed experiments and went on with other things...

But then a few days ago, I was experimenting around and put the second set of floorstanders into the back corners just to see what would happen. I was shocked when I heard the big, gutsy, intense sound that I was getting. What had changed? I'm pretty sure this was purely the result of the room settling in. Every recording seemed to be kicked up several notches- vocals and instruments just seemed more powerful. I hadn't thought there was anything lacking at the sides of the soundstage before, but with the back PZCs in place, images at the sides took on richness and intensity that made the previous setup sound anemic in comparison.

This was a major step forward in the excitement of the musical presentation, but at the same time I was losing some of the clarity and organization in the soundstage that I had grown used to. What had been a deal-breaker back when Michael demoed it for me a month ago was now a much more minor problem that I could easily live with in return for the increased dynamics and richness that I was hearing.

But could I have it all? I put in call to Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery to find out.

Unfortunately, my call never reached Austin Powers, but was instead intercepted by Dr. Evil!



Now, you need to understand that I would never use non-MGA products in my tunable room, but Dr. Evil has no such qualms. Before I knew it, I was tied up with ropes and dangling upside down over a swimming pool full of sharks with deadly laser beams attached to their heads. Helpless, I could not stop Dr. Evil from pulling my Argent Roomlenses out of storage and sticking them all over inside the room.

After lengthy experimentation with both the Roomlenses and the positioning of the four floorstanders, Dr. Evil finally settled on a wider separation of the front floorstanders with a more acute angle to the back wall, and a single Roomlens in between and little bit forward of them. Dr. Evil reported that the sound was better without the second and third Roomlenses and that the positioning of the rear PZCs did not seem to have a great effect on the sound. But a single Roomlens gave the soundfield a top to bottom clarity that had been missing from the four PZC setup while still retaining the intense dynamics and harmonic richness.

When I was finally released, Dr. Evil had long since made his getaway. Of course, I was going to undo his evil handiwork in my listening room. Well, right after I did a sound check. Alright, maybe a couple more songs. Okay, I may have to keep it this way for further study...
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:46 am


This is terrible! What a thing to do!

You must show up Dr Evil's dastardly deeds by including pictures of the crime for evidence.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:10 am


Hi Bill333

But seriously, the Roomlenses are (in earlier tune-think) one of the few products that were approved or tolerated and could work with Tune gear from Michael.

This is unlike all the contoured foam and the cylinders, half cylinders and quarter cylinders if you know what product I am talking about. That were completely incompatable with MGD products.

Argent Roomlenses are really just helmholtz resonators with each tube in the triplet set tuned to control a different frequency. There are sites that teach making a DIY versions.

I may make a pair to go in my room's rear corners...heh heh.....since using anything evenly mildly absorptive like Echotunes and DRTs close down the sound in the rear quadrants. I believe Aeroplanes, Tuning walls and PZCs without burn could work. But for now Sonic may go hunting for PVC tubes and fibreglass.

Right now my room has reached a nice equilibrium with the DRTs set = (in a parallel pair) at the front wall and a big re-angling job done that affected most Shutters in the room. The sound is very good and I got a huge soundstage with clarity. More info in my thread oer the next few days.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:49 pm

About 2 years ago Drewster and I were talking about introducing the room attenuator but decided that the timing would be off. Here is a diagram of the product. The materials used are a little different from room lenses (which introduce a bit of a plastic sound). There are several tricks to different versions of the round products that are worth exploring if your careful not to get too far out on a limb.



"price, one million dollars"

One thing to be cautious of with any round tube acoustical product is the trade off of frequency exchange that is very delicate. Tubes are tuned to a particular frequency or pitch. If you take these pitches out of the equation in a room you have to replace them with something else or loose them all together. Basically these and pressure boxes work the same way. The way to counteract the short comings (if there are any) is with a variable tuning port or a tuner that acts similar to that of a drum head.

Something that I did with lenses when faced with problems is to put round clamps on them with wood to change the sound. Also ported wood end caps.



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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:20 am


Hi Bill333

Sonic too is experiencing the pain of the Tune. And know what...something I forgot to say on my thread that I heard what my room was doing incompletely (the patches of acoustic deadness) when I listened at floor level to harpsichord musick -- I hear the high, middle and low notes all over the room but nothing not even room echoes at the door zones -- so it was clear where the problem lay and I could think of fixing it.

You know when things go wrong with the tune and nothing works, every steps worsens things, it can be depressing to the point of junking everything and becoming a conventional audiophile but when the tune works, nothing makes musick like it.

How is your room and rack?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Mar 11, 2011 10:37 pm

Hi Sonic,

I'm having a bit of a rough patch, too. Thanks for asking. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours tuning things this way and that, but never got the system to a point where I felt like just sitting down and listening. That's disappointing, because the entire reason I went in to my room in the first place was because I wanted to listen to a few things. I had heard 'The Ocean' by Led Zeppelin and 'Rain' by the Beatles when I was driving in the car and wanted to hear them on the good system.

Unfortunately, it was one of those situations where I go in, sit down, and 60 seconds later I'm saying, 'Uggh! Something is not right here.' And then I start looking around for things to fix. Maybe I'm just young in the tune and naive, but I am much less reticent to make changes than you (Sonic) are. I just start hauling things in and out, tightening and loosening things, moving and removing PZCs, Roomlenses and RoomTunes. And of course the tunable room... is a sound adjuster's paradise. I can tighten and loosen screws in there all day. But to what effect?

Probably better to start from the beginning. The sound was flat, lifeless, and lacking detail and clarity. A little side story here-- I was demoing the system a couple of weeks ago for my friend Scott. He commented that it didn't sound nearly as good as the time he heard it when Michael was here, and that it sounded "like radio.". I was embarrassed, but he was right. The system and the room have come a long way since then, but for whatever reasons, 'radio' is where things were again yesterday.

Of course, the first thing I did was to turn a suspicious eye on the rack. I checked the nuts and made a few adjustments, but nothing was really out of whack. The adjustments made a very mild improvement, but there was nothing more I could do to the rack.

I wondered if there was something going wrong with the Red Wine Audio amplifier I had just put in the system. I tried putting some pieces of finished wood underneath the batteries and above the springs, but this had little or no noticeable effect on the sound.

Looking around me for other tuning possibilities, I saw the RoomTunes strips at the rear wall seams. I thought I probably didn't need those since I now had floorstanders in the rear corners, so I pulled them out. That brought a mild increase in dynamics with no downside that I could hear. Okay, so far so good.

Next, I thought that if I tightened the tuning bolts on the floorstanders, I might be able to kick up the dynamics, the transient attack, and the soundstage clarity. DENIED! No It brought a certain kind of hardness to the sound, but at the total loss of the music. It's not that it was too hard, but it's like all (and I mean ALL) the inner beauty of the music disappeared. I have tightened the tuning bolts on those floorstanders before, but have always ended up loosening them again. Now I know why.

Floorstanders restored, I tried pulling the RoomLens out. No, still better with it in, for all the same reasons listed in the original post on the subject.

At this point, I brought in the tuning screwdriver. There is a nothing to make you feel empowered like a screwdriver and a tunable room. Feeling fearless, I started creating halos at the front, back and side walls, and even on the ceiling. A 'halo' is a pattern where the four center screws of a panel are tightened, and the outer screws are loosened. Well, now I was getting someplace! Unfortunately, it just wasn't any place I really wanted to go. I was making the sound bounce around between very dynamic with cloudy soundstaging and badly overloaded crescendos on the one hand, and poor dynamics with clear images and better organized crescendos on the other. Eventually, I adjusted the screws to a point where dynamics were good, if not great, and reasonably clear images of vocalists and instruments were being maintained. Not as good as I've heard from the system in the past, but a lot better than where I was a couple hours ago.

One of the details about my room that hasn't been mentioned so far is that we never installed tuning bolts on the walls. I have the hardware and Michael finished the wood for the tuning braces, but I decided I wanted to get used to tuning with the screws before we moved on to tuning bolts. So right now, the only panel in the room that has a tuning bolt is the door. Curious, I got out the hex wrench and tightened it up. Wow! Now that has an effect! Everything was tighter and more dynamic. Drum hits hit hard. Unlike with the floorstanders, there was no sonic downside that I could hear. Experimenting around with the tightness on the bolt, I discovered that it takes very little pressure against the wood to get an effect, and you have to completely loosen the bolt away from the wood to get back to the original untuned state. What would it be like if I had a whole room full of these tuning bolts? Powerful, very powerful. Exclamation

Setting the bolt to what seemed like an optimal position, I sat down to listen. And... still no joy. The sound was far better than where I started, but I just was not enjoying it. After thinking about what I was hearing, I think that what was missing is a certain kind of inner detail to the music. This is the detail that makes voices and instruments sound real. It also brings out the beauty of the music. I've gotten a taste of it from previous listening sessions, and I just wasn't hearing it this time. Frustrated, I gave up for the day.

But don't worry, I have more ideas...
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