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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat Apr 09, 2016 11:48 am


Hi Bill333

One thing Sonic marvels at is when audiophiles are faced with an EQ, they get all scared about using it (one said to Sonic "I might be changing the sound and messing about with it").

Yet these same audiophiles are quite happy to change cables, tubes, isolation devices and proudly claim "when I added [device/tweak], the midrange became more realistic...the bass went lower, the highs had more sheen....the sound was so realistic...etc"

There is a contradiction in here somewhere.

One thing Sonic has learned is not to fear EQ but with determination go and use it.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:13 pm

Hi Sonic,

I'm sure you're right.  I am hesitant about using EQ for a few reasons - partly for the reason you gave, partly because it's just a very foreign idea, and partly because I don't think it will solve anything I was actually looking to solve.   On the other hand, I saw a JVC SEA-10 go for $25 on ebay recently, so what have I got to lose?  For that kind of money I can give it a try.  If it doesn't work out, I can just add it to my equipment closet.  Or I might find out that I actually like shaping the sound.   Shocked

In any case, I have ordered the Aune X1S and Asus X555LA laptop.  So it's going to be a whole new computer audio adventure!  cheers   Thanks a lot for your help in pinning down the details.  If the sound works out for me as well as it has for you and Hiend001, I might put a post up on www.computeraudiophile.com and see if we can generate some interest.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:10 pm

Hi Bill

If you find two JVC SEA-10 that cheap send one to me Idea

Would be cool to have the 3 of us exploring it Smile

and

As soon as I am done with some of my speaker playing (some what) I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys are up to with the Aune X1S and Asus X555LA laptop.

I like moving slow as a turtle, at the same time watching TuneLand getting into the future excites the G-willies out of me. As I am doing my listening I'm totally focused on what's going on, and with that my mind plays repeat. I'm very much looking forward to sinking my teeth into these new sources.

The posting you guys are doing is great Exclamation

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:43 pm

Hi Michael,

I'll keep my eye out for JVC SEA-10s.  I know you're working up something good with those speakers, but I hope you'll be joining the computer revolution soon - I think we might have a real winner with the Aune X1S/laptop configuration.  

I got the Aune/laptop combination working earlier this week and started breaking it in.  After 36 hours I sat down to listen and thought it sounded midrangey and unfocused with a rolled off top and bottom.  Oops!  It turns out that the Topping amp needs time to warm up when its volume has been turned down low for a long time.  After a 30 minute warm up it was a whole different ball game.  The bass guitar on Sun King/Abbey Road was full, deep and well developed and the highs were sparkling.  The instruments were floating across the sound stage in wide arcs.  I sat down for a test listen and ended up listening to it all the way through, twice.  Shocked  I'm just working from memory, but I think this was at least the equal of the Magnavox without a top-tune on it.  And the Aune hasn't been tuned at all.  It's still in its box, sitting on its little rubber feet.   Suspect

I just spent most of the weekend configuring the laptop's hard drive to have a single large data partition.  For people new to computers and audio, this wasn't strictly necessary, but it works better with the way I keep my music collection on backup drives.  In any case, not for the faint-hearted.  I had to temporarily disable core parts of the operating system and use third party partitioning software to move and resize the partitions.  The short and long of it is that I finally got my entire 2500 album music collection on the laptop.  I'm listening to Vince Guaraldi right now.  Very Happy

The next big step is to get MonkeyMote on my iPad working with Foobar2000.  This would be a big step up in the user interface department, although not strictly necessary for just playing music.  Unfortunately, I'm having some kind of network issues.  Technical problems to solve...
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:04 pm

AXPONA SHOW REPORT

I spent Friday and Saturday at the AXPONA 2016 audio show.  I believe I managed to listen to every room at least briefly.  In general, the sound ranged from inexecrable to merely unpleasant, with a few rising to the level of ok, not bad, and in one case, good.

One thing that was remarkable is the extent to which computer files have penetrated the high end audio market.  There were very few rooms that could play a CD for me.  In fact, there were more rooms that could put on a vinyl record than could play a CD.  That's kind of new.  Shocked  Almost every room had a file server connected to a DAC through some means or another.  Unfortunately, it's often a tricky operation to get a file server which is focused on its music database to read and play files through plug in media.  Which means it isn't easy to hear your own music, even if you brought it on a USB flash drive.

Still, I always enjoy these events.  It's nice to get to meet the people behind the equipment in this hobby.   Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:46 am

Hi Bill

I'd like to share your report on the AXPONA 2016 thread. I would also absolutely love any specific reviewing from you on some of the systems, thoughts and even interactions with any designers or representatives. Also if you went to any of the seminars.

Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:59 am

I would very much like to join the TuneLand Computer Club Exclamation If I had everything here now I would probably jump in, but without, I'll keep focused creating some good reference cues for later listening. I do have two DAC's here now BTW, but would also like referencing the same systems as you guys eventually.

I'm really happy seeing you use the upstairs space.

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 22, 2016 10:35 am

Okay, I've been listening to the Aune/Asus for over a month now, and something is not going right.  I took the Aune out of its chassis about a week ago and I've barely been able to listen to music since.  The first song I played on it, I had one of those double check moments where I had to question if I was still listening to the same song I had been listening to before I did the work.  It was the same, but I think the frequencies had been bunched up before and were now spread out in a more natural manner.  That's the good.  The bad part is that the sound had gone into the speakers and it took a couple days for it to relax to the point where it was half as good as it had been before.  Am I suspending the circuit board wrong?  I have it up on two LTR blocks.

I recall reading something on Hiend001's thread about how he got his sound to a new level by plugging in his components (including the Aune) differently.  Can someone tell me how to do that?

Here's a picture of the current setup:
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 22, 2016 10:37 am

Hi Michael,

Is there a thread for the 2016 Axpona show? I'd be glad to post something, but I didn't find one when I looked.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 22, 2016 2:43 pm

http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t362-axpona-2016

Thanks Bill, that would be great Exclamation

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon May 23, 2016 8:14 am


Greetings Bill333

Hmmm....your experience with the Aune is a puzzlement, of course the ASUS and AUNE are One System and should be considered such. Is your digital peak playback level on the Foobar set at 0db? If it is, drop it to -5dB, to prevent overloading of the following input stages. Just an idea, Sonic learnt this trick from someone who knows loads about digital level and "loudness wars". This is easy to do on the Foobar desktop -- it is the small volume control icon next to the Stop, Play, Pause buttons and the track playback progress slider.

As for the Aune have a look at page 10 of the venerable Hiend001's thread, start reading from his Oct 11, 15 posting. There is nothing unusual in his set up. USB 2.0 cable is stock, he removed the casing and the front panel and placed his AUNE PCB on wood blocks 2 rear, 1 front and top tuned.

Sonic's support of the AUNE with Low Tone Redwood blocks is very similar to yours -- two at the sides taking the weight and one in the front to give a bit of stability.

Hiend001 and Sonic use the line level/non-variable output (looks like you do too) and you'll see his Michael Green interconnects going to the centre set of the three pairs of the AUNE's RCA female jacks in some of the pictures from February 2016. Hiend001 has removed the rubbery caps that cover the unused RCA jacks. Sonic leaves the rubbery cups in place.

I see you have removed the rear plate of the AUNE. Neither Heind001 (at the time of his posts) or Sonic has, yet this should not give such noticeably poor sound.

Hope this helps, friend Bill333.

Could you elaborate "The bad part is that the sound had gone into the speakers and it took a couple days for it to relax to the point where it was half as good as it had been before." Half as good as the Magnavox I supposed, yet in what ways?

Sonic


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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu May 26, 2016 2:54 am

Hi Sonic,

Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful post.  

I believe I have found and solved the problem.  While I was crawling around on the floor trying to change the filter on the Aune, I noticed that the circuit board was not lying flat on the wood blocks.  The weight of the front panel had tipped the board forward a little, and it was sitting in a stressed position with one end in contact with the blocks and the other end in the air about 1/8".  Once I corrected this, the sound took a great change for the better.  So much better that I actually decided to put a top tune on it for the first time ever.  The results were as expected for a top tune: greater clarity and a more three dimensional soundstage.  But I think a long way short of the WOW experience that Hiend001 described.  

I'm thinking the next steps are to remove the front panel, remove the casing from the power supply and try dropping a top tune on the power supply.  If I have enough parts, I'll try top tuning the amplifier as well.

When I said it took a couple of days for it to relax to the point where it was half as good as it had been, I meant the way the Aune had been before I removed its case.  At this point, I think the in-the-speakers problem has been completely remedied.

Best regards

Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu May 26, 2016 3:05 am

I was searching tuneland for posts where I have talked about ecstatic listening experiences, when I came across this.  I posted it a few years ago on Garp's thread, but I'd like to repost it here because I had almost forgotten I had written it and I'd like to remind myself of the path I'm on:

Hi Michael and Garp,

I'm glad you posted this because it gives me a chance to talk about what I'd really like to be hearing in a system.  This is something I've spent the last several months thinking about, and think I may have come to an understanding.  

The system I had going in the tunable room was excellent in many ways, but I didn't really find it very involving or satisfying.  I seemed to have been more or less alone in that assessment.  I vividly remember the visit with Herns, Michael, Andy and Bob over at my place.  They were absolutely loving the sound, while my feeling was that I was really impressed with it.  You'd think that I would have maintained this expertly tuned system in that state for as long as possible, but when they left I did what I always did: I aggressively retuned everything in an attempt to shape the sound into something that really moved me.  Of course I just ended up twisting the system into a pretzel.  Michael is probably laughing while he's reading this, because he knows better than anyone just how twisty my pretzel systems are.  So what was I looking for with all this tuning?

I believe that what I was looking for is something that I'll call 'vibrational intensity'.  This is kind of hard to talk about because it's so off the wall from what I hear other tunees and other audiophiles talking about, but my deepest desire in music reproduction is to hear every note and every instrumental image blooming with the inner beauty of that voice or instrument.  I think vibrational intensity is the result of the inner beauty of the instrument combined with good dynamics, detail, and a very dense, palpable stereo image.  

Listening to music is a very sensual experience for me that tends toward trance states.  When I'm really able to enjoy music the way I like to, I go into a reverie where I stop following the music with my mind and go still, letting the beauty and emotion of the music surround me like being submerged in an ocean of beautiful vibration.  I have had systems that allowed me to do this, but I haven't had many and none were as good at this as I would have liked.  The last system I had that did it was the NAS->Logitech Duet->PaceCar->Altmann DAC->Red Wine->Quad system I had set up in my loft just before the tunable room arrived.

Michael may remember the time when I was tuning the system in the tunable room myself and I rushed out all excited and asked him to come in and listen.  I was playing 'Come Together' by the Beatles and I had finally gotten the bass guitar to fill out the way I wanted it.  It was dense and solid, distinct in the sound stage, and I could really hear the beauty and detail of each note.  Michael sat down to listen and he couldn't hide the fact that he thought it was pretty bad.  He explained all the different ways the sound was messed up and of course he was right about all of them.  It was badly imbalanced, and after stepping back for a minute I heard it too.  But for one shining moment, I was marveling in the beauty of that bass guitar.  Even if I'd been willing to fight Michael on it, leaving it that way wasn't really an option - I've found from experience that the sound would eventually grow fatiguing and unsatisfying.  The tuning only worked for that one piece of music and one instrument within it.  Not a happy story, but is it possible to get the sound that I want in a way that works all the time?

I think that it is, but not with the equipment I've been using.  The Pioneer SX-3400 is a nice amplifier in many ways, but there is no amount of tuning that will give it the bloom and the inner beauty of a good valve amp.  The Pioneer is the one piece of equipment that's been constant in my tunable room systems for the last couple of years and I really think it may be the thing that led to my becoming disenchanted with my sound.  The Pioneer has a warm tonality, and is very transparent, very dynamic, and very detailed when it's well tuned, but it does not have any inner beauty to speak of.  Achieving a state of reverie was always difficult to do at best when the Pioneer was in the system.  Swapping it for something else is the obvious solution, but for a long time I just didn't understand why I wasn't getting to the places I used to go.

But inner beauty isn't the only thing necessary for me to enjoy music.  Having had some time to think about all this, I made a list of the qualities I need to have and not have in a system:

MUST HAVES
1.  Dynamic - The dynamics of a system need to be past a certain level for the music to be enjoyable and exciting.  The systems in the tunable room passed that point long ago and just kept going.  When I thought the dynamics couldn't get any more powerful, we'd make a change and take it even farther.  I'll take all the dynamic slam I can get, but I can enjoy music even on a more modest system if it's getting 2-5 right.
2.  Clear - If the sound isn't clear enough, nothing sounds real and it registers in my mind more like noise than music.  Again, it needs to be up to a level.
3.  Detailed - The sound should be at least reasonably detailed.  I love being able to hear all the detail I can, but this one is probably not as important as dynamics and soundstage organization.
4.  Soundstage Organization - This one is really critical because nothing throws me out of the music faster than a soundstage that doesn't sound right to me.  Instruments and voices need to come from particular places and not be overlapping, running into one another, or dissolving into a big sonic haze.  This is where Michael and I have butted heads time and again.  When he tunes the system the way he like it the sonic images are big, and to my ears, very diffuse.  To me, the images sound lightweight, ethereal and not at all like real people and instruments.  Does that mean I prefer a small soundstage?  That's an interesting question.  If Michael didn't bring the subject up, I honestly think I could play with stereo stuff for a hundred years before the idea of what size soundstage I preferred ever occurring to me.  I don't think it matters to me if the soundstage is 5 feet wide or 50 feet wide as long as it is focused and coherent.  The interesting question is whether it's possible to have a 50 foot wide soundstage that still has images that are dense and focused the way I like.  I don't know.  Michael?
5.  Inner Beauty - I'm not sure what the right words are to describe what I'm talking about here.  Tonal color?  Tonal richness?  Harmonic richness?  Whatever we call it, I need it if I want to enjoy music on a deeper level.  This is the one must have that the tunable room systems didn't do.  I can still rock out to Led Zeppelin or enjoy Gershwin without this, but I don't get to reverie states without at least some of this, and the more the better.


RUINERS
1.  Rushed - This is a frenetic, unsettled quality which creates a driven feeling in the music.  Some people don't mind it, or even like this but I cannot listen to a rushed system for very long.  I would rather hear a system sound 50% too slow than 5% too fast.  Maybe that's why I like that 'battery driven digital' sound.  Laughing
2.  Tilted Up - Before I started working with Michael I wasn't very sensitive to this.  Now I hear it immediately, even without a warmer system to compare it to.  A system that isn't doing bass just isn't worth listening to.
3.  Hard/Screechy/Sybillant - Any amount of these qualities will take me out of my enjoyment of music.

So after all this, the $64,000 question is: are tubes going to give me what I'm looking for?  I don't know yet, but I have an answer coming.  I ordered a DIY kit amplifier called the Elekit TU-879S and it should be arriving this week.  I am really excited about getting out the soldering iron and putting this thing together. bounce  Of course I've studied the pictures and have been busy thinking about how to liberate it from its chassis and put it on a nice tuning board.  The design is a 7 watt per channel single ended pentode using the 6L6 tube on the output.  It's said to do some very nice valve magic when it's paired with the right speaker.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu May 26, 2016 5:37 am

There was one other time on TuneLand (maybe a couple) when I was very much enjoying the fellowship of listeners and where we were at in the sharing. The last week or so reminds me of that season.

The tune comes to life when you can feel the brothers listening or talking about past experiences. I also love the diversity.

study

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu May 26, 2016 11:00 am


Greetings Bill333

Good that your system is back on track again Smile

I would like to do as you have done, that is to top tune the AUNE and see what results I get.

Are you doing it with just a canopy or you have the AUNE sandwiched between top and bottom pieces like Michael's mini-clamp racks of old? Does the point of the down rod touch the PCB or do you let the point rest on a small piece of Magic Wood that sits on the PCB?

Could you let know what you have done and when you can, post a picture of the top tune set up so that Sonic can follow your example?

A thought: if you top tune then won't switching on the AUNE knock the tuning/top tune off? Should Sonic go the top tune route, I would leave the switch in the ON position and control ON/OFF from the wall switch.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri May 27, 2016 6:25 am

Hi Sonic,

In answer to your questions, it's just the canopy and the tuning rod is going directly to the PCB.  I'll post a picture when I have a chance.

Regarding switching the Aune on and off - this is the advantage of removing the back panel.  The on/off switch is connected to a set of wires so you can put the switch anywhere within a 4 inch radius.  I keep mine over to the side where it can easily be reached under the canopy.

Have you removed the case from the power supply yet?  I haven't even looked at it, so I don't know how easy or difficult it's going to be.  If it's going to be a bear, it's nice to know in advance.

Best regards

Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri May 27, 2016 9:50 am

Hello Bill333

The idea of top tuning the AUNE is enticing! Sonic will go digging in the closet to see if I have the right parts needed to attempt this. Now the canopy wood will be all important looking at what Mr Green has been writing about the wood pucks.

Now the power supply of the AUNE. Honestly I won't touch it.

From what Sonic sees it is a moulded plastic box that is sealed so you'll have to break the casing to get to the insides.  Now what will you find inside? Now the box it says that the output is 12-0-12v AC so it is something simple -- a step down transformer and maybe some caps, since the output is AC there will be no rectifier network inside. Given the size and price point of the AUNE, there won't be much inside.

Will opening up something like this make good tuning? I doubt it and there is the danger to life from the 230V (120V where you are).  Sonic isn't planning to open this thing up.

Do put the picture of your Top Tuned AUNE up soon!

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat May 28, 2016 9:08 am

Hi Sonic,

Well, I have to confess that I have gone ahead and stripped everything down.  I removed the faceplate from the Aune, and I removed the case from the power supply and the jacket from the wires.  

The power supply box contains only a transformer - 2 wires in, 3 wires out.  The rest of the rectification must happen on the PCB.  Kudos to Aune for getting the weight of the transformer out of the chassis.  Anyway, getting the thing apart was no picnic.  It's held together by four phillips head screws, but they were quite difficult to remove.  I ended up backing them out a little which spread the case apart about a quarter inch, and then cutting through the screws with an electric multitool.  Once I got it apart, I was shocked at the amount of rubber involved in the whole thing.  There's a rubber pad glued to the bottom of the transformer, the wire jacket is a rubbery material, the strain reliefs are rubber, and both plugs seem to be made out of the same rubbery material as the strain reliefs.  The wires are stranded, something like 20 gauge, and run straight into the transformer.  The plugs were something I've never seen before - usually plugs are hollow and have a space inside where the wires make the connection to the pins, but these are solid fill.  It looks like the wires were soldered to the pins, the whole assembly placed in a mold, and then liquid rubber poured into it and allowed to harden.  The good news is that the rubbery stuff is pretty easy to cut with a knife.  I cut the jacket off the wires on both sides, and at the AC inlet end, I cut off the plug and reattached the wires to a minimalist plug made of hard plastic.  At the DAC end, I cut away 3/4 of the plug material but was forced to stop when I got down to the area where the wires were soldered to the leads on the pins.

I have to say I'm amazed that the Aune sounds as good as it does with all this rubbery stuff.  Also surprising to me is that stripping this stuff away has resulted in significantly worse sound.  When I first plugged everything back in, I thought the sound was very smooth and mellow.  But really, what happened is that it became cloudy and undynamic.  You know how when you make a change for the better, and the system suddenly sounds louder even though you haven't changed the volume?  This was the opposite.  I had to turn the volume on the Topping up to a level I have never used before just to get something that was reasonably listenable.  So this whole thing has really gone sideways.   No

At this point, I feel that I have no choice but to go even further and replace the stranded wires with good solid core, and the Aune-side power plug with a standard plastic plug.  Wish me luck.

Here's the system without the top tune:


Here's a closeup of the top tuned Aune:
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat May 28, 2016 10:04 am



Ooops...thinks Sonic. "Also surprising to me is that stripping this stuff away has resulted in significantly worse sound."

Yes, it is always a downer when you (or Sonic) does one of those tunes which are essentially non-reversible.

Dear Bill333, you have burned your ships and now there is no way but forward.

May success be yours!

Thanks for the pictures.

While the top tune of the AUNE x1s is theoretically good and an enticing prospect, Sonic is going to approach this cautiously.

Just a thought -- since you just introduced Top Tune, why don't you remove the top tuning canopy, power up the AUNE x1s and play some musick and see how everything sounds. Did any of the negative effects you observed come from the Top Tune execution?

Sonic


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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat May 28, 2016 1:45 pm

Hi Sonic,

As a matter of fact, I already tried removing the top tune this morning.  Unfortunately, all it did was coarsen the sound and add grunge to the high frequencies which hadn't been there before.  Sad

I went out to the store with my wife later this same morning and swung by the local Radio Shack to pick up the part I need, but I discovered that the store is closed and gone.   Sad  Sad   I knew they had closed some stores, but I thought this one was still open.  I'll try to find another one.  If that doesn't work, I'll have to mail order the part.  That would be a bummer, as I'd really like to get this fixed as soon as possible.

Anyhow, I'm glad I could contribute to our tuning knowledge base.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 29, 2016 9:43 am


Hi Bill333

This is a learning experience for all of us indeed. The steps you have taken to tune the transformer box is along an established tuning method. As such I wonder why it produced the results you observed.

Might the AUNE designers have been sophisticated listeners who selected this transformer unit to add or not interfere with the overall target sound they were going for (somehow I am sceptical). If so, then opening things up has thrown all bets off.

Of course:

a. it might settle after some time

b. the transformer needs to be tuned – how about putting wood over and under the transformer?

c. which filter setting are you using? Perhaps a change of filter setting might be the remedy?

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 29, 2016 5:37 pm

Hi Sonic,

Ok, I went over to one of the few remaining Radio Shack stores in the area, and they didn't have it.  I ended up ordering it from Digi-Key.  Or at least I think it's the right part.  It's hard to tell when there are twenty different kinds of 5-pin connectors.  In any case, the Aune is out of commission until at least the end of the week.

If I'm still having bad sound when I get the new part and wires in, I'll definitely give your suggestions a try.  In the meantime, this gives me a chance to do something else with the system...
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon May 30, 2016 1:31 am

RETURN OF THE ALTMANN DAC


As mentioned in my repost above, I have been looking through my past postings for those times when I was achieving heightened states while listening.  In reading through these, it seems like the Altmann DAC was involved in every post.  Well, it's been ages since I've had the Altmann DAC in the system.  If I have such great experiences with this DAC, why am I not using it more?  The big problem is that I don't have a good source to drive it.  The Altmann takes only S/PDIF in, either by coaxial digital cable or Toslink.  It doesn't have USB input, which makes it a non-starter for direct connection to a computer.  And not every device with an S/PDIF out will work with it either, the Magnavox MDV-2100 will drive other DACs from its digital output, but not the Altmann.

A year or two ago I bought a nice network endpoint (the SOtM SMS-100) and a USB to S/PDIF converter (the Gustard U12).  These units were well reviewed for providing great sound for very reasonable money.  The SMS-100 worked nicely as an endpoint, but the U12 was incompatible with the Altmann.  After that happened, I put the Altmann on the back burner and concentrated on other things for a while.

But it isn't strictly true that I have no sources that will drive the Altmann.  My old Audio Alchemy DDS-Pro transport has been gathering dust in the basement for twenty years, but it still functions.  And it works with the Altmann.  And I've got an Empirical Audio PaceCar and Logitech Duet that were custom built to support the Altmann.  Configuration is fussy, and I haven't had it working in years, but there's a good chance it could still work.  The real problem is that I have considered these devices old and uninteresting.  Not good enough for a modern tunable system.  But are they?  I think it's time to haul these things out of the closet and take a good listen.

So I pulled the Aune out of the system and put in the DDS-Pro and my unmodified Altmann DAC:


TROUBLESHOOTING

Right out of the box, the sound was bright.  Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I made up a worksheet of all the possible things that could be causing or influencing the brightness.  I'm going to reprint that here as a guide to tuning the Altmann:

Is it the interconnects?  No.  I switched out the short single wire pair of interconnects for the all-wire interconnects I had been using with the Aune.  The soundstage grew and images became larger, less in the speakers, but the tonality did not change.

Is it the recording?  Yes, this is some of it.  The Sunset Sip CD I had been listening to is on the bright side.  Changing over to Abbey Road, the sound is still forward in the treble but not as much so as the Sunset Sip album.

Is it the digital cable?  There is no Toslink out on the Audio Alchemy DDS Pro.  Swapping out Michael's digital cable for the Harmonic Tech, surprisingly the sound is a little bit louder and clearer.  Instrumental images seem a little bolder and a little less part of the background.  Swapping out the Harmonic Tech for the Black Cat (using the native BNC connection at the transport end) lost nothing compared to the Harmonic Tech and gained better tone, and a smoothness (lack of grain) that the Harmonic Tech didn't have.  The apparent loudness has gone up so much that I don't think I can continue the evaluation using the same volume level I started with.

Is it the power supply?  Putting two 12” redwood blocks under the battery made for a slight improvement in tonal balance and a small improvement in tone.  [try swapping in Hynes power supply]

Is it the power cable?  Yes, this is a lot of it.  Changing the Altmann car battery terminal hookup for the simple contacts held in place with a block of wood is a game-changer.  Everything sounds bigger and clearer.  I'm not sure if the tonality is actually warmer, but the treble sounds less forward just because there is less distortion everywhere in the frequency spectrum.  

Is it settling?  I think I noticed a small improvement after leaving the system on the first night.  Not completely sure – I think this is minor if it's a factor at all.  (This was true when the system was debilitated by bad power and digital signal connections.  Once these were sorted out, normal settling seems to be the pattern.)

Is it the unmodified Altmann DAC?  Swapping in the modified Altmann brings in a new level of clarity.  The difference isn't night and day, but it's significant.  I hear everything more distinctly with the modified Altmann.  At the moment (10 minutes of break-in time after having sat in the closet for a year) these gains seem to come at the cost of a little bit of harshness and some electronic character that the unmodified Altmann wasn't showing.  We'll see what some break-in time does. Swapping back after 24 hours of break-in: it's obvious that the unmodified Altmann is softer, less detailed and has a slightly smaller soundstage. After swapping the modified Altmann back in, I'm not hearing the harshness and the electronic character that I heard when I put the DAC in cold. I definitely am hearing greater detail, a considerably expanded soundstage and greater apparent loudness.

Is it the screws attaching the DAC to its board?  They were already not-tight.  Loosening them further had no noticeable effect on the sound.  Tightening them to a little more than finger-tight didn't do the sound any harm and actually added to a sense of presence.  I felt like I could hear the artist's intent more clearly than with the looser settings.  Tone seemed a little richer at this setting.  By comparison, the looser screws created a sound that was too relaxed.

Is it the Altmann's board?

Is it the digital source?


Putting the battery up on blocks, using the minimalist Altmann power cable, the Black Cat  digital cable and a few hours of settling has essentially fixed the brightness problem.  If anything, the system has settled on the low and woolly side.  This is somewhat volume dependent (higher volume = more forward treble), but at reasonable volumes there is practically no trace of brightness left.  I'm going to go through the rest of the list to get a clear view of the effects of these different equipment and tuning moves on the Altmann DAC.  I'll fill in the blanks as I get the tests done.

So where to from here?  I think the primary thing I need to figure out is whether or not there is something special about this DAC.  Does it really take me places other DACs don't?  I'm going to switch the Altmann in and out with the Aune for a month to see if I can figure out what's really happening.


Last edited by Bill333 on Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Tue May 31, 2016 8:50 am


Hi Bill333

A disciplined route to problem solving you have indeed!

Comparing the Altmann and AUNE x1s will tell us how much the state of the art has advanced.

Sonic
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:19 am

It happened again last night.

I left the Audio Alchemy -> Altmann -> Topping -> Klipsch system playing when I left for work, and when I got home I tuned things in a bit and listened to Peter, Paul and Mary for over an hour.  I put on Dion's 'The Road I'm On' and left it to settle for a while on repeat.  In the meantime I went down to the basement and watched a movie.  When I came up, there were things lying out on the kitchen counter which told me that my wife had gotten home.  I immediately thought, "Uh-oh, she's not going to like the music playing so loud."  But where was she?  Not in the kitchen.  I looked out on the deck - nope.  In the front yard, feeding the birds?  No.  Was she upstairs in the office?  I climbed the stairs, and saw to my surprise that she was sitting in the listening chair, listening to Dion.  I laughed out loud when I saw this - what a wonderful sight!  And a rare one.  There was nothing I could do except go back downstairs and let her enjoy the music.

YOU CANNOT TELL ME THAT THERE'S NOT SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT THIS DAC.  It's obvious that there is.  I have had the upstairs system going for a couple months now with the Magnavox and the Aune, and not once has my wife wanted to listen to music.  Many are the times she has asked me to turn it down or turn it off, but she has never sat down to listen.  In fact, it's been over five years since this has happened.  You can read about the last time it happened on page 2 of this thread (Feb 15, 2011).  In both cases, it was the substitution of the Altmann DAC into a system which was otherwise unchanged that made the difference.  

There is simply something about this DAC that feels more like real music to people than anything else I have experience with.  And speaking for myself, I find that I have a much greater emotional engagement with the music through the Altmann than I do with the Aune and the Magnavox.  Listening to Peter, Paul and Mary, I was several times moved almost to tears - so powerful were the childhood memories that this music brought back for me.  And when I wasn't reminiscing, I found that my mind went quiet and I was able to relax into the music in a way that I am rarely able to do.

I think it's time to stop trying to get 'good sound' with these other devices, and start building a system around the Altmann.  This may not be the only DAC in the world that is able to create this kind of connection to the music for me, but it's the one that I own, and the one that I know works.
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