AUDIO FORUMS >> General Discussion and Support >> Digital Front Ends

Message started by stone_of_tone on 05/06/12 at 15:50:01

Title: Digital Front Ends
Post by stone_of_tone on 05/06/12 at 15:50:01

I don't like preamps. So, my ref system is direct with remote volume with my Audio Alchemy gear. I know we have some PS Audio owners here.....what do like/hear when you are coupled direct? Are their any direct drive people here with the Wyred for Sound Dac 2 or the new Wadia 121 Decoding Computer or others? (I plan on replacing my Rotel with a W4S ST-500 drivin direct).

Ref Sys:

Sony as Transport>Illuminati D-60>Audio Alchemy DTI-Pro>Prophecy Cryo-Silver Reference i2s>Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0 w/remote wand>Kimber Select 1030>Decware Zen Select Amp (SE84CS)>Kimber Select 3033> Polk SDA 1/in 2 ch Stereo only  -Adcom 515 ACE AC enhancer -Herbie's Halo's on SV83's -XLO Pro Power Cord to Select -Room Treatments

2nd Sys/Rock the Foundation (with SDA SRS 1.2's):

Sony as Transport>Illuminati D-60>AA DTI Pro 32>AudMagicMysticRef i2s>AA DDE 3.0 w/remote wand> Kimber Hero Int>Rotel RA1062>Kimber 8TC Speaker Cable>Polk SDA SRS 1.2/use SDA always>Kimber 9033 to/hi Pass jumpers> Kimber PK10 Palladian Power Cord to Rotel    B Spker Jacks/Rotel: Genesis Genre II's (killer imaging)

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by Lon on 05/06/12 at 16:35:48

I spent a couple of weeks with my CSP2 in between my PS Audio DAC and my Torii Mk III (I added the CSP2 mainly to incorporate my new Denon DCD-A100 SACD player into the system). It sounded really good. There was a bit of a loss of "immediacy" but there was a really nice tonal gain, a spot of warmth. This was mainly due to interconnects. I'm using the Reality interconnects (with XLR plugs on the DAC end) and interconnects from the CSP2 to the Torii. I had used the interconnects from the DAC to the Torii previously and I know they add a touch of warmth and body to the sound. But the Reality cables have a dash more dynamics and a hint of more detail. Either is a great presentation, just a little different. I'm going straight from the DAC into the Torii again since last night. I miss the bit of warmth, but am enjoying the immediacy.

I agree with you in general about "preamps." But the CSP2 is no ordinary preamp. With the right cabling and with its inherent gain flexibility it is practically indetectible unless you make it so by tinkering and finding improvement of "weight" and "body." So I can go either way with my system and have great sound.

Really enjoying the new SACD player. It's built like an earthmover. The final answer for me may be to send the Reality interconnects back to have RCA ends added in place of the XLR, and then use that between the SACD player and the CSP2, and the pair of interconnects now in use between the SACD and the CSP2 with the DAC. May do that one of these days.

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by Lon on 05/07/12 at 00:35:30

I put the CSP2 back in between the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC. I just missed the body and heft that it gave the sound. I can definitely say today "I like preamps." :)

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by Lon on 05/09/12 at 13:54:09

Okay Stone, I'm like a yo-yo. I took the CSP2 back out and I have a digital front end, no preamp again (except the line stage in the Torii Mk III).

Several reasons. One is there's a hum whenever the CSP2 and the DVR are both in the system. I overlooked it for a while, but you may know how it is, it kept getting intermittently worse then better, and I kept being tugged toward it attention-wise. I know there's a gadget I can get that will stop or minimize this, but if I take the CSP2 out it's gone.

Additionally, I would need to buy one more top of the line PS Audio power cord to have my PS Audio DAC/Transport, my Denon DCD-A100 SACD player, the Torii and the CSP2 all with the same cords, which are fantastic cords, and which do make a difference in the sound to my ears and mind and in my system. I compromised by having the SACD player use the next level down cord, but when I do use the better cord that machine just shines a little more. Also I'm using the CSP2 with ye olde Decware amp stand on my cedar TV rack, and that is just not the same as on a maple platform on a maple Samson rack. I know that would sound better, but that's another big expense I'm not prepared to make right now, another Samson rack and trimmings.

And I have three cryo'd 6N1Ps in the CSP2 that are not quite as great as the super cryo'd 6N1P tubes in the Toriii and I know before long I'd be upgrading those.

So it will ultimately cost me too much to have the CSP2 maximized in my system, and I'm not able to justify the cost right now. When I get to working again and have money in the bank to cover all my property taxes et al, then I'll start this process up again. Until then, I think I'm going to be quite happy with the system as it is, no hum, that immediacy, a clarity and dynamic contrast that is just a little better than with the CSP2 (with its present limitations) and just a hair drier and crisper than the presentation is with the CSP2.

And the sound is really pleasing me as Andrea Bocelli's marvelous voice (which turns my gal into butter!) soars above an orchestra right now.

So I'm back in your camp, but I love it either way, with or without a preamp.

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by stone_of_tone on 05/11/12 at 03:02:58

Lon, no yo-yo at all. Thanks for your observations. I agree that until you (me too) can maximize the CSP2 in your just flows without it. I do like the immediacy of my system too, without issues of hum and cost of another great interconnect and power cord.

Power cords (as you mentioned): I am still amazed by my Kimber Palladian PK10 that I purchase for half the retail price including shipping to my door. If I take it off the Rotel 1062....the Amp falls flat. This Cord takes the Amp to another level in dynamics and articulate bass with a much much lower noise floor. This Cord; I could sell it for what I paid for it.....but it is a must for solid state and I will never sell it.  

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by 4krow on 05/23/12 at 17:13:07

 Just thought that I would check in. I am happy to see that someone out there realizes the potential for sacd. I bought a Yamaha player a couple of weeks ago and can't quit listening. I t is so good that I thought that I would ask those in different forums what they think of it as a medium. The discs are pretty pricey, but I am still ordering more. So far Ray Charles, Rolling Stone, Bach piano concertos, and Elton John sound just amazing. Really shows more potential from the ZOB speakers that I own. Might sound off the subject, but while I am enjoying this latest thing, I have wondered about inserting bybee products in the incoming AC line. Any thoughts?

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by Doorman on 05/23/12 at 17:25:05

SACD is a great format, too bad there's so few (relatively) discs available---

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by 4krow on 05/23/12 at 17:38:20

And, SOO expensive

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by Lon on 05/23/12 at 18:02:49

I got lucky in that years ago Fantasy Records was sold to Concord Records and much of their holdings of existing cds and SACDs were sold very cheap all over the place. I managed to get over fifty jazz and classical SACDs for about 3 dollars each. I've been buying SACDs since I bought the DEC 685 (still love this machine) and aside from a few "must have" items that I paid full pop for (mostly Miles Davis SACDs) I've always tried to get them at the lowest possible prices and have done pretty well, getting most for less than ten dollars each.

I especially love SACD for classical music. The tonality of the strings is just so much better. There is also a better sense of space and dynamics. The gap between cd and SACD was greatly narrowed in my system when I got the PS Audio PerfectWave DAC and Transport, and i actually sold my Sony SCD-XA5400ES because though the SACD and Redbook was great on this machine, the PS Audio beat it heartily in Redbook and almost matched it on SACD. But I missed that extra something that SACD brings to classical, and my interest in classical music grows year by year. This new Denon machine is really satisfying me.

I'm trying to hold back, but I'm beginning to buy the Analogue Productions SACDs of Blue Note and Impulse! jazz titles. They sound fantastic. They aren't cheap. . . .

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by 4krow on 05/23/12 at 20:06:04

Well, I must admit, I am puzzled. It looked as though SACD was was burning out, so I understand the cheap prices. Now however, why did the prices climb up so far? I don't even know if new SACD players are all that common.

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by Lon on 05/23/12 at 21:26:41

Well, Sony didn't support this format as hard as they could have, and it never took off as a full-fledged format in the US market place and instead became a format favored by some audiophiles. Small specialty labels are making most of them; small specialty labels don't do big volumes and have bigger overhead and aren't going to have cheap prices.

The Japanese have been pressing a lot of them in the "Super High Material" SHM format (they make SHMCDs and SHMSACDs) and those are even higher in price. Fifty to sixty dollars! I haven't bought any of these because i don't want to pay the ferry man.

As for players it's a mixed bag. Most SACD players seem to be universal ones, though Sony surprised many by making almost all their Blu-ray players SACD capable last year, even at really low price points, and there is a very nice Onkyo player out from last year or the year before. The format is still hanging on. The fact that it is very hard to "rip" and stream is a real disadvantage as far as sales and lots of public interest. Doesn't bother me, and it has some benefits as far as protecting intellectual property for labels and artists.

Interestingly a new series from EMI Europe (and originally a series done for Japan) are offering some historic classical performances on SACD for the first time, and at very reasonable prices (four disc set for 32 bucks, three disc set for 22, etc. through amazon). These came out today stateside and are cheaper than ordering from Europe.

I ordered the Debussy and the Mozart.

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by 4krow on 05/23/12 at 22:02:24

Wow! Very good! Thank you very much. I hear that classical music sounds absolutely wonderful through this medium(all things being equal). I do some work with Carver C-9 units, upgrading them, and they really excell when given the kind signal given by an SACD. Now, mind you, I normally listen to this medium as virgin as possible, but I just can't help myself on some of the seventies recordings. Thanks it's time to go to amazon and spend some money.

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by 4krow on 05/24/12 at 00:28:59

Bought 3 sacd from Amazon. DSOTM(of course, I already had this in Mo-Fi, but just to compare), Every Breath you take-Sting, and Elton Johns Tumbleweed conn(Ialso have this, but again I really want hear differences).
BTW, looked at the Wadia page OMG, or stunning would be an accurate description here.

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by Lon on 05/24/12 at 01:01:13

Cool. I haven't head those SACDs but I bet they sound great.

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by JD on 05/24/12 at 12:15:04

I have found some great sacd's especially classical in the cd section of local cd and record stores.  Most employees don't know they even  have them.  Takes a while to sort through but deals exist.  FYI look for a gold bar across the top of the cd case or small silver box on front left corner as visual cues to speed up the process.  

Title: Re: Digital Front Ends
Post by Lon on 05/24/12 at 13:16:23

Yes, I've found a few too. But I don't shop cd stores often.

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