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Alternative means for sourcing upgrade (Read 6848 times)
Fireblade
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Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
02/03/13 at 18:58:33
 
I'm very satisfied with my current basic system, Mini Torii and DM945 speakers (Mundorf caps), especially after having had the experience of fine tuning the amp through some selective tube-rolling.  Although still an ongoing procedure with an end conclusion on sight, it has made me much more familiar with the sound characteristics of the Mini.

After analyzing my system for a while, I've come to the conclusion (again), that my weakest link is the sourcing component. Could be specifically my USB/DAC, the HRT MSII+.  Although a good overall entry level DAC, it is not up to the potential of the rest of the system.

Nevertheless, reading through Decware's technical literature, I've learned there are at least two ways to upgrade my sourcing component:

1. Replace the current DAC with a more resolving model.

2a. Improve the current sourcing potential with the aid of a preamp (i.e., CSP2+)

2b. Same as above but through a gain buffer stage (i.e., ZStage).

I can get two of these alternatives for about the same level of investment, with the remaining (CSP2+) being 50% more expensive, but with additional features.

Naturally, I would like to pose the obvious question to this experienced forum audience: Which route would be best in the long run?  I'm not in a hurry to do this, but it will be in my definitive next-step upgrading plan for the not too far future.

The MIni Torii has plenty of gain, pep and dynamics, so it's not the same situation as in the Super Zen Triode case, for example. Yet, I'm convinced there's lots to gain in boosting the sourcing via 'riding the gain,' as it will provide body and weight to an already fine setup, hopefully also releasing additional sound details, tones and hues.

Of course, I have no experience 'riding the gain,' so I need to ask this forum to confirm or disprove this hypothesis, which is just based on my interpretation of related literature, without actual practical confirmation.

I find alternatives 2a & 2b above quite interesting, especially when we consider the short life span of competitive DACs these days. The HRT MSII+ was one of the best at its price level still just a year ago. Thus, maybe a more stable solution as offered in these options would be worth considering.

We have three concrete choices on the floor, which one would you recommend and why?

I apologize for the extension of this message. Thanks so much for your valid comments and assistance.
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« Last Edit: 02/03/13 at 19:07:21 by Fireblade »  

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Donnie
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #1 - 02/03/13 at 19:28:17
 
What is the endgame here? As I always say there is no such thing as perfection.
I'm betting that your day to day mood effects your perception of sound quality more than any piece of hardware or software.
Stop chasing that last 2% and learn how to enjoy what a wonderful system that you already have. Chill out and enjoy.
Beyond that, I'd try a different DAC.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #2 - 02/03/13 at 19:34:01
 
I'd recommend an alternative route: power conditioning and attention to vibration control as a next level to go to.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #3 - 02/03/13 at 20:24:31
 
Always get the best source you can afford. The Mini Torii deserves better. IMHO
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Fireblade
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #4 - 02/03/13 at 20:31:15
 
Donnie, thanks for your input.  I agree with you, in part.

I don't think I'm aiming at that 2% short of 'perfection,' more like 15% (or more). Just room conditioning would improve at least another 10% (or more). I just cannot do much with the latter until I get a dedicated listening room.

The DAC is important, but to get tangible improvements you have to have a very resolving system and you have to invest steeply in DAC technology to really tap this potential. I'm aiming at the former, as it's a more gradually affordable and stable an investment.

I agree there must be a limit somewhere. But, for example, if I had skipped tube-rolling, I would not have improved my system so tangibly as I've had recently, and at a relatively low cost.

I just assume fine tuning gradually and progressively is a reasonable goal in this hobby, provided you don't go over your head. Finding out the next best step is essential in achieving and affording this goal.

My moods vary, of course, as do the quality of my recordings. But if there's an essentially sound system structure behind, you know these are not under your control.

I admit you are, philosophically, probably right though.
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Fireblade
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #5 - 02/03/13 at 20:39:38
 
Lon, thanks for your input.

I know you're a firm believer of power conditioning at the highest levels, and with reason. I just look at it from a financial perspective. There's too much of a penalty to get there.  

When I hear my system in the wee hours, once in a while, I don't notice difference from daytime listening. At least, not related to power contamination, but rather due to a less silent context.

Fine power conditioning will get there, someday, as I agree it is an important complement. I just think I can get more bang for my buck in other areas first.
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Fireblade
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #6 - 02/03/13 at 20:46:28
 
ncblue, thanks for your input.

I agree that is a golden rule in audio. What we are discussing is which source improving mean would be best at this point. All three proposed alternatives directly improve sourcing quality.

But, if you refer to the DAC, you may be right.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #7 - 02/03/13 at 20:56:41
 
And I think you'd find that you'll enjoy your current set up more and any future editions of your system, and will be able to more clearly map your next steps. I honestly think a component such as the PS Audio Dectet would be a good place to start, as well as getting your system free of vibration. Their is potentially more bang for the buck there than with a source upgrade. Just speaking from my own experience. . . . These can lower your noise floor revealing clearer tonality and more detail and dynamics.

Makes the most sense to me at your present point. Do as you would, but I think THIS is the bang for buck move.
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« Last Edit: 02/03/13 at 21:06:46 by Lon »  

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Fireblade
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #8 - 02/03/13 at 21:25:35
 
Lon, sorry I forgot the vibration controls suggestion. You're absolutely right there, these are definitely very cost-effective, indeed.

To me it is not intuitive to think in terms of vibration controls, as I'm not used to the idea and it's probably less a glamorous approach than others on offer. But given the definitive testimonials reported, I'll have to agree this is a next step ingredient.

The intangible nature of power conditioning makes it hard to 'buy' (pun intended!) as a concept, especially at those steep prices. Same with expensive and sophisticated power cords and speaker cables.

All is important in audio, and maybe we just disagree on selection sequence rather than absolutes. I'm convinced power treatments will help, but still resist the idea of investing in it before other, more pressing needs are there.

I know you assume these are all irrelevant if AC power is not taken care of, but this is a moot point in all of audio community.

Re the PS Dectet, I'm afraid I consider it essentially a good protection against spikes, surges and the like, more than the concept that would really work, as is the regeneration plant.  More affordable, absolutely, but I don't believe it to be superior to my Tripp isolation transformer in that role.
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Lon
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #9 - 02/03/13 at 21:37:21
 
David, I resisted the idea of power conditioning and power cords etc. for a long time. But when I heard it for my myself in another's system, and then in mine, I couldn't deny my own experience. Now maybe it's easier for me to believe because all my life I've found things that not everyone agreed about to be true. Who knows, I'm not a big fan of "consensus thinking" because I just don't think all the time as others do.

Contrary to what you "believe," I use the PS Audio Duets which were a predecessor to the Dectet and I used the Tripplite isolation transformers both with and without the transformers the Duets did more to clean the sound and not introduce noise. Tonality and detail were better than with the transformers The Dectet is reported to be even better sonically, an improved product. I'm just reporting what I have heard myself, over lengthy periods, in my own home; these provide more than just protection. I still use Duets in my second system and for its purposes feel that no further conditioning is necessary.

A "moot point?" I don't agree, and there's as much dissension in the audio community about isolation control than there is power matters.

When you reach the level of transparency you are likely at now it makes sense to nail down power and vibration concerns which will allow you to better enjoy what you have, and will allow you to get the best out of future improvements in gear.

Anyway, I invite anyone else to weigh in here, but in your shoes that's where I went and it was a successful venture.
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« Last Edit: 02/03/13 at 21:38:44 by Lon »  

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Fireblade
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #10 - 02/03/13 at 21:42:21
 
opnly_bafld,

I was brought to the attention of this paper by Steve in one of the forum's threads:

http://www.decware.com/paper50.htm


From which this is a relevant excerpt to answer your question:

HOW CAN A PREAMP MAKE THINGS BETTER?

A good preamp becomes an extension of the source enhancing it's dynamics and overall voltage swing as well as enhancing it's output impedance to more effortlessly drive difficult power amps.  

A good preamp can extract detail and timbre that is otherwise hidden by these conditions.  A good preamp can add body and weight and size to a stereo image and improve the depth and palpability of the sound stage. A good preamp can make tiny speakers and or tiny amplifiers sound and perform as though they were bigger then they really are.

A good preamp can organize the presence in a recording to create several more layers to the music.  It can pull things apart and make recordings sound less like recordings and more like real music.


The preamp goes a step further than, say, the ZStage in 'riding the gain,' some of which additional traits are quite appealing.

Although there's some definitive marketing hype involved, the statements raised in that paper become reality when the preamp's design is very good.  I believe the CSP2+ is that good, and could benefit not only power amps but integrated amps like the Mini Torii.

You may be right, though, this may not be too cost-effective an alternative given the preamp duplication, especially assuming the preamp quality in the Mini Torii is equivalent (?), but the difference in price with the ZStage is not that big considering all the other CSP2+ features, and 'riding the gain' is even more accurate with this preamp.
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« Last Edit: 02/03/13 at 22:38:09 by Fireblade »  

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Fireblade
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #11 - 02/03/13 at 22:26:24
 
Lon, I understand and I take your experience seriously. I just read the PS Audio's Dectet description and the features relate basically to 'protection,' not noise reduction or suppression.

My experience with the Tripp Lite Isolation Transformer has been excellent. No noises, no vibrations or humming coming from it, at least perceptible. I basically use it only as circuit isolation and surge protection, not for conditioning, and it works just fine.

I bet a small minority of so called audiophiles (with a normal distribution spanning very diverse financial capabilities), are normally investing this kind of money in power regeneration plants, which is the only concept I really buy from the power conditioning market, but can't afford it.

Even Steve suggests an isolation transformer as common sense, without ruling out power regeneration devices, if one can afford them.

Regarding the Duetts/Dectet, I take your suggestion at heart, Lon, believe me, I just don't agree. Until I try one of those at home, I'll not be convinced. I wish I could try things and send them back, but for me that's not an option, unfortunately.

Anyways, this has been a repetitive, long discussion already and I thank you for your very good intentions. You may receive my recognition and excuses some time in the future if I'm proven wrong.   Smiley
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« Last Edit: 02/03/13 at 22:28:14 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #12 - 02/03/13 at 22:49:03
 
Okay. My experience is that the isolation transformers were insufficient and were far eclipsed by the PS Audio productts, and I used the very ones that Steve recommended. They made an improvement but not as deep as the Duets by a wide margin.

Anyway, best of luck, I personally feel that addressing the power is your best next step to maximize your expenditure.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #13 - 02/03/13 at 22:53:46
 
FB, you`re planning the big one.
One day you`ll have all 3, just which order to go about it.
I`m not sure it matters as you will improve the music on
each step. Maybe top the CSP2+ & new source off with
a power conditioner to go ahhhh now I see.
You could leave vibration control after these as fine tuning.

Riding the gain.
I understand the concept; open the p/amp up and use the
pre to control volume.
I come at it a different way. I see the power amp as a bass
reservoir....any deep powerful bass ( perhaps quiet but shifting
air in the feel-more-than-hear range) can be handled better or
with more ease by having power in reserve.
It`s probably 6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other.

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Fireblade
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #14 - 02/04/13 at 00:12:17
 
Lon, got it. You may be right. Thanks for the good wish.

marky, thanks for the input.

I'm just trying to address what the best next steps should be in a gradual improvement pathway.

You may be right an eclectic approach would still work, in the end. After all, none of these measures would ever be counterproductive, I suppose. Except, is either the ZStage or the CSP2+, not both.

I think your take on riding the gain is right on, basically the same principle, except it is supposed to not only improve the bass power but also thicken the sound's body and texture, along with added dynamics and increased headroom for better frequency distribution.

The improved DAC is a must, I think. Whether this is the next best move or not depends on the capability of the current system to reflect that higher resolution potential. In my case, I think my system is already there, but IMO any new DAC's contribution would be much more evident and impacting within the context of 'riding the gain,' with all its implications.

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« Last Edit: 02/04/13 at 00:15:25 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #15 - 02/04/13 at 08:27:15
 
Hi Fireblade

I own the same DAC as you but I feed it into a Tori MkIII and then into some Decware DNA horns.

Similar to you I believe the DAC was extremely good value for money when I bought it but that was before I got my Decware and now it is definitely the weak link and needs upgrading.  I'm looking for a bigger sound stage and more balls.  I also want improved connectivity options from my home network.

So... I've just pulled the trigger on the PS Audio Mk II with bridge.  Given the cost, I am not expecting to upgrade my DAC again.   Delivery will probably take a few weeks (I live a long way from the US) but you said you're not in a hurry so I can compare it to the MS II+ when it arrives and let you know what an extreme upgrade to that DAC does...

Cheers
Dave
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #16 - 02/04/13 at 11:48:13
 
kiwidave, thanks for your input.

I understand your situation perfectly, and agree we are kind of in the same boat.  I'm convinced the DAC needs to be upgraded, but given the high obsolescence rates in DAC technology, I'd not invest that much in those, as there are new, improved releases coming out all the time, at lower cost.

The DAC you just ordered is one of the top ones, congrats. I'm afraid it's a little out of my league, given its cost. I'm looking into a more modest model, the Resonessence Concero, which has had great reviews and I think fits my needs right on.

I'll be looking forward to your feedback on the sound changes you'll achieve with such an upgrade, but I'm convinced already it is going to be absolutely incredible. There are experienced forum members enjoying this DAC model and they have reported wonderful performance from it. I also understand it is upgradeable thanks to its modular design.

The combination of Concero plus a preamp like the CSP2+, or even the ZStage, is IMO a powerful, more comprehensive system upgrade and at a fraction of the cost of the PS Audio DAC. Come a year or two, I can always upgrade the Concero with the leading newcomer in that price bracket, and still beat obsolescence.  Of course, the Concero willl never be at PS Audio DAC's resolution levels, but fits a more modest budget.

Eventually, I may even be able to add some kind of AC power conditioning component, as it seems many experienced audiophiles swear by them.

Cheers,
David.
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« Last Edit: 02/04/13 at 11:51:10 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #17 - 02/04/13 at 12:04:32
 
Congrats on the Mk II! I think you'll be very happy.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #18 - 02/04/13 at 14:10:45
 
Congrats Dave. A very fine DAC indeed. I believe you will be very pleased.

Fireblade, you are so right about cleaning up the power. I am one of the ones that swears by that.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #19 - 02/04/13 at 17:20:55
 
Thanks, Pale Rider.

Although it has been difficult to accept, Lon's conviction as well as other testimonials in the media have started to make me reconsider.

The problem is there is a dichotomy between gadgets that are essentially a fancy strip distributor and real power processing devices. The latter are much more expensive (I would even dare to say prohibitively overpriced), and this becomes a barrier for many newcomers to the power cleansing mentality.

There are limited ways to check or review these items, and at least technically, the cheaper ones do not seem to be making much inside those small boxes.

I'd love to find a middle of the road version with enough engineering behind it to at least make me believe I'm buying value added, even if it is not the best.

It's either spending a small fortune on a PS Audio regeneration type device, or spending less money for something I'm not convinced is going to do much. I don't seem to find a middle of the road compromise yet.

For example, the Dectet from PS, which seems affordable, is not too convincing when one reads their description. There are few reviews on these lesser devices also. Trying some of them first would be nice, but I cannot do that where I live.

But, the bug is in my mind already, and along with vibration control, I will address these intangible issues eventually.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #20 - 02/04/13 at 19:21:01
 
Well Greg and I bought Power Plant Premiers for a grand or so which is not pie in the sky audio money, and I for one will say that they are worth every penny and more, even improving on the bedrock that the PS Audio Duets had given my system as a foundation. I see deals like this often enough. . . I'd save up, and again it's a really good "next move" for you, may make more bang for your system than a thousand dollar DAC will.

But enough said, however you invest, you are going to reap the rewards through the MT and DM45s.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #21 - 02/04/13 at 21:32:11
 
Not sure if you listen to CD's and SACD's (agree Lon classical in SACD format is something special) you may want to look at the OPPO line, decent DAC and great CD, SACD playback, you can stream Pandora and use for great 2 channel stereo when watching DVD's.  If you are looking at the power plants check out upscaleaudio.com they have what seems like a great deal going (no affiliation).  Noted that I don't listen to any music via computer etc. so my DAC knowledge is rather limited.

JD
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #22 - 02/04/13 at 22:57:53
 
I understand, Lon, but today the cheapest PS plant is $2,500.00, and that is a lot of dough for me.

We'll keep looking around, and I may find something more affordable and hopefully good enough.

Thanks for the advice
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #23 - 02/04/13 at 23:05:04
 
Thanks for your input, JD.

I do stream exclusively through my laptop, and I've ripped all my collection of CD's, so there's no turning back given the advantages involved. IMO, a good computer setup, coupled with a class 'A' DAC is potentially a better source in the long run (unless you invest mega bucks in a top of the line Transport/DAC combo.)

I will check your tip on Upscale Audio for possible opportunities, thanks!



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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #24 - 02/04/13 at 23:19:40
 
Fireblade, the current Power Plants are indeed a bit pricier, but it is worth it to check B stock at both PS Audio and at Music Direct. Also, a saved search on fleabay can be very useful here, as is a saved google search for places like Audiogon. That's how I found mine. The PPPs are getting harder to find, but worthwhile.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #25 - 02/05/13 at 00:38:16
 
Thanks for the tip, Pale Rider.  I'll sure look into those.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #26 - 02/05/13 at 01:13:48
 
Fireblade,

I'm auditioning a PI Audio UberBuss in the next few days (free in home audition) and will report back on my findings to what it does to my desktop system Smiley

-H
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #27 - 02/05/13 at 02:00:05
 
JD

Quote:
Not sure if you listen to CD's and SACD's (agree Lon classical in SACD format is something special) you may want to look at the OPPO line, decent DAC and great CD, SACD playback, you can stream Pandora and use for great 2 channel stereo when watching DVD's.


+1 for the Oppo, the BDP-105 is the front end to a great Music Server, it has excellent universal disc playback (Blu-Ray, SACD, DVDA, etc.) and it has asynchonous 32 bit DAC's (2 of them ... one for 7.1 surround and one for 2 channel stereo), it can stream either ethernet or wireless, USB, Pandora, NetFlix, etc., etc. the list goes on and on.

And the BDP-105 is only $1,199.00 ... to me this is a great bargain considering what you are getting as I heard it has stellar performance just in the disc playback alone, let alone 2 SOTA DACs and all the other stuff.

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #28 - 02/05/13 at 02:34:38
 
HPDJ, thanks for your input.

I'll look forward to your report. What's the difference between the UberBuss and the MiniBuss (I mean, in terms of current handling, etc.?)

There's very little technical information on their site, mostly marketing/sales rhetoric.  The huge difference in price between the two models, which appear to be based on the same design, is not explicitly justified.

If the capacity of the MiniBuss is enough in my case (small amp and maybe a low current source/DAC), and if it is essentially the same design, I think the MiniBuss is the most cost effective.

Maybe once you test the UberBuss, we may figure out the difference. Thanks!
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #29 - 02/05/13 at 02:51:47
 
JD, thanks for your input.

I've read great things about the new generation Oppo BDP-105 (improving tangibly over a well reviewed Oppo BDP-95). But, as I said earlier, I'm not into CD/DVD/DVDA/BlueRay players, nor do I care much for multi-featured designs.

I know I could stream from the built-in USB/DACs in the Oppo and all, but I would be paying for stuff I will never use. In my case, I prefer to invest exclusively in specialized stereo sound quality, and not in other useful, but non appealing features for me.

For that kind of money, given my needs, I would be better off with a Concero DAC and a ZStage, or a good enough power conditioner, and will optimize my stereo sound investment.

It's just me, so many thanks for an otherwise very good suggestion.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #30 - 02/05/13 at 04:58:13
 
Fireblade,

I agree that their website is pretty slim on details about each product...

I would list some info here, but after typing a few things I started to feel like a commercial for PI Audio haha, so here is a link (instead) to an old thread on their audio circle forum that may answer some of your questions. Smiley

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=79531.0

Also, you should email Dave, the head of the company if you have any questions. He is super responsive via email and has been very patient with all the questions I've had thus far. I hope I like what I hear with his gear in my system Smiley

I'll quickly add that I've experimented with vibration control and also (very briefly) with one aftermarket power cord. I really heard no differences in my system at the time...I feel that with the addition of a power conditioner I'll actually be able to better hear what the power cord is doing (or taking away noise wise) and also what my vibration control "things" from Herbies are doing as well. So I'm basically giving this avenue another go and trying to address the weakest links in my system so that there is no bottleneck that is holding the system back from playing at it's best. I do feel that everything will benefit with more sturdy, clean power. Right now that concept seems to make sense to me..

I'm even gonna be able to demo some power cords from Triode Wire Labs when I demo the UberBuss so that will be cool. I will be able to have power cords from TWL on my amp and (new) DAC from Resolution Audio at the same time. This should prove to be informative. More to come......
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #31 - 02/05/13 at 10:58:41
 
HPDJ,

Thanks for the information. The link is too old to include anything about the MiniBuss, just UberBuss and some other discontinued models, so I guess I can always contact them directly.

Like you, I'm trying to fine tune my system systematically, tackling each potential bottleneck in a progressive pathway over time, to eventually reach a comfortable (and affordable) best sounding state.

I agree with your take on clean power, I just want to find the most cost-effective alternative that would accomplish the job.

It is odd that you could not detect improvements with Herbie's vibration control, more so than with the upgraded power cord, as the latter may not work well in your particular setting.  

Vibration control (I still haven't tried any yet, but I will) is supposed to help tangibly with sound quality, given the physics principles' concept it is based on. I suspect the improvement here depends on your particular setting.

Congrats on the new DAC. I assume you're getting the Cantata music server, as I have not found any single DAC on offer in their site. These are quite expensive, but very good.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #32 - 02/05/13 at 12:47:23
 
I've had mixed results with certain materials used for vibration control, cork and rubber combo's have not worked too well for me a couple even seemed to deaden the sound. Herbie's isocups under my zen torii do a wonderful job sitting on my core audio black maple amp stand and the combo look great as well.  It is an interesting journey...

JD
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #33 - 02/05/13 at 13:23:34
 
Absolutely! I have Iso-Cups under my Torii and I've tried a number of other pieces there, the Iso-Cups trump them all. (Maple is amazing too, I have the Torii on a maple platform on my maple Samson rack).
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #34 - 02/05/13 at 16:30:48
 
Quote:
Absolutely! I have Iso-Cups under my Torii and I've tried a number of other pieces there, the Iso-Cups trump them all.

+1. +10. +google. I love the Iso-Cups. On the exceptionally well-made, and very-easy-on-the-eyes ZRACKs, they are lights out.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #35 - 02/05/13 at 19:09:22
 
My particular setting is my desktop and it is a rumbling little place because of the Trapeziums (which are great). There are two levels and the speakers are on the bottom, source/amp on top level. My equipment is still very prone to any adverse effects of vibrations. These effects are not any I can necessarily detect right now, but I was hoping I would notice something different (more solid musical images, deeper bass etc) when I implemented my Herbies Audio Tenderfeet and the Iso-cups. Nothing thus far...This is why I suspect the bottleneck is power related and thus, I'm looking to address that.

And yes, I have the Cantata Music Center and am finally entering the digital music realm woohoo! I found a great deal on one and couldn't pass it up. I do feel that this particular unit is over kill for a desktop system (in my eyes anyway), but I have been really looking to get components that I see as a little over kill. Ones that will be able to "bring it" when I get a bigger space and probably some loud speakers. Ones I may be able to physically transfer from desktop to a bigger room where I can be more enveloped in the sounds that they create. I don't see me being able to have 2 systems anytime soon, otherwise I would look at this all a bit differently.

I also wanted something that would future-proof me in some ways and Resolution Audio has mentioned their commitment to offering updates to the Cantata for the next 10 years! I really don't want to be left in the dust when/if some other way of helping me enjoy my music comes along. The unit already has more flexibility than I care to use at the moment, but I like being overwhelmed by what something can do, and I love to have options (as long as certain aspects don't suffer because of the added options). Oh and I still get to spin my CD's with this unit which makes me very happy Smiley
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« Last Edit: 02/05/13 at 19:21:20 by HPDJ »  
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #36 - 02/05/13 at 21:56:42
 
HPDJ, I find it odd that you don't hear the effects of the Herbie's Audio products, and hope you do further down the line. I really can (and others I've asked their audio opinion of in my home can as well) hear the effects, I can even tell the difference when I use different types of "balls" in my Iso Cups (man, I love the sound from the "deep green moss" gemstone balls!)

Keep us posted! I can't imagine having such an awesome desktop system! I have never needed one at home, and never was allowed to at workplaces in my work life experience.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #37 - 02/06/13 at 00:43:00
 
HPDJ,

I'm no expert in vibration control (never have used it), but I have first-hand experience with vibrations-related sound problems stemming from my speakers sharing the same furniture table as my amp and source.

The table is solid, made out of heavy Malaysian wood (not sure which one), with wide planted feet, so it is very sturdy. Nevertheless, the loudspeakers' vibrations were a real sound killer.

Once I placed my speakers in monitor stands (I have DM945's) and into the listening room, the difference was night and day, as the source (laptop + DAC) and amp remained isolated on the table.

I therefore suspect you may be suffering from speaker vibrations creeping into your other components, if these share the basic same structure (desktop), so that Herbie's aids cannot do much, since the foundation into which the vibrations are supposed to be dissipated, is the source of that same vibration.

I may be wrong, but try to isolate the Trapeziums from the rest, temporarily, and check for sound changes (hopefully improvements.) I assume the anti-vibration devices will then be able to show their worth, as their task would be quite simple in this new context.

I learned the 'golden rule' the hard way (and I'm glad I did): Never have speakers sharing the same structure with other components.  Even if the Trapeziums are small, they're going to vibrate more than anything else in your entire setup.

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« Last Edit: 02/06/13 at 00:50:51 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #38 - 02/06/13 at 01:40:36
 
David, that seems sound to me. Wink I've little experience with a desktop etc. set up. The last time I did have that was with a light weight set-up that I had the speakers on Herbie's products, and the transport/amp on its own feet. Felt there was a slight improvement with the pads under the speakers. But if I'm remembering correctly it was pretty lo-fi all the way, by necessity, staying in an apartment in another city for just a few months.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #39 - 02/06/13 at 01:56:47
 
Well, let's see if that test confirms it.  Thanks!
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #40 - 02/06/13 at 19:07:23
 
Fireblade/Lon,

Yes, what you've mentioned makes sense and I will definitely try to isolate the Trap's from my source/amp and see if I hear any improvement!

Steve at Herbies had basically suggested the same thing to me via email...though he suggested one of his products to put underneath the Trap's, not knowing that this is not really an option for these speakers because they are bottom ported and if you raise them up further off the desk they will loose that port from the tiny slits off the sides of them and thus loose their bass punch and depth. This is why I bought the iso-cups and tenderfeet in the first place, so I could isolate the components from the speakers and leave eveything on the desk, but as you've said:

Quote:
the foundation into which the vibrations are supposed to be dissipated, is the source of that same vibration.


Which means I should look into some stands for them, which then makes me feel silly because these are desktop speakers!...this would mean that anyone with speakers on their desk is not getting the most out of their source gear because of these same vibration issues...but I know that some people DO keep their speakers and other components on the same desk and they have no complaints...I really hate to make "much ado about nothing"...Basically my ears will tell me the answer once I'm able to set the speakers on something else temporarily...I don't know what that might me though, I don't have much furniture to play with in that respect...I guess I'll just put em' on the floor for small periods haha :/

But you know I could put my source/amp on a rack right next to the desk. This might be the best option, but stands can get pretty pricey (well, what can't in the audio world right??) and I'd need 4 shelves so I could include my TT and Phono Preamp...

I definitely have looked into this a bit already (stands). I thought initially that maybe I could keep the components on platforms ON the desk in addition to using Herbies stuff, something like maple platforms etc....but I will eventually need a rack down the line, so maybe that's the way to go....what are your thoughts? Thanks for your opinions!
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #41 - 02/06/13 at 19:39:42
 
Platforms could help, I love having them even on dedicated equipment racks, I love wood anyway. My two cents: plan on an equipment rack, allowing you to keep the "desktop speaker" nature of the Traps in place.

That said. . . have you tried any of the Grungebuster Dots? Not very thick, but do deal with vibrations. . . .
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #42 - 02/06/13 at 20:02:40
 
HPDJ,

I think the reason other people may have not had negative comments on sharing speakers in the same desktop structure, is they did not tried to improve things with anti-vibration aids, and then finding out these were not making any contributions.

In your case, it is good that you tried that, as now you're more aware of the potential vibration problems you may have with this setting. I'm almost sure those other people are living with the issue just for the convenience involved with having a desktop setup.

This gear is so noble, it still sounds nice in spite of those problems, but I bet their inherent sound quality is significantly higher.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #43 - 02/06/13 at 21:14:36
 
HPDJ,

I agree with Lon. The being "desktop" the Traps are designed for the desktop presumably. And I know ZYGI takes his design seriously, so I would seriously check with him before going for stands on a desk. The concept that the speakers be isolated first makes a lot of sense since they are vibrating the rest.

How is the Ubber going for you? Dave's power cords are very good too.

FB,

This is the index page for what PI Audio keeps up with.
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?board=176

This is the ongoing product and price page.
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=102422.0

Dave is a smallllll operation and seems to have taken the easier route of a forum for a broad range of information on his stuff. Like HPDJ, I find him very easy to email with, but also dedicated, honest and smart.

I got the Uber to try because I knew and trusted him from experience talking with him, and because he was recommended by Eric Hider, the Tranquility DAC guy  whom I also trust and think is smart, has great ears, and looks deeply in a creative ways in a perpetual quest for home audio sounding "real."

I was going to get what Lon and Greg got, at the time for 1000 for Bstock, and Dave sort of subtly said he was going for complete transparency, indicating by my take that the power plant may have a "sound" to him. However, I trust Lon and Greg's opinions, and who knows which I might like better had I gone to the effort instead of just keeping the Ubber (at the old price). And really, does not everything have a signature?

Also the Tranquility DAC outperformed many DACs at many times its cost at the time I got mine according to many testers, including the 1st Perfectwave DAC...opinions...Then after talking with Eric, I got one slightly used (it had been upgraded to a Signature) to try and have not looked back. It is by the way a NOS DAC...44.1K. The Tranquility team worked to beat it in double blind tests with Async/High Rez DACs they were developing (as well as the usual suspects from1 to 3K at the time) and just couldn't beat their NOS DAC. The NOS DAC sounding more real. Don't know if they have pulled teh High-Rez off yet or not, but Eric's theory is that there is a lot of data in 44.1 K that had not been previously exploited, but they do. I can't say, as I have not compared, but for those who did, and were vocal about it on the web, the majority use Tranquility. Since then, Eric put in a newer output section that upped the anti on mine considerably. It sounds very very "real" to me, with amazing ambient Q's from low end tones right through the highs, always a very good indicator of "resolution" of detail and micro detail...while remaining very musical.

Just more food for thought.

Wil
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« Last Edit: 02/06/13 at 21:23:14 by will »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #44 - 02/07/13 at 02:15:47
 
Will,

Since you have experience with the Uber-line concept, would it be enough to connect a MiniBuss to my isolation transformer, and therefore combine filtering, isolation and surge protection? How far from what the UberBuss offers would this combination achieve?

I'm having a problem discerning the difference between a Power Conditioner (like the UberBuss) and a Filter Extension (MiniBuss). Also, these concepts seem a far cry from power regeneration plants. In the case of PS Audio's 'power regeneration plants,' I understand the concept and would love to use it, except for the high price.

The problem for me is understanding the implications of EMI (electro magnetic interference) and RFI (radio frequency interference) in my household context. As far as I can tell, I'm not exposed specifically to either type of interferences.

I also don't know what a PFC network means.  The conditioners seem to have 'EMI/RFI noise reduction' and something called 'PFC network.' The MiniBuss has 'HF filtering w/ no MOVs to degrade the sound' and 'RFI absorbing material, lined with ERS cloth.'

I have the same problem with PS Audio's Dectet, as with the Mini-Buss, seemingly mere filtering, component isolation devices.

Thanks for your feedback.  In the meantime, I'll try to contact Dave at Uber-Line, for some orientation.
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« Last Edit: 02/07/13 at 04:36:00 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #45 - 02/07/13 at 04:58:10
 
FB,

You may not need what Lon an Greg need, or you may. Both are in big city areas if I am not mistaken and may have noisy lines. I had good results with just a Brickwall for audio for noise, but my power was apparently good. The Uber does more conditioning proportionate to price increase, and it does have a very dynamic and organic/transparent sound to me.

Quote:
In the meantime, I'll try to contact Dave at Uber-Line, for some orientation.


Sounds like a good idea. These are not surge suppressors. You definitely have EMF and RFI if there are electric things in your house, and a fair bit of it. Do some googling.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #46 - 02/07/13 at 11:37:06
 
Is there any way to get this Dave's mail address?  I looked all over the Uber-line sites, without any luck.  If someone has it, I would really appreciate it.

I need to choose between Dectet (PS Audio) and Mini-Buss (PI Audio). Thanks!
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #47 - 02/07/13 at 15:11:02
 
FB,

I left out something important. I had gotten a EMI filter from Alan Maher early on and still use it. It is a little plugin black box that cost a little over 100 some years ago. It has a little circuit board in it that is supposed to clean up the power lines and the room EMI. I found it to clean up the sound quite notably.

Also, I started out with some of his little boxes of crystal rock that is treated somehow. Apparently they act as little semi-conducters, pulling noise off the wires in the house. I got 4 for 100 and put two on the mains lines coming into the house, one on the circuit breaker for my music, and one at the outlet for the audio. These were notable too after they settled in a day.

Later I got a schumman resonator unit from KEMP (200) which also made a notable change in cleanliness and sound stage.

So the brickwall and these really cleaned up my sound a lot.

Have you checked out http://bluecircle.com/index.html

I almost got a "thingy" once or a "sillycone" filter. There was a Positive Feedback issue some years back that reviewed a bunch of cheaper power cleaners, and I found Blue there.

You can reach Dave at dgelledges@msn.com
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« Last Edit: 02/07/13 at 15:14:01 by will »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #48 - 02/07/13 at 15:36:29
 
Hubert,
Here is an idea to try with your Trapeziums....Buy a couple of small cutting boards that the Traps could sit on. This will emulate the desk top, keeping the port in tacked. Then you can uses your Herbies, or whatever else you want to use under the cutting boards.

Just a thought...

Zygi
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #49 - 02/07/13 at 17:43:10
 
Hey guys,

Lon, I have not tried grungebuster dots, but maybe those in conjunction with what Bob is suggesting with the cutting boards under the Trap's would be a good idea...

Will, I still have not been able to demo the UberBuss with my system yet...I've been trying to schedule with the company (Swap Meet Audio) here in NY and haven't heard back from them in a few days. I guess I'll have to give them another ring :/

Oh and also, I wasn't thinking that I'd use stands on my desk, I was originally thinking that I'd get stands that stood on either side of the desk about as tall as the level I have the Trap's at right now...but maybe it will be easier to try something like Bob is suggesting first Smiley
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #50 - 02/07/13 at 18:08:54
 
Got you on the stands...Seems Bob's thought could offer subtle placement flexibility. I use grungebuster material in a number of places. Might just do it for the cutting boards. Steve would certainly have input on that. You can get a small sheet of the grundgebuster pretty reasonably and cut as desired to get loads if dots of coverage. I swear, you should be able to hear cable differences and so on with your setup.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #51 - 02/07/13 at 18:12:53
 
Also, unless you are trying a seasoned one, for me, the Uber showed itself right off, but took a long time to really bring out the serious beauty it can bring...so expect some real improvement over time. And it is best plugged straight into the wall into a good audio receptacle. I use a Furutech FP15A-Cu which sounds awesome.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #52 - 02/07/13 at 18:37:54
 
Yes I have an avatar acoustics power outlet that I connect a VH Audio Hot Box power strip to...I thought all this would be enough, but the missing points are better power cords on the amp/source equipment and some power conditioning..

The UberBuss I audition should be very well seasoned because it will be the same unit they have been using for in-home demos for a while Smiley
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #53 - 02/07/13 at 18:57:46
 
Right so it will be interesting to experiment with the VH strip...see if has a signature or not. I really like all the kit wires I have made from
Chris's stuff.

With my Uber, I did run through a Brickwall, for the switch convenience and surge suppression. Once well seasoned, for me the Uber in the wall straight is better....the Brickwall does have a sound...feeling suppressed in subtle (but important) detail, organic tones, dynamics and the lot finally. Dave's cords of course excel in front too, but other good cables sound good too..just not quite as good to me, again in the the many subtle ways.
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« Last Edit: 02/07/13 at 18:59:32 by will »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #54 - 02/07/13 at 21:07:38
 
It will be good to experiment with the Hotbox and the Uber, I agree Smiley

Which on of Daves Power Cords do you have? Did you have a chance to try some different ones before settling on his cords?
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #55 - 02/07/13 at 21:29:09
 
I actually have both. I had gotten one to try from Eric Hider (Tranquility) designed for the Tranquility and liked it a lot. When I got the Uber, Dave sent his 10 gauge cable of the time for me to try. I am thinking it was pretty new then or in development (or is Dave just a really nice guy....or both) and he gave me a great price. I loved it right off, especially to the Tranquility. So I later added a ground wire (with Dave's advice on how) to the Tranquility cable making it I believe like Dave's less costly cable and am using that for the Uber (I put on a copper Furutech IEC and Plug on it too). It is lighter gauge than the other but sounds great with my relatively low power system!

I have home assembled cables...VHAudio both recipes (I used the heavy duty one with gold plated Furutech IEC and plug for the Uber for a while), in the matrix I like the cryo-parts one I made with copper Furutech ends best for my Torii MkIII, I also have one made up cable demo stock by Alan Maher to the TV and a MAC HC that goes to my Oppo...nice cords, but I prefer the home-mades.

It is cool though, with the lot, I have been able to optimize the synergy with cable rolling...they all have different attributes that they excel at, and this is a great thing I think.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #56 - 02/07/13 at 22:05:11
 
Got a reply from PS Audio CEO, McGowan: He recommends to have my Isolation Transformer in series with his Dectet for better results (I guess, mains noise and surge protection from the Transformer and RFI/EMI suppression from the Dectet.)

I'm thinking if Dave (PI Audio) has a similar reply, I'll go with the Mini-Buss instead, given the almost half price difference.

Will, there are so many gizmos and theories out there, my head spins. There's no way to try them all or prove anything, and the task is very subjective. I think you have over-killed the issue, and that's fine, but is really difficult to find a really optimal solution in this case.

I don't think I'm going to escalate the rolling to include power cords also, but that's just me.  :)
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #57 - 02/07/13 at 22:22:52
 
Interesting. The Duets and isolation transformers didn't work too well for me, when I removed the transformers everything was improved. The Dectet IS differently constructed (reportedly improved) so perhaps they'd work quite well.

will, the MAC HC cord I have took AGES to really break in, when it did it sounded much better than it did even after more than a month. I use it now with my bass guitar amp, WHOA!
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #58 - 02/07/13 at 22:44:06
 
Lon,

The norm is to use at minimum an Isolation Transformer. Maybe yours was not in good order, or something else in the system/house was counterproductive to it, but I've had no issues with it and it is designed for mains noise suppression and surge protection, aside from providing a dedicated circuit to the system.

I dig the concept of power regeneration, and someday I may save enough to get me one of those devices with it. In the meantime, I know my only uncertainty is whether I'm a victim of RFI/EMI to a tangible level, so I'm considering adding this ulterior filtering to my Isolation Transformer, and call it a day for now.

I also need vibration control to some basic extent, so it seems now I agree with you, Lon, on both upgrading priorities.   Smiley
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« Last Edit: 02/07/13 at 22:47:05 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #59 - 02/07/13 at 23:17:29
 
The isolation transformers I used are functioning properly, and were the Tripplite models Steve suggested. Don't know why, but they don't work as well as any other power solution I've tried. Two others here have noted similar problems. Perhaps the "consensus" isn't as consolidated. I don't believe everything I read on the web, and it's interesting that I'm not alone at having issues when used with Decware components.

Anyway, hope you continue to find improvements! My biggest hope for improvement is my next domicile. . . I know what it is now and it seems promising, likely to yield better sound than my pier and beam house.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #60 - 02/08/13 at 00:16:24
 
Lon,

Thanks for the tip on the HC. I burned it in on my computer circuit and refrigerator for a month or so and then on my Torii for several weeks, but as you have found, some of these things can really go a long time! Also, with these cable ends and cable for my kit cables, I have no idea what they would cost made up and retail, but presumably, they would be pretty high.

I will check around next time I get to playing with cables based on your experience though, so thanks for chiming in. I can really see how it might perform well with a high current like a bass amp (and how it could take forever to burn in).


FB,

Quote:
the task is very subjective. I think you have over-killed the issue


True, sound perception is subjective, as are each of our perceptions of value.

I actually I ended up with a lot of varied but well researched stuff, but it was one at a time over years (each part, being fully adjusted to the system/room sound to listen objectively to new stuff) with trial periods. The Uber was in the same progression, which iced the cake very nicely (but also, made the impact of some smaller power/room components less powerful, but not enough to take them out and sell them for me). With cable ends, it was one at a time too, experimenting and getting what I liked best considering the value, exploring carefully on each cable, and going on from there. And yes, there is obviously a difference in sound with home made cable materials and construction, as with commercial ones. Gold Furutech sounds different than Copper as does everything in a cable...materials and construction, even how you treat the cable end plugs.

Admittedly it is fun for me to explore in this way, but I rarely hear/read anyone else on this or other forums who feel the music in their rooms so engaged by it that it has the ultra-transporting and eery sense of players in the room. This could be the system/room, or just me, perception depth, time and inclination to explore, or many other things in combination (some might say delusion). Who knows, but most I know consider me extremely perceptive on a relative scale. I always have had super tuned senses and loved playing and modifying instruments and stereos from about 12 on. And my system is unbelievable to me...better than any I have heard, homes, live, in stores, whatever. I love it.

Also, as things get more refined, all is pretty great no matter the arrangement of cables or whatever, but also most every change is obvious in its own way. I am burning in what so far appear to be some warm/bassy power tubes and by changing the NOS Raytheon OC2s to NOS RCAs (input tube regulators) things came in nicely for me, opening the sound enough so that with some fine treble/bass adjustments on the Torii, it is a very, very good "breaking in" sound. So good, I would not know something was green if I wasn't the one who is exploring. That is a minor change in my tube rolling, but still enough to make a substantial mark in a very real way that brings pleasure and enjoyment to green tubes.

So really, without listening to each part or "roll" in this system what you "think" relative to your imagined perception of me or my system means little to me. It is exactly because my system/room is so refined from progressive improvement over many years that it reflects these changes and we each find our own refinement and synergy in our own way, based on our individual (and original) preferences.
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« Last Edit: 02/08/13 at 00:24:19 by will »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #61 - 02/08/13 at 00:54:03
 
Will,

I did not try to hurt your sensibilities, but express my own opinion, without judging you or your system.  I respect everybody's choices, and will never attempt to judge anyone, as this is not of my concern.

I do feel I'm entitled to politely express my opinions, freely, without fear of inducing adverse reactions in others just because these opinions happen to be different to their own.

I'm sure you must have your own powerful reasons behind your decisions, and so do I.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #62 - 02/08/13 at 01:08:56
 
FB,

I get that and assumed this was the case...it is just that opinions without experience are often very personal, and therefore less clear due to some complex of theory or bias (that may not be our friends) rather than experience, making them not necessarily real. I have no issue with anyone stating opinion, but when it is unfounded based in my experience, then I will speak up also (if I feel like it.)

Its all a very interesting exploration to me, and I am glad we are all into it together on this and other great forums. It flexes our perception and broadens our ability to perceive reality, and to find new and useful ways to realize the potential of what we love in the music.

Wink
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #63 - 02/08/13 at 01:37:19
 
I understand that, Will, but you certainly cannot expect everybody to follow in your steps before being entitled to more or less form an opinion about such decisions, 'when applied to themselves.'

I think my mistake was not to clarify the statement was evidently 'in my case,' as I naively assumed it was implicit.  :)

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #64 - 02/08/13 at 02:06:50
 
I absolutely do not expect everyone to follow in my steps. But when someone is exploring something I have explored, and I feel like my information might be useful, I feel obligated to be as clear as I can with in my experience and interpretations. I am sorry if comes off has "the way" or something to you.

To me, I hold that your opinion is unfounded in experience, not that you are not entitled to your "opinion."
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« Last Edit: 02/08/13 at 02:16:25 by will »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #65 - 02/08/13 at 02:48:19
 
I definitely disagree, sorry.

Common sense and sensible thinking is given to human beings so we can reasonably anticipate, without having to try all the endless possible alternatives, because life is too short.

Your particular 'subjective' conclusions stemming from all that experience, are yours. We appreciate you share them, but do not assume these are universal truths, nor try to impose them on others, nor assume others are wrong just because they haven't used the same approach.
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« Last Edit: 02/08/13 at 11:06:07 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #66 - 02/08/13 at 03:34:30
 
Lon shared:
Quote:
The isolation transformers I used are functioning properly, and were the Tripplite models Steve suggested. Don't know why, but they don't work as well as any other power solution I've tried. Two others here have noted similar problems. Perhaps the "consensus" isn't as consolidated. I don't believe everything I read on the web, and it's interesting that I'm not alone at having issues when used with Decware components.

Anyway, hope you continue to find improvements! My biggest hope for improvement is my next domicile. . . I know what it is now and it seems promising, likely to yield better sound than my pier and beam house.

Lon, will be interesting to hear how the new digs sound; do you have a time frame for how long your audio system will be down?

Like you, I did not find pleasing my try with the Tripplite; I tried two, but was unimpressed. I have also had all sorts of power conditioning, brickwalls, balanced power [still use the Transcendent BPS on my office headphone rig, where the power draw seems less demanding], silly Monster products, including that big pig the AVS-2000 [which mostly showed that the power in my area, both at home and office was fairly reliable, if prone to occasionally drops and surges, especially at the office]. But nothing, but nothing, had the impact of the PS Audio PPP [thanks for encouraging me there] I would love to find room in this year's budget to upgrade to a pair of P5 Power Plants, but I don't need, need them. Even when compared to power in the wee hours, which is quite stable, and lower noise, as one can see from the lower activity of the Noise Harvesters in the room, the deep blackness of the background, the sense of robust depth and full soundstage on huge choral works, and high resolution, high dynamic records such as R-men's I Thought About You is just amazing. And in the quiet, something like the O Holy Night on Cantate Domino, when you can feel the church around you, when you are no longer listening to music, but something more, the outpouring of emotion, is indeed breathtaking.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #67 - 02/08/13 at 03:53:02
 
I know, I love mine and nothing else I've tried has approached it.I'd definitely invest in another for my second system or a P5 for this one, and may in the future if the fates allow.

I'm not sure how long my system will be "down." Possibly just a few weeks. I have a mid-April move planned, and it will be the last thing packed and the first thing set up. A friend and I are driving my system, instruments and other valuables up together, but I'm not anywhere near that point yet.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #68 - 02/08/13 at 08:28:21
 
I had an AMAZING time with my Trapezium's today and had one of those classic digging-though-my-collection moments because the sound was so good!

I placed my Trap's on the floor in front of my rug about 4 feet apart and I sat about 4 feet away (I'm usually only 2 feet away from them)...if you've been following the thread, it was suggested that I try to isolate my amp/DAC from my little Trap's in order to have them be less susceptible to the vibrations created by the Trapeziums down-firing port.....well....I somehow forgot about listening critically and was having so much fun playing track after track with my system!

Due to the changes in proximity from my usual listening position and new distance b/t the speakers on the floor, it's hard for me to say if there were added bonuses from the lack of influence of vibrations on my amp/dac. Also I played the music a little louder than usual in order to get some larger music-images and feel the fantastic PUNCH these speakers are capable of (when Steve wrote that these speakers have amazing bass he was not kidding!!). So all I'm basically saying is that I will have to do some more listening with some fixed variables in order to clearly see if I hear any changes from isolating the speakers from the amp/dac....

Ok, here are some of the tracks I played. I'm very familiar with them all (except one) and may try to use them in the future when evaluating gear...I could think of a couple more tracks to add actually Smiley

House of Waters, Elsewhere (album).  
-This is a group I saw playing in the subway here in NY and was blown away by how amazing they were! Particularly their Hammered Dulcimer player, he was a virtuoso on the instrument! Their music has great punch and delicate swirls, gentle bells/flutes, crashing cymbals, and authoritative bass runs. I even chatted with him after I promptly purchased their CD...I like picking an artists brain a bit when I get the chance...cuz i was really in awe of these guys. You should definitely check them out if my (meager) description sounds interesting to you at all. Actually something tells me Steve D. would really like them haha! If I ever go to Decfest I will have to bring their CD with me!

Fela Kuti, Expensive Shit (album)
-The horns, group vocals, deep electric bass/bass drum, synth keyboards and percussive accoutrements  were ALL here to delight in. My whole body was moving with the music!

Eric Dolphy, Out There (album)
-I LOVE this guys music and the last track on this album ("Feathers") has this deep bass and gliding sax that gives me chills every time I hear it..

Miles Davis, Miles Smiles (album)
-The song "Circle" is maybe my fav off this album Smiley

Beethova Oba (Haitian Artist), Futur (album)
-Saw him play live a few times, he is AMAZING and a great guy (got to meet him). He is a completely self taught guitarist with a very unconventional way of playing...I believe he is a lefty that plays a "righty" guitar WITHOUT rearranging the order of the strings. Unlike Hendrix who I believe DID rearrange the strings. Anyway this is impressive to me even more since I play guitar and am self taught as well. Oh and the first track on this album is dedicated to his mother. The words are in creole but even if you can't understand it, I think the music is conveying it all! The strings sounds soooo great!

Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, Raising Sand (album)
-This is the only album I'm not familiar with yet...I'd been meaning to buy it for a looong time and finally got around to it. But like a lot of my musical purchases, I didn't crack it open because I wasn't "ready" yet. I'm really all about waiting till I'm "open" and "ready" to listen to an album (sounds a bit silly but it's what feels right to me I guess). I've played music that was great, at a time when I wasn't in the mood and totally missed what it had to offer me so........yeah, you get the point..

Anyway, I'm still not quite in the right place to hear the whole album, but I wanted a little taste so I played just the first track and it sounded quite nice...a little boomy in the bass but that could be due to  a bunch of factors I haven't considered yet and...am not that concerned with right now. My DAC is still burning in too so, yeah. That's one thing Smiley

Led Zeppelin, In Through the Out Door (Album)
-I'm a big fan of the latter Zep catalog and tend to prefer it (in general) over the earlier stuff....BLASPHEMY I know haha, but in short (cuz I could go on) they were on some other sh*& during the latter years that I just really dig. And don't get me wrong it the least, I love the early stuff as well. Ok I'll admit it, Zeppelin is my favorite band of all time! Smiley "All of my love" is just.....yeah, out of this world. What a song! I actually have the remastered "Best of " they put out in 2007 I think AND I have the year 2000-something whole ITTOD album and the remastered ones vocals were a bit more clear and the bass had more thump. I liked the newer remastered one. I DON'T like compilations though. I just bought it cuz it's Zep and I wanted to hear how it compared to the other mastered version I had Smiley

This post long enough for you yet?? haha. Thanks for reading and wish me luck with this impending snow storm coming to NY  :-[
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #69 - 02/08/13 at 11:02:50
 
HPDJ,

Glad you really enjoyed your system with those changes. Provided you find the means to decouple the speakers from the rest of your components and get them (when possible) well into the listening room (away from walls and the bare floor), it will reward you with great sound.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #70 - 02/08/13 at 14:03:59
 
HPDJ, thanks for sharing that listening experience. Your enthusiasm for House of Waters intrigued me. I found them on iTunes and Amazon, but those are lo-res of course. Still, the previews were good enough for me, so I found the House of Waters website, but they only seem to offer downloads there. But at the artist's website, you can order CDs. I like the reference on his bio page: "the Jimi Hendrix of the hammered dulcimer."
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #71 - 02/08/13 at 14:50:57
 
Lon,

It seems you were right in this one too:

From P. McGowan (CEO-PS Audio):

'If it were my system, I would simply use the Dectet and abandon the Tripplite.  I think you'll have much better sound and be happier with your system's performance.  Isolation transformers do some good but can also cause more sonic degradation than benefit and IMHO should be avoided.'

This, after a second mail from me, making sure he understood my 'Trippline' is an Isolation Transformer (not a conditioner, as he may have thought initially)

Of course, these people sell somewhat competing products, but I think there must be some truth in what he's saying.

My Isolation Transformer does not produce any audible sounds, even if I stick my ear to the speaker when the amp is running iddle at normal listening volume.

I live in a small city in the outskirts (1 hr drive) of the capital city, so theoretically there are much less AC noise generating sources in this area.

I'm also in a community that is isolated from the small city, about 5 kms away from downtown, and all our power distribution cabling is underground (no posts, hanging transformers, etc.)

The problem I face, is the Isolation Transformer protects me from possible surges and spikes, and the Dectet won't (nor the Buss line of conditioners).   Undecided

BTW, good luck with your new domicile. Hopefully you'll find better AC quality there!
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« Last Edit: 02/08/13 at 20:43:43 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #72 - 02/08/13 at 15:22:17
 
Thanks for that info.

My Tripplites don't make audible noise to the ear at the speaker etc. but my Power Plant showed me it was introducing noise. And it imparted a sound to the equipment, that was the biggest negative. Radcha heard it too using both these and the Duets and that helped me to isolate it. Without the Tripplite the sound was more natural, less digital sounding.

You could purchase an outlet with surge protection, such things exist, and then use the Dectet or the Uberbuss etc. Or just enjoy what you have.

I should have better power at the new place, but with my Power Plant. . . it really doesn't matter that much I wager.
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« Last Edit: 02/08/13 at 15:23:01 by Lon »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #73 - 02/08/13 at 15:44:42
 
Oh I'm totally convinced on the regeneration concept those plants use. It makes a lot of sense IMO, and it's the best way to ensure clean AC going into one's system.

I suppose one would need to incorporate some RFI/EMI filtering power cords, to shield the already cleaned AC output from surrounding interferences before going into the component?

Anyway, this is the right approach and the only caveat is its prohibitive (at least for me) cost.

I need to sort out the Dectet vs MiniBuss choice (need to email Dave)
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« Last Edit: 02/08/13 at 15:47:31 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #74 - 02/08/13 at 16:02:28
 
Pale Rider,

I'm so glad you looked into House of Waters! If you order the CD let us know what you think...I think I'll eventually get their other two CD's as well...

I didn't see the bio that compared him to Hendrix haha! That's hilarious....his playing is definitely out of this world though Smiley
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #75 - 02/08/13 at 16:02:55
 
Yes, another reluctant fact that I've learned about audio is that cabling matters a lot. Wish I couldn't hear their benefits sometimes.  I started off small and then went large with power cords, because they really do change the sonic texture and timbres subtly to not so subtly. I have spent big dollars on power cords but they're long-lived products, and I simply prioritize my spending on stereo stuff and music and damn the tropedos, something I can do without a wife and with (still, somehow) some money in the bank.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #76 - 02/08/13 at 16:35:27
 
Good for you, Lon. I'm also getting more involved in this hobby since having retired, and it is very exciting.

I received another mail from McGowan, stating the Dectet is also a surge, spike and voltage variation protector too, so it seems this is a strong candidate (also one of your suggestions).

Shame I would have to put the isolation transformer in the closet and the combined cost of the two devices would have bought me a better power conditioner.  :(

Power cables are another PIA for me. No technical handle works here either, and the choices are innumerable. Costs could also become quite steep.

I still need to upgrade my speaker cables someday, as these are entry-level Kimber Kables, a far cry from the ZStyx's, for example.

But, I basically just started, and I'll take it one day at a time  :)

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« Last Edit: 02/08/13 at 16:41:49 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #77 - 02/08/13 at 16:59:23
 
Sure thing HPDJ. Look forward to sharing.

To those considering power upgrades, note that Music Direct has an excellent buy on a PS Audio B Stock P5 Power Plant. A very good buy.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #78 - 02/08/13 at 17:19:51
 


I forgot that my Duets are surge protector devices (MOV based) and the Dectet is supposed to be an improved model by NOT using MOVs. I bet these are great units.



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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #79 - 02/08/13 at 20:24:16
 
Getting back to my original question, what would be the benefits or drawbacks of pairing my Mini-Torii with, say, the CSP2+?

I know a forum member (Hank) last year posted on using his Mini with a CSP2 to get more 'oomph' from the Mini. Small powered amps have two limitations, volume and 'oomph' (or whatever you want to call it).

The loudness or SPL is a matter of choosing the adequate speaker specs and listening room area volume. The second attribute is more tricky, I think. It is a combination of recording/sourcing quality and the amp's built-in 'pep' or dynamics or headroom or whatever you may call it.

IMHO, it should never be a bad thing to boost the Mini Torii's 'oomph' via an added preamplifier, just to ride the gain when necessary. This can really boost the dynamics and sense of power under the same conditions, thanks to a power reserve on the input side.

Steve has written somewhere here that this could be a better way to improve your sourcing. Typically, this is ideal in the case of, say, a Superzen, as it is even less powerful than the Mini. But, as everything is relative, any amp can benefit (IMO) from this concept.

Of course, there would be some preamp duplication in the Mini's case, and one would be better off maybe just not buying the Mini and instead getting a Torii (adding the cost of both components is more or less in the same ballpark).

But in my case, I don't need more volume or power, just would like to have more 'oomph'. A DAC upgrade would provide better resolution, but not 'oomph.' My resolution levels are fine (especially after some useful tube-rolling), I just would like to boost that sound a bit in some recordings that are yelling to be played with power reserve so it can show it's recording dynamics.

There are also other recordings calling for the opposite, in which case the gain game can be reversed with the result of leaning out a too constipated or boomy sound.

Anyways, this is what I was aiming to discuss originally in this thread, as alternatives 2a & 2b. Which is also why I've always liked the ZStage concept (as some of you may recall from earlier threads, even before my Mini had arrived  :)  ).

I know I need to fix power conditioning and vibration issues first, but I'd like to have my long-term plan complete, so I can start working in that direction.

Any comments?
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« Last Edit: 02/08/13 at 20:35:52 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #80 - 02/09/13 at 20:48:38
 
Ok, my current upgrading plan:

Short-Term:

- Last tube-rolling stage (a few more 12AU7/12AT7 choices)
- Vibration control (Iso-Cups, Fat and Square Dots)
- Power conditioning (Mini-Buss or Dectet)

Mid-Term:

- DAC upgrade (Concero or equivalent)
- Speaker Cables upgrade (ZSTYX)

Long-Term:

- ZStage or CSP2+, for Riding-the-Gain 'oomph!'
- Move my listening to a spare room, with absorbing materials

There, this ought to take my sound quality level to a higher order of magnitude.   Wink

Right now, my system sounds delicious, and the only thing I miss a bit is the 'oomph!' in some classical music passages recorded with high dynamics.

Short-term measures will produce overall tangible results.

Mid-term ones will contribute with higher resolution and transparency levels.

Long-term upgrades should increase dynamics (oomph!) and overall sound quality.  

Now is a matter of keep saving towards each consecutive stage. This hobby is exciting!
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« Last Edit: 02/10/13 at 20:28:12 by Fireblade »  

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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #81 - 02/13/13 at 18:23:56
 
FWIW, and apologies for the self-promotion, I posted an IC in Classifieds on one of my PS Audio Power Plant Premiers.
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Re: Alternative means for sourcing upgrade
Reply #82 - 02/14/13 at 01:07:29
 
No sweat, but unfortunately it's still out of my league at this point.
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« Last Edit: 02/14/13 at 01:07:54 by Fireblade »  

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