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Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD (Read 16136 times)
Fireblade
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #30 - 03/04/13 at 00:34:37
 
I'm sorry, my mistake. For some reason, I thought you said somewhere you liked the Invicta in spite of it not supporting DSD.
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #31 - 03/04/13 at 02:34:31
 
Hey, I appreciate the input. Keeping up with this stuff can run one ragged. Cheers!
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #32 - 03/06/13 at 07:07:53
 
Hi PR, I'm not sure what your budget is, but you may want to hold off before you commit to buying another USB DAC as the Lumin Audiophile Network Music Player is out and can do DSD via Ethernet which can bypass the USB problems.  I read that it has in introductory price of $3980.00.

It looks like a SOTA piece of audio engineering, it comes in 2-3 parts, the actual Network Player, a separate Power Supply and an optional Independent External Storage Device , and it can use an iPad as an interface ... this may be the piece that could be a great alternative to the DAC you had in mind and/or replace the PWD altogether.

It looks like it does it all and was reviewed at 6moons only a couple of days ago and got their highest award "Lunar Eclipse Award".  This review is a good read in general for anybody who wants to know a little more about DSD, I know a learned some good things from it.





A couple of quotes from the review:

Conclusion. This Chinese newcomer is set to radically alter the current hierarchy of dedicated audio computer solutions. It's the first if its kind that had me seriously contemplate to permanently switch to virtual media without any compromise in sound quality. The Lumin outclassed the very best CD/SACD transports where it could have safely stopped and grinned. But it pushed onwards and up by opening the doors to what for me was the most exciting audio experience I've yet had: DSD streaming? To complete the picture, the Chinese streamer also offers a very convenient iPad UPnP app that found itself highly appreciated by many diehard Linn users.

In short, this DSD streamer outclassed anything I've heard at home or beyond. Whilst I dislike such expressions, it proved to be a keen Linn killer. About 10 listeners who heard my loaner sold off their Linn streamers to buy the new kid in town. A few prerequisites like configuring a NAS with Minimserver are mandatory and will call for minimal IT skills from the installer or user. It's no harder than any other streamer setup except perhaps the Squeezebox which remains the king of easy. Beyond its outstanding sound quality, the Lumin also gets the most elevated marks for user-friendliness, aesthetics, versatility and evolutionary capacities – not bad for the maiden release from a rising Hong Kong company I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more of in the near future! My experience with it became such a personal enjoyment that it proved impossible not to convert my loaner into my new digital reference. Considering the nearly unbelievable price/performance ratio, I give it a most enthusiastic award!



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« Last Edit: 03/06/13 at 09:06:48 by beowulf »  
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #33 - 03/06/13 at 15:27:38
 
Thanks beowulf. I know about the Lumin; in fact I mentioned earlier that I had taken it off my list, because I did not feel confident in the maker. Part of that lack of confidence came from the manner in which one of their astroturfers completely carpeted an audio forum with promotional posts about the product. Part of it came from the "promises everything including a better sex life" approach. But if you read where they are from actual users, they have a ways to go. The 6Moons review indeed illustrates that fact as well; there are many "gotchas" waiting for the early adopter.

I used to put more stock in 6moons, but over time, I have gotten tired of wading through their purple prose that passes for erudition, and the endless gobs of data that does more to mask the lack of meaningful information than anything else. Still, it is a very positive review, and I will continue to watch the Lumin to see if it continues to make progress. I am marginally concerned about its reliance on the minimserver architecture. I have downloaded and tried minimserver as a server for my PWD, and I was less than impressed. 6Moons pointed out some of the idiosyncrasies of the Lumin software ecosystem, and it well illustrates the adage that the 'U' in 'UPnP' doesn't stand for what you think it does. Software development seems to be the bugaboo of many of these devices, and it is a significant challenge [witness the JRiver offering of a Mac OS X version of their media center]. I suspect that like most such things, long term success will depend in great part on market traction.

I also have learned the hard way that as great as network streaming can be, and as problematic as USB can be, neither is good or bad, just different. My PWD over network can be great, or over USB, because it really solves USB with the Digital Lens, but over network, it can actually be occasionally flaky due to software interactions and the challenges of gapless playback. PS Audio is working to solve all that, but it's something of a work-in-progress. So, ironically, USB is a rock-solid alternative on the PWD, and many other DACs.

On the Mytek, which supports USB, the alternative is Firewire [a la the Weiss and others]. Firewire is not as difficult as USB, but when properly implemented, both sound very similar. The Invicta offers an SD card interface, which solves the computer interface problem altogether, albeit on a smaller storage scale for now, but also provides very good audio performance.  The exaSound addresses its jitter issue differently, but quite effectively.

I am starting out my trials with the Mytek, in part because Blue Coast has a great promo [same 30-day trial, plus a $200 credit for DSD downloads], they are local in the Bay Area, they and Sony use the Mytek as their demo rig, the aforementioned Firewire interface is nice on the Mac, and I expect it will make a nice headphone DAC/amp for my desktop computer, if I eventually settle on a different machine for the main listening station.
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« Last Edit: 03/06/13 at 15:33:57 by Pale Rider »  

Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #34 - 03/06/13 at 20:42:23
 
Oops, must have overlooked that ... but hey a better sex life ... I'll take 2 LOL  Grin

I'm just wondering why the PWD doesn't include DSD as a file format, since it seems like it does everything else so great?  For the price and what it does I'm sure it wouldn't be that big of an engineering feat for them.  Maye in the future if it becomes a stronger format.

... I guess it's just like you mentioned that the Oppo leaving out AIFF files, it just seems like they dropped the ball on that. Hmmm!
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #35 - 03/07/13 at 14:06:37
 
beowulf wondered:
Quote:
I'm just wondering why the PWD doesn't include DSD as a file format, since it seems like it does everything else so great?  For the price and what it does I'm sure it wouldn't be that big of an engineering feat for them.  Maye in the future if it becomes a stronger format.

... I guess it's just like you mentioned that the Oppo leaving out AIFF files, it just seems like they dropped the ball on that. Hmmm!

McGowan has recently indicated that DSD may be on the update/upgrade path, and from a chipset architecture perspective, it is certainly feasible. But I have no doubt there are challenges, so I am not expecting it "any day now." I sure wish they would, because as far as SQ goes, I haven't had any other reason to seek out alternatives or additions to the PWD.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Brett
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #36 - 03/08/13 at 03:00:21
 
Just a couple thoughts regarding network based DACs vs USB DACs. IMO, rather the data is coming through an ethernet pipe or a USB pipe the problem as it relates to audio quality is essentially the same.

Any stored or streamed data coming from a computer is going to bit perfect (or at least bits will accord with what the software is telling to hardware to do), unless very poorly implemented. Data integrity is absolutely necessary in the computer world for obvious reasons.

What separates good digital audio design from mediocre is how the data is then clocked. Ideally data from the computer will then go to a component which handles timing of the bits (low jitter) and serves as the master clock for the DAC (transport).

Computer integrated HIFI is still emergent tech.

DACs have been around for a relatively long time and their behavior given certain technologies (oversamping vs non oversampling etc) has become somewhat predictable. And the format of the digital audio signal itself doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. Much of the differences in flavors of DACs are derived from various types of output stages (tube or opamps etc), and various methods of supplying power.

It seems wise to invest in a DAC that has the sonic characteristics you like and maintain a separate solution for transporting from a computer.

I've modded the crap out of my DAC and love the way it sounds, so rather than replace it I have bought a separate USB to SPDIF solution.

While at the moment this USB to SPDIF solution is state of the art, there will no doubt be a new standard around the corner. Perhaps USB 3, or lightening bolt, or who knows what.

OTOH there will not be radically innovative DAC tech. Heck my DAC uses a NOS chip from the 90s that is still considered one of the best sounding DAC chips out there. None the less a serious DAC is not easy or cheap to implement. Thinking about throwing all that away for this new all in one box makes me cringe

Finding an all in one solution that checks all the right boxes would mean crazy money, if such a product exists. Only to have all that slick computer transport tech will be outdated within a couple years.
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will
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #37 - 03/08/13 at 05:20:08
 
Brett,

What USB to SPDIF solution do you use?

Thanks,

Will
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Mac mini, Tranquility DAC, CSP3, TORII MkIV, Morrow SP-7, HR-1s...VHaudio DIY, Grover, MAC ICs...PSAudio P5 and Shunyata Defender, PI Audio and DIY power cables, HerbiesAudioLab isocups and tube dampers...
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Brett
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #38 - 03/08/13 at 06:47:26
 
Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 5.



I upgraded from an Off-Ramp 3 and the improvement was stark. Most of this is due to asynchronous USB which alleviates the computer from having to perform as the master clock. So rather than being a digital lens, the OR5 is behaving like a really good CD transport. Some say better.

There are a lot of async USB to SPDIF converters now, but the OR5 has tightly regulated power supplies for the clocks as well as the SPDIF transmitter. Apparently the Hynes regulators are good enough they stopped selling their battery power supply.

The computer merely has to provide the data, which it what they excel at. It's awesome being able to queue up many difference sources of digital. Music, Netflix, YouTube, DVDs, BluRay. All from one box. Good software is better. Foobar with kernel streaming is audibly better than ASIO and DS plugins. Amarra on Mac. But even music off of YouTube is absolutely listenable. Zero fatigue.

I2S output as well which is exciting tech.
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #39 - 03/08/13 at 09:47:43
 
Colin from Chord Electronics wrote me back and this is what he had to say when I asked him to clarify because the Lumin and Linn products can do DSD.

Quote:
Our DSX1000 is ready for DSD playback however all streaming products will have to wait for Asset and Twonky to recognise these files. Until then no one will manage it over Ethernet.

The way Linn has managed it is playback via the HDMi input so you automatically require another source.

As for the Lumin, details are so sketchy that I would imagine their problem is getting round using HDMi (which is very expensive and constantly evolving/changing) and also waiting for Twonky and Asset as we are.

Fingers crossed for the near future though, it would be great to have it. You will, however need to make sure your network can cope!

Regards

Colin Pratt
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beowulf
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #40 - 03/08/13 at 09:52:08
 
Quote:
Brett
Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 5


Hi Brett, I have been hearing a lot of good things about this product.

Can you explain your setup and hookup using the offramp and how it's integrated into your system with software and your DAC, etc.?  

Thanks!
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #41 - 03/08/13 at 15:06:44
 
@beowulf: Interesting comments from Chord, so it sounds like they were talking about their stuff, not the industry in general. I also did not realize they were dependent on the Twonky ecosystem, so that makes sense. But I think Colin Pratt is spot on with this; my network is now feeding some large hi-res files very reliably, with increasingly rare hiccups:
Quote:
Fingers crossed for the near future though, it would be great to have it. You will, however need to make sure your network can cope!

But it is true that in an abstract sense—as Brett notes above—the data problem is a data problem whether over USB or Ethernet. In my case, I need to tweak my network layout to make sure the full audio chain is on its own little subdivision of the network, and not bothered by other stuff, and generally going through like switches. This is analogous to the problem of choosing and setting up a computer to not be distracted by other stuff like keyboard interruptions, WiFi, background processes, etc., so it does not add to the inherent USB problems. Conceptually similar, but pragmatically different with very different solutions [though all benefitting from a musical DAC with sophisticated jitter reduction capability].

@Brett: Nice rig. I really like the Empirical Audio line, and their approach to the computer audio field. BTW, for some very good "starter" tips, check this page at their site, including this somewhat surprising assessment: "Mac Mini has the least problematic USB ports." I demo'ed both an Off Ramp and the Pace Car [replaced by the Synchro Mesh re-clocker]. I thought both were pretty good, but I ultimately preferred the Audiophileo at that time going into my PS Audio Digital Link III [itself heavily modded, and a very very good DAC], and eventually ended up preferring the approach of the PWD altogether for solving the clocking problem. Rather than re-clocking, I chose what I would call PSA's "de-clocking" approach with the Digital Lens.

Not sure I would go as far to say: "the data is coming through an ethernet pipe or a USB pipe the problem as it relates to audio quality is essentially the same." I think this is conceptually correct, because computer data streams in general are not designed for music playback, and every version of those data streams requires some serious "reconstructive effort." But the two approaches are very different, and USB is a more difficult problem to solve in my view. And with all due respect, USB->SPDIF is not state of the art, but given the improvements in the 5th generation of the OR, my guess is that it probably is the best of that class. Like I said, I am a fan of EA, and their engineering but USB->SPDIF is part of the problem itself. Indeed, if one can use the Off Ramp in HDMI I2S mode to a DAC that has that protocol [PWD, W4S], it's going to provide a better result. I never got to try this with my PWD, because I was moving away from USB in my move to the PWD, but given the approach of the PWD, I would bet the OR impact would be less, if perceptible at all. In theory, any jitter reduction upstream should be a good thing, but if one component actually removes the computer-induced jitter altogether, irrespective of whether the computer is a good or bad USB source, does it matter if an additional in-stream device [the OR] has made it better before it gets to the Lens? Don't know. I am a big believer that "everything matters," even if I cannot hear it, but my wallet cares. This very question was raised by John Darko in his Digital Audio Review of the PWD:
Quote:
This introduces a paradox for the consumer: why spend big on a best-in-class USB-S/PDIF convertor when you could put that money toward a DAC that’s better at hosing jitter? With NativeX at your fingertips, the PWD MKII proves it is one such beast. At around US$2k (depending on mods), Empirical Audio’s Off-Ramp USB convertor is consistently reported to be superior to the Audiophilleo and JKSPDIF. Would feeding the PS Audio DAC from such a low jitter source sound superior to a Native-X’d high-jitter source? (That’s a question that can only be answered as and when I get my hands on an Off-Ramp).
My guess Brett is your answer is to divide the component requirements up into manageable options and invest in the best of each that one can afford, e.g., transport, reclocker, DAC, etc., because, as you say, there is no one perfect do-it-all box. I think this is a valid strategy. The Off Ramp solves a problem that only exists if one is using USB playback from a computer, and one does not have a digital lens or its equivalent. Of course, if you have a wonderfully musical DAC, that is not async, then the OR or something like it is absolutely essential. I had a delightful Promitheus DAC, NOS, and it sounded beautiful. It benefitted significantly with outboard USB control. Same with the PSA DL III.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Pale Rider
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #42 - 03/08/13 at 16:14:14
 
FWIW, I contacted Lumin to purchase a unit, and was told today the price is now $5480USD. Sorry, a $1500 price hike—coincident it seems with the rave 6Moons review—now puts this player in the wrong price range. Just me. YMMV.
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Decware: Ultra | Torii MKIII [2] | SE84ZS | Taboo MkIII Sources: Synology 1812+ | Baetis Revolution | PWD DAC MKII | Lumin Network Player | Mytek 192 | Oppo 105 DSP: DEQX Mate | Emotiva Outputs: ERR [6] + Servo Subs | LCD-2 & other cans
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Brett
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #43 - 03/08/13 at 22:10:34
 
Beowulf,

the OR5 is hooked up to my Win 7 PC using a standard belkin 5ft usb cable. It sounds best when running Foobar 2000 with the kernal streaming plugin. Streaming from the kernal bypasses the audio manipulation of the Windows 7 mixer. Most of my audio files are ripped using exact audio copy to uncompressed WAV files.

I've got a lot of FLAC files as well and convert those back to WAV before listening through Foobar. Foobar can play FLAC files on the fly, but interestingly this does not sound as good as playing WAV converted from FLAC. Low bitrate MP3s sounds the worst, but all in all it is a matter of detail loss. Nothing coming out of this setup ever sounds harsh or irritating.

As for the computer itself, I got a wild hair and the crazy notion that it would be a good idea to build a computer that could run Crysis as well as pull double duty as a machine quiet enough to be worthy of a serious audio room. Obsession took hold and what follows was the result.



The first order of business was to consider a way to provide adequate cooling and ventilation while keeping the noise down. It was decided that water cooling was the way to go for most of the computers heat generating components. Still, within the case would be two fans and a water pump. The HDD also was a noise consideration.



My solution was to design an intake and exhaust muffler so to speak. The chambers above and below the large middle chamber are the intake and exhaust mufflers later to be lined with sound absorption foam. You can see two fan holes on the bottom right and top left.



The side panels bolt into place with countersunk weather strips to keep it air tight. When closed the side ports are the only way for air to get in and out.



The primary method of heat exchange is done by this little radiator. It has four quiet fans, yet they are noisy enough that I decided to place it outside of the audio room. It sits mounted on the wall in the hall way and is inaudible from the room. Kind of neat to pump the computers heat away via water like that. BTW this computer is a space heater. The power supply is by necessity 1000 watts. The audio room stays nice and cool though.



Here is the right side with adhesive acoustic foam placed on the door and inside the case.



Here's a larger pic of the innards http://i.imgur.com/UWfnpWj.jpg

Even the power supply, motherboard, and RAM is water cooled. Yet still the internal temp sometimes reaches 90F. On board sensors are monitored and fan speeds depend on how warm it is. I have two saved bios modes. One where everything is at normal clock speed and minimal voltage for keeping it cool and quiet. The other setting is super blasto overclocked for running games and stuff. Even at full blast this computer stays cool and is relatively quiet.

Weighting around 100 pounds this computer is easily the least practical thing I own. It's actually the second computer case I've built using wood (in this case maple). Some day I want to build another using CNC and good plywood.






The OR5 is powered by a wall wart which is plugged into a Power Plant Premier. It does it's thing and pushes SPDIF through a DIY silver interconnect with BNC jacks. VHAudio has an terrific 75ohm silver coax cable at $100 a meter.



The digital input of my DAC has a silver wired torroid transformer with a 100v teflon  protection cap. The input transformer feeds a CS8412 or CS8414 receiver chip. The DAC has two switchable inputs each with their own transformer.



Audio Note DAC Kit 1.2

Larger picture http://i.imgur.com/iMMhU2z.jpg

I bought it about 8 years ago and have studied and modded just about every aspect of it. I practically have the schematic memorized now.

The power supply feeding the digital board is all Black Gate FK and N caps and Cree diodes. The power regulation uses ultra low noise AD797 op amps. I rolled through about 5 different kinds of opamps and surprisingly they have quite an effect. The AD797s really cleaned everything up and made for more dynamics.

The cans between the digital board and tube output stage are silver wired transformers which serve to convert the current (rather than amplified voltage) outputs from the DAC chip into voltage (I/V conversion) for the tube grid. This way from the moment the digital stream is converted to analog there is no transistor amplification. The DAC chip has no oversampling and no digital brick wall or analog filter. The limited bandwidth of the I/V transformers acts as a filter to prevent ultrasonic distortions. They also provide galvanic isolation keeping grounding paths pure. Adding these brought the DAC to a whole different level.

The tube output board power supply uses a 6x4 rectifier tube, polypropylene filter caps, choke, and gas tube regulators. The tube filaments are heated with DC.

The tube output stage has 6922s running in SRPP. The 3 volt output is hot enough to drive my Zen directly.

All teflon coated silver plated copper hookup wire, and cotton insulated silver signal wire.
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Lon
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Re: Excellent Promo on PS Audio PWD
Reply #44 - 03/08/13 at 22:31:43
 
Amazing work! Cheesy
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