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Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement (Read 10243 times)
Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #15 - 07/07/13 at 13:25:43
 
Well, the Marantz AV processor has warmed up nicely and the internal DAC has really improved Redbook sound, and the line stage and tuner section seem more "holographic" than that within the Sony receiver that was the amplification before.

I added Herbie's Audio Lab "Grungebuster" 1.5" dots beneath each of the components, which has helped overrall sound. I'd love to have Tenderfeet instead but don't want to put the money into it right now. The dots get me part of the way there and I had them on hand. I also put the whole cabinet on Herbie's Carpet Spikes which I also had on hand, and that has improved the overall sound a bit.

I knew I was on the right track when I was listening to a recording and a berimbau began playing and seemed to be coming from outside the cabinet and my Mom perked up and said "What was that? Was that on the record?" Smiley I think other than Tenderfeet my next step would be to improve speaker cabling and perhaps the interconnects between the Marantz and the C amp. I'm using the 16 guage Monster cable I put in there about 20 years ago for speaker cable, and Audioquest silver interconnects which I had on hand at home, those are great for the money I paid, but there's better out there. But all in good time. I have a great pair of Tara Labs RSC interconnects available, but they aren't flexible enough to use in this instance. And I have a ZBox which may be put into play, but again, that's another pair of interconnects, and another power cord. . . Sigh.

Yesterday I put in a pair of cryo'd Reflector EL84s which need a bit of break-in but have added a sort of "old school" warmth to the sound and I think I'll leave in in place of the 6P15P-EV that came with the amp.

I may replace the Monster Power strip with one of the PS Audio Duets that I took out of the second system at my place when I bought a Dectet last month. THAT will improve the overall sound, and at the moment I have it powering my Jazzmaster Ultralight SE guitar amp  upstairs, which doesn't get as much use as my Bassman TV does.
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« Last Edit: 07/07/13 at 13:30:58 by Lon »  

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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #16 - 07/09/13 at 21:24:22
 
Okay, I DID replace the Monster power conditioner with one of my PS Audio Duet power conditioners and . . . wow. That made a very noticeable change in the sound. Less edge, more spatial info, more "pace." The Duet is connected to the wall with a Decware power cord.

The EL84s seem a bit broken in and I like them and will keep using them for a while. Warmer and fuzzier than the other tubes in a good way.

I think I'm done futzing with this until I want to spend some money and get some Tenderfeet and another power cord and interconnect to add the ZBox into the mix.
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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #17 - 07/12/13 at 14:03:52
 
I ended up putting the EL84s back in the box. Just a bit too polite and smooth after break in, great for some material, but these EV speakers like to be prodded a bit more, and the SV83 variant that came with the amp are better suited.

I took a set of Herbie's Audio Lab Tenderfeet from under the Torii Mk II in my second system and put them under the Marantz AV processor in this system. It always amazes me what just four little blocks do to the sound. Not a huge improvement but a nice sweetening and an added bit of dimensionality. Now I want more for the CD carousel and maybe the amp (though I am not sure they will do much for the amp--it sits inside it's maple case on some Herbie's little Fat Dots and I think what happens after that will be sort of a moot point.)
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« Last Edit: 07/12/13 at 14:44:58 by Lon »  

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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #18 - 07/13/13 at 18:30:30
 
I'll bore people a little further with the evolving stereo system at my parents' place.

I knew by how audible changes have been that I can keep improving sound here as the speakers are so wonderful. I went through my audio graveyard and found two sets of three of first generation Herbie's Audio Lab Iso-Cups and three Mexican Agate balls and three Gabon Ebony balls, and placed the former under the Vaughn-ified C amp and the latter under the Marantz tuner/processor. The Tenderfeet that were under the Marantz went under the cd player. I also replaced the PS Audio Jewel power cord with a My Audio Lab "HC" power cord. I set a few cds to play and did the dishes and some laundry.

In the meantime my Mom had stopped looking for some clothes upstairs with my beautiful sister-in-law Janell (and I mean that, inside and out) and had come down to sit in the living-room and listen. When I cam back with a load of laundry from the basement she said "Did you do something to the stereo? It sounds different." So I sat down and listened a bit with her and she asked me how I thought it sounded. I thought it sounded wider, the soundstage was definitely wider and imaging was even more precise. She liked my calling it wider and thought that's what she heard. I fee it is less congested, more open, a bit less warm.

I have also brought over my ZBox and a pair of Audio Quest "Black Maamba II" interconnects and may use the Jewell power cord to hook all that into the system later. But it's sounding really good with just these isolation component and power cord change right now, I may decide to just leave it as is. . . .
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« Last Edit: 07/13/13 at 18:31:18 by Lon »  

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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #19 - 07/19/13 at 00:45:38
 
Okay, possibly the final installment, so bear with me one more time.

Today the ZStage arrived. I decided to use one of the Decware power cords from my second system as I bought a replacement from Mike which will be here soon enough, and also to use the two pairs of MAC "UltraSilver +" interconnects that I had in that system in Dad's system.

I set this up and WOW. This is a substantial improvement in all the "tube aspects" of sound. Haven't had a lot of time to listen, and my parents really haven't heard the new set up yet, but I know it's going to sound great tomorrow and I'm done, I now have a great system here with Decware components inside to listen to, and my folks can really relax into the music now.
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beowulf
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #20 - 07/19/13 at 02:29:13
 
Thanks for the update, I've been following.  Also glad to see you keeping yourself extra busy and your folks entertained as well ... (as if you weren't busy enough Grin)
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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #21 - 07/19/13 at 03:23:40
 
Yeah, I'm busy alright. It's sad. I never thought I'd be dressing my Dad and cleaning up after him in certain ways. But then I think: he did that for me.

At least playing around with the stereo there is fun for me and it's interesting to see them noticing the changes and enjoying improved sound. Not that they were skeptics before, they were just. . . agnostic and unknowing about audio stuff.
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jsm71
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #22 - 07/19/13 at 14:45:06
 
Lon, I can relate with your situation.  My mother in law has lived with my wife and I (also in Ohio) for a few months now after she could no longer function in independent living quarters.  She has a difficult time walking and is retricted to our first floor.

My listening room is in a spare bedroom upstairs and I disappear every night to finish my day before bed there.  She has said many times that she would like to see what all the fuss is but we can't risk even helping her on the stairs.  I have been considering putting together a simple to use headphone setup for her with a CD player that she could keep next to her favorite chair.  Her hearing is not good and she won't use the expensive hearing aids that she has.  She can't enjoy TV becuase of the hearing but she might use music headphones if I could pick out some over the ear ones that are comfortable.  

I don't see myself jumping into a Taboo and high end cans but perhaps something that would be easy to use and still sound ok.  

I have been reading about the benefits of music therapy for the elderly and the articles are quite convincing, especially for those with the onset of dimentia.  None of us should be without good music.  It is my drug free way to relax each day and I'm sure she would enjoy some kind of setup.  It would have to be dirt simple to operate though.
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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #23 - 07/19/13 at 15:10:46
 
You're right about the "dirt simple to operate." My Mom has dementia and she could for a while operate a tv with built in DVD player i bought her but now that's beyond her.

I think music DOES help. It allows my Mom something to focus on besides everyone who walks their dog past the living room window. Smiley And when she can recognize a melody or hear the words to a song that registers, it's a nice little pleasure for her. Also recorded effects (like say purposedly distorted vocals or sound effects) intrigue her. Dad really does enjoy his "BBM" (Bach, Beethoven and Mozart) and new music challenges him.

It's worth setting something up for your mother-in-law and you're right, no need for audiophile grade stuff.
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jsm71
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #24 - 07/19/13 at 18:17:54
 
Dirt simple can't be emphasized enough.  We have a typical HT setup in our main family room but Grandma cannot turn it on or operate it.  She likes to watch TV but also can't keep up with the pace of action on virtually every show today.  Music she likes.  Occasionally I'll turn on a music channel from the cable box and she likes that, but I have to operate it.

I have a spare CD player but its operation is typical and I have doubts she could learn to load CDs and operate that either.  I have read that some facilities that cater to the extremely advanced dimentia patients have used iPods and headsets that the staff put on the patients.   They use pre-loaded playlists from the patient's formative years.  This seems to actually improve their responses and general demeanor.  This research is interesting.

I know music improves my day.  Wanting to evaluate and tinker with the gear is the hobby part.
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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #25 - 07/26/13 at 14:01:28
 
Discovered that there's a channel imbalance with this ZStage in the "laid back" position which is a shame as that's my preferred spot. I'm certain it's the toggle switch, the weakest point on Decware amps in my experience.

So I've been rolling tubes in the one balanced position and found I had a Mullard military 12AT7 that works best. Have never liked the tube in other applications, but it's great here. I rolled input tubes on the Zen amp as well, really trying hard to like some 6922 and 6DJ8 but coming back to the 6N1p as being the most open, less congested, sweetest treble.

Sounding pretty damned good! I'm going to try not to futz with it any longer.
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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #26 - 07/28/13 at 13:41:53
 
Wish I could cure that channel imbalance because the lower bias setting is the bomb on the ZStage. Sigh. I might send it back for repair one day.

I replaced a MAC HC power cord on the Zen amp with a Decware one (thanks Mike!) and that was a very positive difference. Though similar in structure (and made by the same outfit) the Decware imparts a deeper sound to the system than the MAC; the MAC is faster and maybe clearer but that's not always my preference in a system.

Everything sounds good. Next step is to splice in an IEC on the Marantz tuner/processor and add the Shunyata cord I'm getting from Mike. Should be a nice addition.
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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #27 - 08/04/13 at 14:03:55
 
Well, I spliced an IEC connector onto the Marantz power cord and installed the Shunyata 3S power cord I got from Mike.

The Marantz tended towards a bit of brightness and a very "tight" sound. . . and this cord exacerbated that. I let it roll for a few days but ultimately replaced it with the MAC HC cord I had used previously on the Zen amp in this system. That was a better fit. With either cord the dynamics and sound stage had improved so adding the IEC fitting and a better power cord was a great thing to do to the sound. (The Shunyata 3S makes the Marantz Blu-ray player in my second system at home sound and look fine, a nice fit.)

I also took the Zen amp out of the maple case it was in and put IsoCups directly under the chassis. This was an improvement. The maple case looks wonderful and really dresses the amp up. . . but it muddled the sound somewhat in comparison. So now the amp is shining even more keenly.

Just one more thing I intend to do and that's change the thin Monster Cable speaker cables out for something else. Don't have the something else yet, and it's a big job, so I'm holding off for a while to think of just the right speaker cables. I have some cryo'd Cat-6 on hand. . .but not sure that's the right speaker cable for this application and I want to do this ONCE. . . . Maybe later this month I'll be ready.
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« Last Edit: 08/04/13 at 14:05:16 by Lon »  

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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #28 - 09/03/13 at 14:22:35
 
Two changes to the system that have influenced the sound in a different/sometimes I think positive way.

I replaced the Decware power cord feeding the PS Audio Duet with an Analysis Plus Oval Pro power cord. I've been really enjoying the balanced and natural sound of these cords with my instrument amps, and wanted to try it with my Dad's system. It softened the dynamics somewhat, not a lot, but it also tamed a lot of sortof wilder high frequency energy. I then tried swapping out the MAC HC power cord I was using on the Marantz AV processor with the Shunyata cord that I got from Mike (which was seasoning in my second system driving the Sony ES Blu-ray player). The Shunyata sounds much better in the system now. There is a sacrifice of lower bass with these two changes (just a bit) but the midrange is just as open and the high frequency response seems sweeter. My Mom likes it. Smiley

My next change will be speaker cable. I bought Mapleshade Double Helix Plus to try in my systems. . . will break it in on the second system when arrived (Mapleshade is often quite slow to ship). I will then take the PS Audio xStream Statement speaker cables I use there and put them into my Dad's system. I know that these Statement cables will bring out every ounce of bass in the system, and give a very nice, natural, smooth sound. I loved these in my main system, but they were not long enough to be of use. Will be very interesting to hear these in Dad's system.
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« Last Edit: 09/03/13 at 14:56:33 by Lon »  

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Lon
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Re: Non-audiophiles notice power treatment improvement
Reply #29 - 09/11/13 at 01:39:23
 
Well the California Audio Lab CL-10 was a bust. Not reading discs properly Too bad as this is a beautifully built unit, and the changer transport is the nicest and heaviest duty I've ever seen.

That said the Denon is doing a decent job as a transport and I'm just going to be happy with it. My new CSP2+ is shipping very soon so I'll be putting ye old CSP2 into Dad's system and that should be a joy. Smiley
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