Welcome, Guest. Please Login or Register
Decware Audio Forums
12/16/17 at 07:26:36 





 



Pages: 1
Send Topic Print
CSP3 Settings and Transparency (Read 4049 times)
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1832
CSP3 Settings and Transparency
05/04/16 at 01:30:56
 
Every so often the question of CSP “transparency” comes up. It is an interesting question, and I have found that it is not black and white.

My front end is really good, so the characteristic qualities from the CSP3 are not used as “a fix,” but as a system enhancement tool. Once tuned in a revealing way, the OTL “factor” is to me very compelling, though conditions, tastes, and setup effect everything so nothing is an absolute given.

From reading the Forum, I guess “transparency” and “revealing” are as much or more a requirement for me as they are for most folks. Toward this end, I have found that the CSP3 sound can vary pretty wildly, from relatively colored and veiled to quite revealing. In the pursuit of “real” sound, I have explored this a lot, adjusting and tuning everything in my system to the end of natural, “alive” sound. With some effort I have been able to gain the beauty of well-implemented OTL and gain riding without meaningful sacrifice to transparency...listening now, I would say the opposite in fact.

In this simple circuit, every design choice can be heard, including how we end users continue the design. Just one tube choice can make it darker or brighter….more or less revealing...more or less present and live …..faster or slower…..also effecting extension, nuance, warmth, spaciousness, textures…..But there are three tube positions, input and output cables, vibration control choices, power cleaners, power cords, and fuses….individually and collectively these all can increase or detract from the feeling of  “transparency” of the pre.

The adjustment pots take it further. Determined by the balance of volume levels chosen for tubes in each position (including the OTL effect being stronger or subtler) these alone can change our overall balance and tone quite a lot.

Then there is how we balance the CSP balance in the whole system/room sound with the influences of the amp tuning, determined by how the amp and preamp gains balance.

Discussing “transparency” or lack thereof, the above points to how many things can effect our sound depending on how we choose to “sculpt” the tone, density and balance of the CSP3 in a system.

And it is clear that adding a circuit and cables to the signal path, all else being equal, absolute transparency is reduced. But Steve's voicing seems designed for transparency that is a bit warmed up for musicality, and based in part upon quality tube availability and prices. I think this “by-design”  leaves leeway for tuning (or not) depending on our preferences…including increasing or decreasing “transparency.”

The questions become: does the character of the CSP3 have potential benefits for our musical enjoyment in our given setting; is “absolute transparency” the best for music, especially with varied recordings; is our baseline sound (before the CSP3) “in fact” “transparent” [many of us prefer warmth and even masking to make a system more comfortable by using tubes, cables, sources, etc that are colored or less transparent on purpose. Starting at the beginning, many good sounding sources tuned to sound “warm” or “analog” can be relatively colored. Or popular tube examples... 6N1Ps, or more subtly, American Amperex 7308s impart color and masking that many consider a good balance for musicality]. Finally, we can usually choose cables, tubes, feet, fuses, etc to heighten transparency in the CSP3 and/or amp to better accommodate the addition in the signal path, and without overall sacrifice of things we associate with “transparency”...micro detail, texture, spaciousness, speed, definition, air, close and broad ambient information, etc.

Then, if we compensate for transparency losses, how we approach volume between the CSP3 and amp matters relative to “transparency.”

I found that using the CSP3 traditionally as a volume control, with the amp at a set level was not for me. In this case, volume changes from the CSP3 also increase or decrease the tonal characters it imparts in balance relative to the tonal qualities the amp imparts, not least of which, the CSP3 OTL effect. When the CSP3 is stronger in the balance, the tone will have more density, and at lower volume, the overall tone will be more lean.

My Torii MKIV, being relatively even in presentation quality at various volumes within the range I tend to use it, I prefer to set up a range I find tonally optimal for the CSP3, and use the amp as primary volume. Then I can push the CSP3 a bit more to increase density of leaner recordings, or reduce it a bit in the blend to open too dense recordings, a primary benefit of the CSP3 OTL circuit for me. With “gain riding” I can adjust the tonal signature of various recordings, and being pretty particular, this is a big deal for me.

I find the OTL qualities difficult to describe. Lon suggests "compression" sometimes, and I agree, but think of it is a very particular “compression.” How we adjust the OTL (output transformerless) tubes adjusts how much the signal is “compressed.” By design, this quality can be tuned to taste to help find OTL “magic” that best suits a system/room. But looking at it carefully, in a very revealing system, especially if we have sensitives to signal density, or relative to how it effects the tonal range with various room and system anomalies, it can be trickier. The more we drive the output tubes, the more of the OTL "factor" we will hear, creating a denser, more powerful signal across the spectrum. So things like midrange hardness anomalies from the system/room can be amplified if we push the CSP3. But at the same time, the signal can be improved in many areas, being cleaned up by running through the right OTL tubes. So it all depends on a lot of things.

To me, this OTL "factor" sounds like it smooths, consolidates and cleans the signal, and can be a powerful, or relatively subtle effect depending on settings and tubes. Working on the whole signal, it effects all aspects…. tonal density across the spectrum, definition (and associated inner spaciousness), texture, smoothness, and dynamics, at least within a range. The “color,” or lack thereof, this imparts depends on caps, tubes, cables, etc; on tube pot settings and master volume, and more.

Whatever the sound preference, I think the most “transparent” way of using the CSP3 depends on using it with a relatively narrow master volume range while using the amp as primary volume.

The output pot settings influence the level of driving the output tubes, and therefore the OTL effects, but also adjust the tonal balance based on more or less of the chosen output tube's sound. Aside from the OTL effect, adjusting the input pots, and the output pots, increases or decreases each in the balance, allowing optimizing the tonal values of the tubes used in each position. And the rectifier effects both the input and output notably, some rectifiers more dense/dark, some more open/bright, some leaner, some more or less dynamic, more or less extended...and so on...

I like to adjust the CSP3 to be more open/spacious and the amp, also revealing, but a little warmer. Inevitably the amp and CSP3 will sound a little different, and this can be exploited to help us tune them together with an overall sound we like while contributing a nice complexity.

With my Tranquility DAC (very transparent), and Jupiter caps, I like the CSP3 OTL pots past center to pull the CSP3 lucidity, and very importantly, using open/revealing tubes and cables to allow this without excess density. This does three things. The open/revealing settings can mitigate “transparency” reduction from having added more parts into the signal path; with the CSP more open, increasing the CSP3 volume in the balance can increase density without excess darkness and thickness; starting with settings for open neutrality in the CSP in the middle of the chosen volume range, we can easily shift it leaner or denser to help balance different recording qualities by “gain riding.” By turning it up a little, and the amp down a little, we can emboldening leaner recordings. And likewise, the amp higher, and the CSP3 lower, can open up a too dense/dark recordings.

With the CSP3 pots balanced to tastes for the tubes and OTL effect, and the master volume range set to balance best with the amp, then a relatively narrow range of adjusting the master volume can do this work without notable divergence from the sound we have chosen for the CSP3. With careful tuning, this can facilitate the CSP3 “magic” and gain riding while being relatively neutral and transparent.

For me, in this very revealing system/room, it was not easy to integrate the CSP3 with transparency. But I got there. And burnin is really important here. Now if I pulled the CSP3, the amp alone would likely be a little too warm. But since they are always in together, I tune them together as if one amp.

Though I think less transparent and revealing sources could limit the potential, I can comfortably say that with the CSP3, my system/room, the sound is not limiting in transparency... it is very revealing...present, natural and “real” sounding, a sense of players in good rooms the objective. And perhaps as important as anything to me, it is adjustable to better bring out different recordings.

Current Settings: My CSP3 has jupiter caps and is well seasoned. The settings lately are: an early 60s IEC labelled PCC88 input (sold as Mullard made but they look like Telefunken) with the pots set at 8 or 9; a pair of early 60's Valvo E88CC gold pins as outputs (pots at 6 or 7), and a 50s Fivre GZ32. The master volume range is from about 12 o'clock to 2. ICs are DIY VHAudio silver recipe. From the Tranquility DAC...24 gauge wire and KLE Absolute Harmony RCAs, and CSP3 to MKIV...28 gauge wire and the third best KLE Silver Harmony RCAs. The power cable is a quiet, revealing, and friendly PI Audio cable made for the Tranquility DAC for which I added a ground wire and Furutech pure copper ends. The fuse is a HiFi Tuning silver with a WA fuse chip.

In the MKIV I am running Mazda labelled Phillips GZ32 with double bottom D getters, British made 75C1s (OC2), 59 CBS labelled Siemens ECC88s, Sylvania labelled OB3, and Tungsol 6L6Gs with a Synergistic Research Red fuse.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/04/16 at 13:24:44 by will »  

PSA P5/modified Brickwall/Shunyata Defender/more; MacMini/Audirvana>Jitterbug/Regen> modified Gustard x20pro DAC; DIY + Pi Audio PCs; DIY ICs + USB; Decware-Jupiter CSP3, Torii MKIV, HR1-all modified; DIY Speaker Cables; feet-Madscientist, Archie's, isocups, DIY
  IP Logged
Tripwr1964
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 322
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #1 - 05/06/16 at 02:03:35
 
never short on words are you will!  lol
always have to read and reread your post to get it... think i have a touch of ADD.
i've love my csp3 more and more.  once you learn all the interrelationships with all the other gear, ic's, power cords and tubes it gets easy to dial in about any recording to a tolerable level. sometimes i throw everything out of wack but usually can pull it back in with input/output gain change or tube swap.
after a while you know exactly what you need to dial it in.
typical my input set to 7 or 8 and output 4-6 with volume around 12oclock.  somewhere in there will work for just about 90% of my music.
i'll never go back to gear that doesn't have this capability!

Back to top
 
 

CSP3, CAD 120s MKII, Sota Star Sapphire, SME309, Pulse3, ZP3 jupiter, ZMC1, Schiit bifrost multibit, CEC TL5 transport, MG1.6QR w/ ext xo & mye stands/947/betsys. herbies iso, VH audio flavor diy pwr cords, Beden 8402 IC,
  IP Logged
JD
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 442
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #2 - 05/06/16 at 13:51:12
 
Nice,

I  like to run my CSP2+ with the inputs set at 10, outputs at 6 and volume about 40-50%.  My treble pots on my Torii III is set about 10am and volume around 60%.  These three "controls" really help dial in the sound. I totally agree that the rectifier plays a huge role. Once I entered gz32 and gz34 it's tough to look back. Without my Voodoo interconnects I never would have been able to have my CSP2+ so high, too much noise was getting thru.

JD
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
JD
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 442
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #3 - 05/06/16 at 20:45:50
 
Decided to try out some lower input levels and higher level on the volume pot on the pre when I got home today from work based on what you two are doing.  The sound is fantastic similar to what I am used to but with more 3d depth and I already had plenty. Currently at 8 on inputs and 6 on output but volume pot on my CSP2+ is about 70%. In the past I just didn't have the volume pot high enough to balance the sound on the pre, I always felt it sounded thin and sterile. It reinforces how versatile these amps are.

Thanks
JD
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Tripwr1964
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 322
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #4 - 05/06/16 at 21:13:56
 
JD
yes i to have gone metal base mullard GZ34/5AR4 and have never looked back.  The lesser cost black base blackburn version is pretty darn nice too.

once i got on to the lower input gain settings 5-7, things really improved and i would agree on the 3d characteristics improvement too.
Back to top
 
 

CSP3, CAD 120s MKII, Sota Star Sapphire, SME309, Pulse3, ZP3 jupiter, ZMC1, Schiit bifrost multibit, CEC TL5 transport, MG1.6QR w/ ext xo & mye stands/947/betsys. herbies iso, VH audio flavor diy pwr cords, Beden 8402 IC,
  IP Logged
JD
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 442
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #5 - 05/06/16 at 23:16:42
 
Yeah I just had to set it back to my previous settings to check and it sounds rather shallow.  I've played Mumford and Sons new song with Baaba Maal with the previous settings and now with my input lower. Way better and I will admit I've been missing something an didn't even notice.
I always like to use groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo to find my sweet spot and having Baaba Maal do his thing in my living room is proof to me that lower input settings really adds depth, width and way more sonic presence than before.

Kudos

JD
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1832
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #6 - 05/07/16 at 01:03:58
 
Good thoughts Trip and JD.

Yes Trip, since so many look at the forum for information for getting the most from Decware and the rest...and since most posts are ongoing conversations that do not cover the big picture (and without the all-important context) I do like to be clear about the big picture. Wink

And especially since the CSP is not really that easy to figure out how to get the most from, I covered my discoveries pretty fully. I hope that all the details together make each of the other details more useful information.

When someone says "I like" something, without context, it usually does not mean a lot to me. Just like JD illustrated, shifting around the CSP adjustments made a pretty big improvement and he described what those were. We all might find our favorite adjustments a little different (and mine are different with different tubes), but this conversation is telling a story about what these changes are and what they do, so it is likely real information to others.

With a more complete picture, including context and some explanation of what we hear from a change, and/or with direct comparisons to a known, I can learn more, and tell more if something might fit here.

It is all so dependent on everything else...like you guys (JD and Trip) like Mullard GZ34 in your CSPs. And I can definitely hear the beautiful qualities of that tube, but in my setting, with all the vast variability that makes it up....eight tube positions, Torii and CSP3 adjustment switches and pots, source, speakers, room, cables..........and all of these variabilities effecting each other....Here the Mullard/Phillips made GZ34s are generally a little too strong...too intense. My sound with one in the CSP3 is nice and "refined" but a bit too dynamic, dense and dark to fit my system and tastes just now. At the same time, I can hear how they might be really beautiful given the right company, system and room.

I think this is what is so amazing about this exploration of great sound at home...so many ways to get there, yet with many commonalities too!
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 05/07/16 at 13:09:50 by will »  

PSA P5/modified Brickwall/Shunyata Defender/more; MacMini/Audirvana>Jitterbug/Regen> modified Gustard x20pro DAC; DIY + Pi Audio PCs; DIY ICs + USB; Decware-Jupiter CSP3, Torii MKIV, HR1-all modified; DIY Speaker Cables; feet-Madscientist, Archie's, isocups, DIY
  IP Logged
Lon
Seasoned Member
****


"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 13031
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #7 - 05/09/16 at 19:30:43
 
JD wrote on 05/06/16 at 13:51:12:
Nice,

I  like to run my CSP2+ with the inputs set at 10, outputs at 6 and volume about 40-50%.  My treble pots on my Torii III is set about 10am and volume around 60%.  These three "controls" really help dial in the sound. I totally agree that the rectifier plays a huge role. Once I entered gz32 and gz34 it's tough to look back. Without my Voodoo interconnects I never would have been able to have my CSP2+ so high, too much noise was getting thru.

JD

JD, totally agree about the VooDoo interconnects, they have transformed my listening and I'm getting out of my system sound I never could get before. It's more than a subtle increase in sound quality imo.
Back to top
 
 

HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,ZROCK2,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DSD,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,SamsonV2+V3;CambrAudi CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
  IP Logged
samb0357
Verified Member
**




Posts: 19
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #8 - 11/16/16 at 16:48:15
 
I just found this thread as I don't get around here much these days, and I have a question. I have the CSP2, so no input pots. But my understanding is that those pots on the + and 3 are for headphone use. When people on this thread are referring to their settings of them, are they talking about how it affects their headphone use, or do these also have some play with the overall output and am I mistaken as to what they are for?

I don't have volume controls on my amps, so the CSP2 controls the volume. I have the master gain at about 12, and the output pots about 7 or so.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1832
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #9 - 11/16/16 at 17:48:35
 
Sam,

If I remember correctly, you are right as to how Steve describes the pots use. I have only used a CSP3, so can't comment directly on the 2. I only use mine as a pre, and I have found the front pot does effect the balance of the overall sound, and can be used as a fine-tuning tool.

It seems also that many use the front pot on the CSP3 wide open anyway, also when used as a pre only. I never have ended up with it this way, but I tend to use pretty open and transparent input tubes, and at the highest pot volume, they can get just a little articulate, even a touch strident.

I think what happens is this: Say you start with adjusting the output pots for best sound. Then by adjusting the front input tube pot, it sounds to me like it adjusts the level of that tube's qualities in the balance...how it mixes with the outputs toward the ultimate sound. If I did not have this adjustment, I suspect it would just make the tube compliment less flexible, not being able to adjust the front tube.

That said, having used pretty much all tube types you can in the input, I don't think I have ever liked the front pots full on as well as turned back to 9 or 8.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 11/16/16 at 17:53:44 by will »  

PSA P5/modified Brickwall/Shunyata Defender/more; MacMini/Audirvana>Jitterbug/Regen> modified Gustard x20pro DAC; DIY + Pi Audio PCs; DIY ICs + USB; Decware-Jupiter CSP3, Torii MKIV, HR1-all modified; DIY Speaker Cables; feet-Madscientist, Archie's, isocups, DIY
  IP Logged
samb0357
Verified Member
**




Posts: 19
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #10 - 11/16/16 at 17:59:12
 
Will thanks. So when you reference the "front pots" I assume you're speaking of the input pots, correct? And these are the pots that are not on the CSP2, that Steve indicates our solely for use with headphones. And yet you(and others) are indicating that adjusting them does have an effect on the output, right?

I'm just trying to understand what I'm reading because again it seems to contradict my understanding of the 3 circuit, and what Steve has written(perhaps he can chime in).
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1832
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #11 - 11/16/16 at 19:06:22
 
Correct. I am referring to the input pots.

There is the master volume, two (right and left) input pots, and two output pots on the CSP3. And yes, I hear an effect on the RCA signal out by adjusting the input tube levels.

It may be that Steve put the front/input pots in to make headphone use more flexible with the master volume, but they effect the signal sound from the output jacks of the pre also, I think from the balance of how much the input tube character and circuit influences the output tubes.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 11/16/16 at 20:00:03 by will »  

PSA P5/modified Brickwall/Shunyata Defender/more; MacMini/Audirvana>Jitterbug/Regen> modified Gustard x20pro DAC; DIY + Pi Audio PCs; DIY ICs + USB; Decware-Jupiter CSP3, Torii MKIV, HR1-all modified; DIY Speaker Cables; feet-Madscientist, Archie's, isocups, DIY
  IP Logged
samb0357
Verified Member
**




Posts: 19
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #12 - 11/16/16 at 20:46:25
 
Thanks, and Very interesting. I was holding off upgrading to the 3 because I love my 2 and generally don't use headphones enough to upgrade simply for the input pots. This might change things.

Anybody else notice clear differences in the output when using the front, "input" pots?
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
will
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 1832
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #13 - 11/16/16 at 22:16:07
 
Sam,

I would think, what is "clear," and in what is the context, might be good questions in your investigation. Not knowing your system or tubes or anything else, I will continue.

My system/room has always been geared toward a very resolving lucidity in a subtle, but meaningful "musicality" that does not mask or muddle. And progressively, it gets more and more refined toward this end, causing it to be very revealing.

With a truly brilliant quality front end, from there to the speakers, everything is fine-tuned to the sound I want...Big time power refinements, room treatments and EQ, noise reduction using many tools, varied vibration resolution specific to need and tastes, signal caps, all cables, damping, tubes, fuses, speaker damping, caps and resistors...and tubes, tubes, tubes. All have been tuned to the same end of very revealing musical authenticity. I found I can get world class cables relatively inexpensively by exploring them myself with different theory supporting the efforts, but trial and error being powerful tools to build the best I can for this system. So everything is clear here, enough so to prefer one way or the other, even in areas a lot of folks don't even believe matter, areas only revealing system/rooms can reveal. If they can't be revealed due to some truncation in the source, or something, of course they won't be heard.

This is good and bad.

What may be a subtle difference in some systems, to inaudible in others, could be a real and important change here, good or bad. For me, the last few percent are as, or more important to the final sound, as the first 95 percent are, though it is a given that the first 95 had the potential to get better with mods, tuning and synergy. I don't know of any "bottle necks" in my system...nothing that notably holds back the rest. Proving this, every new change I introduce continues to provide meaningful improvements.

So context is meaningful. If you are like me where you are not comparing the level of change that an IC might bring, or a cap, or better vibration control....to the change of the input pot on the CSP3 versus the 2...you might well like the adjustment, but remember, there are those who have it with the CSP2+ and CSP3 who prefer the input wide-open.

It just depends where everything else is if upgrading to a new pre might be as economically rewarding as new caps in the CSP2, better ICs, better tubes, better power cleaning, better source.....etc, etc.
Back to top
 
« Last Edit: 11/16/16 at 22:44:39 by will »  

PSA P5/modified Brickwall/Shunyata Defender/more; MacMini/Audirvana>Jitterbug/Regen> modified Gustard x20pro DAC; DIY + Pi Audio PCs; DIY ICs + USB; Decware-Jupiter CSP3, Torii MKIV, HR1-all modified; DIY Speaker Cables; feet-Madscientist, Archie's, isocups, DIY
  IP Logged
samb0357
Verified Member
**




Posts: 19
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #14 - 11/16/16 at 22:56:15
 
Will again, thanks.

I probably won't do anything just yet. I really like the 2, but it's not  in full time rotation, at least yet. My main driver is a Macintosh 4100 receiver, which drive a stack foursome of AR 3's and 3a speakers. The 4100 is great on it's own, but the 2 compliments it well. My system is not the last word in resolution. I use several vintage turntables, and vintage cartridges/styli. So I'm not sure that the 3 would make all that much, if any difference to my rig, or my nearly 60 year old ears. Nonetheless, if a used one came up for a decent price, I probably would seriously consider it.

In any event, thanks for your comments. Very enlightening.
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
JD
Seasoned Member
****




Posts: 442
Re: CSP3 Settings and Transparency
Reply #15 - 11/17/16 at 12:18:41
 
Just saw a few more posts. Will makes a great point about the tubes and input/ output settings having different degrees of variance and effect dependent on the music.
I know I spend a lot of time adjusting volume on both my Torii and CSP2+ depending on whether I am listening to vinyl, sacd, radio whether I am listening to my T1's or ERR speakers, and then what the genre of music is.
I have also found that these setting can depend on my mood (and I'm a moody). Some days I'll come home and wonder how I could have listened to the settings as I had them.
One of the nuances/challenges is remembering where you left your settings. I have felt that the music was slightly thick and muddy lately but forgot I had increased the bass on my Torii for a Nas album.
When you find the sweet spot... oh and I haven't even mentioned my diffusers, absorbers etc. it is glorious

JD
Back to top
 
 
  IP Logged
Pages: 1
Send Topic Print