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CSP3 Operation ??? (Read 1552 times)
Archie
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CSP3 Operation ???
11/13/16 at 01:16:01
 
After close to 3 years with my CSP3 I think I finally, sort of, understand how to adjust the various knobs.  What I'm looking for is either clarification or confirmation.  Here goes:

The CSP3 provides an output from zero to thirty volts.  If I set the back (output) knobs to whatever I want and the middle knobs, again, to whatever I want, then the Master knob should provide from zero to whatever volts the other knobs allow, given their settings, to my amp.  Therefore, as Will has said on several occasions, (I was just too dense to understand it) it is best to set the CSP3 knobs and use my amp's volume knob to control loudness.  This preserves the weight and density of the music through the loudness range.

Does this sound more or less correct? Huh
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will
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Re: CSP3 Operation ???
Reply #1 - 11/16/16 at 17:23:57
 
Your reasoning sounds about right to me Archie, though the CSP3 is still sort of mysterious to me....Theory can help me for sure, but then it is balancing things in our very particular systems and rooms to tastes.

The best sound for me always comes from trial and error.

I think the more traditional way of using the amp turned up, say 3/4 to wide open, and adjusting volume with the CSP3 master volume, can work pretty well too. When I have explored this method, it usually sounds more powerful, "impressive," and dramatic...at least here in this room and with the tubes and setting ranges I usually use. A little clinical in a sense...making the sound articulate and powerful, while losing important nuance.

So to me, the method you describe, at least so far, sounds more natural. I can get the lucidity of the CSP3 with a more subtle tonal and signal density balance. Arriving at a particular spaciousness seems key to me. Spaciousness that allows more subtle aspects of the sound to read in balance...harmonic, ambient, micro information that fills out and feathers the notes....providing the subtle nuance of the expressions of voice and instruments in spaces that I need.

That I prefer this method may well be in part that I chose it over the more usual way of using a pre during my first tests with the Zstage, and later with the CSP3. So I have been choosing tubes, cables, feet, and settings in the whole system from this platform....tuning to optimize from within the qualities from this method.

On first impressions, the line between seductively dramatic, dramatic with excellent qualities, and natural sound....this can be pretty confusing territory for me. Especially at first. But in time, listening from my many listening positions in our house (the bath tub down the hall is a good test for odd anomalies more difficult to discern in the listing room), I often end up toning things down a bit, keeping the signal from being hyped in any way. Starting with a new tube or settings, or whatever....if it notches things up to unnatural levels, disturbing the tonal qualities of some of a broad range of recording and instruments, then I tone it back, or make other adjustments to balance the sound.

This introduces the benefits of "gain riding." Once things are good on average, we still have a wide variety of recording qualities...varying compression, tonal balance, denser or leaner, dark or bright, hyper-clear to not clear enough, thin or thick......So I really appreciate gain riding.... using it to empower, or to lean the sound a bit depending on the recording. In the end, this is the only simple way I know to pull the most out of each recording, increasing the quality of my overall musical experience. The trick is bringing in the best qualities of the added component and wires without notable sacrifice in transparency.

With my setup, I always end up with the CSP master volume in the middle area, and lately having the pots pretty high, like 8 and 8 with the tubes/cables I am using right now. The way I tend to listen, the amp volume is mostly from about 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock, the latter end when I am going for serious listening sound.

So I would say, based on your explanation, the thing to add as an experiment is a little gain riding. If the record is a little lean, or lacks lucidity, power, and dynamics, try upping the CSP master volume a little while lowering the ZMA master a little...."riding them" to keep the volume as close as possible. This shifts the balance a little heavier toward the CSP3 qualities...increasing signal density, dynamics, clarity.... Likewise, the other way. If a record is too dense/thick/dark, you can lean/open it a bit by riding the volumes, the CSP down, now reducing density, while upping the ZMA. This of course depends some on the tubes, cables, power, feet....used of course...a relatively neutral setup in the CSP3 contributing to the effectiveness of these variations.

Finally, though prefer this "middle ground" approach, the more traditional method can be interesting. You can still get some gain riding effect with this volume approach also. It is just too much for me with the Torii driving that hard after the CSP3 influence. So, as usual, system, room, balance of all the parts, and tastes...
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« Last Edit: 11/16/16 at 17:31:53 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
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Archie
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Re: CSP3 Operation ???
Reply #2 - 12/03/16 at 00:37:23
 
Will, I just saw your reply to my post.  I really appreciate it.

The gain riding is still a bit of a mystery to me but I seem to have more density with the CSP3 settings on the high side.  I currently have the inputs at 9 and the outputs at 8 with the Master at 1 or 2 o'clock.  My ZMA volume range is from about 9 to 3 o'clock max.  I may have got these settings from reading some of your past posts?  One possible reason I like the heavier sound could be that I run my HR1s without any treble attenuation.
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will
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Re: CSP3 Operation ???
Reply #3 - 12/09/16 at 19:29:06
 
Hey Archie. How about an experiment to hear what gain riding can do?

I guess there are three primary things going on.

1) As you found, adjusting the pots adjusts the voltage out on the CSP3. Since your settings are a little higher than they had been, the overall sound has increased voltage-out qualities...more intensity/density, more dynamics, more of the CSP3 inner detail in the signal going to the ZMA. The adjustment changes go across the spectrum, but the weight and body you are getting are important.

2) It is not just voltage though. With higher CSP3 pots settings, it comprises more of your average listening level volume, so you are increasing the sound influences from the CSP3 circuit in the balance. By running the signal more powerfully through the CSP3, its caps, tubes, transformer, wires, etc, end up creating more of the balance of the final sound.

This is where other settings on the CSP3 can become more important. Tubes, cables, vibration control, etc effecting the qualities of the CSP3 sound, they also effect your overall sound balance beyond CSP3 pot/volume settings. Another matter than pot settings and gain riding, but later maybe...another good tuning tool if you choose.

3) So adjusting the master of the CSP3 up while leaving the ZMA as-is, this increases the volume, while also increasing the CSP3 influences on the sound balance with the ZMA. But if you like the volume as-is, and you want to shift the balance of influence between the CSP3 and ZMA, one volume must go down and the other up.

This is gain riding.

As a sound test to see what the balance between amp and pre does on given recordings, try this:

It sounds from your explanation like the CSP3 stays in pretty much set and you are using the ZMA for volume adjustments.

1) Pick out two favorite recordings for recording quality and music that show the qualities of your full sound spectrum well...how your system/room sounds. But pick one that tends to sound a little too dense/bassy, and one that tends to sound a little too lean.

2) Using the denser/bassier recording first, set the CSP3 at your usual master volume area...say 1 o'clock, then set the ZMA volume to a level for serious listening.

Now listen and get a good sense of fundamental things...like: signal density; dynamic qualities; differentiation in instruments, especially in complex areas of the recording; general sense of definition of note edges across the spectrum; spaciousness...ambient information near to instruments and far; inner detail from the CSP3 influence; bass quality and depth; balance of bass, mids, highs; high-high qualities and extension; air....

3) After getting a decent feel of the balance of sound, trying to keep the volume the same, adjust the ZMA up, and the CSP3 down at the same time. Try going down roughly 1 o'clock on the CSP, down to 12 o'clock, and the ZMA up to wherever is necessary to keep the same volume.

Listen for the same presentations qualities as before...what changed?

4) After getting comfortable with discerning the qualities of the sound with the CSP3 lower in the balance, try the opposite. Ride the gains together, CSP3 from now 12, up to about 2 o'clock, and the ZMA wherever it ends up for the same volume as before. This is a pretty big change and should be pretty obvious.

5) Next, just play with it. Maybe start with the CSP at your chosen "center" volume, and the ZMA at a pleasing overall listening volume. This time, try riding the gains in subtle ways, by sound, until you find a balance you like best. Don't even look at the levels until you get where you like the sound for that recording.

6) Try these same tests starting with the lean sounding song?

Once you get a feel for the effects from riding the CSP3 volume in this relatively narrow range, you are probably good for gain riding purposes. Adjusting it as much as about 1 o'clock (give or take) either way from "center," is likely going to do whatever you need. The ZMA remains your primary volume, while the relatively narrow CSP3 range is more about adjusting the overall tonal qualities to make each record sound better.

After getting a good feel of gain riding, you will just get it from listening while you quickly adjust the amp and pre volumes together...easily finding a good balance for a given recording.

Also, over days or weeks of getting the feel of gain riding, you may find fine-tuning the pots beneficial. Especially if you change a cable or tube, this is good to recheck.

In my case, there is always a really good area where the Torii and CSP3 come into the best balance. On a lot of recordings, the CSP3 master volume stays pretty close to the "medium" point established by sound preferences. But a little here or there can really tune it in. Other times, more extreme CSP3 master adjustments are better to tune in a recording. Finally, gain riding can increase the varying quality of your collection's recordings, and therefore your enjoyment.

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« Last Edit: 12/09/16 at 19:39:54 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
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Archie
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Re: CSP3 Operation ???
Reply #4 - 12/09/16 at 23:15:28
 
Thanks Will.  I've printed this out and I'll give it a go.  One clarification, If I move the output pots up or down a click, how does this relate to the Master volume control on the CSP3?
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will
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Re: CSP3 Operation ???
Reply #5 - 12/10/16 at 03:50:12
 
I find that raising the outputs increases the CSP3 attributes most. If I go from say 7 on the outputs, to 8, the main volume average has to go down for my tastes, too intense otherwise. Or going from 8 to 7, the main volume goes up a little. This way leaves me more master volume latitude, having less intensity since the output pots are lower. Ending up at a similar output volume, one way sounds different than the other.
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« Last Edit: 12/10/16 at 03:51:54 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
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