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CPS3 vs CPS3-25 (Read 1304 times)
anzaanimal
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CPS3 vs CPS3-25
06/03/19 at 22:18:42
 
I am looking for opinions on what the 25th upgrade changes.  I purchased an Allnic L3000 as an upgrade over the CSP3 and to have balanced inputs and outputs.  When I initially A/B compared the Allnic and CSP3 I decided to sell the CSP3.  As I have had little interest from buyers, last night I stuck the CSP3 between my DAC and the Allnic.  Now I am considering keeping both.  I had also put back the stock tubes over the Mullard upgrades.  The Allnic is really airy and has an amazingly articulate and deep low end.  Adding the SCP3 gives a warm but very clean midrange.  Without the Allnic I felt the CSP3 had a nice tuby warmth but added enough distortion that it bothered me.  Now I wonder what to expect with the 25th upgrades.
Cheers
Steve      
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Lon
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #1 - 06/03/19 at 22:30:13
 
Hi Steve,

I and a few others have CSP3s with the mods. Here is a thread on those:

http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1526212150

I also have a CSP2+ with the mods. There are impressions of the CSP3 with the mods in the "25th Anniversary" Developments and Experience threads.

My brief response would be there is a bit more "body" to the sound, a bit more dynamics, and a sense of speedy detail without being etched or edgy.

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Tripwr1964
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #2 - 06/04/19 at 02:04:45
 
agree with lon's decription.  i feed it's signal to big ss and tube amps (to drive my maggies).  it's a piece of beauty in my opinion.

one thing that bothers me is "added distortion"... distortion and cps3 don't belong in same sentence.  something isn't right.  i would never describe mine before or after 25yr mode as distorted.  ive had noisy ic's, noisy tubes, and grd humms, but it was never coming from my preamp.

i don't recall what the cps3-25 cost or the mods, but can tell you it will play easily with pres costing $5-8k.

cheers
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will
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #3 - 06/04/19 at 08:18:49
 
I don't think I can say the CSP3 is prone to distortion either, but I ran into distortion issues using it along with a ZBIT.

My DAC RCA output is 3 volts. It's been a while, but before adding a ZBIT, I'm pretty sure I was running the CSP3 at 8-9 (usually 9) on the input tube pots, 7-8 on the output pots, usually 8, and the master volume 1:30 to 3:30 depending on recordings. Max, the CSP3 is 30 volts, so I was not maxed out, but running relatively high voltage into the Torii. In the Torii, I prefer somewhat powered down tubes compared to stock (ECC88, OB3, 807s...each seeming to create a little less signal power before distortion), but for my tastes could go plenty loud driving 92.5 dB HR-1s without distortion.

The CSP3 set up the same, adding the ZBIT before it, 2 to 4 o'clock ZBIT gain gave me similar lucidity and drive, and I found the more complex "flavor" from adding the ZBIT compelling. But at high listening levels, Torii distortion became borderline on hot notes.

I am not an engineer, but as I understand it, the ZBIT is passive. The balanced out of my DAC is 6 volts, twice that of the RCA out, adjustable by the ZBIT volume, but still a 6 volt max. Running the ZBIT in the 3 o'clock range give or take, I am guessing the voltage is still higher than 3 volts, changing how the CSP3 receives the signal, and apparently, compounding distortion potential in the Torii. Last I checked, I could run either the ZBIT or CSP3 alone into the Torii without distortion, and at volumes that felt too loud for sustained listening.

Liking the ZBIT and CSP3 together, as I got into modification of the CSP3, after powering up and cleaning up the power and signal with bypass caps, resistors, and other parts I preferred, it seems the punched up signal caused distortion to become a bit more of an issue. So I made a number of careful resistor changes to chill out the CSP3 signal power just enough to pull the sound I wanted without pushing the Torii into distortion as easily. Now my system is incredible sounding and very close to an acceptable distortion edge, but I would still like just a little more headroom for hot notes when playing loud.

Anyway, this is to say, I agree, set up well, I find my CSP3 quite clean. But with the right circumstances, it can contribute to overload with my amp, in my system. I am pretty sure the minor distortion I can sometimes get is from pushing the Torii too hard by the combination of higher voltage from my DAC, the ZBIT, and CSP3. My sense is that it is not the CSP3 distorting.

I can't speak to Steve's 25th CSP3 mods from experience, but having arrived at variations of similar modifications, I can't imagine going back.
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anzaanimal
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #4 - 06/04/19 at 20:53:19
 
Thankyou for the input.  Last night I read the thread while A/B comparing the CSP3 as an active tube buffer between my DAC and pre-amp with the direct DAC to pre-amp.  Basically there were some improvements and some detriments.  I did like having the option to change the presentation probably similiar to changes in rolling tubes.  The Allnic pre-amp is not tube rolling freindly so I am basically locked in to its sound which overall I am very pleased with.  I found the frequency response to contract a bit with the CSP3 and there was some loss of clarity and detail. Which I consider distortion.

I may be wrong but my impression is that any equiptment between the signal source and amplifier will alter the sound and that is distortion.  The reason I have tube pre-amps is that I like the character of the distortion imparted by tubes.  The last 2 years I was running Mullards in the CSP3 that I was told were of the warm and fuzzy sound.  Putting the stock tubes definately cleaned up the sound.  I think I may prefer a more articulate sound like the Allnic presents.  I have been told to try the telefunken's in the CSP3.

The upgrade sounds substantial and addresses several of my concerns directly, low end punch, detail and clarity.  But that doesnt solve my problem with the CSP3.  Should I drop the price and sell it or spend more than its worth upgrading it.  If the changes are as described I think I would be satisfied with CSP325.  I would like to have the option to roll the sound with the CSP325.  

Its not the cost but the fear of dissapointment that is stopping me.  It sounds like Lon was in the same boat and he is happy.  I guess I am also am a little stuck on losing the input gain control but if it contibutes to the imporvment it is worth it.  I am also unclear if the glass resister thing is part of the upgrade or was a custom change for Lon.

I think I should try another input tube that is know for low distortion and clarity.  I could use a recommendation on a tube and source.

Thank you again for you help.  Something makes me feel like I will go for the upgrade but I need to mull a bit before I pull the trigger.

Steve
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Lon
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #5 - 06/04/19 at 21:20:19
 
Steve, the glass resistor is not a stock component of the mod. In discussing the mods with Steve in email I had asked him whether the glass resistor was a part of the modification as it had been in the Anniversary amplifier and he said no. I said cool. And then when I got the preamp he told me that he had bypassed the inputs gain controls and wired the input directly with a glass resistor. So that's not the standard setup for the modded preamp, just one he did for me. I don't miss the input adjustment at all for non-headphone listening and for headphone listening I can use attenuation available on the source to tailor the input sound allowing me to turn the preamp up and get into the more "powerful" range of the driver tubes. I'm very happy with this preamp, it is the best headphone sound I've ever heard and it really works exceptionally well driving my Anniversary modded Taboo Mk IV.
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will
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #6 - 06/04/19 at 23:12:01
 
anzaanimal,

What input and rectifier are you using? Is the rectifier the fat 274B, the narrower coke bottle from China, or one you bought separately. Are you using the Mullard E88CC with parasol getters, the getters with a flat round top with holes around the edges, and raised up on a crooked wire? Mullard tubes are quite variable sounding depending on make and vintage.

There is a fair bit that can be done with tubes tuning to clean and speed up the CSP3 (what I am imagining you are after from your comments). I could better advise knowing what you are using.

If you have not seen it, to better evaluate how you want to proceed, here is the page on mods with a price list:

http://www.decware.com/cgi-bin/yabb22/YaBB.pl?num=1541785109
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HockessinKid
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #7 - 06/04/19 at 23:21:48
 
I agree with Will, tube selection is important. With my CSP3-25 preamp I use a Sophia Aqua 274b rectifier, a pair of 6NP5 black box triple mica output tubes, and a platinum graded Mullard 7308 input tube. The sound is absolutely crystal clear with just the right amount of body, for my ears.

HK
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anzaanimal
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #8 - 06/05/19 at 01:40:06
 
Honestly I do not know much about the types of tubes or specific tubes.  I purchases an 5AR4 Mullard UK made 7 notch copper lined Recitfier tube, a CV2492 Mullard military type input tube and matched 6922 Mullard UK made goldpins for the output.
Now I am running stock with the Decware Valve Art Rectifier tube.  I am going to order an input tube and see what happens and go from there. Just ordered a Cca Siemens, made in Germany, 1970's, with A-frame getter, gold pins.  Knowing me I will probably keep going down the rabbit hole and go for the 25th. Tonight I am going to switch back to the Mullard 5AR4 and see what happens.  I appreciate the help.  

Steve
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will
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #9 - 06/07/19 at 02:07:39
 
Hey Steve,

How did you like the Mullard GZ34/5AR4?

I have not heard Siemens E88CC A-frames but A-frames tend to be pretty articulate comparatively, and the Siemens O getter E88CCs and PCC88s (including, some "Telefunken" labelled PCC88s made by Siemens) are some of the cleaner inputs I have heard. I like these tubes, but tend to like others better. That said, it all depends on everything else...I am always impressed with Siemens, but rarely keep them in long myself, but a lot of folks do, and of course the A frame you got will sound different than mine. Hope it works for you.

Generally, you are using some of the more powered up tubes you can use in the CSP3. The Mullard GZ34s are clean and dynamic, but generally, in my setting, too powerful, to a point of thickness and excess focus. I preferred its electronic "little brother" GZ32s myself, also fast and dynamic, but more open, less big. I used Phillips made GZ32s for many years. But many prefer GZ34s.

Many Mullard E88CC/6922s, are warm with complex and relatively clear upper mids and highs, but sometimes balance more heavily toward bass, which can make or break them depending on everything else. The same tubes can sound great, or be "warm" to a point of overly thick and somewhat dark and murky, creating a weird contrast between great mids up and darkish muddle below.

I have found the parasol getter Mullard E88CC the most reliable Mullard for sonic balance. Many of these are labelled E188CC, the added 1 indicating better testing quality at the factory, and "military" or test grade. These can be gotten with Valvo, and Phillips labels too, some called E88CC but with an SQ for Special Quality on the label...testing extra accurately and completely, similar to E188CC I think. I have one pair that is GE labelled, obviously Mullard made with parasol getters, a nice tube also. Some SQs have hallow, or "O" getters, some made in Holland, a different tube, and can be nice also. But for my tastes in my CSP3 power position, I use the parasol getters more.

Not all, but most E88CCs are big sounding relative to PCC88/7DJ8 and ECC88/6DJ8, and lesser known and used alternates, PCC189 and ECC189. Similar to the GZ34/5AR4s compared to toned back GZ32s, E88CC are usually more powerful and forceful than PCC88 and ECC88. Together, a Mullard GZ34 and E88CC will give the boldest, full, and often articulate sound that could be great in the right setting. Alternately, depending on the amp and the rest of the setup, this combo could be overstated and too dense or dark, or both. For me, in my system, this combo is impressive, but a bit too focussed, full and dark.

Whereas, generally, if I use a slightly less forceful, but well balanced PCC88, or ECC88 to chill out a big sounding Phillips GZ34 a bit....Or the other way, using a well balanced and bigger sounding E88CC, with a less powered up GZ32... Either combination can become more lucid, open and faster than both positions being max powered. This of course could become lean in systems where E88CC and GZ34s are optimal.

I have been using parasol getter Mullard made E88CC for a long time for the power tube pair of my CSP3, usually with a PCC88/7DJ8 for input, and the last few years a Philco globe type 80 for a rectifier. Before that, I used a Phillips made GZ32 for a really long time for a rectifier. This combination of a powerful Mullard E88CC with more open and less forceful PCC88 and GZ32 strikes a good balance with lucidity and speed in my setting.

PCC88s are, in general, a nicely balanced tube that is notched back a bit from 6922/E88CCs, tending to clear, fast, open, and textured. Still nicely biggish, but not as big and full as many E88CCs, and a little less bass in the balance, I used them almost exclusively for my amp and pre inputs for many years. They are all different sounding within these generalizations, but pretty reliable in balance and open/textured signature if you like the type. Some warmer, some very clean, and a lot in between...generally they are spacious with good harmonics, and not overly bassy in the balance. But as with all tubes, when we get particular, there will be some that are less good in a system and some more good, and not the same ones in all systems.

ECC88/6DJ8 can be similar to PCC88s, tending also to more open and textured than E88CC/6922s. Especially English made ECC88s, like English E88CCs, are a bit of a crap shoot for balancing with clean bass, but again, ECC88/6DJ8s tend to be less pushed, more textural and open than more defined E88CC/6922. Like PCC88s, ECC88s tend to less bass in the balance, often less than PCC88s, the PCC88s often more articulate in bass, but not always. The famous early 60s Bugle Boy ECC88s and some others can be a lot like PCC88s in most respects.

Compared to a lot of 6922/E88CC, less bass and power in the sonic space makes ECC88s and PCC88s less bass dominant and less obviously focussed/articulate. At the same time, less pronounced bass will not "leak" into the mids as much. Less bass, less bass in the balance, and less concentration of potentially complex detail...together, can leave the overall sense more clear, open and nuanced in fine detail. A little less focus of information can reveal fine textures and fine detail in space more, really important to me for a "live" feel. Unfortunately, I have found more ECC88s to lack definition in the bottom than PCC88s, which tend to be pretty well defined. If right though, a little less bass emphasis can make the bass seem bigger if a system tends toward thickness from strong bass overwhelming articulation. Alternately, if a setup is lean feeling, and lacking density and focus, a more powerful and "warm" E88CC, with strong bass in the balance, can be a nice balancing tool.

I think Telefunken and Mullard E88CCs are particularly well liked because they tend toward good texture, harmonics and clarity mids-up, with the power of a E88CC. Especially Telefunken E88CCs seem to be nicely balanced in frequency range (similar to parasol getter Mullard balance) with big, but relatively defined bass, notable upper mid clarity and complexity, and a warmish, euphonic presentation that does not tend to mask clarity...This is presumably why they are so expensive....they do it for enough people, in enough settings, to cause rarity. You can occasionally find good buys on them (relatively speaking), but most are very costly, and to me there are a lot of good alternatives I really like. But if you like that sound, and it matches well in your system, at least the ones I have are undeniably a really good tube. I personally don't use them much though.

Anyway, there are these, and many other ways to adjust your CSP3 with tubes, and I wonder if what you are hearing as distortion and lack of lucid character throughout the spectrum could be influenced by excess bass and power causing thickness and/or density that unbalances aspects of the sound? Associated, Valve Art 274B tubes are pretty nice, but not as refined, lucid and open sounding as many other rectifiers.

This is why I was asking what you are using, and where you would like the sound to go. Having used lots and lots of different tubes, in lots of combinations, I could probably help if the Siemens E88CCs don't solve it.

Settings on your tube pots can make a big difference also...worth playing with. I have never preferred the input tube pots wide open as much as notched back one or two clicks. And before bypassing my output pots, I liked them at either 7 or 8, usually 8 in recent years. If you think of these pot sets (in part) as ways to balance the characters of the front input tube, with the character of middle output tubes, this might help in fine tuning. On the master volume, I have used it between 1 o'clock and 3:30 for quite a long time, adjusting it higher for well balanced recordings, or those needing more push and bass, and lower for more forceful, dense and bassy recordings that sound better leaned a bit to me. Not that these setting will work best everywhere, but perhaps a good place to experiment from.

Cables can make a big difference too, power and ICs, and on and on.

Good luck with it,

Will
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JOMAN
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #10 - 06/07/19 at 03:05:41
 
Won’t add a lot to this thread because I agree with all that’s been said especially when it comes to distortion and the CSP-3.  I’m running Omega S3HOXRS.  If there is even a hint of distortion these will let you know leaving no doubt.  NO distortion at all.

Regarding Siemens E88CC: these are a permanent fixture in my CSP-3, output or power position, but a specific one.  Grey Shield, w/splatter guard and metal date tags attached to the support posts.  If any of these are missing I don’t buy.  What I hate about these is the price.  Now getting to be stupid expensive IMO.  I managed to pick up two pairs a while ago at a reasonable price and another just the other day.  It took me a bit of effort to get just the right result out of these with associated tubes but it was well worth it.

The CSP-3 is the ‘anchor’ in my system.  The only thing I’ll do is send it in for the A-mods, but I’m having a terrible time parting with it.

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anzaanimal
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #11 - 06/07/19 at 05:44:43
 
Wow!  Will thank you for helping me with tubes and types.  I learned a ton.  I think you are correct about what I am experiencing with the E88CC in the input and output tubes.  Compared to my Allnic the mids are thicker to the point of getting messy and the low end is both a bit absent and unfocused.  The Allnic has wonderful air and presence and ample articulate bass.  The upper mids are a bit lean but still overall I prefer the Allnic to the CSP3.  I think it is the thickish mids that I am sensing as distortion that just inst there with the Allnic. I would like to see if I can change that impression.

I think there is a lot I can do to improve the performance of the CSP3.  I think I probably made a mistake with the new input E88CC tube but who knows.  I will give it a listen and see what it is like.  Maybe I will try the other route with less powerful output tubes to balance it out.  Will I will ask you for some help there when the time comes.

I have found big differences with the rectifier tubes.  The Valve Art is clean but has a smaller and less deep soundstage than either of the Mullards I have been using.  Interestingly I thought one of the Mullard rectifier tubes was bad because there was a sound like air leaking out of a balloon that seemed consistent with one of them. But the sound mostly went away when I swapped out the input tube????  Need more organized trouble shooting.  Maybe bad input tube?

I should have read your reply first but I ordered the Sophia Electric Aqua 274B.  It would be nice to clean up the mids at least and then see what the 25th mod can do.  I suspect the tube selection may need to change again with the 25th mod??

I  agree cables and power conditioning are needed to see the benefits of properly selected tubes.

I had my CSP3 listed for sale but have decided to keep it now.

Thank you everyone for your inputs.

Steve


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Lon
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #12 - 06/07/19 at 10:51:27
 
Steve, I think you'll enjoy the Sophia Electric Aqua. In my system it does exactly what you may wish: provides a very open midrange and a well-defined soundstage in comparison to Mullard GZ32 and other rectifiers I have.

With the Anniversary Mods I am actually using the same tubes that I would without, the mods simply seem to allow me to hear more clearly the characteristics of each tube.
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anzaanimal
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #13 - 06/07/19 at 22:57:22
 
I want the first thank everyone for their thoughts and input.  I have learned a lot.

Second I want to apologize for my statement that I am hearing distortion from my CSP3.  I make a big mistake that caused the problem.  I did some quick trouble shooting this morning; swapping Rectifier tubes and input tubes and not much changed except I consistently heard a fair bit of noise sort of hissing& roaring like sound- with the volume up from the right speaker only (no music playing).  I swapped the input cables right and left no change.   I went to swap the output cables and discovered I had one of the cables in the blue colored RCA for the subwoofer out.   Yes look up dolt in the dictionary to see my picture.

After correcting the output connection the sound was much cleaner and musical, much better high and low frequency extension.  I did not have time for critical listening for soundstage, depth, air, instrument positioning but the -there is something that bothers me feeling was gone.

However, now the hissing and roaring noise is equal on both speakers and similar to what was coming from the right speaker only.  I can definitely hear it from my listening position when the volume approaches the loudest I go to and that is just past halfway on my Allnic L-3000.  When I switch to the Allnic only input (and the volume / output from the CSP3 has been adjusted to be the same when I switch inputs) the Allnic is dead quiet and I can increase the volume to almost all the way until I can just hear a faint hissing on the Allnic.  

I think I need to back off on the attenuator on the CSP3.  The Allnic has a lot of gain and I can send it back to Korea to have it lowered but I was hoping to wait until I needed new tubes.  

I will be moving & swapping cables, maybe I am picking up RF type noise in the RCA cables.

I am looking forward to the Electric Aqua.  I am really relieved I did not sell my CSP3 and that it was my mistake that was making it sound distorted.


Steve


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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #14 - 06/08/19 at 21:46:30
 
Steve,

Weird, the noise you are getting..."hissing and roaring!"

Makes sense that it could be the higher gain increasing it, but I hope you can get to having little or no noise to amplify.

From your earlier post:

"Interestingly I thought one of the Mullard rectifier tubes was bad because there was a sound like air leaking out of a balloon that seemed consistent with one of them. But the sound mostly went away when I swapped out the input tube????"

I had a sound that may be like this, but only on initial warm up in my Torii. Can't recall exactly, but think it was sort of like a pulsing spiral, starting in a midrange frequency (along with harmonics), and spirally pretty quickly up the frequency range to nothing, it went away. I asked Steve about it, and he said it was oscillation, and from how I described it, it might be a weak connection between the input tube pins and socket connections. With difficulty, I very carefully bent the springy socket connector parts tighter, and it did not change. I can't find it in my notes, but I think it was when I replaced the electrolytic caps it went away, but that job meant re-soldering one or both sides of many power supply bypasses too, so I was not sure what was the exact culprit, but it was in the power supply if I am remembering correctly.

Since yours got better changing the input, if it is oscillation from a weak connection, but you still have quieter noise...this makes me wonder if the new input is connecting better, but not fully. Maybe check the pins and carefully straighten them if needed? If not that, if you feel comfortable with this idea, the top of the input tube on a CSP3 stays pretty cool. I wonder if you could very gently grab the tube while the CSP3 is playing, a thin piece of cotton rag to protect your fingers and tube, supple enough to feel the tube well… Holding the input tube perfectly upright, then very gently and briefly "twist" the tube just a touch in the socket, hoping to slightly increase pressure between the tube pins and one side of the socket connectors. If a pin or two are not fully tight, this might create a more complete connection. Then, if the noise gets better, it would seem the tube socket connectors need tightening.

Alternate thoughts:

Beside trying different ICs, I wonder about plugging the CSP3 output into a different pair of Allnic RCA inputs just to rule that possibility out.

Do all RCA connections feel tight?

Did you try removing the CSP3 altogether, running your source directly to the same Allnic inputs you had the CSP3 plugged into? Turning the Allnic way up might reveal issues with the source or that particular set of ICs.

If still noisy, maybe try different Allnic input RCAs, still no CSP3...

If you have verified good ICs and connections, it also might be interesting to take the Allnic out of the chain altogether, only connecting the source through the CSP3 and see what happens.

If you can't sort it out, then I would call Steve.


I think the Siemens and Sophia will be good tests and possible solutions. And if you commit to the CSP3, having a nice range of tubes to play with can be fun. With several quality and sonically varied tubes for each tube position, you may find you can use all, or most of your tubes to make up varied and beautiful tube sets. I really enjoy different tube sets every so often as a means to change up how I experience the music, variations of the beauty waking up my listening.

Tubes are big time for CSP3 tuning, but if you get things good for your system, the 25th mods will take it all deeper. If you call Steve about the noise, or just to find out about mods, it will be interesting to find out what makes up the standard mod set, and what "extras" he thinks might help. If you have not talked with Steve before, you will find he is very helpful, with a real desire to help us get good sound.


But back to tubes.

If after testing to resolve noise, you are still experiencing too much darkness/bass emphasis, I think the Siemens may well  shift that, Siemens generally being notably clean and solid tubes. Then it will depend how much thickness/density was from your input, the outputs, or rectifier. Or was it just too many strong/warm Mullards. Though I ran all Mullards in my CSP3 for a very long time, the input was a PCC88, outputs were parasol getter E88CC, and the rectifier, a GZ32. So my input and rectifier were both lower key than those in your set. A milder tube in one or more positions could open things up nicely...perhaps a worthy experiment.

I just put in a used pair of Sophia 274B with "less than 350 hours." I am not sure they had that much, as they seem to be opening up as I listen.

First impressions in the Torii, all things set the same, the Sophia 274Bs replacing Telefunken RGN1064s, the Sophia weighs toward the bottom in balance. Notably bigger and warmer, it still offers quality detail, spacial information and definition mids down, making it an interesting tube. A more intense signal, low down clarity causes bass-to-midrange spacial and textural information to read warmly but well. More euphonic than veiled, the bass/warm emphasis shifts the balance, but does not veil the sound like many “warm” tubes. But...with no adjustments, it does off-balance the top. Very fine detail and top harmonic information is present, but the low end  proportionally overwhelms the top end information some, leaving the tube less neutral and completely transparent than I prefer. Putting more energy low down, and less high up, midrange ambience takes more sonic space, I think part of the sweet euphonic quality. It is not quite sugary, but full and a little dreamy. Personally I miss some high range spaciousness and harmonics, the warmth overpowering this part of the presentation a bit much for me, but I find it a compelling tube!


This leads me to tuning with pre and amp gain balancing.

Not only a good test for the noise issue, since you find the Allnic pretty transparent, I think a good way to optimize the CSP3 as an addition might be to pull the Allnic from the signal path, and focus on optimizing the CSP3 on its own. If you have an attenuator on your amp and can use it for volume rather than the CSP3, you could adjust the CSP3 tubes and gain pots only for the best spectral balance, dynamic balance, complexity and lucidity. This might be informative, while optimizing the CSP potential in the mix.

Then, by adding the Allnic back in, still using your amp for volume rather than the Allnic, I would try to balance Allnic gain to match and compliment the optimized CSP3. This shifts the pre emphasis to source improvement more than amplification, and may or may not make you want to adjust how you use your gains. Either way though, this could be an informative exercise.

My pre stage attenuators adjust much more than just volume, making them less than ideal volume adjusters for me. More importantly for me, they adjust source signal voltage, which adjusts tone, drive, dynamics, clarity, etc. If we use a pre stage that notably adjusts signal voltage into the amp, as a volume, we are also adjusting tone, power and dynamics. Whereas, the amps I have had reveal source much more neutrally throughout the gain range, making their volume a notably more consistent sonic foundation.

My DAC is supposed to have a very transparent pre/gain stage, but I find it to create a slight veil so I leave it wide open...

All in all, this led me to using the CSP3 for adjusting the quality of the music more than volume. With a fairly narrow gain range that is optimized for over-all best system sound, moving the master up or down a bit fine-tunes focus, lucidity, bass, weight, etc...things that can be easily increased or decreased with signal voltage changes, and used to refine varied recording qualities.

My ZBIT is similar in effect, but only has a gain adjustment, yet I definitely find a given attenuator range on it best for my overall sound also. Then I can use one or both for tuning recordings, using their individual characters to improve each other. Your CSP3 also a bit more colored, and Allnic more notably uncolored, might work well together in similar ways….perhaps worth some experimenting anyway.


This brings me back to the Sophia. Since its character was a bit intense, colored, and demanding for my desired balance, I started playing around with gain balancing. At some point, finding I was consistently keeping the output tube pots on the CSP3 the same, only adjusting the input pots, I measured the resistance of the output tube pots where I liked them, and replaced the pots with quality resistors, doing roughly the same attenuation, but with improved transparency. So I have only the input pots and master.

More recently I replaced the CSP3 input tube pots with some small Chinese-made attenuators with surface mounted resistors. Though I had to "finesse" these into the small space of the old carbon pots, increasing plate hole sizes just so, they fit. When I had tried them in the output position before, I found them too brittle and lacking in nuance. But with the current, slightly warmer state of modifications, and in the input position, they are really nice...more revealing, fast, and articulate. Interestingly, this change showed I was getting some noise from the old carbon pots. Also, the new attenuators somehow allow greater voltage applied to the signal with less tendency to distortion. So I am still finding the new potential.

Anyway, with the Sophias tendency to overly strong bass, warmth and euphonic qualities (as my system was set up) ... I would normally lower the CSP3 some to lean down the bass and open mids. But I found that by raising the CSP3 input pot gains two notches (Like going from 8-9 on the stock pots), with this particular tube, running the tubes higher created more articulation throughout, including bass, and without becoming too intense. But still with a too deep bottom, then lowering the CSP3 master pot, the bass having tightened, it became less deep. Raising the gain on my ZBIT typically makes the signal stronger fairly neutrally, too high generally just being too intense across the spectrum most times. And with the Sophia, more was better....raising it from about 3 o'clock to about 4 o'clock, the increase in signal power further increased articulation, and without getting too bassy or intense in the mids. The combination tightened and reduced bass depth, cleaned and defined mids and highs, and increased speed and space... This tube has a lot of gain adjustment latitude it seems, and now, with a balance I really like. I still need to work on it for my needs, but is very nice.

The Sophia 274Bs, though a bit warmer and more euphonic, are now quite similar across the spectrum to the late 30's Telefunken rectifiers I have been using for a few years. I have to get to know them better, but sweet and smooth, in some ways they seem better, and some a little worse. But this test illustrated to me that there is always something to learn with the lively nature of tubes, and the power of gain adjustments. Now the Sophia is becoming a tube I would like to explore further.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #15 - 06/08/19 at 23:01:08
 
I've been reading this with interest, especially the discussion of the different rectifiers.  You guys are using rectifiers that are well off my radar as I am going by what's in the manuals.  How do I know when a given tube is compatible with my CSP3 or ZP3 (my two rectifier equipped amps)?  The manuals only help a little.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #16 - 06/09/19 at 00:25:47
 
Well, this thread helps! I know that 5Y3, 5U4, and 5V4 work, and their European variants, and also Type 80.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #17 - 06/09/19 at 00:58:26
 
Steve doesn't mention the 5V4 or the Type 80 (which I've used) but he does mention the 5AR4.  Maybe if someone would put together a list?
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #18 - 06/09/19 at 01:25:56
 
I'm glad you are exploring the Sophia Will. I have a different sort of impression of the general nature of the tube (doesn't seem warm and bass-y to me necessarily) but then I have a different set up and amps in the main system, and my CSP3-25 is wired by Steve to bypass the input gain controls so I can't alter that characteristic on that preamp in my video playback system. Nor do I have input controls on the ZTPRE.

In my main system I have the Sophias in my Monoblocks, and I have indeed experimented with gain and what general works best for me is my DAC at 80 to 90 percent (and I control most of the volume from that source via remote), the ZTPRE at 15 out of 20 on the output gain controls and the dual volume controls turned fully up, the ZBIT at 17 of 20 on the output gain controls, the ZROCK with Anniversary mods at about 85% gain, and the Monoblocks at 17 out of 20 on the gain control. I get great frequency balance and dynamics at those settings.

In my second system I have a Sophia each in the CSP3-25 and the Taboo Mk IV-25. I have the output gain controls on the CSP3-25 at 5 out of 10, and the output gain of the Taboo fully up. The ZROCK2 in this system is at about 80 percent. This system is mainly used for video playback from the DVR via the Oppo UDP-205 or DVD and Blu-ray from the Oppo UDP-205. Great sound!

I keep coming back to other rectifiers but the Sophias do so much and don't really call attention to themselves so they have always ended up back in the components. . . . .
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #19 - 06/09/19 at 01:38:36
 
Yes, 5AR4 work, I have three pairs of those. 5V4 is the American equivalent of the GZ32 and they work really well. Feel free to research the forum and put together a list! Wink
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #20 - 06/09/19 at 17:33:14
 
We've got a good start right here! Smiley
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #21 - 06/10/19 at 05:47:05
 

Will, thank you.  

Once again you have given me a lot to think about.

My DAC is a W4S DAC-2 DSD SE upgraded to 2v2.  I use balanced outputs to the Allnic and single ended to the CSP2.  Both DAC outputs are live, I can go back and forth to either output with the Allnic remote.  I use the attenuator on the DAC to lower the output to the Allnic so the Allnic’s volume is around 12 o’clock for maximum listening levels.  The DAC’s volume is 2/3 open.  The CSP3 is getting half the voltage with the single ended connection so I had the output pots and the attenuator pretty open to equalize the volume when changing between the balanced input’s and the single ended CSP3.

I found that backing off the output pots greatly reduces the hissing and roaring sound.  I changed output tubes from the Mullards which have 2 ½ years on them to the stock tubes which have a few months of use.  There was not much difference except the stock tubes were a little noisier and had a little buzz.  I put the new Siemens input tube in and the noise did not change so it does not seem to be the tubes.

I backed off the output pots a little more and the noise is much less noticeable.  The output pot is now at 7, the input is at 10 and the attenuator is wide open.  I have not tried another single ended input on the Allnic from the DAC yet but I will do it to be sure it is not in the Allnic.  The Allnic is dead black quiet with the balanced DAC connection and the volume all the way open.  

I moved the RCA cables around and did not appreciate any change in intensity of the sound.  I suppose it could be the cables.  I did try DAC to the Allnic with the MIT Matrix HD 23 RCA interconnects I am using between the DAC and CSP3 and did not appreciate any noise, however, the balanced connection was just so much better than single ended.  I also used the MIT from the Allnic to my Pass XA60.8 and there was no noise but again it lacked the dynamics and liveliness of the balanced connection.  I am using a .5 meter Wireworld Silver Eclipse from the CSP3 to the Allnic.  The MIT and Wireworld have locking connections and are very tight.

I like our idea of taking the Allnic out and working the CSP3 but I don't have another RCA interconnect long enough to do so.  

I should get the Sophia Aqua in the next few days.  I am going to spend some time just listening to the new input and rectifier tubes.  

I want to replace the output tubes but want to get a sense of what is happening with the Sophia and Siemens.  So far, I really like the Siemens over the old Mullard.  I think it has as you mentioned high output, it is very lively, very close the Allnic in frequency extension and detail on both ends but has a glorious midrange.  It is just sweet and detailed without being analytical.  It adds warmth where the Allnic lacks it without being euphonic and muddled like the Mullard.  I am excited to see what the Sophia brings out in the CSP3.  

I have definitely decided to do the 25th Mod and then change the output tubes.  For that I am hoping for advice on the Capacitors.  I have the Beeswax I.  Beeswax II or V-Foil?

Steve
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CSP3, ZP3
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #22 - 06/11/19 at 03:23:04
 
Hey Lon,

Interesting setups. It sounds like your main system pushes the pre stages pretty hard, lots of voltage and variations in signal treatment from multiple pre stages. And your video system, the CSP3 sounds like it is set comparatively pretty low.

I suspect my system has become more like your main system, where I can apply a lot of pre gain with amazing fine detail and space, and without an overly dense for hard signal. Interesting to me, especially with the ZBIT, is how much pre gain the Sophias seem to be able to absorb, helping bass definition, dynamics, spaciousness, top end clarity, and speed pretty equally here.

Thinking of your comment about the Sophia as, “not necessarily warm,” …. semantics of sonic impressions are tricky, but I can agree with this, depending on everything else. Relative to others I use though, they have convincing articulation and detail, but they do balance a little darker/warmer here. Also semantics, when I say “tending toward,” “slightly,” or “notable,” I mean these literally as relatively subtle descriptors. Also, I feel sure now they were not fully burned in the other day. Beyond gain tuning, the sound is more open, complex and articulate today...this could indicate my assessment was off some.

And remember, my first Sophia impressions were without changing settings optimized for my previous rectifiers. These particular Telefunken RGN1064s are sort of a cross between open and clear Philco Type 80 Globes, and some of my cleaner GZ32s, Mazdas with double bottom getters, less warm than the late 50’s Mullard GZ32s I have. Like the Philco 80, the Telefunken are big sounding, spacious and clear. And like the GZ32, they have a bit of warmth with really excellent fine detail and speed. These particular RGN 1064s tend to defined, fast, nuanced and naturally balanced, but not deeply extended enough on the bottom to be heavy if using careful gain riding. The highs and fine detail are completely represented.

Set up for the RGN1064, the Sophia 274B balanced more toward bass and warmth, good sound, but excessively colored for my tastes. This balance adjusted mid and top information, mids darker and wetter, and highs and detail still there, but less present, the stronger mids and bass off-balanced the highs. On recordings that go extra low, with these settings, the Sophias could tip my bass balance just enough to get some boom on the occasional recordings. Though still sounding quite good, they were not really close to a hypothetical sense of neutral balance. But being a good tube, this coloring did little damage to articulation, clarity and space. A little dark, but having nice definition, and complex detail in space, this is what I call warmth. Whereas, tubes that tend darker, with weaker clarity and definition, darkness contributing to veils, I would  just call them “darkish” and veiled.
 
After more burnin, and optimizing settings for the Sophias with just gain adjustments, I was able to solve most issues I originally had, but still found them a bit dark with some veiling as a result. Not much, but by comparison to other tubes I like, enough to want a little more from them. Getting gains high enough to pull spacious clarity across the spectrum, the bass was still a bit emphasized on extra bassy recordings, but mainly defined and spacious, and big and fast on most recordings. Working a little into the mids, low-mids to mid-mids still seemed a little warm, and the highest highs seem slightly rolled off, but all had become quite good.

Meanwhile, the tube’s subtle harmonic “wetness," supported by being slightly warm and smooth, its euphonic midrange qualities are becoming quite ingratiating to me.

So, I had been thinking for a while my power supply tuning had gone a little warm/full, reducing some flexibility, like with the Sophia....so I opened the Torii and pulled small value (0.022) bypass cap from the output power section I had found too be very sensitive for tuning warmth and bass...It was great with tubes I normally use, but I was thinking of pulling this cap before, so decided to check it out to see what the Sophias would do. Wow!...more for this tube than any I have tried in recent months, this minor cap change made a nice tube a really nice one for me, at least on first impressions. Reducing bass of course reduced mid warmth a bit, and I forget about top roll off, something that I can only hear by comparison now. And, associated to the top, I am pretty sure this is the first time I agree with ANY attempts at forgiveness I have heard by audio designers... So far, with the Sophia design choices, top complexity and refinement seems complete enough to not hear issues, while contributing to allowing high clarity and gains without hardness. First impressions, but the Sophias have my attention.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #23 - 06/11/19 at 07:37:05
 
Hey Steve,

I think your track of reducing the CSP3 levels is a good one beyond helping your noise problem. Even with the reduced levels of the input pots at 10, the outputs at 7, and the master wide open, with a 30 volt potential, you are running quite high...a lot of gain!!! With your DAC putting out 5.2V SE, I think if you could leave CSP3 pots at 9 and 7 or similar, and the master about 2 o'clock as a baseline, this would probably push things enough, and perhaps even be borderline depending an all else!

Sounds like a nice setup, and that you are committing to the CSP3, making me wonder if cutting out the comparisons could possibly get you where you can get quicker. Maybe just try the DAC>CSP3>Allnic for a while, even pulling the balanced cables to avoid the temptation and confusion of volume matching and comparison, and just go for the best gain balancing of the CSP3 and Allnic for great sound. Especially if you use your DAC for volume, you may be able to find the magic pretty quickly this way. The 10.5 volts from your DAC balanced out is going to be more impressive than 5.2 SE, but not comparing, and finding that higher voltage elsewhere, from the CSP3 and Allnic, might be worth exploring, especially since the CSP3 is doing things you find seductive and involving.

I fear I am not a good one for cap recommendations for the CSP3 mods, not having heard V-caps. I really liked Jupiter Coppers (Steve calls type II) when I changed from Jupiter HTs (type I) coupling caps in my Torii to the Coppers...more resolving, smooth and solid as I recall. HTs were really good for my tastes, and I felt no need to change except that so many folks were loving Coppers more. But as my amps became more transparent with modifications, I started hearing a "Jupiter sound" more. The particular ways my amp sound evolved no doubt had a lot to do with this, but Jupiter coppers started sounding a little affected to me. With nice solidity and wide extension, the particular character of their "warmth" causes friendliness and smoothness, but in some senses started sounding a touch thick and veiled to me. Combined with being very resolving, they sounded beautiful, but a little "compressed or dense?" in my particular progression. Trying Miflex Copper PIOs as they first came available from and English supplier a few years back, I liked what felt like a more open, easier flow, but still friendly, sounding more like "no cap" for me. And depending on use, I find the bottom of the Jupiter HTs can be a little inarticulate for my tastes, and the top very clear, creating some contrast I came to notice at times. I do like to use HTs as Torii power supply bypasses along with complementary caps that help tighten the bass a little, the combination utilizing the open mids and top of the HTs with bass that is a little more articulate in this setup.

But everything effects everything, and very good and highly respected caps that became a little noticeable for me, in my setting, are influenced by everything they are with. The same cap can sound very different with different contributing parts. My CSP3 is sort of an example of this. I continue to use the original Type I, HT Jupiters for coupling caps, shaping the rest of the sound around them. I did bypass them with several different small value caps over time to tighten them a bit and refine resolution, now using Miflex Copper PIO and Russian Teflons, but with a Jupiter foundation, I love the sound. But Miflex paper in oil varieties are not without flaws. At least the batch I got, in heat, the oil can leak on some caps. If they do, I use Weldbond to seal the ends and that seems to work. Don't know if this has been resolved or not, but I like the sound so much I will buy more.

It seems to me, the way Steve uses Jupiters is as a primary sonic baseline in his designs, balancing and optimizing sound for and with them. And he likely knows them as well as anyone, having helped in development and having used them most days for a long time in his creative designs, and production. So I have no doubt they sound great the way he is using and supporting them in the balance of all the parts together.

I recall reading that Steve thought the Jupiter Coppers were as resolving as V-caps, but without the infamous V-cap burnin issues. And I have experienced this with Jupiters, they sound good from the start, and keep getting better up to 5-600 hours, pretty beautiful along most of the way. Finally, from my experience, I recall the Type IIs being a meaningful upgrade here, but I would recommend talking with Steve about it.

My take anyway.

Glad the Siemens worked so well, and looking forward to your Sophia reports.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #24 - 06/11/19 at 12:25:42
 
As Archie stated, I too have been following this thread with interest because it connects with decisions that I am making pertaining to the rectifiers that I will be using moving forward.

I have created a list of my own based not only for the sonic performance of a rectifier but also on the expected life span of a rectifier as well as the type of support that a supplier gives.

It all started with the failure of two Sophia rectifiers.  At the same time I couldn’t ignore that fact that busterfree had a similar situation with Type 80’s.  The obvious question was WHY?  So I started researching, a LOT of researching.  Long story short... the research lead me to conclude that in both cases the failures could be and likely were due to the production practices at the time those particular tubes were made.  

Next the matter of selecting a rectifier that will work with the input filter capacitor value of 47uF.  Even though certain tubes are listed as options, that in itself is not enough to go by.  I checked numerous data sheets for the different tubes listed as options and the 5Y3 was the most ‘risky’ of all.  So I did not put it on my short list and after all this was a short list based on my first hand experience with various rectifiers.

My Short List:

Mullard GZ32/CV593
Mullard GZ32 pre 60’s production
Mullard design GZ32 made by the French firm Radio Technique ruggedized for the German Navy

Mullard GZ34, fat base, double O pre 60’s production

Type 80 ST bottle

In the 5UG family:

AWV 5AS4G
PSVANE 5U4G acquired from one of two suppliers only.  First choice: Decware, second choice Grant Fidelity - testing methods and nature of support were the deciding factors.

I do not use the same rectifier in the CSP-3 and the UFO25.  In the CSP-3 I’ll use a rectifier in the 5U4G family while in the UFO-25 I’ll use the GZ32 or TYpe 80.  This has allowed a certain amount of ‘fine tuning’ so to speak.

The Mullard GHZ34 is the Wild Card at this time, I have acquired a fat base version.  The above list takes into consideration NOS and New production.  At this time I have settled on all the other associated tubes in both components and so will only be evaluating the rectifiers.

The fun will start as soon as I get all of the above, I have some but need some other that are en route.

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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #25 - 06/11/19 at 13:38:30
 
The Sophia really have my attention. It is so dramatically "right" in my components and to my tastes that I just no longer consider other rectifiers viable alternatives. All the best to those that want to explore other options but I'm very happy to find this one that actually ticks all the boxes for me and that for me at least has been reliable and have had no failures.

I do have a lot of gain going into my Monoblock amps in the main system and that's sort of my natural compression way of room treatment to get the frequency balance that seems most natural to me. It's an odd room setup and treatment is out of the question so I have found other ways to achieve the balance I prefer. The Sophias just work so well and allow me a wide range of choices in other tube choices and I have fallen in love with its steady open sound. And I like that I can use it in all the components in a system that utilize a rectifier. I find it comforting to have that baseline across the board. And it works so well in all the spots.

In my second system the room is remarkably different and quite remarkable really and I find the best frequency balance with the amp wide open and the output of the CSP3-25 low. Not only is there a different room but the Taboo Mk IV-25 has a different signature than the Monoblocks and definitely influence my gain decisions. Again in this system I find the Sophias to offer me the best "character" of sound to an extent that I have no desire to use another rectifier, I've rolled rectifiers in both systems more than once recently and my preference is confirmed.

The Sophia Electric Aqua 274B is really something in my estimation. I'm glad you're experiencing good sound with it. We have different rooms and systems and I think different overall aims as far as a total system sound, and we both (and John, and many here) have been on a quest to "get the best." I'm glad that I found at least the "best" rectifier in the Sophia, and I may now have the best input tube in the Steve-selected-and-ruthlessly-tested 6N5P, and I like that I'm weaning myself off of NOS expensive input tubes and have anchor points for my tube complements.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #26 - 06/11/19 at 14:01:51
 
Hey Lon,

For the record, I agree with your take on the Sophia 274B Aqua.  I stand by my earlier posts and positive experiences with it and will go as far as stating that for many it will be the rectifier of choice.  

I have not entirely eliminated because of the failures and will be keeping an eye on it’s progress.  I do believe that ALL products will have a percentage of failure and my intent is not to dissuade anyone from trying it.  After my research I think that I can be more objective about the situation.  We cannot rely on the availability of NOS tube supply moving forward so I hope that new tube production will continue to progress and improve.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #27 - 06/11/19 at 14:57:50
 
John, I keep thinking that it's odd that you had two failures . . . and wonder if there are other factors that caused the failures.

I love these tubes and am confident that my rectifier search ends there. Of course I will keep some spares of other types but the Aquas are here to stay with me, and I will replace them with the same if at all possible.

Hope you find a great replacement for your system.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #28 - 06/11/19 at 17:12:19
 
Lon, yes it is odd.  Why only those two tubes? That’s why I did the research that I did.  Even then I can’t be sure.  Every product that is produced will have some acceptable rate of failure.  We used to target 2% of production and those targets were incredibly hard to achieve and keep.  When failures did occur some poor fellow seemed to get them all, in other words someone seemed to get 100% of the 2% because failures usually happen in groups.

So it could be that I may be that person in this case.  That’s why I haven’t given up on the Sophie’s just taking a bit of a break.  So please keep your comments about the Sophia’s coming.  It is helpful in keeping informed and seeing the whole picture.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #29 - 06/11/19 at 17:34:46
 
Yes it's odd. I may not have done as extensive a research as you but I didn't see reported failures.

Anyway, I don't have much more to say about the Sophias, I've said plenty Im sure many feel. They've become my choice and I'm hoping I get another year or two out of each of them. I'll replace them with other Sophias when the time comes.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #30 - 06/11/19 at 17:47:48
 
Last night I plugged in the Sophia Aqua and listened for a few hours.  So far nothing negative as the tube burns in.  Initial impressions:
It has a higher output; I needed to turn down the CSP3 output at 2 clicks to match the Allnic.
It is very quiet.  I found I could open the output pots to 10 and the hissing howling sound is gone.  I do have a small amount of hum but can only hear it with the Allnic volume all the way open and I never get close to that. My conclusion was that there was noise from all 3 of the rectifier tubes I was previously using -or- that the Sophia is exceptionally quiet.
I am now at 6 on the input and 10 on the output pots but will need time to experiment and don’t want to do too much for a while as the new tubes burn in.
I agree with Will with the sound smooth and warm but in a very clean and detail manner.  The low end is improved in terms of extension, detail and punch.  It is almost the equal to the Allnic at the low end.  It is very close to the Allnic at the top end maybe lacking in space and decay around the notes but the upper extension is nearly equal now.  However what it brings to the mids with warmth puts it over the top.  I much prefer it to the Allnic alone.
I checked my DAC’s specs and found the max balanced output is 8.3 volts balanced and 4.1 volts RCA at full output volume setting 70.  At setting 61 the voltage decreases to 2.9 volts balanced and 1.4 volts RCA.  I think I am running in the upper 40’s on the volume so the voltage is likely pretty low.  I do need to send the Allnic in to reduce the gain.
I do have an RCA interconnect that I can use to set up the DAC-CSP3-Pass but I am not confident in the quality of the cable as matching the system.  I think we usually are hearing the weakest link in our systems.  
I am looking forward to just listening for the next few weeks.  I am going to contact Steve today to bet on the 25th upgrade list.
Thank you for opening my eyes to the capabilities of the CSP3.

Steve
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #31 - 06/11/19 at 18:13:33
 
Steve, great that you got such a positive result from the Aqua right away. It will probably get even a little bit better as it seasons over the next week or two. Glad that the "hash" you were hearing has dissipated considerably.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #32 - 06/12/19 at 01:28:58
 
Wow Steve. What a relief to solve the noise. Three rectifiers, all similarly noisy is not something I would have suspected. Glad you figured it out. The Sophias I got are nice and quiet too.

I have always had a little hum from my Decware, but noisy tubes can really increase it. Having tried careful cabling, different outlets, different power conditioners, power cables, ICs, I assume it is house wide. And I do have a suspect ground here in the high desert. When it is not freezing and the irrigation is on, I try to leave a little leak for slow watering the nearby ground and try to remember to water it during warmer spells in the winter. Maybe it's a little DC offset? It does seem to get a little better and worse at different times of day...maybe influence of neighbor's power use. Don't know, but it is pretty quiet and I don't notice it for the most part except when close to the amp and speakers.

Sorry I had the voltage wrong on your DAC. I had looked at v2.2 specs thinking your upgraded unit might be the same. I know nothing about DAC gains, still a nob guy. 70 being wide open and 61 nearly 2/3 down on voltage seems impressive in my ignorance though.

I do wonder still, with two high gain pre stages... the CSP3 potentially adding up to 30 volts if wide open, and before the Allnic voltage additions...it would interesting to know just what your voltages going into the amps are. But if the sound is like you like, who cares!

Thinking about CSP3 adjustments, I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong, but I think it works like this:

The RCA signal from the source is directly connected to the master volume. Then the master attenuator outputs directly to the input pots. The input pot's signals out goes through resistors to the input tube, the input tube wired for stereo. So by attenuating the input pots, we are reducing signal before the tube, in effect adding resistance to the input signal resistor. I think this reduction effects the intensity of the signal beyond just volume, sending less volume and signal power to the output tubes. So, the most drive on the input tube would be open.

The input tube sends the signal to the output tube socket/tubes directly. The output pot comes after the output tubes, so adjusts the combined tube signal from the master volume, input tube pot, input tube, and output tube. Then the signal out of the output pot goes to the RCAs that send the signal onward. There are resistors involved, but this is the basic signal path as I see it.

So much going on with all these "adjustable resistors" (gain pots) this messes with my dyslexia, but I think the input pots directly effecting the input tube up and down before the the output also adjusts the ratio of input tube sound/character in the balance with the output tube sound/character. Though the input pot effects the input tube, and the output tube by association, I also think of it as a way to subtly adjust the ratio between input tube influence on the sound and the output tubes influence. So I am thinking that if the input is wide open, the sonic characteristics of that tube are as powerful as they can be in the mix. And if it is way down, I think it reduces signal intensity while also imparting less input tube influence in the balance, leaving the output tube with more influence.

Not that it really matters, adjusting things for the sound we like being most important, but anyway, I think this is what is happening.

Have fun as you explore tuning your "new" CSP3.

I look forward to hearing what you end up with after experimenting.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #33 - 06/12/19 at 06:45:18
 
Will,

Thank you again for sharing the workings of the attenuator and input output pots.  If the output pot is after the output tubes then only the input attenuator and master volume are used for gain riding?  I guess I am gain riding the Allnic with the CSP3?  I wonder why Steve is replacing the input pot with glass resistors for some of the members.  

I think there is conflicting information on the W4S site.  My DAC-2 DSDSE in its original form output 5.2 balanced and 2.6 single ended.  The specs on the DAC-2V2SE lists 10.2 balanced and 5.2 single ended but I downloaded the manual and it lists 8.3 and 4.1 so something is amiss but it is kicking out some volts.

The manual also has a table that lists the voltage out at a few attenuator settings.  Wide open at 70 it is 8.3. At 64 the voltage drops in half to 4.1.  The lowest the table goes is 61 and the voltage is 2.9.  I have the attenuator at 44 so I think the SCP3 and Allnic are being driven by a pretty low voltage.  I can increase the output of the DAC but I will lose some range on the Allnic attenuator.  Something to experiment with when the tubes are better broken in.  I know I need to send the Allnic back to lower the gain but I think it has to go back to Korea.  My hope was to wait until it needs new tubes.

Because the Allnic has high gain forcing me to reduce the output of the DAC to use the Allnics attenuator in the 10-2 position I need to almost max open up the CSP3 to match volume levels.  I think doing so exposes any small noise from the CSP3, and hum and especially tube noise.  The new CCA tube is very quiet and the Sophia has a higher output than my other rectifiers and is also much quieter.  A good combination I was able to back off on the output of the CSP3 to match the volume.  I chose to keep the attenuator open and the output open and back off on the input pot.  

I like the results and I will experiment a bit more after there are 50 or so hours on the tubes.  Overall, I don’t care about the noise level now.  There is no way to hear it at my listening position with the volume at maximum listening levels so who cares if it is there at volume settings I can’t use.  Most importantly the distortion I was hearing is gone after changing tubes and probably more importantly using the correct output jacks.  I think I had the output connections goofed for a while.

I have a Denali 6000S for the CSP3 and Allnic and ZP3 and turntable. I have a PS Perfect Wave P10 also plugged into the Denali that feeds the DAC and Music Server and TV and W4S modified Sonos Connect and the outboard power supplies. The music server and USB Iso regen are powered by Uptone’s JS-2 and Ultracap LPS1.2.  The LPS1.2 is powered by a LPS1 and that is powered by the JS-2.  There are no switching power supplies in the chain.  The Pass XA60.8’s sound best from the wall.  I don’t notice the hum change with time of day but I have halogen ceiling lights that induce some buzzing I can hear with the volume all the way up.  I keep the lights off.  There is a ceiling fan that buzzes on its own but I don’t hear it in the system and keep it off.  There is also a refrigerator in the room, I haven’t figured out what it is doing.

I send Decware and email today requesting the 25th modification.

Thank you,

Steve
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #34 - 06/12/19 at 09:54:35
 
Just to clarify Steve I'm the only one that has reported having a glass resistor bypassing the input controls on a CSP3 with the mods.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #35 - 06/14/19 at 16:24:02
 
Sounds like an advanced power setup Steve...nice system altogether. I am glad you got the CSP3 working with it!

About gains, here is my take:

I think of "riding the gains,"( I am pretty sure coined by Steve Deckert), as literally riding one gain up, and the other down at the same time, matching volume as you go, the objective, changing the sound by changing the balance of sonic influence from different gain components. I use this for fine-tuning for different recordings.

What I think of as Gain Balancing, is optimized gain levels in general, adjusting the system components gains for the best sounding foundation from which to "ride the gains."

Pre gains optimized together for balance in frequency, levels of lucidity, dynamics, weight, etc, and without subtle distortion, or being under or overstated from voltage adjustments, I seek a baseline....the best sound from each component individually, and as they interact with all the others. From there, I end up with relatively narrow master gain ranges for each pre-stage, and ride the gains from within these ranges to tune a recording. The system balanced for most recordings, I often change the gains very little. But for recordings that are lean or heavy (a little or a lot), starting from a good sonic baseline, I can power up or chill down for recording imbalances.

For example, my amp is neutral no matter the gain. The CSP3, being OTL, introduces nice influences of tube sweetness and lucidity. Balancing the CSP3 internal gains, and the CSP3 balance with the amp, I find my best sound to support the CSP3 complimenting the amp most. Then, generally, (the way mine is tuned) by reducing the CSP3 while raising the amp volume, the lower CSP3 output voltage will chill out the signal intensity, driving the amp less hard, and calming recordings with excess bass, thickness, or signal density to various degrees. Or if a recording is leanish, increasing the CSP3, while reducing amp volume, the CSP3 pushing more voltage powers up the source signal, pushing the amp harder, and increasing bass, body, density, articulation, lucidity, dynamics, etc. For me, at some point, these qualities can go over the top, sounding unnatural, and also potentially driving things into distortion....sometimes leading back to gain balancing refinement.

Lately, I set mine up so my CSP3 gains on the master attenuator are between about 12 and 3:30. I can go over the top, but not by a lot, so I figure it is more-or-less optimal for the best signal range without distortion or hype. This "best sound" is influenced by how the input, output and master pots are balanced.

I am not sure of Steve's thinking on the CSP3 output pots, but guess they are there mostly for balancing a pretty vast 30 volt gain potential with different sources and amps. If the CSP3 sounds best with the input pots at say 9, and you want a useful average master gain somewhere in the middle, for some sources and amps (like mine) those two settings together, with the outputs wide open, could be sonically overstated, including potential distortion. Having output pots, after optimizing the input pot level combined with a medium master gain level for best sound and function, one could then adjust the output pots down if needed. That said, though not conceptually "purest" (like leaving the output wide open might seem) within the elusive and mysterious intricacies of how all the parts of the power and signal path influence each other, one may find adjusting the output pots down, in order to adjust the input and/or master up, could sound better. Worth some experimenting I think. In my CSP3 I bypassed the the output pots, but with a resistance that fairly closely matched to what I had gotten from the output pots set between 7 and 8. So I for one, am "in effect" using the output pots.

I also use the ZBIT for gain riding. Introducing different but similar influences, I enjoy balancing CSP3 and ZBIT together before the amp....pretty quick and easy once the optimal average range for each is found.
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #36 - 06/15/19 at 23:34:37
 
Will,

Again you give me a lot to contemplate.  I hear what you are saying.  I will try increasing the output from the DAC to reduce the Master and output pot and see what happens with the sound.  I do like the liveliness, fullness and warmth with the Master and output mostly wide open.  I am getting much more detail and less distortion than previously with the new tubes and correct output connections.  But, maybe I am missing something I would like better so I will give it a go and see.

Last night I put one of the Mullard Rectifier tubes back in for a short while.  The Sophia adds a liveliness the Mullard lacks, maybe in part because it plays louder.  It has deeper and cleaner bass.  The Mullard is more laid back.  It’s nice to have a choice.

Thank you again,

Steve
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #37 - 06/16/19 at 00:27:07
 
You are welcome Steve. Who knows, you may end up where you are, or similar. But I agree, playing around, you might find better sound also. I think it would be interesting to change the DAC gain....and the Allnic levels in relation to the CPS3 and DAC....

But also, with new tubes, and having explored the sound more, it could be informative to play with the CSP3 settings, keeping the DAC and Allnic how you have had them. From this baseline, changing up CSP3 input and output pot settings relatively proportionally could be pretty interesting...Like going from current settings...6 input and 10 output, to 8 and 8, and maybe 9 input and 7 output....9 and 8, and turn down the master a bit....or 10 and 7 or 6.....With a good feel for these variations, turning the Allnic up a notch or two, and the CSP3 master down a bit could be informative. Or the DAC up a fair bit, utilizing its higher output potential and seeing how that sounds into the CSP3 with the CSP3 master down to compensate  (or Allnic, or both).

I tend to play around with these settings now and then just for fun, or to make tube or cable changes better.....or especially with component changes. Seems I always learn something along the way.

Everything effecting everything, it is all creatively interesting to me. Have fun!
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #38 - 06/20/19 at 05:42:54
 
I found that reducing the input pot to 6 or 7 makes a nice relaxing sound with the output at 9 and the master volume around 2 o clock.  From there I put the DAC output at max 70 and kept the Allnic volume low the sound took on a very lively character but a bit too big and bloated sounding.  Reversed it with the DAC at 17 and the Allnic at 2-3 o clock; much better relaxed presentation with soothing detail.  Switched the CSP3 in and out.  In it gives a little mid base boost and warmth/fullness without sacrificing much detail.  Some recordings sound better with the CSP3 and Allnic some better without the CSP3.  

I don’t know why but after listening a while without the CSP3 I find the sound a little thin and find adding the CSP3 back in soothing.  After listening with the CSP3 for a while I find the sound a tad thick and going back to the Allnic relaxing.  I think I have to work the CSP3 more with the volume and gain but I want to give the tubes a month to settle.  I think changing the Mullard output tubes to a more detail telefunken/siemens would probably get me closer to what I am looking for but that will have to wait.  I haven’t finished the RMA for the 25th upgrade yet.  I think I will call Steve for his input.  I wonder if I can replace the input pots with stepped attenuators and remove the output pots and use the master volume as I have volume control on my DAC and Allnic preamp.
Steve
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Re: CPS3 vs CPS3-25
Reply #39 - 06/21/19 at 17:52:35
 
Sounds like you are getting close Steve.

Modifications are a real balancing act, and I think, for Steve's earlier mods, he chose bypassing the inputs and keeping pots on the outputs.

In my progression I did bypass the outputs with resistors to act like 7-8 on the pots, a commitment (no more adjustment there), but I had been running nearly the same settings for years, adjusting the inputs more than outputs, so went for it. Replacing the carbon pots with a nice resistor setup did make the amp more transparent. Then I replaced the input pots with small surface-mount-resistor attenuators, opening things more. This does not make it "the right" way to bypass though, just what worked for me. It really is all in the balance of parts, and different parts set up different progressions of balancing choices.

Interesting to me, there were times during my experiments where I preferred the carbon pots over the small Chinese attenuators. First tries, they were a bit too cool, rigid and lacking complexity. But as the amps continued to refine, I came to prefer the attenuators (at least in the input position). For the master, after a couple tries, I definitely preferred the TDK 2CP-2511 potentiometer over these attenuators. To keep the TDK, and fit the input attenuators in the small space meant making plate holes bigger.

It will be interesting to get Steve's thoughts on attenuators and bypasses.


Excess warmth/thickness that ends up uncomfortable with your CSP3, being borderline, could be tuned into a better balance with tubes....

In all three positions you are using powerful tubes, making the CSP3 on the strong/dense side of its range. Your front three tubes are pretty maxed, high quality 6922 types...and the Mullards, though likely really good at texture and high end complexity, probably go quite deep, while being big and warm. With a warmish/big sounding rectifier that goes low as well, these tubes make a powerful, dense signal. My guess...with all clear and revealing tubes, "thickness" sounds like it may be from an overly dense signal that balances in the mids toward bass, and does so with power...pushing the CSP3 sound from "warm" to "thick" in this setup.

Toning any one (or more) of the tubes back some, you can lean/open things a little or a lot. Since you are feeling good about the Sophia and Siemens, I might look at trying something a little less balanced toward bass than your Mullards. Replacing the Mullards with an appropriate tube for balancing your sound could be good, but would also show more clearly what the Mullards are contributing. They may be better than they seem with company that does not balance them into powerful low-mid, mid-bass in your setup. By shifting to a nice 7DJ8/PCC88, or a really nice 6DJ8/ECC88, you might get a little more neutrality, and a more open/clear midrange and top. Also, you could test one of these lower key tubes in front of the Mullards as a way to open them up. Always tricky, all tubes being individual in how they sound, and in how they work with all the rest, but this could be an informative experiment, and possibly balance your sound nicely...by one tube change or another.

In my tube tuning, I am using powerful Mullard E88CCs for outputs, but I have an early Mullard/IEC PCC88 for input, and a Philco Type 80 Globe, open for globes, and more low key and open/neutral than the Sophia 274B in general. So I have two of three tube positions calmed down and opened a bit.

Also, using the basic premise of gain riding could possibly fine tune things. To open the sound, generally, reduce the CSP3s master gain while increasing gain elsewhere. And to increase bass and make a bigger/denser, more intense signal, increase the CSP3 in the balance.

If the settings you have on the CSP3 still seem good overall, I think you could lean it down a touch simply by turning the master volume down, just a little bit, while turning up the Allnic and keeping a steady volume. Less master CSP3 volume would more-or-less maintain your chosen balance of DAC/CSP3/tube sound, and with the transparent way you describe the Allnic, by increasing the Allnic and reducing the CSP3 gain intensity a little more, the current tendency toward thickness might shift toward more open, faster and clearer.
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