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  • High End Electronics

    I tried a few DACs, different preamp, volume control and amplifiers in the last three months. There are casualties - I smoked two tweeters and one 500W power amplifier. I still one more upgrade on my preamp - increasing the current, which would mean I need to take care of heatsinks. There will be risks involved.

    But now I seem to know what to expect on the direction - the new preamp increases details and micro dynamics from the recording (On Revelators level drivers). The new amp extends the sound stage further back and dynamics. My room is bad. 5 ms is the limit on my measurement down to 500 Hz at 1 meter distance. Anything longer room echo will show in 1K and above region.

    I don't have scientific reference to the electronics. Luckily, all money spent on electronics in the last few months have been very rewarding. But I wasn't sure what to do next that would give me "assurance" of "If I spent this, what return would I get?" For speakers, at least I have a frame of reference.

    Thoughts?

    (PS: I intentionally eliminate all brands or products, except Revelators, as these are not the focus of discussion)

  • #2
    Re: High End Electronics

    My thoughts:
    1. If you think the room is bad, fix the room. Probably more noticeable effect than electronics.
    2. If not #1, then maybe you're done. Have you got yourself to the point where you can't just enjoy the music anymore because you're so caught up in "analyzing"?

    Curious to know how you smoked the amp. Did you ever build the Pass B1?


    Originally posted by parodielin View Post
    I tried a few DACs, different preamp, volume control and amplifiers in the last three months. There are casualties - I smoked two tweeters and one 500W power amplifier. I still one more upgrade on my preamp - increasing the current, which would mean I need to take care of heatsinks. There will be risks involved.

    But now I seem to know what to expect on the direction - the new preamp increases details and micro dynamics from the recording (On Revelators level drivers). The new amp extends the sound stage further back and dynamics. My room is bad. 5 ms is the limit on my measurement down to 500 Hz at 1 meter distance. Anything longer room echo will show in 1K and above region.

    I don't have scientific reference to the electronics. Luckily, all money spent on electronics in the last few months have been very rewarding. But I wasn't sure what to do next that would give me "assurance" of "If I spent this, what return would I get?" For speakers, at least I have a frame of reference.

    Thoughts?

    (PS: I intentionally eliminate all brands or products, except Revelators, as these are not the focus of discussion)
    I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
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    • #3
      Re: High End Electronics

      Originally posted by fastbike1 View Post
      My thoughts:
      1. If you think the room is bad, fix the room. Probably more noticeable effect than electronics.
      2. If not #1, then maybe you're done. Have you got yourself to the point where you can't just enjoy the music anymore because you're so caught up in "analyzing"?

      Curious to know how you smoked the amp. Did you ever build the Pass B1?
      It will be a noticeable effect on improving the room. But that is not doable at this point unless I can move my exercise equipments somewhere. However, these micro dynamics are from electronics. I enjoy music a lot. I have a relatively good grab on speakers but feel like no control on electronics at all.

      The resistors on the output filter are smoked because the connection error on the PCB. The amp was supposed to be "protected" from all errors. Apparently not this one. I upgraded from the B1.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: High End Electronics

        There are at least 3 different schools about highend elctronics(including speakers).

        1. Practically all electronics already have vanishingly low distortions and frequeny variations as compared to Speakers. Pay more attention and spend your big buck on speakers.

        2. Get the best rated highend electronics/speakers becasue experts say so.

        3. Pay more attention to match elctronics with speakers and the resulting audible effects. Lots of feverish audiophiles are like this. As a result you will be constantly upgrading and visiting audio saloons.

        I am leaning toward 1 after graduating from 2 and 3.

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        • #5
          Re: High End Electronics

          Originally posted by ligs View Post
          There are at least 3 different schools about highend elctronics(including speakers).

          1. Practically all electronics already have vanishingly low distortions and frequeny variations as compared to Speakers. Pay more attention and spend your big buck on speakers.

          2. Get the best rated highend electronics/speakers becasue experts say so.

          3. Pay more attention to match elctronics with speakers and the resulting audible effects. Lots of feverish audiophiles are like this. As a result you will be constantly upgrading and visiting audio saloons.

          I am leaning toward 1 after graduating from 2 and 3.
          Spend the big bucks on the speaker drivers, and then spend your endless tweaking hours on getting the crossover just right.

          These days, even "average" audio equipment can posses the guts to process a super clean signal. Most modern PCs and laptops have 24-bit, 192KHz sound chips, and can send a digital signal to your receiver for it to decode back to stereo. Everything done in the digital domain up to the amp input. $100 sound cards like the ASUS Xonar have 115dB signal to noise ratios at their analog outputs, which use very high quality operational amplifiers to provide a low output impedance to drive just about any amplifier you could want.

          Spend your time tweaking the driver's crossovers. Change tweeters to a different model and adjust again. The law of diminishing returns hits a lot faster and harder with decent electronics than it does with speaker drivers.

          My 2 cents.
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          • #6
            Re: High End Electronics

            I agree.

            However, with my new equipment, it feels like night and day on the same speakers. I used to mention my previous pre-amp has un-balance issue between two channels by comparing the HK 635. But it sounded so good that I'm willing to suffer the channel un-balanced. Now the problem is solved by the new pre-amp. It images perfectly in my room and pumps out more details and dynamics.

            At this point, tweaking crossover will deviate from the current flat voicing. But I also experienced what good electronics can do in the last few months.

            There are something I don't understand with the way we measure electronics, meaning the spec cannot tell me too much. For example, I have two different DACs. The first one did not provide improvement over the PC sound card or the my Pioneer CD Player. If I pay real close attention, the treble presents a tiny bit detail on DAC1. Most of the time, I won't notice. The second DAC is night and day. All specs are fine. Reading specs isn't helping me.

            Same with pre-amp and amps.

            I guess the same argument goes to commercial speaker specification. If I did not now know so much about drivers and crossover with lots of help from here, I probably ask the same question as with electronics.

            Spend the big bucks on the speaker drivers, and then spend your endless tweaking hours on getting the crossover just right.

            These days, even "average" audio equipment can posses the guts to process a super clean signal. Most modern PCs and laptops have 24-bit, 192KHz sound chips, and can send a digital signal to your receiver for it to decode back to stereo. Everything done in the digital domain up to the amp input. $100 sound cards like the ASUS Xonar have 115dB signal to noise ratios at their analog outputs, which use very high quality operational amplifiers to provide a low output impedance to drive just about any amplifier you could want.

            Spend your time tweaking the driver's crossovers. Change tweeters to a different model and adjust again. The law of diminishing returns hits a lot faster and harder with decent electronics than it does with speaker drivers.

            My 2 cents.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: High End Electronics

              Originally posted by parodielin View Post
              ...The amp was supposed to be "protected" from all errors. Apparently not this one. ...
              That one makes me laugh no matter how many times I hear it :D
              "Not a Speaker Designer - Not even on the Internet"
              “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
              "If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: High End Electronics

                Originally posted by Sydney View Post
                That one makes me laugh no matter how many times I hear it :D
                I know. It's advertised on their website. Good thing is it's under warranty and they took it back without any question. I'm happy w/ the customer service knowing somehow I'm responsible. :D

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: High End Electronics

                  Fault tolerance is not easy/cheap to design in.
                  It is a much greater concern for amps that are set up and torn down repeatedly ( ie pro touring amps ).
                  The mains can very greater from venues ( and countries ) and amps have to be designed to allow for it.
                  As well the misuse and bad loading.
                  That adds significantly to the cost of the better pro amps.
                  "Not a Speaker Designer - Not even on the Internet"
                  “Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.”
                  "If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: High End Electronics

                    Spend the big bucks on the speaker drivers, and then spend your endless tweaking hours on getting the crossover just right.
                    . . .
                    The law of diminishing returns hits a lot faster and harder with decent electronics than it does with speaker drivers.
                    +1

                    And not just the drivers. The box (get out of the box). The crossover. The room. The "flaws" are far more severe in the electro-acoustic conversion than anywhere else in the system . . . assuming that the electronics are at least decent, and properly matched (which is, of course, itself a big assumption).


                    Originally posted by parodielin View Post
                    However, with my new equipment, it feels like night and day on the same speakers.
                    There's where I cringe . . . "night and day" differences in reasonable quality electronics mean (to me) that something is broken (and not necessarily the individual pieces . . . it is too common to see gross impedance mismatches, or improper gain staging, make "good" gear sound bad). When things are properly set up I find the differences subtle, at best. An example:

                    I'm convinced that I hear a difference between the DAC in my Squeezebox and the DAC in my Yamaha pre-pro (receiver) . . . and I prefer the Yamaha's. But why? And is there really a difference, or is it all in how I compare? It is easy to switch between the two . . . take the digital out from the Squeezebox to a digital in on the Yamaha, and the analog out to an analog in, and switch between the two, matching levels with the gain control on the Squeezebox. I can then switch back and forth with the remote, for "easy" comparison. There's not a big difference, but I beleive there is some difference.

                    But . . . where is it coming from? Is it the DACs, or is it that the Squeezebox signal now goes through its (digital, I presume) volume control, plus its DAC, plus its analog output stage, plus the Yamaha's analog input and whatever processing the Yamaha does (even in "pure direct" mode there is a volume control implemented somehow)? Would the Squeezebox sound "better" if I left its volume at maximum and ran its output to an external analog volume control (like the Pass, perhaps) with a stepped attenuator? If I did that how would I get 0.1dB level matching with the Yamaha, and how would I switch between the two quickly enough to make a meaningful comparison? And how would I even begin to go about comparing some external "magic box" DAC to either of the above?

                    If I set levels, play a tune, switch all the wires around, set levels again and play the tune again (how long . . . 15 minutes? half an hour?) just how good is my "memory" of either sample? There are people who argue that I can't come home from a three hour orchestra rehearsal, put on a CD, and make any meaningful comparison of the overall sound (I, of course, think I can :rolleyes . . . but given the "experimental circumstances" it's hard to make the case (to myself) that I can be confident about some of the much more subtle differences that come from component switching . . . and as suggested above when I am convinced my first thought is to look for what's broke . . .
                    "It suggests that there is something that is happening in the real system that is not quite captured in the models."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: High End Electronics

                      Spend the big bucks on the speaker drivers, and then spend your endless tweaking hours on getting the crossover just right.

                      These days, even "average" audio equipment can posses the guts to process a super clean signal. Most modern PCs and laptops have 24-bit, 192KHz sound chips, and can send a digital signal to your receiver for it to decode back to stereo. Everything done in the digital domain up to the amp input. $100 sound cards like the ASUS Xonar have 115dB signal to noise ratios at their analog outputs, which use very high quality operational amplifiers to provide a low output impedance to drive just about any amplifier you could want.

                      Spend your time tweaking the driver's crossovers. Change tweeters to a different model and adjust again. The law of diminishing returns hits a lot faster and harder with decent electronics than it does with speaker drivers.

                      My 2 cents.
                      Pete, I think it all comes down to ... what really matters but nobody wants to admit. Some people simply have (much) better hearing than others. Someone with worse hearing still enjoys music just as much as those with golden ears however. I'm fortunate to have excellent hearing ... I guess
                      fortunate in one way, but cursed in another. I have no problems at all hearing differences in things most people here say don't matter.

                      Putting that V-Cap OIMP on the tweeter in your Byzies was one of the largest single cap differences I've ever heard. To my ears it was transformational, but I don't know if you heard anything different or not?

                      Parodein - you say your room is bad, there's your answer right there. Room of course is a huge part of the chain. You'll never get that wrap-around 3D holographic soundstage without a properly treated room. And room layout is just as important as treatment, asymmetry in regards to speaker placement and neighboring walls will lead to a compromised image that's unstable in it's locationality.

                      Call local building suppliers, ask if they have anything like Roxul AFB or Johns-Mansville pressed fiberglass panels. My local supplier, I was able to get 8 2'x4' by 4" thick Roxul AFB panels for $26 ... and 4'x8' by 2" thick pressed fiberglass panels for $32. That's about 1/10th what any acoustics company would charge for the exact same stuff.
                      Vapor Audio

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                      • #12
                        Re: High End Electronics

                        I do need some room advises. But the current limitation is on so many stuff that are stationed in the room. I do want to get some panels in the future. I have some wedge forms on the wall after the first reflection point and the "back wall" in-between speakers. The big treadmill, rack of dumbbells, it's all exercise equipment that's killing the room.

                        I don't have golden ears. At least I cannot distinguish the difference between Clarity ESA and Dayton 5% on some implementation in the past. One comment saying my system isn't that sensitive back then. Now with upgrades, I want to revisit this topic sometime. To me, an OW1 using 2nd order and a Neo3CD using 4th order sound different with the same woofer but I won't describe it as "night and day". Each has its own merit.

                        The difference on DAC - that is big using average memory. I don't need to go back to AB on tunes that I'm familiar. I guess I am at a point where improving speakers is hitting a diminishing return on investment. The past few months the improvement changing electronics made me wonder my system bottleneck isn't at speakers anymore, relatively speaking of course.

                        I know what room treatment can improve. I heard Usher S520 in their flagship demo room. The image is unbelievable. In my relatively poor treated room, the new amplifier extended the image depth and I was wondering why. The pre-amp did the same thing. The special volume control I put in opens up the treble and higher midrange. With increasing the current, people reported that it will further extend the image depth - I haven't tried so cannot know for sure. Well, perhaps I need to study how an amp is constructed to answer these questions ...

                        Originally posted by DoubleTap View Post

                        Parodein - you say your room is bad, there's your answer right there. Room of course is a huge part of the chain. You'll never get that wrap-around 3D holographic soundstage without a properly treated room. And room layout is just as important as treatment, asymmetry in regards to speaker placement and neighboring walls will lead to a compromised image that's unstable in it's locationality.

                        Call local building suppliers, ask if they have anything like Roxul AFB or Johns-Mansville pressed fiberglass panels. My local supplier, I was able to get 8 2'x4' by 4" thick Roxul AFB panels for $26 ... and 4'x8' by 2" thick pressed fiberglass panels for $32. That's about 1/10th what any acoustics company would charge for the exact same stuff.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: High End Electronics

                          Over the past 20 years I have owned some very expensive and highly regarded electronics and there is no doubt that optimizing room acoustics and implementing good electronic room correction (e.g. Audyssey or Trinnov) yields the greatest dividends. Try sensitive constant directivity loudspeakers with multiple powered subwoofers and enormously powerful amplifiers simply become unnecessary. Currently I use the Pi Speakers 3 Pi, custom subwoofers based on the Adire Tumult 15" subwoofers with O Audio BASH 500W amplifiers, and a Marantz SR8002 receiver in a room with good acoustic treatments. This system images superbly and has all the subtlety and dynamics that the very expensive "audiophile" speakers and electronics only hinted at. Start by learning a little about room acoustics and optimizing loudspeakers for a home environment ( check out the Pi Speakers and GedLee websites) and see where you can go without spending a fortune.

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                          • #14
                            Re: High End Electronics

                            I agree, get where you can go by using acoustics and psychoacoustics w/o spending a fortune and then see if you feel the need to go on. I don't feel any need to go forward though I think I could probably improve my systems incrementally with expensive tweaks. Speakers should be the primary concern of course as they are more than likely the weakest link.

                            Dan
                            "guitar polygamy is a satisfying and socially acceptable alternative lifestyle."~Tony Woolley
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                            http://soundcloud.com/dantheman-10

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                            • #15
                              Re: High End Electronics

                              Originally posted by dantheman View Post
                              I agree, get where you can go by using acoustics and psychoacoustics w/o spending a fortune and then see if you feel the need to go on. I don't feel any need to go forward though I think I could probably improve my systems incrementally with expensive tweaks. Speakers should be the primary concern of course as they are more than likely the weakest link.

                              Dan
                              "Need" is a tricky thing. I don't feel I need to until I heard my friend's system, which I realized the electronics has became the weakest link, not speakers anymore.

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