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    Review | Buchardt Audio A500 Speaker System

     

     

    Buchardt Audio A500 Speaker System
    45 days and counting...

     

     

     

    September 25th, 2020


    Buchardt A500 Driver.jpg#FutureFi

     

    I have been on a multi-year quest for simplicity in audio systems around my home.  Recently I have mostly been listening to the Kii Three speakers with the BXT modules.  The Kii speakers are an incredible system, but they are out of most "normal budgets." I have been looking for something simpler and more in-line with personal finances.  Unexpectedly I also still have my Dutch and Dutch 8C system, and I tried the Elac Navis ARB-51 system, which falls on either side of the Buchardt A500's budget-wise.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  

     

    Denmark based Buchardt Audio uses a direct to consumer sales model for its equipment.  They pay the import taxes and fees.  You purchase the system, and you have 45 days to evaluate and possibly return the gear.  There is a modest return fee. For the A500, it is $50.  

     

    The A500 is a nicely sized self-powered bookshelf speaker from Denmark available in three finishes, White, Black, and Walnut.  The cabinet has an unusual shape that slopes backward from bottom to top.   There are three drivers; a forward-facing tweeter is in a large waveguide. There is a second 6in forward-facing driver and a third rear-facing 6in driver.  The drivers have individual 150-watt class D amplifiers.  Also, the speakers contain a multi-core DSP system that manages the crossovers and a bit more. The primary input is via a WiSA standard RF interface operating at 24bit 96kb PCM. There is a second analog input via balanced XLR. There is a USB port on the rear of the speaker for loading DSP configurations called Mastertunings.

     

    As I write this, there are multiple Mastertunings profiles available for download on the Buchardt Audio website. Each of these tunings changes the performance/operations of the DSP crossover. They are easy to test by installing the tuning on a USB stick and booting each speaker up with the USB stick inserted in the speaker.

     

    Just one more thing that the A500 provides. The DSP implements an equal-loudness contour called the Fletcher-Munson Curve (ISO 226:2003) that compensates for human hearing at lower volumes.  The Buchardt monicker is Low-Level Enhancement (LLE).

     

     

    Buchardt A500 Hub.jpgThe second part of the system is the Hansong Stereo Hub that Buchardt sells along with the speakers. The Hub is an optional purchase, but it is a primary tool for using the speakers.  The stereo hub is the WiSA transmitter and provides multiple inputs along with Wi-Fi streaming.  It comes with a nice wireless remote for controlling volume, input selection, and more.  

     

    The stereo hub has some smart tricks up its sleeve.  

    - It is a Chromecast and Airplay receiver and has Spotify Connect.  

    - There is also Bluetooth and UPnP.   

    - There are multiple physical inputs, Line, three optical, one digital, USB, 3.5mm, and HDMI ARC.

     

    There is one other feature; Room Correction, for frequencies below 300hz. Using an iPhone app to sweep the room with the speakers emitting an audio pattern, the software calculates the needed adjustments.  It sends the info to the Hansong Stereo Hub for operation.

     

     

     

     

    The above is a short intro video we shot for The Three Techs!

     

     

    September 30th, 2020

     

    I have the speakers connected to AC power using Puritan Audio Laboratories power cables and the PSM-156 Mains Purifier.  An HDPLEX-200 LPS powers the Stereo Hub.  

     

    The speakers are on Elac single post filled stands using Isoacoustics Gaia-1 isolators.  The speakers do not have mounting inserts, so I use Sound Anchor Blue Dots to hold them on the speaker stands safely.

     

    NOTE: I already had the ancillary devices listed above available for use on the system.  While they are "upgrades" and optional, they add significant value!

     

    My everyday listening tool has been my Ryzen 7300 based Roon Server.  With the Hansong Stereo Hub, I have many other options.  The Hansong hub and the AURALiC Altair G1 are both Roon endpoints.  The Hub only through Google Cast. 
     
    I am also listening with Spotify Connect, Tidal app, Qobuz app, Audirvana, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, etc.

     

    I have played with MConnect, Bubble UPnP, and a couple more control point apps on iOS and Android.  I am going to leave this for later.  There is just too much to do.

     

    According to Buchardt Audio, the speakers need around 100 hours to break-in.  I found that after about 20 hours or so, things started to relax a lot!  The "piston-rings" seem to have gotten their Groove-On!  As time goes on they continue to improve.  

     

     

    October 3rd, 2020

     

    Room Correction and listening paths

     

    In my room, there is a 30-40Hz bump at about 5db. There are also a couple of dips above that. I have a lot of carpet, fabric, and the room's rear is mostly open to the home's entryway.  No listening room is perfect!  In this case, the Living Room has to function as a Listening Room, and I really cannot embellish it with acoustic add-ons.  Some DSP software helps things out.


    I have two paths to the speakers that I want to outline.  The first path is the Buchardt supplied WISA Hub.  I do not know precisely where the magic is in the WISA system, but I have not heard anything in its price range that comes close to the sound quality I am getting.  The flexibility that the Hub provides to this system is an almost perfect intersection of services for streaming music playback.  I also connected my Rega Planar 8 turntable and pre-amp to the line-in.  What more could I ask of the Hub?  At least one more thing, I can tell Google Assistant to play music on it!  

     

    The second path for my music is through my AURALiC Altair G1 directly to the A500 speakers via their balanced analog inputs.

     

    There are a couple of advantages to the G1, from the lovely display on the front of the device to the Lightning DS application that ties everything together, high-res Local Music, Tidal, Qobuz, Internet Radio.  

     

    So, the G1 and the Hansong Stereo Hub pair give me access to virtually every streaming and local music source I can think of.  I get to play with Room Correction, listen to LP's, talk to my stereo; WOW!

     

     

    Buchardt A500.jpgI have been putting off writing about the sound for a long time now.  It takes quite a while to accumulate hours on speakers located in the core of the home during the ordinary course of family life!  

     

    The other part of the problem is what audio path do I evaluate?  I really do not want to decide what the "best test path is."

     

    I am trying to promote the use of the system, so I have been testing multiple approaches.  While Sound Quality is essential in our home, the simplicity of operation may override sometimes. Having the Virtual assistant play something on demand is very compelling. Does Apple Music over Airplay sound better than Spotify Connect? Do I really care? I am not sure.

     

    During this process, I have found many hiccoughs in multiple systems, software and hardware. I may note them in a separate thread here on Audiophile Style to not confuse this report.

     

    The Primary Paths that I have chosen are as follows:

     

    I am streaming via Google-Cast and Apple AirPlay from apps on my iOS and Android devices. 

     

    Altair G1 via Analog XLR, the A500 Speakers using the Lightning DS app on iPad.


    The other issue here is the data path.  Using all of these services and streaming protocols, I do not always know what the sampling is.   Some of the testings are about functionality and not Sound Quality.

     

    Did I cover my tracks well enough here?  Or is the light at the end of the tunnel a Freight Train headed my way?

     

     

    October 10th, 2020  

     

    Short-cut to a sound quality test? I am not sure.


    I used the Hub and the G1 as two Roon Zones in my testing, comparing the WiSA path vs. the Analog XLR path into the A500 speakers.  

     

    For a few days, I used both sighted and blind to expose the difference between the two paths.  The Altair G1 has a better presentation than the Hansong Hub. The G1 has a tighter presence and more clarity. The overall feeling of the music with the G1 is striking. I have had two friends visits, masks on windows open.  Both were really surprised by the A500's.  One vote for G1 being a lot better.  The other was an abstain as we did not have enough time. For me the Buchardt A500 is the clear winner here.   I can enhance them with my Altair G1 and that has been three steps forward for me.   

     

    NOTE: I conducted the same test with the ELAC Discovery Connect and the Altair G1.  The Discovery Connect and its wireless protocol have pronounced performance degradation to the ELAC NAVIS ARB-51 Speakers I was testing last month.   It was not an acceptable solution for me.  The Elac's have been returned.

     

    I told you that this was hard!  Simplifying my system design has gotten more complicated to evaluate than expected.


    The A500's stated frequency specifications are 25hz to 40,000khz +-1.5db. I will not pretend to be able to measure this or hear it for that matter.  I can talk about what I hear, and that has been full of surprise and delight. 

     

    Out of the box, the A500's did something new for me.  The treble did not sound harsh.  The bass response was jaw-dropping.  How did the Buchardt Audio team make this happen?  As I have been auditioning them, I have not once felt something was off.  I am repeatedly amazed at the depth and breadth of the sound stage. Vocal and small ensemble performances feel almost alive.  The A500 speakers have exceeded my expectations in several areas, apparent sound stage, bass response, and WiSA sound quality.  They have responded well to the sound quality enhancements I have used, and their system flexibility fits right in with my desire to play with things.

     

    In communicating with Mads Buchardt, who seems to answer everyone's email, he suggested a couple of things from my initial setup.  He indicated that I should keep them further apart because of the way that the tweeter waveguides work.  He also outlined the procedure for measuring the room with my iPhone, as they have not done a video yet! 

     

     

    Oh, back to my listening report.  

     

    I consistently find vocals to be very pleasing with these speakers.  A couple, in particular, are Dominique Fils-Aimé and the lead singer from Blues company.  It has been wonderful to sample Annie Lennox across the years.  In Eva Cassidy's Live at Blues Alley I can hear more of the human sounds in the recordings, breathing, mic distance changes, etc. They seem more present.

     

    I enjoy piano music.  Getting a piano recorded well, and playing that back in a home environment is challenging.  I have found that many piano recordings sound harsh or odd to me. Many times the faults were with my reproduction equipment! With the A500's the number of recordings that exhibit that problem seems to be shrinking one by one as I listen to them.  I have a lot of listening to go before I get to zero, and there is always the internet with more!

     

    In my discussions with Mads Buchardt, he suggested I try the "new default master tuning." You have to format a USB stick and put the master tuning file on it.  Then power down the A500 speaker, insert the USB stick, and power it up.  The LED's will do a little circle dance to indicate success.  You have to do this for each speaker.

     

    I have only played a little bit to see if it worked.  I re-loaded the original MasterTuning so that I could finish these listening tests without any change.  Time is running short.

     

     

     21 Days in -- Small changes-- October 15th, 2020

     

    I have decided to keep both of my streamers in the system.  I am using the Hansong Hub to do the "casting stuff" and have the analog input for my turntable.  When there are some software updates, I will look into other uses.  

     

    I have proven to myself that the Hansong Hub and WiSA streaming sounds excellent and provides a lot of functionality I want.

     


    Streaming Week -- Friday, October 16th, 2020

     

    Things are progressing rather well here.

     

     

    This feels like Cake Week on The Great British Baking Show.  So many flavors to taste! I have been listening to Apple Music.  The User Interface of Apple Music is excellent.  Playing back Apple's streams of AAC  audio is a pleasure on the A500's.  It is a great way to discover music.  Apple has an extensive selection of music, and its curated playlists are great.   I am also trialing Spotify Premium to test Spotify Connect and understand their systems better.  

     

    On the Altair G1, I have my local music with Tidal and Qobuz.  I have been playing a lot streaming from both Tidal and Qobuz.  

     

    At some point I have to make up my mind and pick ONE streaming service.  Simplifying is not just the hardware side of things!

     

     

     

    October 24th, 2020  -- 30 days and counting

     

    Buchardt A500 Setup.jpgThe Battles on Stage — 8c vs. A500

     

    It has been a month! I have done too much work to get here.  Messing about with different streaming systems, control point apps, speaker stands, and locations, WHEW!   

     

     I have settled into a routine of just listening to the system when I want no heavy planned sessions.  The only requirement I am still observing is to make sure I listen through both the Altair G1 and the Hansong Hub in the same session. Nothing fancy, just keeping both in mind.

     

    I am still finding the soundstage's overall presentation to be one of the outstanding features of the A500's.   As I noted before, vocals stand out on these speakers.  Singers like Eva Cassidy are some of my favorites.

     

    I have also completed a SHORT comparison of the Buchardt A500's to the Dutch and Dutch 8C speakers this weekend. I am using the Analog XLR interface from the Altair G1 for my listening. The differences are smaller than the similarities. Diminishing returns?  Both systems have lovely imaging; they both have extended bass range.  8c's sonic presentation has more midrange detail, and they have a lot of weight.  They are a bit more forward. The 8c's let you know that they are in the room both physically and sonically.  I realized that I had been using a loaner set of XLR cables in the system before this test, and that has changed the Analog character of things. That will be remedied shortly when my AudioQuest Water cables arrive.

    As I mentioned early in this process, this is not a fair comparison.  The  8c's are around triple the price of the A500's.  This review is not about the Dutch and Dutch speakers, but they influence my thinking, as do the Kii Threes!  

     

    Finally, I have been put in contact with the engineering team at Hansong.  I have sent them the list of issues I have found so far.  They have helped me with a couple of cases where I was doing the wrong thing.

     

     

    October 28th, 2020

     

    My Playlist

     

    I took some time today to start building a playlist to highlight some of the music I have been listening to during my trial.  You will find the Qobuz playlist down at the bottom of the article.  I am also linking to a couple of other playlists that have been fun!

     

    https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/4833309

     

    AustinPop

    https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/2469971

     

    Kii Audio Spring 2019 — Updated

    https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/2236115

     

    Audio Consultants Playlist

    https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/2316959


    And the icing on the cake: We also figured out one of my problems—the A500's need a bit higher volume from the Altair G1 to wake up from sleep.  I thought I had a problem.  It was user error.

     

     

    November 9th, 2020

     

    This is the last day of my trial.  Let me level set my decision here.  I am comparing the A500's and the Hansong Hub against the Dutch and Dutch 8C and the Kii Three with BXT.  Being able to directly compare these three systems is a very unique opportunity.

     

    The A500 has a split personality.  The first is their analog side.  The audiophile in me almost giggles to see that.  I can hook just about anything up to that input.  It allows me to dig in and play around.  The second side is the Hub.  This little Swiss Army Knife has so many possibilities for digital, wireless, and analog my head spins.  So I am a kid on a merry-go-round, dizzy and laughing!

     

    I am fascinated by the Hub. I mostly use it for AirPlay, background listening, research, discovery, etc..  I am also playing with Spotify Connect to see if I can tell the difference between it and Apple Music.

     

    In my testing, I have exposed several software issues with the Hub, mostly with Google Cast.  All of my problems have been reported.  Since I mainly use AirPlay and Spotify Connect, this has not been a significant issue for me. 

     

    I am looking forward to proper Roon Certification although I have mostly abandoned Roon due to multiple interactions issues and reduced sound quality.

     

    As noted above, the Altair G1 is my Server/Streamer/DAC to feed Balanced XLR analog to various systems.  


    So, Bob, are you keeping them???   The answer is YES!  

     

    I have never experienced a pair of speakers that present this level of musical reproduction experience at this price point.  The A500’s show you when you have all of the pieces linked up to produce amazing sound in your own living room. When something is not right they show it to you.  When something soars to great heights, the shine a light on it.  These are truly what I consider “Performance Listening” speakers.   Mads Buchardt should be very pleased to put his name on these speakers.  The teams that built them should be celebrated.

     


    There is more to be done!

     

    I really want to see some software updates for the Hansong Hub.  I want to try different mastertunings.  I would like to see Roon Ready on both the 8Cs and the A500 hub.  I am breaking in my AudioQuest Water cables, and  I am waiting for some Herbies Audio Labs, Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders.  I want to see if I can use them in place of the Gaia-1’s

     

    I hope that this journey through my evaluation has been enjoyable and encourages others to try out other system components.


    Thanks to Mads Buchardt for spending so much time responding to my emails and connecting me to the right folks directly for reporting my issues.  His support has been very encouraging.

     

     

    So "Enjoy the Music"

     

    ** I am closing this report here to satisfy my goal of getting this review done in the allotted time.  There is another chapter going on as I type this.  Keep a watch on Audiophile Style for more.  We will also do another video when I am “Finally Done”


    ----------------

     

     

    Product Information:

     

    • Buchardt Audio A500 Speakers — Walnut W/ Hansong Hub.    4,350.00 Euros (LINK)
    • User Manual (13MB PDF) (LINK)
    • Stereo Hub Quick Start Guide (6MB PDF) (LINK)

     

     

     

    AURALiC Altair G1
    Melco N1-ZH60 

     

    IsoACOUSTICS Mini-Pucks for the Altair G1 and Melco

    Rega Planar 8 Turntable with Ania cartridge
    Musical Fidelity MZ-VYNL phono stage
    Audioquest Evergreen RCA cables for Phono to Hub
    Mogami Gold XLR Cables
    AudioQuest Water XLR cables

     

    Elac Single post stands.

     

    Sound Anchor Blue Dots to stick the speakers to the stands 
    IsoACOUSTICS Gaia 1 isolators
    IKEA Cutting boards as platforms

     

    Puritan Audio Laboratories 
    PSM-156 Power Line Filter
    PAL power cords as needed to equipment 

     

    Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (first generation) as a control point

     

    Misc

     

    DIY RYZEN 7300 based Roon Server 
    2014 Mac Mini for Audirvana
    Pixel 3a control point
    iPhone 11Pro MAX Camera and control point

     

    Other Items

     

    Dutch and Dutch 8C speakers
     on Sound Anchor adjustable stands
    Kii Three+BXT Speaker System

     

    VIP
     With speakers spread all over the living space for the last six months, it is great to have a very patient spouse! 

     

     

     



    User Feedback

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    6 minutes ago, RichardSF said:

     

    It will never end because it is a hobby. That means it will be a continuing process of exploration and discovery rather than to reach a final goal.

    I was trying to be funny in some ways. What you say is true!  

     

    I still have this feeling that I am very close to where I should be, value wise, at least.  And I am over the moon in SQ vs Price right now.   Simplicity is not quite there yet.  Looks in the living room, still a little ways to go there.

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    4 hours ago, AnotherSpin said:

     

    Thank you! What is a way to use Buchard active system as it is for streaming (Qobuz)?

    Yes,  with their hub you just use Google Cast (chromecast) or Airplay.   Airplay limits playback bit rates to “CD Quality”.  

     

    Tidal, Airplay and Spotify Connect are also available.

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    On 11/24/2020 at 2:22 PM, copy_of_a said:

    Anyway... just wanted to say, with regard to sound quality, I am as amazed as you what these little boxes are capable of.

    Since I moved I've been looking for new (smaller) speakers for the new living room.

    The S400 got my attention due to the passive radiator and the wave guide which, in essence, makes positioning of the speakers much less critical. Listening to these little speakers in fact doesn't require to find a sweet spot at the listening position.

    It is good to hear your experience with the S400 speakers.  Sounds like there is a great family resemblance.  

     

    I am still working on placement of my speakers.  I have to try the Mastertunings that is done to move them closer to the front wall.  I still have a lot to learn about setting these up.

     

     

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    11 hours ago, bobfa said:

    It is good to hear your experience with the S400 speakers.  Sounds like there is a great family resemblance. 

    Should be … the A500 are actually the active variant of the S400 and they share main design decisions.

     

    11 hours ago, bobfa said:

    I am still working on placement of my speakers.  I have to try the Mastertunings that is done to move them closer to the front wall.  I still have a lot to learn about setting these up.

    The DSP options are for sure fun and rewarding to play with! I’ve quickly read through Burchardts infos - and with joy through your very nice review! 👍 - and I think it’s a really very well thought out system.

    I think it makes sense to fine tune the sound / positioning after the recommended break in time span. The 100 hours Burchardt refers to sound reasonable to me. The speakers (well, at least the S400) change their sound so much within the first 20-30 hours and after that they continue to sound warmer and richer, the bass gets bigger and the imaging gets more refined.

     

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    Hi Bob, 

    Great report !

     

    From what i read, you did not need your Ryzen server anymore, just streaming from apps to the HUB ?

     

    Regards

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    On 11/20/2020 at 2:30 AM, bobfa said:

    Ted,

     

    Thanks for the note.  I am sort of casual in what I do.   We have to have fun with it.  And there is a surprise coming in the next couple of weeks! 

     

    I am starting a thread on the site in a bit discussing all of the software issues with related equipment that I had trouble with this summer. Roon and everybody else.

     

    Bob

     

     

    Bob,

    I have the A500 and I am thoroughly happy with it. I really appreciated your review and I really like your writing style... quite different and refreshing!  

     

    Can you please tell me why you did not try and report on the A500 built in DSP room correction?

    I did read where you state that your Auralic Altair G1 offers room correction. But that would only be relevant to those who have an Altair G1.... nd since this is a review of the A500/hub, and since the DSP room correction is a featured option of this system (Mads is quite thrilled with it) that many would use.... not reviewing it seems like an oversight. 

     

    Please allow me to correct something that you wrote. You said that the room correction works on frequencies 300Hz and below. Mads told me that it functions from 400Hz and below. And this can clearly be seen on the graph after the correction is done.

    Please know, however, that you are not the only one to make a mistake in regards to this. Another reviewer said that it functions on frequencies 500Hz and below. 

     

    You mention that there is a ''surprise coming in a few weeks.''

    Are you, by any chance, referring to the new Buchardt proprietary hub? This hub, according to Mads will have improved WiSA functioning, a seriously improved preamp for even better sound quality, its own DAC and several other improvements. It will also allow for the hub to be directly XLR connected to the A500 speakers. 

    As with the present hub, the price when purchased with the speakers will be significantly lower than the price if purchased separately.  

    However for those who already have the present hub, they will be able to purchase the new one for the lower price (as if it were purchased with the speakers)... AND they will be offered a further discount equal to the amount that they paid for the present hub. 

     

    But I was told that this won't be available for about 6 months, so perhaps you were not referring to this as the ''surprise.'' 

     

    What I WAS told, is that in the next few weeks a manually operated EQ function will be added to the Buchardt hub for those who wish to further refine the room correction to their own tastes. 

    Buchardt are also going to release a proprietary microphone for the room correction. But I find that my iPhone 6S works perfectly well for effecting the correction so I don't think I will be purchasing it. But I will definitely be buying the new hub when it comes out.

     

    Thanks again for the great review!

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    9 hours ago, mikicasellas said:

    Hi Bob, 

    Great report !

     

    From what i read, you did not need your Ryzen server anymore, just streaming from apps to the HUB ?

     

    Regards

    I still have my Ryzen Roon Server running.  I am waiting for two systems to get Roon Certified to see what this does for me and to re-evaluate Roon.  I want the Dutch and Dutch 8Cs and the Hangsong Hub working!

     

    I use my Altair G1 a lot.  Some of the Google Cast and Airplay streaming tools.  I have trouble with Qobuz to the Hub and some of the same issues with Audirvana.  

     

    I am still driving to eliminate extra hardware in the system.  It would be really interesting to not need the Altair G1.  

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    29 minutes ago, lolligagger said:

    I have the A500 and I am thoroughly happy with it. I really appreciated your review and I really like your writing style... quite different and refreshing!  

    I wrote the review to follow along my 45 day journey.  I had a lot of fun with that, and it felt like the right thing to do!  

     

    32 minutes ago, lolligagger said:

    You mention that there is a ''surprise coming in a few weeks.''

    That is what surprises are, things to keep you guessing..

    33 minutes ago, lolligagger said:

    Can you please tell me why you did not try and report on the A500 built in DSP room correction?

    I actually did run the room correction.  In the time I had available I did not get a good understanding of what it did.  I will be going back and working with it some more.  I think that part of the problem is IOS14 beta that I was running at the time.  I noted that another reviewer was having trouble.  I did not want to short-shrift the feature.

     

     

    I switch between using my Altair G1 and the Hansong Hub to really get the feeling of what is going on with those two paths.  I am waiting for some software updates to the hub that I hope will fix some of the issues I found.  (that is under a separate thread, about software in general.  Summer of Software Stress)

     

    There is much more to come.

     

    bob

     

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    2 hours ago, lolligagger said:

    I have the A500 and I am thoroughly happy with it

    How are you listening to the A500?  What software?  I am REALLY interested.

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    1 hour ago, bobfa said:

    How are you listening to the A500?  What software?  I am REALLY interested.

     

    Ok, I understand why you didn't report on the DSD room correction. 

     

    I am not sure I understand the question about what software I am using. The software for the room correction is the Buchardt app which works well for me. 

     

    My set-up is as follows: MacMini with Pure Music (local library), Tidal, Audirvana (local library and Tidal) > A500 hub via USB cable or Wifi then WiSA out to the speakers. 

    Alternatively I have the MacMini USB connected to a  Chord MScaler > Chord Dave > Crayon CIA 1T integrated whose preamp outs are RCA connected to the hub. Then the hub drives the speakers via WiSA. 

     

    To be truthful, I do not think that the MScaler/Dave/CIA 1T/hub configuration sounds any better than the USB/hub configuration. This may be because no matter what DAC you use before the hub/speakers, in the speakers the analogue signal gets converted back to digital and then converted back to digital by the speakers internal DACs. 

    This, to me, means that the characteristics of the sound are determined by the last DACs in the chain... not the Chord products. 

    Mads, however,  told me that in that configuration, the characteristics of the stand alone DAC (Chord) would be maintained but I don't see how this is possible. He explained it to me, but I don't remember what he said. 

     

    However, if it is true that the characteristics of the MScaler/Dave are preserved AND the A500 system sounds just as good when not using the Chord/Crayon configuration, then the DACs in the speakers must be really good. My Chord MScaler/Dave set-up is retail valued at $15,000 and is considered one of the best out there. 

    The last passive speakers I was using with this system were the Buchardt S400 Special Edition. This sounded really good, but the A500 system, no matter the configuration, sounds much better. 

     

    In order to see if there is a qualitative difference I need to run an analogue signal (created by the Chord equipment) into the A500 speakers' analogue XLR inputs. I haven't tried this yet because  1) I have been enjoying my A500 system al lot, just the way it is and 2) I don't have any XLR adapters or an RCA/XLR cables.  

    I am considering getting a pair of Mogami cables. Any thoughts about their quality? 

     

    I probably did not answer your question about which software I am using, but I confess that I don't know what you're referring to. 

    The only music server software that I use, is Tidal... both in Audirvana and also separately. I do not use Qobuz, Spotify or any of the others. 

    Is that what you wanted to know? 

     

     

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    14 minutes ago, lolligagger said:

    My set-up is as follows: MacMini with Pure Music (local library), Tidal, Audirvana (local library and Tidal) > A500 hub via USB cable or Wifi then WiSA out to the speakers. 

    Alternatively I have the MacMini USB connected to a  Chord MScaler > Chord Dave > Crayon CIA 1T integrated whose preamp outs are RCA connected to the hub. Then the hub drives the speakers via WiSA. 

    This is exactly what I was asking.  Your Mac mini is the source of your music and you use USB to the Hub!  OR through your other system again to the hub.  

     

    Have you tried the balanced output of the Dave directly to the A500's?  I have been using my Altair G1 direct to the A500s with a set of AudioQuest Water cables.

     

    How do you have the Mac and Audirvana setup via USB?  I am fussing over the volume control not working right.  I have not spent any real time figuring it out. I read something in the hub manual about how it locks the volume control on USB so that you can use the computer to set volume.  Audirvana is not working right for that.  IT is either all the way up or it drops to zero.  

     

    On a separate note, how to you feel about the room correction?

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    10 hours ago, bobfa said:

     

     

    Have you tried the balanced output of the Dave directly to the A500's?  I have been using my Altair G1 direct to the A500s with a set of AudioQuest Water cables.

     

    How do you have the Mac and Audirvana setup via USB?  I am fussing over the volume control not working right.  I have not spent any real time figuring it out. I read something in the hub manual about how it locks the volume control on USB so that you can use the computer to set volume.  Audirvana is not working right for that.  IT is either all the way up or it drops to zero.  

     

    On a separate note, how to you feel about the room correction?

     

    I have not tried the balanced inputs at all. As I wrote in my last post, I have been enjoying my A500 system just as it is so I haven't been inclined to try the balanced inputs... also because it eliminates DSP room correction.

    After reading what you had to say, which corresponds to that which another reviewer said, I think that I would like to try the balanced connection.

    I have two options... either from the Dave's preamp or from the CIA 1T preamp. But, first I need to purchase a pair of RCA/XLR cables. As I told you I am considering Mogami cables. Do you have any thoughts about the quality of those? Which ones do you use? 

     

    Bu the way, I am not a believer in balanced connection. My Crayon CIA 1T...  which is a superb integrated... does not have XLR outputs. No Crayon Audio amplifier has them. When asked about this, the designer told me that XLR is only for very long distance connection.  I have researched this on line and I have talked to sound engineers and the answer has always been the same. Balanced connections are for long... VERY long  (from 30 to 100 ft and, theoretically up to 1000ft)... connections. In the context of our home stereo they offer no advantage whatsoever.

    This was corroborated also by two reviewers that I trust. In fact I found no one at that level of knowledge who did not say the same thing. 

    One on line source says that up to 30 feet RCA does not attenuate the signal.

    Some other sources say that a very good RCA can carry signal up to 100 ft without loss of signal quality. And yet another source says that 16ft is the limit for RCA. In my system, RCA has to transmit a signal for no more than a foot and a half.  

     

    Prior to this I had a very good amplifier that had XLR. I AB-ed XLR versus RCA performance and I heard absolutely no difference at all. That is why I began doubting and researching. 

     

    But, of course, with the A500 I have no option but to use the balanced inputs. 

     

    So why do so many manufacturers/designers include them in their products? Because that is what an uninformed client base wants. There is a lot of ''The Emperor's New Clothes'' in our hobby. And many manufacturers who want to sell their products to the greatest number of clients possible know it is smart to not deny them anything. 

     

    I hope that I am not blowing your bubble here, Bob. But if you do the research you will find that what I am saying is true. 

     

    I had the same problem with the Audirvana's volume. At one point, raising the volume on the A500 remote was having practically no effect. I would get sound that was super low with the remote's volume set on max. Then I noticed the low volume setting in Audirvana. But when I tried to bring it up, it would immediately go back to off. So I stopped listening to it USB to hub and went to listening through my other system.

    THEN one day I bringing the Audirvana volume all the way up and it worked. Since that day about 6 weeks ago, I have had no problem with it whatsoever. 

    The strange thing is that it was happening in Pure Music as well. And when it corrected in Audirvana, it was also corrected in Pure Music. So, it wasn't just an Audirvana problem. However, to this day I haven't the slightest idea what was causing it. 

    But I am having other problems with Audirvana. It totally wiped out all of my personal playlists that I had imported from iTunes. I still have them in Pure Music and also in Bit Perfect (which I sometimes use). So this is indeed an Audirvana issue. 

    Have you tried removing Audirvana and then loading it again? I think that is what I will do with mine, but I want to talk to Audirvana about it first. 

     

    I really like the room correction. It really tamed the bass in my room. This is the first time that I have had automatic room correction capability.  I have FabFilter Pro Q as a plug in... both in Pure Music and also in Audirvana. I have been using that manually to manage the bass response in my room. It worked fairly well... up to a point. I found that because I was doing it by ear, I would need to reset it for different albums. So I created a list of presets which I could quickly choose. 

    The A500 DSP room correction eliminated that need because it corrected the bass across the entire frequency range from 400Hz down. Here is the graph of my room correction. The very flat line at the far right is above the 400Hz point. 

    room correction .jpg

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    17 hours ago, bobfa said:

    That is what surprises are, things to keep you guessing..

    Good answer! 😃

    How will we know when this surprise comes out? Is Mads going to send out emails about it? 

    room correction .jpg

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    I attached that image of the room correction graph in one post. Then when I posted a second time, that image was attached again. Is it going to be attached to every post I make from now on? 

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    Well, I guess not, since it wasn't attached to this last one, perhaps it will only be attached to all subsequent posts sent directly to bobfa.

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    3 hours ago, lolligagger said:

     

    I have not tried the balanced inputs at all. As I wrote in my last post, I have been enjoying my A500 system just as it is so I haven't been inclined to try the balanced inputs... also because it eliminates DSP room correction.

    After reading what you had to say, which corresponds to that which another reviewer said, I think that I would like to try the balanced connection.

    I have two options... either from the Dave's preamp or from the CIA 1T preamp. But, first I need to purchase a pair of RCA/XLR cables. As I told you I am considering Mogami cables. Do you have any thoughts about the quality of those? Which ones do you use? 

     

    Bu the way, I am not a believer in balanced connection. My Crayon CIA 1T...  which is a superb integrated... does not have XLR outputs. No Crayon Audio amplifier has them. When asked about this, the designer told me that XLR is only for very long distance connection.  I have researched this on line and I have talked to sound engineers and the answer has always been the same. Balanced connections are for long... VERY long  (from 30 to 100 ft and, theoretically up to 1000ft)... connections. In the context of our home stereo they offer no advantage whatsoever.

    This was corroborated also by two reviewers that I trust. In fact I found no one at that level of knowledge who did not say the same thing. 

    One on line source says that up to 30 feet RCA does not attenuate the signal.

    Some other sources say that a very good RCA can carry signal up to 100 ft without loss of signal quality. And yet another source says that 16ft is the limit for RCA. In my system, RCA has to transmit a signal for no more than a foot and a half.  

     

    Prior to this I had a very good amplifier that had XLR. I AB-ed XLR versus RCA performance and I heard absolutely no difference at all. That is why I began doubting and researching. 

     

    But, of course, with the A500 I have no option but to use the balanced inputs. 

     

    So why do so many manufacturers/designers include them in their products? Because that is what an uninformed client base wants. There is a lot of ''The Emperor's New Clothes'' in our hobby. And many manufacturers who want to sell their products to the greatest number of clients possible know it is smart to not deny them anything. 

     

    I have used Mogami Gold RCA to XLR for a center channel amp I had.  Worked perfect and sounded great.  Most of the time when it comes to apples to apples, RCA and XLR can sound the same.  XLR has advantages with distance and that they usually lock into the sockets.  RCA can suffer from terminal exposure and lead to long term tarnish on the ends.  XLRs usually come with better sheathing reducing RF interference.  Think of the rats nest behind most peoples audio systems.  All those wires crisscrossing each other can create hiss in the signal path.  That's why their ubiquitous in studios and professional settings.  

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    4 hours ago, lolligagger said:

     

    I have not tried the balanced inputs at all. As I wrote in my last post, I have been enjoying my A500 system just as it is so I haven't been inclined to try the balanced inputs... also because it eliminates DSP room correction.

    After reading what you had to say, which corresponds to that which another reviewer said, I think that I would like to try the balanced connection.

    I have two options... either from the Dave's preamp or from the CIA 1T preamp. But, first I need to purchase a pair of RCA/XLR cables. As I told you I am considering Mogami cables. Do you have any thoughts about the quality of those? Which ones do you use? 

     

    Bu the way, I am not a believer in balanced connection. My Crayon CIA 1T...  which is a superb integrated... does not have XLR outputs. No Crayon Audio amplifier has them. When asked about this, the designer told me that XLR is only for very long distance connection.  I have researched this on line and I have talked to sound engineers and the answer has always been the same. Balanced connections are for long... VERY long  (from 30 to 100 ft and, theoretically up to 1000ft)... connections. In the context of our home stereo they offer no advantage whatsoever.

    This was corroborated also by two reviewers that I trust. In fact I found no one at that level of knowledge who did not say the same thing. 

    One on line source says that up to 30 feet RCA does not attenuate the signal.

    Some other sources say that a very good RCA can carry signal up to 100 ft without loss of signal quality. And yet another source says that 16ft is the limit for RCA. In my system, RCA has to transmit a signal for no more than a foot and a half.  

     

    Prior to this I had a very good amplifier that had XLR. I AB-ed XLR versus RCA performance and I heard absolutely no difference at all. That is why I began doubting and researching. 

     

    But, of course, with the A500 I have no option but to use the balanced inputs. 

     

    So why do so many manufacturers/designers include them in their products? Because that is what an uninformed client base wants. There is a lot of ''The Emperor's New Clothes'' in our hobby. And many manufacturers who want to sell their products to the greatest number of clients possible know it is smart to not deny them anything. 

     

    I hope that I am not blowing your bubble here, Bob. But if you do the research you will find that what I am saying is true. 

     

    I had the same problem with the Audirvana's volume. At one point, raising the volume on the A500 remote was having practically no effect. I would get sound that was super low with the remote's volume set on max. Then I noticed the low volume setting in Audirvana. But when I tried to bring it up, it would immediately go back to off. So I stopped listening to it USB to hub and went to listening through my other system.

    THEN one day I bringing the Audirvana volume all the way up and it worked. Since that day about 6 weeks ago, I have had no problem with it whatsoever. 

    The strange thing is that it was happening in Pure Music as well. And when it corrected in Audirvana, it was also corrected in Pure Music. So, it wasn't just an Audirvana problem. However, to this day I haven't the slightest idea what was causing it. 

    But I am having other problems with Audirvana. It totally wiped out all of my personal playlists that I had imported from iTunes. I still have them in Pure Music and also in Bit Perfect (which I sometimes use). So this is indeed an Audirvana issue. 

    Have you tried removing Audirvana and then loading it again? I think that is what I will do with mine, but I want to talk to Audirvana about it first. 

     

    I really like the room correction. It really tamed the bass in my room. This is the first time that I have had automatic room correction capability.  I have FabFilter Pro Q as a plug in... both in Pure Music and also in Audirvana. I have been using that manually to manage the bass response in my room. It worked fairly well... up to a point. I found that because I was doing it by ear, I would need to reset it for different albums. So I created a list of presets which I could quickly choose. 

    The A500 DSP room correction eliminated that need because it corrected the bass across the entire frequency range from 400Hz down. Here is the graph of my room correction. The very flat line at the far right is above the 400Hz point. 

    room correction .jpg

     

    I prefer a balanced connection. Didn't really get into the technical side of the question, but a simple comparison shows the advantage of XLR cables. I use Inakustik XLR cables.

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    4 hours ago, lolligagger said:

    I have not tried the balanced inputs at all. As I wrote in my last post, I have been enjoying my A500 system just as it is so I haven't been inclined to try the balanced inputs... also because it eliminates DSP room correction.

    After reading what you had to say, which corresponds to that which another reviewer said, I think that I would like to try the balanced connection.

    First please do not go out and spend money unless you really feel the need.  I am interested in how others find any differences..  I have used Mogami Gold cables for audio systems.  I have found that Transparent are very good.  I am currently using Audioquest Water cables between the Altair G1 and the A500s.  

     

    I will not argue your research on balanced cables.  I have experience that tells my ears different things.  MOSTLY balanced cables do a lot to help reject induced noise.  That is their purpose on very long runs.  On shorter runs in very resolving systems their noise reduction becomes more important. 

     

    5 hours ago, lolligagger said:

    I had the same problem with the Audirvana's volume.

    I have several more things to try.  The problems between the UPnP software in the Hub and other devices such as Audirvana have been putting me off of actually using it that way.  Are you then using the remote control to change volume for USB?  Being able to control the volume remotely is important to me.

     

     

     

     

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    5 hours ago, lolligagger said:

    Good answer! 😃

    How will we know when this surprise comes out? Is Mads going to send out emails about it? 

    I said that "I" have a surprise.  Not Mads.......🤐😇

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    My ongoing listening on the A500's

     

    Do to re-arranging the Living Room for Christmas. (not my fault) I have had to move the system into a different location.  For the work I am doing I cannot have a Christmas tree between the right speaker and my ear.    I have flipped the room around a bit to support both.   This has changed the presentation a bit in the lower registers of the system..  It will take me a couple of days to sort out speaker placement as best as possible in this setup.  The differences are not terrible, they are just different.  It may give me more impetus to use the Hansong Hub room correction.  

     

    I still need to get consistency in the Hub software to work right with Audirvana or something!  

     

    I really want to complete a comparison between the WISA Hub and using my Auralic G1 direct to the A500.  I have several ideas that I will fuss over.

     

    Bob

     

     

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    20 minutes ago, bobfa said:

    First please do not go out and spend money unless you really feel the need.  I am interested in how others find any differences..  I have used Mogami Gold cables for audio systems.  I have found that Transparent are very good.  I am currently using Audioquest Water cables between the Altair G1 and the A500s.  

     

    I will not argue your research on balanced cables.  I have experience that tells my ears different things.  MOSTLY balanced cables do a lot to help reject induced noise.  That is their purpose on very long runs.  On shorter runs in very resolving systems their noise reduction becomes more important. 

    This is great advice all around.  Cables can have a big impact, but it is really system-dependent.  Having experimented with all sorts of cables, I have ended up at mostly RCA.  One thing that is easy to forget--XLR is often more expensive than RCA.  In the Transparent line you cite, just for example, XLR is almost 2X in price.  So the fair comparison for Transparent Super RCA (my personal favorite) is not Transparent Super XLR, it is one rung down on the food chain, Transparent Plus XLR. 

     

    When I tested cable for my system, it was easy to hear improvements up to Transparent Super RCA, but I could not discern a difference beyond that, or between Super RCA and Super XLR.  Although if I had less noise reduction elsewhere, or more resolving speakers...? 

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    6 minutes ago, PeterG said:

    This is great advice all around.  Cables can have a big impact, but it is really system-dependent

    Peter, thanks for your observations.   One of the tests I am conducting here is with the A500's and XLR cables.  I have a set of Mogami Gold and a set of AudioQuest Water.  The Mogami are around $100 or less and the AuudioQuest are at around $1000.  Are the $$ worth it.

     

    The same can be said for the Hansong Hub vs my Altair G1.  Is it worth it?  To replace the Altair I need some computing stuff so it is not only the hub.    

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    5 hours ago, lolligagger said:

    Have you tried removing Audirvana and then loading it again? I think that is what I will do with mine, but I want to talk to Audirvana about it first. 

    I am actually trying an different Mac right now.  I will let you know.  I CANNOT BELIEVE that I did not try this myself.  Lost in so many things.

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