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I find isolation on a CD player/Transport has it biggest effect on the separation between instruments, a black background, and attack/decay. Subtle but significant enough... more so as you move up to the level of gear represented by the MH ULN-8 and the BADA.

 

Thanks Barry and silverlight for the much needed comparison.

 

James[br]

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They make cellos sound like violins. That's one bright top end! LOL...just kidding.......but Melos's Anja Lechner plays the cello, not violin, Geoff :) It's one of my favorite late night discs to spin. Srajan (6moons) turned me onto it.

 

I'm very interested to hear about more comparisons like this, using hi-end DACs and hi-end ears. :) I hate the word "shootout" but in this case know that Barry and Geoff meant no harm with it; these DACs...like Weiss/Berkeley/Metric are all upper class achievers from strong professional pedigrees, and are pushing the art.

 

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I think Ted mentioned this and I was going to ask, "Wasn't that a cello?" ;-}

 

I'd just like to add a few things of my own if I may.

 

While the change in filter did bring the two much closer together, I still heard the same differences between them, still in favor of the ULN-8. To my ears, the filter change just made the changes relatively small compared to the rather large differences we heard with the initial filter.

 

Having listened extensively to various vibration control measures (and finding good vibration control to be important enough that I use it throughout the system), I personally do not attribute the differences I heard to vibration induced issues. The filter change alone made a larger difference than any vibration control methodology (or software change) in my experience.

 

All that said, I would like to do the comparison again some time, perhaps with completely independent systems playing the same files. One path through the ULN-8 and the other through the BADA, taking the analog outputs of both through the common line stage and on to the amplifiers, as we did last Friday. That would certainly eliminate any question regarding the DB25 to AES adapter I use. (Incidentally, the following day, I used the same adapter to take AES out of the ULN-8 and feed it back in, using the HRx files. There was no problem.)

 

I would certainly not reach any grand conclusions based on the one test - other than to suggest that anyone interested in the BADA might want to seriously audition the ULN-8. And maybe for myself, smile a bit (once again) at having a ULN-8 as a core component in my system.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

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The other cool fact about the ULN-8 / Model 4 of course is that it's a studio workhorse and provides a lot of functionality (recording, multi channel, etc.), and for audiophiles with great analog rigs, a great means to convert to high quality digital. As for my Melos mention, that's what I get for writing a set of notes after a string of late nights and long days! thanks for the catch - will have to enlist a proof reader :)

 

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Aloha Dan!

 

The Metric Halo software is not playback software per se (i.e. one cannot assemble "playlists" etc.).

 

To audition recordings or gear, I use any of the applications I would normally use in my work (soundBlade, Wave Editor, Peak, DSPQ, etc.).

Any of these will be routed via the MIO Console software, which I use with the ULN-8. (Know however, the ULN-8 can be configured to run standalone if desired.)

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Barry says:

"Know however, the ULN-8 can be configured to run standalone if desired."

 

Ditto for the ULN-2, this means that after setup, the DAC will re-boot to the last 'state' WITHOUT need for any user intervention. Great for audiophiles. I never touch my ULN-2, not even for changing inputs from Firewire to Toslink (from Apple TV).

 

clay

 

 

 

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I own the Amarra Model 4, which is a re-branded and slightly modded ULN-8, and I have done two separate comparisons of that unit to the Alpha DAC. The methodology was different, in that I used a Mac Mini with Amarra software connected by Firewire into the Model 4/ULN-8, and then took the digital output in AES to the Alpha DAC. I am not aware of any downside to this method, but I would be curious to hear if that handicapped the Alpha DAC (or helped it) by feeding it something different than what the Model 4 received.

 

In any event, I preferred the sound of the Model 4/ULN-8 in both instances over the Alpha DAC. Most of the source material was hi-rez, including HRX, Kent Poon's disc, HD Tracks, and Blue Coast recordings. I was using headphones and high quality headphone amps for the comparisons, and I heard the same kind of differences in extension, detail/definition, and soundstaging that Barry D mentions above. They both sound fantastic, but I preferred the Model 4 and thought it had the edge in sound quality.

 

I really was amazed, to be honest, because I expected to prefer the Model 4 plus Alpha DAC setup after the hype and an earlier demo of the Alpha in a great system, and also from not knowing the Metric Halo gear personally. I do not expect to add the Alpha or any other DAC, although I am still hoping to borrow the Alpha from Tim Marutani for a demo in my home system with speakers. Plus, there is the anticipated flagship Spectral DAC that may materialize someday. Always curious, of course. ;)

 

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Hi Voltron,

 

Since the Alpha cannot except Firewire (a lack from my perspective), AES is the optimal way in.

 

Your hookup methodology sounds the same as for part of the evening, I AES out from the ULN-8 feeding the Alpha.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Hello Barry. I agree that the Alpha DAC should strongly consider Firewire or at least USB2 given its most obvious use. My main concern with using the Model 4 as a transport was whether it did anything to the signal before sending it to the Alpha. I did not think it did anything to change the digital signal (and certainly nothing to degrade it) but I was unsure.

 

I also use the Model 4 for needle drops, and it is fantastic. I am still trying to figure out the nuances of SoundBlade and how best to cut up tracks in the Sonic Console, but the Amarra software is supposed to unify all of that in future releases which will be good for audiophools like me.

 

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Hi Dan,

 

I wish I kept some test files I put up last year, where I started with one of my own recordings (at the time 24/96) and applied a simple gain change in each of the four programs you mentioned, then saved the results.

 

All four sounded different from each other, with soundBlade being the most "open" sounding (and Wave Editor, surprisingly, not that far behind). That said, none were "night and day" differences but they were clearly audible. Still, I find differences between DACs to be considerably more significant. (In fact, if you compared the files with some of the apps, differences were very difficult to hear. Once again, the open quality of soundBlade made the comparisons easier than any of the other apps.)

 

While I have not directly compared soundBlade and Amarra, since the latter is based on code from the former, I have every reason to believe they are at their core, the same application (as far as playback - Amarra is not a mastering/editing application).

 

To date, I have not heard the sonic equal of the "engine" used in Sonic's applications. Perhaps the closest *might* be Reaper but this too, is not a playback app per se and is designed more for music production, where I see soundBlade (at least in my uses) as more of a post-production tool. (Reaper might be a steal among great sounding apps.)

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

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Hi Clay,

 

I believe this is true for Reaper but is "64-bit fluent" applicable to Wave Editor?

I thought it is a 32-bit app.

 

By the way, I have heard (subject to verification) Audiofile Engineering, makers of Wave Editor, is working on music server software too. That should be quite interesting if it turns out to be the case.

 

Yes, Wave Editor's inclusion of iZotope's 64-bit SRC and MBIT+ dither/noise shaping only makes it an even better value at $79. (At the end of last year, it was "on sale" for $59.)

 

Audiofile Engineering's wonderful batch processor, Sample Manager ($79), also has the iZotope SRC and MBIT+.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Barry says:

 

"I believe this is true for Reaper but is "64-bit fluent" applicable to Wave Editor?

I thought it is a 32-bit app."

 

Fluent is maybe the wrong word, although I chose it as opposed to say 64-bit capable, or other more "strongly worded" phrases. What I meant was that both can handle 64 bit information, as in Wave Editor's use of the 64-bit iZotope modules. Wave Editor probably is only 32-bit.

 

apologies for any confusion.

Clay

 

 

 

 

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Hi Clay,

 

The 64-bit information is internal to the SRC algorithm.

To my knowledge, the program itself is 32-bits.

 

This is similar to the Console software with your MIO. It utilizes an 80-bit wide data bus but the 80-bit part is a reference to the precision of its internal math.

 

Hmm. How much hard disk would we need to store 60 minutes of 80/192 audio? ;-} (I'd guess around 12-13 gigs.)

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Hi Ear,

 

The Model 4, along with the 303, 304 and 305 are all based on the same platform as the ULN-8.

 

They are essentially the same device. Some have mic preamps, some don't, etc. I believe Sonic adds some of its own software, for example their own EQ but am not aware of any hardware differences or any other substantive differences that would make for differences in sound.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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"I wish I kept some test files I put up last year, where I started with one of my own recordings (at the time 24/96) and applied a simple gain change in each of the four programs you mentioned, then saved the results."

 

Barry-

 

I still have the four test files(z1-4), but you never posted their ids on the Crooked Path forum.

 

I looked at Wave Editor, it's amazing how much you get for $79. It makes me wonder why Amarra should cost $400.- $1000.

 

Let's hope that Audiofile-Engineering develops some audiophile playback software.

 

Aloha,

 

Dan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Let's hope that Audiofile-Engineering develops some audiophile playback software."

 

That's certainly the rumor making the rounds.

 

Officially, Matthew Foust has said, when I asked:

 

"Typically, we don't comment on unannounced products. I'm not sure where that rumor started. Suffice it to say, if we were to be developing such an application, it would be very high quality, work with any DAC, and be priced *very* competitively."

 

you do the math

clay

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Dan,

 

If you see this post, I'd love to get those files again. (It would take a while for me to recreate them.)

 

The programs used to create them were:

DSP Quattro, Peak Pro XT, soundBlade and Wave Editor.

 

I didn't identify the files at the time because I wanted folks to hear them first without knowing which application created them.

 

If I can hear them again, I can identify them.

 

For folks who don't know what Dan and I are discussing, a year or so ago, I was comparing four different editing/mastering applications for sonic differences (or more precisely, to see if there are any).

 

I use an original 24/96 recording I made of a small jazz ensemble, using my standard array of a single matched pair of Earthworks QTC-1 microphones separated by a disk/baffle of my own design. The recording was made with a Metric Halo ULN-2 feeding its own Record Panel software on my Mac laptop. Both the Metric Halo and the laptop were powered via a power conditioner. The microphone cables were Nordost Valkyrja.

 

The test was simple and did not really "stress" any of the applications. Since I record with a lot of headroom, I took the two original mono AIFF files and imported them into each of the four applications. Then, within each app, I made a gain change of approximately 12 dB. I saved the results and those were what we compared.

 

What I found was that each app indeed has its own "sound". I still use all of them but for different functions as each has strengths the others lack. Interestingly, some apps did not reveal the sonic differences as much as others did - perhaps due to their own sonic fingerprint outweighing the differences between apps.

 

To be sure, what I heard was NOT of the night-and-day order but still, with the apps that revealed the differences (not surprisingly, the ones that created the most transparent of the files), the differences were not hard to hear. Primarily, they were in the area of open-ness, with some apps sounding "darker", less revealing of the space around the players and the finer details of instrumental harmonics.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Hi Dan

can you comment on Sonic Studio's App vz the other Apps you have tried. I am curious whether Amarra is the only App that will give you the playback SQ I have experienced. It is outstanding. Will any other App do the same for playback or are they just for recording?

Thank you for your posts. I learn alot.

Cheers

Andrew

 

Best Wishes

Andrew

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