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Best bang for the buck to improve CA side of my system?


kilroy

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I'm running a Windows Server 2012 laptop as a music server with external music HDD, Jitterbugs, with JPlay, AO, JRiver into a Regen, then Supra (and sometimes other USB) cable into a modified W4S DAC2 DSDse. Looking for improvements to this part of the chain, either a USB converter like the Hydra Z, a pocket server like from Small Green Computer, or a new DAC, maybe the Yggy.

 

I'm not unhappy with the W4S, but am curious about newer DAC developments and implementations. Also like the fact it has about every input option, which I have not yet tested. (And my inquiries to W4S about their upcoming new products due this year/early next are met with tight lips.)

 

They say the USB implementations on both these DACs are very good, but the itch to try other input options is pretty strong. I was considering a new server with a Pink Faun card, but am considering external I2S and other input solutions now as well, which the Hydra seems to do very well.

 

If I want to throw ~ US $2000-3000 more or less towards this, with which of these do you guys think I'll get the biggest bang for the buck? Computer, server, converter? Not that I won't make another upgrade after this, but where to start? And maybe there is no single best solution, but there will be many opinions, which I look forward to helping with this decision.

 

I'm not tied to a particular solution or path, just whatever is most likely to give a noticeable SQ improvement.

 

My musical tastes vary, jazz, rock, older pop, female vocals, acoustic, electric... only exclusion is classical.

 

Lots of variables, I know.

 

Only considering hardware upgrades, not software, or cables at this time, within only this part of the digital chain.

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Not even close - converter. That will easily be the biggest change. If you listen to it (after burn-in) and decide it's not for you, you can either return it (less restocking/shipping) or resell it, which I'm guessing won't be difficult.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Although I agree with this, the w4s DAC appears to use the built in SABRE ASRC. That reclocking may negate some(a lot?) of the benefits in replacing the converter. I'd still give a go though...

Not even close - converter. That will easily be the biggest change. If you listen to it (after burn-in) and decide it's not for you, you can either return it (less restocking/shipping) or resell it, which I'm guessing won't be difficult.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Not even close - converter. That will easily be the biggest change. If you listen to it (after burn-in) and decide it's not for you, you can either return it (less restocking/shipping) or resell it, which I'm guessing won't be difficult.

 

You're like old reliable, Jud. Was looking forward to and appreciate your input.

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Although I agree with this, the w4s DAC appears to use the built in SABRE ASRC. That reclocking may negate some(a lot?) of the benefits in replacing the converter. I'd still give a go though...

 

Thanks Forrest. So minus the converter, you're leaning towards which option?

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You're like old reliable, Jud. Was looking forward to and appreciate your input.

 

Whoops! Not so reliable, I was ambiguous - by "converter" I meant D/A converter, i.e., DAC.

 

Edit: It is, after all, the component that turns the bits into music. Everything else you mention is essentially to help with that basic function.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Whoops! Not so reliable, I was ambiguous - by "converter" I meant D/A converter, i.e., DAC.

 

Edit: It is, after all, the component that turns the bits into music. Everything else you mention is essentially to help with that basic function.

 

Got it, thanks. So if the DAC was first, and it had a good USB, it follows a good server outputting USB would come next.

 

If the USB implementation was not so hot, and other inputs were available, then maybe the converter would be next.

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Got it, thanks. So if the DAC was first, and it had a good USB, it follows a good server outputting USB would come next.

 

If the USB implementation was not so hot, and other inputs were available, then maybe the converter would be next.

 

I'm guessing the USB implementation of the Yggy is likely fine, but up to you.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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What is fine btw? ;)

I was thinking D-D converter as I had not read closely enough to discover the DAC was an option as well. With that knowledge, I would say try a different DAC. Personally, I would be waiting to hear what the upcoming iFi iDSDpro had to offer. Keep in mind that I am an outlier in the CA world, and the clock input interests me.

I'm guessing the USB implementation of the Yggy is likely fine, but up to you.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Keep in mind that I am an outlier in the CA world

 

One of my favorite quotes: "I am not like the others." - Hunter S. Thompson

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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What is fine btw? ;)

I was thinking D-D converter as I had not read closely enough to discover the DAC was an option as well. With that knowledge, I would say try a different DAC. Personally, I would be waiting to hear what the upcoming iFi iDSDpro had to offer. Keep in mind that I am an outlier in the CA world, and the clock input interests me.

 

You are right, my error in original post, said "Computer, server, converter?", meant to say "Computer, DAC, converter"

 

Yes, the Yggy looks good. Waiting for Chris' review.

 

Not sure how to reconcile that though with my preference to upsample to DSD in JRiver.

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You are right, my error in original post, said "Computer, server, converter?", meant to say "Computer, DAC, converter"

 

Yes, the Yggy looks good. Waiting for Chris' review.

 

Not sure how to reconcile that though with my preference to upsample to DSD in JRiver.

 

Hah! Well, that could have something to do with your DAC. :-)

 

How much DSD material do you have?

 

Meanwhile, if you haven't already, I'd suggest trying Audiophile Inventory for offline conversion to see what you think. (It also converts DSD to PCM if you'd get the Yggy and had DSD recordings you wanted to play.)

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I don't have much in DSD format. People say it's dead anyway, right? :)

 

Could be that the upsampled sound into the W4S is bettered by the PCM sound of the Yggy. If I recall your earlier post here

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/direct-stream-digital-upsampling-over-original-format-25268/

 

says it all gets converted to DSD anyway.

 

Willing to give it a shot most likely.

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I have no knowledge of the Yggdrasil sound, but with a name like Forrest, I likely should have. I am not certain what you mean by the last sentence beyond the pcm nature of that DAC. I cannot help saying this however, Jriver DSD sucks as compared to what I have reaped from HQPlayer.

 

 

You are right, my error in original post, said "Computer, server, converter?", meant to say "Computer, DAC, converter"

 

Yes, the Yggy looks good. Waiting for Chris' review.

 

Not sure how to reconcile that though with my preference to upsample to DSD in JRiver.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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I have no knowledge of the Yggdrasil sound, but with a name like Forrest, I likely should have. I am not certain what you mean by the last sentence beyond the pcm nature of that DAC. I cannot help saying this however, Jriver DSD sucks as compared to what I have reaped from HQPlayer.

 

What I mean is that I software upsample PCM to DSD on the fly in JR, this goes to the DAC. I had been preferring this sound to straight PCM files into the DAC. At least with this DAC.

 

The Yggy does not do DSD. However, its inherent sonic signature could be such that straight PCM into this DAC equals (or betters, or ??) the W4S's sound when fed upsampled files. Don't know.

 

I've wanted to try HQPlayer but love the JRemote app on my iPad to control JR. I understand HQP lacks the convenience of remote control. And I don't want listening to music to become an exercise in adjusting settings that I hear it might be with HQP.

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Wow, that's a good DAC. I don't know if you are going to do better than that for your budget.

 

If it was me, I'd bring the Yggy in for 7-10 days and see if you like it better than what you have. As far as DSD, I personally think that if the Yggy is really good, and you resample DSD to 176k PCM in JRiver, you might be quite happy with the sound.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I wouldn't say music with HQP is an exercise in adjusting settings. There are a couple of straightforward choices to sort out in the beginning - can your computer do the regular filters or should you use the -2s filters that are lighter on resources? Do you prefer min phase or linear phase? Which DSD modulator sounds best? - but that's it.

 

Where the differences will come are UI (though Muso is available for use with HQP and at some point I believe Roon will be) and hardware setup: if you want to go the low computer noise route with HQP you would likely want to use an NAA.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Where the differences will come are UI (though Muso is available for use with HQP and at some point I believe Roon will be) and hardware setup: if you want to go the low computer noise route with HQP you would likely want to use an NAA.

 

Is there a Muso website, how do you get this? I only see a forum, on quick look there are no downloads/purchase option except for a beta version under the News section.

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Is there a Muso website, how do you get this? I only see a forum, on quick look there are no downloads/purchase option except for a beta version under the News section.

 

Sorry, don't know myself, have just seen it discussed in hqplayer thread.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

Link to comment
I'm running a Windows Server 2012 laptop as a music server with external music HDD, Jitterbugs, with JPlay, AO, JRiver into a Regen, then Supra (and sometimes other USB) cable into a modified W4S DAC2 DSDse. Looking for improvements to this part of the chain, either a USB converter like the Hydra Z, a pocket server like from Small Green Computer, or a new DAC, maybe the Yggy.

 

I'm not unhappy with the W4S, but am curious about newer DAC developments and implementations. Also like the fact it has about every input option, which I have not yet tested. (And my inquiries to W4S about their upcoming new products due this year/early next are met with tight lips.)

 

They say the USB implementations on both these DACs are very good, but the itch to try other input options is pretty strong. I was considering a new server with a Pink Faun card, but am considering external I2S and other input solutions now as well, which the Hydra seems to do very well.

 

If I want to throw ~ US $2000-3000 more or less towards this, with which of these do you guys think I'll get the biggest bang for the buck? Computer, server, converter? Not that I won't make another upgrade after this, but where to start? And maybe there is no single best solution, but there will be many opinions, which I look forward to helping with this decision.

 

I'm not tied to a particular solution or path, just whatever is most likely to give a noticeable SQ improvement.

 

My musical tastes vary, jazz, rock, older pop, female vocals, acoustic, electric... only exclusion is classical.

 

Lots of variables, I know.

 

Only considering hardware upgrades, not software, or cables at this time, within only this part of the digital chain.

 

There are several Thunderbolt dacs available now. Even FireWire does a great job without the purifiers and other devices to improve data transmission.

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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Is there a Muso website, how do you get this? I only see a forum, on quick look there are no downloads/purchase option except for a beta version under the News section.

 

http://klarita.net/muso.html

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Kilroy, have you considered an LPSU for your Regen, USB card, and possibly server? I plopped down $500 or so on the HDPlex LPSU and ATX DC-DC PC PSU and though the latter was broken in shipping, so I'm only listening now through an LPSU-powered PPA V2 USB card and Regen, the difference is tangible, that "blacker background" people speak of, instrument separation, and detail retrieval all seem to have taken a step up. For the money, it's a very nice upgrade.

 

Beyond that, is your room good to go? You can throw thousands at sources and if you're frequency response and/or impulse response, to say nothing of speaker positioning and room treatments, are not up to par and optimized? You're throwing money in the wind, IMO. If you've already addressed these, forgive my redundancy :)

Ryzen 3900x Roon Core PC -> Intel i9900k HQPlayer W10 machine -> iFi Zen Stream NAA

Holo May KTE, Benchmark LA4 preamp

SMC Audio upgraded DNA-125 Amp

Dynaudio Confidence C2 Platinum speakers

Vinyl rig - Schiit Sol, Nagaoka MP-500, Mod Squad PhonoDrive phono stage

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Kilroy, have you considered an LPSU for your Regen, USB card, and possibly server? I plopped down $500 or so on the HDPlex LPSU and ATX DC-DC PC PSU and though the latter was broken in shipping, so I'm only listening now through an LPSU-powered PPA V2 USB card and Regen, the difference is tangible, that "blacker background" people speak of, instrument separation, and detail retrieval all seem to have taken a step up. For the money, it's a very nice upgrade.

 

Beyond that, is your room good to go? You can throw thousands at sources and if you're frequency response and/or impulse response, to say nothing of speaker positioning and room treatments, are not up to par and optimized? You're throwing money in the wind, IMO. If you've already addressed these, forgive my redundancy :)

 

Using an HDPlex and GIK.

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